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Title: Hubert's Wife - A Story for You
Author: Lee, Minnie Mary
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 "Hubert's Wife - A Story for You" ***

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HUBERT'S WIFE:

A Story for You.

by

MINNIE MARY LEE.



"There is a way which seemeth just to a man, but the end thereof leadeth
unto death."--Prov. xlv, 12.


Baltimore:
Published by John B. Piet
Late Kelly, Piet & Co.
Entered, according to an act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
Kelly, Piet & Company,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.



CONTENTS.

I.      A Black Conference                              1
II.     The Master of Kennons                           7
III.    An Interruption to Duncan's Reverie            14
IV.     Philip St. Leger                               19
V.      The Missionary's Retrospect                    30
VI.     Missionary Life                                37
VII.    The Distinguished Traveler's Views             45
VIII.   The Visitation by Spirit and by Death          52
IX.     The New Choice                                 60
X.      "A Dream which was not all a Dream"            71
XI.     Althea's Guardians                             77
XII.    The Christening                                88
XIII.   New Mistress at Kennons                        97
XIV.    China--Uncle Mat's Prayer Meeting             109
XV.     Kizzie                                        118
XVI.    Time and Change                               126
XVII.   The St. Legers                                135
XVIII.  St. Mark's or St. Patrick's?                  145
XIX.    "In such an hour as ye think not"             154
XX.     Juliet                                        164
XXI.    "The Spider and the Fly"                      172
XXII.   Althea--Death of Little Johnny                181
XXIII.  Hubert Lisle at Vine Cottage                  193
XXIV.   Jealousy                                      201
XXV.    The Awakening                                 208
XXVI.   Light after Darkness                          213
XXVII.  The Convert's Trials                          221
XXVIII. Mysterious Disappearance                      231
XXIX.   Hubert's Second Visit                         235
XXX.    "And the Sea shall give up its Dead"          240
XXXI.   Conclusion                                    243



CHAPTER I.

A BLACK CONFERENCE.


It was the night after the funeral. Ellice Lisle, the loving wife,
devoted mother, kind mistress, and generous friend, had been laid away
to rest; over her pulseless bosom had been thrown the red earth of her
adopted Virginia, and, mingled with its mocking freshness, was the
bitter rain of tears from the eyes of all who had known the lowly
sleeper. Even Nature joined the general weeping; for, though the early
morning had been bright and beautiful, ere the mourners' feet had left
the new-made grave, the skies had lowered, and a gentle rain descended.

"_You_ have pity upon me, O Heaven, and you weep for me, O earth," had
exclaimed Duncan Stuart Lisle, as, leading his little Hubert by the
hand, he turned away from his lost Ellice.

As night deepened, the rain increased, and the darkness became intense.
The house-servants, timid and superstitious, had all congregated in Aunt
Amy's cabin. Amidst their grief, sincere and profound, was yet a subject
of indignation, which acted as a sort of safety-valve to their over-much
sorrowing.

"A nice, pretty piece of impudence it was, to be sure, when she hadn't
been in the house for five year, to 'trude herself the minute Miss
Ellice's breath had left her precious body, the poor dear!" ejaculated
Chloe, the cook, who was intensely black, and fat to immensity.

"Much as ever Massa Duncan 'peared to notice her, not'standing she make
herself so 'ficious," said Amy, who looked more the Indian than African.

"He never set eyes on her but once," said young China, the favorite
housemaid, whose dialect and manners were superior to those of the other
servants, "only just once, and that was when she looked at him so long
and fierce-like he couldn't actually keep his eyes down."

"I see it my own self," added Chloe, whose small orbs were almost buried
beneath overhanging cliffs of brow and uprising mountains of cheek, "and
I'll tell you what I tinks: I tinks just den and dere, dat if we's meet
de ole one hisself he wouldn't hab no eyes, cause Misses Rusha Rush jes
done gone an' stole 'em."

This dark reference caused a closer grouping of the sable dames and
damsels. Trembling hands drew small plaid shawls closer about the
shoulders, while one bolder than the rest cast a huge pine-knot upon the
glowing coals.

Amy was first to break the brief silence.

"Mighty pity Jude Rush ever fell off 'Big Thunderbolt' and broke his
slim neck! But Massa Duncan knew nuf once to let Miss Rusha 'lone; he's
not gwine to be 'veigled by none o' her hilofical airs--you may 'pend on
dat; 'specially when he's had dat sweet saint all to hisself now dese so
many year--no, neber."

And Amy reiterated this over and over, as if to kill the secret thought
which haunted her against her will.

"She persume to come here and order you dis way an' I dat way, an' all
us all 'round ebry which way--oo--but I gived her a piece o' my mind,"
spake Margery, the weaver, very irate.

"Umph! I never seed ye speak to her," said Amy, doubtingly.

"Not wid my tongue, mind ye. I knows better den dat. But I jes spit fire
at her out of my eyes."

"Fire neber burn Miss Rusha; she too ugly for dat. S'pose fire burn de
ole Nick? Den he be done dead and gone, which ain't so; derefore nuthin'
ever fall Miss Rusha; she never sick, nor die, nor drown, nor burn up.
Miss Ellice she sick, she die, 'cause she be an angel; she go home to
glory; but Miss Rusha she live, jes to trouble white folks, jes to
torment niggers."

Wrathful Amy, as she said this, glanced triumphantly at Margery, who was
about to speak, when Chloe took the floor, figuratively.

"Tank de Lord, we ain't de niggers what she's got to torment; and she
needn't be setting her cap for our own good Massa Duncan; she may jes
hang up high her fiddle on de willows o' Bab'lon; she sit down an' weep
on de streams; she neber hab good Massa Duncan; neber while de trees on
Kennons grow and de stars 'bove Kennons shine."

Kennons was the name of the Lisle plantation.

"She'd like to jine the two plantations. One is too little for her to
rule. She's allus wanted our south 'bacco patch. Her hundred niggers and
Massa's hundred would make a crew. O, she's a shrewd one; she sees
further than her nose. She'd make my shettle fly fast as Aunt Kizzie's."

"Somebody ought to make your shuttle fly faster than is its habit,
Margery," returned China, usually quiet and gentle. "But what if you are
all mistaken, and Mistress Rush has no idea of making a rush upon
Kennons and our good master."

"O, you poor innocent," quoth Chloe and Amy at the same time. "Haven't
we eyes? What's they for if not to see with? They ain't in the backs of
our heads neither. We've got ears too; we don't hear with our elbows.
What for did she bring nice things and pretties for Hubert? and what for
did she take such a wonderful interest in de poor baby? Bress us, is de
baby wake or sleep, or what is come of it? We's all forgettin' de dear
precious objec. Sakes alive, an' its nearly smuddered in its soft
blankets, worked so beau'fully wid its own moder's hand."

A sleeping-powder, administered to the three days' old infant had, for a
time, quieted its incessant cries. This sudden mention brought every
dark face to bend low over the cradle, which Bessie, the nurse, had
brought hither from the house, that she might share the gossip of her
companions.

Worn out with weeping and watching, Bessie lay prone and sleeping upon
the floor at the cradle's side. Satisfied that the baby still breathed,
Chloe, Amy, Margery, China and Dinah settled back into their seats, like
so many crows upon a branch.

Dinah, the last-named, had been thus far fast asleep; and provoked with
herself that she had lost a share of the gossip, she gave Bessie a
vigorous push with her foot as she passed her, not through charity, nor
yet through malice, but through a sudden spasm of ill-nature.

Bessie gave a groan and sat up. She gazed around wildly--slowly
comprehended the scene, the present, the past, and, with another groan,
flung herself upon the floor again.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Dinah, to disturb Bessie in that
way," said China, between whom and Bessie was a warm friendship. "She
has cried so, and broken her heart."

"She needn't be in people's way, then--who's going 'round Robinhood's
barn for sake o' likes o' her?" said Dinah, complainingly.

"Shut your mouth, black Dinah," cried Amy authoritatively. "Ye's a
pretty one to knock around a sleepin' nigger. You's been asleep yourself
the last hour. S'pose we'd all been like you--you'd been kicked into a
heap--but we ain't--and you never _did_ have a drop o' human kindness."

"O, go 'way wid your quarreling. Dinah is jis like a firebran'; let her
'lone. What she got to do wid dis subjec-matter in han', I like a-know?"
queried Aunt Chloe, swaying up to the mantle, filling her pipe with
tobacco, and adding thereto the smallest glowing coal upon the hearth.
Meantime, while she is preparing for a smoke, her companions have taken
from their pockets, each a tin snuff-box and a mop, which mop consists
of a small twig, chewed at the end into threads or fibers. This mop, wet
with saliva, is thrust into the box of Scotch snuff, thence thrust into
the mouth, and worked around upon the teeth much to the delight and
constant spitting of the performer. This operation, so prevalent both
among white and black women of the South, is called "_dipping_ snuff."

Having followed our sable friends from grief to indignation, and from
indignation to the charming amusement of snuff-dipping, we will enter
the house and make acquaintance with its master.



CHAPTER II.

THE MASTER'S CONFERENCE WITH HIMSELF.


It was late in September, and chilly for the season. A bright fire
glowed upon the hearth in the "lady's chamber" at Kennons. Red curtains
shaded the windows, and drooped in folds to the floor. Roses and green
leaves seemed springing up out of the carpet to meet the light and
warmth that radiated from the small semicircle behind the glittering
fender. A bed hung with white curtains, a dressing bureau, with its
fancy pincushion, and numerous cut-glass bottles of perfumery, a lounge
covered with bright patchwork, and furnished with log-cabin cushions,
easy-chairs and ottomans, together with the workstand and its
inseparable little basket filled with every indispensable for
needlework--all, all bore the trace of woman's hand.

For nine years this had been the loved family-room of Duncan and Ellice
Lisle.

Now, Ellice was forever gone. Her foot had passed the threshold, to come
in, to go out, no more. Her canary hung in the window; how could he sing
on the morrow, missing _her_ accustomed voice? Her picture hung over the
mantle, looking down with the old-time brightness upon the the solitary
figures beforefire--Duncan and his child.

Hubert, the son, in his eighth year, sitting clasped in his father's
arms, had pierced anew that tortured heart by asking questions about his
mother and the mystery of death, which no human mind can answer. The
child was in a vortex of wonder, grief and speculation. It was the first
great lesson of his life, and he would learn it well, the more that it
was so severe and incomprehensible. But sleep and fatigue overcame
Hubert at length. The light from the fire no more danced with his
shifting curls, but settled down in a steady golden glow over the mass
that mingled its yellow-brown with the black beard of the stricken man.
For the father would not lay away his sleeping child. He held him close,
as the something, the all that was left to him of his lost love. His
head drooped low and his lips rested in a long embrace of the child's
soft wealth of hair.

Mayhap some watching spirit took pity upon the man bereaved; for while
he gazed into the fire, the heavy pressure of the present yielded to a
half-conscious memory of the past, and a dream-like reverie brightened
and darkened, flickered and burned in and out with the red of the flame,
and the white of the ashes.

Duncan Lisle was a boy again. With two little brothers and a half-dozen
black child-retainers, he hunted in the woods of Kennons, sailed boats
on the red waters of the Roanoke, rode break-neck races over the old
fields, despising fences high, and ditches deep, and vigorously sought
specimens of uncouth, out-of-the-way beast, bird and insect. He studied
mathematics and classics, played pranks upon one tutor, and did loving
reverence to another. He planted flowers upon his own mother's grave,
and filled the vases of his stepmother with her own favorite lilacs and
roses. He made houses, carriages, swings, sets of furniture, and all
sorts of constructions for his half-sister Della, who was his junior by
ten years at least.

He edified, not to say terrified, the dusky crowd of juveniles with
jack-o'-lanterns, impromptu giants and brigands, false faces, fire
crackers, ventriloquism and sleight-of-hand performances.

With a decided propensity for fun and mischief, there was also in his
disposition as evident a proclivity to seriousness and earnestness. If
it gave him delight to play off upon a stranger the joke of "bagging the
game," he enjoyed with equal ardor the correct rendering of a difficult
translation, or the solution of an intricate problem.

If sometimes he annoyed with his untimely jest, he always won by his
manly openness and uniform kindliness of nature. He cherished love for
all that was around him, both animate and lifeless. Soul and Nature
therefore rendered back to him their meed of harmonious sympathy.

Duncan was scarcely seventeen when the Plague swept over Kennons. That
mysterious blight, rising in the orient, traveling darkly and surely
unto the remotest West, laid its blackened hand upon the fair House of
Kennons.

Cholera! fearful by name and by nature, it was not so strange that thy
skeleton fingers should clutch at the myriad-headed city, situate by
river and by sea, but thou wert insatiable! Proud dwellings and lowly
cots in green fields and midst waving woods thou didst not spare; for
thy victim, the human form, was there.

In the middle of August, the skies shone over Kennons happy and fair.
Some cousins came down from the city seeking safety--bringing, alas,
suffering and death!

In one little month, how fearful a change!

Duncan Lisle, sitting before the fire on this sad rainy evening, after
the lapse of twenty years, shudders as he recalls the blackened pall
that seemed spread over earth and air.

Strange to say, the disease prevailed least amongst the frightened
servants.

The hundred were perhaps decimated.

In the house only Duncan and his half-sister Della survived; they in
fact escaped the contagion. The father, a strong, healthy man, struggled
bravely with the fierce attack; he even rallied, until there was good
hope of his recovery. But a sudden relapse bore him swiftly beyond
mortal remedy. Duncan, in his reverie, closes his eyes, to shut out the
fearful memory. He glides over his college years and his sister's course
at school. He sees Jerusha Thornton in her youth and pride and beauty.
She waves off the many suitors in her train, only to smile winsomely at
the young master of Kennons. Her estate is equal to, and adjoins his
own. He has known her from her childhood--he loves no other--and still
he loves not her. He revolves the reason of this in his own mind. She
has beauty, wealth, accomplishments. He gives no credence to rumors of
her cruelty to servants, though aware of her haughtiness to all, and her
disdain to inferiors. The high favor which she showed to him would be
welcomed with joy by at least a half-dozen of his acquaintance. But
this, her manifest preference, did not please Duncan Lisle--there might
be no accounting for it, but it was a fact.

What was to be done? Kennons needed sadly a woman at its head. Its
master had come to be nearly twenty-eight, and not married yet!

The servants were in a state of terrified suspense, lest he _should_
bring Miss Rusha as their mistress. They wished their master to
marry--they would dance for joy--but it must be some other young lady
than the heiress of Thornton Hall.

Delia had been to a Northern school nearly five years; she would soon be
eighteen, and was about to graduate.

As very young girls, Della and Rusha had known each other. For many
years, however, having been at different schools they had rarely met.

Duncan held a faint impression that his half-sister had never been at
all partial to this near neighbor of his. She was coming home so soon,
he had such confidence in her judgment and womanly intuitions, he would
await her coming, and see if she could divine why it was that while he
_would_ be attracted to Rusha Thornton he could not.

Besides, Della was not returning home alone. Ellice Linwood had been for
five years her most intimate chosen friend, and room-mate. Ellice was
the only child of a widowed Presbyterian clergyman. Her father had spent
all he had to bestow upon her, in her education. This being thorough and
complete, in the way such terms are used, she was henceforth to support
herself by teaching.

In order to avoid a deplorable separation, these two young friends had
put their wits together, and lo, the result! Through Della's good
brother Duncan, a situation had been secured for Ellice in the family of
Col. Anderson, not over six miles from Kennons. They would speedily
become excellent equestrians, these friends, and annihilate the narrow
space every day in the year.



CHAPTER III.

AN INTERRUPTION TO DUNCAN'S REVERIE.


Duncan Lisle, still gazing vacantly into the varying flames, performed
anew the journey, not from Kennons to Troy on the Hudson, but from the
latter city, via New York, back to his Virginian plantation. His sister
and Ellice Linwood were his companions, for it had been arranged that,
though Ellice's session of school was not to commence for a couple of
months, yet she should thus early undertake the journey for sake of the
company; and Della's home was to be hers also in the intervening time.

Della and Ellice! They flitted hither and thither before Duncan's mental
vision, as they had on that memorable journey. Just free from the
irksome restraints of the school-room, full of joyous anticipations,
they gave way to that girlish gayety, and that unbounded enthusiasm,
which a thorough sense of happiness and enjoyment cannot fail to
inspire. Life was before them beautiful, glorious, and without end! This
was only nine years ago--and now!

As we look through Duncan's eyes, we see that Della was the taller and
more graceful of the two. Her hair and complexion were rather dark than
fair; long, dark eyelashes shaded eyes deep blue, dreamy and wondrous
in expression. We never mind much a nose, unless it be ugly to a
deformity, or a model for the sculptor. An Angelo would have thrilled at
sight of Della's nose, and straightway wrought it into immortality,
_alto relievo_. Her mouth and chin were as lovely and divinely rounded
as any Madonna's. The shape of her head was superb; and she wore her
hair, which was truly a glory in itself, somewhat like a crown, which
left her finely curved ear liberty to show itself and to hear everything
that was going on. Many would have rhapsodised over her lithe, slender
form. Not we. More admirable that faithful approach to those olden
models of the human form that exist in artists' studios and adorn grand
rooms of princely connoisseurs.

Nature is everywhere lovely. Had the ancient Greeks chiselled but the
wasp waists of our modern belles, their hideous works would have sunk
into oblivion in as little time as our self-made martyrs drop into early
graves.

Not saying that Della Lisle, whose waist you could _not_ "span with your
two hands," had foolishly contributed to make less its natural size, but
it was painfully suggestive of weakened lungs and an early translation.

Ellice, on the contrary, possessed a low, plump figure, all curve and
dimple, with no appearance of angularity or stiffness. She had a fair,
round face, cheeks in which roses came and went, laughing blue eyes, a
wide, low brow, auburn curls, nose not _retroussé_, but the least bit
inclined that way, white teeth, somewhat large, but pretty, that really
_did_ look like pearls between such cherry-red lips.

You might stand in respect and admiration before the dignified and
intellectual Della Lisle; but Ellice Linwood you would take to your
heart. If you were gay, she would laugh with you; if serious, she would
become pensive; if sick, she would soothe and comfort you.

She was the most unselfish creature in existence. Self-denial ceased to
become such to her; her happiness was in yours alone.

All things about the plantation brightened in presence of these two
young maidens. Old servants grew more youthful, the young wiser and
happier, and all, from black to brown, from young to old, as they looked
upon the bright face of the northern stranger, turned dreamer and
prophet. And this is what they dreamed and wished and foretold: that
Master Duncan would make Ellice his wife and keep her forever.

And Duncan? Well, while such a spirit of prophecy reigned all around
him, it is not to be supposed that it fell not on him also. He thought
no more of seeking from his wise sister the solution of his antipathy to
Miss Thornton. There was no room in his mind now for aught outside his
home.

In three weeks he asked Ellice to be his wife. The same day he
dispatched a letter to the Principal of the Troy Ladies' Seminary,
soliciting a teacher for Colonel Anderson; another message, also, to the
father of his affianced, begging him to come down at once and perform
the marriage ceremony for his daughter.

This was doing up business very expeditiously. Of course it was soon
noised near and far, that great quantities of snow-white cake were being
made at Kennons kitchen. Servants would talk; little pitchers had ears,
and birds carried news.

Miss Thornton went in state to call upon the strangers. She saw at a
glance how matters stood, or were going to stand. She could have torn
out Ellice's happy heart. As it was, she bowed to all haughtily as a
queen, casting her last contemptuous glance at Miss Linwood's face.

Miss Thornton ordered to be driven rapidly homeward; and, as she was
whirled along, her thoughts, in a swifter whirl, she meditated and
resolved.

Before the bewildered clergyman could make his way down from the North,
before the goddess of Rumor herself had even suspected such a thing,
Miss Thornton's whole retinue of suitors, and the people at large were
electrified by the astounding intelligence that Mr. Harris, from Flat
Rock, had been summoned to Thornton Hall to unite in marriage its
beautiful mistress, Miss Jerusha Thornton, to Doctor Jude Rush!

Dr. Jude Rush had the year previously emigrated to Mecklenburg county
from the State of Maine. There was about him nothing so extraordinary as
to require particular description. He was an ordinary country doctor,
about thirty in years, had sandy hair, was sandy complexioned, and wore
sandy clothes. This is not much to our taste, but then we did not marry
him. We will assert, however, that had we been Madam Jerusha Thornton
Rush, our first business would have been to engage him a black suit at
the tailor's; but not a bottle of hair dye. We believe in adhering to
nature, though insisting that nature can be much assisted, particularly
in the matter of dress.

Duncan Lisle had naught for which to reproach himself. He had never made
love to Miss Thornton, or given her reason for believing himself
otherwise than indifferent. It had, however, been to him a source of
uneasiness, this very knowledge of her unmistakable partiality for him.
Of this he was quite relieved at news of her marriage, which news he
received, with a bountiful supply of bridal cake, as soon as possible
after the ceremony. He chewed his cake and sweet fancies of Ellice
together. A week later, Mrs. Rush threw _his_ wedding cake to the dogs,
her own _bitter_ fancies being sufficient for her to consume.

Faithful memory is on a race to-night, and she hurries Duncan Lisle from
the beautiful picture of Ellice, his bride, over ground of a year or
two, to that other picture, no less dear, that of Ellice, the mother of
his child. The rose has paled a little in her cheek, but the love-light
is in her eye; and can he ever, ever forget how, though he never called
himself a Christian, his heart almost burst with thanksgiving to God
when he clasped in his arms his world, his all--wife and child!

Three years from the other wedding, and another takes place at Kennons.
Philip St. Leger has finished his course at Princeton, and come to take
away his long-promised bride. The first wedding had been altogether
joyous; this second was saddened and sorrowful. Della had become the
wife of a missionary, and was to go at once to New York, taking ship
thence to Turkey.

The cruel separation had come then at length to the tried and true
friends; it might, nay, probably would, be forever in this world.

In the light of memory, Duncan beholds his sister for the last time.
She is very dear to him, one only more dear. He turns to comfort Ellice;
but Ellice, brave, heroic, crushes down her grief to comfort him.

With Della gone, the wife appears alone in the succeeding years. Alone,
but ever bright and shining, whether amid her ebony domestics, or
enthroned as wife and mother. Patient, cheerful, wise, and kind.

O, Ellice Lisle! model of all womanly virtues! Shall a Cady Stanton
preach to such as thou? How wide with wonder and dismay would open those
frank blue eyes at windy declamations about woman's rights, woman's
freedom, and man's tyranny.

Woman voluntarily assumes the _chains_ of matrimony. Be they of iron or
of silk, the good wife discovereth not; for it is only in an unholy
struggle that they bind and fetter.

Memory was hurrying Duncan Lisle apace to-night; scenes in the last few
years shifted with surprising rapidity; everywhere Ellice was the
centre-piece, her fair, pleasant face beaming from its framework of
brown curls, that were almost ever in perpetual motion from the frequent
toss of the busy little head.

But memory, though faithful, was pitiful, and kept presenting, one after
another, undarkened pictures, full of glow and sunshine; she had not
come down to the last three days of suspense and pain, of agony and
desolation. Ere that cruel curtain of gloom should shut from the
dreamer's eye his pleasant fancies, and with them the dying flames, the
loud barking of dogs, soon succeeded by hurried steps and voices,
aroused the half-conscious master of Kennons to the stern reality of the
present moment.



CHAPTER IV.

PHILIP ST. LEGER.


Duncan Lisle, at once thoroughly aroused, laid his sleeping child upon
the lounge, and then hastily opening the door, which led upon the
veranda, encountered the bronzed face and flashing eyes of his
brother-inlaw, Philip St. Leger. Now this gentleman from Turkey was not
a ghost, nor had he rained down. A staunch ship had brought him from
Constantinople to New York; a week he had spent with his friends at
Troy; the lightning express, then so-called, from the latter city to
Richmond; thence a stage had set him down at Flat-Rock; here, public
conveyance went no farther. The best and only means of transportation
was on horseback. The roads were in too wretched a condition for the
"Bald Eagle's" one rickety carriage to attempt to plough through.

The returned missionary, almost distracted with care and fatigue, made a
virtue of necessity. With black Sam as guide, he set off amid the rain
and darkness for Kennons.

"It were better," he said, mentally, "that I should myself remain until
the morning; but having come so far, so near, I should be on thorns; I
must go."

Philip St. Leger was not a Virginian by birth. He was a native of the
city at whose distinguished school Della Lisle had graduated. Only on
the day of graduation and at the time of her marriage had the brother
and husband of Della met.

It was a sad meeting now, on this dreary night. These men, still in the
flush of manhood, clasped hands, and looked into each others' eyes, with
a despairing, inquiring eagerness.

Their chill fingers were scarce unlocked when Duncan asked:

"And did you come alone?"

"I brought her child; but Della-- I left her sleeping beneath the
shadow of the minarets."

Duncan stamped his foot. His cup of sorrow had been full. He had quaffed
with what patience possible its bitter draughts, and still were they
poured in afresh.

"I wrote you particulars of her death a year ago: I learned at Flat-Rock
that you never have received the mournful tidings. I learned also"--but
his voice trembled, and he could not go on.

"Of the sudden death of my wife. Good God! it may as well be spoken.
Yes, she was to-day buried out of my sight."

"O, my friend, speak not with such wildness."

"But all is gone--all but dreary, wretched, useless life. O, what a
world!"

"See here, my good brother," said the missionary, in a more cheerful
tone, "I have come a long journey; I am tired to death, wet through,
hungry, and cold."

Before he had finished, Duncan's hand had rang the bell violently. His
right-hand man, Grandison, appeared. In a brief space of time, the fire
was replenished, dry clothes produced, a small table of refreshments
spread in the same cheery room, and the missionary, with commendable
zeal, proceeded to refresh the inner man.

Duncan paced the floor in a desperate manner. The missionary paused
amidst his slices of cold chicken and ham, and thus addressed him:

"My friend, I am greatly distressed for you, but that helps you nothing.
I have been through the same fiery trial; and I not only believed, but
wished I might not survive the ordeal. I would not eat nor sleep, but
grieved incessantly. It was so sudden, so unforeseen. Was it not
singular that Della and Ellice, loving each other so well, should have
gone so near each other and in the same way? That is hardest of all;
martyrs were they in a true sense. But I had a friend, who aroused,
warned, and induced me to eat, sleep, and go on with the duties of life.
After one first great effort it is easier. If one must suffer, he may
assuage his pain by bearing it bravely. The over-tending of a wound may
produce worst consequences. Exposure to the air, frequent ablutions,
occasional frictions, create healing processes, reduce sensitiveness,
and restore somewhat of the old life and vigor. I dare say you have not
eaten a mouthful to-day; come eat, drink with me. I will not preach you
a sermon, but let us philosophize like sensible men."

Thus solicited, Duncan drew up his chair opposite his friend. With
evident disgust he swallowed the first mouthful, but this morsel seemed
to awaken appetite, and he made a respectable meal.

Having thus broken his involuntary fast, he felt, in a sense, refreshed,
and producing some fine cigars, the friends sat down before the fire,
where, looking through the blue wreaths, they seemed to gain a soothing
and an inspiration. The missionary gave to his host a brief history of
his life with Della, of her sickness and death, and then incidentally
gave a sketch here and there of his own youth. We will commence where he
left off, giving but the substance in brief, instead of his own words,
so often interspersed with irrelevant allusions and interrupted by
remark and question.

Philip St. Leger was the son of a sea captain. His youth, of course, he
spent mostly at school, its monotony varied more than once by a
prolonged voyage with his father at sea. His mother was a woman of
society, and left her children much to the care of servants.
Consequently, she had much trouble with them in after years. Philip was
the oldest child. He was naturally good-dispositioned and tractable;
but, owing to a false system of training, became headstrong and
altogether beyond maternal control.

At the age of nineteen, after a wild and fruitless career at college,
and after repeated suspensions, he was really expelled near the
beginning of the senior year. To his parents this was a severe
mortification, and his father, being at that moment at home, sent him to
some distant cousins, who lived among the white hills of New Hampshire.

Colonel Selby, in whose family Philip found himself domiciled, was a
fine specimen of the country gentleman. Genial, hospitable, full of wit
and anecdote, he was also a member of the Baptist Church, an ex-Senator
of the United States, and ex-Governor of his own State. His eldest son
was married, his youngest still in college, and his only daughter, about
the age of twenty-two, was still an almost idolized child beneath her
father's roof. The mother of these children had died a few years
previously, and a widow from the city had supplied her place in the
father's home and heart.

Philip St. Leger, black-haired, black-eyed, melancholy and romantic in
look, cityfied and aristocratic in air and manner, attracted much
attention among the simple people of the quiet town of Newberg. He could
not help perceiving that, for the first time in his life, he had become
a veritable lion. The very fact that he was Col. Selby's guest and
relative gave to him importance; another fact, that he was the son of a
wealthy sea captain from a distant city, was all-powerful.

It had indeed crept out somehow that he had been wild and extravagant,
that he had been sent to rusticate among rocks and hills so sterile
there would be little chance for his wild acts to take root; but then,
to some old ladies and young ones too, this rumor lent but additional
interest.

"Poor boy! what else could one expect? With such comeliness of person,
endless wealth, unlimited advantages--the only wonder was he was not
completely ruined." And he was compassionated and pitied for being
obliged to remain in so old-fashioned and out-of-the-way country town as
insignificant Newberg.

This pity was quite thrown away. Philip St. Leger was in his element; he
had never been so happy in his life; Newberg was made up of hills, in
the midst of grander mountains; it nestled in the western shadow of
Keansarge; and King's Hill and Sunapee reared loftily around her their
bold bleak fronts. A beautiful lake of the same name lay blue and clear
at Sunapee's foot. "Pleasant Lake" lay in another direction, famous for
its delicious trout and fragrant pond lilies.

Philip, the young scapegrace from city and from college, was in an
ecstacy; he had never beheld skies so blue, lakes so fair, landscapes so
lovely; with every breath he seemed to draw in life, vigor, and a new
sense of beauty. Every morning he was up at sunrise, scouring the
country upon the back of Nellie, a graceful, fleet young mare which Col.
Selby had generously set aside for his use. Maids, matrons, and small
boys stood in gaping amaze, stool in one hand and milk pail in the
other, watching half-fearfully, half-admiringly, the fearless young
equestrian, who shot by like a comet, his long, black hair streaming in
the wind.

It was Philip's delight to create this stare and wonder, to which poor
Nellie was obliged to contribute still more than her young master's
pleasure. If he could leap over some low garden wall, dart over a famous
strawberry bed, or amidst the melon patch, he thought he had done
something splendid. The owner's dismay, not alone at the ruin, but at
the untamed spirit that dared it, gave him peculiar delight.

Those old ladies who found their fattest goose dangling half-dead from
the apple-bough in the early morning, or who looked in vain for patient
cows within the yard, whose bars had mysteriously disappeared, began
less to admire this youthful metropolitan.

Complaints poured in upon Col. Selby. At first he laughed and made light
of them; then he consulted his wife. She was a staid, proper person,
careful of the family's good name and popularity. It would never do.
Philip ought to have some sense of what was due to his host; since he
had not, he must be put in mind of it. She would undertake the task
herself.

This she did, but without effect. Philip had promised sorrow and
amendment with a long face, but inwardly he laughed, and after, became
seven times worse than before.

Complaints multiplied. Not only were geese and cows interfered with, but
dogs and horses were found tied to saplings or shut up in most
unimaginable places. Burdocks and thistles appeared in meeting-house
pews, where they surely had never before been known spontaneously to
spring; teachers in the Sunday school were shocked to learn that they
had distributed dime novels with books and tracts. The minister, one
morning in the pulpit, solemnly opened his Bible, and unexpectedly
beholding a most ludicrous picture, laughed outright, to the great
scandal of every looker-on.

Now this was too much. Mrs. Selby had passed by stories of green-apple
showers falling upon homeward-bound school children's heads; she had
even smilingly held her peace when laughingly assured that a troop of
dogs and cats had gone madly wailing and howling through the streets, a
miniature world flaming with fire attached by means of wires to each
caudal appendage--even that was too much decidedly. But this tampering
with the meeting-house! Mrs. Selby consulted first her husband, as in
duty bound; that is, she called him aside, told him the latest pranks of
their protégé, and emphatically added that there should be an end of
them.

"But wife, I cannot turn the boy out of my house."

"You need not, my dear; that is my privilege, particularly since he is
_my_ relative, not yours. Forbearance now would cease to be a virtue;
there is a limit to human endurance; there shall at once be an end to
this boy's mad pranks. He is on the piazza, perhaps studying some new
mischief; send him in to me, please."

"But are you not too hasty, wife?" urged the soft-hearted ex-Governor,
who remembered his own follies and frolics of long ago.

"Too hasty, when we have all borne so much? Gov. Selby"--with a
smile--"allow your wife to command you; send that naughty boy hither."

An hour later, Philip having sought her in house and garden, stood in
presence of Mary Selby, at last discovered in her attic studio.

"Your mother has banished me; she has already spoken the fatal words; I
must leave Newberg, this garden spot of God's glorious earth--most of
all, I must leave you, cousin Mary, and I shall be lost, forever lost,"
exclaimed this strange youth, in tones melodramatic.

Mary laid aside her palette and brushes.

"Why then, cousin Phil, haven't you done better, after so many repeated
warnings?"

"It is easy for _you_ to ask that question, and you can answer it better
than can I. Why do you not ask the wind why and whence it blows? Why do
the waters overflow their banks, why ocean waves engulf life-freighted
ships?"

"No, Philip, there is no analogy. Be reasonable; you are a being of
will; you can do or not do. He is only a child who exercises no
self-control, who is governed only by caprice, whim, or whatever passion
of the moment. These follies, of which my mother makes account, and
rightly, are beneath one of your age. There is in them nothing
ennobling, charming; nothing that should gratify a mind that has the
faintest conception of the good, the beautiful, and the true."

"I suppose so, cousin. But I have so long indulged in this fun-loving
propensity"--

"That it has grown into an inveterate habit. Is this, then, a part of
your better nature? Is there no depth beneath this evanescent
surface--froth and foam? I believe there is. But in order that it may be
discovered to the light and made fit for cultivation, this trivial
surface-crust must be turned under, kept down, lest light and heat
nourish its weeds into luxuriance."

"Why have you not talked to me thus before? _You_ could do anything with
me, cousin Mary."

"I will tell you the truth, Philip, because I think I owe it you. I went
not with you to ride or walk, I have kept myself aloof from you, because
my parents thought you too wild for my association."

"I am not a bear, and I might be better than I seem," said the proud
boy, humbly.

"Yes, Philip, I believe you. And I have often thought I might do you
good. Had you been my brother I should not have hesitated; but I had a
suspicion that you might regard any persuasions or lectures from me as a
piece of self-righteousness, for which you might have, as do I, supreme
contempt."

"O, no, cousin. You are the best woman in the world. I would do anything
for you."

"Leave off all of those mischievous pranks which are the cause of your
present disgrace?"

"Yes, even that--and more. But it is too late now. I go to-morrow."

The result of this and still further conversation to the same effect
produced a conviction upon the mind of Mary that the spoiled child was
not beyond hope of redemption. She laid the case before her parents,
and, with the aid of her father, obtained a reluctant consent from her
mother that one more trial might be given the recreant Philip.

Even without this Mary would have gained her point, for on the next
morning Philip, burning with fever, was unable to leave his bed.

A severe attack of typhoid ensued.

When Philip St. Leger, after a dangerous illness of many weeks, became
convalescent, he was a changed person. Not alone through the influence
of Mary, but Colonel Selby, and especially his wife, were brought to
realize how prone they had been to reproach and condemn without having
made the slightest efforts to reform. A neglected, untutored,
un-Christianized young man had been placed in their care--was it too
late to redeem the past? No effort was left untried, though exercised
with the greatest delicacy to bring the young heathen's mind to a proper
state of its former unhealthfulness, of its present pressing needs.

Mary read to him biographies of the good and great. She read ennobling
works of poetry and counsel. She brought before his mind by example how
superior was earnestness to trivialty, strict integrity to knavery and
falsehood, goodness and piety to wickedness and infidelity. As she read
and commented, her voice became to Philip as the voice of an angel. Her
work was indeed accomplished when, after having listened to her
rendering of St. Paul's grand epistles, there sprang up in his heart,
first: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian;" then this full,
heart-swelling sympathy with the Apostle's words:

"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any creature, shall be able to separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."



CHAPTER V.

THE MISSIONARY'S RETROSPECT.


Though Philip St. Leger would have done, in almost all things, as Mary
Selby directed, upon one certain point he was inflexible. This was upon
the subject of immersion; he would not go down into the waters of Lake
Sunapee, following the custom of the Newbergians.

During his boyhood his mother had been a member of the Presbyterian
society; latterly, for some good reason or other, she had made a move
into the Episcopal; whether through whim for popularity, or for
conscience' sake was best known to herself. Her puritanical cousin, Mrs.
Col. Selby, and a very worthy woman she was, regarded Mrs. St. Leger as
a heretic, and looked upon the troubles with her children as a just
punishment for having left the Church of her fathers. She had herself,
however, meantime made very considerable concessions to her own
religious convictions. For, while stoutly believing in sprinkling, in
infant baptism, in open communion, and in each and every tenet of
Presbyterianism, she had actually been received into the Calvinistic
Baptist Church! What an unheard-of thing! It created no little talk
among the good people of Newberg, and more for this reason: Mrs. Job
Manning, a farmer's wife, who dutifully assisted her husband in earning
a frugal living on the rocky sides of King's Hill, having been a
Congregationalist, had been refused years previously, admittance to this
same Church. She was poor, had a family of young children, had no way of
traveling thirty miles to her own nearest meeting-house, and had humbly
begged, with her husband, who was already a good Baptist, to be received
into the Church. Failing this, since she could not consent to immersion,
and shrank from the doctrine of close communion, she, or rather her
husband, demanded that she might be allowed to partake occasionally of
the Lord's Supper.

Rev. Mr. Savage, and the dignified Deacon Gould, and his equally
dignified colleague, Deacon Drake, gazed very solemnly down upon the
communion table, pursing up their mouths most decidedly, as if a
sacrilege had already been committed by so astounding a proposition. Of
course the duty fell upon Mr. Savage, the minister, to declare before
all present that the demand of brother Manning, in behalf of his wife,
was unreasonable, incomprehensible, and un-Christian.

Was Mrs. Manning a Christian? Then let her be baptized in a Christian
manner, and thereby show herself worthy to eat the bread and drink the
wine. Until such time there could be no admittance.

The two solemn-looking deacons on either side of the dogmatic speaker
raised approvingly their eyes, and after balancing themselves a moment
upon their toes, settled back upon their heels as grave and decorous as
before.

Brother Job Manning arose hastily, and said:

"My wife, Nancy Manning, is as good a Christian woman as the town of
Newberg holds. I eat with her at home, thank God, and if she ain't good
enough to eat with me at the table of the Lord, then I ain't good enough
neither, and you can have it all to yourselves."

And Job Manning, somewhat angry, it must be confessed, strode out from
the assembled body of Christians, up to his pew in the side aisle, and
plucking his wife by the sleeve, who arose and followed him, marched out
of the Baptist church for good and all.

But in the case of Mrs. Colonel Selby it was altogether different. She
was a woman of wealth and influence. She could do so very much for the
Baptist church, it would never do to offend her. And the Colonel was so
devoted to her, he might go off in a huff as poor Job Manning had done,
and stand it out to the bitter end. It was a dilemma, no disputing about
that. A bad precedent, more particularly after the precedent in the
Manning case. But it _must_ be got along with, and it _was_, and Mrs.
Colonel Selby, a strict and ultra Presbyterian, always open and
outspoken, became an honored member of this closely-guarded Baptist
fold. What was to hinder? Who was to say, why do you so? No bishop with
his interdict, no Pope with his "thunders from the Vatican." Here was
one of the beauties of the Protestant system.

"System," says Webster, "is an assemblage of things adjusted into a
regular whole, or a whole plan or scheme consisting of many parts
connected in such a manner as to create a chain of mutual dependencies."
It is not at all strange that Protestantism should protest against this
definition, and should establish its own instead: An assemblage of
things so adjusted and built up as that they may easily be rearranged or
completely demolished as occasion may require, or a whole plan or scheme
consisting of many parts so connected as to create a gossamer-thread of
mutual independencies.

Mrs. Selby was too shrewd and sensible not to see the inconsistency
involved. But then she was quite used to inconsistencies. Moreover, she
deemed herself quite in the right, and the Baptist Church had mounted
upon the plane it behooved itself to stand; at all events, it must
answer for its own right and wrong doing, as Mrs. Selby expected to
answer for her own.

Mary Selby sought not to influence Philip in the matter of his baptism.
She saw where his inclination tended and was silent. He accompanied his
mother's cousin to her native city, and was there received into the
First Presbyterian by Mrs. Selby's venerable and beloved friend, Rev.
Mr. Storrs.

Colonel Selby used his influence in infringing upon the college rules of
Dartmouth, and the young man, expelled from one college, was received
into another. So bad use had he made of his former advantages that he
was obliged to go back to the sophomore year; even here he had to study
early and late to maintain his position.

After three years of assiduous diligence, he graduated with honor, when,
for the first time since the day of his disgrace, he visited his
paternal home.

His fashionable mother viewed her handsome, scholarly son, not only
with amazement, but with pride and satisfaction. His three sisters, all
grown into womanhood, the youngest being sixteen, were at first rather
shy of him. They had not forgotten how he used to annoy and vex them.
They early perceived the change, and became distressingly fond of him.
It would be so nice to have an elder brother to go with them everywhere.
And such a brother! so fine-looking, who had an air so distinguished, a
face so poetical and classical! O, wouldn't all the other girls envy
them this splendid brother? They would make a grand party, and exhibit
him at once.

What was their dismay on finding that he absolutely refused to show
himself to the guests! The wealthiest, most learned, most _élite_ of the
city were all in the drawing-rooms, beauty and fashion were in full glow
and flow, music all atremble to stir into life, bright eyes were
flashing expectation, and dainty lips had sweet words waiting to say,
and he would not appear! In vain the mother coaxed, flattered, and got
angry; in vain the sisters pleaded, begged, cried, and insisted. He was
inexorable. But they had made the party on purpose for him!

Why had they not informed him sooner? He could have saved them all the
trouble and disappointment. He could have told them he was no lion, and
would not be paraded. He had not been in society for three years; he was
never again going into society.

This, then, came of going off into the country! Buried alive. Come out
so peerless and beautiful, and all to no purpose! He might just as well
have been a grub!

By great efforts the mother and daughters choked down their wrath and
mortification, bathed their swollen eyes, put on fresh lily white and
carmine, and joined their guests. What should they have for an excuse?
O, a sick headache--sudden and distressful--he was subject to them; poor
Philip!

Later in the evening, Estelle St. Leger led Della Lisle up to her own
room. They were passing through the hall. Opposite her door, Estelle
stooped to lace her slipper, for which purpose she had left the
drawing-room.

"So he has no headache," said Della, "and absents himself only from
aversion to society?"

"That is all," replied Estelle, pettishly. "Isn't he stupid?"

"No, I just begin to think right well of him. I have no respect for some
of those effeminate butterflies down stairs, who say only silly
nothings, because, forsooth, they think we can appreciate nothing
better, or because they have nothing better to offer."

"But I thought you were quite captivated with Edward Damon? You two, for
the last half hour, have seemed to be unconscious that there was aught
else in the world save that one corner that held you."

"Edward Damon is an exception. He is intelligent, unaffected, and
agreeable. He is not all simper and softness. He can talk with one
without being lost in his own self-conceit, fancying you deep in
admiration of his own charming self. Yes, I really like Edward Damon."

The shoe was laced, and the girls passed on, but the voice of Della
Lisle seemed still to linger upon the ears of Philip. His own door
opened upon the hall very near to the waiting girls; he had heard every
word. First, the voice of Della was pleasant and gentle; it powerfully
attracted him; second, her words were not those of an ordinary city
lady.

"A sensible girl, that--Della, Estelle called her; a pretty name. And
Edward Damon is there, it seems, the best fellow I ever knew. Who knows?
Maybe a shoe-string influences my fate. At all events, I am influenced
in a way I may not resist."

And Philip St. Leger, with extraordinary inconsistency, soon appeared
among his mother's guests. There was but one drawback to the joy and
gratification of that mother and the three sisters--his necktie was not
of the very latest style.



CHAPTER VI.

MISSIONARY LIFE.


In falling in love with Della Lisle at first sight, Philip pleased
himself only and his sister Estelle; that is, if we leave Della out. His
mother had the tall, graceful daughter of a millionaire selected for
him; Leonora, the elder sister, had her pet friend Miss De Rosier,
secretly engaged and under promise; Juliet, the younger, wished him
never to fall in love, never to marry, but to remain forever her dear,
only, adorable brother Philip, for whom she would give up all the world
and live a maiden to the end of her life.

This engagement with Della, however, was not the worst that might be.
They discovered this to their discomfiture when shortly after he
announced to them one morning at the breakfast-table that on the
following week he should leave for Princeton.

A theological course at Princeton! A true-blue Presbyterian, a
long-faced, puritanical minister, who would deem it a sin to laugh,
speak, or wink on a Sunday. And this was what their brother was coming
to. This was why it had been impossible to get him to go with them to
St. Mark's Church, though they had told him how beautifully _High_
Church it was; how it had a high altar and candles, almost like the
Romanists, only that it was not at all Romish, but entirely and truly
Catholic! Was ever such like woful perversity? When they had just got a
brother to be proud of, who could take them to theatres, concerts,
balls, operas, and everywhere, for him to go and degenerate into an old
solemn Presbyterian minister! It would be bearable, if he must be a
minister, if he would only be a High Churchman, and would be called a
priest, and wear the surplice, and read the service in his charming
voice, and be rector of such a fine, rich church as our own St. Mark's!
They could put up with that, because he could still go with them to
places of amusement, and would not be likely to scold them for dancing
all night and sleeping all day. Besides, his praise would be in
everybody's mouth, he would speedily get a D. D. to his name, the ladies
would all admire him, and he would still be their own, own brother. They
wished he had never seen Newberg, nor Colonel Selby's family, nor
Dartmouth College. They forgot or were ungrateful for his transformation
from a state of good-for-nothingism to comparative Christian virtue.

Philip perceived and was pained at the folly and frivolousness of his
mother's household, but any attempt at change more favorable appeared to
him so herculean, that he made scarcely an effort in its behalf. He was
conscious that therein lay neglect of duty; they might owe to him what
he owed to Mary Selby. Often when he thought of her he bowed his head
reverently, and said: I have two saviours--an earthly and a
heavenly--Mary Selby and my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

To the near relatives of Philip his going to Princeton was so much like
burying him, that when, after three years, he returned finally to his
home and announced that in one month he was both to marry and sail as
missionary to Turkey they were scarcely surprised. They made no outcries
and no ado; they had given him up long ago; he would be no company for
them in their rounds of gaiety and fashion; he might as well be teaching
heathens or Musselmen in the kingdoms of the Brother to the Sun as a
dry, dull parson in America, ever in danger of offending their
aristocratic tone and ideas by his sober, old-fashioned notions.

After his marriage, before embarking for Turkey, Philip, with his bride,
paid a visit to Newberg. His second sermon he preached in the Baptist
church. To those simple-minded country people, he stood before them a
living illustration of what the grace of God might effect. Six years
previously he had startled and amazed them, as though he had ridden
through the air on a broomstick; now he came back to them in peace and
gentleness. Before he had laid sacrilegious hands upon the Holy Bible in
the sacred pulpit; now he opened the same reverently and read from
thence the words of eternal life. The change was indeed marvellous, and
Newberg proudly set him down as a second Paul the Apostle.

Della was dreadfully seasick on the ocean voyage, and, as she often
declared, it seemed she never became completely well again. Owing to
this delicate state of her health, the St. Legers did not accompany
their companions to the field assigned them, a small town in the
interior, but remained in Constantinople, at the house of Dr. Adams,
resident Protestant minister of that city.

It was not until after the birth and death of her first child, when her
health became somewhat reinstated, that Della was able to accompany her
husband to their contemplated mission. Here they rejoined their
companions of a year ago; Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, and Mr. and Mrs. Dodd. It
had been a former mission until recently abandoned; the houses, small
and inconvenient at best, had either been appropriated or fallen to
decay.

A few rooms had been made habitable, and here the missionaries had taken
up their abode. Cheerless it seemed and disheartening to Philip and
Della, as they saw no progress at all made in the objects of their long
journey, but every effort consumed in struggles for daily bread.

"What have you been doing?" asked the St. Legers, so wonderingly as to
convey almost a reproach.

"The same as yourselves," retorted the Fishers and the Dodds, "nursing
our healths to make us well."

"We will all begin together then," said Philip pacifyingly.

"As soon as you please; you shall lead and we will follow," answered the
associates.

Notwithstanding this ebullition of energy at the outset, month after
month, nay, year after year elapsed without the least material progress.
What was termed a school would be sometimes kept up for weeks together,
at which some few children could be coaxed to come; but after the
supply of pictures, ornaments, etc., with which they had been attracted
gave out, the attendance languished and the idle urchins sought
amusement elsewhere.

Bibles were flung out with a lavish hand to men, women, and children who
had never before possessed such a treasure as a book; and this book
might for them just as well have been a bundle of old almanacs, for all
printed language was Greek to them. And they, these missionaries, did
not believe that the mere possession of the holy word of God could
impart or draw down God's grace upon the possessor; for that would be
akin to the miraculous, and they eschewed faith in miracles.

An attempt was made at expounding and hearing the word of God on
Sundays. There was good enough will in these expositions, but the ears
and the hearts for receiving were far away. People, it is true, would
come some days in crowds, but it was not for instructions; they went as
young America goes to see a band of turbaned Turks, or Barnum's latest
humbug.

Where was the use of spending so many persons' energies upon such a
stolid, indifferent, intractable people? They were wedded to their
idols, why not leave them alone? Why should they cast pearls before
swine?

These were questions the missionaries asked themselves; and answered
too, if not to their satisfaction, to the best of their ability. Their
time became more and more consumed in the care of their increasing
families.

These missionaries in their home-reports might well speak of hardships.
The women were often sick, help could but rarely be obtained, and then
of the poorest quality; thus these gentlemanly graduates of Yale,
Dartmouth, and Princeton had often not only to cook meals for the
family, but to wash, iron, attend the sick wife and helpless infants,
and suffer all the anxieties and annoyances that human flesh is heir to.
What wonder that they came gradually to lose sight of the grand
aspirations that had animated their early manhood? To forget, as it
were, the objects and aims of their holy mission, and to sink into the
mere _paterfamilias_, like other good masters of families? There seemed
no alternative; the routine of domestic duties must be accomplished; the
sick must be attended to; hungry mouths must be fed, fast-coming forms
must be clothed. Where was the time to go forth seeking the heathen or
compelling him to come in? The wife and children could neither be taken
nor left alone. In fact, the missionaries found to their great surprise,
as all experienced men have found, that the care of a family is a
never-ceasing, all-engrossing responsibility. The outside work could be
very small indeed; all had to centre in that one spot, home. They
cultivated small gardens, and in this way eked out their subsistence on
the small salaries received from the Board of Missions.

Thus lived they from year to year, hopeless of the present, but
overflowing with hopes for the future. Though they could labor not _now_
in Christ's vineyard, they might do so by and by; though they might live
to behold no fruit of their labors, they might, unknown even to
themselves, have sown the good seed, and their children's children, and
the children of heathendom might arise up and call them blessed.

Della Lisle's life--or rather Della St. Leger's--in the land of her
adoption, lasted but five years; she had buried two little children,
who, so brief was their existence, could scarcely be said to have lived
at all. As her third trial was approaching and her health in wretched
state it was deemed best that she should be taken by easy stages to
Constantinople, where English medical advice could be procured. The
journey proved invigorating, and Della landed at Dr. Adams' in almost as
good health as when she had left, more than four years previously.

There was always good company at the house of Dr. Adams. English and
American travelers, whether religious or not, were wont to claim his
hospitality.

Upon the arrival of the St. Legers, a very interesting gentleman was
spending a few days; he bore the common name of Chase, but he was no
common man. Though still in the prime of life, he had traveled the world
over, made himself conversant with all languages, manners, and customs,
studied into all fanaticisms and all religions, and if he had ended in
having faith in none, as such people often do, he admirably kept his own
counsel.

After coffee, the Doctor with his guests withdrew to the open court;
distributing a Turkish pipe to each, he sat himself down upon his
cushion, prepared to listen to this traveled friend with his usual
animation.

Dr. Adams' house being head-quarters for missionaries coming and going,
and Philip St. Leger being at this time the third who had arrived
within a day or two, the others being still present, the conversation
naturally turned upon missionary life.

Now, Mr. Chase was a Yankee; and though a cultivated one, he had not
parted with an innate inquisitiveness, and had an off-hand way of asking
such questions as first presented. He catechised these three
missionaries as faithfully, even in presence of Dr. Adams, as if he had
been President of the American Board. He desired to know the number of
years spent in the work, the size and extent of their missions, the
number of actual converts, and also all about their own families and
modes of living.

Having apparently satisfied himself, Mr. Chase said, wheeling around to
the Doctor:

"The same story. In my various travels I have come frequently across
these missionary stations; you will pardon me if I tell you what you
cannot fail to know, that they are complete failures. In my opinion, the
money might be better expended in planting gunpowder."

The three youthful missionaries opened wide their eyes, but the Doctor
smoked away complacently.



CHAPTER VII.

THE DISTINGUISHED TRAVELER'S VIEWS.


Mr. Chase dropped his pipe, as if in a great hurry, and continued:

"Now, here are three missionaries, and they will excuse me, as I am
about to present to them a great truth--each of whom has left at his
respective station from two to four colleagues. There are then from ten
to fifteen men, with as many women and more children; the difficulty is
with these women and children; they are very dear, precious objects, I
have no doubt, in their own homes and in Christian lands, but they are
only clogs and drawbacks in such an enterprise as these young men are
engaged. A man alone can dive into forests, scale mountains, swim
rivers, fight lions, eat raw birds, make his bed in caves, or on solid
rock, lie down with the Indian, rise up with the Hindostan, do any and
every conceivable wild outlandish thing that the world's nations do; but
with a woman--pshaw, that alters the case."

"But there are instances of brave women," remarked the Doctor, "Look at
Lady Hester Stanhope, and Lady ----"

"But they were unmarried women. There are the Amazons of old too, and
Amazons are not wanting at the present time--but such do not come within
my category. From the very nature of the case, a man with a wife is
fettered; he cannot be absent from home twenty-four consecutive hours.
She is afraid of the dark, afraid of dogs and lions, of robbers and
murderers, afraid the children will get sick, or that 'something or
other will be sure to happen, as always does if he is away.' He too is
as uneasy as herself, meditates all sorts of mishaps, imagines the house
on fire, Johnny in the well, Fanny with a bean in her throat or a corn
in her ear, and is on thorns and briers until his own house circles him
around again. This is all right and natural for the ordinary domestic
man; but, as I understand it, the missionary undertakes God's work; he
renounces the world, its joys, comforts, friendships; he is no longer
his own; but his will, love, obedience, and work is all for God, his
Master, and for the heathen who know Him not. The truth is, the man who
considers himself called to missionary labors should leave his wife
behind him; that is, he should have no wife."

The Doctor, who was now a man of sixty, had been thrice married, and was
now entertaining thoughts of a fourth wife, took his pipe from his lips
and said emphatically:

"You are an extremist, Mr. Chase, you speak thus perhaps because it has
been your lot to lead a single life; but, let me tell you, I think our
missionaries sacrifice enough, without being obliged to come wifeless
among negroes, Hindoos, South-sea islanders, and Cannibals. A dreary
life at best--unendurable without companionship. You wouldn't get a man
to sail under the conditions you propose."

"Did the Apostles have wives and children pulling after them?" continued
Mr. Chase. "Imprisoned, stoned, beaten, and scoffed, was their life less
dreary than should be the missionary's of to-day? What says St.
Paul--'thrice was I stoned, thrice was I beaten with rods, thrice I
suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep.' Do you
suppose it ever occurred to that mighty, God-like spirit, even in the
lowest depth of his worldly misery, that it would be a comfort to have a
wife come to weep with him, to hand him fresh gown and sandals? Never so
far fell that grand soul from its exalted repose upon the bosom of the
infinite! From that source whence he drew courage sublimer, faith
diviner, and strength irresistible, which no woman's heart or hand could
aid in evoking! Ah, that was a glorious St. Paul."

"You are eloquent, sir, as all of us might well be over such a subject,"
said the Doctor; "but you must remember that only one St. Paul has ever
lived."

"Though he has been a model for many. I don't know--only _one_ St. Paul?
I think if we look back into history--say, take the Fathers of the
Desert--there was St. Jerome, a grand old man, St. Augustine, with less
of fire, but of lofty faith, St. Ephrem, there, in him you have a St.
Paul in eloquence; you will remember that his words were wont to flow so
rapidly that his frequent exclamation was--'O Lord, stay the tide of Thy
grace.' Why, the number is countless whose labors, toils, and
self-denials were gigantic. St. Benedict, St. Wilfred, St. Bernard stand
out--"

The Doctor having thrown down his pipe and commenced walking the floor,
here interrupted his enthusiastic guest:

"O, if you go to taking up the Roman Catholic calendar of Saints, you
will find plenty of fish in illimitable waters; but that is out of our
line of coasting, you must know; and we are not in the habit of
associating St. Paul with any of these latter-day Saints."

"Please allow me, Dr. Adams, you know I am a privileged person. My
last-named Saint, Bernard, lived at least four hundred years before
Luther and John Knox, and Wilfred and Benedict much nearer to Christ
than to us, the latter having been separated in time but four centuries
from his Lord; but let us not contend upon this point; I cheerfully
admit my own superior admiration for the converted persecutor of the
Christians."

"If his like has not been seen through eighteen hundred years, we may
not look for it in the nineteenth century," remarked the Doctor.

"I still insist, however," said the indomitable Mr Chase, "that he has
had many imitators; and that brings us back to the subject whence we
have strayed, and upon which I have not said all that I had intended. I
was going to remark, after asserting that missionaries should leave
their wives at home, that the success of Catholic missionaries
illustrates the truth of this."

"I beg you to remember," interposed the Doctor, testily, "that we do not
wish to be compared in any way, shape, or manner with the Catholic
missionaries. You might just as well compare us to the heathen who
worship idols."

Mr. Chase continued, a little more mildly than before:

"The question is not, my dear Doctor, a comparison between your religion
and theirs. I understand very little indeed about their religion. But
their object and yours is the same; by every means in your power to
induce souls ignorant of the Saviour to believe and accept the truths
you hold out; this is your mission, and this is theirs. You come with
your families, you make a home--you stay there--waiting for the heathen
to come to you; your wife is nervous, she likes not the uncouth looks
and ways of your barbarians; she is neat and she does not like her white
floor to be soiled by the dirty feet of your savages. Nervous, neat, and
timid herself, she meets their gaze anything but smilingly--even savages
are human, and know well enough how to take a hint. Her involuntary
dislike is returned with interest, and her husband's influence and
usefulness is at an end, even before being established."

"You judge us harshly," complained Dr. Adams, glancing at the
dissatisfied countenances of his younger friends, "some missionaries
have most excellent wives."

"Do not understand me as saying one word against any missionary's wife;
far be it from me. As a class, I have no doubt they are most estimable.
But women are women all the world over, and experience convinces me that
in the place they occupy as wives of missionaries they are only greatly
in the way. Now the Roman Catholics--and I am no friend to their
religion, as you very well know--as missionaries, are those only who
have met with success. _They_ attribute it to the grace of God following
their efforts, in accordance with the divine promise, 'Go teach all
nations, and lo, I am with you to the end of the world.' I have visited
their missions in every part of the world; in North and South America,
in Africa, Europe, Asia, and many islands of the sea--and in fact this
really did confound me, though I have been almost everywhere under the
sun, these missionaries were already there, working away as for dear
life--well, as I was saying, I have been in many a place where, to get
the least comfort at all, I was compelled to put up with them; and, I
always went away soothed, refreshed, and consoled. I assure you it is
wonderful; they go among the natives, and to a certain extent become one
of them; they win their confidence, treat them kindly, share with them
food and drink, sleep in their houses and tents, and by and by
insensibly have become their masters. Then how easy to teach them
anything! Now they couldn't do this with troops of women and children
along; so I came to the conclusion that their remarkable success in the
conversion of heathen nations was to be attributed to the absence of
these hindering appendages."

"But you must have found nuns as missionaries in some places."

"You know they are invisible to us profane people. They do have charge
of schools in some missions--but then, cannot you perceive that a dozen
of nuns, independent and self-supporting, is a very different
institution from a dozen of married women and half a dozen dozen small
responsibilities?"

The Doctor laughed good-humoredly.

"You stick to your point like the bark to a tree," he said. "What do you
say, young gentlemen," addressing his silent, but ill-pleased guests,
"are you convinced that you have made a blunder, and are you ready to
set about retrieving it?"

St. Leger answered, with a voice that slightly trembled with
indignation:

"I am convinced, Dr. Adams, that the learned gentleman who is so
conversant with the subject of missions, should seek and find his true
and proper position in the bosom of those successful idolaters he so
greatly admires."

"Why, you take it to heart," said the Doctor. "Had you known Mr. Chase
as long and well as I have, you would make a different estimate of his
remarks;" and he turned the subject, for, in truth, he was not at all
pleased with these plainly spoken views, deeming them entirely uncalled
for and inapropos. He hastened to call out the distinguished traveler
upon a less distasteful theme.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE VISITATION--BY SPIRIT AND BY DEATH.


When Philip retired to his room that night he was surprised to find his
wife still awake. "What a wonderful man that is who has been
entertaining you this evening," she said.

"Wonderful fool!" ejaculated the pious missionary, whose disturbed
temper had not yet become altogether serene.

Della was quite thrown back by so unwonted an exclamation, and remained
silent. At length Philip said:

"What do you know about him? where have you seen him? haven't you spent
the whole evening in this room?"

"Yes, but the windows open upon the court; I have heard every word."

"And heard no good of yourself, either," remarked Philip, snappishly.

Her husband was in so unusual a mood that Della hesitated about entering
upon the conversation she had intended. She was impulsive, however, and
did not like to wait.

"Philip, I want to say something," said she, gently.

"Well, say away," was his ungracious permission.

"I thought you had something to say," he said again, more gently, as
Della remained silent.

"It was only this: I had been thinking the same thing," she said, almost
in a whisper.

Now Philip knew very well what his wife meant. _He_, too, had thought
the same thing. But he pretended to be in the dark, and abruptly
demanded:

"The same _what_ thing? Why must you speak so enigmatically?"

"O, Philip, you could have done so much more and better without me. I
have done nothing, and have hindered you."

"And what are you going to do about it?" said Philip, coldly.

"Why, Philip, what _is_ the matter with you? How strangely you answer
me!" cried Della, excitedly.

"Never mind me now, Della I am not myself to-night; go to sleep."

Truly, thought Della, he is not himself; so she prudently resolved to
defer her "something to say" to a more favorable season.

For the next eight or nine hours Philip's mind was in a whirlpool. While
a student at Princeton, the lectures of Cardinal Wiseman had chanced to
fall in his way. He read them with avidity, particularly those "On the
Practical Success of the Protestant Rule of Faith in Converting Heathen
Nations," and "On the Practical Success of the Catholic Rule of Faith in
Converting Heathen Nations." They left upon his mind unpleasant
impressions, and created doubts and misgivings which his tutors could
with difficulty dispel. But he shut his eyes, blinded his mind, and
allowed the hour of his visitation to pass by. Now, the words of this
Mr. Chase, a stray traveler, roaming through the world without aim or
object, so far as known, had aroused this slumbering phantom of the
past, and provoked, if not challenged, him anew. He recalled the story
of Catholic missions that had read to him like a continuation of
Apostolic labors; statistics, gathered altogether from Protestant
sources, showed them to be overwhelmingly successful; the gift of
miracles and the gifts of the Holy Ghost had descended upon them, and
crowns of martyrdom numerous and shining. He had even thought with a
thrill that had he never met Della it would be glorious to join this
lion-hearted band, whose symbol was the ever-upborne Cross! But there
had avalanched down upon this temporary glow such a storm of ridicule
against Transubstantiation, worship of the Blessed Virgin and of dead
men's bones and cast-off garments, and the putrified corruptions of the
Man of Sin generally, that the one generous, struggling spark was
extinguished. Of the great Protestant Foreign Missionary Society, for
which so much money had been expended, so many millions of Bibles
distributed, so many glowing reports printed, Philip St. Leger was now a
part, knew all its ins and outs--alas! its outs.

This was the reason Mr. Chase's remarks had so fretted him: because of
the truth which he was unwilling to receive. To himself this young
missionary had admitted long before that a married man was too much
cumbered for his undertaking. At the same time he mentally insisted
that in that foreign land life without his wife would be to him
intolerable. It was truly distressing and discouraging that five years
had passed by with but the most trifling results. He thought, and not
for the first time, that were he settled in the faraway, quiet village
of Newberg, his life might not pass away so unprofitably. But he had put
his hand to the plough; should he now turn back?

The dissatisfied missionary passed a sleepless night; he murmured and
repined; he was not willing to ascribe praise to his Roman Catholic
brethren, nor to admit their right to claim the promise of our Lord to
be with them unto the end. The result was that he resisted the spirit,
and allowed this second visitation to pass by, leaving him more
self-determined than before. Therefore, with the dawn of day, he
resolutely dismissed the subject, with emphasis asserting: "I am a
Protestant; I will live and work with my Protestant brethren. We must
admit nothing on the part of our adversaries; we must make our claims as
bold as theirs."

When, therefore, a few days after, Della renewed the subject, he was
prepared to quiet her scruples.

"And is their success, then, so really wonderful as this gentleman
declares?" she inquired.

"Not at all. Doubtless in many places they do gain a temporary success,
but this is easily accounted for. The Catholic religion lies in outward
observances. They have so much show and ceremony that the ignorant
native is necessarily attracted. The dress, altar, lights, bell, all
have their part in alluring the curious. They think there must be some
great mystery connected with so much paraphernalia. They are naturally
willing to be let into the secret. But there is nothing in it at all to
convert the heart or convince the understanding. When these useless
accessories are removed, the converted heathen, as he is called,
relapses into barbarism."

"It has seemed to me, though, Philip, that if we had only something in
our service to attract the attention, we would have a great advantage;
that is the first and principal thing to get people together. By having
something to win their curiosity, a great point is gained. Giving them a
Bible is like giving them a stone for bread--they can make nothing out
of it," said Della, decidedly.

"But when they have the teachings of the Bible once thoroughly impressed
upon their minds, does it not stand to reason they would be better and
more persevering Christians?" asked Philip.

"Very likely. But the difficulty is to make this impression. We tell the
heathen, man, woman, or child, that Christ died on the Cross to redeem
us. Would he not lend us more earnest attention if we illustrated our
instruction by exhibiting to him an image of the Cross and the
Crucified--in short, if we taught him, as did the ancients, the whole
story of Redemption, and the establishment of the Church, by series of
pictures and images?"

"What is the use of going back thousands of years ago when we are living
in the nineteenth century? Why not make use of the art of printing since
we have it?"

"Certainly, wherein it is of advantage. But the majority of those whom
the missionary seeks to instruct are beyond the reach of that admirable
art. Letters have for them no meaning; books are for them only to look
at; and with a picture the eye is instructed and more pleased."

"Let us send to Rome for a cart-load of Madonnas, crucifixes, beads, and
all the et ceteras for satisfying and perpetuating superstition and
ignorance," said Philip, sarcastically.

Della was sensitive to ridicule and remained silent. Her husband
continued:

"Or, since you deem yourself a supernumerary in your present vocation,
suppose you allow me to pack you off in the return-cart to the Eternal
City, that is said to sit over the mouth of Il Inferno. You may kiss the
toe of his Holiness, and humbly ask penance for the rest of your mortal
life for having presumed to be a Protestant missionary's wife, and
carried the Bible to the dying heathen."

"The subject is too serious for any such nonsense," remarked the wife,
gravely. "The question is _how_ to convert the heathen. It seems to me
the true missionary of the Cross should not be above receiving prudent
suggestions from whatever source; more particularly ourselves, who are
inexperienced in the work."

"You are right, Della, as you always are," replied the husband, more
sincerely. "I have been revolving the subject over, and have come to a
firm resolution to turn over a new leaf on our return to the mission. If
Mrs. Fisher were not so peevish and Mrs. Dodd so distressingly
particular, we could get along better in the kitchen; the native girls
would do better, and improve. If you were to oversee that department, I
think there would be a change greatly for the better. The truth is, I
believe those women are afraid of being poisoned. They ought to give
their time in the school. If they tried to make it interesting there
would be a better attendance. It is all nonsense to spend one's whole
time in getting up dainty dishes, and _recherché_ toilets for one's
babies. At all events we must arouse ourselves from this slough of
indifference and give our best energies to the work. We have not made
half a trial yet. How can we expect success to follow aught but
energetic effort?"

Distance lent enchantment. Now that the missionaries were hundreds of
miles away, the labors of the mission seemed easy of accomplishment, and
the daily, hourly difficulties and hindrances dwindled into
insignificance.

Scarcely a month later and Philip St. Leger bent in thankfulness over a
little daughter, which the doctor said might live.

"We will call her Della," said Philip to his wife.

"Not Della, but Althea. I give her to God, Philip. May she do for Him
what I have not been able."

Philip had turned to his wife that he might the better catch her feeble
whispers. O, the dread that rushed through his heart! A ghastly pallor
was spread over the face, a convulsive spasm distorted for a moment the
sweet mouth.

"I am going--O, Philip," she said, wildly, and ere he had time to call
on God for mercy she was gone.

"Good God, doctor, is she really dead?" cried Philip, as soon as he
could speak to the physician upon the opposite side, whose fingers now
let fall the pulseless wrist.

"All is over," answered the physician, sadly.

"Why did you not call me sooner if you saw the danger? How dared you not
inform me at once?" demanded Philip.

"Pray be quiet, my dear sir. It was very sudden--entirely
unanticipated--although I had been suspecting disease of the heart. Her
lungs were a good deal affected, but her heart I think the immediate
cause of her death. Otherwise, she was doing nicely, bravely, better
than could be expected. You have met with a great loss, sir--a wonderful
loss--your wife was a noble woman. God help you!"

Della St. Leger was buried by the side of the first and third Mrs.
Adams, the second having been buried on an island in the sea. The latter
had been a Southern lady, and had brought with her a colored woman, at
that time her slave. This person, Minerva by name, remained still an
invaluable member of Dr. Adams' household. To her care the little
motherless Althea was entrusted; and Philip St. Leger, with what heart
may be imagined, went back alone to his dreary mission.



CHAPTER IX.

THE NEW CHOICE.


We have given a more thorough retrospect of the missionary's antecedents
than did he to his friend on that memorable night at Kennons. But the
gleam of his flashing eye, and the glow of the sparkling flame into
which he gazed was like flint to flint; and to us was it given
mysteriously to read the fiery flashes thus revealed.

From the death of Della, he went on to inform his brother-in-law that he
had brought back his child in care of the faithful Minerva, whom he had
left with his younger sister for the present. He did _not_ tell him that
the real object of his present visit to America was to take to himself a
wife for the second time. This, however, he might, have told, had he not
found his friend in such affliction, as that any news of this kind must
have grated upon him harshly.

Indeed, several months previously he had written to the principal of the
Seminary for her to select a suitable young lady for his future wife.
This was not the first time her offices had been solicited in this line;
but she was an elderly lady, sensible and practical, and naturally
thought that a missionary's second wife should be distinguished for
something more than youth and beauty.

Accordingly, when, upon Philip's arrival in his native city, he had
visited his friends, and disposed of his daughter, he called upon Madame
X--, she presented to him her choice for Mrs. St. Leger, in the person
of Miss Arethusa Toothaker, the eldest, tallest, most sedate young lady
of her establishment.

Miss Toothaker was of an uncertain age, though she called herself
twenty-seven--was tall, as we have said, and slender, had a long, narrow
head, which she carried on a neck too long, had very red cheeks, small
snapping black eyes, very thin hair, of which she wore in front two very
meagre curls done in cork-screw style, held her broad shoulders high, as
if vainly striving to get them far as possible from her long, ant-like
waist--well, this is enough, for at the very first glance Philip St.
Leger turned away his eyes and closed his heart.

Upon taking his leave Philip informed Madame that Miss Toothaker would
not do.

Madame was surprised; "She would make a worthy companion," insisted the
principal, "and the dream of her life has been to become the wife of a
missionary."

The missionary smiled--he would not disturb her dreams for the
world--but "would Madame X--allow him to be present at the morning
exercises of the school some day?"

"Certainly, any morning you please--to-morrow, if agreeable, you can
open school with prayer and address some useful remarks to the young
ladies."

On the following morning was great commotion in the ranks of the young
ladies. The handsome, distinguished foreign missionary was to open
school. At the "let us pray," a hundred young heads rested upon the
upraised right hand; but it is to be feared that authorized devotional
attitude was sadly infringed upon, for, when he pronounced "Amen" sooner
than was anticipated, he encountered so many bright admiring eyes that a
less self-possessed person than Philip might have been abashed. As our
hero had studied his speech, however, he was able to commence and go
through without the slightest embarrassment. His keen eye swept the
array of youth and beauty before him, and so quick was he in arriving at
conclusions, his choice was made before his remarks were ended.

A person of less penetration might have chosen many another than Emily
Dean. There were several among her compeers of more beauty and
brilliance. But Philip St. Leger was a good judge of character; he had
but to look upon a face to read the heart. He had loved Della Lisle from
hearing her voice, and from one glance at her countenance. Emily Dean
wore her hair, like hers also in color and abundance, as had Della. In
this only was resemblance, unless in a certain pensiveness of expression
and pose of attitude.

Madame X--was again surprised, when, in the afternoon of the same day,
the missionary asked for an interview with "the young lady who had
occupied the fifth seat on the right hand side of the third row, who
wore her hair somewhat like a crown, and was dressed in pale blue."

"Ah! Emily Dean--a very fine girl--but is she not too young--hardly
nineteen?"

"I myself am not a Methuselah," remarked the missionary, somewhat
piqued that although but thirty-one, he should be esteemed too
unsuitably old for even the youngest of Madame X----'s pupils.

"Of course--O certainly--of course--I beg your pardon," said the lady
hastily, "but a missionary's wife, you know--there is much to be
considered."

Philip, evidently bent upon doing his own considering, pursued his
inquiries, and gained the interview. He proposed to the young lady in
presence of the principal, and in so very business-like a way as
convinced both the elder and the younger that there was more
practicability beneath that poetical exterior, than the latter would
have suggested or warranted them in believing.

Philip was not long in discovering Emily Dean to be the eldest child of
an independent farmer in Western New York. She had four sisters and
three brothers younger than herself. "With such a family, the father can
more easily part with this daughter," thought Philip; and he started off
on the next train to visit the family of the Deans.

Emily he found to be a favorite in the household. His proposition to
take her with him "away to the barbarous Turk" was received with
consternation and tears. The more, that it was felt, from the first,
that if she wished it they should have to give her up.

The enthusiastic suitor proposed the father should at once go for his
daughter and conduct her home. To all objections and demurrers as to
haste and postponement Philip had a ready and eloquent answer. There was
no gain-saying this ardent pleader.

The farmer left his host of potato-gatherers and apple-pickers and went
off on the express. In twenty-four hours he returned with his daughter.
Philip would have given no time for preparations--but in this he was
forced to yield.

The parents insisted their eldest daughter should have a wedding
_trousseau_--it was not meet she should set out on so long a voyage,
across the ocean of water, and the ocean of married life, in the
condition of Miss Flora McFlimsey. So Philip St. Leger took this
interval of time for his flying trip to his brother-in-law in Virginia.

But he found, as we have seen, the gloom of death spread over Kennons.
Had he needed aught to convince him anew of the evanescent nature of all
beneath the sun, he found it here. It was indeed painful to contrast the
joy and happiness of this Southern home of little more than six years
ago, and the present desolation. In that joy he had shared--in this
gloom was his own heart wrung. In the moment of mournful silence that
followed his long; discourse and Duncan's, life seemed to him not worth
the living, and rising from his chair he said, with marked emphasis:

"Duncan, my friend, we are but travelers of a day. Our life, like that
fire, goes out in ashes. The night comes, and we sleep. _Do_ we rise
again? Does this corruption put on incorruption--this mortal put on
immortality? O, could I hear a voice from Heaven say unto me '_Yes_,' I
should be comforted!"

"Why, Philip! Have you, too, doubts? God Almighty help us, when the
faith of His ministers falters!"

"Bear with me now, Duncan; the darkness in my soul is deep and terrible
to-night; death and the grave seem the only sure certainties we have in
this world. Morning may bring me right again, if another morning remain
for me. Let us sleep--and good night!"

The friends separated--and Duncan pondered on the missionary's last
words. They seemed prophetic; and he almost expected, when he sent
Grandison to his room on the following morning, to see that servant
return with direful news. Not so. Philip appeared about ten o'clock,
declaring he had slept well, and felt much refreshed. He remained for
several days at Kennons, during which time the grave of Ellice was
opened, and a tiny coffin let down upon her own; mother and child were
re-united; and as Philip offered a prayer over the fresh-thrown earth, a
ray of stronger faith enkindled his heart. Philip talked of his own
little girl to Duncan Lisle:

"I had intended leaving her with my sister Estelle, who was my favorite.
She was much attached to Della," said Philip; "But I found Estelle's
husband does not like children; besides, she has three of her own, the
eldest but a baby, and twins younger. Leonora is well married, but
devoted to society, has no children of her own, and no idea of being
troubled with other people's. I could not leave her with my mother, even
though she had not been an invalid. My only resource was to entrust her
with Juliet, who was but recently married, and who, with her husband,
received the child delightedly. I do not feel at all satisfied with the
arrangement, but it was the best I could do. Juliet is good-hearted,
over-affectionate, and will be kind to the child; but she is rather
simple-minded, frivolous, and variable. Her husband is a kind, sensible
man, but he was raised a Roman Catholic. Juliet tells me that he is not
much of anything now; but I doubt it, for he insisted on being married
by the priest, before the ceremony at St. Mark's; and then again, the
idea of one who has been raised a Catholic ever being anything else
_but_ a Catholic. It is preposterous. I have charged Juliet to see that
no influence is ever brought to bear upon the mind of my child as she
advances in years--but I have still grave fears. Possibly the time may
come when you can remove her to Kennons, say, for a year or so, at a
time; it would be a source of pleasure to me to have Althea beneath the
roof under which her excellent mother was reared."

Duncan but too gladly promised to keep an oversight of the child; he
would occasionally visit her during her infancy, and his home should
ever be open to her; had Ellice lived she should have known no other.

The friends, newly attached, took sad leave of each other. Duncan leaned
upon the gate, and watched the other as he rode slowly through the lane.
Had the feet of the horse been mounting stairs that led upward to the
skies, Duncan would not have felt more sure that Philip was passing
forever from his view.

"Traveling, he one way, I another, yet both to the same goal--eternity,"
mused Duncan.

As he spoke, a carriage came in view, hiding the retreating traveler. He
discerned at a glance that the carriage, drawn by fiery, coal-black
steeds, was that of Mrs. Rush, He remained by the gate until the driver
drew rein, and the bright, glowing face of the lady put itself out of
the window.

"So, Mr. Lisle, your friend has already gone. I had no idea he was going
so soon. I am so sorry. I was going to have had you over to dinner
to-day. As it is, you can come, Mr. Lisle,--you and Hubert."

Duncan Lisle pleaded indisposition, and politely declined.

"But what are you going to do? House yourself up and mope yourself to
death?" persevered the handsome widow. "I know how it is, and that you
must feel a disinclination to society; but one must make an effort, you
know. Come, I will take you right over in my carriage; there is plenty
of room. Come, Hubert, come, jump in;" and the little boy, very willing,
sprang up to the side of the carriage. His father went to assist him.

"Hubert may go, but, really, I cannot, Mrs. Rush. You must excuse me.
Another time, perhaps."

"But I don't excuse you, Mr. Lisle. I am so disappointed You know what a
splendid cook my Dinah is, and I ordered her to do her best. But then I
suppose if you won't, you won't, and there's an end of it; is that so?"

"That is so, Madam," and touching his hat gracefully, he bade her an
inaudible "good-morning," and turned away.

Mrs. Rush ordered Washington, her coachman, to drive home. She was
disappointed and chagrined, but not discouraged. She was vain as a
peacock or Queen Elizabeth. Like another _Dorcasina_, she fancied every
man to be her _inamorata_. She had never abandoned the idea that Duncan
Lisle had been once in love with her. She had been encouraged in this
delusion by the duplicity of her servants, who, to propitiate her favor,
had been in the habit of repeating false expressions of his admiration
and regard.

"If all reports are true, he thinks more of you this day than he does of
Miss Ellice," said one.

"Everybody knows that Duncan Lisle worships the ground you tread on, and
always did. Miss Ellice happened to come along and just inveigled him,
that is all; he is sorry enough, you may 'pend," falsified another.

"He always _was_ talking about how mighty han'some you was, and what
beautiful eyes you had," declared a third, and so it went, and credulous
Mrs. Rush laid the flattering unction to her soul that she was the one
woman in the world for Duncan Lisle.

"It is only for looks' sake; he wanted to come bad enough, you may bet
on that," said Dinah to her mistress, when informed that she had got up
her great dinner for nobody but little Master Hubert.

As to Hubert, after he was through with his good dinner, he had anything
but a pleasant visit. Thornton Rush--his name was Jude Thornton
Rush--was a few months older than Hubert, He possessed the beauty of his
mother, with the dark, hidden nature of his father. He was stubborn,
morose, and quarrelsome. He abounded in bad qualities, but if there was
one which excelled another, it was cunning and duplicity. These were so
combined as really to form but one. Had he been a man and termed
_Jesuitical_, in the Protestant sense, that term would have aptly
described him. Now Hubert was not perfect more than other children, but,
compared to Thornton Rush, he was a little saint. His organ of
combativeness frequently waged stern conflicts with his bump of
reverence. His sense of right was keen as his sensitiveness against
wrong and falsehood. He was, like his mother, frank and open as the day,
generous, disinterested, and unselfish.

What should happen, then, when these two natures came together? What but
thunder and lightning, as when two clouds meet?

Duncan Lisle thought about this as he saw his boy borne away from him,
and he resolved to go over for him very soon after dinner. He arrived
just in time to rescue him, bruised and bleeding, from the fists and
fury of Thornton Rush. The quarrel had commenced in this way: Thornton
had asserted that everything at Thornton Hall was his; Hubert had
nothing. Hubert admitted as much, insisting, however, that all at
Kennons was his.

"No such thing," denied Thornton. "Everything at Kennons is your
father's; you have nothing."

"Well," said the other, "so everything at Thornton Hall is your
mother's, and not yours."

"No such thing. I am the master of Thornton Hall. My father is dead,
sir."

"Yes, I know that."

"You know that! And is that all you can say? Say that I am master of
Thornton Hall, and that you are nobody but Hubert Lisle," said
Thornton, intent upon a quarrel.

"I shall say no such thing."

"But you will, sir, and I can make you. I am stronger than you are, and
I have bigger fists. Look here, aren't you afraid?" shaking his clenched
fist in the other's face.

"No, I am _not_ afraid," spoke Hubert boldly, striving to grapple with
his stronger foe.

So engaged were the boys, they heard not the approach of Mr. Lisle,
till, having dismounted from his horse, he seized Thornton by the collar
and flung him afar, as he would have done a wild cat.

Mrs. Rush, who had seen the whole from the window, and enjoyed it
immensely, now thought it worth while to come upon the scene.

"What does all this mean?" as if just surprised. "Thornton Rush, you
will be punished for this. Have you no better manners than to treat your
young visitor in that way? Really, Mr. Lisle, I am truly distressed, and
offer you a thousand apologies. Please do not take Hubert home in that
condition; bring him to the kitchen and let Dinah bathe his face and
hands. How unfortunate this should have occurred!"

Mr. Lisle complied, and waited until his boy was brought to him in a
more presentable condition; then he went away, very wroth indeed in
heart, but outwardly calm and composed.



CHAPTER X.

"A DREAM WHICH WAS NOT ALL A DREAM."


As the missionary journeyed northward, his mind emerged from the gloom
of the last few days. It naturally turned upon the young girl who was so
soon to become his bride, and in this connection life began again to
assume its rose-tints of old, and he was led to wonder how it was he had
so given way to grief and sadness. In recalling the trials and
disadvantages to which his young bride would be exposed at the mission,
a bright thought occurred to him. An American housekeeper would be
invaluable, and Miss Toothaker arose before him. She would no doubt
prove an excellent manager, and she was so unprepossessing in every way,
she would be unlikely to be appropriated by any widowed missionary. It
has been seen already that for Philip St. Leger to think and to act were
but quick, consecutive steps; it was so in this case. Upon his return to
Troy he called upon Madame X---- and explained his wishes. Miss
Toothaker was consulted, and accepted his proposition at once; she would
be on missionary ground at all events. True, she was conditionally
engaged to marry a Mr. Freeman Clarke, who was an itinerant preacher.
She had insisted that he should become a missionary. He had consented to
go as missionary to the Western frontiers. This did not meet Miss
Toothaker's views; foreign missionary or nothing. Mr. Clarke's
conscience did not send him to any Booriooboolah Gha, he said.

The engagement had been for some time in this state of contention, when
the proposal of going to Turkey as "assistant" put an end to it.

Miss Arethusa retired to her room triumphantly, and exultingly wrote to
her lover the facts in the case--except that she left him to infer that
she was going to Turkey, as she had always wished, a missionary's wife.

Now that Mr. Freeman Clarke's "blessing had taken its flight," it all at
once assumed that brightness of which the poet speaks. He would have
argued and urged, even consented to have gone to the ends of the earth,
but he saw from his lady's letter it was too late. He solaced himself
somewhat by replying to her dolorously, hoping that she might perceive
his heart was broken and be sorry. He closed loftily by saying: "You
advise me, my dear Arethusa--allow me to call you thus for the last
time--to find a heart worthier and better. It was unkind in you to urge
upon me an impossibility. None but Napoleon ever scorned the word
impossible."

Whether Mr. Freeman Clarke derived his inspiration for the itineracy
from his lady-love is not for us to decide; this much is certain: from
the day the "Atlantic" sailed for the Old World with Miss Toothaker on
board his zeal flagged, and soon gave out altogether. His love for
souls settled down upon one Annette Jones, the plain daughter of a plain
farmer, whom he married, and lived happily enough with upon a small,
rocky farm in the State of Vermont. In times of "revival," he became an
"exhorter," and very fervent in prayer. Upon one occasion he soared to
such a pitch as to cry out frantically: "O Lord, come down upon us now,
come down now through the roof, _and I will pay for the shingles_."[A]

There were two or three people present who thought such an address to
the Supreme Being blasphemous and frightful, but the rest of the crowd
cried, "Amen."

In due time our missionaries found themselves at the house of Dr. Adams.
The doctor was rejoiced to have back Minerva again, for he declared
nothing had gone on rightly since her departure.

Although Philip was well pleased with his second wife, he forgot not his
first. On the evening of his arrival he went out to visit her grave. As
he stood there mournful and silent, a light step approached, and Emily's
hand clasped his own.

"Is it _her_ grave?" she asked softly.

"Yes. You would not have me quite forget Della, would you?" he asked,
doubtfully.

"O, no, but I would remember her with you. I would stand here by her
grave with you, and offer up my prayers with yours that she may look
down upon us in love and blessing. I would not seek to drive her memory
from your heart. I do not consider that I have usurped her place. I
would have a place alongside of hers--if I am worthy, Philip." She
added the last words in a whisper, and doubtingly.

For the first time Philip perceived what a treasure he had won, and how
worthy a successor to his first love. He looked down in her tearful eyes
lovingly.

"Della in heaven and Emily on earth--as one I love you," he said,
fervently.

On the following day Philip took his bride out to view the wonders of
the city. They invited Miss Toothaker to accompany them, but were by no
means regretful that she declined. They little dreamed what was going on
in their absence. Suffice to say, when, after a few days of rest, they
began to make ready for departure, their "assistant" displayed not her
accustomed zeal and alacrity. This was accounted for on the last morning
of their stay.

Without warning or preliminaries, immediately after prayers, in fact,
upon rising from his knees, Dr. Adams walked up to the blushing Miss
Toothaker, and taking her happy hand, led her to the far end of the
room, placing himself and her in position.

"Before you leave, Mr. St. Leger, you will, if you please, do us the
favor"--(bowing low and smiling mellifluously) "you see how it is, sir,
and what we wish of you." The Doctor stammered, and was bashful,
although such a veteran in the service.

The bride elect held her head very erect; the red spots in her cheeks
glowed like double peonies; her two thin curls, done in oil for the
occasion, hung straight and stiff like pendant icicles nigrescent; her
sparkling black eyes looked apparently into vacuity, while they were
really beholding the acme of all her hopes. She was thinking in that
supreme moment of her life how very providential it was that she had
thrown overboard Mr. Freeman Clarke. Whether he was picked up or whether
the sharks devoured him, it occurred not to her to care. That she was
about to become the fourth wife of the Rev. Dr. Adams, foreign
missionary at the Capitol city of Turkey, was sufficient glory; she
could have afforded to quench the hopes, and tread upon the hearts of a
dozen such as that itinerant preacher. She had reserved herself for a
grand calling, her life would be written in a book, and _her_ name too,
along with the Judsons, the Newells, the Deans, would inspire Sunday
school scholars with zeal for missionary life unto the end of time.

But we are keeping them waiting.

Philip, always master of the situation, choked down his indignation and
spoke the words, "for better--for worse." His prayer was brief and dry,
without one bit of heart or spirit, but maybe it answered the purpose.

The Doctor, after the tying of the knot, did condescend to thank Philip
for his kindness in bringing him over a wife. Philip replied with
truthfulness that he merited no thanks.

And after all, once started again upon their inland journey, both Philip
and his wife regretted not the absence of Arethusa. They had endured her
company for sake of the advantage she was to prove to them in the
future; they now fully realized how much she had been in their way.

Philip's respect for the Doctor sensibly diminished. If he could endure
Miss Arethusa for the the rest of his life, his taste was abominable.
_De gustibus non disputandum est_; with this familiar reflection, Philip
turned to a subject more agreeable.

Thus had Arethusa's life-long dream of becoming a missionary's wife
proved neither illusive nor vain; and she had dropped the Toothaker.

[Footnote A: A fact.]



CHAPTER XI.

ALTHEA'S GUARDIANS.


The little Althea then, who is our heroine, when we shall come to her,
had been entrusted, somewhat unwillingly, to her aunt, Juliet St. Leger
Temple; Juliet never wrote her name only in full, as above. She was
proud of her maiden name. St. Leger was romantic, high-sounding,
aristocratic. Temple--well, Temple had been well enough in the early
days of her courtship. She thought she loved John Temple so very
profoundly that she would have married him even if he went by Smith or
Jones. She had read Charlotte Temple, and she knew people by that name
of great respectability; but since her marriage, she had discovered, on
the same street with her, a family of Temples who were snobbish and
vulgar. This put her out of conceit with her husband's name. John
Temple! so almost the same as James Temple, only a few squares below.
Who was to distinguish her, Mrs. Juliet St. Leger Temple, from the fat,
dowdyish, over-dressed, gaudy Mrs. Temple, who wore a wig, and whose
eyes squinted? Who, she questioned, when both went by the name of Mrs.
J. Temple, of M---- street? Her early married life was clouded by this
one grievance. She had still another; her husband was a Roman Catholic,
and would not go with her to St. Mark's Church. True, she had known him
to be a Catholic when she married him; but she had _not_ known or
dreamed that these Catholics were so set and obstinate in their
religion. He had been so reticent upon the subject that she had supposed
him quite indifferent. Once married, she could convert him; O, that
would be a very easy matter. He need go to St. Mark's but once to be so
delighted that he would wish to go there ever after. She had consented
to be married first by the priest in order that John Temple might see
the delightful difference between being married by Father Duffy at low
Mass in the early morning, while fashionables were still folding their
hands in slumber, and being married five hours after by the elegant Dr.
Browne, assisted by the Rev. Drs. Knickerbocker and Breck--with a
brilliant group of bridesmaids and groomsmen, and only the very _élite_
of fashion, full-dressed and perfumed, in attendance.

"I hope he will be captivated now; and that here will ooze out the last
gasp of his love for the religion of St. Patrick," the young bride had
said mentally.

But neither Dr. Browne, nor his beaming assistants, nor all the splendor
of St. Mark's made upon John Temple the least apparent impression.

The Sunday following the marriage witnessed quite a contention.

"And you say this positively, John, that you will not go with me to St.
Mark's, and on the very first Sunday, too?" cried Juliet, incredulous.
"I have told you all along that I would not go to your church," replied
John.

"But what possible harm could there be in your going just this once? Any
other man in the world would be proud to go with me in all my beautiful
bridal array. I assure you there is not another wardrobe in the city so
_recherché_ as mine. You yourself said you never saw such a love of a
hat, and my point-lace might be the pride of a princess. But, John, if
you would only go, I would be more proud of you than even anything and
all of my elegant dress. Now, John, dear, please say yes," and she laid
her hand on his arm, and looked up, as she vainly hoped, irresistibly in
his face.

But John shook off her hand impatiently, not deigning even to respond to
her look.

"Silence gives consent, and you will go," she said.

"Have I not told you once, twice, and thrice that I cannot go with you?"

"O, John, but I did not think you in such terrible earnest, and you are
not, I am sure. I thought you loved me so well you would do anything to
please me. Come now, just this once, this first Sunday after our
marriage. Think how it will look, and what will people say to see me
walk into church all alone--and our pew is far up in front?"

"Is it for the looks of the thing and for what people will say that you
go to church?" asked the husband, gravely.

"No, of course not; but then we must have some regard for the speech of
people, and how it will look for you to go off to one church and your
wife to another."

"Would you care to go with me, Juliet?"

"With you? To St. Patrick's? With all the Bridgets and Pats and Mikes of
the city? Do you think I could stoop so low? O, John Temple, you insult
me!" and the young wife burst into indignant tears.

John hurried to her with his handkerchief to wipe her eyes. She thrust
it away, declaring there was something about a gentleman's handkerchief
that made it abominable.

"Well, don't cry, dear," urged John, soothingly.

"It's all the comfort left me," sobbed Juliet.

"I simply followed your example," continued the husband. "You invited me
to your church, and I invited you to mine, that, as you said, we might
go together. I had no idea of urging you to go if it would be
disagreeable to you."

"There's a vast difference. If you go to St. Mark's you are among
elegant people. Every one's dress is in the height of fashion. You see
nothing low or vulgar. There is nothing to offend the senses. The very
thought of my going to St. Patrick's!" and the lady cast up her eyes as
if she were about to faint or to implore Heaven to save her from such a
horror.

"But you associate in society with the McCaffreys, the Dempseys, and the
Blakes, and many others of the congregation of St. Patrick."

"O, well, they probably started up from nothing, and are used to it;
they don't know any difference. But for me--a St. Leger! O, John, if
you love me, don't ever mention such a thing again; and if you love me,
John, a half or quarter as I love you, you will go with me to St.
Mark's. I will not go without you, and I shall cry myself into a
dreadful headache, and you can refuse me and see me suffer so when we've
been married but five days! O dear, dear, I thought I was going to marry
a man who would love me so well he would do everything in the world to
please me, and now here it is!" and Juliet fairly shook with sobs.

John Temple was a very matter-of-fact man; quite the reverse of his wife
in every respect. The wonder is how such opposites became attracted. He
understood very little of women's ways, and became fearful that his
young bride was on the borders of distraction. He felt himself justified
in remaining absent from Mass, and as he persevered in his resolution of
not accompanying Juliet to St. Mark's, both remained at home, where more
of clouds than sunshine reigned.

More than once during this scene John Temple was on the point of
yielding. Where was the harm after all? and it would be a pleasure to
gratify Juliet. But he remembered the promise he had made to himself and
his God, that, in marrying a Protestant wife, he would still keep aloof
from the Protestant Church. This promise kept him true. If once would
have answered, he might have gone once; but after that the battle would
have to be fought over again; the victory might be made complete in the
beginning.

The next day, while Mr. Temple was at his place of business, Juliet,
feeling herself very much injured, visited her rector, Dr. Browne. She
told him the whole story in her tragic way, including the insulting
proposal for her to go to St. Patrick's. She wished Dr. Browne would
contrive some way by which her her husband might be brought to terms.

Dr. Browne smiled.

"You will remember, Mrs. Temple," he said, "that your friends all warned
you in this matter of your marriage. It is so impossible for a Catholic
to become anything else, that it has become an adage, 'Once a Catholic,
always a Catholic.' Do not expect your husband to change; the leopard
might as well be expected to change his spots. Ephraim is joined to his
idols; let him alone. Let him go to his church, and you to yours. It is
not pleasant, but must be accepted as one of the conditions of your
marriage. Neither let it create trouble between you. Avoid religious
subjects. But as he will undoubtedly cling to his Church, so must you to
yours. Do not be prevailed upon to go with him; remain upon that point
firm as himself."

Thereafter Juliet concluded she had better make the best of it, and
by-and-bye it had ceased to become the "skeleton in the house," as at
first.

Had Juliet been less exacting and less demonstrative in her affection,
she would have made her husband a happier man. Coming home one day he
found her crying, as if her heart would break. To his eager inquiries as
to the cause, she replied, hysterically:

"You don't love me, John, and I am the most unhappy woman in the
world."

"Don't love you! What has put such a notion as that in your head?"

"You know you don't, John; that is enough."

"But if I tell you I do?"

"That is just what you never do tell me; that is what makes me so
miserable."

"Am I unkind to you? What have I done that you complain of?"

"You don't tell me every day that you love me."

"Bless me! You are not expecting me to repeat that over every day? Is
not once enough for all? Did I not prove it beyond all words by marrying
you?"

"I never expected our honeymoon to wane. If you calculated to settle
down at once into sober old married people, I did not, nor will I. I
wish we had never got married, and always stayed lovers; that was ever
so much nicer. Don't you say your _Ave Maria_ every day?"

"I do," answered John, "or rather I used to," failing to perceive what
connection this question could have with the subject.

"Well, then, why do you do that? Why don't you say it once for all and
have done with it, as you say of your love for me? But no, all your
devotion must be given to a woman that lived thousands of years ago! You
think more of her picture than of your own wife! This is what one gets
by marrying a Catholic!"

Juliet's temper was fast overcoming her grief.

John Temple was agitated by a variety of emotions. He looked at his
wife, who had re-buried her face in the sofa cushions, and thus
addressed her, inaudibly:

"You foolish, little simpleton! you ignorant little heretic!--destitute
both of religion and common sense. Good Heavens, what a wife! Jealous of
Mary, our Mother in Heaven! O, Holy Mary in Heaven, pray for her."

The dinner-bell rang.

"Come, Juliet," said her husband, kindly, "let us go to dinner; I am
hungry as a bear."

"You can go; I have no appetite, I never care to eat again as long as I
live," came out dismally from the depths of the pillows.

John ate a hearty dinner, when, failing to conciliate his wife, he went
to his office. No sooner had the hall-door closed on him than Juliet
arose out of her sackcloth and ashes, bathed her face, arranged her
hair, and proceeding to the dining-room, so far forgot her intention of
never eating again as to surprise the cook by her greediness. She then
dressed, ordered her carriage, and was driven to her mother's.

To this mother, who was a confirmed invalid, and confined to the house,
Juliet poured out the exaggerated tale of her grievances. It was not
enough that her husband was a Catholic; he was also heartless, stoical,
unsympathizing, and unloving.

Mrs. St. Leger listened silently to the end. At the conclusion she flew
into a rage.

"You shall go back to him no more," she exclaimed. "You see now the
folly of your persisting in marrying him. He was beneath you in every
respect. But you shall not live with him. My daughter shall not be
treated disdainfully by John Temple, an Irishman and a Catholic. I will
send for my lawyer and have divorce papers drawn at once. Ring for
Richard."

"But, mamma--I--I--I never thought of getting a divorce. I love my
husband. It is because I love him so well that I feel so bad if--if--"

"Juliet, you are a goose," interrupted the irritated parent; "if you are
so fond of your husband, what are you here for with your complaints? If
you are bound to live with him, why, live with him, and hold your
tongue. When it comes that you are willing to separate and get a
divorce, then come to me, but not till then."

Juliet returned to her home a wiser woman. The very thought of
separation from her husband was distracting. What was mother or sister
compared to him? She had really no doubt of his affection, and it
suddenly flashed upon her mind that such scenes as she had just gotten
up, if frequently repeated, might have a tendency to alienate him. She
would make it all up; she would tell him how sorry she was; she would be
so glad to see him; he _should_ love her, even though he did not tell
her so.

John came home that night wondering if he should find his wife's face
still hidden in the cushions, her hair standing out in a thousand
dishevelled threads. It was not a pleasant picture. Yet it _was_ a
pleasant picture that met him at the door. Juliet was all smiles, blooms
and roses. There was joy in her eyes, and gladness in her tones. Never
had she looked quite so beautiful to John Temple--even when first her
beauty won him. It was such a surprise! What wonder he committed the
folly--but no matter. Juliet learned a lesson to her advantage. Tears
and upbraidings had failed to move him. A happy face, smiles, charming
toilettes, joy at his coming had brought out those expressions which
demands had failed to elicit.

Juliet was not satisfied yet. She had to tell him how shocked she had
been at the mere thought of losing him. John opened his eyes, and felt
considerably hurt as she detailed the visit to her mother, and that
mother's proposition for a divorce. For Juliet touched very lightly upon
her own fault of having made outrageous complaints against him.
Nevertheless he felt convinced of the facts, knowing Juliet had gone
there with unkindness in her heart. By his repeated questionings she
admitted all, but he fully forgave her, considering the good results of
her thoughtless action.

On the day following this domestic breeze and subsequent calm, Philip
St. Leger had arrived from the Orient. Two months previously they had
been apprised of his coming. A family conclave had been held, at which
it had been decided that to Juliet should Philip's child be consigned;
for reasons already explained by Philip to Duncan Lisle.

Juliet had now been married six months. She was twenty-five years of
age; old enough to have exhibited more sense and discretion than we have
seen her to do. She was, however, one of those who will be childish as
long as they live. Her faults and delinquencies were due more to
improper training than to natural defects. With such characters is hope
of reformation.

Juliet was delighted with the child, which was just commencing to walk,
and could say a few words. She had the dark eyes and hair, and creamy
complexion of the St. Legers.

Juliet had been, even among girls, distinguished for her love of dolls.
To make dresses and hats for her troop of a dozen had formed one of the
chief pleasures of her childhood, continued far up into youth.

In Althea she saw the quintessence of all dolls. For her she could
embroider, ruffle, and tuck; search the city over for the daintiest of
baby shoes and the showiest of infant hats. Althea should have a nurse,
and a carriage, and a poodle dog. Santa Claus should not only give her
his choicest gifts at Christmas but should shower down toys every day in
the year. After a little, in another year, she would take her with her
to St. Mark's, where she should attract all eyes by her dress and
beauty.

That Althea had a soul to be trained, carefully guided and directed to
God, entered not into the calculations of this giddy, superficial
woman.



CHAPTER XII.

THE CHRISTENING.


A year afterward came little Johnny into the house of the Temples. Words
altogether fail to do justice to the mother's pride and joy.

Leonora, who wore proudly her husband's grand name of Van Rensaleer,
looked down on the Temples; nevertheless, as a duty, she called to
congratulate them upon the birth of a son.

"Yes, a fine babe," she replied to the father's questioning look of
admiration. "A nice baby, I dare say," she said in answer to Juliet's
glowing extolations, finished by a "do you not think so?" "But all
babies look alike to me," she added. "I fail to see the charm, I prefer
my poodle."

"Sour grapes," returned Juliet, her eyes flashing.

"Sweet grapes, my dear," said her sister, softly. "Well, I wish you much
joy, and may the child prove a blessing to you."

Then came Estelle. She was Mrs. Lang. She had married an Englishman, and
would have gotten along comfortably had she not been "worried to death"
with "those children." Hugh was now four years old, the twins two and
a-half, and Robby in his eleventh month. Four boys, and they kept the
house in commotion from one year's end to another.

To Juliet's joyful outbursts Estelle answered: "O, it is all very well
just now; I know all about it; but wait until you have four! Why, I
cannot get from the sound of their noise; it rings in my ears now. There
isn't a moment when I am not on the keen jump, expecting some limb to be
broken, some eye to be put out, or some dreadful disease to come around.
I dread the warm season on account of its summer-complaints; and the
cold for its croups, scarlet fevers, measles, and whooping cough. I warn
you, Juliet, you are seeing your happiest days." And Estelle, with a
weary look and dreary tone, took her departure for her luxurious, but
uproarious home.

"What are _you_ going to do with the baby?" asked Mr. Temple of the
little Althea.

"I yock it," she answered, placing her hand upon her own small crib,
rocking it to and fro.

The young mother, excited and nervous, would not heed the Doctor's
cautions to keep herself quiet. Like many another foolish person, she
thought she knew better than any physician could tell her. As a result
of her indiscretion, she was attacked with a long and dangerous illness,
which had nearly proved fatal.

Upon her recovery, Johnny was three months old; and Juliet began to talk
about having him baptized. The first time she went out to drive she
purchased the finest christening robe she could find. Nothing was too
expensive for such an occasion. For herself also she obtained an
entirely new outfit. If John could only be induced to go to the
christening! Possibly he might; she would make one more effort.

One day when he came home at noon she met him smilingly at the door.

"John, come with me a minute," she said, and led the way up the winding
stairway, into the finest chamber. The bed and every article of
furniture was made to do duty in supporting beautiful and costly
fabrics.

"What! another wedding to take place?" exclaimed John.

"The christening of our only child, my dear. See, everything is ready;
just look at this elegant robe, fit for a king's son, but only worthy of
our dear boy. O John, I have only one drawback to all my happiness--if
you would only go with us to St. Mark's!"

"Juliet, why do you wish our child to be baptized?" inquired John.

"If you please, say _christened_. Why, is it not customary? Do not
everybody who are any thing take their children to the church? Indeed,
it is a very grand occasion; I suppose little innocent children are not
admitted at St. Patrick's?"

"On the contrary, every Catholic child is baptized, even at the most
tender age; but, Juliet, the Catholic mother gives not all her mind to
the child's costly apparel; that is of little consequence compared to
devoting the child to God."

"That is not the question," spoke Juliet, impatiently. "Will you, or
will you not go with us to St. Mark's?"

"Juliet, I have something I should tell you. Our child has been
baptized. I took him myself to the house of Father Duffy several weeks
ago."

"You did? How dared you?" cried Juliet, angrily.

"I had the same right to take him to Father Duffy as have you to take
him to Dr. Browne. You were very ill at the time; I did not like to
wait."

"It doesn't matter at all," cried Juliet, recovering herself, "I will
take him to St. Mark's just the same."

"You should inform Dr. Browne, however, that the child has been already
baptized."

"_He_ will not think he has been baptized; but I will tell him, and let
him know how unfairly you have dealt with me."

Juliet did not know what her husband was aware of, that Dr. Browne, or
any Episcopal clergyman, would consider baptism at the hands of a
Catholic priest as true and valid.

The Sunday appointed for the christening drew near. On the Saturday
preceding, Juliet called on Dr. Browne. Having largely expatiated upon
her happy anticipations of the morrow, she proceeded to relate to the
rector the march her husband had stolen upon her.

"And do you not know, Mrs. Temple," said the doctor, surprised, "that,
if your child has been baptized by Father Duffy, that is sufficient?
There is no need for our ceremony to-morrow," and the rector saw in
imagination a handsome fee that failed to reach his grasp.

"Is it possible," cried Juliet, disappointed and grieved to the heart,
"that you consider baptism in the Catholic Church of any worth
whatsoever?"

"Most assuredly we do," answered the doctor.

"But I thought they were idolaters and heathens. How can heathens
baptize?"

"The Romish was the first Apostolic Church; after many years it imbibed
errors and became corrupt. The Church of which we are members, which
should really be termed Catholic and not Episcopal, came out from her,
retaining her truth, rejecting her errors and superstitions. We maintain
that the Church of Christ must be Apostolic, therefore are compelled to
admit that to have been the true Church from which we sprang. We are
really a branch of the Romish Church, unpalatable as it may be to some
of us."

Had Juliet given attention to the rector's theology, she would have
remarked that it was giving the Romish Church too much credit. But for
her his words fell idly; she was intent on having her baby christened at
St. Mark's.

"But, Dr. Browne, nobody knows my baby has been baptized. Cannot the
christening go on just the same?"

"By no means," spoke the clergyman, decidedly. "It is contrary to
custom, and to the laws of the Church."

Juliet went home sick at heart. So many preparations, and all for
nothing; so many hopes and dreams, and all blown up like bubbles. In her
grief and confusion the complicated question as to whether her child
were a Catholic or an Episcopalian did not intrude itself.

She did stop to marvel, however, as to whether her husband had given
more than one name to the baby. She had intended his second name should
be St. Leger. But her husband was so absent-minded, she presumed to say
that he had forgotten all about it. Upon questioning him he looked up
somewhat confused.

"I had indeed forgotten your intention. I do remember now of having
heard you speak of St. Leger; I do remember."

"So you had him christened without a middle name, plain John Temple! I
wonder you didn't go to the length of giving him your own name in full,
John Patrick Temple!"

"That I did do, my dear; it was my father's name, and I never thought
but what it had been all settled between us."

This was too much for Juliet's patience, already tried. She stamped her
feet, wrung her hands, and cried aloud despairingly.

When, at length, able to articulate, she poured upon John Temple's ears
such a shower of words as must have refreshed the very springs of his
nature. She concluded thus:

"You are the most set, stupid, obstinate man in this world, and selfish
too. It was not enough that I should have given him your old-fashioned,
homely, plain name of John, when Alphonsus, Adolphus, or Rinaldo would
have suited me so much better, but you must put in that low, vulgar,
most hateful of all names--Patrick! A Patrick in our own house, for our
only child! By and bye, he will be going by the name of Pat. _My_
child--the son of a St. Leger--baptized by a Catholic priest and called
Pat, just like the dozen other infant nobodies he had baptized the same
day, no doubt. Nothing to distinguish him from the vulgar herd--a paddy
among paddies! O John Temple, I wish I had never seen your face and
eyes!"

John Temple seized hurriedly his hat, and without a word went out from
the presence of his wife. To say that he was not angry would be untrue.
Above his anger, however, swelled emotions of surprise and wonder.
Surprise and wonder that the beautiful Juliet St. Leger, during six
months of intimate courtship, so successfully could have veiled, under
constant guise of amiability, the weak, pettish nature which she was now
so often exhibiting.

Of a truth, he had been simple enough to become attracted by her
exceeding beauty of face and figure; but these accidents would never
have held a man of his sterling sense and uprightness had he not been
led to believe it associated with a corresponding beauty of mind and
disposition.

For a brief while this strong man yielded to an overwhelming sense of
loss and regret. The memory of his excellent mother came back, by
comparison, to increase his painful confusion.

"My mother, my good mother," he sighed, "noblest and best of Christian
women, for me you died one year too soon. You at least would have read
aright the heart of Juliet. Sainted mother, for thy sake, for all our
sakes, I will do well by Juliet. Since it is as it is, God help me, I
will not fail."

And Juliet, after the anger had cooled in her heart, and the flush died
out somewhat in her cheek, mused thus:

"Was ever another such man as John Temple since the days of Job the
patient? There is no satisfaction in scolding him. Not a word will he
say, but march off dignified as any Lord Admiral. A grand way that is of
heaping coals on my head. I wish I could learn to bite my tongue, as I
know he does his. I am really afraid he will come to disrespect and
despise me. Why can not I mend my ways? But it was aggravating, wasn't
it, Johnnie," turning to his babyship, "to give mamma's darling a very,
very horrible name, and have water poured on his sweet little head by a
naughty, wicked, Irish Romish priest. Yes, that it was, Johnnie dear,
and we won't stand it, will we, Johnnie darling?"

Johnnie signified his concurrence of sentiment by a masterly plunge of
his fat fingers into his precious mamma's curls, which entanglement
caused a rapid "change to come o'er the spirit of her dream."

The anticipated grand Sunday was spent at home by Juliet, in her own
room. The furniture in the best chamber was still graced by her
unappropriated apparel. The christening robe, heavy with embroidery,
hung as if for a crime from its temporary gallows. Juliet stepped in,
viewing them but an instant, then withdrew, locking the door behind her.
Had she seen the seven hanging heads of Bluebeard's decapitated wives,
she would not have been more pained. She returned to her room to weep
over her poor baby, which she regarded as a martyr. Yes, ill-treated had
he been, contemptuously treated; she could have no more pride in him:
henceforth he would be to her an object of pity.

Going and returning from Mass that morning, John Temple began to inquire
if he had not indeed rather wronged his wife, in giving that name to the
child, which he knew to be so repugnant to her taste. He would not have
liked his child to be called Luther or Calvin. He had been thoughtless
and stupid to be sure. Reaching home, he sought Juliet. He found her in
her oldest wrapper, her face red with weeping, her hair frightfully
unkempt.

"Juliet," he began, kindly, "I would never have given Johnnie that
name--"

"But you did give it to him," interrupted Juliet.

"I did; but giving very little heed to the name. You were very
dangerously sick. The physician declared you could not live six hours,
unless change took place for the better. The child had been ailing. I
thought of baptism for both of you--to the child it could be given. I
ordered a carriage, put the nurse and child in and drove to Father
Duffy's. I had not thought of the name until asked by the priest. In the
confusion of the moment I gave it as I did. I should not have insisted
on the name had you been with me. It should have been anything you
wished. When he becomes old enough to be confirmed the name can be
changed."

"His name shall never be written with a P. It shall be written J. St.
Leger Temple. I will get Dr. Browne to put it upon the Registry. Does
Father Duffy record names too?"

Mr. Temple replying in the affirmative, the young mother became seized
with another spasm of terror.

"Then Father Duffy believes he has got that child in the Catholic
Church, I suppose! O, what a fearful piece of work you have made of it!
No doubt, like King Solomon, he will be for dividing the child, that he
may get at least half its soul for purgatory. And if I had died, you
would have brought up dear little Johnnie a Catholic! Your great hurry
for his baptism shows it. That is the regard you would have shown for my
memory! But I am not dead yet; and while I live, the child goes with me
to St Mark's. I will still do all _I_ can to bring him up respectably."

A day or two after appeared in the city a foreign songstress who was
setting the whole world mad. John Temple took his wife to hear her. She
threw off, as they had been a bundle of straw, all these troubles that
had so crazed her. She unlocked the best chamber, went in, and came out
looking beautiful as when a bride. Among her friends again she appeared
as if no cloud of sorrow had ever darkened her life.

John Temple recognized his wife again. By these repeated scenes of
sunshine and storm, he learned to rejoice in the one, and to remain
undisturbed in the other; against the exuberance of one to present the
parasol of calmness, and the umbrella of patience to ward off descending
floods.

Three years later, one winter's evening at tea, the dining-room servant
informed John, upon his inquiring for her mistress, that that lady
wished to see him in the best chamber. He had not seen her since early
in the morning. At dinner he had been told that she was lying down, and
wished not to be disturbed. Having hurried through his tea, he repaired
to the room designated. The first object that met his view was very
large Mrs. Biggs overflowing the arm-chair, with a roll of white flannel
in her lap, over which Althea and Johnny were absorbingly bending.

"We've got a baby, papa!" "Mrs. Biggs has brought us a baby!" cried out
the children simultaneously.

Mr. Temple evinced the greatest surprise, of course, but walked straight
up to his wife. She smiled upon him mischievously, saying:

"You are surprised to find me here and not in our own room?"

When the perplexed husband had nodded his head, the wife continued:

"I wished to be up-stairs for two reasons: the second is because they
say it is a sign that the child who beholds the light for the first time
above stairs will be surely rich; and the first, because--because--O,
John, I have stolen a march on _you_ this time--I wanted Dr. Browne to
be sent for and the christening over with before you should know there
was a baby in the house. Little Flora Isabella Ernestine has been
already christened;" and the wife's eyes were full of triumph.

"All right," replied John Temple, smiling grimly; and he was fain to
kiss his wife, and to cast a satisfied glance at the "sole daughter of
his house and heart," which was so royally blessed with abundance of
name. In his view the child was not yet baptized, and at a convenient
season he would take it to Father Duffy; but he would not trouble his
wife by disclosing this intention.



CHAPTER XIII.

NEW MISTRESS AT KENNONS.


   "When a woman will, she will, you may depend on't,
   When she won't, she won't, and there's an end on't."

Mrs. Jerusha Thornton Rush, from the time of Ellice's death, had firmly
resolved on marrying Duncan Lisle. He, on the other hand, had firmly
resolved never to allow that scheming widow to supplant his lost wife.

Whether her will was stronger than his, or whether he changed his mind,
it matters not; at the end of three years Mrs. Rush had carried her
point and become Mrs. Lisle--one of the incomprehensibilities which may
be left without comment.

She had struggled so long and doubtfully for the prize, that, by the
time she had won it, she was disposed to undervalue and despise it.

"I will make him feel in his turn, when in my power, how charming the
sensation of being spitted or speared!" she had threatened, and she kept
her word.

"I jist knowed it from de fust," declared Aunt Amy, sorrow and anger in
her tones, and the Indian expression assuming mastery in her face.
"Somehow I jist felt it all over me dat dat woman would come aroun'
massa and jes make him marry her. She's 'witched him; she's gin him
love-potions, I make no doubt; and I 'spec's"--here she lowered her
voice to a whisper--"I 'spec's she's sold herself to de debil to make
him help her. Nuthin' else could ever 'duced Massa Duncan to marry such
a--such a crocodile. He'll never be sorry but onc't, and 'dats all his
life."

"Der's an end to all our 'joyment," sighed Chloe, grown more weighty in
flesh; "de Lord knows what's going to become of us--an' all her host o'
bad niggers mixin' in wid our'n, and she domineerin' ober eberyting. O,
it's an orful bad day for us, sure! An', then, that hateful boy o'
her'n--he's worse 'an pizen, notstan'ing his slick, ile-y ways--'tween
him an' her we'll stan' mighty slim chance. She bad's bad can be, an' he
worse."

China shed tears silently over her needle, giving now and then a groan.
She, too, was haunted by a presentiment that her happy days were over.
For her, Miss Rusha, as all the servants called her, had ever evinced
unconcealed dislike, for the very reason, it would seem, that it irked
her to behold any person in peace and contentment. She especially hated
meek, gentle, uncomplaining people, and loved to render them
uncomfortable. And China, Ellice's favorite house-servant, was so good,
gentle, and obedient, that her former mistress had seldom found fault
with her.

Mr. Lisle, immediately after his marriage, had taken his bride North on
a visit to the principal cities, intending to call upon the Temples, to
make acquaintance with his loved sister's child.

His stay at this latter place was short indeed, for Miss Rusha,
presuming to find fault with Juliet's mode of training, or rather of
indulging Althea, had provoked the latter lady's ire to such a degree as
to render any further tarrying out of the question. For some reason or
other, Mrs. Lisle would have persuaded her husband to make an effort for
gaining the guardianship of his niece. This, however, he peremptorily
refused to do, although he became greatly attached to the child, who was
lovely and winning to a remarkable degree.

Upon the return to Kennons of the newly-married people, a tutor was
secured for the two boys, Thornton and Hubert. It was soon found,
however, that Kennons was not large enough for them both; that they
could not study peaceably in the same room, nor, without a quarrel, at
least in words, exercise upon the same grounds. The tutor was
overwearied with incessant struggles to keep the two from variance. He
advised that one should be sent away, or, if both should be sent, they
should go to different points of the compass. Mrs. Lisle would not
consent for her only child to go away from her; as to Thornton, he
declared he would not be sent away to school. Hubert was more willing,
at home his life was a misery on account of Thornton and his mother; any
other place would be preferable, thought this motherless boy of eleven
years. He was accordingly sent to a Northern school, where, with
intervals of vacation, he spent the next eight years of his life.

The servants at Kennons had not been mistaken in their calculations. The
new mistress sowed divisions and discord with a lavish hand. Duncan was
annoyed with complaints against this and that one, until his patience
gave way, and he plainly told his wife that he would not listen to them;
that his servants were uncommonly good until she had come in the midst
of them. Greatly exasperated at this, she treated them still more
harshly. She placed over them her own servants, not out of love for
them, but to humiliate those who had been the faithful servants and
friends of her hated rival, Ellice.

China was the first victim. She was too ladylike in her deportment, too
quiet and silent in her ways. She was ousted from her low rocker and
favorite window, deprived of her needle, which had in some sort become a
life-companion, and made to do all sorts of drudgery; no settled work,
but hurried from that, this, and the other; never knowing what was
coming next--the hardest kind of work--slavery, indeed.

China endeavored to do faithfully all that she was bidden; sewing,
however, was her trade; she knew how to do naught else well; she was
consequently chidden and scolded from morning until night.

Mrs. Lisle's antipathy toward her grew every day more strong. She sought
a cause for having her degraded from the rank of house-servant to
field-hand. She had employed more than one fruitless stratagem.

China was very fond of oranges. Probably this taste had been cultivated
by her former mistress, who, also, being very partial to the same fruit,
often shared her stores with her favorite servant. Mrs. Lisle became
aware of this. She placed some oranges in the drawer of her bureau,
and, contrary to custom, ordered China to "set the room to rights."

Morning after morning the fault-finding mistress counted her oranges,
and, to her disappointment, found not one missing.

On the fourth morning the fatal drawer was left slightly drawn. As China
passed it with her duster the perfume caught her attention; she peeped
within, and the gleam of the oranges tempted her vision; she gazed at
them as did Eve at the apples; she took one in her hands, and thrust it
to her nose; she said to herself, "My dear Miss Ellice would have given
me some of these; Miss Rusha is too mean for human; perhaps she would
never miss one; if she did, how was she to know who took it?" and
thrusting the orange in her pocket, she finished hastily her work, went
out of sight and sound, and feasted upon the coveted dainty. No sooner
was it devoured than she repented heartily. The serpent had tempted her;
she had yielded; now, when the mischief was done, he called her a fool,
and promised her she should be discovered; he did not tell her how soon;
and though China was filled with fears, she little dreamed that that
very moment her relentless enemy was triumphing over her success.

"An orange has been stolen from my drawer," exclaimed Miss Rusha,
severely, to the knot of servants summoned together by her order;
"stolen without leave or license," reiterated the angry mistress,
though, in truth, more secretly pleased than angry, "and I am bound to
know who is the offender. A thief shall not remain in this house; and I
here warn you all that she who proves to be the culprit shall be
condemned to the fields."

The women and girls sidled about, grinning, ogling each other with
swimming eyes. China, however, was an exception; she looked neither to
the right nor left, but trembled, and was downcast. It flashed over her
quick mind instantly that for her a trap had been deliberately laid, and
she had stepped straight into it.

China had heretofore prided herself upon her truthfulness and honesty;
to this she had been trained by the best of mistresses; and if there was
aught on earth she despised it was a deceitful, thieving servant. O, how
had she fallen!

Buried in her own painful emotions, China had not noticed that the
question put to and denied by the others was now addressed to her.

"Do you not hear? Are you deaf and dumb, China, that you do not answer
me? Speak, now! Did you, or did you not, steal this orange?"

Thus suddenly aroused from this painful reverie to confront the angered
eyes of the mistress she both feared and hated, she hesitated, then
said, in a low tone, but defiantly:

"_I did not._"

At that moment China hated herself more than her mistress, and glanced
helplessly around, as if for some fig-leaf beneath which to hide.

"You did not!" repeated the mistress slowly and with emphasis, fastening
upon the poor girl her merciless eyes. "You say you did not; all the
servants say they did not. We will see."

Mrs. Lisle produced a tiny paper from her pocket, and emptied its
powdered contents into half a wine-glass of water; stirring the mixture,
she gave a spoonful to each suspected person, and then ordered them to
stand in a row in the back-yard.

This cruel woman watched to see the sable faces turned to a deathly
yellow; ipecacuanha was a successful rack and torture. To all, however,
but to China, did the consciousness of innocence afford alleviation.
Fresh pieces of peel ejected from her stomach gave ample witness as to
who had purloined the orange. All her companions were surprised, some
grieved, some rejoiced; for

   "Base Envy withers at another's joy,
   And hates that excellence it cannot reach."

"It is well for pride to have a fall," said one.

"She thought herself so much better'n all the rest on us," quoth
another.

"I allus thought she wa'nt no better'n she should be, for all her
puttin' on such airs," spoke a third contemptuously.

"She won't find no rocking-chair, nor no time to sing love-songs, nor
make herself bows and fine lady fixins out in de corn and 'bacco patch.
Heigho!" crowed Dinah.

Amy's Indian eyes swam in tears, and she and the mighty Chloe cast
pitiful glances at their disgraced companion.

"She never did it of her own 'cord," thought the shrewd Amy; "Miss Rusha
jes threw on her her spell; she 'witched her as she did Massa; she made
her go do it; she jes did now, so!"

"You will not enter the house again," said Mrs. Lisle to the proved
culprit. "My Jane will bring your things from Aunt Amy's cabin, which
she has allowed you to occupy--you are never to let me see you about the
place again--never--or you will rue the day. I will see Mr. Fuller, the
overseer, who will assign you a place. Now go, deceitful thief and
liar--your punishment is but too mild."

China, in going out from the home of her master, would fain have gone
around by the grave of Ellice. But, besides thinking she might be
watched, she felt in her disgrace too unworthy to kneel upon that sacred
soil.

So, scarcely able to hold herself upright, which she must needs do, in
order to support her bundle upon her head, she walked wearily onward,
from the fair white house of Kennons, down the well-worn path that led
to the rude, unsightly cabins of the field-hands, still more rude.

She was still weak, and suffering from effects of the harsh emetic, and
this, with her shame and sorrow at her crime, more than her banishment,
rendered her hopeless and wretched.

Duncan Lisle was riding slowly homeward from a consultation with his
overseer. Whose was that reeling, swaying figure in the path before him?
Not China of pleasant face, of quiet speech and mien? No, and yes. What
could it mean? What mortal sickness of mind or body had wrought such
ghastly woe in the face but yesterday so placid?

"Are you China, or China's ghost?" questioned he, drawing rein as he
came up to this favorite house-servant.

"You have said it, master Duncan; I am but the ghost of poor China," and
the ponderous bundle dropped first to the horse's nose and then at his
forefeet, while her face fell into her trembling hands, her tears
flowing down through her fingers, the first that she had shed.

"Tell me all about it, China--but the sun is hot, come under the shade
of this tree," and the master led the way to an umbrageous beech close
by. There, still resting upon his horse, while China leaned against the
enormous trunk, the story was told of the day's doings without
exaggeration or extenuation.

Though it was a clear story of theft and falsehood, Duncan Lisle
naturally took the same view of it as had the humble Amy. The master of
Kennons had not been ignorant of his wife's systematic persecution of
this inoffensive servant. He had more than once spoken to her on the
subject--but finding he had but made the matter worse, ceased to
interfere. Now, he suspected China to be the victim of a successful
plot. His wife had made a bold move, and without his sanction. A more
fiery man, yielding to indignation and to a sense of the injustice
wrought, would have taken China home again, saying to his wife both by
word and action, that he was still master in his own house, and of his
own servants. But Duncan Lisle knew that life for China at the house was
over. She had been long enough suffering incessant martyrdom under the
heavy sway of the new mistress. Yes, it would be better for her to go
away. He regarded her pityingly; then that emotion was quickly reflected
from her to himself.

"_She_ can go away--_she_ can find happiness elsewhere. O, is there not
somewhere in the wide world a place of beautiful peace?" groaned the
unhappy man to himself, while his eyes wandered involuntarily toward the
white column that gleamed in the sunlight nearly a mile distant. By an
effort the master recovered himself.

"So she has sent you down to be with Bet, and Nan, and Kizzie, and Sam,
Jake, Jim, and all those fellows? You can't live there a month. Would
you like your freedom, China? Would you like to go to Richmond--you
could get plenty of places, either as nurse or seamstress?"

"O, master Duncan, I should die if I had to leave Kennons"--for this
first thought of complete separation from all she had known and loved
was intolerable.

"You can try it then down yonder. I will ride down to-night or
to-morrow, and speak to Mr. Fuller. You can be thinking it over. You
have been a good girl--I owe you something. If you can't stand it
there--and I know you can't--I will give you papers of manumission and
money to take you to Richmond. You have a close mouth--do not speak of
this. Well, keep up heart and God bless you."

The master and servant parted--the one to ride wearily to his unpeaceful
home, the other to journey along more hopefully to the shadeless cabins
in the fields.



CHAPTER XIV.

CHINA--UNCLE MAT'S PRAYER MEETING.


Compared to the field-hands, who were little more than heathen and
barbarian, our favorite China was a princess. One day and night among
them proved to the unhappy girl that her master was in the right--she
could not live with them. If she had met with suspicion, jealousy, and
envy beneath her master's roof, she could not expect to escape it in her
new home, where ignorance and all the baser passions ruled.

Toward night on the following day, which was Saturday, the master
appeared at the cabins. He found China weeping disconsolately in the
shade of a tree. So profoundly was she buried in her grief, she saw not
her master until she heard his voice. For many hours had she watched his
coming. When she had ceased to look for him, his kind voice aroused her
to a momentary gladness.

"O, Master Duncan! Master Duncan!" was all she could utter.

"Bad enough, yes; I knew how it would be; I knew you would be willing to
leave Kennons after you had tried this. I have just returned from Flat
Rock; have had all the papers made for you; China, you are a free
woman!"

"O, Master Duncan! good Master Duncan!" was all she could say again.

"Here, China, this is probably the last present I shall ever make you,"
handing to her a portmonnaie containing a few pieces of silver and gold,
as also the invaluable papers of manumission. He withdrew it again as
she was extending her hand, remarking:

"It is better, however, that it should be in the hands of Mr. Fuller. He
is to go with you to-night to Flat Rock. You will remain at the 'Bald
Eagle' until the train passes on Monday. You could remain at Petersburg
if you chose, but my friends at Richmond can help you. I have written
them, and they will see you properly cared for. Mr. Fuller will hand you
this"--referring to the portmonnaie--"and you must guard it carefully.
It is not sufficient that you carry it in your pocket; you should
secrete it in some part of your dress, fastening it securely. You have a
needle and thread? Well, then, do as I have told you. Be a good
girl--honest and truthful; when I come to Richmond I will see you.
There, don't cry now; you can yet be happy. I must have another talk
with Fuller;"--seeing that personage approaching--"I shall not see you
again; take care of yourself, and good-bye;"--and the master stretched
down his hand--for he was still on horseback--which China grasped and
presumed to kiss.

"There, that will do, my good girl; and don't forget what your Miss
Ellice taught you."

This unusual reference to her former mistress was another stab for poor
China. As her master rode away, she threw herself down upon the ground,
making mournful moans that might have softened the hardest heart.

The field-hands, coming up from work an hour later, beheld with rage and
dismay the intended victim of their malice mounted upon one of the
fleetest horses upon the plantation, and Mr. Fuller all ready to mount
another. He was but waiting to give additional orders to this unruly
gang. This being done, each equestrian gave a slight stroke of the whip,
and the horses galloped away from a hundred staring eyes.

"Let us fling a stone at her," said one.

"Let us set up a mighty howl," suggested a second.

"And git a mighty floggin' for yer pains," sneered a third, who was
possessed of a grain of discretion.

China's heart lightened as she left the cabins and the intolerable red
sands upon which they were situated. It was not the first time she had
seen the uncouth faces and forms of the motley group who had been
vengefully regarding her; but their appearance had seemed doubly
appalling when viewed in the light of being her associates for life. Out
of their sight she breathed freely again, and coming shortly into the
main road, a feeling almost of joy seized her.

"I will not weep or be sad any more. I will leave the old life behind
me, and Miss Rusha too, thank the Lord. Ah, poor Master Duncan! what a
life he must live of it--the best master that ever servant had--good,
kind Master Duncan! The trees hide Kennons from view; I shall not see
it again. I would liked to have said farewell to Bessie, and to Chloe
and Amy, and to Miss Rusha's Kizzie, too. I wonder if I ever shall see
one of them any more;" and in spite of her resolution not to cry, China
was obliged to wipe the tears that blinded her eyes.

Mr. Fuller was a model overseer. Nobody knew from what quarter of the
world he had hailed. He had been overseer for Duncan Lisle during seven
years, and no one had ever heard him allude to any antecedents. He was a
silent, reserved man of fifty years, perhaps, possessed good judgment,
discerning sense of right and wrong, was inflexibly just, and invariably
faithful to his word.

Duncan Lisle might well felicitate himself upon having secured so
invaluable an assistant. He had never found, and was never expecting to
find, his confidence misplaced. Trust begets trust, and master and
overseer had become excellent friends.

Mr. Fuller had, however, a history of his own, but it lay away in
England, where he prudently resolved to let it remain forever buried.
For China he discharged his mission faithfully, exchanging with her only
indispensable words, and, confiding to her care the precious
portmonnaie, bade adieu both to her and to the "Bald Eagle," returning
to Kennons after midnight.

China formed a pleasant acquaintance with the servants of the "Bald
Eagle," and passed her Sunday very agreeably. At night she was invited
to attend Uncle Mat's prayer-meeting. Uncle Mat was a personage of
importance, not only in his own estimation, but in that of many others.
His master was a drunken fellow, who had squandered most of his
substance. By degrees he had lost the greater part of his plantation,
had sold the most of his servants, his wife had died, children married
and gone, and but for Mat he would have gone to utter ruin long ago. It
was Mat who interfered in bloody quarrels, receiving blows and
vituperations himself; it was Mat who walked by his master's side from
elections, fairs, shows, etc., steadying him when he reeled, picking him
up when he fell, dragging him from horses' feet and drunken men's
knives, and keeping the breath of life in him by sheer watchfulness and
unflagging exertion.

In return for this devotion, the master, Dick Rogers, gave but abuse of
hand and tongue. But Uncle Mat was a Christian. He had a gift at prayer
and exhortation. He could read, strange to say, and sing, of course. Mat
was older than his master. Dick had been an only son, petted and
spoiled. Mat had been his body-servant from his babyhood. Dick's father,
upon his dying bed, had exacted from Mat a promise that he would always
have a care for his reckless son. Mat had fulfilled his vow. Mat had
learned to read by hearing the governess teach Dick. To shame the latter
into diligence, it was a habit with Miss Train to call up the black boy,
who exhibited more capacity and willingness than her pupil.

The servant was of a serious, reflective turn of mind. He became
converted at a Methodist camp-meeting, and as he became a kind of
preacher among his own people, he staid converted. He had one fault, to
speak not of others. He was irascible to a great degree; a mosquito or a
flea would drive him into a passion. But throughout his long career as
guardian of his master, he had been never known to lose patience with
him. Even mothers become vexed exceedingly with undutiful children; but
this care of Mat for his worthless master exceeded even that of a mother
for her child. Exceeded? Nay, we will say equalled.

It was somewhat rare in the slave States for servants to meet for
religious purposes; insurrection might brood under such a cover. Mat,
however, was so well known and so universally esteemed in his
neighborhood, that he was allowed to hold his prayer-meetings every
Sunday night.

It was to one of these that China went with her new-made friends. Nancy
Carter's cabin was the meeting-house _pro tem_. It had been prepared for
the occasion by an elaborate trimming of oak leaves and green boughs.
Bouquets of flowers were interspersed with lights upon the preacher's
stand. This invasion against white people's customs was due probably to
the intense love which Afric's sons and daughters have for the
"beautiful flowers."

Mat, tall and dignified always, seemed magnified in proportions and
dignity when installed behind his stand of flowers and lights. His
initial proceeding was invariably a great flourish of his white cotton
handkerchief.

If Mat had a source of vanity deeper than another, it was of this
above-mentioned article; and this, too, was so well known of him, that
most of his presents consisted of handkerchiefs. He had, among his
deposits, a good-sized box full of these useful and ornamental
inventions. There was one from Lucy and Lizzie, four Sallies, three
Dinahs, three Betties, two or three Janes, as many Anns, and hosts of
others too numerous to mention. And every one of those donors looked
steadily at the flourish of the preacher, if happily her own gift had
come to the coveted honor.

The first prayer consisted of very large words very fervently uttered.
This was comparatively brief, as a lengthy one for the whole world was
to follow the first hymn.

Mat had adopted, of course, the custom of his superiors in the matter of
singing. He read from the book the first two lines of the hymn, which
the congregation seized and sung to the best of their ability. Two lines
more were read, when music of voice, if not of words, became
distinguishable.

Upon this occasion the preacher seemed troubled with unusual
indistinctness of vision. He took his glasses from his nose more than
once, violently rubbing them with his spotless handkerchief. Taking up
his book for the third time, his eyes or his spectacles seemed still to
be at fault. Perplexed and irritated, he exclaimed, unguardedly:

"Dog-gone-it! my eyes are dim; I cannot see to read this hymn."

The congregation supposing it all right, tuned up, and repeated it,
though one would have been at great loss to make sense out of the
myriad-syllabled confusion.

The preacher, surprised, attempted to explain. He said energetically,
book still in hand:

"I did not mean to sing that hymn, I only meant my eyes were dim."

The simple people, still supposing the hymn to be continued, again
poured forth volumes of sound.

In vain the preacher gesticulated, stamped, and threatened. So varied
usually were the performances, this was thought to be but part of the
programme. When the music hushed again the preacher cried:

"The devil must be in you all, that is no hymn to sing at all!"

Were those black people wilfully stupid? By no means. They did not know
but they were doing as they had always done. The hymn-book was Greek to
them, words were words; therefore they took up Uncle Mat's last words as
innocently as if they had been

   "On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
   And cast a wishful eye."

Uncle Mat's patience gave out completely; he hurled his book at the
musical leader's head:

"Dere, now see if ye can stop yer 'fernal noise. What bizness yer sing
dat? Dats nothin' for to sing. You don't know nothin'. You biggest heap
o' wooly heads I eber did see. Was der eber such a pack o'
ignerant-ramuses eber in dis world afore? I answer 'firmatively--no!
What's de use o' temptin' to preach to sich people? Dey wouldn't know if
one was to rise from de dead. Not know de diff'rence 'tween psalm tunes
an nuffin else! Dis people be dismissed."

The latter sentence was pronounced most disdainfully. The chorister,
with head unbroken, and temper unruffled, arose and begged they might
all be forgiven their heedlessness; it would be so great a
disappointment to have the meeting broken up so prematurely, it would
give them great pleasure if Uncle Mat would be _so_ kind as to dispense
with singing and proceed to prayers and exhortations. One or two other
prominent members followed in much the same strain, flattering the
indignant preacher by making special reference to his eloquence and
popularity.

This had the desired effect. Uncle Mat became mollified, and wiping the
angry perspiration from his brow, he embarked upon his longest
prayer--during which our China and many others fell fast asleep.



CHAPTER XV.

KIZZIE.


"Lucy," said Mrs. Lisle, to a dwarfed child of thirteen years, who was
one of those creatures expected to "run two ways at once," "run, Lucy,
and tell Kizzie to come straight here to me."

The winged child came speedily back, accompanied by the weaver, a stolid
looking old negress named Kizzie.

"Kizzie," exclaimed her mistress, "I know you have stolen the cover to
that barrel that has been standing for so long outside the store-room."

"What for should I want wid de cover, Missis?" inquired the servant.

"That is for you to tell, and right soon too--do you hear me?"

"I have never touched the cover, Missis."

"I do not believe you. Who has then?"

"Sure, an' I doesn't know. You allus lays eberyting on to me, Missis,
when I'se jes as in'cent--"

"I wish to hear none of your palaver. You have stolen from me
repeatedly; you know you have been just as hateful as you could be ever
since--ever since Joe went away."

Mrs. Lisle had not designed this reference to Joe. Any mention of his
name only made Kizzie more intractable.

Kizzie had been standing upon the threshold of her mistress' chamber,
upon which she now sank down as if she had been shot. She had rolled
herself into a ball, her grey head buried in her lap, from which issued
the most protracted unearthly howl. This was succeeded by passionate
ejaculations, in which "my poor Joe--my poor dear Joe, my baby--my last
and only one"--were alone distinguishable.

"Kizzie, stop that acting, and get up from there," commanded Mrs. Lisle.

The ball swayed to and fro, but evinced no disposition for unbending.

"Bring me the whip, Lucy--we shall see."

The blows fell heavy and fast, but as for outward demonstration, cry or
moan, that human form might as well have been a cotton bale.

The wearied hand of the mistress dropped by her side. She leaned against
the casement panting for breath. Then Kizzie uprose tearless and stern.

"Miss Rusha, after this cruel floggin', I've a right to speak; but if
you had a human heart I would not have this much to say. One after
another ye sold my four big boys to the slave-buyer. You promised you
would leave me my baby--my Joe. When he was fourteen years old you sold
him too. You rob me of my five boys, and you 'cuse _me_ of stealin' a
barrel-cover! Miss Rusha, de judgments of de Lord will come upon you.
Dis is my prayer, ebery day, ebery hour. Ye may whip, ye may kill--my
prayer is mine own prayer to pray."

"Lucy," exclaimed Mrs. Lisle, now able again to speak, "run down to
Thornton Hall and tell Mr. Hill to come here at once."

Mr. Hill was Mrs. Lisle's overseer.

"You will do no such thing, Lucy; and, madam, you have done enough,"
said the indignant voice of Mr. Lisle, who had entered upon the scene.
"Go to your cabin, Kizzie; call for Amy and take her along with you."

Kizzie disappeared, and Mr. Lisle, meeting boldly the angered face of
his wife, inquired into the origin of this disgraceful scene.

"Kizzie is mine, not yours. I have a right to do with my slaves as
pleases me," said the wife.

"If you have a slave who deserves kindness at your hands, it is Kizzie.
You have cruelly wronged her. To have killed her outright would have
been a kindness compared to the injury you have inflicted upon her."

"How you talk, Duncan Lisle! One would think you a northern abolitionist.
I understand whence you imbibed such principles"--sneeringly--"just as
though one has not a perfect right to sell a slave if he wishes to!
Don't talk to me in any such way. I have done nothing that I need be
sorry for. But Kizzie is indeed the most hateful slave on the
plantation. I believe she steals just for the sake of stealing. What
earthly use could she have for that cover, which she denies having
taken, but which has mysteriously disappeared just when I happened to
want it?"

"To what cover do you refer?" questioned her husband.

He was informed.

"I saw some little black fellows rolling something of the kind back of
the stables this morning. Lucy, go hunt them up, and have the cover
found. Is such a trifle sufficient to drive you into a passion, in which
you accuse and punish an innocent person wrongfully?"

"I repeat to you, Mr. Lisle, that I shall do as I please with my own
servants, and yours too, as you will find, and _have_ found, I should
think. Moreover, I am not going to be lectured by you as if I were a
child"--Mrs. Lisle flung herself out of the room, to vent her bad humor
upon whatever ill-starred persons should cross her path.

To do justice to Mrs. Lisle, she had intended to have sold both Kizzie
and her son to the same buyer. As she herself said, she was always
having trouble with Kizzie. There were times when she was positively
afraid of her. Just before the proposed sale she had had a serious
difficulty with her. Mistress and servant regarded each other as two
enraged tigers might do, whenever they met. Mrs. Lisle made up her mind
she would have Kizzie taken to the Court House and sold. Court was to be
holden in a week or so; at such a time more or less slaves were put up
at auction.

Kizzie was not sorry when informed of the proposed plan; though she
shared, with others of her class, a horror of being "sold South," she
had come to think she could not possibly fall into more cruel hands.
Besides, in that region so terrible to the imagination of the slaves,
she might come across one or all of her lost sons! At any rate, she
would be beneath the same sky, and the dear hope of meeting them would
be a continual comfort.

A whole day was consumed by Tippy--her real name was Xantippe--in
plucking out Aunt Kizzie's grey hairs, and in fixing her up to appear to
the best advantage for youth and sprightliness. She was only sixty, but
hard labor and severe usage had told upon her heavily.

Aunt Kizzie, in her new linsey-woolsey and shining bandana as a turban,
started off in great glee for the Court House. That she might appear
there fresh, brisk, and pert, she was not suffered to walk, but
Washington, the coachman, was ordered to drive her in the ark of the
plantation wagon. Joe, smart, smiling, and newly-equipped in clothes,
sat by her side, scarcely knowing whether he had best share in his
mother's uncommon gaiety, or yield to his own anxious misgiving.

Another thing contributed to Aunt Kizzie's happiness. All the way to the
Court House she was at perfect liberty to caress her nosegay of pinks
and camomile. Kizzie had two grand passions; one was for her children,
the other for her fragrant pinks. If she was allowed a garden patch the
size of a hat-crown, it was devoted to her favorite flowers. She was
wont to have her loom festooned with them; she drank in their perfume as
did her web its woof; by night she had them scattered over her pillow,
that, even in sleep, she might not lose their presence.

"I should think pinks would grow out of her nose," the servants were in
the habit of remarking. It really often looked like they did, for,
morning and evening, at her milking, her nose, instead of her hand,
served as bouquet-holder.

Over the rough roads then, from Thornton Hall to the Court House, her
attention was devoted to Joe and her pinks. She was to be sold--that was
true--but then she had left a hated mistress. She had with her all she
loved, her immense nosegay, her baby Joe, and, in her small bundle, her
one pair of ruffled pillow-slips. She was starting out in the world
again, and the world looked to her unaccountably new and beautiful.

It was morning now that shone upon Aunt Kizzie and her child. But night
came, utterly dark and cheerless night, to both mother and boy. The two
were put upon the block together. The boy showed for himself. But the
sexagenarian human chattel was mercilessly scrutinized. She was made to
sing, dance, and run. Her red turban was torn off, and in spite of the
hirsutian manipulations to which she had been subjected, her wool
appeared, like Shakspeare's spirits, mixed, black, white, and grey.

She was seized by the nose and chin, as if she had been a horse, and
made to distend her jaws even painfully. She experienced a qualm or two
when she thought of what a story her few remaining broken teeth would
tell. Still, like the world and all the "rest of mankind," she had
never fully realized that she had passed her prime and her usefulness.

This purchaser did not want her, nor did that, nor alas! the other! Each
and every one were eager for the boy. The auctioneer's instructions had
been to sell the two together, if possible, if not, at all events to
sell the boy, as he would command a good price, and _money must be_
raised.

Kizzie went wild when she saw her boy knocked off to a man who refused
to take her, even as a gift!

O angels in heaven, what pitiful sights do ye not behold upon this earth
of ours! Had ye no drop of balm from your vials of tender mercy to pour
into the desolate heart of the stricken slave-mother, as she returned
homeward in the dark, clutching frantically at her withered pinks, as
did the talons of the vulture of grief at her wounded heart!

This blow to poor Kizzie occurred about the time of her mistress'
marriage. The price of her agony, the money obtained for Joe, was sent
to New York, and returned to Mrs. Rush in glittering jewels. Had this
haughty woman been capable of realizing her sin, the showy baubles would
have melted in the fiery furnace of her shame and contrition.

Kizzie became a changed woman; crazed, as some thought. Joe had been her
baby, and her baby still at fourteen. How could her baby get along
without his mother? This was the burden of her complaint, her unceasing
utterance of sorrow. And still she lived on, sitting from morning until
night at her loom, her tear of sorrow or sigh of despair inwoven with
every thread, and from her bleeding heart going up the incessant prayer
for Heaven's vengeance upon her persecutor.

One day, not far off, shall it not be more tolerable for Kizzie than for
the beautiful mistress of Thornton Hall?



CHAPTER XVI.

TIME AND CHANGE.


Time and change! Why add the latter word? Doth not the former include
all? Doth not time sadly overcome all things?

And this Time, which, according to Sir Thomas Brown, sitteth on a
sphinx, and looketh into Memphis and old Thebes, which reclineth on a
pyramid, gloriously triumphing, making puzzles of Titanian erections,
and turning old glories into dreams--or something to that effect. This
old Father Time, so much abused, misused, has given ten years to
Kennons, ten years to Philip and his second wife in the far away homes
of the Mussulman, ten years to the little Althea, who has bloomed into a
beautiful girl of fourteen, beneath the roof of her loving guardians,
John and Juliet Temple.

Ten years! and the fiery war of words has been followed by the deadlier
fire of arms; civil war has raged over the sunny South, destroyed loving
homes, mutilated fair forms, blotted out countless lives, and sent
multitudes of souls unshriven before their Maker; but thanks be to God,
riveted bonds have been broken and the slave hath been set free! Grand
as was the sacrifice, infinite was the gain.

"I thought," said Amy, when she stood on her mount of Pisgah, rolling up
her melancholy eyes to the heaven, whence her deliverance had come, "I
thought it would come some time, to our children, or our children's
children, but not in my time, and to me! Moses was in de wilderness
forty years; for what should I tink dat de Lord would gib us our liberty
sooner'n to his own faithful servant? And we to have our'n in four
years! But I knew it would come some time, sure as was a God in heaven.
Hadn't we been prayin' and prayin', an' beseechin', an' how could de
Lord stan' de prayers of such 'pressed, trodden people as we? Bress de
Lord, O my soul, an' all dat is in me!"

Thousands like Amy sang their songs of deliverance. And like her, they
arose from the sad waters of their Babylon, took their harps from the
willows, seeking out joyfully new ways to lands of promise.

Those persons who had been kind, nay, even moderately just to their
servants, were not at once abandoned. Some for months, some for years,
were still faithfully served for hire. As a rule, however, the freed
people scattered; but they went not far from their life-long homes. An
innate love for early scenes and associations kept them where they might
occasionally visit familiar persons and places.

Duncan Lisle was now a grave man of fifty. Threads of silver shone in
his dark hair, but his tall form was erect and graceful as ever. He had
become, in manner and speech, exceedingly reserved; his countenance wore
almost habitually a melancholy, thoughtful expression. There were
times, however, when his still attractive face lighted up with the old
smile; and that smile revealed a gentle, noble spirit, still retaining
its freshness unchafed by the carking cares and vexatious trials to
which he had been daily subject. While to some men association with so
peculiar and trying a nature as Rusha Thornton's might have brought
moroseness and all unloveliness, Duncan Lisle, like the philosopher of
hemlock fame, had turned his wife's shrewishness into a coat of armor,
within which he preserved his soul serene, contemplative, and peaceful.
This is saying very much for Duncan Lisle.

During the stormy period to which we have just referred, when the nation
was in her throes of anguish, Mr. Lisle remained loyal to the
Government. Aside from reason, common-sense, and humanity, he had seen
more than enough in his wife's treatment of servants to disgust him with
slavery. Though he took no active part, and, except when occasion
required, preserved his usual reticence upon this subject also, he was
nevertheless heart and soul upon the one side.

It is needless to observe that his wife was upon the other extreme. The
idea of slavery was grateful to her intolerant nature. For herself she
acknowledged no superior. The very God Almighty of Heaven she never took
into _her_ account. Had she been Lucifer among the angels, she too would
have rebelled. Had she been daughter of Servius Tullius, she would have
ridden over the dead body of her father. The golden rule was for others
to practice, not for her; its Divine Author, the God-Man, was beyond her
comprehension; His teachings fit but for underlings and slaves. Though
scorning and hating the slave, she clung to slavery as if it were her
life's blood. She poured forth all the venom of her nature upon the
Northern foe, which was aiming to seize this petted horror from her
grasp. She recalled often the tyrant's wish; like him would have given
worlds had the subjects of Yankeedom but a single neck, that she might
sever the Gorgonian head at one happy stroke.

She went almost wild upon the subject, and was the more violent that she
could not draw her husband into her views. It was not enough that he
should listen with apparent patience to her harangues, she demanded his
verbal assent to her opinions. His silence, his attempts at evasion,
provoked her equally as his firmly expressed disapproval. Nothing could
satisfy her.

The marching of soldiers came even upon the grounds of Kennons. At times
the noise and smoke of battle filled the atmosphere, as had the direful
cholera thirty years before.

Rusha Lisle would have turned Kennons into an hospital for Southern
soldiers. Even when her husband, hiding for his life, was hunted and
dogged by rebel soldiers, her hand fed them with food; _her_ hand that
was never known to be stretched forth in charity to the deserving; nay,
the roof, forbidden by prowling rebels to shelter its master, was
proffered to his enemies by its dishonored mistress.

When tried beyond reason, Duncan Lisle arose in his wrath and asserted
his mastery. Well might any true woman have quailed before that
uprising, but not Rusha Thornton Lisle. A woman weaker-minded would
have packed her silver, gathered her valuables, and fled to Thornton
Hall, where she might harbor her dear rebels _ad infinitum_. This
strong-minded woman well knew that by such a course of action she would
be pleasing everybody but herself. She was not so fond of conferring
happiness, nor so capable of self-sacrifice. So she continued to wage
war within her household, more constantly vexatious to her husband, more
tyrannous to her servants.

What added to Mrs. Lisle's bitterness was the conduct of her son. At the
opening of hostilities, he had joined a rebel company, inflated with the
idea that in a few weeks, or months at farthest, the Northern "mudsills"
would be overwhelmed and out of sight. No one, except his mother, had
talked louder and faster than himself. With his single hand he could
slay a dozen of the cowardly Yankees.

After all this bravado, at the first smell of gunpowder, Thornton Rush
threw down his firearms in a panic and ran as if from a sweeping tempest
of fire and brimstone. Sleeping by day in hollow logs, traveling by
night with haste and stealth, he made his way to the hated Northern
lines, went as fast as cars could carry him to New York city, and, on a
flying steamer, sneaked to Europe. There, once landed, he wrote his
mother a letter. She had thought him dead, and mourned him proudly, as
for a hero fallen for his country. She half read his letter, and threw
it into the fire. Not dead, but a poltroon, a coward! She stamped her
foot with contempt. _Her_ son to lack courage?--_her_ son a deserter
from his post? She, woman as she was, would have gone into battle with
the courage of a Cæsar, the constancy of a Hannibal; but this son of
hers, in whose veins flowed the cowardly northern blood, what could she
expect of him, the son of Jude Rush?--and she curled her lip with
contempt for both father and son. She ceased to mention his name, and
revealed to no one that he still lived. Moreover, she disdained
answering his letter, even had she not destroyed his written, but unread
address and fictitious name.

Hubert Lisle, too, had volunteered, but it was to his country, and he
was contending bravely, steadfastly, in the Northern ranks. Only good
reports came back to Kennons of Ellice's brave son. This was galling to
Rusha's pride; but it refuted silently her assertion that courage flowed
not in Northern blood, for Hubert's mother had been a Northerner.

This young man, at the firing of Sumter, had passed his twenty-first
year. He had graduated with honor from school and college, and was on
the eve of embarking for Paris, where he was to pursue his medical
studies. The call of his country stayed his uplifted foot, and placed in
his not unwilling hand weapons of metal other than implements of
dissection.

For three years Hubert was on active duty, when he became one of the
unlucky prisoners at Salisbury. At the end of three months he was
amongst the exchanged, and emerged from that infamous place such a
walking skeleton as might have scared a ghost. Being unable to reënter
the service, after several weeks recruiting in the hospital, he was
permitted to visit Kennons.

That was a harder place for him than Salisbury. If it were not so trite,
we would say he had fallen from Scylla upon Charybdis; or, if it were
not vulgar, we might assert him to have fallen from the frying-pan into
the fire; we will simply say, that not finding his father's wife at all
agreeable, and having a remote suspicion that she might be tempted to
put something that was not pure Java into his coffee, he left, after a
few days, for the more congenial city where his college days had been
spent.

The civil war, then, had come to a close. Men had fought bravely on
either side. It is idle to assert that all the courage and gallantry was
with one or with the other. Both Northerner and Southerner fought like
men. Right conquered, and the South yielded gracefully enough. The
humiliation of her proud spirit was sufficient for her to bear; taunts
and sneers should have been spared her.

Mr. Fuller was still overseer at Kennons, and had managed with Mr. Lisle
to retain a majority of the field-hands at a fair salary.

Of the house-servants, Amy and Chloe, being well advanced in years,
offered to remain for the sake of their master. He, knowing what it must
have cost them to make this resolve, and touched by their devotion,
counselled them to leave at least the house. On the farthest corner of
his plantation he would give them a few acres, build them a cabin,
where, with their youngest children, they could live comfortably. This
proposal they received with joy; they would be near the dear master,
while removed from the authority of the mistress.

As to Rusha's servants, at the first announcement of freedom, every one
went out from her presence forever, so soon as they could gather their
wretched wardrobes into shape for departure. The most of them wore their
all away, and that was sufficiently scanty. All went, we say. No, Kizzie
remained. She was now a poor old woman of seventy. While watching the
others depart, she sat down upon a rickety bench, folded her bony
fingers over her knees, and cried silently. She was thinking. It would
be hard either way, to go out among strangers, or to stay where her life
had been so sorry and hopeless. She believed, on the whole, she would
stay.

She did not like to leave her little cabin, where she had suffered so
much, and where, after all, she had had her crumbs of comfort. How could
she sleep out of her own bed, whose pillows were now ever adorned with
her own article of luxury--ruffled pillow-slips? How could she leave
that household god which stood day and night by her bedside, the cradle
that had rocked her children? Should she find elsewhere a patch of
ground for her darling pinks?

Besides, had there not been deep in her heart a hope that some time one
of her boys--Joe, perhaps--might be led to seek his mother? How should
he find her if she went out none knowing whither? Yes, she would stay.

Miss Rusha was glad of her resolution. She had hired a stranger for
cook, and Kizzie, though now somewhat decrepit, could do her many a
service. But it was not in this woman's nature to acknowledge a
kindness; she acted and spoke as if she were doing this old servant a
great favor by allowing her to remain.

It was but a few days ere Mrs. Lisle, who was now more than ever hasty
in temper, raised her hand against Kizzie. Kizzie's eyes flashed, and
she answered her mistress with angry words. This was more than Mrs.
Lisle could bear, and she struck her a blow.

"A free woman to be whipped like a slave," thought Kizzie; "that time
has gone by;" and she threatened to leave.

"Go whenever you please," said the lady.

But Kizzie could not go, and did not. She had borne so much, she might
endure a little more.

Her pertinacity in staying induced Mrs. Lisle to throw off all
restraint. She believed nothing would force her to leave, and fell back
to her former mode of treatment of this pitiable woman. There came a
limit, however, to Kizzie's endurance. She packed up her few goods,
firmly resolved to see her mistress' face no more. She would stay a few
days at Amy's and Chloe's, and then go farther. She would have taken up
her abode altogether with them, as Mr. Lisle advised, only that she and
those amiable women had not been the best of friends. Kizzie had been
too solitary and brooding to form a pleasant companion. At the last
moment she might again have hesitated had she not already sent her
parcels ahead of her by a chance black man.

Having cast a last lingering look about her cabin, she leaned over her
cradle, which she wet with her tears. Then going into the sunlight, she
bent down over her patch of pinks, which were now in fullest fragrance.
She had fallen on her knees, bowing over, and burying her wrinkled face
in the rich mass of bloom and beauty.

Kizzie's heart had not broken over the cradle, nor was it doomed to
break over her beloved blossoms. A man's step startled her. Raising her
head, a tall, dignified military officer of color met her view. He
approached her close, looking steadily at her with those smiling,
pleasant eyes which Kizzie had never forgotten, could never forget, were
they in her Joe of fourteen, or in this fine looking officer. Her heart
said--"It is my Joe; my baby Joe," but her lips could not syllable a
word.

"Mother," said the trembling, glad voice, though so deep and heavy, "you
still love your pinks, mother, do you still love your Joe?"

Ah, what a meeting was that! The wonder is that Kizzie survived it.
Sorrow, grief, had not killed, neither did joy.

When Joe told his mother he had come for her to accompany him North, she
proposed taking her pinks, earth and all.

"O no mother, I have a house and garden of my own; you shall have a
place for your pinks as large as you wish."

The old woman looked up at him questioningly. Before she could speak he
said:

"I see what you wish to know, yes, I am married." "And have a baby Joe"
too, he would have added, only that he had resolved his mother should be
taken by surprise in the visible knowledge of her grandchild.

It was not now difficult for Kizzie to leave her old home; and as she
journeyed northward astonished by new scenes, she learned from Joe his
history since their painful separation.

He had grieved so for his mother that his new master thought it best to
part with him in a neighboring State. He had fallen into good hands; he
had learned to read and write. At the breaking out of the war he had
deserted his master and escaped North. Here he had enlisted as a
soldier, and after much active service had been raised to rank of
Lieutenant in his company. He had found time to marry a runaway
slave-girl, whom he sent North. He and she were both prudent and
industrious, and when the war was over had means to purchase them a
comfortable home. He had always been determined to revisit his mother.
The visit had been doubly pleasant, since he had fought for her liberty
and his own.

When Kizzie arrived at her son's home, and was introduced to his wife
and the unsuspected baby, she was again speechless. But her silent
prayer was that her years might be lengthened out to the number of
Methuseleh's, in order long to enjoy this unaccustomed happiness.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE ST. LEGERS.


John Temple had been a three month's volunteer at the commencement of
the war. But his business so much suffered, and his absence so
distracted his wife, that he considered it his duty, after his term of
service had expired, to remain at home. John Temple, for the son of an
Irishman, was a man of a great deal of equanimity. He could face a body
of soldiers without flinching, and he could meet daily the frivolousness
and folly, the bagatelles and boutades of his pretty wife without losing
patience. That he could do the one was not strange or uncommon; but to
do the other without seeking the satisfaction of slamming a door,
kicking a footstool across the floor, or boxing the children's ears, was
truly remarkable.

It was well for Juliet that she had married a man whose disposition and
temperament was so the reverse of her own. She was one of those who
delight in fancying her own life to be filled with more trials and
troubles than any other person's can be. And why? She had a beautiful
home, rich and fashionable in its appointments, plenty of servants at
her command, horses, carriage and driver at her disposal, a niece of
remarkable loveliness and beauty, a son and daughter somewhat spoiled,
who inherited fortunately their mother's beauty and their father's good
sense; a kind and indulgent husband--what more could she wish?

Ah, Juliet Temple! the hand of sorrow had never touched thee. The sacred
form of grief had passed thee by. Death had flitted around thee, taking
others, leaving thee and thine. Father and mother, brother and sisters,
husband and children all remained to thee! Yet did'st thou never raise
thy heart in thanksgiving unto God, but suffered it to be depressed and
fretted at the nameless trifles that came vexingly.

Few persons, like Juliet, live to the age of thirty-five without having
suffered losses and afflictions. Juliet never paused to consider this.
She never reflected, even at a funeral, that thus far she had been
spared, but that her turn must come. When she gazed upon poverty and
distress no thought that such might have been, or might still be hers,
crossed her mind. She was more unhappy than the cripple or the beggar
that passed her by.

To such souls come awakenings, soon or late; sometimes gentle, sometimes
startling as an earthquake.

Captain St. Leger, who had seldom visited home of late years, on a
recent return had taken with him his invalid wife to China. He had
opened business relations at a principal port, which had gradually
become his more usual stopping place and home. Mrs. St. Leger had
improved somewhat on the voyage; and the first letter received from her
on her arrival was favorable. Little then were the daughters prepared
for the succeeding letter which contained intelligence of her death.

The long illness of their mother had prepared the elder daughters in a
measure for the event. Juliet had not anticipated such a thing. She had
thought only of seeing her mother return from her lengthy voyage
recruited in health and spirits, with her old taste and ability revived
for society and amusements. She shut herself up in a room and grieved
inordinately. Had her own and father's household lay dead before her,
she could not have assumed a wilder sorrow. In vain her husband soothed
and reasoned. Her mother had been a great sufferer; she could not expect
but that she must some time die; she was beyond the reach of pain; for
her the agony of death was over. All to no purpose. She would have no
comfort in husband, children, or sisters; her mother was dead, and she
would not be comforted.

John Temple thought it would do her good to see Dr. Browne; he
accordingly sent for him, and without her knowledge.

Dr. Browne called; but to see him Juliet persistently refused. The real
reason was because she was in wretched _deshabille_, her face was
swollen with weeping, and it would be such a weary work to do her hair.
No; her vanity was yet stronger than her grief, and she would not be
seen by Dr. Browne.

Two months passed, and Juliet had recovered her usual composure, if
composure can be used in connection with so unrestful a creature.

And now came a letter from the hand of a stranger, bearing news of the
sudden death by apoplexy of Captain St. Leger.

This was indeed unexpected, and created in the family a much greater
sensation than had the death of the mother.

The Van Rensaleers and the Langs began to inquire about the condition of
the property. Without consulting Mr. Temple, the husbands of Leonora and
Estelle sailed at once for China.

Juliet's anxiety about her share of the estate somewhat modified her
grief in this instance. She had but slightly known her father; he had
been home but seldom, and for brief visits. He was an austere man, very
fine-looking, but silent and undemonstrative. She should not miss him so
much, still his death was such a shock--as she was fond of repeating to
her friends; she should never recover from the effects of two such
terrific shocks.

So selfish in her grief was Juliet, nobody's sorrow had ever been like
unto her own. Whereas, had she only stopped to consider, had she been a
Christian instead of a heathen, a woman instead of a child, she would
have borne silently this affliction as a necessary dispensation of
Providence; she would have bowed her heart humbly before God, kissing
the hand that had chastened her, thankful that those nearer and dearer
had been left unto her.

The two elder brothers-in-law in due time returned from their mission
with the doleful intelligence that the late Captain St. Leger had died
insolvent, so far as his foreign wealth was concerned. They swore in
open court, for Mr. Temple summoned them to appear and obliged them to
take oath, that they received not sufficient from the assets to defray
the expenses of their voyage.

Of this Juliet was disposed to believe not a word. Her brothers-in-law
had ever been ill-disposed toward her because she married for love, and
looked down on Temple because he had industriously labored for his
wealth instead of having received it, like themselves, from dishonest or
thrifty grandfathers. She believed they had connived together to enrich
themselves at her expense.

Here, then, was another ground for anxiety. She begged Mr. Temple to
institute legal proceedings, and have the matter thoroughly sifted. Mr.
Temple liked no man to believe he was to be tamely cheated, and was at
first disposed to accede to Juliet's suggestion. Upon farther
reflection, however, he thought it wiser to let the matter drop. Aside
from anxiety, the expenses would be great. His adversaries had taken
time by the forelock, and had taken care doubtless to cover up their
tracks.

He was now independent; his business needed all his attention; he would
not risk the certain for the uncertain. He would look out for his share
yet unappropriated in the city, though Captain St. Leger, at his last
visit home, had given deed to Juliet of the house she since her marriage
had occupied.

But the settlement of the St. Leger estate does not materially concern
us. It had the effect, however, of completely alienating Juliet from her
sisters.

Leonora was still childless, though she had so far changed her
resolution as to have received two children into her house. She could
scarcely have done otherwise. It had been announced by letter from
Philip that a cargo of eleven children from his mission were about to
sail, and would reach New York at about a given time. Three of these
children were his, and he hoped his sisters would find places for them
in their families, and interest themselves in seeking good homes for the
remaining others.

Philip wrote that expediency alone could have induced them to part with
the dear children. Their hearts were torn asunder, etc., etc. The
touching letter was read from the preacher's desk. There was not a dry
eye in the house, nor a heart that did not long to clasp the foreign
missionary waifs. The trouble was not in getting homes in sufficient
number for the children--there were not enough children for the homes
offered. It would be such a blessed privilege to have a missionary's
child in the house. The various Judson children that were scattered here
and there were perpetual curiosities. Their very presence was enough to
sanctify, dignify, and make illustrious any house wherein they might
dwell.

There never occurred to Philip when he wrote, to the city preacher when
he read, nor to the congregation who listened to the pathetic story of
the "hearts torn asunder," an idea as to the incompatibility of
missionary life with raising a family of children; nor that each and
every missionary father had better have given his heart a decided wrench
in the beginning, by abstaining from marriage, than have been a victim
to perpetual domestic anxiety and have suffered such ever-recurring
wounds.

At first Leonora had taken Philip's three children, although a
childless, wealthy couple had offered to adopt the eldest, a boy of nine
years. He was handsomer and finer looking than his two little sisters,
who were both quiet and pretty. Leonora thought she should have
something to be proud of in the boy, who was a St. Leger thoroughly, and
might readily enough be mistaken as her own son.

She was not long, however, in discovering that she had taken more upon
herself than she could bear. This handsome nephew was the exact
counterpart of what his father had been at similar early age. Leonora
remembered well that Philip had been an imp of mischief, and that she
had suffered torments on his account. This young Marius--named for Mary
Selby in full--like his father before him, seemed to think his young
sisters made for no earthly purpose but for his amusement. If they were
out of his presence he was wretched; when with them he left them no
peace; he would fling at them paper darts, almost strangle them with an
impromptu lasso, demolish their playhouse, decapitate their dolls, and
do all the mischief his really inventive genius could suggest.

Leonora knew how worse than vain would be all reasoning with such a
subject. The example of her brother was all she needed. She took him in
her carriage, and set him down, with his baggage, at the door of the
wealthy couple who had been so anxious to gain possession of him. She
was not surprised, two weeks later, to learn that he had been
transferred to the family of the Presbyterian clergyman, nor shortly
after to be informed that a collection had been taken up among the
wealthy members of the church for his education at a country school; to
this she was invited to contribute, which she did liberally.

Captain St. Leger had given all his city property to his daughters,
leaving his only son unprovided for.

As to Estelle, Mrs. Lang, she rejoices in five daughters, which, added
to her four sons, makes her family equal in number, if not in degree, to
that of Queen Victoria's. She has had a wing added to her already
extensive mansion, wherein she has had her children installed, with
their nurses at command, one being an aged lady, trusty and faithful.
Unlike Juliet, Estelle became wise enough to give over fretting and
borrowing trouble. She goes much into society, though less devoted to it
than her elder sister, but looks considerably to her household affairs,
and on the whole makes a tolerable wife and mother. She would be
religious perhaps if she knew how to be. But this she has never learned
at St. Mark's Church, and she knows not where else to go.



CHAPTER XVIII.

ST. MARK'S OR ST. PATRICK'S?


A few months later, and Juliet Temple, with her niece and children,
returned from St. Mark's, whither they had been for morning service.

"I declare this is the last time I shall go out to church while this hot
weather continues," exclaimed Juliet, throwing herself upon the parlor
lounge, not having sufficient strength to mount the stairs. "I was a
dunce for going to-day," she continued, having panted awhile for breath,
and fanning herself with a feather fan; "there were but few out; almost
none at all of the fashionables. Let me see: there was Dr. Elfelt's pew
vacant, the Shreves' vacant, the Dunns', and the Quackenboss'; not one
of the Herricks, Messengers, nor Livingstons there; you'll not catch me
there again with only such a common crowd; it is high time Dr. Browne
shut up for the summer, though somebody said he wasn't going to shut up
this summer, there has been such a hue and cry in the papers about this
shutting up of churches; but he might as well, I can warn him, or he
will preach to empty pews; it beats all, and to-day was communion day,
too; I should have thought more would have turned out; but, I declare,
I thought I should smother when I went up to the rails; and, to cap all,
that old Mrs. Godfrey, who weighs at least three hundred, came and knelt
close by me, and just completely crushed all one side of my flounces; I
was provoked and indignant; this, added to the intense heat, was almost
insupportable; but here I am again, thank God. O, Althea, you look so
cool and comfortable; won't you come, please, and fan me a minute--untie
my hat, and take away my gloves and scarf, they are like so many
fire-coals. It is too bad to make a servant of you, dear, but that is
just the way, the girls stay so long at their Mass, as they call it; I
wouldn't have Catholic girls just for this very reason, that they insist
always upon going to Mass, only that I really can trust a good Catholic
girl better than anyone else. If a girl calls herself Catholic, but is
not particular about her religious duties, I am on the watch for her;
but a girl that insists upon going through thick and thin, heat and
cold, such a girl I trust in spite of me. Now, Johnny, bring me a glass
of ice-water, dear. And daughter, if you will just step up to my room
and bring my salts, you will be a darling. Dear me! shall I ever get
cool again? If you will just bring me that sofa pillow, but no, it will
be too hot. I wish I had a nice pillow from my own bed, the linen slips
would be so refreshing."

Althea started to go for one, when her aunt pleased again to change her
mind.

"On the whole, I think now I will be able to go up stairs, and you can
unlace my tight boots, they are just killing my poor feet, and I can
get into my wrapper; yes, that will be nice."

And Juliet started briskly for her chamber. She met her daughter at the
foot of the stairs with the tiny cut-glass bottle.

"You can bring it back; I have concluded to go up myself; and, Johnny,
that is right, my son, bring the waiter up stairs, where, if I am not
completely exhausted first, I will try to get comfortable."

The stream of Juliet's talk ceased not to flow, while her niece, son,
and daughter flew hither and thither, as was dictated by her caprice.

At length, in her snowy wrapper, she half reclined gracefully upon an
equally snowy lounge, which she had ordered drawn to the darkest corner
of the room.

"Now, Johnny and Flora dear, you can go anywhere you please, until the
girls come and lunch is served. Althea will stay and fan me, and perhaps
I can sleep," said this selfish woman, languidly closing her eyes.

She had done talking enough for any one member of a sociable; and
Althea, commendably preserving her patience, devoutly hoped the
poppy-god, of which she had lately been reading in her Virgil, would
shower well the eyelids of her Aunt. Vain hope! The uneasy tongue again
commenced:

"I wonder how your uncle endures it! Every week-day at his counting
house--every Sunday twice at Mass, and then again at Vespers. It is all
of six months now since this very pious fit came over him. And strange
to say, I believe I brought it about myself. I never had given up the
notion of his coming around to be with me a High Churchman. He always
_was_ the most honest soul--the offer of thrones and kingdoms could
never induce him to tell a lie--but as to what he called his religious
duties, he had become very careless; I could easily coax him to stay
from Mass when I did not feel like dressing for St. Mark's, but about
six months ago, I think it was, I undertook to convert him to my way of
thinking, and to make him see how vain and wicked these Romish practices
were, when he astonished me by his earnest defence of them, and ever
since he is a perfect enthusiast; wouldn't stay from Mass if the house
was on fire, and if you would believe it, is actually insisting that the
children shall go with him whenever they don't go with me; next thing
will be to take them with him anyhow, and the idea of having Johnny and
Flora brought up to believe that it is a mortal sin to be absent from
Mass, even when the day is scalding hot, or piping cold! That is
downright tyranny. I would never endure it! It is well I was never
brought up a Catholic; they'd find a rebel in me, sure. All the priests,
and Bishops, and the Pope, and a hundred like him, couldn't oblige me to
go to church, if I was not a mind. And Althea, only think of it, your
uncle, good as he is, every month now goes on his knees to Father Duffy
and confesses his sins! That is too much. Your uncle, Althea, if I do
say it, who am his wife, is the best man in the world--the very best,
and the idea! Why, I believe it is the other way, and this priest, Mr.
Duffy, had better go on _his_ knees to my husband--he would have more to
say, I'll wager. John Temple is sensible upon everything else, but upon
the matter of his religion he has become childish and absurd. I believe
he would give me up and the children too, dearly as he loves them,
rather than his religion. There he is at last," she exclaimed eagerly,
as the hall door opened below, and a man's foot was heard ascending the
stairs.

"O John! I am so glad you have come. You have almost been the death of
me though, you naughty man."

"How so, Juliet?"

"Why, did you not tell me when I objected to going to St. Mark's that if
I did not go and take the children you should take them with you?"

"I did."

"Well, of course, rather than to have them go to that Irish Church, I
made a martyr of myself and went with them to St. Mark's, but it is for
the last time this summer, I can promise you. Why, I have almost died
with the heat."

"It is a very warm day, unusually warm for the season," was the only
response.

"And is that _all_, John, that you have to say? You are _not_ going to
take the children hereafter to church with you, when it is impossible
for me to go with them to St. Mark's?"

"That is what I told you, Juliet. I have thoroughly made up my mind,
and--"

"O, don't tell me you have made up your mind," cried the lady
hysterically, who knew from a twelve years' experience that John
Temple's made-up mind was like an adamantine wall to all her feeble
missiles.

"Juliet," he replied firmly, "I will no longer see our children growing
up without religious training. And this very day I have formed a new
resolution. Johnny and Flora are to go with me every morning to early
Mass. This is a subject which must be no longer neglected;" and here Mr.
Temple, having loosened his necktie, and donned dressing-gown and
slippers, took up the fan that Althea had dropped upon his entrance, and
seated himself by his wife.

Juliet, as usual, betook herself to tears. But tears did not always
drown her tongue; certainly not upon this occasion.

"I don't see how it is possible for a man, generally so kind and good,
to make himself so obstinate and disagreeable. You don't find me so
obstinate; do I not often yield to you, John Temple, I would like to
know?"

"You look upon but one side, Juliet; we are man and wife; our religions
are different. I speak not of yours, I know only my own, and this, my
own religion, binds me to bring up my children in the fear and love of
God. You may, for some reasons, be attached to your religious service,
but the rules of your Church have no binding force upon you. For you it
is no sin to allow your children to attend Mass. Your Church claims to
be a branch of ours, admits ours to be the true Church of Christ, from
which it sprang. In attending Mass with me, your children are still
within the fold of the Church. With me it is different. I believe in
but one Church. All others so-called, however well-intentioned, have not
the banner of Christ, not unto them were given the promises of our
Divine Lord. For me it is a mortal sin to allow my children any longer
to remain in their present state. Johnny should have been already well
instructed, and ready for First Communion and Confirmation."

"O, John! when you know I am so dreadfully opposed to it, how can you
insist upon having the dear children brought up in such a way. It will
ruin their prospects for life. Likely as not Johnny would become a cruel
priest, and our sweet little Flora would be dragged into a convent."

"Don't be a fool, Juliet," said Mr. Temple, losing his patience, "who
talks about dragging people into convents? Not Catholics. Have you not
confidence in me, and will you not believe when I assure you I could not
ask a higher, nobler place for our children than that you so deprecate?
Thus far have I yielded to you in this matter. But, Juliet, who has made
me father and master in this house? Unto God shall I have to render my
account; and though I would spare your feelings, I must still be true to
my conscience."

"As far as the religion itself goes, I don't care so much," responded
Juliet, attempting to dry her eyes with her handkerchief, already
saturated, "but what grieves me to the heart, what I cannot bear nor
tolerate is this association with the low and vulgar," the one idea
still uppermost in the weak woman's mind.

"Juliet, are you never to have thoughts higher than those that pertain
to society and fashion? Do you never think the time is surely coming
when you must give up all these things to which you are attached, when
death must come to you, and a new life, and have you no care as to what
that life shall be?"

The lady shivered and covered up her eyes.

"Why do you talk thus to me? Do you not know that I have a perfect
horror of such things? O, John, the very thought of dying almost
distracts me. _Must_ we all die? How I wish we could live forever, and
never grow old! When we get very old, John, then, if I should be taken
sick, I want you to hold me strong by the hand that death may not take
me."

"But, Juliet, if you should be taken sick before you are old?"

"I have no fear, John, while you are with me, even though I be sick. Do
you not know, have you not learned, that I fear nothing when with you,
and have a good hold of your hand? In a thunder-shower I am so timid
without you, I think every bolt is to strike me; if you are near, but
you must be close, I have no fear. It seems nothing can harm me if you
are by. So, John, while I have you, I have no fear of death."

Mr. Temple had dropped the fan, and Juliet's two little hands were
nestled in his strong, broad palms. He looked with tenderness into the
face upturned so trustfully to his.

"But if I should die, Juliet, and you should not have me?"

Juliet gave a piercing scream and threw herself into her husband's arms.
Was it for the first time such a thought had ever been presented to her
mind? Life without her husband! She could not conceive of it. It seemed
as if he had always been with her; as though he had become so much a
part of herself that she could not live without him. For, though she
wearied and annoyed him, teased, opposed, and vexed him, she loved him
beyond all things, even her children. Beneath all her vanity, folly, and
thoughtlessness throbbed one passion deepest of all, love for her
husband.

"My poor little wife," said John Temple, when he could again speak, "I
am frail and human, but there is One mighty and eternal. I am weak and
erring, but there is One strong and infallible. Put your trust in One
worthier than I; lay your hand in His who shall lead you by the still
waters of peace; in His which shall never fail you, neither in life,
death, nor eternity."



CHAPTER XIX.

"IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YE THINK NOT."


During the following week Juliet Temple was more serious than usual. She
often found herself wondering why her husband had spoken to her in such
mournful words. They haunted her the more she attempted to drive them
away; she could not even reflect with indignation upon his avowed
purpose as regarded the children. His solemn tones and manner had taken
the sting from his unwelcome resolutions.

Once she referred to the subject:

"Your sermon of last Sunday has sunk deep in my heart. It is the only
sermon that has ever done me any good--or harm," she added.

"I did not intend to trouble you; but you know I would like to see you
more thoughtful."

Had John Temple taken this course long ago with his wife, she would have
become perhaps a wiser, better woman. But he loved peace and quiet; and
he probably thought also that no serious words from him could make
impression upon her preoccupied, impervious mind.

John Temple was true to his word. For several mornings his children
were kneeling by his side at Mass, ere their mother had awakened from
her slumbers. He himself heard their daily lessons in Catechism.

When Saturday came around Juliet began to think about the children going
to St. Patrick's next day. She was so surprised at herself for having
acquiesced so readily. True, she knew it was no use to combat her
husband upon the point, but she might not have appeared to him to yield
so easily. Instead, however, of any disposition to disapprove, she began
to think how it would be were she to go herself. Pshaw! Where was all
her pride, that she should begin to think of going to church with her
Jim, Bridget, and Ann? But somehow, for the first time, she did not like
to think of her husband going without her. He had spoken so solemnly of
the possibility of his some time leaving her! Hereafter she should feel
as if he must not go out of her sight. She put away her embroidery for
her crochet. In turn, her crochet was tedious, and dropping it, she took
up a book which her husband had been reading at leisure moments the last
day or two.

The book she had never before observed. It was "The Following of
Christ." She opened where was his mark; and this mark was, for this
time, a tiny rose she had handed him that very morning. She pressed to
her lips the rose, which was yet fragrant, though faded. She commenced
to sing carelessly:

   "Ye may break, ye may ruin the vase if ye will,
   But the scent of the roses will hang round it still,"

when the heading of the Chapter, which the rose had marked, caught her
eye, "Of the thoughts of death."

"A very little while and all will be over with thee here. See to it, how
it stands with thee in the next life. Man to-day is, and to-morrow he is
seen no more. If thou art not prepared to-day, how wilt thou be
to-morrow?

"To-morrow is an uncertain day, and how knowest thou if thou shalt have
to-morrow?"

"No wonder his mind is sober and solemn, with such reading as this,"
mused Juliet, but she continued.

Fire bells commenced to ring. Was this so uncommon an occurrence as to
cause Juliet to drop her book and press her hand to her heart?

"What does it mean? I am so fearfully nervous. It is not our house that
is on fire."

She walked to a window; ah, the fire was near, but a few squares
distant; the slight wind, however, would bear it in an opposite
direction. There was no occasion for fear. Juliet took up her book
again, and read a few pages. She was reading these passages a second
time, and with something like a thrill of awe, for they seemed to be
spoken to herself:

"Be therefore always in readiness, and so live that death may never find
thee unprepared.

"Many die suddenly and unprovidedly; for the Son of Man will come at the
hour when He is not looked for.

"When that last hour shall have come, then thou wilt begin to think far
otherwise of all thy past life; and great will be thy grief that thou
hast been so neglectful and remiss."

The door-bell rang violently. Juliet made an effort to rise from her
chair, but sank back weak as an infant. Her face turned deadly pale, and
she clenched the closed book in her pallid hands.

There was a confused sound in the room below; the tread of men and
subdued voices. Suddenly, above these, she caught a groan. This broke
the spell; she flew rather than walked to the small parlor so strangely
occupied.

A knot of men separated slightly as she drew near. O God of Heaven, was
that her husband? John Temple, who went out a few hours ago brave and
strong, in the full vigor of beautiful manhood, blighted, disfigured,
burned in the fiery furnace?

"My child, my child," had a frantic woman screamed as she was borne down
a ladder in the powerful arms of a fireman.

"My child," she still cried from the ground, her eyes upraised to the
window of flame, her hands clasped in pleading agony. Eager eyes looked
upward, but even brave hearts hesitated to rush into the sea of flame.

It was madness, but John Temple ventured. They would have held him back,
but in that supreme moment of supernatural exaltation of courage he was
strong as well as bold. As he would others should do for him so would he
do for them. It was the thought of his wife and children that nerved him
to such heroic, desperate effort, and alas, so unavailing!

Streams of water had darkened the fiery mass, and hope began to whisper
to the eager crowd.

Yes, John Temple stepped out upon the slippery, blackened ladder,
grasping the inanimate form of a little child. Loud cheers rent the air.
But they pierced the hearts of those who bent over the senseless forms
of the deliverer and the child. Most of their clothing, their hair, and
eyebrows were burned, they were fearfully scarred, and worse than all
they had breathed the flames! Physicians were on the ground, prompt
assistance was rendered, and John Temple again drew breath. With the
child there was a moan, a gasp, and all was over.

This was the result of a kerosene explosion. So instant had been the
ignition of everything combustible that nearly the whole interior was in
flames before assistance could arrive. Stout engines played but upon
useless debris, and saved only unsightly walls.

Some friend of John Temple had run for the priest, and by the time he
was laid in his own house Father Duffy too had arrived. The sufferer had
become sensible, but could not speak. He was evidently in fearful agony.

Three physicians looked at each other and shook their heads. They had
the wife to care for now, who, with piercing shrieks, fell insensible at
their feet.

"Will you leave me alone with him a moment," said the priest, and the
others withdrew, bearing away the stricken woman.

It was but for a few moments indeed. The dying man could only make
signals in answer to questions, and received the _Viaticum_ with eyes
raised in thankfulness. The physicians had not been able to get him to
swallow, but this blessed bread of life, this comforter by the way,
this solace and support through the dark valley, nature nor suffering
did refuse. It was pitiful to see him attempt to fold in reverence his
inflamed and swollen hands, and to make, as his last expiring effort,
the beloved sign of our holy religion.

To John Temple death had come suddenly indeed, but not unprovidedly. He
had been moved, no doubt by heavenly inspiration, to make a general
confession only the Sunday previously. And Father Duffy had reason to
believe it had been made with that care, diligence, and fullness as if
he had known it to have been his last. We have seen what an impression
had been made upon his mind in his interview with his wife.

Upon recovering consciousness, Juliet demanded to be admitted to her
husband. Disguises and delays she would not brook, and they led her
back. Her children were now there, and Althea, and further back the
servants. These latter were upon their knees, with the priest, saying
prayers for the dead.

Let us here draw a veil. We have been disgusted with Juliet, out of all
patience with her levity and unwomanliness, but we sympathize in her
unutterable grief. Hard must be the heart unmoved by those wildest
moans, those saddest plaints.

"Do not weep," said Dr. Browne to her after the funeral, "it is vain,
worse than vain."

"Only tears are left me," she half-uttered.

"Your children!"

"They only speak to me of him."

"But yourself; for your own sake do not thus yield to immoderate
grief."

"I tell you, Dr. Browne, my heart shall dash itself against this sorrow
till it break--break!" she exclaimed wildly.

"But this is not Christian submission."

"I am not a Christian, Dr. Browne; you cannot expect from me submission.
Do you expect grapes from thorns?"

"Not a Christian, Mrs. Temple?"

"You know I am not a Christian, Dr. Browne! I have never known but one
Christian in my life, and that was John Temple."

Dr. Browne felt somewhat scandalized. A member of his church to say
boldly she had never known but one Christian, and that Christian a Roman
Catholic; was it not incomprehensible? But then Mrs. Temple was not now
in her usual mind. Due allowance must be made, and he would seek a more
favorable opportunity for renewing the subject. He arose to leave.

"What shall I do, Dr. Browne? I cannot bear day nor night; life is a
torture; I cannot bear life, nor can I endure to think of death. O, help
me, Dr. Browne."

"Only God can help you, Mrs. Temple, and I pray that His grace may be
sufficient for you."

"But you forget that I have no God."

"Mrs. Temple, you are beside yourself. No God?"

"No! He is afar off, or I am shut out from Him. I have never known Him.
I cannot pray to Him."

"When you shall be more collected I will call again. Meantime, you will
find much comfort in our Book of Common Prayer. Have recourse to it and
to the throne of grace."

Juliet abandoned herself as much to remorse as to grief.

She had had the best of husbands; she had been to him the worst of
wives. As in a mirror, she saw all her past life. She remembered how
fretful and fault-finding she had been; how difficult to please, how
unlovely she had made herself. If John could come back, only just long
enough for her to tell him how very, very sorry she was, how much she
loved and respected him, how he had always done everything right, and
she had been ever in the wrong; but he could not come even for that. She
collected around her the various articles he had used; among others, his
rosary, crucifix and prayer-book. How careful he had been to keep them
hidden away, where they might not offend her eye, or provoke her
ridicule and sneer. She read every day, in the "Following of Christ,"
the chapter John had last read, which the faded rose still marked.

In this was a kind of comfort, but there was peace nor rest in aught
else. She walked the floor distractedly, and wrung her hands and tore
her garments. She shut herself up in the darkness, and stretched forth
her hands and prayed the spirit of John to come back to her in pity. She
would not admit her sisters; her children she allowed to grieve alone.

Suddenly, came back to her the memory of a look of pity and compassion,
which she had forgotten. When she had returned, on that memorable day,
to her husband, who had just breathed his last, as she raised her eyes,
scarcely daring to let them fall upon the dear face, she encountered the
gaze of Father Duffy. He had, unconsciously, looked upon this bereaved
woman, whom he knew to be without the fold, therefore, without suitable
consolation for this trying moment, as our dear Lord may be supposed to
have looked upon Mary and Martha, when they informed Him that Lazarus,
their brother, was dead.

The remembrance of this compassionate look softened Juliet's heart
toward the priest. For the first time in her life, she began to think he
might be something beside an impersonation of evil. To John he had been
a father and a friend; might not she have confidence in one he had so
loved and trusted?

She began to wish he would call. She wondered he did not, if but to see
after the children. He must be aware of John's recent action in regard
to them, perhaps may have counselled the same. The more she thought of
this, the stronger, by degrees, became her desire to see and consult
him.

Juliet was what might be termed a "person of one idea." Not that her
ideas never changed--she was very versatile; but she was animated wholly
by one idea at a time, to the exclusion of all others. Two weeks ago,
the Catholic Irish priest was the last person she would have thought of
with desire to see. Now, of all people in the world, it was from Father
Duffy she would seek counsel.

She rang her bell, and when Ann appeared, thus addressed her:

"You may do my hair, Ann; I have changed my mind; I thought I would
never have it touched again by comb or brush, but I will. You need not
be particular; only get the tangles out and let it hang; you can find a
black ribbon somewhere. I don't care any more how I look, besides, I am
only going to see your priest, Mr. Duffy. He must be used to seeing
people in all sorts of rigs. It would be different if I were to meet Dr.
Browne. I would dress for him as for a king, once; but not now! I never
shall care again how I look; poor John cannot see me."

Sobs and tears choked further utterance. Ann gave a quick start, when
her mistress mentioned the priest's name. She could hardly believe she
had heard aright. She was used to almost every caprice from Mrs. Temple,
but this last transcended every other. What did it portend?

Mrs. Lang, who was about the size and height of Mrs. Temple, had kindly
taken upon herself the care of procuring her sister's mourning. Having
submitted to all the troubles and inconveniences, she had, but the day
before, sent home several dresses. She would herself have accompanied
them, had she not repeatedly been refused admittance to her sister.
Juliet's hair being finished, she ordered Ann to undo the small mountain
of mourning goods, and select the plainest garment. And, after all, it
was with much hesitation, and continued wringing of hands, and moans and
lamentations, that she allowed herself to be arrayed in these insignias
of her widowhood. She more than once gave up her purpose, only as often
to resume it.



CHAPTER XX.

JULIET.


Ann, having completed her mistress' unusual and oft-resisted toilet,
received with surprise a message to convey to Father Duffy. She glanced
at Mrs. Temple, to discover if she were really in her right mind. Upon
this point she could not satisfy herself, for Juliet had buried her
flushed face in the fresh handkerchief she had just given her, and added
but the words: "go at once!"

Father Duffy, but little past the prime of life, was in the full vigor
of energy and usefulness. A worker himself, he infused others with his
spirit; droneishness wilted under the scorching rays of his perpetual
activity, as weeds wither in the noon-day sun. He had accomplished
wonders in his parish, and many another, less efficient than himself,
might have supposed nothing more was to be done. Not so, thought Father
Duffy. Literally and figuratively hills were to be brought down, and
level places to be made smooth.

By precept, and still more by example, he taught his people to bear
their burdens heroically, their prosperity with humility, their
adversity with pious resignation. He had little patience with
indecision, still less with querulousness and complaints. With those of
his class, he believed that one's "first fruits" should be given unto
God. One's best emotions, fullest love, highest loyalty, precious
treasure. He had no faith in the piety of him, who, living in a costly
dwelling, proposed to worship God in a habitation mean and contemptible;
nor in that of her, who, clad in a thousand-dollar shawl, would drop a
five-cent upon the plate of charity.

He was as quick to perceive, as was his will to act, or his hand to do.
He saw at once through all sham and artifice. He could be almost said to
perceive what was passing through one's mind, so quick was his
discernment, so penetrating his thought. He might have been a Jesuit,
nor fallen a whit behind the most polished and profound of that
marvellous society of men.

Poor Juliet! To have sent for such a man, whose one glance could dissect
her thoroughly! But, let us wait; maybe we shall have no occasion to
repeat the epithet just applied to her name.

Juliet little understood, indeed, was incapable of comprehending the
nature of the man whom she had invoked into her presence. Otherwise, she
would never have sent for him. She had bestowed no particular thought
upon him, anyhow; but he shared involuntarily in that measure of
contempt, which she ever had cherished for Roman Catholics in general.
She was not one bit in awe of him, nor felt less hesitation in
addressing him, than she would have done in speaking to a merchant's
clerk.

"I wish to see you, Mr. Duffy," she said, upon entering the little
parlor, where she had met him the one time previously. The memory of
that day, scarcely ten ago, came over her with such sudden distinctness,
that she sank to the floor, beside the sofa upon which she had been
about to seat herself, and groaned aloud.

"I fear you yield too immoderately to grief," said the priest.

"I can never mourn enough for John Temple," said the widow,
disconsolately.

"Mr. Temple was a worthy man. We have all lost in his death; but we must
not forget that he has gained."

"I forget everything but that I am wretched--the most wretched creature
in existence. I hate equally the light of day and the darkness of night.
I would take my own life, only that I have such a horror of death."

If the priest felt horror at her expressions, he did not evince it; but
he said firmly:

"It is very wrong for you, Mrs. Temple, to speak thus. God does not
afflict His children willingly, nor--"

"I am no child of God," broke in the unhappy woman, hiding her face in
the crimson velvet of the lounge, against which she leaned, for she
still retained her position upon the floor, in utter disregard of
conventionalities.

"Though you may not acknowledge God, He is none the less your Lord and
Master. Your will opposed to His is as smoking flax. He has seen fit
sorely to afflict you, and you are utterly powerless. But, God does
everything in wisdom. He has chastened you for your good, if you will
but make a wise improvement of this dispensation."

"You talk as if you think I am a Christian. But, I tell you I am not,
and never was. I know nothing about God. I have never cared anything
about Him. I have lived without Him, and as though He did not exist.
But, I am left alone now. I have nobody in Heaven or on earth. I am
afraid--as if I were on water, and about to sink, or, as if the heavens
were to fall and crush me."

"Yet God is near you. You have but to stretch forth your hand, and He
will support you. Give Him your heart, and He will be a present help in
time of trouble."

"But, I cannot find Him! And see, you do not tell me truly; for I put
forth my hand, and it falls back wearily. I know--I do not expect to see
God as I see a person; but they tell about Faith that is as good as
sight; if I could only have that!"

"Are you willing to make sacrifices for that faith--what would you do,
what give?" willing to test her sincerity.

"Do! give! I would sit in sackcloth and ashes! Behold me upon the floor:
I would even sink beneath it, I would walk upon coals of fire, tread
upon thorns, seek rest upon a rack of torture! And give? O, have I not
been robbed of my all? I have nothing left to give!" and Juliet's voice
died out in a mournful wail.

"But all this would not bring you to God, unless you yield to Him your
heart."

"I have no heart; it is in the grave with my husband."

"Mrs. Temple, you will never find God while you cherish this spirit of
selfish grief. Submission to His will is your first duty. Were you a
Catholic, I could instruct you. I know not how to conduct a Protestant
to God, unless I lead her in Catholic ways. Are you prepared to be so
led? Or, madam, why did you send for me?"

Juliet hesitated.

"I hardly know," at length, "I wished for somebody who had been dear to
John. He loved you more than all the world beside, except us, of course.
He was so satisfied with his religion; his faith was so clear and full;
he lived such a good life; and he used to say he owed so much to you. I
thought if you could teach me as you had done him, if I could become
good as he was, that I would learn of you, if you would take the
trouble, even though you were a Catholic priest."

"You do not wish then to become a Catholic, really?"

"No; I do not. I wish to find God; or, to have such faith in Him, that I
may believe as if I saw Him. Can you help me to that?"

"I can," replied the priest. "God has appointed me to bring souls to
Him. He has appointed the way also, and I cannot go out of that way. I
warn you, therefore, in the beginning, that while conducting you to the
Heavenly City, I am not seeking to make of you simply a Catholic, but
the convictions of your mind and the fervor of your heart will be of
the very spirit of Catholicity. Are you still willing to persevere?"

"I am. I have no fears of becoming a Catholic. I can judge for myself. I
can never believe in the divinity of Mary; nor in the worship of the
saints and the adoration of their relics; nor in transubstantiation and
miracles, and all those things; but you know what I want--and will you
help me for John's sake?"

"And for your own. But you must have confidence in me. And first, you
must cease to believe that Catholics regard Mary, the Blessed Mother, as
a divine person; second, that they worship saints or their relics, and
many another fallacy under which you labor. You must be willing to read
and study, withdrawing your mind as much as possible from your
bereavement, and giving certain time to the care of your children. In
these matters you must be obedient, or I can promise no good result. Are
you still resolved?"

"It is my last hope," thought Juliet, disheartened for a moment, and she
bowed her head.

"You are sure you can help me," said Juliet, imploringly, as would say
one sick to the physician, in whom were placed all her hopes of life.

"And behold I am with you even to the consummation of the world" passed
through the priest's mind, and he answered, confidently: "Very sure,
Mrs. Temple."

The friends of Juliet marvelled greatly, when it became known to them
that she had sent for the Catholic priest, and was actually seeking to
learn the religion of her late husband. For they looked at the matter in
its true light, and smiled at her simplicity, in believing she could be
instructed in Protestantism by any "Romish priest," how good so ever he
might chance to be. Against her own inclination, but from the advice of
her new friend, she occasionally received her sisters and a few former
acquaintances. They went away commiserating her condition, as being
semi-imbecile, semi-lunatic.

"She will get over this, go in society, and marry again," they
prophesied. They were not the first false prophets who have arisen.

A year later, when Juliet Temple was baptized into the Catholic Church,
these same people said:

"_They_ will get her into a convent, next, where she will awaken to a
sense of her folly." Another false prophecy, for Juliet did not enter a
convent, though she had serious thoughts of doing so. Though she became
not a Sister of Charity, in fact, she did in deed, and atoned in after
years for the frivolousness of her early life, by patient self-denials
and well-directed benevolence.

In the matter of Juliet's conversion, Father Duffy, as in every thing
else, had done his work well. The widow of John Temple was no half-way
Christian. She had put forth her hand in the way directed, and God had
lifted her into the light. With her feet upon the rock of ages, she no
more trembled under the impression of sinking beneath slippery waters.

She was not ashamed to be seen by her former fashionable friends
wending her way to St. Patrick's. When she knelt at the altar to receive
the bread of life, she became not "indignant" that any humble Bridget
knelt by her side; for, dearer to her the most lowly person who now had
received the waters of Baptism than any lady who rode in her carriage.
Through the priest, it was God's work and marvellous unto all eyes.



CHAPTER XXI.

"THE SPIDER AND THE FLY."


Both Leonora and Estelle wrote to their distant brother of the danger of
his daughter. She was under the sole care of one who was fast becoming
bewitched with the superstitions of Catholicism.

Startled and bewildered, Philip St. Leger wrote at once for his
daughter's removal from the house of Juliet. During the few months
remaining of her school-life, she should divide her time at the houses
of her elder aunts. After that, she should take up her abode with her
uncle, Duncan Lisle, at Kennons. This latter arrangement, which had been
always understood, seemed now to all parties doubly desirable. She would
be removed even from the city where Juliet Temple lived. For, of course,
Juliet, like all converts, would not rest until she had made proselytes
of all who should come within her influence. She had been much attached
to her niece, and that niece was known to have had great affection and
respect for her late uncle, who had been to her a father. Truly, great
danger was to be avoided, and soon as possible. Althea was removed to
her Aunt Leonora's, and forbidden to enter Juliet's house without
permission, and accompanied.

Althea was now nearly sixteen; she had emerged from the somewhat
unpromising age, and had developed into remarkable beauty. Distinguished
as were all the St. Legers for fine personal appearance, none had ever
equalled this child of Della, given to God with that mother's expiring
breath.

With the beauty of her father, she possessed the winning gracefulness of
her mother, with the best mental and moral qualities of both. As a
scholar, she excelled in all her classes; she had a real genius for
music, poetry, and painting. With trifling effort she could execute most
difficult pieces upon piano and harp.

"You have the hand of a master," spake Signor Lanza proudly, to this his
favorite pupil.

"Il improvisatrice," was she styled by her admiring associates, whom she
amused by the hour with her extemporary effusions of rhyme.

From all, you would have taken her to be from that land

   "Where the poet's lip and painter's hand
   Are most divine. Where earth and sky
   Are picture both and poetry;
   Of Italy--"

A Madame de Stael would have immortalized her as another Corrinne.

_Heu, me miserum!_ Where shall we find goose-quill cruel and grey enough
to write her down wife of Jude Thornton Rush?

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of
in your philosophy."

Have you forgotten, dear reader, that September night after Ellice's
funeral? How Duncan Lisle sat alone with Hubert, his child, before the
bright fire, while the rain pattered against the pane, and the memory of
the widowed man broke up into such a shower of reminiscences as almost,
for the moment, to drown the fire of his grief? Do you remember that
Philip St. Leger, returned from the East, came abruptly upon the scene,
telling of Della's death, and the little child left at the North? Well,
was it not natural for us to think that Hubert and Althea, children of
Della and Ellice, the "Pythias and Damon" friends, should grow up and
love each other, and marry at last, as they do in novels?

Yes, that was our pet scheme, indulged in to the last. But we are
compelled to admit with the poet, that "best laid plans go oft astray."
We are also compelled to think half wickedly with Amy--what pity it was
Jude Rush fell down a precipice breaking his neck, thus giving his wife
liberty to capture her own good master--and what pity it was too that
Jude Thornton Rush did _not_ fall down some precipice and did _not_
break his neck before, spider-like, he had woven his fine web, and said
softly to Della's daughter:

"Will you walk into my parlor?"

For, something like a spider was Thornton Rush. He was quite tall and
too slender. His body was out of proportion to his long limbs, and his
hands and feet had the remarkable faculty of protruding too far from
every garment, even those the tailor declared should be long enough
_this_ time. The "ninth part of a man" would seize the sleeve at the
wrist with both hands, give a good jerk and an emphatic _there_! But
when Thornton Rush was ordered to lift his arm naturally, the wrist
protruded like a turtle's neck.

"He must be made of gutta percha," soliloquized the discomfited tailor,
giving him up as an incorrigible _non-fit_.

The rather stooping shoulders and long neck supported a splendid head
for Thornton Rush. This was indeed his crowning attraction. Short silken
curls of raven black clustered around it, shading a wide white forehead
and delicately fashioned ear. He had a beautifully arched brow, heavily
pencilled, within which a glittering black eye, too deep set, gleamed
forth with unaccountable attraction. His nose was straight, small, but
full of nerve. You would never guess from that handsome, firm-set mouth
of his, where decision and resolution played about the cherry lips and
dimpled chin, that he would have proved the coward and run from duty and
from danger. No; but then Thornton Rush was made up of contradictions.

His mental and moral, like his physical organization, was full of
angularities, discrepancies, and unharmonious combinations.

He could be gentle as the dove, but fierce as the tiger; kind and
confiding as any child, but cruel and deceitful as Lucifer transformed.

So opposite qualities are seldom found combined.

The most brave men are often the most gentle; the most trustful are
frank and open-hearted. To parody Byron's eulogy on "The wondrous
three,"

   Nature has formed but one such--hush!
   She broke the die in moulding Thornton Rush.

What do you say? Althea and Thornton married and not one word about the
courtship, that most interesting of all portions of a love-history!

It was the tragedy of "the spider and the fly" enacted over again. We
would but shudder to watch that wicked, sly, patient tarantula, coaxing,
flattering, urging the poor little fly, whose bright wings are singed
with his hot breath, and whose wonderful eyes are held fast by the
fascination of his scintillant, unrelenting gaze.

It is to be hoped, dear reader, that you are not of that kind who love
to gloat over horrors. If you are, you must turn to some modern journal
of civilization which is able to satisfy you completely. But Althea and
Thornton are not married yet, they are only going to be.

After the lapse of a quarter of a century Duncan Lisle, for the second
time, attended commencement exercises at Troy Female Seminary.
Twenty-five years is but a dot upon Time's voluminous scroll, yet in
that brief space has been crowded infinite change. Madame X---- having
retired from the school of education and from the stage of life, has
been succeeded first by Madame Y----, and again by Mademoiselle de
V----. More than half the young ladies who had graduated with Della and
Ellice, who had looked like angels in simple white and blue, had lain
down the burthens of life, and were sleeping peacefully here and there.

Duncan Lisle had not, for four years, seen his niece, and was not
prepared for such startling developments of mind and person. He was
proud to behold her queen of the school; queen, both in beauty and
mental accomplishments. He too might be forgiven for one daring thought
that soared down to matchmaking. It was not very strange that,
remembering his earliest wife and only sister, and thinking of his one
beloved child, the thought should cross him of the beauty and fitness of
a union between Hubert and Althea. "I will send Althea's picture across
the ocean to Hubert; I will write him to return home immediately," was
the conclusion of this good father. All parents have such pet schemes,
to greater or less extent.

The health of the master of Kennons had been for some time delicate. His
journey North, undertaken partially for his own benefit as well as to
accompany his niece to his home, proved rather injurious than otherwise.
The excessively hot weather prevailing rendered the trip anything but
agreeable, and he returned to Kennons much exhausted and debilitated.

He lost no time in carrying out his resolution with regard to his son.
He wrote him a letter full of the praises of Althea, assuring him that
the picture enclosed failed in justice to the original. He also spoke of
his own failing health and his great and increasing desire to behold him
again. Hubert Lisle never received this letter; it never left the office
at Flat Rock; indeed it was destroyed at Kennons.

Thornton Rush had returned from Europe at the close of the war. Instead,
however, of returning to Virginia, he had put up his shingle as a lawyer
in one of the new States of the growing West. He had not forgiven his
mother that she had allowed his several letters to go unanswered.

Two years had he now been at Windsor, among the wilds and roughnesses of
a new country; still had his mother for him no word of congratulation,
encouragement, or even recognition.

When Rusha Lisle read her husband's intercepted letter, thereby
discovering his designs as to the hand of Althea, a new thought struck
her.

It will be remembered that she took special delight in rendering others
uncomfortable, and in setting up an opposition to everybody's plans.
Against Hubert she had entertained a perpetual ill-feeling. Was he not
the child of her rival? Should he win for bride this sweet child of
sixteen, whose transcendent loveliness made an impression even upon her
own unsusceptible heart?

Had she not surreptitiously gained access to her husband's last will and
testament, wherein he had made his sister's child co-heiress with Hubert
to all his estate?

What could be expected of Rusha Lisle but instant action to the
following effect: First, to break her long silence to her son by
enclosing him the picture designed for Hubert, and cordially inviting
him to make her a visit at Kennons, where he would find the beautiful
original.

Mrs. Lisle kept her own counsel, never intimating a wish or expectation
of her son's return. Her surprise upon his arrival was well
counterfeited; nor was it ever known beyond mother and son that the
latter had not been first to make the overture. But this son, in some
respects so like his mother, might have evinced less disposition to do
at once her bidding had not the inducements held forth been
all-sufficient.

Thornton Rush was not a lady's man. Byron was made miserable on account
of the deformity of his foot. So our less distinguished but equally
sensitive hero had always the impression that his long wrists and ankles
were subjects of ridicule. He believed the ladies did not fancy him; he
therefore made no efforts to propitiate their favor. If they happened to
laugh in his presence--and the foolish things are always happening to
laugh--he made sure it was at himself; and he shot at them most vengeful
flashes from his cavernous orbs, which annihilated them not at all, but
rendered them more risible.

"But there is a tide in the affairs of men."

"There is a hand that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will."

The inanimate picture at which Thornton Rush gazed did not laugh at him.
On the contrary, it looked up to him with such a sweet confiding
trust--O, there was something in that face he had seen in none other. It
wonderfully attracted him. Even had it not, he would have made every
effort to win Althea's heart just the same; and for the very reasons
that had instigated his mother. He hated Hubert Lisle. To thwart him he
would have circumvented heaven and earth. With Thornton Rush this
consideration weighed even more than Althea's promised dowry.

Spite, revenge, avarice, every worst passion should be gratified in the
accomplishment of a union with Althea.

Unfortunately, the situation of things at Kennons favored this wretched
wooing. Duncan Lisle was failing rapidly, and had become confined to his
room. Above all others, he loved Althea to be with him; but he knew, and
upon this his wife enlarged, that she should be allowed considerable
recreation.

When, therefore, Rusha Lisle came in to take the niece's place,
insisting upon the latter taking a ride or drive, her uncle would join
in the request, and Althea was compelled to go. Nor was it such a
hardship. Thornton was ever ready to accompany her. And now, in presence
of this guileless girl, he did, indeed, seem transformed. He was
attentive, kind and gentle, he hastened to comply with her every wish,
to anticipate all.

For the first time in his life, he put a curb upon his violent temper.
He became kind, even to his horse and his dog--when in _her_ presence.
Discovering her taste for poetry, he sat up nights to commit to memory
whole pages of her favorite Scott and Moore, Bryant and Longfellow,
which he would repeat to her with exceeding force and appropriateness.

Thornton's voice was as contradictory as the rest. It could be soft or
harsh, musical or discordant. To Althea it was only pleasant and gentle;
and, by degrees, came to possess for her a wonderful charm.

Mrs. Lisle, so disagreeable to all others, had practiced remarkable
effort and self-control in making herself agreeable to this young girl,
whom she would fain help to draw within her son's meshes.

Mr. Lisle's first letter to his son, to which we have referred, was not
his last. But every missive, more earnest than the former, met with the
fate of the first. Every day he waited anxiously for the coming of the
mail. It seemed all that interested him. It was pitiful to see his daily
disappointments, the dying out of every renewed hope.

This constant alternation of hope and despair, with constant suspense,
shortened his days.

He died suddenly at the last, his expiring gaze upon the portrait of
Ellice that, as of old, still hung over the mantle.

Did Mrs. Lisle, in presence of death itself, experience no scruple in
having kept the son from his dying father? Would she ever feel remorse
of conscience in this world, or in the next? At all events, she
expedited in every possible manner the wooing and winning of Althea. Was
there in Heaven no guardian angel for this motherless child? Was not her
very name suggestive of protection from above? Had Della's last prayer
on earth failed to reach the throne of Grace and Mercy?

No obstacle appeared in the way, after the only one was removed by
death. Thornton began to talk about a return to his northwestern home.
His business would still further suffer by a more protracted stay.
Already he had been informed of the _debut_ of a rival, one Capt.
Sharp, upon his own field of law and politics. A Captain for four years
in the Union army--what a claim irresistible would that be upon the good
will and votes of the people! What a tempting bait for the Republican
leaders to throw out to the multitude of small fish!

But how could he go back alone, after having lived two months in the
light of Althea's presence? So he pleaded his suit to the gentle girl,
veiling still more his fierce claws with the velvet glove, realizing
Shakspeare's

   One may smile and smile, and be a villain.

Thornton Rush won his bride, and carried back to his northern home the
young girl whose grace and beauty dazzled every eye.



CHAPTER XXII.

ALTHEA.


Several years have passed. We find Althea a matron of twenty or more,
but did we not know her age, we might think her five years older. She
has not lost her beauty; though it is of a softer, more pensive kind.
She is a gentle, quiet woman, beloved by the people of Windsor, for she
makes no pretensions, and they have no shadow of suspicion that she
deems herself their superior. But it is a never-ceasing wonder to the
good and discerning that she ever came to marry Thornton Rush.

Thornton Rush is a man of mark. He has his friends and his foes. To
those whom he deems worthy of conciliating, will he fawn and cringe.
Those whom he despairs of making his friends, or those whose friendship
may do him no good, he alienates determinedly, and without scruple.

For four years has he waged a perpetual warfare with the Captain. The
odds would have been against him, had he not in his wife possessed one
advantage. While Mrs. Sharp possessed by nature the qualities expressed
by her name and made herself unpopular to the good women of Windsor,
Althea, without premeditation or effort, was a universal favorite.
Thornton Rush was well aware of this advantage, and he made the most of
it.

Like many another man, he did not like to come home and find his wife
gone. He missed her as he would the sun from day. Althea was much
inclined to remain at home; and Thornton would not often have found
chance to grumble upon this score. He was not given to habits of
self-denial; nevertheless, to secure good will and triumph over Sharp,
he would encourage Althea to make frequent visits--nay, often insist
upon it, against her inclination and his own private wish. If his wife
could serve his policy, well and good. What was a wife for?

There were those who regarded Thornton Rush with positive fear. They
quailed beneath the flash of his eye. Such dared not openly oppose him
and were outwardly his friends. Some, lacking powers of penetration,
deemed him better than he was, and thought there must be much hidden
good in one who had won so sweet a woman for a wife. Few dared exhibit,
or openly proclaim the intense disaffection with which he had inspired
them. But those who did were bitter and unrelenting in animosity; were
enemies indeed, worthy of the name. Foremost among these was Carlton
Sharp. This Captain still led a company well drilled and faithful. On
the other side, Thornton Rush, since about it was no smell of gunpowder,
trained a goodly crew, with which he met the Captain's line. Victory was
not always upon one side. Politics is a very uncertain _res gestoe_.
And human nature, more uncertain still, would vacillate from
wing to wing, now being a Sharp's retainer, and anon a hanger-on of
Rush. Such changelings would not count, but that their vote weighs
heavily.

Mrs. Lisle had already made one visit to her son, which lasted several
months. During this visit Althea's eyes had been opened, and she had
been led to wonder, as before in the case of her husband, for what
purpose had been assumed the false garb of amiability during the time of
her sojourn at Kennons. Both Mrs. Lisle and that strange woman's son
were mysteries to Althea. To her mind of singular clearness and purity
they were incomprehensible. Their falseness and hardness she was more
ready to believe hallucinations of her own mind, rather than really
glaring faults of character in them. Hence she strove to force herself
to believe them better than they were. But this could not last--and at
length the young wife was driven to the sad conclusion that her
mother-in-law was not only harsh, unamiable, and unforgiving, but
destitute of moral and religious principle, and that the man she had
married was worthy such ignoble parentage.

Did Althea then learn to regard her husband with scorn and contempt? Did
she become a woman's rights woman and inveigh against man's tyranny and
woman's weak submission? Not yet. Althea was motherless, and to all
intents fatherless. She had a warm, loving nature, and there were few in
this world for her to love. She had given her first love to Thornton,
and though she had become aware that it was not the deepest love of
which her nature was susceptible she yet clung to him, shutting her eyes
to his ill-disguised defects, striving to clothe him with the graces
which she had at first supposed him to possess, and, insensibly to
himself, refining and purifying by slight degrees his selfish nature.

Then Althea had a pleasant cottage, situated upon a grassy plain, and
embosomed in native forest trees. She had her flowers, music, books, her
day dreams and hours of inspiration, when she recited to the birds
improvisations which might have thrilled or amused a more appreciative
audience. Her naturally happy, cheerful disposition caught and reflected
but the light, and dispensed warmth and harmony upon all around.

Althea had another grand source of happiness; it was in her one child,
Master Johnny Temple, now just passed his third year. With considerable
likeness to his father, this child possessed the hereditary beauty of
the St. Legers, with that peculiar, queenly poise of the head that had
distinguished Della Lisle.

He was then a remarkably beautiful child, with a winning and loving
nature. To keep him nicely dressed was one of Althea's sweetest cares;
and the little fellow had such a proud air he would have been taken for
a royal prince.

Strange would it have been had not Thornton Rush been proud of such a
wife and child. But he kept his pride and admiration shut away from
their objects. He never took the trouble to tell Althea that she was
dear to him, even if he chanced to think so; reversely he had a sullen
way of appearing to think his family a trouble and burthen. Had Althea
suddenly died some day he would have been shaken into due appreciation;
as it was, her presence was like the sunlight that flooded him
unconsciously, and to which he was so accustomed he never thought to be
grateful for it.

You have seen a little boy with a pet dog. What a life that dog led!
Harnessed to carts, sleds, made to draw heavy loads, after his young
master, besides jerked this way and that, scolded, kicked, cuffed--what
wonder the abused animal ran away or gave up the ghost? Then the boy's
grief! His dear, precious only friend that he loved so devotedly! He
mourns, sighs, weeps, not dreaming that he has himself done his dog to
death. He is lost, having no one to love and torment.

"I will not mind his cross words, his petulance, his spasms of anger,"
constantly repeated the patient wife, but they entered her soul. "I will
disarm him with smiles and pleasant words," she every day resolved; yet
every day was she pierced anew with his arrowy verbality. "He shall have
to remember me only as a good wife and true," she said mentally, even
while her heart was ground as with a heel of iron.

But the time was coming when Althea might not be able thus to fortify
herself.

One August morning the family sat at breakfast. It was earlier than
usual, for Mr. Rush was to take the boat, which was to convey him the
first stages of his journey to his native Thornton Hall. Master Johnny
was already up and in his place; for he was a wide-awake fellow, bound
never to be left behind.

"Johnny will not eat; he has not been well for several days," remarked
the mother anxiously.

"You are always borrowing trouble. It is too early for the child to
eat," said the undisturbed father.

"His stomach must be out of order; he threw up yesterday all he ate,"
continued Althea.

"Because you stuffed him so. You are making a glutton of him. You ought
to know he should not eat more than he can hold," replied Thornton,
amiable as usual.

The child had put his chubby hands upon the table, and laid upon them
his curly head.

"Look up here, sir," said his father, sharply, "what ails you?"

The child raised his head wearily, and looked pleadingly to his mother.
She arose, about to take him in her arms, when the father interposed.

"Let him alone. The boy is well enough. You are making a fool of him; he
will never amount to a row of pins. I am going to take him in my own
hands; he is old enough, and has been babied to death." "Shut up, I tell
you," addressing Johnny, who was now crying for his mother to take him.
"Yes, a new leaf shall be turned over just so soon as I return from
Virginia. And you are about as much of a baby as he is, Althea," whose
eyes he observed to be full of tears. "Here, another cup of coffee; you
have no thought for me--you give all your attention to that
child--there, there is the whistle now! Ten to one I shall be late, and
all your fault, forcing me to talk instead of allowing me to eat. Hand
me my valise--there, good-by and don't fret," and, rushing away, he
gave no kiss to little Johnny, whom he was never more to behold; no kiss
to Althea, whom he was indeed to meet again, to meet again and soon; but
a gulf between him and her, insurmountable as death itself.

She turned to her child, now that there was no voice commanding, "let
him alone." She rocked him in her arms a long time after he had fallen
asleep. Her tears sparkled upon his jet curls, while her heart was heavy
as lead in her bosom.

"Am I, then, so unlovely that my husband does not care for me? Once I
thought it was so beautiful to love, and to be loved! His love is gone;
and mine--O my God, let me not lose the last particle of love for the
one I must live with until 'death do us part.' We might be so happy, but
are so miserable! Is it my fault? My conscience is clear; it does not
accuse me. He is so unhappy, so morose; he makes us all so wretched,
when life ought to be so pleasant."

Althea had placed her low rocker upon the verandah. A gentle breeze
stirred the vines that wreathed the pillars. The birds flew hither and
thither upon boughs that shaded her cottage. The fragrance of flowers
filled the air.

"How beautiful is all this visible world," exclaimed she. "How full
should it be of enjoyment." "Yes, yes," chirped the birds, the breeze
and the flowers.

She laid down her child, who still slept heavily. She gazed at him
intently, resolutely banishing unwelcome thoughts of aught that should
harm him.

The house was in confusion, as it ever is after a hurried departure.
Althea busied herself with setting things straight. Then she sat down to
her piano, and commenced a song; but her voice trembled too much. She
changed into a favorite march, whose notes rose and fell like the
storm-tossed billows of the sea. Battles, quadrilles, waltzes dropped
from her finger-ends, as if they had been magicians, and so mingled,
dislocated and inharmonious, as to make wildest, though still musical
confusion.

Hand-weary, but heart-lightened, she took up a book. It was a new book,
she had but half-read, "Gates Ajar." She came to the child eating her
ginger snaps in Heaven; to the musician playing favorite airs upon the
piano, to the dress-maker fashioning gossamer garments out of aerial
fabrics, etc., etc. She put by the book.

"I do not like that kind of a Heaven. How could an authoress make a
Heaven out of the lowest part of earth? To think of eating, darning and
mending up there! We are to do in perfection there, what we most like to
do here! The drunkard then will take his glass; but he does not go to
Heaven. Wonder if the tobacco chewer enters through the pearly
gates--'nothing that defileth or maketh a lie'--ah, how beautiful and
charming Heaven must be; more than we can conceive, or she, who looked
through 'Gates Ajar,' can imagine. I do not quite like to look through
her eyes. I suppose my mother is there. How little I ever think of
her--wonder if she watches me from above; O my mother, my mother in
Heaven, have pity upon your child!"

A noise from the adjoining room startled her. Had the cat gained
entrance to her sleeping child? She went in hurriedly; Johnny was in
spasms.

She seized him in her arms, and ran screaming for Mary into the kitchen.
Mary ran for the physician, and the distracted mother, still holding the
convulsed child in her arms, walked up and down the verandah, shouting
for help.

Doctors and neighbors came. All that medical skill and friendly sympathy
could suggest was done; but all in vain. When the spasm subsided, the
eye was uprolled in unconsciousness, and the face burned with the
fiercest fever. Then would come the fearful convulsion, and you would
not know the beautiful face so racked and tortured. Again the demon
would die out; but reason returned not from his relaxing hold. What a
scene was there! All had been set in order a brief while before. Now,
again, everywhere was confusion. There lay upon the floor the little
cast-off garments. The child had done with them. His rocking-horse stood
in the corner, his whip and gun near by, his box of marbles, his
countless broken toys and the sled he had never used. The last time he
had been to drive with his parents, he had seen that sled inside a
store. He insisted upon having it.

"But there is no snow to slide upon," objected his father.

"Johnny no slide--Johnny have 'ittle ocken (oxen) draw sled."

So the sled was purchased, packed into the carriage, and that night
little Johnny had wished to sit up all night to admire his treasure.

"These bufully flowers, mamma, see," pointing to the upper surface and
sides of the nosegay, facetiously termed. At length sleep overtook him,
lying under the table side by side with the gaily-painted sled, one
chubby hand grasping the forward rung. The next day the sled had lost
its charms, for Johnny was ill; and the next--alas, here was little
Johnny! We might speak of Althea's bewildered grief; but why should a
mother's hand attempt to write, or a mother desire to read what only a
mother's heart can understand, and but imperfectly express?



CHAPTER XXIII.

HUBERT LISLE AT VINE COTTAGE.


It was all over, the death and burial of little Johnny. All Windsor
mourned for the beautiful child and the desolate mother. Even Mrs.
Carlton Sharp came, Mr. Rush being gone, and mingled her tears with the
bereaved. And Althea was not ungrateful. She turned not away from all
expressions of sympathy, as it pleases some to do. She knew that only
kindness was intended, and to her wounded, but still loving heart,
gentle words and deeds were as balm that is healing.

After the first few days, however, Althea was left more alone. The women
of Windsor mostly did their own household labor, and the busy season of
the year compelled them to remain at home. Althea could fix her mind
only upon her lost darling. She collected his playthings, soiled,
broken, and all. She gathered flowers to fling above the brown earth
that hid him from her view. She wrote heart-broken verses in his memory,
and many more she poured forth in unwritten music to the winds.

There was a certain comfort in thus being able to abandon herself to
grief and lamentation. But how would it be when her husband returned
home? What would he say to the death of his son? As was usual, would he
blame her also for this catastrophe? Or, would this affliction soften
his heart, rendering him more kind in his intercourse with herself?
Althea was revolving this in her mind, in a measure temporarily diverted
from her grief. She was sitting upon the verandah, amongst her flowers,
herself the sweetest of them all. A quick step upon the path startled
her. She arose hastily, and glanced through the vines.

A stranger that moment caught sight of her, and came around to where she
stood.

For an instant, he remained regarding her; then he clasped her right
hand in both of his, and pressed it softly to his lips.

Althea, taken by surprise, was about to resent such a liberty, when the
stranger said:

"I am your cousin, Althea, you must have heard of Hubert Lisle?"

It was indeed, Hubert, just over from a six years' residence abroad. Had
he been Althea's own brother, she would not have welcomed him with more
profuse demonstrations of delight.

"I learned at the hotel of your great affliction, which must be doubly
painful, your husband being absent." Hubert glanced searchingly at his
cousin's face. He had vivid remembrances of Thornton Rush, and held the
conviction, that however much he might have changed for the better, he
could be still anything but an agreeable life-companion. He discovered
nothing by his searching glance, for Althea was thinking of her child,
not of her husband; and this reference replunged her into grief.

Hubert's sympathy was aroused, and he attempted words of consolation.
When he saw how worse than vain these were, he endeavored to withdraw
her mind, by giving vivid descriptions of and experiences in foreign
lands.

Althea made an effort--an effort for the lack of which died Dickens'
Fanny, little Paul's mother--and listened through politeness and
courtesy. Gradually, her mind awakened to a lively interest; and before
the day was spent, she regarded her cousin as the most interesting
gentleman of her acquaintance.

"How fortunate he should have come now, just in this time of my
distress," she whispered to herself, as she was about to retire,
stopping to weep over the little night-wrapper, whose wearer was gone,
but which still had its place beneath her pillow. She had a thought,
too, which she did not whisper, and it was this: "how fortunate too that
he should have come while Thornton is gone, that no thundercloud may
hang over us."

Hubert had made a short visit to Kennons. Mr. Fuller was still overseer
of the plantation, which he had conducted satisfactorily. Mrs. Lisle
had, of course, returned to Thornton Hall. Amy and Chloe were installed
in their cabins of old, and had supervision of the white house. From
these faithful servants Hubert had learned the deception that had been
practiced upon his father, during that parent's close of life. At least,
he learned how letter after letter had been written, how impatiently
his arrival had been awaited, and with what bitter disappointment that
father had quitted the world, unreconciled that his son came not.

These communicative old women unfolded to their pet young master, as
they still loved to call him, the plan that father had cherished with
regard to himself and Althea. For this also was not unknown to them.
Duncan Lisle had dropped into Amy's ear more than one hint of this kind.
He had none other to confide in; and during a sleepless night, while Amy
watched, he whiled away an hour discoursing of his son, and of the
project in view. This faithful servant had Althea's picture treasured
with jealous care.

"You shall see it, Massa 'Ubert, an' see what you've done gone an'
lost," unrolling the precious memento from its many wrappings, as if it
had been a mummy embalmed.

Hubert beheld "what he had lost" first with admiration, then with a
sigh. But the sigh was not for himself only; it was for what that
sweet-faced soul must suffer, under such guardianship as that of
Thornton Rush.

Hubert Lisle at once rightly inferred the destination of those letters
which had never reached him; and he glared fiercely at the fireplace now
filled with green boughs, that had afforded flame to enwrap aught so
precious. O, cruel flames, to blot out two such privileges--giving
consolation to a dying father, and receiving from his hands a wife
little less beautiful or good than an angel! And more cruel than flame,
than direful fate, than death itself, the heart of Rusha Lisle, which
Hubert would fain have trodden into indiscriminate dust, in his first
moments of grief and wrath.

An intense desire of revenge took possession of this outraged son; more
particularly of revenge against Thornton Rush, whose duplicity in
winning Althea was circumstantially detailed to him.

Hubert Lisle had not only traveled extensively, but had read and studied
deeply. He had scanned all religions, from that of Confucius to
Mormonism and Free-loveism, which is _beyond_ religion, and had no
settled faith in any. He had dived into German transcendentalism and
metaphysics so deeply that he came out clogged and permeated as a fly
miraculously escaped from a jar of honey. He was naturally good and
true, simple minded and high principled; but unlicensed, untrammelled
thought, unsubjective to God's law, had rendered him liable to erect
false theories upon unsound premises, and had undermined in a measure
that nice sense of right and wrong, which had been his proud, happy
birth-right. Yet he would have been startled to have been told that he
was not now, as ever, a bold lover of the truth, that he scorned not
deception and hypocrisy and all manner of evil. He would have bounded,
as from the sting of a serpent, from open temptation to meanness and
wrong. He walked upon the border of a precipice, not knowing but he was
upon the open plain. Thus walketh human frailty, when unenlightened by
faith in God and unfortified by heavenly counsel.

A modern "reformer," self-styled, acting as a "spiritual medium," is
said thus to have addressed a visitor:

"It is my very strong impression that you are my affinity. You are to be
my husband; I am to be your wife. You must seek a divorce; so will I,
and happiness awaits us."

Two divorces ensued, and the gentleman visitor and the "medium" became
one, an affinity, according to "spiritual" directions.

Hubert Lisle would have turned his back upon such sophistry, and scorned
such a diabolical medium, how fair soever. He had not, however, been at
Vine Cottage a week, every day in the society of one whose situation so
much appealed to his sympathy and kindness, when he became conscious
that he had been taken into a high mountain, and had not strength to
say, "Get thee behind me, Satan."

From this height was offered him a treasure worth more than kingdoms and
thrones and all the riches of the earth. Instead of shuddering and
turning back, he fixed his eye upon the glittering prize.

"It is thine," whispered the tempter, "the hand that holds so fair a
pearl is all unworthy. It chafes and frets within the cruel grasp which
an ungleaming pebble might fill as well. It would glow in the sunlight
of your fostering care. It would enrich your soul as a priceless gem; as
an amaranthine flower it would breathe unto your heart an eternal
perfume."

Hubert Lisle had made obeisance to feminine beauty in every land; but
his heart had remained untouched. Like his father years before, he had
arrived at the mature age of twenty-eight, unscathed by the blind god's
arrow.

Hit at last, and so unwisely pierced! To love the wife of another!
Hubert would have scorned such an insinuation but a few days before. But
he had not then seen Althea. He loved her, was she not his cousin? He
loved her, who could resist, she was so beautiful and good? He loved
her, she was so unhappy, _must_ be unhappy as the wife of Thornton Rush.
She had been won with false words and deceitful ways and wiles. Thornton
deserved to lose what he had dishonestly gained, and what he apparently
valued so little. Had not Thornton Rush wronged and, as it were, robbed
the dead, and bitterly betrayed himself to gain possession of a jewel
which should have been his own, which he would have worn so proudly? Had
not this man been his enemy from childhood; with his mother, the curse
of his father's house? Ever in his way, a perpetual thorn in the flesh,
could he not now dislodge him root and branch, and spit him upon an
arrow, that should cease never to quiver?

Hubert Lisle experienced qualms of conscience, debated as to right and
wrong, gave many thoughts to the censoriousness of the world, but he had
not the fear of God before his eyes.

"I can win her if I will," was his confident thought at the first.

"I will win her at all hazards," was his later iron purpose.

And Althea! Oh! is it thus that the child of Ellice doth come to Della's
daughter?

And what hath this daughter as a shield from the tempter? Came he not
unto sinless Eve in Paradise; unto her even who had seen the Eternal
Majesty, and listened to His voice?

And Althea had not laid up her treasure in Heaven. She had not given her
wounded heart to Him who was wounded for our transgressions. She had not
poured her sorrows into the ear of the Infinite, nor laid her bleeding
hands upon the cross of Christ.

So turned Althea from a now unloved, ungracious husband; from a bitter
sorrow for her lost child, to human love and human consolation.

But Althea was not won so easily from her stronghold of duty. Nor would
she, on recovering from the shock of Hubert's first proposal, consent to
flee at once, putting the sea between them and Thornton Rush. Hubert
pleaded strongly and well, but could gain only this point. He would
return to Kennons, and dispose of his property and hers. She would
remain with her husband for the present. The first time he should raise
his hand against her, as he had already done, she would leave his house
and procure a divorce. With this was Hubert fain to be content; and the
day before the anticipated return of Thornton Rush, after his absence of
three weeks, he left Vine Cottage and the sad-faced lady who dwelt
therein, confident that ere many months he would have Althea as his
wife, and sweet revenge upon his old-time enemy.



CHAPTER XXIV.

JEALOUSY.


Naturally, Althea was a changed person in the eyes of her husband. A man
less jealously disposed might have attributed this to the sudden death
of an only beloved child. But to Thornton, the knowledge that Hubert
Lisle, a man his superior in mental, moral and personal accomplishments,
had associated with Althea during almost the whole period of his
absence, this knowledge, we say, was to Thornton as gall and wormwood.

"And how did you like your cousin?" he questioned with assumed
carelessness.

Had Althea answered equally carelessly, "Oh! very well," she would have
aroused suspicion, for she well understood her husband. So she said with
enthusiasm: "I liked him very much indeed. I wish you could have met
him. He is very agreeable and most intelligent."

"You speak as if you thought I was a stranger to him. I have seen Hubert
Lisle before to-day!"

"But you have not seen him of late. A six years residence abroad must
have changed him greatly."

"Umph! Your cousin is not the first person who has crossed the Atlantic,
as you would have me infer. At all events, he is a sneak and a coward to
stay in my house more than two weeks, and decamp just before I was
expected." Althea was silent.

"A sneak and a coward, I repeat; what have you to say to that?" demanded
Thornton, his eyes blazing like coals of fire.

"Nothing," said the wife, indifferently.

"Nothing! By Mars! do you answer _nothing_, when I ask you a civil
question? It is well he did not let me find him here; it is not the
first insult he would have got from me, and perhaps something worse. If
there's a person on earth I hate worse than Sharp, it is that
self-conceited Hubert Lisle. He is a puppy, an upstart, vain as a woman,
and deep and false as perdition itself."

He waited as if expecting a reply. None came; he glanced sideways to his
wife, and continued:

"Yes, you two would make a very pretty couple, very suitable. Your two
heads are forever among the stars. I wonder there is a book of poetry
left in the house. It is a marvel you both did not sail away in some
carved shell of hollow pearl, almost translucent with the light divine
_des tous deux_ within. For ottomans you could have piles of Scott,
Moore, Byron, Shelley, and Keats; and for food and drink, you could have
stringed instruments, and easel, palette, and brush. How contemptible
are womanish tastes in a man!" Again he waited vainly for a reply. The
pallid fingers of Althea were pulling in pieces a half-faded flower,
upon which her lustrous eyes were unvaryingly fastened.

"Good heavens, Althea, how provoking you are!" cried Thornton, rising
from his seat and confronting furiously his wife, "cannot you speak to a
man; what have you to say, what are you thinking of?"

"Thinking of?" she said absently, scattering the petals from her fair
palm to the floor, then raising her eyes full to his: "Thinking of the
fair little blossom that withered in its bloom. I have done wrong to
weep for him such bitter tears; for he was _your_ child, and had he
lived he might have cursed some woman's life as you have cursed mine."

This was uttered apparently without anger, and in modulated tones. But
no words of Althea had ever struck Thornton Rush like these. He was
speechless; and when she arose and passed him by to an adjoining room,
he stirred not hand nor foot. If she had expected then would fall the
arranged blow, she would have been disappointed. But she had not
expected it, nor even thought about it. The faded flower had, indeed,
brought up her own withered blossom, as she had said. Had her husband's
discourse been of Johnny, instead of the senseless tirade against her
cousin, had he exhibited kindness, and generous sympathy for herself,
she might still have been won back to duty. But now, Thornton's words
and sneers, however deserved she might have felt them to be, caused her
to contrast the wretchedness of a continued life with him with what it
_might be_. Thus far she had been agitated by indecision and scruples,
they should henceforth trouble her no more. She was fully resolved,
even more than when she had promised Hubert.

In her own room, Althea withdrew the blinds and looked out at the sky.
It was covered with clouds, save one space of blue.

"Thus is _my_ sky covered with gloom," she murmured, "thus amidst the
darkness gleams my one ray of precious light. O blessed ultramarine,
from on high I take thee as a token. God is good; God does not will that
I should suffer; He does not will that I should love a demon. I am still
so young; a long life may be in store for me; a cruel, wretched life
with Thornton Rush, who assumed the guise of an angel of light to win me
to destruction. A peaceful, happy life with Hubert, for whom heaven
itself must have intended me. The sin is Thornton's, not mine, nor
Hubert's. On the contrary, to continue to live with Thornton would be a
sin. I can no longer deceive myself or him, I love him not; I believe I
could hate him!" and a gleam unusual shot from the large, dreamful eyes.

Althea forgot, while she thus soliloquised, that she could not thus have
felt, or could not have spoken such words, had not Hubert Lisle won her
love. While her heart had not been given to another, she could have
endured her husband patiently, fulfilling her wifely duties, and
possessing a conscience clear before God. She would leave her husband
then, not because of the harshness and cruelty allegible, but because
she had criminally strayed from her allegiance and given her love where
she had no right to give.

So blinded, however, was Althea, she did not perceive this. While she
was wronged, indeed, by Thornton, she was still farther wronged by
Hubert. No unkind treatment of the one could excuse her for listening,
without rebuke, to words of unlawful love from the other. They were an
insult to her good sense and virtue; and so at first had Althea esteemed
them to be. But by and by--ah, it is an old story, and the saddest,
sorriest of all stories in this life of ours; reading it, or hearing it,
one sighs that our guardian angel's wings are invisible, and that once
from out their protecting shadow, we rush headlong unto darkness and
death.

We will not assert that Thornton felt not the death of his only son; he
was not so inhuman as to be unaffected. He would have given all his
earthly possessions to hear again that winsome voice of his child
resounding through the house. He had not realized

   "How much of hope, how much of joy,
   May be buried up with an only boy!"

until the house was darkened by the death of Johnny. The grief which he
experienced, however, affected him strangely. As we have seen, instead
of softening his selfish nature, it rendered him more morose and
censorious. It alienated, instead of binding him closer to his bereaved
wife.

One reason was in this; that Althea had for him now no winning ways. She
made no effort at conciliation, and sought not to give or to receive
mutual sympathy. Indeed, from the period of the conversation above
recorded between husband and wife, he was like a volcano, and she like
an iceberg. As much as he was capable of loving, he loved Althea.
Desirable as had been her fortune in his eyes, he would never have
practised such a series of stratagems and self-denials, had she not
personally been of great value in his eyes. When won, and she was surely
his, he discontinued his deception, and appeared his natural self. She
became to him, as we have before said, like the pet dog to his young
master, though secretly beloved, yet ill-treated, scolded and abused.
The thought of her ever being lost to him had not occurred to his mind,
until he learned of the visit of Hubert Lisle. With him, Thornton well
knew he would suffer in comparison. That was the reason Thornton's
mother had taken such infinite and dishonorable pains in preventing his
coming to his dying father. Althea would surely prefer her cousin.

But Thornton was at a loss what to make of Althea's present behavior. He
had at first felt a deadly jealousy of Hubert. That emotion had almost
over-shadowed his grief. But he could not learn that any communication
was kept up between the parties. No letters came to and fro. The mention
of Hubert's name caused no blush upon Althea's cheek. She spoke of him
kindly and naturally, as of a brother that was dear to her. In the
distant years, he had been convinced of Hubert's honorable nature. He
might not have changed. At all events he was gone now, and might never
return. It was more agreeable to attribute Althea's rigid coldness to a
shock of grief, rather than to a shock of hatred to himself or of
affection for another. Nevertheless, he gave her no peace nor quiet. He
became angered if she did not converse, and equally out of temper with
whatever she might say.

Does such a man deserve a wife? Let him have a woman, then, who will
bring him to his senses--or what passes for senses--in a manner
veritably Xantippean; and not one of those tender-hearted, peace-loving
creatures who would bless some good man's heart and home.

There are few men upon whom kindness and gentleness will not make more
or less impression; but our unprepossessing hero is of that unfavored
few.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE AWAKENING.


After a few weeks, Thornton has something outside his house to engage
him. Election is approaching. Although neither Thornton nor his rival
are in the field as candidates, each has his favorite nominee to
support. The fire that Thornton has kept raging within Vine Cottage is
now transferred to hall, stump and settler's cabin. Sharp is not in the
background. His antagonist hears of him, or crosses his trail here,
there and elsewhere. He is put to his wits' end in checkmating and
circumventing him. He, at length, learns something quite astonishing. He
has returned from an extended trip to the country, supposing Sharp to be
not far in front or rear. To his chagrin he has remained all the while
in town, and been an attendant at the Catholic Mission, being held for
ten days in Windsor.

"That is a game at which two can play, I am thinking," said Thornton,
mentally, grinding his teeth at the thought of the votes Sharp's
presence might secure among such a crowd.

"Althea," he said, excitedly, going over to his house, "that rascally
fellow is robbing me of all the Irish votes. Get your bonnet and come
with me down to St. Mary's. I can drop on my knees and become as good an
idolater as that scoundrel of a Sharp. Who would ever have suspected him
of pursuing that dodge? But he is up to all games. Come, how long does
it take you to put on your bonnet and shawl? They say an old Jesuit is
going to preach; I think when his mission is over, I will take private
lessons of him in the art of intrigue. That is what Sharp is at, I'll be
bound. Never mind your gloves; you can be drawing those on while we are
walking along. You look like a charming little widow in black."

The wife looked up at the husband in blank surprise at so unusual an
epithet as "charming" coming from his lips, and applied to her. But the
truth is, Thornton had done an unusual thing--taken one glass too much,
and he spoke unguardedly. He even drew Althea's little hand within his
own and through his left arm on the way to St. Mary's, instead of
striding on a few paces in advance, as was usual. Just before arriving,
he addressed Althea:

"Now that you have come so far, do the thing up brown. Make your
prettiest courtesy to all the graven images, and particularly to that
idol toward the left corner. It will be no trouble for you to kneel;
that is always in place for a woman. Keep your eyes open and bow low to
every old lady who has a husband, or a son old enough to vote. Don't
hold your kerchief to your nose, even should you be knocked over with
the incense, and when the bell rings bow down double to the floor; ha!
it is a wife can make or break her husband's fortune for time; do you
hear, wife?"

"Yes, I hear," softly replied Althea, more than slightly disgusted.

They entered the church which was already crowded. But Thornton Rush
elbowed his way up the aisle till he stood not far from the altar. A
gentleman politely gave his seat to Althea, but Thornton continued to
stand, a perfect spectacle unto all beholders. He folded his arms and
glanced out savagely. The first eye he met was Sharp's. Yes, there sat
his enemy, snugly ensconced in Mr. McHugh's pew--that same Mr. McHugh
who had told him three days before, that he did not consider Sharp the
honestest man in the world! He had counted on McHugh--and now where was
he?

Protestants who were present were quite as much surprised at seeing Mr.
Rush as were the Catholics. He had never been seen even in a
meeting-house, unless at a lecture, political caucus, or some kindred
rather than religious entertainment. Sharp was a rigid Presbyterian; but
his rival had never thought it worth his while to pretend to imitate him
in that particular. On the contrary, by keeping aloof, he found favor
with the more numerous Methodists, the few Universalists, Baptists,
Spiritualists, etc., which more or less abounded in the rapidly growing
little town. To all these he could be all things. But as to the Catholic
fold, ah, if that sharp wolf, or wolf Sharp, got in there would be
mischief astir. He must leap after, for, to a Catholic, his religion was
more than meat or drink, and he would become naturally a friend to him
who was friendly to his religion.

Althea had but rarely been inside a Catholic church. When a child she
had been more than once to St. Patrick's, with her uncle and cousins,
during a temporary absence of her aunt. She had been partial to the
Episcopal service; but as there was no society of this sect at Windsor,
she had very often followed her husband's example of remaining at home
on Sundays; though sometimes she attended at the different
denominational houses, as inclination urged, or some stranger, man or
woman, preached.

Upon this occasion Althea was peculiarly impressed; not so much by the
blaze of light, the brightness and perfume of flowers, nor by the
commanding attitude of the aged missioner, who stood grasping the
mission cross and about to speak. It was the sudden memory of her uncle,
John Temple, who so loved and practiced this same religion that touched
her soul. He came before her, in all his simple, unpretending honesty
and truth. Never so much, as at this moment, had she appreciated his
worth. She did, indeed, bow her head with reverence before the altar,
not in obedience to her husband's commands, but in tribute to her
uncle's memory. She had named her only child his unforgotten name, and
now the child had joined him in the spirit-world. The two came before
her like phantoms evoked. Were they, indeed, hovering around her in this
sacred place? Such was Althea's impression, and how guilty felt she
before them! Still more lowly bowed her unworthy head, and pressing her
clasped hands to her heart, she cried, "O God, be merciful to me a
sinner!"

There was a hush in the swaying crowd, for the priest was about to
speak. He had stood during several minutes, until even the latest seemed
to have arrived; then, in the general silence of expectation, his voice
sounded clear and full and his words were: "O God, be merciful to me a
sinner!"

Such an unexpected echo of her own unbreathed words startled Althea like
an electric shock. For a moment she raised her head, and her drooping
eyes fell upon the utterer of that broken-hearted prayer. Then upon the
clasped hands fell again the white forehead, nor was it lifted more
until after an hour or two of stirring eloquence the missioner closed
with a repetition of his opening words, "O God, be merciful to me a
sinner!"

It had been to Althea the day, the hour of her visitation from on High.



CHAPTER XXVI.

LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS.


Mr. Rush was privately informed that his rival was to canvass "Stony
Creek" precinct on the following day. Accordingly he was up before
daylight, drank half a dozen raw eggs, for which he had a particular
passion, mounted his horse, and left Windsor behind, before Mr. Sharp
had opened his eyes. Before leaving, however, the politician shook his
wife by the arm; there was no need, although, for she had not slept, and
thus addressed her:

"Althea, I am going to 'Stony Creek' that I may head that fellow. Don't
fail to attend the Mission to-day; and do, for goodness' sake, hold your
head up, and not fall fast asleep as you did last night. You acted like
a mummy. Don't know when I shall be back; you need not look for me. Have
you heard what I said? Don't forget now about turning in with the
idolaters, look at the old Jesuit, and pretend to hear what he says, if
you don't."

Althea breathed a sigh of relief as she found herself thus unexpectedly
left alone for the day. She would surely avail herself of the
permission, command rather, to go to St. Mary's. She had not slept, nor
felt need of sleep; she had never been so wide awake; indeed, it was as
if she were just awakened from a life-long slumber.

While still meditating upon her pillow, the six o'clock bell rang; this
reminded her that Mass had been appointed for that hour. She would go.
She dressed hurriedly, and proceeding to the kitchen, told Mary, who was
a Catholic, that she might postpone breakfast, and come with her to
Mass. Mary looked up with a pleased surprise and cheerful "Yes ma'am,"
and was soon in readiness.

Althea understood nothing whatever of the ceremony of the Mass; nor, on
this morning, did she seek to understand it. It was not for this purpose
she had come to St. Mary's. It was to feel again a sense of that strange
nearness to her uncle and her child; to feel again near to Heaven and to
God. And, though her conscience had been painfully aroused, though she
felt keenly a thousand stings and reproaches, which would probably but
be renewed and heightened by this repeated visit, she would not have
remained away, not though her dearest wishes could have been realized in
an hour.

Althea remained absorbed in deep thought and reflection through the
first, second, and third Mass; the quiet intervals were all the same to
her. She was heedless of those who came in or who went out, as well as
of those who knelt around the confessionals, except now and then to
wonder, as she chanced to meet some tearful eye, if the world held
another heart so lonely, desolate, hopeless as her own.

Hopeless? She recalled the day when she had beheld the space of blue in
the sky--the hole in the day, Pug-on-a-kesheik, thus termed by her
Chippewa friends--which she had taken as a token that her love for
Hubert was no sin. She recalled the momentary joy that had animated her
as she, in imagination, clasped that love to her heart, as a gain for
her loss, as a balm for her bitter sorrow. She remembered how she had
even dropped upon her knees in thankfulness to heaven for having given
her such a comfort in the midst of her grief. Should _she_ have scruples
when ministers of God had lifted up holy hands and sanctified such
unions? Thus had her first sense of horror been blunted, and blushless
become her keen, womanly shame.

Why then, with a sense of the presence of the glorified spirits of her
uncle and child, assumed that caressed infatuation, that which she had
deemed a higher, nobler love, proportions of gigantic horror? Why had
she spat out as gall and wormwood the sweet morsel she had rolled under
her tongue? Why, giving up her only joy, trampling down with all her
strength and might the one hope of her existence, had she returned to
this strange house, wherein she could but beat her breast and cry out
"unworthy, unworthy"? Was she the first woman who had mistaken dross for
gold; and, finding her error, might not she, like others, fling it aside
for the shining ore that lay in her path? Should her hand still grasp
the piercing thorn, when the rose bloomed temptingly before her?

Thus listened Althea to human sophistry, until God spoke to her through
the lips of the Jesuit priest. And he said, slowly and solemnly,
grasping in his right hand the emblem of our religion:

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, let not the
wife depart from her husband. But if she separate, let her remain
unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put
away his wife."

Had these words come down from the heavens in tones of thunder they
could not have produced upon Althea a more stunning effect. Was she here
to recognize the hand of God? Had _He_ inspired this priest to speak
upon a subject that was thrilling her with pain, doubt, and fear?

A masterly discourse followed upon the indissolubility of the marriage
tie. "Shall it be insisted upon then, do you say," toward the close of
his impassioned words, "that a woman shall suffer insult, effects of
drunkenness, abuse of all kinds? This is hard, indeed, but there is
something worse than that; for a suffering wife to break the law of God,
and marry another husband! For, whether is it not better to suffer than
to sin? Wherefore came our blessed Lord upon earth, but to save us from
the effects of our transgressions? He laid down his life that we might
live. He suffered that we might rejoice. But He suffered not the death
of the Cross that we might enjoy to the utmost the pleasures of _this_
life. He endured not the bloody sweat, the scourgings, scoffs,
revilings, and all the attendancies of betrayal, trial, and crucifixion,
that, with impunity, we might set at defiance His divine law, and live
in open rebellion to the Christian rule He came to establish. God
Almighty help us, if we expect to get to heaven in any other way than by
the Cross of Christ! Think of it! The Cross of Christ! Can you associate
with those words, so dear, so sublime, to every Catholic heart, aught of
this world's ease, or luxury, or happiness? How many thousands saintly
souls have flung aside all that the world could offer sweet and
beautiful to embrace this hard, this cruel Cross! And meet they no
reward? Hard Cross and cruel to eyes not comprehending, because separate
from transitory joys, but yielding balm and incense sweeter and more as
most closely pressed to the heart. And woman, first at the sepulchre,
first in every good word and work, is it not _her_ glory to suffer for
the Cross of Christ? How much has she of His spirit, who cannot bear
without rising anger one unkind word or provoking act? Who gives taunt
for taunt, and blow for blow? Who disregards His express commands,
availing herself of the civil law of divorce, which she knows to be at
open variance with 'Let not the wife separate from her husband: but if
she separate, let her remain unmarried, or else let her be reconciled
unto her husband!'

"What is termed in Jurisprudence the common law, falls sometimes heavily
in individual cases; but for that reason would we do away with it
altogether? The law of the indissoluble tie of marriage does, we admit,
fall heavily upon some, yea, many lives; should we, therefore, infer
God's dictation to be erring, and practice the human law opposing His
own? Supposing in some instances, a life to be made happier, even
better; would that compensate for the abolishment of a law upon which
rests the general happiness of domestic society--nay, upon which rests
society itself? Better that few should suffer than that anarchy prevail.
Better that all should understand the marriage bond to be indissoluble
but by death, that it may be assumed carefully and solemnly as a
life-affair of the utmost moment, and not entered into with thoughtless
levity as a bargain that may be broken to-morrow. In a life-journey so
intimate, patience, forbearance, meekness, long-suffering are requisite.
These are Christian virtues which will render any yoke easy and every
burden light. No Christian nation should legalize divorce. No true
Christian will avail himself of the law of divorce. In the eye of every
Christian man or woman, whosoever is married to him or her that 'has
been put away' is one of whom it is said, 'they shall never enter the
Kingdom of Heaven.' Be not deceived. Even though those called and
calling themselves ministers of God blaspheme Heaven by professing to
bless such unhallowed unions, they are of the spirit of darkness, and
lead unto moral death.

"Were there but this life, the case would be different. You could live
and be merry, because to-morrow you die. It is upon this principle the
divorce law has obtained. The world and Christianity are at variance.
The one offers you comfort and ease, the other a continual conflict with
the flesh and the devil. In the end, the world's votary shall vainly beg
for a drop of water to cool the parched tongue; while the Christian
warrior, having lain aside buckler and shield, reposes under the green
palms of victory and peace in the Kingdom of Infinite Love."

The noble follower of St. Loyola might reasonably find fault with the
above, as a citation of his words. But they so glowed and sparkled that
they could be caught only in fragments and snatches; imperfect as they
are, we trust they convey an idea of what was impressed upon the mind of
Althea when the Jesuit closed--"in the name of the Father, and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Althea was stricken--not blind as was the persecutor of the
Christians--but with a steady lightning-flash of light that was
intensely distressing. It discovered to her her heart full of sin and
shame. It betrayed the slippery sands upon which her feet were treading.
It revealed the gulf into which she had been about to plunge. Upon such
a flood of light she could not close her eyes. She reflected that Paul
had cried, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do," and he had been sent
to Ananias, the priest, "who would tell him what he was to do." She did
not stop to marvel why the Lord had not Himself told him what to do
directly, but instinctively did what Paul did, obeyed instructions and
sought the priest.

It was now nearly noon. Althea had been sleepless, and had not tasted
food since the preceding evening. She looked around for Mary, that she
might accompany her to the priest's house, where she rightly supposed
the Missioner to have taken up his abode. She saw not Mary, who had gone
home before the sermon, supposing that as her mistress had had no
breakfast, she must stand in need of dinner. Instead of Mary, Althea
beheld Kitty Brett, one of Mary's comrades, whom she had often seen at
her house.

Kitty Brett had one of the sunniest faces in the world; and it smiled
all over with willingness as Althea made her request. O yes, she would
go right over with her, and, if she wished, would introduce her to
Father Ryan, the parish priest, whom she would at first be likely to
see. Moreover, her mistress had gone to the country with her children,
so she had nothing to prevent her remaining during the little time Mrs.
Rush might wish to prolong her visit.

Father Ryan evinced no surprise, however much he might have felt, on
meeting this unaccustomed visitor. Althea was in a state for no
preambles and no delays. She at once inquired if she could be permitted
an interview with the Missioner.

The priest hesitated for a moment. Had she been a Catholic, he would
have put her off until after the laborer of the morning had been
refreshed. Reflecting, he withdrew, and very soon after, invited her
into another room, where she found herself alone with the true priest of
God.

Oh! Althea, thy mother, who gave thee to God at the first moment of thy
existence, and at the last of hers, who had aspirations for the truth
which God may have regarded, must have wept tears of joy, and called
upon the angels of Heaven to rejoice over her daughter that repented.



CHAPTER XXVII.

ALTHEA'S TRIALS.


Althea's conversion from error to truth, from premeditated crime, though
she was criminal almost unconsciously, to firm amendment, was one of
those miracles in which even Protestantism believes. Such Althea
considered it--a direct interposition of Providence. She recognized,
with peculiar awe, the hand of Almighty God, and became as a little
child, willing to be led whithersoever He would.

It was natural she should turn to the bosom of that Church, before whose
altar she had seen her own soul as in a mirror, and whose anointed
priest seemed to have been chosen of God for her awakening and
instruction.

A few years earlier, she might have had prejudices to overcome; though
slight, for one brought up an Episcopalian. That her uncle lived and
died a good and true Catholic, and that her embittered aunt had embraced
and become greatly attached to the true Church, had insensibly
recommended it to her confidence. At first, she deemed herself unworthy
to enter the fold. She had broken, in thought, one of its stringent
laws. What she had come to regard as but a venial error, now appeared to
her as an unpardonable sin. So unpardonable, indeed, that left to
herself, she might have despaired of forgiveness, and returned to it
cherishingly, seven times worse than before. But this aged Missioner,
wise and experienced, knew well how to guide this untried soul. She was
not the first, by hundreds and thousands, who had knelt to him for
direction. He well understood the malady, and like a skillful physician,
knew what remedies to apply.

In a week, at the close of the Mission, Althea was ready for baptism.
She had her catechism by heart, and was pretty well grounded in
instruction. She had faith which would remove mountains, a confident
hope in Jesus, and a willing heart and hand for Christian action. She
stumbled not over Transubstantiation, nor Confession, nor any of the
Seven Sacraments. She embraced them with a loving heart and a simple
faith, not questioning but they were of God, since they were in His own
Church.

Whispers and winks were on the increase among Protestants. To secure an
election according to his own ideas, Mr. Rush had placed his wife where
she had made her own calling and election sure. This fact was slow in
dawning upon him, but when it had fairly caught his vision, it shone
with the effulgence of the sun. His friends had no pity for him. He had
placed his wife in the fire; what could he expect but that she would be
burned? It did not alter the case that Mrs. Sharp had been also in the
fire, but came out unconsumed. She was made of sterner stuff. Stubble
would burn, but rocks were incombustible.

Althea anticipated a storm; but she braved it, and asked Thornton's
consent to her baptism. She might as well have asked the mountain to
come down and be bathed in the sea. He was fierce as the whirlwind,
unrelenting as death. His words of scorn and anger poured down like a
water-spout, but unlike this element of destruction, his fury became not
spent.

He forbade her attendance at the closing exercises of the Mission, or
any further discourse with the Jesuit. Of this Jesuit, he had jocosely
asserted he was going to take lessons in the art of intrigue. He deemed
the lesson had been given without his seeking, and it was no less
galling from his secret conviction that it was all his own fault.

Had his wife asked his permission to join either of the other sects, he
would have answered her with an indifferent laugh and sneer. _That_
would have been of no consequence. She could have been a Methodist, or a
Universalist, anything but a Catholic! Like a Pagan Diocletian, he would
have gathered all Catholics together, and thrown them to wild beasts.
The coming election had lost for him its interest. It had cost him dear.
Everything might go to Sharp and the dogs; one thing was certain--his
wife should not become a Catholic. He remained steadily at Vine Cottage,
a Cerberus to guard his domain. The Missioner would leave Windsor on the
morrow. Althea wrote him a brief note, which she sent by Mary, asking
him what she should do.

His reply was this verbal message: "Wait--and trust in God!" Mary
delivered this faithfully, and added:

"He said, ma'am, to tell you that he would never forget to pray for you
at every Mass he should say."

"God will hear _his_ prayer," was Althea's thought, and she was
comforted.

The very spirit of evil seemed to have taken possession of Mr. Rush. He
was more and more resolved to have entirely annihilated every trace of
the new faith in his wife. For this purpose he sent far and near, until
he had literally the proverbial "house full of ministers." His wife was
under exhortation first from one, then from another, every hour in the
day.

First the Presbyterian, then the Methodist, the Baptist, even the
Spiritualist expounded and sermonized upon the several beauties of the
Protestant faith. Their principal ammunition, however, was expended in
besieging, battering and anathematizing the Catholic Church.

Every minister had a book for her to read, at home in his library, which
he would bring her, the reading of which would prove convincingly
conclusive. One had Fox, one Hogan, another Kirwan and Maria Monk, and
still another the multitudinous tomes of Julia McNair Wright. As to
Edith O'Gorman--no need to allude to this lately arisen bright
particular star, in whose flood of light, the black sun of Catholicism
was going down. Mary Stuart was not more tortured by Elizabeth's
emissaries, than was Althea by these clever ministers. But the ill-fated
Queen, nursed from childhood in the faith, was not more unwaveringly
firm than was this six-days' neophyte.

With this array of ministers, however, was not her greatest trial. They
might deem her stupid, obstinate, blind, and infatuated, but they were
at least gentlemanly and polite. She could reply to them as she thought
best, without danger of having her head taken off. She was even glad of
their presence as they went and came again, because, while they talked,
her husband was for the most part silent.

And when he demanded that one or other should receive her into his
church, he was in turn offended at them, because they insisted that the
lady's consent was necessary. When the subject was given over, and
everyone had departed finally to his own house, then Althea's true
martyrdom commenced.

"You have become a believer in Purgatory, and your faith shall spring
from actual knowledge; for as long as you live I will make this house to
you a purgatory," declared the enraged husband, furiously. And he kept
his word. But the good God, omnipotent on earth as in heaven, had said:
"Thus far shalt thou go, but no farther."

Althea would have remained quiet and resigned, never mentioning the
subject of her faith, but this Thornton would not permit. He would talk
of it incessantly. To Althea it finally became a fire-brand, which,
constantly waving to and fro before her eyes, threatened to turn her
brain to madness.

She became dangerously ill. A severe fever had set in, to break up which
baffled the physician's skill, when too late he was called. Thornton
had persisted in not believing her sick, and had taken his own time for
calling in Dr. Hardy.

Kitty Brett, finding a girl to take her own place, offered her services,
which were accepted, as personal attendant upon Althea. As the
unfortunate lady grew rapidly worse, Mrs. Moffat was engaged as head
nurse.

This Mrs. Moffat was by many regarded as the salt that saved Windsor.
Windsor would have gone to destruction long ago, physically, but for the
saving help of Mrs. Moffat's hands. True, she was a married woman, and,
like the martyr, was followed by "nine small children, and one at the
breast," but this never prevented her lending a helping hand to any and
every applicant. She could be absent from home a week at a time. The
children could stir up their flour and water, and bake their hard cakes.
They could lie down at night wherever they chanced to give up and fall,
and arise with the morning's sun, ready dressed. Falling down cellar--it
was a trap-door--other people's children would have broken their necks,
but these little Moffats, after turning two or three somersaults,
reached the bottom standing upright. They nursed themselves through
mumps, measles, whooping cough, and all kindred diseases by playing in
the creek; so that Dr. Hardy had serious thoughts of recommending
"creek-playing" as a specific in such cases. They were hearty, hardy
little fellows, all boys but the eldest, and cared nothing more for
their mother's brief visits, after they had had their scramble for the
_bon-bons_ with which she was in the habit of regaling them.

Mrs. Moffat was, indeed, a most valuable attendant upon the sick. Unlike
most people, she was in her element when in a sick-room. She could
accommodate herself to every situation and emergency. If things and
people did not go to suit her she could go to suit them. There was no
grating, no friction where Mrs. Moffat was; her very presence was
_oily_, so to say. She could lift people heavier than herself; there
appeared no limit to her powers of endurance. She could watch night and
day without the least detriment to her nerves. She could taste the most
nauseous potions, and submit to most disgusting odors, nor make the
least wry face about it. If she found a patient not very sick she would
sit down and pour forth a gossipy stream of talk for an hour, when, ten
to one, every ailment would be forgotten. There was a charm in her tone,
word, and manner that affected like magic. Of course, this woman had a
drunken husband--such women always have that affliction. There were
those, even in Windsor, who said they did not blame Mr. Moffat for
taking to drink--if _their_ wives were always from home, and the house
forever topsy-turvey, and the children making pyramids of themselves
like a pile of ants, they should take to drinking too. But nobody could
wait on these very people when sick but Mrs. Moffat.

Althea was sure of the best attention while Mrs. Moffat waited on her;
and this capable person scarcely left her bedside. Kitty Brett was _her_
right hand, as she herself was Althea's. Kitty was kept upon a steady
march, here, there, and everywhere; and she was as willing as was her
superior. She could not do enough for one who had been persecuted for
the faith.

The master of the house kept a steady watch over all. His argus-eye was
ever on the alert lest, despite his vigilance, the Catholic priest
should be smuggled into the house.

Althea was constantly delirious, and it was feared she might die without
having recovered her reason. The crisis approached, and Dr. Hardy
watched her silently for many hours. He had done his utmost, and though
he hoped faintly he feared the worst. Mrs. Moffat's whispered loquacity
was awed into silence. Kitty wept silently at the foot of the bed,
praying fervently as she wept. Thornton had walked to and fro in his
slippers, his long hands crossed upon each other behind his back,
casting out occasionally fierce glances from his cavernous brows. He
came and stood, like a thundercloud, by the Doctor's side.

"Any change?" he whispered.

The doctor shook his head.

"What do you think, any chance?"

The doctor looked at his watch, which he had been holding in his hand.
"Yes, while she breathes there's a chance, I suppose," replied the
doctor, without looking up, but changing uneasily his position.

"Well, I have an awful headache; I will lie down in the next room; if
she is worse, you can call me," and the cloud disappeared.

Althea had been some time sleeping quietly, neither articulating nor
moaning. Dr. Hardy watched her as only doctors watch their patients. It
was more to him than a question of life and death--it was somewhat like
the alchemist, trembling with hope and fear over his costly dissolvents.

At length, Althea's eyes opened, glanced hastily around and closed
again. Dr. Hardy was not surprised. For the last half hour he had been
expecting this, but he had given no sign. When her eyes again opened, he
put some drops to her lips, which she readily swallowed. By-and-bye she
gave a look of thorough consciousness, accompanied with an effort to
speak.

Again, in an hour, she looked earnestly at Dr. Hardy, and moved her
lips. He bent low to listen, and only himself caught her words: "Send
for the priest."

Dr. Hardy frowned. Was this old anxiety going yet to ruin all? Couldn't
she die or live without the priest?

"You are going to get well now," he whispered in reply.

"Send for Father Ryan, for God's sake," she again repeated, so forcibly
that Kitty caught the words.

"I will go for him," she said eagerly, but the doctor interfered.

"No, I will see Mr. Rush;" for the anger of that man and his future
hostility was not a pleasing prospective to the easy-going doctor, ever
ready to propitiate.

Mr. Rush was like a lion, aroused from his sleep, in which he had found
temporary oblivion of a torturing headache.

The doctor's words were not audible in the sick room, but Kitty
distinctly heard the reply of Thornton Rush:

"I tell you I don't care. I don't believe it will make the least
difference. If she has a mind to worry, let her worry; I won't have a
Catholic priest in the house. I'll have the devil first. If she is going
to live, she will live, anyhow. I have never thought she would die yet.
For God's sake, let me alone, and don't waken me again, no matter what
happens."

The doctor returned with lugubrious visage. But Kitty's was radiant.

She was seized with a thought or an inspiration, and she whispered:

"I will take all the blame upon myself; he cannot more than kill me. It
is a good time--he has left orders to be let alone. The priest can come
and go before he knows it," and she darted out without another word.

The doctor and Mrs. Moffat looked smilingly across at each other in the
faint lamp-light, but neither made a movement for Kitty's detention. As
the faithful girl had said, "the priest came and went" before the master
knew anything about it. And Althea, having passed through her earthly
purgatory, and now hovering, as she thought, upon the borders of death,
had been baptized by water into newness of life, and been strengthened
by that heavenly food, which is more and diviner than the bread of
angels.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.


Althea was very weak, but continued slowly to recover. Several days
elapsed, during which time Thornton's pain in the head had been upon the
increase, and other alarming symptoms had been developed. These were
intensely strengthened by the imprudence of a meddlesome neighbor.

Curtis Coe was Windsor's merchant tailor. He may have been more than the
ninth part of a man in some respects; but when, under pretence of a
friendly call, he informed Thornton Rush, already very sick, that the
priest, Father Ryan, had baptized Althea--we say, when he did this
intentionally and with malice aforethought, and with a sinful love of
tale-bearing, and with utter recklessness as to consequences, he proved
himself infinitely less, even than ordinary tailors of the proverbial
size. He deserved the punishment of being hissed by his own goose.

The effect of this ill-advised news upon Thornton can be better imagined
than described. What increased it ten-fold was the man's utter impotence
to resent or punish what had been done. His ravings were fearful, his
imprecations multiplied. Vain were the doctor's warnings that his anger
would aggravate his disease. He continued to rave until he became
unconscious of the words he uttered. To all in the house it was a relief
when this man passed into unconscious delirium. One can listen to insane
blasphemies with sorrow and pity; but only with horror and disgust to
revilings, and railings sanely spoken.

On that night which followed Curtis Coe's wicked impertinence, two men
sat up with the sick man. They must both have fallen asleep at one and
the same time, for they discovered on coming to their senses, that
Thornton Rush was nowhere to be found. The lamp was burning, even the
fire in the stove had not died out. Having searched the room, they gave
the alarm, and thoroughly searched the house, then all the outhouses,
and finally the town.

All classes, friend and foe, were aroused. A general panic prevailed.
Each one considered himself in danger, while Thornton Rush, as a
lunatic, was at large. Posters were sent abroad and telegrams announced
the mysterious disappearance to neighboring villages and cities. The
river was dragged, old cellars and wells were dived into.

Windsor had at length a mystery, and it was an appalling one. People
began to canvass it in whisper. A suspicion began to be bruited around.
We do not affirm that Mrs. Moffat originated this suspicion, but she
whispered it about from house to house. It was to this strange effect,
the Catholics had formed a league and spirited away this enemy of their
faith. Kitty Brett had boldly set his words at defiance, and the priest
had boldly entered the house he had been forbidden, and baptized and
anointed, and practiced what other witcheries he had no business.

If Kitty would do this much, and if Father Ryan would do that much, why,
what was there they would _not_ do?

This view of the case accounted for the wise solemnity prevailing among
the Catholics generally. They were observed to purse up their mouths,
and shake their heads; and one old patriarch had been heard to say that
the Evil One had got his own. Why should he say that, if he did not know
something about it?

It became another Morgan affair. Women began to turn off Catholic
servant girls. There was a strong talk of discharging every Irishman
from the Mills and Railroad. A continual espionage upon the movements of
the Catholics was kept up. Traps were laid for self-committal. Bribes
were offered and promises of security to any who would turn State's
evidence. Threats were made here and there that leading Catholics should
be arrested; at all events, the ringleader should be made to suffer. All
seemed to settle down upon that Father Ryan must necessarily have been
the aider and abettor, if not the suggestor, in such a high-handed
proceeding. It mattered not, that during his five years' stay at
Windsor, he had lived peaceably and orderly, and set a good example. All
that served but a cloak to just such deeds as this kidnapping of a
respectable citizen.

This whirlwind of talk, however, amounted to nothing more. The Catholic
population was getting stronger every day; it was surprising how many
new families kept pouring in. So it happened no one dared lay hands on
Father Ryan.

Autumn passed into winter, and winter merged into spring, still no trace
had been discovered of the missing man.

Althea had entirely recovered the health and bloom of youth. She was
never more beautiful than now, at the still early age of twenty-two. She
had mourned for her husband only as for a soul that was lost. She
believed he must have perished in some strange way, and her daily prayer
was that the manner of his death might some time be brought to light.
The good God had snatched herself from the verge of the grave. He had
said unto her, through his servant, "wait, and trust in God," and God
had delivered her out of her troubles. She lived alone at Vine Cottage,
the faithful Kitty her servant and companion.



CHAPTER XXIX.

HUBERT'S SECOND VISIT.


In June, the month of roses, came Hubert Lisle to visit Althea. He came
thus early in her presumed widowhood, to woo her for his wife. But she
would not hear one word of love from his lips. She had studied her
religion, and found that its laws forbade marriage with another until
abundant proof had been obtained of the death of her husband. So far,
she had but proof presumptive. He had disappeared at such a time and in
such a state as, to most minds, forbade even a possibility that he
should have continued to exist. Again, the Catholic rule forbade the
marriage of cousins.

Hubert urged to this that they were not strictly cousins. His father and
her mother were but half-brother and sister.

Again, the Catholic Church did not forbid, but strongly discountenanced
the marriage of a Catholic with a Protestant. She, Althea, loved her
Church so well, she would not do that which the Church disapproved.

These were three great obstacles in the way then, to his marriage with
Althea, Hubert found. He began to think he had now a more formidable
opponent in the Church than he had had in Thornton Rush. He had
succeeded in winning from Althea a promise to sue for a divorce. The
rest would be easy. But he found it impossible, with all his eloquence,
to prevail upon her to take one step contrary even to the wish of this
more tyrannical guardian. He even went to the priest. He had seen Father
Ryan at Mass, for, of course, he accompanied his cousin. He judged from
his open, honest face that it would be an easy matter to win him over to
his views. He entered upon the subject confidently, but ended very much
discomfited. Father Ryan would listen to but one point, which was that
Althea was not at liberty to entertain thoughts of marriage until
conclusive proof was obtained of her husband's death. Hubert reverting
to the other points--"All that comes afterward," was all the priest
would say.

"But, supposing nothing more is ever heard of Thornton Rush, which is
almost certain, is Althea to live a widow to the end of her days?"
questioned Hubert incredulously.

"Yes," replied the priest. "And allow me to intimate," he continued
gently, "that, entertaining the dispositions you do, it is improper you
should remain a guest at Vine Cottage. As a cousin you were privileged,
perhaps, according to your Protestant views, but as you are a suitor, it
is quite different."

Having politely listened to these words of the priest, he wisely made up
his mind to take his leave, before he should hear them reiterated from
the lips of Althea.

"Well, cousin," presenting himself before her, on returning from the
priest's, "I have had the courage, or the impudence, to consult Father
Ryan; he is as inexorable as yourself. It is astonishing with what an
iron will this Catholic faith infuses people. Last fall you promised to
marry me, although a thousand difficulties were to be overcome. Now,
that you are your own mistress, according to every human probability,
and you are at perfect liberty, free from any scruples about the right
and wrong of the thing, and yet--and yet how strange! You have scruples
more binding a hundred fold. And Father Ryan, the gentlest, quietest
person, whom you would not believe could say _no_, whom I made sure I
could prevail upon to intercede for me, is just as resolute as Napoleon,
as unyielding as Draco. What does it mean? Is it in the religion or
what?"

"I believe, Hubert, it is the love of God in the heart. We love God
better than the world, or aught the world can offer. We love God so
well, that we fear to break His holy law," replied Althea.

"But others love God too, who are not Catholics, but they are not so
inexorably bound."

"They have not the restraints of the Church. They have not its laws to
govern them, its teachings to instruct, its pastors to guide and direct.
Moreover, they cannot expect heavenly graces in abundance who are out of
the true Church. Christ's promise of assistance is to His Church, His
anathema against those who will not hear it."

"It looks to me as though you had taken upon yourself a yoke, and the
bonds of servitude," Hubert remarked disconsolately.

"The bonds of the dear Lord Jesus, yes," and Althea's countenance glowed
with enthusiasm.

"But Christian bonds should not press so heavily. Protestants in all
these things do as they please, yet they profess to be bound with the
same fetters."

"Profess! what use in professing when every day they burst them asunder
as would they gossamer threads? I assure you, Hubert, that is one of the
beauties of the Catholic Church. Its laws are so binding, its teachings
so direct, its discipline so perfect, that one cannot stray away
blindly. The obedient child who would be pained not to do the Father's
will is kept in the straight and narrow way, the light is held steadily
before his eyes; if he stumble or turn aside he is brought back, and if
he become restive and the 'fetters,' grateful to the loving child, bind
too galling he throws them off, more willing to be lost than bear
self-denial for the present. For myself, Hubert, I have started for
heaven, confident of arriving if I follow the path marked out for me. If
I do not follow in that path I have no hope but of straying far from
that desired haven, the happy land of souls."

"Althea, I believe you have never loved me," suddenly exclaimed Hubert,
steadily regarding his cousin.

"That is a cruel assertion, and it wounds me more than you can think,"
returned the lady, deeply moved. "Would I could forget that I ever loved
you! The memory recalls my sin, my shame, and, thank God, my
repentance. I deserve that you should recall all this to me, but I pray
you, if you have regard for me, never to refer to this again."

"Forgive me, Althea, I did not intend thus to pain you. You are right
and I am wrong. While regretting, I honor you the more for the noble
stand you have taken. I go, Althea, and should I ever come again, you
shall behold me worthier, God willing. I shall think of you as resting
under the very shadow of heaven, and no ill, I am sure, will betide you.
Farewell, and God will help you."



CHAPTER XXX.

"AND THE SEA SHALL GIVE UP ITS DEAD."


The summer at Windsor was an unprecedently hot one. No rain in July, no
rain in August, and September's sun was shining fiercely down upon
parched earth, dried up rivers, panting animals, and complaining men.
There would be no wheat, no corn; potatoes were dwarfed, and vegetables
literally dried and hardened. Grass would be light, and cattle would be
starved, if not first choked with thirst. The heavens were as brass, the
fiery atmosphere like that of a furnace. Was there about to be a general
conflagration, "when the earth and the heavens should be rolled together
as a scroll?"

The great Mississippi was never so low. Inquiring urchins made
explorations up and down the dried banks with all the enthusiasm of
explorers of the Nile. Even the women of Windsor proposed a bold feat.
This was none other than in a body to ford the Mississippi. It would be
something worth telling of, when, after some flood, the river should
widen to the space of a mile.

Accordingly, old calico wrappers were brought into requisition, and a
small army of women stood upon the shores. You might have thought from
the voices of fear, hesitation, reproach, and encouragement, another Red
Sea was before them, and behind them a Pharaoh's host. All the women of
Windsor were not engaged in this expedition. Some were milking cows, and
some were putting dear little children to sleep; some were preparing
late suppers for dilatory husbands, and not a few were gathered together
in knots, discussing the impropriety and scandal of such a bold
proceeding.

Our heroine at Vine Cottage, entirely unaware of the movement, was
enjoying the twilight in playing soft airs upon the piano.

To one uninformed, a pow-wow of Indians might have been supposed to be
going on. There were shrieks and wails, and screams of laughter, and
cries of terror. There were threatenings, scoldings, and coaxings. Were
all the grammars in the world made up of interjections they could
scarcely have contained the list that rent the air, between the two
Mississippi shores, upon that eventful night. The heavens were still
above, though they might have been supposed to have disappeared
entirely, so loudly and fervently were they invoked.

"Why, it is enough to raise the dead," exclaimed a solitary traveler, a
stranger in town, perambulating a neighboring bluff.

As the vociferating army neared the opposite shore, there was a
momentary silence; that breathless silence which precedes the storm.
Then uprose such a terrific scream, such a commingled shout of horror,
as only frightened women can give vent to. This brought men, women and
children in throngs to the scene. Some leaped into boats, some walked in
to the rescue. The majority awaited ashore the unfolding of events.

Mrs. Sharp had caught her foot in something as she was about to ascend
the opposite bank. In attempting to save herself, she fell with her
hands upon the soggy substance that had intercepted her. She was a
thorough-going woman, and determined to ascertain what lay like a log in
her path, the water scarcely covering it. She prevailed upon two or
three to assist her in dragging it upward partially to the dim
light--when lo! within a saturated, slimy bed-comforter was a human
form! It was brought across to Windsor, officials summoned, and, despite
decomposition and fearful change, recognized to be the remains of
Thornton Rush! There was great sensation, and a faint revival of
whispers about his having been spirited away to his death by Popish
emissaries; but these soon died, for want of breath, as the Irishman
would say.

The death of Mr. Rush was, by the majority, accounted for naturally. In
his delirium he had strayed he knew not whither. He had grasped the
heavy quilt tightly around him, which, held firmer in the clasp of the
dead, had filled with water, and prevented the body from rising.

It seemed unaccountable that when the river was dragged it should not
have been discovered: are not mysteries, however, every day transpiring
before our eyes, about which we marvel in vain?



CHAPTER XXXI.

CONCLUSION.


To-day, Althea is the happy wife of Hubert Lisle and the honored
mistress of Kennons, which is bright and beautiful again with sweet
woman's presence.

Two obstacles to the union of Hubert and Althea had disappeared. She had
been proved to be matrimonially free, and he had become, from study and
conviction, a full believer in her faith, of which he made open
profession. The fact that they were cousins still remained. As there
were considerable delays in the consummation of the marriage, it was
doubtless owing to the smoothing away of this difficulty. And as both
parties hold the Holy Father in most grateful and loving remembrance,
and their most cherished design is to make him a visit at his prison in
the Vatican, it is probable that a dispensation from Rome severed the
last link of obstruction, and permitted Father Ryan, willingly at last,
to tie the Gordion Knot.

Arriving at Kennons, Althea, of course, paid her respects to Mrs. Lisle
at Thornton Hall. She found her in a deplorable situation. A seated
cancer upon the face was eating away her life, as it had already
destroyed every vestige of her former beauty.

She had great difficulty in prevailing upon servants to attend her. She
was so irritable and so offensive that even money could not purchase
aid.

And what did Althea? Sacrificed every ill-feeling, overcame repulsion,
put up with taunts and cross words, and waited on Thornton Rush's mother
as if she had been her own. And this in the happy beginning of her
wedded life with Hubert Lisle. And what reward had she? None in this
life, save the consciousness of having struggled to overcome nature, to
render good for evil, and to perform that loving charity which our
Saviour commended in the Samaritan, and ever inculcates in His Church.

Notwithstanding Althea's patient, persistent efforts, Rusha Lisle,
having hardened her heart, died in her sins.

To Althea, who stood above her dying bed, she whispered hoarsely:

"You have done all this for the sake of my property. I understood all.
You will find out I wasn't fooled up to the last. You couldn't cheat me
with your quiet, gentle ways; ha! ha!" and the wretched woman went out
in the night of death, comprehending not the sweet, Christian life of
such as Althea, but believing all natures dark and cruel as her own. It
was from her own she drew her judgment of another.

She had bequeathed all her property to an idle cousin, whom it will but
accelerate in his downward course of idleness and dissipation.

Arrangements had all been made for a visit to Europe, and particularly
to Rome, as soon as possible after Mrs. Lisle's death. Here, again, was
a disappointment.

Letters were received from Turkey, from the hand of Althea's father. He
had lost his second wife, Emily Dean. He was about to sail for America,
and should bring his two youngest children, little girls, aged
respectively six and eight, whom he hoped Althea would make room for in
her new home. He was unable to embark as soon as was intended, and
arrived six weeks later than was designed.

Philip St. Leger, then, arrived once more at Kennons. His hair was
silvery white. He was firm, erect, and still very fine looking. It was a
sad place, however, for the Missionary, who began to feel the world to
be receding from his grasp.

He talked with Hubert, somewhat at length, upon the subject of his
religion. To Althea he made no allusion concerning it. He, doubtless,
judged her to have become as infatuated, and "wedded to her idols" as he
had found to be his sister, Juliet. He could not help from perceiving,
blind as he was, that there was a very great change for the better in
this same sister, whose folly and levity he well remembered.

He soon returned to Turkey, accompanied by a third wife. This time, Mrs.
St. Leger was not a pupil from the famous seminary. Philip had acquired
wisdom, perhaps, with time, and was glad to take a maiden lady of forty
acknowledged years, who was a most amiable, warm-hearted woman by the
name of Snow, Lucy being her first name. Success to Philip and his bride
as they sail across the seas, nearing that grand sea that rolls around
all the world! Their own disappointments have met Hubert and Althea. But
these have no power to disturb their patience and serenity. They have
established schools for the whites and the blacks on their estate, and
are teaching the doctrines and practices of the new Faith.

The cars run through Flat Rock. This point has become quite a town, and
a small Catholic church tells by its cross and altar that the true faith
hath found its way thither. To this church come Hubert and Althea,
Sundays and holidays. Maria and Frances, Althea's young sisters, come
with them; for it was only upon this condition that Hubert would receive
them. That Philip St. Leger should have consented to this, proves that a
change has come over him since a score of years. Kitty Brett is Althea's
faithful attendant. She chose to leave all her friends, rather than be
separated from the woman whose life she had helped to save.

Amy and Chloe, old cronies, as they term themselves, look bright and
young again, along with Kennon's rejuvenation. They hold long discourses
over their pipes and snuff about the past and present, their deepest
regret being that Master Duncan could not have lived to see this
realization of his dearest wishes.

Every Sunday they go and sprinkle his grave and that of Ellice with holy
water. They kneel by the cross which Hubert and Althea have planted,
and, folding piously their homely hands, thank God for the return of the
one, the gift of the other, and for the Cross, and the Light, and the
Crown they have brought with them to dear old Kennons.





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