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´╗┐Title: Chanticleer - A Thanksgiving Story of the Peabody Family
Author: Mathews, Cornelius, 1817-1889
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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          CHANTICLEER:


              A

      THANKSGIVING STORY

              OF

      THE PEABODY FAMILY.



        SECOND EDITION.


  BOSTON: B. B. MUSSEY & CO.
  NEW-YORK: J. S. REDFIELD.
            1850.


  ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850.

        BY J. S. REDFIELD,

  in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
  for the Southern District of New York.



PREFACE.


Shall the glorious festival of Thanksgiving, now yearly celebrated all
over the American Union, (said the author to himself one day,) be
ushered in with no other trumpet than the proclamations of
State-Governors? May we not have a little holiday-book of our own, in
harmony with that cherished Anniversary, which, while it pleases your
fellow-countrymen, should it have that good fortune, may acquaint
distant strangers with the observance of that happy custom of our
country? With the hope that it may be so received, and as a kindly word
spoken to all classes and sections of his fellow citizens, awakening a
feeling of union and fraternal friendship at this genial season, the
writer presents this little volume of home characters and incidents.

November, 1850.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

THE LANDSCAPE OF THE STORY.

CHAPTER II.

ARRIVAL OF THE MERCHANT AND HIS PEOPLE.

CHAPTER III.

THE FARMER-FOLKS FROM THE WEST.

CHAPTER IV.

THE FORTUNES OF THE FAMILY CONSIDERED.

CHAPTER V.

THE CHILDREN.

CHAPTER VI.

THE FASHIONABLE LADY AND HER SON.

CHAPTER VII.

THE THANKSGIVING SERMON.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE DINNER.

CHAPTER IX.

THE NEW-COMERS.

CHAPTER X.

THE CONCLUSION.



CHAPTER FIRST.

THE LANDSCAPE OF THE STORY.


I see old Sylvester Peabody--the head of the Peabody family--seated in
the porch of his country dwelling, like an ancient patriarch, in the
calm of the morning. His broad-brimmed hat lies on the bench at his
side, and his venerable white locks flow down his shoulders, which time
in one hundred seasons of battle and sorrow, of harvest and drouth, of
toil and death, in all his hardy wrestlings with old Sylvester, has not
been able to bend. The old man's form is erect and tall, and lifting up
his head to its height, he looks afar, down the country road which leads
from his rural door, towards the city. He has kept his gaze in that
direction for better than an hour, and a mist has gradually crept upon
his vision; objects begin to lose their distinctness; they grow dim or
soften away like ghosts or spirits; the whole landscape melts gently
into a pictured dew before him. Is old Sylvester, who has kept it clear
and bright so long, losing his sight at last, or is our common world,
already changing under the old patriarch's pure regard, into that
better, heavenly land?

It seemed indeed, on this very calm morning in November, as if angels
were busy about the Old Homestead, (which lies on the map, in the heart
of one of the early states of our dear American Union,) transforming all
the old familiar things into something better and purer, and touching
them gently with a music and radiance caught from the very sky itself.
As in the innocence of beauty, shrouded in sleep, dreams come to the
eyelids which are the realities of the day, with a strange
loveliness--the fair country lay as it were in a delicious dreamy
slumber. The trees did not stand forth boldly with every branch and
leaf, but rather seemed gentle pictures of trees; the sheep-bells from
the hills tinkled softly and as if whispering a secret to the wind; the
birds sailed slowly to and fro on the air; there was no harshness in the
low of the herds, no anger in the heat of the sun, not a sight nor a
sound, near by nor far off, which did not partake of the holy beauty of
the morning, nor sing, nor be silent, nor stand still, nor move, with
any other than a gliding sweetness and repose, or an under-tone which
might have been the echo here on earth, of a better sphere. There was a
tender sadness and wonder in the face of old Sylvester, when a voice
came stealing in upon the silence. It did not in a single tone disturb
the heavenly harmony of the hour, for it was the voice of the orphan
dependent of the house, Miriam Haven, whose dark-bright eye and graceful
form glimmered, as though she were the spirit of all the softened beauty
of the scene, from amid the broom-corn, where she was busy in one of the
duties of the season. Well might she sing the song of lament, for her
people had gone down far away in the sea, and her lover--where was he?

    Far away--far away are they,
      And I in all the world alone--
    Brightly, too brightly, shines the day--
      Dark is the land where they are gone!

    I have a friend that's far away,
      Unknown the clime that bears his tread;
    Perchance he walks in light to-day,
      He may be dead! he may be dead!

Like every other condition of the time, the voice of Miriam too, had a
change in it.

"What wonder is this?" said old Sylvester, "I neither hear nor see as I
used--are all my senses going?"

He turned, as he spoke, to a woman of small stature, in whose features
dignity and tenderness mingled, as she now regarded him, with reverence
for the ancient head of the house. She came forward as he addressed her,
and laying her hand gently on his arm, said--

"You forget, father; this is the Indian summer, which is the first
summer softened and soberer, and often comes at thanksgiving-time. It
always changes the country, as you see it now."

"Child, child, you are right. I should have known it, for always at this
season, often as it has come to me, do I think of the absent and the
dead--of times and hours, and friends long, long passed away. Of those
whom I have known," he continued eagerly, "who have fallen in battle, in
the toil of the field, on the highway, on the waters, in silent
chambers, by sickness, by swords: I thank God they have all, all of my
kith and kin and people, died with their names untouched with crime;
all," he added with energy, planting his feet firmly on the ground and
rising as he spoke sternly, "all, save one alone, and he--"

He turned toward the female at his side, and when he looked in her face
and saw the mournful expression which came upon it, he dropped back into
his chair and stayed his speech.

At this moment a little fellow, who, with his flaxen locks and blue
eyes, was a very cherub in plumpness and the clearness of his brow, came
toddling out of the door of the house, struggling with a basin of yellow
corn, which, shifting about in his arms, he just managed to keep
possession of till he reached old Sylvester's knee. This was little Sam
Peabody, the youngest of the Peabodys, and as he looked up into his
grandfather's face you could not fail to see, though they grew so wide
apart, the same story of passion and character in each. The little
fellow began throwing the bright grain from the basin to a great
strutting turkey which went marching and gobbling up and down the
door-yard, swelling his feathers, spreading his tail, and shaking his
red neck-tie with a boundless pretence and restlessness; like many a
hero he was proud of his uniform, although the fatal hour which was to
lay him low was not far off. It was the thanksgiving turkey, himself, in
process of fattening under charge of Master Sam Peabody. Busy in the
act, he was regarded with smiling fondness by his mother, the widow
Margaret Peabody, and his old grandfather, when he suddenly turned, and
said--

"Grand-pa, where's brother Elbridge?"

The old man changed his countenance and struggled a moment with himself.

"He had better know all," he said, after a pause of thought, in which he
looked, or seemed to look afar off from the scene about him. "Margaret,
painful though it be to you and to me, let the truth be spoken. God
knows I love your son, Elbridge, and would have laid down my life that
this thing had not chanced, but the child asks of his brother so often,
and is so often evaded that he will be presently snared in a net of
falsehoods and deceptions if we speak not more plainly to him."

An inexpressible anguish overspread the countenance of the widowed
woman, and she turned aside to breathe a brief prayer of trust and hope
of strength in the hour of trial.

The thanksgiving turkey, full of his banquet of corn, strutted away to
a slope in the sun by the roadside, and little Sam Peabody renewed his
question.

"Can't I see brother Elbridge, grand-pa?"

"Never again, I fear, my child."

"Why not, grandfather?"

"Answer gently, father," the widow interposed. "Make not the case too
harsh against my boy."

"Margaret," said the old man, lifting his countenance upon her with
dignity of look, "I shall speak the truth. I would have the name of my
race pure of all stains and detractions, as it has been for an hundred
years, but I would not bear hardly against your son, Margaret. This
child, innocent and unswayed as he is, shall hear it, and shall be the
judge."

Rising, old Sylvester with Margaret's help, lifted the boy to the deep
window-seat; and, standing on either hand, the widow and the old man
each at his side, Sylvester taking one hand of the child in his, began--

"My child, you are the youngest of this name and household, to you God
may have entrusted the continuance of our race and name, therefore thus
early would I have you learn the lesson your brother's errors may
teach."

"That should come last," the widow interposed gently. "The story itself
should teach it, if the story be true."

"Perhaps it should, Margaret," old Sylvester rejoined. "I will let the
story speak for itself. It is, my child, a year ago this day, that an
excellent man, Mr. Barbary, the preacher of this neighborhood,
disappeared from among living men. He was blameless in his life, he had
no enemy on the face of the earth. He was a simple, frugal, worthy
man--the last time alive, he was seen in company with your brother
Elbridge, by the Locust-wood, near the pond where you go to gather
huckleberries in the summer, and hazels in the autumn. He was seen with
him and seen no more."

"But no man saw Elbridge, father, lift hand against him, or utter an
angry word. On the contrary, they were seen entering the wood in close
companionship, and smiling on each other."

"Even so, Margaret," said Sylvester, looking at the child steadily, and
waving his hand in silence toward the widow. "But what answer gave the
young man when questioned of the whereabout of his friend? Not a word,
Margaret--not a word, my child."

"Is Mr. Barbary dead, grandfather?" the child inquired, leaning forward.

"How else? He is not to be found in pulpit or field. No man seeth his
steps any more in their ancient haunts. No man hearkens to his voice."

"But the body, father, was never found. He may be still living in some
other quarter."

"It was near the rock called High Point, you will remember, and one
plunge might have sent him to the bottom. The under currents of the lake
are strong, and may have easily swept him away. There is but one belief
through all this neighborhood. Ethan Barbary fell by the hand--Almighty
God, that I should have to say it to you, my own grandson--of Elbridge
Peabody."

The child sat for a moment in dumb astonishment, glancing, with
distended eyes and sweat upon his brow, fearfully from the stern face of
the old man to the downcast features of the widow, when recovering
speech he asked:--

"Why should my brother kill Mr. Barbary, if he was his friend? Was not
Elbridge always kind, mother? I'm sure he was to me, and used to let me
ride old Sorrel before him to the mill!"

"Ever kind? He was. There was not a day he did not make glad his poor
mother's heart, with some generous act of devotion to her. No sun set on
the day which did not cheer her lonely hearth with a new light of
gladness and peace from his young eyes."

"Margaret, you forget. He was soft of heart, but proud of spirit, and
haughty beyond his age; you may not remember, even I could not always
look down his anger, or silence his loudness of speech. Why should he
kill Mr. Barbary? I will tell you, child: the preacher, too, had
discerned well your brother's besetting sin, and, being fearless in
duty, from the Sabbath pulpit he spake of it plainly and with such point
that it could not fail to come home directly to the bosom of the young
man. This was on the very Lord's day before Mr. Barbary disappeared from
amongst us. It rankled in your brother's bosom like poison; his passions
were wild and ungoverned, and this was cause enough. If he had been
innocent, why did Elbridge Peabody flee this neighborhood, like a thief
in the night?"

"Why did my brother Elbridge leave us, mother?" said the child, bending
eagerly towards the widow, who wrung her hands and was silent.

"He may come back," said the child, shaking his flaxen locks, and not
abashed in the least by her silence. "He may come back yet and explain
all to us."

"Never!"

At that very moment a red rooster, who stood with his burnished wings on
the garden wall, near enough to have heard all that had passed, lifted
up his throat, and poured forth a clear cry, which rang through the
placid air far and wide.

"He will--I know he will," said little Sam Peabody, leaping down from
his judgment-seat in the window. "Chanticleer knows he will, or he would
not speak in that way. He hasn't crowed once before, you know,
grandfather, since Elbridge went away; we'll hear from brother soon, I
know we shall--I know we shall!"

The little fellow, in his glee, clapped his hands and crowed too. The
grandfather, looking on his gambols, smiled, but was presently sad
again.

"Would to Heaven he may," he said. "If they come who should, to-day, we
may learn of him--for to-day my children should come up from all the
quarters of the land where they are scattered--the East, the West, the
North, the South--to join with me in the Festival of Thanksgiving which
now draws near. My head is whitened with many winters, and I shall see
them for the last time." Sylvester continued: "If they come--in this
calm season, which, so soft and sweet, seems the gentle dawn of the
coming world--we shall have, I feel, our last re-gathering on earth! But
they come not; my eyes are weary with watching afar off, and I cannot
yet discern that my children bear me in remembrance, in this grateful
season of the year. Why do they not come?"

The aged patriarch of the family bowed his head and was silent. From the
broom-corn the gentle voice stole again:

    Why sings the robin in the wood?
    For him her music is not shed:
    Why blind-brook sparkle through the field?
    He may be dead! he may be dead!

The murmur of Miriam's musical lamenting had scarcely died away on the
dreamy air, when there came hurrying forward from the garden--where she
had been tending the great thanksgiving pumpkin, which was her special
charge--the black servant of the household, Mopsey by name, who, with
her broad-fringed cap flying all abroad, and her great eyes rolling,
spoke out as she approached--

"Do hear dat, massa?"

"I hear nothing, Mopsey."

"Dere, don't you hear't now? Dey're coming!"

With faces of curiosity, and ears erect, they listened. There was a
peculiar sound in the air, and on closer attention they discerned, in
the stillness of the morning, the jingling traces of the stage-coach, on
the cross-road, through the fields.

"They are not coming," said old Sylvester, when the sound had died away
in the distance; "the stage has taken the other road."

"Dat may be, grandfather," Mopsey spoke up, "but for all dey may come.
Ugly Davis, when _he_ drive, don't always turn out of his way to come up
here. Dey may be on de corner."

As Mopsey spoke, two figures appeared on foot on the brow of the road,
which sloped down toward the Homestead, through a feathery range of
graceful locusts. They were too far off to be distinctly made out, but
it was to be inferred that they were travellers from a distance, for one
of them held against the light some sort of travelling bag or
portmanteau; one of them was in female dress, but this was all they
could as yet distinguish. Various conjectures were ventured as to their
special character. They were unquestionably making for the Homestead,
and it was to be reasonably supposed they were Peabodys, for strangers
were rare upon that road, which was a by-way, off the main thoroughfare.

The family gathered on the extreme out-look of the balcony, and watched
with eager curiosity their approach, which was slow and somewhat
irregular--the man did not aid the woman in her progress, but straggled
on apart, nor did he seem to address her as they came on.



CHAPTER SECOND.

ARRIVAL OF THE MERCHANT AND HIS PEOPLE.


"It is William and Hannah," said the Patriarch, towering above the
household grouped about him, and gaining an advantage in observation
from his commanding height, "I am glad the oldest is the first to come!"

When the two comers reached the door-yard gate the man entered in
without rendering the least assistance or paying the slightest heed to
his companion, who followed humbly in his track. He was some sixty years
of age, large-featured and inclining to tallness; his dress was
oldmanish and plain, consisting of a long-furred beaver hat, a loose
made coat, and other apparel corresponding, with low cut shoes. He
smiled as he came upon the balcony, greeting old Sylvester with a shake
of the hand, but taking no notice whatever either of the widow, little
Sam, or Mopsey. His wife, on the contrary, spoke to all, but quietly and
submissively, which was in truth, her whole manner. She was spare and
withered, with a pinched, colorless face, constrained in a scared and
apprehensive look as though in constant dread of an impending violence
or injury. Over one eye she wore a green patch, which greatly heightened
the pallor and strangeness of her features.

"Where's the Captain and Henrietta?" old Sylvester asked when the
greetings were over.

"They started from the city in a chay," he was answered by William
Peabody, "some hours before us,--the captain,--seaman--way of driving
irreg'lar. Nobody can tell what road he may have got into. Should'nt be
surprised if did'nt arrive till to-morrow morning. Will always have
high-actioned horse."

William Peabody had scarcely spoken when there arose in the distance
down the road, a violent cloud of dust, from which there emerged a
two-wheeled vehicle at a thundering pace, and which, in less than a
minute's time, went whirling past the Homestead. It was supposed to
contain Captain Saltonstall and wife; but what with the speed and dust,
no eye could have guessed with any accuracy who or what they were. In
less than a minute more it came sweeping back with the great white
horse, passing the house again like an apparition, or the ghost of a
horse and gig. With another sally down the road and return, with a long
curve in the road before the Homestead, it at last came to at the gate,
and disclosed in a high sweat and glowing all over his huge person, the
jovial Captain, and at his side his pretty little cherry-faced girl of a
wife, Henrietta Peabody, daughter of William Peabody, who, be it known,
is old Sylvester's oldest son. There also emerged from the one-horse
gig, after the captain had made ground, and jumped his little wife to
the same landing in his arms, a red-faced boy, who must have been
closely stowed somewhere, for he came out of the vehicle highly colored,
and looking very much as if he had been sat upon for a couple of hours
or more. The Captain having freed his horse from the traces, and at old
Sylvester's suggestion, set him loose in the door-yard to graze at his
leisure, rushed forward upon the balcony very much in the character of a
good natured tornado, saluted the widow Margaret with a whirlwind kiss,
threw little Sam high in the air and caught him as he came within half
an inch of the ground, shook the old grandfather's readily extended hand
with a sturdy grasp, and wound up, for a moment, with a great cuff on
the side of the head with a roll of stuff for a new gown for Mopsey,
saying as he delivered it, "Dere, what d'ye say to dat, Darkey!"

Darkey brightened into a sort of nocturnal illumination, and shuffling
away, in the loose shoes, to the keeping of which on her feet the better
half of the best energies of her life were directed, gave out that she
must be looking after dinner.

It was but for a moment only that the Captain paused, and in less than
five minutes he had said and done so many good-natured things, had shown
himself so free of heart withal, and so little considerate of self or
the figure he cut, that in spite of his great clumsy person, and the
gash in his face, and the somewhat exorbitant character of his dress,
his coat being a bob as long and straight in the line across the back,
as the edge of a table, you could not help regarding him as a decidedly
well made, well dressed, and quite handsome person; in fact the Captain
passed with the whole family for a fine-looking man.

"Where's my little girl Miriam?" asked the jovial Captain, after a
moment's rest in a seat by the side of old Sylvester. "I must see my
Dolphin, or she'll think I'm growing old."

Being advised that the young lady in question was somewhere within, the
Captain rushed into the house, pursued by all the family in a body, save
William Peabody, who remained with old Sylvester, seated and in silence.

"How go matters in the city, William?" he said, removing his hand from
his brow, where it had rested in contemplation for several minutes.

"After the old fashion, father," William Peabody answered, smiling with
a fox-like glance at his father; "added three new houses to my property
since last year."

"Three new houses?"

"Three, all of brick,--good streets--built in the latest style. The city
grows and I grow!"

"Three new houses, and all in the latest style--and how does Margaret's
little property pay?"

"Poorly, father, poorly. Elbridge made a bad choice when he bought
it--greatly out of repair--rents come slowly."

"In a word, the old story, the widow gets nothing again from the city. I
had hopes you would be able to bring her some returns this time, for she
needs it sadly."

"I do the best I can, but money's not to be got out of stone walls."

"And you have three new houses which pay well," old Sylvester continued,
turning his calm blue eye steadily upon his son.

"Capital--best in the city! Already worth twice I gave for 'em. The city
grows and I grow!"

"My son, do you never think of that other house reserved for us all?"

William Peabody was about to answer, it was nonsense for a man only
sixty and in sound condition of body and mind to think too much of that,
when his eye, ranging across the fields, espied in shadow as it were,
through the dim atmosphere, the mist clearing away a little in that
direction, an old sorrel horse--a long settler with the family and
well-known to all its members--staggering about feebly in a distant
orchard, and in her wanderings stumbling against the trees.--"Is old
Sorrel blind?" he asked, shading his own eyes from the light.

"She is, William," old Sylvester replied; "her sight went from her last
New-Year's day."

"My birth-day," said the merchant, a sudden pallor coming upon his
countenance.

"Yes, you and old Sorrel are birth-mates, my son."

"We are; she was foaled the day I was born," said William Peabody, and
added, as to himself, musingly, "Old Sorrel is blind! So we pass--so we
pass--young to-day--to-morrow old--limbs fail us--sight is gone."

They sat silently, contemplating the still morning scene before them,
and meditating, each in his own particular way, on the history of the
past.

To William, the merchant, it brought chiefly a recollection how in his
early manhood he had set out from those quiet fields for a hard struggle
with the world, with a bare dollar in his pocket, and when that was gone
the whole world seemed to combine in a desperate league against him to
prevent his achieving another. How at last, on the very edge of
starvation and despair, he had wrung from it the means of beginning his
fortunes; and how he had gone on step by step, forgetting all the
pleasant ties of his youth, all recollections of nature and cheerful
faces of friends and kinsfolk, adding thousand to thousand, house to
house; building, unlike Jacob, a ladder, that descended to the lower
world, up which all harsh and dark spirits perpetually thronged and
joined to drag him down; and yet he smiled grimly at the thought of the
power he possessed, and how many of his early companions trembled before
him because he was grown to be a rich man.

Old Sylvester, on the other hand, in all his memory had no thought of
himself. His recollection ran back to the old times when his neighbors
sat down under a king's sceptre in these colonies, how that chain had
been freed, the gloomy Indian had withdrawn his face from their fields,
how the darkness of the woods had retired before the cheering sun of
peace and plenty; and how from a little people, his dear country, for
whose welfare his sword had been stained, had grown into a great nation.
Scattered up and down the long line of memory were faces of friends and
kindred, which had passed long ago from the earth. He called to mind
many a pleasant fire-side chat; many a funeral scene, and burying in
sun-light and in the cold rain; the young Elbridge too was in his
thoughts last of all; could he return to them with a name untainted, the
old man would cheerfully lie down in his grave and be at peace with all
the world.

In the meanwhile, within the house the Captain in high favor was seated
in a great cushioned arm-chair with little Sam Peabody on his knee, and
the women of the house gathered about him, looking on as he narrated the
courses and adventures of his last voyage. The widow listened with a sad
interest. Mopsey rolled her eyes and was mirthful in the most serious
and stormiest passages; while little Sam and the Captain's wife rivalled
each other in regarding the Captain with innocent wonder and
astonishment, as though he were the most extraordinary man that ever
sailed the sea, or sat in a chair telling about it, in the whole
habitable globe. Miriam Haven alone was distant from the scene, gliding
to and fro past the door, busied in household duties in a neighboring
apartment, and catching a word here and there as she glanced by.

It was a wonderful story, certainly, the Captain was telling, and it
seemed beyond all belief that it could be true that one man could have
seen the whales, the icebergs, the floating islands, the ships in the
air, the sea-dogs, and grampuses, the flying-fish, the pirates, and the
thousand other wonders the Captain reported to have crossed his path in
a single trip across the simple Atlantic and back. He also averred to
have distinctly seen the sea-serpent, and what was more, to have had a
conversation with a ship in the very middle of the ocean. Was there
anything wonderful in that? it occurs every day--but listen to the
jovial Captain!--a ship--and he had news to tell them of one they would
like to hear about. They pressed close to the Captain and listened
breathlessly; Miriam Haven pausing in her task, and stopping stone-still
like a statue, in the door, while her very heart stayed its beating.

Go on--Captain--go on--go on!

"Well, what do you think; we were in latitude--no matter, you don't care
about that--we had just come out of a great gale, which made the sea
pitch-dark about us; when the first beam of the sun opened the clouds,
we found ourselves along side a ship with the old stars and stripes
flying like a bird at the mast-head. There was a sight, my hearties. We
hailed her, she hailed us, we threw her papers, she threw us, and we
parted forever."

"Is that all?"

"Not half. One of these was a list of passengers; I run my eye up, and I
run my eye down, and there, shining out like a star amongst them all, I
find, whose d'ye think--Elbridge Peabody--as large as life."

Miriam Haven staggered against the door-post, the widow fell upon her
knees, "Thank God, my boy is heard from."

Little Sam Peabody darted from the Captain's knee and rushed upon the
balcony, crying at the top of his lungs, "Grandfather, brother Elbridge
is heard from."

"I don't believe it," said William Peabody; the poor old blind sorrel
had disappeared from sight into a piece of woods near the orchard, and
the merchant had quite recovered his usual way of speaking. "Never will
believe it. You hav'nt heard of that youngster,--never will. Always knew
he would run away some day--never come back again."

The Captain's story was rapidly explained by the different members of
the family, who had followed little Sam, to repeat it to old Sylvester,
each in her own way. Miriam and Hannah Peabody, who at sound of the
commotion had come forth from an inner chamber, whither she had been
retired by herself, joined the company of lookers on.

"What all amount to," he continued, in his peculiar clipped style of
speech. "Expect to see him again, do you. Mighty fine chance--where
going to?"

The Captain could'nt tell.

"One of the Captain's fine stories--no--no--if that boy ever comes back
again, I'll--"

There was a deep silence to hear what the hard old merchant proposed.

"I'll hand over to him the management of his late father's property, he
was always hankering after, and thought he could make so much more of
than his hard-fisted old uncle."

This was a comfortable proposition, and little Sam Peabody, as though it
were a great pear or red pippin that was spoken of, running to his
mother, said,

"Mother, I'd take it."

"I do," said the widow, "and call you all to witness."

William Peabody smiled grimly on Margaret; his countenance darkened
suddenly, and he was, no doubt, on the point of retracting his confident
offer, when his wife uttered in an under tone, half entreaty, half
authority, "William," at the same time turning on her husband the side
of the countenance which wore the green shade. He stifled what he
intended to utter, and shifting uneasily in his seat, he looked toward
the city and was silent. Whatever the reason, it was clear that when
they were seated at the table, partaking of the meal, it was Captain
Saltonstall that had the best attention from every member of the
household, (and the best of the dish,) from all save old Sylvester, who
held himself erect, as usual, and impartial in the matter.

"The ways of Providence are strange," said old Sylvester. "Out of
darkness he brings marvellous light, and from the frivolous acorn he
spreads the branches wide in the air, which are a shelter, and a solace,
and a shadowy play-ground to our youth and old age. We must wait the
issue, and whatever comes, to Him must we give thanks."

With this sentiment for a benediction, the patriarch dismissed his
family to their slumbers, which to each one of the household brought its
peculiar train of speculation; to two, at least, Miriam and the widow
Margaret, they brought dreams which only the strong light of day could
disprove to be realities.



CHAPTER THIRD.

THE FARMER-FOLKS FROM THE WEST.


With the following day, (which was calm, gentle, and serene as its
predecessor,) a little after the dispatch of dinner, the attention of
the household was summoned to the clatter of a hurrying wagon, which,
unseen, resounded in the distant country. Old Sylvester was the first to
hear it--faintly at first, then it rose on the wind far off, died away
in the woods and the windings of the roads, then again was entirely lost
for several minutes, and at last growing into a portentous rattle,
brought to at the door of the homestead, and landed from its ricketty
and bespattered bosom Mr. Oliver Peabody, of Ohio; Jane his wife, a
buxom lady of fair complexion, in a Quaker bonnet; and Robert, their
eldest son, a tall, flat-featured boy, some thirteen years of age.

The countryman in a working shirt, who had the control of the wagon, and
who had been beguiled by Oliver some five miles out of his road home,
(to which he was returning from the market town,) under pretence of a
wish to have his opinion of the crops--the poor fellow being withal a
hired laborer and never having owned, or entertained the remotest
speculation of owning, a rood of ground of his own,--with a commendation
from Oliver, delivered with a cheerful smile, that "his observations on
timothy were very much to the purpose," drove clattering away again. Mr.
Oliver Peabody, farmer, who had come all the way from Ohio to spend
thanksgiving with his old father--of a ruddy, youthful and twinkling
countenance--who wore his hair at length and unshorn, and the chief
peculiarity of whose dress was a grey cloth coat, with a row of great
horn-buttons on either breast, with enormous woollen mittens, brought
his buxom wife forward under one arm with diligence, drawing his tall
youth of a son after him by the other hand--threw himself into the bosom
of the Peabody family, and was heartily welcomed all round. He didn't
say a word of half-horses and half-alligators, nor of greased lightning,
although he was from the West, but he did complain most bitterly of the
uncommon smoothness of the roads in these parts, the short grass, and
the 'bominable want of elbow-room all over the neighborhood. It was with
difficulty he could be kept on the straitened stage of the balcony long
enough to answer a few plain questions of children and other matters at
home; and immediately expressed an ardent desire to take a look at the
garden.

"We got somefin' to show thar, Mas'r Oliver," said Mopsey, who had stood
by listening, with open mouth and eyes, to the strong statements of the
western farmer, "we haint to be beat right-away no how!"

Old Sylvester rose with his staff, which he carried more for pleasure
than necessity, and led the way. As they approached there was visible
through all the plants, shrubs and other growths of the place, whatever
they might be--a great yellow sphere or ball, so disposed, on a little
slope by itself, as to catch the eye from a distance, shining out in its
golden hue from the garden, a sort of rival to the sun himself, rolling
overhead.

"Dere, what d'ye tink of dat, Oliver," Mopsey asked, forgetting in the
grandeur of the moment all distinctions of class or color, "I guess
dat's somefin."

"That's a pumpkin," said Mr. Oliver Peabody, calmly.

"Yes, I guess it is--_de tanksgivin punkin_!"

She looked into the western farmer's face, no doubt expecting a spasm or
convulsion, but it was calm--calm as night. Mopsey condescended not
another word, but walking or rather shuffling disdainfully away,
muttered to herself, "Dat is de very meanest man, for a white man, I
ever did see; he looked at dat 'ere punkin which has cost me so many
anxious days and sleepless nights--which I have watched over as though
it had been my own child--which I planted wid dis here hand of my own,
and fought for agin the June bugs and the white frost, and dat mouse
dat's been tryin to eat it up for dis tree weeks and better--just as if
it had been a small green cowcumber. I don't believe dat Oliver Peabody
knows it is tanksgivin'. He's a great big fool."

"I see you still keep some of the old red breed, father," said Oliver
when they were left alone in the quiet of the garden, pointing to the
red rooster, who stood on the wall in the sun.

"Yes," old Sylvester answered, "for old times' sake. We have had them
with us now on the farm for better than a hundred years. I remember the
day the great grandfather of this bird was brought among us. It was the
day we got news that good David Brainard, the Indian missionary,
died--that was some while before the revolutionary war. He died in the
arms of the great Jonathan Edwards, at Northampton; their souls are at
peace."

"I recollect this fellow," Oliver continued, referring to the red
rooster, "When I was here last he was called Elbridge's bird, that was
the year before last."

"There is no Elbridge now," said the old grandfather.

"I know all," said Oliver, "I had a letter from Margaret, telling me the
story and begging me to keep a watch for her boy."

"A wide watch to keep and little to be got by it, I fear," old Sylvester
added.

"Not altogether idle, perhaps; we have sharp eyes in the West and see
many strange things. Jane is confident she saw our Elbridge, making
through Ohio, but two months after he left here; he was riding swiftly,
and in her surprise and suddenness she could neither call nor send after
him."

"You did not tell us of that," said the old man.

"No, I waited some further discovery."

"Be silent now, you may easily waken hopes to be darkened and dashed to
the ground. Which way made the boy?"

"Southward."

During this discourse, as though he distinguished the sound of his young
master's name and knew to what it related, Chanticleer walked slowly,
and as if by accident or at leisure, up and down the garden-wall,
keeping as near to the speakers as was at all seemly. When they stopped
speaking he leaped gently to the ground and softly clapped his wings.

A moment after there came hurrying into the garden, in a wild
excitement, and all struggling to speak first, little Sam Peabody in the
lead, Robert, the flat-featured youth of thirteen, and Peabody Junior,
(who, it should be mentioned, having found his way into a pantry a
couple of minutes after his arrival with the Captain, and appropriated
to his own personal use an entire bottle of cherry brandy, had been
straightway put to bed, from which he had now been released not more
than a couple of hours), and to announce as clamorously as they
respectively could, that Brundage's Bull had just got into "our big
meadow."

"Nobody hurt?" asked old Sylvester.

"Nobody hurt, grandfather, but he's ploughing up the meadow at a
dreadful rate," said little Sam Peabody.

"Like wild," Peabody Junior added.

This statement, strongly as it was made, seemed to have no particular
effect on old Sylvester. Oliver Peabody, on the other hand, was
exceedingly indignant, and was for proceeding to extremities
immediately, the expulsion of the Brundage bull, and the demanding of
damages for allowing his cattle to cross the boundary line of the two
farms.

Old Sylvester listened to his violence with a blank countenance; nor did
he seem to comprehend that any special outrage had been committed, for
it must be acknowledged that the only indication that the grandfather
had come to his second childhood was, that, with his advancing years,
and as he approached the shadow of the other world, he seemed to have
lost all idea of the customary distinctions of rank and property, and
that very much like an old apostle, he was disposed to regard all men as
brethren, and boundary lines as of very little consequence.

He therefore promptly checked his son Oliver in his heat, and
discountenanced any further proceedings in the matter.

"Brundage," he said, "would, if he cared about him, come and take his
bull away when he was ready; we are all brethren, and have a common
country, Oliver," he added, "I hope you feel that in the West, as well
as we do here."

"Thank God, we have," Oliver rejoined with emphasis, "and we love it!"

"I thank God for that too," old Sylvester replied, striking his staff
firmly on the ground, "I remember well, my son, when your great state
was a wilderness of woods and savage men, and now this common sky--look
at it, Oliver--which shines so clearly above us, is yours as well as
ours."

"I fear me, father, one day, bright, beautiful, and wide-arched as it
is, the glorious Union may fall," said Oliver, laying his hand upon an
aged tree which stood near them, "may fall, and the states drop, one by
one away, even as the fruit I shake to the ground."

As though he had been a tower standing on an elevation, old Sylvester
Peabody rose aloft to his full height, as if he would clearly
contemplate the far past, the distant, and the broad-coming future.

"The Union fall!" he cried. "Look above, my son! The Union fall! as long
as the constellations of evening live together in yonder sky; look down,
as long as the great rivers of our land flow eastward and westward,
north and south, the Union shall stand up, and stand majestical and
bright, beheld by ages, as these shall be, an orb and living stream of
glory unsurpassable."

The children were gathered about, and watched with eager eyes and
glowing cheeks, the countenance of the grandfather as he spoke.

"No, no, my son," he added, "there's many a true heart in brave Ohio, as
in every state of ours, or they could not be the noble powers they are."

While old Sylvester spoke, Oliver Peabody wrenched with some violence,
from the tree near which they stood, a stout limb, on the end of which
he employed himself with a knife in shaping a substantial knob.

"What weapon is that you are busy with, Oliver?" old Sylvester asked.

"It's for that nasty bull," Oliver replied. "I would break every bone in
his body rather than let him remain for a single minute on my land; the
furtherance of law and order demands the instant enforcement of one's
rights."

"You are a friend of law and order, my son."

"I think I am," Oliver answered, standing erect and planting his club,
in the manner of Hercules in the pictures, head down on the ground.

"I hope you are, Oliver; but I fear you forget the story I used to tell
of my old friend Bulkley, of Danbury, who, being written to by some
neighboring Christians who were in sore dissension, for advisement, gave
them back word:--Every man to look after his own fence, that it be built
high and strong, and to have a special care of the old Black Bull;
meaning thereby no doubt, our own wicked passions;--that is the true
Christian way of securing peace and good order."

Oliver threw his great trespass-club upon the ground, and was on the
point of asking after an old sycamore, the largest growth of all that
country, which, standing in a remote field had, in the perilous times
sheltered many of the Peabody family in its bosom--when he was
interrupted by the sudden appearance of Mopsey in a flutter of
cap-strings, shuffling shoes, and a flying color in her looks of at
least double the usual depth of darkness. It was just discovered that
the poultry-house had been broken into over night, and four of the
fattest hens taken off by the throat and legs, besides sundry of the
inferior members of the domicile; as wicked a theft, Mopsey said, as
ever was, and she hadn't the slightest hesitation in charging it on them
niggers in the Hills, (a neighboring settlement of colored people, who
lived from hand to mouth, and seemed to be fed, like the ravens by some
mystery of providence.)

Oliver Peabody watched closely the countenance of the patriarch, not a
little curious to learn what effect this announcement would have upon
his temper.

"This is all our own fault," said old Sylvester, promptly. "We should
have remembered this was thanksgiving time, and sent them something to
stay their stomachs. Poor creatures, I always wondered how they got
along! Send 'em some bread, Mopsey, for they never can do anything with
fowls without bread!"

"Send 'em some bread!" Mopsey rejoined, growing blacker and more ugly of
look as she spoke: "Send 'em whips, and an osifer of the law!--the four
fattest of the coop."

"Never mind," said old Sylvester.

"Six of the ten'drest young'uns!"

"Never mind that," said old Sylvester.

"I'd have them all in the county jail before sundown," urged Mopsey.

"Oliver, we will go in to tea," continued the patriarch. "We have enough
for tea, Mopsey?"

"Yes, quite enough, Mas'r."

"Then," cried the old man, striking his staff on the ground with great
violence, rising to his full height, and glowing like a furnace, upon
Mopsey, "then, I say, send 'em some bread!"

This speech, delivered in a voice of authority, sent Mopsey, shuffling
and cowering, away, without a word, and brought the sweat of horror to
the brow of Oliver, which he proceeded to remove with a great cotton
pocket-handkerchief, produced from his coat behind, on which was
displayed in glowing colors, by some cunning artist, the imposing scene
of the signers of the Declaration of Independence getting ready to affix
their names. Mr. Oliver Peabody was the politician of the family, and
always had the immortal Declaration of Independence at his tongue's end,
or in hand.



CHAPTER FOURTH.

THE FORTUNES OF THE FAMILY CONSIDERED.


When Oliver and old Sylvester entered the house they found all of the
family gathered within, save the children, who loitered about the doors
and windows, looking in, anxious-eyed, on the preparations for tea going
forward under the direction of the widow Margaret, and Mopsey. The other
women of the household were busy with a discussion of the merits of Mrs.
Carrack, of Boston, the fashionable lady of the family.

"I should like to see Mrs. Carrack above all things," said the Captain's
pretty little wife, "she must be a fine woman from all I have heard of
her."

"Thee will have small chance, I fear, child," said Mrs. Jane Peabody,
sitting buxomly in an easy arm chair, which she had quietly assumed,
"she is too fine for the company of us plain folks in every point of
view."

"It's five years since she was here," the widow suggested as she
adjusted the chairs around the table, "she said she never would come
inside the house again, because the best bed-chamber was not given to
her--I am sorry to say it."

"She's a heathen and wicked woman," Mopsey said, shuffling at the door,
and turning back on her way to the kitchen--"your poor boy was lying low
of a fever and how could _she_ expect it."

"In one point of view she may come; her husband was living then,"
continued Mrs. Jane Peabody, "she has become a rich woman since, and may
honor us with a visit--to show us how great a person she has got to
be--let her come--it need'nt trouble thee, nor me, I'm sure." Mrs. Jane
Peabody smoothed her Quaker vandyke, and sat stiffly in her easy chair.

Old Sylvester entering at that moment, laid aside his staff and
broad-brimmed hat, which little Sam Peabody ran in to take charge of,
and took his seat at the head of the table; the Captain, who was busy at
the back-door scouring an old rusty fowling-piece for some enterprise he
had in view in the morning, was called in by his little wife; the others
were seated in their places about the board.

"Where's William?" old Sylvester asked.

He was at a window in the front room, where he had sat for several
hours, with spectacles on his brow, poring over an old faded parchment
deed, which related to some neighboring land he thought belonged to the
Peabodys, (although in possession of others,) and which he had always
made a close study of on his visits to the homestead. There was a dark
passage, under which he made their title, which had been submitted to
various men learned in the law; it was too dark and doubtful, in their
opinion, to build a contest on, and yet William Peabody gave it every
year a new examination, with the hope, perhaps, that the wisdom of
advancing age might enable him to fathom and expound it, although it had
been drawn up by the greatest lawyer of his day in all that country. His
wife Hannah, grieving in spirit that her husband should be toiling
forever in the quest of gain, sat near him, pale, calm and disheartened,
but speaking not a word. He could not look at her with that fearful
green shade on her face, but kept his eyes always fixed on the old
parchment. When his aged father had taken his seat, and began his thanks
to God for the bounties before them, as though the old Patriarch had
brought a better spirit from the calm day without, he thrust the paper
into his bosom and glided to his place at the table. It would have done
you good to hear that old man's prayer. He neither solicited forgiveness
for his enemies nor favors for his friends; for schools, churches,
presidents or governments; neither for health, wealth, worldly welfare,
nor for any single other thing; all he said, bowing his white old head,
was this:

"May we all be Christian people the day we die--God bless us."

That was all; and his kinsfolk lost no appetite in listening to it--for
it was no sooner uttered than they all fell to--and not a word more was
spoken for five minutes at least, nor then perhaps, had not little Sam
Peabody cried out, with breathless animation, and delight of feature,

"The pigeons, grandfather!" at the same time pointing from the door to
the evening sky, along which they were winging their calm and silent
flight in a countless train--streaming on westward as though there was
no end to them; which put old Sylvester upon recalling the cheerful
sports of his younger days.

"I have taken a couple of hundred in a net on the Hill before breakfast,
many a time," he said. "You used to help me, William."

"Yes, I and old Ethan Barbary," said the merchant, "used to spring the
net; you gave the word."

"Old Ethan has been dead many a day. Ethan," continued old Sylvester, in
explanation, "was the father of our Mr. Barbary. He was a preacher too,
and carried a gun in the revolution. I remember he was accounted a
peculiar man. I never knew why. To be sure he used to spend the time he
did not employ in prayers, preaching and tending the sick, in working on
the farms about, for he had no wages for preaching. When there was none
of that to be had, he took his basket, and sallying through the fields,
gathered berries, which he bestowed on the needy families of the
neighborhood. In winter he collected branches in the woods about, as
fire-wood for the poor."

"That was a capital idea," said Oliver the politician. "It must have
made him very popular."

"Wasn't he always thought to be a little out of his head?" asked the
merchant. "He might have sold the wood for a good price in the severe
winters."

"I remember as if it were yesterday," old Sylvester went on in his own
way, not heeding in the slightest the suggestions of his sons, "he and
black Burling, who is buried in the woods by the Great Walnut tree, near
the pond, both fought in the American ranks, and had but one gun between
them, which they used turn about."

"You saw rough times in those days, grandfather," said the Captain.

"I did, Charley," old Sylvester answered, looking kindly on the Captain,
who had always been something of a favorite of his from the day he had
married into the family; "and there are but few left to talk with me of
them now. I am one of the living survivors of an almost extinguished
race. The grave will soon be our only habitation. I am one of the few
stalks that still remain in the field where the tempest passed. I have
fought against the foreign foe for your sake; they have disappeared from
the land, and you are free; the strength of my arm delays, and my feet
fail me in the way; the hand which fought for your liberties is now open
to bless you. In my youth I bled in battle that you might be
independent--let not my heart, in my old age, bleed because you abandon
the path I would have you follow."

The old patriarch leaned his head upon his hand, and the company was
silent as though they had listened to a voice from the grave. He
presently looked up and smiled--"Old Ethan, I call to mind now," he
renewed, "had a quality which our poor Barbary inherited, and for
which," he added, looking toward his son William, "and for which I
greatly honor his memory. He counted the money of this world but as
dross. From his manhood to the very moment of his entering on the
ministry, he never would touch silver nor gold, partly, I think, because
it was the true Scripture course, and partly because a dreadful murder
had once happened in the Barbary family, growing out of a quarrel for
the possession of a paltry sum of money."

The bread she was raising to her lips fell from the widow's hand, for
she could not help but think of the history of her absent son; and the
voice of Miriam, who did not present herself at the table, was heard
from a distant chamber, not distinctly, but in that tone of chanting
lament which had become habitual to her whether in house, garden, or
field. It was an inexpressibly mournful cadence, and for the time
stilled all other sounds. They were only drawn away from it by descrying
Mopsey, the black servant, at a turn of the road, hurrying with great
animation towards the homestead, but with a singularity in her progress
which could not fail to be observed. She rushed along at great speed,
for several paces, and suddenly came to a halt, during which her head
disappeared, and then renewed her pace, repeating the peculiar
manoeuvre once at least in every ten yards. In a word, she was
shuffling on in her loose shoes, (which were on or off, one or the other
of them every other minute,) at as rapid a rate as that peculiar species
of locomotion allowed. Bursting with impatience and the importance of
her communication, her cap flaunting from her head, she stood in the
doorway and announced, "We've beat Brundage--we've beat Brundage!"

"What's this, Mopsey?" old Sylvester inquired.

"I've tried it and I've spanned it. I can't span ours!"

On further questioning it appeared that Mopsey had been on a pilgrimage
to the next neighbor's, the Brundages, to inspect their thanksgiving
pumpkin, and institute a comparison with the Peabody growth of that
kind, with a highly satisfactory and complacent result as regarded the
home production. Nobody was otherwise than pleased at Mopsey's innocent
rejoicing, and when she had been duly complimented on her success, she
went away with a broad black guffaw to set a trap in the garden for the
brown mouse, the sole surviving enemy of the great Peabody thanksgiving
pumpkin which must be plucked next day for use.

With the dispatch of the evening meal, old Sylvester withdrew to the
other room, with a little hand lamp, to read a chapter by himself. The
others remaining seated about the apartment; the Captain and Oliver
presently fell into a violent discussion on the true sources of national
wealth, the Captain giving it as his opinion that it solely depended on
having a great number of ships at sea, as carriers between different
countries. Oliver was equally clear and resolute that the real wealth of
a nation lay in its wheat crops. When wheat was at ten shillings the
bushel, all went well; let it fall a quarter, and you had general
bankruptcy staring you in the face. Mr. William Peabody was'nt at the
pains to deliver his opinion, but he was satisfied, in his secret soul,
that it lay in the increase of new houses, or the proper supply of
calicoes--he had'nt made up his mind which. Presently Oliver was
troubled again in reference to the supply of gold in the world--whether
there was enough to do business with; he also had some things to say
(which he had out of a great speech in Congress) about bullion and rates
of exchange, but nobody understood him.

"By the way," he added, "Mrs. Carrack's son Tiffany is gone to the Gold
Region. From what he writes to me I think he'll cut a very great figure
in that country."

"An exceedingly fine, talented young man," said the merchant, who had,
then, sundry sums on loan from his mother.

"In any point of view, in which you regard it," continued Oliver, "the
gold country is an important acquisition."

"You hav'nt the letter Tiffany wrote, with you?" interrupted the
Captain.

"I think I have," was the answer. "I brought it, supposing you might
like to look at it. Shall I read it?"

There was no objection--the letter was read--in which Mr. Tiffany
Carrack professed his weariness of civilized life--spoke keenly of
misspent hours--a determination to rally and do something important,
intimating that that was a great country for enterprising young men,
and, in a familiar phrase, closed with a settled resolution to do or
die.

"I have a letter to the same effect," said the Captain.

"And so have I," said William Peabody, "word for word."

"He means to do something very grand," said the Captain. Something very
grand--the women all agreed--for Mr. Tiffany Carrack was a nice young
man, and had a prospect of inheriting a hundred thousand dollars, to say
nothing of the large sums he was to bring from the Gold Regions. It was
evident to all that he was going into the business with a rush. They, of
course, would'nt see Mr. Tiffany Carrack at this Thanksgiving
gathering--he had better business on hand--Mr. Tiffany Carrack was
clearly the promising young man of the family, and was carrying the
fortunes of the Peabodys into the remotest quarters of the land.

"In a word," said Mr. Oliver Peabody, developing the Declaration of
Independence on his pocket-handkerchief. "He is going to do wonders in
every point of view. He'll carry the principles of Free Government
everywhere!"

The consideration of the extraordinary talents and enterprise of the son
imparted a new interest to the question of the coming of Mrs. Carrack;
which was rediscussed in all its bearings; and it was almost unanimously
concluded--that, one day now only intervening to Thanksgiving--it was
too late to look for her. There had been a general disposition, secretly
opposed only by Mrs. Jane Peabody, to yield to that fashionable person
the best bed-chamber, which was always accounted a great prize and
distinguished honor among the family. But now there was scarcely any
need of reserving it longer--and who was to have it? Alas! that is a
question often raised in rural households, often shakes them to the very
base, and spreads through whole families a bitterness and strength and
length of strife, which frequently ends only with life itself.

To bring the matter to an issue, various whispered conversations were
held in the small room, lying next to the sitting-room, at first
between Mrs. Margaret Peabody and Mopsey, to which one by one were
summoned, Mrs. Jane Peabody, the Captain's wife, and Mrs. Hannah
Peabody. The more it was discussed the farther off seemed any reasonable
conclusion. When one arrangement was proposed, various faces of the
group grew dark and sour; when another, other faces blackened and
elongated; tongues, too, wagged faster every minute, and at length grew
to such a hubbub as to call old Sylvester away from his Bible and bring
him to the door to learn what turmoil it was that at this quiet hour
disturbed the peace of the Peabodys. He was not long in discovering the
ground of battle, and even as in old pictures Adam is shown walking
calmly in Eden among the raging beasts of all degrees and kinds, the old
patriarch came forward among the women of the Peabody family--"My
children," he said, "should dwell in peace for the short stay allotted
them on earth. Why make a difference about so small a matter as a
lodging-place--they are all good and healthful rooms. I have seen the
day when camping on the wet grounds and morasses I would have held any
one of them to be a palace-chamber. The back chamber, my child," he
continued, addressing the Captain's wife, "looks out on the orchard,
where you always love to walk; the white room, Hannah, towards your
father's house; and Jane, you cannot object to the front chamber which
is large, well-furnished, and has the best of the sunrise. The Son of
Man, my children, had not where to lay his head, and shall we who are
but snails and worms, compared with his glory and goodness, presume to
exalt ourselves, where he was abased."

The old patriarch wished them a good night, and with the departure of
his white locks gleaming as he walked away, as though it had been the
gentle radiance of the moon stilling the tumult of the waters, they each
quietly retired, and without a further murmur, to the chambers assigned
them.



CHAPTER FIFTH.

THE CHILDREN.


There was no question where the children were to lodge, for there had
been allotted to them from time immemorial, ever since children were
known in the Peabody family, a great rambling upper chamber, with beds
in the corners, where they were always bestowed as soon after dark as
they could be convoyed thither under direction of Mopsey and the
mistress of the household. This was not always--in truth it was
rarely--easy of achievement, and cost the shuffling black servant at
least half an hour of diligent search and struggling persuasion to bring
them in from the various strayings, escapes, and lurking-places, where
they shirked to gain an extra half-hour of freedom.

To the children, however darker humors might work and sadden among the
grown people, (for whatever hue rose-favored writers may choose to throw
over scenes and times of festivity, the passions of character are always
busy, in holiday and hall, as well as in the strifes of the world,) to
the Peabody children this was thanksgiving time indeed--it was
thanksgiving in the house, it was thanksgiving in the orchard, climbing
trees; it was thanksgiving in the barn, tumbling in the hay, in the
lane. It was thanksgiving, too, with the jovial Captain, a grown-up boy,
heading their sports and allowing the country as he did, little rest or
peace of mind wherever he lead the revel; it was not four-and-twenty
hours that he had been at the quiet homestead before the mill was set
a-running, the chestnut-trees shaken, the pigeons fired into, a new bell
of greater compass put upon the brindle cow, the blacksmith's anvil at
the corner of the road set a-dinging, fresh weather-cocks clapped upon
the barn, corn-crib, stable, and out-house, the sheep let out of the
little barn, all the boats of the neighborhood launched upon the pond.
With night, darkness closed upon wild frolic; bed-time came, and
thanksgiving had a pause; a pause only, for Mopsey's dark head, with its
broad-bordered white cap, was no sooner withdrawn and the door firmly
shut, than thanksgiving began afresh, as though there had been no such
thing all day long, and they were now just setting out. For half a
minute after Mopsey's disappearance they were all nicely tucked in as
she had left them--straight out--with their heads each square on its
pillow; then, as if by a silent understanding, all heads popped up like
so many frisking fish. They darted from bed and commenced in the middle
of the chamber, a great pillow-fight amicable and hurtless, but
furiously waged, till the approach of a broad footstep sent them
scampering back to their couches, mum as mice. Mopsey, well aware of
these frisks, tarried till they were blown over, in her own chamber hard
by, a dark room, mysterious to the fancy of the children, with spinning
wheels, dried gourd-shells hung against the wall, a lady's
riding-saddle, now out of use this many a day, and all the odds and ends
of an ancient farm-house stored in heaps and strings about.

It was only at last by going aloft and moving a trap in the ceiling,
which was connected in tradition with the appearance of a ghost, that
they were at length fairly sobered down and kept in bed, when Mopsey,
looking in for the last time, knew that it was safe to go below. They
had something left even then, and kept up a talk from bed to bed, for a
good long hour more, at least.

"What do you think of the turkey, Bill?" began Master Robert Peabody,
the flat-featured, rising from his pillow like a homely porpoise.

"I don't know," Peabody Junior answered, "I don't care for turkeys."

Little Sam Peabody, the master of the turkey, took this very much to
heart.

"I think he's a very fine one," continued Master Robert, "twice as big
as last year's."

"I'm very glad to hear you say that, Cousin Robert," said little Sam
Peabody, turning over toward the quarter whence the voice of
encouragement came.

"As fine a turkey as I've ever seen," Robert went on. "When do they kill
him?"

Little Sam struggled a little with himself, and answered feebly,
"To-morrow."

There was silence for several minutes, broken presently by Peabody
Junior, fixing his pillow, and saying "Boys, I'm going to sleep."

Allowing some few minutes for this to take effect, Master Robert called
across the chamber to little Sam, "I wonder why Aunt Hannah wears that
old green shade on her face?"

"Pray don't say anything about that," little Sam answered, "Cousin don't
like to hear about that!"

Master Robert--rather a blunt young gentleman--is not to be baffled so
easily.

"I say, Bill, why does your mother wear that green patch over her eye?"
he called out.

There was no answer; he called again in a louder key.

"Hush!" whispered Peabody Junior, who was not asleep, but only thinking
of it, in a tone of fear, "I don't know."

"Is the eye gone?" Robert asked again, bent on satisfaction of some
kind.

"I don't know," was the whispered answer again. "Don't ask me anything
about it."

"I'm afraid Aunt Hannah's not happy," suggested little Sam, timidly.

"Pr'aps she is'nt, Sam," Peabody Junior answered.

"What is the reason," continued little Sam, "I always liked her."

"Don't know," was all Peabody Junior had to reply.

"Did you ever see that other eye? Bill," asked the blunt young
gentleman, whose head was still running on the green shade.

"Oh, go to sleep, will you, Nosey," cried Peabody Junior. "If you don't
leave me alone I'll get up and wollop you."

The flat-featured disappeared with his porpoise face under the
bed-clothes and breathed hard, but kept close; and when he fell asleep
he dreamed of dragons and green umbrellas all night, at a fearful rate.

"I would'nt be angry, Cousin," said little Sam, when the porpoise gave
token that he was hardbound in slumber. "He don't mean to hurt your
feelings, I don't believe."

"Pr'aps he don't," Peabody Junior rejoined. "What could I tell him, if I
wanted to; all I know is, mother has worn the shade ever since I can
recollect anything. I think sometimes I can remember she used to have it
on as far back as when I was at the breast, a very little child, and
that I used to try and snatch it away--which always made her very sad."

"Don't she ever take it away?" asked little Sam.

"I never saw it off in all my life; nor can I tell you whether my dear
mother has one eye or two. I know she never likes to have any one look
at it. It makes her melancholy at once; nurse used to tell me there was
a mystery about it--but she would never tell me any more. It always
scares father when she turns that side of her face on him, that I've
noticed; and he always at home sits on the other side of the table from
it."

"I wouldn't think any more about it to-night, Cousin," said little Sam.
"I know it makes you unhappy from your voice. Don't you miss some one
to-night that used to keep us awake with telling pleasant stories?"

"I do," answered Peabody Junior. "I'm thinking of him now. I wish Cousin
Elbridge was back again."

"You know why he isn't?"

"Father says it's because he's a bad young man."

"And do you believe it, William?"

"I'm afraid he is--for father always says so."

A gentle figure had quietly opened the chamber-door, and stood listening
with breathless attention to the discourse of the two children.

"You wait and see," continued little Sam firmly, "I'm sure he'll come
back--and before long."

"What makes you think so?" William asked. "I'm sure I hope he will."

"Because the red rooster," answered little Sam, "crowed yesterday
morning for the first time since he went away, and the red rooster knows
more than anybody about this farm except old grandfather."

Thinking how that could be, Peabody Junior fell asleep; and little Sam,
sure to dream of his absent brother, shortly followed after. The gentle
figure of Miriam Haven glided into the chamber, to the bed-side of
little Sam, and watching his calm, innocent features--which were held to
greatly resemble those of the absent Elbridge--with tears in her eyes,
she breathed a blessing from her very heart on the dear child who had
faith in the absent one. "A blessing!" such was her humble wish as she
returned to her chamber and laid her fair head on the pillow, "a
blessing on such as believe in us when we are in trouble and poverty,
out of favor with the world, when our good name is doubted, and when the
current running sharply against, might overwhelm us, were not one or two
kind hands put forth to save us from utter ruin and abandonment!"



CHAPTER SIXTH.

THE FASHIONABLE LADY AND HER SON.


All the next day, being the Wednesday before thanksgiving, was alive and
busy with the various preparations for the great festival, now held to
be a sacred holiday throughout this wide-spread union. The lark had no
sooner called morning in the meadow than Mopsey, who seemed to regard
herself as having the entire weight of the occasion on her single
shoulders, slipped from bed, hurried to the garden, and taking a last
look at the great pumpkin as it lay in all its golden glory, severed the
vine at a stroke and trundled it with her own arms, (she saw with a
smile of pity the poor brown mouse skulking off, like a little pirate as
he was, disappointed of his prize,) in at the back-door. The Peabodys
were gathering for breakfast, and coming forward, stood at either side
of the entrance regarding the pumpkin with profound interest. It fairly
shook the house as it rolled in upon the kitchen floor.

When little Sam, who had lingered in bed beyond the others, with
pleasant dreams, came down stairs, he was met by young William Peabody.

"What do you think, Sam?" said Peabody Junior, smiling.

"I suppose Aunt Carrack has come," Sam answered. "It's nothing to me if
she has."

"No, that isn't it.--Turkey's dead!"

Little Sam dropped a tear, and went away by himself to walk in the
garden. Little Sam took no breakfast that morning.

Every window in the house was thrown wide open to begin with; every
chair walked out of its place; the new broom which Miriam had gathered
with a song, was used for the first time freely on every floor, in every
nook and corner; then the new broom was carried away, and locked in a
closet like a conjuror who had wrought his spell and need not appear
again till some other magic was to be performed. All the chairs were set
soberly and steadily against the wall, the windows were closed, and a
sacred shade thrown over the house against the approaching festival. The
key was turned in the lock of the old parlor, which was to have no
company (save the tall old clock talking all alone in the corner to
himself) till to-morrow.

And so the day sailed on, like a dainty boat with silent oar on a
calm-flowing stream, to evening, when, as though it had been a new-born
meteor or great will-o'-the-wisp, there appeared on the edge of the
twilight, along the distant horizon, a silvery glitter, which, drawing
nearer and nearer, presently disclosed a servant in a shining band
mounted on a great coach, with horses in burnished harness; with
champing speed, which it seemed must have borne it far beyond, it came
to in a moment at the very gate of the homestead, as at the striking of
a clock. A gentleman in bearded lip, in high polish of hat, chains and
boots, emerged, (the door being opened by a stripling also in a banded
hat, who leaped from behind,) followed by a lady in a gown of glossy
silk and a yellow feather, waving in the partial darkness from her hat.
Such wonder and astonishment as seized on the Peabodys, who looked on it
from the balcony, no man can describe.

Angels have descended before now and walked upon the earth--giants have
been at some time or other seen strutting about--ghosts appear
occasionally in the neighborhood of old farm-houses, but neither ghost,
giant, nor angel had such a welcome of uplifted hands and staring eyes
as encountered Mrs. Carrack and her son Tiffany, when they, in the body
entered in at the gate of the old Peabody mansion at that time. There
was but one person in the company, old Sylvester perhaps excepted, who
seemed to have his wits about him, and that was the red rooster who,
sitting on the wall near the gate when Mr. Tiffany Carrack pushed it
open, cocked his eye smartly on him, and darted sharply at his white
hand, with its glittering jewel as he laid it on the gate.

"Nancy," said old Sylvester, addressing her with extended grasp, and a
pleasant smile of welcome on his brow, "we had given up looking for
you."

Was there ever such a rash old man! "Nancy!" as though she had been a
common person he was speaking to.

Mrs. Carrack, who was a short woman, stiff and stern, tossing her
feather, gave the tips of her fingers to the patriarch, and ordering in
a huge leathern trunk all over brass nails and capital C's, condescended
to enter into the house. In spite of all resolutions and persuasions to
the contrary the door of the best parlor unlocked before her grandeur
of demeanor, and she took possession as though she had not the slightest
connection with the other members of the Peabody family, nor the
remotest interest in the common sitting-room without. Mr. Tiffany
Carrack, with patent shanks to his boots which sprang him into the air
as he walked, corsets to brace his body in, new-fangled straps to keep
him down, a patent collar of a peculiar invention, to hold his head
aloft, moving as it were under the convoy of a company of invisible
influences, deriving all his motions from the shoe-maker, stay-maker,
tailor and linen-draper, who originally wound him up and set him
a-going, for whose sole convenience he lives, having withal, by way of
paint to his ashy countenance, a couple of little conch-shell tufts,
tawny-yellow, (that being the latest to be had at the perfumer's,) on
his upper lip; the representative and embodiment of all the latest new
improvements, patents, and contrivances in apparel, Mr. Tiffany Carrack
followed his excellent mother.

"Why, Tiffany," said old Sylvester, who notwithstanding the immensity of
these people, calmly pursued his old course, "we all thought you were in
California."

The family were gathered around and awaited Mr. Tiffany Carrack's answer
with a good deal of curiosity.

"That was all a delusion, sir," he replied, plucking at his little crop
of yellow tufts,--"a horrible delusion. I had some thought of that kind
in my mind, in fact I had got as far south as New Orleans, when I met a
seedy fellow who told me that the natives had rebelled and wouldn't work
any more; so I found if I would get any of the precious, I must dig with
a shovel with my own dear digits; of course I turned back in disgust,
and here I am as good as new--Jehoshaphat!"

It was well that Mr. Tiffany had a fashion of emphasizing his discourse
with a reference to this ancient person, whom he supposed to have been
an exquisite of the first water, which happily furnished a cover under
which the entire Peabody family exploded with laughter at Mr. Carrack's
announcement of the sudden termination of his grand expedition to the
Gold Region. Without an exception they all went off in an enormous
burst, the Captain, little Sam, and Mopsey leading.

"Every word true, 'pon my honor," repeated Mr. Carrack.

The great burst was renewed.

"It was a capital idea, wasn't it?" he said again, supposing he had made
a great hit.

The explosion for the third time, but softened a little by pity in the
female section of the chorus.

Mrs. Carrack had sat stately and aloof, with an inkling in her brain
that all this mirthful tumult was not entirely in the nature of a
complimentary tribute to her son.

"I think," she said, with haughty severity of aspect, "my son was
perfectly right. It was a sinful and a wicked adventure at the best, as
the Reverend Strawbery Hyson clearly showed from the fourth Revelations,
in his last annual discourse to the young ladies of the church."

"He did, so he did," said Mr. Tiffany, stroking his chin, "I remember
perfectly: it was very prettily stated by Hyson."

"The Reverend Strawbery Hyson," said Mrs. Carrack. "Always give that
excellent man his full title. What would you say, my son, if he should
appear in the streets without his black coat and white cravat? Would you
have any confidence in his preaching after that?"

"Next to myself," answered Mr. Tiffany, "I think our parson's the
best-dressed man in Boston."

"He should be, as an example," said Mrs. Carrack. "He has a very genteel
congregation."

Old Sylvester, who had on at that moment an old brown coat and a frayed
black ribbon for a neck-cloth, ordered Mopsey to send the two best pies
in the house immediately to the negroes in the Hills. Mrs. Carrack
smiled loftily, and drew from her pocket an elegant small silver vial of
the pure otto of rose, and applied it to her nostrils as though
something disagreeable had just struck upon the air and tainted it.

"By the way," said Mr. Tiffany Carrack, adjusting his shirt collar, "how
is my little friend Miriam?"

"Melancholy!" was the only answer any one had to make.

"So I thought," pursued Mr. Carrack, rolling his eyes and heaving an
infant sigh from his bosom. "Poor thing, no wonder, if she thought I was
gone away so far. She shall be comforted."

Mopsey looking in at this moment, gave the summons to tea, which was
answered by Mr. Tiffany Carrack's offering his arm, impressively, to his
excellent mother, and leading the way to the table.

It was observed, that in his progress to the tea-table, Mr. Tiffany
adopted a tottering and uncertain step, indicating a dilapidated old
age, only kept together by the clothes he wore, which was altogether
unintelligible to the Peabody family, seeing that Mr. Carrack was in the
very prime of youth, till Mrs. Carrack remarked, with an affectionate
smile of motherly pride:

"You remind me more and more every day, Tiff, of that dear delightful
old Baden-Baden."

"I wish the glorious old fellow would come over to me for a short lark,"
rejoined Mr. Tiffany. "But he couldn't live here long; there's nothing
old here."

"Who's Baden Baden?" asked Sylvester.

"Only a prince of my acquaintance on the other side of the water, and a
devilish clever fellow. But he could'nt stand it here--I'm
afraid--everything's so new."

"I'm rather old," suggested Sylvester, smiling on the young man.

"So you are, by Jove--But that aint the thing I want exactly; I want an
old castle or two, and a donjon-keep, and that sort of thing.--You
understand."

"Something," suggested the grandfather, "in the style of the old
revolutionary fort on Fort Hill?"

"No--no--you don't take exactly. I mean something more in the
antique--something or other, you see"--here he began twirling his
forefinger in the air and sketching an amorphous phantom of some sort,
of an altogether unattainable character, "in a word--Jehoshaphat!"

The moment the eye of Mrs. Carrack fell upon the blue and white
crockery, the pewter plates which had been in use time out of mind in
the family, and the plain knives and forks of steel, she cast on her son
a significant glance of mingled surprise and contempt. "Thomas," she
said, standing before the place assigned to her, her son doing the same,
"the napkins!"

The napkins were brought from a great basket which had accompanied the
leathern trunk.

"The other things!"

The other things, consisting of china plates, cups and saucers, and
knives and forks of silver for two, were duly laid--Mrs. Carrack and her
son having kept the rest of the family waiting the saying of grace by
old Sylvester, were good enough to be seated at the old farmer's (Mrs.
Carrack's father's) board.

When old Sylvester unclosed his eyes from the delivery of thanks, he
discovered at the back of Mrs. Carrack and her son's chairs, the two
city servants in livery, with their short cut hair and embroidered coats
of the fashion of those worn in English farces on the stage, standing
erect and without the motion of a muscle. There is not a doubt but that
old Sylvester Peabody was a good deal astonished, although he gave no
utterance to his feelings. But when the two young men in livery began to
dive in here and there about the table, snapping up the dishes in
exclusive service on Mrs. Carrack and Mr. Tiffany Carrack, he could
remain silent no longer.

"Boys," he said, addressing himself to the two fine personages in
question, "you will oblige me by going into the yard and chopping wood
till we are done supper. We shall need all you can split in an hour to
bake the pies with."

Thunderstruck, as though a bolt had smitten them individually in the
head, this direction, delivered in a quiet voice of command not to be
resisted, sent the two servants forth at the back-door. They were no
sooner out of view than they addressed each other almost at the same
moment, "My eyes! did you ever see such a queer old fellow as that!"

When Mrs. Carrack and her son turned, and found that the two young
gentlemen in livery had actually vanished, the lady smiled a delicate
smile of gentle scorn, and Mr. Tiffany, regarding his aged grandfather
steadily, merely remarked, in a tone of most friendly and familiar
condescension, "Baden-Baden wouldn't have done such a thing!"

The overpowering grandeur of the fashionable lady chilled the household,
and there was little conversation till she addressed the widow Margaret.

"Hadn't you a grown up son, Mrs. Peabody?"

The widow was silent. Presently Mr. Carrack renewed the discourse.

"By the by," he said, "I thought I saw that son of yours--wasn't his
name Elbridge, or something of that sort?--in New Orleans."

"Did you speak to him?" asked the Captain, flushing a little in the
face.

"I observed he was a good deal out at elbows," Mr. Carrack answered,
"and it was broad day-light, in one of the fashionable streets."

"Is that all you have to tell us of your cousin?" old Sylvester
inquired.

"He is my cousin--much obliged for the information. I had almost
forgotten that! Why ye-es--I couldn't help seeing that he went into a
miserable broken-down house in a by-street--but had to get my moustache
oiled for a Creole ball that evening, and couldn't be reasonably
expected to follow him, could I?--Jehoshaphat!"

If the human countenance, by reason of its clouding up in gusts of
pitchy blackness acquired the power, like darkening skies, of
discharging thunderbolts, it would have been, I am sure, a hot and heavy
one which Mopsey, blackening and blazing, had delivered, as she departed
to the kitchen, lowering upon Mr. Tiffany Carrack,--"'_He thought he saw
her son Elbridge!_' The vagabone has no more feeling nor de bottom of a
stone jug."

The meal over, the evening wore on in friendly chat of old Thanksgiving
times--of neighbors and early family histories; each one in turn
launching, so to speak, a little boat upon the current, freighted deep
with many precious stores of old-time remembrance; Mrs. Carrack sitting
alone as an iceberg in the very midst of the waters, melting not once,
nor contributing a drop or trickle to the friendly flow. And when
bed-time came again, how clearly was it shown, that there is nothing
certain in this changeful world. By some sudden and unforeseen
interruption, nations lose power, communities are shattered, households
well-constructed fall in pieces at a breath.

Her sudden appearance in their midst, compelled another consultation to
be taken as to the disposal of the great Mrs. Carrack for the night. It
would never answer to put that grand person in any secondary lodging; so
all the old arrangements were of necessity broken up; the best bed-room
allotted to her; and that her gentle nerves might not be afflicted, the
old clock, which adjoined her sleeping-chamber, and which had occupied
his corner and told the time for the Peabodys for better than a hundred
years from the same spot, was instantly silenced, as impertinent. The
Captain's high-actioned white horse, which had enjoyed the privilege of
roaming unmolested about the house, was led away like an unhappy
convict, and stabled in the barn; and to complete the arrangements, the
two servants in livery were put on guard near her window, to drive off
the geese, turkeys, and other talkative birds of the night, that she
might sleep without the slightest disturbance from that noisy old
creature, Nature.

Mr. Tiffany Carrack, while these delicate preparations were in progress,
was evidently agitated with some extraordinary design, in which Miriam
Haven was bearing a part; for, although he did not address a word to
that young maiden, he was as busy as his imitation of the antiquity of
Baden-Baden would allow him, ogling, grimacing, and plucking his tawny
beard at her every minute in the most astonishing manner, closely
watched by Mopsey, the Captain, and old Sylvester, who strongly
suspected the young man of being affected in his wits.

It was very clear that it was this same Mr. Tiffany Carrack who had
entered in at the door of the sleeping chamber assigned to that
gentleman, but who would have ventured to assert that the figure, which,
somewhere about the middle of the night, emerged from the window of the
chamber in question, in yellow slippers, red silk cloak trimmed with
gold, fez cap, and white muslin turban, and, with folded arms, began
pacing up and down under the casement of Miriam Haven, after the manner
of singers at the opera, preparatory to beginning, was the same
Tiffany? And yet, when he returned again, and holding his face up to the
moon, which was shining at a convenient angle over the edge of the
house, the tawny tuft clearly identified it as Tiffany and no one else.
And yet, as if to further confuse all recognition, what sound is that
which breaks from his throat, articulating:--

    "Dearest, awake--you need not fear;
    For he--for he--your Troubadour is here!"

The summons passed for some time unanswered, till Mopsey, from the
little end-window of her lodgement, presented her head in a flaming red
and yellow handkerchief, and rolled her eyes about to discover the
source of the tumult; scowling in the belief that it must be no other
than "one of dem Brundages come to carry off in de dead of night de
Peabody punkin."

A gentle conviction was dawning in the brain of Mr. Carrack that this
was the fair Miriam happily responding to his challenge in the
appropriate character and costume of a Moorish Princess; when, as he
began to roar again, still more violent and furious in his chanting, the
black head opened and demanded, "what you want dere?" followed by an
extraordinary shower of gourd-shells, which, crashing upon his sconce,
with a distinct shatter for each shell, could not, for a moment, be
mistaken for flowers, signet-rings, or any other ordinarily recognised
love-tokens.

It immediately occurred to Mr. Carrack, with the suddenness of
inspiration, that he had better return to his chamber and go to bed; a
design which was checked, as he proceeded in that direction, by the
alarming apparition of a great body with a fire-lock thrust out of the
window of the apartment, next to his own, occupied by the Captain,
presented directly at his head, with a cry "Avast, there!" and a
movement on the part of the body, to follow the gun out at the window.
Fearfully harassed in that quarter, Mr. Carrack wheeled rapidly about,
encountering as he turned, the two servants in livery, still making the
circuit of the homestead--who in alarm of their lives from this singular
figure in the red cloak, fled into the fields and lurked in an old
out-house till daylight. As these scampered away before him, Mr.
Tiffany, to relieve himself of the apparition of the gun, would have
turned the corner of the house; when Mopsey appeared, wildly
gesticulating, with a great brush-broom reared aloft, and threatening
instant ruin to his person.

From this double peril, what but the happiest genius could have
suggested to Mr. Tiffany, an instant and straightforward flight from the
house; in which he immediately engaged, making up the road--the Captain
with his musket, and Mopsey with her hearth-broom, close at his heels.
If Mr. Tiffany Carrack had promptly employed his undoubted resources of
youth and activity, his escape from the necessity of disclosure or
surrender had been perhaps easy; but it so happened that his progress
was a good deal baffled by the conflict constantly kept up in his brain,
between the desire to use his legs in the natural manner, and to
preserve that antique pace of tottering gentility which he had acquired
from that devilish fine old fellow, the Prince of Baden-Baden, so that
at one moment he was in the very hands of the enemy, and at the next,
flying like an antelope in the distance. The gun, constantly following
him with a loud threat, from the Captain, seemed, in the moonlight, like
a great finger perpetually pointing at his head; till at last it became
altogether too dreadful to bear, and making up the road toward
Brundage's, which still further inflamed the pursuit, in sheer
exhaustion he rushed through an open gate into a neighboring tan-yard,
and took refuge in the old bark-mill. There was but a moment's rest
allowed him even here, for Mopsey and the Captain, furiously threatening
all sorts of death and destruction, presently rushed in at the door, and
sent him scampering about the ring like a distracted colt, in his first
day's service; a game of short duration, for the Captain and Mopsey,
closing in upon him from opposite directions compelled him to retreat
again into the open air. How much longer the chase might have continued,
it were hard to tell, for as his pursuers made after him, Mr. Tiffany
Carrack suddenly disappeared, like a melted snow-flake, from the surface
of the earth. In his confused state he had tumbled into a vat,
fortunately without the observation of the inexorable enemy, although as
he clung to the side the Captain discharged his musket directly over his
head.

"I guess that's done his business," said the Captain. "We'll come and
look for the body in the morning."

Now it is strongly suspected that both Mopsey and the Captain knew well
enough all along that this was Mr. Tiffany Carrack they had been
pursuing, and that as they watched him from the distance emerge from the
vat, return to the homestead, and skulk, dripping in, like a rat of
outlandish breed, at his chamber-window, they were amply avenged: the
Captain, for the freedom with which the city-exquisite had treated the
Peabody family, especially the good old grandfather, and Mopsey, for the
slighting manner in which he had referred to absent young Mas'r
Elbridge.

When all was peace again within the homestead, there was one who still
watched the night, and ignorant of the nature of this strange tumult,
trembled as at the approach of a long-wished for happiness. It was
Miriam, the orphan dependent, who now sat by the midnight casement. Oh,
who of living men can tell how that young heart yearned at the
thought--the hope--the thrilling momentary belief--that this was her
absent lover happily returning?

In the wide darkness of the lonesome night, which was it shone brightest
and with purest lustre, in view of the all-seeing Mover of the
Heavens--the stars glittering far away in space, in all their lofty
glory, or the timid eyes of that simple maiden, wet with the dew of
youth, and bright with the pure hope of honest love! When all was still
again, and no Elbridge's voice was heard, no form of absent Elbridge
there to cheer her, oh, who can tell how near to breaking, in its silent
agony, was that young heart, and with what tremblings of solicitude and
fear, the patient Miriam waited for the friendly light to open the
golden-gate of dawn upon another morrow!



CHAPTER SEVENTH.

THE THANKSGIVING SERMON.


The morning of the day of Thanksgiving came calm, clear and beautiful. A
stillness, as of heaven and not of earth, ruled the wide landscape. The
Indian summer, which had been as a gentle mist or veil upon the beauty
of the time, had gone away a little--retired, as it were, into the hills
and back country, to allow the undimmed heaven to shine down upon the
happy festival of families and nations. The cattle stood still in the
fields without a low; the trees were quiet as in friendly recognition of
the spirit of the hour; no reaper's hook or mower's scythe glanced in
the meadow, no rumbling wain was on the road. The birds alone, as being
more nearly akin to the feeling of the scene, warbled in the boughs.

But out of the silent gloom of the mist there sprang as by magic, a
lovely illumination which lit the country far and wide, as with a
thousand varicolored lamps. As a maiden who has tarried in her chamber,
some hour the least expected appears before us, apparelled in all the
pomp and hue of brilliant beauty, the fair country, flushed with
innumerable tints of the changed autumn-trees, glided forth upon the
Indian summer scene, and taught that when kindly nature seems all
foregone and spent, she can rise from her couch fresher and more radiant
than in her very prime.

What wonder if with the peep of dawn the children leaped from bed, eager
to have on their new clothes reserved for the day, and by times appeared
before old Sylvester in proud array of little hats, new-brightened shoes
and shining locks, span new as though they had just come from the mint;
anxious to have his grandfatherly approval of their comeliness? Shortly
after, the horses caught in the distant pastures, the Captain and Farmer
Oliver having charge of them, were brought in and tied under the trees
in the door-yard.

Then, breakfast being early dispatched, there was a mighty running to
and fro of the grown people through the house, dresses hurried from old
clothes-presses and closets, a loud demand on every hand for pins, of
which there seemed to be (as there always is on such occasions) a great
lack. The horses were put to Mrs. Carrack's coach, the Captain's gig,
the old house-wagon, with breathless expectation on the part of the
children; and in brief, after bustling preparation and incessant
summoning of one member of the family and another from the different
parts of the house, all being at last ready and in their seats, the
Peabodys set forth for the Thanksgiving Sermon at the country
Meeting-house, a couple of miles away.

The Captain took the lead with his wife and Peabody Junior somewhere and
somehow between them, followed by the wagon with old Sylvester, still
proud of his dexterity as a driver, Oliver, much pleased with the
popular character of the conveyance and wife, with young Robert; William
Peabody and wife; little Sam riding between his grandfather's legs in
front, and allowed to hold the end of the reins. Slowly and in great
state, after all rolled Mrs. Carrack's coach with herself and son
within, and footman and coachman without.

Chanticleer, too, clear of eye and bright of wing, walked the garden
wall, carried his head up, and acted as if he had also put on his
thanksgiving suit and expected to take the road presently, accompany the
family, and join his voice with theirs at the little meeting-house.

Although the Captain, with his high-actioned white horse kept out of
eye-shot ahead, it was Mrs. Carrack's fine carriage that had the triumph
of the road to itself, for as it rolled glittering on, the simple
country people, belated in their own preparations, or tarrying at home
to provide the dinner, ran to the windows in wonder and admiration. The
plain wagons, bent in the same direction, turned out of the path and
gave the great coach the better half of the way, staring a broadside as
it passed.

And when the party reached the little meeting-house, what a peace hung
about it! The air seemed softer, the sunshine brighter, there, as it
stood in humble silence among the tall trees which waved with a gentle
murmur before its windows. The people, as they arrived, glided
noiselessly in, in their neat dresses and looks of decent devotion;
others as they came made fast their horses under the sheds and trees
about--most of them in wagons and plain chaises, brightened into all of
beauty they were capable of, by a severe attention to the harness and
mountings; others--these were a few bachelors and striplings--trotted in
quietly on horseback. Before service a few of the old farmers lingered
outside discussing the late crops or inquiring after each other's
families, who presently went within, summoning from the grassy
churchyard--which lay next to the meeting house--the children who were
loitering there reading the grave-stones.

When the Captain arrived with his gig, under such extraordinary headway
that he was near driving across the grave-yard into the next county--the
country people scampered aside, like scared fowl; Mrs. Carrack's great
coach, with its liveried outriders, set them staring as if they did not
or could not believe their own eyes. With the arrival of old Sylvester
they re-gathered, and, almost in a body, proffered their aid to hold the
horses--to help the old Patriarch to the ground--in a word, to show
their regard and affection in every way in their power. He tarried but a
moment at the door, to speak a word with one or two of the oldest of his
neighbors, and passed in, followed by all of his family save Mrs.
Carrack and her son, who under color of hunting up the grave of some
old relation, delay in order to make their appearance in the
meeting-house by themselves, and independently of the Peabody
connection.

Will you pardon me, reader, if I fail to tell you whether this house of
worship was of the Methodist, Episcopal, or Baptist creed, whether it
had a chancel or altar, or painted windows? Whether the pews had doors
to them and were cushioned or not? Whether the minister wore a gown and
bands, or plain suit of black, or was undistinguished in his dress? Will
it not suffice if I tell you, as the very belief of my soul, that it was
a christian house, that there were seats for all, that things were well
intended and decently ordered, and that with a hymn sung with such
purity of heart that its praises naturally joined in with the chiming of
the trees and the carols of the birds without and floated on without a
stop to Heaven, when a meek man rose up:

"Some two hundred years ago, our ancestors (he said,) finding themselves
more comfortable in the wilderness of the new world, than they could
have reasonably looked for, set apart a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty
God for his manifold mercies. That day, God be praised, has been
steadily observed throughout this happy land, by cheerful gatherings of
families, and other festive and devotional observances, down to the
present time. Our fathers covenanted, in the love of Christ, to cleave
together, as brethren, however hard the brunt of fortune might be. That
bond still continues. We may not live (he went on, in the very spirit
and letter of the first Thanksgiving discourse ever delivered amongst
us,) as retired hermits, each in our cell apart, nor inquire, like
David, how liveth such a man? How is he clad? How is he fed? He is my
brother, we are in league together, we must stand and fall by one
another. Is his labor harder than mine? Surely I will ease him. Hath he
no bed to lie on? I have two--I will lend him one. Hath he no apparel? I
have two suits--I will give him one of them. Eats he coarse food, bread
and water, and have I better? Surely we will part stakes. He is as good
a man as I, and we are bound each to other; so that his wants must be my
wants; his sorrows, my sorrows; his sickness my sickness; and his
welfare my welfare; for I am as he is; such a sweet sympathy were
excellent, comfortable, nay, heavenly, and is the only maker and
conserver of churches and commonwealths."

To such as looked upon old Sylvester there seemed a glow and halo about
his aged brow and whitened locks, for this was the very spirit of his
life.

As though he knew the very secrets of their souls, and touched their
very heart-strings with a gentle hand, the preacher glanced from one
member of the Peabody household to another, as he proceeded, something
in this manner. (For William Peabody:) do I find on this holy day that I
love God in all his glorious universe, more than the image even of
Liberty, which hath ensnared and enslaved the soul of many a man on the
coin of this world? (For buxom Mrs. Jane, in her vandyke:) Do I stifle
the vanity of good looks and comfortable circumstances under a plain
garb? (For the jovial Captain:) Am I not over hasty in pursuit of carnal
enjoyment? (For Mr. Oliver: who was wiping his brow with the Declaration
of Independence,) and eager over much for the good opinion of men, when
I should be quietly serving them without report? (For Mrs. Carrack and
her son:) And what are pomp and fashion, but the painted signs of good
living where there is no life? These (he continued,) are all outward,
mere pretences to put off our duty, and the care of our souls. Yea, we
may have churches, schools, hospitals abounding--but these are mere lath
and mortar, if we have not also within our own hearts, a church where
the pure worship ever goeth on, a school where the true knowledge is
taught, a hospital, the door whereof standeth constantly open, into
which our fellow-creatures are welcomed and where their infirmities are
first cared for with all kindness and tenderness. If these be our
inclinings this day, let us be reasonably thankful on this Thanksgiving
morning. Let such as are in health be thankful for their good case; and
such as are out of health be thankful that they are no worse. Let such
as are rich be thankful for their wealth, (if it hath been honestly come
by;) and let such as are poor be thankful that they have no such charge
upon their souls. Let old folks be thankful for their wisdom in knowing
that young folks are fools; and let young ones be thankful that they may
live to see the time when they may use the same privilege. Let lean
folks be thankful for their spare ribs, which are not a burthen in the
harvest-field; fat folks may laugh at lean ones, and grow fatter every
day. Let married folks be thankful for blessings both little and great;
let bachelors and old maids be thankful for the privilege of kissing
other folks' babies, and great good may it do them.

With what a glow of mutual friendship the quaint preacher was warming
the plain old meeting-house on that thanksgiving day!

Finally, and to conclude, (he went on in the language of a chronicle of
the time:)--Let no man look upon a turkey to-day, and say, 'This also is
vanity.' What is the life of man without creature-comforts, and the
stomach of the son of man with no aid from the tin kitchen? Despise not
the day of small things, while there are pullets on the spit, and let
every fowl have fair play, between the jaws of thy philosophy. Are not
puddings made to be sliced, and pie-crust to be broken? Go thy ways,
then, according to good sense, good cheer, good appetite, the Governor's
proclamation, and every other good thing under the sun;--render thanks
for all the good things of this life, and good cookery among the rest;
eat, drink, and be merry; make not a lean laudation of the bounties of
Providence, but let a lively gusto follow a long grace. Feast
thankfully, and feast hopingly; feast in good will to all mankind,
Grahamites included; feast in the full and joyous persuasion, that while
the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, dinner-time, pudding-time,
and supper-time, are not likely to go out of fashion;--feast with
exulting confidence in the continuance of cooks, kitchens, and orthodox
expounders of Scripture and the constitution in our ancient, blessed,
and fat-sided commonwealth--feast, in short, like a good Christian,
proving all things, relishing all things, hoping all things, expecting
all things, and enjoying all things. Let a good stomach for dinner go
hand in hand with a good mind for sound doctrine. Let us all be thankful
that a gracious Providence hath furnished each and all with a wholesome
and bountiful dinner this day; and, if there be none so furnished, let
him now make it known, and we will instantly contribute thereto of our
separate abundance. There are none who murmur--we all, therefore, have a
thanksgiving dinner waiting for us; let us hie home cheerily, and in a
becoming spirit of mirth and devotion partake thereof.

The windows of the little meeting-house were up to let in the pleasant
sunshine; and the very horses who were within hearing of his voice,
seemed by the pricking up of their brown ears to relish and approve of
his discourse. The Captain's city nag, as wide awake as any, seemed to
address himself to an acquaintance of a heavy bay plougher, who stood at
the same post, and laying their heads together for the better part of
the sermon, they appeared to regard it, as far as they caught its
meaning, as sound doctrine, particularly acknowledging that this was as
fine a thanksgiving morning as they (who had been old friends and had
spent their youth together, being in some way related, in a farm-house
in that neighborhood) had ever known; and when they had said as much as
this, they laughed out in very merriness of spirit, with a great winnow,
as the happy audience came streaming forth at the meeting-house door.
There were no cold, haughty, or distrustful faces now, as when they had
entered in an hour ago; the genial air of the little meeting-house had
melted away all frosts of that kind; and as they mingled under the sober
autumn-trees, loitering for conversation, inquiring after neighbors, old
folks whose infirmities kept them at home, the young children; they
seemed indeed, much more a company of brethren, embarked (as sailors
say) on a common bottom for happiness and enjoyment. The children were
the first to set out for home through the fields on foot; Peabody the
younger, little Sam and Robert being attended by the footman in livery,
whom Mrs. Carrack relieved from attendance at the rear of the coach.

If the quaint preacher had urged the rational enjoyment of the
Thanksgiving cheer from the pulpit, Mopsey labored with equal zeal at
home to have it worthy of enjoyment. At an early hour she had cleared
decks, and taken possession of the kitchen: kindling, with dawn, a great
fire in the oven for the pies, and another on the hearth for the turkey.
But it was from the oven, heaping it to the top with fresh relays of dry
wood, that she expected the Thanksgiving angel to walk in all his beauty
and majesty. In performance of her duty, and from a sense only that
there could be no thanksgiving without a turkey, she planted the tin
oven on the hearth, spitted the gobbler, and from time to time, merely
as a matter of absolute necessity, gave it a turn; but about the mouth
of the great oven she hovered constantly, like a spirit--had her head in
and out at the opening every other minute; and, when at last the pies
were slided in upon the warm bottom, she lingered there regarding the
change they were undergoing with the fond admiration with which a
connoisseur in sunsets hangs upon the changing colors of the evening
sky. The leisure this double duty allowed her was employed by Mopsey in
scaring away the poultry and idle young chickens which rushed in at the
back entrance of the kitchen in swarms, and hopped with yellow legs
about the floor with the racket of constant falling showers of corn.
Upon the half door opening on the front the red rooster had mounted, and
with his head on one side observed with a knowing eye all that went
forward; showing perhaps most interest in the turning of the spit, the
impalement of the turkey thereon having been with him an object of
special consideration.

The highly colored picture of Warren at Bunker-Hill, writhing in his
death-agony on one wall of the kitchen, and General Marion feasting from
a potato, in his tent, on the other, did not in the least attract the
attention of Mopsey. She saw nothing on the whole horizon of the glowing
apartment but the pies and the turkey, and even for the moment neglected
to puzzle herself, as she was accustomed to in the pauses of her daily
labors, with the wonders and mysteries of an ancient dog-eared
spelling-book which lay upon the smoky mantel.

Meanwhile, in obedience to the spirit of the day, the widow Margaret and
Miriam, having each diligently disposed of their separate charge in the
preparations, making a church of the homestead, conducted a worship in
their own simple way. Opposite to each other in the little sitting-room,
Miriam opened the old Family Bible, and at the widow Margaret's request
read from that chapter which gives the story of the prodigal son. It was
with a clear and pensive voice that she read, but not without a struggle
with herself. Where the story told that the young man had gone into a
far country; that he had wasted his substance in riotous living; that he
was abased to the feeding of swine; that he craved in his hunger the
very husks; that he lamented the plenty of his father's house--a cloud
came upon her countenance, and the simplest eye could have interpreted
the thoughts that troubled her. And how the fair young face brightened,
when she read that the young man resolved to arise and return to the
house of his father; the dear encounter; the rejoicing over his return,
and the glad proclamation, "This, my son, was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found."

"If he would come back even so," said the widow when the book was
closed, "in sorrow, in poverty, in crime even, I would thank God and be
grateful."

"He is not guilty, mother," Miriam pleaded, casting her head upon the
widow's bosom and clinging close about her neck.

"I will not think that he is," Margaret answered, lifting up her head.
"Guilty or innocent, he is my son--my son." Clasping the young orphan's
hand, after a pause of tender silence, she gave utterance to her
feelings in a Thanksgiving hymn. These were the words:--

    Father! protect the wanderer on his way;
      Bright be for him thy stars and calm thy seas--
    Thanksgiving live upon his lips to-day,
      And in his heart the good man's summer ease.

    Almighty! Thou canst bring the pilgrim back,
      With a clear brow to this his childish home;
    Guide him, dear Father, o'er a blameless track,
      No more to stray from us, no more to roam.

At this moment a tumult of children's voices was heard in the door-yard,
and as the widow turned, young William Peabody was seen struggling with
Robert and little Sam, who were holding him back with all their force.
As he dragged them forward, being their elder and superior in strength,
Peabody Junior stretched his throat and called towards the house--"I've
seen him--I've seen him!"

"Who have you seen?" asked the widow, rising and approaching the door.

"Mr. Barbary." When Peabody Junior made this answer the widow advanced
with a gleam on her countenance, and gently releasing him, said, "Come,
William, and tell us all about it."

"Aunt Margaret," said Robert, thrusting himself between, "don't listen
to a word he has to say. I'll tell you all about it. You see we were
coming home from meeting, and little Sam got tired, and William and I
made a cradle of our hands and were carrying him along very nice."

"Not so very nice, either," Peabody Junior interrupted, "for I was
plaguy tired."

"That's what I was going to tell you, Aunt Margaret. Bill did get tired,
and as we came through the Locust Wood, he made believe to see
something, and run away to get clear of carrying little Sam any
further."

"I did see him!" said Peabody Junior, firmly.

"Where was he?" the widow asked.

"Behind the hazel-bush, with his head just looking out at the top, all
turned white as dead folks do."

Mopsey was in immediately with her dark head, crying out, "Don't belief
a word of it."

"I guess you saw nothing but the hazel-bush, William," said the widow.

"That was it, Aunt; it was the hazel-bush with a great mop of moss on
it," Robert added.

Miriam sat looking on and listening, pale and trembling.

"If your cousin Elbridge and Mr. Barbary should ever come back," said
the widow, addressing Peabody Junior, "you would be sorry for what you
have said, William."

"So he would, Aunt," echoed Robert.

Mopsey was in again from the kitchen; this time she advanced several
steps from the door-sill into the room, lifted up both her arms and
addressed the assembled company.

"One ting I know," said Mopsey, "dere's a big pie baking in dat ere
oven, and if Mas'r Elbridge don't eat that pie it'll haf to sour, dat I
know."

"What is it, Mopsey," asked Margaret, "that gives you such a faith in my
son?"

"I tell you what it is, Missus," Mopsey answered promptly, "dast
tanksgivin when I tumbled down on dis ere sef-same floor bringin' in de
turkey, every body laugh but Mas'r Elbridge, and he come from his place
and pick me up. He murder any body! I'll eat de whole tanksgivin dinner
myself if he touch a hair of de old preacher's head to hurt it."
Suddenly changing her tone, she added, "Dey're comin' from meetin', I
hear de old wagon."



CHAPTER EIGHTH.

THE DINNER.


As the Peabodys approached the homestead, the smoke of the kitchen
chimney was visible, circling upward and winding about in the sunshine
as though it had been a delicate corkscrew uncorking a great bottle or
square old flask of a delicious vintage. The Captain averred a quarter
of a mile away, the moment they had come upon the brow of the hill, that
he had a distinct savor of the fragrance of the turkey, and that it was
quite as refreshing as the first odor of the land breeze coming in from
sea, and he snuffed it up with a zeal and relish which gave the gig an
eager appetite for dinner. The Captain's conjecture was strongly
confirmed in the appearance of Mopsey, darting, with a dark face of dewy
radiance at the wood-pile and shuffling back with bustling speed to the
kitchen with a handful of delicate splinters. "She's giving him the last
turn," said the Captain.

The shadow of the little meeting-house was still over the Captain, even
so far away, for he conducted the procession homeward at a pace much
less furious than that with which he had advanced in the morning; and
Mrs. Carrack too, observed now, with a strange pleasure, what she had
given no heed to before when the fine coach was rolling in triumph along
the road,--birds twittering in the sunny air by the wayside, and cattle
roving like figures in a beautiful picture, upon the slopes of the
distant hills. Oliver, the politician, more than once had out the great
cotton pocket-handkerchief, and holding it spread before him
contemplating the fatherly signers, was evidently acquiring some new
lights on the subject of independence.

A change, in fine, of some sort or other, had passed over every member
of the Peabody family save old Sylvester, returning as going, calm,
plain-spoken, straightforward and patriarchal. When they reached the
gate of the homestead, William Peabody gave his hand to his wife and
helped her, with some show of attention, to alight; and then there could
be no doubt that it was in very truth Thanksgiving day, for the glory of
the door-yard itself had paled and disappeared in the gorgeous festal
light. There was no majestic gobbler in the door-yard now, with his
great outspread tail, which in the proud moments of his life he would
have expanded as if to shut the very light of the sun from all meaner
creatures of the mansion.

Within doors there was that bustling preparation, with brief lulls of
ominous silence which precede and usher a great event. The widow
Margaret, with noiseless step, glided to and fro, Miriam daintily
hovering in the suburbs of the sitting-room, which is evidently the
grand centre of interest, and Mopsey toils like a swart goblin in her
laboratory of the kitchen in a high glow, scowling fearfully if
addressed with a word which calls her attention for a moment away from
her critical labors.

As the family entered the homestead on their return, the combined forces
were just at the point of pitching their tent on the ground of the
forthcoming engagement, in the shape of the ancient four-legged and
wide-leaved table, with a cover of snowy whiteness, ornamented as with
shields and weapons of quaint device, in the old plates of pewter and
the horn-handled knives and forks burnished to such a polish as to make
the little room fairly glitter. Dishes streamed in one after the other
in a long and rapid procession, piles of home-made bread, basins of
apple-sauce, pickles, potatoes of vast proportion and mealy beauty. When
the ancient and lordly pitcher of blue and white (whether freighted with
new cider or old cold water need not be told) crowned the board, the
first stage of preparation was complete, and another portentous pause
ensued. The whole Peabody connection arranged in stately silence in the
front parlor, looked on through the open door in wonder and expectation
of what was to follow. The children loitered about the door-ways with
watering eyes and open mouths, like so many innocent little dragons
lying in wait to rush in at an opportune moment and bear off their prey.

And now, all at once there comes a deeper hush--a still more portentous
pause--all eyes are in the direction of the kitchen; the children are
hanging forward with their bodies and outstretched necks half way in at
the door; Miriam and the widow stand breathless and statue-like at
either side of the room; when, as if rising out of some mysterious cave
in the very ground, a dark figure is discerned in the distance, about
the centre of the kitchen, (into which Mopsey has made, to secure an
impressive effect, a grand circuit,) head erect, and bearing before it a
huge platter; all their eyes tell them, every sense vividly reports what
it is the platter supports; she advances with slow and solemn step; she
has crossed the sill; she has entered the sitting-room; and, with a full
sense of her awful responsibility, Mopsey delivers on the table, in a
cleared place left for its careful deposit, the Thanksgiving turkey.

There is no need now to sound a gong, or to ring an alarm-bell to make
known to that household that dinner is ready; the brown turkey speaks a
summons as with the voice of a thousand living gobblers, and Sylvester
rising, the whole Peabody family flock in. To every one his place is
considerately assigned, the Captain in the centre directly opposite the
turkey, Mrs. Carrack on the other side, the widow at one end, old
Sylvester at the head. The children too, a special exception being made
in their favor to-day, are allowed seats with the grown folks, little
Sam disposing himself in great comfort in his old grandsire's arms.

Another hush--for everything to-day moves on through these constantly
shut and opened gates of silence, in which they all sit tranquil and
speechless, when the old patriarch lifts up his aged hands over the
board and repeats his customary grace:

"May we all be Christian people the day we die--God bless us."

The Captain, the great knife and fork in hand, was ready to advance.

"Stop a moment, Charley," old Sylvester spoke up, "give us a moment to
contemplate the turkey."

"I would there were just such a dish, grandfather," the Captain
rejoined, "on every table in the land this day, and if I had my way
there would be."

"No, no, Charley," the grandfather answered, "if there should be, there
would be. There is One who is wiser than you or I."

"It would make the man who would do it," Oliver suggested, "immensely
popular: he might get to be elected President of the United States."

"It would cost a large sum," remarked William Peabody, the merchant.

"Let us leave off considering imaginary turkeys, and discuss the one
before us," said old Sylvester, "but I must first put a question, and if
it's answered with satisfaction, we'll proceed. Now tell me," he said,
addressing himself to Mr. Carrack, who sat in a sort of dream, as if he
had lost his identity, as he had ever since the night-adventure in the
fez-cap and red silk cloak: "Now tell me, Tiffany, although you have
doubtless seen a great many grand things, such as the Alps, and St.
Peter's church at Rome, has your eye fallen in with anything wherever
you travelled over the world, grander than that Thanksgiving turkey?"

Mr. Carrack, either from excessive modesty or total abstraction,
hesitated, looked about him hastily, and not till the Captain called
across the table, "Why don't you speak, my boy?" and then, as if
suddenly coming to, and realizing where he was, answered at last, with
great deliberation, "It is a fine bird."

"Enough said," spoke up old Sylvester cheerfully; "you were the last
Peabody I expected to acknowledge the merits of the turkey;" and,
looking towards the Captain with encouragement, added, "now, knife and
fork, do your duty."

It was short work the jovial Captain made with the prize turkey; in
rapid succession plates were forwarded, heaped, sent around; and with a
keen relish of the Thanksgiving dinner, every head was busy. Straight
on, as people who have an allotted task before them, the Peabodys moved
through the dinner,--a powerful, steady-going caravan of cheerful
travellers, over hill, over dale, up the valleys, along the stream-side,
cropping their way like a nimble-toothed flock of grazing sheep, keenly
enjoying herbage and beverage by the way.

What though, while they were at the height of its enjoyment a sudden
storm, at that changeful season, arose without, and dashed its heavy
drops against the doors and window-panes; that only, by the contrast of
security and fire-side comfort, heightened the zest within, while they
were engaged with the many good dishes at least, but when another pause
came, did not the pelting shower and the chiding wind talk with them,
each one in turn, of the absent, and oh! some there will not believe
it--the lost? It was no doubt some thought of this kind that prompted
old Sylvester to speak:

"My children," said the patriarch, glancing with a calm eye around the
circle of glowing faces at the table "you are bound together with good
cheer and in comfortable circumstances; and even as you, who are here
from east and west, from the north and the south, by each one yielding a
little of his individual whim or inclination, can thus sit together
prosperously and in peace at one board, so can our glorious family of
friendly States, on this and every other day, join hands, and like happy
children in the fields, lead a far-lengthening dance of festive peace
among the mountains and among the vales, from the soft-glimmering east
far on to the bright and ruddy west. If others still seek to join
in----"

"Ay, father," said Oliver, "there is a great danger."

"Even as by making a little way," answered the patriarch, "we could find
room at this table for one or two or three more, so may another State
and still another join us, if it will, and even as our natural progeny
increaseth to the third, fourth, tenth generation, let us trust for
centuries to come this happy Union still shall live to lead her sons to
peace, prosperity, and rightful glory."

"But," interposed Oliver, the politician, again, with a double reference
in his thoughts, it would almost seem, to an erring State or an absent
child, "one may break away in wilfulness or crime--what then?"

"Let us lure it back," was old Sylvester's reply, "with gentle appeals.
Remember we are all brethren, and that our alliance is one not merely of
worldly interest, but also of family affection. Let us, on this hallowed
day," he added, "cherish none but kindly thoughts toward all our
kindred, and if him we have least esteemed offer the hand, let us take
it in brotherly regard."

There was a pause of silence once again, which was broken by a knock at
the door. Old Sylvester, having spoken his mind, had fallen into a
reverie, and the Peabodys glancing one to the other, the question arose,
shall the strangers (Mopsey reported them to be two) whoever they may
be, be admitted?

"This is strictly a family festival," it was suggested, "where no
strangers can be rightly allowed."

"May be thieves!" the merchant added.

"Vagabonds, perhaps!" Mrs. Carrack suggested.

"Strangers, anyhow!" said Mrs. Jane Peabody.

The widow Margaret and Miriam were silent and gave utterance to no
opinion.

In the midst of the discussion old Sylvester suddenly awakening, and
rearing his white locks aloft, in the voice of a trumpet of silver
sound, cried out:--"If they be human, let 'em in!"

As he delivered this emphatic order there was a deep moan at the door,
as of one in great pain, or suffering keenly from anguish of spirit, and
when it was opened to admit the new-comers, the voice of Chanticleer,
raised for the second time, broke in, clear and shrilly, from the outer
darkness.



CHAPTER NINTH.

THE NEW-COMERS.


It was old Sylvester himself who opened the door and admitted the
strangers; one of them, the younger, wore a slouched hat which did not
allow his features to be distinctly observed, further than that his eyes
were bright with a strange lustre, and that his face was deadly pale. He
was partly supported by the elder man, whose person was clad in a long
coat, reaching nearly to the ground. They were invited to the table, but
refusing, asked permission to sit at the fire, which being granted, they
took their station on either side of the hearth; the younger staggered
feebly to his seat, and kept his gaze closely fixed on the other.

"He had better take something," said old Sylvester, looking toward the
young man and addressing the other. "Is your young friend ill?"

"With an ailment food cannot relieve, I fear," the elder man answered.

"Will you not remove your hats?" old Sylvester asked again.

Turning slowly at this question, the young man answered, "We may not
prove fit company for such as you, and if so the event shall prove, we
will pass on and trouble you no further. If every thread were dry as
summer flax," he added, in a tone of deep feeling, "I for one, am not
fit to sit among honest people."

"You should not say so, my son," said old Sylvester; "let us hope that
all men may on a day like this sit together; that, remembering God's
many mercies to us all, in the preservation of our lives, in his blessed
change of seasons, in hours of holy meditation allowed to us, every man
in very gratitude to the Giver of all Good, for this one day in the year
at least, may suspend all evil thoughts and be at peace with all his
fellow-creatures."

The young man turned toward the company at the table, but not so far
that his whole face could be seen.

"Have all who sit about you at that table," he asked, glancing slowly
around, "performed the duty to which you refer, and purged their bosoms
of unkindness toward their fellow-men? Is there none who grasps the
widow's substance? who cherishes scorn and hatred of kindred? Who judges
harshly of the absent?"

There was a movement in different members of the company, but old
Sylvester hushed them with a look, and took upon himself the business of
reply.

"It may be," said old Sylvester, "that some of us are disquieted, for be
it known to you that one of the children of this household is absent
from among us for causes which may well disturb our thoughts."

"I have heard the story," the young man continued, "and if I know it
aright, these are the truths of that history: There were two men,
friends, once in this neighborhood, Mr. Barbary the preacher, and your
grandson Elbridge Peabody. Something like a year ago the preacher
suddenly disappeared from this region, and the report arose and
constantly spread that he had fallen by the hand of his friend, that
grandchild of yours. It began in a cloudy whisper, afar off, but swelled
from day to day, from hour to hour, till it overshadowed this whole
region, and not the least of the darkness it caused was on this spot,
where this ancient homestead stands, and where the young man had grown
and lived from the hour of his birth. He saw coldness and avoidance on
the highway; he was shrunk from on sabbath-mornings, and by children;
but this was little and could be borne--the world was against him: but
when he saw an aged face averted," he looked at old Sylvester steadily,
"and a mother's countenance sad and hostile--"

"Sad--but not hostile," the widow murmured.

"Sorrowful and troubled, at least," the young man rejoined, "his life,
for all of happiness, was at an end. He must cease to live or he must
restore the ancient sunshine which had lighted the windows of the home
of his boyhood. He knew that his friend had _not_ fallen by his hand;
that he still lived, but in a far distant place which none but a long
and weary journey could reach."

"He should have declared as much," interposed the old patriarch.

"No, sir; his word would have been but as the frail leaf blown idly from
the autumn-bough; nothing but the living presence of his friend could
silence the voice of the accuser. He rose up and departed, without
counsel of any, trusting only in God and his own strength; he bore with
him neither bag nor baggage, scrip nor scrippage--not even a change of
raiment; but with a handful of fruit and the humble provision which his
good mother had furnished for the harvest-field, he set forth; day and
night he journeyed on the truck he knew his friend had taken to that far
country, toiling in the fields to secure food and lodging for the night,
and some scant aids to carry him from place to place. Pushing on fast
and far through the western country, in hunger and distress, passing by
the very door of prosperous kinsfolk, but not tarrying a moment to seek
relief."

At this point Mrs. Jane Peabody glanced at her husband.

"And so by one stage and another, hastening on, he reached that great
city in the south, the metropolis of New Orleans; often, as he hoped, on
the very steps of his friend, but never overtaking him, with fortune at
so low an ebb that there he was well-nigh wasted in strength,
hunger-stricken, and tattered in dress; driven to live in hovels till
some chance restored him the little means to advance; so mean of person
that his dearest friend, his nearest kinsman, even his old playfellow
there," pointing to Mr. Tiffany Carrack, "who had wrestled with him in
the hayfield, who had sat with him in childish talk often and many a
time by summer stream-sides, would have passed him by as one unknown."

The glance which, in speaking this, he directed at Mr. Carrack, kindled
on that young gentleman's countenance a ruby glow, so intense and fiery
that it would seem as if it must have burned up the tawny tufts before
their very eyes, like so much dry stubble. There was a glow of another
kind in the Captain's broad face, which shone like another sun as he
contemplated the two young men, glancing from one to the other.

"The young man, bent on that one purpose as on life itself," he
continued, silencing his companion, who seemed eager to speak, with a
motion of his finger, "through towns, over waters, upon deserts, still
pursued his way; and, to be brief in a weary history, there, in the very
heart of that great region of gold, among diggers and searchers, and men
distracted in a thousand ways in that perilous hunt, to find his
simple-hearted friend, the preacher, in an out-of-the-way wilderness
among the mountains, exhorting the living, comforting the sick,
consoling the dying--and then, for the first time he learned, what his
friend had carefully concealed before, the motive of his self-banishment
to this distant country."

His companion would have spoken, but the young man hurrying on, allowed
him not a word.

"You who know his history," he continued, addressing the company at the
table--"know what calamity had once come upon the household of Mr.
Barbary, by the unlawful thirst for gold; that he held its love as the
curse of curses; he thought if he could but once throw himself in its
midst, where that passion raged the most, he would be doing his Master's
service most faithfully, more than in this quiet country-place of
peaceful households, but when he learned the peril and the sore distress
of his young friend, he tarried not a moment. 'To restore peace to one
injured mind,' he said; 'to bring back harmony to one household is a
clear and certain duty which will outweigh the vague chances of the good
I may do here.' The young man cherished but one wish; through storm and
trial and distress of every name and hue, if he could but reach home on
the day of Thanksgiving, and stand up there before his assembled kindred
a vindicated man, he would be requited fully for all his toil. He took
ship; in tempest, and with many risks of perishing far away
unvindicated, in the middle of the wild sea--"

The widowed mother could restrain herself no longer, but rushing
forward, she removed the young man's hat from his brow, parted his
locks, and casting herself upon his neck, gave utterance to her feelings
in the affecting language of Scripture, which she had listened to in the
morning: "My son was dead and is alive again--he was lost and is found!"

Miriam timidly grasped his offered hand and was silent. The company had
risen from the table and gathered around.

"Now," said William Peabody, "I could believe,--be glad to believe all
this, if he had but brought Mr. Barbary with him."

The elder stranger cast back his coat, removed his hat, and standing
forth, said, "I am here, and testify to the truth, in every word, of all
my young friend has declared to you."

On this declaration the Peabodys, without an exception, hastened to
welcome and address the returned Elbridge, and closed upon him in a
solid group of affectionate acknowledgment. Old Sylvester stood looking
loftily down over all from the outer edge of the circle, and while they
were busiest in congratulations and well-wishes, he went forward.

"Stand back!" cried the old man, waving the company aside with outspread
arms, and advancing with extended hand toward his grandson. "I have an
atonement to render here, which I call you all to witness."

"I take your hand, grandfather," Elbridge interposed, "but not in
acknowledgment of any wrong on your part. You have lived an hundred
blameless years, and I am not the one this day to breathe a reproach for
the first time on your spotless age."

Tears filled the old patriarch's eyes, and with a gentle hand he led his
grandson silently to the table, to which the whole company returned,
there being room for Mr. Barbary as well.

At this crisis of triumphant explanation, Mopsey, who had under one
pretext and another, evaded the bringing in of the pie to the last
moment, appeared at the kitchen-door bearing before her, with that air
of extraordinary importance peculiar to the negro countenance on
eventful occasions, a huge brown dish with which she advanced to the
head of the table, and with an emphatic bump, answering to the pithy
speeches of warriors and statesmen at critical moments, deposited the
great Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Looking proudly around, she simply said,
"Dere!"

It was the blossom and crown of Mopsey's life, the setting down and full
delivery to the family of that, the greatest pumpkin-pie ever baked in
that house from the greatest pumpkin ever reared among the Peabodys in
all her long backward recollection of past Thanksgivings, and her manner
of setting it down, was, in its most defiant form, a clincher and a
challenge to all makers and bakers of pumpkin-pies, to all cutters and
carvers, to all diners and eaters, to all friends and enemies of
pumpkin-pie, in the thirty or forty United States. The Brundages too,
might come and look at it if they had a mind to!

The Peabody family, familiar with the pie from earliest infancy, were
struck dumb, and sat silent for the space of a minute, contemplating its
vastness and beauty. Old Sylvester even, with his hundred years of
pumpkin-pie experience, was staggered, and little Sam jumped up and
clapped his hands in his old grandfather's arms, and struggled to
stretch himself across as if he would appropriate it, by actual
possession, to himself. The joy of the Peabodys was complete, for the
lost grandson had returned, and the Thanksgiving-pie was a glorious one,
and if it was the largest share that was allotted to the returned
Elbridge, will any one complain? And yet at times a cloud came upon the
young man's brow,--when dinner was passed with pleasant family talk,
questionings and experiences, as they sat about the old homestead
hearth,--which even the playful gambols of the children who sported
about him like so many friendly spirits, could not drive away. The heart
of cousin Elbridge was not in their childish freaks and fancies as it
had been in other days. The shining solitude looking in at the windows
seemed to call him without.

As though it had caught something of the genial spirit that glowed
within the house, the wind was laid without, and the night softened with
the beauty of the rising moon. With a sadness on his brow which neither
the old homestead nor the pure heavens cast there, Elbridge went forth
into the calm night, and sitting for a while by the road beneath an
ancient locust-tree, where he had often read his book in the
summer-times of boyhood, he communed with himself. He was happy--what
mortal man could be happier?--in all his wishes come to pass; his very
dreams had taken life and proved to be realities and friends, and yet a
sadness he could not drive away followed his steps. Why was this? That
moment, if his voice or any honorable and sinless motion of his hand
could have ordained it, he would have dismissed himself from life and
ceased to be a living partaker in the scenes about him. Even then--for
happy as he was, he dreaded in prophetic fear, the chances which beset
our mortal path. The weight of mortality was heavy upon the young man's
spirit.

Thinking over all the way he had passed, oh, who could answer that he,
with the thronging company of busy passions and desires, could ever hope
to reach an old age and never go astray? Oh, blessed is he (he thought)
who can lie down in death, can close his account with this world, having
safely escaped the temptations, the crimes, the trials, which make of
good men even, in moments of weakness and misjudgment, the false
speaker, the evil-doer, the slanderer, the coward, the hasty assailant,
and, (oh, dreadful perchance,) the seeming-guilty-murderer himself.
Strange thoughts for a prosperous lover's night, but earth is not
heaven. With the sweat of anguish on his brow he bowed his head as one
whose trouble is heavy to be borne. Yet even then the thought of the
sweet heaven over him, with all its glorious promises, came upon him,
and as he lifted up his eyes from the earth, the moon sailing forth from
the clouds, and flooding the region with silver light, disclosed a
figure so gentle and delicate, and in its features so pure of all our
common passions, it seemed as if his troubled thoughts had summoned a
spirit before him from the better world. As he stood regarding it in
melancholy calmness, it extended towards him a hand.

"No, no," he said, declining the gentle salutation and retiring a pace,
"touch me not, Miriam, I am not worthy of your pure companionship. If
you knew what passed and is passing in my breast, you would loathe me as
a leper."

She was silent and dropped her eyes before him.

"Think not, my gentle mistress," he added presently, "my heart is
changed towards you. The glow is only too bright and warm."

"If you love me not, Elbridge," she interposed quickly, "fear not to
say so, even now. I will bear the pang as best I can."

"You have suffered too much already," he rejoined, touched to the heart.
"My long silence must have been as death to one so kind and gentle."

"I have suffered," was all she said. "One word from you in your long
absence would have made me happy."

"It would, I know it would, and yet I could not speak it," Elbridge
replied. "When, with a blight upon my name I left those halls," pointing
to the old homestead standing in shadow of the autumn trees, "I vowed to
know them no more, that my step should never cross their threshold, that
my voice should never be heard again in those ancient chambers, that no
being of all that household should have a word from these lips or hands
till I could come back a vindicated man; that I would perish in distant
lands, find a silent grave among strangers, far from mother and her I
loved, or that I would come back with my lost friend, in his living
form, to avouch and testify my truth and innocence."

"And had you no thought of me in that cruel absence, dear Elbridge?"
asked Miriam.

"Of you!" he echoed, now taking her hand, "of you! When in all these my
wanderings, in weary nights, in lonely days, on seas and deserts far
away, sore of foot and sick at heart, making my couch beneath the stars,
in the tents of savage men, in the shadow of steeples that know not our
holy faith, was it not my religion and my only solace, that one like you
thought of me as I of her, and though all the world abandoned and
distrusted the wanderer, there was one star in the distant horizon which
yet shone true, and trembled with a hopeful light upon my path."

"Are we not each other's now?" she whispered softly as she lay her
gentle head upon his bosom; "and if we have erred, and repent but truly,
will not He forgive us?"

As she lifted up her innocent face to heaven, did not those gentle tears
which fell unheard by mortal ear, from those fair eyes, drop in hearing
of Him who hears and acknowledges the faintest sound of true affection,
through all the boundless universe, musically as the chime of holy
Sabbath-bells?

"You are my dear wife," he answered, folding her close to his heart,
"and if you forgive and still cherish me, happiness may still be ours;
and although no formal voice has yet called us one, by all that's sacred
in the stillness of the night, and by every honest beating of this
heart, dear Miriam, you are mine, to watch, to tend, to love, to
reverence, in sickness, in sorrow, in care, in joy; by all that belongs
of gaiety to youth, in manhood and in age, we will have one home, one
couch, one fireside, one grave, one God, and one hereafter."

An old familiar instrument, swept as he well knew by his mother's
fingers, sounded at that moment from the homestead, and hand in hand,
blending their steps, they returned to the Thanksgiving household
within.



CHAPTER TENTH.

THE CONCLUSION.


When Elbridge and Miriam re-entered the homestead they found the best
parlor, which they had left in humble dependence on the light of a
single home-made wick, now in full glow, and wide awake in every corner,
with a perfect illumination of lamps and candles; and every thing in the
room had waked up with them. The old brass andirons stood shining like a
couple of bald-headed little grandfathers by the hearth; the letters in
the sampler over the mantel, narrating the ages of the family, had
renewed their color; the tall old clock, allowed to speak again, stood
like an overgrown schoolboy with his face newly washed, stretching
himself up in a corner; the painted robins and partridges on the wall,
now in full feather, strutting and flying about in all the glory of an
unfading plumage; and at the rear of all the huge back-log on the hearth
glowed and rolled in his place as happy as an alderman at a city feast.
The Peabodys too, partook of the new illumination, and were there in
their best looks, scattered about the room in cheerful groups, while in
the midst of all the widow Margaret, her face lighted with a smile which
came there from far-off years, holding in her hand as we see an angel in
the sunny clouds in old pictures, the ancient harpsichord, which till
now had been laid away and out of use for many a long day of sadness.

While Elbridge and Miriam stood still in wonder at the sudden change of
this living pageant, old Sylvester, his white head carried proudly
aloft, appeared from the sitting-room with Mr. Barbary, a quaint figure,
freed now of his long coat, and bearing no trace of travel on his neat
apparel and face of cheerful gravity. Leaving the preacher in the centre
of the apartment, the patriarch advanced quietly toward the young
couple, and, addressing himself to Elbridge, said, "My children, I have
a favor to ask of you."

"Anything, grandfather!" Elbridge answered promptly.

"You are sure?" Old Sylvester's eyes twinkled as he spoke.

"It would be the pleasure and glory of my young days," Elbridge answered
again, "to crown your noble old age, grandfather, with any worthy wreath
these hands could fashion, and not call it a favor either."

Old Sylvester, smiling from one to the other, said, "You are to be
married immediately."

The young couple fell back and dropped each the other's hand, which they
had been holding. Miriam trembled and shrunk the farthest away.

"You will not deny me?" the grandfather said again. "You are the
youngest and the last whom I can hope to see joined in that bond which
is to continue our name and race; it is my last request on earth."

At these simple words, turning, and with a fond regard which spoke all
their thoughts, Miriam and Elbridge took again each the other's hand,
and drew close side to side. The company rose, and Mr. Barbary was on
the point of speaking when there emerged upon the family scene, from an
inner chamber, as though he had been a foreigner entering a fashionable
drawing-room, Mr. Tiffany Carrack, in the very blossom of full dress;
his hair in glossy curl, with white neckcloth and waistcoat of the
latest cut and tie, coat and pants of the purest model, pumps and silk
stockings; bearing in his hand a gossamer pocket-handkerchief, which he
shook daintily as he advanced, and filled the room with a strange
fragrance. With mincing step, just dotting the ground, his whole body
shaking like a delicate structure in danger every moment of tumbling to
the ground, he advanced to where Miriam and Elbridge stood before Mr.
Barbary.

"Why really, 'pon my life and honor, Miriam, you are looking quite
charming this evening!"

"She should look so now if ever, Tiffany," said old Sylvester, "for she
is just about to be married to your cousin Elbridge."

"Now you don't mean that?" said Mr. Tiffany, touching the tawny tufts
tenderly with his perfumed pocket-handkerchief, "Oh, woman! woman! what
is your name?" He hesitated for a reply.

"Perfidy?" suggested Mr. Oliver Peabody.

"Yes, that's it. Have I lived to look on this," Mr. Tiffany continued;
"to have my young hopes blighted, the rose of my existence cropped, and
all that. Is it for this," addressing Miriam directly: he had been
talking before to the air: "Is it for this I went blackberrying with you
in my tender infancy! Is it for this that in the heyday of youth I
walked with you to the school-house down the road! Was it for this that
in the prime of manhood I breathed soft music in your ear at the
witching time of night!"

As he arrived at this last question, Mopsey, in her new gown of gorgeous
pattern, and, having laid aside her customary broad-bordered cap, with a
high crowned turban of red, and yellow cotton handkerchief on her head,
appeared at the parlor door. Mr. Tiffany paused: he saw the Moorish
princess before him; rallying, however, he was proceeding to describe
himself as a friendly troubadour, whose affection had been responded to,
when the Captain placing his mouth to his ear, as in confidence, uttered
in a portentous whisper, "THE VAT!"

Mr. Tiffany immediately lost all joint and strength, subsided into a
chair at a distance, and from that moment looked upon the scene like one
in a trance.

"After all," said Mr. Oliver, glancing at him, "I don't see just now
that, in any point of view, this young gentleman _is_ destined to carry
the principles of free government--anywhere."

The family being now all gathered, Mr. Barbary proceeded, employing a
simple and impressive form in use in that family from its earliest
history:

"You, the Bridegroom and the Bride, who now present yourselves
candidates of the covenant of God and of your marriage before him, in
token of your consenting affections and united hearts, please to give
your hands to one another.

"Mr. Bridegroom, the person whom you now take by the hand, you receive
to be your married wife: you promise to love her, to honor her, to
support her, and in all things to treat her as you are now, or shall
hereafter be convinced is by the laws of Christ made your duty,--a
tender husband, with unspotted fidelity till death shall separate you.

"Mrs. Bride, the person whom you now hold by the hand you accept to be
your married husband; you promise to love him, to honor him, to submit
to him, and in all things to treat him as you are now or shall hereafter
be convinced, is by the laws of Christ made your duty,--an affectionate
wife, with inviolable loyalty till death shall separate you.

"This solemn covenant you make, and in this sacred oath bind your souls
in the presence of the Great God, and before these witnesses.

"I then declare you to be husband and wife regularly married according
to the laws of God and the Commonwealth: therefore what God hath thus
joined together let no man put asunder."

When these words had been solemnly spoken the widow Margaret struck her
ancient harpsichord in an old familiar tune of plaintive tenderness, and
the young bridegroom holding Miriam's hand in an affectionate clasp,
answered the music with a little hymn or carol, often used before among
the Peabodys on a like occasion:

    Entreat me not--I ne'er will leave thee,
      Ne'er loose this hand in bower or hall;
    This heart, this heart shall ne'er deceive thee,
      This voice shall answer ever to thy call.

To which Miriam, after a brief pause of hesitation, in that tone of
chanting lament familiar to her, answered--

    Thy God is mine, where'er thou rovest,
      Where'er thou dwellest there too will I dwell;
    In the same grave shall she thou lovest
      Lie down with him she loves so well.

Like a cheerful voice answering to these, and wishing, out of the
mysterious darkness of night, all happiness and prosperity to the young
couple, the silver call of Chanticleer arose without, renewed and
renewed again, as if he could never tire of announcing the happy union
to all the country round.

And now enjoyment was at its height among the Peabodys, helped by
Plenty, who, with Mopsey for chief assistant, hurried in, with plates of
shining pippins, baskets of nuts, brown jugs of new cider of home-made
vintage; Mrs. Carrack, who had selected the simplest garment in her
wardrobe, moving about in aid of black Mopsey, tendering refreshment to
her old father first, and Mrs. Jane Peabody insisting on being allowed
to distribute the walnuts with her own hand.

The children, never at rest for a moment, frisked to and fro, like so
many merry dolphins, disporting in the unaccustomed candle-light, to
which they were commonly strangers. They were listened to in all their
childish prattle kindly, by every one, indulged in all their little
foolish ways, as if the grown-up Peabodys for this night at least,
believed that they were indeed little citizens of the kingdom of heaven,
straying about this wicked world on parole. Uncle Oliver, once,
spreading his great Declaration-of-Independence pocket-handkerchief on
his knees, attempted to put them to the question as to their learning.
They all recognised Dr. Franklin, with his spectacles thrown up on his
brow, among the signers, but denying all knowledge of anything more, ran
away to the Captain, who was busy building, a dozen at a time, paper
packet ships, and launching them upon the table for a sea.

In the very midst of the mirthful hubbub old Sylvester called Robert and
William to his side, and was heard to whisper, "Bring 'em in." William
and Robert were gone a moment and returned, bearing under heavy
head-way, tumbling and pitching on one side constantly, two ancient
spinning wheels, Mopsey following with snowy flocks of wool and spinning
sticks. Old Sylvester arose, and delivering a stick and flock to Mrs.
Carrack and Mrs. Jane Peabody, requested them, in a mild voice and as a
matter of course already settled, "to begin." A spinning-match!

"Yes, anything you choose to-night, father."

Rolling back their sleeves, adjusting their gowns, the wheels being
planted on either side of the fireplace, Mrs. Jane and Mrs. Carrack,
stick in hand, seized each on her allotment of wool, and sent the wheels
whirling. It was a cheerful sight to see the two matrons closing in upon
the wheel, retiring, closing in again--whose wheel is swiftest, whose
thread truest? Now Mrs. Jane--now Mrs. Carrack. If either, Mrs. Carrack
puts the most heart in her work.

"_Now_ she looks like my Nancy," said old Sylvester in a glow, "as when
she used to spin and sing, in the old upper chamber."

Away they go--whose wheel is swiftest, whose thread the truest now?

While swift and free the contest wages, the parlor-door standing open,
and beyond that the door of the sitting-room, look down the long
perspective! Do you not see in the twilight of the kitchen fire a dark
head, lighting up, as in flashes, with a glittering row of teeth, with a
violent agitation of the body, with gusty ha-ha's, and fragments of an
uproarious chant flying through the door something to this effect--

    Oh, de fine ladies, how dey do spin--spin--spin,
      Like de gals long ago--long ago!
    I bet to'der one don't win--win--win,
      Kase de diamond-flowers on her fingers grow.
        Lay down your white gloves, take up de wool,
          Round about de whirly wheel go;
        Back'ard and for'ard nimble feet pull,
          Like de nice gals long--long ago!

Silence follows, in which nothing is observable from that quarter more
than a great pair of white eyes rolling about in the partial darkness.
Who was other than pleased that in spite of Mopsey's decision, old
Sylvester determined that if either, Mrs. Carrack's work was done a
little the soonest, and that her thread was a little the truest?

During the contest the old merchant and his wife had conversed closely,
apart; the green shade had lost its terrors, and he could look on it
steadily, now; and at the close William Peabody approaching the
fireplace, drew from his bosom the old parchment deed, which in his
hunger for money had so often disquieted his visits to the homestead,
and thrust it into the very heart of the flame, which soon shrivelled it
up, and, conveying it out at the chimney, before the night was past
spread it in peaceful ashes over the very grounds which it had so long
disturbed.

"So much for that!" said the old merchant, as the last flake vanished;
"and now, nephew," he addressed himself to Elbridge, "fulfilling an
engagement connected with your return, I resign to you all charge of
your father's property."

"Did you bring anything with you from the Gold Region?" Mrs. Carrack
interposed.

"Not one cent, Aunt," Elbridge answered promptly.

"You may add, William," pursued Mrs. Carrack, "the sums of mine you have
in hand."

William Peabody was pausing on this proposition, the sums in question
being at that very moment embarked in a most profitable speculation.

Upon the very height of the festivity, when it glowed the brightest and
was most musical with mirthful voices, there had come to the casement a
moaning sound as if borne upon the wind from a distance, a wailing of
anguish, at the same time like and unlike that of human suffering. By
slow advances it approached nearer and nearer to the homestead, and
whenever it arose it brought the family enjoyment to a momentary pause.
It had drawn so near that it sounded now again, as if in mournful
lamentation, at the very door, when Mopsey, her dark face almost white,
and her brow wrinkled with anxiety, rushed in. "Grandfather," she said,
addressing old Sylvester, "blind Sorrel's dying in the door-yard."

There was not one in all that company whom the announcement did not
cause to start; led by old Sylvester, they hastily rose, and conducted
by Mopsey, followed to the scene. Blind Sorrel was lying by the
moss-grown horse-trough, at the gate.

"I noticed her through the day," said Oliver, "wandering up the lane as
if she was seeking the house."

"The death-agony must have been upon her then," said William Peabody,
shading his eyes with his hand.

"She remembered, perhaps, her young days," old Sylvester added, "when
she used to crop the door-yard grass."

Mopsey, in her solicitude to have the death-bed of poor blind Sorrel
properly attended, had brought with her, in the event of the paling or
obscuration of the moon, a dark lantern, which she held tenderly aside
as though the poor old creature still possessed her sight; immoveable
herself as though she had been a swarthy image in stone, while, on the
other side, William Peabody, near her head, stood gazing upon the animal
with a fixed intensity, breathing hard and watching her dying struggle
with a rigid steadiness of feature almost painful to behold.

"Has carried me to mill many a day," he said; "some pleasantest hours of
my life spent upon her back, sauntering along at early day."

"Your mother rode her to meeting," Sylvester addressed his second son,
"on your wedding-day, Oliver. Sorrel was of a long-lived race."

"She was the gentlest horse-creature you ever owned, father," added Mrs.
Carrack, turning affectionately toward old Sylvester, "and humored us
girls when we rode her as though she had been a blood-relation."

"I'm not so sure of that," Mr. Tiffany Carrack rejoined, "for she has
dumped me in a ditch more than once."

"That was your own careless riding, Tiffany," said the Captain, "I don't
believe she had the least ill-will towards any living creature, man or
beast."

It was observed that whenever William Peabody spoke, blind Sorrel turned
her feeble head in that direction, as if she recognised and singled out
his voice from all the others.

"She knows your voice, father, even in her darkness," said the Captain,
"as the sailor tells his old captain's step on deck at night."

"Well she may, Charles," the merchant replied, "for she was foaled the
same day I was born."

The old creature moaned and heaved her side fainter and fainter.

"Speak to her, William," said the old grandfather.

William Peabody bent down, and in a tremulous voice said, "Sorrel, do
you know me?"

The poor blind creature lifted up her aged head feebly towards him,
heaved her weary side, gasped once and was gone. The moon, which had
been shining with a clear and level light upon the group of faces,
dipped at that moment behind the orchard-trees, and at the same instant
the light in the lantern flickering feebly, was extinguished.

"What do you mean by putting the light out, Mopsey," old Sylvester
asked.

"I knew de old lamp would be goin' out, Massa, soon as ever blind Sorrel
die; I tremble so I do' no what I'm saying." It was poor Mopsey's
agitation which had shaken out the light.

"Never shall we know a more faithful servant, a truer friend, than poor
blind Sorrel," they all agreed; and bound still closer together by so
simple a bond as common sympathy in the death of the poor old blind
family horse, they returned within the homestead.

They were scarcely seated again when William Peabody, turning to Mrs.
Carrack, said, "Certainly!" referring to the transfer of the money of
hers in his hands on loan, to Elbridge, "he will need some ready money
to begin the world with."

All was cheerful friendship now; the family, reconciled in all its
members, sitting about their aged father's hearth on this glorious
Thanksgiving night; the gayer mood subsiding, a sudden stillness fell
upon the whole house, such as precedes some new turn in the discourse.

Old Sylvester Peabody sat in the centre of the family, moving his body
to and fro gently, and lifting his white head up and down upon his
breast; his whole look and manner strongly arresting the attention of
all; of the children not the least. After a while the old man paused,
and looking mildly about, addressed the household.

"This is a happy day, my children," he said, "but the seeds of it were
sown, you must allow an old man to say, long, long ago. If one good
Being had not died in a far country and a very distant time, we could
not have this comfort now."

The children watched the old grandfather more closely.

"I am an old man, and shall be with you, I feel, but for a little while
yet; as one who stands at the gate of the world to come, looking
through, and through which he is soon to pass, will you not allow me to
believe that I thought of the hopes of your immortal spirits in your
youth?"

As being the eldest, and answering for the rest, William Peabody
replied, "We will."

"Did I not teach you then, or strive my best to teach, that there was
but one Holy God?"

"You did, father--you did!" the widow Margaret answered.

"That his only Son died for us?"

"Often--often!" said Mrs. Carrack.

"That we must love one another as brethren?"

"At morning and night, in winter and summer; by the hearth and in the
field, you did," Oliver rejoined.

"That there is but one path to happiness and peace here and hereafter,"
he continued, "through the performance of our duty towards our Maker,
and our fellow men of every name, and tongue, and clime, and color? to
love your dear Native Land, as she sits happy among the nations, but to
remember this, our natural home, is but the ground-nest and cradle from
which we spread our wings to fly through all the earth with hope and
kindly wishes for all men. If the air is cheerful here, and the
sun-light pleasant, let no barrier or wall shut it in, but pray God,
with reverent hope, it spread hence to the farthest lands and seas, till
all the people of the earth are lighted up and made glad in the common
fellowship of our blessed Saviour, who is, was, and will be evermore--to
all men guide, protector, and ensample. May He be so to us and ours, to
our beloved home and happy Fatherland, in all the time to come!"

The old man bowed his head in presence of his reconciled household, and
fell into a sweet slumber; not one of all that company but echoed the
old man's prayer--"May he be so to us and ours, to our beloved Home and
happy Fatherland in all the time to come!"

On this, on every day of Thanksgiving and Praise, be that old man's
blessed prayer in all quarters, among all classes and kindred,
everywhere repeated: "May He be so to us and ours, to our beloved Home
and happy Fatherland in all the time to come!"

And when, like that good old man, we come to bow our heads at the close
of a long, long life, may we, like him, fall into a gentle sleep,
conscious that we have done the work of charity, and spread about our
path, wherever it lead, peace and good-will among men!


THE END.



Transcriber's Notes:

Author's name is not given in the text but other editions give it as
Cornelius Mathews.

Contents Page. In the original text, some chapter titles were wrong;
these have been corrected as follows:

    Chapter IV. Title was "The Children." Corrected to "The Fortunes of
    the Family Considered."

    Chapter V. Title was "The Fashionable Lady and Her Son." Corrected
    to "The Children."

    Chapter VI. Title was "The Fortunes of the Family Considered."
    Corrected to "The Fashionable Lady and Her Son."

Inconsistent hyphenation of words in original text has been retained
(daylight, day-light; fireside, fire-side; headway head-way; and
neck-cloth, neckcloth).

Inconsistent spelling of contractions in the original text has been
retained.

Page 27, added missing quote mark. ("Three, all of brick)

Page 33, changed comma to fullstop. (speech. "Expect to see)

Page 35, changed comma to fullstop. (said old Sylvester. "Out of)

Page 36, unusual spelling of "ricketty" retained. (landed from its
ricketty and bespattered bosom)

Page 39, "thoughtf" has been changed to "though" (watched over as
though it had been my own)

Page 96, added missing quote mark. ("Some two hundred)





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