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Title: Westways
Author: Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir), 1829-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Westways" ***

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WESTWAYS

A Village Chronicle

by

S. WEIR MITCHELL, M.D., LL.D.

Author of _Hugh Wynne_, _The Adventures of François_, _Constance
Trescot_, etc., etc.

1913



I DEDICATE THIS BOOK WHICH RECALLS CERTAIN SCENES OF THE CIVIL WAR TO THE
MEMORY OF MY THREE BROTHERS

R.W.M.
N.C.M.
E.K.M.

ALL OF WHOM SERVED IN THE ARMIES OF THEIR COUNTRY



PREFACE


There will be many people in this book; some will be important, others
will come on the scene for a time and return no more. The life-lines of
these persons will cross and recross, to meet once or twice and not
again, like the ruts in a much used road. To-day the stage may be
crowded, to-morrow empty. The corner novels where only a half dozen
people are concerned give no impression of the multitudinous contacts
which affect human lives. Even of the limited life of a village this is
true. It was more true of the time of my story, which lacking plot must
rely for interest on the influential relations of social groups, then
more defined in small communities than they are to-day.

Long before the Civil War there were in the middle states, near to or
remote from great centres, villages where the social division of classes
was tacitly accepted. In or near these towns one or more families were
continuously important on account of wealth or because of historic
position, generations of social training, and constant relation to the
larger world. They came by degrees to constitute what I may describe as
an indistinct caste, for a long time accepted as such by their less
fortune-favoured neighbours. They were, in fact, for many years almost as
much a class by themselves as are the long-seated county families of
England and like these were looked to for helpful aid in sickness and in
other of the calamities of life. The democrat time, increasing ease of
travel and the growth of large industries, gradually altered the relation
between these small communities, and the families who in the smaller
matters of life long remained singularly familiar with their poorer
neighbours and in the way of closer social intimacies far apart.

It seemed to me worth while to use the life of one of these groups of
people as the background of a story which also deals with the influence
of politics and war on all classes.



WESTWAYS



CHAPTER I


The first Penhallow crossed the Alleghanies long before the War for
Independence and on the frontier of civilisation took up land where the
axe was needed for the forest and the rifle for the Indian. He made a
clearing and lived a hard life of peril, wearily waiting for the charred
stumps to rot away.

The younger men of the name in Colonial days and later left the place
early, and for the most part took to the sea or to the army, if there
were activity in the way of war. In later years, others drifted westward
on the tide of border migration, where adventure was always to be had.
This stir of enterprise in a breed tends to extinction in the male lines.
Men are thinned out in their wooing of danger--the _belle dame sans
merci_. Thus there were but few Penhallows alive at any one time, and
yet for many years they bred in old-fashioned numbers.

As time ran on, a Penhallow prospered in the cities, and clinging to
the land added fresh acres as new ambitions developed qualities which
are not infrequently found in descendants of long-seated American
families. It was not then, nor is it now, rare in American life to find
fortune-favoured men returning in later days to the homes of their youth
to become useful in many ways to the communities they loved. One of
these, James Penhallow,--and there was always a James,--after greatly
prospering in the ventures of the China trade, was of the many who about
1800 bought great tracts of land on the farther slope of the Pennsylvania
Alleghanies. His own purchases lay near and around the few hundred acres
his ancestor took up and where an aged cousin was left in charge of the
farm-house. When this tenant died, the house decayed, and the next
Penhallow weary of being taxed for unproductive land spent a summer on
the property, and with the aid of engineers found iron in plenty and soft
coal. He began about 1830 to develop the property, and built a large
house which he never occupied and which was long known in the county as
"Penhallow's Folly." It was considered the more notably foolish because
of being set, in unAmerican fashion, deep in the woods, and remote from
the highway. What was believed to be the oldest pine-tree in the county
gave to the place the popular name of "Grey Pine" and being accepted by
the family when they came there to live, "Penhallow's Folly" ceased to be
considered descriptive.

The able and enterprising discoverer of mines had two sons. One of them,
the youngest, married late in life, and dying soon after left a widow and
a posthumous son John, of whom more hereafter. The elder brother was
graduated from West Point, served some years with distinction, and
marrying found himself obliged to resign his captaincy on his father's
death to take charge of the iron-mills and mines, which had become far
more important to the family than their extensive forest-holdings on the
foot-hills of the western watershed of the Alleghanies.

The country had long been well settled. The farmers thrived as the mills
and mines needed increasing supplies of food and the railway gave access
to market. The small village of Westways was less fortunate than the
county. Strung along the side of the road opposite to Penhallow's woods,
it had lost the bustling prosperity of a day when the Conestoga wagons
stopped over-night at the "General Wayne Inn" and when as yet no one
dreamed that the new railroad would ruin the taverns set at intervals
along the highway to Pittsburgh. Now that Westways Crossing, two miles
away, had been made the nearest station, Westways was left to live on the
mill-wages and such profits as farming furnished.

When Captain James Penhallow repaired the neglected house and kept the
town busy with demands for workmen, the village woke up for a whole
summer. In the autumn he brought to Grey Pine his wife, Ann Grey, of the
well-known Greys of the eastern shore of Maryland. A year or two of
discomfort at Western army-posts and a busy-minded, energetic
personality, made welcome to this little lady a position which provided
unaccustomed luxuries and a limitless range of duties, such as were to
her what mere social enjoyments are to many women. Grey Pine--the house,
the flower and kitchen-gardens, the church to be built--and the schools
at the mills, all were as she liked it, having been bred up amid the
kindly despotism of a great plantation with its many dependent slaves.

When Ann Penhallow put Grey Pine and the Penhallow crest on her
notepaper, her husband said laughing that women had no rights to crests,
and that although the arms were surely his by right of good Cornish
descent, he thought their use in America a folly. This disturbed Ann
Penhallow very little, but when they first came to Grey Pine the headings
of her notepaper were matters of considerable curiosity to the straggling
village of Westways, where she soon became liked, respected, and
moderately feared. A busy-minded woman, few things in the life of the
people about her escaped her notice, and she distributed uninvited
counsel or well-considered charity and did her best to restrain the more
lavish, periodical assistance when harvests were now and then bad--which
made James Penhallow a favourite in the county.

Late in the summer of 1855, John Penhallow's widow, long a wandering
resident in Europe, acquired the first serious illness of a
self-manufactured life of invalidism and promptly died at Vevey. Her only
child, John, was at once ordered home by his uncle and guardian, James
Penhallow, and after some delay crossed the sea in charge of his tutor.
The dependent little fellow hid under a natural reserve what grief he
felt, and accustomed to being sent here and there by an absent mother,
silently submissive, was turned over by the tutor to James Penhallow's
agent in Philadelphia. On the next day, early in November, he was put in
charge of a conductor to be left at Westways Crossing, where he was told
that some one would meet him.

The day was warm when in the morning he took his seat in the train,
but before noon it became clouded, and an early snow-storm with sudden
fall of temperature made the boy sensible that he was ill-clothed to
encounter the change of weather. He had been unfortunate in the fact
that his mother had for years used the vigilant tyranny of feebleness
to enforce upon the boy her own sanitary views. Children are easily
made hypochondriac, and under her system of government he became
self-attentive, careful of what he ate and extremely timid. There
had been many tutors and only twice long residence at schools in Vevey
and for a winter in Budapest. The health she too sedulously watched she
was fast destroying, and her son was at the time of her death a thin,
pallid, undersized boy, who disliked even the mild sports of French lads,
and had been flattered and considered until he had acquired the
conviction that he was an important member of an important family. His
other mother--nature--had given him, happily, better traits. He was an
observer, a born lover of books, intelligent, truthful, and trained
in the gentle, somewhat formal, manners of an older person. Now for the
first time in his guarded life he was alone on a railway journey in
charge of the conductor. A more unhappy, frightened little fellow could
hardly have been found.

The train paused at many stations; men and women got on or got out of the
cars, very common-looking people, surely, he concluded. The day ran by to
afternoon. The train had stopped at a station for lunch, but John,
although hungry, was afraid of being left and kept the seat which he
presumed to be his own property until a stout man took half of it. A
little later, a lean old woman said, "Move up, sonny," and sat down.
When she asked his name and where he lived, he replied in the coldly
civil manner with which he had heard his mother repress the good-natured
advances of her wandering countrymen. When again the seat was free, he
fell to thinking of the unknown home, Grey Pine, which he had heard his
mother talk of to English friends as "our ancestral home," and of the
great forests, the mines and the iron-works. Her son would, of course,
inherit it, as Captain Penhallow had no child. "Really a great estate,
my dear," his mother had said. It loomed large in his young imagination.
Who would meet him? Probably a carriage with the liveried driver and the
groom immaculate in white-topped boots, a fur cover on his arm. It would,
of course, be Captain Penhallow who would make him welcome. Then the
cold, which is hostile to imagination, made him shiver as he drew his
thin cloak about him and watched the snow squadrons wind-driven and the
big flakes blurring his view as they melted on the panes. By and by, two
giggling young women near by made comments on his looks and dress.
Fragments of their talk he overheard. It was not quite pleasant. "Law!
ain't he got curly hair, and ain't he just like a girl doll," and so on
in the lawless freedom of democratic feminine speech. The flat Morocco
cap and large visor of the French schoolboy and the dark blue cloak with
the silver clasp were subjects of comment. One of them offered peanuts or
sugar-plums, which he declined with "Much obliged, but I never take
them." Now and then he consulted his watch or felt in his pocket to be
certain that his baggage-check was secure, or looked to see if the little
bag of toilet articles at his feet was safe. The kindly attentions of
those who noticed his evident discomfort were neither mannerless nor, as
he thought, impertinent. A woman said to him that he seemed cold,
wouldn't he put around him a shawl she laid on his knees. He declined it
civilly with thanks. In fact, he was thinly and quite too lightly clad,
and he not only felt the cold, but was unhappy and utterly unprepared by
any previous experience for the mode of travel, the crowded car and the
rough kindness of the people, who liking his curly hair and refined young
childlike face would have been of service if he had accepted their
advances with any pleasure. Presently, after four in the afternoon, the
brakeman called "All out for Westways Crossing."

John seized his bag and was at the exit-door before the train came to a
stand. The conductor bade him be careful, as the steps were slippery. As
the engine snorted and the train moved away, the conductor cried out,
"Forgot your cane, sonny," and threw the light gold-mounted bamboo from
the car. He had a new sense of loneliness as he stood on the roofless
platform, half a foot deep in gathering snow, which driven by a pitiless
gale from the north blew his cloak about as he looked to see that his
trunk had been delivered. A man shifted a switch and coming back said,
"Gi'me your check." John decided that this was not safe, and to the man's
amusement said that he would wait until the carriage of Captain Penhallow
arrived. The man went away. John remained angrily expectant looking up
the road. Presently he heard the gay jingle of bells and around a turn of
the road came a one-horse sleigh. It stopped beside him. He first saw
only the odd face of the driver in a fur cap and earlets. Then, tossing
off the bear skins, bounded on to the platform a young girl and shook
herself snow-free as she threw back a wild mane of dark red hair.

"Halloa! John Penhallow," she cried, "I'm Leila Grey. I'm sent for you.
I'm late too. Uncle James has gone to the mills and Aunt Ann is busy.
Been here long?"

"Not very," said John, his teeth chattering with cold.

"Gracious! you'll freeze. Sorry I was late." She saw at a glance the low
shoes, the blue cloak, the kid gloves, the boy's look of suffering, and
at once took possession of him.

"Get into the sleigh. Oh! leave your check on the trunk or give it to
me." She was off and away to the trunk as he climbed in, helpless. She
undid the counter check, ran across to the guard's house, was back in a
moment and tumbled in beside him.

"But, is it safe? My trunk, I mean," said John.

"Safe. No one will steal it. Pat will come for it. There he is now. Tuck
in the rugs. Put this shawl around you and over your head." She pinned it
with ready fingers.

"Now, you'll be real comfy." The chilled boy puzzled and amused her.

As he became warm, John felt better in the hands of this easy despot, but
was somewhat indignant. "To send a chit of a girl for him--John
Penhallow!"

"Now," she cried to the driver, "be careful. Why did they send _you_?"

Billy, a middle-aged man, short-legged and long of body, turned a
big-featured head as he replied in an odd boyish voice, "The man was busy
giving a ball in the stable."

"A ball"--said John--"in the stable?"

"Oh! that is funny," said the girl. "A ball's a big pill for Lucy, my
mare. She's sick."

"Oh! I see." And they were off and away through the wind-driven snow.

The girl, instinctively aware of the shyness and discomfort of her
companion, set herself to put him at ease. The lessening snow still fell,
but now a brilliant sun lighted the white radiance of field and forest.
He was warmer, and the disconnected chat of childhood began.

"The snow is early. Don't you love it?" said the small maid bent on
making herself agreeable.

"No, I do not."

"But, oh!--see--the sun is out. Now you will like it. I suppose you don't
know how to walk in snow-shoes, or it would be lovely to go right home
across country."

"I never used them. Once I read about them in a book."

"Oh! you'll learn. I'll teach you."

John, used to being considered and flattered, as he became more
comfortable began to resent the way in which the girl proposed to
instruct him. He was silent for a time.

"Tuck in that robe," she said. "How old are you?"

"This last September, fifteen. How old are you?"

"Guess."

"About ten, I think." Now this was malicious.

"Ten, indeed! I'm thirteen and ten months and--and three days," she
returned, with the accuracy of childhood about age. "Were you at school
in Europe?"

"Yes, in France and Hungary."

"That's queer. In Hungary and France--Oh! then you can speak French."

"Of course," he replied. "Can't you?"

"A little, but Aunt Ann says I have a good accent when I read to her--we
often do."

"You should say 'without accent,'" he felt better after this assertion of
superior knowledge. She thought his manners bad, but, though more amused
than annoyed, felt herself snubbed and was silent for a time. He was
quick to perceive that he had better have held his critical tongue, and
said pleasantly, "But really it don't matter--only I was told that in
France."

She was as quick to reply, "You shouldn't say 'don't matter,' I say that
sometimes, and then Uncle James comes down on me."

"Why? I am really at a loss--"

"Oh! you must say 'doesn't'--not 'don't.'" She shook her great mass of
hair and cried merrily, "I guess we are about even now, John Penhallow."

Then they laughed gaily, as the boy said, "I wasn't very--very
courteous."

"Now that's pretty, John. Good gracious, Billy!" she cried, punching the
broad back of the driver. "Are you asleep? You are all over the road."

"Oh! I was thinkin' how Pole, the butcher, sold the Squire a horse that's
spavined--got it sent back--funny, wasn't it?"

"Look out," said Leila, "you will upset us."

John looked the uneasiness he felt, as he said, "Do you think it is
safe?"

"No, I don't. Drive on, Billy, but do be careful."

They came to the little village of Westways. At intervals Billy
communicated bits of village gossip. "Susan McKnight, she's going to
marry Finney--"

"Bother Susan," cried Leila. "Be careful."

John alarmed held on to his seat as the sleigh rocked about, while Billy
whipped up the mare.

"This is Westways, our village. It is just a row of houses. Uncle James
won't sell land on our side. Look out, Billy! Our rector lives in that
small house by the church. His name is Mark Rivers. You'll like him.
That's Mr. Grace, the Baptist preacher." She bade him good-day. "Stop,
Billy!"

He pulled up at the sidewalk. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Crocker," she said,
as the postmistress came out to the sleigh. "Please mail this. Any
letters for us?"

"No, Leila." She glanced at the curly locks above the thin face and the
wrapped up form in the shawl. "Got a nice little girl with you, Leila."

John indignant said nothing. "This is a boy--my cousin, John Penhallow,"
returned Leila.

"Law! is that so?"

"Get on," cried Leila. "Stop at Josiah's."

Here a tall, strongly built, very black negro came out. "Fine frosty day,
missy."

"Come up to the house to-night. Uncle Jim wants you."

"I'll come--sure."

"Now, get along, Billy."

The black was strange to the boy. He thought the lower orders here
disrespectful.

"Josiah's our barber," said Leila. "He saved me once from a dreadful
accident. You'll like him."

"Will I?" thought John, but merely remarked, "They all seem rather
intimate."

"Why not?" said the young Republican. "Ah! here's the gate. I'll get out
and open it. It's the best gate to swing on in the whole place."

As she tossed the furs aside, John gasped, "To swing on--"

"Oh, yes. Aunt Ann says I am too old to swing on gates, but I do. It
shuts with a bang. I'll show you some day."

"What is swinging on a gate?" said John, as she jumped out and stood in
the snow laughing. Surely this was an amazing kind of boy. "Why, did you
never hear the rhyme about it?"

"No," said John, "I never did."

"Well, you just get on the gate when it's wide open and give a push, and
you sing--

  "If I was the President of these United States,
  I'd suck molasses candy and swing upon the gates.

"There! Then it shuts--bang!" With this bit of child folklore she
scampered away through the snow and stood holding the gate open while
Billy drove through. She reflected mischievously that it must have been
three years since she had swung on a gate.

John feeling warm and for the first time looking about him with interest
began to notice the grandeur of the rigid snow-laden pines of an
untouched forest which stood in what was now brilliant sunshine.

As Leila got into the sleigh, she said, "Now, Billy, go slowly when you
make the short turn at the house. If you upset us, I--I'll kill you."

"Yes, miss. Guess I'll drive all right." But the ways of drivers are
everywhere the same, and to come to the end of a drive swiftly with crack
of whip was an unresisted temptation.

"_Sang de Dieu!_" cried John, "we will be upset."

"We are," shouted Leila. The horse was down, the sleigh on its side, and
the cousins disappeared in a huge drift piled high when the road was
cleared.



CHAPTER II


John was the first to return to the outer world. He stood still, seeing
the horse on its legs, Billy unharnessing, Leila for an instant lost to
sight. The boy was scared. In his ordered life it was an unequalled
experience. Then he saw a merry face above the drift and lying around it
a wide-spread glory of red hair on the white snow. In after years he
would recall the beauty of the laughing young face in its setting of dark
gold and sunlit silver snow.

"Oh, my!" she cried. "That Billy! Don't stand there, John; pull me out,
I'm stuck."

He gave her a hand and she bounded forth out of the drift, shaking off
the dry snow as a wet dog shakes off water. "What's the matter, John?"

He was trying to empty neck, pocket and shoes of snow, and was past
the limits of what small endurance he had been taught. "I shall catch
my death of cold. It's down my back--it's everywhere, and I--shall
get--laryngitis."

The brave blue eyes of the girl stared at his dejected figure. She was at
heart a gentle, little woman-child, endowed by nature with so much of
tom-boy barbarism as was good for her. Just now a feeling of contemptuous
surprise overcame her kindliness and her aunt's training. "There's your
bag on the snow, and Billy will find your cap. What does a boy want with
a bag? A boy--and afraid of snow!" she cried. "Help him with that
harness."

He made no reply, but looked about for his lost cane. Then the young
despot turned upon the driver. "Wait till Uncle James hears; he'll come
down on you."

"My lands!" said Billy, unbuckling a trace, "I'll just say, I'm sorry;
and the Squire he'll say, don't let it happen again; and I'll say, yes,
sir."

"Yes, until Aunt Ann hears," said Leila, and turned to John. His attitude
of utter helplessness touched her.

"Come into the house; you must be cold." She was of a sudden all
tenderness.

Through an outside winter doorway-shelter they entered a hall unusually
large for an American's house and warmed by two great blazing hickory
wood-fires. "Come in," she cried, "you'll be all right. Sit down by the
fire; I'll be down in a minute, I want to see where Aunt Ann has put
you."

"I am much obliged," said John shivering. He was alone, but wet as he was
the place captured an ever active imagination. He looked about him as he
stood before the roaring fire. To the right was an open library, to the
left a drawing-room rarely used, the hall being by choice the favoured
sitting-room. The dining-room was built out from the back of the hall,
whence up a broad stairway Leila had gone. The walls were hung with
Indian painted robes, Sioux and Arapahoe weapons, old colonial rifles,
and among them portraits of three generations of Penhallows. Many older
people had found interesting the strange adornment of the walls, where
amid antlered trophies of game, buffalo heads and war-worn Indian relics,
could be read something of the owner's tastes and history. John stood by
the fire fascinated. Like many timid boys, he liked books of adventure
and to imagine himself heroic in situations of peril.

"It's all right. Come up," cried Leila from the stair. "Your trunk's
there now. There's a fine fire."

Forgetful of the cold ride and of the snow down his back, he was
standing before the feathered head-dress of a Sioux Chief and
touching the tomahawk below it. He turned as she spoke. "Those must
be scalp-locks--three." He saw the prairie, the wild pursuit--saw them
as she could not. He went after her upstairs, the girl talking, the
boy rapt, lost in far-away battles on the plains.

"This is your room. See what a nice fire. You can dry yourself. Your
trunk is here already." She lighted two candles. "We dine at half-past
six."

"Thank you; I am very much obliged," he said, thinking what a mannerless
girl.

Leila closed the door and stood still a moment. Then she exclaimed,
"Well, I never! What will Uncle Jim say?" She listened a moment. No
one was in the hall. Then she laughed, and getting astride of the
banister-rail made a wild, swift and perilous descent, alighting at the
foot in the hall, and readjusting her short skirts as she heard her aunt
and uncle on the porch. "I was just in time," she exclaimed. "Wouldn't I
have caught it!"

The Squire, as the village called him, would have applauded this form of
coasting, but Aunt Ann had other views. "Well!" he said as they came in,
"what have you done with your young man?"

Now he was for Leila anything but a man or manly, but she was a loyal
little lady and unwilling to expose the guest to Uncle Jim's laughter.
"He's all right," she said, "but Billy upset the sleigh." She was longing
to tell about that ball in the stable, but refrained.

"So Billy upset you; and John, where is he?"

"He's upstairs getting dried."

"It is rather a rough welcome," remarked her aunt.

"He lost his cap and his cane," said Leila.

"His cane!" exclaimed her uncle, "his cane!"

"I must see him," said his wife.

"Better let him alone, Ann." But as usual she took her own way and went
upstairs. She came down in a few minutes, finding her husband standing
before the fire--an erect, soldierly figure close to forty years of age.

"Well, Ann?" he queried.

"A very nice lad, with such good manners, James."

"Billy found his cap," said Leila, "but he couldn't get the sleigh set up
until the stable men came."

"And that cane," laughed Penhallow. "Was the boy amused or--or scared?"

"I don't know," which was hardly true, but the chivalry of childhood
forbade tale-telling and he learned very little. "He was rather tired and
cold, so I made him go to his room and rest."

"Poor child!" said Aunt Ann.

James Penhallow looked at Leila. Some manner of signals were
interchanged. "I saw Billy digging in the big drift," he said. "I trust
he found the young gentleman's cane." Some pitying, dim comprehension of
the delicately nurtured lad had brought to the social surface the
kindliness of the girl and she said no more.

"It is time to dress for dinner," said Ann. Away from the usages of the
city she had wisely insisted on keeping up the social forms which the
Squire would at times have been glad to disregard. For a moment Ann
Penhallow lingered. "We must try to make him feel at home, James."

"Of course, my dear. I can imagine how Susan Penhallow would have
educated a boy, and now I know quite too well what we shall have to
undo--and--do."

"You won't, oh! you will not be too hard on him."

"I--no, my dear--but--I suspect his American education has begun
already."

"What do you mean?"

"Ask Leila--and Billy. But that can wait." They separated.

While his elders were thus briefly discussing this new addition to the
responsibilities of their busy lives, the subject of their talk had been
warmed into comfortable repossession of his self-esteem. He set in order
his elaborate silver toilet things marked with the Penhallow crest, saw
in the glass that his dress and unboylike length of curly hair were as he
had been taught they should be; then he looked at his watch and went
slowly downstairs.

"Halloa! John," he heard as he reached the last turn of the stairs. "Most
glad to see you. You are very welcome to your new home." The man who
hailed him was six feet two inches, deep-chested, erect--the West Point
figure; the face clean-shaven, ruddy, hazel-eyed, was radiant with the
honest feeling of desire to put this childlike boy at ease.

The little gentleman needed no aid and replied, "My dear uncle, I cannot
sufficiently thank you." A little bow went with his words, and he
placidly accepted his aunt's embrace, while the hearty Miss Leila looked
on in silence. The boy's black suit, the short jacket, the neat black
tie, made the paleness of his thin large-featured face too obvious. Then
Leila took note of the court shoes and silk socks, and looked at Uncle
Jim to see what he thought. The Squire reserved what criticism he may
have had and asked cheerfully about the journey, Aunt Ann aiding him with
eager will to make the boy feel at home. He was quite enough at home. It
was all agreeable, these handsome relations and the other Penhallows on
the walls. He had been taught that which is good or ill as men use it,
pride of race, and in his capacity to be impressed by his surroundings
was years older than Leila. He felt sure that he would like it here at
Grey Pine, but was surprised to see no butler and to be waited on at
dinner by two neat little maids.

When Ann Penhallow asked him about his schools and his life in Europe, he
became critical, and conversed about picture-galleries and foreign life
with no lack of accuracy, while the Squire listened smiling and Leila sat
dumb with astonishment as the dinner went on. He ate little and kept in
mind the endless lessons in regard to what he should or should not eat.
Meanwhile, he silently approved of the old silver and these well-bred
kinsfolk, with a reserve of doubt concerning his silent cousin.

His uncle had at last his one glass of Madeira, and as they rose his aunt
said, "You may be tired, John; you ought to go to bed early."

"It is not yet time," he said. "I always retire at ten o'clock."

"He 'retires,'" murmured his uncle. "Come, Ann, we will leave Leila to
make friends with the new cousin. Try John at checkers, Leila. She
defeats me easily."

"I--never saw any one could beat me at _jeu des dames_," said John. It
was a fine chance to get even with Leila for the humiliating adventures
of a not very flattering day.

"Well, take care," said the Squire, not altogether amused. "Come, Ann."
Entering the large library room he closed the door, drew over it a
curtain, filled his pipe but did not light it, and sat down at the fire
beside his wife.

"Well, James," she said, "did you ever see a better mannered lad, and so
intelligent?"

"Never--nor any lad who has as good an opinion of his small self. He is
too young for his years, and in some ways too old. I looked him over a
bit. He is a mere scaffolding, a sickly-looking chap. He eats too little.
I heard him remark to you that potatoes disagreed with him and that he
never ate apples."

"But, James, what shall we do with him? It is a new and a difficult
responsibility."

"Do with him? Oh! make a man of him. Give him and Leila a week's holiday.
Turn him loose with that fine tom-boy. Then he must go to school to Mark
Rivers with Leila and those two young village imps, the doctor's boy and
Grace's, that precious young Baptist. They will do him good. When Mark
reports, we shall see further. That is all my present wisdom, Ann. Has
the _Tribune_ come? Oh! I see--it is on the table."

Ann was still in some doubt and returned to the boy. "And where do I come
in?"

"Feed the young animal and get the tailor in the village to make him some
warm rough clothes, and get him boots for the snow--and thick gloves--and
a warm ready-made overcoat."

"I will. But, James, Leila will half kill him. He is so thin and pale. He
looks hardly older than she does." Then Ann rose, saying, "Well, we shall
see, I suppose you are right," and after some talk about the iron-works
left him to his pipe.

When she returned to the hall, the two children were talking of
Europe--or rather Leila was listening. "Well," said the little lady, Ann
Penhallow, "how did the game go, John?"

"I am rather out of practice," said John. Leila said nothing. He had been
shamefully worsted. "I think I shall go to bed," he remarked, looking at
his watch.

"I would," she said. "There are the candles. There is a bathroom next to
you."

He was tired and disgusted, but slept soundly. When at breakfast he said
that he was not allowed tea or coffee, he was fed with milk, to which
with hot bread and new acquaintance with griddle cakes he took kindly.
After breakfast he was driven to the village with his aunt and equipped
with a rough ready-made overcoat and high boots. He found the dress
comfortable, but not to his taste.

When he came back, the Squire and Leila had disappeared and he was left
to his own devices. He was advised by his aunt to walk about and see the
stables and the horses. That any boy should not want to see the horses
was inconceivable in this household. He did go out and walk on the porch,
but soon went in chilled and sat down to lose himself in a book of polar
travel. He liked history, travel and biographies of soldiers, fearfully
desiring to have his own courage tested--a more common boy-wish than
might be supposed. He thought of it as he laid down the book and began to
inspect again the painted buffalo skins on the wall, letting his
imagination wander when once more he touched a Sioux tomahawk with its
grim adornment of scalp-locks. He was far away when he heard his aunt
say, "You were not out long, John. Did they show you the horses?"

Shy and reserved in novel surroundings, he was rather too much at his
ease amid socially familiar things, and now said lightly that he had not
seen the stables. "Really, Aunt Ann, I prefer to read or to look at these
interesting Indian relics."

"Ask your uncle about them," she said, "but you will find out that horses
are important in this household." She left him with the conviction that
James Penhallow was, on the whole, right as to the educational needs of
this lad.

After lunch his uncle said, "Leila will show you about the place. You
will want to see the horses, of course, and the dogs."

"And my guinea pigs," added Leila.

He took no interest in either, and the dogs somewhat alarmed him. His
cousin, a little discouraged, led him away into the woods where the
ancient pines stood snow laden far apart with no intrusion between them
of low shrubbery. Leila was silent, half aware that he was hard to
entertain, and then mischievously wilful to give this indifferent cousin
a lesson. Presently he stood still, looking up at the towering cones of
the motionless pines.

"How stately they are--how like old Vikings!" he said. His imagination
was the oldest mental characteristic of this over-guarded, repressed
boyhood.

Leila turned, surprised. This was beyond her appreciative capacity. "Once
I heard Uncle Jim say something like that. He's queer about trees. He
talks to them sometimes just like that. There's the biggest pine over
there--I'll show it to you. Why! he will stop and pat it and say, 'How
are you?'--Isn't it funny?"

"No, it isn't funny at all. It's--it's beautiful!"

"You must be like him, John."

"I--like him! Do you think so?" He was pleased. The Indian horseman of
the plains who could talk to the big tree began to be felt by the boy as
somehow nearer.

"Let's play Indian," said Leila. "I'll show you." She was merry, intent
on mischief.

"Oh! whatever you like." He was uninterested.

Leila said, "You stand behind this tree, I will stand behind that one."
She took for herself the larger shelter. "Then you, each of us, get ready
this way a pile of snowballs. I say, Make ready! Fire! and we snowball
one another like everything. The first Indian that's hit, he falls down
dead. Then the other rushes at him and scalps him."

"But," said John, "how can he?"

"Oh! he just gives your hair a pull and makes believe."

"I see."

"Then we play it five times, and each scalp counts one. Now, isn't that
real jolly?"

John had his doubts as to this, but he took his place and made some
snowballs clumsily.

"Make ready! Fire!" cried Leila. The snowballs flew. At last, the girl
seeing how wildly he threw exposed herself. A better shot took her full
in the face. Laughing gaily, she dropped, "I'm dead."

The game pleased him with its unlooked-for good luck. "Now don't stand
there like a ninny--scalp me," she cried.

He ran to her side and knelt down. The widespread hair affected him
curiously. He touched it daintily, let it fall, and rose. "To pull at a
girl's hair! I couldn't do it."

Leila laughed. "A good pull, that's how to scalp."

"I couldn't," said John.

"Well, you are a queer sort of Indian!" She was less merciful, but in the
end, to her surprise, he had three scalps. "Uncle Jim will laugh when I
tell him," she said. "Shall we go home?"

"No, I want to see Uncle Jim's big tree."

"Oh! he's only Uncle Jim to me. Aunt don't like it. He will tell you some
day to call him Uncle Jim. He says I got that as brevet rank the day my
mare refused the barnyard fence and pitched me off. I just got on again
and made her take it! That's why he's Uncle Jim."

John became thoughtful about that brevet privilege of a remote future. He
had, however, persistent ways. "I want to see the big pine, Leila."

"Oh! come on then. It's a long way. We must cut across." He followed her
remorselessly swift feet through the leafless bushes and drifts until
they came upon a giant pine in a wide space cleared to give the veteran
royal solitude. "That's him," cried Leila, and carelessly cast herself
down on the snow.

The boy stood still in wonder. Something about the tree disturbed him
emotionally. With hands clasped behind his back, he stared up at its
towering heights. He was silent.

"What's the matter? What do you see?" She was never long silent. He was
searching for a word.

"It's solemn. I like it." He moved forward and patted the huge hole with
a feeling of reverence and affection. "I wish he could speak to us. How
are you, old fellow?"

Leila watched him. As yet she had no least comprehension of this sense of
being kindred to nature. It is rare in youth. As he spoke, a little
breeze stirred the old fellow's topmost crest and a light downfall of
snow fell on the pair. Leila laughed, but the boy cried, "There! he has
answered. We are friends."

"Now, if that isn't Uncle Jim all over. He just does make me laugh."

John shook off the snow. "Let's go home," he said. He Was warm and red
with the exercise, and in high good-humour over his success. "Did you
never read a poem called 'The Talking Oak'? I had a tutor used to read it
to me."

"Now, the idea of a tree talking!" she said. "No, I never heard of it.
Come along, we'll be late. That's funny about a tree talking. Can you
run?"

They ran, but not far, because deep snow makes running hard. It was after
dark when they tramped on to the back porch. John's experience taught him
to expect blame for being out late. No one asked a question or made a
remark. He was ignored, to his amazement. Whether, as he soon learned, he
was in or out, wet or dry, seemed to be of no moment to any one, provided
he was punctual at meal-times. It was at first hard to realize the
reasonable freedom suddenly in his possession. The appearance of complete
want of interest in his health and what he did was as useful a moral
tonic as was for the body the educational out-of-doors' society of the
fearless girl, his aunt's niece whom he was told to consider as his
cousin. To his surprise, he was free to come and go, and what he or Leila
did in the woods or in the stables no one inquired. Aunt Ann uneasy would
have known all about them, but the Squire urged, that for a time, "let
alone" was the better policy. This freedom was so unusual, so
unreservedly complete, as to rejoice Leila, who was very ready to use the
liberty it gave. In a week the rector's school would shut them up for
half of the day of sunlit snow. Meanwhile, John wondered with interest
every morning where next those thin active young legs would lead him.

The dogs he soon took to, when Leila's whistle called them,--a wild
troop, never allowed beyond the porch or in the house. For some occult
reason Mrs. Ann disliked dogs and liked cats, which roamed the house at
will and were at deadly feud with the stable canines. No rough weather
ever disturbed Leila's out-of-door habits, but when for two days a lazy
rain fell and froze on the snow, John declared that he could not venture
to get wet with his tendency to tonsilitis. As Leila refused indoor
society and he did not like to be left alone, he missed the gay and
gallant little lady, and still no one questioned him. On the third day at
breakfast Leila was wildly excited. The smooth ice-mailed snow shone
brilliant in the sunshine.

"Coasting weather, Uncle Jim," Leila said.

"First class," said her uncle. "Get off before the sun melts the crust."

"Do be careful, dear," said Ann Penhallow, "and do not try the farm
hill."

"Yes, aunt." The Squire exchanged signal glances with Leila over the
teacup he was lifting. "Come, John," she said. "No dogs to-day. It's just
perfect. Here's your sled."

John had seen coasting in Germany and had been strictly forbidden so
perilous an amusement. As they walked over the crackling ice-cover of the
snow, he said, "Why do you want to sled, Leila? I consider it extremely
dangerous. I saw two persons hurt when we were in Switzerland." His
imagination was predicting all manner of disaster, but he had the moral
courage which makes hypocrisy impossible. From the hill crest John looked
down the long silvery slope and did not like it. "It's just a foolish
risk. Do you mean to slide down to that brook?"

"Slide! We coast, we don't slide. I think you had better go back and tell
Uncle Jim you were afraid."

He was furious. "I tell you this, Miss Grey--I am afraid--I have been
told--well, never mind--that--well---I won't say I'm not afraid--but I'm
more afraid of Uncle James than--than--of death."

She stood still a moment as she faced him, the two pair of blue eyes
meeting. He was very youthful for his years and was near the possibility
of the tears of anger, and, too, the virile qualities of his race were
protesting forces in the background of undeveloped character. The sweet
girl face grew red and kinder. "I was mean, John Penhallow. I am sorry I
was rude."

"No--no," he exclaimed, "it was I who was--was--ill-mannered. I--mean to
coast if I die."

"Die," she laughed gaily. "Let me go first."

"Go ahead then." She was astride of the sled and away down the long
descent, while he watched her swift flight. He set his teeth and was off
after her. A thrill of pleasure possessed him, the joy of swift movement.
Near the foot was an abrupt fall to a frozen brook and then a sharp
ascent. He rolled over at Leila's feet seeing a firmament of stars and
rose bewildered.

"Busted?" cried Leila, who picked up the slang of the village boys to her
aunt's disgust.

"I am not what you call busted," said John, "but I consider it most
disagreeable." Without a word more he left her, set out up the hill and
coasted again. He upset half-way down, rolled over, and got on again
laughing. This time somehow he got over the brook and turned crossly on
Leila with, "I hope now you are satisfied, Miss Grey."

"You'll do, I guess," said she. "I just wondered if you would back out,
John. Let's try the other hills." He went after her vexed at her way of
ordering him about, and not displeased with John Penhallow and his new
experience in snatching from danger a fearful joy.



CHAPTER III


The difficult lessons on the use of snow-shoes took up day after day,
until weary but at last eager he followed her tireless little figure far
into the more remote woods. "What's that?" he said.

"I wanted you to see it, John." It was an old log cabin. "That's where
the first James Penhallow lived. Uncle Jim keeps it from tumbling to
pieces, but it's no use to anybody."

"The first Penhallow," said John. "It must be very old."

"Oh! I suppose so--I don't know--ask Uncle Jim. They say the Indians
attacked it once--that first James Penhallow and his wife fought them
till help came. I thought you would like to see it."

He went in, kicking off his snow-shoes. She was getting used to his
silences, and now with some surprise at his evident interest followed
him. He walked about making brief remarks or eagerly asking questions.

"They must have had loop-holes to shoot. Did they kill any Indians?"

"Yes, five. They are buried behind the cabin. Uncle Jim set a stone to
mark the place."

He made no reply. His thoughts were far away in time, realizing the
beleaguered cabin, the night of fear, the flashing rifles of his
ancestors. The fear--would he have been afraid?

"When I was little, I was afraid to come here alone," said the girl.

"I should like to come here at night," he returned.

"Why? I wouldn't. Oh! not at night. I don't see what fun there would be
in that."

"Then I would know--"

"Know what, John? What would you know?"

"Oh! no matter." He had a deep desire to learn if he would be afraid.
"Some day," he added, "I will tell you. Let's go home."

"Are you tired?"

"I'm half dead," he laughed as he slipped on his snow-shoes.

A long and heavy rain cleared away the snow, and the more usual softness
of the end of November set in. Their holiday sports were over for a time,
to John's relief. On a Monday he went through the woods with Leila to the
rectory. Mark Rivers, who had only seen John twice, made him welcome. The
tall, thin, pale man, with the quiet smile and attentive grey eyes, made
a ready capture of the boy. There were only two other scholars, the sons
of the doctor and the Baptist preacher, lads of sixteen, not very
mannerly, rather rough country boys, who nudged one another and regarded
John with amused interest. In two or three days John knew that he was in
the care of an unusually scholarly man, who became at once his friend
and treated the lazy village boys and him with considerate kindliness.
John liked it. To his surprise, no questions were asked at home about the
school, and the afternoons were often free for lonely walks, when Leila
went away on her mare and John was at liberty to read or to do as best
pleased him. At times Leila bored him, and although with his well-taught
courteous ways he was careful not to show impatience, he had the
imaginative boy's capacity to enjoy being alone and a long repressed
curiosity which now found indulgence among people who liked to answer
questions and were pleased when he asked them. Very often, as he came
into easier relations with his aunt, he was told to take some query she
could not answer to Uncle James or the rector. A rather sensitive lad, he
soon became aware that his uncle appeared to take no great interest in
him, and, too, the boy's long cultivated though lessening reserve kept
them apart. Meanwhile, Ann watched with pleasure his gain in
independence, in looks and in appetite. While James Penhallow after his
game of whist at night growled in his den over the bitter politics of the
day, North and South, his wife read aloud to the children by the fireside
in her own small sitting-room or answered as best she could John's
questions, confessing ignorance at times or turning to books of
reference. It was not always easy to satisfy this restless young mind in
a fast developing body. "Were guinea pigs really pigs? What was the
hematite iron-ore his uncle used at the works?" Once he was surprised. He
asked one evening, "What was the Missouri Compromise?" He had read so
much about it in the papers. "Hasn't it something to do with slavery?
Aunt Ann, it must seem strange to own a man." His eager young ears had
heard rather ignorant talk of it from his mother's English friends.

His aunt said quietly, "My people in Maryland own slaves, John. It is not
a matter for a child to discuss. The abolitionists at the North are
making trouble. It is a subject--we--I do not care to talk about."

"But what is an abolitionist, aunt?" he urged.

She laughed and said gaily, "I will answer no more conundrums; ask your
uncle."

Leila who took no interest in politics fidgeted until she got her chance
when Mrs. Ann would not answer John. "I want to hear about that talking
oak, John."

She was quicker than he to observe her aunt's annoyance, and Ann, glad to
be let off easily, found the needed book, and for a time they fell under
the charm of Tennyson, and then earlier than usual were sent to bed.

The days ran on into weeks of school, and now there were snow-shoe tramps
or sleigh rides to see some big piece of casting at the forge, where
persistently-curious John did learn from some one what hematite was. The
life became to him steadily more and more pleasant as he shed with ease
the habits of an over regulated life, and living wholesome days prospered
in body and mind.

Christmas was a disappointment to Leila and to him. There was an outbreak
of measles at Westways and there would be no carols, nor children
gathered at Grey Pine. Ann's usual bounty of toys was sent to the
village. John's present from his uncle was a pair of skates, and then
Leila saw a delightful chance to add another branch of education. Next
morning, for this was holiday-week, she asked if he would like to learn
to skate. They had gone early to the cabin and were lazily enjoying a
rest after a snow-shoe tramp. He replied, in an absent way, "I suppose I
may as well learn. How many Indians were there?"

"I don't know. Who cares now?"

"I do."

"I never saw such a boy. You can't ride and you can't skate. You are just
good for nothing. You're just fit to be sold at a rummage-sale."

He was less easily vexed than made curious. "What's a rummage-sale?"

"Oh! we had one two years ago. Once in a while Aunt Ann says there must
be one, so she gathers up all the trash and Uncle Jim's old clothes (he
hates that), and the village people they buy things. And Mr. Rivers sells
the things at auction, you know--and oh, my! he was funny."

"So they sell what no one wants. Then why does any one buy?"

"I'm sure, I don't know."

"I wonder what I would fetch, Leila?"

"Not much," she said.

"Maybe you're right." He had one of the brief boy-moods of
self-abasement.

Leila changed quickly. "I'll bid for you," she said coyly.

He laughed and looked up, surprised at this earliest indication of the
feminine. "What would you give?" he asked.

"Well, about twenty-five cents."

He laughed. "I may improve, Leila, and the price go up. Let us go and
learn to skate--you must teach me."

"Of course," said Leila, "but you will soon learn. It's hard at first."

At lunch, on Christmas day, John had thanked his uncle for the skates in
the formal way which Ann liked and James Penhallow did not. He said, "I
am very greatly obliged for the skates. They appear to me excellent."

"What a confoundedly civil young gentleman," thought Penhallow. "I have
been thinking you must learn to skate. The pond has been swept clear of
snow."

"Thank you," returned the boy, with a grin which his uncle thought odd.

"Leila will teach you."

John was silent, regarding his uncle with never dying interest, the
soldier of Indian battles, the perfect rider and good shot, adored in the
stables and loved, as John was learning, in all the country side. John
was in the grip of a boy's admiration for a realized ideal--the worship,
by the timid, of courage. Of the few things he did well, he thought
little; and an invalid's fears had discouraged rough games until he had
become like a timorous girl. He had much dread of horses, and was
alarmingly sure that he would some day be made to ride. Once in Paris he
had tried, had had a harmless accident and, willingly yielding to his
mother's fears, had tried no more.

Late in the afternoon, Leila, with her long wake of flying hair, burst
into the Squire's den. "What the deuce is the matter?" asked
Penhallow.

"Oh! Uncle Jim, he can skate like--like a witch. I couldn't keep near
him. He skated an 'L' for my name. Uncle Jim, he's a fraud."

Penhallow knew now why the boy had grinned at him. "I think, Leila, he
will do. Where did he learn to skate?"

"At Vevey, he says, on the Lake."

"Yes, of Geneva."

"Tom McGregor was there and Bob Grace. We played tag. John knows a way to
play tag on skates. You must chalk your right hand and you must mark with
it the other fellow's right shoulder. It must be jolly. We had no chalk,
but we are to play it to-morrow. Isn't it interesting, Uncle John?"

Penhallow laughed. "Interesting, my dear? Oh! your aunt will be after you
with a stick."

"Aunt Ann's--stick!" laughed Leila.

"My dear Leila," he said gravely, "this boy has had all the manliness
coddled out of him, but he looks like his father. I have my own ideas of
how to deal with him. I suppose he will brag a bit at dinner."

"He will not, Uncle Jim."

"Bet you a pound of bonbons, Leila."

"From town?"

"Yes."

"All right."

"Can he coast? I did not ask you."

"Well! pretty well," said Leila. For some unknown reason she was
unwilling to say more.

"Doesn't the rector dine here, to-day, Leila?"

"Yes, but--oh! Uncle Jim, we found a big hornets' nest yesterday on the
log cabin. They seemed all asleep. I told John we would fight them in the
spring."

"And what did he say?"

"He said: 'Did they sting?'--I said: 'That was the fun of it!'"

"Better not tell your aunt."

"No, sir. I'm an obedient little girl."

"You little scamp! You were meant to be a boy. Is there anything you are
afraid of?"

"Yes, algebra."

"Oh! get out," and she fled.

At dinner John said no word of the skating, to the satisfaction of Leila
who conveyed to her uncle a gratified sense of victory by some of the
signs which were their private property.

Leaving the cousins to their game of chess, Penhallow followed his wife
and Mark Rivers into his library. "Well, Mark," he said, "you have had
this boy long enough to judge; it is time I heard what you think of him.
You asked me to wait. The youngster is rather reticent, and Leila is
about the only person in the house who really knows much about him. He
talks like a man of thirty."

"I do not find him reticent," remarked Mrs. Ann, "and his manners are
charming--I wish Leila's were half as good."

"Well, let's hear about him."

"May I smoke?" asked the rector.

"Anywhere but in my drawing-room. I believe James would like to smoke in
church."

"It might have its consolations," returned Penhallow.

"Thanks," said Rivers smiling. Neither man took advantage of her unusual
permission. "But you, Squire, have been closer than I to this interesting
boy. What do you make of him?"

"He can't ride--he hardly knows a horse from a mule."

"That's not his fault," said Mrs. Penhallow, "he's afraid of horses."

"Afraid!" said her husband. "By George! afraid of horses."

"He speaks French perfectly," said Mark Rivers.

"He can't swim. I got that out of Leila. I understand he tried it once
and gave it up."

"But his mother made him, James. You know Susan. She was as timid as a
house-fly for herself, and I suppose for him."

"I asked him," said Rivers, "if he knew any Latin. He answered me in
Latin and told me that at Budapest where he was long at school the boys
had to speak Latin."

"And the rest, Rivers. Is he well up in mathematics?"

"No, he finds that difficult. But, upon my word, Squire, he is the most
doggedly persistent fellow I have ever had to teach and I handled many
boys when I was younger. I can take care of my side of the boy."

"He can skate, James," said Mrs. Ann.

"Yes, so I hear. I suppose that under Leila's care and a good out-of-door
life he will drop his girl-ways--but--"

"But what, James?"

"Oh! he has been taught that there is no shame in failure, no disgrace in
being afraid."

"How do you know he is afraid, my dear James?"

"Oh! I know." Leila's unwillingness to talk had given him some suspicion
of the truth. "Well, we shall see. He needs some rough boy-company. I
don't like to have the village boys alone with Leila, but when she has
John with her it may be as well to ask Dr. McGregor's son Tom to coast
and play with them."

"He has no manners," said Mrs. Penhallow.

"Then he may get some from John. He never will from Leila. I will take
care of the rest, Rivers. He has got to learn to ride."

"You won't be too hard on him, James?" said his wife.

"Not unless he needs it. Let us drop him."

"Have you seen yesterday's papers?" asked Rivers. "Our politics, North
and South, look to me stormy."

Penhallow shook his head at the tall rector. The angry strife of sections
and parties was the one matter he never discussed with Ann Penhallow. The
rector recalled it as he saw Mrs. Ann sit up and drop on her lap the
garment upon which her ever industrious hands were busy. Accepting
Penhallow's hint, Rivers said quickly, "But really there is nothing new,"
and then, "Tom McGregor will certainly be the better for our little
gentleman's good manners, and he too has something to learn of Tom."

"I should say he has," said Penhallow.

"A little dose of West Point, I suppose," laughed Mrs. Ann. "It is my
husband's one ideal of education."

"It must once, I fancy, have satisfied Ann Grey," retorted the Squire
smiling.

"I reserve any later opinion of James Penhallow," she said laughing, and
gathering up her sewing bag left them, declaring that now they might
smoke. The two men rose, and when alone began at once to talk of the
coming election in the fall of 1856 and the endless troubles arising out
of the Fugitive Slave Act.

The boy who had been the subject of their conversation was slowly
becoming used to novel surroundings and the influence they exerted. Ann
talked to him at times of his mother, but he had the disinclination to
speak of the dead which most children have, and had in some ways been
kept so much of a child as to astonish his aunt. Neither Leila nor any
one could have failed to like him and his gentle ways, and as between
him and the village boys she knew Leila preferred this clever, if too
timid, cousin. So far they had had no serious quarrels. When she rode
with the Squire, John wandered in the woods, enjoying solitude, and
having some appreciative relation to nature, the great pine woods, the
strange noises of the breaking ice in the river, the sunset skies.

Among the village boys with whom at the rector's small school and in
the village John was thrown, he liked least the lad McGregor, who had
now been invited to coast or skate with the Grey Pine cousins. Tom had
the democratic boy-belief that very refined manners imply lack of some
other far more practical qualities, and thus to him and the Westways
boys John Penhallow was simply an absurd Miss Nancy kind of lad, and it
was long after the elders of the little town admired and liked him that
the boys learned to respect him. It was easy to see why the generous,
good-tempered and pleasant lad failed to satisfy the town boys. John had
been sedulously educated into the belief that he was of a class to which
these fellows did not belong, and of this the Squire had soon some
suspicion when, obedient as always, John accepted his uncle's choice of
his friend the doctor's son as a playmate.

He was having his hair cut when Tom McGregor came into the shop of
Josiah, the barber. "Wait a minute," said John. "Are you through, Mr.
Josiah?"

Tom grinned, "Got a handle to your name?"

"Yes, because Master John is a gentleman."

"Then I'll call you Mister too."

"It won't ever make you Mister," said the barber, "that kind's born so."

John disliked this outspoken expression of an opinion he shared.
"Nonsense," he said. "Come up, Tom, this afternoon. Don't forget the
muskrat traps, Mr. Josiah."

"No, sir. Too early yet."

"All right," returned Tom. "I'll come."

March had come and the last snow still lay on the land when thus invited
Tom joined John and Leila in the stable-yard. "Let's play tag," cried
Leila. Tom was ready.

"Here's a stick." They took hold of it in turn. Tom's hand came out on
top. "I'm tagger. Look out!" he cried.

They played the game. At last he caught Leila, and crying out, "You're
tagged," seized her boy-cap and threw it up on to the steep slope of the
stable roof.

"Oh! that's not fair," cried the girl. "You are a rude boy. Now you've
got to get it."

"No, indeed. Get the stable-man to get it."

She turned to John, "Please to get it."

"How can I?" he said.

"Go up inside--there's a trap door. You can slide down the snow and get
it."

"But I might fall."

"There's your chance," said Tom grinning. John stood, still irresolute.
Leila walked away into the stable.

"She'll get a man," said Tom a little regretful of his rudeness, as she
disappeared.

In a moment Leila was up in the hayloft and out on the roof. Spreading
out arms and thin legs she carefully let herself slide down the soft snow
until, seizing her cap, she set her feet on the roof gutter, crying out,
"Get a ladder quick." Alarmed at her perilous position, they ran and
called out a groom, a ladder was brought, and in a moment she was on the
ground.

Leila turned on the two lads. "You are a coward, Tom McGregor, and you
too, John Penhallow. I never--never will play with you again."

"It was just fun," said Tom; "any of the men could have poked it down."

"Cowards," said the girl, tossing back her dark mass of hair and moving
away without a look at the discomfited pair.

"I suppose now you will go and tell the Squire," said Tom. He was
alarmed.

She turned, "I--a tell-tale!" Her child-code of conduct was imperative.
"I am neither a tell-tale nor a coward. 'Tell-tale pick a nail and hang
him to a cow's tail!'" and with this well-known declaration of her creed
of playground honour, she walked away.

"She'll tell," said Tom.

"She won't," said John.

"Guess I'll go home," said Tom, and left John to his reflections.
They were most disagreeable.

John went into the woods and sat down on a log. "So," he said aloud, "she
called me a coward--and I am--I was--I can't bear it. What would my uncle
say?" His eyes filled. He brushed away the tears with his sleeve. A
sudden remembrance of how good she had been to him, how loyally silent,
added to his distress. He longed for a chance to prove that he was not
that--that--Eager and yet distrustful, he got up and walked through the
melting snow to the cabin, where he lay on the floor thinking, a prey to
that fiend imagination, of which he had a larger share than is always
pleasant when excuses are needed.

Leila was coldly civil and held her tongue, but for a few days would not
go into the woods with him and rode alone or with her uncle. Tom came no
more for a week, until self-assured that the Squire had not heard of his
behaviour, as he met him on the road with his usual hearty greeting. Ann
Penhallow saw that the boy was less happy than usual and suspected some
mild difficulty with Leila, but in her wise way said nothing and began to
use him for some of her many errands of helpfulness in the village and on
the farms, where always he made friends. Seeing at last that the boy was
too silent and to her eye unhappy, she talked of it to Mark Rivers. The
next day, after school, he said to John, "I want to see that old cabin in
the woods. Long as I have lived here I have never been that far. Come and
show me the way. I tried once to find it and got lost. We can have a
jolly good talk, you and I."

The word of kindly approach was timely. John felt the invitation as a
compliment, and was singularly open to the approval his lessons won from
this gentle dark-eyed man. "Oh!" he said, "I should like that."

After lunch, Leila, a little penitent, said with unwonted shyness, "The
woods are very nice to-day, and I found the first arbutus under the
snow."

When John did not respond, she made a further propitiatory advance, "It
will soon be time for that hornets' nest, we must go and see."

"What are you about?" said Mrs. Ann; "you will get stung."

"Pursuit of natural history," said Penhallow smiling.

"You are as bad as Leila, James."

"Won't you come?" asked the girl at last.

"Thank you. I regret that I have an engagement with Mr. Rivers," said
John, with the prim manner he was fast losing.

"By George!" murmured Penhallow as he rose.

John looked up puzzled, and his uncle, much amused, went to get his boots
and riding-dress. "Wait till I get you on a horse, my Lord Chesterfield,"
he muttered. "He and Leila must have had a row. What about, I wonder." He
asked no questions.

With a renewal of contentment and well-pleased, John called for the
rector. They went away into the forest to the cabin.

"And so," said Rivers, "this is where the first Penhallow had his Indian
fight. I must ask the Squire."

"I know about it," said John. "Leila told me, and"--he paused, "I saw
it."

"Oh! did you? Let's hear." They lay down, and the rector lazily smoked.
"Well, go ahead, Jack, I like stories." He had early rechristened him
Jack, and the boy liked it.

"Well, sir, they saw them coming near to dusk and ran. You see, it was a
clearing then; the trees have grown here since. That was at dusk. They
barred the door and cut loop-holes between the logs. Next morning the
Indians came on. She fired first, and she cried out, 'Oh! James, I've
killed a man.'"

"She said that?" asked Rivers.

"Yes, and she wouldn't shoot again until her man was wounded, then she
was like a raging lioness."

"A lioness!" echoed Rivers.

"By evening, help came."

"How did you know all this?"

"Oh! Leila told me some--and the rest--well, sir, I saw it. I've been
here often."

The rector studied the excited young face. "Would you like to have been
there, Jack?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I should have been afraid, and--" Then quickly, "I suppose he was; she
was; any one would have been."

"Like as not. He for her, most of all. But there are many kinds of fear,
Jack."

John was silent, and the rector waited. Then the boy broke out, "Leila
told me last week I was a coward."

"Indeed! Leila told you that! That wasn't like her, Jack. Why did she say
it?"

This was a friendly hearer, whose question John had invited. To-day the
human relief of confession was great to the boy. He told the story, in
bits, carefully, as if to have it exact were essential. Mark Rivers
watched him through his pipe smoke, trying to think of what he could or
should say to this small soul in trouble. The boy was lying on the floor
looking up, his hands clasped behind his head. "That's all, sir. It's
dreadful."

The young rector's directness of character set him on the right path. "I
don't know just what to say to you, Jack. You see, you have been taught
to be afraid of horses and dogs, of exposure to rain, and generally of
being hurt, until--Well, Jack, if your mother had not been an invalid,
she would not have educated you to fear, to have no joy in risks. Now you
are in more wholesome surroundings--and--in a little while you will
forget this small trouble."

The young clergyman felt that in his puzzle he had been rather vague, and
added pleasantly, "You have the courage of truth. That's moral courage.
Tom would have explained or denied, or done anything to get out of the
scrape, if the Squire had come down on him. You would not."

"Oh! thank you," said John. "I'm sorry I troubled you."

"You did in a way; but you did not when you trusted a man who is your
friend. Let us drop it. Where are those Indian graves?"

They went out and wandered in the woods, until John said, "Oh! this must
be that arbutus Leila talks about, just peeping out from under the snow."
They gathered a large bunch.

"It is the first breath of the fragrance of spring," said Rivers.

"Oh! yes, sir. How sweet it is! It does not grow in Europe."

"No, we own it with many other good and pleasant things."

When they came to the house, Leila was dismounting after her ride. John
said, "Here Leila, I gathered these for you."

When she said, "Thank you, John," he knew by her smiling face that he was
forgiven, and without a word followed her into the hall, still pursued by
the thought; but I was afraid. He put aside this trouble for a time, and
the wood sports with Leila were once more resumed. What thought of his
failure the girl still kept in mind, if she thought of it at all, he
never knew, or not for many days. He had no wish to talk of it, but
fearfully desired to set himself right with her and with John Penhallow.

One day in early April she asked him to go to the stable and order her
horse. He did so, and alone with an unpleasant memory, in the stable-yard
he stood still a moment, and then with a sudden impulse threw his cap up
on to the roof. He took a moment to regret it, and then saying, "I've got
to do it!" he went into the stable and out of the hay-loft on to the
sloping roof. He did not dare to wait, but let himself slide down the
frozen snow, seized his cap, and knew of a sudden that the smooth
ice-coating was an unsuspected peril. He rolled over on his face,
straightened himself, and slid to the edge. He clutched the gutter, hung
a moment, and dropped some fifteen feet upon the hard pavement. For a
moment the shock stunned him. Then, as he lay, he was aware of Billy,
who cried, "He's dead! he's dead!" and ran to the house, where he met
Mrs. Ann and Leila on the porch. "He's killed--he's dead!"

"Who? Who?" they cried.

"Mr. John, he's dead!"

As Billy ran, the dead got his wits about him, sat up, and, hearing Billy
howling, got on his feet. His hands were torn and bleeding, but he was
not otherwise damaged. He ran after Billy, and was but a moment behind
him.

Mrs. Ann was shaking the simple fellow, vainly trying to learn what had
happened. Leila white to the lips was leaning against a pillar. John
called out, "I'm all right, aunt. I had a fall--and Billy, do hold your
tongue."

Billy cried, "He's not dead!" and fled as he had come.

"My poor boy," said Mrs. Ann, "sit down." He gladly obeyed.

At this moment James Penhallow came downstairs. "What's all this row
about, Ann? I heard Billy--Oh, so you're the dead man, John. How did you
happen to die?"

"I fell off the stable roof, sir."

"Well, you got off easily." He asked no other questions, to John's
relief, but said, "Your hands look as if you had fought our big tom-cat."

John had risen on his uncle's approach. Now Penhallow said, "Sit
down. Put some court-plaster on those scratches, Ann, or a postage
stamp--or--so--Come, Leila, the horses are here. Run upstairs and get
my riding-whip. That fool brought me down in a hurry. When the chimney
took fire last year he ran through the village yelling that the house
was burned down. Don't let your aunt coddle you, John."

"Do let the boy alone, James."

"Come, Leila," he said.

"I think I won't ride to-day, Uncle Jim."

A faint signal from his wife sent him on his way alone with, "All right,
Leila. Any errands, my dear?"

"No--but please call at the grocer's and ask him why he has sent no
sugar--and tell Mrs. Saul I want her. If Pole is in, you might mention
that when I order beef I do not want veal."

While John was being plastered and in dread of the further questions
which were not asked, Leila went upstairs, and the Squire rode away to
the iron-works smiling and pleased. "He'll do," he murmured, "but what
the deuce was my young dandy doing on the roof?" The Captain had learned
in the army the wisdom of asking no needless questions. "Leila must have
been a pretty lively instructor in mischief. By and by, Ann will have it
out of the boy, and--I must stop that. Now she will be too full of
surgery. She is sure to think Leila had something to do with it." He saw
of late that Ann was resolute as to what to him would be a sad loss.
Leila was to be sent to school before long--accomplishments! "Damn
accomplishments! I have tried to make a boy out of her--now the
inevitable feminine appears--she was scared white--and the boy was pretty
shaky. I am sure Leila will know all about it." That school business had
already been discussed with his wife, and then, he thought, "There is to
come a winter in the city, society, and--some nice young man, and so
good-bye, my dear comrade. Get up, Brutus." He dismissed his cares as the
big bay stretched out in a gallop.

After some surgical care, John was told to go to his room and lie down.
He protested that he was in no need of rest, but Ann Penhallow, positive
in small ways with every one, including her husband, sent John away with
an imperative order, nor on the whole was he sorry to be alone. No one
had been too curious. He recognized this as a reasonable habit of the
family. And Leila? He was of no mind to be frank with her; and this he
had done was a debt paid to John Penhallow! He may not have so put it,
but he would not admit to himself that Leila's contemptuous epithet had
had any influence on his action. The outcome was a keen sense of happy
self-approval. When he had dressed for dinner, feeling pretty sore all
over, he found Leila waiting at the head of the stairs.

"John Penhallow, you threw your cap on the roof and went up to get it,
you did."

"I did, Leila, but how did you know?"

She smiled and replied, "I--I don't know, John. I am sorry for what I
said, and oh! John, Uncle Jim, he was pleased!"

"Do you think so?"

"Yes." She caught his hand and at the last landing let it fall. At
dinner, the Squire asked kindly: "Are you all right, my boy?"

"Yes, sir," and that was all.

Mark Rivers, who had heard of this incident from Mrs. Penhallow, and at
last from Leila, was alone in a position to comprehend the motives which
combined to bring about an act of rashness. The rector had some sympathy
with the boy and liked him for choosing a time when no one was present
to witness his trial of himself. He too had the good sense like the
Squire to ask no questions.

Meanwhile, Tom McGregor came no more, feeling the wound to his pride, but
without the urgent need felt by John to set himself in a better position
with himself. He would have thought nothing of accepting Leila's
challenge, but very much wanted to see the polite girl-boy brought to
shame. In fact, even the straightforward Squire, with all his ready
cordiality, at times found John's extreme politeness ridiculous at his
age, but knew it to be the result of absurd training and the absence
of natural association with other and manly boys. To Tom it was
unexplained and caused that very common feeling of vague suspicion of
some claim to superiority which refined manners imply to those who lack
manners altogether.



CHAPTER IV


April passed, the arbutus fragrance was gone, while the maples were
putting forth ruddy buds which looked like a prophecy of the distant
autumn and made gay with colour the young greenery of spring. Meanwhile,
school went on, and John grew stronger and broader in this altogether
wholesome atmosphere of outdoor activity and indoor life of kindness and
apparently inattentive indifference on the part of his busy uncle.

On an evening late in May, 1856 (John long remembered it), the Squire as
usual left their little circle and retired to the library, where he
busied himself over matters involving business letters, and then fell to
reading in the _Tribune_ the bitter politics of Fremont's contest with
Buchanan and the still angry talk over Brooks's assault on Senator
Sumner. He foresaw defeat and was with cool judgment aware of what the
formation of the Republican Party indicated in the way of trouble to
come. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise had years before disturbed
his party allegiance, and now no longer had he been able to see the grave
question of slavery as Ann his wife saw it. He threw aside the papers,
set his table in order, and opening the door called John to come in and
pay him a visit. The boy rose surprised. Never once had this
over-occupied man talked to him at length and he had never been set free
to wander in the tempting wilderness of books, which now and then when
James Penhallow was absent were remorselessly dusted by Mrs. Ann and the
maid, with dislocating consequences over which James Penhallow growled in
belated protest.

John went in, glanced up at the Captain's sword over the mantelpiece, and
sat down as desired by the still-needed fire.

"John," said his uncle in his usual direct way, "have you ever been on
the back of a horse?"

"Yes, sir, once--in Paris at a riding-school."

"Once! You said 'once'--well?"

"I fell off--mother was with me."

"And you got on again?"

"No, sir."

"Why not?"

John flushed and hesitated, watched by the dark-eyed Squire. "I was
afraid!" He would not say that his mother forbade it.

"What is your name?"

"John, sir," he returned astonished.

"And the rest--the rest, sir," added his uncle abruptly.

John troubled by the soldier's impatient tones said: "Penhallow, sir." He
was near to a too emotional display.

"And you, John Penhallow, my brother's son, were afraid?"

"I was." It was only in part true. His mother had forbidden the master to
remount him.

"By George!" said Penhallow angrily, "I don't believe you, I can't!"

John rose, "I may be a coward, Uncle James, but I never lie."

Penhallow stood up, "I beg your pardon, John."

"Oh! no, Uncle James. I--please not." He felt as if the tall soldier was
humiliating himself, but could not have put it in words.

"I was hasty, my boy. You must, of course, learn to ride. By the way, do
you ever read the papers?"

"Not often, sir--hardly ever. They are kept in your library or Aunt
Ann's."

"Well, it is time you did read them. Come in here when you want to be
alone--or any time. You won't bother me. Take what books you want, and
ask me about the politics of the day. The country is going to the devil,
but don't discuss this election with your aunt."

"No, sir." He had gathered from the rector enough to make him understand
the warning.

John went out with the idea that this business of learning to ride was
somewhere in the future. He was a little disturbed when the next day
after breakfast his uncle said, "Come, John, the horses are in the
training-ring."

Mrs. Ann said, "James, if you are going to apply West Point riding-school
methods to John, I protest."

"Then protest, my dear," he said.

"You will kill him," she returned.

"My dear Ann, I am not going to kill him, I am going to teach him to
live. Come, John. I am going to teach him to ride." Raising horses was
one of the Squire's amusements, and the training-course where young
horses were broken usually got an hour of his busy day.

"May I come?" asked Leila.

"Please, not," said John, anticipating disaster and desiring no amused
spectators.

"In a week or so, yes, Leila," said Penhallow, "not now."

There were two stable-boys waiting and a pony long retired on grassy
pension. "Now," said Penhallow, "put a foot on my knee and up you go."

"But, there's no saddle."

"There are two. The Lord of horses put one on the back of a horse and
another under a man. Up! sir." John got on. "Grip him with your legs,
hold on to the mane if you like, but not by the reins." The pony feeling
no urgency to move stood still and nibbled the young grass. A smart tap
of the Squire's whip started him, and John rolled off.

"Come, sir, get on." The boys from the stable grinned. John set his
teeth. "Don't stiffen yourself. That's better."

He fell once again, and at the close of an hour his uncle said, "There
that will do for to-day, and not so bad either."

"I'd like to try it again, sir," gasped John.

"You young humbug," laughed Penhallow. "Go and console your distracted
aunt. I am off to the mills."

The ex-captain was merciless enough, and day after day John was so stiff
that, as he confessed to Leila, a jointed doll was a trifle to his
condition. She laughed, "I went through it once, but one day it came."

"What came, Leila?"

"Oh! the joy of the horse!"

"I shall never get to that." But he did, for the hard riding-master
scolded, smiled, praised, and when at last John sat in the saddle the
bareback lessons gave him a certain confidence. The training went on day
after day, under the rule of patient but relentless efficiency. It was
far into June when, having backed without serious misadventures two or
three well-broken horses, Penhallow mounted him on Leila's mare, Lucy,
and set out to ride with him.

"Let us ride to the mills, John." The mare was perfectly gaited and easy.
They rode on, talking horses.

"You will have to manage the mills some day," said Penhallow. "You own
quite a fifth of them. Now I have three partners, but some day you and I
will run them." The boy had been there before with Rivers, but now the
Squire presented him to the foreman and as they moved about explained the
machinery. It was altogether delightful, and this was a newly discovered
uncle. On the way home the Squire talked of the momentous November
elections and of his dread of the future with Buchanan in power, while he
led the way through lanes and woods until they came to the farm.

"We will cross the fields," he said, and dismounting took down the upper
bars of a fence. Then he rode back a little, and returning took the low
fence, crying, "Now, John, sit like a sack--loosely. The mare jumps like
a frog; go back a bit. Now, then, give her her head!" For a moment he was
in the air as his uncle cried, "You lost a stirrup. Try it again. Oh!
that was better. Now, once more, come," and he was over at Penhallow's
side. He had found the joy of the horse! "A bit more confidence and
practice and you will do. I want you to ride Venus. She shies at a
shadow--at anything black. Don't forget that."

"Oh, thank you, Uncle James!"

"It is Uncle Jim now, my boy. I knew from the first you would come out
all right. I believe in blood--horses and men. I believe in blood." This
was James Penhallow all over. A reticent man, almost as tenderly trustful
as a woman, of those who came up to his standards of honour, truth and
the courage which rightly seemed to him the backbone of all the virtues.

What John thought may be readily imagined. Accustomed to be considered
and flattered, his uncle's quiet reserve had seemed to him disappointing,
and now of late this abrupt praise and accepting comradeship left the
sensitive lad too grateful for words. The man at his side was wise enough
to say no more, and they rode home and dismounted without further speech.

After dinner John sought a corner with Leila, where he could share with
her his new-born enthusiasm about horses. The Squire called to the rector
and Mrs. Ann to come into his library. "Sit down, Mark," he said, "I am
rash to invite you; both you and Ann bore me to death with your Sunday
schools and the mill men who won't come to church. I don't hear our
Baptist friend complain."

"But he does," said Rivers.

"I do not wonder," said Ann, "that they will not attend the chapel."

"If," said Penhallow, "you were to swap pulpits, Mark, it would draw.
There are many ways--oh, I am quite in earnest, Ann. Don't put on one of
your excommunicating looks. I remember once in Idaho at dusk, I had two
guides. They were positive, each of them, that certain trails would lead
to the top. I tossed up which to go with. It was pretty serious--Indians
and so on--I'll tell you about it some time, rector. Well, we met at dawn
on the summit. How about the moral, Ann?"

Ann Penhallow laughed. In politics, morals and religion, she held
unchanging sentiments. "My dear James, people who make fables supply the
morals. I decline."

"Very good, but you see mine."

"I never see what I do not want to see," which was pretty close to the
truth.

"The fact is," said Rivers, "I have preaccepted the Squire's hint. Grace
is sick again. I tell him it is that last immersion business. I have
promised to preach for him next Sunday, as your young curate at the mills
wants to air his eloquence here."

"Not really!" said Mrs. Ann, "at his chapel?"

"Yes, and I mean to use a part of our service."

"If the Bishop knew it."

"If! he would possibly forbid it, or be glad I did it."

Mrs. Ann totally disapproved. She took up her knitting and said no more,
while Rivers and Penhallow talked of a disturbance at the works of no
great moment. The rector noticed Mrs. Penhallow's sudden loss of interest
in their talk and her failure to comment on his statement, an unusual
thing with this woman, who, busy-minded as the bee, gathered honey of
interest from most of the affairs of life. In a pause of the talk he
turned to her, "I am sorry to have annoyed you," he said--"I mean about
preaching for Grace."

"But why do you do it?"

"Because," he returned, "my Master bids me. Over and over one finds in
His Word that he foreknew how men would differ and come to worship Him
and use His revelations in ways which would depend on diversity of
temperaments, or under the leadership of individual minds of great force.
It may be that it was meant that we should disagree, and yet--I--yet
as to essentials we are one. That I never can forget."

"Then," she said quickly, "you are of many creeds."

"No and yes," he returned smiling. "In essentials yes, in ceremonial
usage no; in some other morsels of belief held by others charitably
dubious--I dislike argument about religion in the brief inadequateness of
talk--especially with you from whom I am apt to differ and to whom I owe
so much--so very much."

She took up her knitting again as she said, "I am afraid the balance of
debt is on our side."

"Then," said Penhallow, who, too, disliked argument on religion, "if you
have got through with additions to the useless squabbles of centuries,
which hurt and never help, I--"

"But," broke in his wife, "I have had no answer."

"Oh, but you have, Ann; for me, Rivers is right."

"Then I am in a minority of one," she returned, "but I have not had my
say."

"Well, dear, keep it for next time. Now I want, as I said, a little
counsel about John."

"And about Leila, James. Something has got to be done."

The Squire said ruefully, "Yes, I suppose so. I do not know that anything
needs to be done. You saw John's condition before dinner. He had a
swollen nose and fair promise of a black eye. I asked you to take no
notice of it. I wanted first to hear what had happened. I got Leila on
the porch and extracted it by bits. It seems that Tom was rude to Leila."

"I never liked your allowing him to play with the children, James."

"But the boy needs boy-company."

"And what of Leila? She needs girl-company."

"I fear," said Rivers, "that may be the case."

"It is so," said Mrs. Ann decisively, pleased with his support. "What
happened, James?"

"I did not push Leila about what Tom did. John slapped his face and got
knocked down. He got up and went at Tom like a wildcat. Tom knocked him
down again and held him. He said that John must say he had had enough."

"He didn't," said Rivers, "I am sure he didn't."

"No, Mark, he said he would die first, which was what he should have
said. Then Billy had the sense to pull the big boy off, and as Leila was
near tears I asked no more questions. It was really most satisfactory."

"How can you say that?" said his wife. "It was brutal."

"You do not often misunderstand me, Ann. I mean, of course, that our boy
did the right thing. How does it strike you, Mark?"

He had a distinct intention to get the rector into trouble. "Not this
time, Squire," and he laughed. "The boy did what his nature bade him. Of
course, being a nice little boy, he should have remonstrated. There are
several ways--"

"Thanks," said Penhallow. "Of course, Ann, the playing with Tom will end.
I fancy there is no need to interfere."

"He should be punished for rudeness to Leila," said Mrs. Penhallow.

"Oh, well, he's a rough lad and like enough sorry. How can I punish him
without making too much of a row."

"You are quite right, as I see it," said Rivers. "Let it drop; but,
indeed, it is true that Leila should have other than rough lads as
school-companions."

"Oh, Lord! Rivers."

"I am glad to agree with you at least about one thing," said Mrs.
Penhallow. "In September John will be sixteen, and Leila a year or so
younger. She is now simply a big, daring, strong boy."

"If you think that, Ann, you are oddly mistaken."

"I am," she said; "I was. It was only one end of my reasons why she must
go to school. Before John came and when we had cousins here--girls, she
simply despised them or led them into dreadful scrapes."

"Well, Ann, we will talk it over another time."

Rivers smiled and Ann Penhallow went out, longing to attend to the
swollen face now bent low over a book. The two men she left smoked in
such silence as is one of the privileges of friendship. At last Penhallow
said, "Of course, Mark, my wife is right, but I shall miss the girl. My
wife cannot ride with me, and now I am to lose Leila. After school come
young men. Confound it, rector, I wish the girl had less promise of
beauty--of--well, all the Greys have it--attractiveness for our sex. Some
of them are fools, but they have it all the same, and they keep it to the
end. What is most queer about it is that they are not easily won. The men
who trouble hearts for a game do not win these women."

"Some one will suffer," said Rivers reflectively. He wondered if the
wooing of Ann Grey by this masterful man had been a long one. A moment he
gave to remembrance of his own long and tender care of the very young
wife he had won easily and seen fade with terrible slowness as her life
let fall its joys as it were leaf by leaf, with bitter sense of losing
the fair heritage of youth. Now he said, "Were all these women, Squire,
who had the gift of bewitchment, good?"

"No, now and then hurtful, or honest gentlewomen, or like Ann Grey too
entirely good for this wicked world--"

"As Westways knows," said Rivers, thinking how the serene beauty of a
life of noble ways had contributed spiritual charm to whatever Ann
Penhallow had of attractiveness. "But," he went on, "Leila cannot go
until the fall, and you will still have the boy. I had my doubts of your
method of education, but it has worked well. He has a good mind and is so
far ahead of his years in education that he will be ready for college too
early."

"Well, I hate to think of these changes. He must learn to box."

"Another physical virtue to be added," laughed Rivers.

"Yes, he must learn to face these young country fellows." After a brief
pause he added, "I am looking forward to Buchanan's nomination and
election, Mark, with anxiety. Both North and South are losing temper."

"Yes, but shall you vote for him? I presume you have always been a
Democrat, more or less--less of late."

"I shall vote for Fremont if he is nominated; not wholly a wise choice. I
am tired of what seems like an endless effort North and South, to add
more exasperations. It will go on and on. Each section seems to want to
make the other angry."

"It is not Mrs. Penhallow's opinion, I fear. The wrongdoing is all on our
side."

Said the Squire gravely, "That is a matter, Mark, we never now
discuss--the one matter. Her brothers in Maryland, are at odds. One at
least is bitter, as I gather from their letters."

"Well, after the election things will quiet down, as usual."

"They will not, Mark. I know the South. Unhappily they think we live by
the creed of day-book and ledger. We as surely misunderstand them, and
God alone knows what the future holds for us."

This was unusual talk for Penhallow. He thought much, but talked little,
and his wife's resolute attitude of opinions held from youth was the one
trouble of an unusually happy life.

"We can only hope for the best," said Rivers. "Time is a great
peacemaker."

"Or not," returned his host as Rivers rose. "Just a word, Mark, before
you go. I am desirous that you should not misunderstand me in regard to
my politics. I see that slavery is to be more and more in question. My
own creed is, 'let it alone, obey the laws, return the runaways,--oh!
whether you like it or not,--but no more slave territory.' And for me, my
friend, the States are one country and above all else, above slave
questions, is that of an unbroken union. I shall vote for Fremont. I
cannot go to party meetings and speak for him because, Mark, I am in
doubt about the man, and because--oh! you know."

Yes, he knew more or less, but knowing did not quite approve. The Squire
of Grey Pine rarely spoke at length, but now he longed, as he gave some
further clue to his reticence, to make public a political creed which was
not yet so fortified by the logic of events as to be fully capable of
defence.

"The humorous side of it," he said, "is that my very good wife has been
doing some pretty ardent electioneering while I am sitting still, because
to throw my weight into the local contest would oblige me to speak out
and declare my whole political religion of which I am not quite secure
enough to talk freely."

The young rector looked at his older friend, who was uneasy between his
uncertain sense of duty and his desire not to go among people at the
mills and in the town and struggle with his wife for votes.

"I may, Mark, I may do no more than let it be known how I shall vote.
That is all. It will be of use. I could wish to do more. I think that
here and at the mills the feeling is rather strong for Buchanan, but why
I cannot see."

Mrs. Ann had been really active, and her constant kindness at the mills
and in the little town gave to her wishes a certain influential force
among these isolated groups of people who in their remoteness had not
been disturbed by the aggressive policy of the South.

"Of course, Mark, my change of opinion will excite remark. Whoever wins,
I shall be uneasy about the future. Must you go? Good-night."

He went to the hall door with the rector, and then back to his pipe,
dismissing the subject for the time. On his return, he found John in the
library looking at the sword hanging over the mantelpiece. "Well, Jack,"
he said, "a penny for your thoughts."

"Oh; I was thinking what the sword had seen."

"I hope it will see no more, but it may--it may. Now I want to say a word
to you. You had a fight with Tom McGregor and got the worst of it."

"I did."

"I do not ask why. You seem to have shown some pluck."

"I don't know, uncle. I was angry, and I just slapped his face. He
deserved it."

"Very well, but never slap. I suppose that is the French schoolboy way of
fighting. Hit hard--get in the first blow."

"Yes, sir. I hadn't a chance."

"You must take my old cadet boxing-gloves from under the sword. I have
spoken to Sam, the groom. I saw him last year in a bout with the
butcher's boy. After he has knocked you about for a month, you will be
better able to take care of the Penhallow nose."

"I shall like that."

"You won't, but it will help to fill out your chest." Then he laughed,
"Did you ever get that cane?"

"No, sir. Billy found it. Leila gave him twenty-five cents for it, and
now she won't give it to me."

"Well, well, is that so? The ways of women are strange."

"I don't see why she keeps it, uncle."

"Nor I. Now go to bed, it is late. She is a bit of a tease, John. Mark
Rivers says she is now just one half of the riddle called woman."

John understood well enough that he was some day expected by his uncle to
have it out with Tom. He got two other bits of advice on this matter. The
rector detained him after school, a few days later. "How goes the
swimming, John?" he asked.

The Squire early in the summer had taken this matter in hand, and as Ann
Penhallow said, with the West Point methods of kill or cure. John replied
to the rector that he was now given leave to swim with the Westways boys.
The pool was an old river-channel, now closed above, and making a quiet
deep pool such as in England is called a "backwater" and in Canada
a "bogan." The only access was through the Penhallow grounds, but this
was never denied.

"Does Tom McGregor swim there?" asked Rivers.

"Yes, and the other boys. It is great fun now; it was not at first."

"About Tom, John. I hope you have made friends with him."

Said John, with something of his former grown-up manner, "It appears to
me that we never were friends. I regret, sir, that it seems to you
desirable."

"But, John, it is. For two Christian lads like you to keep up a
quarrel--"

"He's a heathen, sir. I told him yesterday that he ought to apologize to
Leila."

"And what did he say?"

"He said, he guessed I wanted another licking. That's the kind of
Christian he is."

"I must speak to him."

"Oh, please not to do that! He will think I am afraid." Here were the
Squire and Rivers on two sides of this question.

"Are you afraid, John? You were once frank with me about it."

"I do not think, Mr. Rivers, you ought to ask me that." He drew up his
figure as he spoke.

The rector would have liked to have whistled--a rare habit with him when
alone and not in one of his moods of depression. He said, "I beg your
pardon, John," and felt that he had not only done no good, but had made a
mistake.

John said, "I am greatly obliged, sir." When half-way home he went back
and met Rivers at his gate.

"Well," said the rector, "left anything?"

"No, sir," said the boy, his young figure stiffening, his head up.
"I wasn't honest, sir." And again with his old half-lost formal way,
"I--I--you might have thought--I wasn't--quite honourable. I mean--I'll
never be able to forgive that blackguard until I can--can get even with
him. You see, sir?"

"Yes, I see," said Rivers, who did not see, or know for a moment what
to say. "Well, think it over, John. He is more a rough cub than a
blackguard. Think it over."

"Yes, sir," and John walked away.

The rector looked after the boy thinking--he's the Squire all over, with
more imagination, a gentleman to the core. But how wonderfully changed,
and in only eight months.

John was now, this July, allowed to ride with Leila when his uncle was
otherwise occupied. He had been mounted on a safe old horse and was not
spared advice from Leila, who enjoyed a little the position of mistress
of equestrianism. She was slyly conscious of her comrade's mildly
resentful state of mind.

"Don't pull on him so hard, John. The great thing is to get intimate with
a horse's mouth. He's pretty rough, but if you wouldn't keep so stiff,
you wouldn't feel it."

John began to be a little impatient. "Let us talk of something else than
horses. I got a good dose of advice yesterday from Uncle Jim. I am afraid
that you will be sent to school in the fall. I hate schools. You'll have
no riding and snowballing, and I shall miss you. You see, I was never
friends with a girl before."

"Uncle Jim would never let me go."

"But Aunt Ann?" he queried. "I heard her tell Mr. Rivers that you must
go. She said that you were too old, or would be, for snowballing and
rough games and needed the society of young ladies."

"Young ladies!" said Leila scornfully. "We had two from Baltimore year
before last. I happened to hit one of them in the eye with a snowball,
and she howled worse than Billy when he plays bear."

"Oh, you'll like it after a while," he said, with anticipative wisdom,
"but I shall be left to play with Tom. I want you to miss me. It is too
horrid."

"I shall miss you; indeed, I shall. I suppose I am only a girl, but I
won't forget what you did when that boy was rude. I used to think once
you were like a girl and just afraid. I never yet thanked you," and she
leaned over and laid a hand for a moment on his. "I believe you wouldn't
be afraid now to do what I dared you to do."

He laughed. There had been many such dares. "Which dare was it, Leila?"

"Oh, to go at night--at night to the Indian graves. I tried it once and
got half way--"

"And was scalped all the way back, I suppose."

"I was, John. Try it yourself."

"I did, a month after I came."

"Oh! and you never told me."

"No, why should I?"

It had not had for him the quality of bodily peril. It was somehow far
less alarming. He had started with fear, but was of no mind to confess.
They rode on in silence, until at last she said. "I hope you won't fight
that boy again."

"Oh," he said, "I didn't mind it so very much."

She was hinting that he would again be beaten. "But I minded, John. I
hated it."

He would say no more. He had now had, as concerned Tom, three advisers.
He kept his own counsel, with the not unusual reticence of a boy. He did
not wish to be pitied on account of what he did not consider defeat, and
wanted no one to discuss it. He was better pleased when a week later the
English groom talked to him after the boxing-lesson. "That fellow, Tom,
told me about your slapping him. He said that he didn't want to lick you
if you hadn't hit him."

"It's not a thing I want to talk about, Sam. I had to hit him and I
didn't know how; that's all. Put on the gloves again."

"There, that'll do, sir. You're light on your pins, and he's sort of
slow. If you ever have to fight him, just remember that and keep cool and
keep moving."

The young boxing-tutor was silently of opinion that John Penhallow would
not be satisfied until he had faced Tom again. John made believe, as we
say, that he had no such desire. He had, however, long been caressed and
flattered into the belief that he was important, and was, in his uncle's
army phrase, to be obeyed and respected accordingly by inferiors. His
whole life now for many months had, however, contributed experiences
contradictory to his tacitly accepted boy-views. Sometimes in youth the
mental development and conceptions of what seem desirable in life appear
to make abrupt advances without apparent bodily changes. More wholesomely
and more rarely at the plastic age characteristics strengthen and mind
and body both gather virile capacity. When John Penhallow met his cousin
on his first arrival, he was in enterprise, vigour, general good sense
and normal relation to life, really far younger than Leila. In knowledge,
mind and imagination, he was far in advance. In these months he had
passed her in the race of life. He felt it, but in many ways was also
dimly aware that Leila was less expressively free in word and action,
sometimes to his surprise liking to be alone at the age when rare moods
of mild melancholy trouble the time of rapid female florescence. There
was still between them acceptance of equality, with on his part a certain
growth of respectful consideration, on hers a gentle perception of his
gain in manliness and of deference to his experience of a world of which
she knew as yet nothing, but with some occasional resentment when the
dominating man in the boy came to the surface. When his aunt praised his
manners, Leila said, "He isn't always so very gentle." When his uncle
laughed at his awkward horsemanship, she defended him, reminding her
uncle, to his amusement, of her own early mishaps.



CHAPTER V


John's intimacy with the Squire prospered. Leila had been a gay comrade,
but not as yet so interested as to tempt him to discussion of the
confusing politics of the day. "She has not as yet a seeking mind," said
the rector, who in the confessional of the evening pipe saw more and more
plainly that this was a divided house. The Squire could not talk politics
with Ann, his wife. She held a changeless belief in regard to slavery, a
conviction of its value to owner and owned too positive to be tempted
into discussing it with people who knew so little of it and did not
agree with her. James Penhallow, like thousands in that day of grim
self-questioning, had been forced to reconsider opinions long held, and
was reaching conclusions which he learned by degrees made argument with
the simplicity of his wife's political creed more and more undesirable.
Leila was too young to be interested. The rector was intensely
anti-slavery and saw but one side of the ominous questions which were
bewildering the largest minds. The increasing interest in his nephew was,
therefore, a source of real relief to the uncle. Meanwhile, the financial
difficulties of the period demanded constant thought of the affairs of
the mills and took him away at times to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Thus
the summer ran on to an end. Buchanan and Breckenridge had been nominated
and the Republicans had accepted Fremont and Dayton.

Birthdays were always pleasantly remembered at Grey Pine, and on
September 20th, when John, aged sixteen, came down to breakfast, as he
took his seat Ann came behind him and said as she kissed him, "You are
sixteen to-day; here is my present."

The boy flushed with pleasure as he received a pair of silver spurs. "Oh!
thank you, Aunt Ann," he cried as he rose.

"And here is mine," said Leila, and laughing asked with both hands behind
her back, "Which hand, John?"

"Oh! both--both."

"No."

"Then the one nearest the heart." Some quick reflection passed through
Ann Penhallow's mind of this being like an older man's humour.

Leila gave him a riding-whip. He had a moment's return of the grown-up
courtesies he had been taught, and bowed as he thanked her, saying, "Now,
I suppose, I am your knight, Aunt Ann."

"And mine," said Leila.

"I do not divide with any one," said Mrs. Ann. "Where is your present,
James?"

He had kept his secret. "Come and see," he cried. He led them to the
porch. "That is mine, John." A thorough-bred horse stood at the door,
saddled and bridled. Ann thought the gift extravagant, but held her
tongue.

"Oh, Uncle Jim," said John. His heart was too full for the words he
wanted to say. "For me--for me." He knew what the gift meant.

"You must name him," said Leila. "I rode him once, John. He has no name.
Uncle Jim said he should have no name until he had an owner. Now I know."

John stood patting the horse's neck. "Wasn't his mother a Virginia mare,
James?" said Ann.

"Yes."

"Oh, then call him Dixy."

For a moment the Squire was of a mind to object, but said gaily, "By all
means, Ann, call him Dixy if you like, and now breakfast, please." Here
they heard Dixy's pedigree at length.

"Above all, Jack, remember that Dixy is of gentle birth; make friends
with him. He may misbehave; never, sir, lose your temper with him. Be
wary of use of whip or spur."

There was more of it, until Mrs. Ann said, "Your coffee will be cold. It
is one of your uncle's horse-sermons."

John laughed. How delightful it all was! "May I ride today with you,
uncle?"

"Yes, I want to introduce you to--Dixy--yes--"

"And may I ride with you?" asked Leila.

"No, my dear," said the aunt, "I want you at home. There is the raspberry
jam and currant jelly and tomato figs."

"Gracious, Leila, we shall not have a ride for a week."

"Oh, not that bad, John," said Mrs. Ann, "only two days and--and Sunday.
After that you may have her, and I shall be glad to be rid of her. She
eats as much as she preserves."

"Oh! Aunt Ann."

A few days went by, and as it rained in the afternoon there was no
riding, but there was the swimming-pool, and for rain John now cared very
little. On his way he met a half dozen village lads. They swam, and
hatched (it was John's device) a bit of mischief involving Billy, who was
fond of watching their sports when he was tired of doing chores about the
stable. John heard of it later. The likelihood of unpleasant results from
their mischief was discussed as they walked homeward. There were in all
five boys from the village, with whom by this time John had formed
democratic intimacies and moderate likings which would have shocked his
mother. He had had no quarrels since long ago he had resented Tom
McGregor's rudeness to Leila and had suffered the humiliation of defeat
in his brief battle with the bigger boy. The easy victor, Tom, had half
forgotten or ignored it, as boys do. Now as they considered an unpleasant
situation, Joe Grace, the son of the Baptist preacher, broke the silence.
He announced what was the general conclusion, halting for emphasis as he
spoke.

"I say, fellows, there will be an awful row."

"That's so," said William, the butcher's son.

"Anyhow," remarked Ashton, whose father was a foreman at the mills, "it
was great fun; didn't think Billy could run like that."

It will be observed that the young gentleman of ten months ago had become
comfortably democratic in his associations and had shed much of his
too-fine manners as the herding instincts of the boy made the society of
comrades desirable when Leila's company was not attainable.

"Oh!" he said, "Billy can run, but I had none of the fun." Then he asked
anxiously, "Did Billy get as far as the house?"

"You bet," said Baynton, the son of the carpenter, "I saw him, heard him
shout to the Squire. Guess it's all over town by this time."

"Anyhow it was you, John, set it up," said a timid little boy, the child
of the blacksmith.

"That's so," said Grace, "guess you'll catch it hot."

John considered the last spokesman with scorn as Tom, his former foe,
said, "Shut up, Joe Grace, you were quick enough to go into it--and me
too."

"Thanks," said John, reluctantly acknowledging the confession of
partnership in the mischief, "I am glad one of you has a little--well,
honour."

They went on their way in silence and left him alone. Nothing was said of
the matter at the dinner-table, where to John's relief Mr. Rivers was a
guest. John observed, however, that Mrs. Ann had less of her usual
gaiety, and he was not much surprised when his uncle leaving the table
said, "Come into the library, John." The Captain lighted his pipe and sat
down.

"Now, sir," he said, "Billy is a poor witness. I desire to hear what
happened."

The stiffened hardness of the speaker in a measure affected the boy. He
stood for a moment silent. The Captain, impatient, exclaimed, "Now, I
want the simple truth and nothing else."

The boy felt himself flush. "I do not lie, sir. I always tell the truth."

"Of course--of course," returned Penhallow. "This thing has annoyed me.
Sit down and tell me all about it."

Rather more at his ease John said, "I went to swim with some of the
village boys, sir. We played tag in the water--"

The Squire had at once a divergent interest, "Tag--tag--swimming? Who
invented that game? Good idea--how do you play it?"

John a little relieved continued, "You see, uncle, you can dive to escape
or come up under a fellow to tag him. It's just splendid!" he concluded
with enthusiasm.

Then the Captain remembered that this was a domestic court-martial,
and self-reminded said, "The tag has nothing to do with the matter in
question; go on."

"We got tired and sat on the bank. Billy was wandering about. He never
can keep still. I proposed that I should hide in the bushes and the boys
should tell Billy I was drowned."

"Indeed!"

"We went into the water; I hid in the bushes and the boys called out I
was drowned. When Billy heard it, he gathered up all my clothes and my
shoes, and before I could get out he just yelled, 'John's drowned, I must
take his clothes home to his poor aunt.' Then he ran. The last I heard
was, 'He's drowned, he's drowned!'"

"And then?"

"Well, the other fellows put on something and went after him; they caught
him in the cornfield and took away my clothes. Then Billy ran to the
house. That is all I know."

The Squire was suppressing his mirth. "Aren't you ashamed?"

"No, sir, but I am sorry."

"I don't like practical jokes. Billy kept on lamenting your fate. He
might have told Leila or your aunt. Luckily I received his news, and no
one else. You will go to Westways and say there is to be no swimming for
a week in my pool."

"Yes, sir."

"You are not to ride Dixy or any other horse for ten days." This was
terrible. "Now, be off with you, and tell Mr. Rivers to come in."

"Yes, sir."

When Rivers sat down, the Squire suppressing his laughter related the
story. "The boy's coming on, Mark. He's Penhallow all over."

"But, Squire, by the boy's looks I infer you did not tell him that."

"Oh, hardly. I hate practical jokes, and I have stopped his riding for
ten days."

"I suppose you are right," and they fell to talking politics and of the
confusion of parties with three candidates in the field.

Mrs. Ann who suspected what had been the result of this court-martial
was disposed towards pity, but John retired to a corner and a book and
slipped away to bed early. Penalties he had suffered at school, but this
was a terrible experience, and now he was to let the other boys know that
the swimming-pool was closed for a week. At breakfast he made believe to
be contented in mind, and asked in his best manner if his uncle had any
errands for him in Westways or at the mills. When the Captain said no and
remarked further that if he wished to walk, he would find the wood-roads
cooler than the highway John expressed himself grateful for his advice
with such a complete return of his formal manner as came near to
unmasking the inner amusement which the Squire was getting from the
evident annoyance he was giving Mrs. Ann, who thought that he was
needlessly irritating a boy who to her mind was hurt and sore.

"Come, Leila," she said rising. "We may meet you in the village, John;
and do get your hair cut, and see Mr. Spooner and tell him--no, I will
write it."

John was pleased to feel that he had other reasons for visiting Westways
than his uncle's order. He went down the avenue whistling, and in no
hurry.

Leila had some dim comprehension of John's state of mind. Of Billy and of
the Squire's court-martial she had heard from Mrs. Ann, and although that
lady said little, the girl very well knew that her aunt thought her
husband had been too severe. She stood on the porch, vaguely troubled for
this comrade, and watched him as he passed from view, taking a short cut
through the trees. The girl checked something like a sob as she went
into the house.

It was the opinion of the county that Mrs. Penhallow was a right good
woman and masterful; but of Leila the judgment of the village was that
she was just sweet through and through. The rector said she radiated the
good-nature of perfect health. What more there was time would show.
Westways knew well these two young people, and Leila was simply Leila to
nearly every one. "Quite time," reflected Mrs. Ann, "that she was Miss
Leila." As she went with her through the town there were pleasant
greetings, until at last they came to the butcher's. Mr. Pole, large
after the way of his craft, appeared in a white apron. "Well, now, how
you do grow, Leila."

"Not enough yet," said Leila.

"Fine day, Mrs. Penhallow." He was a little uneasy, divining her errand.

"Now, Pole, before I make a permanent change to the butcher at the mills,
I wish to say that it is because a pound of beef weighs less at Grey Pine
than in your shop."

At this time John was added to the hearers, being in search of William
Pole with the Squire's order about the swimming. He waited until his aunt
should be through. He was a little amused, which on the whole was, just
then, good for him.

"Now ma'am, after all these years you won't drop me like that."

"Short weights are reason enough."

Leila listened, sorry for Pole, who reddened and replied, "Fact is,
ma'am, I don't always do the weighing myself, and the boys they are real
careless. What with Hannah's asthma keeping me awake and a lot of fools
loafing around and talking politics, I do wonder I ever get things right.
It's Fremont and it's Buchanan--a man can't tell what to do."

Mrs. Penhallow was not usually to be turned aside, and meant now to deal
out even justice. But if the butcher knew it or not, she was offered what
she liked and at home could not have. "I hope, Pole, you are not going to
vote for Fremont."

"Well, ma'am, it ain't easy to decide. I've always followed the Squire."
Ann Penhallow knew, alas! what this would mean.

"I've been thinking I'll stand to vote for Buchanan. Was you wanting a
saddle of lamb to-day? I have one here, and a finer I never saw."

"Well, Pole, keep your politics and your weights in order. Send me the
lamb."

The butcher smiled as Mrs. Ann turned away. Whether the lady of Grey Pine
was conscious of having bought a vote or not, it was pretty clear to her
nephew that Peter Pole's weights would not be further questioned as long
as his politics were Democratic.

When his aunt had gone, John called Bill Pole out of the shop and said,
"There's to be no swimming for a week, for any of us. Where are the other
fellows?"

"Guessed we would catch it. They're playing ball back of the church. I'll
go along with you."

He was pleased to see how the others would take their deprivation of a
swim in the September heat. They came on the other culprit's, who called
to John to come and play. He was not so minded, and was in haste to get
through with a disagreeable errand. As he hesitated, Pole eager to
distribute the unpleasant news cried out, "The Squire says that we can't
swim in the pool for a week--none of us. How do you fellows like that?"

"It's mighty mean of him."

"What's that?" said John. "He was right and you know it. I don't like it
any better than you do--but--"

Bill Baynton, the youngest boy, broke in, "Who told the Squire what
fellows was in it?"

"It wasn't Billy," said another lad; "he just kept on yelling you was
dead."

"Look here," said Tom McGregor turning to John, "did you tell the Squire
we fellows set it up?"

John was insulted. He knew well the playground code of honour, but
remembered in time his boxing-master's advice, the more mad you are the
cooler you keep yourself. He replied in his old formal way, "The question
is one you have no right to ask; it is an insult."

To the boys the failure to say "no" meant evasion. "Then, of course, you
told," returned the older lad. "If I wasn't afraid you'd run home and
complain, I'd spank you."

It had been impossible for John to be angry with his uncle, although the
punishment and the shame of carrying the news to the other boys he felt
to be a too severe penalty. But here was cause for letting loose
righteous anger. He had meant to wait, having been wisely counselled by
his boxing-master to be in no haste to challenge his enemy, until further
practice had made success possible; but now his rising wrath overcame his
prudence, "Well, try it," he said. "You beat me once. If you think I'll
tell if I am licked, I assure you, you are safe. I took the whole blame
about Billy and I was asked no names."

Tom hesitated and said, "I never heard that."

"I will accept an apology," said John in his most dignified way. The boys
laughed. John flushed a little, and as Tom remained silent added, "If you
won't, then lick me if you can."

As he spoke, he slipped off his coat and rolled up his sleeves. The long
lessons in self-defence had given him some confidence and, what was as
useful, had developed chest and arms.

"Hit him, Tom," said the small boy. In a moment the fight was on, the
non-combatants delighted.

To Tom's surprise his wild blows somehow failed to get home. It was
characteristic of John then as in later days that he became cool as he
realized his danger, while Tom quite lost his head as the success of the
defence disappointed his attack. To hit hard, to rush in and throw his
enemy, was all he had of the tactics of offence. The younger lad,
untouched, light on his feet, was continually shifting his ground; then
at last he struck right and left. He had not weight enough to knock down
his foe, but as Tom staggered, John leaped aside and felt the joy of
battle as he got in a blow under the ear and Tom fell.

"Get on him--hit him," cried the boys. "By George, if he ain't licked!"

John stood still. Tom rose, and as he made a furious rush at the victor,
a loud voice called out, "Halloa! quit that."

Both boys stood still as Mark Rivers climbed over the fence and stood
between them. John was not sorry for the interruption. He was well aware
that in the rough and tumble of a close he had not weight enough to
encounter what would have lost him the fight he had so far won. He stood
still panting, smiling, and happy.

"Hadn't you boys better shake hands?" said the rector. Tom, furious, was
collecting blood from his nose on his handkerchief. Neither boy spoke.
"Well, John," said Rivers waiting.

"I'll shake hands, sir, when Tom apologizes."

The rector smiled. Apologies were hardly understood as endings to village
fights. "He won't do it," said John with a glance at the swollen face;
"another time I'll make him."

"Will you!" exclaimed Tom.

The rector felt that on the whole it might have been better had they
fought it out. Now the peacemaking business was clearly not blessed. "You
are a nice pair of young Christians," he said. "At all events, you shall
not fight any more to-day. Come, John."

The boy put on his jacket and went away with Rivers, who asked presently
what was this about. "Mr. Rivers, soon after I came that fellow was rough
to Leila; I hit him, and he beat me like--like a dog."

"And you let all these suns go down upon your wrath?"

"There wasn't any wrath, sir. He wouldn't apologize to Leila; he wouldn't
do it."

"Oh! indeed."

"Then he said something to-day about Uncle Jim."

"Anything else?"

"Yes, he made it pretty clear that he thought me a liar."

"Well, but you knew you were not."

"Yes, sir, but he didn't appear to know."

"Do you think you convinced him?"

"No, sir, but I feel better."

"Ah! is that so? Morally better, John?" and he laughed as he bade him
good-bye.

The lad who left him was tired, but entirely satisfied with John
Penhallow. He went to the stable and had a technical talk with the
English groom, who deeply regretted not to have seen the fight.

There being no riding or swimming to fill the time, he took a net, some
tackle and a bucket, and went down to the river and netted a
"hellbender." He put him in a bucket of water and carried him to the
stable, where he was visited by Leila and Rivers, and later departed this
life, much lamented. In the afternoon, being in a happy mood, John easily
persuaded Leila to abandon her ride, and walk with him.

When they sat down beside the Indian graves, to his surprise she suddenly
shifted the talk and said, "John, who would you vote for? I asked Aunt
Ann, and she said, 'Buchanan, of course'; and when I asked Uncle Jim, he
said, 'Fremont'; but I want to understand. I saw in the paper that it was
wicked to keep slaves, but my cousins in Maryland have slaves; it can't
be wicked."

"Would you like to be bought and sold?" he said.

"But, I am not black, John."

"I believe old Josiah was a slave."

"Every one knows that. Why did he run away, John?"

"Because he wanted to be free, I suppose, and not have to work without
pay."

"And don't they pay slaves?" asked Leila.

"No, they don't." John felt unable to make clear to her why the two
people they respected and loved never discussed what the village talked
about so freely. These intelligent children were in the toils of a
question which was disturbing the consciences and the interests of a
continent. The simpler side was clear to both of them. The idea of
selling the industrious old barber was as yet enough to settle their
politics.

"Aunt Ann must have good reasons," said John. "Mr. Rivers says she is the
most just woman he ever knew." It puzzled him. "I suppose we are too
young to understand."

"Aunt Ann will never talk about slaves. I asked her last week."

"But Uncle Jim will talk, and he likes to be asked when we are alone. I
don't believe in slavery."

"It seems so queer, John, to own a man."

John grinned, "Or a girl, Leila."

"Well, no one owns me, I tell you; they'd have a hard time."

She shook what Rivers called her free-flowing cascade of hair in the
pride of conscious freedom. The talk ran on. At last she said, "I'll tell
you a queer thing. I heard Mr. Rivers say to uncle--I heard him say, we
were all slaves. He said that no one owns himself. I think that's silly,"
said the young philosopher, "don't you, John?"

"I don't know," returned John; "I think it's a big puzzle. Let's go."

No word reached the Squire of the battle behind the church until four
days later, when Rivers came in after dinner and found Penhallow in his
library deep in thought.

"Worried, Squire?" he asked.

"Yes, affairs are in a bad way and will be until the election is over. It
always disturbs commerce. The town will go Democratic, I suppose."

"Yes, as I told you, unless you take a hand and are in earnest and
outspoken."

"I could be, but it has not yet the force of imperative duty, and it
would hurt Ann more than I feel willing to do. Talk of something else.
She would cease her mild canvass if she thought it annoyed me."

"I see--sir. I think I ought to tell you that John has had another battle
with Tom McGregor."

"Indeed?" The Squire sat up, all attention. "He does not show any marks
of it."

"No, but Tom does."

"Indeed! What happened?"

"Well, I believe, Tom thought John told you what boys were in that joke
on Billy. I fancy something was said about you--something personal, which
John resented."

"That is of no moment. What else? I ought to be clear about it."

"Well, Squire, Tom was badly mauled and John was tired when I arrived as
peacemaker. I stopped the battle, but he was not at all disposed to talk
about it. I am sure of one thing--he has had a grudge against Tom--since
he was rude to Leila."

The Squire rose and walked about the room. "H'm! very strange that--what
a mere child he was when he got licked--boys don't remember injuries that
way." Then seeming to become conscious of Rivers' presence, he stopped
beside him and added, "What with my education and Leila's, he has grown
amazingly. He was as timid as a foal."

"He is not now, Squire, and John has been as useful mentally to Leila.
She is learning to think."

"Sorry for it, Mark, women ought not to think. Now if my good Ann
wouldn't think, I should be the happier."

"My dear Squire," said Rivers, setting an affectionate hand on his arm,
"my dear Mrs. Penhallow doesn't think, except about the every-day things
of life. Her politics and religion are sacred beliefs not to be rudely
jostled by the disturbance of thinking. If there is illness, debt or
trouble, at the mills or in Westways, she becomes seraphic and
intelligent enough."

"Yes, Rivers, and if I put before her, as I sometimes do, a perplexing
business matter, I am surprised at her competence. Of course, she is as
able as you or I to reason, but on one subject she does not reason or
believe that it admits of discussion; and by Heaven! my friend, I am
sometimes ashamed to keep out of this business. So far as this State is
concerned, it is hopeless. You know, dear friend, what you have been to
us, and that to no other man on earth could I speak as I have done to
you; but Mark, if things get worse--and they will--what then? John
asked me what we should do if the Southern States did really secede.
Things seem to stick in his mind like burrs--he was at it again next
day."

Rivers smiled. "Like me, I suppose."

"Yes, Mark. He is persistent about everything--lessons, sports, oh!
everything; an uncomfortably curious lad, too. These Southern opinions
about reclaiming a man's slaves bother the boy. He reads my papers, and
how can I stop him? I don't want to. There! we are at it again."

"Yes, there is no escape from these questions."

"And he has even got Leila excited and she wants to know--I told her to
ask Ann Penhallow--I have not heard of the result. Well, you are going.
Good-night."

The Squire sat still in the not very agreeable company of his thoughts.
Leila was to go to school this September, Buchanan's election in November
was sure, and John--He had come to love the lad, and perhaps he had been
too severe. Then he thought of the boy's fight and smiled. The rector and
he had disagreed. Was it better for boys to abuse one another or to
settle things by a fight? The rector had urged that his argument for the
ordeal of battle would apply with equal force to the duel of men. He had
said, "No, boys do not kill; and after all even the duel has its values."
Then the rector said he was past praying for and had better read the
Decalogue.

When next day Mark Rivers was being shaved by the skilled hand of Josiah,
he heard the voice of his friend and fishing-companion, the Rev. Isaac
Grace, "What about the trout-brook this afternoon?"

"Of course," said Mark, moveless under the razor. "Call for me at five."

"Seen yesterday's _Press_?"

"No. I can't talk, Grace."

"This town's all for Buchanan and Breckenridge. How will the Squire
vote?"

"Ask him. Take care, Josiah."

"If the Squire isn't taking any active part, Mrs. Penhallow is. She is
taking a good deal of interest in the roof of my chapel and--and--other
things."

The rector did not like it. "I can't talk, Grace."

"But I can."--"Well," thought the rector, "for an intelligent man you are
slow at taking hints." The good-natured rotund preacher went on, amazing
his helpless friend, "I wonder if the Squire would like her canvassing--"

"Ask him."

"Guess not. She's a good woman, but not just after the fashion of St.
Paul's women."

"She hasn't done no talking to me," said Josiah, chuckling. "There, sir,
I'm through."

Then the released rector said, "If you talk politics again to me for the
next two months, Grace, I will never tie for you another trout-fly. Your
turn," and he left the chair to Grace, who sat down saying with the
persistency of the good-humoured and tactless, "If I want a roof to my
chapel, I've got to keep out of talking Republican polities, that's
clear--"

"And several other things," returned Mark sharply.

"Such as," said Grace, but the rector had gone and Josiah was lathering
the big red face.

"Got to make believe sometimes, sir," said Josiah. "She's an uncommon
kind lady, and the pumpkins she gives me are fine. A fellow's got time to
think between this and November. Pumpkins and leaky roofs do make a man
kind of thoughtful." He grinned approval of his own wisdom. "Now don't
talk, sir. Might chance to cut you."

This sly unmasking of motives, his own and those of others, was
disagreeable to the good little man who was eager to get his chapel
roofed and no more willing than Mrs. Penhallow to admit that how he would
vote had anything to do with the much needed repairs. His people were
poor and the leaks were becoming worse and worse. He kept his peace, and
the barber smiling plied the razor.

Now the Squire paused at the open door, where he met his nephew. "Come to
get those scalp-locks trimmed, John? They are perilously long. If you
were to get into a fight and a fellow got hold of them, you would have a
bad time." Then as his uncle went away laughing, John knew that the
Squire must have heard of his battle from Mark Rivers. He did not like
it. Why he did not know or ask himself, being as yet too immature for
such self-analysis.

Mr. Grace got up clean-shaven, adjusted a soiled paper-collar, and said,
"Good-morning, John. I am sorry to hear that a Christian lad like you
should be fighting. I am sure that neither Mr. Rivers nor your aunt would
approve of it. My son told me about it, and I think it my duty--"

John broke in, "Then your son is a tell-tale, Mr. Grace, and allow me to
say that this is none of his business. When I am insulted, I resent it."
To be chaffed by his own uncle when under sentence of a court-martial had
not been agreeable, but this admonition was unendurable. He entered the
shop.

"Well, I never," exclaimed the preacher, as John went by him.

The barber was laughing. "Set down, Mr. John."

"I suppose the whole of Westways knows it, Mr. Josiah?"

"They do, sir. Wish I'd seen it."

"Damn!" exclaimed John, swearing for the first time in his life. "Cut my
hair short, please, and don't talk."

"No, sir. You ain't even got a scratch."

"Oh, do shut up," said John. There was a long silence while the curly
locks fell.

"You gave it to the Baptist man hot. I don't like him. He calls me Joe.
It isn't respectable. My name's Josiah."

"Haven't you any other name?" said John, having recovered his
good-humour.

"Yes, sir, but I keeps that to myself."

"But why?" urged John.

Josiah hesitated. "Well, Mr. John, I ran away, and--so it was best to get
a new name."

"Indeed! Of course, every one knows you must have run away--but no one
cares."

"Might say I was run away with--can't always hold a horse," he laughed
aloud in a leisurely way. "When he took me over the State-line, I didn't
go back."

"I see," said John laughing, as he rose and paid the barber. The cracked
mirror satisfied him that he was well shorn.

"You looks a heap older now you're shorn. Makes old fellows look
younger--ever notice that?"

"No."

Then Josiah, of a sudden wisely cautious, said, "You won't tell Mrs.
Penhallow, nor no one, about me, what I said?"

"Of course not; but why my aunt, Mr. Josiah? She, like my uncle, must
know you ran away."

When John first arrived the black barber's appearance so impressed the
lad that he spoke to him as Mr. Josiah, and seeing later how much this
pleased him continued in his quite courteous way to address him now and
then as Mr. Josiah. The barber liked it. He hesitated a moment before
answering.

"You needn't talk about it if you don't want to," said John.

"Guess whole truth's better than half truth--nothin' makes folk curious
like knowin' half. When I first came here, I guessed I'd best change my
name, so I said I was Josiah. Fact is, Mr. John, I didn't know Mrs.
Penhallow came from Maryland till I had been here quite a while and got
to like the folks and the Captain."

John's experience was enlarging. He could hardly have realized the
strange comfort the black felt in his confession. What it all summed up
for Josiah in the way of possible peril of loss of liberty John presently
had made plain to him. He was increasingly urgent in his demand for
answers to the many questions life was bringing. The papers he read had
been sharp schoolmasters, and of slave life he knew nothing except from
his aunt's pleasant memories of plantation life when a girl on a great
Maryland manor. That she could betray to servitude the years of
grey-haired freedom seemed to John incredible of the angel of kindly
helpfulness. He stood still in thought, troubled by his boy-share of
puzzle over a too mighty problem.

Josiah, a little uneasy, said, "What was you thinkin', Mr. John?"

The young fellow replied smiling, "Do you think Aunt Ann would hurt
anybody? Do you think she would send word to some one--to take you back?
Anyhow she can't know who was your master."

The old black nodded slowly, "Mr. John, she born mistress and I born
slave; she can't help it--and they was good people too--all the people
that owned me. They liked me too. I didn't have to work except holdin'
horses and trainin' colts--and housework. They was always kind to me."

"But why did you run away?"

"Well, Mr. John, it was sort of sudden. You see ever since I could
remember there was some one to say, Caesar you do this, or you go there.
One day when I was breakin' a colt, Mr. Woodburn says to me--I was
leanin' against a stump--how will that colt turn out? I said, I don't
know, but I did. It wasn't any good. My mind was took up watchin' a hawk
goin' here and there over head like he was enjoyin' hisself. Then--then
it come over me--that he'd got no boss but God. It got a grip on me
like--" The lad listened intently.

"You wanted to be free like the hawk."

"I don't quite know--never thought of it before--might have seen lots of
hawks. I ain't never told any one."

"Are you glad to be free?"

"Ah, kind of half glad, sir. I ain't altogether broke in to it. You see
I'm old for change."

As he ended, James Penhallow reappeared. "Got through, John? You look
years older. Your aunt will miss those curly locks." He went into the
shop as John walked away, leaving Josiah who would have liked to add a
word more of caution and who nevertheless felt somehow a sense of relief
in having made a confession the motive force of which he would have found
it impossible to explain.

John asked himself no such question as he wandered deep in boy-thought
along the broken line of the village houses. Josiah's confidence troubled
and yet flattered him. His imagination was captured by the suggested idea
of the wild freedom of the hawk. He resolved to be careful, and felt more
and more that he had been trusted with a secret involving danger.

While John wandered away, the barber cut the Squire's hair, and to his
surprise Josiah did not as usual pour out his supply of village gossip.



CHAPTER VI


It was now four days since John's sentence had been pronounced, and not
to be allowed to swim in the heat of a hot September added to the
severity of the penalty. The heat as usual made tempers hot and
circumstances variously disturbed the household of Grey Pine. Politics
vexed and business troubled the master. Of the one he could not talk to
his wife--of the other he would not at present, hoping for better
business conditions, and feeling that politics and business were now
too nearly related to keep them apart. Ann, his wife, thought him
depressed--a rare mood for him. Perhaps it was the unusual moist heat. He
said, "Yes, yes, dear, one does feel it." She did not guess that the
obvious unhappiness of the lad who had won the soldier's heart was being
felt by Penhallow without his seeing how he could end it and yet not
lessen the value of a just verdict.

Of all those concerned Leila was the one most troubled. On this hot
afternoon she saw John disappear into the forest. When Mrs. Ann came out
on the porch where she had for a minute left the girl, she saw her
sewing-bag on a chair and caught sight of the flowing hair and agile
young figure as she set a hand on the low stone wall of the garden and
was over and lost among the trees. "Leila, Leila," cried Mrs. Ann, "I
told you to finish--" It was useless. "Everything goes wrong to-day,"
she murmured. "Well, school will civilize that young barbarian, and she
must have longer skirts." This was a sore subject and Leila had been
vainly rebellious.

Meanwhile the flying girl overtook John, who had things to think about
and wished to be alone. "Well," he said, with some impatience, "what is
it?"

"Oh, I just wanted a walk, and don't be cross, John."

He looked at her, and perhaps for the first time had the male perception
of the beauty of the disordered hair, the pleading look of the blue eyes,
and the brilliant colour of the eager flushed face. It was the hair--the
wonderful hair. She threw it back as she stood. No one could long be
cross to Leila. Even her resolute aunt was sometimes defeated by her
unconquerable sweetness.

"I am so sorry for you, John," she said.

"Well, I am not, Leila, if you mean that Uncle Jim was hard on me."

"Yes, he was, and I mean to tell him--I do."

"Please not." She said nothing in the way of reply, but only, "Let us go
and see the spring."

"Well, come along."

They wandered far into the untouched forest. "Ah! here it is," she cried.
A spring of water ran out from among the anchoring roots of a huge black
spruce. He stood gazing down at it.

"Oh, Leila, isn't it wonderful?"

"Were you never here before, John?"

"No, never. It seems as if it was born out of the tree. No wonder this
spruce grew so tall and strong. How cold it must keep the old fellow's
toes."

"What queer ideas you have, John." She had not yet the gift of fancy,
long denied to some in the emergent years of approaching womanhood. "I am
tired, John," she said, as she dropped with hands clasped behind her head
and hidden in the glorious abundance of darkening red hair, which lay
around her on the brown pine-needles like the disordered aureole of some
careless-minded saint.

John said, "It is this terrible heat. I never before heard you complain
of being tired."

"Oh, it's just nice tired." She lay still, comfortable, with open eyes
staring up at the intense blue of the September sky seen through the
wide-east limbs of pine and spruce. The little rill, scarce a finger
thickness of water, crawled out lazily between the roots and trickled
away. The girl was in empty-minded enjoyment of the luxury of complete
relaxation of every muscle of her strong young body. The spring was
noiseless, no leaf was astir in all the forest around them. The girl lay
still, a part of the vast quietness.

John Penhallow stood a moment, and then said, "Good gracious! Leila, your
eyes are blue." It was true. When big eyes are wide open staring up at
the comrade blue of the deep blue sky, they win a certain beauty of added
colour like little quiet lakelets under the azure sky when no wind
disturbs their power of reflecting capture.

"Oh, John, and didn't you know my eyes were blue?" She spoke with languid
interest in the fact he announced.

"But," he said, looking down at her as he stood, "they're so--so
very blue."

"Oh, all the Greys have blue eyes."

He laughed gentle laughter and dropped on the pine-needles of the forest
floor. The spring lay between them. He felt, as she did not, the charm of
the stillness. He wanted to find words in which to put his desire for
expression. She broke into his mood of imaginative seekings.

"How cold it is," she said, gathering the water in the cup of her hand,
and then with both hands did better and got a refreshing drink.

"That makes a better cup," he said. "Let us follow the water to the
river."

"It never gets there. It runs into Lonesome Man's swamp, and that's the
end of him."

"Who, Lonesome Man or the spring? And who was Lonesome Man?"

"Nobody knows. What does it matter?"

He watched her toy with the new-born rill, a mere thread of water, build
a Lilliputian dam, and muddle the clear outflow as it broke, and then
build again. He had the thought that she had suddenly become younger,
more like a child, and he himself older.

"Why don't you talk, John?" she said.

"I can't. I am wondering about that Lonesome Man and what the trees are
thinking. Don't you feel how still it is? It's disrespectful to gabble
before your betters." He felt it and said it without affectation, but as
usual his mood of wandering thought failed to interest Leila.

"I hate it when it's quiet! I like to hear the wind howl in the pines--"

He expressed his annoyance. "You never want to talk anything but horses
and swimming. Wait till you come back next spring with long skirts--such
a nice well-behaved Miss Grey." He was, in familiar phrase, out of sorts,
with a bit of will to annoy a disappointing companion. His mild effort
had no success.

"Oh, John, it's awful! You ought to be sorry for me. The more you grow up
the more your skirts grow down. Bother their manners! Who cares! Let's go
home. It feels just as if it was Sunday."

"It is, in the woods. Well, come along." He walked on in the silence, she
thinking of that alarming prospect of school, and he of the escaped
slave's secret and, what struck the boy most--the hawk. Never before had
he been told anything which was to be sacredly guarded from others. It
gave him now a pleasant feeling of having been trusted. Suppose Leila had
been told such a thing, how would she feel, and Aunt Ann? He was like a
man who has too large a deposit in a doubtful bank. He was vaguely uneasy
lest he might tell or in some way betray his sense of possessing a
person's confidence.

As they came near the house, Leila said, "Catch me, I'll run you home."

"Tag," he cried.

As they came to the side porch, Ann Penhallow said, "Finish that
handkerchief--now, at once. It is time you were taught other than tom-boy
ways."

John went by into the house. After dinner the Squire had his usual game
of whist, always to the dissatisfaction of Leila, whose thoughts wandered
like birds on the wing, from twig to twig. John usually played far
better, but just now worse than his cousin, and forgot or revoked, to his
uncle's disgust. A man of rather settled habits, now as usual Penhallow
went to his library for the company of the pipe, which Ann disliked, and
the _Tribune_, which she regarded as the organ of Satanic politics.
Seeing both John and her aunt absorbed in their books, Leila passed
quickly back of them, opened the library door, and said softly, "May I
come in, Uncle Jim?"

During the last few days he had missed, and he well knew why, John's
visits and intelligent questions. Leila was welcome. "Why, of course,
pussy cat. Come in. Shut the door; your aunt dislikes the pipe smoke. Sit
down." For some reason she desired to stand. "Don't stand," he said, "sit
down on my knee." She obeyed. "There," he said, "that's comfy. How heavy
you are. Good gracious, child! what am I to do without you?"

"Isn't it awful, Uncle Jim."

"It is--it is. What do you want, my dear? Anything wrong with the
horses?"

"No, sir. It's--John--"

"Oh! it's John. Well, what is it?"

"It isn't John--it's John and the horses--I mean John and Dixy. Patrick
rides Dixy for exercise every day."

"Well, what's the matter? First it's John, then Dixy, then John and Dixy,
and then John and Dixy and Pat."

The girl saw through the amusement he had in teasing her and said with
gravity, "I wish you would be serious, Uncle Jim. I want five minutes of
uninterrupted attention."

The Squire exploded, "Good gracious! that is Ann Grey all over. You must
have heard her say it."

"I did, and you listen, too. Sometimes you don't, Uncle Jim. I guess you
weren't well broke when you were young."

"Great Scott! you minx! Some day a girl I know will have to stand at
attention. Go ahead."

"Pat's ruining Dixy's mouth. You ought to see him sawing at the curb. You
always rode him on the snaffle."

"That boy Pat needs a good licking, Leila."

"But Dixy don't. The fact is, Uncle Jim, you're neglecting the stables
for politics."

"Is that your own wisdom, Miss Grey? What with the weight of wisdom and
years, you're getting heavy. Try a chair."

"No, I'm quite comfy. It was Josiah who told me. He often comes up to
look over the colts, of a Sunday--"

"Nice work for Sunday, Miss Grey."

She made no direct reply. "He told me that horse ought to be ridden
by--by John or you, and no one else. He says the way to ruin a horse is
to have a lot of people ride him like Pat--they're just spoiling Dixy--"

"What! in four days? Nonsense."

"But," said the counsel in the case, "it's to be ten. It isn't about
John, it's Dixy's mouth, uncle."

"Oh, you darling little liar!" Here she kissed him and was silent. "It
won't do," he said. "There's no logic in a kiss, Miss Grey. First comes
Ann Grey and says, too much army discipline; and then you tell me what
that gossiping old darkey says, and then you try the final argument--a
kiss. Can't do it. There will be an end of all discipline. I hate
practical jokes. There!"

If he thought to finish the matter thus, he much undervalued the
ingenuity and persistency of the young Portia who was now conducting the
case.

"Suppose you take a chair, Miss Grey. It is rather warm to provide
permanent human seats for stout young women--"

"I'm not stout," said Leila with emphasis, accepting the hint by dropping
with coiled legs upon a cushion at his feet. "I'm not stout. I weigh one
hundred and thirty and a half pounds. And oh! isn't it hot. I haven't had
a swim for--oh, at least five days counting Sunday." The pool was kept
free until noon for Leila and her aunt.

"Why didn't you swim?" he asked lightly, being too intellectually busy
clearing his pipe to see where the leading counsel was conducting him.

"Why, Uncle Jim, I wouldn't swim if John wasn't allowed too; I just
couldn't. I'm going to bed--but, please, don't let Pat ride Dixy."

"I can attend to my stables, Miss Grey. John won't die of heat for want
of a swim. You don't seem to concern yourself with those equally
overbaked young scamps in Westways."

"Uncle Jim, you're just real mean to-night. Josiah told me yesterday that
my cousin beat Tom McGregor because he said it was mean of you to stop
the swimming. John said it was just, and Tom said he was a liar, and--oh,
my! John licked him--wish I'd seen it."

This was news quite to his liking. He made no reply, lost in wonder over
the ways of the mind male and female.

"You ought to be ashamed, you a girl, to want to see a fight. It's time
you went to school. Isn't the rector on the porch? I thought I heard
him."

Now, of late Leila had got to that stage of the game of
thought-interchange when the young proudly use newly acquired
word-counters. "I think, Uncle Jim, you're--you're irreverent."

The Squire shut the door on all outward show of mirth, and said gravely,
"Isn't it pronounced irrelevant, my dear Miss Malaprop?"

"Yes--yes," said Leila. "That's a word John uses. It's just short for
'flying the track'!"

"Any other stable slang, Leila?"

He was by habit averse to changing his decisions, and outside of Ann
Penhallow's range of authority the Squire's discipline was undisputed and
his decrees obeyed. He had been pleased and gaily amused for this half
hour, but was of a mind to leave unchanged the penalties he had
inflicted.

"Are you through, with this nonsense, Leila?" he said as he rose. "Is
this an ingenious little game set up between you and John?" To his utter
amazement she began to cry.

"By George!" he said, "don't cry," which is what a kind man always says
when presented with the riddle of tears.

She drew a brown fist across her wet cheeks and said indignantly, "My
cousin is a gentleman."

She turned to go by him. "No, dear, wait a moment." He held her arm.

"Please, let me go. When John first came, you said he was a prig--and
if he would just do some boy-mischief and kick up his heels like a
two-year-old with some fun in him--you said he was a sort of
girl-boy--" There were for punctuation sobs and silences.

"And where did you get all this about a prig?" he broke in, amazed.

"Oh, I heard you tell Aunt Ann. And now," said Portia, "the first time he
does a real nice jolly piece of mischief you come down on him like--like
a thousand of bricks." Her slang was reserved for the Squire, as he well
knew.

The blue eyes shining with tears looked up from under the glorious
disorder of the mass of hair. It was too much for the man.

"How darned logical you are!" He acknowledged some consciousness of
having been inconsistent. He had said one thing and done another. "You
are worse than your aunt." Then Leila knew that Ann Penhallow had talked
to the Squire. "Well," he said, "what's your opinion, Miss Grey?"

"I think you're distanced."

"What--what! Wait a little. You may tell that young man to ride when he
pleases and to swim, and to tell those scamps it's too hot to deprive
them of the use of the pool. There, now get out!"

"But--Uncle Jim--I--can't. Oh, I really can't. You've got to do it
yourself." This he much disliked to do.

"I hear your aunt calling. Mr. Rivers is going."

She kissed him. "Now, don't wait, Uncle Jim, and don't scold John. He's
been no use for these four days. Goodnight," and she left him.

"Well, well," he said, "I suppose I've got to do it."

He found Ann alone.

"About John! I can't stand up against you two. He is to be let off about
the riding and swimming. I think you may find it pleasant to tell him, my
dear."

She said gravely, "It will come with more propriety from you; but I do
think you are right." Then he knew that he had to do it himself.

"Very well, dear," he said. "How that girl is developing. It is time she
had other company than John, but Lord! how I shall miss her--"

"And I, James."

He went out for the walk he generally took before bed-time. She lingered,
putting things in order on her work-table, wondering what Leila could
have said to thus influence a man the village described as "set in his
ways." She was curious to know, but not of a mind to question Leila.
Before going to bed, she went to her own sitting-room on the left of the
hall. It was sacred to domestic and church business. It held a few books
and was secured by long custom from men's tobacco smoke. She sat down and
wrote to her cousin, George Grey.

"DEAR GEORGE: If politics do not keep you, we shall look for you this
month. There are colts to criticize and talk over, Leila is eager to see
her unknown cousin before she goes to school near Baltimore this
September.

"I believe this town will go for Buchanan, but I am not sure. James and
I, as you know, never talk politics. I am distressed to believe as I do
that he will vote for Fremont; that 'the great, the appalling issue,' as
Mr. Buchanan says, 'is union or disunion' does not seem to affect him. I
read Forney's paper, and James reads that wild abolition _Tribune_. It is
very dreadful, and I am without any one I can talk to. My much loved
rector is an extreme antislavery man.

"Yours always,
ANN PENHALLOW.

"I am not at all sure of you. Be certain to let us know when to expect
you. You know you are--well, I leave your social conscience to say what.

"Yours sincerely,
ANN PENHALLOW."

At breakfast Ann Penhallow sat down to the coffee-urn distributing
cheerful good-mornings. The Squire murmured absently over his napkin,
"May the Lord make us thankful for this and all the blessings of life."
He occasionally varied his grace, and sometimes to Ann's amazement. Why
should he ask to be made thankful, she reflected. These occasional slips
and variations on the simple phrase of gratitude she had come to
recognize as signs of preoccupation, and now glanced at her husband,
anxious always when he was concerned. Then, as he turned to John, she
understood that between his trained belief in the usefulness of
inexorable discipline and an almost womanly tenderness of affection the
heart had somehow won. She knew him well and at times read with ease the
signs of distress and annoyance or resolute decision. Usually he was gay
and merry at breakfast, chaffing the children and eating with the
appetite of a man who was using and renewing his tissues in a wholesome
way. Now he was silent, absent, and ate little. He was the victim of a
combination of annoyances. Had he been wise to commit himself to a
reversal of his sentence? Other and more important matters troubled him,
but as usual where bothers come in battalions it is the lesser
skirmishers who are felt for the moment.

"I see in the hall, Ann," he said, "a letter for George Grey--I will mail
it. When does he come?"

"I do not know."

"John," he said, "you will oblige me by riding to the mill and asking Dr.
McGregor to come to Westways and see old Josiah. Of course, he will
charge it to me." The Squire was a little ashamed of this indirect
confession of retreat.

John looked up, hesitated a moment, and said, "What horse, sir?"

"Dixy, of course."

"Another cup, James," said Mrs. Ann tranquilly amused.

John rose, went around the table to his uncle, and said in his finest
manner, "I am greatly obliged, sir."

"Oh, nonsense! He's rather fresh, take care."

Then Leila said, "It's very hot, Uncle Jim."

"You small fiend," said Penhallow. "Hot! On your way, John, tell those
rascals at Westways they may use the pond." The faint smile on Ann
Penhallow's face somehow set the whole business in an agreeably humorous
light. The Squire broke into the relief of laughter and rose saying, "Get
out of this, all of you, if you want to keep your scalps."

John went to the stable not quite pleased. He had felt that his
punishment for a boy-frolic and the unexpected results of Billy's alarm
had been pretty large. His aunt had not said so to him, but had made it
clear to her husband that the penalty was quite disproportioned to the
size of the offence; a remark which had made him the more resolute not to
disturb the course of justice; and now this chit of a girl had made him
seem like an irresolute fool, and he would have to explain to Rivers, who
would laugh. As he went out of the hall-door, he felt a pretty rough
little paw in his hand and heard a whisper. "You're just the dearest
thing ever was."

Concerning John Penhallow, it is to be said that he did not understand
why he was let off so easily. He had a suspicion that Leila was
somehow concerned, and also the feeling that he would rather have
suffered to the end. However, it would be rather good fun to announce
this swimming-permit to the boys.

Seeing from his shop door John riding down the avenue, Josiah came
limping across the road. He leaned on the gate facing the boy and looking
over the horse and rider with the pleasure of one who, as the Squire
liked to say, knew when horse-flesh and man-flesh were suitably matched.

"Girth's a bit slack, Master John. Always look it over, sir, before you
mount."

"Thanks, Josiah. Open the gate, please. How lame you are. I am to send
the doctor to look after you and Peter Lamb."

The big black man opened the gate and adjusted the girth. "That's right
now. I've got the worst rheumatics I ever did have. Peter Lamb's sick
too. That's apple-whisky. The Squire's mighty patient with that man,
because his mother nursed the Squire when he was a baby. They're near of
an age, but you wouldn't think it to look at Peter and the Captain;
whisky does hurry up Old Time a lot." And so John got the town gossip.
"I ain't no faith in doctorin' rheumatics; wouldn't have him now if I
hadn't lost my old buck-eye. My rabbit-foot's turned grey this week.
That's a sign of trouble."

John laughed and rode from the gate on which Leila had invited him to
indulge in the luxury of swinging. It seemed years ago since she had sung
to his astonishment the lyric of the gate. She appeared to him now not
much older. And how completely he felt at home. He rode along the old
pike through Westways, nodding to Mrs. Lamb, the mother of the scamp whom
the Squire was every now and then saving from the consequences of the
combination of a revengeful nature and bad whisky. Then Billy hailed John
with malicious simplicity.

"Halloa!--John--can't swim--can't swim--ho, ho!"

The butcher's small boy was loading meat on a cart. John stayed to say a
word to him, pleased to have the chance, as the boy grinned at Billy's
mocking malice. "Halloa! Pole," he called. "My uncle says we fellows may
swim. Tell the other fellows."

"Gosh! but that's good--John. I'll tell 'em."

John rode on and fell to thinking of Leila, with some humiliating
suspicion in regard to her share in the Squire's change of mind; or was
it Aunt Ann's influence? And why did he himself not altogether like it?
Why should his aunt and Leila interfere? He wished they had let the
matter alone. What had a girl to do with it? He was again conscious that
he felt of a sudden older than Leila, and did not fully realize that in
the race of life he had gone swiftly past her during these few months,
and that in the next year she in turn would sweep past him in the
developmental changes of life. Now she seemed to him more timid, more
childlike than usual; but long thinkings are not of the psychic habits of
normal youth, and Dixy recovered his attention.

He satisfied the well-bred horse, who of late had been losing his temper
in the society of a rough groom, ignorant of the necessity for good
manners with horses. Neither strange noises nor machines disturbed Dixy
as John rode through the busy iron-mills to the door of a small brick
house, so well known that no sign announced it as the home of the only
medical man available at the mills or in Westways. John tied Dixy to the
hitching-post, gnawed by the doctor's horse during long hours of waiting
on an unpunctual man.

The doors were open, and as John entered he was aware of an odour of
drugs and saw Dr. McGregor sound asleep in an armchair, a red silk
handkerchief over his bald head, and a swarm of disappointed flies
hovering above him. In the back room the clink and rattle of a pestle and
mortar ceased as Tom appeared.

John, in high good-humour, said, "Good afternoon, Tom. My uncle has let
up on the swimming. He asked me to let you fellows know."

"It's about time," said Tom crossly. "After all it was your fault and we
had to pay for it."

"Now, Tom, you made me pretty angry when you talked to me the other day,
and if you want to get me into another row, I won't object; but I was not
asked for any names, and I did not put the blame on any one. Can't you
believe a fellow?"

"No, I can't. If that parson hadn't come, I'd have licked you."

"Perhaps," said John.

"Isn't any perhaps about it. You look out, that's all."

John laughed. He was just now what the Squire described as horse-happy
and indisposed to quarrel. "Suppose you wake up the old gentleman. He
_can_ snore."

Tom shook the doctor's shoulder, "Wake up, Dad. Here's John Penhallow."

The Doctor sat up and pulled off his handkerchief. The flies fell upon
his bald pate. "Darn the flies," he said. "What is it, John?"

"My uncle wants you to come to Westways to-morrow and doctor old Josiah's
rheumatism."

"I'll come."

"He wants you to look after Peter Lamb. He's been drinking again."

"What! that whisky-rotted scamp. It's pure waste of time. How the same
milk came to feed the Squire and that beast the Lord knows. He has no
more morals than a tom-cat. I'll come, but it's waste of good doctoring."
Here he turned his rising temper on Tom. "You and my boy have been having
a fight. You licked him and saved me the trouble. I heard from Mr.
Rivers what Tom said."

"It was no one's business but Tom's and mine," returned John much amused
to know that the peaceful rector must have watched the fight and
overheard what caused it. Tom scowled, and the peacemaking old doctor got
up, adding, "Be more gentle with Tom next time."

Tom knew better than to reply and went back to pill-making furious and
humiliated.

"Good-bye, John," said the Doctor. "I'll see the Squire after I have
doctored that whisky sponge." Then John rode home on Dixy.



CHAPTER VII


Before the period of which I write, the county and town had unfailingly
voted the Democratic ticket. But for half a decade the unrest of the
cities reflected in the journals had been disturbing the minds of country
communities in the Middle States. In the rural districts of Pennsylvania
there had been very little actively hostile sentiment about slavery, but
the never ending disputes over Kansas had at last begun to weaken party
ties, and more and more to direct opinion on to the originating cause of
trouble.

The small voting population of Westways had begun to suspect of late that
James Penhallow's unwillingness to discuss politics meant some change in
his fidelity to the party of which Buchanan was the candidate. What Mrs.
Ann felt she had rather freely allowed to be known. The little groups
which were apt to gather about the grocer's barrels at evening discussed
the grave question of the day with an interest no previous presidential
canvass had caused, and this side eddy of quiet village life was now
agreeably disturbed by the great currents of national politics. Westways
began to take itself seriously, as little towns will at times, and to ask
how this man or that would vote at the coming election in November. The
old farmers who from his youth still called the Squire "James" were
Democrats. Swallow, the only lawyer the town possessed, was silent, which
was felt as remarkable in a man who usually talked much more than
occasion demanded and wore a habit-mask of good-fellowship, which had
served to deceive many a blunt old farmer, but not James Penhallow.

At Grey Pine there was a sense of tension. Penhallow was a man slow in
thinking out conclusions, but in times demanding action swiftly decisive.
He had at last settled in his mind that he must leave his party and
follow a leader he had known in the army and never entirely trusted.
Whether he should take an active share in the politics of the county
troubled him, as he had told Rivers. He must, of course, tell his wife
how he had resolved to vote. To speak here and there at meetings, to
throw himself into the contest, was quite another matter. His wife would
feel deeply grieved. Between the two influential feelings the resolution
of forces, as he put it to himself with a sad smile, decided him to hold
his tongue so far as the outer world was concerned, to vote for the
principles unfortunately represented by Fremont, but to have one frank
talk with Ann Penhallow. There was no need to do this as yet, and he
smiled again at the thought that Mrs. Ann was, as he pretty well knew,
playing the game of politics at Westways. He might stop her. He could ask
her to hold her hand, but to let her continue on her way and to openly
make war against her, that he could not do. It did not matter much as the
State in any case would go for Buchanan. He hesitated, and had better
have been plain with her. She knew that he had been long in doubt, but
did not as yet suspect how complete was his desertion of opinions she
held to as she did to her religious creed. He found relief in his
decision, and too in freedom of talk with Rivers, who looked upon slavery
as simply wicked and had no charity for the section so little responsible
for an inherited curse they were now driven by opponent criticism to
consider a blessing for all concerned.

John too was asking questions and beginning now and then to wonder more
and more that what Westways discussed should never be mentioned at Grey
Pine. He rode Dixy early in the mornings with Leila at his side, fished
or swam in the afternoons, and so the days ran on. On September 30th, Ann
was to take Leila to the school in Maryland. Three days before this
terrible exile was to begin, as they turned in at the gate of the
stable-yard, Leila said, "I have only three days. I want to go and see
the Indian graves and the spring, and all the dear places I feel as if I
shall never see again."

"What nonsense, Leila. What do you mean?"

"Oh, Aunt Ann says I will be so changed in a year, I won't know myself."

"You mean, you won't see things then as they are seen now."

"Yes, that's what I wanted to say, but you always know how to find the
right words."

"Perhaps," he said. "Things never look just the same tomorrow, but they
may look--well, nicer--or--I can't always find the right word. Suppose we
walk to the graves after lunch and have a good talk." It was so agreed.

They were never quite free from the chance of being sent on errands, and
as Aunt Ann showed signs they well knew, they slipped away quietly and
were gone before the ever-busy lady had ready a basket of contributions
to the comfort of a sick woman in the village. They crossed the garden
and were lost to view in the woods before Leila spoke. "We just did it.
Billy will have to go." They laughed merrily at their escape.

"Just think, John, how long it is since you came. It seems years. Oh, you
_were_ a queer boy! I just hated you."

"I do suppose, Leila, I must have looked odd with that funny cap and the
cane--"

"And the way you looked when I told you about swinging on the gate. I
hadn't done that for--oh, two years. What did you think of me?"

"I thought you were very rude, and then--oh, Leila! when you came up out
of the drift--" He hesitated.

"Oh, go on; I don't mind--not now."

"I thought you beautiful with all that splendid hair on the snow."

"Oh, John! How silly!" Whether or not she was unusually good to look at
had hardly ever before occurred to her. She flushed slightly, pleased and
wondering, with a new seed of gentle vanity planted in her simple nature,
a child on the threshold of the womanly inheritance of maidenhood.

Then he said gravely, "It is wonderful to me how we have changed. I shall
miss you. To think you are the only girl I ever played with, and now when
you come back at Christmas--"

"I am not to come back then, John. I am to stay with my uncles in
Baltimore and not come home until next June."

"You will be a young lady in long skirts and your hair tucked up. It's
dreadful."

"Can't be helped, John. You will look after Lucy, and write to me."

"And you will write to me, Leila?"

"If I may. Aunt says they are very strict. But I shall write to Aunt Ann,
of course."

"That won't be the same."

"No."

They walked on in silence for a little while, the girl gazing idly at
the tall trees, the lad feeling strangely aware, freshly aware, as
they moved, of the great blue eyes and of the sun-shafts falling on
the abundant hair she swept back from time to time with a careless
hand. Presently she stood still, and sat down without a word on the
moss-cushioned trunk of a great spruce, fallen perhaps a century ago.
She was passing through momentary moods of depression or of pleasure as
she thought of change and travel, or nourishing little jealous desires
that her serious-minded cousin should miss her.

The cousin turned back. "You might have invited me to sit down, Miss
Grey." He laughed, and then as he fell on the brown pine-needles at her
feet and looked up, he saw that her usual quick response to his challenge
of mirth was wanting.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked.

"Oh, about Aunt Ann and Uncle Jim, and--and--Lucy, and who will ride
her--"

"You can trust Uncle Jim about Lucy."

"I suppose so," said the girl rather dolefully and too near to the tears
she had been sternly taught to suppress.

"Isn't it queer," he said, "how people think about the same things? I was
just going to speak of Aunt Ann and Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim often talks to
me and to Mr. Rivers about the election, but if I say a word or ask a
question at table, Aunt Ann says, 'we don't talk politics.'"

"But once, John, I heard Mr. Rivers say that slavery was a curse and
wicked. Uncle Jim, he said Aunt Ann's people held slaves, and he didn't
want to talk about it. I couldn't hear the rest. I told you once about
this."

"How you hear things, Leila. Prince Fine Ear was a trifle to you."

"Who was Prince Fine Ear?" she asked.

"Oh, he was the fairy prince who could hear the grass grow and the roses
talk. It's a pretty French fairy tale."

"What a gabble there must be in the garden, John."

"It doesn't need Prince Fine Ear to hear. Don't these big pines talk to
you sometimes, and the wind in the pines--the winds--?"

"No, they don't, but Lucy does."

Something like a feeling of disappointment faintly disturbed the play of
his fancies. "Let us go to the graves."

"Yes, all right, come."

They got no further than the cabin and again sat down near by, Leila
carelessly gathering the early golden-rod in her lap as they sat leaning
against the cabin logs.

"This is our last walk," she said, arranging the golden plumes. "There is
a white golden-rod; find me another, John."

He went away to the back of the cabin and returning threw in her lap a
half dozen. "Old Josiah says the blacks in the South think it is good
luck to find the first white golden-rod. Then, he says, you must have a
luck-wish. What shall it be? Come--quick now."

"Oh, I--don't know. Yes, I wish to have Lucy at that terrible
boarding-school."

John laughed. "Oh, Leila, is that the best you can do?"

"Yes, wish a wish for me, if mine doesn't suit."

Then he said, "I wish the school had small-pox and you had to stay at
Grey Pine."

"I didn't think you'd care as much as that. Aren't these flowers
beautiful? Wish me a real wish."

"Then, I wish that when we grow up you would marry me."

"Well, John, you are a silly." She took on an air of authoritative
reprimand. "Why, John, you are only a boy, but you ought to know better
than to talk such nonsense."

"And you," he said, "are just a little girl."

"Oh, I'm not so very little," returned Miss Grey.

"When I'm older, I shall ask you again; and if you say no, I'll ask
again--and--until--"

"What nonsense, John. Let's go home."

He rose flushed and troubled, and said, "Are you vexed, Leila?"

"No, of course not; but it was foolish of you."

He made no reply, in fact hardly heard her. He was for the moment older
in some ways than his years. What had strangely moved him disturbed Leila
not at all. She talked on lightly, laughing at times, and was answered
briefly; for although he had no desire to speak, the unfailing courteous
ways of his foreign education forced him to disregard his desire to say.
"Oh, do let me alone; you don't understand." He hardly understood himself
or the impulsive stir of emotion--a signal of coming manhood. Annoyed by
his unwillingness to talk, she too fell to silence, and they walked
homeward.

During the time left to them there was much to do in the way of visits to
the older village people and some of the farmer families who had been
here on the soil nearly as long as the Penhallows. There were no other
neighbours near enough for country intercourse, and the life at Grey Pine
offered few attractions to friends or relatives from the cities unless
they liked to tramp with the Squire in search of game. The life was,
therefore, lonely and would for some women have been unendurable; but as
the Baptist preacher said to Rivers, "Duties are enough to satisfy Mrs.
Penhallow, and I do guess she enjoys her own goodness like the angels
must do."

Mark Rivers answered, "That is pretty nearly true, but I wish she would
not invent duties which don't belong to women."

"About the election, you mean?"

"Yes. It troubles me, and I am sure it troubles the Squire. What about
yourself, Grace?" and a singularly sad smile went with the query and a
side glance at his friend's face. He had been uneasy about him since
Grace had bent a little in the House of Rimmon.

"Oh, Rivers, the roof has got to leak. I have kept away from Mrs.
Penhallow. I can't accept her help and then preach against her party,
and--I mean to do it. I've wrestled with this little sin and--I don't say
I wasn't tempted--I was. Now I am clear. We Baptists can stand what water
leaks down on us from Heaven."

"You mean to preach politics, Grace?"

"Yes, that's what I mean to do. Oh! here comes Mrs. Penhallow."

They had met in front of Josiah's shop. As Mrs. Penhallow approached, Mr.
Grace discovering a suddenly remembered engagement hurried away, and
Rivers went with her along the rough sidewalk of Westways.

"I go away to-morrow with Leila," she said, "and Mr. Penhallow goes to
Pittsburgh. We shall leave John to you for at least a week. He will give
you no trouble. He has quite lost his foreign boyish ways, and don't you
think he is like my husband?"

"He is in some ways very like the Squire."

"Yes, in some things--I so rarely leave home that this journey to
Baltimore with Leila seems to me like foreign travel."

"Does Leila like it?"

"No, but it is time she was thrown among girls. She is less than she was
a mere wild boy. It is strange, Mark, that ever since John came she has
been less of a hoyden--and more of a simple girl."

"It is," he said, "a fine young nature in a strong body. She has the
promise of beauty--whatever that may be worth."

"Worth! It is worth a great deal," said Mrs. Ann. "It helps. The moral
value of beauty! Ah, Mark Rivers, I should like to discuss that with you.
She is at the ugly duck age. Now I must go home. I want you to look after
some things while I am away, and Mr. Penhallow is troubled about his pet
scamp, Lamb."

She went on with her details of what he was to do, until he said
laughing, "Please to put it on paper."

"I will. Not to leave John quite alone, I have arranged for you to dine
with him, and I suppose he will go to you in the mornings for his lessons
as usual."

"Oh, yes, of course. I enjoy these fellows, but the able ones are John
and Tom McGregor. Tom is in the rough as yet, but he will come out all
right. I shall lose him in a year. He is over seventeen and is to study
medicine. But what about Lamb?"

"I am wicked enough to wish he were really ill. It is only the usual
drunken bout, but he is a sort of Frankenstein to the Squire because of
that absurd foster-brother feeling. He is still in bed, I presume."

"As you ask it," said Rivers, "I will see him, but if he belongs to any
flock, he is a black sheep of Grace's fold. Anything else, Mrs.
Penhallow?" he asked smiling--"but don't trust my memory."

"If I think of anything more, I shall make a note of it and, of course,
you will see us at the station--the ten o'clock train--and give me a list
of the books you wanted. I may find them in Philadelphia."

"Thank you."

"Oh," she said, turning back, "I forgot. My cousin, George Grey, is
coming, but he is so uncertain that he may come as he advises me in ten
days, or as is quite possible to-morrow, or not at all."

"Very good. If he comes, we will try to make Grey Pine agreeable."

"That is really all, Mark, I think," and the little lady went away, with
a pleasant word for the long familiar people as she went by.

In the afternoon Leila saw the Squire ride to the mills with John, and
went herself to the stable for a last mournful interview with Lucy. It
was as well that her aunt with unconscious good sense kept her busy until
dinner-time. The girl was near to accepting the relieving bribe of
unrestrained tears, being sad and at the age of those internal conflicts
which at the time of incomplete formation of character are apt to trouble
the more sensitive sex. A good hard gallop would have cured her
anticipative homesickness, for it must be a very black care indeed that
keeps its seat behind the rider.

The next morning the rector and John were at the station of Westways
Crossroads when the Grey Pine carriage drove up. Mrs. Ann and Leila were
a half hour too early, as was Mrs. Penhallow's habit. Billy was on the
cart with the baggage, grinning as usual and full of self-importance.

"Well, Billy," said Leila, talking to every one to conceal her
child-grief at this parting with the joyous activities of her energetic
young life. "Well, Billy, it's good-bye for a year."

"Won't have no more fun, Miss Leila--and nobody to snowball Billy, this
winter."

"No, not this winter."

"Found another ground-hog yesterday. I'll let her alone till you come
back."

John laughed. "Miss Leila will have long skirts and--hoops, Billy.
There will be no more coasting and no more snowballing or digging up
ground-hogs."

"Hoops--what for?" said Billy. John laughed.

"Please don't, John," she said, "it's too dreadful. Oh! I hear the
whistle."

"Mark," said Mrs. Ann, "if George Grey comes--James, did you leave the
wine-closet key?"

"Yes, my dear."

He turned to Leila, and kissing her said, "A year is soon over. Be a good
girl, my child. It is about as bad for me as for you. God bless you.
There, get on, Ann. Yes, the trunks are all right. Good-bye."

He stood a moment with John looking after the vanishing train. Then, he
said, "No need to stay here with me, Mark," and the rector understanding
him left him waiting for the westbound train and walked home across the
fields with John Penhallow.

John was long silent, but at last said, "It will be pretty lonesome
without Leila."

"Nice word, lonesome, John. Old English, I believe--has had its
adventures like some other words. Lonely doesn't express as well the idea
of being alone and sorrowful. We must do our best for your uncle and
aunt. Your turn to leave us will come, and then Leila will be lonesome."

"I don't think she will care as much."

Rivers glanced at the strong young face. "Why do you say that?"

"I don't know, Mr. Rivers. I--she is more of a child than I am."

"That hardly answers my question. But I must leave you. I am going
to see that scamp misnamed Lamb. See you at dinner. Don't cultivate
lonesomeness, John. No one is ever really alone."

Leaving his pupil to consider what John thought rather too much of an
enigma, the young clergyman took to the dusty highway which led to
Westways. John watched the tall figure awkwardly climbing a snake fence,
and keeping in mind for explanation the clergyman's last remark he went
away through the woods.



CHAPTER VIII


Penhallow had gravely told John that in his absence he must look after
the stables and the farm, so that now he had for the first time in his
life responsibilities. The horses and the stables were to be looked over
every day. Of course, too, he must ride to the Squire's farm, which was
two miles away, and which was considered a model of all that a farm
should be. The crop yield to the acre was most satisfactory, but when
some one of the old Quaker farmers, whose apple-orchards the Squire had
plundered when young, walked over it and asked, "Well, James, how much
did thee clear this last year?" the owner would honestly confess that
Mrs. Ann's kitchen-garden paid better; but then she gave away what the
house did not use.

Very many years before slavery had become by tacit consent avoided as a
subject for discussion, Mrs. Ann critical of what his farm cost, being
herself country-bred, had said that if it were worked with Maryland
blacks it would pay and pay well.

"You mean, dear, that if I owned the labour, it would pay."

"Yes," she returned gaily, "and with me for your farmeress."

"You are, you are!" he laughed, "and you have cultivated me. I am well
broken to your satisfaction, I trust; but to me, Ann, the unpaid labour
of the slave seems impossible."

"Oh, James, it is not only possible, but right for us who know what for
all concerned is best."

"Well, well," he laughed, "the vegetable garden seems to be run at a
profit without them--ah! Ann, how about that?"

The talk was, as they both knew, more serious than it would have seemed
to any one who might have chanced to be present. The tact born of perfect
love has the certainty of instinct, and to be sensitive even to
tenderness in regard to the prejudices or the fixed opinions of another
does much to insure happiness both in friendship and in love. Here with
these two people was a radical difference of belief concerning what was
to be more and more a hard subject as the differences of sentiment North
and South became sharply defined. Westways and the mills understood her,
and what were her political beliefs, but not the laughingly guarded
silence of the much loved and usually outspoken Squire, who now and then
relieved his mind by talking political history to John or Rivers.

The stables and farm were seriously inspected and opinions expressed
concerning colts and horses to the amusement of the grooms. He presided
in Penhallow's place at table with some sense of newly acquired
importance, and on the fourth day of his uncle's absence, at Mark
Rivers's request, asked Mr. Grace to join them. The good Baptist was
the more pleased to come in the absence of Mrs. Penhallow, who liking
neither his creed nor his manners, respected the goodness of a life of
self-denial, which, as his friend Rivers knew, really left him with
hardly enough to keep his preaching soul alive.

"Grace is late, as usual," said Rivers to John. "He has, I believe, no
acquaintance with minutes and no more conception of time than the angels.
Ah! I see him. His table-manners really distress your aunt; but manners
are--well, we will leave that to another time. Good evening, Grace."

"Glad to see you, sir," said John.

On a word from Rivers, the guest offered thanks, which somewhat amazed
John by its elaborate repetitions.

The stout little preacher, carefully tucking his napkin between his paper
shirt-collar and his neck, addressed himself to material illustration of
his thankfulness, while the rector observed with a pitiful interest the
obvious animal satisfaction of the man. John with more amusement saw the
silver fork used for a time and at last abandoned for use of the knife.
Unconsciously happier for an unusually good dinner, Grace accepted a
tumbler of the Penhallow cider, remarking, "I never take spirits, Rivers,
but I suppose cider to be a quite innocent beverage."

Rivers smiled. "It will do you no harm."

"It occurs to me, Rivers," said Grace, "that although wine is mentioned
in the Bible, cider is not. There is no warning against its use."

It also occurred to Rivers that there was none against applejack. "Quite
right," he said. "You make me think of that scamp, Lamb. McGregor tells
me that he is very ill."

"A pity he wouldn't die," remarked the young host, who had indiscreetly
taken two full tumblers of old hard cider before Rivers had noticed his
unaccustomed use of this rather potent drink.

"You should not desire the death of any man, John," said Grace, "least of
all the death of a sinner like Lamb."

"Really," said John with the dignity of just a trifle too much cider, "my
phrase did not admit of your construction."

"No," laughed Rivers, seeing it well to intervene, "and yet to say it is
a pity may be a kindly wish and leaves it open to charitable
interpretation."

"He is quite unprepared to die," insisted Grace, with the clerical
intonation which Rivers disliked.

"How do you know that?" asked Rivers.

"I know," said John confidently. "He told me he was a born thief and
loved to lie. He was pretty drunk at the time."

"That is too nearly true to be pleasant," remarked Rivers, "'_in vino
veritas_.' The man is a very strange nature. I think he never forgives a
benefit. I sometimes think he has no sense of the difference between
right and wrong--an unmoral nature, beyond your preaching or mine, Grace,
even if he ever gave us a chance."

"I think he is a cruel beast," said John. "I saw him once--"

Rivers interrupted him saying, as he rose, "Suppose we smoke."

With unconscious imitation of the courteous Squire he represented, John
said, "We will smoke in the library if you have had enough wine."

Rivers said, "Certainly, Squire," not altogether amused as John, a little
embarrassed, said quickly, "I should have said cider."

"Of course, we have had no wine, quite a natural mistake," remarked
Grace, which the representative squire felt to be a very disagreeable
comment.

"You will find cigars and pipes on the table," said the rector, "and I
will join you in a moment." So saying he detained John by a hand on his
arm and led him aside as they crossed the hall.

"You are feeling that old hard cider, my boy. You had better go to bed. I
should have warned you."

"Yes, sir--I--did not--I mean--I--"

"_C'est une diablesse_--a little devil. There are others, and worse ones,
John. Good-night."

On the stairs the young fellow felt a deepening sense of humiliation
and surprise as he became aware of the value of the banister-rail.

Rivers went into the library blaming his want of care, and a little sorry
for the lad's evident distress. "What, not smoking, Grace?"

"No, I have given it up."

"But, why?"

"Well, I can't smoke cheap strong tobacco, and I can't afford better
stuff."

"Then, be at ease, my friend. The Squire has sent me a large supply. I am
to divide with you," which was as near to a fib as the young clergyman
ever got in his blameless life.

"I shall thank him," returned Grace simply, "and return to my pipe, but I
do sometimes think it is too weak an indulgence of a slavish habit."

"Hardly worth while to thank Penhallow; he will have forgotten all about
it."

"But I shall not."

They smoked and talked politics, and the village and their work, until at
last, after one of the pipe-filling pauses, Grace said, "I ought not to
have taken that cider, but it singularly refreshed me. You did not
partake."

"No, it disagrees with me."

"I feel it, Brother Rivers. I feel it slightly, and--I--a man who
preaches temperance, total abstinence--"

"My dear Grace, that is not temperance. There may be intemperance in
the way a man puts his opinions before others--a man may hurt his own
cause--"

Grace returned quickly, "You were in our church Wednesday night--I saw
you. You think I was intemperate?"

"Frankly, yes. You were abusive. You are too well self-governed to
understand the working-man's temptations. You preached from the heart as
you felt, without the charity of the head."

"Perhaps--perhaps," he returned humbly; and then with a quite gentle
retort, "Don't you sometimes preach too much from the head, Brother
Rivers?"

"Yes, that may be the case. I am conscious sometimes that I lack your
power of direct appeal--your personal application of the truth. I ought
to preach the first half of the sermon--the appeal to the reason, the
head part--and ask you to conclude with the heart share--the personal
application of my cold logic."

"Let us try it," said Grace rising and much amused; "cold, Rivers! your
cold logic! There is nothing cold in all your nature. Let us go home; we
have had a good talk."

As they walked down the avenue Grace said, "What are you doing about
Lamb? Is it really wise to talk to him?"

"Just now," said the rector, "he has acquired a temporary conscience in
the shape of a congested stomach. I talked to him a little. He is
penitent, or says he is, and as his mother is sometimes absent, I have
set Billy to care for him; some one must. I have found that to keep Billy
on a job you must give him a daily allowance of chewing tobacco; that
answers."

"Bad company, Brother Rivers."

"Oh, there is no guile in Billy."

They parted at the Grey Pine gate. Rivers had innocently prepared remote
mischief, which by no possible human foresight could he have anticipated.
When, walking in the quiet of a lonely wood, a man sets his foot on a
dead branch, the far end stirs another, and the motion so transmitted
agitates a half dozen feet away the leaves of a group of ferns. The man
stops and suspects some little woodland citizen as the cause of the
unexplained movement; thus it is in the affairs of life. We do some
innocent thing and are puzzled to explain how it brings about remote
mischief.

Meanwhile an unendurable craving for drink beset the man Lamb, who was
the prey of slowly lessening delusions. Guardian Billy chewed his daily
supply of tobacco and sat at the window in the hot second-storey room
feeding Lamb with brief phrases concerning what he saw on the street.

"Oh! there go Squire's horses for exercise; Joe's on Lucy."

"Damn Lucy! Do you go to mother's room--"

"What for?"

"Oh, she keeps her money in it, and Mrs. Penhallow paid her in advance
the day she left."

"Can't do it," said Billy, who had strict orders not to leave Lamb alone.

"Oh, just look in the top drawer. She keeps a bit of money rolled up in
one of her stockings. That will get me a little whisky and you lots of
tobacco."

"Can't do it," said Billy. "Want me to steal? Won't do it."

"Then I'll get even with you some day."

Billy laughed. "Why I could lick you--like Mr. John licked the doctor's
son. Gosh! there goes Pole's wagon."

Lamb fell to thought of how to get that whisky. The ingenuity of the man
who craves alcohol or morphia is sometimes surprising even to the most
experienced doctor. The immorality of the means of attainment is never
considered. If, as with Lamb, a lie or worse be needed, there is a
certain satisfaction in having outwitted nurse and doctor.

On the day after the two clergymen had heard John's final opinion of
Lamb, the bed-fast man received his daily visit from his spiritual
physician, and the clergyman met at the house door the doctor of the
body. "I suppose," said McGregor, "that you and I as concerns this
infernal rascal are under orders from Penhallow and his wife. I at least
have the satisfaction of being paid--"

"Oh, I am paid, Doctor," the clergyman smiled.

"Of course, any one and every one who serves that very efficient and
positive saint, Mrs. Penhallow, is paid. She's too terrifyingly good. It
must be--well, inconvenient at times. Now she wants this animal looked
after because of Mrs. Lamb; and the squire has some sort of absurd belief
that because the same breasts that nursed him nursed our patient, he must
befriend the fellow--and he does. Truth is, Rivers, that man's father was
a sodden drunkard but, I am told, not otherwise bad. It's a pretty sure
doom for the child. This man's body has damned his soul, and now the soul
is paying it back in kind."

"The damnation will be settled elsewhere," said Rivers gravely. "You are
pleading for him when you say he had a father who drank."

"Well, yes, yes. That is true, but I do confoundedly mistrust him. He
never remembers a kindness and never forgets the smallest injury. But
when Mrs. Penhallow puts a hand on your arm and you look at her, you just
go and do what she wants done. Oh, me too! Let's get out of this
unreasonable sun and see this fellow."

Billy was chasing blue-bottle flies on the window panes, and the patient
in bed was lying still, flushed, with red eyes. He was slowly recovering
from an attack of delirium tremens and reassembling his scattered wits.

"Well," said McGregor, "better, I see. Bugs gone?"

"Yes, sir; but if I had a little, just a nip of whisky to taper off on,
I'd be all right."

"Not a drop, Peter."

"I'll die if I don't get it."

"Then die sober."

Peter made no reply. McGregor felt his pulse, made his usual careful
examination, and said at last, "Now keep quiet, and in a few days you'll
be well."

"For God's sake, give me whisky--a little. I'm so weak I can't stand up."

"No," said McGregor, "it will pass. Now I must go. A word with you, Mr.
Rivers." When outside of the room he said, "We must trust Billy, I
suppose?"

"Yes, there is no one else."

"That man is giving his whole mind to thinking how he can get whisky. He
will lie, cheat, steal, do anything to get it."

"How can he? Neither Billy nor his old mother will help him. He will get
well, Doctor, I suppose?"

"Yes, I told him he would. More's the pity. He is a permanent nuisance,
up to any wickedness, a hopelessly ruined wild beast."

"Perhaps," said Rivers; "perhaps. Who can be sure of that?" He despaired
of no one.

The sadly experienced doctor shook his head. "He will live to do much
mischief. The good die young; you may be sure the wicked do not. In some
ways the man's case has its droll side. Queer case! in some ways
interesting."

"How is it interesting?" said Rivers.

"Oh, what he saw--his delusions when he was at his worst."

"What did he see?"

"Oh, bugs--snakes--the common symptoms, and at last the 'Wilmot Proviso.'
Imagine it. He knew no more of that than of the physiology of the man in
the moon. He described it as a 'plucked chicken.'"

"I suppose that was a wild contribution from the endless political talk
of the town."

"Well, a 'plucked chicken' was not so bad. He saw also 'Bleeding Kansas.'
A 'stuck pig' that was; and more--more, but I must go."

Rivers went back to the room. "Here is your tobacco, Billy, and wait
downstairs; don't go away."

The big man turned over in bed as the clergyman entered. "Mr. Rivers. I'm
bad. I might have died. Won't you pray for me?"

Rivers hesitated, and then fell on his knees at the bedside, his face in
his hands. Peter lay still smiling, grimly attentive. As Rivers rose to
his feet, Lamb said, "Couldn't I have just a little whisky? Doctors don't
always know. I've been in this scrape before, and just a little liquor
does help and it don't do any harm. I can't think, I'm so harried inside.
I can't even pray, and I want to pray. Now, you will, sir, won't you?"

This mingling of low cunning, of childlike appeal and of hypocrisy,
obviously suggested anything but the Christian charity of reply; what
should he say? Putting aside angry comment, he fell back upon his one
constant resource, What would Christ have said to this sinful man? He
stood so long silent by the bed, which creaked as Lamb sat up, that the
man's agony of morbid thirst caught from his silence a little hope, and
he said, "Now you will, I know."

Rivers made no direct answer. Was it hopeless? He tried to read the
face--the too thin straight nose, white between dusky red cheeks, the
projecting lower lip, and the lip above it long, the eyes small, red, and
eagerly attentive. This was not the time for reason. He said, "I should
be your worst enemy, Peter. Every one has been good to you; over and over
the Squire has saved you from jail. Mrs. Penhallow asked me to help you.
Try to bear what your sin has brought on you, oh! do try. Pray God for
help to bear it patiently."

"I'm in hell. What's the use of praying in hell? Get me whisky and I'll
pray."

Rivers felt himself to be at the end of his resources, and that the
enfeebled mind was incapable of response to any appeal to head or heart.
"I will come again," he said. "Good-bye."

"Oh, damn everybody," muttered Peter.

Rivers went out and sent Billy up to take charge. Lamb was still sitting
up in bed when Billy returned. The simple fellow poured out in brief
sentences small bits of what he had seen at the street door.

"Oh, shut up," said Peter. "The doctor says I'll feel better if I'm
shaved--ain't been shaved these three weeks. Doctor wants you to go and
get Josiah to come and fix me up to-night. You tell him it's the doctor's
orders. Don't you be gone long. I'm kind of lonely."

"All right," said Billy, in the cheerful way which made him a favourite
despite his disinclination for steady work.

"Now, don't be gone long. I need a good shave, Billy."

"Guess you do--way you look you wouldn't fetch five cents at one of them
rummage-sales. Ain't had but one in four years."

"Oh, get out, Billy." Once rid of his guard he tried in vain to stand up
and fell back cursing.

The order from the doctor was to be obeyed. "Guess he's too shaky to
shave himself," said Josiah. "I'll come about half-past eight."

As Josiah walked to the far end of the village, he thought in his simple
way of his last three years. After much wandering and fear of being
traced, he had been used at the stables by Penhallow. That he had been a
slave was suspected, but that troubled no one in Westways. He had long
felt at ease and safe. He lived alone, a man of some forty years, cooked
for himself, and had in the county bank a small amount of carefully saved
earnings. He had his likes and dislikes, but he had the prudently guarded
tongue of servitude. Long before John Penhallow had understood better the
tall black man's position and won the confidence of a friendly hour, he
saw with his well-bred courtesy how pleased was the man to be called Mr.
Josiah. It sounded queer, as Pole remarked, to call a runaway darkey
Mister, but this in no way disturbed John. The friendly feeling for the
black grew as they fished together in the summer afternoons, or trapped
muskrats, or dug up hellbenders. The barber had one half-concealed
dislike. The man he was now to shave he both feared and hated. "Couldn't
tell you why, Master John. It's like the way Crocker's wife's 'feared of
cats. They ain't never hurt her none."

"Well," he said, "here I am," and in unusual silence set about his work
by dim candlelight. The patient was as silent. When Josiah had finished,
he said no word of his fee, knowing it to be a hopeless debt.

"Guess you do look the better for a shave," he remarked, as he was about
to leave. "I'll send up Billy." The uneasy guardian had seized on the
chance to get a little relief.

"No, don't go," said Lamb. "I'm in a hell of thirst. I want you to get me
some whisky. I'll pay you when I get work."

Josiah was prudent and had no will to oblige the drunkard nor any belief
in future repayment. "Couldn't do that--doctor wouldn't like it."

"What, you won't do it?"

"No, I can't do it."

"If you don't, I'll tell what I know about you."

"What do you know?" The long lost terror returned--but what could he
know?

"Oh, you ran away--I know all about it. You help me now and I'll keep
quiet--you'd better."

A fierce desire rose in the mind of Josiah to kill the rascal, and then,
by long habit prudent, he said, "I'll have to think about it." But what
could this man know?

"Best to think damn quick, or you'll have your old master down on you. I
give you till to-morrow morning early. Do you hear? It's just a nip of
whisky I want."

"Yes, I hear--got to think about it." He went out into the night, a soul
in fear. No one knew his former master's name. Then his very good
intelligence resumed control. No one really knew--only John--and he very
little. He put it aside, confident in the young fellow's discretion. Of
course, the town suspected that he was a fugitive slave, but nobody cared
or seemed to care. And yet, at times in his altogether prosperous happy
years of freedom, when he read of the fugitive-slave act, and he read
much, he had disturbing hours. He stood still a moment and crossed the
road. The Episcopal church, which he punctually attended, was on
Penhallow's land, and near by was the rectory where Mark lived with an
old woman cook and some help from Mrs. Lamb. The night was warm, the
windows were open, and the clergyman was seen writing. Josiah at the
window spoke.

"Excuse me, sir, could I talk to you? I am in a heap of trouble."

"In trouble, Josiah? Come in, the front door is open."

As he entered the rector's study, Rivers said, "Sit down."

Something in the look of the man made him think of hunted animals. "No
one else is in the house. What is it?" The black poured out his story.

"So then," said Rivers, "he lied to you about the doctor and threatened
you with a lie. Why, Josiah, if he had known who was your master, he
would have told you, and whether or not you ran away from slavery is none
of his business. Mr. Penhallow believes you did, others suspect it, but
no one cares. You are liked and you have the respect of the town. There
would be trouble if any man tried to claim you."

"I'd like to tell you all about it, sir."

"No--no--on no account. Tell no one. Now go home. I will settle with that
drunken liar."

"Thank you. May God bless--and thank you."

The clergyman sat in thought a while, and the more he considered the
matter which he had made light of to the scared black, the less he liked
it. He dismissed it for a time as a lie told to secure whisky, but the
fear Josiah showed was something pitiful in this strong black giant. He
knew Lamb well enough to feel sure that Josiah would now have in him an
enemy who was sure in some way to get what he called "even" with the
barber, and was a man known and spoken of in Westways as "real spiteful."

When next day Rivers entered the room where Lamb lay abed, he saw at once
that he was better. He meant to make plain to a revengeful man that
Josiah had friends and that the attempt to blackmail him would be
dangerous. Lamb was sitting up in bed apparently relieved, and was
reading a newspaper. The moment he spoke Rivers knew that he was a far
more intelligent person than the man of yesterday.

Lamb said, "Billy, set a chair for Mr. Rivers. The heat's awful for
October." Billy obeyed and stepped out glad to escape.

Rivers said, "No, I won't sit down. I have something to say to you, and I
advise you to listen. You lied to Billy about the doctor yesterday, and
you tried to frighten Josiah into getting you whisky--you lied to him."

Josiah had not returned, and now it was plain that he had told the
clergyman of the threat. Lamb was quick to understand the situation, and
the cleverness of his defence interested and for a moment half deceived
the rector.

"Who says I lied? Maybe I did. I don't remember. It's just like a
dream--I don't feel nowise accountable. If--I--abused Josiah, I'm sorry.
He did shave me. Let me think--what was it scared Josiah?" He had the
slight frown of a man pursuing a lost memory.

"It is hardly worth while, Peter, to go into the matter if you don't
recall what you said." He realized that the defence was perfect. Its too
ready arguments added to his disbelief in its truth.

Lamb was now enjoying the game. "Was Josiah really here, sir? But, of
course, he was, for he shaved me. I do remember that. Won't you sit down,
sir?"

"No, I must go. I am pleased to find you so much better."

"Thank you, sir. I don't want whisky now. I'll be fit for work in a week
or so. I wonder what I did say to Josiah?"

This was a little too much for Rivers's patience. "Whatever you said had
better never be said again or you will find yourself in very serious
trouble with Mr. Penhallow."

"Why, Mr. Rivers, I know I drink, and then I'm not responsible, but how
could I say to that poor old darkey what I don't mind I said yesterday?"

"Well, you may chance to remember," said Rivers; "at least I have done my
duty in warning you."

"I'd like, sir," returned Lamb, leaning forward with his head bent and
uplift of lids over watchful eyes--"Oh, I want you to know how much I
thank you, sir, for all your kind--"

"You may credit the Squire for that. Good-bye," and he went out.

Neither man had been in the least deceived, but the honours of the game
were with the big man in the bed, which creaked under his weight as he
fell back grinning in pleased self-approval. "Damn that black cuss," he
muttered, "and the preacher too. I'll make them sorry."

At the outer doorstep Mark Rivers stood still and wiped the sweat from
his forehead. There must be minutes in the life of the most spiritually
minded clergyman when to bow a little in the Rimmon House of the gods of
profane language would be a relief. He may have had the thought, for he
smiled self-amused and remembered his friend Grace. Then he took himself
to task, reflecting that he should have been more gently kind, and was
there not some better mode of approaching this man? Was he not a spirit
in prison, as St. Peter said? What right had he with his beliefs to
despair of any human soul? Then he dismissed the matter and went home to
his uncompleted sermon. He would have to tell the Squire; yes, that would
be advisable.

The days at Grey Pine ran on in the routine of lessons, riding, and
the pleasure for John of representing his uncle in the oversight of the
young thoroughbred colts and the stables. Brief talks with Rivers of
books and politics filled the after-dinner hour, and when he left John
fell with eagerness on the newspapers of the day. His uncle's mail he
forwarded to Pittsburgh, and heard from him that he would not return
until mid-October. His aunt would be at home about the 8th, and Leila
was now at her school. The boy felt the unaccustomed loneliness, and most
of all the absence of Leila. One letter for his aunt lay on the hall
table. It came too late to be sent on its way, nor had she asked to have
letters forwarded.

Two days before her return was to be expected, when John came down
dressed for dinner, he found Mr. Rivers standing with his back to a fire,
which the evening coolness of October in the hills made desirable. The
rector was smiling.

"Mr. George Grey came just after you went upstairs. It seems that he
wrote to your aunt the letter on the table in the hall. As no one met him
at Westways Crossing, he was caught in a shower and pretty well soaked
before he got some one to bring him to Grey Pine. I think he feels rather
neglected."

"Has he never been here before?" asked John, curious in regard to the
guest who he thought, from hearing his aunt speak of him, must be a
person of importance.

"No, not for a long while. He is only a second cousin of Mrs. Penhallow;
but as all Greys are for her--well, _the_ Greys--we must do our best to
make it pleasant for him until your aunt and uncle return."

"Of course," said John, with some faint feeling that it was needless to
remind him, his uncle's representative, of his duties as the host. Rivers
said, smiling, "It may not be easy to amuse Mr. Grey. I did not tell you
that your aunt wrote me, she will not be here until the afternoon train
on the 9th. Ah! here is Mr. Grey."

John was aware of a neatly built, slight man in middle life, clad in a
suit of dark grey. He came down the stairs in a leisurely way. "Not much
of a Grey!" thought Rivers, as he observed the clean-shaven face, which
was sallow, or what the English once described as olivaster, the eyes
small and dark, the hair black and so long as to darkly frame the
thin-featured, clean-shaven refinement of a pleasant and now smiling
face.

John went across the hall to receive him, saying, "I am John Penhallow,
sir. I am sorry we did not know you were to be here to-day."

"It is all right--all right. Rather chilly ride. Less moisture outside
and more inside would have been agreeable; in fact, would be at present,
if I may take the liberty."

Seeing that the host did not understand him, Rivers said promptly, "I
think, John, Mr. Grey is pleasantly reminding us that we should offer him
some of your uncle's rye."

"Of course," said John, who had not had the dimmest idea what the
Maryland gentleman meant.

Mr. Grey took the whisky slowly, remarking that he knew the brand,
"Peach-flavoured, sir. Very good, does credit to Penhallow's taste. As
Mr. Clay once remarked, the mellowing years, sir, have refined it."

"Dinner is ready," said John.

There was no necessity to entertain Mr. Grey. He talked at length, what
James Penhallow later described as "grown-up prattle." Horses, the crops,
and at length the proper methods of fining wine--a word of encouragement
from Rivers set him off again. Meanwhile the dinner grew cold on his
plate. At last, abruptly conscious of the lingering meal, Mr. Grey said,
"This comes, sir, of being in too interesting society."

Was this mere quaint humour, thought Rivers; but when Grey added, "I
should have said, sir, too interested company," he began to wonder at the
self-absorption of what was evidently a provincial gentleman. At last,
with "Your very good health!" he took freely of the captain's Madeira.

Rivers, who sipped a single glass slowly, was about to rise when to his
amusement, using his uncle's phrase, John said, "My uncle thinks that
Madeira and tobacco do not go well together; you may like to smoke in the
library."

Grey remarked, "Quite right, as Henry Clay once said, 'There is nothing
as melancholy as the old age of a dinner; who, sir, shall pronounce its
epitaph?' That, sir, I call eloquence. No more wine, thank you." As he
spoke, he drew a large Cabana from his waistcoat pocket and lighted it
from one of the candles on the table.

Rivers remarked, "We will find it warmer in the library."

When the two men settled down to pipe or cigar at the library fire, John,
who had felt the rôle of host rather difficult, was eager to get a look
at the _Tribune_ which lay invitingly on the table, and presently caught
the eye of Mr. Grey.

"I see you have the _Tribune_" he said. "A mischief-making
paper--devilish. I presume Penhallow takes it to see what the other
side has to say. Very wise, sir, that."

Rivers, unwilling to announce his friend's political opinions, said,
smiling, "I must leave Mr. Penhallow to account for that wicked journal."

Grey sat up with something like the alert look of a suddenly awakened
terrier on his thin face. "I presume the captain (he spoke of him usually
as the captain) must be able to control a good many votes in the village
and at the iron-works."

"I rather fancy," said Rivers, "that he has taken no active part in the
coming election."

"Unnecessary, perhaps. It is, I suppose, like my own county. We haven't a
dozen free-soil voters. 'Bleeding Kansas' is a dead issue with us. It is
bled to death, politically dead, sir, and buried."

"Not here," said John imprudently. "Uncle James says Buchanan will carry
the State by a small majority, but he may not carry this county."

"Then he should see to it," said Grey. "Elect Fremont, my boy, and the
Union will go to pieces. Does the North suppose we will endure a
sectional President? No, sir, it would mean secession--the death-knell of
the Union. Sir, we may be driven to more practical arguments by the
scurrilous speeches of the abolitionists. It is an attack on property, on
the ownership of the inferior race by the supremely superior. That is
the vital question."

He spoke with excitement and gesticulated as if at a political meeting.
Mark Rivers, annoyed, felt a strong inclination to box John's ears. He
took advantage of the pause to say, "Would you like a little more rye,
Mr. Grey?"

"Why, yes, sir. I confess to being a trifle dry. But to resume our
discussion--"

"Pardon me. John, ask for the whisky."

To John this was interesting and astonishing. He had never heard talk as
wild. The annoyance on Rivers's face was such as to be easily read by the
least observant. Elsewhere Mr. Rivers would have had a ready answer, but
as Grey sat still a little while enjoying his own eloquence, the fire and
the whisky, Rivers's slight negative hint informed John that he was to
hold his tongue.

As the clergyman turned to speak to Grey, the latter said, "I wish to add
a word more, sir. You will find that the men at the South cling to State
rights; if these do not preserve for me and others my property and the
right, sir, to take my body-servant to Boston or Kansas, sure that he
will be as secure as my--my--shirt-studs, State rights are of no
practical use."

"You make it very plain," said Rivers, feeling at last that he must
defend his own opinions. "I have myself a few words to say--but, is that
all?"

"Not quite--not quite. I am of the belief that the wants of the Southern
States should be considered, and the demand for their only possible
labour considered. I would re-open the slave-trade. I may shock you,
reverend sir, but that is my opinion."

"And, as I observe," said Rivers, "that also of some governors of
States." He disliked being addressed as "reverend," and knew how
Penhallow would smile when captained.

There was a brief silence, what Rivers used to call the punctuation value
of the pipe. The Maryland gentleman was honestly clear in the statement
of his political creed, and Rivers felt some need to be amiable and
watchful of his own words in what he was longing to say. John listened,
amazed. He had had his lesson in our history from two competent masters
and was now intensely interested as he listened to the ultimate creed of
the owner of men.

Grey had at last given up the cigar he had lighted over and over and let
go out as often. He set down his empty glass, and said with perfect
courtesy, "I may have been excessive in statement. I beg pardon for
having spoken of, or rather hinted at, the need for a resort to arms.
That is never a pleasant hint among gentlemen. I should like to hear how
this awful problem presents itself to you, a clergyman of, sir, I am glad
to know, my own church."

"Yes, that is always pleasant to hear," said Rivers. "There at least we
are on common ground. I dislike these discussions, Mr. Grey, but I cannot
leave you without a reply, although in this house (and he meant the hint
to have its future usefulness) politics are rarely discussed."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Grey. "At home we talk little else. I do believe the
watermelons and the pumpkins talk politics."

Rivers smiled. "I shall reply to you, of course. It will not be a full
answer. I want to say that this present trouble is not a quarrel born
within the memory of any living man. The colonial life began with
colonial differences and aversions due to religion--Puritan, Quaker
and Church of England, intercolonial tariffs and what not. For the
planter-class we were mere traders; they for us were men too lightly
presumed to live an idle life of gambling, sport and hard drinking--a
life foreign to ours. The colonies were to one another like foreign
countries. In the Revolution you may read clearly the effect of these
opinions, when Washington expressed the wish that his officers would
forget that they came from Connecticut or Virginia, and remember only
they were Americans."

Grey said, "We did our share, sir."

"Yes, but all Washington's important generals were Northern men; but that
is not to the point. Washington put down the whisky-tax revolt with small
regard for State rights. The Constitution unhappily left those State
rights in a condition to keep up old differences. That is clear, I
regret to say. Then came the tariff and a new seed of dissension.
Slavery and its growing claims added later mischief, but it was not the
only cause of our troubles, nor is it to-day with us, although it is with
you, the largest. We have tried compromises. They are of the history of
our own time, familiar to all of us. Well, Mr. Grey, the question is
shall we submit to the threat of division, a broken land and its
consequences?--one moment and I have done. I am filled with gloom when I
look forward. When nations differ, treaties or time, or what not, may
settle disputes; too often war. But, Mr. Grey, never are radical, civil
or religious differences settled without the sword, if I have read
history aright. You see," and he smiled, "I could not let pass your hint
without a word."

"If it comes to that--to war," said Grey, "we would win. In that belief
lies the certainty I dread."

"Ah! sir, in that Southern belief lies the certainty I too dread. You
think we live merely lives of commerce. You do not realise that there is
with us a profound sentiment of affection for the Union. No people
worth anything ever lived without the very human desire of national
self-preservation. It has the force of a man's personal desire for
self-preservation. Pardon me, I suppose that I have the habit of the
sermon."

Grey replied, "You are very interesting, but I am tired. A little more
rye, John. I must adjourn this discussion--we will talk again."

"Not if I can help it," laughed Rivers. "I ought to say that I shall vote
the Republican ticket."

"I regret it--I deeply regret it. Oh! thanks, John." He drank the whisky
and went upstairs to bed.

Rivers sat down. "This man is what I call a stateriot. I am or try to be
that larger thing, a patriot. I did not say all, it was useless. Your
uncle cares little--oh, too little--about slavery, and generally the
North cares as little; but the antislavery men are active and say, as did
Washington, that the Union of the States was or will be insecure until
slavery comes to an end. It may be so, John; it is the constant seed of
discord. I would say, let them go in peace, but that would be only to
postpone war to a future day. I rarely talk about this matter. What made
you start him? You ought to have held your tongue."

The young fellow smiled. "Yes, sir, I suppose so."

"However, we won't have it again if I can help it."

"It was very interesting."

"Quite too interesting, but will he try it on the Squire and your aunt?
Now I am going home. I hate these talks. Don't sit up and read the
_Tribune_."

"No, sir, and I will take Mr. Grey to ride to-morrow."

"Do, and send him home too tired to talk politics."

"I think if I put him on uncle's big John it will answer."



CHAPTER IX


While the two maids from Westways waited on the family at breakfast, the
guest was pleased to express himself favourably in regard to the coffee
and the corn bread. John being left alone in care of the guest after the
meal proposed a visit to the stables. Mr. Grey preferred for a time the
fire, and later would like to walk to the village. Somewhat relieved,
John found for him the Baltimore paper, which Mrs. Penhallow read daily.
Mr. Grey would not smoke, but before John went away remarked, "I
perceive, my boy, no spittoon." He was chewing tobacco vigorously and
using the fireplace for his frequent expectoration. John, a little
embarrassed, thought of his Aunt Ann. The habit of chewing was strange to
the boy's home experience. Certainly, Billy chewed, and others in the
town, nor was it at that time uncommon at the North. He confided his
difficulty to the groom, his boxing-master, who having in his room the
needed utensil placed it beside the hall-fire, to Mr. Grey's
satisfaction--a square tray of wood filled with sawdust.

"Not ornamental, but useful, John, in fact essential," said Mr. Grey, as
John excused himself with the statement that he had to go to school. When
he returned through the woods, about noon, to his relief he saw far down
the avenue Mr. Grey and the gold-headed, tasselled cane he carried.

A little later Mr. Grey in the sun of a cool day early in October was
walking along the village street in keen search of news of politics. He
talked first to Pole, the butcher, who hearing that he was a cousin of
Mrs. Penhallow assured him that the town would go solid for Buchanan.
Then he met Billy, who was going a-fishing, having refused a wood-cutting
job the rector offered.

"A nice fishing-rod that," said Grey.

Billy who was bird-witted and short of memory replied, "Mrs. Penhallow
she gave me a dollar to pay pole-tax if I vote for--I guess it was
Buchanan. I bought a nice fishing-pole."

Grey was much amused and agreeably instructed in regard to Mrs. Ann's
sentiments, as he realized the simple fellow's mental condition. "A
fishing-pole-tax--well--well--" and would tell John of his joke. "Any
barber in this town?" he asked.

"Yes, there's Josiah," and Billy was no longer to be detained.

Mr. Grey mailed a letter, but the post-mistress would not talk politics
and was busy. At last, wandering eastward, he came upon the only
unoccupied person in Westways. Peter Lamb, slowly recovering strength,
was seated on his mother's doorstep. His search for money had been
defeated by the widow's caution, and the whisky craving was being felt
anew.

"Good morning," said Grey. "You seem to be the only man here with nothing
to do."

"Yes, sir. I've been sick, and am not quite fit to work. Sickness is hard
on a working man, sir."

Grey, a kindly person, put his hand in his pocket, "Quite right, it is
hard. How are the people here going to vote? I hope the good old ticket."

"Oh! Buchanan and Breckenridge, sir, except one or two and the darkey
barber. He's a runaway--I guess. Been here these three or four years.
Squire likes him because he's clever about breaking colts."

"Indeed!"

"He's a lazy nigger, sir; ought to be sent back where he belongs."

"What is his name? I suppose he can shave me."

"Calls himself Josiah," said Peter. "Mighty poor barber--cut my face last
time he shaved me. You see, he's lost two fingers--makes him awkwarder."

"What! what!" said Grey, of a sudden reflecting, "two fingers--"

"Know him?" said Lamb quickly.

"I--no--Do you suppose I know every runaway nigger?"

"Oh, of course not. Might I ask your name, sir?"

"I am a cousin of Mrs. Penhallow. My name is Grey." Peter became cautious
and silent. "Here is a little help, my man, until you get work. Stick to
the good old Party." He left two dollars in Lamb's eager hands.

Surprised at this unusual bounty, Peter said, "Thank you, sir. God bless
you. It'll be a great help." It meant for the hapless drinker whisky, and
he was quick to note the way in which Grey became interested in the man
who had lost fingers.

Grey lingered. "I must risk your barber's awkwardness," he said.

"Oh, he can shave pretty well when he's sober. He's our only darkey, sir.
You can't miss him. I might show you his shop." This Grey declined.

"I suppose, sir," said Peter, curious, "all darkies look so much alike
that it is hard to tell them apart."

"Oh, not for us--not for us."

Then Peter was still more sure that the gentleman with the gold-headed
cane was from the South. As Grey lingered thoughtful, Lamb was
maliciously inspired by the size of Grey's donation and the prospect it
offered. He studied the face of the Southern gentleman and ventured to
say, "Excuse me, sir, but if you want to get that man back--"

"I want him! Good gracious! I did not own him. My inquiries were, I might
say, casual, purely casual."

Lamb, thanks to the Penhallows, had had some education at the school for
the mill children, but what was meant by "purely casual" he did not know.
If it implied lack of interest, that was not the case, or why the
questions and this gift, large for Westways. But if the gentleman did not
own Josiah's years of lost labour, some one else did, and who was it?

As Grey turned away, he said, "I may see you again. I am with my cousin
at Grey Pine. By the bye, how will the county vote?"

Peter assured him that the Democratic Party would carry the county. "I am
glad," said Grey, "that the people, the real backbone of the country,
desire to do justice to the South." He felt himself on the way to another
exposition of constitutional rights, but realising that it was unwise
checked the outflow of eloquence. He could not, however, refrain from
adding, "Your people then are a law-abiding community."

"Yes, sir," said the lover of law, "we are just that, and good sound
Democrats."

Grey, curious and mildly interested, determined to be reassured in regard
to this black barber's former status. He walked slowly by Josiah's shop
followed at a distance by Peter. The barber was shaving Mr. Pole, and
intent on his task. Grey caught sight of the black's face. One look was
enough--it was familiar--unmistakable. In place of going in to be shaved
he turned away and quickened his steps. Peter grinned and went home. "The
darn nigger horse-thief," murmured Grey. "I'll write to Woodburn." Then
he concluded that first it would be well without committing himself to
know more surely how far this Democratic community would go in support of
the fugitive-slave law. He applauded his cautiousness.

A moment later Pole, well shaven, overtook him. Grey stopped him, chatted
as they went on, and at last asked if there was in Westways a good
Democratic lawyer. Pole was confident that Mr. Swallow would be all that
he could desire, and pointed out his house.

Meanwhile Peter Lamb began to suspect that there was mischief brewing for
the man who had brought down on him the anger of Mark Rivers, and like
enough worse things as soon as Penhallow came home.

As Pole turned into his shop-door, Mr. Grey went westward in deep
thought. He was sure of the barber's identity. If Josiah had been his own
property, he would with no hesitation have taken the steps needful to
reclaim the fugitive, but it was Mr. Woodburn who had lost Josiah's years
of service and it was desirable not hastily to commit his friend. He knew
with what trouble the fugitive-slave law had been obeyed or not obeyed at
the North. He was not aware that men who cared little about slavery were
indignant at a law which set aside every safeguard with which the growth
of civilization had surrounded the trial of even the worst criminal. As
he considered the situation, he walked more and more slowly until he
paused in front of Swallow's house. Every one had assured him that since
General Jackson's time the town and county had changelessly voted the
good old Democratic ticket. Here at least the rights of property would be
respected, and there would be no lawless city mobs to make the
restoration of a slave difficult. The brick house and ill-kept garden
before which he paused looked unattractive. Beside the house a one-storey
wooden office bore the name "Henry W. Swallow, Attorney-at-law." There
was neither bell nor knocker. Mr. Grey rapped on the office door with his
cane, and after waiting a moment without hearing any one, he entered a
front room and looked about him.

Swallow was a personage whose like was found too often in the small
Pennsylvania villages. The only child of a close-fisted, saving farmer,
he found himself on his father's death more than sufficiently well-off to
go to college and later to study law. He was careful and penurious, but
failing of success in Philadelphia returned to Westways when about thirty
years old, bought a piece of land in the town, built a house, married a
pretty, commonplace young woman, and began to look for business. There
was little to be had. The Squire drew his own leases and sold lands to
farmers unaided. Then Swallow began to take interest in politics and to
lend money to the small farmers, taking mortgages at carefully guarded,
usurious interest. Merciless foreclosures resulted, and as by degrees his
operations enlarged, he grew richer and became feared and important in a
county community where money was scarce. Some of his victims went in
despair to the much loved Squire for help, and got, over and over,
relief, which disappointed Swallow who disliked him as he did no other
man in the county. The Squire returned his enmity with contemptuous
bitterness and entire distrust of the man and all his ways.

Mr. Grey saw in the further room the back of a thin figure in a white
jacket seated at a desk. The man thus occupied on hearing his entrance
said, without looking back, "Sit down, and in a moment I'll attend to
you."

Grey replied, "In a moment you won't see me;" and, his voice rising, "I
am accustomed to be treated with civility."

Swallow rose at once, and seeing a well-dressed stranger said, "Excuse
me, I was drawing a mortgage for a farmer I expected. Take a seat. I am
at your service."

Somewhat mollified, Grey sat down. As he took his seat he was not at all
sure of what he was really willing to say or do. He was not an indecisive
person at home, but here in a Northern State, on what might be hostile
ground, he was in doubt concerning that which he felt he honourably owed
as a duty to his neighbour. The word had for him limiting definitions,
as indeed it has for most of us. Resolving to be cautious, he said with
deliberate emphasis, "I should like what I have to say to be considered,
sir, as George Washington used to remark, as 'under the rose'--a strictly
professional confidence."

"Of course," said Swallow.

"My name is George Grey. I am at Grey Pine on a visit to my cousin, Mrs.
Penhallow."

"A most admirable lady," said the lawyer; "absent just now, I hear." He
too determined on caution.

"I have been wandering about your quiet little town this morning and made
some odd acquaintances. One Billy, he called himself, most amusing--most
amusing. It seems that my cousin gave him money to pay his poll-tax. The
poor simple fellow bought a fishing-pole and line. He was, I fancy, to
vote for Buchanan. My cousin, I infer, must be like all our people a
sound Democrat."

"I have heard as much," returned Swallow. "I am doing what I can for the
party, but the people here are sadly misled and our own party is slowly
losing ground."

"Indeed! I talked a little with a poor fellow named Lamb, out-of-work and
sick. He assured me that the town was solid for Buchanan, and also the
county."

Swallow laughed heartily. "What! Peter Lamb. He is our prize drunkard,
sir, and would have been in jail long ago but for Penhallow. They are
foster-brothers."

"Indeed!" Mr. Grey felt that his knowledge of character had been sadly
at fault and that he had been wise in not having said more to the man
out-of-work.

"Do you think, Mr. Swallow, that if a master reclaimed a slave in this
county that there would be any trouble in carrying out the law?"

"No, sir," said Swallow. "The county authorities are all Democrats and
would obey the law. Suppose, sir, that you were frankly to put before me
the whole case, relying on my secrecy. Where is the man?"

"Let me then tell you my story. As a sound Democrat it will at least have
your sympathy."

"Certainly, I am all attention."

"About the tenth of June over four years ago I rode with my friend
Woodburn into our county-town. At the bank we left our horses with his
groom Caesar, an excellent servant, much trusted; used to ride quarter
races for my father when a boy. When we came out, Woodburn's horse was
hitched to a post and mine was gone, and that infernal nigger on him. He
was traced to the border, but my mare had no match in the county."

"So he stole the horse; that makes it an easy case."

"No, sir. To be precise, he left the horse at a tavern in this State,
with my name and address. Some Quakers helped him on his way."

"And he is in this county?" asked Swallow.

"Yes, sir. His name here is Josiah--seems to be known by that name
alone."

"Josiah!" gasped Swallow. "A special favourite of Penhallow. A case to be
gravely considered--most gravely. The Squire--"

"But surely he will obey the law."

"Yes--probably--but who can say? He was at one time a Democrat, but now
is, I hear, likely to vote for Fremont."

"That seems incredible."

"And yet true. I should like, sir, to think the matter over for a day or
two. Did the man see you--I mean, recognize you?"

"No, but as I went by his shop, I at once recognized him; and he has lost
two fingers. Oh! I know the fellow. I can swear to him, and it is easy to
bring his master Woodburn here."

"I see. Well, let me think it over for a day or two."

"Very good," returned Grey, "and pray consider yourself as in my debt for
your services."

"All right, Mr. Grey."

With this Mr. Grey went away a thoughtful man. He attracted some
attention as he moved along the fronts of the houses. Strangers were
rare. Being careful not to go near Josiah's little shop, he crossed the
road and climbing the fence went through the wood, reflecting that until
this matter was settled he would feel that his movements must be
unpleasantly governed by the need to avoid Josiah. He felt this to be
humiliating. Other considerations presented themselves in turn. This
ungrateful black had run away with his, George Grey's, horse--a personal
wrong. His duty to Woodburn was plain. Then, if this black fellow was as
Swallow said, a favourite of Captain Penhallow, to plan his capture while
himself a guest in Penhallow's house was rather an awkward business.
However, he felt that he must inform his friend Woodburn, after which he
would turn him over to Swallow and not appear in the business at all. It
did not, however, present itself to the Maryland gentleman as a nice
situation. If his cousin Ann were, as he easily learned, a strong
Democrat, it might be well to sound her on the general situation. She had
lived half her life among slaves and those who owned them. She would know
how far Penhallow was to be considered as a law-abiding citizen, or
whether he might be offended, for after all, as George Grey knew, his own
share in the matter would be certain to become known. "A damned
unpleasant affair," he said aloud as he walked up the avenue, "but we as
Southern gentlemen have got to stand by one another. I must let Woodburn
know, and decide for himself."

Neither was the lawyer Swallow altogether easy about the matter on which
he had desired time for thought. It would be the first case in the county
under the fugitive-slave act. If the man were reclaimed, he, Swallow,
would be heard of all through the State; but would that help him before
the people in a canvass for the House? He could not answer, for the old
political parties were going to pieces and new ones were forming.
Moreover, Josiah was much liked and much respected. Then, too, there was
the fee. He walked about the room singularly disturbed. Some prenatal
fate had decreed that he should be old-aged at forty. He had begun to be
aware that his legs were aging faster than his mind. Except the pleasure
of accumulating money, which brought no enjoyment, he had thus far no
games in life which interested him; but now the shifting politics of the
time had tempted him, and possibly this case might be used to his
advantage. The black eyebrows under fast whitening hair grew together in
a frown, while below slowly gathered the long smile of satisfaction. "How
Penhallow will hate it." This thought was for him what the stolen mare
was for George Grey. He must look up the law.

Meanwhile George Grey, under the necessity of avoiding the village for a
time, was rather bored. He had criticized the stables and the horses, and
had been told that the Squire relied with good reason on the judgment of
Josiah in regard to the promise of good qualities in colts. Then, used to
easy roadsters, he had been put on the Squire's rough trotter and led by
the tireless lad had come back weary from long rides across rough country
fields and over fences. The clergyman would talk no more politics, John
pleaded lessons, and it was on the whole dull, so that Mr. Grey was
pleased to hear of the early return of his cousin. A letter to John
desired him to meet his aunt on the 8th, and accordingly he drove to the
station at Westways Crossing, picking up Billy on the way. Mrs. Ann got
out of the car followed by the conductor and brakeman carrying boxes and
bundles, which Billy, greatly excited, stowed away under the seats of the
Jersey wagon. Mrs. Penhallow distributed smiles and thanks to the men who
made haste to assist, being one of the women who have no need to ask help
from any man in sight.

"Now, Billy," she said, "be careful with those horses. When you attend,
you drive very well."

She settled herself on the back seat with John, delighted to be again
where her tireless sense of duty kept her busy--quite too busy at times,
thought some of the village dames. "Your Uncle James will soon be at
home. Is his pet scamp any better?"

John did not know, but Josiah's rheumatism was quite well.

"Sister-in-law has a baby. Six trout I ketched; they're at the house for
you--weighs seven pounds," said Billy without turning round.

"Trout or baby?" said Ann, laughing.

"Baby, ma'am."

"Thanks, but don't talk any more."

"Yes, ma'am."

"How is Leila?" asked John. "Does she like it at school?"

"No, not at all; but she will."

"I don't, Aunt Ann."

"I suppose not."

"Am I to be allowed to write to her?"

"I think not. There is some rule that letters, but--" and she laughed
merrily. The rector, who worshipped her, said once that her laugh was
like the spring song of birds. "But sometimes I may be naughty enough to
let you slip a few lines into my letters."

"That is more than I hoped for. I am--I was so glad to get you back, Aunt
Ann, that I forgot to tell you, Mr. George Grey has come."

"How delightful! He has been promising a visit for years. How pleased
James will be! I wonder how the old bachelor ever made up his mind. I
hope you made it pleasant, John."

"I tried to, aunt." Whether James Penhallow would like it was for John
doubtful, but he said nothing further.

"The cities are wild about politics, and there is no end of trouble in
Philadelphia over the case of a fugitive slave. I was glad to get away to
Grey Pine."

John had never heard her mention this tender subject and was not
surprised when she added quickly, "But I never talk politics, John, and
you are too young to know anything about them." This was by no means
true, as she well knew. "How are my chickens?" She asked endless
questions of small moment.

"Got a new fishing-rod," said Billy, but to John's amusement did not
pursue the story concerning which George Grey had gleefully enlightened
him.

"Well, at last, Cousin George," she cried, as the cousin gave her his
hand on the porch. "Glad to see you--most glad. Come in when you have
finished your cigar."

She followed John into the hall. "Ah! the dear home." Then her eyes fell
on the much used spittoon by the fireside. "Good gracious, John, a--a
spittoon!"

"Yes, aunt. Mr. Grey chews."

"Indeed!" She looked at the box and went upstairs. For years to come and
in the most incongruous surroundings John Penhallow now and then laughed
as he saw again the look with which Mrs. Ann regarded the article so
essential to Mr. Grey's comfort. She disliked all forms of tobacco use,
and the law of the pipe had long ago been settled at Grey Pine as Mrs.
Penhallow decreed, because that was always what James Penhallow decided
to think desirable.

"But this! this!" murmured the little lady, as she came down the
staircase ready for dinner. She rang for the maid. "Take that thing away
and wash it well, and put in fresh sawdust twice a day."

"I hope John has been a good host," she said, as Grey entered the hall.

"Couldn't be better, and I have had some delightful rides. I found the
mills interesting--in fact, most instructive." He spoke in short
childlike sentences unless excited by politics.

Mrs. Ann noted without surprise the free use of whisky, and later the
appreciative frequency of resort to Penhallow's Madeira. A glass of wine
at lunch and after dinner were her husband's sole indulgence. The larger
potations of her cousin in no way affected him. He talked as usual to
Mark Rivers and John about horses, crops and the weather, while Mrs. Ann
listened to the flow of disconnected trifles in some wonder as to how
James Penhallow would endure it. Grey for the time kept off the danger
line of politics, having had of late such variously contributed knowledge
as made him careful.

When to Mrs. Ann's relief dinner was over, the rector said his sermon for
to-morrow must excuse him and went home. John decided that his role of
host was over and retired to his algebra and to questions more easy to
solve than of how to entertain Mr. George Grey. It was not difficult, as
Mrs. Penhallow saw, to make Grey feel at home; all he required was
whisky, cigars, and some mild appearance of interest in his talk. She had
long anticipated his visit with pleasure, thinking that James Penhallow
would be pleased and the better for some rational male society. Rivers
had now deserted her, and she really would not sit with her kinsman's
cigar a whole evening in the library. She said, "The night is warm for
October, come out onto the porch, George."

"With all the pleasure in the world," said Grey, as he followed her.

By habit and training hospitable and now resigned to her fate, Mrs. Ann
said, "Light your cigar, George; I do not mind it out-of-doors."

"I am greatly indebted--I was given to understand that it was
disagreeable to you--like--politics--ah! Cousin Ann."

"We are not much given to talking politics," she said rather sharply.

"Not talk politics!" exclaimed Grey. "What else is there to talk about
nowadays? But why not, Cousin Ann?"

"Well, merely because while I am Southern--and a Democrat, James has seen
fit to abandon our party and become a Republican."

"Incomprehensible!" said Grey. "Ours is the party of gentlemen--of old
traditions. I cannot understand it."

"Nor I," said she, "but now at least," and she laughed--"there will be
one Republican gentleman. However, George, as we are both much in
earnest, we keep politics out of the house."

"It must be rather awkward, Ann."

"What must be rather awkward?"

Did he really mean to discuss, to criticize her relations to James
Penhallow? The darkness was for a time the grateful screen.

Grey, a courteous man, felt the reproof in her question, and replied, "I
beg pardon, my dear Ann, I have heard of the captain's unfortunate change
of opinion. I shall hope, however, to be able to convince him that to
elect Fremont will be to break up the Union. I think I could put it so
clearly that--"

Ann laughed low laughter as vastly amused she laid a hand on her cousin's
arm. "You don't know James Penhallow. He has been from his youth a
Democrat. There never was any question about how he would vote. But now,
since 1850--" and she paused, "in fact, I do not care to discuss with you
what I will not with James." Her great love, her birth, training,
education and respect for the character of her husband, made this
discussion hateful. Her eyes filled, and, much troubled, she was glad of
the mask of night.

"But answer me one question, Ann. Why did he change?"

"He was becoming dissatisfied and losing faith in his own party, but it
was at last my own dear South and its friends at the North who drove him
out." Again she paused.

"What do you mean, Ann?" asked Grey, still persistent.

"It began long ago, George. He said to me one day, 'That fool Fillmore
has signed the Fugitive-Slave Act; it is hardly possible to obey it.'
Then I said, 'Would you not, James?' I can never forget it. He said,
'Yes, I obey the law, Ann, but this should be labelled 'an act to
exasperate the North.' I am done with the Democrat and all his ways. Obey
the law! Yes, I was a soldier.' Then he said, 'Ann, we must never talk
politics again.' We never do."

"And yet, Ann," said Grey, "that act was needed."

"Perhaps," she returned, and then followed a long silence, as with
thought of James Penhallow she sat smiling in the darkness and watched
the rare wandering lanterns of the belated fireflies.

The man at her side was troubled into unnatural silence. He had hoped to
find an ally in his cousin's husband, and now what should he do? He had
concluded that as an honest man he had done his duty when he had written
to Woodburn; but now as a man of honour what should he say to James
Penhallow? To conceal from his host what he had done was the obvious
business-like course. This troubled a man who was usually able to see his
way straight on all matters of social conduct and was sensitive on points
of honour. While Ann sat still and wondered that her guest was so long
silent, he was finding altogether unpleasant his conclusion that he must
be frank with Penhallow. He felt sure, however, that Ann would naturally
be on his side. He introduced the matter lightly with, "I chanced to see
in the village a black man who is said to be a vagabond scamp. He is
called Josiah--a runaway slave, I fancy."

Ann sat up in her chair. "Who said he was a scamp?"

"Oh, a man named Lamb." Then he suddenly remembered Mr. Swallow's
characterization, and added, "not a very trustworthy witness, I presume."

Ann laughed. "Peter Lamb! He is a drunken, loafing fellow, who to his
good fortune chances to have been James's foster-brother. As concerns
Josiah, he turned up here some years ago, got work in the stables, and
was set up by James as the village barber. No one knew whence he came. I
did, of course, suspect him to be a runaway. He is honest and
industrious. Last year I was ill when James was absent. We have only
maids in the house, and when I was recovering Josiah carried me up and
downstairs until James returned. A year after he came, Leila had an
accident. Josiah stopped her horse and got badly hurt--" Then with quick
insight, she added, "What interest have you in our barber, George? Is
it possible you know Josiah?"

Escape from truthful reply was impossible. "Yes, I do. He is the property
of my friend and neighbour Woodburn. I knew him at once--the man had lost
three fingers--he did not see me."

"Well!" she said coldly, "what next, George Grey?"

"I must inform his master. As a Southern woman you, of course, see that
no other course is possible. It is unpleasant, but your sense of right
must make you agree with me."

She returned, speaking slowly, "I do wish you would not do it, George."
Then she said quickly, "Have you taken any steps in this matter?"

He was fairly cornered. "Yes, I wrote to Woodburn. He will be here in a
couple of days. I am sure he will lose no time--and will take legal
measures at once to reclaim his property."

"I suppose it is all right," she said despairingly, "but I am more than
sorry--what James will say I do not know. I hope he will not be called on
to act--under the law he may."

"When does he return?" said Grey. "I shall, of course, be frank with
him."

"That will be advisable. He may be absent for a week longer, or so he
writes. I leave you to your cigar. I am tired, and to-morrow is Sunday.
Shall you go to church?"

"Certainly, Ann. Good-night."

At the door she turned back with a new and relieving thought. "Suppose
I--or we--buy this man's freedom."

"If I owned him that would not be required after what you have told me,
but Woodburn is an obstinate, rather stern man, and will refuse, I fear,
to sell--"

"What will he do with Josiah if he is returned to him as the Act orders?"

"Oh! once a runaway--and the man is no good?--he would probably sell him
to be sent South."

She rose and for a moment stood still in the darkness, and then crying,
"The pity of it, my God, the pity of it!" went away without the usual
courtesy of good-night.

George Grey, when left to his own company, somewhat amazed, began to wish
he had never had a hand in this business. Ann Penhallow went up to her
room, although it was as yet early, leaving John in the library and Grey
with a neglected cigar on the porch. In the bedroom over his shop the man
most concerned sat industriously reading the _Tribune_.

Ann sat down to think. The practical application of a creed to conduct is
not always easy. All her young life had been among kindly considered
slaves. Mr. Woodburn had a right to his property. The law provided for
the return of slaves if they ran away. She suddenly realized that this
man's future fate was in her power, and she both liked and respected him,
and he had been hurt in their service. Oh! why was not James at home?
Could she sit still and let things go their way while the mechanism of
the law worked. Between head and heart there was much argument. Her
imagination pictured Josiah's future. Had he deserved a fate so sad?
She fell on her knees and prayed for help. At last she rose and went down
to the library. John laid down his book and stood up. The young face
greeted her pleasantly, as she said, "Sit down, John, I want to talk to
you. Can you keep a secret?"

"Why--yes--Aunt Ann. What is it?"

"I mean, John, keep it so that no one will guess you have a secret."

"I think I can," he replied, much surprised and very curious.

"You are young, John, but in your uncle's absence there is no one else to
whom I can turn for help. Now, listen. Has Mr. Grey gone to bed?"

"Yes, aunt."

She leaned toward him, speaking low, almost in a whisper, "I do not want
to explain, I only want to tell you something. Josiah is a runaway slave,
John."

"Yes, aunt, he told me all about it."

"Did he, indeed!"

"Yes, we are great friends--I like him--and he trusted me. What's
the matter now?" He was quick to understand that Josiah was in some
danger. Naturally enough he remembered the man's talk and his one
fear--recapture.

"George Grey has recognised Josiah as a runaway slave of a Mr.
Woodburn--" She was most unwilling to say plainly, "Go and warn him."

He started up. "And they mean to take him back?"

She was silent. The indecisions of the habitually decisive are hard to
deal with. The lad was puzzled by her failure to say more.

"It is dreadful, Aunt Ann. I think I ought to go and tell
Josiah--now--to-night."

She made no comment except to say, "Arrest is not possible on Sunday--and
he is safe until Monday or Tuesday."

John Penhallow looked at her for a moment surprised that she did not say
go, or else forbid him to go; it was unlike her. He had no desire to wait
for Sunday and was filled with anxiety. "I think I must go now--now," he
said.

"Then I shall go to bed," she said, and kissing him went away slowly step
by step up the stairs.

Staircases are apt to suggest reflections, and there are various ways of
rendering the French phrase "_esprit de l'escalier_." Aware that want of
moral courage had made her uncertain what to do, or like the Indian,
having two hearts, Ann had been unable to accept bravely the counsel of
either. The loyal decisiveness of a lad of only sixteen years had settled
the matter and relieved her of any need to personally warn Josiah. Some
other influences aided to make her feel satisfied that there should be a
warning. She was resentful because George Grey had put her in a position
where she had been embarrassed by intense sectional sense of duty and by
kindly personal regard for a man who not being criminal was to be
deprived of all the safeguards against injustice provided by the common
law. There were other and minor causes which helped to content her with
what she well knew she had done to disappoint Mr. Woodburn of his prey.
George Grey was really a bore of capacity to wreck the social patience of
the most courteous. The rector fled from him, John always had lessons and
how would James endure his vacuous talk. It all helped her to be
comfortably angry, and there too was that horrible spittoon.

The young fellow who went with needless haste out of the house and down
the avenue about eleven o'clock had no indecisions. Josiah trusted him,
and he felt the compliment this implied.



CHAPTER X


On the far side of the highroad Westways slumbered. Only in the rector's
small house were lights burning. The town was in absolute darkness.
Westways went to bed early. A pleased sense of the responsibility of his
errand went with John as he came near to where Josiah's humble two-storey
house stood back from the street line, marked by the well-known striped
pole of the barber, of which Josiah was professionally proud. John paused
in front of the door. He knew that he must awaken no one but Josiah.
After a moment's thought he went along the side of the house to the small
garden behind it where Josiah grew the melons no one else could grow, and
which he delighted to take to Miss Leila or Mrs. Penhallow. In the novel
the heroes threw pebbles at the window to call up fair damsels. John
grinned; he might break a pane, but the noise--He was needlessly
cautious. Josiah had built a trellis against the back of the house for
grapevines which had not prospered. John began to climb up it with care
and easily got within reach of the second-storey window. He tapped
sharply on the glass, but getting no reply hesitated a moment. He could
hear from within the sonorous assurance of deep slumber. Somehow he must
waken him. He lifted the sash and called over and over in a low voice,
"Josiah!" The snoring ceased, but not the sleep. The lad was resolute and
still fearful of making a noise. He climbed with care into the dark room
upsetting a little table. Instantly Josiah bounded out of bed and caught
him in his strong grip, as John gasped, "Josiah!"

"My God!" cried the black in alarm, "anything wrong at the house?"

"No, sit down--I've got to tell you something. Your old master, Woodburn,
is coming to catch you--he will be here soon--I know he won't be here for
a day or two--"

"Is that so, Master John? It's awful--I've got to run. I always knowed
sometime I'd have to run." He sat down on the bed; he was appalled. "God
help me!--where can I go? I've got two hundred dollars and seventy-five
cents saved up in the county bank, and I've not got fifty cents in the
house. I can't get the money out--I'd be afraid to go there Monday. Oh,
Lord!"

He began to dress in wild haste. John tried in vain to assure him that he
would be safe on Sunday and Monday, or even later, but was in fact not
sure, and the man was wailing like a child in distress, thinking over his
easy, upright life and his little treasure, which seemed to him lost. He
asked no questions; all other emotion was lost in one over-mastering
terror.

John said at last, "If I write a cheque for you, can you sign your name
to it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then I will write a cheque for all of it and I'll get it out for you."

A candle was lighted and the cheque written. "Now write your name here,
Josiah--so--that's right." He obeyed like a child, and John who had often
collected cheques for his aunt of late, knew well enough how to word it
to be paid to bearer. He put it in his pocket.

"But how will I ever get it?" said Josiah, "and where must I go? I'll get
away Monday afternoon."

John was troubled, and then said, "I'll tell you. Go to the old cabin in
the wood. That will be safe. I will bring you your money Monday
afternoon."

The black reflected in silence and then said, "That will do--no man will
take me alive, I know--my God, I know! Who set them on me? Who told? It
was that drunken rascal, Peter. He told me he'd tell if I didn't get him
whisky. How did he know--Oh, Lord! He set 'em on me--I'd like to kill
him."

John was alarmed at the fierceness of the threat. "Oh! but you
won't--promise me. I've helped you, Josiah."

"I promise, Master John. I'm a Christian man, thank the Lord. I'd like
to, but I won't--I won't."

"Now, that's right," said John much relieved. "You'll go to the cabin
Monday--for sure."

"Yes--who told you to tell me?"

John, prudently cautious, refused to answer. "Now, let me out, I must go.
I can't tell you how sorry I will be--" and he was tempted to add his
aunt, but was wise in time. He had done his errand well, and was pleased
with the success of his adventure and the flavour of peril in what he had
done. He let himself into Grey Pine and went noiselessly upstairs. Then
a window was closed and a waiting, anxious woman went to bed and lay long
awake thinking.

John understood the unusual affection of his aunt's greeting when before
breakfast she kissed him and started George Grey on his easy
conversational trot. She had compromised with her political conscience
and, notwithstanding, was strangely satisfied and a trifle ashamed that
she had not been more distinctly courageous.

At church they had as usual a good congregation of the village folk and
men from the mills, for Rivers was eminently a man's preacher and was
much liked. John observed, however, that Josiah, who took care of the
church, was not in his usual seat near the door. He was at home terribly
alarmed and making ready for his departure on Monday. The rector missing
him called after church, but his knock was not answered.

When Mr. Grey in the afternoon declared he would take a walk and mail
some letters, Mrs. Ann called John into the library. "Well," she said,
"did you see Josiah?"

"Yes, aunt." It was characteristic of John Penhallow even thus early in
life that he was modest and direct in statement. He said nothing of his
mode of reaching Josiah. "I told him of his risk. He will hide in--"

"Do not tell me where," said Ann quickly; "I do not want to know."

He wondered why she desired to hear no more. He went on--"He has money in
the county bank--two hundred dollars."

"He must have been saving--poor fellow!"

"I wrote a cheque for him, to bearer. I am to draw it tomorrow and take
it to him in the afternoon. Then he will be able to get away."

Here indeed was something for Ann to think about. When Josiah was missed
and legal measures taken, a pursuit organized, John having drawn his
money might be questioned. This would never do--never. Oddly enough she
had the thought, "Who will now shave James?" She smiled and said, "I must
keep you out of the case--give me the cheque. Oh, I see it is drawn to
bearer. I wonder if his owner could claim it. He may--he might--if it is
left there."

"That would be mean," said John.

"Yes," she said thoughtfully. "Yes--I could give him the money. Let me
think about it. Of course, I could draw on my account and leave Josiah's
alone. But he has a right to his own money. I will keep the cheque, John.
I will draw out his money and give it to you. Good gracious, boy! you are
like James Penhallow."

"That's praise for a fellow!" said John.

Ann had the courage of her race and meant at last to see this thing
through at all costs. The man had made his money and should have it. She
was now resolute to take her share in the perilous matter she had
started; and after all she was the wife of James Penhallow of Grey Pine;
who would dare to question her? As to George Grey, she dismissed him with
a low laugh and wondered when that long-desired guest would elect to
leave Grey Pine.

At ten on Monday Billy, for choice, drove her over to the bank at the
mills. The young cashier was asked about his sick sister, and then rather
surprised as he took the cheque inquired, "How will you have it, ma'am?
Josiah must be getting an investment."

"One hundred in fifties and the rest--oh, fifty in fives, the rest in
ones."

She drove away, and in an hour gave the notes to John in an envelope,
asking no questions. He set off in the afternoon to give Josiah his
money.

Meanwhile on this Monday morning a strange scene in this drama was being
acted in Josiah's little shop. He was at the door watchful and thinking
of his past and too doubtful future, when he saw Peter Lamb pause near
by. The man, fresh from the terrors of delirium tremens, had used the
gift of Grey with some prudence and was in the happy condition of slight
alcoholic excitement and good-humour.

"Halloa!" cried Peter. "How are you? I'm going to the mills to see my
girl--want you to shave me--got over my joke; funny, wasn't it?"

A sudden ferocious desire awoke in the good-natured barber--some
long-past inheritance of African lust for the blood of an enemy.

"Don't like to kiss with a rough beard," said Peter. "I'll pay--got
money--now."

"Come in," said Josiah. "Set down. I'll shut the door--it's a cold
morning."

He spread the lather over the red face. "Head back a bit--that's right
comfortable now, isn't it?"

"All right--go ahead."

Josiah took his razor. "Now, then," he said, as he set a big strong
hand on the man's forehead, "if you move, I'll cut your throat--keep
quiet--don't you move. You told I was a slave--you ruined my life--I
never did you no harm--I'd kill you just as easy as that--" and he
drew the blunt cold back of the razor across the hairy neck.

"My God!--I--" The man shuddered.

"Keep still--or you are a dead man."

"Oh, Lord!" groaned Lamb.

"I would kill you, but I don't want to be hanged. God will take care
of you--He is sure. Some day you will do some wickedness worse than
this--you just look at me."

There was for Peter fearful fascination in the black face of the man who
stood looking down at him, the jaw moving, the white teeth showing, the
eyes red, the face twitching with half-suppressed passion.

"Answer me now--and by God, if you lie, I will kill you. You set some one
on me? Quick now!"

"I did."

"Who was it? No lies, now!"

"Mr. George Grey." Then Josiah fully realized his danger.

"Why did you?"

"You wouldn't help me to get whisky."

"Well, was that all?"

"You went and got the preacher to set Mr. Penhallow on me. He gave me the
devil."

"My God, was that all? You've ruined me for a drink of whisky--you've got
your revenge. I'm lost--lost. Your day will come--I'll be there. Now go
and repent if you can--you've been near to death. Go!" he cried.

He seized the terrified man with one strong hand, lifted him from the
chair, cast open the door and hurled him out into the street. A little
crowd gathered around Lamb as he rose on one elbow, dazed.

"Drunk!" said Pole, the butcher. "Drunk again!"

Josiah shut and locked the door. Then he tied up his bundle of clothes,
filled a basket with food, and went out into his garden. He cast a look
back at the neatly kept home he had recently made fresh with paint. He
paused to pick a chilled rosebud and set it in his button-hole--a fashion
copied from his adored captain. He glanced tearfully at the glass-framed
covers of the yellowing melon vines. He had made money out of his melons,
and next year would have been able to send a good many to Pittsburgh. As
he turned to leave the little garden in which he took such pride, he
heard an old rooster's challenge in his chicken-yard, which had been
another means of money-making. He went back and opened the door, leaving
the fowl their liberty. When in the lane behind his house, he walked
along in the rear of the houses, and making sure that he was unobserved,
crossed the road and entered the thick Penhallow forest. He walked
rapidly for half an hour, and leaving the wood road found his way to the
cabin the first Penhallow built. It was about half after one o'clock when
the fugitive lay down on the earth of the cabin with his hands clasped
behind his head. He stared upward, wondering where he could go to be
safe. He would have to spend some of the carefully saved money. That
seemed to him of all things the most cruel. He was not trained to
consecutive thinking; memories old or new flitted through his mind. Now
and then he said to himself that perhaps he had had no right to run
away--and perhaps this was punishment. He had fled from the comforts of
an easy life, where he had been fed, clothed and trusted. Not for a
moment would he have gone back--but why had he run away? What message
that soaring hawk had sent to him from his swift circling sweep overhead
he was not able to put in words even if he had so desired. "That wicked
hawk done it!" he said aloud.

At last, hearing steps outside, he bounded to his feet, a hand on the
knife in his belt. He stood still waiting, ready as a crouching tiger,
resolute, a man at bay with an unsated appetite for freedom. The door
opened and John entered.

"You sort of scared me, Master John."

"You are safe here, Josiah, and here is your money."

He took it without a word, except, "I reckon, Master John, you know I'm
thankful. Was there any one missing me?"

"No, no one."

"I'll get away to-night. I'll go down through Lonesome Man's Swamp and
take my old bateau and run down the river. You might look after my
muskrat traps. I was meaning to make a purse for the little missy. Now do
you just go away, and may the Lord bless you. I guess we won't ever meet
no more. You'll be mighty careful, Master John?"

"But you'll write, Josiah."

"I wouldn't dare to write--I'd be takin' risks. Think I'm safe here? Oh,
Lord!"

"No one knows where you are--you'll go to-night?"

"Yes, after dark." He seemed more at ease as he said, "It was Peter Lamb
set Mr. Grey on me. He must have seen me after that. I told you it was
Peter."

"Yes,"--and then with the hopefulness of youth--"but you will come back,
I am sure."

"No, sir--never no more--and the captain and Miss Leila--it's
awful--where can I go?"

John could not help him further. "God bless you, Master John." They
parted at length at the door of the cabin which had seen no other parting
as sad.

The black lay down again. Now and then he swept his sleeve across tearful
eyes. Then he stowed his money under his shirt in a linen bag hung to his
neck, keeping out a few dollars, and at last fell sound asleep exhausted
by emotion,

Josiah's customers were few in number. Westways was too poor to be able
to afford a barber more than once a week, and then it was always in
mid-morning when work ceased for an hour. Sometimes the Squire on his way
to the mills came to town early, but as a rule Josiah went to Grey Pine
and shaved him while they talked about colts and their training. As he
was rarely needed in the afternoon, Josiah often closed his shop about
two o'clock and went a-fishing or set traps on the river bank. His
absence on this Monday afternoon gave rise, therefore, to no surprise,
but when his little shop remained closed on Tuesday, his neighbours began
to wonder. Peter Lamb wandering by rather more drunken than on Monday,
stood a while looking at the shut door, then went on his devious way,
thinking of the fierce eyes and the curse. Next came Swallow for his
daily shave. He knocked at the door and tried to enter. It was locked. He
heard no answer to his louder knock. He at once suspected that his prey
had escaped him, and that the large fee he had counted on was to say the
least doubtful. But who could have warned the black? Had Mr. Grey been
imprudent? Lamb had been the person who had led Grey, as Swallow knew
from that gentleman, to suspect Josiah as a runaway; but now as he saw
Peter reeling up the street, he was aware that he was in no state to be
questioned. He went away disappointed and found that no one he met knew
whither Josiah had gone.

At Grey Pine Mrs. Ann, uneasily conscious of her share in the matter,
asked John if he had given the money to Josiah. He said yes, and that the
man was safe and by this time far away. Meanwhile, the little town buzzed
with unwonted excitement and politics gave place about the grocer's door
at evening to animated discussion, which was even more interesting when
on Wednesday there was still no news and the town lamented the need to go
unshaven.

On Thursday morning Billy was sent with a led horse to meet Penhallow at
Westways Crossing. Penhallow had written that he must go on to a meeting
of the directors of the bank at the mills and would not be at home until
dinner-time. The afternoon train brought Mr. Woodburn, who as advised by
Grey went at once to Swallow's house, where Mrs. Swallow gave him a note
from her husband asking that if he came he would await the lawyer's
return.

"Well, Billy, glad to see you," said Penhallow, as he settled himself in
the saddle. "All well at Grey Pine?"

"Yes, sir."

The Squire was in high good-humour on having made two good contracts for
iron rails. "How are politics, Billy?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Anything new at Westways?"

"Yes, sir," replied Billy with emphasis.

"Well, what is it?"

"Josiah's run away."

"Run away! Why?"

"Don't know--he's gone."

Penhallow was troubled, but asked no other questions, as he was late. He
might learn more at home. He rode through the town and on to the mills.
There he transacted some business and went thence to the bank. The board
of well-to-do farmers was already in session, and Swallow--a member--was
talking.

"What is that?" said Penhallow as he entered, hearing Josiah mentioned.

Some one said, "He has been missing since Monday." "He drew out all his
money that morning," said Swallow, "all of it."

"Indeed," said Penhallow. "Did _he_ draw it--I mean in person?"

"No," said the lawyer, who was well pleased to make mischief and hated
Penhallow.

Penhallow was uneasily curious. "Who drew it?" he asked. "Josiah could
hardly have known how to draw a cheque; I had once to help him write
one."

"It was a cheque to bearer, I hear," said Swallow smiling. "Mrs.
Penhallow drew the money. No doubt Josiah got it before he left."

Penhallow said, "You are insolent."

"You asked a question," returned Swallow, "and I answered it."

"And with a comment I permit no man to make. You said, 'no doubt he got
it.' I want an apology at once." He went around the table to where
Swallow sat.

The lawyer rose, saying, "Every one will know to-day that Josiah was a
runaway slave. His master will be here this evening. Whoever warned him
is liable under the Fugitive-Slave Act--Mrs. Penhallow drew the money
and--"

"One word more, sir, of my wife, and I will thrash you. It is clear
that you know all about the matter and connect my wife with this man's
escape--you have insulted her."

"Oh, Mr. Penhallow," said the old farmer who presided, "I beg of you--"

"Keep quiet," said the Squire, "this is my business."

"I did not mean to insult Mrs. Penhallow," said Swallow; "I
apologize--I--"

"You miserable dog," said Penhallow, "you are both a coward and a lying,
usurious plunderer of hard-working men. You may be thankful that I am a
good-tempered man--but take care."

"I shall ask this board to remember what has been said of me," said
Swallow. "The law--"

"Law! The law of the cowhide is what you will get if I hear again that
you have used my wife's name. Good-day, gentlemen."

He went our furious and rode homeward at speed. Before the Squire reached
Grey Pine he had recovered his temper and his habitual capacity to meet
the difficulties of life with judicial calmness. He had long been sure
that Josiah had been a slave and had run away. But after these years,
that he should have been discovered in this remote little town seemed to
him singular. The man was useful to him in several ways and had won his
entire respect and liking, so that he felt personal annoyance because
of this valuable servant having been scared away. That Ann had been in
any way concerned in aiding his escape perplexed him, as he remembered
how entire was her belief in the creed of the masters of slaves who with
their Northern allies had so long been the controlling legislative power
of the country.

"I am glad to be at home, my dear Ann," he said, as they met on the
porch. "Ah! Grey, so you are come at last. It is not too late to say how
very welcome you are; and John, I believe you have grown an inch since I
left."

They went in, chatting and merry. The Squire cast an amused look at the
big spittoon and then at his wife, and went upstairs to dress for dinner.
At the meal no one for a variety of good reasons mentioned Josiah. The
tall soldier with the readiness of helpless courtesy fell into the talk
of politics which Grey desired. "Yes, Buchanan will carry the State,
Grey, but by no large majority."

"And the general election?" asked the cousin.

"Yes, that is my fear. He will be elected."

Ann, who dreaded these discussions, had just now a reproachful political
conscience. She glanced at her husband expecting him to defend his
beliefs. He was silent, however, while Grey exclaimed, "Fear, sir--fear?
You surely cannot mean to say--to imply that the election of a black
Republican would be desirable." He laid down his fork and was about to
become untimely eloquent--Rivers smiled--watching the Squire and his
wife, as Penhallow said:

"Pardon me, Grey, but I cannot have my best mutton neglected."

"Oh, yes--yes--but a word--a word. Elect Fremont--and we secede. Elect
Buchanan--and the Union is safe. There, sir, you have it in a nutshell."

"Ah, my dear Grey," said Penhallow, "this is rather of the nature of a
threat--never a very digestible thing--for me, at least--and I am not
very convincible. We will discuss it over our wine or a cigar." He turned
to his wife, "Any news of Leila, Ann?"

"Yes, I had a letter to-day," she returned, somewhat relieved. "She seems
to be better satisfied."

Grey accepted the interrupting hint and fell to critical talk of the
Squire's horses. After the wine Penhallow carried off his guest to the
library, and avoiding politics with difficulty was unutterably bored by
the little gentleman's reminiscent nothings about himself, his crops,
tobacco, wines, his habits of life, what agreed with him and what did
not. At last, with some final whisky, Mr. Grey went to bed.

Ann, who was waiting anxiously, eager to get through with the talk she
dreaded, went at once into the library. Penhallow rising threw his cigar
into the fire. She laughed, but not in her usual merry way, and cried,
"Do smoke, James, I shall not mind it; I am forever disciplined to any
fate. There is a spittoon in the hall--a spittoon!"

The Squire laughed joyously, and kissed her. "I can wait for my pipe; we
can't have any lapse in domestic discipline." Then he added, "I hear that
my good Josiah has gone away--I may as well say, run away."

"Yes--he has gone, James." She hesitated greatly troubled.

"And you helped him--a runaway slave--you--" He smiled. It had for him an
oddly humorous aspect.

"I did--I did--" and the little lady began to sob like a child. "It
was--was wrong--" There was nothing comic in it for Ann Penhallow.

"You angel of goodness," he cried, as he caught her in his arms and held
the weeping face against his shoulder, "my brave little lady!"

"I ought not to have done it--but I did--I did--oh, James! To think that
my cousin should have brought this trouble on us--But I did--oh, James!"

"Listen, my dear. If I had been here, I should have done it. See what you
have saved me. Now sit down and let us have it all out, my dear, all of
it."

"And you really mean that?" she wailed piteously. "You won't think I did
wrong--you won't think I have made trouble for you--"

"You have not," he replied, "you have helped me. But, dear, do sit down
and just merely, as in these many years, trust my love. Now quiet
yourself and let us talk it over calmly."

"Yes--yes." She wiped her eyes. "Do smoke, James--I like it."

"Oh, you dear liar," he said. "And so it was Grey?"

She looked up. "Yes, George Grey; but, James, he did not know how much we
liked Josiah nor how good he had been to me, and how he got hurt when he
stopped Leila's pony. He was sorry--but it was too late--oh, James!--you
will not--oh, you will not--"

"Will not what, dear?" Penhallow was disgusted. A guest entertained in
his own house to become a detective of an escaped slave in Westways, at
his very gate! "My charity, Ann, hardly covers this kind of sin against
the decencies of life. But I wish to hear all of it. Now, who betrayed
the man--who told Grey?"

"I am sorry to say that it was Peter Lamb who first mentioned Josiah to
George Grey as a runaway. When he spoke of his lost fingers, George was
led to suspect who Josiah really was. Then he saw him, and as soon as he
was sure, he wrote to a Mr. Woodburn, who was Josiah's old owner."

"I suppose he recognized Josiah readily?"

"Yes, he had been a servant of George's friend, Mr. Woodburn, and George
says he was a man indulgently treated and much trusted."

"I infer from what I learned to-day that George told you all this and had
already seen Swallow, so that the trap was set and Mr. Woodburn was to
arrive. Did George imagine you would warn my poor barber--"

"But I--I didn't--I mean--I let John hear about it--and he told Josiah."

He listened. Here was another Mrs. Ann. There was in Ann at times a
bewildering childlike simplicity with remarkable intelligence--a
combination to be found in some of the nobler types of womanhood. He made
no remark upon her way of betraying the trust implied in George Grey's
commonplace confession.

"So, then, my dear, John went and gave the man a warning?"

"Yes, I would have gone, but it was at night and I thought it better to
let John see him. How he did it I did not want to know--I preferred to
know nothing about it."

This last sentence so appealed to Penhallow's not very ready sense of
humour that he felt it needful to control his mirth as he saw her
watching earnestness. "Grey, I presume, called on that rascal Swallow,
Mr. Woodburn is sent for, and meanwhile Josiah is told and wisely runs
away. He will never be caught. Anything else, my dear?"

"Yes, I said to George that we would buy Josiah's freedom--what amuses
you, James?" He was smiling.

"Oh, the idea of buying a man's power to go and come, when he has
been his own master for years. You were right, but it seems that you
failed--or, so I infer."

"Yes. He said Mr. Woodburn was still angry and always had considered
Josiah wickedly ungrateful." Penhallow looked at his wife. Her sense of
the comedies of life was sometimes beyond his comprehension, but now--now
was she not a little bit, half consciously, of the defrauded master's
opinion?

"And so, when that failed, you went to bank and drew out the poor
fellow's savings?" He meant to hear the whole story. There was worse yet,
and he was sure she would speak of it. But now she was her courageous
self and desired to confess her share in the matter. "Of course, he had
to have money, Ann."

She wanted to get through with this, the most unpleasant part of the
matter. "I want to tell you," she said. "I drew out his money with a
cheque John made out and Josiah signed. John took him his two hundred
dollars, as he knew where Josiah would hide--I--I did not want to know."

Her large part in this perilous business began to trouble the Squire. His
face had long been to her an open book, and she saw in his silence the
man's annoyance. She added instantly, "I could not let John draw it--and
Josiah would not--he was too scared. He had to have his money. Was I
wrong--was I foolish, James?"

"No--you were right. The cheque was in John's handwriting. You were the
person to draw it. I would have drawn the money for him. He had a man's
right to his honest savings. It will end here--so you may be quite at
ease." Of this he was not altogether certain. He understood now why she
had not given him of her own money, but Ann was clearly too agitated to
make it well or wise to question her methods further. "Go to bed, dear,
and sleep the sleep of the just--you did the right thing." He kissed her.
"Good-night."

"One moment more, James. You know, of course--you know that all my life I
have believed with my brothers that slavery was wise and right. I had to
believe that--to think so might exact from me and others what I never
could have anticipated. I came face to face with a test of my creed, and
I failed. I am glad I failed."

"My dear Ann," he said, "I am supposed to be a Christian man--I go to
church, I have a creed of conduct. To-day I lost my temper and told a man
I would thrash him if he dared to say a word more."

"It was at the bank, James?"

"Yes. That fellow Swallow spoke of your having drawn Josiah's money. He
was insolent. You need have no anxiety about it--it is all over. I only
mention it because I want you to feel that our creeds of conduct in life
are not always our masters, and sometimes ought not to be. Let that
comfort you a little. You know that to have been a silent looker-on at
the return to slavery of a man to whom we owed so much was impossible.
My wonder is that for a moment you could have hesitated. It makes me
comprehend more charitably the attitude of the owners of men. Now, dear,
we won't talk any more. Good-night--again--good-night."

He lighted a cigar and sat long in thought. He had meant not to speak to
her of Swallow, but it had been, as he saw, of service. Then he wondered
how long Mr. George Grey would remain and if he would not think it
necessary to speak of Josiah. As concerned John, he would be in no hurry
to talk to him of the barber; and how the lad had grown in mind and
body!--a wonderful change and satisfactory.

When after breakfast Mr. Grey showed no desire to mention Josiah and
prudently avoided talk about politics, Penhallow was greatly relieved.
That his host did not open the question of Mr. Grey's conduct in the
matter of the runaway was as satisfactory to the Maryland gentleman,
whose sense of duty had created for him a situation which was
increasingly disagreeable. He warmly welcomed Penhallow's invitation to
look at some newly purchased horses, and expressed the most cordial
approval of whatever he saw, somewhat to the amusement of Penhallow.

Penhallow left him when, declining to ride to the mills, Mr. Grey retired
to the library and read the _Tribune_, with internal comment on its
editorial columns. He laid the paper aside. Mr. Woodburn would probably
have arrived in the afternoon, and would have arranged with Swallow for a
consultation in which Mr. Grey would be expected to take part. It was
plain that he really must talk to the Captain. He rose and went slowly
down the avenue. A half-hour in Westways singularly relieved him.
Swallow was not at home, and Josiah, the cause of Mr. Grey's
perplexities, had certainly fled, nor did he learn that Mr. Woodburn
had already arrived.

He was now shamefully eager to escape that interview with the captain,
and relieved to find that there was no need to wait for the friend he had
brought to Westways on a vain errand. Returning to Grey Pine, he
explained to his cousin that letters from home made it necessary for him
to leave on the mid-afternoon train. Never did Ann Penhallow more
gratefully practise the virtue that speeds the parting guest. He was
sorry to miss the captain and would have the pleasure of sending him a
barrel of the best Maryland whisky; "and would you, my dear cousin, say,
in your delightful way, to the good rector how much I enjoyed his
conversation?"

Ann saw that the lunch was of the best and that the wagon was ready in
more than ample season. As he left, she expressed all the regret she
ought to have felt, and as the carriage disappeared at a turn of the
avenue she sank down in a chair. Then she rang a bell. "Take away that
thing," she said,--"that spittoon."

"If James Penhallow were here," she murmured, "I should ask him to
say--damn! I wonder now if that man Woodburn will come, and if there will
be a difficulty with James on my account." She sat long in thought,
waiting to greet her husband, while Mr. Grey was left impatient at the
station owing to the too hospitable desire of Ann to speed the parting
guest.

When about dusk the Squire rode along the road through Westways, he came
on the rector and dismounted, leaving his horse to be led home by Pole's
boy. "Glad to see you, Mark. How goes it; and how did you like Mr. Grey?"

"To tell you the truth, Squire, I did not like him. I was forced into a
talk about politics. We differed, as you may suppose. He was not quite
pleasant. He seemed to have been so mixed up with this sad business about
Josiah that I kept away at last, so that I might keep my temper. Billy
drove him to the station after lunch."

"Indeed!" said Penhallow, pleased that Grey had gone. It was news to him
and not unwelcome. Ann would no doubt explain. "What put Grey on the
track of Josiah as a runaway? Was it a mere accidental encounter?" He
desired to get some confirmatory information.

"No--I suspect not." Then he related what Josiah had told him of Peter's
threats. "I may do that reprobate injustice, but--However, that is all I
now know or feel justified in suspecting."

"Well, come up and dine to-day; we can talk it out after dinner."

"With pleasure," said Rivers.

Penhallow moodily walking up the street, his head bent in thought, was
made aware that he was almost in collision with Swallow and a large man
with a look of good-humoured amusement and the wide-open eyes and uplift
of brow expressive of pleasure and surprise.

"By George, Woodburn!" said the Squire. "I heard some one of your name
was here, but did not connect the name with you. I last heard of you as
in a wild mix-up with the Sioux, and I wished I was with you." As
Penhallow spoke the two men shook hands, Swallow meanwhile standing apart
not over-pleased as through the narrowed lids of near-sight he saw that
the two men must have known one another well and even intimately, for
Woodburn replied, "Thought you knew I'd left the army, Jim. The last five
years I've been running my wife's plantation in Maryland."

The Squire's pleasure at his encounter with an old West Point comrade for
a moment caused him to forget that this was the master who had been set
on Josiah's track by Grey. It was but for a moment. Then he drew up his
soldierly figure and said coldly, "I am sorry that you are here on what
cannot be a very agreeable errand."

"Oh!" said Woodburn cheerfully, "I came to get my old servant, Caesar. It
seems to have been a fool's errand. He has slipped away. I suppose that
Grey as usual talked too freely. But how the deuce does it concern you? I
see that it does."

Penhallow laughed. "He was my barber."

"And mine," said Woodburn. "If you have missed him, Jim, for a few days,
I have missed him for three years and more." Then both men laughed
heartily at their inequality of loss.

"I cannot understand why this fellow ran away. He was a man I trusted and
indulged to such an extent that my wife says I spoiled him. She says he
owned me quite as much as I owned him--a darned ungrateful cuss! I came
here pretty cross when I got George's letter, and now I hear of an amount
of hostile feeling which rather surprised me."

"That you are surprised, Will, surprises me," said Penhallow. "The
Fugitive-Slave Act will always meet with opposition at the North. It
seems made to create irritation even among people who really are not
actively hostile to slavery. If it became necessary to enforce it, I
believe that I would obey it, because it is the law--but it is making
endless trouble. May I ask what you propose to do about this present
case?"

"Do--oh, nothing! I am advised to employ detectives and hunt the man
down. I will not; I shall go home. It is not Mr. Swallow's advice."

"No, it is not," said the lawyer, who stood aside waiting a chance to
speak. "Some one warned the man, and it is pretty generally suspected how
he came to be told."

Penhallow turned to Woodburn, "Has Mr. Swallow ventured to connect me or
any of my family with this matter?"

"No," said Woodburn, which was true. Swallow meant to keep in reserve
Mrs. Penhallow's share in the escape until he learned how far an angry
slave-owner was disposed to go. Woodburn had, however, let him understand
that he was not of a mind to go further, and had paid in good-humour a
bill he thought excessive. Grey had made it all seem easy, and then as
Swallow now learned had gone away. He had also written to his own
overseer, and thus among their neighbours a strong feeling prevailed that
this was a case for prompt and easy action. The action had been prompt
and had failed. Woodburn was going home to add more bitterness to the
Southern sense of Northern injustice.

When Woodburn, much to Penhallow's relief, had said he was done with the
case, the Squire returned, "Then, as you are through with Mr. Swallow,
come home and dine with me. Where are you staying?"

"At Mr. Swallow's, but I leave by the night train."

"So soon! But come and dine. I will send for your bag and see that you
get to your train."

The prospect of Swallow and his feeble, overdressed wife, and his
comrade's urgency, decided Woodburn. He said, "Yes, if Mr. Swallow will
excuse me."

Swallow said, "Oh, of course!" relieved to be rid of a dissatisfied
client, and the two ex-soldiers went away together chatting of West Point
life.

Half-way up the avenue Penhallow said, "Before we go in, a word or two--"

"What is it, Jim?"

"That fellow said nothing of Mrs. Penhallow, you are sure?"

"Yes," returned Woodburn, "not a word. I knew that you lived here, but
neither of you nor of Mrs. Penhallow did he say a word in connection with
this business. I meant to look you up this afternoon. Why do you speak of
your wife?"

"Because--well--I could not let you join us without an honest word
concerning what I was sure you would have heard from Swallow. Now if you
had taken what I presume was his advice--to punish the people concerned
in warning Josiah, you--indeed I--might hesitate--"

"What do you mean, Jim?" said his companion much amazed.

"I mean this: After our loose-tongued friend Grey told my wife that
Josiah was in danger, she sent him word of the risk he ran, and then drew
out of our bank for him his savings and enabled him to get away. Now
don't say a word until I have done. Listen! This man turned up here over
three years ago and was soon employed about my stables. He broke his leg
in stopping a runaway and saved my wife's young niece, our adopted child,
Leila Grey. There was some other kind and efficient service. That's all.
Now, can you dine with me?"

"With all my heart, Jim. Damn Grey! Did he talk much?"

"Did he? No, he gabbled. But are you satisfied?"

"Yes, Jim. I am sorry I drove off your barber--and I shall hold my tongue
when I get home--as far as I can."

"Then come. I have some of my father's Madeira, if Grey has left any. I
shall say a word to Mrs. Penhallow. By George! I am glad to have you."

Penhallow showed Woodburn to a room, and feeling relieved and even
elated, found his wife, who had tired of waiting and had gone to get
ready to dine. He told her in a few words enough to set her at ease with
the new guest. Then Mark Rivers came in and John Penhallow, who having
heard about the stranger's errand was puzzled when he became aware of the
cordial relations of his uncle and Mr. Woodburn.

The dinner was pleasant and unembarrassed. The lad whom events had
singularly matured listened to gay memories of West Point and to talk of
cadets whose names were to live in history or who had been distinguished
in our unrighteous war with Mexico. When now and then the talk became
quite calmly political, Ann listened to the good-natured debate and was
longing to speak her mind. She was, however, wisely silent, and reflected
half amused that she had lost the right to express herself on the
question which was making politics ill-tempered but was now being
discussed at her table with such well-bred courtesy. John soon ceased to
follow the wandering talk, and feeling what for him had the charm of
romance in the flight of Josiah sat thinking over the scene of the
warning at night, the scared fugitive in the cabin, and the lonely voyage
down through the darkness of the rapids of the river. Where would the man
go? Would they ever see him again? They were to meet in far-away days and
in hours far more perilous. Then he was caught once more by gay stories
of adventures on the plains and memories of Indian battles, until the
wine had been drunk and the Squire took his friend to the library for an
hour.



CHAPTER XI


Penhallow himself drove his guest to meet the night express to the East,
and well pleased with his day returned to find his wife talking with
Rivers and John. He sat down with them at the fire in the hall, saying,
"I wanted to keep Woodburn longer, but he was wise not to stay. What are
you two talking over--you were laughing?"

"I," said Rivers, "was hearing how that very courteous gentleman chanced
to dine with these mortal enemies who stole his property. I kept quiet,
Mrs. Penhallow said nothing, John ate his dinner, and no one quarrelled.
I longed for Mr. Grey--"

"For shame," said Mrs. Ann. "Tell him why we were laughing--it was at
nothing particular."

"It was about poor old Mrs. Burton."

"What about her? If you can make that widow interesting in any way, I
shall be grateful."

"It was about her dead husband--"

"Am I to hear it or not?" said Penhallow. "What is it?"

"Why, what she said was that she was more than ever confirmed in her
belief in special Providences, because Malcolm was so fond of tomatoes,
and this year of his death not one of their tomatoes ripened."

The Squire's range of enjoyment of the comic had limitations, but this
story was immensely enjoyed and to his taste. He laughed in his hearty
way. "Did she tell you that, Mark, or has it improved in your hands?"

"No--no, I got it from Grace, and he had it from the widow. I do not
think it seemed the least bit funny to Grace."

"But after all," said Mrs. Ann, "is it so very comic?"

"Oh, now," said Penhallow, "we are in for a discussion on special
Providences. I can't stand it to-night; I want something more definite.
My manager says sometimes, 'I want to close out this-here business.' Now
I want to close out this abominable business about my poor Josiah. You
and your aunt, John, have been, as you may know, breaking the law of your
country--"

Rivers, surprised and still partially ignorant, looked from one to
another.

"Oh, James!" remonstrated his wife, not overpleased.

"Wait a little, my dear Ann. Now, John, I want to hear precisely how you
gave Josiah a warning and--well--all the rest. You ought to know that my
little lady did as usual the right thing. The risks and whatever there
might have been of danger were ours by right--a debt paid to a poor
runaway who had made us his friends. Now, John!"

Rivers watched his pupil with the utmost interest. John stood up a little
excited by this unexpected need to confess. He leaned against the side of
the mantel and said, "Well, you see, Uncle Jim, I got in at the back--"

"I don't see at all. I want to be made to see--I want the whole story."

John had in mind that he had done a rather fine thing and ought to relate
it as lightly as he had heard Woodburn tell of furious battles with
Apaches. But, as his uncle wanted the whole story, he must have some good
reason, and the young fellow was honestly delighted. Standing by the
fire, watched by three people who loved him, and above all by the
Captain, his ideal of what he felt he himself could never be, John
Penhallow told of his entrance to Josiah's room and of his thought of
the cabin as a hiding-place. When he hesitated, Penhallow said, "Oh,
don't leave out, John Penhallow, I want all the details. I have my
reasons, John."

Flushed and handsome, with his strong young face above the figure which
was to have his uncle's athletic build, he related his story to the
close. As he told of the parting with the frightened fugitive and the
hunted man's last blessing, he was affected as he had not been at the
time. "That's all, Uncle Jim. It was too bad--and he will never come
back."

"He could," said Rivers.

"Yes--but he will not. I know the man," said Penhallow. "He has the
courage of the minute, but the timidity of the slave. We shall see him no
more, I fear."

The little group around the fire fell to silence, and John sat down. He
wanted a word of approval, and got it. "I want you to know, John," said
Penhallow, "that I think you behaved with courage and discretion. It was
not an errand for a boy, but no man could have done better, and your aunt
had no one else. I am glad she had not."

Then John Penhallow felt that he was shaky and that his eyes were
uncomfortably filling. With a boy's dislike of showing emotion, he
mastered his feelings and said, "Thank you, Uncle Jim."

"That is all," said the Squire, who too saw and comprehended what he saw,
"go to bed, you breaker of the law--"

"And I," said Ann, "a wicked partner. Come, John."

They left the master of the house with the rector. Rivers looked at the
clock, "I think I must go. I do not stand late hours. If I let the day
capture the night, the day after is apt to find me dull."

"Well, stand it this once, Mark. I hate councils of war or peace without
the pipe, and now, imagine it, my dear wife wanted me to smoke, and that
was all along of that terrible spittoon and the long-expected cousin of
whom I have heard from time to time. _Les absens n'out pas toujours
tort_. Now smoke and don't watch the clock. I said this abominable
business was to be closed out--"

"And is it not?" asked Rivers.

"No. I do not talk about Peter Lamb to my wife, because she thinks my
helping him so often has done the man more harm than good. It was not
Grey alone who was responsible. He told Mrs. Penhallow that Peter had
sent him to Josiah's shop. He told Grey too that Josiah must be a runaway
slave and that any one would know him by his having lost two fingers.
That at once set Grey on this mischievous track."

"I am only too sure that you are right," returned Rivers. "Peter tried a
very futile blackmailing trick on Josiah. He wanted to get whisky, and
told the poor negro that he must get it for him or he would let his
master know where he was. Of course, the scamp knew what we all knew and
no more, but it alarmed Josiah, who came to me at once. He was like a
scared child. I told him to go home and that Peter had lied. He went away
looking as if the old savagery in his blood might become practically
active."

"I don't wonder," said Penhallow. "Did it end there?"

"No, I saw Peter next day, and he of course lied to me very cleverly,
said it was only a joke on Josiah, and so on. I think, sir, and you will
I hope excuse me--I do think that the man were better let alone. Every
time you help him, he gets worse. When he was arrested and suspected of
burning Robert's hayrick, you pleaded with the old farmer and got the man
off. He boasted of it the next time he got drunk."

"I know--I know." The Squire had paid Robert's loss, and aware of his own
folly was of no mind to confess to any one. "I have no wish or will to
help him. I mean now to drop him altogether, and I must tell him so. But
what a pity it is! He is intelligent, and was a good carpenter until he
began to drink. I must talk to him."

"You will only make him more revengeful. He has what he calls 'got even'
with Josiah, and he is capable of doing it with you or me. Let him
alone."

"Not I," said the Squire; "if only for his mother's sake, I must see what
I can do."

"Useless--quite useless," said Rivers. "You may think that strange advice
for a clergyman, but I do sometimes despair of others and occasionally of
Mark Rivers. Goodnight."

During these days the fugitive floated down the swift little river at
night, and at dawn hid his frail boat and himself in the forests of a
thinly settled land. He was brave enough, but his ignorance of geography
added to his persistent terror. On the third day the broader waters
brought him to farms and houses. Then he left his boat and struck out
across the country until he came to a railway. In the station he made out
that it led to Philadelphia. Knowing that he would be safe there, he
bought a ticket and arrived in the city the next day--a free man with
money, intelligence, and an honest liking for steady work.

The Squire had the good habit of second thought. His wife knew it well
and had often found it valuable and to be trusted. At present he was
thoroughly disgusted with the consequences of what he knew to be in some
degree the result of his own feeling that he was bound to care for the
man whose tie to him was one few men would have considered as in any
serious degree obligatory. The night brought good counsel, and he made
up his mind next morning simply to let the foster-brother alone. Fate
decreed otherwise. In the morning he was asked by his wife to go with her
to the village; she wanted some advice. He did not ask what, but said,
"Of course. I am to try the barber's assistant I have brought from the
mills to shave me, and what is more important--Westways. I have put him
in our poor old Josiah's shop."

They went together to Pole's, and returning she stopped before the
barn-like building where Grace gathered on Sundays a scant audience to
hear the sermons which Rivers had told him had too much heart and too
little head.

"What is it?" asked Penhallow.

"I have heard, James, that their chapel (she never called it church) is
leaking--the roof, I mean. Could not you pay for a new roof?"

"Of course, my dear--of course. It can't cost much. I will see Grace
about it."

"Thank you, James." On no account would she now have done this herself.
She was out of touch for the time with the whole business of politics,
and to have indulged her usual gentle desire to help others would have
implied obligation on the part of the Baptist to accept her wish that he
should vote and use his influence for Buchanan. Now the thing would be
done without her aid. In time her desire to see the Democrats win in the
interest of her dear South would revive, but at present what with Grey
and the threat of the practical application of the Fugitive-Slave Act and
her husband's disgust, she was disposed to let politics alone.

Presently, as they walked on, Peter Lamb stopped them. "I'd like to speak
to you for a moment, Mr. Penhallow." Mrs. Penhallow walked on.

"What is it?" said the Squire.

"I'm all right now--I'll never drink again. I want some work--and
mother's sick."

"We will see to her, but you get no more work from me."

"Why, what's the matter, sir?"

"Matter! You might ask Josiah if he were here. You know well enough what
you did--and now I am done with you."

"So help me God, I never--"

"Oh! get out of my way. You are a miserable, lying, ungrateful man, and I
have done with you."

He walked away conscious of having again lost his temper, which was rare.
The red-faced man he left stood still, his lips parted, the large yellow
teeth showing. "It's that damned parson," he said.

Penhallow rejoined his wife. "What did he want?" she asked.

"Oh, work," he said. "I told him he could get no more from me."

"Well, James," she said, "that is the first sensible thing you have ever
done about that man. You have thoroughly spoiled him, and now it is very
likely too late to discipline him."

"Yes--perhaps--you may be right." He knew her to be right, but he did not
like her agreement with his decision to be connected with even her mild
statement that it had been better if long before he had been more
reasonably severe and treated Lamb as others would have treated him. In
the minor affairs of life Ann Penhallow used the quick perception of a
woman, and now and then brought the Squire's kindly excesses to the bar
of common sense. Sometimes the sentence was never announced, but now and
then annoyed at his over-indulgent charity she allowed her impatience the
privilege of speech, and then, as on this occasion, was sorry to have
spoken.

Dismissing his slight vexation, Penhallow said presently, "He told me his
mother was sick."

"She was not yesterday. I took her our monthly allowance and some towels
I wanted hemmed and marked. He lied to you, James. Did you believe him
even for a moment?"

"But she might be sick, Ann. I meant you to stop and ask."

"I will, of course." This time she held her tongue, and left him at
Grace's door.

The perfect sweetness of her husband's generous temperament was sometimes
trying to Ann in its results, but now it had helped her out of an awkward
position, and with pride and affection she watched his soldierly figure
for a moment and then went on her way.

Intent with gladness on fulfilling his wife's errand, he went up the
steps of the small two-storey house of the Baptist preacher. He had
difficulty in making any one hear where there was no one to hear. If at
Westways the use of the rare bells or more common knockers brought no one
to the door, you were free to walk in and cry, "Where are you, Amanda
Jane, and shall I come right up?" Penhallow had never set foot in the
house, but had no hesitation in entering the front room close to the
narrow hall which was known as the front entry. The details of men's
surroundings did not usually interest Penhallow, but in the mills or the
far past days of military service nothing escaped him that could be of
use in the work of the hour. The stout little Baptist preacher, with his
constant every-day jollity and violent sermons, of which he had heard
from Rivers, in no way interested Penhallow. When he once said to Ann,
"The man is unneat and common," she replied, "No, he is homely, but
neither vulgar nor common. I hate his emotional performances, but the man
is good, James." "Then I do wish, Ann, he would button his waistcoat and
pull up his socks."

Now he looked about him with some unusual attention. There was no carpet.
A set of oddly coloured chairs and settees which would have pleased Ann,
a square mahogany table set on elephantine legs, completed the
furnishings of a whitewashed room, where the flies, driven indoors by
cool weather, buzzed on window glasses dull with dust. The back room had
only a writing-table, a small case of theological books, and two or
three much used volumes of American history. Penhallow looked around him
with unusually awakened pity. The gathered dust, the battered chairs, the
spider-webs in the darker corners, would have variously annoyed and
disgusted Ann Penhallow. A well-worn Bible lay on the table, with a
ragged volume of "Hiawatha" and "Bunyan's Holy War." There were no other
books. This form of poverty piteously appealed to him.

"By George!" he exclaimed, "that is sad. The man is book-poor. Ann must
have that library. I will ask him to use mine." As he stood still in
thought, he heard steps, and turned to meet Dr. McGregor.

"Come to see Grace, sir?" said the doctor.

"Yes, I came about a little business, but there seems to be no one in."

"Grace is in bed and pretty sick too."

"What is the matter?"

"Oh, had a baptism in the river--stood too long in the water and got
chilled. It has happened before. Come up and see him--he'll like it."

The Squire hesitated and then followed the doctor. "Who cares for him?"
he asked as they moved up the stairs.

"Oh, his son. Rather a dull lad, but not a bad fellow. He has no
servant--cooks for himself. Ever try it, Squire?"

"I--often. But what a life!"

The stout little clergyman lay on a carved four-post bedstead of old
mahogany, which seemed to hint of better days. The ragged patch-work
quilt over him told too of busy woman-hands long dead. The windows were
closed, the air was sick (as McGregor said later), and there was the
indescribable composite odour which only the sick chamber of poverty
knows. The boy, glad to escape, went out as they entered.

Grace sat up. "Now," he said cheerfully, "this is real good of you to
come and see me! Take a seat, sir."

The chairs were what the doctor once described as non-sitable, and
wabbled as they sat down.

"You are better, I see, Grace," said the doctor. "I fetched up the Squire
for a consultation."

"Yes, I'm near about right." He had none of the common feeling of the
poor that he must excuse his surroundings to these richer visitors, nor
any least embarrassment. "It's good to see some one, Mr. Penhallow."

"I come on a pleasant errand," said Penhallow. "We will talk it over and
then leave you to the doctor. Mrs. Penhallow wants me to roof your
church. I came to say to you that I shall do it with pleasure. You will
lose the use of it for one Sunday at least."

"Thank you, Squire," said Grace simply. "That's real good medicine."

"I will see to it at once."

The doctor opened a window, and Penhallow drew a grateful breath of fresh
air.

"Don't go, sir," said Grace. The Squire sat down again while McGregor
went through his examination of the sick man. Then he too rose to leave.

"Must you go?" said Grace. "It is such a pleasure to see some one from
the outside." The doctor smiled and lingered.

"I suppose, Squire, you'll get Joe Boynton, the carpenter, to put on the
roof? He's one of my flock."

"Yes," said Penhallow, "but he will want to put his old workman, Peter
Lamb, on the job, and I have no desire to help that man any further. He
gives his mother nothing, and every cent he makes goes for drink."

McGregor nodded approval, but wondered why at last the Squire's unfailing
good-nature had struck for higher wages of virtue in the man he had
ruined by kindness.

"I try to keep work in Westways," said Penhallow. "Joe Shall roof the
chapel, and like as not Peter will be too drunk to help. I can't quite
make it a condition with Joe that he shall not employ Peter, but I should
like to." McGregor's face grew smiling at Penhallow's conclusion when he
added, "I hope he may get work elsewhere." Then the Squire went
downstairs with the doctor, exchanging brevities of talk.

"Are you aware, Penhallow, that this wicked business about Josiah has
beaten Buchanan in Westways? Come to apply the Fugitive-Slave Act and
people won't stand it. As long as it was just a matter of newspaper
discussion Westways didn't feel it, but when it drove away our barber,
Westways's conscience woke up to feel how wicked it was."

The Squire had had an illustration nearer home and kept thinking of it as
he murmured monosyllabic contributions while the doctor went on--"My own
belief is that if the November election were delayed six months, Fremont
would carry Pennsylvania."

Penhallow recovered fuller consciousness and returned, "I distrust
Fremont. I knew him in the West. But he represents, or rather he stands
for, a party, and it is mine."

"I am glad to know that," said McGregor. "I am really glad. It is a
relief to be sure about a man like you, Penhallow. I suppose you know
that you are loved in the county as no one else is."

"Nonsense," exclaimed the Squire, laughing, but not ill-pleased.

"No, I am serious; but it leads up to this: Am I free to say you will
vote the Republican ticket?"

"Yes--yes--you may say so."

"It will be of use, but couldn't I persuade you to speak at the meeting
next week at the mills?"

"No, McGregor. That is not in my line." He had other reasons for refusal.
"Let us drop politics. What is that boy of yours going to do?"

"Study medicine," he says. "He has brains enough, and Mr. Rivers tells me
he is studious. Our two lads fell out, it seems, and my boy got the worst
of it. What I don't like is that he has not made up with John."

"No, that is bad; but boys get over their quarrels in time. However, I
must go. If I can be of any use to Tom, you know that I am at your
service."

"When were you not at everybody's service?" said the doctor, and they
went out through the hall.

"Good-bye," said Penhallow, but the doctor stopped him.

"Penhallow, may I take the liberty to bother you with a bit of unasked
advice?"

"A liberty, nonsense! What is it?"

"Well, then--let that drunken brute Peter alone. You said that you would
not let the carpenter use him, but why not? Then you hoped he would get
work. Let him alone."

"McGregor, I have a great charity for a drunkard's son--and the rest you
know."

"Yes, too well."

"I try to put myself in his place--with his inheritance--"

"You can't. Nothing is more kind than that in some cases, and nothing
more foolish in others or in this--"

"Perhaps. I will think it over, Doctor. Good-bye."

Meanwhile Grace lay in bed thoughtfully considering the situation. While
her husband seemed practically inactive in politics, Mrs. Penhallow had
been busy, and she had clearly hinted that the roofing of the chapel
might depend on how Grace used his large influence in the electoral
contest, but had said nothing very definite. He was well aware, however,
that in his need for help he had bowed a little in the House of Rimmon.
Then he had talked with Rivers and straightened up, and now did the
Squire's offer imply any pledge on his own part? While he tried to solve
this problem, Penhallow reappeared.

"I forgot something, Grace," he said. "Mrs. Penhallow will send Mrs. Lamb
here for a few days, and some--oh, some little luxuries--ice and fresh
milk."

The Baptist did not like it. Was this to keep him in the way he had
resolved not to go. "Thank you and her," he returned, and then added
abruptly, "How are you meaning to vote, Squire?"

"Oh, for Fremont," replied Penhallow, rather puzzled.

"Well, that will be good news in Westways." It was to him, too, and he
felt himself free. "Isn't Mrs. Penhallow rather on the other side?"

He had no least idea that the question might be regarded as impertinent.
Penhallow said coldly, "My wife and I are rather averse to talking
politics. I came back to say that I want you to feel free to make use of
my library--just as Rivers does."

"Now that will be good. I am book-starved except for Rivers's help. Thank
you." He put out a fat hand and said, "God has been good to me this day;
may He be as kind to you and yours."

The Squire went his way wondering what the deuce the man had to do with
Ann Penhallow's politics.

Mrs. Lamb took charge of Grace, and Mrs. Penhallow saw that he was well
supplied and gave no further thought to the incorrigible and changeful
political views of Westways.

The excitement over the flight of Josiah lessened, and Westways settled
down to the ordinary dull routine of a little community dependent on
small farmers and the mill-men who boarded at the old tavern or with some
of the townspeople.

       *       *       *       *       *

The forests were rapidly changing colour except where pine and spruce
stood darkly green amid the growing magnificence of maple and oak. It was
the intermediate season in which were neither winter nor summer sports,
and John Penhallow enjoying the pageant of autumn rode daily or took long
walks, exploring the woods, missing Leila and giving free wing to a mind
which felt the yearning, never to be satisfied, to translate into human
speech its bird-song of enjoyment of nature.

On an afternoon in mid-October he saw Mr. Rivers, to his surprise, far
away on the bank of the river. Well aware that the clergyman was rarely
given to any form of exercise on foot, John was a little surprised when
he came upon the tall, stooping, pallid man with what Ann Penhallow
called the "eloquent" eyes. He was lying on the bank lazily throwing
stones into the river. As John broke through the alders and red willows
above him, he turned at the sound and cried, as John jumped down the
bank, "Glad to see you, John! I have been trying to settle a question no
one can settle to the satisfaction of others or even himself. You might
give me your opinion as to who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. Origen
gave it up, and Philo had a theory about Apollos, and there is
Tertullian, that's all any fellow knows; and so now I await your opinion.
What nobody knows about, anybody's opinion is good about."

John laughed as he said, "I don't think I'll try."

"Did you ever read Hebrews, John? The epistle I mean."

"No."

"Then don't or not yet. The Bible books ought to be read at different
ages of a man's life. I could arrange them. Your aunt reads to you or
with you, I believe?"

"Yes--Acts just now, sir. She makes it so clear and interesting that it
seems as if all might have happened now to some missionaries somewhere."

"That is an art. Some of the Bible stories require such help to make them
seem real to modern folk. How does, or how did, Leila take Mrs. Ann's
teachings?"

"Oh, Leila," he replied, as he began to pitch pebbles in the little
river, "Leila--wriggled. You know, she really can't keep quiet, Mr.
Rivers."

"Yes, I know well enough. But did what interested you interest Leila?"

"No--no, indeed, sir. It troubled Aunt Ann because she could not make her
see things. Usually at night before bedtime we read some of the Gospels,
and then once a week Acts. Every now and then Leila would sit still and
ask such queer questions--about people."

"What kind of questions, John?" He was interested and curious.

"Oh, about Peter's mother and--I forget--oh, yes, once--I remember that
because aunt did not like it and I really couldn't see why."

"Well, what was it?"

"She wanted to know if Christ's brothers ever were married and if they
had children."

"Did she, indeed! Well--well!"

"Aunt Ann asked her why she wanted to know that, and Leila said it was
because she was thinking how Christ must have loved them, and maybe that
was why He was so fond of little children. Now, I couldn't have thought
that."

"Nor I," said Rivers. "She will care more for people--oh, many
people--and by and by for things, events and the large aspects of life,
but she is as yet undeveloped."

John was clear that he did not want her to like many people, but he was
inclined to keep this to himself and merely said, "I don't quite
understand."

"No, perhaps I _was_ a little vague. Leila is at the puzzling age. You
will find her much altered in a year."

"I won't like that."

"Well, perhaps not. But you too have changed a good deal since you came.
You were a queer young prig."

"I was--I was indeed."

Then they were silent a while. John thought of his mother who had left
him to the care of tutors and schools while she led a wandering, unhappy,
invalid life. He remembered the Alps and the _spas_ and her fretful care
of his very good health, and then the delight of being free and
surrounded with all a boy desires, and at last Leila and the wonderful
hair on the snow-drift.

"Look at the leaves, John," said Rivers. "What fleets of red and gold!"

"I wonder," said John, "how far they will drift, and if any of them will
ever float to the sea. It is a long way."

"Yes," returned Rivers, "and so we too are drifting."

"Oh, no, sir," said John, with the confidence of youth, "we are not
drifting, we are sailing--not just like the leaves anywhere the waves
take them."

"More or less," added Rivers moodily, "more or less."

He looked at the boy as he spoke, conscious of a nature unlike his own.
Then he laughed outright. "You may be sure we are a good deal hustled by
circumstances--like the leaves."

"I should prefer to hustle circumstances," replied John gaily, and again
the rector studied the young face and wondered what life had in store for
this resolute nature.

"Come, let us go. I have walked too far for me, I am overtired, John."

What it felt to be overtired, John hardly knew. He said, "I know a short
cut, cater-cornered across the new clearing."

As they walked homeward, Rivers said, "What do you want to do, John? You
are more than fit for the university--you should be thinking about it."

"I do not know."

"Would you like to be a clergyman?"

"No," said John decisively.

"Or a lawyer, or a doctor like Tom McGregor?"

"I do not know--I have not thought about it much, but I might like to go
to West Point."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, but I am not sure."



CHAPTER XII


When John was eager to hear what Leila wrote, his aunt laughed and said,
"As you know, there is always a word of remembrance for you, but her
letters would hardly interest you. They are about the girls and the
teachers and new gowns. Write to her--I will enclose it, but you need
expect no answer."

That Leila should have acquired interest in gowns seemed to him unlike
that fearless playmate. He learned that the rules of the school forbade
the writing of letters except to parents and near relatives. He was now
to write to Leila the first letter he had written since his laborious
epistles to his mother when at school. His compositions seemed to Rivers
childlike long after he showed notable competence in speech.

"DEAR LEILA: It is very hard that you cannot write to me. We are all well
here except Lucy, who is lame. It isn't very much.

"Of course you have heard about our good old Josiah. Isn't that slave law
wicked? Westways is angry and all turned round for Fremont. Mr. Grace has
been ill, and Uncle Jim is putting a roof on his chapel. Josiah left me
his traps when he ran away. He meant to make you a muskrat skin bag. I
found four in his traps, and I have caught four more, and when Mrs. Lamb
makes a bag of them, I am to have for it a silver clasp which belonged
to Great-grandmother Penhallow. No girl will have one like that. It was
on account of Josiah the town will not vote for Buchanan.

"I wish I had asked you for a lock of your hair. I remember how it looked
on the snow when Billy upset us."--

He had found his letter-writing hard work, and let it alone for a time.
Before he finished it, he had more serious news to add.

The autumnal sunset of the year, the red and gold of maple, oak and
sassafras, was new to the boy who had spent so many years in Europe, and
more wonderful was it when in this late October on the uplands there fell
softly upon the glowing colours of the woods a light covering of early
snow. Once seen it is a spectacle never to be forgotten, and he had the
gift of being charmed by the scenic ingenuities of nature.

The scripture reading was over and he was thinking late in the evening of
what he had seen, when his aunt said, "Goodnight, John--bed-time," and
went up the stairway. John lay quiet, with closed eyes, seeing the sunlit
snow lightly dusted on the red and yellows of the forest.

About eleven his uncle came from the library. "What, you scamp!--up so
late! I meant to mail this letter to-day; run down and mail it. It ought
to go when Billy takes the letters to Westways Crossing early to-morrow.
I will wait up for you. Now use those long legs and hurry."

John took his cap and set off, liking the run over the snow, which was
light and no longer falling. He raced down the avenue and climbed the
gate, thinking of Leila. He dropped the letter into the post-office box,
and decided to return by a short way through the Penhallow woods which
faced the town. He moved eastward, climbed the fence, and stood still. He
was some two hundred yards from the parsonage. His attention was arrested
by a dull glow behind the house. He ran towards it as it flared upward a
broad rush of flame, brilliantly lighting the expanse of snow and sending
long prancing shafts of shadow through the woods as it struck on the tall
spruces. Shouting, "Fire! Fire!" John came nearer.

The large store of dry pine and birch for winter-use piled in a shed
against the back of Rivers's house was burning fiercely, with that look
of ungoverned fury which gives such an expression of merciless, personal
rage to a great fire. The terror of it at first possessed the lad, who
was shouting himself hoarse. The flame was already running up and over
the outer planking and curling down upon the thin snow of the shingled
roof as he ran around the small garden and saw the front door open and
Rivers come out. The rector said, "It is gone, John; I will go for your
uncle. Run over to the Wayne and call up the men. Tell them to get out my
books and what they can, but to run no risks. Quick, now! Wake up the
town."

There was little need, for some one at the inn had heard John's cries. In
a few minutes the village was awake and out of doors before Penhallow
arriving took charge and scattered men through the easily lighted pines,
in some dread of a forest fire. The snow on the floor of pine-needles and
on the laden trees was, however, as he soon saw, an insurance against the
peril from far-scattered sparks, and happily there was no wind. Little
of what was of any value was saved, and in the absence of water there was
nothing to do but to watch the fire complete its destructive work.

"There is nothing more we can do, Rivers," said Penhallow. "John was the
first to see it. We will talk about it to-morrow--not now--not here."

The three Grey Pine people stood apart while books and clothes and little
else were carried across the road and stored in the village houses. At
last the flames rose high in the air and for a few minutes as the roof
fell in, the beauty of the illumination was what impressed John and
Rivers. The Squire now and then gave quick orders or stood still in
thought. At last he said to the rector, "I want you to go to Grey Pine,
call up Mrs. Penhallow and tell her, and then go to bed. You will like
to stay here with me, John?"

"Yes, sir." The Squire walked away as Rivers left them.

"Fine sight, ain't it, Mr. John," said Billy, the one person who enjoyed
the fire.

"Yes," said John, absently intent on the red-lighted snow spaces and the
gigantic shadows of the thinly timbered verge of the forest as they were
and were not. Then there was a moment of alarm. An old birch, loosely
clad with dry, ragged bark stood near to the house. A flake of falling
fire fell on it. Instantly the whole trunk-cover blazed up with a roar
like that of a great beast in pain. It was sudden and for the instant
terrible, but the snow-laden leaves still left on it failed to take fire,
and what in summer would have been a calamity was at an end.

"Gosh!" exclaimed Billy, "didn't he howl?" John made no reply.

"Couldn't wake Peter. I was out first." He had liked the fun of banging
at the doors. "Old Woman Lamb said she couldn't wake him."

"Drunk, I suppose," said John absently, stamping out a spark among the
pine-needles at his feet, now freed from snow by the heat.

The night passed, and when the dawning came, the Squire leaving some
orders went homeward with John, saying only, "Go to bed at once, we will
talk about it later. I don't like it, John. You saw it first--where did
it begin?"

"Outside, sir, in the wood-shed."

"Indeed! There has been some foul play. Who could it have been?" He said
no more.

It was far into the morning when John awaking found that he had been
allowed to make up for the lost sleep of the past night. His aunt smiling
greeted him with a kiss, concerning which there is something to be said
in regard to what commentary the assistant features make upon the kiss.
"I would not have you called earlier," she said; "but now, here is your
breakfast, you have earned it." She sat down and watched the
disappearance of a meal which would have filled his mother with anxiety.
Ann was really enjoying the young fellow's wholesome appetite and
contrasting it with the apprehensive care concerning food he had shown
when long before he had seemed to her husband and herself a human problem
hard to solve. James Penhallow had been wise, and Leila a rough and
efficient schoolmistress. "Do not hurry, John; have another cup?"

"Yes, please."

"Have you written that letter? I mean to be naughty enough to enclose it
to Leila. I told you so."

"Yes, but it is not quite done, and now I must tell her about the fire. I
wrote her that Josiah had gone away."

"The less of it the better. I mean about--well, about your warning
him--and the rest--your share and mine."

"Of course not, Aunt Ann. I would not talk about myself. I mean, I could
not write about it."

"You would talk of it if she were here--you would, I am sure."

"Yes, that's different--I suppose, I would," he returned. She was struck
with this as being like what James Penhallow would have said and have, or
not have, done.

"If you have finished, John, I think your uncle wants you."

"Why didn't you tell me, aunt?" he said, as he got up in haste.

"Oh, boys must be fed," she cried. She too rose from her seat, and went
around the table and kissed him again, saying, "You are more and more
like my captain, John."

Being a woman, as John was well aware, not given to express approval of
what were merely acts of duty, he was surprised at what was, for her,
excess of praise; nor was she as much given to kissing, as are many
women. The lad felt, therefore, that what she thus said and did was
unusual, and was what his Uncle Jim called one of Ann's rarely conferred
brevets of affection.

"Yes," she repeated, "you are like him."

"What! I like Uncle Jim! I wish I were."

"Now go," she said, giving him a gentle push. She was shyly aware of a
lapse into unhabitual emotion and of some closer approach to the maternal
relation fostered by his growing resemblance to James Penhallow.

"So," laughed his uncle as John entered the library, "you have burned
down the school and are on a holiday--you and Rivers."

John grinned. "Yes, sir."

"Sit down. We are discussing that fire. You were the first to see it,
John. It was about eleven--"

"Yes, uncle, it struck as I left the hall."

"No one else was in sight, and in fact, Rivers, no one in Westways is out
of bed at ten. Both you and John are sure the fire began outside where
the wood was piled under a shed."

"Yes," said Rivers. "It was a well dried winter supply, birch and pine.
The shed, as you know, was alongside of the kitchen door. I went over the
house as usual about nine, after old Susan, the maid, had gone home. I
covered the kitchen fire with ashes--a thing she is apt to neglect. I
went to bed at ten and wakened to hear the glass crack and to smell
smoke. The kitchen lay under my bedroom. I fear it was a deliberate act
of wickedness."

"That is certain," said Penhallow, "but who could have wanted to do it.
You and I, Rivers, know every one in Westways. Can you think of any one
with malice enough to make him want to bum a house and risk the
possibility of murder?"

Rivers turned his lean pale face toward the Squire, unwilling to speak
out what was in the minds of both men. John listened, looking from one
serious face to the other.

"It seems to me quite incredible," said Penhallow, and then Rivers knew
surely that the older man had a pretty definite belief in regard to the
person who had been concerned. He knew too why the Squire was unwilling
to accuse him, and waited to hear what next Penhallow would say.

"It makes one feel uncomfortable," said Penhallow, and turning to John,
"Who was first there after you came?"

"Billy, sir, I think, even before the men from the Wayne, but I am not
sure. I told him to pound on the doors and wake up the town."

"Did he say anything?"

"Oh, just his usual silliness."

"Was Peter Lamb at the fire?"

"I think not. His mother opened a window and said that she could not
waken Peter. It was Billy told me that. I told Billy, I supposed Peter
was drunk. But he wasn't yesterday afternoon--I saw him."

"Oh, there was time enough for that," remarked Rivers.

Then the two men smoked and were silent, until at last the Squire said,
"Of course, you must stay here, Rivers, and you know how glad we shall
be--oh, don't protest. It is the only pleasant thing which comes out of
this abominable matter. Ann will like it."

"Thank you," returned Rivers, "I too like it."

John went away to look at the ruin left by the fire, and the Squire said
to his friend, "As I am absent in the mornings at the mills, you may keep
school here, Rivers," and it was so settled.

Before going out Penhallow went to his wife's little room on the farther
side of the hall. He had no desire to hide his conclusions from her. She
saw how grave he looked. "What is it, James?" she asked, looking up from
her desk.

"I am as sure as a man can be that Peter Lamb set fire to the parsonage.
He has always been revengeful and he owed our friend, the Rector, a
grudge. I have no direct evidence of his guilt, and what am I to do? You
know why I have always stood by him. I suppose that I was wrong."

She knew only too well, but now his evident trouble troubled her and she
loved him too well to accept the temptation to use the exasperating
phrase, "I always told you so." "You can do nothing, James, without more
certainty. You will not question his mother?"

"No, I can't do that, Ann; and yet I cannot quite let this go by and
simply sit still."

"What do you propose to do?"

"I do not know," and with this he left her and rode to the mills. In the
afternoon he called at Mrs. Lamb's and asked where he could find Peter.

She was evidently uneasy, as she said, "You gave him work on the new roof
of the Baptist chapel with Boynton; he might be there."

He made no comment, and went on his way until reaching the chapel he
called Peter down from the roof and said, "Come with me, I want to talk
to you."

Peter was now sober and was sharply on guard. "Come away from the town,"
added the Squire. He crossed the street, entered his own woods and walked
through them until he came in sight of the smoking relics of the
parsonage, where at a distance some few persons were idly discussing what
was also on Penhallow's mind. Here he turned on his foster-brother, and
said, "You set that house on fire. I could get out of your mother enough
to make it right to arrest you, but I will not bring her into the matter.
Others suspect you. Now, what have you to say?"

"Say! I didn't do it--that's all. I was in bed."

"Why did you not get up and help?"

"Wasn't any of my business," he replied sulkily. "Everybody in this
town's against me, and now when I've given up drinking, to say I set a
house afire--"

"Well!" said Penhallow, "this is my last word, you may go. I shall not
have you arrested, but I cannot answer for what others may do."

Peter walked away. He had been for several days enough under the
influence of whisky to intensify what were for him normal or at least
habitually indulged characteristics. For them he was only in part
responsible. His mother had spoiled him. He had been as a child the
playmate of his breast-brother until time and change had left him only in
such a relation to Penhallow as would have meant little or nothing to
most men. As a result, out of the Squire's long and indulgent care of a
lad who grew up a very competent carpenter, and gradually more and more
an idle drunkard, Peter had come to overestimate the power of his claim
on Penhallow. What share in his evil qualities his father's drunkenness
had, is in no man's power to say. His desire to revenge the slightest
ill-treatment or the abuse his evil ways earned had the impelling force
of a brute instinct. What he called "getting even" kept him in
difficulties, and when he made things unpleasant or worse for the
offenders, his constant state of induced indifference to consequences
left him careless and satisfied. When there was not enough whisky to be
had, his wild acts of revengeful malice were succeeded by such childlike
terror as Penhallow's words produced. 'The preacher would have him
arrested; the Squire would not interfere. Some day he would get even with
him too!' There was now, however, no recourse but flight. He hastened
home and finding his mother absent searched roughly until by accident as
he let fall her Bible, a bank note dropped out. There were others, some
sixty dollars or more, her meagre savings. He took it all without the
least indecision. At dark after her return he ate the supper she
provided. When she had gone to bed, he packed some clothes in a canvas
bag and went quietly out upon the highway. Opposite to the smoking ruin
of the rectory he halted. He muttered, "I've got even with him anyhow!"

As he murmured his satisfaction, a man left on guard crossed the road.
"Halloa! Where are you bound, Peter?"

"Goin' after a job. Bad fire, wasn't it--hard on the preacher!"

"Hard. He's well lodged at the Squire's, and I do hear it was insured.
Nobody's much the worse, and it will make a fine bit of work for some of
us. Who done it, I wonder?"

"How should I know! Good-night."

When out of sight, he turned and said, "I ain't got even yet. Them rich
people's hard to beat. Damn the Squire! I'll get even with him some day."
He was bitterly disappointed. "Gosh! I ran that nigger out, and now I'm a
runaway too. It's queer."

At Westways Crossing he waited until an empty freight train was switched
off to let the night express go by. Then he stowed himself away in an
open box-car and had a comfortable sense of relief as it rolled eastward.
He felt sure that the Squire's last words meant that he might be arrested
and that immediate flight was his only chance of escape.

He thus passes, like Josiah, for some years out of my story. He had
money, was when sober a clever carpenter, and felt, therefore, no fear of
his future. He had the shrewd conviction that the Squire at least would
not be displeased to get rid of him, and would not be very eager to have
him pursued.

James Penhallow was disagreeably aware that it was his duty to bring
about the punishment of his drunken foster-brother, but he did not like
it. When the next morning he was about to mount his horse, he saw Mrs.
Lamb, now an aged woman, coming slowly up the avenue. As she came to the
steps of the porch, Penhallow went to meet her, giving the help of his
hand.

"Good-morning, Ellen," he said, "what brings you here over the snow this
frosty day? Do you want to see Mrs. Penhallow?"

For a moment she was too breathless to answer. The withered leanness of
the weary old face moved in an effort to speak, but was defeated by
emotion. She gasped, "Let me set down."

He led her into the hall and gave her a chair. Then he called his wife
from her library-room. Ann at once knew that something more than the
effect of exertion was to be read in the moving face. The dull grey eyes
of age stared at James Penhallow and then at her, and again at him, as in
the vigour of perfect health they looked down at his old nurse and with
kindly patience waited. "Don't hurry, Ellen," said Mrs. Ann. "You are out
of breath."

She seemed to Ann like some dumb animal that had no language but a look
to tell the story of despair or pain. At last she found her voice and
gasped out, "I came to tell you he has run away. He went last night. I'd
like to be able to say, James Penhallow, that I don't know why he went
away--"

"We will not talk of it, Ellen," said the Squire, with some sense of
relief at the loss of need to do what he had felt to be a duty. "Come
near to the fire," he added.

"No, I want to go home. I had to tell you. I just want to be alone.
I'd have given it to him if he had asked me. I don't mind his taking
the money, but he took it out of my Bible. I kept it there. It was
like stealing from the Lord. It'll bring him bad luck. Mostly it was
in the Gospels--just a bank-note here and there--sixty-one dollars and
seventy-three cents it was." She seemed to be talking to herself rather
than to the man and woman at her side. She went on--sometimes a babble
they could not comprehend, as in pity and wonder they stood over her.
Then again her voice rose, "He took it from the book of God. Oh, my son,
my son! I must go."

She rose feebly tottering, and added, "It will follow him like a curse
out of the Bible. He took it out of the Bible. I must go."

"No," said Penhallow, "wait and I will send you home."

She sat down again. "Thank you." Then with renewed strength, she said,
"You won't have them go after him?"

"No, I will not."

He went away to order the carriage, and returning said, "You know, Ellen,
that you will always be taken care of."

"Yes, I know, sir--I know. But he took it out of my Bible--out of the
book of God." She was presently helped into the wagon and sent away
murmuring incoherently.

"And so, James," said Ann, "she knew too much about the fire. What a
tragedy!"

"Yes, she knew. I am glad that he has gone. If he had faced it out and
stayed, I must have done something. I suppose it is better for her on the
whole. When he was drunk, he was brutal; when he was sober, he kept her
worried. I am glad he has gone."

"But," said Ann, "he was her son--"

"Yes, more's the pity."

In a day or two it was known that Peter had disappeared. The town knew
very well why and discussed it at evening, when as usual the men gathered
for a talk. Pole expressed the general opinion when he said, "It's hard
on the old woman, but I guess it's a riddance of bad rubbish." Then they
fell to talking politics, the roofing of the chapel and the price of
wheat and so Westways settled down again to its every-day quiet round of
duties.

The excitement of the fire and Lamb's flight had been unfavourable to
literary composition, but now John returned to his letter. He continued:

"The reticule will have to be finished in town. Uncle will take it after
the election or send it to you. If you remember your Latin, you will know
that reticule comes from _reticulus,_ a net. But this isn't really a net.

"We have had a big excitement. Some one set fire to the parsonage and it
burnt down." [He did not tell her who set it on fire, although he knew
very well that it was Peter Lamb.] "Lamb has run away, and I think we are
well rid of him.

"I do miss you very much. Mr. Rivers says you will be a fashionable young
lady when you come back and will never snowball any more. I don't believe
it.

"Yours truly,

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

Mrs. Penhallow enclosed the letter in one of her own, and no answer came
until she gave him a note at the end of October. Leila wrote:

"DEAR JOHN: It is against the rules to write to any one but parents, and
I am breaking the rules when I enclose this to you. I do not think I
ought to do it, and I will not again.

"You would not know me in my long skirts, and I wear my hair in two
plaits. The girls are all from the South and are very angry when they
talk about the North. I cannot answer them and am sorry I do not know
more about politics, but I do know that Uncle Jim would not agree with
them.

"I go on Saturdays and over Sundays to my cousins in Baltimore. They say
that the South will secede if Fremont should be elected. I just hold my
tongue and listen.

"Yours sincerely,

"LEILA GREY.

"P.S. I shall be very proud of the bag. I hope you are studying hard."

"Indeed!" muttered John. "Thanks, Miss Grey." There was no more of it.

John Penhallow had come by degrees to value the rare privilege of a
walk with the too easily wearied clergyman, who had avenues of ready
intellectual approach which invited the adventurous mind of the lad and
were not in the mental topography of James Penhallow. The cool, hazy days
of late October had come with their splendour of colour-contrasts such as
only the artist nature could make acceptable, and this year the autumn
was unusually brilliant.

"Do you enjoy it?" asked Rivers.

"Oh, yes, sir. I suppose every one does."

"In a measure, as some people do the great music, and as the poets
usually do not. People presume that the ear for rhythm is the same as
that for music. They are things apart. A few poets have had both."

"That seems strange," said John. "I have neither," and he was lost in
thought until Rivers, as usual easily tired, said, "Let us sit down. How
hazy the air is, John! It tenderly flatters these wild colour-contrasts.
It is like a November day of the Indian summer."

"Why do they call it Indian summer?" asked John.

"I do not know. I tried in vain to run it down in the dictionaries. In
Canada it is known as 'L'été de St. Martin.'"

"It seems," said John, "as if the decay of the year had ceased, in pity.
It is so beautiful and so new to me. I feel sometimes when I am alone in
these woods as if something was going to happen. Did you ever feel that,
sir?"

Rivers was silent for a moment. The lad's power to state things in speech
and his incapacity to put his thoughts in writing had often puzzled the
tutor. "Why don't you put such reflections into verse, John? It's good
practice in English."

"I can't--I've tried."

"Try again."

"No," said John decidedly. "Do look at those maples, Mr. Rivers--and the
oaks--and the variety of colour in the sassafras. Did you ever notice how
its leaves differ in shape?"

"I never did, but nothing is exactly the same as anything else. We talked
of that once."

"Then since the world began there never was another me or Leila?"

"Never. There is only one of anything."

John was silent--in thought of his unresemblance to any other John. "But
I am like Uncle Jim! Aunt says so."

"Yes, outwardly you are; but you have what he has not--imagination. It
is both friend and foe as may be. It may not be a good gift for a
soldier--at least one form of it. It may be the parent of fear--of
indecisions."

"But, Mr. Rivers, may it not work also for good and suggest
possibilities--let you into seeing what other men may do?"

The reflection seemed to Rivers not like the thought of so young a man.
He returned, "But I said it might be a friend and have practical uses in
life. I have not found it that myself. But some men have morbid
imagination. Let us walk." They went on again through the quiet splendour
of the woodlands.

"Uncle Jim is going away after the election."

"Yes."

"He will see Leila. Don't you miss her?"

"Yes, but not as you do. However, she will grow up and go by you and be a
woman while you are more slowly maturing. That is their way. And then she
will marry."

"Good gracious! Leila marry!"

"Yes--it is a way they have. Let us go home."

John was disinclined to talk. Marry--yes--when I am older, I shall ask
her until she does!

November came in churlish humour and raged in storms of wind and rain,
until before their time to let fall their leaves the woods were stripped
of their gay colours. On the fourth day of November the Squire voted the
Fremont electoral ticket, and understood that with the exception of
Swallow and Pole, Westways had followed the master of Grey Pine. The
other candidates did not trouble them. The sad case of Josiah and the
threat to capture their barber had lost Buchanan the twenty-seven votes
of the little town. Mr. Boynton, the carpenter, fastening the last
shingles on the chapel roof remarked to a workman that it was an awful
pity Josiah couldn't know about it and that the new barber wasn't up to
shaving a real stiff beard.

The Squire wrote to his wife from Philadelphia on the ninth:

"DEAR ANN: We never talk politics because you were born a Democrat and
consider Andrew Jackson a political saint. I begin to wish he might be
reincarnated in the body of Buchanan. He will need backbone, I fear. He
has carried our State by only three thousand majority in a vote of
433,000. I am told that the excitement here was so great that the
peacemaking effect of a day of cold drizzle alone prevented riot and
bloodshed. Mr. Buchanan said in October, 'We shall hear no more of
"Bleeding Kansas."' Well, I hope so. Here we are at one. I should feel
more regret at the defeat of my party if I had more belief in Fremont,
but your man is, I am sure, elected, and we must hope for the best and
try to think that hope reasonable.

"I have been fortunate in my contracts for rails with the two railroads.
I shall finish this letter in Baltimore.--

"Baltimore.--I saw Leila, who has quite the air of a young lady and is
well, handsome and reasonably contented. Dined with your brother Henry;
and really, Ann, the cold-blooded way the men talked of secession was a
little beyond endurance. I spoke my mind at last, and was heard with
courteous disapproval. My friend, Lt.-Colonel Robert Lee of the Army, was
the only man who was silent about our troubles. Two men earnestly
advocated the re-opening of the slave-trade, and if as they say slavery
is a blessing, the slave-trade is morally justified and logically
desirable. I do want you to feel, my dear Ann, how extreme are the views
of these pleasant gentlemen.

"The Madeira was good, and despite the half-hidden bitterness of opinion,
I enjoyed my visit. Let John read this letter if you like to do so.

"Yours always and in all ways,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."

She did not like, but John heard all about this visit when the Squire
came home.

The winter of 1856-7 went by without other incident at Westways, with
Mrs. Ann's usual bountiful Christmas gifts to the children at the mills
and Westways. Mr. Buchanan was inaugurated in March. The captain smiled
grimly as he read in the same paper the message of the Governor of South
Carolina recommending the re-opening of the trade in slaves, and the new
President's hopes "that the long agitation over slavery is approaching
its end." Nor did Penhallow fancy the Cabinet appointments, but he said
nothing more of his opinions to Ann Penhallow.



CHAPTER XIII


In the early days of May the Squire began to rebuild the parsonage, and
near by it a large room for Sunday school and town-meetings. Ann desired
to add a library-room for the town and would have set about this at once
had not her husband resolutely set himself against any addition to the
work with which she filled her usefully busy life. She yielded with
reluctance, and the library plan was set aside to the regret of Rivers,
who living in a spiritual atmosphere was slow to perceive what with the
anxiety of a great love James Penhallow saw so clearly--the failure of
Ann Penhallow's health.

When at last Penhallow sat down with McGregor in his office, the doctor
knew at once that something serious was troubling his friend.

"Well, Penhallow," he said, "what can I do for you?"

"I want you to see my wife. She sleeps badly, tires easily, and worst of
all is unwilling to consult you."

"Yes, that's serious. Of course, she does the work of two people, but has
it ever occurred to you, Penhallow, that in the isolated life you lead
she may be at times bored and want or need society, change?"

"My dear Doctor, if I propose to her to ask our friends from the cities
to visit us, she says that entertaining women would only add to her
burdens. How could she amuse them?" The Squire had the helplessness of a
strong man who has to deal with the case of a woman who, when a doctor is
thought to be necessary, feels that she has a right to an opinion as to
whether or not it is worth while. She did not believe it to be necessary
and felt that there was something unpleasant in this medical intrusion
upon a life which had been one of unbroken health. To her husband's
annoyance she begged him to wait, and on one pretext or another put off
the consultation--it would do in a week, or 'she was better.' Her
postponement and lack of decision added to the Squire's distress, but it
was mid-June before she finally yielded and without a word to Penhallow
wrote to ask McGregor to call.

In a week Leila would be at Grey Pine. The glad prospect of a summer's
leisure filled John with happy anticipations. He had his boat put in
order, looked after Lucy's condition, and had in mind a dozen plans for
distant long-desired rides into the mountains, rides which now his uncle
had promised to take with them. He soon learned that the medical
providence which so often interferes with our plans in life had to be
considered.

Mrs. Penhallow to John's surprise had of late gone to bed long before her
accustomed hour, and one evening in this June of 1857 Penhallow seeing
her go upstairs at nine o'clock called John into the library.

"Mr. Rivers," he said, "has gone to see some one in Westways, and I have
a chance to talk to you. Sit down."

John obeyed, missing half consciously the ever-ready smile of the Squire.

"I am troubled about your aunt. Dr. McGregor assures me that she has no
distinct ailment, but is simply so tired that she is sure to become ill
if she stays at home. No one can make her lessen her work if she stays
here. You are young, but you must have been aware of what she does for
this town and at the mills--oh, for every one who is in need or in
trouble. There is the every-day routine of the house, the sick in the
village, the sewing class, the Sunday afternoon reading in the small
hospital at our mills, letters--no end of them. How she has stood it so
long, I cannot see."

"But she seems to like it, sir," said John. He couldn't understand that
what was so plainly enjoyed could be hurtful.

"Yes, she likes it, but--well, she has a heavenly soul in an earthly
body, and now at last the body is in revolt against overuse, or that at
least is the way McGregor puts it. I ought to have stopped it long ago."
John was faintly amused at the idea of any one controlling Ann Penhallow
where her despotic beliefs concerning duties were concerned.

The Squire was silent for a little while, and then said, "It has got to
stop, John. I have talked to McGregor and to her. Leila is to meet us in
Philadelphia. I shall take them to Cape May and leave them there for at
least the two months of summer. You may know what that means for me and
for her, and, I suppose, for you."

"Could I not go there for a while?"

"I think not. I really have not the courage to be left alone, John. I
think of asking you to spend a part of the day at the mills this summer.
You will have to learn the business, for as you know your own property,
your aunt's and mine are largely invested in our works. I thought too of
an engineering school for you in the fall, and then of the School of
Mines in Paris. It is a long look ahead, but it would fit you to relieve
me of my work. Think it over, my son. How does it look to you, or have
you thought of what you mean or want to do? Don't answer me now--think it
over. And now I have some letters to write. Good-night."

John went upstairs to bed with much to think about, and above all else of
the disappointing summer before him and the wish he had long cherished,
but which his uncle's last words had made it necessary for him to
reconsider.

Ann Penhallow had made a characteristic fight against the combined forces
of the doctor and her husband. She had declared she would give up this
and that, if only she could be left at home. She showed to the doctor an
irritability quite new to his experience of her and which he accepted as
added evidence of need of change. Her bodily condition and her want of
common sense in a matter so clear to him troubled the Squire and drove
him to his usual resort when worried--long rides or hard tramps with his
gun. After luncheon and a decisive talk with Mrs. Ann, she had pleaded
that he ought to remain with them at the shore. She was sure he needed it
and it would set her mind at ease. He told her what she knew well enough,
how impossible it would be for him to leave the mills and be absent long.
She who rarely manufactured difficulties now began to ask how this was to
be done and that, until Rivers said at last, "I can promise to read at
the hospital until I go away for my August holiday."

"You would not know the kind of things to read."

"No one could do it as well as you," said Rivers, "but I can try."

"Everything will be cared for, Ann," said Penhallow, "only don't worry."

"I never worry," she returned, rising. "You men think everything will run
along easily without a woman's attention."

"Oh, but Ann, my dear Ann!" exclaimed Penhallow, not knowing what more to
say, annoyed at the discussion and at her display of unnecessary temper
and the entire loss of her usual common sense.

She said, with a laugh in which there was no mirth, "I presume one of you
will, of course, run my sewing-class?"

"Ann--Ann!" said the Squire.

Rivers understood her now in the comprehending sympathy of his own too
frequent moods of melancholy. "Ah!" he murmured, "if I could but teach
her how to knit the ravelled sleeve of care."

"I presume," she added, "that I am to accept it as settled," and so went
out.

"Come, John," said Penhallow an hour later, "call the dogs--I must have a
good hard tramp, and a talk with you!"

John kept pace with, the rapid stride of the Squire, taking note of the
reddening buds of the maples, for this year in the hills the spring came
late.

"You must have seen your aunt's condition," said Penhallow. "I have seen
it coming on ever since that miserable affair of Josiah. It troubled her
greatly."

John had the puzzled feeling of the inexperienced young in regard to the
matter of illness and its influential effect on temper, and was well
pleased to converse on anything else, when his uncle asked, "Have you
thought over what I said to you about your future?"

"Well?"

"I should like to go to West Point, Uncle Jim."

To his surprise Penhallow returned, pausing as he spoke, "I had
thought of that, but as I did not know you had ever considered it, I
did not mention it. It would in some ways please me. As a life-long
career it would not. We are in no danger of war, and an idle existence
at army-posts is not a very desirable thing for an able man."

"I had the idea, uncle, that I would not remain in the service."

"But you would have to serve two years after you were graduated--and
still that was what I did, oh! and longer--much longer. As an education
in discipline and much else, it is good--very good. But tell me are you
really in earnest about it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, it is better than college. I will think about it. If you go to the
Point, it should be this coming fall. I wonder what Ann will say."

Then John knew that the Squire favoured what had been for a long time on
his own mind. What had made him eager to go into the army was in part
that tendency towards adventure which had been a family trait and his
admiration for the soldier-uncle; nor did the mere student life and the
quiet years of managing the iron-mills as yet appeal to him as desirable.

"I wish, Uncle Jim, that you could settle the matter."

This was so like his own dislike of unsettled affairs that the Squire
laughed in his hearty way. "So far as I am concerned, you may regard it
as decided; but securing a nomination to the Point is quite another
matter. It may be difficult. I will see about it. Now we will let it
drop. That dog is pointing. Ah! the rascal. It is a hare."

They saw no more birds, nor did the Squire expect to find anything in the
woods except the peace of mind to be secured by violent exercise. He went
on talking about the horses and the mills.

When near to the house, Penhallow said, "Your aunt is to go away
to-morrow. Every day here seems to add to her difficulty in leaving home.
I shall say nothing to her of West Point until it is settled one way or
another. I shall, of course, go to the Cape for a day, unless your aunt's
brother Charles will take my place when he brings Leila to Philadelphia
to meet us. I may be gone a week, and you and Rivers are to keep
bachelor's hall and watch the work on the parsonage. I shall ask Leila to
write to you and to me about your aunt. Did I say that we go by the
9:30 A.M. express?"

"No, sir."

"Well, we do."

James Penhallow was pleased and amazed when he discovered that Mrs. Ann
was quietly submissive to the arrangements made for her comfort on the
journey. She appeared to have abruptly regained her good temper and,
Penhallow thought, was unnaturally and excessively grateful for every
small service. Being unused to the ways of sick women, he wondered as the
train ran down the descent from the Allegheny Mountains how long a time
was required to know any human being entirely. He had been introduced
within two weeks to two Ann Penhallows besides the Ann he had lived with
these many years. He concluded, as others have done, that people are hard
to understand, and thus thinking he ran over in mind the group they left
on the platform at Westways Crossing.

There was Billy--apparently a simple character, abruptly capable of
doing unexpected things; useful to-day, useless tomorrow. He called
up to mind the very competent doctor; John, and his friend--the moody
clergyman--beloved of all men. The doctor had said of him, "a man living
in the monastery of himself--in our world, but not of it."

"What amuses you, James?" asked his wife.

This good sign of return to her normal curiosity was familiarly pleasant.
"I was recalling, Ann, what McGregor said of Rivers after that horrid
time of sickness at Westways. You may remember it."

"No, I do not."

"No! He said that Rivers was a round-shouldered angel."

"That does not seem to me amusing, James."

"Round-shouldered he is, Ann, and for the rest you at least ought to
recognize your heavenly fellow-citizens when you meet them."

"Is that your poetry or your folly, James Penhallow?"

"Mine, my dear? No language is expansive enough for McGregor when he
talks about you."

"Nonsense, James. He knows how to please somebody. We were discussing
Mark Rivers."

"Were we? Then here is a nice little dose from the doctor for you. Last
Christmas, after you had personally sat up with old Mrs. Lamb when she
was so ill, and until I made a row about it--"

"Yes--yes--I know." Her curiosity got the better of her dislike of being
praised for what to her was a simple duty, and she added, "Well, what did
he say?"

"Oh, that you and Rivers were like angels gone astray in the strange
country called earth; and then that imp of a boy, John, who says queer
things, said that it was like a bit of verse Rivers had read to him. He
knew it too. I liked it and got him to write it out. I have it in my
pocket-book. Like to see it?"

"No," she returned--and then--"yes," as she reflected that it must have
originally applied to another than herself.

He was in the habit of storing in his pocket-book slips from the
papers--news, receipts for stable-medicine, and rarely verse. Now and
then he emptied them into the waste basket. He brought it out of his
pocket-book and she read it:

As when two angel citizens of Heaven
Swift winged on errands of the Master's love
Meet in some earthly guise.

"Is that all of it?"

"No, John could not remember the rest, and I did not ask Mark."

"I should suppose not. Thank you for believing it had any application to
me. And, James, I have been a very cross angel of late."

"Oh, my dear Ann, Dr. McGregor said--"

"Never mind Dr. McGregor, James. Go and smoke your cigar. I am tired and
I must not talk any more--talking on a train always tires me."

Two days after the departure of his aunt and uncle, John persuaded Rivers
to walk with him on the holiday morning of Saturday. The clergyman caring
little for the spring charm of the maiden summer, but much for John
Penhallow's youth of promise, wandered on slowly through the woods, with
head bent forward, stumbling now and then, lost to a world where his
companion was joyfully conscious of the prettiness of new-born and
translucent foliage.

Always pleased to sit down, Rivers dropped his thin length of body upon
the brown pine-needles near the cabin and settling his back against a
fallen tree-trunk made himself comfortable. As usual, when at rest, he
began to talk.

"John," he said, "you and Tom McGregor had a quarrel long ago--and a
fight."

"Yes, sir," returned John wondering.

"I saw it--I did not interfere at once--I was wrong."

This greatly amused John. "You stopped it just in time for me--I was
about done for."

"Yes, but now, John, I have talked to Tom, and--I am afraid you have
never made it up."

"No, he was insolent to Leila and rude. But we had a talk about it--oh, a
good while ago--before she went away."

"Oh, had you! Well, what then?"

"Oh, he told me you had talked to him and he had seen Leila and told her
he was sorry. She never said a word to me. I told him that he ought to
have apologized to me--too."

Rivers was amused. "Apologies are not much in fashion among Westways
boys. What did he say?"

"Oh, just that he didn't see that at all--and then he said that he was
going away this fall to study medicine, and some day when he was a doctor
he would have a chance to get even with me, and wouldn't he dose me well.
Then we both laughed, and--I shook hands with him. That's all, sir."

"Well, I am pleased. He is by no means a bad fellow, and as you know he
is clever--and can beat you in mathematics."

"Yes, but I licked him well, and he knows it."

"For shame, John. I wish my Baptist friend's boy would do better--he is
dull."

"But I like him," said John. "He is so plucky."

"There is another matter I want to talk about. I had a long conversation
about you with your uncle the night before he left. I heard with regret
that you want to go into the army."

"May I ask why?" said John, as he lay on the ground lazily fingering the
pine-needles.

"Is it because the hideous business called war attracts you?"

"No, but I like what I hear of the Point from Uncle Jim. I prefer it to
any college life. Besides this, I do not expect to spend my life in the
service, and after all it is simply a first rate training for anything I
may want to do later--care of the mills, I mean. Uncle Jim is pleased,
and as for war, Mr. Rivers, if that is what you dislike, what chance of
war is there?"

"You have very likely forgotten my talk with Mr. George Grey. The North
and the South will never put an end to their differences without
bloodshed."

It seemed a strange opinion to John. He had thought so when he heard
their talk, but now the clergyman's earnestness and some better
understanding of the half-century's bitter feeling made him thoughtful.
Rising to his feet, he said, "Uncle Jim does not agree with you, and Aunt
Ann and her brother, Henry Grey, think that Mr. Buchanan will bring all
our troubles to an end. Of course, sir, I don't know, but"--and his voice
rose--"if there ever should be such a war, I am on Uncle Jim's side, and
being out of West Point would not keep me out of the fight."

Rivers shook his head. "It will come, John. Few men think as I do, and
your uncle considers me, I suspect, to be governed by my unhappy way of
seeing the dark side of things. He says that I am a bewildered pessimist
about politics. A pessimist I may be, but it is the habitually hopeful
meliorist who is just now perplexed past power to think straight."

John's interest was caught for the moment by the word, "meliorist." "What
is a meliorist, sir?" he asked. "Oh, a wild insanity of hopefulness. You
all have it. I dislike to talk about the sad future, and I wonder men at
the North are so blind."

He fell again to mere musings, a self-absorbed man, while John, attracted
by a squirrel's gambols and used to the rector's long silences, wandered
near by among the pines, with a vagabond mind on this or that, and
watching the alert little acrobat of the forest. As he moved about, he
recalled his first walks to the cabin with Leila and the wild thing he
had said one day--and her reply. One ages fast, at seventeen, and now he
wondered if he had been quite wise, and with the wisdom and authority of
a year and a half of mental growth punished his foolish boy-past with
severity of reproach. He had failed for a time to hear, or at least to
hear with attention, the low-voiced soliloquies in which Mr. Rivers
sometimes indulged. McGregor, an observant man, said that Rivers's mind
jumped from thought to thought, and that his talk had at times no
connective tissue and was hard to follow.

Now he spoke louder. "No one, John, no one sees that every new compromise
compromises principles and honour. Have you read any of the speeches of a
man named Lincoln in Illinois? He got a considerable vote in that
nominating convention."

"No, sir."

"Then read it--read him. A prophet of disaster! He says, 'A house divided
against itself cannot stand. This government cannot endure permanently
half slave, half free.' The man did not know that he was ignorantly
quoting George Washington's opinion. It is so, and so it will be. I would
let them go their way in peace, for the sin of man-owning is ours--was
ours--and we are to suffer for it soon or late--a nation's debts have
to be paid, and some are paid in blood."

The young fellow listened but had no comment ready, and indeed knew too
little of the terrible questions for which time alone would have an
answer to feel the full force of these awful texts. He did say, "I will
read Mr. Lincoln's speeches. Uncle talks to me about Kansas and slavery
and compromises, but it is sometimes too much for me."

"Yes, he will not talk of these things to your aunt, and is not willing
to talk to me. He thinks both of us are extremists. No, I won't walk any
further. Let us go home."

The natural light-mindedness of a healthy lad easily disposes of the
problems which disturb the older mind. John forgot it all for a time in
the pleasant interest of a letter from Leila, received a day before his
uncle's return.

"CAPE MAY, June 21st.

"MY DEAR JOHN: Here at last I am free to write to you when I please,
and I have some rather strange news; but first of Aunt Ann. She is very
well pleased and is already much better. Uncle Jim left us to-day, and I
am to have Lucy here and one of the grooms. If only I could have you to
ride with me on this splendid beach and see the great blue waves roll up
like a vast army charging with white plumes and then rolling back in
defeat."--

John paused. This was not like Leila. He felt in a vague way that she
must be changing, and remembered the rector's predictions. Then he read
on--

"Now for my adventure: Aunt Ann wanted some hair-wash, and I went to the
barber's shop in the town to buy it. There was no one in but a black boy,
because it was the bathing-time. He, I mean the boy, said he would call
Mr. Johnson. In a moment there came out of a back room who do you think
but our Josiah! He just stood still a moment--and then said, 'Good God!
Miss Leila! Come into the back room--you did give me a turn.' I thought
he seemed to be alarmed. Well, I went with him, and he asked me at once
who was with me. I said, Aunt Ann, and that she was not well. Then I got
out of him that he had wandered a while, and at last chosen this as a
safe place. No one had told me fully about Cousin George Grey and why
Josiah was scared and ran away, but now I got it all out of him--and how
you warned him--and I do think it was splendid of a boy like you. He was
dreadfully afraid of being taken back to be a slave. It seems he saved
his money, and after working here bought out the shop when his master
fell ill. I did not like it, but to quiet him I really had to say that I
would not tell Aunt Ann, or he would have to run away again. I am sure
aunt would not do anything to trouble him, but it was quite impossible to
make him believe me, and he got me at last to promise him. I suppose
there is really no harm in it, but I never did keep anything from Aunt
Ann. I got the hair-wash and went away with his secret. Now, isn't that a
story!

"I forgot one thing. As the Southern gentlemen come to be shaved and ask
where he was born, they hear--think of it--that 'Mr. Johnson' was born in
Connecticut! His grandfather had been a slave. I shall see him again.

"This is the longest letter I ever wrote, and you are to feel duly
complimented, Mr. Penhallow.

"Good-bye. Love from Aunt Ann.

"Yours truly,

"LEILA GREY.

"P.S. I am sure that I may trust you not to speak of Josiah."

Mr. John Penhallow, as they said at Westways, "going on seventeen,"
gathered much of interest in reading and re-reading this letter from Miss
Grey. To own a secret with Leila was pleasant. To hear of Josiah as "Mr.
Johnson" amused him. That he was prosperous he liked, and that he was
fearful with or without reason seemed strange. It was and had been hard
for the young freeman to realize the ever-present state of mind of a man
in terror of arrest without any crime on his conscience. There was
perhaps a slight hint of doubt in Leila's request that he would be
careful not to mention what she had said of Josiah, "as if I am really a
boy and Leila older than I," murmured John. He knew, as he once more read
her words, that he ought to tell his uncle, who could best decide what to
do about Josiah and his terror of being reclaimed by his old owner.

During the early hours of a summer night Mark Rivers sat on the porch in
a rocking-chair, which he declared gave him all the exercise he required.
It was the only rocking-chair at Grey Pine, and nothing so disturbed the
Squire as Mark Rivers rocking on that unpleasant piece of furniture and
smoking as if it were a locomotive. It was an indulgence of Ann
Penhallow, who knew that there had been a half-dozen rockers in the
burned rectory.

John sat on the steps and listened to the shrill katydids or watched the
devious lanterns of the fireflies. A bat darted over the head of Rivers,
who ducked as it went by, watching its uncertain flight.

"I am terribly afraid of bats," said the rector. "Are you?"

"I--no. They're harmless."

"Yes, I know that, but I am without reason afraid of them. I think of the
demons as being like monstrous bats. But that is a silly use of
imagination."

"Uncle Jim doesn't like them, and you once told me that he had very
little imagination."

"Yes. One can't explain these dislikes. Your uncle reasons well and has a
clear logical mind, but he has neither creative nor receptive
imagination."

"Receptive?" asked John.

"Yes, that is why he has none of your aunt's joy in poetry. When I read
to her Wordsworth's 'Brougham Castle,' he said that he had never heard
more silly nonsense."

"I remember it was that wonderful verse about the 'longing of the
shield.'"

"Yes--I forgot you were there. Verse like that is a good test of a
person's capacity to feel poetry--that kind, I mean."

"I hear Uncle Jim's horse."

"Yes. I can't see, John, why a man should want to have a horse sent to
meet him instead of a comfortable wagon,"--and for emphasis, as usual
with Rivers, the rocking-chair was swinging to the limits of its arc of
safe motion.

The Squire dismounted and came up the steps with "Good-evening,
Rivers,"--and to John, "I have good news for you--but order my supper
at once, then we will talk." He was in his boyish mood of gaiety. "How
far have you travelled on that rocker, Rivers?"

"Now, Squire--now, really--" It was a favourite subject of chaff.

"Why not have rocking-chairs in church, Mark? Think what a patient
congregation you would have! Come, John, I am hungry." He fled laughing.

While the Squire ate in silence, John waited until his uncle said, "Come
into the library." Here he filled his pipe and took the match John
offered. "There are many curious varieties of man, John. There is the man
who prefers a rocking-chair to the saddle. It's queer--very queer; and he
is as much afraid of a horse as I am--of--I don't know what."

The Squire's memory failed to answer the call. "What are you grinning at,
you young scamp?"

"Oh, Mr. Rivers did say, Uncle Jim, something about bats."

"Yes, that's it--bats--and I do suppose every one has his especial fear.
Ah! quite inexplicable nonsense!--fears like mine about bats, or your
aunt's about dogs, but also fears that make a man afraid that he will not
face a danger that is a duty. When we had smallpox at the mills, soon
after Rivers came here, he went to the mill-town and lived there a month,
and nursed the sick and buried the dead. At last he took the disease
lightly, but it left a mark or two on his forehead. That I call--well,
heroic. Confound that rocking-chair! How it squeaks!"

John was too intently listening to hear anything but the speaker who
declared heroic the long lean man with the pale face and the eyes like
search-lights. John waited; he wanted to hear something more.

"Did many die, uncle?"

"Oh, yes. The men had fought McGregor about vaccination. Many died. There
was blindness too. Supplies failed--no one would come in from the farms."

John waited with the fear of defect in his ideal man. Then he ventured,
"And Aunt Ann, was she here?"

"No, I sent her away when I went to Milltown."

"Oh! you were there too, sir?"

"Yes, damn it!" He rarely swore at all. "Where did you suppose I would
be? But I lived in terror for a month--oh, in deadly fear!"

"Thank you, sir."

"Thank me, what for? Some forms of sudden danger make me gay, with all my
faculties at their best, but not that. I had to nurse Rivers; that was
the worst of it. You see, my son, I was a coward."

"I should like to be your kind of a coward, Uncle Jim."

"Well, it was awful. Let us talk of something else. I left your aunt
better, went to Washington, saw our Congressman, got your nomination to
West Point and a letter from Leila. Your aunt must be fast mending, for
she was making a long list of furniture for the new parsonage, and 'would
I see Ellen Lamb and'--eleven other things, the Lord knows what else,
and 'when could she return?' McGregor said in September, and I so wrote
to her; she will hate it. And she dislikes your going to West Point. I
had to tell her, of course."

"I have had a letter from Leila, uncle. Did she write you anything about
Josiah?"

"About Josiah! No. What was that?"

"She said I was not to tell, but I think you ought to know--"

"Of course, I should know. Go on. Let me see the letter."

"It is upstairs, sir, but this is what she wrote," and he went on to tell
the story.

The Squire laughed. "I must let Mr. Johnson know, as Leila did not know,
that it was Ann who really sent you to warn him. Poor fellow! I can
understand his alarm, and how can I reassure him? George Grey is going to
Cape May, or so says your aunt, and I am sure if Josiah knows that he is
recognized, he will drop everything and run. I would run, John, and
quickly too. Grey will be sure to write to Woodburn again."

"What then, sir?"

"Oh, he told your Aunt Ann and me that he would not go any further unless
he chanced to know certainly where Josiah was. If he did, it would be his
duty, as he said, to reclaim him. It is not a pleasant business, and I
ought to warn Josiah, which you may not know is against the law. However,
I will think it over. Ann did not say when Grey was coming, and he is
just as apt not to go as to go. Confound him and all their ways."

John had nothing to say. The matter was in older and wiser hands
than his. His uncle rose, "I must go to bed, but I have a word to say
now about your examinations for admission. I must talk to Rivers.
Good-night!"



CHAPTER XIV


On Saturday the Squire asked John to ride with him. As they mounted,
Billy came with the mail. Penhallow glanced at the letters and put them
in his pocket.

As the horses walked away, John said, "I was in Westways yesterday,
uncle, to get my hair cut. I heard that Pole has had chicken-pox, uncle."

"Funny that, for a butcher!" said the Squire. They chatted of the small
village news. "They have quit discussing politics, Uncle Jim."

"Yes, every four years we settle down to the enjoyment of the belief that
now everything will go right, or if we are of those who lost the fight,
then there is the comfort of thinking things could not be worse, and that
the other fellows are responsible."

"Uncle Jim, at Westways people talked about the election as if it were a
horse-race, and didn't interest anybody when it was over."

"Yes, yes; but there are for the average American many things to think
about, and he doesn't bother himself about who is to be President or why,
until, as McGregor says, events come along and kick him and say, 'Get up
and think, or do something.'"

"When I talked to Mr. Rivers lately, he seemed very blue about the
country. He seems to believe that everything is going wrong."

"Oh, Rivers!" exclaimed Penhallow, "what a great, noble soul! But, John,
a half hour of talk with him about our national affairs leaves me tangled
in a net of despair, and I hate it. You have a letter, I see."

"Yes, it is from Leila, sir."

"Let's hear it," said Penhallow.

John was inclined, he could hardly have told why, to consider this letter
when alone, but now there was nothing possible except to do as he was
bid.

"Read it. I want to hear it, John."

As they walked their horses along the road, John read:

"DEAR JOHN": I did not expect to write to you again until you wrote to
me, but I have been perplexed to know what was best to do. I wanted--oh,
so much--to consult Uncle Jim, or some older person than you, and so I
ask you to send this to Uncle Jim if he is absent, or let him see it if
he is at home. He is moving about and we do not know how to address
him."--

"That's a big preface--go on."

"I did not see Josiah again until yesterday morning. Aunt Ann has been
insisting that my hair needs singeing at the ends to make it grow. [It is
too long now for comfort.]"--

"That's in brackets, Uncle Jim--the hair, I mean."

"Yes--what next?"

"Well, John, when Aunt Ann keeps on and on in her gently obstinate, I
mean resolute, way, it is best to give up and make believe a little that
you agree with her. My hair was to be singed--I gave up."--

"Oh, Leila!" exclaimed Penhallow, rocking in the saddle with laughter,
while John looked up smiling. "Go on."

"So aunt's new maid got her orders, and while aunt was asleep in her room
the maid brought up Josiah. It was as good as a play. He was very civil
and quiet. You know how he loved to talk. He singed my hair, and it was
horrid--like the smell of singeing a plucked chicken. After that he sent
the maid to his shop for some hair-wash. As soon as she was gone, he
said, 'I'm done for, Miss Leila. I met Mr. George Grey on the beach this
morning. He knew me and I knew him. He said, "What! you here, you
rascally runaway horse-thief!" I said, "I wasn't a thief or a rascal."
Then he said something I didn't hear, for I just left him and--I can't
stay here--he'll do something, and I can't run no risks--oh, Lord!'"--

"I thought," said the Squire, "we were done with that tiresome fool,
George Grey. Whether he will write again to Woodburn about Josiah or not,
no one can say. Woodburn did tell me that if at any time he could easily
get hold of his slave, he would feel it to be a duty to make use of the
Fugitive-Slave Law. I do not think he will be very eager, but after all
it is uncertain, and if I were Josiah, I would run away."

As he talked, the horses walked on through the forest wood-roads. For a
moment he said nothing, and then, "It is hard to put yourself in another
man's place; that means to be for the time of decision that man with his
inheritances, all his memories, all his hopes and all his fears."

This was felt by the lad to be somehow unlike his uncle, who added, "I
heard Mark Rivers say that about Peter, but it applies here. I would run.
But go on with your letter. What else does Leila say?"

John read on:

"Josiah was so scared that I could not even get him to listen to me. He
gathered up his barber things in haste, and kept on saying over and over,
'I have got to go, missy.' Now he has gone and his shop is shut up. I was
so sorry for him, I must have cried, for aunt's maid asked me what was
the matter. This is all. It is late. I shall mail this to-morrow. Aunt
Ann has been expecting Mr. George Grey, my far-away cousin. I wish he was
further away! "--

"Good gracious! Leila. Well, John, any more?"

"Yes, sir."

"He came in this morning, I mean Mr. Grey, and began to talk and was so
pleased to see his dear cousin. Aunt Ann went on knitting and saying
something pleasant now and then. At last he asked if she knew that
runaway horse-thief we called Josiah was the barber here. He said that he
must really write to that rascal's owner, and went over and over the same
thing. Aunt Ann looked at me when he mentioned the barber. Then she sat
up and said, 'If you have done talking, I desire to say a word.' Of
course, he was at her service. You know, John, how he talks. Aunt Ann
said, 'You made quite enough trouble, George, about this man at Westways.
I told you then that he had done us a service I could never forget. I
won't have him disturbed here. Mr. Woodburn behaved with discretion and
courtesy. If you make any more trouble, I shall never forgive you. I
won't have it, George Grey.' I never saw any one so embarrassed, John. He
put his hat on the floor and picked it up, and then he sat down in his
chair and, I call it, wilted. He said that he had not quite made up his
mind. At this Aunt Ann stood up, letting her knitting drop, and said,
'Then you had better; you've got no mind.' After this he got up and said
that she had insulted him. Aunt Ann was red and angry. She said, 'Tell
James Penhallow that, Mr. Grey.' After this he went away, and Aunt Ann
said to me, 'Tell Josiah if you can find him that he need not be afraid;
the man will not write to Mr. Woodburn.' After that I told her all about
Mr. Johnson and got a good scolding for not having told her before, and
that Josiah had gone away scared. She was tired and angry and sent me
away. That is all. Let Uncle Jim get this letter.

"Yours truly,

"LEILA.

"P.S. Oh, I forgot. Josiah gave me a letter for Uncle Jim. I enclose it.
I did not give it to Aunt Ann; perhaps I ought to have done so. But it
would have been useless because it is sealed, and you know the rule at
Grey Pine."

"Poor Josiah!" said Penhallow, "I wonder where he has gone."

"He may say in his letter," said John.

"Read it to me, my son. I forgot my glasses."

"It is addressed to Captain Penhallow."

"Yes, I was always that to Josiah--always."

John opened the letter, which was carefully sealed with a large red
wafer.

"It is well written, uncle."

"Yes--yes. Rivers taught him--and he speaks nearly as good English as
George Grey."

John looked up from the letter. "Oh, that is funny! It begins,
'Respectable Sir.'"

"My dear John, that isn't funny at all--it's old-fashioned. I have seen a
letter from the great Dr. Rush in which the mother of Washington is
mentioned as 'that respectable lady.' But now, sir, you will be good
enough to let me hear that letter without your valuable comments."

The tone was impatient. John said, "Excuse me, uncle, but I couldn't help
it."

"Oh, read it."

"I am driven away again. I write this to thank you for all you done for
me at Westways. Mr. Grey he met me here on the beach and I'm afraid--I
don't take no chances. I saved money here. I can get on anywhere. It's
awful to have to ran away, and that drunkard Peter Lamb all the while
safe with his mother. I can't get him out of my mind. I'm a Christian
man--and I tried to forgive him. I can't do it. If I am quiet and let
alone, I forget. I've got to get up and go and hide, and I curse him that
done it. Please, sir, not tell Mr. Rivers what I say. I seen Miss Leila.
I always said Miss Leila would be a beauty. There ain't no young lady
here can hold a candle to her. I want to say I did have hope to see Mr.
John.

"God bless you, Captain.

"Your obedient servant,

"JOSIAH."

The Squire halted in the open pine forest on a wood-road behind the
cabin. He threw one leg over the pommel and sat still with the ease of a
horseman in any of the postures the saddle affords. "Read me both of
those letters again, and slowly."

This time John made no remarks. When he came to the end of Josiah's
letter, he looked towards the silent figure seated sideways. The Squire
made no comment, but searched his pockets for the flint and steel he
always carried. Lighting his pipe he slid to the ground.

"Take the rein, John," he said, "or the mare will follow me."

Penhallow was deep in the story these letters told, and he thought best
when walking. John sat in his saddle watching the tall soldierly figure
move up the road and back again to the cabin his ancestors had held
through one long night of fear. John caught sight of the face as
Penhallow came and then turned away on his slow walk, smoking furiously.
He sat still, having learned to be respectful of the long silences to
which at times Penhallow was given. Now and then with a word he quieted
the uneasy mare--a favourite taught to follow the master. At last
Penhallow struck his pipe on a stone to empty it, and by habit carefully
set a foot on the live coal. Then he came to the off side of his mare and
took the rein. Facing John, he set an elbow on the horse's back and a
hand on his own cheek. This was no unusual attitude. He did not mount,
but stood still. The ruddy good-humoured face, clean-shaven and large of
feature, had lost its look of constant good-humour. In fact, the feature
language expressed the minute's mood in a way which any one less familiar
with the man than John might have read with ease. Then he said, in an
absent way, "Are we men of the North all cowards like Josiah? They think
so--they do really think so. It is helping to make trouble." Then he
lifted himself lightly into the saddle, with swift change of mood and an
odd laugh of comment on his conclusion, as he broke into a gallop. "Let
us get into the sun."

John followed him as they rode swiftly over a cross-road and out on to
the highway. Again the horses were walking, and Penhallow said, "I
suppose you may not have understood me. I was suddenly angry. It is a
relief sometimes to let off steam. Well, I fancy time will answer me--or
that is what I try not to believe--but it may--it may. Let us talk of
something else. I must find out from Rivers just how well you are
prepared for the Point. Then I mean to give you every night an hour or so
of what he cannot teach. You ride well, you know French and German, you
box--it may be of service, keep it up once a week at least. I envy you
the young disciplined life--the simpleness of it--the want of
responsibilities."

"Thank you, sir," returned John, "I hope to like it and to do you credit,
uncle."

"You will, I am sure. Let us go to the mills."

John hesitated before he asked, "Could not I have, sir, a few days with
Aunt Ann at the Cape?"

"No, I shall want you here."

John was silent and disappointed. The Squire saw it. "It can't be
helped--I do not feel able to be alone. Leila will be away a year more
and you will be gone for several years. For your sake and mine I want you
this summer. Take care! You lost a stirrup when Dixy shied. Oh! here are
the mills. Good morning, McGregor. All well?"

"Yes, sir. Tom has gone to the city. He is to be in the office of a
friend of mine this summer. I shall be alone."

"John goes to West Point this September, Doctor."

"Indeed! You too will be alone. Next it will be Leila. How the young
birds are leaving the nests! Even that slow lad of Grace's is going. He
is to learn farming with old Roberts. He has a broad back and the
advantage of not being a thinking-machine."

"He may have made the best choice, McGregor."

"No, sir," said the Doctor, "my son has the best of it."

John laughed. "I don't think I should like either farm or medicine."

"No," returned the Doctor, with his queer way of stating things, "there
must be some one to feed the people; Tom is to be trained to cure, and
you to kill."

"I don't want to kill anybody," said John, laughing.

"But that is the business you are going to learn, young man." John was
silent. The idea of killing anybody!

"Heard from Mrs. Penhallow lately?" asked the doctor.

"No, but from Leila to-day; and, you will be surprised, from Josiah too."

"Is that so?"

"Yes. Give him the two letters, John. Let me have them to-morrow, Doctor.
Good-bye," and they rode on to the mills.

"It is a pity, John, Josiah gave no address," said Penhallow,--"a
childlike man, intelligent, and with some underlying temper of the old
African barbarian." The summer days ran on with plenty of work for John
and without incidents of moment, until the rector went away as was his
habit the first of August, more moody than usual. If the rectory were
finished, he would go there in September, and Mrs. Ann had written to him
about the needed furniture.

On August 20th that lady wrote from Cape May that she must go home, and
Leila that her aunt was well but homesick. The Squire, who missed her
greatly, unreluctantly yielded, and on August 25th she was met at the
station by Penhallow and John. To the surprise of both, she had brought
Leila, as her school was not to begin until September 10th.

"My dear James," cried Mrs. Ann, "it is worth while to have been away to
learn how good it is to get home again. I thought I would surprise you
with Leila." As the Squire kissed her, Leila and the maid came from the
car to the platform loaded with bundles.

John stood still. Nature had been busy with her artist-work. A year had
gone by--the year of maturing growth of mind and body for a girl nearing
sixteen. Unprepared for her change, John felt at once that this was a
woman, who quickly smiling gave him a cordial greeting and her hand.
"Why, John Penhallow," she said, "what a big boy you are grown!" It was
as if an older person had spoken to a younger. A head taller than the
little Mrs. Ann, she was in the bloom of maiden loveliness, rosy, joyous,
a certain new stateliness in her movements. The gift of grace had been
added by the fairy godmother nature.

John said, with gravity, "You are most welcome home, Leila," and then
quickly aware of some coldness in his words, "Oh, I am so very glad to
see you!" She had gone by him in the swift changes of life. Without so
putting it distinctly into the words of a mental soliloquy, John was
conscious that here was another Leila.

"Come, in with you," said the happy master of Grey Pine.

"How well you look, Ann, and how young! The cart will bring your
bundles."

John Penhallow on an August afternoon was of Billy's opinion that Leila
had "rowed a lot" as she came out upon the porch and gaily laughing
cried, "At last,--Aunt Ann has done with me."

They were both suffering from one of those dislocations of relation which
even in adult life are felt when friends long apart come together again.
The feeling of loss, as far as John was concerned, grew less as Leila
with return of childlike joy roamed with him over the house and through
the stables, and next day through Westways, with a pleasant word for
every one and on busying errands for her aunt. He was himself occupied
with study; but now the Squire had said it would be wise to drop his
work.

With something of timidity he said to Leila, "I am free for this
afternoon; come and see again our old playgrounds. It will be a long
while before we can take another walk."

"Certainly, John. And isn't it a nice, good-natured day? The summer is
over. Sometimes I wish we had no divisions of months, and the life of the
year was one quiet flow of days--oh, with no names to remind you."

"But think, Leila, of losing all the poetry of the months. Why not have
no day or night? Oh, come along. What do you want with a sunshade and a
veil--we will be mostly in the woods."

"My complexion, Mr. Penhallow," cried Miss Grey gaily.

He watched her young figure as she went upstairs--the mass of darkened
gold hair coiled in the classic fashion of the day on the back of her
head. She looked around from the stair. "I shall be ready in a minute,
John. It rained yesterday--will it be wet in the woods?"

"No," cried John, "and what does it matter?" He had a dull feeling of
resentment, of loss, of consciousness of new barriers and of distance
from the old comrade.

Their way led across the garden, which was showing signs of feeling the
chilly nights of the close of summer in this upland, where the seasons
sometimes change abruptly.

"The garden has missed Aunt Ann," said Leila. "Uncle Jim looks at it from
the porch, says 'How pretty!' and expects to see roses on his table every
day. I do believe he considers a garden as merely a kind of flower-farm."

"Aunt Ann's garden interests her the way Westways does. There are sick
flowers and weeds like human weeds, and bugs and diseases that need a
flower-doctor, and flowers that are morbid or ill-humoured. That is not
my wisdom, Leila, it is Mr. Rivers's."

"No, John, it isn't at all like you."

"Aunt Ann didn't like it, and yet I think he meant it to be a compliment,
for he really considers Aunt Ann a model of what a woman ought to be."

"I know that pretty well," said Leila. "When I used to lose my temper
over that horrid algebra, I was told to consider how Aunt Ann kept her
temper no matter what happened, as if that had anything to do with
algebra and equations. If he had seen her when she talked to George Grey
about Josiah, he would have known Aunt Ann better. I was proud of her."

"Aunt Ann angry!" said John. "I should have liked to have seen that. Poor
Josiah!"

They talked of the unlucky runaway, and were presently among the familiar
pine and spruce, far beyond the garden bounds. "Do put up that veil,"
said John, "and you have not the least excuse for your parasol."

"Oh, if you like, John. Tell me about West Point. It was such a
surprise."

"I will when I am there, if I am able to pass the examinations."

"You will--you will. Uncle Jim told me you would pass easily."

"Indeed! He never told me that. I have my doubts."

"And I have none," she returned, smiling. "Mr. Rivers dislikes it.
He wrote to me about it just before he left. Do you know, he did
really think that you ought to be a clergyman. He said you were so
serious-minded for--for a boy."

John laughed, "nice clergyman I'd have made." Did Leila too consider him
a boy? "Oh! here we are at the old cabin. I never forget the first day we
came here--and the graves. The older I grow, Leila, the more clearly I
can see the fight and the rifle-flashes, and the rescue--and the night--I
can feel their terror."

"Oh, we were mere children, John; and I do suppose that it is a pretty
well decorated tradition." He looked at her with surprise, as she added,
"I used to believe it all, now it seems strange to me, John--like a dream
of childhood. I think you really are a good deal of a boy yet."

"No, I am not a boy. I sometimes fancy I never was a boy--I came here a
child." And then, "I think you like to tease me, Leila," and this was
true, although she was not pleased to be told so. "You think, Leila, that
it teases me to be called a boy by your ladyship. I think it is because
you remember what a boy once said to you here--right here."

"What do you mean?" She knew very well what he meant, but quickly
repenting of her feminine fib, said, "Oh, I do know, but I wanted to
forget--I wanted to pretend to forget, because you know what friends we
have been, and it was really so foolish."

He had been lying at her feet; now he rose slowly. "You are not like my
Leila to-day."

"Oh, John!"

"No--and it is hard, because I am going away--and--it will not be
pleasant to think how you are changed."

"I wish you wouldn't say such things to me, John."

"I had to--because--I love you. If I was a boy when I was, as you say,
silly, I was in earnest. It was nonsense to ask you, to say you would
marry me some day. It wasn't so very long ago after all; but I agree with
you, it _was_ foolish. Now I mean to make no such proposal."

"Please, John." She looked up at him as he stood over her so grave, so
earnest--and so like Uncle Jim. For the time she got the fleeting
impression of this being a man.

He hardly heard her appeal. "I want to say now that I love you." For a
moment the 'boy's will, the wind's will,' blew a gale. "I love you and I
always shall. Some day I shall ask you that foolish question again, and
again."

She too was after all very young and had been playing a bit at being a
woman. Now his expression of passion embarrassed her--because she had no
answer ready; nor was it all entirely disagreeable.

He stood still a moment, and added, "That is all--I ask nothing now."

Then she stood up, having to say something and unwilling to hurt
him--wanting not to say too much or too little, and ending by a childlike
reply. "Oh, John, I do wish you would never say such things to me. I am
too young to listen to such nonsense."

"And I am young too," he laughed. "Well--well--let us go home and confess
like children."

"Now I know you are a fool, John Penhallow, and very disagreeable."

"When we were ever so young, Leila, and we quarrelled, we used to agree
not to speak to one another for a day. Are you cross enough for that
now?"

"No, I am not; but I want to feel sure that you will not say such things
to me again."

"I make no promise, Leila; I should break it. If I gave you a boy's love,
forget it, laugh at it; but if I give you a man's love, take care."

This odd drama--girl and woman, boy and maturing man--held the stage; now
one, now the other.

"Take care, indeed!" she said, repeating his words and turning on him
with sudden ungraciousness, "I think we have had enough of this
nonsense."

She was in fact the more disturbed of the two, and knowing it let anger
loose to chase away she knew not what, which was troubling her with
emotion she could neither entirely control nor explain later as the
result of what seemed to her mere foolishness. If he was himself
disturbed by his storm of primitive passion, he did not show it as she
did.

"Yes," he said in reply, "we have had for the present enough of
this--enough talk, I mean--"

"We!" she exclaimed.

"Leila! do you want me to apologize?"

"No."

"Then--let us get those roses for Aunt Ann--what are left of them."

She was glad to escape further discussion--not sure of her capacity to
keep in order this cousin who was now so young and now so alarmingly old.
His abrupt use of self-control she recognised--liked and then disliked,
for a little wrath in his reply would have made her feel more at ease.
With well-reassumed good-humour, she said, "Now you are my nice old
playmate, but never, never bother me that way again."

"Yes, ma'am," said John, laughing. "I can hear Aunt Ann say, 'Run, dears,
and get me flowers--and--there will be cakes for you.'"

"No, bread and apple-butter, John." They went along merry, making believe
to be at ease.

"The robins are gone," said Leila. "I haven't seen one today; and the
warblers are getting uneasy and will be gone soon. I haven't seen a
squirrel lately. Josiah used to say that meant an early winter."

"Oh, but the asters! What colour! And the golden-rod! Look at it close,
Leila. Each little flower is a star of gold."

"How pretty!" She bent down over the flowers to pay the homage of honest
pleasure. "How you always see, John, so easily, the pretty little wild
beauties of the woods; I never could." She was "making up" as children
say.

"Oh, you were the schoolmaster once," he laughed. "Come, we have enough;
now for the garden."

They passed through the paling fence and along the disordered beds, where
a night of too early frost had touched with chill fingers of disaster the
latest buds. Leila moved about looking at the garden, fingering a bud
here and there with gentle epitaphs of "late," "too late," or gathering
the more matronly roses which had bloomed in time. John watched her bend
over them, and then where there were none but frost-wilted buds stand
still and fondle with tender touch the withered maidens of the garden.

He came to her side, "Well, Leila, I'll swap thoughts with you."

She looked up, "Your's first then."

"I was thinking it must be hard to die before you came to be a rose--like
some other more human things."

"Is that a charade, John? You will be writing poems about the lament of
the belated virgin roses that had not gathered more timely sunshine and
were alas! too late."

He looked at her with a smile of pleased surprise. "Thanks, cousin; it is
you who should be the laureate of the garden. Shelley would envy you."

"Indeed! I am flattered, sir, but I have not read any of Shelley as yet.
You have, I suppose? He is supposed to be very wicked. Get me some more
golden-rod, John." He went back to the edge of the wood and came again
laden, rejoining her at the porch.

For two days her aunt kept her busy. Early in the week she went away to
be met in Philadelphia by her Uncle Charles, and to be returned to her
Maryland school.

A day or two later John too left to undergo the dreaded examination at
West Point. The two older people were left alone at Grey Pine with the
rector, who had returned from his annual holiday later than usual. Always
depressed at these seasons, he was now indisposed for the society of even
the two people who were his most valued friends. He dined with them the
day John went away and took up the many duties of his clerical life,
until as was his custom, a week later he came in smiling for the Saturday
dinner, saying, "Well, here comes the old house-dog for his bone."

They made him welcome as gaily. "Has the town wickedness accumulated in
your absence, Mark?" said Penhallow.

"Mine has," said Ann Penhallow, "but I never confess except to myself."

"Ann Penhallow might be a severe confessor," said Rivers as they sat
down. "How you must miss John and Leila. I shall most sadly."

"Oh, for my part," said Ann, "I have made up my mind not to lament the
inevitable, but my husband is like a lost dog and--oh!--heart-hungry
for Leila, and worried about that boy's examination--his passing."

"Have I said a word?" said the Squire indignantly. "Pass! Of course, he
will pass."

"No one doubts that, James; but you are afraid he will not be near the
top."

"You are a witch, Ann. How did you know that?"

"How?" and she laughed. "How long have we been married!"

"Nonsense, Ann! What has that got to do with the matter?"

"Well," said Rivers, a little amused, "we shall know in a day or two. He
will pass high."

"Of course," said Penhallow.

Then the talk drifted away to the mills, the village and the farm work.
When after dinner Rivers declined to smoke with the Squire, Ann walked
with the clergyman down the avenue and said presently, "Dine with us on
Monday, Mark, and as often as possible. My husband is really worrying
about John."

"And you, dear lady?"

"I--oh, of course, I miss them greatly; but Leila needs the contact with
the social life she now has in the weekly holiday at Baltimore; and as
for John, did it never occur to you that he ought to be among men of his
age--and social position--and women too, who will not, I fancy, count for
much in the 'West Point education.'

"Yes--yes, what you say is true of course, but ah! I dread for him the
temptations of another life than this."

"Would you keep him here longer, if you could?" she asked.

"No. What would life be worth or how could character be developed without
temptation? That is one of my puzzles about the world to come, a world
where there would be no 'yes and no' would hardly be worth while."

"And quite beyond me," cried Ann, laughing. "We have done our best for
them. Let us pray that they will not forget. I have no fear for Leila. I
do not know about John. I must go home. Come often. Good-night. I suppose
the sermon takes you away so early."

"Yes--more or less, and I am poor company just now. Good-night."



CHAPTER XV


When at breakfast on a Monday morning Penhallow said, "That mail is late
again," his wife knew that he was still eager for news from John.

"The mail is always late on Monday morning, James. If you are in haste to
get to the mills, I will send it after you."

"No, it is unimportant, Ann. Another cup, please. Ah! there it is now."
He went out on to the porch. "You are late, Billy."

"I ain't late--it was Mrs. Crocker--she kept me."

Penhallow selected two letters postmarked West Point, and opening one as
he went in to the breakfast-room, said, "My dear, it is rather
satisfactory--quite as much as could be expected."

"Well, James! What is rather satisfactory? You are really exasperating at
times."

"Am I? Well, John has passed in the first half dozen--he does not yet
know just where--"

"And are you not entirely contented? You ought to be. What is the other
letter?"

He opened it. "It is only a line from the old drawing-master to say that
John did well and would have been second or third, they said, except for
not being higher in mathematics." As he spoke he rose and put both
letters in his pocket. "Now I must go."

"But let me see them, James."

"Oh, John's is only a half dozen lines, and I must go at once--I have an
appointment at the mills--I want to look over the letters again, and
shall write to him from the office." Ann was slightly annoyed, but said
no more until on the porch before he mounted she took a mild revenge.
"I know where you are going."

"Well, and where, please?" He fell into her trap.

"First, you will stop at the rectory and read those letters to Mark
Rivers; then the belated mail will excuse a pause at the post-office to
scold Mrs. Crocker. Tell Pole as you go by that last mutton was
atrociously tough. Of course, you won't mention John."

"Well, are you done?" he said, as he mounted Dixy. "I can wait, Ann,
until you read the letters."

"Thanks, I am in no hurry." He turned in the saddle and gave her the
letters. She put aside her brief feeling of annoyance and stood beside
him as she read them. "Thank you, James. What an uneasy old uncle you
are. Now go. Oh, be off with you--and don't forget Dr. McGregor." As he
rode away, she called after him, "James--James--I forgot something."

He turned, checking Dixy. "Oh, I forgot to say that you must not forget
the office clerks, because you know they are all so fond of John."

"What a wretch you are, Ann Penhallow! Go in and repent."

"I don't," and laughing, joyously, she stood and looked after the tall
figure as he rode away happy and gaily singing, as he was apt to do if
pleased, the first army carol the satisfaction of the moment suggested:

Come out to the stable
As soon as you 're able,
And see that the horses
That they get some corn.
For if you don't do it,
The colonel will know it,
And then you will rue it
As sure as you're born.

"Ah!" said his wife, "how he goes back--always goes back--to the wild
army life when something pleases him. Thank God that can never come
again." She recalled her first year of married life, the dull garrison
routine, the weeks of her husband's absences, and when the troop came
back and there were empty saddles and weeping women.

At dinner the Squire must needs drink the young cadet's health and
express to Rivers his regret that there was not a West Point for Leila.
Mrs. Ann was of opinion that she had had too much of it already. Rivers
agreed with his hostess, and in one of his darkest days won the privilege
of long silences by questioning the Squire in regard to the studies and
life at West Point, while Mrs. Ann more socially observant than her
husband saw how moody was Rivers and with what effort he manufactured
an appearance of interest in the captain's enthusiasm concerning
educative methods at the great army school. She was relieved when he
carried off Rivers to the library.

"It is chilly, Mark; would you like a fire?" he asked.

"Yes, I am never too warm."

The Squire set the logs ablaze. "No pipe, Mark?"

"Not yet." He stretched out his lean length before the ruddy birch blaze
and was silent. The Squire watched him and made no attempt to disturb the
deep reverie in which the young clergyman remained. At last the great
grey eyes turned from the fire, and Rivers sat up in his chair, as he
said, "You must have seen how inconsiderately I have allowed my
depression to dismiss the courtesies of life. I owe you and my dear Mrs.
Penhallow both an apology and an explanation."--

"But really, Mark--"

"Oh, let me go on. I have long wanted to talk myself out, and as often my
courage has failed. I have had a most unhappy life, Penhallow. All the
pleasant things in it--the past few years--have been given me here. I
married young--"

"One moment, Mark. Before you came to us the Bishop wrote me in
confidence of your life. Not even Mrs. Penhallow has seen that letter."

"Then you knew--but not all. Now I have had a sad relief. He told you
of--well, of my life, of my mother's hopeless insanity--and the rest."

"Yes--yes--all, I believe--all."

"Not quite all. I have spent a part at least of every August with her;
now at last she is dead. But my family story has left with me the fear of
dying like my brothers or of becoming as she became. When I came to you I
was a lonely soul, sick in mind and weak in body. I am better--far
better--and now with some renewal of hope and courage I shall face my
world again. You have had--you will have charity for my days of
melancholy. I never believed that a priest should marry--and yet I
did. I suffered, and never again can I dream of love. I am doubly armed
by memory and by the horror of continuing a race doomed to disaster.
There you have it all to my relief. There is some mysterious consolation
in unloading one's mind. How good you have been to me! and I have been so
useless--so little of what I might have been."

Penhallow rose, set a hand on Rivers's shoulder, seeing the sweat on his
forehead and the appeal of the sad eyes turned up to meet his gaze.
"What," he said, "would our children have been without you? God knows I
have been a better man for your company, and the mills--the village--how
can you fail to see what you have done--"

"No--no--I am a failure. It may be that the moods of self-reproach are
morbid. That too torments me. Even to-day I was thinking of how Christ
would have dealt with that miserable man, Peter Lamb, and how
uncharitable I was, how crude, how void of sympathy--"

"You--you--" said Penhallow, as he moved away. "My own regret is that
I did not turn him over to the law. Well, points of view do differ
curiously. We will let him drop. He will come to grief some day. And now
take my thanks and my dear Ann's for what you have told me. Let us drop
that too. Take a pipe."

"No, I must go. I am the easier in my mind, but I am tired and not at
all in the pipe mood." He went out through the hall, and with a hasty
"good-night" to his hostess and "pleasant dreams--or none," went slowly
down the avenue.

The woman he left, with her knitting needles at rest a moment, was
considering the man and his moods with such intuitive sympathy and
comprehension as belongs to the sex which is physiologically the more
subject to abrupt changes in the climate of the mind. As her husband
entered, she began anew the small steadying industry for which man has no
substitute.

"Upon my word, James, when you desire to exchange confidences, you must
get further away from me."

"You don't mean me to believe you overheard our talk in the library, with
the door closed and the curtain across it." Her acuteness of hearing
often puzzled him, and he had always to ask for proof.

She nodded gay assurance, and said again, ceasing to knit, "I overheard
too much--oh, not all--bits--enough to trouble me. I moved away so as not
to hear. All I care to know is how to be of real service to a friend to
whom we owe so much."

"I want you--in fact, Mark wants you--to hear in full what you know in
part."

"Well, James, I have very little curiosity about the details of the
misfortunes of my friends unless to know is to obtain means of
helpfulness."

"You won't get any here, I fear, but as he has been often strange and
depressed and, as he says, unresponsive to your kindness, he does want
you now to see what cause there was."

"Very well, if he wants it. I see you have a letter."

"Yes, I kept it. It was marked strictly confidential--I hate that--" She
smiled as he added, "It seems to imply the possibility of indiscretion on
my part."

"Oh, James! Oh, you dear man!" and she laughed outright, liking to tease
where she deeply loved, knowing him through and through, as he never
could know her. Then she saw that he was not in the mood for jesting with
an edge to it; nor was she. "At all events, you did not let me see that
letter--now I am to see it."

"Yes, you are to see it. You might at any time have seen it."

"Yes, read it to me."

"When our good Bishop sent Mark Rivers here to us, he wrote me this
letter--"

"Well, go on."

"MY DEAR SIR: I send you the one of my young clergy with whom I am the
most reluctant to part. You will soon learn why, and learning will be
thankful. But to make clear to you why I urge him--in fact, order him to
go--requires a word of explanation. He is now only twenty-six years of
age but looks older. He married young and not wisely a woman who lived a
childlike dissatisfied life, and died after two years. One of his
brothers died an epileptic; the other, a promising lawyer, became insane
and killed himself. This so affected their widowed mother that she fell
into a speechless melancholy and has ever since been in the care of
nurses in a farmer's family--a hopeless case. I became of late alarmed at
his increasing depression and evident failure in bodily strength. He was
advised to take a small country parish, and so I send him to you and my
friend, Mrs. Penhallow, sure that he will give as much as he gets. I need
not say more. He is well worth saving--one of God's best--with too
exacting a conscience--learned, eloquent and earnest, and to end, a
gentleman."

"There is a lot more about Indian missions, which I think are hopeless,
but I sent him a cheque, of course."

"I supposed, James, that his depression was owing to his want of vigorous
health. Now I see, but how very sorrowful it is! What else is there? I
did not mean to listen, but something was said about his mother."

"Yes. He has spent with her a large part of every August--he called it
his holiday. My God, Ann! Poor fellow! This August she died. It must be a
relief."

"Perhaps."

"Oh, surely. This is all, Ann."

"I wish you had been less discreet long ago, James. I think that the
Bishop knowing how sensitive, how very reticent Mark is, meant only that
he should not learn what was confided to you."

"I never thought of that, Ann. You may be right."

She made no further comment, except to say, "But to know clears the air
and leaves me free to talk to him at need." Penhallow felt that where he
himself might be a useless confessor, his wife was surely to be trusted.

"If, Ann, the man could only be got on to the back of a horse--" She won
the desirable relief of laughter, and the eyes that were full of the
tears of pity for this disastrous life overflowed of a sudden with mirth
at the Squire's one remedy for the troubles of this earthly existence.

"Oh, I am in earnest," he said. "Now I must write to John."

When after a week or more she did talk to Mark Rivers, he was the better
for it and felt free to speak to her as a younger man may to an older
woman and can rarely do to the closest of male friends, for, after all,
most friendships have their personal limitations and the man who has not
both men and women friends may at some time miss what the double
intimacies alone can give.

       *       *       *       *       *

The uneasy sense of something lost was more felt than mentioned that fall
at Grey Pine, where quick feet on the stair and the sound of young
laughter were no longer heard. Rivers saw too how distinctly the village
folk missed these gay young people. Mrs. Crocker, of the shop where
everything was to be bought, bewailed herself to Rivers, who was the
receiver of all manner of woes. "Mrs. Penhallow is getting to be so
particular no one knows where to find her. You would never think it, sir,
but she says my tea is not fit to drink, and she is going to get her
sugar from Philadelphia. It's awful! She says it isn't as sweet as it
used to be--as if sugar wasn't always the same--"

"Which it isn't," laughed Rivers.

"And my tea!--Then here comes in the Squire to get a dog-collar, and
roars to my poor deaf Job, 'that last tea was the best we have ever had.
Send five pounds to Dr. McGregor from me--charge it to me--and a pound to
Mrs. Lamb.' It wasn't but ten minutes later. Do set down, Mr. Rivers." He
accepted the chair she dusted with her apron and quietly enjoyed the
little drama. The facts were plain, the small influential motives as
clear.

Secure of her hearer, Mrs. Crocker went on: "I was saying it wasn't ten
minutes later that same morning Mrs. Penhallow came down on me about the
sugar and the tea--worst she ever had. She--oh, Lord!--She wouldn't
listen, and declared that she would return the tea and get sugar from
town."

"Pretty bad that," said Rivers, sympathetic. "Did she send back the tea?"

"No, sir. In came Pole grinning that very evening. He said she had made
an awful row about the last leg of mutton he sent. Pole said she was that
bad--She didn't show no temper, but she kept on a sort of quiet mad about
the mutton."

"Well, what did Pole do?"

"You'd never guess. It was one of the Squire's own sheep. Pole he just
sent her the other leg of the same sheep!"

Again the rector laughed. "Well, and what did Mrs. Penhallow do?"

"She told him that was all right. Pole he guessed I'd better send her a
pound of the same tea."

"Did you?"

"I did--ain't heard yet. Now what would you advise? Never saw her this
way before."

"Well," said Rivers, "tell her how the town misses Leila and John."

"They do. I do wonder if it's just missing those children upsets her so."

Whether his advice were taken or not, Rivers did not learn directly, but
Mrs. Crocker said things were better when next they met, and the
clergyman asked no questions.

Penhallow had his own distracting troubles. The financial condition which
became serious in the spring and summer of 1857 was beginning to cause
him alarm, and soon after the new year came in he felt obliged to talk
over his affairs and to advise his wife to loan the mill company money
not elsewhere to be had except at ruinous interest. She wished simply to
give him the sum needed, but he said no, and made clear to her why he
required help. She was pleased to be consulted, and showing, as usual,
notable comprehension of the business situation, at once did as he
desired.

Rivers not aware of what was so completely occupying Penhallow's mind,
wondered later why he would not discuss the decision of the Supreme Court
in the Dred Scott case and did not share his own indignation. "But," he
urged, "it declares the Missouri Compromise not warranted by the
Constitution!"

"I can't talk about it, Mark," said Penhallow, "I am too worried by my
own affairs."

Then Rivers asked no further questions; he hoped he would read the
masterly dissenting opinion of Justices McLean and Curtis. Penhallow
returned impatiently that he had no time, and that the slavery question
were better left to the decision of "Chief Justice Time."

It was unlike the Squire, and Rivers perplexed and more or less ignorant
concerning his friend's affairs left him, in wonder that what was so
angrily disturbing the Northern States should quite fail to interest
Penhallow.

Meanwhile there were pleasant letters from Leila. She thought it hard to
be denied correspondence with John, and wrote of the satisfaction felt by
her Uncle Henry and his friends in regard to the Dred Scott decision. She
had been wise enough to take her Uncle Charles's advice and to hold her
Republican tongue, as he with a minority in Baltimore was wisely doing.

The money crisis came with full force while the affairs of Kansas were
troubling both North and South. In August there was widespread ruin.
Banks failed, money was held hard, contracts were broken and to avoid a
worse calamity the Penhallow mills discharged half of the men. Meanwhile
under Governor Walker's just and firm rule, for a brief season 'Bleeding
Kansas' was no longer heard of. To add to the confusion of parties,
Douglas broke with the Administration and damaged the powerful Democratic
machine when he came out with changed opinions and dauntless courage
against the new Lecompton constitution.

In June Leila's school life came to a close, and to the delight of her
relations she came home. When that afternoon Rivers came into the hall, a
tall young woman rose of a sudden and swept him a curtsey, saying, "I am
Leila Grey, sir. Please to be glad to see me."

"Good gracious, Leila! You are a woman!"

"And what else should I be?"

"Alas! what? My little friend and scholar--oh! the evil magic of time."

"Oh! Friend--friend!" she exclaimed, "then, now, and always." She gave
him both hands.

"Yes, always," he said quickly. "And this," he said to himself, "is the
child who used to give me the morning kiss. It is very wonderful!"

"I really think, Aunt Ann, that Mr. Rivers just for a moment did not know
me."

"Indeed! That must have amused him."

"Oh, here is James." There was laughter at dinner and a little gay
venture into the politics of Leila's school, which appeared to have been
disagreeable to Miss Grey.

Rivers watched the animated face as she gave her account of how the
school took a vote in the garden and were all Democrats. The Squire a
little puzzled by his wife's evident disinclination to interfere with the
dinner-table politics got a faint suspicion that here had come into Grey
Pine a new and positive influence. He was more surprised that Mrs. Ann
asked, "What did you say, Leila?"

"I? Now, Aunt Ann, what would you have done or said?"

"Oh, voted with the Democrats, of course."

"Oh, Mrs. Penhallow!" cried the Rector.

The Squire much amused asked, "Well, Leila, did you run away?"

"I--Oh, Uncle Jim! I said I was a democrat--I voted the Democratic
ticket."

"Did you?" exclaimed Rivers.

"So James Penhallow and my brother Charles have lost a Republican vote,"
laughed Ann.

"But, Aunt Ann, I added that I was a Douglas Democrat."

The Squire exploded into peals of laughter. Ann said, "For shame!"

"They decided to lynch me, but no one of them could catch me before Miss
Mayo appeared on the playground and we all became demure as pussy cats.
She was cross."

"She was quite right," said her aunt. "I do not see why girls should be
discussing politics."

Rivers became silently regardant, and Penhallow frowning sat still. The
anticipated bolt had fallen--it fell in vain. Leila did not accept the
decree, but defended herself gaily. "Aunt Ann," she said, "Douglas is
right, or at least half right. And do tell me how old must a girl be
before she has a right to think?"

"Think! Oh, if you like, think. But, my dear Leila, your uncle, Mr.
Rivers and I, although we think and hold very diverse opinions, feel that
on such matters discussion only leaves a sting, and so we tacitly leave
it out of our talk. There, my dear, you have my opinion."

There was a moment of silence. Leila looked up. "Oh, my dear Aunt Ann, if
you were on the side of old Nick, Mr. Rivers wouldn't care a penny less
for you, and I never could see why to differ in talk about politics is
going to hurt past anything love could accept. Aunt Helen and Uncle
Charles both talk politics and they do love one another, although Aunt
Helen is tremendously Democratic."

"My dear Leila!"

"Oh, Aunt Ann! I will not say a word more if you want me to hold my
tongue."

"Wouldn't the other way be more wholesome on the whole?" said Rivers.

"I have long thought so," said the Squire. "There are ways and ways--"

"Perhaps," said Ann. "Shall you ride with your uncle tomorrow, Leila?"

"Oh, shall I! I long for it--I dream about it. May I ride Dixy, Uncle
Jim?"

"Yes, if you have a riding-habit you can wear. We will see to that. You
have grown a good bit, but I fancy we can manage."

"And how is Pole, aunt; and the doctor and Crocker and his fat wife--oh,
and everybody?"

"Oh, much, as usual. We had a skirmish about mutton, but the last Pole
sent is good--in fact, excellent. He needs watching."

Then the talk fell on the lessened work at the mills, and there being now
four players the Squire had his whist again, and later carried Rivers
away to smoke in the library, leaving Ann and Leila.

As the library door closed, Leila dropped on a cushion at her aunt's
feet, and with her head in Ann's lap expressed her contentment by a few
moments of silence. Then sitting up, she said, "I am so happy I should
like to purr. I was naughty at dinner, but it was just because I wanted
to make Uncle Jim laugh. He looks--Don't you think he looks worried,
aunt? Is it the mills and--the men out of work? Dear Aunt Ann, how can
one keep on not talking about politics and things that are next to one's
religion--and concerning our country--my country?"

Ann made no direct reply, but went back to what was nearer than any creed
of politics. "Yes, dear. When one big thing worries James, then
everything worries him. The state of the money market makes all business
difficult, and he feels uncomfortable because the mill company is in want
of work, and because their debts are overdue and not likely to be paid in
full or at all."

"I wish I could do something to help Uncle Jim."

"You can ride with him and I cannot. You can talk to him without
limitations; I cannot. He is reasonable about this grave question of
slavery. He does not think it right; I do--oh, good for master and best
for the black. When, soon after our marriage, we spoke of it, he was
positive and told me to read what Washington had said about slavery. We
were both young and said angry things which left a pang of remembrance.
After that we were careful. But now this terrible question comes up in
the village and in every paper. It will get worse, and I see no end to
it."

Leila was silent, remembering too her aunt's share in Josiah's escape.
The advice implied in her aunt's frank talk she saw was to be accepted.
"I will remember, Aunt Ann." At least she was free to talk to her uncle.

"Has any one heard of Josiah?" asked Leila.

"No, I was sorry for him. He had so many good traits. I think he would
have been more happy if he had remained with his master."

Leila had her doubts, but was self-advised to say no more than, "I often
think of him. Now I shall go to bed."

"Yes, you must be tired."

"I am never tired, but to be free to sit up late or go to bed and read
what I want to--and to ride! Good-night. I can write to John--now there's
another bit of freedom. Oh, dear, how delightful it all is!" She went
upstairs thinking how hard it would be to keep off of the forbidden
ground, and after all was her aunt entirely wise? Well, there was Uncle
Jim and John.

While this talk went on the rector alone with his host said, "You are
evidently to have a fresh and very positive factor in your household
life--"

"Hush," said the Squire. "Talk low--Ann Penhallow has incredible
hearing."

"True--quite true--I forgot. How amazingly the child has changed. She
will be a useful ferment, I fancy. How strange it is always--this abrupt
leap of the girl into the heritage of womanhood. The boy matures slowly,
by imperceptible gradations. Now Leila seems to me years older than John,
and the change is really somewhat startling; but then I have seen very
little of young women. There is the girl, the maid, the woman."

"Oh, but there is boy, lad, and man."

"Not comparable, Squire; continuously growing in one case, and in the
other developmental surprises and, ever after, fall and rise of energy.
The general trouble about understanding women is that men judge them by
some one well-known woman. I heard a famous doctor say that no man need
pretend to understand women unless he had been familiar with sick women."

The Squire recalling the case of Ann Penhallow was silent. The clergyman
thinking too of his own bitter experience lapsed into contemplative
cleaning of a much valued meerschaum pipe. The Squire not given to morbid
or other psychological studies made brief reply. "I hope that Leila will
remain half boy."

"Too late, Squire--too late. You've got a woman on your hands. There will
be two heads to Grey Pine."

"And may I ask where do I come in?" He was at times almost dull-witted,
and yet in danger swift to think and quick to act.

Rivers filling the well-cleaned pipe looked up. There was something of
unwonted gaiety in the moving face-lines which frame the eyes and give to
them the appearance of change of expression. "My dear friend, you were as
dough that is kneaded in the hands of Leila, the girl; you will be no
less so now in the hands of this splendid young woman."

"Oh, now--by George! Rivers, you must think me--"

"Think you! Oh, like other men. And as concerns Mrs. Ann, there
will sometimes be a firm alliance with Leila before which you will
wilt--or--no, I will not venture further."

"You had better not, or you may fail like other prophets."

"No, I was thinking as you spoke of the fact that Leila has seen a good
deal of a very interesting society in Baltimore, and has had the chance,
and I am sure the desire, to hear more of the wild Southern party-talk
than most girls have."

"Yes, she has been in both camps."

"And always was and is, I fancy, eagerly curious in the best sense. More
than my dear Mrs. Ann, she has wide intellectual sympathies--and
appetites."

"That's a very fine phrase, Mark."

"Isn't it, Squire? I was also comparing in my mind John's want of
association with men of his own social accident of position. He lived
here with some rough country lads and with you and me. He has had no such
chance as Leila's."

"Oh, the Point will mature him. Then two years on the Plains--and after
that the mills."

"Perhaps--two years! But, Penhallow, who can dare to predict what God has
in store for us. Two years!"

"Yes--too true--who can! Just now we are financially diseased, and men
are thinking more of the bread and butter and debts of to-morrow than of
Mr. Buchanan in the toils of his Southern Cabinet."

"That's so. Good-night."

Leila took upstairs with her John's last letter to her aunt, and sitting
down read it eagerly:

"WEST POINT.

"MY DEAR AUNT: The life here, as I wrote you, is something almost
monastic in its systematic regularity, and its despotic claims on one's
time. It leaves small leisure for letters except on Sundays; and if a
fellow means to be well placed, even then he is wise to do some work. The
outside world seems far away, and we read and can read few papers.

"I am of Uncle Jim's politics, but although there are many pretty
sensitive cadets from the South, some of them my friends, there is so
pleasant a camaraderie among us that there are few quarrels, and
certainly none of the bitterness of the two sections.

"I think I may have told you that we have no furlough until we have been
here two years, but I hope some time for a visit from Uncle Jim and you,
or at least from him and Leila. How she would enjoy it! The wonderful
beauty of the great river in the embrace of these wooded mountains, the
charm of the heroic lives it has nourished and the romance of its early
history are delightful--"

"Enjoy it," murmured Leila, "oh, would I not indeed!" Then she read on:

"Tell Leila to write me all about the horses and the town, and if Josiah
has been heard of. Tom McGregor writes me that after he is graduated next
year, he means to try for a place in the army and get a year or two of
army life before he settles down to help his father. So it takes only two
years to learn how to keep people alive and four to learn how to kill
them."

"I wonder who John means to kill." She sat in thought a while, and rising
to undress said, "He must be greatly changed, my dear boy, Jack. Jack!"



CHAPTER XVI


The widespread disapproval at the North of the Dred Scott Decision was
somewhat less manifest in the middle months of the year because of the
general financial distress, which diverted attention from what was so
agreeable to the slave States, where in fact the stringency in the money
market had been felt but little.

At Grey Pine, as elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the evil influence of the
depression in trade was felt as never before. More men were discharged,
and Penhallow and his wife practised economy which to him was difficult
and distasteful. To limit expenditure on herself was of little moment to
Ann Penhallow, but to have to limit her ability to give where more and
more were needing help was to her at least a hard trial. With the spring
of 1858, business had begun to revive, while more bitterness arose when
in the senatorial contest Stephen Douglas encountered the soil-born
vigorous intellect of the little known lawyer Lincoln. The debate put
fresh life into the increasing power of the Republican party in the West.

"Listen to this," said Rivers to the Squire in July of 1858. "Here is a
new choice. Long ago I got touch of this man, when he said, 'A house
divided against itself cannot stand.'" He went on to read aloud parts of
the famous speech.

Leila sitting with them on the porch looked round to hear her uncle's
comment. He said, "It is too radical, Rivers. It leaves no chance for
compromise--it is a declaration of war."

"It is God's truth," said Rivers.

"The Democrats will rejoice," said Penhallow. "The Administration will be
as I am against Douglas and against this man's views."

"I wish he were even more of an abolitionist, Squire. The right to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness, ought to apply to all men, black
and white."

"Yes, but are there to be further applications. Shall your free black
vote? Does he say that?"

"No, but I do."

"Good gracious!" exclaimed the Squire. "I move we adjourn. Here comes
Ann."

Keen to have the last word, Rivers urged, "He is not against some
fugitive-slave law--not for abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia--or the slave trade between the States."

"But," said Leila, "I read it all last night in my room. He said it was
the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the
territories."

"The right," said Penhallow, "Miss Politician?"

"And the duty," returned Rivers. They rose as Ann came up the steps.

Billy was carrying the baskets she had emptied in the village, and as
usual with Ann when there had been much to do, she came home, Rivers
said, refreshed by the exercise of her gentle despotisms as a man may be
by use of competent muscles. "You are all struck dumb," she cried. "I
smell the sulphur of bad politics."

"I'm for Buch and Breck," said Billy. "Misses she give me a dollar to
vote for Buchanan, I know--"

Leila delightedly encouraged him. "Did you?"

"No, it was for poll-tax. Take in those baskets at once," said Ann.

"Yes, ma'am. Bought a fishing-pole."

The confusion of mind which had made this practical use of Ann's mild
political contribution was new to the Squire, and deliciously funny to
Leila. Penhallow laughed outright. Rivers was silent watching Mrs. Ann.

To his surprise, she said, "You are bad--all of you. If the women could
vote we would cease to have trouble. It may please you all to know that
since that idiot Pole has mortgaged his farm to Swallow and bought out
the butcher at the mills, he has repented of his Democratic wickedness
and says, 'After all the Squire was right.'"

"And where, my dear, did you get all this gossip?" asked Penhallow.

"It is complicated; ask Pole."

"I could guess," laughed Leila.

"And I," cried the Squire.

"You will all suffer," cried Ann, "and don't complain, James Penhallow,
if tough beef is the final result of political complications." Whereupon
she gathered her skirts and fled laughing.

"Pole will pay dearly," said the Squire, who was secretly securing meat
for the discharged mill-hands and understood what had influenced Pole.

Grey Pine and Westways during the summer and fall of 1858 felt, like many
in the Northern States, the need to live with economy. Want of employment
added to the unrest, and the idle men found time to discuss the angry
politics which rang through the debates in the Senate. The changed tariff
on iron, to which Pennsylvania was always selfishly sensitive, affected
the voting, and Penhallow was pleased when the Administration suffered
disaster in the October elections. All parties--Republican, American and
Douglas Democrats--united to cast discredit on the President's policy,
but Penhallow knew that the change of duties on iron had little to do
with the far-spread ruin of trade and manufactures the result of long
credits and the careless finance of an over-prosperous people. The
electoral results were looked upon as a Republican victory. He so
explained it on a November afternoon, as he rode through the still forest
with Leila Grey, when the faint haze and warmer days told of that
mysterious arrest of decay we call the Indian summer.

As they rode, the long lapses into silence told of the pleasant relations
of two people entirely at ease with one another. Now it was a question
asked--and now quick discussion. She had slowly won with maidenhood what
few children have, more or less of the varied forms of imagination, which
once had rather amused or puzzled her in John Penhallow. Her uncle, who
thought slowly unless in danger, rode on with his mind upon a small order
for rails and was far from feeling the mystery of the autumn days. The
girl beside him was reading into the slow rocking to and fro of the
falling leaves some reluctance to become forever a part of the decaying
mould.

"Please, Uncle Jim, don't trot. Let them walk. It is so full of tender
deaths."

"What do you mean, Leila?--as if death were ever beautiful or tender. You
and your aunt bother me with your absurd manufacture of some relation to
nature--"

"Oh, Uncle Jim! Once I saw you pat a big pine and say 'how are you, old
fellow?' I told John it was nonsense, but he said it was fine."

"Oh, but that was a tree."

Leila laughed. "Of that there can be no doubt."

"Well, and what of it? It was half fun. You and John and your aunt sit up
and explode into enthusiasm over verse, when it could all be said far
better in simple prose."

"I should like to put that to the test some night."

"Not I, Miss Grey. I have no poetry in me. I am cold prose through and
through."

"You--you!" she cried. "Some people like poetry--some people are poetry."

"What--what?"

"Wasn't your hero Cromwell just magnificent, stately blank verse?"

"What confounded nonsense!" She glanced at the manly figure with the
cavalry seat, erect, handsome, to her heroic--an ideal gentleman in all
his ways. "Stuff and nonsense!" he added.

"Well, Uncle Jim--to talk prose--the elections please you?"

"Yes. The North is stiffening up. It is as well. Did you see what Seward
said, 'An irrepressible conflict,' and that man Lincoln, 'The house
divided against itself cannot stand'? Now I should like to think them
both wrong."

"And do you not?" she asked.

"No. Some devilish fate seems to be at the helm, as Rivers says. We avoid
one rock to fall into wild breakers of exasperation; with fugitive-slave
cases on one side, and on the other importations of slaves. Where will it
end?"

"But what would you do, uncle?"

"Oh, amend the Fugitive-Slave Law. Try the cases by jury. Let slavery
alone to cure itself, as it would in time. It would if we let it alone."

"And Kansas?" asked Leila.

"Oh, Douglas is right, but his view of the matter will never satisfy the
South nor the extreme men at the North. My dear Leila, the days are dark
and will be darker, and worst of all they really think we are afraid."
His face grew stern. "I hate to talk about it. Have you heard from John
lately?"

"Yes, only last week."

"And you write to him, of course?"

"Yes, I answer his letters. Aunt Ann writes every Sunday. Are things
better at the mills?"

"Rather. Now for a gallop--it puts me always in a more hopeful humour.
Don't let your aunt overwork you, Leila; she will."

"She can't, Uncle Jim." It was true. Leila gently rebelled against
incessant good works--sewing-classes for the village girls, Sunday
school, and the endless errands which left no time for books. Her
occasional walks with Marks Rivers enabled her to form some clear idea of
the difference of opinion which so sharply divided parties north of
Maryland. His own belief was that slavery was a sinful thing with which
there should be no truce and no patient waiting upon the influence of
time. He combated the Squire's equally simple creed--the unbroken union
of the States. She fought the rector hard, to his delight. Far more
pleasant on three afternoons in the week were the lessons in Italian with
her aunt, and Rivers's brilliant commentary on Dante. The months ran on
into and through the winter, with an economical Christmas to Ann's
regret.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a rule the political contests of our country go on without deeply
affecting the peace of families. In the cotton States opinion was or had
to appear to be at one. In the North the bitterness and unreason of
limited groups of anti-slavery people excited the anger of men who saw in
their ways and speeches continual sources of irritation, which made all
compromise difficult. The strife of parties where now men were earnest as
they never were before since revolutionary days was felt most seriously
in the border States.

"James," said Ann after breakfast, when Leila had gone to dress for a
ride, "I think I ought to tell you that I have had this morning letters
from both my brothers. I wrote, you know, asking them to bring the girls
to us. Leila is too much alone. They both decline. Charles has come out
for the Republicans, and now--it is too dreadful--they do not speak.
Charles tells me there is a strong minority with him and that the State
is not all for the South. I cannot believe it."

"Indeed!" He was not altogether displeased. "I am sorry for you, Ann, as
their sister."

"And as a man, you are not! Where will it all end? There is neither
charity nor reason at the North. I am disturbed for our country."

"You ask where it will all end. Where will it end? God alone knows. Let
us at least wait quietly the course of events we cannot control. I at
least try to be reasonable." He left her standing in tears, for which he
had no comfort in thought or word. Over all the land, North and South,
there were such differences of opinion between wife and husband,
brothers, friends and kinsmen. As he stood at the door about to ride to
the mills he looked back and heard her delayed comment.

"One moment, James--"

"Oh, what is the matter?" cried Leila at the foot of the stairs. To see
Ann Penhallow in tears was strange indeed.

Her uncle standing with his hand on his wife's shoulder had just spoken.
Turning to Leila, he said: "Your aunt and I have had some unpleasant news
from your uncles in Baltimore--a political quarrel."

"I knew it in the spring, Uncle Jim."

The girl's thoughtful reticence surprised him. Neither to him nor to Ann
had she said a word of this family feud.

"Thank you, Leila," murmured her aunt. The Squire wondered why, as her
aunt added, "I am greatly troubled. We have always been a most united
family; but, dear, this--this has brought home to me, as nothing else
has, the breaking up of the ties which bound the South and North
together. It is only the sign of worse things to come."

"But, Ann," said Penhallow, "I must say"--A sharp grip on his arm by
Leila's hand stopped him. He checked himself in time--"it is all very
sad, but neither you nor I can help it."

"That is too true, James. I should not have said what I did. I want to
see one of the men at the mills. His children are ill, his wife is in
great distress."

"I will drive you myself this morning. I will send Dixy away and order
the gig."

"Thank you; I shall like that, James."

Meanwhile Leila rode away, having in a moment of tactful interference
made her influence felt. She was well aware of it and smiled as she
walked her horse down the avenue, murmuring,

"I suppose I shall catch it from Uncle Jim." And then, "No, he will be
glad I pinched him, but he did look cross for a moment." No word of the
family dissension reached John in their ever cheerful letters.

On a wild windy afternoon in February, the snow falling heavily, Leila on
her way to the village rang at the Rector's door. Getting no answer, she
went in and passing through the front room knocked at the library door.

"Come in." Rivers was at his table in a room littered with books and
newspapers. The gentle smile of his usual greeting was missing. She saw
at once that he was in one of his moods of melancholy--rare of late. Her
eyes quick to see when she was interested noted that where he sat there
was neither book nor paper in front of him. He rose as she entered, tall,
stooping, lean, and so thin-featured that his large eyes were the more
notable.

"Aunt Ann has a cold, and Joe Grace was at the house to say that his
father is ill, and aunt wishes you to go with me and see what is wanted.
He has no way to send for the doctor; and so you see, as he is in bed,
you must go with me."

"Oh, I saw him this morning. It is of no moment. I did what was needed."

"But I have to see Mrs. Lamb too. Come for the walk. It is blowing a gale
and the snow is splendid--do come."

Of late he had rarely walked with her. He hesitated.

"Do come."

"If I die of cold, Leila."

"Die! You do not take exercise enough to keep your blood in motion. Come,
please!"

He said no more except "Wait a moment," and returned fitly clad. A fury
of charging battalions of snow met them in the avenue. She faced it
gallantly, joyous and rosy. He bent to avoid the sting of the driven
snow, shivering, and more at ease when in the town the houses broke the
force of the gale.

"You won't need to go to Grace's," he urged.

"I am under orders. Don't you know Aunt Ann?"

Presently plunging through the snow-drifts they came into the dreary
disordered back room which had so troubled Penhallow. It was cold with
that indoor cold which is so unpleasant. Joe Grace came in--a big
strapping young fellow. "I came from the farm and found father in bed and
no wood in the stack. Some one has just fetched a load." He began to
make a fire.

"Go up to your father," said Rivers. "Make a fire in his room. You ought
to have come sooner. Oh, that poor helpless Baptist saint--there isn't
much wrong, but the man is half frozen--and it is so needless."

"Come," said Leila. "Does he require anything?"

"No, I saw to that." As he spoke, he piled log on log and warmed his long
thin hands. "Wait a little, Leila." She sat down, while the loose
casements rattled.

"Leila," he said, "there is no chance to talk to you at Grey Pine. I am
troubled about these, my friends. What I now have of health and mental
wholesomeness in my life, I owe to them. I came hither a broken, hopeless
man. Now they are in trouble." She looked up at him in some surprise at
his confession. "I want to help them. Your uncle told me of your aunt's
new distress and the cause. Then I made him talk business, and asked him
to let me lend him thirty thousand dollars. He said no, but I did see how
it pleased him. He said that it would be lost. At all events his refusal
was decisive."

"But," said Leila, increasingly surprised, "that was noble of you."

"Nonsense, my dear Leila; I have more than I need--enough to help
others--and would still have enough."

She had a feeling of astonishment at the idea of his being so well-off,
and now from his words some explanation of the mysterious aid which had
so helped at the mills and so puzzled Mrs. Ann. Why had he talked to her?
He himself could not have told why. As he stood at the fire he went on
talking, while she made her quick mental comments.

"You call it noble. It is a rather strange thing; but to go to a friend
in financial despair with a cheque-book is a test of friendship before
which many friendships fail. Before my uncle left me rich beyond my
needs, I had an unpleasant experience on a small scale, but it was a
useful example in the conduct of life." He paused for a moment, and then
said, "I shall try the Squire again."

"I think you will fail--I know Uncle Jim. But what you tell me--is it
very bad? I mean, is he--are the mills--likely to fail?"

"That depends as I see it on the summer nominations and the fall
elections, and their result no one can predict. The future looks to me
full of peril."

"But why?" she asked, and had some surprise when he said, "I have lived
in the South. I taught school in Macon. I know the South, its increasing
belief in the despotic power of cotton and tobacco, its splendid courage,
and the sense of mastery given by the ownership of man. Why do I talk my
despair out to a young life like yours? I suppose confession to be a
relief--the tears of the soul. I suppose it is easier to talk to a
woman." "Then why not to Aunt Ann?" thought Leila, as he went on to say,
"I have often asked myself why confession is such a relief." He smiled as
he added, "I wonder if St. Francis ever confessed to Monica." Then he was
silent, turning round before the fire, unwilling to leave it.

Leila had been but recently introduced to the knowledge of St. Francis,
and was struck with the oddity of representing Monica; and the tall,
gaunt figure with the sad eyes, as the joyful St. Francis.

"Now, I must go home," he said.

"Indeed, no! You are to go with me to the post-office and then to see
Mrs. Lamb."

He had some pleasant sense of liking to be ordered about by this young
woman. As they faced the snow, he asked, "How tall are you, Leila?"

"Five feet ten inches and--to be accurate--a quarter. Why do you ask?"

"Idle curiosity."

"Curiosity is never idle, Mr. Rivers. It is industrious. I proved that in
a composition I wrote at school. It did bother Miss Mayo."

"I should think it might," said Rivers. "Any letters, Mrs. Crocker?"

"No, sir; none for Squire's folk. Two newspapers. Awful cold, Miss Leila.
Molasses so hard to-day, had to be chopped--"

"Oh, now, Mrs. Crocker!"

The fat post-mistress was still handling the pile of finger-soiled
letters. "Oh, there's one for Mrs. Lamb."

"We are going there. I'll take it."

"Thanks, miss. She's right constant in coming for letters, but the
letters they don't come, and now here's one at last." Leila tucked it
into her belt. "I tell you, Miss Leila, a post-office is a place to make
you laugh one day and cry the next. When you see a girl from the country
come here twice a week for maybe two months and then go away trying that
hard to make believe it wasn't of any account. There ought to be some one
to write 'em letters--just to say, 'Don't cry, he'll come.' It might be a
queer letter."

Rivers wondered at the very abrupt and very American introduction of
unexpected sentiment and humour.

"Let me know and I'll write them, Mrs. Crocker," cried Leila. She had the
very youthful reflection that it was odd for such a fat woman to be
sentimental.

"I should like to open all the letters for a week, Mrs. Crocker," said
Rivers.

"Wouldn't Uncle Sam make a row?"

"He would, indeed!"

"Idle curiosity," laughed Leila, as they went out into the storm.

He made no reply and reflected on this young woman's developmental change
and the gaiety which he so lacked.

Leila, wondering what Peter wrote to the lonely old widow, went to look
for her in the kitchen, while Rivers sat down in the neatly kept front
room. He waited long. At last Leila came out alone, and as they walked
away she said, "The letter was from Peter."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, I got it all out of her."

"Got what?"

"She gets three dollars a week from Aunt Ann and all her vegetables from
Aunt Ann, and she is all the time complaining to Uncle Jim. Then, of
course, Uncle Jim gives her more money--and Peter gets it--"

"Where is he?"

"Oh, in Philadelphia, and here and there."

"You should tell the Squire."

"No, I think not."

"Perhaps--yes--perhaps you are right." And facing the wild norther she
left him at his door and went homewards with a new burden of thought on
her mind.

The winter broke up and late in May Penhallow left home on business. He
wrote from Philadelphia:

"My dear Ann: Trade is dead, money still locked up, and the railways
hesitating to give orders for much-needed rails. I have one small order,
which will keep us going, but will hardly pay.

"I never talk of the political disorder, but now you will feel as I do a
certain dismay at the action of the Vicksburg Convention in the interest
of the slave States. Not all were represented--Tennessee and Florida
voted against the resolution that all State and Federal laws prohibiting
the African slave trade ought to be repealed. South Carolina to my
surprise divided its vote; there were forty for, nineteen against this
resolution. It seems made to exasperate the North and build up the
Republican party. I who am simply for the Union most deeply regret this
action.

"I want Leila to meet me here to-day week. We will take the steamer and
go to West Point, let her see the place, and bring John home for his
month of furlough.

"I have talked here to the Mayor and other moderate Union men, and find
them more hopeful than I of a peaceful ending.

"Yours always,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."



CHAPTER XVII


When Leila sat upon the upper deck of the great Hudson River steamer, she
was in a condition of excitement natural to an imaginative nature unused
to travel. Her mind was like a fresh canvas ready for the hand of the
artist. She was wondering at times what John Penhallow would look like
after over two years of absence and hardly heard the murmur of talk
around her, and was as unconscious of the interested glances of the young
men attracted by the tall figure standing in the bow as the great river
opened before her.

"That," said her uncle, "is Weehawken. There--just there--Hamilton was
killed by Burr, and near by Hamilton's son four years before was killed
in a duel--a political quarrel." She knew the sad story well, and with
the gift of visualization saw the scene and the red pistol-flashes which
meant the death of a statesman of genius.

"And there are the palisades, Leila." The young summer was clothing the
banks with leafage not yet dark green, and translucent in the morning
sun. No railroads marred the loveliness of the lawns on the East bank,
and the grey architecture of the palisades rose in solemn grandeur to
westward.

"It is full of history, Leila. There is Tarrytown, where André was
taken." She listened in silence. The day ran on--the palisades fell away.
"Dobbs's Ferry, my dear;" and pointing across the river, "on that hill
André died."

Presently the mountains rose before them, and in the afternoon they drew
up at the old wharf. "We stay at Cozzen's Hotel, Leila. I will send on
the baggage and we will walk up to the Point."

She hardly heard him. A tall young man in white pantaloons and blue
jacket stood on the pier. "Good gracious, Uncle Jim, it is John!" A
strange sense of disappointed remembrance possessed her. The boy playmate
of her youth was gone. He gave both hands of welcome, as he said, "By
George, Leila, I am glad to see you."

"You may thank uncle for our visit. Aunt Ann was not very willing to part
with me."

He was about to make the obvious reply of the man, but refrained. They
talked lightly of the place, of her journey, and at last he said very
quietly, even coldly, as if it were merely a natural history observation,
"You are amazingly grown, Cousin Leila. It is as well for cadets and
officers that your stay is to be brief."

"John, I have been in Baltimore. You will have to put it stronger than
that--I am used to it."

"I will see if I can improve on it, Leila."

Now this was not at all the way she meant to meet him, nor these the
words they meant to use--or rather, she--for John Penhallow had given it
no thought, except to be glad as a child promised a gift and then
embarrassed into a word of simple descriptive admiration. When John
Penhallow said, with a curious gravity and a little of his old formal
manner, "I will reflect on it," she knew with the quick perception of her
sex that here was a new masculine study for the great naturalist woman.
The boy--the lad--she knew were no more.

"Who is that with Uncle James?" she asked.

"The Commandant."

"My niece, Miss Grey. Colonel Beauregard, my dear. Let us walk up to the
Point." The Commandant, who made good his name, took possession of the
delighted young woman and carried her away to his home with Penhallow,
leaving the cadet to return to his routine of duty. As they parted, he
said, "I am set free to-morrow, Leila, at five, and excused from the
afternoon parade. If you and Uncle Jim will walk up to Port Putnam, I
will join you."

"I will tell Uncle Jim. You will be at the hop of course? I have been
thinking of nothing else for a week."

"I may be late."

"Oh, why?"

"We are in the midst of our examinations. Even to get time for a walk
with you and uncle was hard. I wrote Uncle Jim not to come now. He must
have missed it."

"And so I am to suffer."

"I doubt the anguish," he returned, laughing, as he touched his cap, and
left her to brief consideration of the cadet cousin.

"Uncle Jim might have been just like that--looked like that. They are
very unlike too. I used to be able to tell just what Jack would do when
we were children--don't think I can now. How tall he is and how handsome.
The uniform is becoming. I wonder if I too am so greatly changed."

It is well here to betray the secrets of the novelists' confessional.
Leila Grey had seen in the South much of an interesting society where
love affairs were brief, lightly taken, easily ended, or hardly more than
the mid-air flirtations of butterflies. No such perilous approaches to
the most intimate relations of men and women were for this young woman,
on whom the love and tactful friendship of the married life of Grey Pine
had left a lasting impression. One must have known her well to become
aware of the sense of duty to her ideals which lay behind her alert
appearance of joyous gaiety and capacity to see the mirthful aspects of
life. Once long ago the lad's moment of passionate longing had but
lightly stirred the dreamless sleep of unawakened power to love. Even the
memory of John's boy-folly had faded with time. Her relation to him had
been little more than warm friendship. Even that tie--and she was
abruptly aware of it--had become less close. She was directly conscious
of the fact and wondered if this grave young man felt as she did. She lay
awake that night and wondered too if his ideals of heroism and ambition
were still actively present, and where too was his imagination--ever on
the wing and far beyond her mental flight? She also had changed. Did he
know it or care? Then she dismissed him and fell asleep.

As John Penhallow near to noon came out a little weary and anxious from
the examination ordeal, he chanced on his uncle and Leila waiting with
the officer of the day, who said to him, "After dinner you are free for
the rest of the afternoon. Mr. Penhallow has asked me to relieve you."

As he bade them good-morning, his uncle said, "How goes the examination?"

"Don't ask me yet, sir; but I cannot go home until the end of next week.
Then I shall know the result."

"But what examination remains?" persisted the Squire.

"Don't ask him, Uncle Jim."

"Well--all right."

"Thank you, Leila. I am worn out. I am glad of a let-up. I dream
equations and pontoon bridges--and I must do some work after dinner. Then
I will find you and Uncle Jim on Fort Putnam, at five."

"I want to talk with Beauregard," said Penhallow, "about the South. Leila
can find her way."

"I can," she said. "I want to sketch the river, and that will give me
time."

"Oh, there goes the dinner call. Come in at a quarter to one with Uncle
Jim. I have leave to admit you. There will be something to interest you."

"And what, John--men eating?"

"No. One of my best friends, Gresham from South Carolina, has been
ordered home by his father."

"And why?" asked Penhallow.

"Oh, merely because his people are very bitter, and, as he tells me, they
write about secession as if it were merely needed to say to the North 'We
mean to cut loose'--and go; it is just to be as simple as 'Good-bye,
children.' I think I wrote you, uncle, that we do not talk politics here,
but this quiet assumption of being able to do with us what they please is
not the ordinary tone of the Southern cadets. Now and then there is
a row--"

Leila listened with interest and some presently gratified desire to hear
her cousin declare his own political creed. She spoke, as they stood
beside the staff from which the flag was streaming in the north wind,
"Would it not be better, John, as Mr. Rivers desires, to let the Southern
States go in peace?" As she spoke, she was aware of something more than
being merely anxious that he should make the one gallant answer to the
words that challenged opinion. The Squire caught on to some comprehension
of the earnestness with which she put the question.

To his uncle's surprise, the cadet said, "Ah, my dear Leila, that is
really asking me on which side I should be if we come to an open
rupture."

"I did not mean quite that, John, and I spoke rather lightly; but you do
not answer."

He somewhat resented this inquisition, but as he saw his uncle turn,
apparently expectant, he said quietly and speaking with the low voice
which may be so surpassingly expressive, "I hardly see, Leila, why
you put such a question to me here under the flag. If there is to be
war--secession, I shall stand by the flag, my country, and an unbroken
union." The young face flushed a little, the mouth, which was of singular
beauty, closed with a grip on the strong jaw. Then, to Leila's surprise,
the Captain and John suddenly uncovered as music rang out from the
quarters of the band.

"Why do you do that, Uncle Jim?"

"Don't you hear, Leila? It is the 'Star Spangled Banner'--we all
uncover." Here and there on the parade ground, far and near, officers,
cadets and soldiers, stood still an instant bareheaded.

"Oh," murmured Leila. "How wonderful! How beautiful!" Surprised at the
effect of this ceremonial usage upon herself, she stood a moment with
that sense of constriction in the throat which is so common a signal of
emotion. The music ceased, and as they moved on Penhallow asked, "What
about Gresham, your friend?"

"Oh, you know, uncle, when a cadet resigns for any cause which involves
no dishonour, we have a little ceremony. I want you to see it. No college
has that kind of thing. Don't be late. I will join you in time."

The captain and Leila attracted much attention from the cadets at dinner
in the Mess Hall. "Now, dear, look!" said Penhallow. At the end of the
long table a cadet rose--the captain of the corps in charge of the
battalion. There was absolute silence. The young officer spoke:

"You all know that to our regret one of us leaves to-day. Mr. Gresham,
you have the privilege of calling the battalion to attention."

A slightly built young fellow in citizen's dress rose at his side. For a
moment he could not fully command his voice; then his tones rang clear:
"Most unwillingly I take my farewell. I am given the privilege of those
who depart with honour. Battalion! Attention! God bless you! Good-bye!"

The class filed out, and lifting the departing man on their shoulders
bore him down to the old south dock and bade him farewell.

Penhallow looked after them. "There goes the first, Leila. There will be
more--many more--to follow, unless things greatly change--and they will
not. I hoped to take John home with us, but he will come in a week. I
must leave to-morrow morning. John is in the dumps just now, but
Beauregard has only pleasant things to say of him. I wish he were as
agreeable about the polities of his own State."

"Are they so bad?"

"Don't ask me, Leila."

The capital of available energy in the young may be so exhausted by
mental labour, when accompanied by anxiety, that the whole body for a
time feels the effect. Muscular action becomes overconscious, and intense
use of the mind seems to rob the motor centres of easy capacity to use
the muscles. John Penhallow walked slowly up the rough road to where the
ruined bastions of Port Putnam rose high above the Hudson. He was aware
of being tired as he had not been for years. The hot close air and the
long hours of concentration of mind left him discouraged as well as
exhausted. He was still in the toils of the might-have-been, of that
wasting process--an examination, and turning over in his mind logistics,
logarithms, trajectories, equations, and a mob of disconnected questions.
"Oh, by George!" he exclaimed, "what's the worth while of it?" All the
pleasantly estimated assets of life and love and friendship became
unavailable securities in the presence of a mood of depression which came
of breathing air which had lost its vitalizing ozone. And now at a turn
in the road nature fed her child with a freshening change of horizon.

Looking up he saw a hawk in circling flight set against the blue sky. He
never saw this without thinking of Josiah, and then of prisoned things
like a young hawk he had seen sitting dejected in a cage in the barracks.
Did he have dreams of airy freedom? It had affected him as an image of
caged energy--of useless power. With contrasted remembrance he went
back to the guarded procession of boys from the lyceum in France, the
flower-stalls, and the bird-market, the larks singing merrily in their
small wicker cages. Yes, he had them--the two lines he wanted--a poet's
condensed statement of the thought he could not fully phrase:

Ah! the lark!
He hath the heaven which he sings,--
But my poor hawk hath only wings.

The success of the capture of this final perfection of statement of his
own thought refreshed him in a way which is one of the mysteries of that
wild charlatan imagination, who now and then administers tonics to the
weary which are of inexplicable value. John Penhallow felt the sudden
uplift and quickened his pace until he paused within the bastion lines of
the fort. Before him, with her back to him, sat Leila. Her hat lay beside
her finished sketch. She was thinking that John Penhallow, the boy
friend, was to-day in its accepted sense but an acquaintance, of whom she
desired, without knowing why, to know more. That he had changed was
obvious. In fact, he had only developed on the lines of his inherited
character, while in the revolutionary alterations of perfected womanhood
she had undergone a far more radical transformation.

The young woman, whom now he watched unseen, rose and stood on the
crumbling wall. A roughly caressing northwest wind blew back her skirts.
She threw out her wide-sleeved arms in exultant pleasure at the
magnificence of the vast river, with its forest boundaries, and the
rock-ribbed heights of Crow's Nest. As she stood looking "taller than
human," she reminded him of the figure of victory he had seen as a boy
on the stairway of the Louvre. He stood still--again refreshed. The
figure he then saw lived with him through life, strangely recurrent in
moments of peril, on the march, or in the loneliness of his tent.

"Good evening," he said as he came near. She sat down on the low wall and
he at her feet. "Ah, it is good to get you alone for a quiet talk,
Leila."

She was aware of a wild desire to lay a hand among the curls his
cadet-cropped hair still left over his forehead. "Do you really like the
life here, John?"

"Oh, yes. It is so definite--its duties are so plain--nothing is left to
choice. Like it? Yes, I like it."

"But, isn't it very limited?"

"All good education must be--it is only a preparation; but one's
imagination is free--as to a man's future, and as to ambitions. There
one can use one's wings."

She continued her investigation. "Then you have ambitions. Yes, you must
have," she cried with animation. "Oh, I want you to have them--ideals too
of life. We used to discuss them."

He looked up. "You think I have changed. You want to know how. It is all
vague--very vague. Yet, I could put my creed of what conduct is desirable
in life in a phrase--in a text."

"Do, John." She leaned over in her interest.

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things
which are God's." The seriousness of the upturned face for a moment kept
her silently reflective.

"Caesar! What of Caesar, John?"

"My country, of course; that is simple. The rest, Leila, covers
all--almost all of life and needs no comment. But how serious we are.
Tell me all about home and the village and the horses and Uncle Jim.
He has some grey hairs."

"He may well have grey hairs, John. The times are bad. He is worried.
Imagine Uncle Jim economical!"

"Incredible."

"Yes. He told me that his talk with Colonel Beauregard had made him
despair of a peaceful ending, and usually he is hopeful."

"Well, don't make me talk politics. We rarely do. Isn't this outlook
beautiful? People rarely come here and it often gives me a chance to be
alone and to think."

"And what do you think about, John?" She was again curious.

"Oh, many things, big and little. Uncle Jim, Aunt Ann, Mr. Rivers,
Dixy--hornets, muskrats," he laughed. She noted the omission of Leila
Grey.

"And what else?"

"Oh, the tragedy of Arnold,--the pathos of Washington's despair,--his
words, 'Who is there now I can trust?'"

"It came home to me, John, this morning when Colonel Beauregard showed us
the portraits of the major-generals of the Revolution. I saw a vacant
place and a tablet like the rest, but with 'Major General--Born 1740' and
no name! I asked what it meant. The Colonel said only, 'Arnold.' That is
too pitiful--and his wife--I read somewhere that she was young,
beautiful, and innocent of his horrible treason."

"Yes, what crime could be worse than his, and, too, such a gallant
soldier. Let us walk around the fort. Oh, by the way, I found here last
week two Continental buttons, Third Pennsylvania Infantry. Like to have
them, Leila? I thought you might."

"Would I like?" She took them eagerly. "They ought to be gilded and used
as sleeve-links." But where she kept them John Penhallow never knew. They
did not make the sleeve-links for which she agreed they were so suitable.

"Isn't there a walk down through the woods?" asked Leila.

"Yes, this way." Leaving the road they followed a rough trail through the
woods to a more open space half-way down the hill. Here he paused. "This
is our last chance to talk until I am at Grey Pine."

"That will be very soon, John." She sat down amid numberless violets,
adding, "There will be the hop to-night, as you call it."

"Yes, the hop. I forgot. You will give me the first dance?"

To her surprise he asked no others. "Cadets have to learn to dance, but
Baltimore may have left you critical."

Still on her investigation track, she returned, "Oh, Baltimore! It seems
odd to me that I should have seen so much of the world of men and women
and you who are older so little in this military monastery."

He laughed outright. "We have the officers' families, and if we are
allowed to visit, the Kembles and Gouverneurs and Pauldings across the
river--no better social life anywhere. And as for young women--sisters,
cousins--_embarras de choix_, Miss Grey. They come in flocks like the
blackbirds. I assure you that this branch of natural history is pretty
well illustrated at the Point. We are apt to be rather over-supplied in
June."

"Indeed!--all sorts, I suppose."

"Yes, a variety, and just now three charming young women from the South."

"Rather a strong adjective--charming. I might hesitate to apply it to a
whole flock. I think men are more apt to use it than women."

"I stand by my adjective. Take care of your laurels, Miss Grey. I am
lucky enough to have two dances with Miss Ramsay. Her brother is a
cadet."

"Introduce him to me. What myriads of violets!"

"Do you remember how, when we were small, we used to fight violets?"

"How long ago it seems, John. It must have been the first June after you
appeared in that amazing cap and--the cane I have it yet. Let's fight
violets. It may have a charm to make me look young again--I feel so old
sometimes."

Intent on her game, she was already gathering the flowers in her lap,
while the young man a little puzzled and a little amused watched the face
which she described for his benefit as needing to look young. She ran on
gaily, "You will pick five and I will pick five. I never heard of any
other children fighting violets. It is a neglected branch of education. I
got it from the Westways children. Now, fair play, John Penhallow." He
was carelessly taking his five violets, while Leila was testing hers,
choosing them with care. The charm she sought was working--they were
children again.

"That's not fair, Leila."

"Why not?"

"You are testing yours. It is a mean advantage. I would scorn to do such
a thing. It is just like a woman--the way you do about dress. All women
ought to dress alike--then the competition would be fair."

Leila looked up from her lap full of violets. "I should like to see
_your_ Miss Ramsay in one of my gowns."

"_My_ Miss Ramsay! No such luck."

"You're a goose, Jack."

"You're a silly, Leila."

"Oh, now, we are children, John. This is the magic of the June violets."

"And you are just fourteen, Leila. The wrinkles of age are gone--they
used to be dimples."

"Nonsense! Let's play."

They hooked together the bent stems of the flowers. Then there was a
quick jerk, and one violet was decapitated. "One for you, Leila;--and
another."

"You are not paying any attention to the game. Please to keep young a
little while." He was watching the sunlight as it fell upon her neck when
it bent over the flowers.

"And how am I to keep young, Miss Grey?"

"Oh, any woman can answer that--ask Miss Ramsay."

"I will. There! you have won, Leila, three to two. There used always to
be a forfeit. What must I pay?"

"Now, John, what terrible task shall I put upon you? I have it. You shall
ask me to give you the third dance."

"That is Miss Ramsay's. I am sorry."

"Oh, one girl is as good as another."

"Perhaps--for women." He did not ask of her any other dances. "But
really, Leila, the better bred of these Southern girls we see here are
most pleasant acquaintances, more socially easy of acquaintance than
Northern girls. As they are butterflies of the hour--their frank ways are
valuable in what you call our monastery."

"Yes, I know them well. There may be time here for some brief
flirtations. I used to see them in Maryland, and once when Aunt Margaret
took me on visits to some old Virginia homes. These pleasant girls take
to it with no more conscience than birds in the spring. I used to see it
in Maryland."

"Oh, yes," he said, "but it means very little;--quite harmless--mere
practice, like our fencing bouts."

"Did you ever kiss a woman, John--just for practice?" "Why did I say
that!" thought Leila. "Come, sir, confess!"

"Yes," he said, not liking it and far from any conception of the little
mob of motives which betrayed to her a state of mind he had not the
daring to guess. "Did I? That requires courage. Have I--ever kissed a
woman? Yes, often--"

"Oh, I did not ask who."

"Aunt Ann--and a girl once--"

"Indeed!"

"Yes--Leila Grey, aged fifteen--and got my ears boxed. This confession
being at an end, I want absolution." The air was cleared.

"How about the first polka as absolution?" said Leila.

"It is unusual, but as penance it may answer."

"The penance may be mine. I shall know better after the first round, Mr.
Penhallow."

"You are complimentary, Miss Grey," he added, with the whimsical display
of mirth which was more than a smile and not a laugh, and was singularly
attractive.

In place of keeping up the gay game of trifles as shuttle-cocks, Leila
stood still upon the edge of the wood, "I don't think you liked what I
asked."

"What, about kissing? I did not, but upon my honour I answered you
truly." He was grave as he replied.

"You did not think it impertinent, Jack?"

"I don't know what I thought it." And then, as if to avoid need to defend
or explain contradictory statements, he said, "Put yourself in my place.
Suppose I had dared to ask you if ever a man had kissed you--"

"Oh, that's the difference between kissing and being kissed."

"Then put it my way."

"John Penhallow, I should dearly like to box your ears. Once a man did
kiss me. He was tall, handsome, and had the formal courtly manners you
have at times. He was General Winfield Scott. He kissed my hand."

"You minx!" cried John, "you are no better than you used to be. There
goes the bugle!" And laughing as he deserted her, he ran down the hill
and across the parade ground.

"He is not really handsome," said the young woman, "but no man ought to
have so beautiful a mouth--I could have made him do it in a minute. Why
did I not? What's the matter? I merely couldn't. He hasn't the remotest
idea that if he were to kiss me--I--" She reddened at the thought and
went with quick steps of "virgin liberty" to take tea with the
Commandant.

In New York, on his way home, Penhallow received a telegram, "I am third.
John Penhallow." Then the Squire presented Leila with a bracelet, to the
belated indignation of Aunt Ann, who was practising the most disagreeable
economy. Her husband wrote her that the best policy for a man financially
in peril was to be extravagant enough to discredit belief in his need to
lessen expenditure. He was, moreover, pleasantly aware that the improving
conditions of trade this summer of 1859 had enabled him to collect some
large outstanding debts. He encouraged Leila to remember their old
village friends, but when he proposed a set of furs for Ann Penhallow's
winter wear Leila became ingeniously impossible about choice, and the
Squire's too lavish generosity somehow failed to materialize; but why or
how was not clear to him because of their being feminine diplomatic
ways--which attain results and leave with the male a mildly felt
resentment without apparent cause of defeat.

As Cadet No. 3 of his class in this year's studies made the railway
journey of a warm June day, he recalled with wondering amusement his
first lonely railway travel. "I was a perfect little snob." The formal,
too old-mannered politeness of his childhood had left, if the child is
father of the man, an inheritance of pleasant courtesy which was unusual
and had varied values in the intercourse of life. Rivers said of him
later that the manner of John Penhallow's manners had the mystery of
charm. Even when younger, at Grey Pine, he liked to talk to people, with
curiosity about their lives and their work. Now, as the train moved on,
he fell into chat with the country folk who got on the train for short
travel. Soon or late they all talked politics, but 'generally guessed
things would be settled somehow'--which is the easily reached conclusion
of the American. When the old conductor, with the confidence John's
manner invited, asked what uniform he wore, John said, laughing, "Do you
not remember the boy with a cane who got out at Westways Crossing?"

"You ain't him--?? not really? Why it's years ago! You are quite a bit
changed."

"For the better, I hope."

"Well, here's your station, and Miss Grey waiting."

"Oh, John, glad to see you! I told aunt no one must go for you but me.
Get in. And Billy, look out how you drive."

Billy, bewildered by the tall figure in cadet jacket and grey pantaloons,
needed the warning.

Then there was the avenue, the big grey pine, home, and Aunt Ann's kiss
of welcome. The old familiar life was again his. He rode with the Squire
or Leila, swam, and talked to Rivers whenever he could induce the too
easily tired man to walk with him. He was best pleased to do so when
Leila was of the party. Then at least the talk was free and wandered from
poetry and village news to discussion of the last addition to the causes
of quarrel between the North and South. When tempted to speak at length,
Rivers sat down.

"How can a man venture to speak, John, like Mr. Jefferson Davis? Have you
read his speech?"

"No, sir."

"Well, he says the importation of Africans ought to be left to the
States--and the President. He thinks that as Cuba is the only spot in the
civilized world where the African slave-trade is permitted, its cession
to us would put an end to that blot on civilization. An end to it,
indeed! Think of it!" His voice rose as he spoke. "End slavery and you
end that accursed trade. And to think that a woman like Ann Penhallow
should think it right!" Neither John nor Leila were willing to discuss
their aunt's definitely held views.

"I think," said Leila, who had listened silently, "Aunt Ann has lost or
put aside her interest in politics."

"I wish I could," said John. "But what do you mean, Leila? She has never
said so."

"It's just this. Aunt Ann told me two weeks ago that Uncle Henry Grey was
talked of as a delegate to the Democratic Convention to meet next year.
Now her newspapers remain unopened. They are feeding these dissensions
North and South. No wonder she is tired of it all. I am with Uncle Jim,
but I hate to wrangle over politics like Senator Davis and this new man
Lincoln--oh, and the rest. No good comes of it. I can't see it as you do,
Mr. Rivers."

"And yet, I am right," said Rivers gravely. "God knows. It is in His
hands."

"What Aunt Ann thinks right," said Leila, "can't be so unpardonably
wicked." She spoke softly. "Oh, John, look at that squirrel. She is
carrying a young one on her back--how pretty! She has to do it. What a
lovely instinct. It must be heavy."

"I suppose," said Rivers, "we all have loads we must carry, are born to
carry--"

"Like the South, sir," said John. "We can help neither the squirrel nor
the South. You think we can throw stones at the chipmunk and make her
drop it--and--"

"Bad logic, John," returned Rivers. "But soon there will be stones
thrown."

"And who will cast the first stone?" rejoined Leila, rising.

"It is an ancient crime," said Rivers. "It was once ours, and it will
be ours to end it. Now I leave you to finish your walk; I am tired." As
they moved away, he looked after them. "Beauty, intelligence, perfect
health--oh, my God!"

In August with ever resisted temptation John Penhallow went back to West
Point to take up his work again.

The autumn came, and in October, at night, the Squire read with dismay
and anger of the tragic attempt of John Brown at Harper's Ferry. "My poor
Ann," he exclaimed. He went at once from his library back to the hall,
where Leila was reading aloud. "Ann," he said, "have you seen the papers
to-day?"

"I have read no paper for a month, James. They only fill me with grief
and the sense of how helpless I am--even--even--with those I love. What
is it now, James?"

"An insane murderer named John Brown has made an attack on Harper's Perry
with a dozen or so of infatuated followers." He went on to tell briefly
the miserable story of a madman's folly.

"The whole North is mad," said Ann, not looking up, but knitting faster
as she spoke, "mad--the abolitionists of Boston are behind it." It was
too miserably true. "Thank you, James, for wanting to make me see in this
only insanity."

The Squire stood still, watched by the pitiful gaze of Leila. "I want
you, Ann--I wanted you to see, dear, to feel how every thoughtful man in
the North condemns the wickedness of this, and of any, attempt to cause
insurrection among the slaves."

"Yes--yes, of course--no doubt--but it is the natural result of Northern
sentiment."

"Oh, Aunt Ann!"

"Keep quiet, child!"

"You should not have talked politics to me, James."

"But, my God, Ann, this is not politics!" He looked down at her
flushed face and with the fatal newspaper in his hand stood still a
moment, and then went back to his library. There he stayed before the
fire, distressed beyond measure. "Just so," he said, "the South will
take it--just so."

Ann Penhallow said, "Where did you leave off, Leila? Go on, my dear, with
the book."

"I can't. You were cruel to Uncle Jim--and he was so dear and sweet."

"If you can't read, you had better go to bed." Leila broke into tears and
stumbled up the stairs with half-blinded eyes.

Ann sat long, hearing Penhallow's steps as he walked to and fro. Then she
let fall her knitting, rose, and went into the library.

"James, forgive me. I was unjust to say such things--I was--"

"Please don't," he cried, and took her in his arms. "Oh, my love," he
said, "we have darker days than this before us. If only there was between
North and South love like ours--there is not. We at least shall love on
to the end--no matter what happens."

The tearful face looked up, "And you do forgive me?" "Forgive! There
is no need for any such word in the dictionary of love." Between
half-hysterical laughter and ready tears, she gasped, "Where did you
get that prettiness?"

"Read it in a book, you goosey. Go to bed."

"No, not yet. This crime or craze will make mischief?"

"Yes, Ann, out of all proportion to the thing. The South will be in a
frenzy, and the North filled with regret and horror. Now go to bed--we
have behaved like naughty children."

"Oh, James, must I be put in a corner?"

"Yes--of my heart. Now, good night."

November passed. The man who had sinned was fairly tried, and on December
2nd went to a well-deserved death. Penhallow refused to talk of him to
Rivers, who praised the courage of his last hours.

"Mark," he said, "have been twice or thrice sure I was to die--and I
have seen two murderers hanged, and I do assure you that neither they
nor I were visibly disturbed. The fact is, when a fellow is sure to be
put to death, he is either dramatic--as this madman was--or quietly
undemonstrative. Martyr! Nonsense! It was simply stupid. I don't want
to talk about it. Those mischief-makers in Congress will howl over it."
They did, and secession was ever in the air.



CHAPTER XVIII


The figure of Lincoln had been set on the by-ways of State politics by
his debate with Douglas. His address in New York in February of 1860 set
him on the highways of the nation's life. Meanwhile there were no talks
about politics at Grey Pine. The Christmas Season had again gone by with
unwonted economies.

While Douglas defined his opinions in the Senate and Jefferson Davis made
plain that the Union would be dissolved if a radical Republican were
elected, it became clear that the Democratic party which in April was to
nominate candidates would be other than of one mind. Penhallow in
Washington heard Seward in the Senate. Of this memorable occasion he
wrote with such enthusiasm to Leila as he rarely showed:

"I may not write to your aunt, and I am moved to write to you by the
effect Mr. Seward's speech had on me. He is not much of a man in his
make-up. His voice is husky and his gestures are awkward and have no
relation to what he says. It seemed a dried-up sort of talk, but he held
the Senate and galleries to fascinated attention for two hours, and was
so appealing, so moderate. The questions at issue were handled with what
Rivers calls and never uses--the eloquence of moderation. I suppose he
will be the nominee of the Republican party. It won't please the
abolitionists at all. I wish you could have heard it.

"I came here to see two Southern Senators who have been counsel for us in
regard to debts owing the mills by Southern railways. I gathered easily
that my well-known Republican views made collection difficult. I was
about to say something angry--it would have done no good, and I am
opposed to useless anger. It is all pretty bad, because the South has
hardly felt the panic, or its continued effect on our trade.

"I am wrong to trouble you with my troubles. We shall pull through.

"Yours,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."

"P.S. I should have been prepared for my failure to get fair treatment.
I had learned in New York that lists of abolition houses have been
published in the South, and Southern buyers warned not to place orders
with them. I wonder if I am thus listed. Our agent in Savannah writes
that it is quite useless to solicit orders on account of the prevalent
sentiment, and he is leaving the town."

Penhallow went home disappointed and discouraged, and called a private
meeting of his Pittsburgh partners. He set before them the state of their
affairs. There would be no debts collectible in the South. He smiled as
he added that he had collected certain vague promises, which could hardly
be used to pay notes. These could and would be met, they said, but
finally agreed with him that unless they had other orders, it might be
necessary to further reduce their small force. His partners were richer
than he, but indisposed to take risks until the fall conventions were
over. It was so agreed. As they were leaving, Penhallow said, "But there
will be our workmen--what will become of them?" They were sure times
would get better, and did not feel his nearness of responsibility for
workmen he knew so long and so well.

He rode home at a walk. The situation of his firm was like that of many
others, and now this April of 1860 business doubts, sectional feeling and
love of country seemed to intensify the interest with which all classes
looked forward to the Charleston Democratic Convention.

The Convention met on April 23rd. It was grave and able. There were daily
prayers in the churches of Charleston for the success of Southern
principles. Henry Grey, a delegate, wrote to his sister:

"The Douglas platform was adopted and at once the delegations of six
cotton States withdrew. We who cannot accept Douglas meet in Richmond. It
means secession unless the Republicans are reasonable when they nominate
in Chicago. Mr. Alexander Stephens predicts a civil war, which most men I
meet here consider very unlikely."

Ann handed this letter to her husband, saying, "This will interest you."

He read it twice, and then said, "There is at least one man in the South
who believes the North will fight--Stephens."

"But will it, James?" A predictive spectre of fear rose before her.

Slowly folding the letter he said, "Yes, the South does not know us." She
walked away.

On May 16th the Republicans met in Chicago. The news of the nomination of
Lincoln came to the Squire as riding from the mills he met Dr. McGregor
afoot.

"What, walking!" he said. "I never before saw you afoot--away from that
saint of a mare."

"Yes, my old mare got bit by something yesterday and kicked the gig to
smithereens, and lamed her off hind-leg."

"I will lend you a horse and a gig," said Penhallow.

"Thanks," said McGregor simply. "I am sweating through my coat."

"But don't leave my horse half a day tied to a post--any animal with
horse-sense would kick."

"As if I ever did--but when the ladies keep me waiting. Heard the good
news? No--We have nominated Lincoln--and Hamlin."

"I preferred Seward. You surprise me. What of the platform?"

"Oh, good! The Union, tariff, free soil. You will like it. The October
elections in Pennsylvania will tell us who will win--later you will have
to take an active part."

"No. Come up to-morrow and get that horse--No, I'll send it."

The Squire met Rivers on the avenue. As he walked beside the horse, he
said, "I am going to dine with you."

"That is always good, but be on your guard about politics at Grey Pine.
Lincoln is nominated."

"Thank God! What do you think of it, Squire?"

"I think with you. This is definite--no more wabbling. But rest assured,
it means, if he is elected, secession, and in the end war. We will try to
avert it. We will invent compromises, at which the South will laugh; at
last, we will fight, Mark. But we are a quiet commercial people and will
not fight if we can avoid it. They believe nothing will make us fight.
The average, every-day Northerner thinks the threat of secession is
mere bluff."

"Do you recall, Squire, what Thucydides said of the Greeks at the time of
the Peloponnesian War?"

"I--how the deuce should I?--what did he say?"

"He said the Greeks did not understand each other any longer, although
they spoke the same language. The same words in Boston and in Charleston
have different meanings."

"But," said Penhallow, "we never did understand one another."

"No, never. War--even war--is better than to keep up a partnership in
slavery--a sleeping partnership. Oh, I would let them go--or accept the
gage of battle."

"Pretty well that, for a clergyman, Mark. As for me, having seen war, I
want never to see it again. This may please you." As he spoke, he
extracted a slip of paper from his pocket-book, where to Leila's
amusement queer bits of all kinds of matters were collected. Now it was
verse. "Read that. You might have written it. I kept it for you. There is
Ann on the porch. Don't read it now."

Late that evening Rivers sat down to think over the sermon of the next
Sunday. The Squire had once said to him, "War brings out all that is best
and all that is worst in a nation." He read the verses, and then read
them aloud.

"They say that war is hell, the great accursed,
  The sin impossible to be forgiven;
Yet I can look beyond it at its worst
  And still find blue in Heaven.

"And as I note how nobly natures form
  Under the war's red reign, I deem it true
That He who made the earthquake and the storm
  Perchance makes battles too.

"The life He loves is not the life of span
  Abbreviated by each passing breath;
It is the true humanity of man
  Victorious over death."

"No great thing in the way of poetry--but--a thought--a thought. Oh, I
should like to preach of men's duty to their country just now. I envy
Grace his freedom. If I preached as he does, people would say it was none
of a preacher's business to apply Christ's creed of conduct to a question
like slavery. Mrs. Penhallow would walk out of the church. But before
long men will blame the preacher who does not say, 'Thou shalt love thy
country as thyself'--ah, and better, yes, and preach it too."

During the early summer of 1860, James Penhallow guarded an awkward
silence about politics. Leila found that her uncle would not talk of what
the closing months of Buchanan's administration might contribute to
insure peaceful settlement. John Penhallow was as averse to answering her
eager questions. Their silence on matters which concerned a nation's
possible dismemberment and her aunt's too evident distress weighed
heavily upon Leila. The newspapers bewildered her. The _Tribune_ was for
peaceful separation, and then later was against it. Uncle Jim had said he
was too worried about the mills to talk politics, "Don't ask me, Leila."
At last, an errand to Dr. McGregor's gave her the chance she desired.

"Yes," said the doctor, "I'll come to-day. One of the maids? Well, what
else, Leila?" seeing that she still lingered.

"I want to know something about all this tangle of politics. There's
Breckinridge, Douglas, Bell and Lincoln--four candidates. Uncle Jim gets
almost cross when I ask him what they all stand for. Mr. Rivers told me
to be thankful I have no vote. If there is to be war, have I no interest?
There is Uncle Jim--and--and John."

The doctor said, "Sit down, Leila. Your uncle could answer you. He won't
talk. I don't believe John Penhallow owns any politics except a soldier's
blind creed of devotion to the Flag."

"Oh, the Flag, Doctor! But it is a symbol--it is history. I won't write
to a man any more who has no certain opinions. He never answers."

"Well, my dear, see how hard it is to know what to think! One State after
another is seceding. The old juggle of compromises goes on in that circus
we call Congress. The audience is grimly silent. Crittenden's compromise
has failed. The President is at last against secession--and makes no
vigorous effort to reinforce Fort Sumter. The Cabinet was distinctly with
the South--the new men came in too late. You--a girl--may well call it a
tangle. It is a diabolical cat's-cradle. My only hope, my dear, is in a
new and practically untried man--Abraham Lincoln. The South is one in
opinion--we are perplexed by the fears of commerce and are split. There
you have all my wisdom. Read the news, but not the weathercock essays
called editorials. Oh! I forgot to tell the Squire that Tom, my young
doctor, has passed the Army Board and is awaiting orders in Washington.
By-bye!"

"Tom as a doctor--and in uniform," Leila murmured, as her horse walked
away. "How these boys go on and on, and we women just wait and wait while
men dispose of our fates."

In February the Confederacy of the South was organising, and in March of
1861 Mr. Lincoln was President. Penhallow groaned over Cameron as
Secretary of War, smiled approval of the Cabinet with Seward and Chase
and anxiously waited to see what Lincoln would do.

Events followed fast in those eventful days. On the thirteenth of April
Ann Penhallow sat in the spring sunshine on the porch, while Leila read
aloud to her with entranced attention "The Marble Faun." The advent of an
early spring in the uplands was to be seen in the ruddy colour of the
maples. Bees were busy among the young flowers. There was noiseless peace
in the moveless infant foliage.

"How still it is!" said Leila looking up from the book. They were far
from the madding crowd. "What is it, Billy?"

He was red, breathless, excited, and suddenly broke out in his thin
boy-like voice, "Hurrah! They've fired on the flag."

"Who--what flag?"

"Don't know." He had no least idea of what his words meant. "Don't know,"
and crying "Hurrah! They've fired on the flag," fled away.

Ann said, "Go to the village and find out what that idiot meant."

In a half hour Leila came back. "Well, what is it?"

"The Charleston troops have fired on Fort Sumter--My God! Aunt Ann--on
the flag--our flag!"

Ann rose, gathered up her work, hesitated a moment, and saying, "That is
bad news, indeed," went into the house.

Leila sat down on the step of the porch and broke into a passion of
tears, as James Penhallow coming through the woods dismounted at her
side. "What is the matter, my dear child?"

"They have fired on the flag at Sumter--it is an insult!"

"Yes, my child, that--and much more. A blunder too! Mr. Lincoln should
thank God to-day. He will have with him now the North as one man. Colonel
Anderson must surrender; he will be helpless. Alas for his wife, a
Georgia woman!--and my Ann, my dear Ann."

There are few alive to-day who recall the effect caused in the States of
the North by what thousands of men and women, rich and poor, felt to be
an insult, and for the hour, far more to them than the material
consequences which were to follow.

When Rivers saw the working people of the little town passionately
enraged, the women in tears, he read in this outbreak of a class not
given to sentimental emotion what was felt when the fatal news came home
to lonely farms or great cities over all the North and West.

Memorable events followed in bewildering succession during the early
spring and summer of 1861. John wrote that Beauregard and all but a score
of Southern cadets had left the Point. Robert Lee's decision to resign
from the army was to the Squire far more sorrowfully important.

When Lincoln's call to arms was followed in July by the defeat of Bull
Run, James Penhallow wrote to his nephew:

"My Dear John: Your aunt is beyond measure disturbed. I have been more at
ease now that this terrible decision as to whether we are to be one or
God knows how many is to be settled by the ordeal of battle. I am amazed
that no one has dwelt upon what would have followed accepted secession.
We should have had a long frontier of custom houses, endless rows over
escaping slaves, and the outlet of the Mississippi in the possession of a
foreign country. Within ten years war would have followed; better let it
come now.

"I am offered a regiment by Governor Curtin. To accept would be fatal to
our interests in the mills. It may become an imperative duty to accept;
but this war will last long, or I much underestimate the difficulties of
overcoming a gallant people waging a defensive war in a country where
every road and creek is familiar.

"Yours, in haste,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."

John wrote later:

"MY DEAR UNCLE: Here is news for you! All of my class are ordered to
Washington. I shall be in the engineer corps. I see General McClellan is
put in command of the army. I will write again from Washington."

Ann Penhallow heard the letter, and saying merely, "It had to come!" made
the bitter forecast that it would be James Penhallow's turn next.

John wrote again as he had promised, but now to Leila:

"At last we are in this crowded city. We get our uniforms in a day or
two. I am a lieutenant of engineers. We are now in tents. On arrival we
were marched to General Scott's headquarters, and while drawn up in line
Mr. Lincoln came out. He said a few words to us. His appearance was
strange to me. A tall stooping figure, in what our village calls 'store
clothes,' but very neat; the face big, homely, with a look of sadness in
the eyes. He shook hands with each of us in turn, saying a word of
encouragement. Why he spoke specially to me, I do not know. He asked my
name. I said 'Penhallow.' 'Oh,' he said, 'a Cornish name--the great
iron-works. Do you know the Cornish rhyme? It rings right true.' I said,
'No, sir.' 'Well, it is good. Do your duty. There is a whole creed in the
word--man needs no other. God bless you, boys.' It was great, Leila. What
is the Cornish rhyme? Ask Uncle Jim. Write me care of the Engineer Camp.

"I put this on a separate slip for you. In Baltimore we were delayed and
I had an hour's leave. I called on your uncle, Charles Grey. He is Union
through and through. His brother Henry has gone South. While I was
walking with Mr. Charles Grey, a lady went by us, drawing away her skirts
with quite unmistakable contempt and staring at your uncle in a way which
was so singular that I asked what it all meant. He replied, 'It is your
United States cadet uniform--and the lady is Mrs. Henry Grey. I am not of
their acquaintance.' This, Leila, was my first taste of the bitterness of
feeling here. It is the worse for the uprising of union feeling all over
Maryland.

"My class-mates are rather jolly about their commissions and the prospect
of active war. I have myself a certain sense of being a mere cipher, a
dread too of failure. I can say so to you and to no one else. I am going
where death is in the air--and there are things which make me eager to
live--and--to be able to live to feel that I have done my duty. Thinking
of how intensely you feel and how you grieve over being unable to do more
than pray, I mean to pet a little the idea that I am your substitute."

At this point she sat a while with the letter on her lap. Then
she read on:

"I hoped for a brief furlough, but got none, and so I shall apply to
memory and imagination for frequent leave of absence,--from duty.

"Yours,

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

"To pet a little the idea! That is so like John. Well, yes--I don't mind
being petted as a substitute and at a distance. It's rather confusing."



CHAPTER XIX


It was late in October and ten at night, when Leila with her uncle was
endeavouring to discover on one of the large maps, then so much in
demand, the situation of the many small conflicts which local feeling
brought about.

"It all wants a head--one head, Leila. Now it is here, there and
everywhere, useless gain or loss--and no large scheme. John left
Washington two weeks ago. You saw his letter?"

"No."

"Then I may have told you--I am sure I did. Damn it, Leila! I am so
bothered. I did tell Ann, I suppose."

"Why, of course, Uncle Jim. I wish I could help you. Is it the mills?"

"Yes. Your little property, part of John's--your aunt's--are all in the
family business. Ann says, 'What's the difference? Nothing matters now.'
It isn't like her."

"I'm sure I don't care, Uncle Jim."

"Don't talk nonsense. In a month we shall know if we are bankrupt. I did
not mean to trouble you. I did mean to tell you that to my relief John is
out of Washington and ordered to report to General Grant at Cairo. See,
dear, there is a pin marking it on the map."

"Do you know this General?"

"Yes. He took no special rank at the Point, but--who can tell! Generals
are born, not made. I saw a beautiful water-colour by him at the Point.
That's all I know of him. Now, go to bed--and don't take with you my
worries and fight battles in your dreams."

There was in fact no one on whom he could willingly unload all of his
burdens. The need to relieve the hands out of work--two-thirds of his
force--was growing less of late, as men drifted off into the State force
which the able Governor Curtin was sending to McClellan. Penhallow's
friends in Pittsburgh had been able to secure a mortgage on Grey Pine,
and thus aided by his partners he won a little relief, while Rivers
watched him with increasing anxiety.

On the 17th of January, 1862, he walked into McGregor's office and said
to his stout friend, "McGregor, I am in the utmost distress about my
wife. Inside my home and at the mills I am beset with enough difficulties
to drive a man wild. We have a meeting in half an hour to decide what we
shall do. I used to talk to Ann of my affairs. No one has or had a
clearer head. Now, I can't."

"Why not, my friend?"

"She will not talk. Henry Grey is in the Confederate service; Charles is
out and out for the Union; we have no later news of John. We miserably
sit and eat and manufacture feeble talk at table. It is pitiful. Her
duties she does, as you may know, but comes home worn out and goes to bed
at nine. Even the village people see it and ask me about her. If it were
not for Leila, I should have no one to talk to."

A boy came in. "You are wanted, sir, at the mill office."

"Say I will come at once. I'll see you after the meeting, McGregor."

"One moment, Squire. Here's a bit of good news for you. Cameron has
resigned, and Edwin Stanton is Secretary of War."

"Stanton! Indeed! Thank Heaven for that. Now things will move, I am
sure."

The Squire found in his office Sibley, one of his partners, a heavy old
man, who carried the indifferent manners of a farmer's son into a middle
age of successful business. He sat with his chair tilted back, a huge
Cabana cigar hanging unlighted from the corner of his mouth. He made no
movement towards rising, but gave his hand as he sat, and said: "There,
Penhallow, just read that!"

As the Squire took the telegram, Sibley scratched a match on the back of
his pantaloons and waiting for the sulphur to burn out lit his cigar.
Ever after the smell of sulphur brought to the Squire of Grey Pine the
sense of some pleasant association and then a less agreeable remembrance.

"Read it--read it out loud, Penhallow! It was a near thing. Wardlow
couldn't meet us--be here at noon. Read it--I've read it about ten
times--want to hear it again. I've been as near broke as you--but that's
an old story. When you're at your last dollar, buy a fast pair of
trotters--one thousand-dollar pair--and drive them. Up goes your credit!
Told you that once."

Penhallow looked up from the telegram. "Is this certain?"

"Yes, it has been repeated--you can rely on it."

"WASHINGTON, Willard's Hotel.

"Mr. Stanton has given contract for field artillery to the Penhallow
Mills.

"RICHARD AINSELEY."

Penhallow had read it aloud as he stood. Then he sat down.

"Don't speak to me for a moment, Sibley. Thank God!" he murmured, while
the care-wrinkled face of the veteran speculator looked at him with a
faint smile of affectionate regard.

"Well," said Penhallow, "is this all?"

"No. While Cameron was in office the contract was drawn in favour of the
Lancaster Works. We have been urging our own claims, and their Washington
agent, your very particular friend, Mr. Swallow, would have had the job
in a week more. When Stanton saw our bid and that it was really a more
advantageous offer, he sent first for Swallow and then for Ainseley
and settled it at once. I believe your name and well-known character did
the business. Do you know--do you realize what it means to us?"

"Hardly. I had no hope while Cameron was in office. I left it to you and
Ainseley."

"Well, you will see the contract to-morrow." He wriggled on to one leg of
the frail office chair and came down with a crash. He gathered up his two
hundred pounds and laughing said, as he looked at the wreck, "That's what
we would have been tomorrow but for that bit of yellow paper. In six
months you will be a rich man, my friend. Cannon--shells--the whole
outfit. We must get to work at once. An ordnance officer will be here
to-morrow with specifications, and your own knowledge will be invaluable.
I'd like to see Swallow again. He was so darned sure!"

Wardlow turned up by the noon train, and they worked until dusk, when his
partners left him to secure hands in Pittsburgh, while the good news
spread among the men still at work. Penhallow rode home through the woods
humming his old army songs--a relieved and happy man.

The Doctor waited a half-hour in vain, and after his noonday dinner was
about to go out when Mrs. Penhallow was driven to his door. Somewhat
surprised, he went back with her.

"Sit down," he said. "What can I do for you?"

"Oh, for me nothing! I want to talk about my husband. He is ill, I am
sure--he is ill. He eats little, he sleeps badly, he has lost--oh,
altogether lost--his natural gaiety. He hardly speaks at all."

The Doctor was silent.

"Well," she said.

"Can you bear a little frank talk?" he asked.

"Yes--why not?"

"Do you know that he is on the verge of complete financial ruin?"

"What does that matter? I can--I can bear anything--give up anything--"

"You have the woman's--the good woman's--indifference about money. Do you
talk to him about it?"

"No. We get on at once to the causes of trouble--this unrighteous
war--that I can't stand."

"Ah, Mrs. Penhallow, there must be in the North and South many families
divided in opinion; what do you suppose they do? This absolute silence is
fatal. You two are drifting apart--"

"Oh, not that! Surely not that!"

"Yes! The man is worried past endurance. If he really were to fall ill--a
serious typhoid, for instance, the South and your brother and John,
everything would be forgotten--there would be only James Penhallow. It
would be better to talk of the war--to quarrel over it--to make him talk
business--oh, anything rather than to live as you are living. He is not
ill. Go home and comfort him. He needs it. He has become a lonely man,
and it is your fault. He was here to-day in the utmost distress about
you--"

"About me?"

"Yes."

"There is nothing the matter with me!"

"Yes, there is--oh, with both of you. This war will last for years--and
so will you. All I have to say is that my friend, James Penhallow, is
worth all the South, and that soon or late he will stand it no longer and
will go where he ought to be--into the army."

"You are talking nonsense--he will never leave the mills." He had called
up her constant fear.

"It is not nonsense. When he is a broken man and you and he are become
irritable over a war you did not make and cannot end, he will choose
absence and imperative duty as his only relief."

As she stood up, red and angry, she said, "You have only hurt and not
helped me." She said no other word as he went with her to the wagon. He
looked after her a moment.

"Well, well! There are many kinds of fools--an intelligent fool is the
worst. I didn't help her any, and by George! I am sorry."

When at twilight the doctor came home from distant visits to farms, he
met Leila near to his door. "I want to see you a minute," she said, as
she slipped out of her saddle.

"A woman's minute or a man's minute?"

"A man's."

She secured her mare as he said, "Well, come in. It's rather amusing,
Leila. Sit down. I've had James Penhallow here to say his wife's breaking
down. I've had Mrs. Penhallow here to say James Penhallow is ill. Except
the maids and the cats and you, all Grey Pine is diagnosing one another.
And now, you come! Don't tell me you're ill--I won't have it."

"Please don't joke, Doctor. I am troubled about these dear people. I
talked to Mr. Rivers about it, and he is troubled and says it is the
mills and money. I know that, but at the bottom of it all is the war. Now
Aunt Ann is reading the papers again--I think it is very strange; it's
confusing, Doctor."

"Here," reflected the doctor, "is at least one person with some sense."

She went on, speaking slowly, "Uncle Jim comes home tired. Aunt Ann eats
her dinner and reads, and is in bed by nine. The house is as melancholy
as--I feel as if I were in a mousetrap--"

"Why mouse-trap, my dear?"

"It sounds all right. The mouse is waiting for something awful to
happen--and so am I. Uncle Jim talked of asking people to stay with us.
It's just to please Aunt Ann. She said, 'No, James, I don't want any
one.' He wished to please her. She really thinks of nothing but the war
and Uncle Jim, and when Uncle Jim is away she will spend an hour alone
over his maps. She has--what do you call it--?"

"Is obsession the word you want?"

"Yes--that's it."

"Now, Leila, neither you nor I nor Mark Rivers can help those two people
we love. Don't cry, Leila; or cry if it will help you. When you marry, be
sure to ask, 'what are your politics, Jeremiah?'" His diversion answered
his purpose.

"I never would marry a man named Jeremiah."

"I recommend a well-trained widower."

"I prefer to attend to my husband's education myself. I should like a man
who is single-minded when I marry him."

"Well, for perversion of English you are quite unequalled. Go and flirt a
bit for relief of mind with Mark Rivers."

"I would as soon flirt with an undertaker. Why not with Dr. McGregor?"

"It would be comparable, Leila, to a flirtation between a June rose and a
frost-bitten cabbage. Now, go away. These people's fates are on the lap
of the gods."

"Of the god of war, I fear," said Leila.

"Yes, more or less." He sent her away mysteriously relieved, she knew not
why. "A little humour," he reflected, "is as the Indians say, _big
medicine_."

Whether the good doctor's advisory prescription would have served
as useful a purpose in the case of Ann Penhallow, he doubted. That
heart-sick little lady was driven swiftly homeward, the sleigh-runners
creaking on the frozen snow: "Walk the horses," she said to Billy, as
they entered the long avenue, "and quit talking."

While with the doctor and when angrily leaving him, she was the easy
victim of a storm of emotions. As she felt the healthy sting of the dry
cold, she began the process of re-adjustment we are wise to practise
after a time of passion when by degrees facts and motives begin to
reassume more just proportions. He had said, the war would last long.
That she had not believed. Could she and James live for years afraid to
speak of what was going on? The fact that her much-loved Maryland did not
rise as one man and join the Confederacy had disturbed her with her first
doubt as to the final result of the great conflict. She thought it over
with lessening anger at the terrible thing McGregor had said, "You two
are drifting apart." This sentence kept saying itself over and over.

"Stop, Billy." She was back again in the world of everyday. "Get in, Mr.
Rivers. We are both late for our Dante." As she spoke, an oppressed pine
below which he stood under a big umbrella was of a mind to bear its load
no longer and let fall a bushel or so of snow on the clergyman's cover.
His look of bewilderment and his upward glance as if for some human
explanation routed from Ann's mind everything except amusement over this
calamity.

"You must not mind if I laugh." She took for granted the leave to
laugh, as he said, "I don't see where the fun comes in. It is most
disagreeable." The eloquent eyes expressed calamity. It was really
felt as if it had been a personal attack.

"It was a punishment for your utterly abominable politics." For the first
time for months she was her unfettered self. His mind was still on his
calamity. "I really staggered under it."

"Shake it off and get in to the sleigh. My husband ought to have all the
big pines cut down." Rivers's mind had many levels. Sometimes they were
on spiritual heights, or as now--almost childlike.

"To stay indoors would be on the whole more reasonable," he said, "or to
have these trees along the avenue shaken."

"I'd like the job," ventured Billy.

"Keep quiet," said Mrs. Ann.

"It is most uncomfortable as it melts," said Rivers.

Ann thought of John Penhallow's early adventure in the snow, and seeing
how strangely real was Mark Rivers's discomfort, remarked to herself that
he was like a cat for dislike of being wet, and was thankful for her
privilege of laughing inwardly.

Billy, who was, as Leila said, an unexpectable person, contributed to Ann
Penhallow's sense of there being still some available fun in a world
where men were feebly imitating the vast slaughters of nature. He
considered the crushed umbrella, the felt hat awry, and the disconsolate
figure. "Parson do look crosser than a wet hen."

Then too Rivers's laugh set free her mirth, and Ann Penhallow laughed as
she had not done for many a day. "That is about my condition," said
Rivers. "I shall go home and get into dry clothes. Billy, you're a poet."

"Don't like nobody to call me names," grunted Billy.

"I wish James had heard that," cried Ann, while Rivers gathered up the
remains of his umbrella.

As Billy drove away, Mrs. Penhallow called back, "You will come to dinner
to-day?"

"Thank you, but not to-day."

As Ann came down the stairs to the hall, Penhallow was in the man's
attitude, with his back to the fire. Leila with a hand on the mantel and
a foot on the fender was talking to her uncle, an open letter in her
hand. Ann heard him say, "That was in October"--and then--"Why this must
be a month old!"

"It must have been delayed. He wrote a note after the fight at Belmont,
and that was in October. He did write once since then, but it was hardly
worth sending. As a letter writer, John is rather a failure, but this is
longer." She laughed gaily as she spread open the letter.

"He has got a new hero, uncle--General Grant. John is strong on
heroes--he began with you."

"Stuff and nonsense," said the Squire. "Read it."

Leila hesitated.

"Oh, let's hear it," cried her aunt.

"Go on, dear," said the Squire.

Leila still hesitated. Usually Ann Penhallow carried away John's rare
letters to be read when alone. Now she said, with unnatural deliberation.
"Read it; one may as well hear his news; we can't always just ignore what
goes on."

Leila a little puzzled glanced at her aunt. The Squire pleased and
astonished said, "Go on, my dear."

Turning to the candles on the hall table, Leila read the letter:--"Why
how long it has been! It is dated November 20th."

"DEAR LEILA: We have been moving from place to place, and although I know
or guess why, it is best left out of letters. At Belmont General Grant
had a narrow escape from capture. He was the last man on board the boat.
He is a slightly built, grave, tired-looking man, middle-aged, carelessly
dressed and eternally smoking. I was in the thick of the row--a sort of
aide, as there was no engineer work. He was as cool as a cucumber--"

"Why are cucumbers cool?" asked Leila, looking up. "Oh, bother! Go on!"
said Penhallow.

"We shall move soon. Good-bye.

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

Ann made no comment. The Squire said, "It might have been longer. Come,
there's dinner, and I am hungry."

Ann looked at him. He was gay, and laughed at her account of Rivers's
disaster.

"I have some good news for you, Ann. I shall keep it until after dinner.
Then we can talk it over at leisure. It concerns all of us, even John."

"I don't see how I am to wait," said Leila.

"You will have to."

Ann made an effort to meet the tone of gaiety in her husband's talk, and
when the wine was set before him, he said, "Now, Ann, a glass--and Leila,
'To our good news and good luck--and to John.'"

They followed him into the library, and being in sacrificial mood, Ann
filled a pipe, lighted a match, and said, "I want you to smoke, James."

"Not yet, dear. Sit down."

"No, I want to stand." She stood beside the fire, a little lady, with an
arm around the waist of her niece. The Squire seated was enjoying the
suspense of his eager audience.

"You know, dear Ann, that for two years or more the mills have been
without large orders. We have been in the most embarrassing situation.
Our debts"--he was about to say, 'in the South'--"unpaid. I had to ask
you to help us."

This was news to Leila. "Why mention that, James?" said her aunt.

"Well, we long ago lessened our force. To shut down entirely was ruin,
but when we met to-day we were to decide whether it was honest to borrow
more money and stagger on, or as I thought, honourable to close the mills
and realize for our creditors all we could."

Ann sat down with some feeling of remorse. Why had she not known all
this? Was it her fault? He had borne it for the most part without her
knowledge--alone. "My God! It is true," she reflected, "we have drifted
apart." He had hopefully waited, not wanting to trouble a woman already
so obviously sorrow-laden. He seemed to echo her thought.

"You see, dear," and the strong face grew tender, "I did not mean to
disturb you until it became inevitable. I am glad I waited."

Ann, about to speak, was checked by his lifted hand. "Now, dear, all my
troubles are over. Mr. Stanton, the new Secretary of War, has signed a
contract with our firm for field artillery. It is a fortune. Our bid was
low. A year's work--shot, shell--and so on. Congratulate me, Ann."

"My God!" he cried, "what is the matter?"

Ann Penhallow turned quickly, a hand on the table staying herself. "And
you--you are to make cannon--you--and I--and with my money!" she laughed
hysterical laughter--"to kill my people the North has robbed and driven
into war and insulted for years--I--I--" her voice broke--she stood
speechless, pale and more pale.

Penhallow was appalled. He ran to catch her as she swayed.

"Don't touch me," she cried. "I feared for--you--the army--but never
this--this!" Despite her resistance, he laid her on the lounge.

"Leila," she said, "I want to go upstairs to bed." The face became white;
she had fainted.

"Is she dead?" he said hoarsely, looking down at her pale face.

"No--no. Carry her upstairs, uncle." He picked up the slight form and
presently laid her on her bed. "Leave her to me, Uncle Jim. I have seen
girls in hysterics. Send up a maid--the doctor! No, I will come down when
she is undressed. See, her colour is better."

He went downstairs, reluctant to leave her. In the library he sat down
and waited. An hour passed by, and at last Leila reappeared. She kissed
him with more than her usual tenderness, saying, "She is quiet now. I
will lie down on her lounge to-night. Don't worry, Uncle Jim."

This advice so often given was felt by him to be out of his power to
follow. He knew very well that this he would have now to consider was not
only a mere business affair. It ceased to be that when he heard with the
shock of bewilderment his wife's outburst of angry protest. He loved her
as few men love after many years of married life, and his affection was
still singularly young. His desire to content her had made him unwisely
avoid talk about differences of opinion. In fact his normal attitude was
dictated by such gentle solicitude as is not uncommon in very virile men,
who have long memory for the careless or casual sharp word. To the end of
his days he never suspected that to have been less the lover and more the
clear-sighted outspoken friend would have been better for her and for
him. He sat into the night smoking pipe after pipe, grappling with a
situation which would have presented no difficulties to a coarser nature.
At last he went upstairs, listened a moment at Ann's chamber door, and
having smoked too much spent a thought-tormented night, out of which he
won one conclusion--the need to discuss his trouble with some friend. At
six he rose and dressed, asked the astonished cook for an egg and coffee,
went to the stables, and ordered a groom to saddle horses and follow him.

A wild gallop over perilously slippery roads brought him to McGregor's
door, a quarter of a mile from the mills. The doctor was at breakfast,
and rose up astonished. "What's wrong now, Penhallow?" he said.

"Oh, everything--everything."

"Then sit down and let us talk. What is it?"

The Squire took himself in hand and quietly related his story of the
contract and his wife's reception of what had been to him so agreeable
until she had spoken.

"Can you bear--I said it yesterday to Mrs. Penhallow--a frank opinion?"

"Yes, from you--anything."

"Have no alarm about her health, my friend. It is only the hysteria of a
woman a little spoiled by too tender indulgence."

The Squire did not like it, but said, "Oh, perhaps! But now--the
rest--the rest--what am I to do?" The doctor sat still a while in
perplexed thought. "Take your time," said Penhallow. "I have sent the
horses to the stable at the mills, where my partners are to meet me
early to-day."

The doctor said, "Mrs. Penhallow will be more or less herself to-day. I
will see her early. There are several ways of dealing with this matter.
You can take out of the business her share of the stock."

"That would be simple. My partners would take it now and gladly."

"What else you do depends on her condition of mind and the extent to
which you are willing to give way before the persistency of a woman who
feels and does not or can not reason."

"Then I am not now to do anything but tell her that I will take her stock
out of the business."

"That may relieve her. So far I can go with you. But, my dear Penhallow,
she may be utterly unreasonable about your manufacture of cannon, and
what then you may do I cannot say. How long will it be before you begin
to turn out cannon?"

"Oh, two months or more. Many changes will be needed, but we have
meanwhile an order for rails from the Baltimore and Ohio."

"Then we can wait. Now I am off for Grey Pine. See me about noon. Don't
go back home now. That's all."

While the Squire walked away to the mills, McGregor was uneasily moving
his ponderous bulk to and fro in the room.

"It's his damn tender, soft-hearted ways that will win in the end. My old
Indian guide used to say, 'Much stick, good squaw.' Ann Penhallow has
never in her whole life had any stick. Damn these sugar plum husbands!
I'd like to know what Miss Leila Grey thinks of this performance. Now,
there's a woman!"

When after a night of deep sleep Ann woke to find Leila standing by her
bed, she rose on an elbow saying, "What time is it? Why are you here?"

"It is eight, aunt. You were ill last night; I stayed on your lounge."

Now her aunt sat up. "I was ill, you say--something happened." The thing
pieced itself together--ragged bits of memories storm-scattered by
emotion were reassembled, vague at first, then quickly more clear. She
broke into unnaturally rapid speech, reddening darkly, with ominous
dilatation of the pupils of her large blue eyes. "And so James Penhallow
is to be made rich by making cannon to kill my people--oh, I remember!"
It seemed absurdly childlike to Leila, who heard her with amazement. "And
with my money--it is easy to stay at home and murder--and be paid for it.
Let him go and--fight. That's bad enough--I--"

"God of Heaven, Aunt Ann!" the girl broke in, "don't dare to say that to
Uncle Jim. Are you crazy--to say such things."

"I don't know what I am. Oh, those cannon! I hear them. He shall not do
it--do you hear me? Now send me up a cup of tea--and don't come in again.
I want James--tell him--tell him."

"He went away to the mills at six o'clock."

"I know. He is afraid to talk to me--I want to see him--send for him at
once. I said at once--do you hear! Now go."

As Leila turned to leave, she heard a knock at the door, said "Come in,"
and to her relief saw enter large and smiling the trusted doctor. As he
neared the bed, Ann fell back speechless and rigid.

"Ah, Leila! That makes it all plain. There is no danger. Close the
blinds; I want the room darkened. So! Come into the back room--leave the
door ajar." He selected a trustworthy chair and sat down with deliberate
care. "Now listen to me, my dear. This is pure hysteria. It may last for
days or weeks--it will get well. It is the natural result of birth,
education, worry, etc.--and a lot of darned et ceteras. When you let
loose a mob of emotions, you get into trouble--they smash things, and
this is what has become of one of God's sweetest, purest souls."

"It is most dreadful, Doctor; but what shall we do with Uncle Jim. If she
has a mere cold in the head, he is troubled."

"Yes--yes." The doctor took counsel with himself. "I will send up old
Mrs. Lamb to help you--she is wise in the ways of sick women. Take your
rides--and don't fret over this suicide of reason." He was pleased with
his phrase. "Let her see Penhallow if she asks for him, but not if you
can help it. It is all as plain as day. She has been living of late a
life of unwholesome suppression. She has been alarmed by Penhallow's
looks, hurt by her brothers' quarrels, and heart-sick about the war and
John. Then your uncle springs on her this contract business and there is
an explosion."

After giving careful orders, he went away. To Penhallow he said, "When
you are at home keep out of her room. If you have to see her, tell her
nothing has been done or will be for months. The time will come when you
will have to discuss matters."



CHAPTER XX


Leila Grey never forgot the month which followed. Penhallow was
mercifully spared the sight of the drama of hysteria, and when not at
the mills went about the house and farm like a lost dog; or, if Leila
was busy, took refuge with Rivers. Even the war maps claimed no present
interest until a letter came from John after the capture of Port
Donaldson. At evening they found the place on the map.

"Well, now let's hear it. Ann is better, McGregor says," He was as
readily elated as depressed. "Does she ask for me?"

"No," said Leila, "at first she did, but not now."

"Read the letter, my dear."

"DEAR LEILA: I wrote to Aunt Ann and Uncle Jim a fortnight ago--"

"Never came," said Penhallow.

"I am called an engineer, but there is no engineering required, so I am
any General's nigger. I have been frozen and thawed over and over. No
camp fires allowed, and our frozen 15,000 besieged 21,000 men. General
S.T. Smith picked me up as an aide, and on the 15th personally led a
charge on the Rebel lines, walking quietly in front of our men to keep
them from firing. It did not prevent the Rebs from abusing our
neutrality. It was not very agreeable, but we stormed their lines and I
got off with a bit out of my left shoulder--nothing of moment. Now we
have them. If this war goes on, Grant will be the man who will end it. I
am too cold to write more. Love to all.

"General Smith desires to be remembered to Uncle Jim, and told me he was
more than satisfied with

"Yours,

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

"Isn't that delightful, Uncle Jim? But every night I think of it--this
facing of death. I see battles and storming parties. Don't you see things
before you fall asleep? I can see whatever I want to see--or don't want
to."

"Never saw anything of the kind--I just go to sleep."

"I thought everybody could see things as I do."

"See John too, Leila? Wish I could."

"Yes," she said, "sometimes." In fact, she could see at will the man who
was so near and so dear and a friend to-day--and in that very lonely time
when the house was still and the mind going off guard, the something
indefinitely more.

The Squire, who had been studying the map, was now standing before the
fire looking up where hung over the mantel his sword and the heavy army
pistols. He turned away as he said, "Life is pretty hard, Leila. I ought
to be here--here making guns. I want to be where my class-mates are in
the field. I can't see my way, Leila. When I see a duty clearly, I can do
it. Now here I have to decide what is my duty. There is no devil like
indecision. What would you do?"

"It is a question as to what you will do, not I--and--oh, dear Uncle Jim,
it is, you know, what we call in that horrid algebra the X of the
equation."

"I must see your Aunt Ann. Is she"--and he hesitated--"is she
herself?"--he would not say, quite, sane.

"She is not at all times."

"How far must I consider her, or be guided by the effect my decision will
have on her? There are my partners to consider. The money does not
influence me--it is Ann--Ann." Then she knew that he would make any
sacrifice necessary to set Ann Penhallow at ease. "I think," she said as
she rose, "that we had better go to bed."

"I suppose so," he said. "Wait a moment. Your aunt told me that I had
better go where there was war--she could not have guessed that I have
lived for months with that temptation. I shall end by accepting a
command. Now since her reproach I shall feel that war offers the bribe of
ease and relief from care."

"I know, the call of duty--you will have to go. But, oh, my God! it is
very terrible."

"The fact is, this sudden good fortune for a time so set me at ease that
I lost sight of my honest craving for action. Now I ought to thank Ann
for making me see what I ought to do--must do. But how--how? It will
clear up somehow. Goodnight."

It was the end of March before McGregor told Penhallow that Mrs.
Penhallow insisted on seeing him. "Now, Squire," he said, "you will be
shocked at her appearance, but she is really well in body, and this thing
has got to be set at rest. She talks of it incessantly."

Penhallow entered the dimly lighted room and passed his old nurse, Mrs.
Lamb, as she whispered, "Don't stay long, sir." He was shocked as he won
clearer vision in the dim light.

"Oh, James!" she said, "they wouldn't let me see you. Open the shutters."
He obeyed, and kneeling kissed the wasted face he loved so well. The
commonplaces of life came to his aid as he kissed her again, and she
said, "Dear me, James, you haven't shaved to-day."

"No, I am going to stop at the barber's--but I miss Josiah."

She smiled. "Yes, poor Josiah."

Then he took courage, fearfully timid as men are when they confront the
illness of women. "I want to say to you, Ann, that having your power of
attorney I have withdrawn your fifty thousand dollars you had lent to the
mills. My partners were glad to take it." He said nothing of their
surprise at the offer.

"Thank you," she returned feebly. "And you are going on with the
business?" her voice rising as she spoke.

"We will talk of that later, Ann. I was told not to let you talk long.
I shall endeavour to invest your money so as to give you a reasonable
return--it will take time."

He did not succeed in diverting her attention. She put out a thin hand
and caught his sleeve. "Do you think me unreasonable, James?"

"Yes," he said, and it needed courage.

"I was sure you would say so." The great blue eyes, larger for the wasted
setting of nature's wonderful jewels, looked up at him in dumb appeal.
"Won't you think a little of how I feel--and--and shall feel?"

"Think a little--a little?" he returned; "I have done nothing else but
think."

"You don't answer me, James." There was the old quiet, persistent way
he had known in many happy days, reinforced by hysteric incapacity to
comprehend the maze of difficulties in which he was caught.

"It is a pity I did not die," she said, "that would have saved you all
this trouble."

He felt the cruelty of her words as he broke away and left the room.
McGregor had waited, and hearing his story said, "It will pass. You must
not mind it--she is hardly sane."

James Penhallow mounted and rode to the village, was duly shaved, and
went on to the post-office. Mrs. Crocker rotund and rosy came out and
handed him as he sat in the saddle a sheaf of letters. "Yes, Mrs.
Penhallow is better, thank you." As he rode away the reins on Dixy's
neck, he read his letters and stuffed them in his pocket until he came
to one, over which he lingered long. It ran thus:

"MY DEAR SIR: Will you not reconsider the offer of the colonelcy of a
regiment? It will not require your presence until July. There is no need
to reply at once. There is no one else so entirely fit for such a charge,
and the Attorney-General, your friend Meredith, unites with me in my
appeal to you. The State and the country need you.

"Yours truly,

"ANDREW CURTIN."

He reached but one conclusion as he turned the tempting offer over in
his mind, and acting on it wrote the Governor from his office that his
wife was at present too ill for him to consider the offer of a command.

As day by day he sat with Ann, to his relief she ceased to dwell on the
matter which had so disturbed her, and rapidly regaining health, flesh
and strength, began to ask about the house and the village people. It was
a happy day when in May he carried her down to a hammock on the porch. A
week later she spoke again, "What conclusion have you reached?" she said.

"About the mills?"

"Yes."

"Ask me in a week, Ann. Do you want to read John's letters? There are
several--one about a battle at Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee."

"I want to hear nothing of the war. Is he well?"

"Yes, thank God." The news of McClellan's army was anything but
satisfactory, and more and more the soldier longed to be in the field.

Early in June, Penhallow on his way to meet his partners paused at
McGregor's house to ask his opinion of his wife. "How do I find her?
Better every day--more herself. But what of you?"

"Of me? I can stand it no longer, Doctor. I cannot see this war
in Virginia go on to the end without taking part in it. I must--do
anything--anything--make any sacrifice."

"But your wife--the mills--"

"I have but one answer--my country! I told you I had refused Governor
Curtin's offer--what to do about our contract I do not yet know. They
are reorganizing the artillery service."

"And you would like that best?"

"Yes. What amuses you?"

The doctor smiled often, but as Mrs. Crocker said, when he did laugh it
was as good as a Fourth of July celebration and the house shook. As the
Squire watched him, the smile broadened out in circles from the mouth
like the ripples cast by a stone on still water; then the eyes grew
merrily busy and the big frame shook with laughter.

"Well, now, Squire! To give up making guns and go in for using
them--well--well!"

"Don't chaff me, McGregor; I mean to be in it, cost what it may. I am to
meet my partners--good-bye."

The doctor wondered what Ann Penhallow would do or say. It was past
guessing but he saw clearly that Penhallow was glad of any excuse to get
into the field.

"Glad to see you, Ainseley," said Penhallow. "Good morning, Sibley. You
will find things moving. Many casting moulds will be ready by this day
week."

"Last night," said Sibley, the richer member of the firm, "I had a
telegram from Austin, the iron-man. He asks what we would take to
transfer our contract. I replied that we did not deal that way with
Government contracts. To-day I got this other--read it."

"On what terms will you take me in? My ore, as you know, is not hematite
and is better than yours."

Penhallow sat still reading the telegram again and again. Here was an
unlooked-for way out of his troubles. At last he looked up, and to their
surprise said, "My capital in the business is one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, and you--the firm--pay me a rental of ten thousand."

"Not last year," said Ainseley; "we could not, as you know."

"Yes. Our partnership ends this July 1st. Wire Austin that I will sell
him my share and go out. You may ask him what bonus you please--I mean,
I will sell to you at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars--the rental
will go on, of course."

"My heavens!" cried Sibley, "what do you mean? It is throwing away a
fortune, man--a fortune."

Penhallow laughed. "And yet I mean to do it. The work is ready to go on.
You will have ordnance officers here--you won't miss me."

They argued with him in vain. Waldron not altogether dissatisfied sat
still, wondering how much bonus Austin would stand, while Ainseley and
Sibley troubled for their friend and not well pleased, fought his
decision. "Are you fully resolved on this, Penhallow?" said Sibley.

"I am. I cannot take out the small amount of money John Penhallow owns.
It must remain, at least for a time, and will be a convenience to you.
My wife's money is already out. It was only a loan."

"But why should not you sell out to Austin," said Sibley, "if you mean
to leave us, and get out of him a profit--and why after all this act of
supreme folly? Pardon me, it is that--really that"

Penhallow smiled. "I go out of this business because I simply cannot stay
out of the army. I could not be a soldier and accept continuous profits
from a Government contract. Imagine what would be said! For the same
reason I cannot sell to Austin at an advance. That is clear--is it not?"

"Yes," said Ainseley, "and I am sorry. Think it over."

"I have done my thinking. It will take the lawyers and you at least two
months to settle it and make out the papers. After July 1st I shall not
come to the mills. I mean to leave no occasion for unpleasant comment
when I re-enter the service. Of course, you will advertise your new
partnership and make plain my position. I am sorry to leave you, but
most glad to leave you prosperous. I will put it all on paper, with a
condition that at the close of the war--I give it three years--I shall be
free to replace Austin--that is, if the Rebs don't kill me."

As he mounted at evening to ride home, he was aware of Leila. "Halloa,
Uncle Jim! As Mr. Rivers was reading Dante to Aunt Ann, I begged off, and
so here I am--thought I would catch you. I haven't been on a horse for a
week. The mare knows it and enjoyed the holiday. She kicked Pole's bull
terrier into the middle of next week."

"A notable feat. I wish some one would kick me into the middle of
August."

"What's wrong, Uncle Jim? Aunt Ann is every day better; John is well; you
don't look unhappy. Oh, I know when anything really is the matter."

"No, I am happier than I have been for many a day. You know what Rivers
says, 'In the Inn of Decision there is rest,'--some oriental nonsense.
Well, I am a guest in the Inn of Decision, but I've got to pay the bill."

"Please not to talk riddles, uncle. I have gone through so much this
spring--what with aunt and this terrible war--and where John is we don't
know. I heard from Aunt Margaret. She says that we escape the endless
reminders of war--the extras called at night, heard in church, great
battle on the Potomac, lists of killed and wounded. It must be awful. You
buy a paper--and find there was no battle."

"Yes, we escape that at least. I have made arrangements to close my
partnership on July 1st."

"Oh, Uncle Jim!"

"The President, I hear, will call for three hundred thousand men--I can
stand it no longer--I am eating my heart out. I refused a regiment some
time ago; now I shall ask for one. I wrote at once to the Governor."

She leaned over, laid a hand on his arm and said, "Is not one dear life
enough?"

"My child, John had to go. I could, of course, find some excuse for not
going. I set myself free to-day. But now I am to settle with Ann. Except
for that I would be supremely contented. You would not keep me here if
you had the power, nor would you bring home John if you could, dear."

"No," she said faintly. Some quickly dismissed suspicion rose to
consciousness as he stole a glance at her face. "I understand," she
added, "it is a question of honour--you must go."

"It is a question of duty, dear; but what Ann will say I do not know--but
I shall go."

She turned. "Uncle Jim, if you did not go and the war went on to--God
alone knows what end--she would be sick with shame. I know. You see I am
a woman and I know. She will suffer, but she will not break down again
and she will not try to hold you back. But this house without you and
John will be rather lonely. How did you get out of the mills, uncle?"

He answered her at length as they rode homeward with more to think of
than was pleasant. At the avenue gate she said earnestly, "Don't wait
too long before telling Aunt Ann."

"Upon my word, I am sorry," returned the Squire, "for the unfortunate
man who may become your husband. If you undertake to offer advice at
your tender years, what will you do when you are older?"

"My husband-that-is-to-be sends you his compliments," laughed Leila,
"and says--I don't know what he says, but it is exactly the right thing,
Captain Penhallow. But really, don't wait, uncle."

"You are quite right, my dear." Nevertheless he waited. Decisiveness
in affairs and in moments of peril he had, but where Ann was concerned
he became easily unsure, and as McGregor said, "wabbled awful." This
was to Leila. "What gets the matter with men? The finer they are, the
braver--the more can a woman bother their judgment. He wires for a
regimental command--gets it; and, by George, throws away a fortune to
get the privilege of firing a cannon at Mrs. Ann's beloved Rebels. He
mustn't make guns it seems--he tries not to believe her hysterics at
all affected by his tossing away this big contract."

"Now, Doctor, you are in one of your cynical moods. I hate you to talk
this way about the finest gentleman I ever knew, or ever shall know. You
delight to tease me."

"Yes--you are so real. No one could get hysterics out of you. Now why do
you suppose James Penhallow wants to plunge into this chaotic war?"

"Or your son, Tom? Why do you get up of a winter night to ride miles to
see some poor woman who will never pay you a penny?"

"Pure habit."

"Nonsense. You go--and Uncle Jim goes--because to go is duty."

"Then I think duty is a woman--that accounts for it, Leila. I retire
beaten."

"You are very bad to-day--but make Uncle Jim talk it all out to Aunt
Ann."

"He will, and soon. He has been routed by a dozen excuses. I told him at
last that the mill business has leaked out and the village is saying
things. I told him it must not come to her except through him, and that
he could not now use her health as an excuse for delay. It is strange a
man should be so timid."

And still Penhallow lingered, finding more or less of reason in the
delays created by the lawyers. Meanwhile he had accepted the command of
the 129th Pennsylvania infantry which was being drilled at Harrisburg, so
that he was told there was no occasion for haste in assuming charge. But
at last he felt that he must no longer delay.

The sun was setting on an afternoon in July when Penhallow, seeing as she
sat on the porch how the roses of the spring of health were blooming on
his wife's cheeks, said, "I want to talk to you alone, Ann. Can you walk
to the river?"

"Yes, I was there yesterday."

The cat-birds, most delightful of the love-poets of summer, were singing
in the hedges, and as they walked through the garden Penhallow said, "The
rose crop is promising, Ann."

"Yes." She was silent until they sat on the bank above the little river.
Then she said, "You are keeping something from me, James. No news can
trouble me as much as--as to be sure that I am kept in the dark about
your affairs."

"I meant to be frank, Ann, but I have felt so alarmed about your
health--"

"You need not be--I can bear anything but not to know--"

"That is why I brought you here, my dear. You are aware that I took out
of the business the money you loaned to us."

"Yes--yes--I know."

"I have given up my partnership and withdrawn my capital. The business
will go on without me."

"Was this because--I?--but no matter. Go on, please."

He was incapable of concealing the truth from her, however much he
might have disguised it from others. "You had your share in causing me
to give up, but for a year since this war has gone on from one disaster
to another, I have known that as a soldier I must be in it."

She was perfectly calm. "I have long known it would come, James. To have
you and John and my brother Henry--all in it, is a hard fate."

"My dear, Charles writes me that Henry has left the army and gone to
Europe on business for the Confederates."

"Indeed." Some feeling of annoyance troubled her. "Then he at least is in
no danger."

"None, my dear."

"When do you go?"

"I am to command the 129th Infantry, and I shall leave about August 1st."

"So soon!" She sat still, thinking over what Grey Pine would be without
him. He explained as she sat that all details of his affairs would be put
for her clearly on paper. He ended by saying, "Ask me any questions you
want answered."

"Then, James, there will be no income from the mills--from--from that
contract?"

"None, except my rental. With that you may do as you please. There
will be also, of course, at your disposal the income from my re-invested
capital."

"Thank you, James." She was by far the less moved of the two.

"Have I greatly troubled you?" he asked. He was distressed for her.

"No, James. I knew it would come." As the shadows darkened on the forest
floor and gathered overhead, she rose to her feet. "Whatever happens,
James--whoever wins--I am the loser. I want you to be sorry for me."

"And, my dear Ann, whichever way this contest ends, I too lose."

She returned with tender sadness, "Yes, I did not think of that. Give
me your arm, James--I am--tired."

He wondered that she had said nothing of the immense sacrifice few men
would have made; nor did she seem to have realized what urgency of added
motives she had contributed to bring about his decision.



CHAPTER XXI


Through the great heat of July, 1862, the war went on its inconclusive
way. In Westways, as elsewhere, the call of the people's President for
three hundred thousand men was felt the more thoughtfully because now it
was, of course, known that Penhallow was Colonel of the 129th Infantry;
that he had made a great sacrifice of money was also known, but not
understood, and Ann Penhallow's half-forgotten politics were again
discussed when the village evening parliament met in front of the
post-office.

Mrs. Crocker, off duty, stood framed in the door, cooling her round
face with a palmetto fan and listening with interest to the talk or
taking part in the discussion in so positive a way as was felt to be
indiscreetly feminine, but respected on account of her official
representation of a husband too deaf to fulfil his duties.

The Doctor got out of his gig. "Any letters from my boy?"

"Yes, two. Wanted to send them by Billy, but he's war-wild and wouldn't
go." The Doctor looked over his letters.

"All right, I hope," said Mrs. Crocker.

Pole in his shirt sleeves listening said, "Of course, he is all
right--doctors don't fight none."

"Send your son, Pole, before you talk nonsense," said McGregor. "My boy
got a ball in his leg at Malvern Hill."

"My son's going along with the Squire," returned Pole, "leaves me short
of help, and my wife's about crazy over it."

"What about Mrs. Penhallow?" said Mrs. Crocker. "I guess she's the kind
that don't show what she feels."

"Oh, money's a great comforter," returned the butcher. "What I'm to do, I
don't know."

"Well, I'm going too," said Joe Grace, "and father says I'm right."

"Oh, here's the parson," said Pole, as Rivers approached. "He's like the
rest of them--all for war."

"Well, Pole," said Rivers, "how are you and Mrs. Crocker? I think you are
getting thin this hot weather."

"Am I? No such good luck. We are talking war, Mr. Rivers. I do hear that
what with the mill-boys and country fellows there's some thirty going
into the Colonel's regiment."

"So I hear. On Sunday I mean to talk to them after service. You might say
so."

"I will. If I had a boy, he should go," said Mrs. Crocker.

"It's easy talking when you haven't none," said Pole. "We are gettin'
licked, and some day Lee will be over the border. It's just useless to
spend money and cripple men."

There was a moment of silence, when Mrs. Crocker spoke. "Pole, you
aren't ever sure of your legs. You were all for Buchanan, and then all
for Lincoln. Now you're uneasy on the top rail of the fence and the rail
ain't round." The parliament broke into laughter, and with more talk
dissolved after some critical wisdom about the war.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was July 30th, after ten at night, the day before the final Sunday of
the month. The Colonel of the 129th stood with Leila before a big war
map. "This fight at Malvern Hill"--he put a pin on the place--"was a
mistake on the part of Lee, and yet he is a master of the game. He was
terribly beaten--an aggressive general would have attacked at once."

"Would he have won, uncle?"

"I think so--but after a defeat these armies are as dangerous as a
cornered cat."

"But, dear Uncle Jim, what is the matter with us?--We have men, money and
courage."

"Well, this is how I see it. Neither side has a broad-minded General in
command of the whole field of war. Every day sees bits of fights,
skirmishes, useless loss of life. There is on neither side any connected
scheme of war. God knows how it will end. I do not yet see the man. If
Robert Lee were in absolute command of all the effective force of the
South, we would have trouble."

"But if he is so good a soldier, why did he make what you call a frontal
attack on entrenched troops at Malvern?"

"My dear, when two men spar and neither can quite end the fight, one
gets angry or over-confident and loses his head, then he does something
wild--and pays for it."

"I see. You leave on Monday?"

"Yes--early."

"Mr. Rivers means to talk after service to the men who are enlisting."

"So he told me. I begged him to be moderate."

"He asked me for a text, uncle."

"Well!"

"I gave him the one about Caesar and God."

"What put that into your head--it does not seem suitable?"

"Oh, do you think so? Some one once mentioned it to me. I could preach on
it myself, but texts grow wonderfully in his hands. They glow--oh, they
get halos about them. He ought to be in a great city."

"Oh, my dear, Mark Rivers has his limitations like all of us. He would
die. Even here he has to be watched. McGregor told him last year that he
was suffering from the contagion of other people's wickedness with
occasional acute fits of over-conscientiousness. Rivers said it was
incomprehensible nonsense; he was almost angry."

"And yet it is true, Uncle Jim."

"I'm glad I haven't the disease. I told McGregor as much. By George! he
said my variety of the disorder was about other folk's stupidity. Then,
when I said that I didn't understand him, he laughed. He makes me furious
when he only laughs and won't answer--and won't explain."

"Why, uncle! I love to see him laugh. He laughs all over--he shakes. I
told him it was a mirthquake. That set him off again. Was Tom McGregor
badly hurt?"

"No, not badly."

"Will aunt go to church to-morrow?"

"No."

"I thought she would not. I should love to see you in uniform."

"Not here, my dear, but I will send you a daguerreotype."

       *       *       *       *       *

When on this Sunday long remembered in Westways, the tall figure of Mark
Rivers rose to open the service, he saw the little church crowded, the
aisles filled, and in the front pews Penhallow, his niece, and behind
them the young men who were to join his regiment. Grace had asked his own
people to be present, and here and there were the mothers and sisters of
the recruits, and a few men on crutches or wasted by the fevers of the
Virginia marshes. Mark Rivers read the morning service as few men know
how to read it. He rarely needed the prayer-book--he knew it all. He gave
to it the freshness of a new message of love and helpfulness. More than
ever on this Sunday Leila felt a sense of spiritual soaring, of
personally sharing the praises of the angel choir when, looking upwards,
he said: "Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of
heaven we laud and magnify Thy glorious name." She recalled that John had
said, "When Mark Rivers says 'angels and archangels' it is like the clash
of silver cymbals."

He gave out at the close his favourite hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light." It was
well and sweetly sung by the girl-choir. As the music closed he rose--a
figure of command, his spare frame looking larger for his robes. For a
silent moment his eloquent eyes wandered over the crowd, gathering the
attentive gaze of young and old, then he said: "I want to talk on this
unusual occasion for a little while, to you who are answering the call of
a man who is like a father calling his sons to a task of danger. My text
is: 'Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto
God the things that are God's.' The wonder of the great texts is that
they have many applications as time runs on. You know the familiar story.
Payment of the tax meant obedience to the Government, to law, to order. I
would that I had the power to make you see with me the scene. It is to me
so very distinct. The Pharisees desire to tempt him, a Jew, into a
statement treasonable to the Roman rule they had accepted. Was it right
for the Jew to pay the tax which sustained this Government? He had, as
you may remember, already paid it for Peter and himself. He asks for the
penny bearing Caesar's head and answers them in the words of the text,
'Render unto Caesar, therefore, the things which are Caesar's.' He
returns the penny. I wonder where that little coin is to-day? It has
gone, but the lesson it read remains forever; nor even today is the
Pharisee gone with his invidious temptations. _You_ are to-day obeying a
greater than Caesar. _You_ are meeting the material obligations of a day
of discouragement--and for some a day of doubt.

"The nobler applications which lie within the meaning of the latter part
of the text He answers more fully than was asked: 'Render unto God the
things which are God's.' What are these things which are at need to be
rendered to Him? What larger tax? Ease--comfort--home--the strong bodies
which make work safe and pleasant. He asks of you the exercise of unusual
qualities--the courage which looks death in the face and will not take
the bribe of safety, of life, at the cost of dishonour. Ah! not in battle
is my fear for you. In the long idleness of camps will come your hours of
temptation. Think then of those at home who believe in you. It is a great
thing to have an outside conscience--wife, mother, sister. Those are
hours when it is hard to render unto God what he gave.

"We are now, as I said, at a time of discouragement. There are cowards
who would yield--who would compromise--men who want peace at any cost.
You answer them nobly. Here, in this sacred cause, if He asks it, we
render life or the easy competencies of youth in its day of vigour."

The man paused. The strange power of the eyes spoke to them in this
moment of silence. "Oh! I said the cause was sacred--an unbroken land.
_He_ gave you that, just for wide-world uses. Keep it! Guard it!--with
all that Union of the States meant and still means to-day. _You_ are not
to blame for this necessity--war. The man who bends unpaid over the
master's cotton-field is the innocent cause of all this bloodshed. If
there were no slavery, there would have been no war. But let there be
no hatred in the brave hearts you carry. God did not slay Saul, the
earnest--I might say--the honest persecutor. He made him blind for a
time. The awful charity of God is nowhere else so wonderful. These
gallant people you are going to meet will some day see that God was
opening their eyes to better days and nobler ways. They too are honest
in the belief that God is on their side. Therefore, let there be no
bitterness.

"Some of you are what we call religious. Do not be ashamed of it.
The hardest fighters the world has known were men who went to battle
with arms invisible to man. A word more and I have done. I have the
hope--indeed the certainty--that I shall be sent to the field on errands
of mercy and helpfulness. We may meet again. And now, take with you the
earnest will to render unto God what things He gave for His highest uses.
Now let us offer the prayer for the volunteers our great Bishop desires
the Church to use. Let us pray."

In unusual silence the congregation moved away, a silence shared by Leila
and her uncle. At last she said, "Uncle Jim, I wish Aunt Ann could have
heard that sermon--it could not have hurt her."

"Perhaps not."

"I wonder why she has so great a respect for him, so real a friendship.
He thinks slavery the sin of sins. He has very little charity about
it--oh, none--and Aunt Ann is as sure it is a divinely appointed
relation."

"They fought it out, my dear, in his early days at Westways, and when
they both found that they were clad in the armour of changeless beliefs
no arguments could penetrate, they gave up and took of two fine natures
what was left for life's uses and became friends. At least, that is how
McGregor put it. He sometimes states things well."

"I see," said Leila thoughtfully, and set herself to thinking whether if
she had radical differences of opinion with some one, she could settle
into a condition of armed neutrality. Then she wondered if war made
changes in the character of a man.

Presently she asked, "Why, Uncle Jim, are you suddenly in such haste to
go?"

"There is need of haste. I could not tell Ann; I can tell you. We were
never worse off since the war began. The Governor asks me to meet him
in Harrisburg. What he fears is that in September Lee will cross the
Potomac, with the hope of Maryland rising. Our Governor will call out
fifty thousand militia. He wants me to take a command; I shall take it,
but Lee's veterans would brush our militia away like summer flies. If he
finds the Army of the Potomac before him, there may be a different story.
I hope, please God, to be with it. There you have all I know, but it is
for you alone. My regiment will go to the front before the end of the
month."

"You will write to me, uncle."

"Yes, when I can. Your aunt asks me to write often, but not to write
about the war, as if--well, no matter. But I can write to you. Good
night--and be brave, dear--and Ann! You will watch over her?"

"Yes, surely."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ann Penhallow having sorrowfully made up her mind that her husband's
honour required his return to the army saw to it with her usual
efficiency that everything he might need was carefully provided. At
bed-time of that Sunday she said quietly, "Good night and good-bye,
James. I do not want to be called to-morrow to say good-bye. You will be
off by six. Leila will give you your breakfast. Write often." She was to
appearance cheerful and even gay, as she paused on the stairs laughing.
"These men," she cried, "I wonder how they do without women orderlies.
At the last moment I found you had left your razors--good-night!"

The Colonel's eyes followed her slight form a little puzzled and not
entirely pleased at this easy dismissal of sentiment, when he knew what
he himself would have done if she had flown the least signal of distress.
He turned to Leila. "I am very much relieved, my dear, to see that your
aunt is taking my departure quietly. I was afraid of another breakdown,
and I could not have stayed a day longer."

Leila who had watched this parting with some anxiety said, "I was a
little uneasy myself, but really Aunt Ann was great." She could have
made the well-loved Colonel miserable by translating for him into the
tongue of man the language of the actress on the stairs. "I wonder,"
she reflected, "if all men are that blind, or only the heroic or
unimaginative."

       *       *       *       *       *

Colonel Penhallow was detained by consultations with the Governor and by
regimental work until near the close of August, when his command was
hurried forward to join McClellan's army. He followed it a day later. He
wrote long notes to his wife almost daily and then in September after the
battle of Antietam more freely to Leila:--

"DEAR LEILA: You will be surprised to hear from me as at Washington on
this September 19th. I overtook my command at noon, in Philadelphia,
where the regiment was being well fed in the big building known as the
Cooper Shop. I was pleased with the look of the men, who have been long
drilled in camp. After the meal I went outside and mounted Dixy, who was
as rebellious as if he knew he was on the side to which his name did
not belong. A soldier was vainly trying to mount my mare. He lost his
temper and struck her. I saw a black man interfering, and rode forward
seeing there was some trouble. By George! it was Josiah. I shook hands
with him and said, 'Where did you come from? He said, 'Saw your name,
sir, in the paper and just quit my work. I'm goin' along with you--I'm
your servant. I've been thinkin' this long while I'd go back to Westways,
but I've been doin' well here, and I just kep' a puttin' it off. I'm
goin' with you.' I said, 'All right, get on that horse.' He patted the
uneasy mare and in a moment was in the saddle and I a well pleased man.
Tell your aunt I am well cared for.

"We were hurried forward, and I had the pleasure of seeing my men behave
well when we stormed South Mountain--a very gallant affair. Joe Grace was
hurt, but not badly, and was left behind. As to the killed, none are from
Westways. At Antietam we were with the reserve, which I thought should
have been used and was not. It was an attack on an interior line as seems
always to be our luck. McClellan will follow Lee, of course. My regiment
is to be with the Sixth Corps, but I was ordered by the Secretary of War
to report to him in Washington. It is disgusting! But orders are orders.
The Lieutenant-Colonel will have my place, and I hope to get back soon.
Josiah was caught in the thick of the fight at Fox Gap. He was scared a
sort of green. He will get over it--I know the signs. It was pure
nervousness. His explanation was very perfect, 'I just laid down flat
because I was afraid of gittin' this servant of yours killed.' We grinned
mutual approval of the excuse.

"Yours ever,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."

"P.S. You will have found this letter very unsatisfactory, but the fact
is that only people of ample leisure make good correspondents. But now
to sum up: Yesterday I saw Stanton, had a glimpse of Swallow, saw Mr.
Lincoln, and had an adventure so out of the common that it was like
one of the stories of adventure in which Jack used to delight. Now I
cannot--should not tell it--but some day--yes. Send this P.S., bit of
good news, on its way. Read it first."

"Well, that is exasperating? Surely men are most unsatisfactory letter
writers. No woman with an interesting subject could be so uninteresting.
John is as bad or worse."

She found enclosed a postscript slip for Mr. Grace.

"DEAR SIR: That boy of yours is not badly hurt. He behaved with
intelligent courage when for a moment a part of our charging line
hesitated. I was proud of him; I have made him a Corporal.

"Yours truly,

"JAMES PENHALLOW."

The order to report to the former counsel of his firm, Secretary Stanton,
brought an unhappy Colonel to the War Department. He sent in his card,
and was asked to follow an orderly. As he was about to enter the private
office of the War Minister, to his amazement Swallow came out. With a
curt good morning, Penhallow went by him. The great Secretary rose to
greet him, saying, "You are very welcome, Penhallow--never more welcome."

"You look worn out, Stanton," said the Colonel.

"No, not yet; but, my God! Penhallow, my life is one to kill the
toughest. What with army mishaps, inefficiency, contractors backed by
Congressmen--all the scum that war brings to the top. Do you know why
I sent for you?"

"No. It was an order--I ask no questions. I am at your service."

"You were disappointed, of course."

"Yes, I was."

"Well, there were two reasons. One is frankly this. Your firm has a
contract for field artillery--and now you are in the service."

"I see! It is not now my firm. I gave up my partnership."

"So I saw, but who of these hungry contractors will believe that you gave
up--a fortune--to enter the army! The facts are either not well known or
have been misstated."

"Very likely. I gave up what you speak of as a fortune as you gave up a
great income at the bar, and for the same reason I withdrew all my
capital. Even the rental of my mills will go to the Sanitary Commission.
I could not leave a doubt or the least cause for suspicion."

"I was sure of you, but this has been a well-nursed scandal, due to an
influential lot of disappointed contractors who would have controlled the
giving of that contract had I not come into office. I shall kill it dead.
Trust that to me."

"Thank you, Stanton, I could have stood it."

"Yes, but you do not know, my dear Penhallow, what Washington is at
present. Well, let it go. It is now my business. Do you know this Mr.
Swallow?"

"Know him? Yes--a usurious scamp of a lawyer, who to our relief has left
Westways. Do not trust him. I presume that I owe this talk about me to
him."

"Well, yes, to him and his associates."

"What does he want now?"

"What he will not get. Let him go. I said I had two reasons for ordering
you here. One I have stated. I want some one I can entirely trust, not
merely for honesty and loyalty, but also because of business competence.
All manner of work for the Government is going on here and elsewhere. I
want some one to report on it from time to time. It will keep you here
this winter. You do not like it?"

"No, but it was an order."

"Yes, I am sorry to take you for a time out of active service, but
trust me this war will last long. This winter I want you for a variety
of inspection work here or elsewhere. It will be mere business, dull,
unexciting, with unending watchfulness, and advisory technical help
and advice. I want not only personal character--I can get that, but
not easily the combination of technical training and business capacity."
He unrolled a bundle of papers. "There for example, Colonel, are plans
for a new form of ambulance and pontoon wagons ready for approval. I
want a report on both." He went on to speak of the ambulances with
amazing knowledge of the details of their build. Penhallow watched
this earnest, overtasked man, and began to comprehend the vastness of
his daily toil, the weight of his mighty load of care. As he talked,
cards were brought in, messages sent or received, telegrams--the talk
was dropped--resumed--and the Colonel simply listened. At last the
Secretary said, "That will do for to-day. You have room No. 27, and such
clerks and orderlies as you may need. You will find on your table these
specifications--and more--others. And now, how is your beautiful Grey
Pine and its mistress and Leila? You will assure them of my undiminished
affection. And John--where is he?"

"With General Grant, but where just now I cannot say."

As he spoke, the door opened and an officer announced--"The President."
The ungainly length of Lincoln appeared. A quiet smile lingered on the
large-featured face, with some humorous appreciation of the War
Secretary's evident annoyance at this abrupt visit. Mr. Stanton's
greeting as he rose was as the Colonel thought coldly civil.

"My friend, Colonel Penhallow, sir."

"Glad to see you," said Lincoln, and then with a certain simplicity
explained, "You see, Colonel, sometimes I run away out of the back of
the White House--just to get free of the guards. Don't look so bothered,
Stanton. I'm too fine a failure for any one to want to kill me. Any
news?"

"None," said the secretary, as he stood not too well pleased; "Colonel
Penhallow is to be in my office on inspection duty."

"Indeed! Glad to see you." The huge hand closed on Penhallow's with
innocent use of its power. "Name sounds familiar. Yes--there was a cadet
of your name last year. Your son, I suppose?"

"No, my nephew--in the engineers with General Grant."

"Tell him I asked for him--handsome fellow. Anything I can do for him?"

"Nothing, sir."

"Anything I can do for you?"

"Nothing, sir."

"Don't let Stanton kill you. He ought to have a brevet, Stanton. He is
the only man in Washington don't want anything." Even the weary face of
the Secretary smiled under his heavy beard. "Just stepped in to divide
growls with you. Come with me, Colonel, or Stanton will have a brigade of
officers to escort me. Wait for me at the outer door--I'll join you."

Penhallow pleased and amused, went out taking with him the sense of
puzzle felt by so many over this unusual personage. At the main entrance
the Colonel came on Swallow.

"A word with you," he said very quietly. "You have been lying about me to
the Secretary and elsewhere. Be careful. I am sometimes short of temper.
You have hurt yourself, not me, and you will get no contracts here."

"Well, we will see about that," said Swallow, and was about to say more
when the President appeared.

"Come, Colonel," he said. Swallow fell back and Penhallow walked away as
men touched their hats. For a block or more Lincoln did not speak, and
respecting his silence the soldier was as silent. Then, with his amazing
frankness, Lincoln spoke.

"Does the Emancipation Proclamation please you?"

"As a war measure, yes."

"And not otherwise?"

"It is none of my business to criticize my Commander-in-Chief."

"Well, I won't make it an order, but I wish McClellan was of your way of
thinking." Again there was silence. Penhallow was astonished at this
outspoken statement, being aware as few men were of the fact that the
General in question had been disinclined to announce the emancipation
message to the army until he found that his corps commanders were not
cordially with him in opinion.

As they stopped at the gate of the railing around the White House,
Lincoln said, "When you don't want anything, come and see me--or if you
do." Then, becoming grave, he asked, "What effect will my proclamation of
emancipation have in the South? It takes effect in January, you know." It
was like Lincoln. He asked this question of all manner of people. "I want
to know," he added, as Penhallow hesitated.

"I am not in a position, sir, to have any opinion about how the Rebels
will be affected by it."

"Oh, Confederates! Colonel--not Rebels. Calling names only hurts, and
don't ever help. Better to be amiable about labels."

"It was a slip of the tongue, Mr. President. I usually say Confederates."

"Quite right--tongue very slippery organ. Reckon my small truant
holiday's over. Everybody generally is letting me know what effect that
emancipation-thunder will have." A strangely tender smile grew upon the
large features. "You see, Colonel, you and I are the only ignorant people
in Washington. Good-bye."



CHAPTER XXII


Saluting the Commander-in-Chief, Penhallow turned away in absent mood
thinking of the burdened man who had passed from sight into the White
House. As he crossed Lafayette Square, he suddenly remembered that the
President's request for his company had caused him to forget to look over
the papers in his office of which the Secretary had spoken. It was
desirable to revisit the War Department. As he walked around the statue
of Andrew Jackson, he came suddenly face to face with his wife's brother,
Henry Grey. For a moment he was in doubt. The man was in United States
uniform, with an army cloak over his shoulders--but it was Grey.
Something like consternation possessed the Federal officer. The
Confederate faced him smiling, as Penhallow said, "My God! Grey, you
here! a spy in our uniform! Many people know you--detection and arrest
would mean--"

"Don't talk so loud, James. You are excited, and there is really no
reason."

Penhallow said quietly, "I have good reason to be excited. You will walk
on in front of me to Willard's Hotel. I will go with you to my rooms,
where we can talk freely. Now, sir."

Grey stood still. "And suppose I decline to obey my rather positive
brother-in-law."

"You are not a fool. If you were to try to escape me, and you are
thinking of it, I would set on you at once any half dozen of the soldiers
within call."

"In that case my revolver would settle my earthly accounts--and
pleasantly relieve you."

"Don't talk. Go on ahead of me." He would not walk beside him.

"As you please." No more words passed. They moved up Pennsylvania Avenue,
now at mid-day crowded with officers, soldiers, and clerks going to
lunch. Grey was courteously saluting the officers he passed. This
particularly enraged the man who was following him and was hopelessly
trying to see how with regard to his own honour he could save this
easy-going and well-loved brother of Ann Penhallow. If the Confederate
had made his escape, he would have been relieved, but he gave him no
least chance, nor was Grey at all meaning to take any risks. He knew or
believed that his captor could not give him up to justice. He had never
much liked the steady, self-controlled business man, the master of Grey
Pine. Himself a light-hearted, thoughtless character, he quite failed to
comprehend the agony of indecision which was harassing the federal
officer. In fact, then and later in their talk, he found something
amusing in the personal embarrassment Penhallow's recognition had brought
upon him.

As they approached the hotel, the Confederate had become certain that
he was in no kind of danger. The trapper less at ease than the trapped
was after his habit becoming cool, competent and intensely watchful.
The one man was more and more his careless, rather egotistic self; the
other was of a sudden the rare self of an hour of peril--in a word,
dangerous. As they reached the second floor, Penhallow said, "This way."
Josiah in the dimly lighted corridor was putting the last shine on a
pair of riding-boots. As he rose, his master said, "Stay here--I am not
at home--to anybody--to any one."

He led the way into his sitting-room; Grey following said, "Excuse me,"
as he locked the door.

"You are quite safe," remarked his host, rather annoyed.

"Oh, that I take for granted."

James Penhallow said, "Sit down. There are cigars."

"A match please. Cigars are rare luxuries with us."

As the Confederate waited for the sulphur of the match to pass away,
Penhallow took note of the slight, delicate figure, the blue eyes like
Ann's, the well-bred face. Filling his own pipe he sat down with his back
to the window, facing his brother-in-law.

"You are very comfortable here, James. How is my sister, and your beauty,
Leila?"

"Well--very well. But let us talk a little. You are a spy in our
uniform."

"That is obvious enough. I am one of many in your Departments and outside
of them. What do you propose? I am sorry we met."

"My duty is to turn you over to the Provost-marshal."

"Of course, but alas! my dear James, there is my sister--you won't do
it--no one would under the circumstances. What the deuce made you speak
to me? You put us both in an awkward position. You became responsible for
a duty you can't fulfil. I am really most sorry for you. It was a bit of
bad luck."

Penhallow rose to get a match and moved about the room uneasily as Henry
Grey went on talking lightly of the situation which involved for him
possibilities of death as a spy, and for Penhallow a dilemma in which
Grey saw his own safety.

"Rather disagreeable all round, James. But I trust you won't let it worry
you. I always think a man must be worried when he lets his pipe go out.
There is no need to worry, and after all"--he added smiling--"you created
a situation which might have been avoided. No one would have known--in a
day or two we would have been talking to General Lee. An excellent cigar,
James."

While his brother-in-law chatted lightly, apparently unconcerned, the
Union officer was considering this way or that out of the toils woven of
duty, affection and honour; but as he kept on seeking a mode of escape,
he was also hearing and watching the man before him with attention which
missed no word. He was barely conscious that the younger man appeared
enough at ease to dare to use language which the Federal officer felt to
be meant to annoy. A single word used by Grey stopped the Colonel's
mental mechanism as if a forceful brake had been applied. The man before
him had said carelessly, "_We_--_we_ would have been talking to General
Lee." The word "we" repeated itself in his mind like an echo. He too
lightly despised Grey's capacity as a spy, but he had said "we." There
were, it seemed, others; how many?--what had they done? This terribly
simplified the game. To arrest Grey would or might be useless. Who were
his companions and where were they? Once missing this confident
Confederate they might escape. To question Grey would be in vain. To give
him any hint that he had been imprudent would be to lose an advantage. He
was so intent on the question of how to carry out a decisive purpose that
he missed for the moment Grey's easy-minded talk, and then was suddenly
aware that Grey was really amusing himself with a cat-and-mouse game.
But now he too was at ease and became quietly civil as he filled another
pipe, and with an air of despair which altogether deceived Grey said, "I
see that I can do nothing, Henry. There is no reason to protract an
unpleasant matter."

"I supposed you would reach this very obvious conclusion." Then unable to
resist a chance to annoy a man who had given him a needless half hour not
free from unpleasant possibilities, Grey rose and remarked, smiling, "I
hope when we occupy this town to meet you under more agreeable
circumstances."

"Sir," said Penhallow, "the painful situation in which I am placed does
not give you the freedom to insult me."

The Confederate was quite unaware that the Colonel was becoming more and
more a man to fear, "I beg pardon, James," he said, "I was only
anticipating history." As he spoke, he stood securing a neglected button
of his neat uniform. This act strangely exasperated the Colonel. "I will
see you out," he said. "The buttons of the Massachusetts Third might
attract attention."

"Oh, my cloak covers it," and he threw it carelessly over his shoulders.

Penhallow said, "I have confessed defeat--you may thank Ann Penhallow."

"Yes--an unfortunate situation, James. May I have another cigar? Thanks."

"Sorry I have no whisky, Grey."

"And I--How it pours! What a downfall!"

The Colonel was becoming more and more outwardly polite.

"Good-bye, Henry."

"_Au revoir_," said the younger man.

Penhallow went with his brother-in-law down the long corridor, neither
man speaking again. As they passed Josiah, Penhallow said, "I shall want
my horse at five, and shall want you with me." At the head of the stairs
he dismissed his visitor without a further word. Then he turned back
quickly to Josiah and said in a low voice, "Follow that man--don't lose
him. Take your time. It is important--a matter of life and death to
me--to know where he lives. Quick now--I trust you."

"Yes, sir." He was gone.

Grey feeling entirely safe walked away in the heavy rain with a mind
at ease and a little sorry as a soldier for the hapless situation with
which Penhallow had had to struggle. When we have known men only in the
every-day business of life or in ordinary social relations, we may quite
fail to credit them with qualities which are never called into activity
except by unusual circumstances. Grey, an able engineer, regarded
Penhallow as a rather slow thinker, a good man of business, and now as a
commonplace, well-mannered officer. He smiled as he thought how his
sister had made her husband in this present predicament what algebraists
call a "negligible quantity." He would have been less easy had he known
that the man he left felt keenly a sense of imperilled honour and of
insult which his relation to Grey forbade him to avenge. He had become a
man alert, observant, and quick to see his way and to act.

Josiah, with all his hunting instincts aroused, loitered idly after Grey
in the rain, one of the scores of lazy, unnoticeable negroes. He was gone
all the afternoon, and at eight o'clock found Penhallow in his room. "Did
you find where he lives?" asked the Colonel.

"That man, he lives at 229 Sixteenth Street. Two more live there. They
was in and out all day--and he went to shops and carried things away--"

"What kind of shops?"

"Where they sell paper and pens--and 'pothecaries."

"Sit down--you look tired." It was plain that they were soon about to
move and were buying what was needed in the South--quinine, of course.
But what had been their errand? He said, "Get some supper and come back
soon."

Then he sat down to think. An engineer of competence lately back from
Europe! His errand--their errand--must be of moment. He took a small
revolver out of a drawer, put in shells, placed it in his breast pocket,
and secured a box of matches. About nine, in a summer thunder-shower of
wind and rain, he followed Josiah and walked to No. 229 Sixteenth Street.
As he stood he asked,

"How did those men get in, Josiah?"

"All had keys. Want to get in, Colonel?"

"Yes, I want to get in. Are there any others in the house--servants--any
one?"

"No, sir," Josiah said. "I went round to an alley at the back of the
house. There are lights on the second storey. You can get in easy at the
back, sir."

Seeing a policeman on the opposite pavement, Penhallow at once changed
his plan of entrance, and crossing the street said to the policeman, "Is
this your beat?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very good! You see I am in uniform. Here is my card. I am on duty at the
War Department. Here is my general pass from the Provost-marshal General.
Come to the gas lamp and read it. Here are ten dollars. I have to get
into No. 229 on Government business. If I do not come out in thirty
minutes, give the alarm, call others and go in. Who lives there?"

"It is a gambling house--or was--not now."

"Very good. This is my servant, Josiah. If I get out safely, come to
Willard's to-morrow at nine--use my card--ask for me--and you will not be
sorry to have helped me."

"You want to get in!"

"Yes."

"No use to ring, sir," said Josiah. "There ain't any servants and the
gentlemen, they ate outside. Lord, how it rains!"

The policeman hesitated. Another ten dollar note changed owners. "Well,
it isn't police duty--and you're not a burglar--"

The Colonel laughed. "If I were, I'd have been in that house without your
aid."

"Well, yes, sir. Burglars don't usually take the police into their
confidence. There are no lights except in the second storey. If your
man's not afraid and it's an honest Government job, let him go through
that side alley, get over the fence--I'll help him--and either through a
window or by the cellar he can get in and open the front door for you."

Josiah laughed low laughter as he crossed the street with the officer and
was lost to view. The Colonel waited at the door. In a few minutes the
man returning said, "Want me with you? He got in easily."

"No, but take the time when I enter and keep near." They waited.

"Nine-thirty now, sir."

"Give me the full time."

Penhallow went up the steps and knocked at the door. It was opened and he
went in. "Shut the door quietly, Josiah--open if the policeman knocks.
Now, be quiet, and if you hear a shot, or a big row call the police."

The house below-stairs was in darkness. He took off his shoes and went
into a room on the first floor. Striking a match, he saw only ordinary
furniture. The room back of it revealed to his failing match a roulette
table. He went out into the hall and up the stairs with the utmost
caution to avoid noise. On the second floor the door of the front room
was ajar. They must be careless and confident, he reflected as he
entered. A lighted candle on a pine table dimly illuminated a room in
some confusion. On the floor were two small bags half full of clothes
which he swiftly searched, without revealing anything of moment. A third,
smaller bag lay open on the table. It contained a number of small rolls
of very thin paper, and on the table there were spread out two others.
As he looked, he knew they were admirably drawn sketches of the forts and
the lines of connecting works which defended the city. Making sure no
more papers were to be found, he thrust all of them within his waistcoat,
buttoned it securely, felt for his revolver, and listened.

In the closed back room there was much mirth and the clink of glasses.
He drew near the door and felt certain that Grey was relating with comic
additions his interview of the morning. Without hesitation he threw open
the door as three men sprang to their feet and Grey covered him with a
revolver. He said quietly, "Sorry to disturb you, gentlemen. Put down
that toy, Grey."

"No, by Heaven!--not till--"

"My dear Grey, between me and that pistol stands a woman--as she stood
for your safety this morning. Men who talk, don't shoot. You are all
three in deadly peril--you had better hear me. I could have covered you
all with my revolver. Put down that thing!"

"Put it down," said the older of the three. Grey laid the weapon on the
table.

"This is not war," said Penhallow, "and you are three to one. Sit down."
He set the example. "It is clear that you are all Confederate officers
and spies. Let us talk a little. I came on Mr. Grey to-day by accident.
It was my duty to have him arrested; but he is my wife's brother. If a
pistol is heard or I am not out of this, safe, in a few minutes, the
police now on guard will enter--and you are doomed men. I am presumably
on Government business. Now, gentlemen, will you leave at once or in an
hour or less?"

"I for one accept," said the man who had been silent.

"And I," said the elder of the party.

"On your honour?"

"Yes."

Grey laughed lightly, "Oh, of course. Our work is done. Speed the parting
guest!"

"I wish," said the Colonel, rising, "to leave no misapprehension on your
minds--or on that of Mr. Grey. Those admirable sketches left carelessly
on the table are in my pocket. Were they not, you would all three be lost
men. Did you think, Grey, that to save your life or my own I would permit
you to escape with your work? Had I not these papers, your chance of
death would not weigh with me a moment."

Grey started up. "Don't be foolish, Grey," said the older man. "We have
played and lost. There has been much carelessness--and we have suffered
for it. I accept defeat, Colonel."

Penhallow looked at the watch in his hand. "You have ten minutes
grace--no, rather less. May I ask of you one thing? You are every hour
in danger, but I too am aware that if this interview be talked about in
Richmond or you are caught, my name may be so used as to make trouble
for me, for how could I explain that to save my wife's brother I connived
at the escape of Confederate officers acting as spies? I ask no pledge,
gentlemen. I merely leave my honour as a soldier in your hands.
Good-night, and don't delay."

Grey was silent. The older man said, "I permit myself to hope we may meet
some time under more pleasant circumstances--for me, I mean,"--he added,
laughing. "Good-night."

Penhallow withdrew quickly and found Josiah on guard. He said, "It is all
right--but for sport it beats possum-hunting. Open the door." The rain
was still falling in torrents. "All right," he said to the policeman,
"come and see me to-morrow early."

"What was the matter, sir? I've got to make my report."

Then Penhallow saw the possibility of trouble and as quickly that to
bribe further might only make mischief. "Do not come to the hotel, but at
eleven sharp call on me at the War Department on Seventeenth Street. You
have my card. By that time I shall have talked the matter over with the
Secretary. I am not at liberty to talk of it now--and you had better not.
It is a Government affair. You go off duty, when?"

"At six. You said eleven, sir?"

"Yes, good-night. Go home, Josiah."

The Colonel was so wet that the added contributions of water were of no
moment. The soldier in uniform may not carry an umbrella--for reasons
unknown to me.

Before breakfast next morning Josiah brought him a letter, left at the
hotel too late in the night for delivery. He read it with some amusement
and with an uncertain amount of satisfaction:

"MY DEAR J: When by evil luck I encountered you, I was sure of three
things. First, that I was safe; then, that we had secured what we wanted;
and last, that our way home was assured. If in my satisfaction I played
the bluff game rather lightly--well, in a way to annoy you--I beg now to
apologize. That I should so stupidly have given away a game already won
is sufficiently humiliating, and the dog on top may readily forgive. You
spoilt a gallant venture, but, by Jove, you did it well! I can't imagine
how you found me! Accept my congratulations.

"Yours sincerely,

"G."

"Confound him! What I suffered don't count. He's just the man he always
was--brave, of course, quixotically chivalrous, a light weight. Ann used
to say he was a grown-up boy and small for his age. Well, he has had his
spanking. Confound him!" He went on thinking of this gay, clever,
inconsiderate, not unlovable man. "If by mishap he were captured while
trying to escape, what then? He would be fool enough to make the venture
in our uniform. There would be swift justice; and only the final appeal
to Caesar. He was with good reason ill at ease. I might indeed have to
ask the President for something."

He reconsidered his own relation to the adventure as he sat at breakfast,
and saw in it some remainder of danger. At ten o'clock he was with the
Secretary.

"I want," he said, "to talk to you as my old friend. You are my official
superior and may order me to the North Pole, but now may I re-assume the
other position for a minute and make a confidential statement?"

"Certainly, Penhallow. I am always free to advise you."

"I want to say something and to be asked no questions. Am I clear?"

"Certainly."

"Thank you. I had an extraordinary adventure yesterday. I am not at
liberty to do more than say that it put me in possession of these plans."
He spread on the table well-drawn sketches of the forts around
Washington.

Stanton's grim, bearded face grew stern. "You have my word, Penhallow. If
I had not too easily given it we would have been placed in a disagreeable
position. I am debarred from asking you how you came into possession of
these papers. The spies who made them would have been in my power early
this morning--and not even the President's weakness would have saved
their necks."

Penhallow was silent, but was anxiously watching the angry Secretary,
who swept the papers aside with an impatient gesture, feeling that he
had been so dealt with as to be left without even the relief he too
often found in outbursts of violent language. Penhallow's quiet attitude
reminded him that he could not now take advantage of his official
position to say what was on his mind.

"Colonel," he said, "I want a report on some better method of getting
remounts for the cavalry."

"I will consider it, sir."

"What about that contract for ambulances?"

"I shall have my report ready to-morrow."

"That is all." It is to be feared that the next visitor suffered what
Penhallow escaped.

With no other orders the Colonel left, rewarded the punctual policeman
and went home to write to his wife, infinitely disgusted with the life
before him and behind him, and desiring no more adventures.



CHAPTER XXIII


The winter of 1862-63 went by with Sherman's defeat at Vicksburg and
Rosecrans's inconclusive battle of Stone River. The unpopular
Conscription Act in February, 1863, and last of all the discreditable
defeat of Hooker in May at Chancellorsville, disheartened the most
hopeful.

Meanwhile, Penhallow wrote to his wife with no word of the war, and
poured out his annoyance to Leila with less restraint.

"DEAR LEILA: I get brief notes from John, who is with the one General
(Grant) who has any luck. The list of discredited commanders good and bad
increases. I am weary beyond measure of the kind of life I lead. I learn
to-day, May 18th, of the progress of the investment of Vicksburg, and of
John as busy at last with his proper work of bridges, corduroy roads and
the siege approaches.

"The drift homeward of our crippled men, you tell of, is indeed sad. I am
glad that Grace's boy is well; and so Rivers has gone to the army again.
Pole's lad, with the lost arm, must have some work at the mills. Say I
ask it. Good-bye.

"Yours, JAMES PENHALLOW."

On the 16th of June the Secretary said to Penhallow, "You know that Lee
has crossed the Potomac. General Hunt has asked to have you put in charge
of the reserve artillery of the Potomac army. I shall relieve you here
and give the order, but I want you for a week longer to clear up
matters."

Penhallow worked hard up to the time set by Stanton, and meanwhile made
his arrangements to leave for the field. "Now that you are going away,"
said Stanton, "I wish to express my warm thanks for admirable service. I
may say to you that Hooker has been removed and Meade put in command."

"That is good news, indeed, sir. Now the Potomac army will be handled by
a soldier."

The Secretary had risen to say his parting words, and Penhallow as he
held his hand saw how reluctant he was to let him go. They had long been
friends, and now the Colonel observing his worn face felt for him the
utmost anxiety. A stern, grave man, passionately devoted to his country,
he was the impatient slave of duty. Sometimes hasty, unjust, or even
ungenerous, he was indifferent to the enemies he too needlessly created,
and was hated by many and not loved even by those who respected his
devotion and competence. He spared neither his subordinates nor, least of
all, Edwin Stanton, and spendthrift of vital force and energy went his
way, one of the great war ministers like Carnot and Pitt. Now, as they
stood about to part, he showed feeling with which few would have given
him credit, and for which Penhallow was unprepared.

"Well," he said, "you are going. I shall miss your help in a life
sometimes lonely, and overcrowded with work. You have been far more
useful here than you could have been in the field. Living and working as
you have done, you have made enemies. The more enemies an honest
gentleman collects the richer he is. You are glad to go--well, don't
think this town a mere great gambling place. It is a focal point--all
that is bad in war seems to be represented here--spies, cheating
contractors, political generals, generals as meek as missionaries. You
have seen the worst of it--the worst. But my dear Penhallow, there is one
comfort, Richmond is just as foul with thieving contractors,
extravagance, intrigue, and spies who report to us with almost the
regularity of the post; and, as with us, there is also honour, honesty,
religion, belief in their cause." The Secretary had spoken at unusual
length and in an unusual mood. When once, before the war, he had spent
a few happy days at Grey Pine, Mrs. Crocker characterized him as "a
yes-and-no kind of man." Now as he walked with his friend to the door, he
said, "Does Mrs. Penhallow know of your change of duty? I am aware of her
feeling about this unhappy strife."

"No. There will be a battle--time enough--soon enough to write
afterwards, if there should be any earthly afterwards."

"You are quite right," said the Secretary. "Good-bye. I envy you your
active share in this game."

Penhallow, as for the last time he went down the outer steps, looked
back at the old brick war-office on Seventeenth Street. He felt the
satisfaction of disagreeable duty well done. Then he recalled with some
sense of it as being rather ridiculous his adventure with Henry Grey. In
a far distant day he would tell Ann. As he halted at the foot of the
steps, he thought of his only interview with Lincoln. The tall figure
with the sombre face left in his memory that haunting sense of the
unusual of which others had spoken and which was apt to disappear upon
more familiar acquaintance.

On the morning of June 28 in this year 1863, Leila riding from the
mills paused a minute to take note of the hillside burial-ground,
dotted here and there with pitiful little linen flags, sole memorials
of son or father--the victims of war. "One never can get away from it,"
she murmured, and rode on into Westways. Sitting in the saddle she waited
patiently at the door of the post-office. Mrs. Crocker was distributing
letters and newspapers. An old Quaker farmer was reading aloud on the
pavement the latest news.

"There ain't no list of killed and wounded," he said. Forgetful of the
creed of his sect, his son was with the army. He read, "The Rebels have
got York--that's sure--and Carlisle too. They are near Harrisburg."

"Oh, but we have burned the bridge over the Susquehanna," said some one.

Another and younger man with his arm in a sling asked, "Are they only
cavalry?"

"No, General Ewell is in command. There are infantry."

"Where is Lee?"

"I don't make that out." They went away one by one, sharing the
uneasiness felt in the great cities.

Leila called out, "Any letters, Mrs. Crocker? This is bad news."

"Here's one for you--it came in a letter to me. I was to give it to you
alone."

Leila tore it open and read it. "Any bad news, Leila?"

"Yes, Uncle James is with the army. I should not have told you.
General Meade is in command. Aunt Ann is not to know. There will be
a battle--after that he will write--after it. Please not to mention
where Uncle Jim is. When is your nephew to be buried--at the mills?"

"At eleven to-morrow."

"I shall be there. Aunt Ann will send flowers. Poor boy! he has lingered
long."

"And he did so want to go back to the army. You see, he was that weak he
cried. He was in the colour-guard and asked to have the flag hung on the
wall. Any news of our John? I dreamed about him last night, only he had
long curly locks--like he used to have."

"No, not a word."

"Has Mr. Rivers got back?"

"No, he is still with the army. You know, aunt sends him with money for
the Sanitary."

"Yes, the Sanitary Commission--we all know."

Leila turned homeward seeing the curly locks. "Oh, to be a man now!" she
murmured. She was bearing the woman's burden.

Mrs. Crocker called after her, "You forgot the papers."

"Burn them," said Leila. "I have heard enough--and more than enough, and
Aunt Ann never reads them."

Penhallow had found time to visit his home twice in the winter, but found
there little to please him. His wife was obviously feeling the varied
strain of war, and Leila showed plainly that she too was suffering. He
returned to his work unhappy, a discontented and resolutely dutiful man,
hard driven by a relentless superior. Now, at last, the relief of action
had come.

No one who has not lived through those years of war can imagine the
variety of suffering which darkened countless homes throughout the
land. At Grey Pine, Ann Penhallow living in a neighbourhood which was
hostile to her own political creed was deeply distressed by the fact
that on both sides were men dear to her. It must have been a too common
addition to the misery of war and was not in some cases without
passionate resentment. There were Northern men in the service of the
Confederacy, and of the Southern graduates from West Point nearly fifty
per cent, had remained loyal to the flag, as they elected to understand
loyalty. The student of human motives may well be puzzled, for example,
to explain why two of the most eminent soldiers of the war, both being
men of the highest character and both Virginians should have decided to
take different sides.

Some such reflection occupied Leila Grey's mind as she rode away. Many
of the officers now in one of the two armies had dined or stayed a few
pleasant days at Grey Pine. For one of them, Robert Lee, Penhallow had
a warm regard. She remembered too General Scott, a Virginian, and her
aunt's Southern friend Drayton, the man whom a poet has since described
when with Farragut as "courtly, gallant and wise." "Ah, me!" she
murmured, "duty must be at times a costly luxury.--A costly necessity,"
she concluded, was better--that left no privilege of choice. She smiled,
dismissing the mental problem, and rode on full of anxiety for those she
loved and her unfortunate country. Our most profound emotions are for the
greater souls dumb and have no language if it be not that of prayer, or
the tearful overflow which means so much and is so mysteriously helpful.
She found both forms of expression when she knelt that night.

In the afternoon the refreshing upland coolness of evening followed on
the humid heat of a hot June day. Towards sunset Ann Penhallow, to her
niece's surprise, drew on her shawl and said she would like to walk
down to the little river. Any proposal to break the routine of a life
unwholesome in its monotony was agreeable to Leila. No talk of the war
was possible. When Ann Penhallow now more and more rarely and with effort
went on her too frequently needed errands of relief or consolation, the
village people understood her silence about the war, and accepting her
bounty somewhat resented an attitude of mind which forbade the pleasant
old familiarity of approach.

The life was unhealthy for Leila, and McGregor watched its influence with
affection and some professional apprehension. Glad of any change, Leila
walked with her aunt through the garden among the roses in which now her
aunt took no interest. They heard the catbirds carolling in the hedges,
and Ann thought of the day a year ago when she listened to them with
James Penhallow at her side. They reached in silence an open space above
the broad quiet backwater. Beyond a low beach the river flowed by, wide
and smooth, a swift stream. From the western side the sunset light fell
in widening shafts of scarlet across the water.

"Let us sit here," said the elder woman. "I am too weak to walk
further"--for her a strange confession. As they sat down on the mossy
carpet, Leila caught the passive hand of her aunt.

"I suppose you still swim here, every morning, Leila? I used to like
it--I have now no heart for anything."

Leila could only say, "Why not, aunt?"

"How can you ask me! I think--I dream of nothing but this unnatural war."

"Is that wise, aunt? or as Dr. McGregor would say, 'wholesome'?"

"It is not; but I cannot help it--it darkens my whole life. Billy was up
at the house this morning talking in his wild way. I did not even try to
understand, but"--and she hesitated--"I suppose I had better know."

This was strange to Leila, who too hesitated, and then concluding to be
frank returned, "It might have been better, aunt, if you had known all
along what was going on--"

"What would have been the use?" said her aunt in a tone of languid
indifference. "It can end in but one way."

A sensation of anger rose dominant in the mind of the girl. It was hard
to bear. She broke out into words of passionate resentment--the first
revolt. "You think only of your dear South--of your friends--your
brother--"

"Leila!"

She was past self-control or other control. "Well, then, be glad Lee is
in Pennsylvania--General Ewell has taken York and Hagerstown--there will
be a great battle. May God help the right--my country!"

"General Lee," cried Ann; "Lee in Pennsylvania! Then that will
end the war. I am glad James is safe in Washington." Leila already
self-reproachful, was silent.

To tell her he was with the army of the North would be cruel and was what
James Penhallow had forbidden.

"He is in Washington?" asked Ann anxiously.

"When last I heard, he was in Washington, aunt, and as you know, John is
before Vicksburg with General Grant."

"They will never take it--never."

"Perhaps not, Aunt Ann," said Leila, penitent. The younger woman was
disinclined to talk and sat quiet, one of the millions who were wondering
what the next few days would bring.

The light to westward was slowly fading as she remained with hands
clasped about her knees and put aside the useless longing to know what
none could know. Her anger was gone as she caught with a side glance
the frail look of Ann Penhallow. She felt too the soothing benediction
of the day's most sacred hour.

Of a sudden Ann Penhallow bounded to her feet. A thunderous roar
broke on the evening stillness. The smooth backwater shivered and the
cat-tails and reeds swayed, as the sound struck echoes from the hills and
died away. Leila caught and stayed the swaying figure. "It is only the
first of the great new siege guns they are trying on the lower meadows.
Sit down, dear, for a moment. Do be careful--you are getting"--she
hesitated--"hysterical. There will be another presently. Do sit down,
dear aunt. Don't be nervous." She was alarmed by her aunt's silent
statuesque position. She could have applied no wiser remedy than her
warning advice. No woman likes to be told she is nervous or hysterical
and now it acted with the certainty of a charm.

"I am not nervous--it was so sudden. I was startled." She turned away
with a quick movement of annoyance, releasing herself from Leila's arm.
"Let's go home. Oh, my God!" she cried, as once again the cannon-roar
shook the leaves on the upward slope before them. "It is the voice of
war. Can I never get away from it--never--never?"

"You will not be troubled again to-day," said the girl, "and the smaller
guns on the further meadow we hardly notice at the house."

Ann's steps quickened. She had been scared at her own realization of
her want of self-government and was once more in command of her emotions.
"Do not talk to me, Leila. I was quite upset--I am all right now."

The great guns were sent away next day on their errands of destruction.
Then the two lonely women waited as the whole country waited for news
which whatever it might be would carry grief to countless homes.

On the second day of July, 1863, under a heavy cloud of dust which hung
high in air over the approach of the Baltimore Pike to Gettysburg, the
long column of the reserve artillery of the Potomac army rumbled along
the road, and more and more clearly the weary men heard the sound of
cannon. About ten in the morning the advance guard was checked and the
line came to a halt. James Penhallow, who since dawn had been urging on
his command, rode in haste along the side of the cumbered road to where a
hurrying brigade of infantry crossing his way explained why his guns were
thus brought to a standstill. He saw that he must wait for the foot
soldiers to go by. The cannoneers dismounted from the horses or dropped
off the caissons, and glad of a rest lit their pipes and lay down or
wandered about in search of water.

The Colonel, pleased to be on time, was in gay good-humour as he talked
to the men or listened to the musketry fire far to the left. He said to a
group of men, "We are all as grey as the Rebs, boys, but it is good
Pennsylvania dust." As he spoke a roar of laughter was heard from the
neighbourhood of the village cemetery on his right. He rode near it and
saw the men gathered before an old notice board. He read: "Any person
found using fire arms in this vicinity will be prosecuted according to
law." Penhallow shook with laughter. "Guess we'll have to be right
careful, Colonel," said a sergeant.

"You will, indeed."

"It's an awful warning, boys," said a private. "Shouldn't wonder if Bob
Lee set it up to scare us."

"I'd like to take it home." They chaffed the passing infantry, and were
answered in kind. Penhallow impatient saw that the road would soon be
clear. As he issued quick orders and men mounted in haste, a young aide
rode up, saluted, and said, "I have orders, Colonel, from General Hunt
to guide you to where he desires your guns to be parked."

"One moment," said Penhallow; "the road is a tangle of wagons:" and to
a captain, "Ride on and side-track those wagons; be quick too." Then he
said to the aide, "We have a few minutes--how are things going? I heard
of General Reynold's death, and little more."

"Yes, we were outnumbered yesterday and--well licked. Why they did not
rush us, the Lord knows!"

"Give me some idea of our position."

"Well, sir, here to our right is Cemetery Hill, strongly held; to your
left the line turns east and then south in a loop to wooded hills--one
Culp's, they call it. That is our right. There is a row on there as you
can hear. Before us as we stand our position runs south along a low ridge
and ends on two pretty high-wooded hills they call Round Tops. That's
our left. From our front the ground slopes down some forty feet or so,
and about a mile away the Rebs hold the town seminary and a long low rise
facing us."

"Thank you, that seems pretty clear. There is firing over beyond the
cemetery?"

"Yes, the skirmishers get cross now and then. The road seems clear, sir."

Orders rang out and the guns rattled up the pike like some monstrous
articulated insect, all encumbering wagons being swept aside to make way
for the privileged guns.

"You are to park here, sir, on the open between this and the Taneytown
road. There is a brook--a creek."

"Thanks, that is clear."

The ground thus chosen lay some hundred yards behind the low crest held
midway of our line by the Second Corps, whence the ground fell away in a
gentle slope. The space back of our line was in what to a layman's eye
would have seemed the wildest confusion of wagons, ambulances, ammunition
mules, cattle, and wandering men. It was slowly assuming some order as
the Provost Guard, dusty, despotic and cross, ranged the wagons, drove
back stragglers, and left wide lanes for the artillery to move at need to
the front.

The colonel spent some hours in getting his guns placed and in seeing
that no least detail was lacking. With orders about instant readiness,
with a word of praise here, of sharp criticism there, he turned away a
well-contented man and walked up the slope in search of the headquarters.
As he approached the front, he saw the bushy ridge in which, or back of
which, the men lay at rest. Behind them were surgeons selecting partially
protected places for immediate aid, stretcher-bearers, ambulances and all
the mechanism of help for the wounded. Officers were making sure that men
had at hand one hundred rounds of ammunition.

Some three hundred yards behind the mid-centre of the Second Corps, on
the Taneytown road, Penhallow was directed to a small, rather shabby
one-storey farm-house. "By George," he murmured, "here is one general who
means to be near the front." He was met at the door by the tall handsome
figure of General Hancock, a blue-eyed man with a slight moustache over a
square expressively firm jaw.

"Glad to see you, Penhallow. Meade was anxious--I knew you would be on
time. Come in."

Penhallow saw before him a mean little room, on one side a wide bed with
a gaudy coverlet, on a pine table in the centre a bucket of water, a tin
cup, and a candle-stick. Five rickety rush-covered chairs completed the
furnishings.

Meade rose from study of the map an engineer officer was explaining. He
was unknown to Penhallow, who observed him with interest--a tall spare
man with grey-sprinkled dark hair a large Roman nose and spectacles over
wide blue eyes; a gentleman of the best, modest, unassuming, and now
carelessly clad.

"Colonel Penhallow," said Hancock.

"Glad to see you." He turned to receive with evident pleasure a report of
the morning's fight on the right wing, glanced without obvious interest
at the captured flag of the Stonewall Brigade, and greeted the colonel
warmly. "I can only offer you water," he said. "Sit down. You may like to
look over this map."

While the Commander wrote orders and despatched aide after aide,
Penhallow bent over the map. "You see," said Hancock, "we have unusual
luck for us in a short interior line. I judge from the moving guidons
that Lee is extending his front--it may be six miles long."

"And ours?"

"Well, from wing to wing across the loop to right, not half of that."

"I see," said Penhallow, and accepting a drink of tepid water he went out
to find and report to the chief of artillery, General Hunt.

He met him with General John Gibbon and two aides a few yards from the
door, and making his brief report learned as he moved away that there
was some trouble on the left wing. Meade coming out with Hancock, they
mounted and rode away in haste, too late to correct General Sickles'
unfortunate decision to improve General Meade's battle-line. It was
not Penhallow's business, nor did he then fully understand that costly
blunder. Returning to his guns, he sent, as Hunt had ordered, two of
his reserve batteries up to the back of the line of the Second Corps,
and finding General Gibbon temporarily in command walked with him to
what is now called the "Crest" and stood among Cushing's guns. Alertly
interested, Penhallow saw to the left, half hidden by bushes and a
clump of trees, a long line of infantry lying at ease, their muskets in
glittering stacks behind them. To the right the ground was more open. A
broken stone fence lay in front of the Second Corps. It was patched with
fence rails and added stone, and where the clump of trees projected in
advance of the line made a right angle and extended thence in front of
the batteries on the Crest about thirty yards. Then it met a like right
angle of stone fencing and followed the line far to the right. Behind
these rude walls lay the Pennsylvania and New York men, three small
regiments. Further back on a little higher ground was the silent array of
cannon, thus able at need to fire over the heads of the guarding
infantry, now idly lying at rest in the baking heat of a July morning.
The men about the cannon lounged at ease on the ground in the forty foot
interspaces between the batteries, some eighteen pieces in all.

Suddenly an aide rode up, and saying, "See you again, Penhallow," Gibbon
rode away in haste. Penhallow, who was carefully gathering in all that
could then be seen from the locality, moved over to where a young battery
captain was leaning against a cannon wheel wiping the sweat from his face
or gazing over the vale below him, apparently lost in thought. "Captain
Cushing, I believe," said the colonel. "I am Colonel Penhallow, in
command of the reserve artillery."

"Indeed!" said the young officer. "These are some of your guns--"

"Not mine--I was out of it long ago. They still carry the brand of my old
iron-mills."

"We shall see, sir, that they do honour to your name."

"I am sure of that," returned the colonel, looking at the face of the
officer, who as he spoke patted the gun beside him in an affectionate
way.

"It seems very peaceful," he said.

"Yes, yes," returned Penhallow, "very."

They looked for a moment of silence down the vale before them, where a
mile away the ground rose to a low ridge, beyond which in woody shelters
lay the hostile lines.

"What road is that?" asked Penhallow. "It leaves our right and crosses to
enter Lee's right."

"The Emmitsburg Pike, sir."

The Colonel's glass searched the space before him. "I see some fine
farm-houses--deserted, of course, and wheat fields no man will reap this
year." He spoke thoughtfully, and as Woodruff of the nearer battery
joined them, the roar of cannon broke the stillness.

"Far on our left," said Woodruff. At the sound, the men sprang to their
feet and took their stations. Smoke rose and clouded their view of the
distant field where on our left a fury of battle raged, while the rattle
of infantry volleys became continuous. No more words were spoken. Through
the long afternoon the unseen fight went on in front of the Round Tops.
As it came nearer and the grey lines were visible, the guns on the Crest
opened a lively fire and kept up their destructive business until the
approach of the enemy ceased to extend towards our centre and fell away
in death or disorderly flight. About sunset this varied noise subsided
and the remote sound of cheering was heard.

"We must have won," said General Webb, the brigade commander. "It was a
flanking movement. How little any one man knows of a battle!"

"By George! I am glad of a let up," said the young Captain. "I am vilely
dirty." He wiped the grime and sweat from his face and threw himself on
the ground as Generals Hunt and Gibbon rode up.

"No great damage here, I see, Webb. They got awfully licked, but it was
near to something else."

Questioned by Penhallow, they heard the news of our needless loss and
final triumphant repulse of the enemy. Hunt said emphatic things about
political generals and their ways. "He lost a leg," said Gibbon, "and I
think to have lost his life would have been, fortunate. They are at it
still on the right, but the Twelfth Corps has gone back to Culp's Hill
and Ewell will get his share of pounding--if it be his corps."

"Then we may get some sleep," said Penhallow, as he moved away. "I have
had very little for two nights."



CHAPTER XXIV


It was near to seven when he went down to his parked guns, seeing as he
went that the ways were kept clear, and finding ready hot coffee and
broiled chicken.

"Where did you get this, Josiah?" he asked.

"Kind of came in, sir--know'd he was wanted--laid two eggs." The colonel
laughed and asked no further questions.

"Pull off my boots. Horses all right?"

"Yes, sir."

Without-undressing he fell on his camp-bed and, towards dusk thinking
with grim humour of his wife and the Penhallow guns, fell asleep. About
four in the morning the mad clamour of battle awakened him. He got up and
went out of the tent. The night air was hot and oppressive. Far to our
right there was the rattle of musketry and the occasional upward flare of
cannon flashes against low-lying clouds. From the farthest side of the
Taneytown road at the rear he heard the rattle of ambulances arriving
from the field of fight to leave the wounded in tent hospitals. They came
slowly, marked by their flickering lanterns, and were away again more
swiftly. He gave some vague thought to the wounded and to the surgeons,
for whom the night was as the day. At sunrise he went up past the already
busy headquarters and came to the bush-hidden lines, where six thousand
men of the Second Corps along a half mile of the irregular far-stretched
Crest were up and busy. Fires were lighted, coffee boiled and biscuits
munched. An air of confidence and gaiety among the men pleased him as he
paused to give a sergeant a pipe light and divided his tobacco among a
thankful group of ragged soldiers. All was quiet. An outpost skirmish on
the right, as a man said, "was petering out." He paused here and there to
talk to the men, and was interested to hear them discussing with
intelligence the advantage of our short line. Now and then the guns far
to left or right quarrelled, but at eleven in the morning this third of
July all was quiet except the murmurous noise of thousands of men who
talked or lay at rest in the bushes or contrived a refuge from the sun
under shelter of a canvas hung on ramrods.

Generals Gibbon and Webb, coming near, promised him a late breakfast,
and he went with them to the little peach orchard near the headquarters
on the Taneytown road. They sat down on mess-chests or cracker-boxes,
and to Penhallow's amusement Josiah appeared with John, the servant
of Gibbon, for Josiah was, as he said, on easy terms with every black
servant in the line. Presently Hancock rode up with Meade. Generals
Newton and Pleasanton also appeared, and with their aides joined them.
These men were officially Penhallow's superiors, and although Hancock
and Gibbon were his friends, he made no effort to take part in the
discussion in regard to what the passing day would bring. He had his
own opinion, but no one asked for it and he smoked in an undisturbed
private council of war.

At last, as he rose, Newton said, "You knew John Reynolds well,
Penhallow. A moment before he fell, his aide had begged him to fall
back to a less dangerous position."

"He was my friend--a soldier of the best."

"The Pennsylvanians are in force to-day--you and I and--"

"Oh, colonels don't count," laughed Penhallow; "but there are Meade,
Hancock, Gregg, Humphreys, Hays, Gibbon, Geary, Crawford--"

Hancock said, "We Pennsylvanians hold the lowest and weakest point of our
line--all Pennsylvanians on their own soil."

"Yes, but they will not attack here," said Newton.

"Oh, do you think so?" said Hancock. "Wait a little."

The headquarters' ambulance drove up with further supplies. The chickens
were of mature age, but every one was hungry. Cigars and pipes were
lighted, and Newton chaffed Gibbon as the arrogant young brigadier in
command for the time of Hancock's Corps. The talk soon fell again upon
the probabilities of the day. Penhallow listened. Meade grave and silent
sat on a cracker-box and ate in an absent way, or scribbled orders, and
at last directed that the picked body of men, the provost's guards,
should join their regimental commands. About a quarter to noon the
generals one by one rode away.

Having no especial duty, Penhallow walked to where on the Crest the
eighteen guns were drawn up. The sky was clear as yet, a windless, hot
day. Gibbon joined him.

"What next?" said Gibbon, as Penhallow clambered up and stood a tall
figure on the limber of one of Cushing's guns, his field glass searching
the valley and the enemy's position. "Isn't it like a big chess-board?"

"Yes--their skirmishers look like grey posts, and our own blue. They seem
uneasy."

"Aren't they just like pawns in the game!" remarked Captain Haskell of
the Staff.

Penhallow, intent, hardly heard them, but said presently, "There are
guidons moving fast to their right."

"Oh, artillery taking position. We shall hear from them," returned
Gibbon. "Hancock thinks that being beaten on both flanks, Lee will attack
our centre, and this is the lowest point."

"Well," said Haskell, "it would be madness--can Lee remember Malvern
Hill?"

"I wonder what Grant is doing?" remarked Gibbon. At that time, seated
under an oak, watched at a distance by John Penhallow and a group of
officers, he was dictating to unlucky Pemberton the terms of Vicksburg's
surrender.

Penhallow got down from his perch and wandered among the other guns,
talking to the men who were lying on the sod, or interested in the
battery horses behind the shelter of trees quietly munching the thin
grasses. He returned to Cushing's guns, and being in the mental attitude
of intense attention to things he would not usually have noticed, he was
struck with the young captain's manly build, and then with his delicacy
of feature, something girl-like and gentle in his ways.

Penhallow remarked that the guns so hot already from the sun would be too
easily overheated when they were put to use. "Ah," returned Cushing, "but
will they be asked to talk today?" The innocent looking smile and the
quick flash of wide-opened eyes told of his wish to send messages across
the vale.

"Yes, I think so," said the colonel; "I think so,"--and again observant
he saw the slight figure straighten and a quite other look of tender
sadness come upon his face.

"How quiet they are--how very quiet!" Then he laughed merrily. "See that
dog on the Emmitsburg road. He doesn't know which side he's on."

Penhallow looked at his watch. "It is one o'clock." Then his glass was
up. "Ah!" he exclaimed, as he closed it, "now we shall catch it. I
thought as much."

A mile away, far on Lee's right, on the low ridge in front of his
position, a flash of light was seen. As the round ring of smoke shot
out from the cannon, the colonel remembered the little Leila's delight
when he blew smoke rings as they sat on the porch. Instantly a second
gun spoke. The two shells flew over our line and lit far to the rear,
while at once along Lee's position a hundred and fifty guns rang out and
were instantly answered by our own artillery from Round Top to Cemetery
Hill. General Hunt beside him replying to the quick questions he put,
said, "We could not place over seventy-five guns--not room enough."

"Is that all? They are distributing their favours along our whole front."

At once a vast shroud of smoke rose and hid both lines, while out of it
flew countless shell and roundshot. At first most of the Confederate
missiles flew high and fell far behind our Crest. The two officers were
coolly critical as they stood between the batteries.

"He must think our men are back of the guns like his own. The wall and
bushes hide them."

"The fuses are too long," said Hunt quietly. "That's better and worse,"
he added, as a shell exploded near by and one of Woodruff's guns went out
of action and the ground was strewn with the dead and wounded. "We shall
want some of your guns."

Penhallow went in haste to the rear. What he saw was terrible. The iron
hail of shells fell fast around him on the wide open space or even as far
away as the hospital tents. On or near the Taneytown road terror-stricken
wagon-drivers were flying, ammunition mules were torn to pieces or lying
mangled; a shell exploded in a wagon,--driver, horses and a load of bread
were gone. Horses lay about, dead or horribly torn; one horse hitched to
a tree went on cropping grass. Penhallow missed nothing. He was in the
mood peril always brought. Men said he was a slow, sure thinker, and
missed seeing things which did not interest him. Now he was gay, tuned to
the highest pitch of automatic watchfulness, as this far-sent storm of
bursting shells went over and past the troops it was meant to destroy.
Hurrying through it he saw the wide slope clear rapidly of what was left
of active life. He laughed as a round shot knocked a knapsack off a man's
back. The man unhurt did not stay to look for it. Once the colonel
dropped as a shell lit near him. It did not explode. He ejaculated,
"Pshaw," and went on. He came near the Taneytown road to find that his
artillery had suffered. A score of harnessed horses lay dead or horribly
mangled. His quick orders sent up to the front a dozen guns. Some were
horsed, some were pulled with ropes by the cheering, eager cannoneers.
Their way was up the deserted slope, "well cleared by the enemy," thought
Penhallow with a smile. Once he looked back and saw the far flight of a
shell end in or near an ambulance of the wounded beyond the Taneytown
road.

During his absence gun after gun had been disabled and a caisson
exploded; the gun crews lay dead or wounded. What more horribly disturbed
Penhallow was the hideous screams of the battery horses. "Ah! the pity of
it. They had no cause to die for--no duty--no choice." As he assisted in
replacing the wreckage of the guns, he still heard the cries of the
animals who so dumb in peace found in torture voices of anguish unheard
before--unnatural, strange. The appalling tempest of shells screamed on
and on, while the most of them fell beyond the Crest. Penhallow looked up
to note their flight. They darted overhead shrill-voiced or hissing.
There was a white puff of smoke, a red flash, and an explosion.

General Gibbon, coming back from the long line of his corps, said, "My
men have suffered very little, but the headquarters behind them are in
ruin. Meade has moved back." As he spoke the shells began to fall on the
Crest.

"They seem to be more attentive to us," said the battery Captain
Woodruff. "Thought we'd catch it!"

"Horrible!--Those horses, Gibbon," said Penhallow.

At last there seemed to be more concentrated firing on the Crest. Many
shells fell near the imperfect wall-shelter of the crouching men, while
others exploded among the lines to left or right in the bushes.

"They are doing better now, confound them!" said the young general
coolly. "Our men at the wall seem disturbed.

"Come with me," he said to Penhallow and Haskell of the Staff, who had
just joined them.

They went down in front of the guns to where behind the low wall lay the
two thin lines of the Pennsylvania regiments. He spoke to the Colonel of
the 71st, who with other officers was afoot encouraging the men.

"Keep cool, boys," said Gibbon.

The men laughed. "Oh, we're all right, General, but we ain't cool."

Gibbon laughed. "Let us go over the wall and try to see a little better,"
said Penhallow.

A hundred yards beyond the lines they sat down. The ceaseless rain of
shot and shell from both sides went over them, the canopy of smoke being
so high above that the interspace between the lines was now more or less
visible. Far beyond them our skirmish outposts were still motionless on
guard; and yet further farms and houses, some smoking in ruin, lay among
the green fields along the Emmitsburg Pike.

"It is pretty safe here," said the Corps Commander, while far above them
the shells sang their war notes.

Penhallow looked back. "They've got the range--there goes one of the
guns--oh! and another."

"Let's go back," said Gibbon, rising, "we are too safe here."

They laughed at his reason and followed him, Haskell remarking on the
lessening of the fire. As they moved about the forty-foot spaces between
the disabled batteries, the last cannon-ball rolled by them and bounded
down the slope harmless. At once there was movement,--quick orders,
officers busy, as fresh cannon replaced the wrecked pieces. Many of
the unhurt cannoneers lay down utterly exhausted. The dead were drawn
aside, while the wounded crawled away or were cared for by the
stretcher-bearers and surgeons. Meanwhile the dense, hot, smoke-pall
rose slowly and drifted away. The field-glasses were at once in use.

"It is half-past two," said General Hunt; "what next? Oh! our skirmishers
are falling back."

"They are going to attack," said Haskell, "and can they mean our whole
line--or where?"

The cannoneers were called to their pieces, and silently expectant the
little group waited on the fateful hour, while the orderly quiet of
discipline was to be seen on the Crest. The field-glasses of the officers
were searching with intense interest the more and more visible vale.

"Pretty plain now, Gibbon," said Hunt.

"Yes, we are in for it."

"They are forming," said Penhallow. A line appeared from the low swell of
ground in front of Lee's position--then a second and a third. Muskets and
bayonets flashed in the sun.

"Can you make out their flags?" asked Gibbon, "or their numbers?"

"Not the flags." He waited intent, watchful. No one spoke--minute after
minute went by. At last Penhallow answered. "A long line--a good half
mile--quite twelve thousand--oh, more--more. Now they are advancing _en
échelon_."

To left, to right, along our lines was heard the thud, thud, of the
ramrods, and percussion-cap boxes were slid around the waist to be handy.
Penhallow and others drew their pistols. The cannon were now fully
replaced, the regimental flags unrolled, and on the front line, long
motionless, the trefoil guidons of the two divisions of the Second Corps
fluttered feebly. The long row of skirmishers firing fell back more and
more rapidly, and came at last into our lines.

Penhallow said, turning to Gibbon, "They have--I think--they have no
supporting batteries--that is strange." Haskell and Gibbon had gone as he
spoke and the low crest was free at this point of all but the artillery
force. To left, the projecting clump of trees and the lines of the Second
Corps--all he could see--were ominously quiet.

Gibbon came back to the crest. He said, "We may need backing if they
concentrate on us; here our line is too thin." And still the orderly grey
columns came on silently, without their usual charging-yell.

"Ah!" exclaimed Penhallow without lowering his glass, as he gazed to our
left. The clamour of cannon broke out from little Round Top.

"Rifles!" exclaimed Gibbon. "Good!" Their left made no reply, but seemed
to draw away from the fire.

"I can see no more," said the Colonel, "but they stopped at the
Emmitsburg road."

The acrid odour of musketry drifted across the field as he turned to
gaze at the left wing of the fast coming onset. Far to our right they
came under the fire of Cemetery Hill and of an advanced Massachusetts
regiment. He saw the blue flags of Virginia sway, fall, and rise no
more, while scattered and broken the Confederates fled or fell under
the fury of the death messages from above the long-buried dead of the
village graves. "Now then, Cushing!" cried Hunt, and the guns on the
Crest opened fire.

It was plain that the long Confederate lines, frayed on each flank, had
crowded together making a vast wedge of attack. Then all along our miles
of troops a crackle of musketry broke out, the big guns bellowing. The
field was mostly lost to view in the dense smoke, under which the
charging-force halted and steadily returned the fire.

"I can't see," cried Cushing near by.

"Quite three hundred yards or more," said the colonel, "and you are hurt,
Cushing. Go to the rear." The blood was streaming down his leg.

"Not I--it is nothing. Hang those fellows!" A New York battery gallantly
run in between disabled guns crowded Cushing's cannon. He cried, "Section
one to the front, by hand!"

He was instantly obeyed. As he went with it to the front near to the
wall, followed by Penhallow, he said, "It is my last canister, colonel. I
can't see well."

Dimly seen figures in the dense smoke were visible here and there some
two hundred yards away, with flutter of reeling battle-flags in the
smoke, while more and more swiftly the wedge of men came on, losing
terribly by the fire of the men at the wall along the lines.

Cushing stood with the lanyard of the percussion trigger in his hand.
It seems inconceivable, but the two men smiled. Then he cried, "My
God!"--his figure swayed, he held his left hand over a ghastly wound
in his side, and as he reeled pulled the lanyard. He may have seen
the red flash, and then with a bullet through the open mouth fell dead
across the trail of his gun.

For a moment Penhallow was the only officer of rank near the silent
battery. Where Cushing's two guns came too near the wall, the men moved
away to the sides leaving an unguarded space. Checked everywhere to
right and left, the assailants crowded on to the clump of trees and to
where the Pennsylvania line held the stone wall. Ignorant of the ruin
behind them, the grey mass came on with a rush through the smoke. The
men in blue, losing terribly, fell back from a part of the wall in
confusion--a mere mob--sweeping Webb, Penhallow and others with them,
swearing and furious. Two or three hundred feet back they stopped, a
confused mass. General Webb, Haskell and other officers rallied them. The
red flags gathered thicker, where the small units of many commands stood
fast under the shelter of a portion of the lost wall. Penhallow looked
back and saw the Massachusetts flags--our centre alone had given way.
The flanks of the broken regiments still held the wall and poured in a
murderous fire where the splendid courage of the onset halted, unwilling
to fly, unable to go on.

Webb, furious, rallied his men, while Penhallow, Haskell and Gibbon
vainly urged an advance. A colour-sergeant ran forward and fell dead. A
corporal caught up the flag and dropped. A Confederate general leaped
over the deserted wall and laid a hand on Cushing's gun. He fell
instantly at the side of the dead captain, as with a sudden roar of fury
the broken Pennsylvanians rolled in a disordered mass of men and officers
against the disorganized valour which held the wall.

The smoke held--still holds, the secret of how many met the Northern men
at the wall; how long they fought among Cushing's guns, on and over the
wall, no man who came out of it could tell. Penhallow emptied his
revolver and seizing a musket fought the brute battle with the men who
used fists, stones, gun-rammers--a howling mob of blue and grey. And so
the swaying flags fell down under trampling men and the lost wall was
won. The fight was over. Men fell in scores, asking quarter. The flanking
fires had been merciless, and the slope was populous with dead and
wounded men, while far away the smoke half hid the sullen retreat of the
survivors. The prearranged mechanism of war became active. Thousands of
prisoners were being ordered to the rear. Men stood still, gasping,
breathless or dazed. As Penhallow stood breathing hard, from the right
wing, among the long silent dead of Cemetery Hill, arose a wild hurrah.
It gathered volume, rolled down the long line of corps after corps, and
died away among the echoes of the Pennsylvania hills. He looked about him
trying to recover interest. Some one said that Hancock and Gibbon were
wounded. The rush of the _mêlée_ had carried him far down the track of
the charge, and having no instant duty he sat down, his clothes in
tatters. As he recovered strength, he was aware of General Meade on
horseback with an aide. The general, white and grave, said to Haskell,
"How has it gone here?"

An officer cried, "They are beaten," showing two flags he held.

Meade said sharply: "Damn the flags! Are the men gone?"

"Yes, sir, the attack is over."

He uncovered, said only, "Thank God!" gave some rapid orders and rode
away beside the death-swath, careful, as Penhallow saw, to keep his horse
off of the thirty scattered flags, many lying under or over the brave who
had fought and lost in this memorable charge.

Penhallow could have known of the battle only what he had seen, but a few
words from an officer told him that nowhere except at this part of the
line of the Second Corps had the attack been at all fortunate.

On the wide field of attack our ambulance corps was rescuing the hundreds
of wounded Confederates, many of them buried, helpless, beneath the
bodies of the motionless dead. Two soldiers stood near him derisively
flaunting flags.

"Quit that," cried the Colonel, "drop them!" The men obeyed.

"Death captured them--not we," said Penhallow, and saw that he was
speaking to a boyish Confederate lieutenant, who had just dragged himself
limping out of the ghastly heap of dead.

Touching his forehead in salute, he said, "Thank you, sir. Where shall I
go?"

"Up there," replied the colonel. "You will be cared for."

The man limped away followed by Penhallow, who glanced at the torn
Confederate banners lying blood-stained about the wall and beyond it. He
read their labels--Manassas, Chancellorsville, Sharpsburg. One marked
Fredericksburg lay gripped in the hand of a dead sergeant. He crossed the
wall to look for the body of the captain of the battery; men were lifting
it. "My God!--Poor boy!" murmured the colonel, as he looked on the white
face of death. He asked who was the Rebel general who had fallen beside
Cushing.

"General Armistead," said an officer--"mortally wounded, they say."

Penhallow turned and went down the slope again. Far away, widely
scattered, he caught glimpses of this rash and gallant attack. He was
aware of that strange complex odour which rises from a battlefield. It
affected him as horrible and as unlike any other unpleasant smell.
Feeling better, he busied himself directing those who were aiding the
wounded. A general officer he did not know said to him, "Stop the
firing from that regiment."

A number of still excited men of one of the flanking brigades on our
right were firing uselessly at the dimly seen and remote mass of the
enemy. Penhallow went quickly to the right, and as he drew near shouted,
"Stop those men--quit firing!" He raised his hand to call attention to
his order. The firing lessened, and seeing that he was understood he
turned away. At the moment he was not fifty feet from the flanking line,
and had moved far down the slope as one of the final shots rang out.
He felt something like a blow on his right temple, and as he staggered
was aware of the gush of blood down his face. "What fool did that?" he
exclaimed as he reeled and fell. He rose, fell, rose again, and managed
to tie a handkerchief around his head. He stumbled to the wall and lay
down, his head aching. He could go no further. "Queer, that," he
murmured; "they might have seen." He sat up; things around him were
doubled to his view.

"Are you hit?" said Haskell, who was directing stretcher-bearers and
sending prisoners to the rear.

"Not badly." He was giddy and in great pain. Then he was aware of the
anxious face of Josiah.

"My God! you hurt, sir? Come to look for you--can you ride? I fetched
Dixy--mare's killed."

"I am not badly hurt. Tighten this handkerchief and give me your
arm--I can't ride,"

He arose, and amazed at his weakness, dragged himself down the slope,
through the reforming lines, the thousands of prisoners, the reinforcing
cannon and the wreckage of the hillside. He fell on his couch, and more
at ease began to think, with some difficulty in controlling his thoughts.
At last he said, "I shall be up to-morrow," and lay still, seeing, as the
late afternoon went by, Grey Pine and Ann Penhallow. Then he was aware of
Captain Haskell and a surgeon, who dressed his wound and said, "It was
mere shock--there is no fracture. The ball cut the artery and tore the
scalp. You'll be all right in a day or two."

Penhallow said, "Please to direct my servant to the Sanitary Commission.
I think my friend, the Rev. Mark Rivers, is with them."

He slept none. It was early dawn when Rivers came in anxious and
troubled. For the first time in years of acquaintance he found Penhallow
depressed, and amazed because so small a wound made him weak and unable
to think clearly or to give orders. "And it was some stupid boy from our
line," he said.

His incapacity made Rivers uneasy, and although Penhallow broke out to
his surprise in angry remonstrance, he convinced him at last that he must
return to Grey Pine on sick leave. He asked no question about the army.
Insisting that he was too well to give up his command, nevertheless he
talked much of headache and lack of bodily power. He was, as Rivers saw,
no longer the good-humoured, quiet gentleman, with no thought of self. In
a week he was stronger, but as his watchful friend realized, there was
something mysteriously wrong with his mental and moral mechanism.

On the day after the battle Penhallow asked to have his wife telegraphed
that he was slightly wounded, and that she must not come to him. Rivers
wrote also a brief and guarded letter to Leila of their early return to
Grey Pine.

In a vain effort to interest the colonel, he told him of the surrender of
Vicksburg.--He asked where it was and wasn't John there, but somewhat
later became more clear-minded and eager to go home.



CHAPTER XXV


Rivers gathered no comfort from a consultation of surgeons, who talked of
the long-lasting effects of concussion of the brain. Made careful by the
sad change he had observed in Ann Penhallow when last seen, he sent his
telegram for Leila to the care of the post-mistress, and a day later a
brief letter.

Understanding the mode of address, Mrs. Crocker walked at once to Grey
Pine, and found Leila in the garden. "Where is your aunt?" she asked.

"Lying down in her room. I got your kind note about the fight last
evening. Is it true? Is the news confirmed?"

"Yes. There was a terrible battle at Gettysburg. The Rebels were defeated
by General Meade and are retreating."

"I did not tell Aunt Ann anything. I waited to hear, as I was sure I
would from Uncle James. Is there evil news?"

"I don't know. Here is a telegram to my care for you from Mr. Rivers. It
must have been delayed--and then came this letter to Mrs. Penhallow from
him."

"Then--then--there is bad news," she cried as she tore open the telegram
and stood still.

"What is it?--you know how we all love him."

"Uncle Jim is wounded--not seriously--and will be here shortly."

"Oh, but I am sorry--and glad."

"Yes--yes--I must tell aunt at once. She has not left her room for
two days, and I forbade the maids to talk of the victory until it was
sure--now she must know all. I must tell her at once."

"Why not get Dr. McGregor?"

"No--no," she returned with decision. "I shall know best how to
tell--it wants a woman."

The ruddy, stout post-mistress looked at the tall young woman with sudden
appreciation of her self-command and mental growth. "Maybe you're about
right, but I thought--well, fact is, I've seen of late so many people
just tear open a letter--and go all to pieces."

Leila smiled. "You don't know my aunt. Now I must go. Oh, this war--this
war! To-morrow will scatter joy and grief over all the land."

"Yes, I've been near about mobbed to-day. Good-bye."

The messenger of evil news went straight from the garden path, where the
roses were in unusual abundance. To her surprise she saw her aunt on the
back porch. As Leila hesitated, she said, "I saw Mrs. Crocker from my
window, Leila. She gave you something--a letter--or a telegram. What is
it? I suppose after what I have heard of the Confederates at York and
Carlisle, they may be in Harrisburg by this time and the railroad to the
west cut off. It may be well to know." She spoke rapidly as she came down
the steps to meet her niece. "It is as well James Penhallow is not in
it."

The two women stood facing one another in one of those immeasurably brief
silences which are to timeless thought as are ages. Her husband safe,
General Lee victorious--some slight look of satisfaction could be seen in
her face--a faint smile, too easily read--and then--

"Well, dear, your news?"

Anger, tenderness, love, pity--all dictated answers. "Aunt Ann, I have
bad news."

"Of course, dear. It was to be expected. You won't believe me, but I am
sorry for you and for James."

The face of the tall young woman flushed hot. She had meant to spare
her--to be tender. She said, "General Lee is retreating after losing a
great battle at Gettysburg."

Her aunt said quickly, "But James Penhallow--he is in Washington?"

"No, he was in the army--he is wounded--not seriously--and he is coming
home."

"I might have known it." A great illumination came over her face not
understood by Leila. She was strangely glad for him that he had been in
the field and not in peaceful safety at Washington. With abrupt change of
expression, she added, "Wounded? Not seriously. That isn't like him to
come home for a slight wound. You or Mark Rivers are hiding something."

"Not I, aunt; but any wound that kept him off duty would be better cared
for here. Lee's defeat leaves him free for a time--I mean at ease--"

"Don't talk nonsense!" she cried. "What do I care for Lee--or
Meade--or battles! James Penhallow is all the world to me.
Victory!"--she flamed with mounting colour--"it is I am the victor! He
comes back with honour--I have no duties--no country--I have only my
love. Oh, my God! if he had died--if--if--I should have hated!--" She
spoke with harsh vehemence, and of a sudden stopped, and breathing fast
gasped in low-voiced broken tones, "Don't stare at me--I am not a
fool--I am--I am--only the fool of a great love. You don't know what it
means. My God! I have no child--James Penhallow is to me children,
husband--all--everything." She stood still, wide-eyed, staring down the
garden paths, a wonder of yearning tenderness in her face, with Rivers's
letter in her hand.

"Read your letter, Aunt."

"Yes--yes--I forgot it." She read it, and said, "It only confirms the
telegram."

The storm of passionate emotion was over. Leila amazed and fearful of
results--twice seen before--watched her. "You have seen," she said in a
low voice, "the soul of a great love laid bare. May you too some day, my
child, love as I do! Have no fear for me--I see it in your looks. Come
in--I have to see to things--I have to give some orders--there will be
much to do." She was at once quiet, and composedly led the way into the
house, the astonished girl following her.

In the hall Mrs. Penhallow said, "I fear, dear, I have left too much of
the management of the house to you--of late, I mean. What with the farms
and stables, I am not surprised that things have not been quite as James
would desire. I am going to relieve you a little. I suppose the stables
are all right."

"They are," returned Leila, feeling hurt. Her aunt had not been in the
kitchen or given an order for nearly a month, and house, farm and
stables, had been by degrees allowed to slip into Leila's well-trained
and competent hands. Meanwhile Ann Penhallow had gradually failed in
health and lost interest in duties which had been to her, as Rivers said,
what social pleasures were to some women. She yielded by degrees and not
without resistance to mere physical weakness, and under the emotional
stress of war, and above all the absence of the man on whom she depended,
had lapsed to McGregor's dismay into a state of mind and body for which
he had no remedy.

Every physician of large experience must have seen cases of self-created,
unresisted invalidism end with mysterious abruptness and the return of
mental, moral and physical competence, under the influence of some call
upon their sense of duty made by calamity, such as an acute illness in
the household, financial ruin, or the death of a husband. The return of a
wounded man and the need to care for him acted thus upon Ann Penhallow.

Leila looked on in surprise. Her aunt's astounding indifference to the
results of defeat for her beloved South when she learned of her husband's
injury left the younger woman utterly bewildered. Nothing in her own
nature, as she thought it all over, enabled her to understand it, nor was
her aunt's rapid gain in health and cheerfulness during the next few days
more easy to explain. At first with effort, but very soon with increase
of ability, she gradually became more and more her old self.

Ann Penhallow spent the remainder of the next day in one of those
household inspections which let no failure in neatness or order escape
attention. James Penhallow's library was to be cleaned and cared for in
a way to distress any man-minded man, while Leila looked on. Had her
aunt's recent look of ill-health represented nothing but the depressing
influence of a year of anxiety? And, if so, why under the distress of a
nearer and more material disaster should she grow so quickly active,
and apparently strong in place of becoming more feeble. She followed
her aunt about the house trying to be helpful, and a little amused at
her return to some of the ways which at times annoyed Penhallow into
positive revolt. As she thought of it, Ann was standing over a battered
army-chest, open and half full of well-worn cavalry uniforms.

"Really, Leila," she said, "these old army clothes had better be disposed
of--and that shabby smoking-jacket--I have not seen it for years. Why do
men keep their useless, shabby clothes?"

"I think Uncle Jim wouldn't like those old army uniforms given away,
aunt; and don't you remember how he looked like an old Van Dyke portrait
in that lovely brown velvet jacket?"

Ann, standing with the much used garment in her hand, let it drop into
the chest, saying, "I really cannot see the use of keeping things as men
love to do--"

"And women never!" cried Leila, closing the lid of the box, and remarking
that he would like to find things as he left them; and had Aunt Ann
noticed that there were moths about the bear skins. Now a moth has the
power of singularly exciting some women--the diversion proved effectual.

And still as the week went by Ann seemed to be gaining in strength.

At lunch, a telegram from Charles Grey, Baltimore, said, "Penhallow here,
doing well. Will return on the 14th, by afternoon train, with Rivers and
servant."

"Read that, dear--I want you, Leila, to ride to the mills and tell Dr.
McGregor that I will send the carriage for him in time for him to meet
your uncle at the station. I had better not meet him--and there will be
Mark Rivers and Josiah and--but you will see to all that."

"Certainly, aunt."

"It will be the day after to-morrow. Be sure that the doctor makes no
mistake. There are two trains--he will be on the four o'clock express."
This was in the manner of her Aunt Ann of former days. "Shall I write it
down?"

Leila cried, "No," and fled, laughing.

The next day to Leila's surprise and pleasure her aunt came down to
breakfast and quietly took her place as mistress of the tea-urn. The
talent of common sense as applicable to the lesser social commerce of
life was one of Leila's gifts, and she made no comment on her aunt's
amazing resumption of her old habits. Ann herself felt some inclination
to explain her rapid recovery of health, and said as she took the
long-vacant seat at the breakfast table, "I think, Leila, the doctor's
last tonic has been of use to me--I feel quite like myself." Having thus
anticipated her too sharp-eyed niece's congratulations, Leila's
expression of pleasure came in accordant place. Whereupon they both
smiled across the table, having that delicate appreciation of the needs
of the situation which is rarely at the service of the blundering mind
of man.

The moment of gentle hypocrisy passed, the mistress of Grey Pine took up
her memoranda for the day, and said with some attempt at being just her
usual self, "I shall walk to Westways after breakfast--Pole needs to be
talked to. The meats have been of his worst lately." Then with a glance
at the paper, "Your uncle's books must be dusted; I quite forgot it; I
will set Susan to work this morning."

"But," said Leila, "he does hate that, Aunt Ann. The last time she
succeeded in setting together 'Don Juan' and 'St. Thomas à Kempis.'"

Ann laughed, and said with some of her old sense of humour, "It might do
them both good--dust them yourself."

"I will," said Leila, liking the task.

"And when you ride this afternoon, see Mrs. Lamb. The cook tells me
that she hears of that scamp, her son, as in the army--a nice kind of
soldier." A half-dozen other errands were mentioned, and they parted,
Ann adding, "There is no mail to-day."

They met again at lunch. "It is too bad, Leila, Billy was given the
letters and forgot them and went a-fishing. There was a letter for you
from Mark Rivers about your uncle. Does he think me a child? I read it."

"You read it, Aunt!" exclaimed Leila astonished at this infraction of
their household law.

"Of course I read it. I knew it must be about James." Leila made no
reply, but did not like it.

"Here it is, my dear. I fear James is in a more serious state than I was
led to believe by their first letters. There is also a letter from John
to you." She did not ask to see it, and Leila took both missives and
presently went away to the stables. Even John, as was plain, was
forgotten in her aunt's anxiety in regard to her husband.

Her many errands over, Leila riding slowly through the lonely wood-roads
read the letters:

"My Dear Leila," wrote Rivers, "you had better let your aunt know that
the Colonel's wound must have so shocked the brain, though there is no
fracture, as to have left him in a mental state which gives me the utmost
anxiety. You will sadly realize my meaning when you see him. Be careful
how you tell your aunt.

"Yours truly,

"MARK RIVERS."

Here indeed was trouble. Leila's eyes filled and tears fell on the paper.
She rode on deep in thought, and at last securing the message of calamity
in her belt opened John's letter.

"I write you, dear Leila, from my tent near Vicksburg, this 5th of July.
The prisoners from Pemberton's army are passing as I write. Our men are
giving them bread and tobacco, and there is no least sign of enmity or
triumph. I am pretty well worn out, as the few engineers have been worked
hard and the constant nearness of death in the trenches within five to
one hundred feet of the Rebel lines was a situation to make a man
think--not of course while in immediate danger, but afterwards. I had
some narrow escapes--we all had. But, dear Leila, it has been a splendid
thing to see how this man Grant, with the expressionless face, struck
swiftly one army after another and returned to secure his prey.

"I cannot even now get a leave of absence, and I am beyond words anxious
to hear about dear Uncle Jim. Just a line from him makes me think he was
to be with General Meade and in that great battle we won. A telegram to
the Engineers' Camp, Vicksburg, will relieve me.

"It is unlikely, if we go South, that I shall see you for many a day. All
leaves are, I find, denied. War--intense war like this--seems to me to
change men in wonderful ways. It makes some men bad or reckless or
drunkards or hard and cruel; it makes others thoughtful, dutiful and
religious. This is more often the case among the men than you may think
it would be. Certainly it does age a fellow fast. I seem to have passed
many years since I sat with you at West Point and you made me feel how
young I was and how little I had seen of life. It was true, but now I
have seen life at its worst and its best. I have had too the education
of battle, the lessons read by thousands of deaths and all the many
temptations of camp life. I believe, and I can say it to you, I am the
better for it all, and think less and less of the man who was fool enough
to do what with more humility he will surely do once more, if it please
God that he come out of this terrible war alive.

"When you see me again, you will at least respect my years, for one lives
fast here, and the months seem years and the family Bible a vain record,
as I remember that the statement of births comes after the Apocrypha
which leaves room for doubt."--

Leila smiled. "How like him," she murmured.

"I said months. There are (there were once last week) minutes when one
felt an insolent contempt of death, although the bullets were singing by
like our brave hornets. Is that courage? I used as a boy to wonder how I
would feel in danger. Don't tell, but on going under fire I shiver, and
then am at once in quiet possession of all my capacities, whatever they
be worth. A man drops by my side--and I am surprised; then another--and I
am sure I won't be hit. But I _was_ three weeks ago in my leg! It made me
furious, and I still limp a bit. It was only a nip--a spent bullet. I
wanted to get at that anonymous rascal who did it.

"Do wire me, and write fully.

"Yours,
JOHN.

"P.S. I wonder where Tom McGregor is, and Pole's boy and Joe Grace, and
those Greys who went diverse ways. As you never talk of yourself when you
write those brief letters on notepaper the size of a postage stamp, you
might at least tell me all about these good people in Westways."

She telegraphed him, "Uncle Jim slightly wounded, is coming home. Will
write. Leila Grey."

About four in the afternoon of this July 14th Ann Penhallow kissed her
husband as he came up the porch steps. He was leaning heavily on Mark
Rivers's arm. He said, "It is quite a long time, Ann. How long is it?"
Then he shook off Rivers, saying, "I am quite well," and going by his
wife went through the open door, moving like one dazed. He stood still a
moment looking about him, turned back and speaking to his wife said, "I
understand now. At first it seemed strange to me and as if I had never
been here before. Ever feel that way, Ann?"

"Oh, often, James." No signal of her anguish showed on the gallantly
carried face of the little woman.

"Quiet, isn't it? When was it I was hit? It was--wasn't it in May? Rivers
says it was July--I do not like contradiction." His appreciation of time
and recognition of locality were alike disordered, as Rivers had observed
with distress and a too constant desire to set him right. With better
appreciation of his condition, Ann accepted his statement.

"Yes--yes, of course, dear--it is just so."

"I knew you would understand me. I should like to go to bed--I want
Josiah--no one else."

"Yes, dear," and this above all else made clear to the unhappy little
lady how far was the sturdy soldier who had left her from the broken man
in undress uniform who clung to the rail, as he went slowly up the
stairway with his servant. In the hall he had seen Leila, but gave her no
word, not even his habitual smile of recognition.

Ann stared after them a moment, motioned Rivers away with uplifted hand,
and hastening into the library sat down and wept like a child. She had
been unprepared for the change in his appearance and ways. More closely
observant, Leila saw that the lines of decisiveness were gone, the
humorous circles about the mouth and eyes, as it were, flattened out, and
that the whole face, with the lips a little languidly parted, had become
expressionless. It was many days before she could see the altered visage
without emotion, or talk of him to her aunt with any of the amazing
hopefulness with which the older woman dwelt on her husband's intervals
of resemblance to his former self.

He would not ride or enter the stables, but his life was otherwise a
childlike resumption of his ordinary habits, except that when annoyed by
Ann's too obvious anxiety or excess of carefulness, he became irritable
at times and even violent in language. He so plainly preferred Leila's
company in his short walks as to make the wife jealous and vexed that she
was not wanted during every minute of his altered life. He read no books
as of old, but would have Leila read to him the war news until he fell
asleep, when she quietly slipped away.

Mark Rivers resumed his duties for a time, unwilling to abandon these
dear friends for whom McGregor, puzzled and perplexed, had no word of
consolation, except the assurance that his condition did not grow worse.

At times Penhallow was dimly aware of his state; at others he resented
any effort to control him and was so angry when the doctor proposed a
consultation that the idea was too easily given up, for always in this
as in everything his wife agreed with him and indulged him as women
indulge a sick child. The village grieved for the Colonel who rode no
more through Westways with a gay word of greeting for all he met. The
iron-mills were busy. The great guns tested on the meadows now and then
shook the panes in the western windows of Grey Pine. They no longer
disturbed Ann Penhallow. The war went its thunderous way unheeded by her.
Unendingly hopeful, the oppression of disaster seemed only to confirm and
strengthen her finest qualities. Like the pine-tree winning vigour from
its rock-clasped roots, she gathered such hardening strength of soul and
body from his condition as the more happy years had never put at her
command.

"No letters to-day, Miss Leila," said the post-mistress standing beside
the younger woman's horse. "Just only them papers with their lists of
killed and wounded."

"I must always be Leila, not Miss Leila," said the horsewoman.

"Well--well--I like that better. How's the Colonel?"

"Much the same--certainly no worse. It is wonderful how my aunt stands
it."

"Don't you notice, Leila, how she has kind of softened? Me and Joe was
talking of it yesterday. She always was good, but folks did use to say
she was sort of hard and--positive. Now, she's kind of gentled--noticed
that?"

"Yes, I have noticed it; but I must go. Give me the papers. You love a
talk."

"There's no news of John?"

"None of late. He is with General Grant--but where we do not know."

"It's right pleasant to have Josiah back. Lord! but he's strong on war
stories--ought to hear him. He was always good at stories."

"Yes, I suppose so. Good-bye."

James Penhallow sat on the back porch in the after luncheon hour to get
with the freshness of October what sunshine the westerning sun was
sifting through the red and gold of the maples beyond the garden walls.
He was in the undress uniform of the artillery, and still wore the
trefoil of the Second Corps. An effort by Ann to remove his soiled army
garb and substitute his lay dress caused an outbreak of anger which left
him speechless and feeble, and her in an agony of regretful penitence.
Josiah, wiser than she, ventured to tell her what had happened once
before when his badge of the glorious Second Corps had been missing.
"After all, what does it matter?" she said to herself, and made no effort
to repair the ragged bullet tear South Mountain left in his jacket, and
in which he had at his worst times such childlike pride as in another and
well-known general had once amused him.

He was just now in one of his best conditions and was clearly enjoying
the pipe he used but rarely. Ann at his feet on the porch-step read aloud
to him with indifference to all but the man she now and then looked up to
with the loving tenderness his brief betterment fed with illusory hope.

"What's that, Ann?" he exclaimed; "Grant at Chattanooga! That's John's
ideal General. Didn't he write about him at--where was it? Oh! Belmont."

"Yes, after Belmont, James."

"When does Mark Rivers go back?"

"To-morrow. He is always so out of spirits here that I am really relieved
when he returns to the Sanitary Commission." He made no reply, and she
continued her reading.

"Isn't that Leila with Rivers, Ann?"

"Yes. He likes to walk with her."

"So would any man." A faint smile--very rare of late--showed in her
pleased upward look at the face--the changed face--she loved.

The pair of whom they spoke were lost to view in the forest.

"And you are glad to go?" said Leila to Rivers.

"Yes, I am. I can hardly say glad, but now that your uncle is, so to
speak, lost to me and your aunt absorbed in her one task and the duties
she has taken up again, our pleasant Dante lessons are set aside, and
what is there left of the old intellectual life which is gone--gone?"

"But," said Leila gaily, "you have the church and my humble society. Why,
you are really learning to walk, as you did not until of late."

Making no reply to her personal remark, he was silent for a moment, and
then said with slow articulation and to her surprise, for he rarely spoke
of himself, "Nine years ago I came here, a man broken in mind and body.
This life and these dear friends have made me as strong as I can ever
hope to be. But the rest--the rest. I know what power God has given me
to bring souls to him. I can influence men--the lowly and--well, others,
as few can. I cannot live in cities--I dare not risk the failure in
health; and yet, I want--I want a larger field. I found it when your
aunt's liberality sent me to the army. There in my poor way I can serve
my country--and that is much to me." He was silent.

"But," she said, "is there not work enough here? and the war cannot last
much longer. Don't think you must ever leave us."

"I shall--I must. There are limitations I cannot talk of even--above all
to you. Your aunt knows this--and your uncle did--long ago."

"What limitations?" she asked rashly.

"You are the last person, Leila Grey, to whom I could speak of them. I
have said too much, but"--and he paused--"I am tired--I will leave you to
finish your walk." The great beautiful eyes turned on him for a moment.
"Oh, my God!" he exclaimed, and reproaching his brief human weakness left
her abruptly, walking slowly away through the drifting red and gold of
leaves rocking in air as they sauntered to earth, and was at last lost to
view in the woodland.

Leila stood still, puzzled and sorrowful, as she watched the tall
stooping form. "How old he looks," she murmured. "What did he mean? I
must ask Aunt Ann." But she never did, feeling that what he had said was
something like a cautiously hinted confession. In the early morning he
was gone again to the field of war.



CHAPTER XXVI


Through the winter of 1863-4 at Grey Pine things remained unaltered, and
McGregor concluded that there was no hope for happier change. Rare
letters came from John Penhallow to his aunt, who sent no replies, and to
Leila, who wrote impersonal letters, as did John. Once he wrote that his
uncle might like to know, that after that pontoon business in the night
at Chattanooga and General Farrar Smith's brilliant action, he, John
Penhallow, was to be addressed as _Captain_. As the war went on, he was
across the Rapidan with Grant in May.

At Grey Pine after breakfast the windows and both doors of the hall were
open to let the western breezes enter. They lingered in the garden to
stir the mothers of unborn flowers and swept through the hall, bearing as
they passed some gentle intimation of the ending of a cold spring.

The mail had been given to the colonel, as he insisted it should be. With
some appearance of interest he said, "From Mark, for you, Ann."

"None for me, Uncle?" asked Leila, as she went around the table. "Let me
help you. How many there are." She captured her own share, and for a
moment stood curious as she sorted the mail. "Army trash, Uncle! What a
lot of paper is needed to carry on war! Here is one--I have seen him
before--he is marked 'Respectfully referred.'"

The colonel released a smile, which stirred Ann like a pleasant memory,
and fed one of the little hopes she was ever on the watch to find. "What
is your letter, Ann?" he asked.

Looking up she replied, "It is only to acknowledge receipt of my draft.
He is in Washington. I gather that he does not mean to come back until
the war is over." "Over!" she thought; "Lee is not Pemberton, as Grant
will learn." It was of more moment to her that Penhallow was easier to
interest, and ate as he used to do.

"Is your letter from John, Leila?" he said. "I don't like concealments."

"But, I didn't conceal anything!"

"Don't contradict me!"

"No, sir."

Ann's face grew watchful, fearing one of the outbreaks which left him
weak and querulous.

"Well," said the colonel, "read us John's letter. There is as much fuss
about it as if it were a love-letter."

There is no way as yet discovered to victoriously suppress a blush, but
time--a little fraction of time--is helpful, and there are ways of hiding
what cannot be conquered. The letter fell on the floor, and being
recovered was opened and read with a certain something in the voice which
caused Ann critically to use her eyes.

"DEAR LEILA: I am just now with the Second Corps, but where you will know
in a week; now I must not say.--"

"What's the date?" asked Penhallow.

"There is none."

"Look at the envelope."

"I tore it up, sir."

"Never throw away an envelope until you have read the letter." Ann looked
pleased--that was James Penhallow, his old self. Leila read on.

"I am glad to be under canvas, and you know my faith in General Grant.

"Tell Aunt Ann I have had three servants in two weeks. These newly freed
blacks are like mere children and quite useless, or else--well--one was
brutal to my horse. I sometimes wish Josiah was twins and I had one of
him.--"

"What's that?" asked Penhallow. "Twins--I don't understand."

"He wishes he had a servant like Josiah, Uncle."

"Well, let him go to John," said the Colonel, with something of his old
positive manner.

"But you would miss him, James."

"I will not," he returned, and then--"What else is there?"

"Oh--nothing--except that he will write again soon, and that he met Mr.
Rivers in Washington. That is all--a very unsatisfactory letter."

For a day or two the colonel said no more of Josiah, and then asked if
he had gone, and was so obviously annoyed that Ann gave way as usual
and talked of her husband's wish to Josiah. The old life of Westways
and Grey Pine was over, and Josiah was allowed by Ann to do so little
for Penhallow that the black was not ill-pleased to leave home again for
the army life and to be with the man whom as a lad he had trusted and
who had helped him in a day of peril.

No one thought of any need for a pass. He was amply supplied with money
and bade them good-bye. He put what he required in a knapsack, and
leaving Westways for the second time and with a lighter heart, set off
afoot to catch the train at Westways Crossing. The old slave was thus
put upon a way which was to lead to renewed and unpleasant acquaintance
with one of the minor characters of my story.

Tired of unaccustomed idleness Josiah grinned as he went across country
thinking of the directions he had received from Leila of how he was to
find John Penhallow.

"You know he is captain of engineers, Josiah. Now how are you going to
find him? An army is as big as a great city, and in motion, too."

"Well, missy," said Josiah, "the way I'll find him is the way dog Caesar
finds you in the woods." He would hear no more and left her.

Josiah knew many people in Washington, black and white, and after some
disappointments went with a lot of remounts for cavalry to join the
army in the Wilderness, where he served variously with the army teams.
On an afternoon late in May, 1864, he strode on, passing by the long
lines of marching men who filled the roadways on their way to the
crossing of the North Anna River. He had been chaffed, misdirected,
laughed at or civilly treated, as he questioned men about the engineers.
He took it all with good-humour. About three, he came near to a house
on the wayside, where a halt had been ordered to give the men a brief
rest. The soldiers dust-grey and thirsty scattered over the clearing or
lay in the shadow of the scrub oaks. Some thronged about a well or a
wayside spring, or draining their canteens caught a brief joy from the
lighted pipe so dear to the soldier. Josiah looked about him, and knew
the log-cabins some distance away from the better house to have been the
slave-quarters. Beyond them was a better built log-house. Apparently all
were deserted--men, cattle and horses, were gone. He lay down a little
way from the road and listened to the talk of the men seated in front of
him. He heard a private say, "A halt is as bad as a march, the dust is a
foot deep, and what between flies and mosquitoes, they're as bad as the
Rebs."

"Ah!" said an old corporal, "just you wait a bit. These are only a
skirmish line. July and Chickahominy mosquitoes will get you when your
baccy's out."

"It's out now."

Josiah was eager to question some one and was aware of the value of
tobacco as a social solvent. He said, "I've got some baccy, corporal."

The men in front of him turned. "For sale--how much?"

"No," said Josiah. "My pouch is full. Help yourselves."

This liberal contribution was warmly appreciated, and the private, who
was the son of a New York banker, interested in the black man, asked,
"What are you doing in this big circus?" It was the opening for which
Josiah waited.

"Looking for an engineer-captain."

The corporal said, "Well, like enough he'll be at the bridge of the North
Anna--but the engineers are here, there and anywhere. What is his name?"

"Thank you, sir. My master is Captain Penhallow."

"Well, good luck to you."

"Take another pipe load," returned Josiah, grateful for the unusual
interest.

"Thank you," said the private, "with pleasure. Tobacco is as scarce as
hen's teeth."

"That's so. Who's that officer on the big horse? He's a rider whoever he
is."

"That's the ring-master of this show," laughed the private.

"Not General Grant!"

"Yes." Josiah considered him with interest.

There was of a sudden some disturbance about the larger of the more
remote cabins; a soldier ran out followed by a screaming young woman.
Her wild cries attracted attention to the man, who was at once caught
and held while he vainly protested. The men about Josiah sat up or got
on their feet. The young woman ran here and there among the groups of
soldiers like one distracted. At last, near the larger house at the
roadside she fell on her knees and rocked backwards and forwards sobbing.
Josiah at a distance saw only that a soldier had been caught trying to
escape notice as a young woman followed him out of the house. It was too
well understood by the angry men who crowded around the captive.

The general said to his staff, "Wait here, gentlemen." He rode through
the crowd of soldiers, saying, "Keep back, my men; keep away--all of
you." Then he dismounted and walked to where the girl--she was hardly
more--still knelt wailing and beating the air with uplifted hands. "Stand
up, my good girl, and tell me what is wrong."

The voice was low and of a certain gentleness, rarely rising even in
moments of peril. She stood up, "I can't--I can't--let me go--I want to
die!"

The figure, still slight of build in those days, bent over her pitiful.
"I am General Grant. Look up at me. There shall be justice done, but I
must know."

She looked up a moment at the kind grave face, then with bent head and
hands over her eyes she sobbed out what none but the general could hear.
His voice grew even more distinctly soft as touching her shoulder he
said, "Look at that man. Oh, bring him near--nearer. Now, be sure, is
that the man? Look again! I must be certain."

With a quick motion she pushed his hand from her shoulder as she stood,
and pointing to the brute held by two soldiers cried, "That's him--oh, my
God! Take him away--kill him. Le' me go. Don't you keep me." She looked
about like some hopelessly trapped, wild-eyed animal.

"You may go, of course," said the low-voiced man. "I will set a guard
over your house."

"Don't want no Yankee guard--le' me go--I've got nothin' to guard--I want
to die." She darted away and through the parting groups of men who were
clear enough about what they knew had happened and what should be done.

The dark grey eyes of the General followed her flight for a pitying
instant. Then he remounted, and said to the scared captive, "What have
you got to say?"

"It's all a lie."

The general's face grew stern. He turned and asked for an officer of the
Provost Guard. A captain rode up and saluted. "I have no time to lose in
trying this scoundrel. We can't take along the only witness." He
hesitated a moment. "Let your men tie him to a tree near the road. Let
two of the guard watch him until the rear has gone by. Put a paper on his
breast--make his crime clear, clear." He said a word or two more to the
officer, and then "put on it, '_Left to the justice of General Lee_.'"

"Is that all, sir?" said the amazed officer.

"No--put below, '_U.S. Grant_.' The girl will tell her story. When the
cavalry pass, leave him. Now, gentlemen, the men have had a rest, let us
ride on."

Josiah a hundred feet away heard, "Fall in--fall in." The tired soldiers
rose reluctant and the long line tramped away. Josiah interested sat
still and saw them go by under the dust-laden air. The girl had gone past
her home and into the woods. The guards curiously watched by the marching
men passed near Josiah with their prisoner and busied themselves with
looking among the hazel, scrub oak and sassafras for a large enough tree
near to the road. As they went by, he saw the man.

"My God!" he exclaimed, "it's Peter Lamb." He moved away and lay down
well hidden in the brush. It was a very simple mind which considered this
meeting with the only being the black man hated. The unusual never
appealed to him as it would have done to a more imaginative person. The
coming thus on his enemy was only what he had angrily predicted when he
had Peter in his power and had said to him that some day God would punish
him. It had come true.

The men who had arrested Peter and were near enough to hear the brief
sentence, understood it, and being eagerly questioned soon spread among
the moving ranks the story of the crime and this unexampled punishment.
It was plain to Josiah, but what was to follow he did not know, as he
rose, lingered about, and following the Provost's party considered the
wonderful fact of his fulfilled prediction. The coincidence of being
himself present did not cause the surprise which what we call
coincidences awaken in minds which crave explanations of the uncommon.
It was just what was sure to happen somehow, some day, when God settled
Josiah's personal account with a wicked man. He had, however, an urgent
curiosity to see how it would end and a remainder of far-descended
savagery in the wish to let his one enemy know that he was a witness
of his punishment. Thinking thus, Josiah went through the wayside scrub
to see how the guard would dispose of their prisoner.

The man who had sinned was presently tied to a tree facing the road. His
hands were securely tied behind it, and his feet as rudely dealt with.
He said no word as they pinned the label on his breast. Then the two
guards sat down between Peter and the roadway. Men of the passing
brigades asked them questions. They replied briefly and smoked with
entire unconcern as to their prisoner, or speculated in regard to what
the Rebs would say or do to him. The mosquitoes tormented him, and once
he shuddered when one of the guards guessed that perhaps the girl would
come back and see him tied up. The story of Grant's unusual punishment
was told over and over to men as the regiments went by. Now and then
soldiers left the ranks to read the sentence of what must mean death.
Some as they read were as silent as the doomed wretch; others laughed or
cursed him for dishonouring the army in which this one crime was almost
unknown. A sergeant tore the corps mark from his coat, and still he said
no word. The long-drawn array went on and on; the evening shadows
lengthened; miles of wagon trains rumbled by; whips cracked over mules;
the cavalry guard bringing up the rear was lost in the dust left by
tramping thousands; the setting sun shone through it ruddy; and last came
the squadron net of the Provost-marshal gathering in the stragglers.
Tired men were helped by a grip on the stirrup leather. The lazy
loiterers were urged forward with language unquotable, the mildest being
"darned coffee-coolers." At last, all had gone.

Josiah rose from his hiding place and listened as the clank of steel and
the sound of hurried horsemen died away. No other noises broke the
twilight stillness. He walked back to the roadside, and stood before the
pinioned and now lonely man. "You're caught at last, Peter Lamb."

"Oh, Lord!" cried the captive. "It's Josiah. For God's sake, let me
loose."

"Reckon I won't," said Josiah.

"I'm in agony--my arms--I shall die--and I am innocent. I did not do
anything. Won't you help me?"

"No--the Rebs will come and hang you."

The man's cunning awoke. He said the one thing, made the one plea which,
as he spoke, troubled Josiah's decision. "Is the Squire alive?"

"Why shouldn't he be alive?" asked Josiah, surprised.

"Oh, I saw in a paper that he was wounded at Gettysburg. Now, Josiah, if
he was here--if he was to know you left me to die."

Josiah was uncertain what he would have done. His simple-minded view of
things was disturbed, and his tendency to be forgiving kindly assisted to
give potency to the appeal. He said, "I won't set you free, but I'll do
this much," and he tore the paper from Peter's breast, saying, "You'll
get off with some lie when the Rebs come." Then he turned and walked
away, tearing up the death warrant and hearing the wild pleas of the
painfully bound man.

The night had come, but save for the faintly heard complaint of some
far-distant dog, there was nothing to break the quiet of the deserted
land which lay between the two armies. Having torn to pieces and
carefully scattered the bits of paper, Josiah, who while doing one thing
could not think of another, began to reflect on what he had done. He had
been too long in servitude not to respect authority. If any one knew--but
no one could know. He himself had said that what had come upon Lamb was a
judgment--the act of one who had said, "I will repay." It troubled a mind
whose machinery was of childlike incapacity to deal with problems
involving the moral aspects of conduct. Perhaps this had been a chance to
give Lamb an opportunity to repent by setting him free; but there had
already been interference with the judgment of God. More personally
material events relieved the black from responsibility. His quick ear
caught the sound of troopers, the sharp notes of steel clinking; he had
no mind to be picked up by the enemy's horse, and dismissing all other
considerations he took to the woods and walked rapidly away. Late in the
evening he crossed the North Anna with a train of wagons, as driver of an
unruly mule team, one of which had rewarded his driver in kind for brutal
use of the whip and perverted English. The man groaning in the wagon
informed Josiah concerning mules and their ways. After a day or two he
was pleased to get back on his legs, for when bullets were not flying the
army life was full of interest. A man who could cook well, shave an
officer or shoe a horse, never lacked the friends of an hour; and too,
his unfailing good-humour was always helpful. An officer of the line
would have been easy to find, but the engineers were continually in
motion and hard to locate. He got no news of John Penhallow until the
29th of May, when he came on General Wilson's cavalry division left on
the north side of the Pamunkey River to cover the crossing of the trains.
These troopers were rather particular about straggling negroes, and
Josiah sharply questioned told the simple truth as he moved toward the
bridge, answering the questions of a young officer. A horse tied to a
sapling at the roadside for reasons unknown kicked the passing cavalry
man's horse. The officer moved on swearing a very original mixture of
the over-ripe English of armies. Swearing was a highly cultivated
accomplishment in the cavalry; no infantry profanity approached it in
originality. The officer occupied with his uneasy horse dropped Josiah
as he rode on. A small, dark-skinned negro, rather neatly dressed, spoke
to Josiah in the dialect of the Southern slave, which I shall not try to
put on paper. He spoke reflectively and as if from long consideration of
the subject, entering at once into the intimacies of a relation with the
man of his own colour.

"That horse is the meanest I ever saw--I know him."

"He's near thoroughbred," said Josiah, "and been badly handled, I
reckon. It's no good cussin' horses or mules--a good horseman don't ever
do it--horses know."

"Well, the officer that rides that horse now is about the only man can
ride him. That horse pretty nearly killed one of my general's staff. He
sold him mighty sudden."

"Who's your General?" queries Josiah.

"Why, General Grant--I'm his headquarter man--they call me
Bill--everybody knows me."

He rose at once in Josiah's estimation. "Who owns that horse?" asked
Josiah. "I'd like well to handle his beast."

"He's an engineer-officer, name of Penhallow. He's down yonder somewhere
about that pontoon bridge. I'm left here to hunt up a headquarter wagon."

"Penhallow!" exclaimed Josiah, delighted. "Why, I'm down here to be his
servant."

"Well, let's go to the bridge. You'll get a chance to cross after the
wagons get over. I've just found mine." They moved to one side and sat
down. "That's Wilson's cavalry on guard. Worst dust I ever saw. Infantry
dust's bad, but cavalry dust don't ever settle. The Ninth Corps's gone
over. There come the wagons." With cracking of whip and imprecations the
wagons went over the swaying pontoons. Bill left him, and Josiah waited
to cross behind the wagons.

On the bridge midway, a young officer in the dark dress and black-striped
pantaloons of the engineers moved beside the teams anxiously observing
some loosened flooring. A wagon wheel gave way, and the wagon lurching
over struck the officer, who fell into the muddy water of the Pamunkey.
Always amused at an officer's mishap, cavalry men and drivers laughed.
The young man struck out for the farther shore, and came on to a shelving
slope of slimy mud, and was vainly struggling to get a footing when an
officer ran down the bank and gave him a needed hand. Thus aided,
Penhallow gained firm ground. With a look of disgust at his condition, as
he faced the laughing troopers he said, with his somewhat formal way, "To
whom am I indebted?"

"Roland Blake is my name. Isn't it Captain Penhallow of the engineers?"

"Yes, well disguised with Rebel mud. What a mess! But, by George! not
worse than you when I first saw you."

"Where was it?" asked Blake.

"I can give a good guess. You were quite as lovely as Mr. Penhallow." It
was a third officer who spoke. "By the bye," he added, "as Blake doesn't
present me, I am Philip Francis."

"I can't even offer to shake hands," returned Penhallow, laughing, as he
scraped the flakes of mud from his face. "I saw you both at the Bloody
Angle. I think I could describe you."

"Don't," said Francis.

"Some people are modest," said Blake. "I think you will soon dry to dust
in this sun. I have offered myself that consolation before. It's the only
certainty in this land of the unexpected."

"The wagons are over; here comes the guard," said Francis. "It's our
beastly business now. Call up the men, Roland."

"Provost duty, I suppose," said Penhallow. "I prefer my mud."

"Yes," growled Francis, "human scavengers--army police. I'm out of it
this week, thank Heaven."

The last wagon came creaking over the bridge, the long line of cavalry
trotted after them, the Provost Guard mounted to fall in at the rear and
gather in the stragglers.

"Sorry I can't give you a mount," said Blake, as he turned to recross the
bridge.

"Thank you, I have a horse on the other side." As he spoke a breeze
stirred the dead atmosphere and shook down from the trees their gathered
load of dust.

Francis said, "It's half of Virginia!"

Blake murmured, "Dust to dust--a queer reminder."

"Oh, shut up!" cried Francis.

The young engineer laughed and said to himself, "If Aunt Ann could see
me. It's like being tarred and feathered. See you soon again, I hope, Mr.
Blake. I am deep in your debt." They passed out of sight. No one remained
but the bridge-guard.

The engineer sat down and devoted his entire energies to the difficult
task of pulling off boots full of mud and water. Meanwhile as the
provost-officers rode back over the pontoons Francis said, "I remember
that man, Penhallow, at the Bloody Angle. He was the only man I saw who
wasn't fight-crazy, he insisted on my going to the rear. You know I was
bleeding like a stuck pig. It was between the two attacks. I said, 'Oh,
go to H---!' He said, 'There is no need to go far.' I am sure he did not
remember me. A rather cool hand--West Point, of course."

"What struck me," said Blake, "was that he did not swear."

"Then," said Francis, "he is the only man in the army who would have
failed to damn those grinning troopers."

"Except Grant," said Blake.

"So they say.--It's hard to believe, but I suppose the Staff knows.
Wonder if Lee swears. Two army commanders who don't swear? It's
incredible!"

As Penhallow, left alone, tugged at a reluctant boot, he heard, "Good
Lord! Master John, that's my business."

He looked up to seize Josiah by the hand, exclaiming, "How did you get
here?--I am glad to see you. Pull off this boot. How are they all?"

"The Colonel he sent me."

"Indeed! How is he? I've not heard for a month."

"He's bad, Master John, bad--kind of forgets things--and swears."

"That's strange for him."

"The doctors they can't seem to make it out. He hasn't put a leg over a
horse, not since he was wounded." Evidently this was for Josiah the most
serious evidence of change from former health.

"How is Aunt Ann?"

Tugging at the boots Josiah answered, "She's just a wonder--and Miss
Leila, she's just as pretty as a pansy."

Penhallow smiled; it left a large choice to the imagination.
"Pansy--pansy--why is she like a pansy, Josiah?"

"Well, Master John, it's because she's so many kinds of pretty. You see
I used to raise pansies. That boot's a tough one."

"Have you any letters for me?"

"No, sir. They said I wasn't as sure as the army-post. Got a note
from Dr. McGregor in my sack. Hadn't I better get your horse over the
bridge--I liked his looks, and I asked a man named Bill who owned that
horse. He said you did, and that's how I found you. He said that horse
was a bad one. He said he was called 'Hoodoo.' That's unlucky!"

"Yes, he's mine, Josiah. You would like to change his name?"

"Yes, sir, I would. This boot's the worst!"

Penhallow laughed. "That horse, Josiah, has every virtue a horse ought to
have and every vice he ought not to have. He'll be as good as Aunt Ann
one day, and as mean and bad as Peter Lamb the next day. Halloa there,
guard! let my man cross over."

Hoodoo came quietly, and as Penhallow walked his horse, Josiah related
the village news, and then more and more plainly the captain gathered
some clear idea of his uncle's condition and of the influence the younger
woman was exerting on a household over which hung the feeling of
inexorable doom. As he read McGregor's letter he knew too well that were
he with them he could be of no practical use.

The next few days John Penhallow was kept busy, and on June 2nd having to
report with some sketch-maps he found the headquarters at Bethesda
Church. The pews had been taken out and set under trees. The staff was
scattered about at ease. General Grant, to John's amusement, was petting
a stray kitten with one hand and writing despatches with the other. At
last he began to talk with members of the Christian Commission about
their work. Among them John was aware of Mark Rivers. A few minutes later
he had his chance and took the clergyman away to the tents of the
engineers for a long and disheartening talk of home. They met no more for
many days, and soon he was too busy to think of asking the leave of
absence he so much desired.



CHAPTER XXVII


The effort to crush Lee's army by a frontal attack led to the disastrous
defeat of Cold Harbor, and Grant who was never personally routed resolved
to throw his army south of the James River. It involved a concealed night
march, while his lines were in many places but thirty to one hundred feet
from the watchful Confederates. The utmost secrecy was used in regard to
the bold movement intended, but preparations for it demanded frequent
reconnaissances and map-sketching on the part of the engineers. A night
of map-making after a long day in the saddle left John Penhallow on June
6th a weary man lying on his camp-bed too tired to sleep. He heard Blake
ask, "Are you at home, Penhallow?" Few men would have been as welcome as
the serious-minded New England captain who had met Penhallow from time to
time since the engineer's mud-bath in the Pamunkey River.

"Glad to get you by yourself," said Blake. "You look used up. Do keep
quiet!"

"I will, but sit down and take a pipe. Coffee, Josiah!" he called out.
"I am quite too popular by reason of Josiah's amazing ability to forage.
If the Headquarters are within reach, he and Bill--that's the general's
man--hunt together. The results are surprising! But I learned long ago
from my uncle, Colonel Penhallow, that in the army it is well to ask
no unnecessary questions. My man is very intelligent, and as I keep him
in tobacco and greenbacks, I sometimes fancy that Headquarters does not
always get the best out of the raids of these two contrabands."

"I have profited by it, Penhallow. I have personal memories of that
young roast pig, I think your man called it a shoat. Your corps must
have caught it hard these last days. I suppose we are in for something
unusual. You are the only man I know who doesn't grumble. Francis says
it's as natural to the beast called an army as barking is to a dog."

"Of course, the habit is stupid, Blake. I mean the constant growl about
the unavoidable discomforts of war; but this last week has got me near
the growling point. I have had two ague chills and quinine enough to ring
chimes in my head. I haven't had a decent wash for a week, and really war
is a disgustingly dirty business. You don't realize that in history, in
fiction, or in pictures. It's filthy! Oh, you may laugh!"

"Who could help laughing?"

"I can to-day. To-morrow I shall grin at it all, but just now I am half
dead. What with laying corduroys and bridging creeks, to be burnt up next
day, and Chickahominy flies--oh, Lord! If there is nothing else on hand
in the way of copies of maps, some general like Barnard has an insane
curiosity to reconnoitre. Then the Rebs wake up--and amuse themselves."

Blake laughed. "You are getting pretty near to that growl."

"Am I? I have more than impossible demands to bother me. What with some
despondent letters--I told you about my uncle's wound and the results, I
should have a fierce attack of home-sickness if I had leisure to think at
all."

Blake had found in Penhallow much that he liked and qualities which were
responsive to his own high ideal of the man and the soldier. He looked
him over as the young engineer lay on his camp-bed. "Get anything but
home-sick, Penhallow! I get faint fits of it. The quinine of 'Get up,
captain, and put out those pickets' dismisses it, or bullets. Lord, but
we have had them in over-doses of late. Francis has been hit twice but
not seriously. He says that Lee is an irregular practitioner. It is
strange that some men are hit in every skirmish; it would bleed the
courage out of me."

"Would it? I have had two flesh wounds. They made me furiously angry. You
were speaking of Lee--my uncle greatly admired him. I should like to know
more about him. I had a little chance when we were trying to arrange a
truce to care for the wounded. You remember it failed, but I had a few
minute's talk with a Rebel captain. He liked it when I told him how much
we admired his general. That led him to talk, and among other things he
told me that Lee had no sense of humour and I gathered was a man rather
difficult of approach."

"He might apply to Grant for the rest of his qualities," said Blake. "He
would get it; but what made you ask about sense of the humorous? I have
too little, Francis too much."

"Oh," laughed Penhallow, "from saint to sinner it is a good
medicine--even for home-sickness."

"And the desperate malady of love," returned Blake. "I shall not venture
to diagnose your need. How is that?"

"I?--nonsense," laughed the engineer. "But seriously, Blake, about
home-sickness; one of my best men has it badly--not the mild malady
you and I may have."

"You are quite right. It accounts for some desertions--not to the enemy,
of course. I talked lately of this condition to a Dr. McGregor--"

"McGregor!" returned Penhallow, sitting up. "Where is he? I'd like to see
him--an old comrade."

"He is with our brigade."

"Tell him to look me up. The engineers are easily found just now. He was
an old schoolmate."

"I'll tell him. By the way, Penhallow, when asking for my mail to-day, I
persuaded the post-master to give me your letters. Don't mind me--you
will want to read them--quite a batch of them."

"Oh, they can wait. Don't go. Ah! here's Josiah with coffee."

"How it does set a fellow up, Penhallow. Another cup, please. I had to
wait a long time for our letters and yours. Really that place was more
tragic than a battlefield."

"Why so? I send Josiah for my mail."

"Oh, there were three cold-blooded men-machines returning letters. I
watched them marking the letters--'not found'--'missing'--and so on."

"Killed, I suppose--or prisoners."

"Yes, awful, indeed--most sorrowful! Imagine it! Others were forwarding
letters--heaps of them--from men who may be dead. You know how apt men
are to write letters before a battle."

"I wait till it is over," said Penhallow.

"That post-office gave me a fit of craving for home and peace."

"Home-sickness! What, you, Blake!"

"Oh, that worst kind; home-sickness for a home when you have no home. I
wonder if in that other world we shall be home-sick for this."

"That depends. Ah! here comes a reminder that we are in this world just
now--and just as we have begun one of our real talks."

An orderly appeared with a note. Penhallow read it. He was on his feet at
once. "Saddle Hoodoo, Josiah. I must go. Come soon again, Blake. We have
had a good talk--or a bit of one."

At four in the morning of June 14th, when John Penhallow with a group of
older engineers looked across the twenty-one hundred feet of the James
River they were to bridge, he realized the courage and capacity of the
soldier who had so completely deceived his wary antagonist. Before eleven
that night a hundred pontoons stayed by barges bridged the wide stream
from shore to shore. Already the Second Corps under Hancock had been
hastily ferried over the river. The work on the bridge had been hard, and
the young Captain had had neither food nor rest. Late at night, the work
being over, he recrossed the bridge, and after a hasty meal lay down on
the bluff above the James with others of his Corps and slept the uneasy
sleep of an overtired man. At dawn he was awakened by the multiple noises
of an army moving on the low-lying meadows below the bluff. Refreshed and
free from any demand on his time, he breakfasted at ease, and lighting
his pipe was at once deeply interested in what he saw. As he looked about
him, he was aware of General Grant standing alone on the higher ground.
He saw the general throw away his cigar and with hands clasped behind him
remain watching in rapt silence the scene below him. "I wonder," thought
Penhallow, "of what he is thinking." The face was grave, the man
motionless. The engineer turned to look at the matchless spectacle
below him. The sound of bands rose in gay music from the approaches to
the river, where vast masses of infantry lay waiting their turn to cross.
The guns of batteries gleamed in the sun, endless wagon-trains and
ambulances moved or were at rest. Here and there the wind of morning
fluttered the flags and guidons with flashes of colour. The hum of a
great army, the multitudinous murmurs of men talking, the crack of whips,
the sharp rattle of wagons and of moving artillery, made a strange
orchestra. Over all rose the warning shrieks of the gun-boat signals. Far
or near on the fertile meadows the ripened corn and grain showed in green
squares between the masses of men and stirred in the morning breeze or
lay trampled in ruin by the rude feet of war. It was an hour and a scene
to excite the dullest mind, and Penhallow intensely interested sat
fascinated by a spectacle at once splendid and fateful. The snake-like
procession of infantry wagons and batteries moved across the bridge and
was lost to view in the forest. Penhallow turned again to look at his
general, who remained statuesque and motionless. Then, suddenly the
master of this might of men and guns looked up, listened to Warren's
artillery far beyond the river, and with the same expressionless face
called for his horse and rode away followed by his staff.

The battle-summer of 1864 went on with the wearisome siege of Petersburg
and the frequent efforts to cut the railways which enabled the
Confederates to draw supplies from states which as yet had hardly felt
the stress of war.

Late in the year the army became a city of huts, and there was the
unexampled spectacle of this great host voting quietly in the election
which gave to Lincoln another evidence of the trust reposed in him. The
engineers had little to do in connection with the larger movements of the
army, and save for the siege work were at times idle critics of their
superiors. The closing month of 1864 brought weather which made the
wooden huts, usually shared by two officers, more comfortable than tents.
The construction of these long streets of sheltering quarters brought out
much ingenuity, and Penhallow profited by Josiah's clever devices and
watchful care. As the army was in winter-quarters, there was time enough
for pleasant visiting, and for the engineers more than enough of danger
in the trenches or when called on to accompany some general officer as an
aide during Grant's obstinate efforts to cut the railways on which Lee
relied. Francis, not gravely wounded, was at home repairing damages; but
now, with snow on the ground and ease of intercourse, Blake was a
frequent visitor in the engineer quarters. When Rivers also turned up,
the two young men found the talk unrivalled, for never had the tall
clergyman seemed more attractive or as happy.

Of an afternoon late in November Penhallow was toasting himself by the
small fire-place and deep in thought. He had had a long day in the
intrenchments and one moment of that feeling of imminent nearness to
death which affects men in various ways. A shell neatly dropped in a
trench within a few feet of where he stood, rolled over, spitting red
flashes. The men cried, "Down, down, sir!" and fell flat. Something
like the fascination a snake exercises held him motionless; he never was
able to explain his folly. The fuse went out as he watched it--the shell
was a dead thing and harmless. The men as they rose eyed him curiously.

"A near thing," he said, and with unusual care moved along a traverse,
his duty over for the day. He took with him a feeling of mental confusion
and of annoyed wonder.

He found Josiah picking a chicken as he sat whistling in front of the
tent. "There's been a fight, sir, about three o'clock, on our left. Bill
says we beat."

"Indeed!" It was too common news to interest him. He felt some singular
completeness of exhaustion, and was troubled because of there being no
explanation which satisfied him. Asking for whisky to Josiah's surprise,
he took it and lay down, as the servant said, "There's letters, sir, on
the table."

"Very well. Close the tent and say I'm not well; I won't see any one."

"Yes, sir. Nothing serious?"

"No." He fell asleep as if drugged.

Outside Josiah picked his lean chicken and whistled with such peculiar
sweetness as is possible only to the black man. Everything interested
him. Now and then he listened to the varied notes of the missiles far
away and attracting little attention unless men were so near that the
war-cries of shot and shell became of material moment. The day was cold,
and an early November snow lay on the ground and covered the long rows of
cabins. Far to the rear a band was practising. Josiah listened, and with
a negative head-shake of disapproving criticism returned to the feather
picking and sang as he picked:

I wish I was in Dixie land,
In Dixie land, in Dixie land.

He held up the plucked fowl and said, "Must have been on short rations."

The early evening was quiet. Now and then a cloaked horseman went by
noiseless on the snow. Josiah looked up, laid down the chicken, and
listened to the irregular tramp of a body of men. Then, as the head of a
long column came near and passed before him between the rows of huts, he
stood up to watch them. "Prisoners," he said. Many were battle-grimed and
in tatters, without caps and ill-shod. Here and there among them a
captured officer marched on looking straight ahead. The larger part were
dejected and plodded on in silence, with heads down, while others stared
about them curious and from the cabins near by a few officers came out
and many soldiers gathered. As usual there were no comments, no sign of
triumph and only the silence of respect.

Josiah asked a guard where they came from. "Oh, Hancock's fight at
Hatcher's Run--got about nine hundred."

The crowd of observers increased in number as the end of the line drew
near. Josiah lost interest and sat down. "Got to singe that chicken," he
murmured, with the habit of open speech of the man who had lived long
alone. Suddenly he let the bird drop and exclaimed under his breath,
"Jehoshaphat!"--his only substitute for an oath--"it's him!" Among the
last of the line of captured men he saw one with head bent down looking
neither to the right nor the left--it was Peter Lamb! At this moment two
soldiers ran forward and shouted out something to the officer bringing up
the rear. He cried, "Halt! take out that man." There was a little
confusion, and Peter was roughly haled out of the mass. The officer
called a sergeant. "Guard this fellow well," and he bade the men who
had detected Lamb go with the guard.

Soldiers crowded in on them. "What's the matter--who is he?" they asked.

"Back, there!" cried the Lieutenant.

"A deserter," said some one. "Damn him."

Lamb was silent while between the two guards he was taken to the rear.
Josiah forgot his chicken and followed them at a distance. He saw Lamb
handcuffed and vainly protesting as he was thrust into the prison-hut of
the provostry.

Josiah asked one of the men who had brought about the arrest, "Who is
that man?"

"Oh, he was a good while ago in my regiment--in our company too, the 71st
Pennsylvania--a drunken beast--name of Stacy--Joe Stacy. We missed him
when we were near the North Anna--at roll-call."

"What will they do with him?"

"Shoot him, I hope. His hands were powder blacked. He was caught on the
skirmish line."

"Thank you." Josiah walked away deep in thought. He soon settled to the
conclusion that the Rebs had found Peter and that perhaps he had had no
choice of what he would do and had had to enlist. What explanatory lie
Peter had told he could not guess.

Josiah went slowly back to the tent. His chicken was gone. He laid this
loss on Peter, saying, "He always did bring me bad luck." Penhallow was
still asleep. Ought he to tell him of Peter Lamb. He decided not to do
so, or at least to wait. Inborn kindliness acted as it had done before,
and conscious of his own helplessness, he was at a loss. Near to dusk he
lighted a pipe and sat down outside of Penhallow's hut. Servants of
engineer officers spoke as they passed, or chaffed him. His readiness for
a verbal duel was wanting and he replied curtly. He was trying to make
out to his own satisfaction whether he could or ought to do anything but
hold his tongue and let this man die and so disappear. He knew that he
himself could do nothing, nor did he believe anything could be done to
help the man. He felt, however, that because he hated Peter, he was bound
by his simply held creed to want to do something. He did not want to do
anything, but then in confusing urgency there was the old mother, the
colonel's indulgent care of this drunken animal, and at last some
personal realization of the loneliness of this man so near to death. Then
he remembered that Mark Rivers was within reach. To get this clergyman to
see Peter would relieve him of the singular feeling of responsibility
he could not altogether set aside. He was the only person who could
identify Lamb. That, at least, he did not mean to do. He would find Mr.
Rivers and leave to him to act as he thought best. He heard Penhallow
calling, and went in to find him reading his letters. After providing
for his wants, he set out to find the clergyman. His pass carried him
where-ever he desired to go, and after ten at night he found Mark Rivers
with the Christian Commission.

"What is it?" asked Rivers. "Is John ill?"

"No, sir," and he told in a few sentences the miserable story, to the
clergyman's amazement.

"I will go with you," he said. "I must get leave to see him, but you had
better not speak of Peter to any one."

Josiah was already somewhat indisposed to tell to others the story of the
North Anna incident, and walked on in silence over the snow until at the
provost-marshal's quarters Rivers dismissed him.

In a brief talk with the provost-marshal, Rivers learned that there had
been a hastily summoned court-martial, and in the presence of very clear
evidence a verdict approved by General Grant. The man would be shot at
seven the next morning. "A hopeless case, Mr. Rivers," said the Provost,
"any appeal for reprieve will be useless--utterly useless--there will be
no time given for appeal to Mr. Lincoln. We have had too much of this
lately."

Rivers said nothing of his acquaintance with the condemned man. He too
had reached the conviction, now made more definite, that needless pain
for the old mother could be avoided by letting Peter die with the name he
had assumed.

It was after twelve at night when the provost's pass admitted him to a
small wooden prison. One candle dimly lighted the hut, where a manacled
man crouched by a failing fire. The soldier on guard passed out as the
clergyman entered. When the door closed behind him, Rivers said, "Peter."

"My God! Mr. Rivers. They say I'll be shot. You won't let them shoot
me--they can't do it--I don't want to die."

"I came here because Josiah recognized you and brought me."

"He must have told on me."

"Told what? He did not tell anything. Now listen to me. You are certain
to be shot at seven to-morrow morning. I have asked for delay--none will
be given. I come only to entreat you to make your peace with God--to tell
you that you have but these few hours in which to repent. Let me pray
with you--for you. There is nothing else I can do for you; I have tried
and failed. Indeed I tried most earnestly."

"You can help if you will! You were always against me. You can telegraph
Colonel Penhallow. He will answer--he won't let them shoot me."

Rivers who stood over the crouched figure laid a hand on his shoulder.
"If he were here he could do nothing. And even if I did telegraph him, he
is in no condition to answer. He was wounded at Gettysburg and his mind
is clouded. It would only trouble him and your mother, and not help you.
Your mother would hear, and you should at least have the manliness to
accept in silence what you have earned."

"But it's my life--my life--I can't die." Rivers was silent. "You won't
telegraph?"

"No. It is useless."

"But you might do something--you're cruel. I am innocent. God let me be
born of a drunken father--I had to drink too--I had to. The Squire
wouldn't give me work--no one helped me. I enlisted in a New York
regiment. I got drunk and ran away and enlisted in the 71st Pennsylvania.
I stole chickens, and near to the North Anna I was cruelly punished. Then
the Rebs caught me. I had to enlist. Oh, Lord! I am unfortunate. If I
only could have a little whisky."

Mark Rivers for a moment barren of answer was sure that as usual Peter
was lying and without any of his old cunning.

"Peter, this story does not help you. You are about to die, and no
one--can help you--I have tried in vain--nothing can save you. Why at a
time so solemn as this do you lie to me? Why did you desert? and for
stealing chickens? nonsense!"

"Well, then, it was about a woman. Josiah knows--he saw it all. I didn't
desert--I was tied to a tree--he could clear me. They left me tied. I had
to enlist; I had to!"

"A woman!" Rivers understood. "If he were to tell, it would only make
your case worse. Oh, Peter, let me pray for you."

"Oh, pray if you want to. What's the good? If you won't telegraph the
Squire, get me whisky; and if you won't do that, go away. Talk about God
and praying when I'm to be murdered just because my father drank! I don't
want any praying--I don't believe in it--you just go away and get me
some whisky. The Squire might have saved me--I wanted to quit from drink
and he just told me to get out--and I did. I hate him and--you."

Rivers stood up. "May God help and pity you," he said, and so left him.

He slept none, and rising early, prayed fervently for this wrecked soul.
As he walked at six in the morning to the prison hut, he thought over the
man who long ago had so defeated him. He had seemed to him more feeble in
mind and less cunning in his statements than had been the case in former
days. He concluded that he was in the state of a man used to drinking
whisky and for a time deprived of it. When he met him moving under guard
from the prison, he felt sure that his conclusion had been correct.

As Rivers came up, the officer in charge said, "If, sir, as a
clergyman you desire to walk beside this man, there is no objection."

"Oh, let him come," said Peter, with a defiant air. Some one pitiful had
indulged the fated man with the liquor he craved.

Rivers took his place beside Peter as the guards at his side fell back.
Soldiers off duty, many blacks and other camp-followers, gathered in
silence as the little procession moved over the snow, noiseless except
for the tramp of many feet and the rumble of the cart in which was an
empty coffin.

"Can I do anything for you?" said Rivers, turning toward the flushed face
at his side.

"No--you can't." The man smelled horribly of whisky; the charitable aid
must have been ample.

"Is there any message you want me to carry?"

"Message--who would I send messages to?" In fact, Rivers did not know.
He was appalled at a man going half drunk to death. He moved on, for a
little while at the end of his resources.

"Even yet," he whispered, "there is time to repent and ask God to pardon
a wasted life." Peter made no reply and then they were in the open space
on one side of a hollow square. On three sides the regiment stood intent
as the group came near. "Even yet," murmured Rivers.

Of a sudden Peter's face became white. He said, "I want to tell you one
thing--I want you to tell him. I shot the Squire at Gettysburg--I wish I
had killed him--I thought I had. There!--I always did get even."

"Stand back, sir, please," said a captain. Rivers was dumb with the
horror of it and stepped aside. The last words he would have said choked
him in the attempt to speak.

Six soldiers took their places before the man who stood with his hands
tied behind his back, his face white, the muscles twitching, while a
bandage was tied over his eyes.

"He wants to speak to you, sir," said the captain.

Rivers stepped to his side. "I did not tell my name. Tell my mother I was
shot--not how--not why."

Rivers fell back. The captain let fall a handkerchief. Six rifles rang
out, and Peter Lamb had gone to his account.

The regiment marched away. The music of the band rang clear through the
frosty air. The captain said, "Where is the surgeon?" Tom McGregor
appeared, and as he had to certify to the death bent down over the
quivering body.

"My God! Mr. Rivers," he said in a low voice, looking up, "it is Peter
Lamb."

"Hush, Tom," whispered Rivers, "no one knows him except Josiah." They
walked away together while Rivers told of Josiah's recognition of Lamb.
"Keep silent about his name, Tom," and then went on to speak of the man's
revengeful story about the Colonel, to Tom's horror. "I am sorry you
told me," said the young surgeon.

"Yes, I was unwise--but--"

"Oh, let us drop it, Mr. Rivers. How is John? I have been three times to
see him and he twice to see me, but always he was at the front, and as
for me we have six thousand beds and too few surgeons, so that I could
not often get away. Does he know of this man's fate?"

"No--and he had better not."

"I agree with you. Let us bury his name with him. So he shot our dear
Colonel--how strange, how horrible!"

"He believed that he did shoot him, and as the ball came from the lines
of the 71st when the fight was practically at an end, it may be true. He
certainly meant to kill him."

"What an entirely, hopelessly complete scoundrel!" said McGregor.

"Except," said Rivers, "that he did not want his mother to know how he
died."

"Human wickedness is very incomplete," said the surgeon. "I wonder
whether the devil is as perfectly wicked as we are taught to believe. You
think this fellow, my dear old schoolmaster, was not utterly bad. Now
about wanting his mother not to know--I for my part--"

"Don't, Tom. Leave him this rag of charity to cover a multitude of sins.
Now, I must leave you. See John soon--he is wasted by unending and
dangerous work--with malaria too, and what not; see him soon. He is a
splendid replica of the Colonel with a far better mind. I wish he were at
home."

"And I that another fellow were at home. Good-bye."

McGregor called at John's tent, but learned that at six he had gone on
duty to the trenches.



CHAPTER XXVIII


Late on Christmas morning of this year 1864, Penhallow with no duty on
his hands saw with satisfaction the peacemaking efforts of the winter
weather. A thin drizzle of cold rain froze as it fell on the snow; the
engineers' lines were quiet. There was no infantry drill and the raw
recruits had rest from the never satisfied sergeants, while unmanageable
accumulations of gifts from distant homes were being distributed to
well-pleased men. Penhallow, lazily at ease, planned to spend Christmas
day with Tom McGregor or Roland Blake. The orders of a too energetic
Colonel of his own Corps summarily disposed of his anticipated leisure.
The tired and disgusted Captain dismounted at evening, and limping gave
his horse to Josiah.

"What you done to Hoodoo, Master John? He's lame--and you too."

Without answering John Penhallow turned to greet Tom McGregor. "Happy
Christmas, Tom."

"You don't look very happy, John, nor that poor beast of yours. But I am
glad to have caught you at last." The faraway thunder of the siege
mortars was heard as he spoke. "Nice Christmas carol that! Have you been
to-day in the graveyards you call trenches?"

"No, I was not on duty. I meant to ride over to your hospital to have a
home-talk and exchange grumbles, but just as I mounted Colonel Swift
stopped with a smartly dressed aide-de-camp. I saluted. He said, 'I was
looking for an engineer off duty. Have the kindness to ride with me.'"

"By George! Tom, he was so polite that I felt sure we were on some
unpleasant errand. I was as civil, and said, 'With pleasure.' A nice
Christmas celebration! Well, I have been in the saddle all day. It rained
and froze to sleet on the snow, and the horses slipped and slid most
unpleasantly. About noon we passed our pickets. I was half frozen. When
we got a bit further, the old colonel pulled up on a hillside and began
to ask me questions, how far was that bridge, and could I see their
pickets, and where did that cross-road go to. The aide was apparently
ornamental and did not do anything but guess. I answered with sublime
confidence, as my mind got thawed a little and the colonel made notes."

"I know," laughed Tom. "Must never admit in the army that you don't know.
You can always write 'respectfully referred' on a document. When General
Grant visits our hospital and asks questions ten to the minute, I fire
back replies after quick consultation with my imagination. It works. He
assured the surgeon-in-charge that I was a remarkably well-informed
officer. So was he!"

"Come in," said Penhallow. "I am cold and cross. I expect a brevet at
least--nothing less; but if Comstock or Duane reads the colonel's notes,
I may get something else."

"Have you had a fall, John? You are pretty dirty, and that horse with the
queer name is dead lame. How did you come to grief?"

"I had an adventure."

"Really! What was it?"

"Tell you another time--it was a queer one. Here's Mr. Rivers." He was
followed by a contraband black with a basket.

"Happy Christmas, boys. I bring you a Christmas turkey and a plum-pudding
from your aunt, John."

He was made heartily welcome and was in unusually good spirits, as Josiah
took possession of these unexpected rations and John got into dry
clothes.

They fell to familiar talk of Westways. "I fear," said Rivers, "that the
colonel is worse. I am always sure of that when Mrs. Penhallow writes of
him as cheerful."

"My father," said Tom, "tells me he has days of excessive unnatural
gaiety, and then is irritable and cannot remember even the events of
yesterday."

"Can you account for it, Tom?" asked John.

"No, but he ought to take dad's advice and see Professor Askew. It makes
him furious. Oh! if we were all at home again, Mr. Rivers--and out of
this row. You are limping, John--what's wrong? Let me see that leg."

"No, you don't," cried John merrily. "You promised to get even with me
after our famous battle--I don't trust you. I bruised my knee--that's
all."

"Well, I can wait."

They talked of home, of the village and its people, and at their meal of
the way they proposed to conduct the spring campaign. Many bloodless
battles were thus fought over mess-tables and around camp-fires.

"For my part," said John, "I want to get done with this mole business and
do anything in the open--Oh, here comes Blake! You know our clergyman
from home, the Rev. Mr. Rivers? No! Well, then I make you the Christmas
gift of a pleasant acquaintance. Sit down, there is some turkey left
and plum-pudding."

"Glad to see you, McGregor," said Blake. "I know Mr. Rivers by
sight--oh, and well, too--he was back of the line in that horrid
mix-up at the Bloody Angle--he was with the stretcher-bearers."

"Where," said McGregor, "he had no business to be."

Rivers laughed as he rarely did. "It may seem strange to you all, but I
am never so happy"--he came near to saying so little unhappy--"as when I
am among the dying and the wounded, even if the firing is heavy."

Blake looked at the large-featured face and the eyes that, as old
McGregor said, were so kindly and so like mysterious jewels as they
seemed to radiate the light that came from within. His moment of critical
doubt passed, and he felt the strange attractiveness which Rivers had for
men and the influential trust he surely won.

"I prefer," remarked McGregor, "to operate when bullets are not flying."

"But you do not think of them then," returned Rivers, "I am sure you do
not."

"No, I do not, but they seem to be too attentive at times. I lost a
little finger-tip back of Round Top. We had thirteen surgeons killed or
wounded that day. The Rebs left eighty surgeons with their wounded. We
sent them home after we got up enough help from the cities."

"It was not done always," said Penhallow. "More's the pity."

"We had Grant at the hospital yesterday," said the doctor. "He comes
often."

"Did you notice his face?" queried Rivers.

"The face? Not particularly--why?"

"He has two deep lines between the eyes, and crossing them two lateral
furrows on the forehead. In Sicily they call it the 'cross of
misfortune.'"

"Then it has yet to come," said Blake.

"Late or early," said Rivers, "they assure you it will come. Some men
find their calamities when young, some when they are old, which is
better."

"Let us be thankful that we have no choice," said Blake.

"May God spare you now and always," said Rivers. The habitual melancholy
he dreaded took possession of his face as he rose, adding, "Come, Tom, we
must go."

"And I," said Blake.

"Happy Christmas to you all--and a happier New Year than 1864." They left
John to the letters Josiah placed on the table.

The night was now clear and the stars brilliant, as Penhallow saw Blake
mount his horse and Rivers and McGregor walk away to find the hospital
ambulance. "There at least is peace," said John, as he watched the
Pleiades and the North Star, symbol of unfailing duty. "Well, it is as
good as a sermon, and as it belongs there on eternal guard so do I
belong here for my little day; but I trust the spring will bring us
peace, for--oh, my God!--I want it--and Westways." He went in to his hut
and stirred the fire into roaring companionship.

Meanwhile Rivers, walking with McGregor, said, "Did the figure of that
doomed wretch haunt you as we talked to John?"

"It did indeed! I had never before been ordered to certify to a death
like that, and I hated it even before I bent down and knew who it was."

"How far was he accountable, Tom?"

"Don't ask me riddles like that, Mr. Rivers. It is a subject I have often
thought about. It turns up in many forms--most terribly in the cases of
the sins of the fathers being loaded on the sons. How far is a man
accountable who inherits a family tendency to insanity? Should he marry?
If he falls in love, what ought he to do or not do? It is a pretty grim
proposition, Mr. Rivers."

"He should not marry," replied the clergyman, and both moved on in silent
thought.

"Oh, here is our ambulance," said Tom. They got in, Rivers reflecting how
war, parent of good and evil, had made of this rough country-bred lad a
dutiful, thoughtful man.

Presently McGregor said, "When we were talking of our unpleasant duties,
I meant to tell you that one of them is to tattoo a D--for deserter--on
the breast of some poor homesick fellow. After that his head is shaved;
then the men laugh as he is drummed out of the lines--and it's
disgusting."

"I agree with you," said Rivers.

John lighted a fresh pipe and sat down by the fire to get some Christmas
pleasure from the home letter in Leila's large and clear script. His aunt
had ceased to write to him, and had left to her niece this task,
insisting that it should be punctually fulfilled. This time the letter
was brief.

"Of course, my dear John, you know that I am under orders to write to you
once a week."--"Is that explanatory?" thought the reader.--The letter
dealt with the town and mills, the sad condition of Colonel Penhallow,
his aunt's messages and her advice to John in regard to health. The
horses came in for the largest share of a page. And why did he not write
more about himself? She did not suppose that even winter war consisted
only in drawing maps and waiting for Grant to flank Lee out of Petersburg
and Richmond. "War," wrote the young woman, "must be rather a dull
business. Have you no adventures? Tom McGregor wrote his father that you
had a thrilling experience in the trenches lately. The doctor spoke of it
to Aunt Ann, who was surprised I had never mentioned it. Don't dry up
into an old regular like the inspecting major of ordnance at the mills.

"Expectantly yours,

"LEILA GREY.

"A Happy Christmas, Jack."

"Oh, Great Scott!" laughed John. He read it again. Not a word of herself,
nor any of her rides, or of the incessant reading she liked to discuss
with him. Some dim suspicion of the why of this impersonal letter gently
flattered the winged hopefulness of love. "Well, I think I shall punish
you, Miss Grey, for sending me a Christmas letter like that." Oh, the
dear old playmate, the tease, the eyes full of tenderness when the
child's shaft of satire hurt! He laughed gaily as he went through the
historically famous test of courage in snuffing the flaring candle wicks
with his fingers. The little cabin was warm, the night silent, not a
sound came from the lines a mile away to disturb the peaceful memories of
home within the thirty thousand pickets needed to guard our far-spread
army. Men on both sides spoke this Christmas night, for they were often
near and exchanged greetings as they called out, "Halloa, Johnny Reb,
Merry Christmas!"

"Same to you, Yank," and during that sacred night there was the truce of
God and overhead the silence of the solemn stars.

As the young Captain became altogether comfortable, his thoughts wandered
far afield--always at last to Josiah's pansy, the many-masked Leila, and
behind her pretty feminine disguises the serious-minded woman for whom,
as he smilingly consulted his fancy, he found no flower emblem to suit
him. The letter he read once more represented many Leilas. Could he
answer all of them and abide too by the silence he meant to preserve
until the war was over? The imp of mischief was at his side. There was no
kind of personal word of herself in the letter, except that he was
ordered to talk of John Penhallow and his adventures. He wrote far into
the Christmas night:

"DEAR LEILA: To hear is to obey. I am to write of myself--of adventures.
Nearness to death in the trenches is an every-second-day adventure
enough--no one talks of it. Tom was ill-advised to report of me at home.
I used to dream of the romance of war when I was a boy. There is very
little romance in it, and much dirt, awful horrors of the dead and
wounded, of battles lost or won, and waste beyond conception. After a big
fight or wearying march one could collect material for a rummage-sale
such as would rout Aunt Ann's ideal of an amusing auction of useless
things.

"My love to one and all, and above all to the dear Colonel who is never
long out of my mind.

"Yours truly,

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

"I put on this separate sheet for you alone the adventure you ask for. It
is the only one worth telling, and came to me this Christmas morning. It
was strange enough.

"An old Colonel caught me as I was about to visit Tom McGregor at the
hospital. I was disgusted, but he wanted an engineer. He got me, alas! We
rode far to our left over icy snow-crust. To cut my tale short, after we
passed our outlying pickets and I had answered a dozen questions, he
said, 'Can you see their pickets?' I said, 'No, they are half a mile away
on the far side of a creek in the woods. That road leads to a bridge;
they may be behind the creek.'

"'Do you think it fordable?'

"'I do not know.' Like a fool, I said, 'I will ride down the road and get
a nearer look.' He would be much obliged. I rode Hoodoo down an icy hill
with a sharp lookout for their pickets. As I rode, I slipped my revolver
out and let it hang at my wrist. I rode on cautiously. About a quarter of
a mile from the creek I made up my mind that I had gone far enough. The
creek was frozen, as I might have known, and the colonel too. As I
checked Hoodoo a shot rang out from a clump of pines on my right and a
horseman leaped into the road some twenty yards in front of me. I fired
and missed him. He turned and rode pretty fast toward the bridge, turning
to fire as he went. I like a fool rode after him. We exchanged shot after
shot. He was on the farther end of the bridge when he pulled up his horse
and stopped short. He held up a hand; I felt for my sword, having emptied
my revolver. It was rather ridiculous. By George! the man was laughing.
We were not fifty feet apart when I reined up Hoodoo. We had each fired
six shots in vain--I had counted his.

"He called out, 'A rather pretty duel, sir. Don't ride over the bridge.'
A picket shot from the left singing over my head rather emphasized his
warning. 'It would not be fair--you would ride right into my pickets.' It
was an unusual bit of chivalry.

"I called out, 'Thank you, I hope I have not hit you. May I ask your
name?'

"'I am at your service. I am'--here Captain John wrote
merrily--'Scheherazade who says--

"Being now sleepy, the Caliph will hear the amazing sequel to-morrow
night or _later_.

"There you have my adventure all but the end. If I do not hear more of
Miss Grey's personal adventures she will never--never, hear the name.

"JOHN PENHALLOW."

He laughed outright as he closed and directed the envelope. I suppose,
he wrote in his diary, that as there are several Leilas, there are also
several John Penhallows, and I am just now the mischievous lad who was
so much younger than Miss Grey. Would she laugh over the lesson of his
letter or be angry, or cry a little and feel ill-treated, or--and even
that was possible--say it was of no moment who the man was. He felt the
gaiety which in some men who have not the mere brute courage of the
bull-dog is apt to follow for many hours the escape from a great danger.
The boylike mischief of his letter was in part due to some return of the
cheerful mood which possessed him after the morning's risks. He went out
to question the night of the weather. As he looked over the snow and then
up at the mighty clock-work of the stars, he responded slowly to the
awe this silentness of immeasurable forces was apt to produce; a perfect
engine at the mills in noiseless motion always had upon him the same
effect. As he moved, his knee reminded him of the morning's escape. When
he rode away from the bridge, with attentions from the enemy's pickets
following and came near the waiting colonel, his horse came down and like
his rider suffered for the fall on frozen ground.

There was just then for a time less work than usual for the engineers,
and he had begun to feel troubled by the fact that two weeks had gone by
since Leila wrote, without a home letter. Then it came and was brief:

"DEAR JOHN: I have truly no better and no worse news to send about dear
Uncle Jim and this saddened home. To be quite frank with you, your letter
made me realize what is hardly felt as here in our home we become used to
war news. I thought less of your mischievous attempt to torment my
curiosity than of your personal danger, and yet I know too well what
are the constant risks in your engineer duties, for I have found among
Uncle Jim's books accounts of the siege of Sevastopol. As to your naughty
ending, I do not care who the man was--why should I? I doubt if you
really know.

"I am,
Your seriously indifferent
LEILA GREY.

"P.S. I am ashamed to admit that I reopened my letter to tell you I
fibbed large. _Please_ not to tease me any more."

He replied at once:

"DEAR LEILA: I am off to the front as usual. The man was Henry Grey. An
amazing encounter! I had never seen him, as you may know. I did not wait
to reply to him because the Rebel pickets were not so considerate as
their colonel. I recalled Uncle Jim's casual mention of Henry Grey as a
rather light-minded, quixotic man. I am glad he is, but imagine what
a tragedy failed to materialize because two men were awkward with the
pistol. But what a strange meeting too! It is not the only case. A
captain I know took his own brother prisoner last month; the Rebel would
not shake hands with him. Do not tell Aunt Ann--or rather, do what seems
best to you. I trust you, of course. The encounter made me want to know
your uncle in some far-off happier day.

"In haste, Yours,

"JOHN PENHALLOW."



CHAPTER XXIX


When late in March Grant about to move left the engineer brigade at City
Point, the need to corduroy the rain-soaked roads called some of the
corps to the front, and among them John Penhallow. As usual when
unoccupied they were set free to volunteer for staff duty. It thus
chanced that Penhallow found himself for a time an extra aide to General
John Parke.

The guarded outer lines of the defences of Petersburg included forests
with here and there open spaces and clumps of trees. More than a half
mile away from the enemy, on rising ground, amid bushes and trees, lay
the army corps of General Parke. It was far into the night. The men were
comfortably asleep, for on this second of April, the air was no longer
chilly and there were no tents up. In the mid-centre of the corps-line
behind the ridge a huge fire marked the headquarters. As the great logs
blazed high, they cast radiating shadows of tree trunks, which were and
were not as the fire rose or fell. Horses tied to the trees moved
uneasily when from far and near came the clamour of guns. Now and then a
man sat up in the darkness and listened, but this was some new recruit.
For the most of the sleepers the roar of guns was less disturbing than
the surly mosquitoes and the sonorous trumpeting of a noisy neighbour.
Aides dismounted near the one small tent in the wood shadows, and coming
out mounted horses as tired as the riders and rode away into the night.
Here and there apart black servants and orderlies slept the deep sleep of
irresponsibility and among them Josiah. Beside the deserted fire John
Penhallow sat smoking. A hand fell on his shoulder.

"Halloa, Blake!" he said, "where did you come from?"

"I am on Wright's staff. I am waiting for a note I am to carry. There
will be no sleep for me to-night. We shall attack at dawn--a square
frontal attack through slashes, chevaux-de-frises and parapets; but the
men are keen for it, and we shall win."

"I think so--the game is nearly played out."

"I am sorry for them, Penhallow."

"And I. I was thinking when you came of the pleasant West Point friends
who may be in those woods yonder, and of the coming agony of that
wonderful crumbling host of brave men, and of my uncle's friend, Robert
Lee. I shall be a happy man when I can take their hands again."

"How many will be left?" said Blake.

"God knows--we shall, I hope, live to be proud of them."

"My friend Francis sees always the humorous side of war--I cannot."

"It does have--oh, very rarely--its humorous side," returned Penhallow,
"but not often for me. His mocking way of seeing things is doubly
unpleasant because no man in the army is more in earnest. This orchestra
of snoring men would amuse him."

As Blake sat down, he said, "I wonder if they are talking the language of
that land--that nightly bourne from which we bring back so little. Listen
to them!"

"That's so like you, Blake. I was reflecting too when you came on the
good luck I had at the North Anna when you pulled me out. Mark Rivers
once said that I was good at making acquaintances, but slow at making
friendships."

"Thank you," said Blake, understanding him readily. "I am somewhat like
you."

The solemnity of the night and of the fate-laden hours had opened for
a minute the minds of two men as reserved and reticent as are most
well-bred Americans, who as a rule lack the strange out-spoken frankness
of our English kin.

"Oh! here is my summons," said Blake. "Good luck to you, Penhallow. I
have about the closing of this war a kind of fear I have never had
before."

"That is natural enough," returned Penhallow, "and I fancy it is not
uncommon. Let us part with a more pleasant thought. You will come and
shoot with me at Grey Pine in the fall? Bye-bye."

Blake rode away. His friend deep in thought and unable to sleep watched
the dying fire. The night hours ran on. Obedient to habit he wound his
watch. "Not asleep," said a pleasant voice. He rose to face the slight
figure and gently smiling face of General Parke.

"What time is it, Penhallow?"

"Four o'clock, sir."

"I have sent back Captain Blake with a word to General Wright, but he
will have too long a ride. I want you to carry this same request. By
taking the short cut in front of our lines, you can get there in a third
of the time. You will keep this side of our pickets to where our line
turns, then go through them and down the slope a bit. For a short
distance you will be near the clump of trees on the right. If it is
picketed--there are no pickets nearer--you will have to ride hard. Once
past the angle of their line you are safe. Am I clear?"

"Certainly, sir. There is some marshy ground--I climbed a tree and looked
it over yesterday--it won't stop the men, but may slow a horse."

"I see. Here is my note."

Penhallow tucked it in his belt and roused Josiah. "See to the girth," he
said. "Is Hoodoo in good order?"

"Yes, sir. Where you going, Master John?"

"A little errand. Make haste."

"I know those little errands," said the black. "The good Lord care for
him," he murmured, as the man he loved best was lost in the darkness.

He was aware of the great danger of his errand and was at once in that
state of intensity of attention which sharpens every sense. He rode for
the fourth of a mile between the long lines of infantry now astir here
and there, and then an officer saw him through their picket-line. "Good
luck to you!" he said. "I think the Rebs have no outlying pickets, but
the woods are full of them."

Penhallow rode down a slight incline, and remembering that the marsh
lower down might be difficult turned aside and came on a deep gully. The
night was still dark, but a faint glow to eastward made haste desirable.
The gully, as he rode beside it, flattened out, but at once he felt that
his horse was in trouble on marshy ground. He dismounted and led him,
but always the better footing lay nearer to the clump of trees. He made
up his mind to ride for it. While on foot he had been as yet hardly
visible. A shot from the salient group of trees decided him. He mounted
and touched Hoodoo with the spur. The horse bounded forwards too quickly
to sink in the boggy ground. Then a dozen shots told the rider he had
been seen. Something like the feeling of a blow from a stick was felt as
his left arm fell with gripped reins, and the right arm also dropped.
Hoodoo pitched forward, rose with a gallant effort, and sinking down
rolled to left upon the rider's leg.

The horse lay still. Penhallow's first sensation was astonishment; then
he began to make efforts to get free. His arms were of no use. He tried
to stir his horse with the spur of the free foot. It had no effect.
Something must be wrong with him. He had himself a feeling of weakness he
could not comprehend, aware that he had no wound of the trunk. His
useless arms made all effort vain, and the left foot under the weight of
the horse began to feel numb. The position struck him as past help until
our people charged. He thought of Francis's axiom that there was nothing
so entirely tragic as to be without some marginalia of humour. The lad
smiled at his use of the word. His own situation appealed to him as
ridiculous--a man with a horse on him waiting for an army to lift it off.

The left elbow began to recover from the early insensibility of shock and
to be painful. Then in the dim light, as he lifted his head, he was aware
of a Rebel soldier in front covering him with a revolver. Penhallow cried
out with promptness, "I surrender--and I am shot through both arms."

The soldier said, "You are not worth taking--guess you'll keep till we
lick the Yanks," and walking around the helpless officer he appropriated
his revolver.

"Can you get my horse up?" said John.

"Horse up! I want your boots."

"Well, pull them off--I can't."

"Oh, don't you bother, I'll get them." With this he knelt down and began
on the boot which belonged to the leg projecting beneath the horse. "Darn
it! They're just my size." As he tugged at it, Hoodoo dying and convulsed
struck out with his fore legs and caught the unlucky soldier full in the
belly. The man gave a wild cry and staggering back fell.

Penhallow craned over the horse's body and broke into laughter. It hurt
his arm, but he gasped with fierce joy, "Francis would call him a
freebooter." Then he fell back and quite helpless listened. Unable to
turn his head, he heard behind him the wild rush of men. Leaping over
horse and man they went by. He got a look to right and left. They tore
through the slashes, dropping fast and facing a furious fusillade were
lost to sight in the underbrush. "By George! they've won," he exclaimed
and fell back. "They must have carried the parapet." He waited. In
about a half hour a party of men in grey went by. An officer in blue
cried out, "Up the hill, you beggars!" More of the grey men followed--a
battle-grimed mob of hundreds.

"Halloa!" called Penhallow. "Get this horse up. Put your hand in my
pocket and you will find fifty dollars." They stopped short and a half
dozen men lifted the dead animal. "Thank you, set me on my feet," said
Penhallow. "Empty my pockets--I can't use my arms." They did it well, and
taking also his watch went on their way well pleased.

John stood still, the blood tingling in his numb foot. "Halloa!" he
cried, as the stretcher-bearers and surgeons came near. A headquarters
surgeon said, "We thought you were killed. Can you walk?"

"No--hit in both arms--why the deuce can't I walk?"

"Shock, I suppose."

A half hour later he was in a hospital tent and a grim old army surgeon
handling his arms. "Right arm flesh-wound--left elbow smashed. You will
likely have to lose the arm."

"No, I won't," said Penhallow, "I'd as leave die."

"Don't talk nonsense. They all say that. See you again."

"You will get ten dollars," said John to a hospital orderly, "if you will
find Captain Blake of General Wright's staff."

"I'll do it, sir."

Presently his arms having been dressed, he was made comfortable with
morphia. At dusk next morning his friend Blake sat down beside his cot.
"Are you badly hurt?" he said. A certain tenderness in the voice was like
a revelation of some qualities unknown before.

"I do not know. For about the first time in my life I am suffering
pain--I mean constant pain, with a devilish variety in it too. The same
ball, I believe, went through some muscle in the right arm and smashed my
left elbow. It's a queer experience. The surgeon-in-charge informed me
that I would probably lose the arm. The younger surgeon says the ball
will become what he calls encysted. They probed and couldn't find it.
Isn't that Josiah I hear?"

"Yes, I will bring him in."

In a moment they came back. "My God! Master John, I been looking for you
all night and this morning I found Hoodoo dead. Didn't I say he'd bring
you bad luck. Oh, my!--are you hurt bad?"

"Less noise there," said an assistant surgeon, "or get out of this."

"He'll be quiet," said Blake, "and you will have the decency to be less
rough." The indignant doctor walked away.

"Poor Hoodoo--he did his best," murmured John. "Get me out of this,
Blake. It's a hell of suffering. Take me to Tom McGregor at City Point."

"I will, but now I must go. General Parke hopes you are doing well. You
will be mentioned in his despatches."

"That is of no moment--get me to McGregor. Hang the flies--I can't fight
them."

John never forgot the ambulance and the rough railway ride to City Point,
nor his pleasure when at rest in the officers' pavilion he waited for his
old playmate. As I write I see, as he saw, the long familiar ward, the
neat cots, the busy orderlies. He waited with the impatience of
increasing pain. "Well, Tom," he said, with an effort to appear gay,
"here's your chance at last to get even."

McGregor made brief reply as he uncovered the wounded joint. Then he said
gravely, "A little ether--I will get out the ball."

"No ether, Tom, I can stand it. Now get to work."

"I shall hurt you horribly."

"No ether," he repeated. "Go on, Tom."

McGregor sat beside him with a finger on the bounding pulse and
understood its meaning and the tale it told. "It will not be long, John,"
and then with attention so concentrated as not even to note the one stir
of the tortured body or to hear the long-drawn groan of pain, he rose to
his feet. "All right, John--it's only a slug--lucky it was not a musket
ball." He laid a tender hand on the sweating brow, shot a dose of morphia
into the right arm, and added, "You will get well with a stiff joint. Now
go to sleep. The right arm is sound, a flesh-wound."

"Thanks," said John, "we are even now, Tom. Captain Blake telegraphed
your father, Tom--but write, please."

"To whom, John?"

"To Leila--but do not alarm them."

"I will write. In a week or two you must go home. That is the medicine
you need most. You will still have some pain, but you will not lose the
arm."

"Thank you--but what of the army? I am a bit confused as to time. Parke
attacked on the second of April, I think. What day is this?"

"Oh, they got out of Petersburg that night--out of Richmond too. Lee is
done for--a day or two will end it."

"Thank God," murmured John, "but I am so sorry for Lee."

"Can't say I am."

"Oh, that blessed morphia!"

"Well, go to sleep--I will see you again shortly. I have other fellows to
look after. In a few minutes you will be easy. Draw the fly-nets,
orderly."

Of all that followed John Penhallow in later years remembered most
distinctly the half hour of astonishing relief from pain. As his senses
one by one went off guard, he seemed to himself to be watching with
increase of ease the departure of some material tormentor. In after years
he recalled with far less readiness the days of varied torment which
required more and more morphia. Why I know not, the remembrance of pain
as time goes by is far less permanent than that of relief or of an hour
of radiant happiness. Long days of suffering followed as the tortured
nerves recorded their far-spread effects in the waste of the body and
that failure of emotional control which even the most courageous feel
when long under the tyranny of continuous pain. McGregor watched him
with anxiety and such help as was possible. On the tenth of April John
awakened after a night of assisted sleep to find himself nearly free
from pain. Tom came early into the ward.

"Good news, John," he said. "Lee has surrendered. You look better. Your
resignation will be accepted, and I have a leave of absence. Economy is
the rule. We are sending the wounded north in ship-loads. Home! Home! old
fellow, in a week."

The man on the cot looked up. "You have a letter, I see," and as he spoke
broke into childlike tears, for so did long suffering deal with the most
self-controlled in those terrible years, which we do well to forgive, and
to remember with pride not for ourselves alone. The child-man on the bed
murmured, "Home was too much for me."

The surgeon who loved him well said, "Read your letter--you are not the
only man in this ward whom pain has made a baby. Home will complete your
cure--home!"

"Thank you, Tom." He turned to the letter and using the one half-useful
hand opened it with difficulty. What he first felt was disappointment at
the brevity of the letter. He was what Blake called home-hungry. With
acute perception, being himself a homeless man, Blake made his diagnosis
of that form of heart-ache which too often adds a perilously depressing
agency to the more material disasters of war. Pain, fever, the inevitable
ward odours, the easier neighbour in the next bed who was of a mind
to be social, the flies--those Virginia flies more wily than Lee's
troopers--and even trifling annoyances made Penhallow irritable. He
became a burden to hospital stewards and over-worked orderlies, and now
the first look at Leila's letter disturbed him, and as he read he became
indignant:

"DEAR JOHN: Mr. Blake's telegram telling us of your wound caused us some
anxiety, which was made less by Dr. McGregor's somewhat hastily written
letter. Aunt Ann thought it was excusable in so busy a man. Poor Uncle
Jim on hearing it said, 'Yes, yes--why didn't John write--can't be much
the matter.' This shows you his sad failure. He has not mentioned it
since.

"It is a relief to us to know that you were not dangerously hurt. It
seems as if this sad war and its consequences were near to end. Let us
hear soon. Aunt Ann promises to write to you at once.

"Yours truly,

"LEILA GREY."

He threw the letter down, and forgetting that he had asked Blake and the
doctor not to alarm his people, was overcome by the coldness of Leila's
letter. He lay still, and with eyes quite too full felt that life had for
him little of that which once made it sweet with what all men hold most
dear. He would have been relieved if he could have seen Leila when alone
she read and read again McGregor's letter, and read with fear between the
lines of carefully guarded words what he would not say and for days much
feared to say. She sat down and wrote to John a letter of such tender
anxiety as was she felt a confession she was of no mind to make. He was
in no danger. Had he been, she would have written even more frankly. But
her trouble about her uncle was fed from day to day by what her aunt
could not or would not see, and it was a nearer calamity and more and
more distressing. Then she sat thinking what was John like now. She saw
the slight figure, so young and still so thoughtful, as she had smiled in
her larger experience of men when they had sat and played years ago with
violets on the hillside of West Point. No, she was unprepared to commit
herself for life, for would he too be of the same mind? For a moment she
stood still indecisive, then she tore up her too tender letter and wrote
the brief note which so troubled him. She sent it and then was sorry she
had not obeyed the impulse of the kindlier hour.

The nobler woman instinct is apt to be armed by nature for defensive
warfare. If she has imagination, she has in hours of doubt some sense of
humiliation in the vast surrender of marriage. This accounts for certain
of the cases of celibate women, who miss the complete life and have no
ready traitor within the guarded fortress to open the way to love. Some
such instinctive limitations beset Leila Grey. The sorrow of a great, a
nearer and constant affection came to her aid. To think of anything like
love, even if again it questioned her, was out of the question while
before her eyes James Penhallow was fading in mind.

John Penhallow was shortly relieved by McGregor's order that he should
get some exercise. It enabled him to escape the early surgical visit and
the diverse odours of surgical dressings which lingered in the long ward
while breakfast was being served. There were more uneasy sleepers than he
in the ward and much pain, and crippled men with little to look forward
to. The suffering he saw and could not lessen had been for John one of
the depressing agencies of this hospital life. The ward was quiet when he
awoke at dawn of April 13th. He quickly summoned an orderly and endured
the daily humiliation of being dressed like a baby. He found Josiah
waiting with the camp-chair at the door as he came out of the ward.

"How you feeling, Master John?"

"Rather better. What time is it? That Reb stole my watch." Even yet it
was amusing. He laughed at the remembrance of having been relieved by the
prisoners of purse and watch.

For Josiah to extract his own watch was as McGregor said something
like a surgical operation. "It's not goin', Master John. It's been losing
time--like it wasn't accountable. What's it called watch for if it don't
watch?"

This faintly amused John. He said no more, but sat enjoying the early
morning quiet, the long hazy reaches of the James River, the awakening of
life here and there, and the early stir among the gun-boats.

"Get me some coffee, Josiah," he said. "I am like your watch, losing time
and everything else."

Josiah stood over him. His unnatural depression troubled a simple mind
made sensitive by a limitless affection and dog-like power to feel
without comprehending the moods of the master.

"Captain John, you was sayin' to me yesterday you was most unfortunate. I
just went away and kept a kind of thinkin' about it."

"Well, what conclusion did you come to?" He spoke wearily.

"Oh, I just wondered if you'd like to change with me--guess you wouldn't
for all the pain?"

Surprised at the man's reflection, John looked up at the black kindly
face. "Get me some coffee."

"Yes, sir--what's that?" The morning gun rang out the sunrise hour.
"What's that, sir?" The flag was being hoisted on the slope below them.
"It's stopped at half-mast, sir! Who's dead now?"

"Go and ask, Josiah." McGregor came up as he spoke.

"The President was killed last night, John, by an assassin!"

"Lincoln killed!"

"Yes--I will tell you by and by--now this is all we know. I must make my
rounds. We leave to-morrow for home."

John sat alone. This measureless calamity had at once on the
thoughtful young soldier the effect of lessening the influences of
his over-sensitive surrender to pain and its attendant power to weaken
self-control. Like others, in the turmoil of war he had given too little
thought to the Promethean torment of a great soul chained to the rock of
duty--the man to whom like the Christ "the common people listened
gladly." He looked back over his own physical suffering with sense of
shame at his defeat, and sat up in his chair as if with a call on his
worn frame to assert the power of a soul to hear and answer the summons
of a great example.

"Thank you, Josiah," he said cheerfully. "No coffee is like yours to set
a fellow up." A greater tonic was acting. "We go home to-morrow."

"That's good. Listen, sir--what's that?"

"Minute guns, Josiah. Have you heard the news?"

"Yes, sir--it's awful; but we are going home to Westways."



CHAPTER XXX


As the trains went northward crowded with more or less damaged officers
and men, John Penhallow in his faded engineer uniform showed signs of
renewed vitality. He chatted in his old companionable way with the other
home-bound volunteers, and as they went through Baltimore related to
McGregor with some merriment his bloodless duel with Mrs. Penhallow's
Rebel brother Henry. The doctor watched him with the most friendly
satisfaction and with such pride as a florist may have in his prospering
flowers. The colour of health was returning to the pale face and there
was evidently relief from excessive pain. He heard, too, as they chatted,
of John's regrets that his simple engineer dress was not as neat as he
would have desired and of whether his aunt would dislike it. Wearing the
station of Westways Crossing, John fell into a laughing account of his
first arrival and of the meeting with Leila. The home-tonic was of use
and he was glad with gay gladness that the war was over.

As the train stopped, he said as he got out, "There is no carriage--you
telegraphed, McGregor?"

"Yes, I did, but the service is, I fancy, snowed under just now with
messages. I will walk on and have them send for you."

"No," said John, "I am quite able to walk. Come along."

"Are you really able?"

"Yes--we'll take it easy."

"There isn't much left of you to carry what remains."

"My legs are all right, Tom." He led the way through the woods until they
came out on the avenue. "Think of it, Tom,--it is close to nine years
since first I left Grey Pine for the Point."

In the afternoon of this sunny day late in April the Colonel sat on the
porch with his wife. Below them on the step Rivers was reading aloud the
detailed account of Lincoln's death. Leila coming out of the house was
first to see the tall thin figure in dark undress uniform. She was
thankful for an unwatched moment of ability to gain entire self-command.
It was needed. She helped herself by her cry of joyous recognition.

"Aunt Ann! Aunt Ann!" she cried, "there is Dr. McGregor and--and John and
Josiah." The aunt cast a look of anxiety at the expressionless face of
James Penhallow, as he rose to his feet, saying, "Why wasn't I told?"

"We did not know, sir," said Rivers, dropping the paper as he went down
the steps to meet the new-comer.

Then the wasted figure with the left arm in a sling was in Ann
Penhallow's embrace.

"My God!" he said, "but it's good to be at home." As he spoke he turned
to the Colonel who had risen.

"Got hit, John? It runs in the family. Once had a Sioux arrow through my
arm. Glad to see you. Want to be fed up a bit. Lord! but you're lean." He
said no more, but sat down again without appearance of interest.

Rivers made John welcome with a pleasant word, and Leila coming forward
took his hand, saying quietly, "We hardly looked for you to-day, but it
is none too soon." Then she turned to McGregor, "We have much to thank
you for. You will stay to dine?"

John, still too sensitive, was troubled as he realized his uncle's
condition, and felt that there was something in Leila's manner which was
unlike that of the far-remembered Leila of other days. She had urged
McGregor to stay and dine, and then added, "But, of course, that pleasure
must wait--you will want to see your father. He is so proud of you--as we
all are."

"That is a pleasant welcome, Miss Leila; and, dear Mrs. Penhallow, I do
not want a carriage, I prefer to walk. I will see you, John, and that
lame arm to-morrow. Good-bye, Colonel."

The master of Grey Pine said, "Nice young man! Ann ought to kill the
fatted calf. Tell John not to be late for dinner."

"It is all right, James," said Mrs. Ann, "all right."

Rivers watched with pain the vacant face of the Colonel. This mental
failure constantly recalled the days of anguish when with despair he had
seen all who were dear to him one after another die mentally before their
merciful exit from life.

"John must be tired," he said. Leila, who noted on the young soldier's
face the effect of sudden realization of his useless state said, "Your
room is ready, John."

"Yes," said John, "I should like to rest before dinner."

With a word as to the fatigue of his journey, Leila followed him into the
well-remembered hall.

"Good heavens, Leila. It seems an age since I was here. Send up Josiah.
I am like a baby and need him to help me."

She looked after him pitifully as he went up the stairs. "Surely," she
thought, "we have paid dearly our debt to the country."

He came down at six o'clock, still in his undress uniform, but thinking
that his aunt would not like it. In a day or two he would have the
civilian clothes he had ordered in Philadelphia. He need have had no such
anxiety; she was indifferent to all but her husband, who sat at table
speechless, while Leila and John too consciously manufactured talk of the
home and the mills--and the ending of the war. After the meal Ann began
her patient efforts to interest the Colonel with a game of cards and then
of backgammon. It seemed only to make him irritable, and he said at last,
"I think I must go to bed."

"Certainly, dear." She went with him upstairs, saying, "Good-night,
children."

"She will not return, John. This is what goes on day after day."

"It is very sad--I did not fully comprehend his condition."

"He is often far worse, and complains of his head or is resolutely--I
should say obstinately--bent on some folly, such as walking to the mills
and advising them. Aunt Ann never contradicts him--what he wants, she
wants. Not the most reasonable opposition is of any use."

"Does he never ride, Leila?"

"Never, and is vexed when Dr. McGregor calls to see him and advises a
consultation. Once we had a distressing outbreak."

"And yet," said John, "there should have been other advice long ago.
Somehow there must be."

"Mr. Rivers has urged it and made him angry; as for Aunt Ann, she sees
only the bright side of his case and humours him as she would a sick
child."

"She is greatly changed, Leila. I hardly know how to state it. She has a
look of--well, of something spiritual in her face."

"Yes, that is true. Are you in pain, John?" she added.

"Yes--not in great pain, but enough. For two weeks I did suffer
horribly."

"John! Oh, my poor Jack! We never knew--is it so bad?"

"Yes, imagine a toothache in your elbow with a variety of torments in the
whole arm."

"I can't imagine. I never had a toothache--in fact, I hardly know the
sensation of serious pain."

"Well, I broke down under it, Leila. I became depressed and quite
foolishly hopeless. Some day I will tell you what helped me out of a
morass of melancholy."

"Tell me now."

"No, I must go to bed. I am getting better and will get off with a stiff
elbow, so Tom says. At first they talked of amputation. That was awful.
Good-night!"

It was none too soon. She was still unsure of herself, and although no
word of tender approach had disturbed her as he talked, and she was glad
of that, the tense look of pain, the reserve of his hospital confession
of suffering nearly broke down her guarded attitude. As he passed out of
view at the turn of the stairs, she murmured, "Oh, if only Uncle Jim were
well."

Josiah came at the call of the bell. She detained him. She asked, "How
was the Captain wounded? No one wrote of how it happened."

"Well, missy, he would ride a horse called Hoodoo--it was just the bad
luck of that brute done it." Josiah's account was graphic and clear
enough. John Penhallow's character lost nothing as interpreted by Josiah.

"It was a dangerous errand, I suppose."

"Yes, Miss Leila. You see, when they know about a man that he somehow
don't mind bullets and will go straight to where he's sent, they're very
apt to get him killed. At the first shot he ought to have tumbled off and
played possum till it was dark."

"But then," said Leila, "he would have been too late with General Parke's
message."

"Of course, Master John couldn't sham dead like I would.--I don't despise
bullets like he does. Once before he had orders to go somewhere, and
couldn't get across a river. He was as mad as a wet hen."

"A wet hen--delightful! Did he do it?"

"Guess you don't know him! When Master John wants anything, well, he's a
terrible wanter--always was that way even when he was a boy--when he
wants anything, he gets it."

"Indeed! does he? I think he is waiting for you, Josiah."

The black's conclusive summary hardened the young woman's heart. She sat
a while smiling, then took up a book and failed to become interested.

As John became familiar with the altered life of a household once happy
and in pleasant relation to the outer world, he felt as Leila had done
the depressing influence of a home in which the caprices of an invalid
life were constantly to be considered. Meanwhile his own spare figure
gained flesh, and on one sunny morning--he long remembered it--he was
rather suddenly free from pain, and with only the stiff elbow was, as
McGregor described it, "discharged cured."

For some time he had been feeling that in bodily vigour and sense of
being his normal self he had been rapidly gaining ground. The relief from
the thraldom of pain brought a sudden uplift of spirits and a feeling of
having been born anew into an inheritance of renewed strength and of
senses sharpened beyond what he had ever known. A certain activity of
happiness like a bodily springtime comes with such a convalescence.
Ceasing to feel the despotism of self-attention, he began to recover his
natural good sense and to watch with more care his uncle's state, his
aunt's want of consideration for any one but James Penhallow, and the
effect upon Leila of this abnormal existence. He began to understand that
to surely win this sad girl-heart there must be a patient siege, and
above all something done for the master of Grey Pine. He recognized with
love's impatience the beauty of this young life amid the difficulties of
the Colonel's moods and Ann Penhallow's ill-concealed jealousy. A great
passion may be a very selfish thing, or in the nobler natures rise so
high on the wings of love that it casts like the singing lark no shadow
on the earth. He could wait and respect with patient affection the sense
of duty which perhaps--ah! that perhaps--made love a thing which must
wait--yes, and wait too with helpful service where she too had nobly
served.

When the day came for his first venture on a horse and he rode through
the young leafage of June, no enterprise seemed impossible. How could he
be of use to her and these dear people to whom he owed so much? War had
been costly, but it had taught him that devotion to the duty of the hour
which is one of the best lessons of that terrible schoolmaster. There
was, as he saw every day, no overruling common sense in the household of
Grey Pine, and no apparent possibility of reasonable control. Just now it
was worse than ever, and he meant to talk it over with the two McGregors.
With Josiah riding behind him, he left a message here and there in the
village, laughing and jesting, with a word of sympathy where the war had
left its cruel memories. He had been in the little town very often since
his return, but never before when free from pain or with the pleasant
consciousness that he had it in his power to be to these friends of his
childhood what the Colonel had been. He talked to Joe Grace, left a
message for Pole's son, and then rode on to his appointment.

He sat down with father and son in the unchanged surroundings of the
untidy office; even the flies were busy as before on the old man's
tempting bald head.

"Well, John," said the doctor, "what's up now? The Squire won't see me at
all." Tom sat still and listened.

"There are two things to consider, and I want your advice; but, first, I
want to say that there is no head to that family. I wonder how Leila
stands it. I mean that your advice shall be taken about a consultation
with Prof. Askew."

"You want my advice? Do you, indeed! Mrs. Penhallow will ask the
Colonel's opinion, he will swear, and the matter is at an end."

"I mean to have that consultation," said John. Tom laughed and nodded
approval.

"It's no use, John, none," said the older man.

"We shall see about that. Do you approve?--that is my question."

"If that's the form of advice you want, why, of course--yes--but count me
out."

"Count me in, John," said the younger surgeon. "I know what Askew will
say and what should have been done long ago."

"An operation?" asked his father.

"Yes, sir, an operation."

"Too late!"

"Well," said John, "he gets no worse; a week or two will make no
difference, I presume."

"None," said Dr. McGregor.

"It may," said Tom.

"Well, it may have to wait. Just now there is a very serious question.
Aunt Ann made last night the wild suggestion that the Colonel might be
amused if we had one of those rummage-sales with which she used to
delight the village. Uncle Jim at once declared it to be the thing he
would like best. Aunt Ann said we must see about it at once. Her
satisfaction in finding an amusement which the Colonel fancied was really
childlike. Leila said nothing, nor did I. In fact, the proposal came
about when I happened unluckily to say what a fine chance Uncle Sam had
for a rummage-sale after a forced march or a fight. I recall having said
much the same thing long ago in a letter to Leila."

"Then there's nothing to be done just now, John," remarked Tom McGregor,
"but I cannot conceive of anything more likely to affect badly a
disordered brain."

The older man was silent until John asked, "Is it worth while to talk to
Aunt Ann about it--advise against it?"

"Quite useless, John. I advise you and Leila quietly to assist your aunt,
and like as not the Colonel may forget all about it in a day or two."

"No, Doctor. To-day he had Billy up with him in the attic bringing down
whatever he can find, useful or useless."

With little satisfaction from this talk, John rode homeward. Sitting in
the saddle at the post-office door, he called for the mail. Mrs. Crocker,
of undiminished bulk and rosiness, came out.

"How's your arm, Captain? I bet it's more use than mine. The rheumatism
have took to permanent boarding in my right shoulder--and no glory like
you got to show for it."

"I could do without the glory."

"No, you couldn't. If I was a man, I'd be glad to swap; you've got to
make believe a bit, but the town's proud of you. I guess some one will
soon have to look after them Penhallow mills." Mrs. Crocker put a
detaining hand on his bridle reins.

"Yes, yes," said John absently, glancing well pleased over a kind letter
of inquiry from General Parke. "Well, what else, Mrs. Crocker?"

"The Colonel quite give me a shock this morning. He's not been here--no,
not once--since he came home. Well, he walked in quite spry and told me
there was to be a rummage-sale in a week, and I was to put up a notice
and tell everybody. Why, Mr. John, he was that natural. He went away
laughing because I offered to sell my old man--twenty-five cents a
pound. I did notice he don't walk right."

"Yes, I have noticed that; but this notion of a rummage-sale has seemed
to make him better. Now, suppose you let my reins go."

"Oh, Mr. John, don't be in such a hurry. It's surely a responsible place,
this post-office; I don't ever get time for a quiet talk."

"Well, Mrs. Crocker, now is your chance."

"That's real good of you. I was wanting to ask if you ever heard anything
of Peter Lamb. He wrote to his mother he was in the army, and then that
was the end of it. She keeps on writing once a week, and the letters come
back stamped 'not found.' I guess he's wandering somewhere."

"Like enough. I went to see her last week, but I could not give her any
comfort. She couldn't have a worse thing happen than for Peter to come
home."

"Well, Captain John, when you come to have babies of your own, you'll
find mothers are a curious kind of animal."

"Mothers!" laughed John. "I hope there won't be more than one. Now, I
really must go."

"Oh, just one more real bit of news. Lawyer Swallow's wife was here
yesterday with another man to settle up her husband's business."

"Is he dead?"

"They say so, but you can't believe everything you hear. Now, don't
hurry. What most killed Swallow was just this: He hated Pole like poison,
and when he got a five hundred dollar mortgage-grip on Pole's pasture
meadow, he kept that butcher-man real uneasy. When you were all away,
Swallow began to squeeze--what those lawyers call 'foreclose.' It's
just some lawyer word for robbery."

"It's pretty bad, Mrs. Crocker, but two people are waiting for you and
this isn't exactly Government business."

"Got to hear the end, Captain."

"I suppose so--what next?" Dixy wondered why the spur touched him even
lightly.

"Pole, he told Mrs. Penhallow all about it, and she wasn't as glad to
help her meat-man as she was to bother Swallow, so she took over the
mortgage. When the Squire first came home from Washington and wasn't like
he was later, she told him, of course. Now everybody knows Pole's ways,
and so the Squire he says to me--he was awful amused--'Mrs. Crocker, I
asked Mrs. Penhallow how Pole was going to pay her.' She said she did put
that at Pole, and he said it wouldn't take long to eat up that debt at
Grey Pine. He wouldn't have dared to speak like that to your aunt if she
hadn't got to be so meek-like, what with war and bother." By this time
Dixy was with reason displeased and so restless that Mrs. Crocker let the
reins drop, but as John Penhallow rode away she cried, "The price of
meats at Grey Pine has been going up ever since, until Miss Leila--" The
rest was lost to the Captain. He rode away laughing as he reflected on
what share of Pole's debt he was to devour.



CHAPTER XXXI


The bustle and folly of a rummage-sale was once in every two or three
years a frolic altogether pleasant to quiet Westways. It enabled Ann
Penhallow and other wise women to get rid of worn-out garments and other
trash dear to the male mind. When Leila complained of the disturbing
antecedents of a rummage-sale, Mrs. Crocker, contributive of unasked
wisdom, remarked, "Men have habits, and women don't; women have blind
instincts. You'll find that out when you're married. You see marriage is
a kind of voyage of discovery. You just remember that and begin early to
keep your young man from storing away useless clothes and the like.
That's where a rummage-sale comes in handy."

Leila laughed. "Why not sell the unsatisfactory young man, Mrs. Crocker?"

"Well, that ain't a bad idea," said the post-mistress slyly, "if he's a
damaged article--a rummage-sale of husbands not up to sample."

"A very useful idea," said the young woman. "Good-bye."

In the afternoon a day later, Leila, making her escape from her aunt's
busy collections, slipped away into the woods alone. The solitude of the
early woodland days of summer were what she needed, and the chance they
gave for such tranquil reflection as the disturbance and restless state
of her home just now made it rarely possible to secure. She tried to put
aside her increasing anxiety about her uncle and had more difficulty in
dealing with John Penhallow and his over-quiet friendliness. She thought
too of her own coldly-worded letters and of the suffering of which she
had been kept so long ignorant. He had loved her once; did he now? She
was annoyed to hear the voice of Mark Rivers.

"So, Leila, you have run away, and I do not wonder. This turmoil is most
distressing."

"Yes, yes--and everything--those years of war and what it has brought
us--and my dear Uncle Jim--and how is it to end? Let us talk of something
else. I came here to be--well, to see if I could find peace of soul and
what these silent forests have often given me, strength to take up again
the cares and troubles of life." He did not excuse his intrusion nor seem
to notice the obvious suggestions, but fell upon their personal
application to himself.

"They have never done that for me," he said sadly. "There is some defect
in my nature--some want. I have no such relation to nature; it is
speechless to me--mute, and I never needed more what I fail to find in
myself. The war and its duties gave me the only entire happiness I have
had for years." Then he added, in a curiously contemplative manner, "It
does seem as if a man had a right to some undisturbed happiness in life.
I must go. I leave you to the quiet of the woods."

"I am sorry," she said, "I am sorry that you are able to imply that you
have never known happiness. Surely you cannot mean that." It was all she
could say. His look of profound melancholy hurt her, for like all who
knew Mark Rivers well, she loved, respected and admired him.

He made no explanatory reply, but after a brief silence said, "I must go,
Leila, where there are both duties and dangers--not--no, not in cities."

"I trust you do not mean to leave us--surely not!"

"No, not yet--not while I can be of use to these dear friends."

As she moved on at his side or before him, he saw too well the easy grace
of her strong young virgin form, the great blue eyes, the expressive
tenderness of features which told of dumb sympathy with what she had no
knowledge to understand. He longed to say, "I love you and am condemned
by my conscience to ask no return." It would only add to his unhappiness
and disturb a relation which even in its incompleteness was dear to him.
The human yearning to confess, to win even the sad luxury of pity beset
the man. In his constant habit of introspection, he had become
unobservant and had no least idea that the two young people he loved so
well were nearing what was to him forever impossible.

"Let me sit down," he said unwilling to leave her; "I am tired." He was
terribly afraid of himself and shaken by a storm of passion, which left
his sensitive body feeble.

She sat down with him on a great trunk wrecked a century ago. "Are you
not well?" she asked, observing the paleness of his face.

"No, it is nothing. I am not very well, but it is nothing of moment.
Don't let it trouble you--I am much as usual. I want, Leila, what I
cannot get--what I ought not to get." Even this approach to fuller
confession relieved him.

"What is there, my dear Mr. Rivers, you cannot get? Oh! you are a man to
envy with your hold on men, your power to charm, your eloquence. I have
heard Dr. McGregor talk of what you were among the wounded and the dying
on the firing-line. Don't you know that you are one of God's helpful
messengers, an interpreter into terms of human thought and words of what
men need to-day, when--"

"No, no," he broke in, lifting a hand of dissenting protest. The flushed
young face as she spoke, his sense of being nobly considered by this
earnest young woman had again made him feel how just the little more
would have set free in ardent words what he was honestly striving to
control.

"Thank you, my dear Leila, I could wish I were all you think I am; but
were it all true, there would remain things that sweeten life and which
must always be forbidden to me."

He rose to his feet once again master of his troubled soul. "I leave
you," he said, "and your tireless youth to your walk. We cannot have
everything, I must be contented in some moment of self-delusion to half
believe the half of what you credit me with."

"Then," cried Leila, laughing, "you would have only a fourth."

"Ah! I taught you arithmetic too well." He too laughed as he turned away.
Laughter was rare with him and to smile frequent. He walked slowly away
to the rectory and for two days was not seen at Grey Pine.

Leila, more at ease and relieved by the final gay banter, strolled into
the solemn quiet of the pines the Squire had so successfully freed from
underbrush and left in royal solitude. At the door of the old log-cabin
she lay down on the dry floor of pine-needles. The quick interchange of
talk had given her no chance to consider, as now she reviewed in
thoughtful illumination, what had seemed to her strange. She tried to
recall exactly what he had said. Of a sudden she knew, and was startled
to know. She had come into possession of the power of a woman innocent of
intention to inflict pain on a strong and high-minded man. A lower nature
might have felt some sense of triumph. It left her with no feeling but
the utmost distress and pitiful thinking of what had gone wrong in this
man's life. Once before she had been thus puzzled. The relief of her walk
was gone. She gathered some imperfect comfort in the thought that she
might not have been justified in her conclusions regarding a man who was
in so many ways an unexplained personality.

During the next few days the village was in a state of anticipative
pleasure and of effort to find for the rummage-sale articles which were
damaged or useless. At Grey Pine John and Leila Grey were the only
unexcited persons. She was too troubled in divers ways to enjoy the
amusement to be had out of what delighted every one else except John
Penhallow. To please his aunt he made some small and peculiar offerings,
and daily went away to the mills to meet and consult with the Colonel's
former partners. He was out of humour with his world, saw trouble ahead
if he did as he meant to do, and as there was an east wind howling
through the pines, his wounded arm was recording the storm in dull aches
or sharp twinges. He smoked, I fear, too much during these days of
preparation for the rummage-sale, and rode hard; while Leila within the
dismantled house was all day long like the quiet steadying flywheel in
some noisy machinery. What with Billy as the over-excited Colonel's aide
and her aunt aggrieved by a word of critical comment on her husband's
actions, Leila had need of all the qualities required in a household
where, as it seemed to her, it was hard to keep tongue or temper quiet.

Mr. Rivers towards the end of the week came in often, and would, of
course, see that the Sunday school hall was made ready for the sale. He
would make some contributions and help to arrange the articles for the
sale. The Colonel's continuity of childlike interest deceived him into
sharing the belief of Ann Penhallow, who was, Leila thought, unreasonably
elated. Meanwhile Leila felt as a kind of desertion John's successive
days of absence. Where was he? What was he doing? Once she would have
asked frankly why he left to her the burden of cares he ought to have
been eager to share, while Mark Rivers was so steadily helpful. When Ann
Penhallow asked him to act as salesman, he said that he was at her
disposal. The Colonel declared that was just the thing, and John must
uncover and announce the articles to be sold. He said, "How long ago was
the last sale? Wasn't it last year?"

"No, dear, not so lately."

"I must have forgotten. Perhaps, Rivers, we might sell a few useless
people. What would Leila fetch in the marriage market?" Ann somewhat
annoyed said nothing; nor did Rivers like it. The Colonel continued,
"Might sell John--badly damaged."

"I must go," said Rivers. "I have my sermon to think over. I mean to use
the text you gave me, Leila, some two weeks ago."

Sunday went by, and Tuesday, the day of the sale, came with a return of
the east wind and a cold downpour of rain. The Colonel and Billy were
busy late in the day; Mrs. Ann was tired; while John in some pain was
silent at dinner. The carriage took the Colonel and his wife to the hall.
He was now quiet and answered curtly the too frequent questions about how
he felt.

"We will send back for you, Leila," said her aunt.

"No, I want to walk there with John."

The Captain looked up surprised, "Why, yes, with pleasure."

She came down in her rain-cloak. "Take a large umbrella, John. How it
blows!"

As they set off in the face of a rain-whipped wind, he said, "Take my
arm, Leila--the other side--the sound arm."

"You were in pain at dinner, John."

"It is my familiar devil, the east wind, but don't talk of it."

She understood him, and returned, "I will not if you don't wish me to
talk of it. Where have you been all these uneasy days?"

"Oh, at the mills. Uncle refuses to speak of business and I am trying to
understand the situation--some one must."

"I see--you must explain it all to me later."

"I will. One of the mill men of my Corps needed help. I have asked Tom to
see him. How depressed Mr. Rivers seems. Gracious, how it rains!"

"Yes, he is at his worst. I am sorry you missed his sermon on Sunday--it
was great. He talked about Lincoln, and used a text I gave him some time
ago."

"What was it?"

"It is in Exodus: 'Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians and how I
bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.'"

John's ready imagination began for a silent moment to play with the
words. "How did he use it, Leila?"

"Oh, he told the preceding story briefly, and then his great seeking eyes
wandered a little and he said, 'Think how the uplift of God's eagles'
wings enlarged their horizon!' Then he seemed to me to have the idea that
they might not comprehend, so he made one of those eloquent pauses and
went on to say, 'You can all, like Lincoln, rise as he rose from the
lesser things of a hard life to see more widely and more surely the
duties of life. The eagle-wings of God's uplifting power are for you,
for me, for all of us.' He made them understand."

"I am sorry I missed it. I spent the Sunday morning with my engineer."

"Aren't you getting wet, John?"

"No. How did he end?"

"What I did not like was the dwelling on Lincoln's melancholy, and the
effort it must have cost him--at times. It seemed to me, John, as if he
was preaching to himself. I wonder if clergymen often preach to
themselves. Some of us have to. The sketch of Lincoln's life was to me a
wonder of terse biography. At the close he did not dwell on the murder,
but just said--'Then--and then, my friends, God took him to himself.'"

"Thank you, Leila. What a lot of wagons--we must have half the
county--and in this rain too."

"Now, John, you hate this affair, and so do I; but the Westways people
think it great fun, and in the last few years they have had very little."

"_Ni moi non plus, Mademoiselle Grey._"

"Yes, yes," she said, "I know, John, but make it go--make it gay, John.
It will soon be over."

"I will try." They left their wet garments in an empty outer room and
entering by a side door stood beside the raised platform at the end of
the crowded hall.

Quite a hundred villagers or farming people, young and old, filled the
room, and the air was oppressively heavy. At one end on a raised platform
the Colonel was seated, and near by his wife well pleased to see him
smiling as he recognized here and there some of the farmers who had been
the playmates of his youth. John stood by the long table on which,
covered by sheets, lay the articles for sale. Rivers came forward to the
front of the platform, leaving Leila, who declined to sit down, at one
side with Mr. Grace and the two McGregors.

The murmur of voices ceased; there was an appearance of expectant
attention. Rivers raised a hand, and said, "You are all, I am sure, most
glad to welcome the friend who like others among you has paid so dearly
for keeping unbroken the union of the States." Loud applause followed, as
he paused. "An occasion like this brings together young and old for
good-humoured fun, and may remind you of a similar meeting years ago.
This is to be a rummage-auction of useful things out of use, and of
useless things. If you will explain why anybody wants useless things I
shall know why some of you come to hear me preach or"--with a slight
pause--"my friend, Grace." Every one laughed, and John and Leila alike
felt that Rivers had struck the right note.

"Captain John Penhallow"--loud plaudits--"Captain John Penhallow will
mention the articles for sale. Now, as you see, they are all hidden--some
of them I have never seen. Whoever makes the highest bid of the sale for
the most useless article will collect the whole product--the whole
proceeds of the sale, and"--he laughed--"will pay it over to the girl
about to be married."

This was really great fun, and even John felt some relief as the hall
rang with merry laughter. Only Tom McGregor was grave while he watched
the Colonel. As Rivers spoke, Colonel Penhallow stood up, swayed a
little, straightened his tall figure, and waving Rivers aside said, "I
shall now conduct this sale." This was only a pleasant surprise to the
audience, and was welcomed with noisy hands.

The two McGregors exchanged looks of anxious alarm as the Colonel said,
"Now, John!" Mrs. Penhallow smiled approval.

John uncovered a corner of the nearest sheet and brought out a clock
without hands. "First article! Who'll bid? I think the hands have all
struck like the mill-hands down East. Five cents--do I hear ten?
Going--gone," cried the Colonel.

A rag doll came next and brought a penny. There was high bidding over a
heavy band-box. When it went for half a dollar to Mrs. Crocker and was
found to contain a shrivelled pumpkin of last year's crop, the audience
wildly congratulated the post-mistress.

John, who was now thoroughly in the spirit of their fun, produced two
large apples. "Now what daughter of Eve will bid," said the elated
Colonel. Leila laughing bid fifty cents. "Going--gone."

"Look out for the serpent, Miss Grey," said Grace.

Leila handed the apples to a small girl, who losing no time followed
Eve's remote example. "Oh, mother!" she cried, "it's got a five-dollar
piece in it--most broke my new tooth."

"The root of all evil," said Grace.

There were pots that were cracked or bottomless, old novels, and to the
evident dismay of John a favourite smoking jacket. Ann clapped her hands
with delight as John shook at her a finger of reproach. Then came tied up
in paper, which John unrolled, the long-forgotten cane of his youth, and
how it got there the Squire or Billy may have known. John bid, but at
a warning signal from Leila gave up, as she recaptured her property.
There were other apples, with and without money; and so with fun and
merriment the sale went on to Westways' satisfaction.

"What's this," said John, with an unpleasant shock of annoyance as he
uncovered the Colonel's war-worn uniform. He hesitated, looking towards
his uncle who seemed bewildered. "That's that rascal, Billy--it's a
mistake," exclaimed the Colonel.

"No, sir," shouted Billy, "Squire told me to take 'em. There's a sword
too. Squire said it wasn't any use now."

No one laughed; it was obviously one of Billy's blunders. John put the
worn uniform and the sword aside and threw a cover over them. It was an
unpleasant reminder of the Colonel's state of mind and disturbed the
little group at one side of the stage. John made haste to get away from
it.

"Last article for sale--it's large and must be bought covered up. Who
will bid?" Amid laughter the bids rose. At a dollar and ten cents it fell
to Mrs. Pole, and proved when uncovered to be another band-box. Mrs. Pole
came forward, and Ann Penhallow pleased to have been able to amuse her
husband said, "We are curious, Mrs. Pole, open it." Mrs. Pole obeyed, and
as she held up the rolled package it dropped into the unmistakable form
of a man's breeches.

Westways exploded into wild applause, understanding joyously this freak
of fortune. Mrs. Pole joined in their merriment, and the carpenter
punched the butcher in the ribs for emphasis, as he said, "How's that,
Pole?" The butcher made use of unpleasant language, as John relieved
said, "The sale is over. You can settle with Mr. Grace." As he spoke he
moved over to where Leila stood beside the two McGregors.

The people rose and put on their cloaks preparing to leave. Then John
heard Tom McGregor say, "Look out, father! Something is going to happen."

The Colonel moved forward unsteadily. His face flushed, grew pale, and
something like a grimace distorted his features, as he said, "The sale is
not over, sit down."

People took their places again wondering what was to come. Then with the
clear ringing voice the cavalry lines knew in far-away Indian wars, he
cried, "We will now sell the most useless article in Westways. Who'll buy
silly Billy?"

"Can't sell me," piped out Billy's thin voice as he fled in alarm, amid
laughter.

"The sale is over, uncle," said John.

"No, sir--don't interrupt. I'd like to sell Swallow."

This was much to their taste. "Guess he's sold a many of us," cried an
old farmer.

"Why, he's dead," said Mrs. Crocker.

The Colonel's gaze wandered. The little group of friends became
hopelessly uneasy; even Mrs. Ann ceased to smile. "You stand up, Polly
Somers--you are the handsomest girl in the county," which was quite true.

The girl, who was near by, sat still embarrassed. "Get up," said
Penhallow sharply.

"She's withdrawed these three months," cried a ready-witted young farmer.

"Oh, is she? Well, then, we will go on." Tom McGregor went quietly up the
two steps to the platform. All those who were near to the much-loved
master of Grey Pine stood still aware of something wrong and unable to
interfere. Rivers alone moved towards him and was put aside by an
authoritative gesture. The moment of silence was oppressive, and Leila
was hardly conscious of the movement which carried her up beside Dr.
McGregor to the level of the platform.

"Oh, do something," she whispered; "please do something."

"It is useless--this can't last."

"Uncle Jim," she exclaimed in her despair, and what more she would have
urged was unheard or unsaid as the Colonel turned towards her and cried,
"One more for sale!"

No one spoke. At last these various people who loved the man well saw
more or less clearly that he was no longer their James Penhallow of
other days. He went on at once with raised voice: "Last sale--Leila
Grey--likely young woman--warranted sound--single or double harness.
Fetch her up." His confusion of mind was painfuly apparent. "Who'll bid?"
A suppressed titter rose from the younger people.

"She is withdrawn, uncle," said John Penhallow distinctly.

"Ah! who did you say--Like Polly, owner withdraws her--Can't you speak
out?"

"I said, withdrawn, sir," John repeated. As he spoke he saw the Colonel
stagger backwards and sink into his chair; his face became white and
twitched; his head fell to one side; he breathed stertorously, flushed
slightly, and was instantly as one asleep.

Ann Penhallow and the two doctors were at his side. Rivers called out,
"Leave the room, all of you, please. Open the windows, Grace!"

"Is he dead?" asked Ann of McGregor.

"No, no--it is a slight fit--there is no danger."

A moment later Penhallow opened his eyes, sat up, and said, "Where am I?
What's all this about?"

John said, "A bit faint, uncle. The carriage is waiting." He staggered to
his feet, and seizing Rivers's arm followed Ann and John in silence. With
Rivers they were driven back to Grey Pine. Of all Ann Penhallow's schemes
to amuse or interest her husband this had been the most utter failure.

Every one had gone from the hall when John missing Leila returned to the
outer room to put on his cloak. The boy-cap Leila liked to wear in bad
weather, her rain-cloak, his umbrella, were as they had been left. He
stood still in the first moment available for thought and knew that here
was a new trouble. She must have been so shocked and ashamed as to have
fled in the rain eager to get away.

Neither he nor any man could have realized what she felt as her uncle
talked wildly--and she had been put up for sale. She used none of the
resources of reason. All her body was hot with the same flush of shame
which burned in her face. In her passion of disgust and anger, she
hurried out into the storm. The chill of the east wind was friendly. She
gave no other thought to the wind-driven rain, but ran through the woods
like a wild thing, all virginal woman, unreasonable, insulted, angry as a
child is angry--even her uncle was forgotten. She ran upstairs, the glory
of her rain-soaked hair in tumbled disorder, and in her room broke into
the open speech which passion confides to the priest solitude.

"Oh, John Penhallow, how could you! That ends it--a man who could--and
oh, John Penhallow!" She cried a little, wailing in a childish way, and
then with some returning sense of anxiety put herself in condition to go
downstairs, where she learned that her uncle was in bed. She went back to
her room.



CHAPTER XXXII


A half hour later John sat alone in the library. He had much to disturb a
young man trained to obey and at need command, and was feeling the
responsibility of an unusual position. At last he wrote a note to his
aunt and sent it up to her by a maid. In a few minutes Ann Penhallow
appeared.

"What is it, John? I cannot leave James alone long." She sat down. "Now
don't keep me."

"I need not detain you long, but I feel that you ought to know, Aunt Ann,
that I have had a talk with Tom McGregor and have sent a telegram to Dr.
Askew desiring him to come at once and see my uncle. I ought to hear
to-morrow."

She rose to her feet. "You did this, John, without a word to me and
knowing that your uncle has over and over said he would not listen to
anything of the kind. You have taken a great liberty--I shall telegraph
for your doctor not to come. James is always better after these attacks."

Much surprised, he said, "These attacks--has he had them before?"

"Oh, twice--very slight."

"But, aunt, do you not understand how serious this one was?"

"He is better already--much better. There should not be any need to
remind you that you are not the head of this house. I shall telegraph at
once, in the morning, and stop him."

"It will be too late, aunt."

"Then your doctor may go back. I will not see this doctor if in spite of
my telegram he should come. You will understand, John, that this ends it.
I certainly will not have James constantly irritated. I shall telegraph
now--at once."

"You will do, aunt, as it seems best to you." He saw the telegram written
and heard her order to send it to the Westways office.

His aunt, having settled the matter, went upstairs, an angry and
indignant woman, leaving in the library a man resolute not to accept
defeat.

He wrote a second message: "Disregard Mrs. Penhallow's telegram. Come at
once. Fee at discretion. Will meet you at Westways Crossing."

He roused up Josiah and gave his order. "Ride to the mills and get this
despatch sent to-night or early to-morrow--oh, to-night, somehow. It is
important. Pay some one--only get it sent. Here are five dollars."

He was of no mind to meet either Leila or his aunt, and to escape them
breakfasted early next morning, and riding to the mills was pleased to
avoid another painful interview. On his return at evening the dinner at
Grey Pine was made rather less uncomfortable by the presence of Rivers
who talked to Ann Penhallow while the Colonel dozed in his armchair.
Accustomed to have her decisions obeyed in her home, Ann Penhallow had
now dismissed the question of a consultation as settled, and had quite
lightly mentioned to Leila that John had revived the subject and that she
had once for all put an end to it.

She was sorry to have had to be so positive, but was pleased to be done
with the matter in dispute. She little knew the young soldier. When he
was certain that the consultant would come, he began to consider what he
would do if his aunt did simply refuse to see Dr. Askew. She might, in
fact, be as resolute as her nephew.

In her trouble about her husband's mishap, Ann Penhallow hardly regarded
her niece's unpleasant share in the sad ending of the rummage-sale--it
was relatively of no moment. Nor would the girl herself have been willing
to discuss it. John Penhallow should have held his tongue, and now all
Westways must be laughing--and she would never--never--forgive him.
Evidently her aunt had scolded him about that consultation. She had a
little curiosity to know how he had taken it and how he looked when he
came to match the will of his young manhood against the unreasonable
obstinacy of the woman he had been taught to obey. She observed next day
at breakfast that John was more than usually gay, as he asked if there
were any errands. There were none. He loitered about waiting and at last
went out to the back porch where he stood a minute looking over the box
hedge which bounded the garden. Leila was busy taking tribute from the
first roses of the summer days. As she bent over, she let them fall one
by one into the basket at her feet. Now and then she drew up her tall
figure, and seemed to John as she paused to be deep in thought. When she
became aware of his approach, she fell again to harvesting roses.

He said, "Leila, before I go to the mills, I want to talk with you about
what is troubling me. In fact--"

Without looking up she broke into his attempt to explain himself, "I am
in no mood to discuss anything, John Penhallow."

He was frankly puzzled. Of the many Leilas, this was a new acquaintance,
but he said quietly, "It is necessary to make a statement--I want first
to explain."

She refreshed her rising anger with words. "I do not want any
explanation--there are things no woman can pardon. I was insulted."

"My dear Leila, upon my honour I do not know what you mean."

She was near to saying, "I am not yours, or dear." Something in the look
of the attentive face and the calmness of his manner put her on guard,
and she said only, "That is, I presume, because you are not a woman."

He said, "I do not regret that, but you clearly are thinking of one thing
and I of another. It must be the rummage-sale. I have no desire to
discuss that sorrowful business, Miss Grey. You have quite misapprehended
me. It is of Uncle Jim I want to talk--in fact, to ask advice."

"I did not understand," she said, flushing a little. His formal manner
was very unpleasant, and to be called Miss Grey was ridiculous. If he had
shown anger or even annoyance it would have eased the situation. He went
on to explain himself, rather aware of her embarrassment and not
altogether sorry for her mishap.

"I said I want help--advice. I have sent for Prof. Askew. Aunt Ann has
telegraphed him not to come. I wired him to disregard her message. He has
answered me that he will be here at the house, if the train is on time,
about six to-day. It is our last hope, but it is a hope. Aunt Ann must
see this gentleman--I say she must. Now, how can it be managed?"

Leila let fall a handful of roses into the basket and faced him. "Take
time," he said. "I do really need help--how can I make Aunt Ann see this
famous surgeon? Take time," he repeated.

Here was for Leila a rather astonishing revelation of resolute aggressive
manhood--a new John Penhallow. Relieved to have been taken out of her
angry mood, she stood still a moment while he waited on her counsel.
"There is but one way," she said, "it is the only way. I do not like
it--whether you will be willing to accept it, I do not know."

"And still you advise it?"

"I do not."

"Well, what is it?"

"At about six every afternoon, when Uncle Jim is asleep, Aunt Ann is
almost certain to be in her little library-room. Take Dr. Askew in,
present him, and walk out. She will hate it, but she is sure to be what
she is always to a guest. He will have his chance."

"Thank you, Miss Grey."--How she hated that!--"You have helped me." He
touched his army cap in salute and left her alone. At the garden gate he
looked back--Miss Grey was also looking back, and vexed at being thus
caught bent down again and cut buds and roses with sharp nips of the
scissors.

It was not in the nature or breeding of John Penhallow to like Leila's
plan for securing to the surgeon a chance to impose on a reluctant woman
a clearly stated opinion which otherwise she might have the courage to
disregard. But what else could he do? A little after six he met the
carriage far down the avenue and walked slowly to the house with the
younger McGregor and the surgeon.

"You are most welcome," said John. "Dr. McGregor has, I trust, told you
of our difficulties with my aunt?"

Askew smiled. "Yes; it is no uncommon case. I may add that Dr. McGregor's
letters have satisfied me that an immediate operation offers the only and
too long delayed chance of success. I must, of course, see Mrs.
Penhallow--the sooner the better."

"Yes--pray follow me." He led the way across the hall, opened the library
door, and said to the astonished lady, "Prof. Askew, Aunt Ann." Then he
went out.

Well aware of being trapped, Mrs. Penhallow stood up and apparently at
perfect ease said, "You must have had a very tiresome journey."

"Not very," he returned, as he accepted a seat.

Then the little lady sat up and said, "You must pardon me if I say that
this consultation has been brought about by my nephew against my
husband's wishes."

"And your own?"

"Yes, my own."

"I so understand it. May I say in my defence that I missed your telegram
and only saw it when it was sent after me on the train, but now I am
here." She had not the courage to say what she would have liked to say,
and he went on. "General Hancock saw me a day or two back. What he said
of your husband gave me at once a personal interest in him. Isn't it
odd how one is brought to realize what a small place our world is? I was
at Port Delaware before the war ended and saw there--I was on inspection
duty--a Confederate Colonel, Henry Grey--a prisoner. Is he not a relation
of the handsome Miss Grey we met on the avenue?"

"My niece. He is my brother."

"Indeed! I gave some advice about his wound--it was not serious. May I
talk to you a little about your husband?"

She felt herself cornered, and could not escape without discourtesy,
of which she was quite incapable; "Or," he added, "may I not rather talk
first to Colonel Penhallow, and later to you? It is, I take it, his view
of this very grave matter which naturally influences you."

For the briefest of moments she made no reply. Then she stood up and
felt the force conveyed in the personality of George Askew, as he
towered over her, a man of unusual height. She looked up at the large
kind face the long sad wards knew so well. The lines of thought were
deeply graven below a broad forehead thinly crowned with yellow hair now
fast greying. He showed no sign of impatience. "Yes," she said, "that
will be better--you must see Mr. Penhallow before you talk to me. If he
consents to do what you want to do--I--Well, Dr. Askew, I am just now too
angry to reason. Have the kindness to follow me."

She was unwilling to give her husband any more choice than John Penhallow
had given her. If the Colonel became irritable and declined to accept the
visit of this impressive personage as a surgeon, well, that must of
course end the matter. But as he went upstairs behind her, there arose in
her mind a storm-battered hope.

The surgeon was smiling and so far pleased. He was greatly interested in
the case he was about to see. It had excited some discussion as unusual,
and the unusual in surgery or medicine has many times been the guide to
broad highways of usefulness where the daring of the one has made easy
the way for the many. Now he meant to win the confidence of the man, if
he proved sane enough to reason. He might also have to make more complete
his conquest of this coldly civil hostess. It was for him an old game,
and he played it with tact and skill.

She paused at the door. "Pray wait a moment, Doctor. No--he has wakened,
I hear him." He stopped her.

"Before we see the Colonel--before I see him--I want you to be heartily
in accord with any decision we may reach. There are but two courses which
seem to me possible, and I do want you to feel sure that either you will
have to watch a mind crumble hopelessly or, if we succeed, see one of
those amazing recoveries which are like the dawning of day. I say this
most earnestly, because your hearty help may be wanted. If he says _no_
to our decision, his fate may really rest with your will to stand by me."

This was pretty hard, and no time was given for discussion. She looked up
at the kind pleading face, and while feeling that she must yield,
hesitated--so distinctly hesitated that the surgeon's brow became
severely grave as the furrows between the eyes deepened in growing
wonder. He took her hand as if to get into some personal touch with a
woman whose opposition he could not understand. "You will help me? In
this man's condition a word may win or lose a game in which the stake
is a life--oh, that is little--or the restoration of a noble, useful
mind. I know you will help me."

She looked down, and said faintly, "Yes."

"Thank you." He smiled--"Bless me! what a little hand," he said, as he
let it fall.

She opened the door and as he followed her, stepped aside, saying
bravely, "Here is a friend, James. You will like to see Dr. Askew."

He took the chair she set at the bedside, while the Colonel regarded him
suspiciously, saying, "I think I heard of you after Gettysburg."

"Yes, I took care of General Hancock. A lot of us went down to help.
Curious case his--a ball hit the pommel of his saddle and drove a nail
into his leg."

"Yes, I heard of it. It was thought they were firing nails--queer that!"

Askew seized on the moment of illumined intelligence, wondering what dull
surgeon had set in this man's mind an obsession which forbade all other
opinion. "Hancock will suffer long--but now, about you--did no one think
you could be relieved by an operation? Take your time to answer me."

Penhallow, groping in the confusion of remote memories, returned, "I seem
to recall--yes--it was talked of--"

"But not done? Some one is responsible for these years of pain. You do
suffer?"

"Oh, my God! yes. I try to bear it." His eyes filled. "Is it too late?"

"No," said Askew, "it is not." What doubt he had he put aside.

"Then we will see to-morrow."

"An operation!" said Ann, alarmed. A look conquered her. "You will do,
James, whatever Dr. Askew wishes?"

"I will--but don't make me talk any more, Ann--my head aches."

Askew rose. "Please to send up the Drs. McGregor. May I make use of
another room?"

"Yes, of course."

Ann Penhallow found Dr. Tom and his father on the porch with Leila and
John. She said, "Take the doctors up to my own room, Leila, and I want to
talk with John--there are some arrangements to make."

Leila, guiltily conscious of her share in securing the surgeon's
interview with her aunt, was glad to accept the hint and the chance to
escape.

Ann sat down beside John, and said, "John, why did you trick me into a
talk with Dr. Askew?"

"Because, aunt, you said you would not see him--and it was necessary."

"You took me too literally."

"I took you at your word--something had to be done. If it fails, we are
no worse off."

"But it may fail--oh! what if it does, John."

"Aunt Ann, I am in despair. Listen to me; no, I must talk it out. The
agreement with uncle's old partners ended with the war. Things at the
mills are in confusion--what is to be done? I asked Uncle Jim to give me
a power of attorney to act for him. He refused. You supported him. Delay
is ruinous, and yet we can do nothing. You are vexed with me--Yes--you
have not given me my morning kiss for days. Leila is unreasonably angry
with me because that dreadful night I did the only thing possible in my
power to stop my uncle. I am most unhappy. I sometimes think I had better
go away and look for work as an engineer, and--you did love me once." He
rose and walked up and down the porch silent; he had emptied mind and
heart. Then he paused before her. She was crying, as she said, "Don't
reproach me, John--I can't bear it--I have had to bear too much
to-day--and you were so naughty." He leaned over and kissed her forehead.
"John," she said, "there is to be an operation to-morrow. It is terrible.
May the good God be kind to him and us. Now go away--I want to be alone.
See that Dr. Askew is well cared for."

"Certainly, Aunt Ann." He had won his battle.

At dinner the doctor was at pains to dispel the gloom which, as he well
knew, falls on those who love when one of the critical hours of life
approaches. When they left the table he went into the library with the
doctors and John, where they smoked many pipes and talked war.

At breakfast next day Askew's account of his early morning drew a smile
even from Ann Penhallow. "Sleep! Yes, I suppose I slept. There was a
blank of some hours. I am apt to waken early. At dawn there was a bright
red-eyed sky, then it clouded as if the eyes had shut. A little later
Miss Grey rode away on a chestnut horse. I walked through your garden
and an unseen lady gave me this rose-bud. I had a joyful swim. As I came
back I saw Captain Penhallow ride away--and why not with you, Miss Grey?
You may perceive that I am a dangerous man to entertain. If you do not
prefer better society, may I ask to ride with you to-morrow?"

"What better society?" asked Leila.

"Oh, Miss Grey, alone--by herself."

The two young people understood the charitable gaiety of his talk, but
although one of them at least was feeling a sudden access of relief the
quick jesting chat and laughter became distressing to Ann Penhallow. At
last she rose and excused herself, saying, "Another cup? My niece will
give it to you."

"One moment," he returned--his face became grave. "I shall operate early
this morning. You must go out-of-doors--the porch--I suggest the porch.
I shall send down Dr. McGregor to tell you frankly the result of my
operation. I want Captain Penhallow, and with him and the two McGregors
we shall care for my patient. I hope the doctors will let you see the
Colonel in a week. I shall trespass on your hospitality for two days
more."

"I could wish it were a week. I shall do precisely what you desire."

John Penhallow caught some signal of amused surprise in Leila's looks. He
checked his own smile of partnership in mirth at Ann Penhallow's sudden
subjugation, feeling that with Leila the intimacies of mirth were at an
end.

Ann took her knitting and went out upon the back porch. "How many rows
can I knit until I hear? No, Leila--I want to be alone. Here is a note
from Mr. Rivers. The Bishop met him at Harrisburg and carried him off to
Philadelphia. I hope there is no scheme to take him away. Now go, dear."
She heard the voices of the McGregors as they went upstairs. She sat
alone and waited.

Among the friends who know me only through my summer-born books, there
must be many who can recall such hours of suspense as Ann Penhallow
endured. The clock in the hall struck ten. A little later her keen sense
made her aware of the faint odour of ether from the open windows on the
second floor. She let fall her work, went down the garden path, and
walked with quick steps among the firstlings of June. Then came Tom
McGregor swiftly, and in his smiling face she read good news.

"It is all right," he said; "it is over. There was a fracture of the
fragile inner layer of the bone--a piece was pressing on the brain--it
was easily removed. The doctor is very much pleased. Oh, my dear Mrs.
Penhallow, there are better days ahead for you and him. Now, I must go
back."

"Thank God!" she said, "and--and you--and--John. God forgive me, I have
been a fool!"

The next two days went by without incident. Askew rode, walked, and had
no news for her except, "He is doing well." He would say no more. What
hours of doubt, of watchful fear, he had, she never knew. On the morning
of the third day, while the carriage waited to carry him away, Mrs.
Penhallow led him into her library.

"Now," she said, with her cheque-book open before her, "we owe you a
debt none can pay, but let me offer you my most humble apologies for my
behaviour when you came."

"Please, don't," he returned.

"But I had to. And now, let me know what is our lesser and more material
debt?"

He rose, smiling. "It has been my happy, unbroken rule to take nothing
from any soldier who served in this sad war--oh! on either side. I have
made, I hope, some friends. The Colonel asked to-day about a horse
Dixy--I think--and when could he ride. You may imagine my pleasure. He
will get well, but you must be patient. I leave him in competent hands,
and in the fall I mean to come back and shoot your woodcocks. Good-bye."
He was gone.



CHAPTER XXXIII


A week later Ann Penhallow was told that she might see her husband. She
entered his bedroom with timidity. "Oh, Ann, my most dear Ann!" he cried,
as she kissed him. His expression of recovered intelligence overcame her
for a moment.

She faltered, "How are you feeling, James--any better?"

"Better--I am well."

"Hardly, dear--do be careful." She was unable to accept as a wholesome
reality this amazing resurrection of a mind.

He understood her need for some reassurance, and said, "Don't worry about
me, Ann. It is like a vague dream, all these many months--but a dream you
know fades fast. My own memories get clearer--some things are quite
lost--some are as distinct as if they happened yesterday. The war is a
puzzle to me--and--if I try to remember, it confuses me. But I must not
talk war to you--I do remember that. I won't do it again, dear."

There was something so childlike in this that it almost overcame the
woman's steadily guarded calm. She had been warned to be careful that
there should be no excitement to agitate a mind which was slowly groping
its way out of the shadows of half-illumined memories.

"Oh, my dear James," she said quietly, "talk of war or anything; it is
over." Despite her cautious command of her voice it trembled with emotion
as she said, "Nothing is of any moment but you--you. What do I care for
the war or--or anything but to have you as you were? Oh, my God! I am
thankful."

It disturbed him, as she saw. He felt and looked puzzled as he said, "I
see--I am not quite clear-headed yet, Ann."

"No, but you will be. Don't try too hard, James. We must be patient and
wait."

"I will--I will--and it is such a relief to have no pain and to see you."

Then as he asked about Leila and the mill work, the younger doctor came
in and said, "Time is up, Mrs. Penhallow."

"What--already, Tom?"

"But I want to know more," said the Colonel. "Wasn't there a
rummage-sale--"

"Yes; but now you must let Mrs. Penhallow go. You are mending daily.
To-morrow Mrs. Penhallow may come again, and there will be to-morrow, and
many happy to-morrows." She went out and downstairs singing in a low
sweet voice--a long lost habit.

If to watch with an aching heart the hopeless decay of a mind be the most
distressing of all human trials, surely there can be few greater joys
than to see a disordered intellect emerge day by day into possession of
its long lost capacities. James Penhallow was soon able to sign a power
of attorney enabling John to reconstruct the old partnership with his own
name added to the firm.

Very soon town and county shared in the growth of prosperity which
followed the war. Rivers was the only one who was not what his friends
desired, and never was his melancholy mood more noticeable.

The master of Grey Pine was, of course, many months in recovering his
normal state of mind. The man's bodily strength had not been seriously
impaired, and the return of his natural gaiety and his eager resumption
one by one of his old habits filled his home with that cheerfulness which
is the relieving and precious gift of convalescence. Penhallow's
remembrances of the war were rapidly recovered as he talked to John,
but much of his recent life was buried in the strange graveyard of
memory, which gave up no reminding ghosts of what all who loved the man
feared might haunt him.

When satisfied of the certainty of his uncle's recovery John Penhallow
hurt by Leila's continual coldness and seeing for it no reasonable
explanation gave more and more time to the mills in which the family
fortunes were so seriously concerned. On the first of September he was
glad to go away on business which carried him to several of the large
cities, and resulted in orders which would keep the works busy for many
months. He no longer wrote to Leila, nor did he expect letters from her.
He considered any nearer relation than friendship to be at an end, but to
lose that also seemed to him a quite too needlessly cruel loss, and now
for the first time on returning he approached Grey Pine without pleasure.
He had telegraphed to have a horse sent to meet him at Westways Crossing,
that he might ride on to the mills after seeing his uncle.

Having taken the night train, it was about noon when Leila saw him coming
up the avenue. She went forward to the roadside and as he sat in the
saddle shook his hand, saying, "I am sorry you were delayed, John. You
will be disappointed to know that Uncle Jim and Aunt Ann left home
yesterday." She wished that he had not quite so clearly shown the limits
of his regret, as he said quietly, "Well, I shall miss them, of course."

"A letter from aunt's brother, Henry Grey, asked them to visit him at the
old Maryland home. I think it both pleased and surprised Aunt Ann. I am
to join them later. Josiah is to matronize me--or, if you like, patronize
me. Uncle Jim was delighted to be asked and hopes to reconcile the
brothers. Henry's letter was very kind, but he is still suffering from
his wound. Of course, Aunt Ann was happy."

He looked down at the upturned face as he sat in the saddle. She had
given him no warm word of personal welcome. "Well, it can't be helped.
I had much to talk over with uncle." Then he laughed.

"What amuses you, John?"

"Oh, I should like to see the interview. Both Uncle Jim and I had queer
encounters with Henry Grey."

"Uncle Jim!--what--when?"

"Ask him. I should have liked to add George Grey to the party. As for
your Uncle Henry"--John smiled--"a serious wound is rather productive of
the unexpected, as I know. I will see you at dinner--now I must go on to
the mills." He rode away thinking without pleasure of being alone with
Leila.

The presence of the maids who waited at dinner kept their conversation
on the Colonel's rapid gain in health, village incidents, and the mill
life--mere loitering disconnected talk of no interest except to fill the
hour of two people who would have preferred to be silent.

John said, as he rose from the table, "I have a letter to write, Leila,
and so I must leave you to the better company of your book." Once--but a
little while ago--he would have asked what book was now on hand. "Any
messages for aunt or uncle?"

"None--I wrote this morning."

He sat down in the library at his old desk and wrote: "Dear Leila"--Then
he stood up--the easy freedom of the letter was denied to him. He was in
the mood when outspoken speech, always for him the more natural way of
expressing himself, became imperative. He went back to the hall.

The book lay face down on her lap. "What is it, John?" she asked.

"I want to talk to you--not here. Come into the library; those maids hear
everything."

"Certainly," she said, "if you want me."

She sat down, and John leaning against the mantel and looking down at
her, said, "I came in here to write to you what is not easy to write or
say--I prefer to put it into speech."

"Indeed! I am quite ready to listen."

"After your recent treatment of me, I have no inclination to make myself
needlessly unpleasant. You have made it plain to me that what my heart
longs for is to be put aside forever. There is something due to a man's
self-respect. But if you were a man, Leila, I could say more easily
something else. Are we--am I to lose also your friendship--or is even
that at an end?"

The blue eyes became less adventurous as she said, "I don't understand
you, John."

"I think you do. Long as I have known you, I cannot have known you fully.
Blake used to say that everybody is several people, and just now--here
has come into my life some one I don't know--and don't want to know."

"Indeed! It must be rather confusing to be several people. Your friend,
Mr. Blake, as your letters showed, was rather given to enigmatical
statements. I should like to know him. Would you please, John, to bring
me my fan--I left it in that delightful book you interrupted."

"Certainly," he said, now a trifle more at ease. For Leila to ask of any
one such a service was so unlike her that he felt it to be a betrayal of
embarrassment, and was humorously pleased as he went and came again.

She took the fan and played with that expressive piece of a woman's
outfit while John brought the talk back to its starting-point.

"Cannot you be the Leila I used to know--a frank girl; or are you to use
one of your many disguises and just leave things as they have been of
late?"

"If you will say plainly just what you mean, John"--the fan was in active
use--"I will be as frank as possible."

"But you may not like it, Leila."

"Oh, go on. I know you are going to be unpleasant."

He looked at her with surprise. "We are fencing--and I hate it. Once at
West Point I was fencing with a man, my friend; the button broke off my
foil and I hurt him seriously. He fell dead beside me in the trenches at
Vicksburg--dead!"

"Oh, John!"--the fan ceased moving.

"What I mean is that one may chance, you or I, to say something that will
leave in memory that which no years will blot out. Don't be vexed with
me. I have had a cruel summer. What with Uncle Jim and Aunt Ann--and now
with you, I--well--you told me after that dreadful night when Uncle Jim
was so wild that I had insulted you--"

"Don't talk of it," she cried. "I was put to shame before all those
grinning people. You ought to have said nothing--or something better than
that farmer boy said--"

"Well--perhaps, Leila; but the point is not _what_ I said in my desire to
help you and stop a man for the time insane. The point is that I did not
insult you; for an insult to be really that it must be intentional."

"Then you think I was unreasonably angry?"

"Yes, I do; and ever since then you have been coldly civil. I cannot
stand it. I shall never again ask you for what you cannot give, but if
you are to continue to resent what I said, then Grey Pine is no home for
me."

She stood up, the fan falling to the floor. "What do you want me to say,
John Penhallow?"

"Wait a little--just a word more. It was what poor Uncle Jim said that
hurt you. You could not turn on him; in your quite natural dismay or
disgust you turned on me, who meant only to help in a dreadful situation.
You know I am right"--his voice rose as he went on--"it is I, not you,
who am insulted. If you were a man, I should ask for an apology; as
you are the woman I have hopelessly loved for years, I will not ask you
to say you were wrong--I do not want you to say that. I want you to say
you are sorry you hurt me."

"I am sorry I hurt you, John. Will that do?"--her eyes were filling.

"Yes--but--"

"But what?"

"Oh, I want you to feel sorry."

"Don't say any more," she returned. "Let us be friends again." She put
out her hand, he took it, picked up her fan, laid it on the table, and
saying "Thank you!" opened the door towards which she moved and closed it
after her.

"And so"--she kept saying to herself--"we are to be no more than
friends." She sat still staring across the hall, trying to read. She was
fast losing control of the woman who was fenced in by social rule and
custom, trained to suppress emotion and to be the steady mistress of
insurgent passion. "My God," she murmured, "I should never have been
angry when he bought me, if I had not loved him--and now it is all
over--perhaps!"

Some readjustment there may have been, for when he reentered the hall an
hour later, she was reading. He said, as she looked up, "I mean to have a
long tramp to-morrow. I shall start early and walk to the mills and on to
the ore-beds. Then I shall return over the hills back of Westways, and
bring you, I hope, a few wood-pigeons. I may be a little late for
dinner."

"But, John, it is quite twelve miles, and you will have to carry a
gun--and your arm--"

John laughed happy laughter. "That was so like Aunt Ann!"

"Was it?--and now you will say 'yes, yes, you are quite right,' and walk
away and do just as you meant to do, like Uncle Jim."

"I may, but I will not walk further than Grey Pine." The air had
cleared--he had done some good!

"Good-night," he said, "it is late."

"Don't go too far, John. I shall read a while. This book is really so
interesting. We will talk about it."

"Good-night, once more."

The woman he left in the hall laid her book aside. Her unreasonable
vexation had gone, defeated by the quiet statement of his simply
confessed unhappiness. She looked about the hall and recalled their youth
and the love of which she still felt sure. The manliness of his ways
appealed to her sense of the value of character. Why she had been so
coldly difficult of approach she did not know. What woman can define that
defensive instinct? "He shall ask me again, and I--ah, Heaven!--I love
him." A wild passionate longing shook her as she rose to her feet.

At early morning John wandered away through the woods feeling the joyful
relief from the hot air of cities. After his visit to the mills and the
iron-mines, he struck across a somewhat unfamiliar country, found few
birds, and the blackened ravage of an old forest fire. He returned to the
well-known river-bank below the garden and the pines, and instead of
going to Grey Pine as he had meant to do went on as far as the cabin,
failing to get any more birds. He had walked some fourteen miles, and was
reminded by a distinct sense of fatigue that the body had not yet
regained its former vigour.

It was about five of the warm September day when he came to the old
log-house. Smiling as he recalled the memories of his childhood, he went
into the cabin and found its shelter pleasant and the cooling air of
evening grateful. He took off his game bag, laid it on the floor, set his
gun against the wall, and glad of a rest sat down. Having enjoyed his
first smoke of the day, he let his head drop on the floor, and by no
means intending it fell asleep.

Leila too was in a happier mood, and sure of not meeting John set out to
walk through the forest. After a pleasant loitering stroll she stopped at
the cabin door, and as she glanced in saw John Penhallow asleep. She
leaned against the door post and considered the motionless sleeper in the
shadows of the closing day. She was alone with him--alone as never
before. He would neither question nor make answer. Strange thoughts came
into her mind, disturbing, novel. How could he sleep without a pillow? It
must be an army habit after tent-less nights of exhaustion in the deadly
trenches. People--men--had tried to kill this living silent thing before
her; and he too--he too had wanted to kill. She wondered at that as with
the motion of a will-less automaton she drew nearer step by step. Her
feet unwatched struck the half-filled game-bag. She stumbled, caught her
breath, and had a moment of fear as she hung the bag on the wooden hook
upon which as a child she used to hang her sun-bonnet.

Then again some natural yearning moved her, and unresisting as in a dream
she drew still nearer--merely a woman in an unguarded moment once again
under the control of a great passion which knew no social rule of conduct
nor the maiden modesties of a serenely dutiful life. At each approach,
she stood still, unashamed, innocent of guile, thrilling with emotion
which before in quiet hours had been felt as no more disturbing than the
wandering little breezes which scarcely stir the leafage of the young
spring. She stood still until she won bodily mastery of this stormy
influence with its faintly conveyed sense of maiden terror. Her thoughts
wandered as she looked down on the sleeper. In voiceless self-whispered
speech she said, "Ah me! he used to be so vexed when I said he was too
young to ask me--a woman--to marry him. How young he looks now!" The
wounded arm forever crippled lay across his breast. She caught her
breath. "I wonder," she thought, "if we get younger in sleep--and then
age in the daytime. Good Heavens! he is smiling like a baby. Oh! but I
should like to know what he is thinking of." There was unresisted
fascination in the little drama of passionate love so long repressed.

She knelt beside him, saw the one great beauty of the hardy bronzed
face, the mouth now relaxed, with the perfect lip lines of a young
Antinous. She bent over him intent, reading his face as a child reads
some forbidden book, reading it feature by feature as a woman reads
for the first time with understanding a passionate love-poem. Ah, if he
would but open his eyes and then sleep again and never know. He moved,
and she drew back ready for flight, shy and startled. And now he was
quiet. "I must--I must," she murmured. "His lips? Ah! would they
forgive?--and--if, if he wakens, I shall die of shame. Oh, naughty
love of mine that was so cruel yesterday, I forgive you!" What would he
do--must he do--if he wakened? The risk, the urgent passion of appealing
love, gave her approach the quality of a sacred ceremonial. She bent
lower, not breathing, fearful, helpless, and dropt on his forehead a
kiss, light as the touch a honey-seeking butterfly leaves on an unstirred
flower. He moved a little; she rose in alarm and backed to the door. "Oh!
why did I?" she said to herself, reproachful for a moment's delicious
weakness. She looked back at the motionless sleeper, as she stood in the
doorway. "Why did I?--but then he does look so young--and innocent."

Once more in the world of custom, she fled through the forest shadows,
and far away sank down panting. She caught up the tumbled downfall of
hair, and suddenly another Leila, laughed as she remembered that he would
miss the game-bag he had set at his side. How puzzled he would be when he
missed it. Amused delight in his wondering search captured her. She saw
again the beauty of his mouth and the face above it as she recalled what
her Aunt Margaret Grey had mischievously said to her, a girl, of James
Penhallow. "He has the one Penhallow beauty--the mouth, but then he has
that monumental Penhallow nose--it might be in the way." She had not
understood, but now she did, and again laughing went away homeward, not
at all unhappy or repentant, for who would ever know, and love is a
priest who gives absolution easily.



CHAPTER XXXIV


In her room she went straight to the long cheval glass and looked at
Leila Grey. "So, he will never ask me again?" The mirror reported a quite
other answer. "Mark Rivers once said conscience runs down at times like a
watch. I must have forgotten to wind up mine. How could I have done it!"
She blushed a little at the remembrance. "Well, he will never know." She
dressed in white summer garb with unusual care and went down the stairs
smiling.

"The Captain is not in yet," said the maid.

She waited long for John Penhallow, who had gone up the back stairs, and
now at last came down to dinner.

"Excuse me, Leila. I was so very tired that I fell asleep in the old
cabin, but I had a noble tramp, and there are some birds, not many; I
shot badly." He said no word of the displaced game-bag, which made her
uneasy, but talked of the mills and of some trouble at the mines about
wages. She pretended to be interested.

After dinner, she said, "You will want to smoke--come into Uncle Jim's
library. I like the pipe smell. How Aunt Ann detests it!"

"Has Uncle Jim gone back to his pipe?" he inquired, as she sat down.

"Yes, and Aunt Ann declares that she likes it now."

"How pleasantly you women can fib," remarked John.

She made no reply except, "Well, sometimes." He did not fill his pipe
although he lighted in succession two matches and let them burn out.

"Why don't you smoke, John?" This was a vague effort at the self-defence
which she felt might be needed, the mood of the hour not being at all
like the mood of two hours ago.

"No," he replied, "not yet. Where did you walk--or did you walk?"

"Oh, I took a little stroll through the woods."

"Did you chance to go by the old cabin?" This was very dreadful.

"Oh, one hardly remembers if one passes places seen every day. Why do you
ask, John?"--and then knew she was fatally blundering.

"Why? Oh, I fell asleep, and when I woke up my game-bag had mysteriously
hung itself on the wall."

"You might have put it there and forgotten it."

"No, some one must have been in the cabin."

"Oh, John, how stupid of us! Why, of course, it was Josiah."

John was in a state of mind to enjoy the game, and shaking his head in
negation said, "No, Josiah passed me long before. He had a lot of frogs
he caught in Lonesome Man's Swamp."

Miss Leila having exhausted all the possible explanations, said with
sweet simplicity, "Did you ever find out the origin of that name? Who was
the _lonesome man_? You see, John, lonesome seems to stand for lonely and
sad, as Mr. Rivers said." This was rather too clever, but the young woman
was so near detection as not to think wisely.

John repeated her words, "Lonely and sad." He had been humorously sure of
his prey, but the words she used had the effect of bringing into direct
speech the appeal she had been trying to evade and knew was near at hand.

He stood leaning against the mantel, his crippled arm caught in his
waistcoat. Repeating her word "lonesome" "more than merely alone"--he
put aside his pipe, the companion of many camp-fires. His moment of
after-silence caused the blue eyes to question timidly with upward glance
as their owner sat below him. He was very grave as he said, "I have come,
Leila, to a critical time in my life. I loved you in a boy's unmeaning
way; I loved you as a lad and a man. I have said so often in one way or
another. You told me at West Point pretty plainly that--oh, you made it
clear--that I was a boy asking a woman for her heart. It was years ago."

"John, I--want to--"

"Well--later--now I mean to have my say. You were not altogether wrong.
I told you that I should ask again when I had more to offer than a boy
cadet. Since then I have held my tongue, or said enough to be sure that
your reply made clear that my time had not yet come.

"You cannot know how much you have been a part of my life. I went
gladly into the war because it was a righteous cause. No man thinks
as he goes into action, this is for my country, but--well, Leila, many
times when men were falling around me, you have been with me. If a fatal
ball had found me, I should have carried with me to another world a
thought of you. This is not mere lover's talk. I believe in you--you are
a noble-minded woman, worthy of any man's love, but"--and he smiled--"as
Josiah put it, you are rather numerous."

"Am I?--I am much obliged by Josiah's study of my character."

"Don't, please, Leila! It is true. I have been as good as my word.
I have been through all that can tempt in camps and cities. I was only
a young officer, but I have won praise from men whose praise is history.
Did you ever think that an honest love may be to a man like a second--an
angelic--conscience? By Heaven! Leila, it should make a woman careful."

The woman's eyes had long since been lost to the man's, as with bent head
she listened intently, for the first time amazed at what she had been to
a man whose ideals were of the highest and his ways beyond reproach. A
coy upward lift of the proudly carried head--a mere glance of transient
reply--too brief for the man to read--might have meant, "Have not I
too been careful of my life!"

He went on slowly. "You and I have not been spared the discipline of
responsibility. Action, danger--helps a man. You at home have had the
worst of it--you dear, sweet, beautiful thing. It would have made some
women peevish or rebellious. You have grown under it in mind and heart,
and I think the soul has fed the dear body. To have set you free from
Aunt Ann's morbid unreason and the sorrow of Uncle Jim's condition would
have been enough to repay my taking over responsibilities which Aunt Ann
should have borne."

"John--I--"

"No, dear, let me say a word more. I have at last talked myself out--or
almost. It is vain to put me aside again. You do not dare to say you do
not love me--"

"You have not asked me," she murmured.

"No, I said I would not yesterday. A tender word would have brought me to
your feet--and I was very sore."

"If you were a woman, you would have understood and--"

"Oh, wait a little," he said. "You are going to ask me to marry you,
Leila Grey--" She was on her feet. "Take care," he cried, and a smile on
the strong battle-tried face arrested her angry outburst.

She said only, "Why?--I ask--you--why indeed?"

"Because, Leila, you owe it to my self-respect--because you have given
that which implies love, and all I ask--"

She looked up at him with eyes that implored pity, but all she found
herself able to say was, "I don't understand."

"You kissed me in the cabin this afternoon--I was not asleep--I had half
risen when I heard you, and I fell back in wondering quiet to see what
you would do or say when you should wake me up."

She was silent.

"And then you kissed me--"

"Oh, John! how wicked of you--why did you keep so still?"

"I waited--longing."

"For what?"

"Hoping you would kiss me again."

"What! twice?" she cried. "How could you think I would kiss you twice--I
was so ashamed--"

"Well, Leila?"

She began to feel that she was perilously close to tears, as he said
softly, "Leila Grey!"

"John Penhallow, will you take me--oh, John! I love you."

He caught her hand and touched it with his lips reverently.

"If," she cried, "if you do not give me back my kiss, I shall die of
shame."

He bent over her and kissed her forehead lightly, as though he were in
fear of too familiar approach to a thing too sacred for a rude caress. A
great surf-like rush of comprehension swept over the woman. "Was I so
loved as this--so honoured?" Then she said suddenly, "You are pale--are
you in pain?" for she saw him grasp the wounded arm and set his teeth.

"Yes, yes--sometimes--when things happen--it wakes up and reminds me. I
shall be better in a moment. Take care"--for her arms were around him--"I
think, dear, I am not yet as strong as I shall be--but love is a great
tonic, and--I can bear no more to-night. I am in pain. I fear this has
been too much for me."

Then he kissed her on lips that took it as a great draft from the
fountain of youth and love. "To-morrow, dear, we will ride together--in
the morning. Ah, together!"

"Where--Jack?"

"Oh, into fairyland! God bless you! Great Heavens, how beautiful you are!
Good-night!"

She fell into a seat as he went out, and heard his feet on the
stair--then he stood beside her again.

"Leila, forgive me--I was hard--uncourteous--to make you say--"

"Hush!" she cried, between tears and laughter, as she put her hand over
his mouth, "no one shall abuse my Jack--not even Captain Penhallow.
There, sir! I deserved it." She ran by him, and was gone.

I have not the pass-words into fairyland, and where they rode that
morning in September is not within my knowledge; nor can I say what
adventures they may have met with. The byways of this enchanted land
here and there by ill-luck come near to the haunts of men, who may catch
glimpses of such as ride through fairyland unsuspicious of other eyes.
Billy neglectful of mails this morning, was on the river bobbing for
eels. To be long attentive to anything was for him impossible, wherefore
his wandering gaze caught sight for a moment through the fringe of
willows of two people riding slowly. He saw with amazement that on
horseback in fairyland the feat of kissing is possible.

Some hours later, my lovers, feeling as John wickedly quoted, that "the
world is too much with us," rode into Westways to get Billy's neglected
mail.

Mr. Crocker, lean and deaf, at ease in charge of the grocery counter, sat
unoccupied in his shirt sleeves, while Mrs. Crocker bent over the mail
she had sorted. There were letters for the little group of village folk,
who read them at once as they sat on the step or as they moved away
stumbling along the sidewalk.

Mrs. Crocker sallied out with a batch of letters. "Quite a lot, Captain.
Good-morning, Leila."

"Mail these, Mrs. Crocker," said the travellers fresh from fairyland.

"I saw some was from the Squire and some from Mrs. Penhallow--Squire's
writing better."

"You wicked Mrs. Crocker," said John, "how much you pick up of folk's
secrets, I should like to know--"

"Secrets!" laughed Leila. "They can't be read on the outside of letters."

Then Mrs. Crocker on the sidewalk to them on horseback began to talk.
John seeing that Leila was interested and amused sat still and listened.

"Secrets," exclaimed the post-mistress, "ain't all inside of letters.
They're on the envelopes sometimes. Oh! I've seen 'em in war time,
letters that looked like they'd been out in the rain--sort of blistered;
and people here in those days just tore open their letters and laughed or
cried." Mrs. Crocker caught her breath and paused.

"I know, John," said Leila in a low aside.

"And there used to come back from the front letters marked 'missing' or
'can't be found.' Folks used to come in gay and go away with a letter
just crumpled up in a hand. And now it's all over--and up you come right
gallant and happy. Here comes old Granny Lamb tottering along. I'd invent
a letter from that brute if I could. I tell you, Leila, mother-hope dies
hard."

"It is sad--dreadful. Come, John."

"One minute, please," said Mrs. Crocker, "I'm not half done. I tell you,
Captain John, there's a heap of human nature comin' and goin' through a
post-office. Well, good-bye."

They rode away to Grey Pine exchanging bits from their letters. Their
uncle and aunt would be home in a week. "Sooner--if they get the letter
I mailed last night," laughed Leila.

"I should like to have seen it."

"No doubt."

At the open avenue gate Josiah was waiting. He saluted in soldier
fashion, Penhallow acknowledging the greeting in like manner.

Josiah said, "Wouldn't you just let me have a minute with the Captain?"

Leila laughed. "Certainly." She rode away wondering what Josiah had to
report alone to the man who for him was and always would he Captain
despite the old custom of the regular army.

"Well, Josiah--nothing wrong, I trust."

"No, sir--everything just entirely right--but first I got to ask your
advice. I've had a letter from the Colonel--he just says some things
ought to make a man kind of blush."

John had the odd thought that a blush must be the securely private
property of a fellow as black as this grey-headed old friend. "What does
he say, Josiah?"

"He wants to give me a farm."

"Well, why not--you have earned a dozen."

"I'd like it--but--if you're goin' to marry Miss Leila, I'd rather live
with you."

"Good Heavens!" said the traveller out of fairyland, "what put that in
your head?"

Josiah smiled. "You'll please to excuse me, Captain--but I thought I
ought to tell you about that fool Billy. He was bobbin' for eels--and--he
saw you go by--"

"Well, what else?"

"He met me and he said, 'Saw Mr. John kissin' Miss Leila!' He was off
like a shot singin' out 'Goin' to get married, sure.' It will be all over
Westways by noon, sir."

John laughed. "Well, it's true, Josiah--Confound Billy! Well, what more?"

"Oh, I would rather live with you. The Colonel wants to give me a
farm--don't want any farm."

"Well, well--we'll see about it later."

"The trouble would be, sir, who's to shave the Colonel?"

"That's serious," said John, as he rode away to rejoin Leila, who had
meant to keep their secret from the village until their aunt's return.
Three days went by before Ann Penhallow's letter of reply came to hand.

"Well, any more news, Leila?" said John.

"Yes, but not altogether pleasant--I am to leave early tomorrow. Uncle
Jim will meet me in Philadelphia--and, oh! I know Aunt Ann well--there
will be no end of shopping."

"I should feel worse about it, Leila, but I see by one of my letters
that there is some row in Pittsburgh over our last rails. I am not
responsible, but I must go to-night and see about it. Isn't it dreadful,
Leila?"

The two having come of late into a great inheritance in fairyland
demanding close personal attention were at one as regarded absence.

After dinner Leila said, "My order to report to headquarters from
heart-quarters was in the second post-script. I have saved the rest of
the letter for you."

"Read it, please."

"MY DEAR CHILDREN: You are a pair of young ostriches--you know what they
do. Did you suppose a middle-aged ostrich could not use her eyes? I did
think it took a quite needless length of time."

"Isn't that absurd, John, as if--"

"Well, what more?"

She read on--"I dislike long engagements--"

"Now, that is better, Leila."

"Your uncle says you must live at Grey Pine. I said, no--young married
people had better be alone. He must build you a house on the river nearer
the mills. I am making a list of what furniture you will require--"

"There is more of that--much more, John, and a list of things to be done
before her return. Isn't that like what aunt was before the war?"

John laughed. "Well, she will have her way."

"More or less," said Leila. "Oh, there's another postscript!"

"Well?"

"I think you should be married about Christmas week. Of course, Mark
Rivers will marry you, and I shall ask the Bishop to assist, when I see
him on our way home. Don't fail to write to both your uncles."

"It is certainly complete," said John. He left for Pittsburgh that night.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have little to add to this long story. The days went by swiftly, and
after a week all of the family, except John, were once more together at
Grey Pine. Mark Rivers had also returned. He was too evidently in one of
his moods of sombre silentness, but his congratulations were warm and as
he sat at dinner he made unusual efforts to be at his agreeable best.

When they left the table, he said, "No, Colonel, I shall not smoke
to-night. May I have a few minutes of your time, Mrs. Penhallow?"

"Certainly, Mark--I want to talk to you about the Bible Class--I mean to
take it up again." She led the way into her own little library. "Sit
down--there is so much to talk over. Of course, you will marry these dear
children somewhere about Christmas time."

"No," he said, "I shall be far away."

"Away! Oh, Mark! surely you do not mean to leave us."

"Yes, I am going to live as a missionary among the Indians."

"You cannot--you really cannot--where could you be more useful than
here?"

"No, I must go. My life on the whole has been most happy here--and how to
thank you I fail to be able to say."

"But why," she urged, "why do you go?"

"Oh--I want--I must have an active life, open air, even risks. The war
gave me what I need for entire competence of body and mind to use in my
Master's service. But now, the war is at an end--"

"Thank God! But all you ask--and more--Mark, except danger, are
here--and oh, but we shall miss you, and more than ever when we miss
too these children. Think of it--don't make up your mind until James
talks to you--"

"No, I go to-morrow."

"But it does seem to me, Mark, that you are making a serious change
without sufficient consideration of what you lose and we lose."

"Yes, yes," he returned, "I know--but to remain is for me impossible."

"But why?"

He was silent a moment, looking at this dear friend with the over-filled
eyes of a troubled and yet resolute manhood. Then he said, "I did not
mean to tell you why in my weakness flight alone will save me from what
has been to me unbearable here and ever will be."

"Can I in any way help you?"

"No."

"But what is it--trust me a little--what is it?"

He hesitated, and then said, "It is Leila Grey! God pity my weakness, and
you will say good-bye and give the Squire this note and them my love." He
was gone.

The woman sat still for an hour, pitiful, and understanding the flight
of a too sensitive man. Then she gave her husband the note, with her
good-night, and no other word. Of why her friend had gone she said later
nothing, except to defend him for his obedience to the call of duty. Late
that evening John returned.

When after breakfast next day he and Leila were riding through the
wood-roads of the forest, John said, "I cannot or I could not see why
Mr. Rivers went away so abruptly."

"Nor I," said Leila. Then there was one of those long silences dear to
lovers.

"What are you thinking of, Jack?"

"Uncle Jim told me last night the story of the early life of Mark
Rivers."

"Tell it to me."

He told it--"But," he continued, "that was not all of him. I have heard
Mr. Rivers hold at the closest attention a great crowd of soldiers with
that far-carrying voice; and then to hear as he led them singing the old
familiar hymns--perhaps a thousand men--oh, it was a thing to remember!
And they loved him, Leila, because behind the battle line he was coolly,
serviceably brave; and in the hospital wards--well, as tender as--well,
as you would have been. I wondered, Leila, why he did not marry again.
The first was a mistake, but I suppose he knew that for him to marry
would have been wrong, with that sad family history. Probably life never
offered him the temptation."

"Perhaps not," said Leila, and they rode out of the woods and over the
meadows. "Let us talk of something less sad."

"Well, Leila, a pleasant thing to discuss is Tom McGregor. I suspect him
of a fortunate love affair with the daughter of the General at Fortress
Monroe."

"Indeed--but what else? Oh, our own great debt to him!"

"Uncle Jim is considering that. We may trust him to be more than
generous. Yes, surely. Now for a run over this grass. Can you take that
fence?"

"Can I, indeed! Follow me, Jack."

"Anywhere. Everywhere, Leila!"



THE END



Books by

Dr. S. Weir Mitchell


Fiction

HUGH WYNNE.

CONSTANCE TRESCOT.

THE YOUTH OF WASHINGTON.

CIRCUMSTANCE.

THE ADVENTURES OF FRANÇOIS.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A QUACK.

DR. NORTH AND HIS FRIENDS.

IN WAR TIME.

ROLAND BLAKE.

FAR IN THE FOREST.

CHARACTERISTICS.

WHEN ALL THE WOODS ARE GREEN.

A MADEIRA PARTY.

THE RED CITY.

HEPHZIBAH GUINNESS.

A COMEDY OF CONSCIENCE.

A DIPLOMATIC ADVENTURE.

THE GUILLOTINE CLUB.

JOHN SHERWOOD, IRONMASTER.

WESTWAYS.


Essays.

DOCTOR AND PATIENT.

WEAR AND TEAR.--HINTS FOR THE OVERWORKED.


Poems.

COLLECTED POEMS.

THE WAGER, AND OTHER POEMS.

THE COMFORT OF THE HILLS.





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