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Title: Idle Hour Stories
Author: Potts, Eugenia Dunlap
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 "Idle Hour Stories" ***

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               IDLE HOUR STORIES

               *   *   *   *   *


                      BY
             EUGENIA DUNLAP POTTS


                   Author of
           "The Song of Lancaster,"
          "A Kentucky Girl in Dixie,"
            "Short Mountain Trail,"
            "Stories for Children,"
           "The Housekeepers' Olio,"
               and "Home Talks."

               *   *   *   *   *

            PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR


               *   *   *   *   *

                    PRESS OF
             J.L. RICHARDSON & CO.
                 LEXINGTON, KY.
                     1909

               *   *   *   *   *



                   DEDICATED

   To the memory of my beloved and only son,
       George Dunlap Potts, whose young
        eyes watched with affectionate
           interest the weaving of
                these fancies.



       *       *       *       *       *



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


  A THRILLING EXPERIENCE
  A CLUSTER OF RIPE FRUIT
  THE GHOST AT CRESTDALE
  HER CHRISTMAS GIFT
  IN A PULLMAN CAR
  IN OLD KENTUCKY
  HIS GRATITUDE
  THE SINGER'S CHRISTMAS
  TURNING THE TABLES
  HOW SHE HELPED HIM
  THE IRON BOX
  THE GIRL FARMERS
  PROVING A HEART
  HEZEKIAH'S WOOING
  A SUMMER DAISY
  TREESA
  MY FIRST JURY CASE
  THREE VISITS
  IN EASTER DAWN
  IN THE MAMMOTH CAVE

  POEMS

    REVERIE
    THE MISER AND THE ANGEL
    REST
    THE CHANGED CROSS

       *       *       *       *       *



A Thrilling Experience

MIGHT vs. RIGHT


It is some years since I was station-master, telegraph-operator,
baggage-agent and ticket seller at a little village near some valuable
oil wells.

The station-house was a little distance from the unpretentious
thoroughfare that had grown up in a day, and my duties were so arduous
that I had scarcely leisure for a weekly flitting to a certain mansion
on the hill where dwelt Ellen Morris, my promised wife. In fact, it was
with the hope of lessening the distance between us that I had under
taken these quadruple duties.

The day was gloomy, and towards the afternoon ominous rolls of thunder
portended a storm.

Colonel Holloway, the well-known treasurer of the oil company, had been
in the village several days. About one o'clock he came hurriedly into
the office with a package, which he laid upon my desk, saying:

"Take care of that, Bowen, till to-morrow. I am going up the road."

The commission was not an unusual one, and my safe was one of Marvin's
best. I counted the money, which footed up into the thousands, placed
it in the official envelope, affixed the seals, and deposited it in the
safe. As I turned away from the lock, a voice at the door said:

"Say, mister, can you tell me the way to the post office?"

A sort of shock went through me at the unexpected presence that seemed
to have dropped down from nowhere, and I replied irritably:

"You could not miss it if you tried. Keep straight ahead."

Soon large drops of rain came down, then faster and more furiously, till
the air was one vast sheet of water, and little rivers leaped madly
along the gullies and culverts. Forked lightning kept pace with the
pealing thunder, and heaven's own artillery seemed let loose.

Anything more dismal or dreary could not well be imagined, and gradually
the loneliness grew very oppressive. Every straggler had fled to
shelter, and the usual idlers had deserted the platform.

But I resolutely set to work at the dry statistics of the station-books,
with an occasional call to the wires, which were ticking like mad, so
fierce was the electric current.

It was near five o'clock when a long freight train came lumbering by,
switched off a car or two, then dragged its slow length onward. This
created a brief diversion, then once more I was deserted.

The next passenger train was not due till ten o'clock. I lit the lamps
and resigned myself with questionable patience to the intervening hours.
An agreeable interruption came in the form of my supper, which was
brought in a water-proof basket by a sort of jack-at-all-trades whom we
called Jake. Shaking himself like a great dog, he "lowed there wa'n't
much more water up yonder nohow."

"I hope not, indeed," I said, glad of the sound of a human voice.
"Jake!" I called, as he left the office, "come back as soon as you
can--I may need you."

I had a vague idea of despatching some sort of report to Ellen that I
had not been entirely washed away, and obtaining a similar comfort as
to her own fate. I little thought how I should need him.

I think I am not by nature more timid than other men, but as the dismal
evening closed in I took from my desk two revolvers kept ready for
possible emergencies, and laid one upon the desk where I was making
freight entries and the other on the table where the electric battery
stood. At intervals a fresh package for the night express was brought
by some dripping carrier, who deposited it, got his receipt, hung about
for a few minutes, then hastened away to more comfortable quarters.

Still the rain poured in torrents. It must have been nearly nine o'clock
when a wagon, hurriedly driven, pulled up suddenly at the platform. In a
moment the door was flung open, and I saw a small ambulance well known
about the village. Two men sprang out, and with the help of the driver
and his assistant, proceeded to lift out a box which from its dimensions
could contain only one kind of freight, to wit, the remains of a human
being.

Carefully placing this box in a remote corner of the room, near other
boxes awaiting transportation, the driver and his man returned to their
wagon, while the two strangers approached the desk to enter their
ghastly freight. They wore slouched hats and were very wet. They
produced a death certificate of one John Slate, who had died at a farm
house several miles away, of a non-contagious complaint, and was to be
shipped to his friends down the road. This was all. There was nothing
singular about it, and yet when the door closed upon the strangers and
I was again alone, or worse than alone a feeling of awe came over me.
Clearly the storm had somewhat unstrung me.

Only one hour till the train was due, after which I could turn in for
the night.

A louder peal of thunder shook the house, and fiercer flashed the
lightning. Minute after minute went by, and each seemed an age. The
roar and din of the elements only deepened the gloom inside, where the
uncertain kerosene lamp darkened the shadows.

Suddenly to my overstrained nerves the ceaseless clicking of the
instrument seemed to say, "Watch the box--watch the box--watch the box."
As a particular strain of melody will at times repeat itself in the
mind, and obstinately keep time to every movement, till one is well-nigh
distracted, so this refrain began to enchain every sense: "Watch the
box--watch the box--watch the box." Till now my depressed spirits were
due only to the solitude and the storm. No suspicion of evil or danger
had tormented me.

Peering more closely into the dingy corner, I saw only the ordinary pine
box, with what seemed to be a square paper, or placard, on the side
facing me. Probably the address, bunglingly adjusted on the side instead
of the top, or else a stain of mud from the late rough drive. At all
events I was not curious enough to approach more nearly the ghostly
visitant.

Ten minutes had crept by, when a muffled noise in the dark corner
distinctly sounded above the pelting raindrops, while as if to mock at
my quickened fears, the wires continued their monotonous warning,
"Watch the box--watch the box--watch the box." I did watch the box, and
now as if by inspiration I grasped the situation. There was indeed a man
in the box, but not a dead one. A living man who had boldly lent himself
to a plot to rob or murder me, or perhaps both.

I remembered the straggler who had surprised me while at the safe,
several hours before. He had doubtless followed Col. Holloway and
witnessed the money transaction. Quick and fast flew my thoughts in the
startled endeavor to grasp some plan of action. Single-handed I was no
match for any man, having recently recovered from an attack of malarial
fever. This one in the box (if indeed there was one) must mean to secure
the prize before the train was due, and escape the consequences. He must
have accomplices, and these were doubtless on watch, either to give or
receive a signal. At least it was not probable that he would undertake
the job alone, and the fact that he had confederates had already
appeared.

Perhaps the sight of my pistol had delayed the attack. Perhaps some part
of their plan had miscarried and caused delay. At all events I must be
cool. I fancied I saw his eyes through the dark patch on the box. I was
almost sure he was slowly lifting the lid. There was no help near, and
much might be done in the time still to elapse before the train was due.

Quietly walking to the battery, I feigned to take a message. In reality
I sent one to the conductor of the on-coming express, as the only device
whereby I could secure assistance, and this would doubtless come too
late. Yet it was all I could do just now.

With every sense on the alert I arose to secrete my key if possible,
when the door burst open, and Frank Morris, my future brother-in-law,
rushed in, followed by a huge dog that was Ellen's special pet and
attendant.

"Confound you!" said Frank, spluttering about and shaking himself as
vigorously as the dog. "I'll be blowed if I ever go on such a fool's
errand as this."

"Why you are pretty well 'blowed'" I said, with a poor attempt to be
funny, but immensely relieved.

"I never was so glad to see anybody in my life!" and I meant it.

"There it is," he said; "make much of it" as he cleverly flipped a
little white missive over to me. "Such billing and cooing I never want
to see again. Regular spoons, by jove! Can't go to sleep till she knows
you have not been melted, or washed away, or something. And Cato must
come along to see that her precious brother doesn't get lost. Ugh! Lie
down over there, old fellow!" Then to me he said; "Here help me out of
this wet thing."

But I was engrossed just then, so ridding him of the offending garment,
the broad-shouldered young athlete strode about the room in mock
impatience.

"Heavens! what a night!" he exclaimed. "What time does your train pass?
Ten? Just three minutes. I guess I'll stay; but we will have that young
damsel floating down here if she doesn't hear pretty soon."

"Hello, Cato, what's the matter?" as the dog gave a low growl, "what's
that in the corner, Bowen?"

The dog continued to growl and look suspiciously as the young fellow
rattled on. "That," I said, "is a dead man."

"Humph!" he laughed. "Jolly good company for such a night. I say, Bowen,
you've got a nice toy there," and he took up the pistol that lay on the
table. In the meanwhile I had scrawled on piece of paper, which I had
quietly placed near the pistol: "The man in the box is a burglar. Be
ready for an attack."

"Oh that's the game!" he said aloud, and instantly strode across the
room, as Cato sprang up and barked furiously at the box. Simultaneously
the top of the box flew up, and uttering a shrill whistle, the man
sprang to a sitting posture, while through the wide-flung door the
other two ruffians appeared with pistols cocked, At once there began a
deadly struggle. The dog had leaped upon the box and knocked the "dead"
man's pistol out of his hand, as Frank shouted, "Toho Cato!" unwilling
that the dog should tear him to pieces, but wishing to keep him at bay.

"Your keys!" yelled the other men; "or by heavens, you'll drop!"

Instantly closing in, man to man, the fierce struggle went on amid
shouts, oaths and pistol shots.

"Call off your cursed dog!" screamed the "dead" man continually.

The encounter, which had occupied scarcely a minute, was at its
deadliest, both Frank and I endeavoring to disarm rather than kill, when
the whistle of the train sounded, and in another moment the conductor
and his men were among us, "Seize that scoundrel!" shouted Frank
breathlessly, indicating the man in the box. "Here Cato!" and the
obedient animal unwillingly retired, but continued his savage growl.

At this juncture my man fell to the floor, badly wounded in the leg, and
uttering groans and imprecations. It was quick work to secure the men,
and Jake, who opportunely reappeared, was sent to summon the village
police. Some of the passengers, impatient at the delay, had got wind of
the adventure, and now crowded into the station in no little excitement.
The box was found to have a false side-piece next to the wall, which was
easily pushed down by the man inside, for greater comfort in his cramped
position; and there were besides a number of air holes. It was the
moving of the side-panel that caused the muffled noise I had heard.

I was questioned in all possible ways, and the curiosity of the
passengers was fully gratified amid the clamor of the prisoners, who
continually swore at each other. "What did you wait so infernal long
for?" said one of them, glaring at the "dead" man.

"What was your infernal hurry?" retorted the other, sarcastically.

It was plain from the quarrel that ensued that the sight of my pistols
and my evident uneasiness, together with effect of the fearful storm,
which confused all signals, had unsettled the fellow's plan, and had
robbed him of his presence of mind. While puzzling as to the safest
course, the sudden entrance of Frank and the dog had precipitated the
catastrophe.

The men were conducted to the County Jail, and I was the hero of the
hour, although I could not claim much credit for personal valor in the
matter.

Was it Fate or Providence that befriended me? But for my presentiment,
or what ever it might be, I should have urged Frank's immediate return
to my anxious betrothed. But for her loving anxiety he never would have
come down on such a night. But for the dog one of us must have been
killed. And first of all, but for the instinctive sense of danger the
telegraph wires would never have spoken a warning to my excited fancy;
and this manifest feeling of apprehension, though I strove hard to
conceal it, held the man in the box at bay.

The practical result of the episode was a more commodious station-house,
and more men on duty. My salary was raised; but eventually I gave up the
situation because my wife could never feel satisfied to have me perform
night work after the fearful experience I have related.

As to Frank, he is not backward with explosive English whenever the
subject is mentioned, and no amount of persuasion could ever reconcile
Cato to the station-room.



A Cluster of Ripe Fruit

CHARACTER STUDY


They were five sisters, all unmarried; they lived in the old Dutch town
that was made memorable by Barbara Frietchie's exploits. They never
hoisted a Union flag, or did any grand thing; but they deserve a place
in story just the same. Their name was Peyre, and the young people
called them "The Pears", not in derision, for the regard they inspired
was little short of veneration. Their ages ranged from sixty-five to
eighty years when I first knew them. Unlike the Hannah More quintette,
they were not literary. But no hive of busy bees was ever more
industrious than they in the line of purely feminine accomplishments.

"The Pears" were not poor, but they were frugal. They owned a
comfortable two-story brick house on a quiet street, and let their
ground floor to a small tradesman. The way to the sisters led along
a smoothly-paved side alley, all fenced in, through a little kitchen
with spotless floor and shining tins, up a narrow, crooked, snow-white
stairway, and finally through funny little chambers, up two steps, or
down three, till the workshop was reached. There they sat, clean and
fresh and busy, each in her own nook; and just there they might have
been found every day these sixty years.

The workshop had the appearance of tidy fullness. An everlasting quilt
was stretched across the end window, and here Miss Becky had laid her
chalk-lines and pricked her fingers through several generations. The
faithful fingers were brown and crooked, she said, from rheumatism; but
how could they be straight when eternally bent over the patchwork?
Surely the quilt was not always the same; yet the frames were never
empty, and the chair was never vacant.

Miss Polly was housekeeper and cook, with Miss Phoebe to run errands, do
the marketing, visit the needy, and supervise generally. Some one must
have done the mending and darning and laundry work, but I never saw any
of that.

Miss Sophie (the sisters said Suffy) was the knitter and her needles
were never still. Always a gray yarn stocking, and never any appearance
of the finished pair. Go when you would,--and the dear ladies were not
alone many hours,--the knitting was on and going on.

Miss Chrissy was the beauty. Ages ago there had been a tradition of a
lover, but nothing came of it. Perhaps they had all five lived out their
little romances--who could tell? A certain homage was paid to the
beauty. Her once brilliant auburn hair had paled to grayish sandy bands
that lay smooth under a cap which was always a little pretentious. Her
dark eyes and smiling lips made the soft white old face passing fair.
Miss Chrissy was the embroiderer and needle-work artist. Her treasures
of scallops and points and eyelets and wheels, all traced in ink upon
bits of letter-paper, were kept in a big square yellow box that was
bristling and bursting at all points.

This box was marvellous. There could never have been but one other in
the world; and that I had seen under my great-grandmother's bed, the bed
that had its dainty white frill, and its glazed calico curtains of gay
paradise birds. They were all of a piece and not easily forgotten. The
box had seen hard service among the "Pears." It was cross-stitched up
and down the corner's along the bottom and the top, and all around. It
never occurred to them to get a new one. Like their old Bible, its
places could be found.

I went, one frosty autumn day, to get a pattern for silk embroidery.
Stamping-blocks and tracing-wheels were unknown quantities to Miss
Chrissy. Her stumpy little pencil--and that, too, seemed always the
same--had to do the transfering. She liked a bit of harmless gossip,
dear soul; and the young girls of the town made a point of supplying the
lack of a newspaper with their busy tongues. So she knew at once who
I was.

"Oh," she said, with her kindly smile, "you are young Mrs. John: I
remember when your husband was a babe. I think I can find it;--yes, it
is down in this corner,"--rummaging in the yellow box; "here it is--the
pattern your aunt,--Mrs. John, selected for your husband's first short
dress. All the Hunt family were customers of ours. Mrs. John, she
they called Aunt Lou, was a great favorite. She was rich, and had no
children. Well, she came one day all in a flurry to get a pattern--a
nice wide one she said, for little John's dress. He was the first baby,
and they fairly idolized him. This is it. I recollect the wheel and the
overcasting. It was--let me see--forty years ago, come this December.
Now, this little scallop is as popular as any" and she fished up
another, all full of needle-pricks. "Some ladies don't like much
embroidery, but they want a little finish. This one trimmed a set of
linen for Mrs. Senator Jones. It took me a good while to draw it. She
don't like this turn in the corner, so I made up something else. You
know I design my own patterns."

Then resisting the temptation to give the history of the rest of her
favorites, she put the box aside and turned her attention to the quart
bottle in hand, with its strip of muslin stretched tight around it,
over a bewildering collection of grapes and leaves. This was her method,
and the admiring sisters thought it perfect.

That night I teased John's mother into hunting up the dress, and there
was the identical pattern, edging the fine white cambric now yellow with
age. She was amused at my report of Miss Chrissy.

In my annual journeyings to the old town I never neglected "The Pears."
They always looked as if I had just stepped out for an hour, and come
back. The carpet did not wear out; the stove never lacked luster; the
tiny window-panes were always just washed, and the diligent fingers went
on just the same. They had a quaint way not easy to describe. When one
talked all the rest chimed in with little whispering echoes, to support
the assertion; and yet they did not seem to interrupt. They were to me
living wonders, so perfectly unspotted from the world, so earnest in
their pigmy money-making, and so thoroughly united, I felt consumed with
curiosity as to their inner life. They must sometimes put by the
quilting and the knitting and the patterns.

"How do you interest yourselves evenings, Miss Chrissy?" I asked, half
ashamed of the question.

"Oh, we read," she said, smiling her ready smile. "Yes, read," echoed
Miss Suffy and the rest. "We read Sunday-School books, and our Bible,
of course. Sometimes we don't go to bed till ten o'clock."

"Ten o'clock--o'clock--o'clock," assented the gentle voices. It was not
silly; the smiling faces all wore the sweet, simple look of guileless
childhood.

Miss Suffy's window overlooked a time honored graveyard, where gray
slabs were tottering. Next to her beloved patterns and their varied
experiences, Miss Chrissy liked to tell of scenes and memories suggested
by these somber reminders.

"It was a very cold day, Mrs. John," (so she always called me), "when
they buried your husband's uncle out there. Poor fellow! He was shot
at Buena Vista. A cannon-ball took off both his legs, and went right
through the horse he rode. He was a gallant officer. They thought at
first he would rally. The surgeons did their work quickly, and he
suffered little or no pain, but there was no chloroform in that day, and
he died from the shock. The snow was deep on the ground, but it was a
grand funeral. They've got a fine new cemetery out on the hill, but we
never go there. Our dead are all here where we can see their graves."

"Graves," came the echo, they had all along nodded, or murmured, assent.

"One of the saddest funerals we have ever seen." Miss Chrissy went on,
"was a double funeral. Two young men, both only sons, were drowned in
the river while bathing. Their mothers were widows. It was terrible. Two
hearses and two long lines of mourners. There they lie--over there in
that enclosure. They were cousins, and were buried side by side."

"The mothers, Chrissy!" mildly prompted the whisper, when the narrator
paused.

"Yes, the mothers! one died of a broken heart, and the other lost her
mind outright. She is living yet, an old woman, who regularly goes to
the front door of the asylum every morning and takes her seat. If it is
cold weather, she sits inside. She asks every one who enters if Luther
is coming--that was her boy's name."

"Did you know the first Mrs. John Hunt, Miss Chrissy--my husband's
grandmother?" I asked, willing to change the gloomy subject.

"Just as well as I know you, Mrs. John. She was a beautiful little
woman, I was very young at the time I am thinking of. She sent at night
for an embroidered flannel I was doing. It was my first wide pattern,
and it went slow. At 10 o'clock it was finished, and my father went with
me to take it home. They were all going to Washington to the President's
ball--President Monroe, it was--and the trunk was packing. It was to go
on the big traveling-coach. When I ran up stairs and knocked,--I had
often been there before--she opened the door herself. 'Oh, it's you
Chrissy,' she said in her pleasant way; 'come in child; don't you want
to see something pretty?' And she showed me two elegant brocaded silk
gowns, very narrow and very short-waisted, but stiff enough to stand
alone.'

"She praised my work and said I was a good girl. Then she paid me the
money and tied a little blue silk handkerchief around my neck for a
keepsake. 'There,' she said, in her quick voice, 'you may go.' I did
many other patterns for the family, but poor lady! she never saw me
again. She had an illness and lost her eyesight. She was stone blind for
many years. I have the keepsake yet. It is put away in the hair-trunk."

The sisters were all in full sympathy, as usual. Thus I sat and listened
scores of times, making a pretence of wanting a pattern,--anything to
get Miss Chrissy story-telling.

In the centennial year I found "The Pears" much shaken from their even
tenor. The relic-hunters had penetrated their omnium gatherum and
offered fabulous sums for the quaint old bits they found there. One of
them declared he must and would have these wonders for the New England
Kitchen. But the sisters were outraged. Adroitly I managed to hint a
desire to see those treasures inestimable, and then for the first time I
moved from my accustomed seat, and they moved from theirs. The magnitude
of their wrongs would admit of nothing like routine or monotony. The
chairs were pushed back, and I saw five tall, slim figures standing
erect, in straight black gowns, white kerchiefs and spotless caps. They
were devout Lutherans, and their pew at the Sunday service was never
vacant; but I had never seen them outside the workshop.

We filed into the funny little chambers where were the high beds, with
their steps to be climbed. What a wilderness of feathers and patchwork!
Some of Miss Becky's work was there. The bureaus nearly to ceilings,
ornamented with round glass knobs, had their little mirrors perched
up above my head. The candle stands, with spindle legs, wore an
antediluvian look, and the chairs were just as queer. The more aspiring
ones were prim in starched antimaccassars. Even the footstools belonged
to a prehistoric age. There was nothing costly or elegant, but so very
ancient and even comical, I had never seen anything like it, anywhere.
A few oil-paintings, hung in the very border of the huge-figured paper,
were small, but evidently fine.

"These things were brought from Alsace," explained Miss Chrissy, as I
commented freely. "Elsace is the way to call it--and we can't bear to
have strangers meddling with what is sacred to us."

"Sacred to us," came from the procession behind.

At last, pausing before a huge hair trunk, they all gathered nearer, and
when the lid was raised, they vied with one another in displaying the
contents. It would take a great while to tell all that I saw, or their
curious little speeches and words and assents. There were samplers in
every style of lettering and color. The inevitable tombstone, with the
weeping-willow and mourning female, was among them. Bits of painted
velvet, huge reticules, bead purses; gay shawls, and curious lace
caps--all showed patient handiwork. Gifts and souvenirs were plentiful,
even to the blue silk keepsake of the first Mrs. John. Then came
old-fashioned silver spoons and knives and tea-pots, heir-looms, they
said, from the old country. A bit of coarse paper bore an order for
supplies for soldiers upon the Commissaire at Nice, and was signed with
the genuine autograph of the great Napoleon. Every article had its
history, and rarely, if ever, was the little work-shop so long neglected
as on that occasion. When the procession filed back, I took leave with
somewhat the feeling of having been buried in wonderland, and suddenly
resurrected.

Perhaps the shock of the dreaded vandalism was too much. Perhaps the
excitement of the hair trunk struck too deep. At all events. Miss Becky
grew to muttering over her quilt, and making long pauses. One day her
needle stuck fast in the patchwork, and her head quietly sank to rest on
the rolled frame. When I paid my next visit, they said, "You will find
it very odd at The Pears's. Miss Becky is gone."

I did find it odd. The quilt was rolled forever, and the end window was
empty. There was only the chair. Still Miss Suffy sat with her stocking,
and Miss Chrissy with her patterns, placid and patient,--they were only
waiting; yet working as they waited. Miss Polly sighed once in a while
over her pans. Miss Phoebe still went to market and distributed small
alms to the poor. Ripe in good works and in holy resignation were The
Pears.

"Our quilter is gone," said Miss Chrissy. This time there was no
whispered echo; only a gentle sighing all around. But some of the
scallops in the yellow box were not without fresh adventures; and these
I heard.

That winter, Miss Phoebe fell on the slippery little side alley. There
were no bones broken, but she, too, sank to rest in the old gray
churchyard.

It was three years before I went back. Then they said, "Miss Chrissy is
alone." Alone I found her. She was little changed. The brightness had
merely gone from her smile. I noticed that her talk was less of her
patterns, and more of the gray slabs. She no longer clung to the proud
little boast, "I design my own patterns." She was apt to tell what Suffy
said, or Polly, or Phoebe, not forgetting Becky, our quilter.

"No," she said, when I asked: "Polly was not sick. She said in the
morning, 'Chrissy, do you ever feel strange in your head?' Next morning
she did not wake up. Suffy was never as strong as the rest--her back was
bad; so when she had a sort of fit one day, it was soon over."

"You don't--you can't--stay here all alone?"

"No, Mrs. John, Henrietta is with me. You know Henrietta? She belongs to
the people down stairs. I shan't forget her kindness."

"Are you very lonely, Miss Chrissy?" I asked, choking down the tears.

"No, not lonely. The dear Lord is with me; He will stay to the end. No,
Mrs. John, not lonely."

She had always refrained, in diffidence, or humility, from religious
talk. I know it was from no lack of deep spiritual conviction. If ever
the world contained a purer, sweeter sisterhood, I have not known it.
Their work was homely, as their lives were secluded, but no one ever
saw them idle or impatient. In one straight and narrow path they walked
through earth's temptations to heaven's reward.

One of the last things she said to me was that I should take some of the
choicest patterns to my western home, notably "little John's first short
dress edge."

"You have been a helper to us in more ways than one. God will bless you,
Mrs. John."

"Is there nothing you would have me do now? Dear Miss Chrissy, do not
hesitate to speak."

She did hesitate. "I don't think of anything. My papers have long been
drawn up. Lawyer Thomas will attend to them. You know our little savings
are to go to the Home for Aged Women."

I never saw her again. Sitting one day, placid and patient, she fell
asleep over the yellow box; and when they lifted the soft white old
face, all was still.



The Ghost at Crestdale

AN ADVENTURE


"Here we are, safe and sound," cheerily said the driver of the huge
black ambulance, as he pulled up before the piazza of Crestdale, the
beautiful villa whose tower had been tantalizing the travelers for
several miles.

A party of five descended from the wagon as the wide doors were flung
open by the housekeeper, and a kindly welcome greeted them, as well as
comfortable fires.

"My! how cold it is," exclaimed a fresh young voice, as the speaker
hurried close to the generous heater.

"Be careful, dear, or you will burn your coat," warned an older lady,
while a stalwart young fellow tenderly loosed the seal wrap in question.

Placing the fair wearer in a great arm-chair, he said: "There,
Mademoiselle Jessie, be a good girl--if you can. Now, sister ours, what
can I do for you?" turning gallantly to the other lady.

"Thanks, you foolish boy," was the pleasant rejoinder; "look after
those parcels and those live commodities shivering there."

The live commodities were a maltese cat, a canary bird, and two raw
recruits from Erin; and the "foolish boy" at once set about assigning
places for people and things.

"There's a kitchen somewhere back here; come along, Michael. All right,
Katie, follow me, and fetch the menagerie with you."

Duly installing them in their domain, the young man made his way back
through the wide, chilly rooms that intervened, and joined the ladies
who were fast making themselves at home.

"A trifle bleak this, isn't it?" he said, rubbing his hands before the
blazing logs. "But just take note of that fragrant beefsteak. Say,
girls, I don't see any table set anywhere;" and he looked ruefully
around.

"Give us time, sir," remonstrated the elderly lady. "Here is a move in
the right direction already," she added, as the housekeeper entered with
the tea tray.

"Mabel, can't we have muffins?" pleaded the young voice.

"Muffins! Not on such short notice; but you may have toast and eggs."

"You'll disenchant me with your enormous appetite," chaffed the young
fellow, and got a saucy slap for his pains.

"Riding hours and hours on that horrid train is enough to starve any
one," was the ready defense; "you only came from New York. Come on,
everybody, while the steak is hot." And they gathered round to do
justice to the repast.

Mabel and Jessie Winthrop were orphan sisters, the one fifteen years the
elder, and was mother as well as sister to her idolized charge. Her own
life romance was a buried chapter, and now she was chiefly concerned for
the happiness of the two young persons seated there.

George Randolph was a distant cousin, and was to be married to Jessie
Winthrop in two weeks' time. They had come down to make ready the
seaside villa, which was their favorite home. It stood upon a winding
river close to shore, and commanded a view of the surrounding country
for many miles.

It was an immense house, containing some twenty-five rooms, and
full of unexpected niches, nooks, and crannies. It was kept furnished
throughout, but was locked up in the winter months. An unlooked-for cold
wave, speeding from the northwest, had made the coming of the
prospective bridal party a somewhat dreary affair.

A few happy touches here and there transformed the gloom into cheer, and
it was with renewed animation that they arose from their repast an hour
later.

George was to return to the city next day, but would run down frequently
before the wedding day. Meanwhile this, their first evening, passed
quickly and agreeably for all.

The ensuing week was a busy one. A whole army of sweepers, dusters and
renovators were turned loose in and about the villa, and the good work
went on with a will.

Michael took charge of a pony phaeton, and the sisters often drove in to
the village shops, two miles away, where the nearest railroad station
was. It was necessary, however, that Mabel should make a final trip to
the city to purchase some articles, and she arranged her time so that
George could return with her on the evening train.

"You won't be afraid, darling?" was Mabel's fond question, as she made
out her list.

"Afraid?" echoed the other. "Why, no; what is there to be afraid of? It
is perfectly safe here."

"Yes, I know; otherwise, I would not leave you even for the day."

"The house is big," said Jessie, "but we have near neighbors. Besides,
there's Mike and Katie, and Mrs. Lawrence. Oh, I'm all right, Mabel
dear."

"See that the house is securely fastened;" was Mabel's parting
injunction as she kissed her sister goodbye. "Look for us at the sound
of the whistle to-night."

"Indade, Miss Jessie," said Katie a little later, her face in a pucker,
"indade it's not right for the loikes af yees to be here all alone."

"Why, Katie, what's the matter," laughed the girl; "you don't call this
being alone, do you?"

"Ah, but haven't yees heard the quare noises in the tower, Miss Jessie?
An' shure there's a ghost in this house--Holy Mother defind us!" and
Katie piously crossed herself in real terror.

"A ghost, Katie! I'm ashamed of you. It is only the wind. It blows here
fearfully. You might turn a regiment loose in the house, and they could
scarcely make more noise than these big, rattling windows."

"Arrah, me jewel," protested Katie; "there's a turrible walkin' about in
the tower ivery night these two noights. An' didn't yees hear about the
awful murther in the town over beyant us an' the murtherer iscapin'?
Sich a quare murther, too, with the finger rings all left on, and the
money purse in the pocket. Ah, Miss Jessie, a murtherin' ghost won't
niver be laid."

"You silly Kate!" said Jessie merrily. "Don't be afraid, I'll take care
of the ghosts. We are all right."

After a cup of tea and a bit of toast, Jessie repaired to her chamber
on the second floor and picked up some trifle she was embroidering, to
beguile the time of waiting. Mabel and George would get in about nine,
when they were to relate the day's doings around a good warm supper.

Katie was to follow and sit with her mistress, after she had done some
righting up down stairs. Mike was bent upon routing an army of rats in
the barn. Mrs. Lawrence had retired to her room with a nervous headache.

The high winds from the sea had lulled, and for once the house was
utterly quiet--so quiet that the stillness became oppressive. Meanwhile
the young girl sat in her bower of luxury, softly humming a favorite
air, and very happy in thoughts of her approaching marriage. While deep
in her smiling reverie, a stealthy footstep distinctly sounded outside
her door.

Raising her head, she had not time to feel a sensation of real fear,
when cautiously her doorknob was turned and a head intruded itself which
struck her as dumb as though Medusa had appeared, and drove the
life-blood in a frozen current to her head.

The face was ghastly, the hair black and curling upon high, narrow
shoulders, the figure slight and spare, and a pair of restless black
eyes were glittering swiftly and cunningly around the room.

"Hist!" he said to the horror-stricken girl, softly closing the door
and turning the key; and if Jessie had a distinct thought in that awful
moment, it was of thankfulness that the winter dampness had so warped
the door that the key would not fairly catch in the lock,--a bit of
repairing thus far overlooked in the wedding preparations.

"Don't be frightened," he continued, in his sibilant whisper; "you will
take care of me, won't you?"

But the girl's eyes only riveted themselves in more hopeless, helpless
terror upon the apparition. Every muscle seemed paralyzed.

He drew a chair to the open grate as if the fire were most welcome.

"You see," he said in his quaint, soft voice, "if they track me here
they may hang me, and they would be wrong--all wrong. I did not intend
to kill her, but she would not hold still."

At this he gave a blood-curdling laugh, and the horrible truth burst
upon the listener's dazed senses. She was alone with a maniac. All the
stories she had ever read rushed to her memory, and the only clear
idea she had was the conviction that she must, if possible, humor his
vagaries till help came. She was a petted, spoiled darling, but she
had great strength of will, and she now called it into requisition.

She hurriedly glanced at the clock, and calculated how long it would be
before the train whistle could signal the coming of her dear ones. Alas!
it was just eight. What, oh, what must she do? Of whom did he speak?
Kill her? Kill whom? Then the mystery of the murdered girl darted into
her mind. Katie had been right then. There was in truth a murdered girl.
Was this awful creature her slayer?

Suddenly, with a confidential gesture he bade her sit down with him.

"I'll tell you about it," he said; "if she had only kept still! But she
screamed and tried to run away, I can't stand noise!" He clapped his
hands over his ears as if to shut out the echo of it. "I must have this
blood--this pure, young, life-giving stream. But she would not listen to
me. Poor thing! It was too bad, wasn't it? Hey? Speak!" and he grasped
her delicate wrist with a grip of steel.

Trembling at the sound of her own voice, the girl commanded herself to
say:

"Yes; who was she?"

"I don't know," he replied, seriously. "She was beautiful and fresh; she
was almost as fair as you," letting his wild eyes roam over her. "I was
getting away from that cursed place. Think of confining a man of my
learning in a madhouse! But that was just it. I had mastered the new
theory--the transfusion of blood. They wanted to steal my glory, so they
locked me in. But I outwitted them; I captured these and ran away."

Laughing wildly but still under his breath, he took from his jacket a
black case of bright, new surgical instruments.

"These were what I needed," he continued, with a low chuckle; "I could
not attain the goal without these beauties." Caressingly he went over
them. "Lancet, probe, trocar, bistoury, tourniquet,"--mentioning the
collection, while he passed his fingers affectionately along the small
sharp knives.

"For years and years," he went on, "I have studied this theory. The only
thing is to find a young, strong, healthy subject; I found her. I was
hiding in the bushes; she was on the highway; but she would not listen
to me."

"You did not kill her?" the girl forced her dry lips to ask.

"Nay, nay; that is an ugly word. I had to sacrifice her--I did not kill.
Then the foolish mob came and I fled hither. But I had a bit of bread
and meat; she dropped her basket of lunch. I've been hiding in yonder
tower," pointing upward. "I thought I might find what I want; and now,
my dear, you will help me, won't you?" This he said coaxingly.

"Help you? What can I do?"

"Such a simple thing. Hold very still while I draw the rich red blood
from your pretty white throat."

"You would not spoil my throat?" pleaded Jessie in winning tones, with
the courage born of despair; "such a very little throat," clasping her
soft fingers about it in unconscious paraphrase of King Hal's hapless
queen.

"But where else can I find the glorious stream so rich and red?" he
argued, with a perplexed frown. "It must be transfused into my own
veins, that I, too, may be young again."

"But not the throat! I could not sing any more then."

"Ah, so--I heard you singing; it was not loud; it pleased me. Yes,
'twould be a pity. Well, I'll tell you what I will do. I'll open a vein
in your arm--just here," laying his finger on the round white member.
"This will quicken the nervous centers. Then I will cut my own arm and
insert your blood at the opening till the two life-currents mingle in
one stream."

He paused and reflected a moment. The generous warmth of the fire,
together with the terrified girl's enforced quiet manner, were evidently
soothing to him.

"Listen now, very closely: Here is my greatest scientific discovery. I
do not mean to impart the secret to another. It is the _transfusion of
brain!_ Some other man's head got on to my shoulders, and my brain is
all wrong. Now with your red blood charged in my veins, and your young
active brain absorbed into my own uncertain head, I shall find the
elixir of life, and you will not have lived in vain."

Gracious Heaven! Did she hear aright? She had submitted to blood-letting
once to gratify an old family physician, who insisted upon the remedy;
and she felt almost brave enough to endure the operation again, if it
would only kill time and satisfy her tormentor. But to cut into her
brain! Merciful God! What should she do? She could not escape, for he
watched her with cat-like vigilance. Scream she dare not, for so did the
other frightened victim. She _must_ try to gain time.

With a rapt expression he continued: "Since the days of Esculapius there
has been no such transcendent theory as this which is to make me famous.
All my weary nights of thought and days of study are to be rewarded at
last. Come child, are you ready? It will not hurt you. Only a little
pin-prick, and no pain. I would not pain you my dear."

What if he should let her bleed to death! Oh sister, oh lover, come, or
she would die of horror, if not the knife! And Katie--why didn't she
come! At this moment the sound of the train whistle in the distance
broke on the stillness of the night. How could she gain ten minutes
more? The man had not noticed the sound.

"What do you wish?" she asked sweetly, "What shall I get for you?"

"Only a handkerchief and a basin," he replied coolly, still fingering
a sharp lancet. "You are not afraid? Good girl; now for my crowning
victory!"

As a sleep-walker she procured the articles and bared her arm. Tenderly
he was binding it above the blue veins, when she said in winning tones:

"Let me tell you how I think would be the best way to do this--may I?"
and she fixed her large eyes upon him in entreaty. He paused, and she
continued:

"Now let me tie your arm in the same way. You open your own vein with
the lancet, then open mine, and quickly after mix the two while the
blood is warm. Do you see? You can't fail if you do it that way."

He looked at her. She did not flinch.

"Perhaps you are right; very well."

She arose as deliberately as she dared and went to her dresser for
another handkerchief. At the moment she opened the linen case her ears,
strained to the utmost, caught a murmur from below stairs. Turning
quickly to see if the man also had heard, the door was pushed open and
Katie's neat cap filled the aperture.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Get on as fast as you can, driver," said George Randolph, as he and
Mabel took seats in the village stage. Then turning to his companion, he
said in reassuring tones: "Don't be frightened, dear; she is all right."

"I know it is foolish," said Mabel, half crying; "but those wretched
placards made me nervous, and all that talk about escaped murderers and
lunatics. I am fairly beside myself; do hurry!"

As the wide portals of Crestdale appeared, Mabel cried, in sudden
terror:

"Something is wrong, George; see how dim the lights are! She would never
welcome us like this. Don't wait to ring; open the doors!"

As George fitted his key in the lock and swung wide the door, a shrill
scream from above made their blood curdle. Shriek upon shriek followed,
as Katie came bounding down the stairs, almost knocking backward the
two who ran past her to Jessie's room. White and lifeless they found
her, prostrate, her arm still bound with the handkerchief. She had risen
nobly to the awful emergency, but succumbed when relief came.

In vain Katie continued a shriek that a murtherer was in the room. The
anxious watchers bent over their stricken darling, who was now lying on
her own bed and beginning to show signs of life.

Before they could ascertain what had happened, for Katie was crazed and
incoherent from fright, a furious ringing of the bell sounded long and
loud. Michael opened the door to a party of men who were in pursuit of
a strange-looking person whose face had been seen at the tower window;
whether an escaped lunatic from the state asylum, or an escaped murderer
for whom a large reward was offered, remained to be proved.

The search was instituted with George Randolph at the head. The victim
was soon unearthed, but in a moment, laughing wildly in the frenzy of
madness, he darted out upon the roof and, rather than be captured,
dashed himself to the pavement below.

All night they sat beside the brave girl, and bit by bit heard her
story. For days she was ill from the shock of her fearful experience.
The wedding was very quiet, but George refused to have it deferred.

It was months before the bride could summon courage to live at
Crestdale, and she was a much older woman before she could refer with
composure to Katie's murtherin' ghost.



Her Christmas Gift

A WHITE RIBBON STORY


She was born on Christmas Day, and so came, with her little white
face and solemn eyes, into her pale mother's life. She was worse than
fatherless. The beast of a man she might have come to call by that
sacred name, would now be beside the snowy cot, weeping in maudlin
rejoicing over his new treasure, if the mother had not resolutely put
him away some six months before.

The world knew him as Judge Barrett, a man of fine family, superb
talents, and a magnetic orator. He might be, perhaps, too convivial on
occasions, but was not this a common frailty among Kentucky's great
men? The wife knew him as besotted and disgusting. What mattered his
learning, his eloquence, his aristocratic blood, or ample income? To her
alone he brought his degraded mass of humanity day after day; and though
never personally unkind to her, or to the little boy that died, she was
enabled by the might of her tearless agony beside that tiny bier, to cut
the last tie that bound her to the blear-eyed creature sobbing on the
other side. The last tie? Ah, woe was she! The coming time brought into
her desolate life the frail link she must now take up; and in the first
bitter realization of her wronged womanhood, the mother-love lay
dormant.

As the months went by the little Ruth twined herself in every fiber
about that lonely mother's heart, till she was loved with a love that
was pain. So jealously guarded, too, that never once had the father's
eyes fallen upon her, not even by chance. In vain he sent appeals just
to look on his little daughter; he would ask no more. He was refused,
and the baby's nurse did not dare transgress.

By-and-by Ruth was old enough to understand; and then she wanted to know
who her papa was, and why he never came home as Masie Morrow's did. At
this her mother would be terrified, and clasping her treasure close,
would tell her she must never ask about her papa; he was a dreadful man.

"Like Jack, the Giant-killer, mumzie?"

"Oh, my dearie, he is a great deal worse."

Again Ruth said; "I know, mumzie, my papa is a great black thing like
the pictures on the circus papers!"

So it came to pass that Miss Ruth fell to thinking about her father till
it got to be a sort of mania with her--wondering and wondering what it
all meant. Her life was secluded, but she was fondly attached to her
grandparents and to a number of friends who were received at the house,
while her mother was most tenderly enshrined in the faithful little
heart.

The mother had a comfortable income, and provided her little girl with
the best masters. She was a quaint, white-faced, solemn-eyed creature,
as she had been from the first. She said "old" things, her black nurse
declared, and she knew her little "missy" was under a spell. If so, the
spell was tempered by an almost idolatrous love on the mother's part.

When she was getting to be a romping big girl, she had just as queer
ways; too old for a child, though the sober, owl-like look began to
soften to an earnest expression, which on occasions verged upon a
twinkle in the deep blue eyes. Distant friends were now writing letters
of inquiry, and her father's relatives persistently urged Mrs. Barrett
to send the child to them for a visit. At last she took Ruth and went;
she would not trust her out of her sight. She was a pale, pretty,
gentle-looking woman, with a will of iron. It was to Judge Barrett's
sister, Mrs. Stanton, in a neighboring town, that they came. They were
afraid to mention his name, or hint at a possible reconciliation; but
they managed to make the young Ruth very much in love with her new
aunt, and merry, pretty cousins.

Meanwhile her father had gone from bad to worse, a confirmed drunkard,
though rarely too far gone to make an eloquent stump-speech when
occasion required. So popular was he that he had the sympathy of the
community in his domestic estrangement. Some said his wife was too hard
and unforgiving; all agreed that he should have been permitted to see
his child.

Ruth was seventeen years old and had long since exerted her filial
influence to the extent of going to her aunt, Mrs. Stanton, whenever
she wished. She had come to be quite a sensation in her father's native
village, his hosts of friends readily tracing a likeness to himself. She
was a sweet, rather wilful maiden, not exactly pretty, but very refined
and attractive.

Judge Barrett had always found a bed at his sister's, no matter at
what hour of day or night he chose to stagger in; but the large family
combined efforts to prevent the contretemps of a meeting between him and
Ruth. Their promise to her mother was too sacred for trifling, and they
loved the girl too well to risk being deprived of her society. Destiny,
or chance, was too strong for them. It was on a bright, sunlit day, when
Ruth was in an animated discussion with her cousin Roger upon the merits
of Vassar College, recently thrown open to young women, which he
declared was only a place where they transformed a girl into a boy.

"Never go there, Coz, if you wish to retain an iota of your womanhood."

"Prejudice, prejudice;" she retorted. "I do believe in the higher
education of women and I am certainly going to Vassar, if I can persuade
my mother to part from me so long."

"Why not take her with you?" Mrs. Stanton was saying, when horror of
horrors, there appeared at the side door of the large sitting-room
a flushed and tangled-looking creature, tottering and righting up
alternately. All eyes were turned upon him, and every voice was dumb.
Steadying himself within the door, he slowly surveyed the young faces
grouped there, till his bloodshot gaze fell upon Ruth's white, wondering
countenance. Perhaps she reminded him of the wife who had repudiated
him. Perhaps some dawning instinct was at work. He staggered up to the
girl, who never once turned her eyes, and placing a hand upon her head,
said in the words of Childe Harold: "Is thy face like thy mother's, my
fair child?"

Tears sprang to every eye; but Ruth, first gasping as with a revelation
from some long-dormant recess of her brain, arose, and catching his hand
as it fell powerless, burst out:

"_Who_ are you? Are you my--father? Oh, tell me!" she appealed to
the group about her--"my father?" and stood breathless before him.

The word seemed to sober him with a mighty shock. He sank upon his
knees, her hands still clasping his, and burying his hot face in her
cool palms, murmured in choking accents:

"Her father--my child--my God, I thank thee!"

But the strain was too much. In a moment more he sank all in a heap upon
the floor, limp and lifeless.

Passionately the girl knelt beside him, and looked searchingly into his
now colorless face, while the others hastened with restoratives. Nor did
she leave him during the days of illness that followed, except when
obliged to rest. Little by little they had told her the story.

She only said: "Oh, I never dreamed he was like this. I used to think
he must be something inhuman, horrible. Then I found myself staring at
every stranger, especially if he was monstrous, or in the least hideous.
But I had given up all hope, and was afraid to ask."

"No, my dear child;" soothingly said her aunt, "your father is not
horrible, or hideous except that he is the slave of drink. He is not
inhuman, but a tender, loving creature. He is a gentleman, cultured and
learned. There is nothing fine in the language he cannot repeat, so
wonderful is his gift of memory. Oh, my child, can you not--will you not
help him? You can win him, I feel sure."

Ruth learned to love her father by reason of his idolatrous devotion
to her, as well as the powerful influence of his brilliant talents. In
those first days of convalescence he followed her feebly from room to
room, drinking in the joy of having her after the privation of years;
and one day folding her to his breast said:

"My precious child--my beautiful daughter--hear your father's vow! Come
what will, nevermore shall a drop of the accursed fire pass my lips. I
will redeem our name--I can and I will."

He kept his word. Ruth went to Vassar. She wrote long, loving letters to
her mother and father every week of her school life. Once she said to
her mother:

"You know what I wish, my darling mamma. You know that I long to unite
my two beloveds; but never shall I ask it. You must follow your own
heart. I believe my father will be worthy of us; I shall be guided by
you alone."

At first the mother was stricken down by the fierce throes of jealousy
and pain that rent her soul; but as time went on and she knew that she
was not supplanted, she grew quiescent. But she owned to herself that
she never could have sent Ruth away if it had not been to separate
her from her father as well.

On every side his praises were sung in her ears. He was rising higher
and higher in his profession, and one enormous fee in a contested will
case, had suddenly made him rich. Both were getting on toward middle
life, and he was slightly gray; but her brown hair lay in the same soft,
glossy bands, and her pure white face was placid as of yore.

Four years had passed, and Ruth's birthday was at hand. Her mind had
long been made up; and now Christmas light and gladness reigned supreme.
It was just at the close of the day when entering the fire-lit room upon
the arm of her tall, distinguished-looking father, she threw her arms
about her mother and whispered three words,--"For our sake!"

Then kneeling with courtly grace before her, he kissed the fair hand he
had won in his youth and in tones whose music had thrilled her girlish
heart, he spoke:

"My beloved, will you not trust me again? See--our darling has saved us
for each other."

And the last ray of the roseate sun lingered lovingly on the three as
the evening sank into blessed night.



In a Pullman Car

A LOVE STORY


It was rather late when Hervey Leslie threw the remains of a cigar from
the car window, and staggered through the jumping, jerking Pullman to
his berth.

The curtains were all drawn, giving to the car a funereal aspect, and
lights were turned down for the night.

Jerk, jerk, jolt and jump went the train around the mountain curves,
till the various hats and wraps suspended from the hooks seemed about to
tumble together. Suddenly something dropped through the curtains of the
upper berth opposite and lodged there. Involuntarily extending his arm
to catch it if it fell, our young traveler's eyes were riveted upon an
object which he now felt inclined to catch, whether it fell or not.
It was a small white shapely hand--a woman's hand; and the midnight
tresspasser would have been less than human if he had not risen to a
better view. There it was, just peeping between the heavy curtains,
white and blue-veined, with tapering fingers and shell-like nails. How
he longed to touch it! How tempting the rounded curve of the small wrist.

A prolonged lunge threw him violently forward, when grasping the rod to
save himself, his lips went plump against the coveted object. It was
only momentary, but it thrilled him as with an electric shock. When he
recovered his equilibrium the fair sleeper had withdrawn entirely out of
sight, and her involuntary assailant addressed himself to the duty of
disrobing. Long he pondered upon the "touch of a vanished hand," and at
last fell into uneasy dreams wherein the world had come to an end, and
he found himself at the gates of heaven, with five soft white fingers
turning the key on the other side.

"Last call for breakfast," shouted the porter next morning, and the
confusion of voices mingled with the noisy folding of vacated berths.

Parting his curtains, Hervey Leslie peered out, possibly to catch a
morning view of the pretty hand.

"By Jove! better still!" was his smothered comment, as he hastily turned
away.

What he had seen was the perfection of a French boot, buttoned high, and
protruding modestly below the curtains. Then a soft voice called--"Porter,
I should like to get down."

The steps were adjusted, and as she gently fluttered down, the listener
thought--

"What a shame I didn't have a chance to exchange berths with her! To
think of her being perched up there!"

An hour later Leslie returned from his cigar to find the Pullman in
order, and the refreshed occupants enjoying the books and papers
scattered about. It was not possible to mistake the owner of the hand
and foot, whom a glance revealed in her corner, looking quietly upon the
hurrying villages and farms. A coquettish hat rested lightly upon a
fluffy mass of golden brown hair, a dainty tailored suit fitted closely
the rounded figure, and the face that looked out of the window was sweet
and bright even in repose. The coveted hand, in spotless kid, shielded
the earnest eyes from the glare of the morning sun, and all in all, the
picture was one to tempt any looker-on.

Just as Hervey Leslie was puzzling his brain for a pretext, however
flimsy, to introduce himself, a lady came from the dressing-room and sat
down beside the beautiful unknown--a lady still young and handsome, and
so closely resembling the girl as to leave no doubt that they were
mother and daughter.

"What has Charlie done with himself?" was the pleasant question, met
with a smile so bewitching that the watcher was hopelessly ensnared.

"So, there's a party of them," he mused. "And who the deuce is Charlie?"

But when that youth appeared he proved to be only a brother, and not a
very big brother, at that.

Settling himself back in a corner from whence he could use his eyes and
ears as he dared, young Leslie drew forth a letter which he perused with
interest; in fact, he already knew it by heart. It ran thus:

  "MY DEAR SON,

  "Congratulate me. The all-important day is fixed for the 24th inst.
  Come at once. Mrs. Dana is anxious to cultivate you, and my own
  impatience is an old story.

  "Your affectionate father,

  "H.J. LESLIE."


"Confound Mrs, Dana!" was the son's comment, for upon the subject of his
father's second marriage he was distinctly undutiful.

For a while he lost himself in pictures of the new home, and mentally
resolved to absent himself as much as possible. He knew how his
opposition was grieving his father, who thought him most unreasonable:
but he persisted in refusing to see the lady until after the ceremony.

Suddenly with a terrific lurch the train was derailed and plunged down
an embankment, not steep but rocky. The heavy Pullman toppled over, then
planted itself firmly in a bed of fresh earth, and was still. There were
wild cries of fear and pain, a loud crashing of glass lamps, and some
wrenching of seats. Leslie fell into a pile of great-coats, and flung
out his right arm just as the two ladies were dashed against him, and
a sudden sharp twinge made him oblivious of everything.

When he recovered consciousness he found himself being pulled out of
his corner, and realized by the agony of the motion, that something
was broken somewhere. With one mighty protest against such vigorous
handling, he relapsed into a dead faint. When he next opened his eyes he
was lying between cool sheets in a pleasant room, and bending over him
was the elder lady of the Pullman. The first bewildered look was rapidly
merged into a frown of pain, as a sense of discomfort made itself felt.

"He is coming round, doctor;" said the lady.

Then to him she said;--"you must be very quiet. Your shoulder has been
set. It is all right now. Heaven be praised that we did not kill you as
we fell!" she added aside, and her sweet motherly face showed the
sympathy he was in need of.

Then a voice at the door said timidly, yet eagerly,--"Mamma,
come--Charlie wants you."

The ladies vanished, leaving the doctor in charge.

Hervey soon gathered that they were at a farm-house near Columbus, Ohio;
that Charlie had a broken leg, that his mother and sister, along with
the others who had escaped injury, were stopping over to render service
to the wounded.

"Who are they?" he asked, curiosity getting the better of his pain.

"I think the name is Raynor," said the doctor; "Mrs. Raynor, Miss
Eloise, and the youth, whose leg we set this morning. But say, young
man, where are your people? Don't you want some telegrams sent? You are
not likely to get away from here very soon."

Young Leslie groaned as he gave his father's address at Cincinnati, then
exclamed;--"See here, doctor, can't you stop this confounded pain? What
the deuce is the matter, anyway? Do get me out of this."

The doctor gave him a soothing potion and bade him be quiet. He promised
to send a nurse, then went to look after the more slightly injured
patients.

Three weeks later found Hervey Leslie in dressing-gown and slippers,
setting beside Miss Eloise Raynor under a large shade tree, the young
lady reading aloud from Tennyson's tender rhymes. At an open window in
full view lay Charlie, still a prisoner, with his mother in close
attendance.

Mr. Leslie had paid several visits, and assured his son that the only
way in which he could repay him for postponing the wedding till he
should be well enough to witness it, was by becoming reconciled to his
new mother. At which the son smiled, for something had of late come over
the spirit of his dream that predisposed him singularly in favor of
weddings. A sort of low fever hung about him, which made it prudent
for him to remain in the country; and he rather fixed the time of his
departure when Charlie's leg should justify the whole party's leaving.

The young girl and her mother blamed themselves for his hurt and had
paid him every kindly attention. He had gathered the story of the petted
daughter, and in his enfeebled state their acquaintance made rapid
progress. Even now it required no acute observer to surmise the ravages
of the little god. No one interfered, and for once the course of true
love seemed to glide smoothly on.

He had confessed his aversion to to the prospective mother, and
endeavored to elicit sympathy by picturing to young Eloise what it would
be to have another fill her dear father's place. At such times her face
was impenetrable, and he intuitively grew to avoid the topic.

Ere Charlie was able to get about, young Leslie had fallen in love with
the whole family; and when he had sought and obtained the dimpled hand
he had so coveted in the Pullman car, laughingly told the mother he was
not so sure but that after all she was the one he loved best. A smile
passed over the regular features as she said meaningly:

"Only love me as a son, my boy, and I think we can be happy in each
other. But remember, a mother-in-law is a dangerous animal!"

Mr. Leslie was so happy in his son's good fortune,--for so he evidently
considered it--that he declared there must be a double wedding.

"You shall have your way," he added, with some pique; "and not see Mrs.
Dana till we meet at the church. Afterward, I'll risk the meeting!"

Some two months after the accident the programme was carried out. But
the Raynors had remained at the farm-house till the appointed day, the
young people growing all the while so distractingly fond of each other,
that the really short time seemed to drag with leaden wings.

Quietly one morning, in the presence of intimate friends, and quite in
the old-fashioned way, the two pairs of lovers walked up the church
aisle to the minister in waiting. The ladies wore rich traveling-suits,
and carriages waited to convey the immediate members of the family
to the wedding breakfast. The younger bridegroom saw nothing but the
sweet face at his side, though he started perceptibly when the service
revealed that his father's bride and his own bore the same musical name
of Eloise.

When the first carriage closed with a snap, there was a relaxing of
ceremony, and an interchange of congratulations, earnest, though
somewhat amusing. For when Hervey raised his eyes to the despised
mother's face, he saw there the soft features of Mrs. Raynor, while his
father smiled in contented expectancy. His own face was a study!

"Raynor?" he stammered. "Why I thought--I understood--"

"You said Raynor," was the teasing reply; "we never did."

"And whom have I married?" was his next question, with a grotesque
grimace at the demure young person beside him.

"Eloise Dana, an' it please your lordship. Do you mean to get a
divorce?"

"It's all right, my boy;" cheerily said his father, while all three
heartily enjoyed the denouement. "It was only a little harmless plot,
you know, to bring you to your senses! Besides, you were in too delicate
a state of health to bear the truth!" This with decided relish.

"Bring me to my senses!" echoed the other. "You have about run me crazy!
Here I've gone and married my wife's brother to his sister, and the
fathers and mothers are all fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law. But, my
dear mamma," he added, with an 'Et-tu-Brute' look at the amused lady,
"I did not think you would play me false!"

"The temptation was too great," she confessed, "after I saw your name on
the tell-tale suit case; own the truth now, that as Mrs. Dana, you would
never have fallen in love with me!"

"Ah, well," he gave in, "let's kiss and make friends. As for you, young
lady," he exclaimed with mock fierceness, "I shall exact the most
implicit obedience. I must get even somehow."

"No--no--I did not promise to obey--brides never do nowadays," and the
little gloved hand went up to his lips in protest.

Catching it fast, he threatened to proclaim the first time her hand had
ever touched his lips, all unconscious though she was, and amid blushes
and happiness all around, they arrived at the house, where the whole
story had to be rehearsed to delighted friends, beginning with midnight
vision in a Pullman car.



In Old Kentucky

A PRIZE STORY


Everybody was at Crab Orchard springs, that favorite resort in the
ante-bellum days. What though the main rooms were cramped and stuffy, or
that the straggling cottages across the grassy lawn were mere shells.
It was a place thoroughly rural, thoroughly enjoyable. Merely to ramble
along the winding saw-dust walks to the deep embowered springs, was a
sufficient augury of improved health. It was the one daily excitement to
crowd up to the long platform and see the stage come in, bringing high
and low, the rich and moderate liver. The luggage was light, Saratoga
trunks being unknown quantities, and no gowns were brought except those
of the crushable kind that did duty at ten-pins, fishing, walking,
dancing, and not least, driving, for the gravel turnpikes were fine.

Across the wide street was Bachelors' Row, where were installed hunters
and hounds from the Southland, rich cotton and sugar planters, sporting
men and their sable attendants. Here the candles burned all night, and
there were loud whispers of games in vogue not as innocent as those
listed on the tempting advertising circulars of the Springs. This sunny,
summer life was of the _dolce far niente_ sort, given up to idle
pleasure, and quite out of the way of the tragic happenings of romance.
Yet a mystery had managed to creep into this Arcadian realm, a thing not
at first tangible, but getting to be an acknowledged first-class secret
as the days went by.

Egbert Mason had been nearer the carriage than the rest of the sunset
crowd when the stage rolled up, followed by the close, luxurious-looking
vehicle so rarely seen in those parts. He declared he caught a glimpse
of a being, exquisitely beautiful among the two or three closely wrapped
and veiled women who descended from the carriage; and the young men were
on the _qui vive_ some hours later to see the new comers enter the
ball room. But they did not appear either that night, or any other
night. They kept their cottage rooms closely, sitting out only in the
rear, and were waited upon by the two black servants they had brought.
Various were the conjectures about them, and vague stories soon took
shape. The hotel register told only their names: Mrs. Glencarron, Mrs.
Hamilton and daughter, from Mississippi. The daughter was an invalid,
and this was all that could be drawn from the faithful blacks. The
girls pouted, and mamas looked unutterables when their curiosity found
no relief; while the men were wisely silent, though equally diligent in
fruitless investigation.

It was past midnight, and the lights were out, when the ominous cry of
"fire!" sounded through the grounds, striking terror to the visitors
thus suddenly startled from their sleep, and emptying the cottages of
their half-clad occupants by one accord. A glance at the crackling
flames showed that Bachelors' Row was on fire and doomed. Men from the
distant village were soon on the spot with buckets, and amid frightened
cries, confused questions, and a general hurrying, scurrying of feet, a
few had presence of mind to cover the main building with wet blankets,
lest the trees now snapping and hissing might drop a blazing brand and
the whole place go down.

After the first panic had subsided there was nothing to do but stand
and watch the graphic scene; and while thus engaged the attention of
some was attracted by a face white and drawn as with pain among the
by-standers. It was that of one of the mysterious ladies of the southern
cottages. But even as they noted the faded beauty and aristocratic
bearing of the stranger she was hurried away by another figure closely
wrapped and hooded. Not before she had ejaculated: "Oh, what is it?
Is she----?" and there the words were lost.

It was somewhere near the early morning when Egbert Mason who had been
foremost in fighting the fire, was aroused by a voice just outside his
window, which was left open for the faint breeze of the summer night.

"Come quick iz you kin, young marster, fur de lub o'heb'n."

Between sleeping and waking the young man jumped up and peered out of
the window. He could just discern the prim red and yellow turban of the
black keeper of the strange ladies.

"Iz you a doctor, Marster? Dey says you iz."

"Yes--a very young one--what is wanted?"

The negress spoke a few very hurried words in a lower tone.

"All right. In one moment--stay--never mind--I have it--I'm coming." And
catching up something from the shelf of his closet the young doctor sped
away to the mysterious door of the southern guests.

He was met on the threshold by an anxious, grief-stricken face, and the
words half sobbed out:

"Was there no one else? None older? You--why, you are a boy."

"True, madam, but I am not without experience. I hope--I think, you may
trust me, unless----"

But she drew him hurriedly within the door, and on to an inner chamber,
where lay his patient, so guarded that he never once saw her face.
Before the earliest risers were called to the long breakfast hall there
echoed the cry of a little child in the southern cottages--a girl baby
that opened its eyes first in an atmosphere of secrecy and mystery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sixteen years had gone by. It was the eighth of January, and the Capitol
Hotel at Frankfort was a blaze of military glory. It was the annual
commemorative ball, and Strauss' band was pouring forth inspiring
strains, as the dancers, in fancy costumes of every age and clime,
flitted to and fro. The beauty, wealth and chivalry of Kentucky were
there. The stars and stripes were draped about the speaking portraits
of dead heroes, and munitions of war glittered on every side.

Among those wearing the neat broadcloth evening dress of the plain
American citizen was Dr. Egbert Mason, the famous surgeon, now a
distinguished looking man of thirty-five. It was rather late in the
evening when he appeared, and he was soon captured by his friend,
the Hon. Leslie Walcott, who bore the distinction of being the youngest
member of the House, and presented to Miss Eleanor Carleton, the most
popular of all the belles and beauties on the floor. Her dress was an
exquisite personation of the stars and stripes, from the crown of stars
on her golden brown hair, to the gaily ribboned white satin slipper. Her
white muslin skirts showed the red stripes at intervals; a soft blue
sarcanet sash across her breast was stamped with the outstretched wings
of the American eagle, and in every detail this unique costume was
alluring to a degree.

Dr. Mason was more than impressed by her extreme youth, in its setting
of precocious womanly grace and charm. She was so happy and bright, a
_sans souci_ maiden whom he lost no time in winning to his own
colors, by the magic of a well-stored mind and an eloquent tongue. A
sonsie, sweet-sixteen lassie, not yet out of school, but wonderfully
developed, like the southern girls of the period, whose parents were
possessed of ample means. He sounded her fresh, rich stores of mind and
found she had indeed been carefully taught, wisely trained. Not at once
did he learn it all, but soon enough to resolve to win and wear this
jewel, if only Providence were kind. Providence? Ah, there swept across
his face the shade of one bitter memory--one foul wrong that had
darkened his earlier manhood. A woman's fatal wiles, a man's trust
betrayed. He forgot that she had vowed vengeance if it took a lifetime.
He thrust it all aside, and turned to the purity and innocence of this
fair young womanhood, with the infinite longing of a starved nature.

The evening of the ball did not close without another surprise for
Egbert Mason. Eleanor Carleton was challenging him in a spirited
quotation contest when her mother approached leaning upon the arm of the
Governor of the State. She was a handsome, dark-eyed woman, young enough
to seem the elder sister of the lovely girl who called her mother.

"Eleanor, my child," she said, barely glancing at her daughter's
companion. "I've been looking everywhere for you. Have you been in the
draughts of those halls? Supper is ready."

"Oh, I've been in very good hands," was the merry reply, as the girl
introduced Dr. Mason, and shook hands with the Governor, who was looking
down at her with his kindliest smile.

"Madam," he said gallantly, "I must compliment you upon this exceedingly
pretty and patriotic dress. I have been watching it from afar all
evening. How could you conceive such a marked hit for the occasion."

"I hope it in order for me to say she never fails," proudly answered
Senator Carleton, an imposing looking man, who had come up in time to
hear the last remark. "The march is playing for supper--"

"Oh, mother--what is it?" cried the girl, suddenly directing attention
to Mrs. Carleton's face, which was colorless, almost ghastly, while her
eyes seemed gazing afar off into space.

"Allow me," said Dr. Mason, with concern, advancing quickly, and amid
the excited gathering of the little circle about him, he gently bore her
to one of the large windows, as the Senator in visible alarm threw up
the sash.

"To my room," she murmured, as she revived a little, and thither they
conducted her as quietly as possible.

At the door the startled young girl turned and impulsively clasping the
doctor's hand, exclaimed:

"Oh, Dr. Mason--what is the matter? I never saw my mother like this--is
she going to be ill?"

He tried to reassure her, though the touch of her soft, clinging fingers
set his blood dancing like wild fire in his veins.

That night old Ailsie knelt beside her mistress and soothed her with the
crooning tones of her childhood days.

"Don't you fret, Missie; he doan know nuffin' 'bout it now. An' if he
do he ain' gwine ter tell nobody."

That night, too, Egbert Mason, in dreams climbed a mountain height to
reach an eagle's nest. As he grasped the last wavering support a figure
glittering with stars dropped from the nest, suspended by a tattered
flag. Down, down it fell. Frantically he clutched at the frail colors.
They lengthened more, and more, till the starry, shimmering form was
swaying above a yawning abyss. Could he save her? Her--his young love
with the appealing eyes? With one mighty effort he nerved himself for
the desperate descent, when lo! from yon black depth appears the
vindictive face of Isabella Drury. Older, careworn, faded--but still
Isabella, and wearing the head of a Medusa.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You shall never marry that girl, Egbert Mason! I have sworn it! If you
attempt it I will kill one or both of you!" and the face of the speaker
was like a mad woman. "Oh, I know all you would say," she went on,
striding about the rooms she had entered by strategy. "But she shall not
have you if I can not. Pshaw! What fools men are! Do you know who and
what she is? Where is your boasted pride, that shrank from a thing like
me! Let me tell you, then, you scornful, high mightiness! Eleanor Carleton
is----" and she hissed the hateful word in his ears.

"Woman! You lie!" shouted Egbert Mason, stung to frenzy by her taunts,
and sick unto death of her persecution. His was not a quiet nature, and
she had touched him in his sorest point. "You lie, and you know it! Out
of my sight! Tell all you will. I, too, can threaten. Your vile secret
is still safe with me, but I shall find means to be rid of you--Go!"

"Stop!" she commanded, coming nearer and dropping her voice to a
sibillant whisper. "Go back seventeen years to a summer night at Crab
Orchard Springs! Aha! you start, I see you have not forgotten. Do you
recollect the part you played that night? _She is that child!_" and
with a malicious laugh she swiftly passed from the room.

The man sat stunned where she had left him. Could it be true? And what
was the mystery of that far-away night of his youth? The more he
pondered the more complete grew the chain. Senator Carleton had married
a Kentucky girl, it was true; but her youth had been passed on a
Mississippi plantation. He had years ago heard more or less idle gossip
about the hard, miserly nature of the old planter, Hamilton, and of his
bitter opposition to his daughter's match with penniless young Carleton.
There had been an elopement, or something. It came back to him like some
hideous nightmare. His pure, spotless darling--his promised wife! Could
there be sin or shame enveloping such a being? He must know. He wrote to
Mrs. Carleton. In earnest words of manly truth and honor he besought her
to explain to him the past. Eleanor was visiting a friend in a distant
city. No answer came. He went to the house and was denied admittance. He
followed Eleanor only to learn that she had been hastily summoned home.
That was not the day of rapid transit. He returned at last to find a
letter of farewell forever--his beloved had been spirited away to other
scenes. Then Egbert Mason left his native land, baffled, broken-hearted,
and devoted the next three years to the study of special lines in his
profession.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a stately drawing room of an ideal Kentucky home are Eleanor Carleton
and Egbert Mason, once more face to face.

"Oh, my love," he moaned, bending almost reverently before her, "what a
mistake, I knew it all when too late. The letters were all found when
that unhappy woman was sent to the asylum. Did you think I could change?
'Forget thee dear?'" he quoted unconsciously--he had said the lines so
often;

  "God knows I would not if I could:
  For sweeter far has been to me the pain
  Of love unsatisfied, than all the vain
  And ill spent years I lived before we met."


Still she stood, gravely looking at him, her maturing beauty made the
fairer by the sable gown she wore.

"Forgive me," then she spoke. "I thought you knew. I have been Leslie
Walcott's wife these four months."

As he sat beside his solitary hearth there was a fumbling outside the
door. He opened to admit old Ailsie, now crippled with rheumatic pains.

"I know'd dat was you. Marse Doctor, 'n I follered yer, I want to tell
yer:--Mistress 'splained all 'bout dat 'fore she died. Dey wan't nothin'
wrong. Her an' her ma was 'feared to let old Master know she hed run
'way an' married Marse Henry. He said he wan't gwine ter will her nary
cent. So mistess and her sister, Miss Ellen, arter while, dey fotch her
up to de springs. Den ole master he died sudden like, an' Marse Henry,
he had done ben 'way off to New Auleens--never know'd dey had fooled old
Master 'bout de chile an' all dat. Po' Mistress! she nebber could tell
him no better, and she was always skeerd-like arter she seed you agin.
But she sot right down dat day and writ all about it to you an' I goes
and gives de letter to dat purty white lady what was sich a good frien',
and den she gimme yourn, ain----"

"Yes, yes, Auntie, I know--I have the letters here----at last," he added
in low, husky tones.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Louisville Journal_ of the next New Year, under date of
January 9, contained the following notice, with lengthy editorial
comment:


  "Died suddenly last night, of heart disease, at the close of the
  Military Ball, at the Capitol Hotel, Frankfort, the Hon. Leslie
  Walcott, age thirty-two years."


Did hope stretch out an alluring hand to one lonely reader?



His Gratitude

VENGEANCE IS MINE


"But surely you do not realize, Robert Garrett, that when you foreclose
this mortgage you leave us virtually penniless;" and the large dark eyes
of the suppliant were blinded by an agony of tears.

"Really, madam, I regret to seem hard;" and the polished courtesy of the
cold, harsh voice fell with heavy weight upon her strained senses. "Your
husband has had more time now than any law allows, human or divine."

"Oh, how gladly he would have paid the debt;" she moaned; "it was his
kindness and forbearance to others--kindness that seemed imperative. He
could not take the law against his crippled brother, his mother's dying
legacy to him. You know all this--you know, too, that if you will only
grant a little longer respite he can settle the claim, or the greater
part of it. How then can you be so cruel as to drive us out of doors!
You who need nothing of this world's goods!"

The man of business stirred a little, crossed his well-clad legs in
still greater comfort, and audibly repressed a yawn. Then as if
unwillingly forced to say something he did it as ungraciously as
possible.

"Again I say I grieve to proceed to harsh measures, but"--then as she
was about to interpose he broke out irritably, "God bless my soul, Mrs.
Blaine, how can you expect anything else! I am obliged to be accurate in
my matters, otherwise there would be no end to imposition from shiftless
men who are always going to pay but----never do."

"This, then, is your ultimatum, sir? You will turn me and my children
out wanderers from the old home where I was born--where I had hoped to
die? Can you do this? Even you, whom the world calls rich and prosperous
and----charitable!" As she spoke she bent upon him in fine scorn her
brilliant eyes dark and piercing.

"Painful things occur every day, my dear madam, in this transitory
life. And once in a while the tables turn. I think I remember a time
when I pleaded with perhaps not so much eloquence, but quite as much
earnestness, for a boon at the hands of pretty Mildred Deering.
I didn't get it, and I have survived, you see. We are apt to magnify
our misfortunes;" and a mocking smile told wherein lay the animus that
was her undoing.

Then she drew her graceful figure to its full height, and with the
contempt of an outraged wife and mother, her words came in tones of
concentrated vehemence:

"So! Robert Garrett, this is your vaunted Christianity! You, the
immaculate pillar of the church--the friend of the outcast--the chief
among philanthropists! Grant _your_ boon? Was there was ever a
moment in her sheltered life when Mildred Deering would have consorted
with the hypocrite you are? Never! Better a thousand times poverty with
nobility and truth in the man she loves. Better an age of privation with
Herbert Blaine than a single instant in the presence of such as you. Do
your worst! And may God mete out to you and yours the mercy you have
shown us!"

Clasping the hand of her little girl who had clung to her mother's
skirts, gazing with wide-open, awestruck eyes at the great man, she was
gone in a moment.

"Ah!" uttered Robert Garrett in a long-drawn-out syllable, reaching for
the evening paper.

There had been another silent witness of this scene in the person of
a lad who stood within the door he had entered just as Mrs. Blaine had
appeared in the opposite way. He was a rather ill-favored schoolboy,
but his thoughts as he came forward with the lanky awkwardness of youth
and took a chair in chimney corner, were not of himself or his looks.

"Father," he said after some minutes had passed, the rattle of the
newspaper and the measured ticking of the clock being the only
disturbing sounds, "Father," he repeated, this time with a falling
inflection.

Startled uncomfortably at the unexpected address the father peered
frowningly at the boy with a gruff, "What!"

"Do you think it is just the fair and square thing to turn 'em out?"

"What do _you_ know about it, you young meddler. Keep quiet about
what does not concern you. You have enough to eat and wear--attend to
your own business."

There was no encouragement to go on, so young Robert sat and pondered
till his father, chafing under the silent rebuke personified in every
line of the son's uncomely face, sent him to his room.

In the other house there was little sleep; and for many succeeding days
the devoted Blaines, with heavy hearts, put by their idols one by one,
till at last the time-honored oaken doors closed upon them in relentless
banishment. It mattered not that amid new scenes prosperity once more
opened her sheltering arms and kept the wolf from the door. The new
owner of Deering Castle, as the villagers had admiringly christened the
grand old place, refused to sell it. Robert Garrett, with the littleness
born of a mean, cramped nature, clung to this coveted possession as the
one thing to be held, though all else were taken. He had money but knew
not how to enjoy it. His household, for the most part, reflected the
coarseness of his nature, and as time passed his retribution was meted
out in rebellious sons and daughters, who wasted his substance and
dragged down his name still further in the mire.

Twenty years had gone by. Herbert Blaine and his bright-eyed wife slept
in the city of the dead. With their latest breath they had, one by one,
adjured their beloved daughter, the only surviving child since the civil
war had laid low their three manly boys, to regain possession of the old
homestead. Time, they assured her, would make all things even, and long
before they laid down the burden of life, they had seen how the wife's
curse beat upon the head of the man who had so oppressed them. They had
learned to feel pity for him whom they had once despised. Not so Jessie
Blaine. She was a woman now, and had been, for a few brief years, till
death robbed her, a happy wife. But never could she forget that dismal
twilight hour when her innocent eyes had photographed the hateful,
sneering face of her mother's enemy; when her ears had phonographed his
mocking words. The scene had haunted her waking and sleeping, for many
days; and still after all these years she could and did remember.

She rejoiced when she heard that wild Ben Garrett had broken nearly
every law of the decalogue, and was wrecking the peace of all who cared
for him. "They richly deserve it all;" she said, when some fresh
escapade or misdemeanor would come to light. He had squandered his
father's thousands aimlessly, recklessly, and was fast bringing his
white hairs in sorrow to the grave. Jessie Forrester only smiled as she
read these items from the local press. Riches and honors were hers.
There was nothing lacking but the dear old home of her people, and this
could not be bought. She climbed to heights undreamed-of in her earlier
days, and became a shining light in the world of letters. Her books were
read in two continents. Statesmen and distinguished circles sought her
till her name became a power in the land. Her influence was widespread.
In an eastern city she at last came to revel in her books and
manuscripts, or in her sweet, healthful, domestic loves, renouncing all
thoughts of revenge, for the time being, and abandoning the hope of
recovering the sacred pile where she first saw the light.

One day there came a letter bearing the postmark of her native town.
With difficulty deciphering the straggling, tremulous address, she
broke the seal and read as follows:--

  "Madam:

  "A heart-broken father appeals to you in his hour of extremity, to
  save his son from the gallows. My boy--my wayward, reckless boy,
  who was once as innocent and pure as yourself, has fallen into the
  hands of treacherous natives and half-breeds in Arkansas, and they
  accuse him of murdering a traveller for his money. He is guiltless
  of this crime--God knows he is; but the weight of evidence is fearful,
  and I am powerless to refute it. The proceedings have been hurried
  over and the verdict is against him.

  "I am unable to go to him--I bring the case to you. Go, I beg of you,
  to Washington and plead with the congressman from this, your native
  district, and the Arkansas representative, who is your kinsman. Urge
  them to see the President and prevail upon him to sift the evidence.
  I realize most bitterly that I have no claim upon you, but oh, for
  God's sake, Madam, do what you can for a distracted father. Hanging!
  Oh, save him from that--and act quickly, for he has only five days
  to live. I am crazed with anxiety and sleeplessness.

  "Your obedient servant,

  "Robert Garrett."


Jessie Forrester's hour had come. The revenge so ardently longed-for
since the hour her mother had invoked the curse of heaven upon this man,
was here. What though his boy did perish, by an ignominous death. A more
worthless cumberer of the earth did not exist. Ah! that cold, sneering
voice on the winter's eve so long ago; her mother's tears! As he had
sown so should he reap, and her hands would help to gather in the
harvest. Through him they had been exiled all these years from the home
that was their birthright. The husband of her early womanhood might
have been spared if only they could have nursed him back to health under
the cool shade of those grand old trees instead of languishing in the
hot city. Help this man? This incarnation of cruel selfishness? Not
she;--his boy should suffer the extreme penalty of the law. How could
_she_ lift a voice to save him! "His boy?" Ah, through her tender
mother's heart there darted a pain all unwonted. Her own noble, gifted
boy--her all--what if untoward fate should have in store for him some
doom of shame--him, her idol and her pride.

She sat buried in thought till suddenly starting up she consulted
a time table, then rang hurriedly for her maid. She was ready in thirty
minutes, and summoning her young son, was soon enroute for the capital.
Arriving at ten o'clock she called a carriage and sped away to new
northwest quarter of the city. By midnight she had seen both
representatives and thoroughly enlisted their services. She gave no
reason for her intercession, nor was it necessary. It was enough that
she deemed it a case for intervention. Next morning the two statesmen
had an interview with the President, and by the hardest, for the mass
of evidence against young Garrett was overwhelming, got a stay of
proceedings till the case could be further investigated.

Well-nigh exhausted from the mental and bodily strain, Jessie arrived
at her home unfit for anything but rest. Then she answered her enemy's
letter. Did she reproach him with his life-long injustice? Did she
demand the old home in exchange for the service she had rendered? Or
at least the privilege of buying it? She merely wrote;--

"I have been to Washington and secured a reprieve pending further
sifting of evidence."

Ben Garrett was saved and the close view of the gallows sobered him at
last. He married the daughter of a Texas ranchman and Jessie heard of
him no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

Five years passed away when on a gloomy afternoon in the autumn, Jessie
Forrester, now a woman of thirty, and wearing her years and honors well,
was sitting at her desk in an elegant sanctum, absorbed in the fate of
two lovers whose history she was creating.

Her door opened and a grave, handsome man with a bearded face stood
before her.

"Madam," he said briefly "you once did my brother a great favor. I am
here to thank you for it."

His brother? A favor? Ah, she had been doing favors for many in all
these years. She did not remember any particular one; it was an every
day matter. Every mail brought petitions and she never turned a deaf
ear. The doing of favors brought its own reward.

She looked steadily at the stranger, and he felt again in his inmost
soul the gaze of those large brown eyes seen once before dilated with
childish terror.

"My name is Garrett," he explained, as briefly as before.

Garrett--that hated name. Involuntarily her eyes fell upon the work
before her, while a warm flush mantled her cheeks.

"May I sit down for five minutes?"

She again raised her eyes without speaking, and he seated himself, not
looking at but beyond her as if her steady gaze unmanned him.

"Madam, my parents are dead. I have come to offer you Deering Castle
at your own price. I should not presume to suggest it as a gift. It is
yours if you wish it. I have heard so often," and here his voice fell
for very shame, "that you wanted it. It was not then mine to dispose
of; now there is no barrier; it is yours. I will send my attorney to
you."

Rising he lingered a moment with a certain wistfulness suffusing his
features, then made his way out ere Jessie could recover sufficiently
to bid him stay.

Her faculties were in a tumult. Deering Castle hers--the estate of her
fathers--the venerated old home hers at last. It almost took her breath
away. A Garrett was offering it. That name hated all her life. But did
she hate it now?

There was no more work that day for the author. Nor ever again did her
genius shine out in rapturing periods till she drew inspiration from the
grand environment of the old homestead. Here Robert Garrett is not an
unwelcome guest. Young Herbert is in fact quite devoted to the grave,
sedate man with the tender heart. Will his benign influence one day
still further cement the new friendship?



The Singer's Christmas

A HOLIDAY STORY


The air of the December day was soft and mild. All the world was in the
streets, glad of a respite from the late cold "snap," which had brought
out furs and heavy wraps.

Signora Cavada was taking her accustomed drive, chaperoned by a
comfortable looking American woman; for this was an American city, and
the famous prima donna was winning nightly laurels at the Louisville
Opera House.

To-day, the carriage with its high-stepping bays sought a new
neighborhood, that the great singer might not be bored with repeated
views of the same places. As it bowled along an old man in tattered
garments approached, hat in hand, and held it toward the open window for
alms. The driver cracked his whip peremptorily above the straggling gray
locks of the suppliant, and drove on toward the suburbs.

"Who was that poor old man?" asked the singer in excellent English.

"Oh, only a beggar; the streets are full of them just before Christmas,"
replied her companion.

"Is he very poor?" persisted the signora. "In my own country we have
beggars--they make a business of begging. But that was a grand face.
I shall go back again to look for him; tell the driver."

Accustomed to obey the caprices of her mistress, the duenna gave the
order and the carriage turned back. There stood the old man as before,
but this time he did not approach the equipage.

"Come here," said the signora, holding out a neatly gloved hand.

Fixing his faded eyes, now kindling with something like hope, upon her
lovely face, he came nearer, and at her bidding told his story. It was a
common one: Ill-health, a vagabond son, his earnings all gone, no work,
and finally beggary.

"And have you no one to take care of you? Where do you live?"

"In that old shed, madam," he answered, pointing to a tumbled down cabin
once used as a cobbler's shop. "And I have with me my little girl, my
grandchild."

"A little girl in that place? Where is she? How do you keep her?"

"Ah, madam, she makes flowers--her mother taught her--and earns a few
pennies now and then. She sings, too, madam," he added with pride.

"Sings?" eagerly echoed the signora. "Fetch her here; I want to see
her."

"She has gone away to the woods to gather evergreens. To-morrow is
Christmas Day."

"Yes, yes, I remember! And how do you celebrate the day?" added the
lady.

"In feasting and rejoicing," said the duenna, before the old man could
answer.

"And the poor? I have read some very pretty stories about the poor in
your cities on Christmas Day."

"Oh, the poor get along well enough," she said, with an accent of
indifference or contempt. "They have more than they deserve."

But the singer was again leaning toward the waiting figure outside,
seeing which the old man said as if in apology:

"That is why I was asking for help, madam; people are generous at
Christmas. But I have known better times; I do not like to beg."

The prima donna was not rich. She supported her own old father and
mother, and was educating her brother for a grand tenor. With one of
those quick impulses born of heaven, she ordered the driver to descend
from his box and throw open the carriage. When the roof parted and the
sunshine came flooding down upon her, the singer faced the crowd that
had been steadily gathering for ten minutes, eager to see the Signora
Cavada, whose voice was the most jealously guarded jewel of her store.
For she had been recognized by a chance passer-by.

Suddenly there stole on the air a divine strain that caused a hush as
by magic to fall upon the restless groups. Louder, sweeter, stronger,
more entrancing it rose, then sunk to the whispering cadence of a sigh.
The old man's hands were crossed before him, and tears poured down his
withered cheeks. Ere the charmed listeners realized that the voice had
ceased, the singer gave the poor supplicant a coin, and waving him
toward the crowd, which was increasing every moment, said,--

"Tell them I will sing again."

The old man went from one to another till the worn hat grew so heavy
that he had to carry it in his arms. Money for his needs, money for his
dear little girl. Then the signora sang again; when about to depart she
scribbled an address which she handed the bewildered man, and drove on
to her hotel.

What a Christmas was that! And what a feeling of happiness filled her
heart! And the duenna said nothing.

A day or two later the beggar and his grandchild appeared at the private
entrance of the hotel where the signora was sojourning. The paper he
carried in his hand was a passport, and he soon stood in her parlor.
He was dressed in a neat new suit, and the child was as sweet as a wild
rose.

"Come and kiss me, little one," said the beautiful lady. "I want to hear
you sing."

Unappalled by the richness of the apartment, and conscious only the
kindness shown her, the child, who was about twelve years old, sang one
of the popular street ballads of the day.

"Santa Maria!" exclaimed the signora, who always ejaculated in her own
tongue. "But you have a treasure here, my friend! The child is a wonder.
This voice must be trained--we will see--we will see."

Touching an electric bell, she summoned a messenger and hastily wrote
a line which she gave him. During the boy's absence she questioned the
strange pair in whom she felt so absorbing an interest, and gathered
what there was to tell of their daily life. Their neighbors were kind,
and the women exercised a sort of motherly care over the little girl;
but the very best there was to know seemed bad enough, and the singer
shuddered as she imagined the dreariness of such poverty as their's.

In answer to the call a young man stood before her.

"Beppo," she said, "your fortune is made; look at that old man." She
spoke in Italian, and the face of the artist, for such he was, lit up
with enthusiasm, as he marked the striking head and face of the person
indicated. "Your model for the Beggar of San Carlo," continued the lady.

Beppo Cellini, at the bidding of his countrywoman, at once made terms
with the old man to sit to him for his great Academy picture.

The little girl, whose voice now commands thousands of dollars on the
operatic stage, was placed under training at the joint expense of her
benefactress and two other artist friends.

The old man, Signor Beppo's model, is at rest now, but he still lives
in the "Beggar of San Carlo." And the Signora Cavada, among all the
good deeds of her charitable career, has never known a truer thrill
of happiness than she experienced on her American Christmas Day.



Turning the Tables

A PRACTICAL STORY


There was great commotion in the kitchen of a large seaside hotel not
many miles from Long Branch. A commotion in fact, that struck dismay to
the heart of the proprietor, who, upon visiting the store-room near by,
was caught and detained, an invisible listener to the uproar.

"I 'clar ter gracious!" screamed the fat, colored cook, "I aint a-gwine
ter stan' it no longer! Po' white trash a-layin' up in bed all mornin,'
an' den it's eggs! Eggs biled, eggs scrabbled, an' homilies (omelettes)
tell yer can't res' nohow! I'se mazin' tired of it all, I tell yer! I'se
gwine ter quit--I is!"

"You'se gwine ter quit--you is! I speck! I'm done heerd dat talk eber
day dis month," jeered cook number two. "Ef you quits you kin jest bet
yer bottom dollar I aint a-gwine to stay. Got more'n I kin do now--I is."

"An' what yer reckon dis chile's goin' ter do den?" pertly chimed in the
mulatto kitchen maid. "I'm got all de runnin' roun' ter do, an' yer kin
jist bet I don't have no easy time. Quit as quick as yer please--all
of yer--I'll go 'long wid de crowd!" and with a toss of her woolly
bangs, she dumped a pan of potato peelings out at the door.

"Dry up! dry up!" broke in the head waiter, appearing on the scene in
true autocrat fashion. He boasted of "right smart book learnin'," and
was a recognised power in the land. "You don't have no trouble at all to
what I do. It's run here, there and everywhere, all in a minute, with a
dozen blockheads to look after. And it's precious few tips I get here,
I promise you! I never see as stingy a lot o' people in all my born
days. Say! you there, Jim! fetch that tray along! What are you gapin'
at, nigger?"

"Don't you nigger me, you black dude!" retorted the darkey, and as
he spoke a smart chambermaid pranced along, flirting back at another
waiter, and ran plump against the boy, tray and all. Down went the
dishes with a clatter which brought a bevy of waiters and maids on the
scene, while the laundress rushed in, all dripping with soapsuds. This
so irritated the head waiter that he seized a teacup and threw it at
the unlucky tray man. Then followed a fusillade of broken crockery and
promiscuous dodging of giggling maids and explosive men-servants.

The fat cook interposed a threatening, hissing tea-kettle to stop the
war, and the perplexed housekeeper appeared among the belligerents as
the overwhelmed proprietor beat a hasty retreat. Stealing unperceived
along the corridors, an idea struck him. This state of things was simply
dreadful; something must be done. He quickly decided. He despatched his
little son to the rooms and all about the premises to request the guests
to assemble to an affair of state in the imposing chamber known as the
main parlor. His wife was an invalid, and the poor man was beside
himself in his perplexity.

With wondering, smiling faces they came--a pleasing array of city
boarders--ease and comfort written upon every face.

His audience assembled, the distressed gentleman proceeded to pour forth
his grievances. He asked what he should do in such a dilemma. His help
had been engaged from the swarms of colored persons who infest the
stations and public resorts along the coast. They had given trouble ever
since the hotel was opened. They complained and annoyed him first about
one thing, then about another, till he was well on to the verge of
lunacy.

"Now, ladies and gentlemen," he pathetically continued, "if I try to
soothe and satisfy, and raise wages and make promises, what guarantee
have I that the same thing will not occur to-morrow, and next day, and
next week? I engaged them fairly and squarely, and have held strictly
to my contract. They are so spoiled and unmanageable that there is no
satisfaction in their service. Even now, while I am talking they are no
doubt still in an uproar. Why, it is a wholesale mutiny. Something must
be done at once. I have come to you for advice. If, as I say, they could
be persuaded to remain, I cannot promise you any comfort. If I discharge
the whole crew, it will be a day, perhaps two days, before I can supply
their places; for I shall have to go to New York for white help. Can you
solve the problem?"

For a moment there was silence. Then Miss May Delano, a handsome,
wealthy city girl, said, with a challenging glance all around: "I'll
wait upon the table for my part, if somebody will get me something to
serve!"

This was received with an outburst, and instantly all was chatter and
confusion as they caught up the spirit of the thing.

"I'll fill the orders as fast as you can take them," boasted a Wall St.
exquisite, who would have unbent his dignity to any degree to please the
bewitching heiress.

"I'll help anywhere--wherever I'm needed," exclaimed another city belle.

"And I!" came in chorus. "We'll be chambermaids," said a party who had
just donned bathing suits of blue flannel.

"All right! Get to work!" commanded the crowd. "You have on just the
dress for the business."

"Well, Mrs. Ingalls," smilingly encouraged a plump matron, "I suppose
we might do as good cooking here as we have done at home in times of
emergency. Shall we try?"

"I'm agreeable," laughed the lady. "That is, if we can manage the
range."

"Oh, leave that to me," said her husband. "I guess I've handled ranges
before." Which caused more merriment, since that gentleman's business
was in the hardware line.

Fresh came another bevy of rosy faces, whose owners declared that they
had been to a cooking school and knew all about it.

"Nothing like practical demonstration," bantered the young men.

"Hurrah!" cried one Hamilton, the pet of the house. "Give me the girl
who can don a white apron, roll up her sleeves, and plunge her pretty
arms into the flour barrel! That's what I'm looking for!" and he
cleverly balanced a chair on his chin, amid a clamor of repartee and
good-natured defiance.

"Go in, the whole ship's crew!" fervently urged a family man. "It will
be the best fun of the season."

"All right!" promptly agreed the ladies. "We are ready. Now, hurry up
and get on your porter's apron in time for the next wagon of trunks.
Pray, call us when you are about to shoulder one!" which turned the
laugh on the muscular member of the group.

"I think I'd rather be parlor maid," sweetly chimed in a little blonde
beauty, with fluffy bangs.

"Suits you to a T," was the gallant response from the younger men.

"And I'll have to stand guard to keep you from flirting," put in an
adorer.

"Pot calling the kettle black!" was the saucy fling from a chorus of
school-girls who were enjoying their first seaside vacation.

"Now, grandma," exclaimed the parlor maid to a beautiful old lady with
silver hair, "you shall have a big chair right in the middle of the
dining hall, and be manager-in-chief."

Meanwhile the landlord had been overcome.

"Ladies," he now managed to articulate, and certainly he meant it, "I
don't know what to say; I don't know how to thank you. But I know what
I'll do; I'll turn away the last one of those quarrelsome blacks; root
and branch they shall go. I'm tired of living in bedlam. I shall go down
at once and start them; then I'll telegraph to New York and take the
first train out. Rest assured I shall be back to your relief as soon as
possible."

The proprietor had made himself heard in the confusion, and as he left
the parlor hearty cheers followed him, when immediately the groups of
talkers broke out again into plans and promises.

"Organize! Organize!" thundered a big man who had been jostled from his
morning paper. "There can be no success without system."

"Hear! Hear!" roared the fun-loving fellows. "Down with the crowd to the
lower regions! Come on with your constitution and by-laws! Hold fast to
law and order! Give us liberty, or death--pumpkin pies and lily-white
hands! Hurrah! On to the kitchen!"

With mock circumspection they were forcing couples to pair off; but
the level-headed matrons soon arranged matters more to the purpose.
The various branches of work were assigned to willing hands that only
awaited the signal for action.

Great was the consternation of the mutineers when the "boss" appeared
in the dismantled kitchen and ordered them all off the premises. In vain
they protested, laying the blame on first one and then another. Their
day of grace was ended and no quarter shown. Wilfully and from sheer
love of bickering, they had offended all sense of justice and propriety,
and in unbroken ranks they must go.

When the fiat had irretrievably gone forth, they showed again the claws
and the cloven foot. The "cook-lady" said she "didn't hafter work
nohow;" she reckoned she could "git along." The maids and the waiters
took the cue and were equally independent. But though paid their wages
in full, they were discharged without "a recommend"; and this, in the
height of the season, was no small privation.

"Teach them a lesson!" muttered the proprietor with satisfaction.
"Serves them right! I'm rather glad of the row."

Cheerily the guests fell to work in their several departments, and if
more than one match for life was not made among the young people, it
was from no lack of genuine admiration in their new roles. The lads
and lassies were happy and rosy and busy at their self-appointed tasks.
The white-coated waiters were dubbed "No. 47," "No. 50," and so on, and
right nobly they served the well-spread tables, which lacked nothing,
not even the boon of contentment, which so helps digestion.

The flushed matrons behind big kitchen aprons, with diamonds locked away
in the hotel safe, took turns to perfection. Many guests took their
ease, and were mere lookers-on at the frolic; but a right goodly company
put their shoulders to the wheel.

When the new corps of "help" were installed, they found the hotel clean
and tidy from attic to cellar, and everything in its proper place.

The episode was one to be remembered by the malcontents, who had had a
severe lesson; by the host, who had seen a genuinely good side of human
nature; and the ladies who had so nobly stepped into the breach, learned
during their brief period of servitude to be more patient and
considerate to those who serve.



How She Helped Him

STORY OF A WIFE


"Well, tell me about Henry Woodruff. How did that match turn out?"

"Bad enough thus far. He is the same delightful, good-hearted fellow as
of old; always ready to do a kind, or courteous act. But this woman will
be the ruin of him."

"How? What is the trouble?"

"The trouble is she is spoiled to death! She fancies herself an invalid,
lies around, does nothing but read Charlotte Braeme and Bertha M.
Clay--has every foolish whim gratified, and, in fact, I don't see how he
stands it."

"Did she have any property?"

"Not a cent. It was an out-and-out love match. She has expensive tastes;
she is indolent and extravagant. Why, his carriage hire is a big item of
itself. She couldn't walk a block, you know."

"Perhaps she really is a sufferer."

"Nonsense; nobody believes it. She had that fall, you recollect at the
skating rink. At first her spine was thought to be seriously injured.
Woodruff paid out several hundred dollars to have her cured, and the
doctors discharged her, well, they said. But it has pleased her to drag
around, a load on his hands, ever since. It is thought that he is much
crippled financially. I know positively that he has lately mortgaged his
interest in the firm. If he can't manage to make, or save five thousand
dollars by the end of this year, it is all up with him. And he will
never do it at his present rate of living,"

"Why doesn't he tell her? Has she no sense, or feeling at all?"

"None, except for herself; and he is so fond of her that he will indulge
her to his very last cent."

"I thought he looked a little down as he passed us this morning."

"Yes, he is beginning to realize that he has gone too far, and, poor
fellow, it is tugging at him hard."

Did she hear aright? Was it of her, Eleanor Woodruff, that they were
talking? Swiftly she sped out of the dark, heavily-curtained back parlor
of the stylish boarding-house, and into her room, a gorgeous alcove
apartment on the first floor. She could not mount the stairs on account
of her weak spine. Weak spine? She forgot all about it as she paced the
floor, angry tears gushing from her large brown eyes. It was shameful--it
was wicked--to be so abused. She had never in her whole petted life been
found fault with. As to money, what did she know about it? Her father,
before his failure and death, had always gratified her. Her husband had
never made any difference. These men were friends of his.

Her bitter sobs ceased, and her wounded vanity gradually lost itself
in better thoughts. Did all her world think of her like the scathing
criticisms of those two chance callers, who thus killed the time of
waiting for someone to come down to them? She began to feel glad that
she had overheard it. The merest accident had sent her into the back
parlor. Was it true? What ought she to do? What could she do? Her dear,
kind husband in trouble, and she the cause. Long she sat buried in
thought, and when the well-known step sounded at the door her face was
radiant with a new resolve.

He came to her large easy-chair with a step somewhat weary, but his kiss
was as usual.

"All right, Nellie? Had a good day? Why, you look--let me see--how do
you look?" he satd, his kind eyes noting the brightness that shone in
hers.

"I look as if I love my big boy very much, don't I?" she responded
merrily.

His answer was another kiss, and as he turned toward his dressing
closet, her heart ached with unspoken tenderness. Her dinner was brought
in. She was not considered strong enough to sit at table. For this
service an extra charge was made.

Later, when he opened the evening paper, she sat and watched him. Surely
those lines of care were new, now that he was not smiling fondly upon
her. Oh, foolish, selfish wife! Rising gently, her long silken tea-gown
trailing behind her, she stood beside him, one slender white hand upon
his shoulder.

"Well, dear, what now? Another new gown?" he asked, with his old, sweet
smile.

She pressed her lips in a slow, reverential fashion, upon the broad
white brow, another pang at her heart. Then she spoke:

"Not this time. Harry, dear, let's go to Mrs. Wickham's to board."

"Mrs. Wickham's!" he echoed. "Why, you wouldn't stay in her dull little
place a week."

But even as he spoke there flashed through his mind in rapid
calculation, "Twenty dollars a week there, forty here; eighty dollars
a month saved; nearly a thousand dollars a year."

"Don't you like it here?" were his next words, as he glanced around the
luxurious suite.

"Yes," she said, "except there are too many people. It is so noisy."

"Very well, then, we will try it; anything to please my darling," and he
drew her close, wrapped in his arms as one might lull a restless child.

The move was made, and Eleanor found that she was not as much fatigued
as she had often felt after a day's lounging with a novel. Her husband
thought it only a new whim; but as it was not expensive one, he could
not remonstrate. When he wanted to take her driving, she playfully told
him she was learning to walk--horses made her nervous.

The first step, she thought; now for the next. It came to her almost by
magic. In a little rear hall-room sat Margaret Dewees, clicking away at
her typewriter. A strong, clear-headed girl who had maintained herself
these ten years, and had put by her savings. She was soon to be married
to a stalwart young farmer, the lover of her early youth. They had been
working and waiting. From the first she took an interest in the young
wife, and it was given to her energy and common sense to help a
suffering sister. Together they plotted and planned. Eleanor's lassitude
gradually passed away under vigorous rubbing and brisk walks.

Margaret's trousseau was a thing to be considered. From Mrs. Woodruff's
surplus stock of stylish gowns and garments the country girl's outfit
was deftly concocted. The young wife could sew neatly and rapidly. When
all was ready the sum of two hundred dollars lay in her writing desk.
Her grand piano, too large for the new quarters, was removed from
storage to a dealer's, and was sold for three hundred more. She wrote at
once to an uncle in a Western city; told him of her little efforts, and
asked what she might do with her mite. He was a real estate man and
promptly invested it in a lot in the rising town of Duluth.

In exchange for her services as seamstress, Margaret taught Eleanor the
use of the typewriter. When she was married she left the instrument, for
the summer months, in Eleanor's care. A nominal rent was agreed upon,
and this was easy to pay, as Margaret's engagements were transferred to
the new operator, while she, herself, attended to chickens and cows, and
her six feet of husband.

Eleanor's spirit of enterprise did not stop here. She obtained pupils on
the type-writer machine at five dollars each. She shipped a lot of old
party dresses, crushed and out of style, to the costumer's on B----
street, and saved the proceeds. Every time her husband handed over her
allowance of pin money, she put at least half of it in her "strong box."

It was hard to hide all this activity and cheerfulness from him, but
she did. With her woman's enjoyment of a little mystery, and her high
resolve to show herself worthy of him, she kept in the old rut as nearly
as possible when he was at home. He saw only that she was stronger, and
it lightened his labors.

"My little woman does not ride, or read, any more," he said one evening,
in the indulgent tone he used towards her.

"Why, yes, I do read. Don't you see my little library there?"

"Yes, but it seems to me I miss something."

He missed the litter of trashy novels he had been wont to see.

"I told you I was learning to walk;" she added, with a smile, "I really
do walk somewhere every day."

"That pleases me most of all," he said in his cheery way, "but what will
Dr. Bull think. You know he prescribes rest and quiet."

"I don't care one bit; I have long since cut his acquaintance."

       *       *       *       *       *

The end of the year rolled round. Eleanor watched her husband's face
with ever increasing anxiety. One evening he sat buried in thought from
which all her endeavors could not rouse him. He did not feel well, he
said. All night he tossed and muttered. Calculations and figures were
uppermost.

He was up early, as usual, and away. Eleanor hastened her preparations,
and carefully counted her little hoard--the earnings of months. Early
in the afternoon she came home with the proceeds of her last batch of
type-writing, glowing with exercise, and the happiness of contributing
at least some hundreds to meet her husband's creditors. He was there,
lying on the sofa, pale and hopeless. Forgetting all else, she flung
herself beside him with a sob.

"Oh! Harry, my dearest! Tell me what it is that is killing you--I have a
right to know."

"It is ruin, Eleanor. I have brought you to poverty--you whom I would
have given my very life to make happy."

"You are talking in riddles, Harry," she exclaimed, rallying from her
alarm. "Am I not the happiest woman in the world? And don't you see how
well and strong I am?"

She coaxed the whole story from his lips. Then with affected lightness,
she said: "Is that all? Why, you frightened me terribly; I thought you
were ill--had caught some horrible disease or other. See here!"

As she spoke she ran to her desk, took out her treasure, and poured it
into his hands in her impulsive fashion.

"Eleanor! What is this?" staring like one dazed, from her radiant face
to the notes in his hands.

"This? Why, this is only your silly wife's laziness and selfishness in
another form."

Then her story had to be told. Their combined efforts still fell short
of the required sum, but she triumphantly produced the deed to the
Western land. For a season there were caresses and even tears, of mutual
love and thankfulness.

"My precious wife!" he exclaimed, as he clasped her close. "What a
treasure in you, if all the money in the world should fail!"

"But your piano!" he said, with regret overreaching his appreciation of
her sacrifice.

"Let it go," she merrily replied. "I could not play worth listening
to--this you must admit. It was just an expensive, cumbersome
toy--that's all."

Next day the balance of the debt was borrowed upon the security of the
western deed, and Henry Woodruff was a free man once more. When the five
hundred dollars jumped to thousands in a sudden boom, he bought a neat
home. Here, Margaret, the valued friend, supplied produce from her farm.

Eleanor was never quite content till Harry had looked up her two
maligners, and brought them to the pleasant domain where she presided,
and which her painfully awakened energy had helped to buy. In time she
told her secret, and thanked them for that ten minutes' gossip. In time,
too, sons and daughters came and found a mother prepared by self-denial
for the exigencies of life.



The Iron Box

A MYSTERY


Twilight dropped its soft, somber curtain upon a handsome southern
home. Sadly out of keeping with the peaceful landscape and cheerful
hearthstone, were the feelings of a man who crept close to the window
shutter, and peered cautiously within the cosy apartment. And brighter
grew the twinkle in his rapacious eyes as the brilliant objects upon
which he glared shone in the lamplight.

Upon a table in the center of the room was a mosaic casket, the raised
lid disclosing a collection of jewels rarely to be found in the
possession of a single individual.

With glowing cheeks and radiant eyes Netta Lee surveyed her treasures;
but the glow and sparkle were for the tall figure beside her, however
her feminine pride might be gratified at this splendid array. So long as
Richard Temple honored her among women with his heart's devotion, there
needed not the glitter of gems to complete her happiness.

"Our friends are most kind with their wedding gifts," said the
prospective bridegroom, "these are royal!--"

"Yes, and oh, Richard! just see these pearls. Exquisite, aren't they!
One hundred years old, and a present from my grandmother."

"What a queer, old-fashioned case," said Mary, a younger sister taking
up the flat, square box of red morocco, where nestled in its white satin
lining lay the milky brooch and ear-rings.

"So much the more valuable; in this love-of-the-antique age," remarked
Bertha Lee. "Netta, who sent these gorgeous corals?"

"Aunt Winifred;--wasn't it good of her?"

"Pooh! No more than she might do for each of us," replied the saucy
girl. "Heigho! I wish my fate, if I have one, might appear. Couldn't
you innocently suggest to the old lady that I have no jewels for the
all-important occasion--a bridesmaid, too?"

"Why not select from these?" said Richard. "There is enough here, and to
spare, for all. Let's see--pearl, diamond, amethyst, coral, emerald,
turquoise, filagree--I declare it is a veritable jeweler's display."

"You must recollect, though, Richard, I had some of these before."

"Her friends seem to have discovered her weakness," observed Mrs. Lee,
entering the room.

"Now, mother, you shall not say that. You forget the carloads of things
that have come--nice, useful, domestic articles----"

"Richard, what is it? What is the matter?" suddenly exclaimed Mrs. Lee,
looking at him.

In alarm Netta glanced at his face, which she saw was clouded from
anxiety, or pain. At once she closed the casket and went to his side in
great concern.

"What is it, dear? Are you ill?"

"Not ill in body, my love; hardly comfortable in mind," was his reply,
as he sat down upon the davenport close by. "Sit here beside me, and
I will tell you what is troubling me. No, don't go," he added, as the
others started to leave the room, "it concerns us all."

"Don't look so alarmed," he said, reassuringly, to his betrothed. "It
is only this. News reached Columbus to-day that Baywater's gang is near
Villula, and as usual their progress is marked by bloodshed and outrage.
The feature that concerns me most is that if I am detailed for duty, it
will of necessity postpone our marriage."

Various expressions broke from the ladies, and Netta exclaimed in
terror:

"But you will be in danger, Richard. Can no one else go?" and she clung
to him as though her frail clasp could keep him in safety at her side.

"I fear not. The state militia must do its duty. You would not have
me skulk in the hour of danger. But there really is no danger for me,
Netta. The sole trouble is in the change of our plans."

But they remembered too distinctly Baywater's last visit to derive the
comfort conveyed in his words.

"And where must you go? What must you do?" tearfully asked Netta.

"I can scarcely tell. We shall be required to watch the premises of the
citizens, and to convey all valuables to places of safety. The policy is
not to provoke a battle, but to entrap them nearer and nearer the city
by holding out baits till they can be apprehended in a body. To do this,
we shall be divided into small squads, perhaps only two persons allotted
to a station."

It was apparent to the elder lady that the plans had already been
arranged, and Temple's duties mapped out.

The man at the window strained his ears to catch the topic which
evidently excited profound interest. A word or two reached him, and he
saw Temple point to the box of jewels. Then, as the door opened, he
heard him say:

"Remember--the first thing to-morrow--Dry Thicket."

Ere the departing visitor could come upon him, the straggler bounded
over the fence and hurried away. But he had learned enough.

A sound, real or fancied, caused Richard Temple to glance down the
starlit highway, in time to see the fleeing human figure. In newborn
apprehension he returned to the parlor door, and was admitted in some
wonder by the ladies, who were still discussing the situation.

"Is Lawrence at home?" he asked.

"Yes--why?"

"I think I'll turn in with him to-night, if he will give me half a bed.
I fear you are not safe with those jewels in the house."

"Certainly," responded Mrs. Lee with ready hospitality. "You may have a
whole bed and room, too, if you like."

"Thanks, madam, I prefer to concentrate forces. Give me the box, and you
ladies go to rest. We'll protect you;" he valiantly added, as the young
son of the house now appeared.

Richard Temple was not mistaken. A little after midnight the watchers
heard a noise as of sawing, or filing. Peering from an upper window they
located the sound at the parlor shutter, and soon discerned the figure
of a man in a crouching attitude. Swiftly and noiselessly the young men
stole down and out by a back door, and were creeping upon the burglar to
capture him, when a short, quick bark from the house dog startled the
man, who fled precipitately. The pursuers fired, but it was too dark to
see beyond a few yards.

The ladies, aroused and alarmed, were soon reassured, but persisted in
sharing the remainder of the vigil.

Early next morning, leaving the servants to infer that they were bound
upon a berry excursion, the little party set out, Richard bearing the
mosaic box, the girls carrying other valuables, and Lawrence armed with
a larger wooden box and a pick. Their destination was Dry Thicket,
so called from the exceeding dryness of the earth beneath the almost
impenetrable trees of native growth. These trees were so closely
interlaced by a tough vine peculiar to the soil, that it was necessary
to cut one's way, or force it by dint of strength.

In order to accomplish this feat the ladies had donned homespun dresses
kept for such excursions, and the gentlemen were suitably provided.
Winding through an arable field they descended the narrow path that led
into the thicket, and were soon pushing and cutting their way against
the stout lattice of vines. When far into the interior they found
themselves in a natural arbor free from undergrowth and utterly
secluded. A fallen log afforded a seat for the ladies, and the
custodians of the box at once proceeded to bury their treasures of gold
and plate, silver and jewels. An hour sufficed for the task. When
scattering, dry leaves over the fresh earth the party returned to Lee
Villa somewhat the worse for wear.

"Until these dangerous invaders shall have left the community, or are
arrested, I think we should arm the negro men on the plantation and be
prepared for possible surprises," were Richard Temple's parting words,
as he took leave for Columbus, twenty miles distant.

Villula was altogether inland, and hence an easy prey to outlaws. The
nearest railway station was at Silver Run, two miles away. The first
down train brought a hasty letter from Temple, stating that he and
Lawrence Lee were detailed to convey four fine horses belonging to Major
Lester, to a place of safety, and that the threatened section had been
well picketed.

There was at once a general hiding out of valuables, live stock and
provisions, the numerous swamps and thickets affording secure harbors
all over the section. A reign of terror existed during the next two
weeks. The dreaded marauders were at work, and stories were rife of
insult to women, and outrages upon men whom they hung by the neck till
almost dead unless they revealed the whereabouts of their treasures.
Thus far they had baffled the vigilance of the authorities. The country
was thinly settled, and the peculiar features of the landscape afforded
facilities both for concealment and escape.

One evening the ladies of Lee Villa sat watching the resplendent sunset
from the front piazza, when a ragged, barefoot urchin came up the road
turning somersaults with surprising agility. He righted himself up at
the gate, then entered and sidled rather doubtfully toward the group.

"Here's somethin' fur Miss Lee. Be you her?"

"Yes," said Netta, receiving a dirty note from the boy's dusty fingers.
"Where did you get this?"

"He gave it to me--he did," nodding his head down the road, "an' he
gimme this, too!" he added triumphantly, holding up a shining coin,
as he darted away again at his evolutions.

Netta deciphered the following lines from Richard:

  "We are encamped in Dry Thicket with the horses, all safe thus far.
  Do not attempt to come; you could not find us. Keep a brave heart.
  We will soon entrap the rascals. (Messenger best I can find).

  "Faithfully,

  "R.T."


About nine o'clock one morning a party of ten men, headed by the
notorious Baywater, rode up the single street of Villula, sending terror
to the hearts of unprotected women. Not apprehending an attack in
daytime, the two young men were on duty elsewhere, and the negroes were
in the cotton fields.

Passing through the town amid a great dust and clatter, they drew rein
at the villa. The ladies came to the door in response to the captain's
imperious halloo.

"We've come to find out where the Lester horses are, madam--and what's
more," he added with a brutal oath, "we intend to know!"

"I have no information to give you," calmly returned Mrs. Lee.

"Perhaps you won't tell us where that box of diamonds is, either,"
he sneered.

To this there was no reply. The three girls were pallid from
apprehension of the next move. Apparently a proposition was made. The
leader shook his head. After a brief parley he dismounted, and with five
of his men, strode across the lawn to the negro quarters. An old negress
sat at the door, smoking her pipe, and knitting a coarse yarn sock.
A bright mulatto boy was crossing the back yard with a water bucket.

In vain the outlaws sought to extract from the old woman the whereabouts
of her master with the horses and jewels. She was in reality as ignorant
as they.

"Come now, Auntie," said the captain in wheedling tones, "tell us and we
will make you free. You won't have to work any more."

"Oh, go 'long!" was her contemptuous rejoinder, "I'se free as I want
to be."

"Why, you old fool!" he roughly retorted, "you don't know what freedom
means. You shall wear a silk dress and ride in a carriage and have a
gold chain."

"I speaks gold chain!" echoed the woman tossing her grey head, "you po'
white trash can't come it ober dis chile wid yer crick-cracks. Jes you
go 'long. I'se got my bacon and greens, an' a good cotton coat. Yer
can't fool dis chile wid yer fine talk!"

"Curse the old hag! Let's try the boy. You! Sirrah! Come here."

With ashen cheeks the boy followed them into an outhouse, while the
Captain flourished a stout whip.

"Oh! mother," cried Netta, "don't let them whip him! He never was
whipped in his life!"

Mrs. Lee advanced a few paces from the back gallery whence they had been
watching the proceedings and called, "Charlie!"

The boy sprang towards his mistress, his captors not venturing to be too
rash at the outset.

"I want this boy for a moment," explained the lady. In sullen silence
they waited.

"Going to buy him up to secrecy," derided the Captain, "but I guess
we'll work it out of him when he comes back. We've got him, sure, and
can afford to wait."

But Charlie did not come back. Thrusting a bill into his hand his
mistress said: "Fly for your life, to Columbus and tell Col. Scale that
we must have protection. There is no train. Take the old country road
and lose no time!"

Nor did the terrified boy let the grass grow under his steps. Ere the
next sun rose he was in Columbus, footsore, but safe.

Again baffled, the desperadoes took horse, and held a consultation.

"If I thought they knew," muttered the Captain, "by ---- they would be
made to tell. There's no other way--we must search that d---- thicket.
You know what Jem heard at the window the other night."

With this they galloped down the road, taking a more circuitous route to
Dry Thicket than the little path hidden from view behind Lee Villa. In
an agony of foreboding Netta exclaimed: "Oh, mother, we must save them.
Let's get ready and go at once. I know every part of Dry Thicket!"

Hurriedly donning the homespun dresses, the mother and daughters
set out, leaving a maid in the house, and the old cabin "Granny"
still smoking serenely over her knitting. They were soon on the spot
where the jewels had been buried. The shock of the moment may be
better conceived than described, when they saw an open pit, a pile
of freshly-turned earth, and no trace of their carefully-concealed
treasures! The blood receded from every face. Gone--all gone! The
exquisite bridal presents--the diamonds from her betrothed, the ancient
pearls, Aunt Winifred's family jewels, the heirlooms of plate--all
vanished as utterly as if they had never been.

In sheer feebleness the stunned party sank down upon the prostrate log.
They now observed the charred remains of a camp fire, and shreds of grey
blanket adhering to the tenacious Tie-Vine.

"What _shall_ we do?" broke from Netta in despair. The loss of her
superb ornaments for the time took the place of every other sentiment.
Even the safety of her loved ones was forgotten.

"Well," said Mary, recovering herself, "it is no use grieving. We had
better be looking for Lawrence and Richard. You know those villains
hung Colonel Harris by the neck till he was nearly dead, because he
would not tell where his money was."

"Hush, Mary," said her mother, "don't suggest such horrible things."

But their search was unavailing. That night was one of agonizing
suspense. Next day the noon train brought Charlie with a note from
Colonel Scale, saying that Lawrence would return home as soon as orders
could reach him.

The story of the missing jewels was freely discussed, and friends came
in numbers to condole with the bride-elect, and rehearse similar
depredations that had come to their ears.

At last flashed the news that the State Militia had surrounded the
daring invaders, by a well-executed maneuver, and had disarmed them. The
leader fought desperately and was mortally wounded. The prisoners were
forced to reveal the place where their ill-gotten gains were stored, and
the owners were publicly summoned to identify their property. But the
Lee jewels were not found, and the gang obstinately disclaimed all
knowledge of them.

Suspense in regard to them was, however, soon to be relieved. Two more
days of waiting, and the close of a lovely afternoon was made memorable
by the return of the wanderers to Lee Villa. A torrent of questions and
incidents so assailed them that they could not intelligibly answer the
one, or comment on the other.

"And, oh! Richard," faltered Netta, "they have stolen our box--all my
beautiful presents!"

"And the spoons," chimed in Mary, loyal to the family heirlooms.

"You'd better say the money," said Bertha with conviction. "I would
rather have lost anything else than all that gold and silver."

"Only give us a chance," said her brother appealingly, "and we will
relieve your anxiety on this point."

"You have it! You have it!" cried the girls excitedly crowding upon him.

"No," said Richard laughing heartily, while the brother endeavored to
extricate himself. "He hasn't it but if I can have a hearing I will tell
you of its fate. We hoped you would not miss it. Nor would you," he
added, looking archly at Netta, "if you had obeyed my injunction not to
try to find us."

All anxiety, his auditors were profoundly attentive while Richard
narrated the adventures that had befallen them in the thicket. They were
hotly pursued and closely surrounded several times, so determined were
the raiders upon capturing the horses, but friendly arbors screened them
from view, and the sagacious animals were as quiet as their preservers.
On the night of their arrival at the thicket with the horses, Richard
suggested that it might be wise to remove the box, since in case the
ladies were surprised they might be forced to disclose the secret.
Accordingly he and his companion dismounted, secured the horses, and
penetrated on foot to the place. What was their amazement to see the
smouldering light of a fire and a man stretched upon the ground in a
deep sleep. A grey blanket served him for a pillow. Ere they could reach
him he stirred uneasily, started up, seized his blanket, and sprang away
among the trees. But they were too quick for him, especially as the
clinging vine impeded his progress. They captured him, and he confessed
that he was one of Baywater's scouts, and that he had spent two days
in the thicket searching for the box of jewels he had seen through the
window of the villa.

The young men secured their prisoner, whom one guarded at the pistol's
point, while the other pushed on, buried the box in another place, and
then they conveyed the ruffian to Columbus.

"Three nights ago," concluded Richard, "we were so closely cornered that
there was no help but in flight. We rode continuously till our horses
were safe on the Lester plantation, but my Bonnie Bess is done for, I
fear," and he glanced compassionately at the reeking animal, his own
especial property.

Poor Bess! Ere another twenty-four hours had gone by, her sorrowful
master was called away from the villa to see her die of lockjaw. He had
ridden her to her death in the performance of his duty.

After his interesting recital the ladies refused to wait till morning
to regain the buried treasures. They would go at once, and a number
of friends who had gathered to welcome the returned wanderers, and
congratulate their prowess, volunteered to accompany the party. So they
started, quite a procession, relying upon the lately frequented path to
save their garments from rents.

The new spot chosen for the little pit was only a few yards from the
original place, and seemed sunken for several feet in all directions--a
significant fact as it proved.

This time Charlie wielded the pick, and with such exaggerated force that
the earth was loosened for quite a space around the box. Some excitement
attended the rescue of the precious casket from fancied peril, and the
dense bower resounded with an animated discussion of late events.

Warned by the lengthening shadows they turned to depart when a bystander
suddenly peering forward, said: "Look there, Lee. What is that? There,
close to the tree. Temple, do you see?"

"The root of a tree, I think," replied Lawrence, stooping down to
examine a dark object that jutted out of the newly opened pit.

Clearing the earth away with his hands he discovered, not a root, but
what seemed to be the corner of an iron box. Richard, who was beside
him, fell to work, and a further exploration revealed a band of some
metal, probably brass. Intense curiosity now prevailed.

"Charlie, go to the house and bring some torches," said his master. Then
to Richard: "We must get at the bottom of this. The ladies had better
go--it is nearly night."

But the ladies would do nothing of the kind. Here was something that
promised to be a mystery indeed. They remained till an iron, brass-bound
box, not large but heavy, had been disinterred and with difficulty
lifted to the surface. With still more difficulty it was conveyed to the
villa, where the expectant group waited for a smith to come and open it.

When the rusty lock was made to unclasp, the top was raised, and there,
in numerous rouleaux, was gold coin to the amount of thousands of
dollars. Excitement was now but a faint term for the sensation.

The young men were congratulated upon their find till their hands were
sore from pressure, and the ladies were embraced in proportion by
enthusiastic friends.

How came it there? Who had buried it and when? There was a legend in
those parts that four wealthy Spaniards had been pursued and butchered
by the Indians in the early days, and that they had, while fleeing away,
buried the gold in an Alabama wild. Another tradition was, that during
the siege of New Orleans, some French settlers had run the blockade and
penetrated far into the country with vast wealth that was never traced
afterwards. Some of the older citizens had also heard of a miserly
ancestor of the Lawrences (Mrs. Lee had been a Lawrence) who lived
a hermit life in the villa when it was only a log cabin; who denied
himself the simplest comforts, and who died in want; but he had been
seen by the curious counting his gold at night.

Whatever the mystery it was never solved. The facts as known were widely
published, but no rival claimant ever appeared.

The wedding was a brilliant social affair. The Lee family were
recognized leaders, and their ancestral home was noted for its elegant
appointments and generous hospitality.

"And where will you and Dick live, Netta?" asked a Columbus belle.

"We think of building in the thicket."

"What! Bury yourself in Dry Thicket? That horrible place?"

"Soyez tranquille, ma chere," playfully answered the young bride. "Dry
Thicket has proved too great a blessing to us to be dreaded. However,
come and see us one day and judge for yourself."

And when, as the "one days" had lengthened into many, enticed by the
rumors she heard, the girl, now a married woman, did go, she found a
magnificent residence, with lovely terraced lawns, shell-road drives,
and luxuries unknown in city homes. All on the site of the despised Dry
Thicket. White cottages dotted the landscape, and there was no trace
of the gloomy thicket save one natural bower overhung with trees and
interlaced by vines. Within its cool recesses was a rustic chair, and
sheltered by a miniature Gothic temple, stood the brightly-burnished
iron box which chance had made the foundation of so much happiness
and prosperity.



The Girl Farmers

A PRACTICAL STORY


"I see no way out of this, girls, but for you to go to work and support
yourselves with your accomplishments. At least I suppose you've got
some. Your schooling cost a fortune, and maybe it was well enough, for
now there's a chance for you to make it count."

And thus delivering himself, gruff Uncle Abner took a fresh chew of
tobacco, and let his eyes wander aimlessly among those dead-and-gone
relatives hanging on the walls. Anywhere indeed but at the two rosy,
eager faces before him; for the sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, sat
watching and listening to this, the first hint of difficulty in the
easy-going of their pampered lives.

Margaret spoke. "What is the amount of the mortgage, Uncle?"

"Tut, tut," he grunted, with a show of impatience, "you can't
understand; girls aint expected to know about business; they h'aint any
heads for it. You'd better just shut up the place and come over to my
house till you can look around you a bit."

"You are very kind, uncle, but we will consider that after you have
answered my question," continued Margaret with quiet insistence. "How
are we to understand unless we are told? And why keep us in ignorance?
We have a right to know just how our father's affairs were left, and I,
for my part, _intend_ to know;--" and the earnest young voice
stopped short of the sob that caught and held it quivering.

There was silence while the tall clock ticked a few moments away. The
large grey eyes had no release in their steady depths. Thus driven Uncle
Abner proceeded to explain that it was when their brother James got into
that trouble over his wife's property. Their father had been obliged to
borrow, and he (Uncle Abner), accommodated him, taking as security a
mortage on the farm.

"It was for five thousand dollars," he concluded, "and of course if he
had lived--," he paused, and walking to the window, his hands plunged
deep into his homespun pockets, gazed uncomfortably upon the broad
stretch of field and pasture so dear to the orphan nieces he was
unwittingly torturing.

The Milfords were a proud race. Proud in the sturdy yeoman spirit of
honest independence. Margaret was not long in making up her mind.

"You are right, uncle," she said with marked deliberation. "Libbie
and I have indeed had every advantage that the best schools afford.
We ought to go to work and we will. But--" and her wistful gaze swept
their beloved possessions indoor and out--"it shall be here; not
anywhere else."

"What upon earth are you driving at?" spluttered Uncle Abner, while
Elizabeth smiled acquiescence in the decision of the beloved older
sister whose word had been law since their pinafore days. Whatever the
outlook she would stand by her. "I'd like to know what you can do here!"
went on their sage adviser, muttering audibly something about the
"infernal nonsense of women folks."

"I mean it, uncle. I never was further from talking nonsense. We will
work here, on the old farm, and save our home from strangers, if you
will only be patient and give us time. I can take charge of the hands
and the crops. Elizabeth will manage the house and garden. In fact
I find myself longing every minute to begin. It will be something to
occupy us and divert us from gloomy thoughts;" and she glanced at the
somber garments that told of recent bereavement.

"But you can't stay here without a protector," objected her uncle,
getting downright wrathful as he felt inwardly conscious that he would
be obliged to yield. He had seen his niece Margaret have her own way
more than once. Still he must fight for it.

"You just take my advice and do what I said at first. Let somebody take
the place and work off the debt--in a way, you understand. You can look
about for a music class, and Lizzie here can get a position in the
public schools. Of course you know you are welcome at my house as long
as you need--"

"Now, listen, uncle, do," broke in Margaret, catching his arm with
clasped hands, as a persuasive cadence crept into her resolute tones. "I
know I can learn to do what other women are doing all over the land. Not
so many Southern women, I grant you; we are a spoiled lot as ever lived,
and are foolishly ashamed to work. But we are no better than our sisters
of the north and west, and I, for one, do not care a whit what people
may think about it. As to being afraid to stay here, that would be
silly. Why, I am not so very many years from thirty and Elizabeth is
every bit of twenty-three. Quite old maids, you see;--bachelor maids, if
you please. The neighborhood is thickly settled; Rock and Don are the
best watch dogs ever seen, and the men in the cabins with their families
are faithful, you know. The village is in sight, and the big farm bell
can be heard a mile away. Nobody will molest us. I assure you we shall
not be afraid; and last of all, I can handle a pistol as well as a man,
if need be; and Libby is a terror with a hat pin! Now do be good and let
us try it."

The brave girl had her way, no matter if Davis did want to add the four
hundred acres of the Milford farm to his own fine estate.

The first year was not a bed of roses for the inexperienced young
farmers, but they were not daunted. A music class and a dozen pupils in
belles-lettres helped out the income, and there was no inconsiderable
revenue from the sale of milk, butter, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

They had "the orchard, the meadow, and deep-tangled wildwood," full of
sacred memories. They fairly gloried in their dairy, the poultry yard,
and garden. They were up at daylight, and with the help of a small boy
from the cabins, gathered the marketing which Margaret, in her high
cart, took to the hotels at the thriving village of the railroad
junction.

Richard Davis undertook the live-stock raising for the sisters on
the shares. This was a great help, though Uncle Abner, who had been
bulldozed into complacency, he said, hinted on occasions that the "young
fellow would be sharing himself with one of 'em before long." However,
the energetic maidens gave no heed, save to the grand purpose of their
lives.

They learned to "gar old clo'es amaist as weel as new." Carpets were
darned and scoured and turned; the time-honored furniture was patched
and polished; and their fair hands did not shrink from putting on a
fresh coat of paint, or paper, now and then. Under severe pressure of
temptation they parted with several pieces of old mahogany during the
craze for antiques, at prices almost fabulous. This they invested in
some shares of bank stock.

The second year's profits footed up enough to make a payment to Uncle
Abner, and then their joy knew no bounds. In vain their anxious friends
urged them to sell out and live in a small cottage. Their sympathy was
thrown away.

"Every blade of grass is dear to me," persisted Margaret. "Perhaps I
have more sentiment than sense, but this should be my life work. And
when free from debt, think how easy to see the end of every year from
the beginning. Meanwhile everything is getting more simple for us. At
first, we had to be content with just the old rut, for we knew nothing
else. Now we study the best methods. We take a farmer's journal, which
has proved a noble education. The continual improvements in machinery
and necessary implements are of inestimable value. The best costs a
little more at first, but in the end it pays."

"I always detested farming," exclaimed an old schoolmate who had married
a rich banker.

"Come and see us," said Margaret, with her hopeful smile. "Let us show
you our work."

She came, partly from curiosity, and together the friends went over
the premises. First, the kitchen garden where grew in hills or rows
vegetables after the most approved latter-day culture; next, the glowing
garden of flowers whose gorgeous bloom found ready sale; then the
poultry yard, pig-sties, bee-hives and stables, Margaret all the while
discoursing upon remedies for this or that drawback, and how to manage
the diverse brands and breeds, till her dainty friend held up her hands
in honest wonder.

"How on earth and where did you learn all this?" she found voice to ask.

"From the journals, I read about farming and gardening, about
housekeeping, and raising all those barn-yard creatures. We are thinking
of adding a small family of canaries to our stock; they are much sought
after and readily sell. Oh, I could not get on at all without my papers.
They are everything to me. Why, just listen to what I know about corn,"
she went on, with a proud light in her handsome eyes. "Kentucky was
once a leading state in raising corn, and she will be again," and here
followed facts and statistics singularly incongruous from rosy lips to
the listening ears of the city girl. "There is nothing, Amelia, that
pays like doing a thing well. For instance, our own Kentucky is not
famous for well-kept farms, but I could not afford to have my fences
down, my fields choked with weeds, and my stock depredating elsewhere."

"But how do you manage your servants? They are the great bugbear
nowadays."

"By making them respect me and by paying good wages. They should not
be expected to give their time and strength at starvation prices.
I do have trouble sometimes. In fact I think, first and last, I have
done everything but plow. But in the main I get along. The farm is
prospering, and a few years hence I mean to have it called a model,
not a mortgaged farm."

"It is all right, of course, my dear, if you like it," said her city
friend, with somewhat unwilling admiration, "but I should think you
would get dreadfully tanned and coarse."

"Do I look so?" asked the country girl, with a happy little challenging
laugh. "I was certainly never in better health."

And the visitor had to admit that there was no lack of womanly beauty
in the rich coloring of the young farmer's rounded cheeks, albeit a few
tiny freckles bridged the straight nose.

"But think how utterly you are lost to society! What a sacrifice for a
Milford!" lamented the rich man's wife, to whom life's hard lessons had
not come. "I can never forget the gorgeous entertainment at this old
house when we were first home from school. Such flowers! Such music!
Such a supper! And, oh, the lovely gowns! I declare, Maggie, you were a
beauty that night, and Libbie never looked prettier. It seems a crying
shame!"

"Not converted yet?" playfully asked the other, though the quick tears
sprang to her eyes at the sudden stab of memory.

"Remember, dear," she added gently, "we could not have gone out even
if we had not decided to give up all idle pleasures. But we are not
hermits, I assure you. Our old friends are most kind. Perhaps one day
we may live again those happy times."

"But surely you will marry. A girl like you could never be an old maid."

At which sally Margaret laughed outright, adding gaily that there would
be time enough and to spare for matrimony.

"I am too busy now to even think of it. By and by I shall have the
finest of bees and fancy poultry. Already my grape arbor is thriving.
I sell quantities of fruit and berries. But my stronghold is farm
literature; I devour it at night, while Libbie reads society bits in the
village weekly, or cons the city daily. Poor Lib! It goes right hard
with her to draggle her skirts in the dewy strawberry beds; but she
feels consoled when I fetch up the till! What misers we be, hoarding our
strong box!"

So these heroic girls are going on, the respected of all observers.
Their example has encouraged others to throw off the shackles of
"Southern caste" and be independent of unwilling relatives more favored
by fortune. The mortgage is not yet entirely lifted, but it will be. The
bluegrass pastures of the fine old estate have been given over to the
grazing of blooded horses and cattle, at so much per head, thereby
counting in a greatly increased revenue.

Margaret's latest venture is a fine young thoroughbred, which the
knowing ones predict will prove a gold mine. So mote it be.

Uncle Abner is patient and helpful. He has long ago felt like hiding
"his diminished head," and is proud of his young nieces. They have saved
the old homestead where three generations of the family were born. Alone
they have struggled, protected by the God of the orphan, whose glorious
sunshine and rain so abundantly bless their labors!



Proving a Heart

A LOVE STORY


"Hold fast! don't be frightened! I can save you if you will only be
strong!" were the exclamations that burst hurriedly from young Dr.
Gardner's lips as, with horror-struck face he sprang from his
window-seat and bounded downstairs.

And well might he hasten, for she who awaited his succor, hung
perilously between heaven and earth, expecting every moment to be dashed
to the ground.

For some minutes previous to his excited words, Weldon Gardner's gaze
had been riveted in awful fascination upon an immense balloon that was
fast descending toward the high roofs that clustered on all sides about
his comfortable rooms on ---- St., New York.

Something was wrong. He could readily detect this in the unsteady
wavering of the gaily-striped air-ship. And so, too, thought the crowd
that he now saw had gathered in the street below.

Evidently the aeronaut had lost control of his craft. Lower still it
tottered, and now were visible several arms outstretched in the vain
appeal for aid.

Not a sound escaped the spell-bound multitude in the streets, for in a
moment more the fate of the doomed adventurers must be decided. Suddenly
two human forms dropped from the loosened basket and struck with a
fearful thud against the elevated railway, then rebounded to the street
below a mass of mangled flesh. Death was instantaneous. With one impulse
the throng surged about the bodies; but Dr. Gardner's eyes were still
fixed upon the balloon, for as if relieved by the rapid lightening of
its burden it gave a spirited sweep upward, then passed over his own
roof.

Hastening to his back windows, which overlooked a paved court, he threw
himself into a chair, and strained his gaze in search of the wrecked
pleasure-craft, to which one other figure clung with the might of
desperation.

One large tree, spared by the pruning axe of the city architect, shaded
the court; and into the wide-spreading boughs of this tree, did the
powerless balloon now descend, its ropes becoming hopelessly entangled.
Clinging fast to whatever offered support, a young girl with dark,
terror-stricken eyes, met his look of horror, as with the reassuring
words already quoted, Weldon Gardner rushed down to the rescue.

Even as he gained the spot, shouting to the men in service to bring a
ladder, a number of persons had penetrated to the court, and were now
collected around the tree, uttering excited comments upon the disaster.

With all possible speed the young physician reached the sufferer, but
unconsciousness had already closed her eyes to all danger. Bearing the
light form from the entangling meshes, the doctor ascended to his
consulting-room, and deposited his burden upon a couch. Summoning his
housekeeper, he dismissed the gaping followers, and proceeded to examine
the death-like form he had preserved from mutilation.

The patient seemed to be about eighteen years old, and bore unmistakable
evidences of the lady in her attire.

Mercifully forebearing to restore her senses till after his skillfull
examination, the doctor could discover no broken limbs, and nothing now
remained but to enable her to speak for herself as to her condition.
After a persistent use of restoratives, the anxious attendants were
rewarded by seeing the color flutter back into the pallid cheeks, and
the long eyelashes quiver with returning life.

Her first words were: "Lucien! Maggie! we are lost!" Then a strong
shudder convulsed her slight frame, and with a startled cry she
attempted to spring up.

"Be careful," gently remonstrated the doctor, laying a detaining hand
upon her. "Tell me--are you hurt anywhere?"

"I don't know--I think not--oh! who are you? Where am I? Where are the
others? Were they killed? Oh! it was too horrible!" and the agitated
speaker burst into a passion of tears so violent as to alarm her
watchers.

Leaving her to the housekeeper, Dr. Gardner quickly prepared and
administered a soothing potion. Then, enjoining absolute quiet, he
drew the blinds, and proceeded downstairs to learn of the ill-fated
companions of his patient. The crowd still lingered about the spot,
although the bodies had been removed to await a claimant. Nothing was
known except that the balloon had ascended that morning from one of the
city squares, and that, as frequently happened, a party of young people
had gone up to get a bird's eye view of the metropolis. Who they were
did not yet appear.

Several hours passed, and still the rescued girl slept the dreamless
sleep induced by the nervous shock and the narcotic draught of the
doctor. Patiently the housekeeper sat and watched.

As twilight fell, she gave a sigh and opened her large eyes in surprise
upon the strange face beside her. Taking advantage of the opportune
moment, Mrs. Buford removed the pongee walking suit from the drowsy
girl, and then gently enfolding her in a soft white wrapper, the kind
matron assisted her to the bed which had been prepared, the girl
submitting with a bewildered look of questioning wonder, and finally
sinking back gratefully into slumber.

And here Weldon Gardner came before retiring for the night.

Softly touching the delicate wrist in its dainty frill, he noted the
somewhat fitful pulsations of the disturbed life-centers. Bending above
the tell-tale heart-beats, his practiced ear assured him that ere long
the deep repose of his charge would effectually restore her to health.

How like chiseled marble she looked, lying there in her absolute
helplessness beneath his stranger gaze! How pure the white brow, with
its clustering rings of glossy hair! How exquisitely fine the white hand
to which the dimples of babyhood yet clung! How classic the contour of
her face, into which already the warm hue of health was creeping! A
heavy sigh escaped him as he noted each perfection of outline. Who was
this lovely stranger? And what could she be to him?

"Why was I ever such a dupe?" he said in his heart. "Fettered--fettered
for life!"

But suddenly realizing that except in his professional capacity he had
no right thus to intrude upon her slumbers, the young physician turned
from the enchanting picture.

"How is she now, sir?" respectfully inquired the housekeeper.

"Fairly well," he replied cheerfully; "I do not think she is hurt,
except a few bruises, which we must look after. She was thrown pretty
hard against that tree. To-morrow she will be able to give an account of
herself. We can do nothing toward finding her friends before that time.
Call, if she should become restless," and the young man retired to his
own apartment, there to ponder deeply, as he had never before pondered
in his life.

Some days later the following letter was posted by Weldon Gardner:

  NEW YORK, September 20, 1879.

  "My Dear Aunt:--

  "Your kind letter reminds me that never, in all these years of boyhood
  grown ripe, has duty come to me in as repulsive a form as now, I tell
  you, shocked as you may feel when you read the words, that I would
  rather put a bullet through my head than meet Evelyn Howard at this
  time! Why couldn't she stay in England? And what cursed folly induced
  my parents to thus bind me for life to one I had never seen? True, I
  submitted. But you know with what an appeal my dying mother besought
  my compliance, and what could I do? I cared for no one else. How was
  I to foresee that the tie would ever be so intensely galling?

  "I know all that you would say about honor, manhood, and all the
  category of virtues. I know them all. Nor am I willing to act the
  scoundrel just yet. But I must have time; I can _not_ marry that
  girl now. Nor will I consent to meet her yet. Let her think I am out
  of town, sick, busy, _dead_; anything, till I can screw my courage
  to the sticking point.

  "About the balloon tragedy--yes, you heard correctly of my figuring
  in the matter. The girl is Miss Lina Dent, of Brooklyn, and I am
  happy to report that she is entirely recovered, though deeply afflicted
  at the fearful death of her friends. It seems that they had, in a
  spirit of fun, gone up in the balloon, feeling confident that their
  adventure was, to say the least, of somewhat doubtful propriety.
  They did not think of danger. The cowardly desertion of the æronaut,
  as soon as he could leap to a roof in safety, precipitated their fall.

  "The young victims, Lucien and Maggie Taylor, were too much frightened
  to hold to their frail support. Their tragic fate has plunged an
  excellent household into mourning. Bitterly my new acquaintance
  lamented her folly in consenting to the excursion; but how can a man
  in his senses add to her condemnation when she looks through such
  eyes, and speaks with such lips? Not I, I assure you.

  "Miss Dent is visiting a relative in Brooklyn, and in my character of
  physician, I have been kindly received. The strangest part of it all
  is the odd way that girl looked at me when she knew enough to look
  rationally at anybody; and her obstinate persistence in leaving my
  house before she was fit to go. And it was all I could do to induce
  her to see me again. But her cousin was quite cordial, and now I may
  claim to have established an easy footing at the house. But about
  Evelyn Howard--don't, my dear aunt, if you have a spark of mercy,
  require me to see her now."


       *       *       *       *       *

A month passed by, and October, in glorious tints of autumnal beauty,
shed its light over the city. In a handsome drawing-room on Brooklyn
Heights sat Weldon Gardner and Lina Dent. The young girl wore a soft
white dress, and her figure was replete with roseate health and beauty.

The young physician was pleading strongly and earnestly, gazing into the
eloquent eyes before him as if his very life hung upon their favor.

"But I know so little of you, Dr. Gardner," was her remonstrance in
answer to his ardent suit, "true you have earned my life-long
gratitude--"

"Don't mention that, if you have any regard for me," he interrupted, in
a sort of disdain.

"Yes," she urged, "I must mention it. To you I owe my life, and perhaps,
my reason. Of course I know you in all points of family, position, and
professional success; but your own true self--how can I know that you
will secure my happiness? Is there nothing you can tell me of yourself
which will reassure me?"

And the bright, honest look of her eyes robbed her plain words all
possible sting.

"First, tell me that you love me," he argued, "let me know that it would
be sweet to you to place your happiness in my keeping. At least you can
do this. You know if you love me."

She listened with averted look.

"And if I confess that I love you," she said at length, in a low voice;
"if I do this, would it not be mockery to learn, when too late, that I
had made a mistake?"

"But, in heaven's name, Lina, what can you mean? Why do you doubt me?
What is there to tell? I could have no secrets--"

Then there rushed to his memory with a force that sent the blood to his
brow and almost took his breath, the conviction that he _had_ a
secret from her--that he _was_ deceiving her--that it was unmanly
to seek her love with a lie on his lips. For a brief season his
engagement had been forgotten, or ignored. He had hugged to his breast
with unreasoning apathy the theory that the present was enough to
consider--that the future must care for itself--that once his promised
wife, Lina Dent should be his if all the world conspired against it. But
now came the hated thought that Evelyn Howard stood between him and the
precious one who had been his day-star since the night when he had
nursed her back to life.

Starting up, he strode back and forth, not noting the pale cheeks and
startled eyes of the girl who watched him in ill-repressed anxiety.

At length, sitting down beside her, he seized her soft fingers with a
grasp of which he was hardly aware. Then instantly relaxing the rigor
of his clasp, he pleaded:

"Let me hold this pure little hand while I confess to you, my only love,
that your clear eyes have read my soul--that I have deceived you--that
I love you beyond all else this world contains; but that the most cruel
fate man ever before suffered, keeps me from you, unless, indeed, your
love will help me to remove the barrier."

And while the young girl listened, with drooping head, he told her of
his hated engagement--of the painful circumstances that had betrayed him
into compliance.

"But I never dreamed of this sort of Nemesis! I could not have been in
my senses to thus barter my freedom forever."

Slowly withdrawing her hand, the girl said, still in the same low tones:

"And you do not love your betrothed?"

"Love her?" he echoed. "I tell you, Lina, I have never even seen her.
Her people have been abroad for an age. She was in New York a few weeks
ago and, I understand, took offense at my continued absence from her
side, and went back to England. This is what she left for me;" and
plunging his hand into his breast pocket he selected from his note-case
a fragrant little billet-doux, formally desiring Dr. Gardner to explain
his strange conduct at his leisure--that the next opportunity granted
him of seeing Evelyn Howard must be of his own seeking.

There was a pause after the reading of this aggrieved, dignified little
message.

"And can you, as a gentleman of honor, reconcile your neglect of the
writer?" asked Lina Dent, in a voice in which a cadence of scorn
involuntarily sounded.

"Honor! Can't you see that honor was what kept me from her? Such honor
as a man feels when he knows that he is poised between a Scylla and a
Charybdis of desperate fatality?"

"There can be but one answer to all this, Dr. Gardner," the girl replied
with proud dignity. "It would ill become me to sit in judgment on you
after what I have received at your hands; but you will acknowledge that
it was cruelly inconsiderate to seek my love while a barrier such as
this existed. How do I know that you will not love your betrothed after
you have seen her?"

"Love her--love any other than you, my beautiful, peerless one? Do not
torture me with such a supposition. I care nothing for Evelyn Howard;
I do not know her; I do not care to know her; nor is she in the least
dependent upon me for happiness. She has vast wealth, and can command
whatever fate she chooses."

"But wealth cannot buy happiness," she sadly replied, "and our course
is clear. I can see you no more till you have met your betrothed and
received your dismissal--or,"--and her clear cheek paled again--"made up
your mind to fulfill your promise to her. Farewell! I thank you for your
unwise devotion to me, but I can see you no more."

"Oh, Lina, do not doom me to this total separation. Why it seems an
eternity. Where and when can I see you again? Why didn't I go to that
girl when she was here? Fool, coward that I was! And now I cannot leave
New York. Grant me some respite, my love--I cannot live without you!"

But much as she sympathized with him she was firm; and when Weldon
Gardner left the house, with despair tugging at his heart, the only ray
of sunshine that pierced the gloom was the conviction that she did love
him--that should anything occur to separate them forever, her heart
would plead strongly for him, and her love would strive with his to
overcome the barrier.

       *       *       *       *       *

Months went by, and still Evelyn Howard eluded Weldon Gardner's pursuit.
Bitterly was he punished for his culpable neglect of her. In vain he
wrote letters urging her to come to New York. She was traveling with
friends and declined to change her course. He followed her to London,
to Paris. In vain! She was ever just before him on his journey: always
missing, never meeting him. Then he wrote to Lina Dent, beseeching her
to relent, since he had done all in his power to carry out her wishes.
She did not reply. Then in sullen despair he gave up the pursuit. He
carefully avoided going out except to see patients, declined all
invitations, and took solitary refuge in the stern exactions of duty.

As the year drew to a close he noticed in the list of arrivals from
Europe, Miss Evelyn Howard and her party; and among the personals he saw
that the beautiful Miss Howard would appear at Governor B's reception on
the next evening. He had received cards to this party, and now, with the
fierce desire to end his torture reawakened, he prepared to accept the
invitation. As he entered the brilliant rooms his eye fell upon the form
and face of Lina Dent, attired in an exquisite costume, and looking far
more radiant than in his wildest dreams he had ever pictured her.

Feasting upon her loveliness, with eyes hungry in their wistfulness, he
was about to approach her when she suddenly looked toward him and their
eyes met. He caught the quick flash of feeling; he knew that he was
still beloved! But even as he drank in the delicious confirmation of his
hopes, she passed him without recognition, and he knew that she would
not break her vow--that she would not meet him till he had fulfilled her
conditions. Too miserable to seek Miss Howard in the throng, the young
physician pleaded an urgent call to a patient, and left his host almost
before he had fairly entered upon the festivities.

One evening, soon after the last fearful disappointment, Dr. Gardner
received a note asking him to come to a certain number on Fifth Avenue,
and there he should meet Evelyn Howard. She inferred that he had had
ample time to learn if he really desired to form her acquaintance, and
she was ready now to see him.

Tearing the paper to atoms in sudden irritation and setting his teeth,
the young physician was soon at the appointed place, an elegant
brown-stone mansion, quite familiar to his eyes in his drives about
the city.

He was not left long in suspense. There was a sound of rapid steps
descending the stairs, with a frou-frou of silken skirts, and in a
moment Lina Dent stood before him, her face aglow with a proud light
he had never seen there, and her hands extended in glad welcome.

"You, Lina! You here? You have relented? This is too much happiness!"

Catching both soft white hands in his, he bent his lips to them, full of
the rapture he could not speak. He forgot to wonder why she was there.
He forgot everything but the love in her eyes and the joyous ring of her
voice.

Ere they could be seated the door again opened and admitted an elderly
lady, who approached smiling.

"My dear aunt!" exclaimed the young lover. "You, too? This _is_ a
surprise! What does it all mean? How did you get here, and when?"

The ladies stood smiling at each other and gazing upon him with a
significance that indeed clamored for explanation.

"Weldon, is it possible you do not guess?" asked his aunt.

"What? Why, what do you mean? I am all bewildered!" he exclaimed,
looking from one to the other till a faint glimmer of the truth began
to appear through the mists.

"Stupid boy!" again emphasized the lady, "whom did you come here to
see?"

Quickly glancing at the beautiful, radiant, still-smiling face of the
young girl, and then at the impressive features of the elder lady,
Weldon Gardner, with bated breath and a dazed expression in his startled
eyes, exclaimed:

"You--are--Evelyn Howard--you?"

"Exactly so. Doctor Gardner--Evelina Dent Howard--at your service!"

As she spoke, she placed her hand in his, and asked, in the liquid tones
whose cadences he so well remembered, "Have you been punished enough for
your unknightly scorn of the girl you condemned without trial?"

"Oh, forgive!" he pleaded, drawing her to a seat beside him. "I see it
all now. What a dolt you must have thought me! How could you ever have
tolerated me?"

"There is the conspirator," archly said Evelyn, pointing to Mrs. Duke.
"She it was who enabled me to deceive you. I wrote to her immediately
upon leaving your house for my cousin's, in Brooklyn, and she at once
devised the scheme that I have found so hard to carry out. Meanwhile,
she never lost sight of you."

It was long before the necessary explanations were exhausted, and when
the new day dawned no happier man proudly entered upon his duties than
did Weldon Gardner.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is upon a soft September afternoon that we last see Dr. Gardner and
his lovely wife. Within a snug little arbor beside the lake in Central
Park the two sit side by side, watching the idly-floating pleasure
crafts, and noting the lazy ripples of the green wavelets. Their hearts
grow tender with a mighty love that finds no language in which to clothe
itself.

Every blessing of life is theirs; every cadence that affection knows
makes harmony in their words. Gayly-dressed children pass by, some with
toy balloons, bounding into air. Evelyn shuddered at even this tiny
reminder of her reckless adventure, and clinging to her husband's arm,
blesses him and the day that confided her to his keeping. Accident had
tested his noble nature as the ordinary course of events never could
have done; and now was fulfilled the last wish of his parents, that in
Evelyn Howard should Weldon Gardner find the glory of heaven's last,
best gift to man.



Hezekiah's Wooing

A FIRESIDE SKETCH


"Walk right in, Mr. Lightus, do," said the cheery voice of the Widow
Partridge, as the portly figure of Mr. Hezekiah Lighthouse appeared in
her hospitable doorway.

"Thankee, thankee, I don't care if I do, Mis' Patridge," responded the
visitor, heavily bringing himself within the family circle.

"How's all?" he asked, comfortably establishing himself in the
arm-chair.

"Middlin', thankee," said the widow. "I've been enjoyin' very poor
health till lately. Now I seem to be pickin' up a little," as brushing
the seat of a rocker with her gingham apron, she sat down at the
opposite end of the hearth.

"An' Cicely Ann--how's she?"

"Oh, she--why she's allers the picture o' health. Here she comes now."

As she spoke, a fair, rosy-cheeked girl entered the cheerful room, with
her arms full of painting materials. These she deposited upon the table,
then dutifully greeted the visitor.

"An' how do you like them new fol-de-rols, Cicely Ann?" inquired
Hezekiah, eyeing askance the collection.

The fol-de-rols consisted of some wooden plaques of different sizes,
which the new art craze had brought to the widow's cottage.

"She's gettin' along right nice, I think," replied the widow, looking
proudly at her one chick. "You see, she's a lot o' darnin' an' one thing
another to do, but she finds time for her landskips and things."

"Well, mebbe so," assented Hezekiah grudgingly. "For my part there's
nothing set's a gal off like spinnin' an' weavin', an' it puts more
money in her pocket, besides."

"La, Mr. Lightus," said the widow deprecatingly, "spinnin' an' weavin's
gone out o' fashion. Gals will be gals, and they mostly go in for
fashion, you know."

Cicely's red lip curled in scorn as she applied herself vigorously
to her plaque, where the inevitable girl with muff and umbrella was
stumbling into a snowdrift.

Hezekiah picked up the widow's daily paper which, by the way, he largely
depended on for the news. Silence reigned for a while, save for the
rustle of the sheet. The click-clack of the widow's knitting needles,
and the rapid plying of Cicely's brush, were varied at last by the girl
surreptitiously pulling a note out of her jaunty apron pocket.

As she read it a smile broke over the dimpled features, and in a moment
more she pushed the table from her and left the room. Swiftly she sped
to the big apple tree where her trystings were held with Rufus, her
playmate and lover.

Hezekiah slowly raised his head, and laying down the paper, said
thoughtfully: "'Pears like the gal gits skittisher every day. Do you
reckon she'll ever come to like me?"

"Why, I dunno why she wouldn't," ventured the widow with an encouraging
smirk.

"Well, she don't seem to, no way." Then looking suspiciously through the
window. "Where's she gone to?"

"Oh, nowheres I reckon," said the mother soothingly, "nowheres in
partic'ler. She's allers around."

Another silence, during which the visitor carefully noted the land,
stock and crop items in the paper, then took his leave. But not till he
had cast a lingering look behind and said: "This is about the
comfortablest place a feller could drop into, in my opinion."

It was some minutes after when the truant Cicely re-entered the little
keeping-room, her cheeks and eyes bright with happiness.

"Oh, mother, wish me joy! Rufus has asked me to be his wife."

"Mercy on us, Cicely!" exclaimed the widow in a sort of terror, "and you
want to marry him?"

"Of course I do," proudly said the girl; "and I mean to marry him."

"Oh, Cicely, my child! and what will Mr. Lightus do--him that's been
comin' here so patient, off an' on?"

"Mr. Lighthouse!" disdainfully echoed the girl. "Do you suppose I would
have that old goose--old enough to be my grandfather!"

"Old goose! Fie, Cicely, to talk so disrespectful of your pa's best
friend. He's well-to-do an' has got the finest place in the county.
Think how nice we'd be fixed, child. We'd never have to work no more,"
and the widow sighed as the girl looked into her face for the
congratulations she expected in vain.

"Well, mother, I can't help it. I am willing to work and so is Rufus. He
is as industrious and steady as the day is long. I shouldn't mind having
Mr. Lighthouse for an uncle, but husband--pshaw!" and the pretty
features screwed themselves into a comical grimace.

"Child, child, I'm disappointed and no mistake. Here's that man's been
a comin' here all these weeks, an' while he ain't asked for you, it's
clear he wants you. An' now I've got to tell him you won't have him.
There's that moggidge on the house, too. But that's allers the
way--troubles don't never come single," and the sigh became a whimper.

"Now, don't you worry, mother," said Cicely, clasping her arms about the
still fair neck, "don't worry; we will come out all right, mortgage and
all."

Taking fresh courage, the widow again pressed the claims of the portly
wooer, but what chance had she against the combined powers of young love
and the daughter's stronger nature.

Time passed. Almost every evening found Hezekiah at the cottage, but
though persistent, things did not apparently make much progress. At last
the stiffness of the customary interviews seemed to break.

"Mis' Patridge," he said, getting very red in the face and awkward as to
hands and feet, "Cicely Ann gits worse every day. Ain't there no chance
of her puttin' up with me at all?"

"Why, yes, I reckon so," bashfully said the widow. "She's young and
foolish, you know. You can't expect gals to be sensible and sober down
like they will when they get holt of some wise person tha'll train 'em."

"Well," sighed the wooer, "I guess I might as well stop comin'. 'Taint
no use to be forever worritin' after anything. I did think, howsomever,
it 'ud be sorter nice to have us four live together. Young folks makes a
house kinder lively. But I don't git on, somehow; so I guess I might as
well hang up my fiddle an' quit." And the ancient wooer slowly rose to
his full height.

"Us four!" repeated the petrified widow, mouth and eyes open to their
widest extent.

"Yes--us four," continued Hezekiah. "I was thinkin', you know, that
bein' as this young feller Rufus what's-his-name 'peared to be sweet on
the gal, mebbe you'd take to me an' we'd all git spliced together. But
she don't like me and wouldn't treat me right. I couldn't stand fusses
an' the like."

"La, Mr. Lightus, how you do astonish me," faintly ejaculated the
flushed widow, her comely face crimson to the roots of her soft brown
hair.

"You don't say!" exclaimed the rapidly enlightened Hezekiah, rousing
to something like animation. "Did you think--didn't you know--well,
I declare, I don't actually believe you did. Now ain't it a puzzle,
begad!"

While he jerked out his amazed sentences, his companion, fairly overcome
with the revelation that dawned upon her for the first time, buried her
face in her hands.

"Mis' Patridge," timidly said the agitated wooer, approaching nearer,
"you don't say--that is, do you mean to say that if Cicely Ann could
like me well enough to not be sassy around the house, an' keepin' you
oncomfortable about it, you an' me could hitch on an' be pardners? You
don't mean it now, do you?"

"Mean it!" murmured the widow, her fair cheeks aglow with
suddenly-stirred enthusiasm. "I'm only too happy, Mr. Lightus, I never
thought--"

But at this juncture the rejuvenated wooer ventured to clasp his rough
but honest arms about the blushing prize he had won.

At this juncture, also, Cicely and Rufus happened in, but beat a hasty
and giggling retreat, as they rapidly took in the situation.

All's well that ends well. Hezekiah Lighthouse married the Widow
Partridge, and set young Rufus up in business. As a father the spirited
Cicely yielded him the respect and affection he deserved.

She made but one stipulation. On the marriage morn she whispered the
earnest entreaty: "Mother, _don't_ let him call me Cicely _Ann_!"



A Summer Daisy

A PASTORAL


"Heighho!" yawned Carroll Hamilton, picking up his long legs from the
grass, "this is not making hay while the sun shines," and he proceeded
leisurely to place a camp stool in position, erect an easel, and spread
out sketching materials.

A few bold, rapid strokes transferred a pretty bit of rural landscape to
the canvas, and this much gained, the amateur artist lit a fine Havana
and lazily drifted off again into reverie. His thoughts were not of
a pleasant nature. Why couldn't a man do as he liked in this world?
Here the particular man in his mind--to-wit his own agreeable self,
had devoted his twenty-four years to acquiring sundry dazzling
accomplishments, zonly to have his interest in life dampened by a
matrimonial scheme, hatched long ago in the fertile brains of his own
parents and the parents of his prospective dulcinea in conspiracy.

Yes, a regular wet blanket had awaited his return from Italia's classic
shores. What an insufferable bore to be pledged, promised, all but tied
to an unknown female whose only merit, he wilfully wagered, lay in her
invincible ground rents.

"Why, my son," his doting mother said, "think of it--two hundred thousand
dollars in her own right, and all yours for the asking."

He did think of it; and he vowed in his own mind to do
something--anything; run away, commit suicide, before he would join
himself for life to any girl he had never seen, especially old
Thornton's daughter, who seemed so willing to jump at him. Not he. In
vain they urged him to cultivate the fair damsel. Not till he had braced
his nerves with country air, he said. This tonic secured, he graciously
consented to be introduced, but would reserve the ratification of the
wedding treaty till later.

What's the use in having fathers and mothers, anyhow? They only plague
the life out of one. They don't ever think of letting a fellow alone
once in a while. They--

What other heinousness they would be guilty of would never be shaped
into thought, for at this moment down came a dainty little slipper, with
a dainty little rosette, from the tree above, plump on to his sketch,
and a violent start and a glance upward revealed a bewildering little
pink-stockinged foot, which was the daintiest of all.

The abrupt spring to his feet brought down the camp stool, cigar, easel
and all, but not the foot, for the rest of the apparition was caught and
hidden by the clustering young shoots of the apple tree.

A whistle--quite involuntary, if not polite--was shaping itself a brief
distance below his staring eyes, when, recovering himself and tiptoeing
to his full height, he peered into the branches and said, a little
irrelevantly:

"I beg pardon!"

Two milk-white hands parted the leaves, and a flushed pink-and-white
face appeared at the opening.

"It's only me," cooed a musical voice, and as if the sound had unlocked
the pent-up silence, two rows of pearls shone between two red lips, two
large blue eyes twinkled with fun, and as charming a peal of laughter as
was ever vouchsafed to mortal ears rippled merrily on the air.

"And who is me, may I ask?" rather saucily asked the routed artist.

"Why, Daisy--Daisy Merrifield; don't you know?"

"Why, no, I don't know; that is, I didn't know, but of course I know
now; and I'm delighted to know."

At all these "knows", the maiden laughed her merry laugh again.

"May I ask what you are doing up there?"

"Doing nothing--just what you are doing down here."

"Ah, but I was doing something very nice down here, only you have nearly
spoiled it," and with mock regret the young man picked up the slipper
and comically surveyed its Cinderella proportions.

"So I did," was the regretful reply, "you see it was awfully poky,
having to sit so still. I must have grown desperate at last and kicked
it off--I am sorry."

"Well, I am not one bit sorry," he said. "I'll do another picture, and
next time I'll sketch the tree," he added, his brown eyes twinkling with
amusement.

"But how did you get up there, and how will you get down?" were his next
queries, putting the little slipper into the pocket of his jacket.

"Well, I climbed up," she admitted. "I suppose I'll have to jump down.
Reach out your hands," she cried, and a sudden rustle showed she was
preparing to spring. "Good gracious me!" was her next exclamation, as
the willing hands were extended, "my hair is all caught."

"Hold perfectly still till I get up there," he said with concern, and
replacing the stool, he was soon on a level with the fair prisoner.

Patiently he disentangled the long golden locks from the infringing
boughs, and gathering them all in her little hands, she gave them a
vigorous twist forward over her face out of further mischief.

"Now, my slipper, please," as the young fellow retreated. Obediently
restoring the truant article, she deftly adjusted it, and cried,
"All ready!"

It is hardly to be wondered at that her descent was arrested, and her
rounded form tenderly lowered to terra firma.

"I like this out here, don't you?" was her next remark, shaking out her
fairy muslin skirts and placidly surveying the scene. "I've been out
every day these--let me see--yes, three days. Aunt Hepsy says I'll get
tanned, but I don't mind. You know Aunt Hepsy, don't you? Everybody
does."

"No, but I'd like to," he said, and he meant it.

"She lives at the farm-house yonder--she and Uncle Reuben. They are the
best old souls! So this is what you were doing," she abruptly added,
picking up the sketch. "You wouldn't think I could draw, but I can,"
with a proud little toss of the hair.

"I would think you could do anything," he gallantly replied.

But she was intent upon the picture, with its bold, true outlines.

"This isn't bad," was her sage critcism.

"Didn't you wear a hat, or something?" he asked, looking around and up
into the tree.

"No--yes--I wore this," and pulling from her pocket a large blue square
of cotton, she tied it under her chin with the utmost naivete.

"It's Aunt Hepsy's," she explained. "There, do you hear that bell?
That's for dinner," and taking a tiny watch from an elf-like pocket, she
added, "Only half-past eleven. But, to be sure, we ate breakfast with
the chickens. It's horrible."

"Don't you live here?"

"Live here?" she echoed. "No, I'm only visiting. Good-bye, I must go. I
am much obliged, though," and as if the recollection were overpowering,
she again burst out into her ringing laugh.

"It was too funny you didn't see me; and I so scared I was afraid to
breathe. Good-bye, I hope you will have a good time with your picture."

"But you are not going to dismiss me, are you? Mayn't I take you home?"

"Yes, if you like; only you musn't stay long. I've got to do Rollin and
Plutarch while I'm out here, and can't be bothered."

With difficulty repressing an explosion, the young man walked beside
the woodland sprite, with his goods and chattels thrown across his
shoulders, and found himself falling--yes, tumbling--headlong in love.
Such an airy, fairy, exquisite piece of humanity it had never been his
fortune to behold.

"You are too young to worry your brain with dry old fossils like Rollin
and Plutarch," he said, with what gravity he could.

"I am a person of twenty," she affirmed with demure satisfaction, as she
tripped along in a manner quite enchanting.

At the door of the farm-house a fair, motherly face smiled a welcome
from the border of a spotless cap, then sobered a little at the sight
of a stranger.

"This is Aunt Hepsy," simply said Daisy, "and you are--?" hesitating.

A flush not born of the sunshine mounted to his brow as with swift
thought he saw the shoals ahead, and did not dare reveal his identity.

"John Smith," he said, with his natural ease.

"Oh!" half exclaimed Daisy, upon hearing such a very common name from
such very uncommon lips; but checking it, and softly humming a tune, she
retired to an inner room to prepare for dinner.

This episode was the beginning of elysium for John Smith. Every day saw
him at the farm-house. Every day revealed some new charm in the Daisy
he had found. She was as industrious and sensible as she was petite and
pretty. Rollin and Plutarch were discarded for modern authors, or for
simple chit-chat about mamma, papa, and little ones at home.

But when the day came for John Smith to tell his love, he met with a
shock that quite paralyzed his senses.

Looking up with her big blue eyes, she said:

"You mustn't talk like that; I'm engaged."

"Engaged?" he stammered, "engaged?"

"Yes, I'm engaged."

"And to whom? May I ask?"

"Oh, I can't tell you his name; it's a secret yet. He is a person I
never saw."

"Sheer madness!" was his horrified ejaculation. "Never saw him, and
going to marry him?"

"I promised, you know; I must, if he wants me," she said in her
unconcerned way.

"But don't you love _me_, Daisy?"

"Yes, I suppose I do, but that can't be helped; a promise is a promise."

"Who is to prevent it?" he exclaimed impatiently. "I say it shall be
helped."

There was not time for further rhapsodies. Aunt Hepsy appeared with a
telegram, calling Daisy home; and home she went next day, leaving Mr.
John Smith in despair. In vain he laid siege to Aunt Hepzibah and
Uncle Reuben; they could not help him.

Then, in a mighty wrath, he too went home, and desperately resolved to
have it out with the Thornton girl, one way or the other; but not "the
other" if Daisy could be brought to terms.

It was easy travelling where the way was all prepared. So a lovely
moonlight evening found him in Squire Thornton's parlor. In a few
moments there floated down to him from the invisible upper regions a
cloud of blue muslin, and the laughing face of Daisy Merrifield was
before him.

"Oh, Daisy, what a surprise! and how sweet you are!" as impulsively he
strained her to his heart. "What joy to find you here!"

"Don't crush my dress," she said, righting up the ruffles; "it's new.
Yes, I am here. Didn't you come to see me?"

"No--that is--I came to see Miss Thornton," and his face fell.

"There is no Miss Thornton," she said, her dimples playing
mischievously. "It is only _I_--_now_ don't you know?"

"But how is it? I was told--I understood--"

"Pshaw! you stupid!" she said, with a bewitching pout, "if you had been
a little more civil, you would have known that I am Mrs. Thornton's
daughter--not Mr. Thornton's; that mamma is mamma, but papa isn't papa,
and--"

But in an ecstacy of surprise and joy the rest of her sentence was
entirely smothered.

"And you knew from the first?" he asked, reproachfully.

"Not from the first, but almost. They were all in the plot. I meant to
snub you outright, only--well, somehow you didn't look as horrid as you
really were! The 'John Smith' was almost too much for me, but I stood
it. Then when the letter came--it was well for you I had seen you under
the tree. So you wouldn't marry the heiress," she said, archly. "I did
my very best to teach you a lesson, young man. Have you learned it?"

The answer was fervently though silently given the merry, rosy, smiling
lips.



Treesa

A CHARACTER SKETCH


They called her Treesa. She was not young. That she had ever been was
hard to realize. Whatever her childhood, and however the years had
brought her up to woman's estate, there was no footprint upon the worn
face of the gladsome time we call youth. No light in the eye of other
and happier days. No echo in the quiet heart, of bounding pulses, or
ever a sweet enthusiasm. The treadmill of duty in life's most trivial
task, enthralled her every faculty. Her daily round was in a large
hotel--an arena of toil circumscribed by four brick walls. Her domain
was the parlor floor; that sacred area of rosy vistas and costly suites,
where she was as proud to tread as a king in his royal glory. Where
beauty and fashion made for her a panorama of short glimpses amid pauses
of broom and duster.

The maids on the other floors might earn the wage just as honorably;
Treesa permitted no trespass upon her exalted territory. The bridal
chambers, the private sitting rooms, the luxurious sleeping
apartments--these were her pride and her joy. The Excelsior had a
reputation, national and international. Princes and potentates had
slumbered in Treesa's chambers. The "nobility and the gentry" had been
feted there. Year after year her pale eyes had watched over the welfare
of distinguished visitors, American and foreign. They had seen the help
come and go; she was still the "girl of the parlor floor." Discreet,
silent, honest, they might well allow her a share of caprice. "Cranky"
they called her, yet no one found fault. She neglected no duty. The lady
manager of the interior was not always the same. She changed from time
to time; Treesa was always the same, and always there. At length there
came a dainty little woman, full of native pluck, who was born to rule,
and rule she did, to the limit of her jurisdiction. Though so far apart,
a kindred chord was struck between mistress and maid. The high spirit
that smouldered in these two never crossed; but with the smallest
tangible demonstration they were fast friends. The girl's horizon now
bordered a triune interest;--the church, the mistress, and the parlor
floor. Gaunt and spare, she trod her beat. Shy of manner, with eyes
looking nowhere, she seemed a human machine of the broom. A woman
without kith or kin, without a history, and apparently without a memory.
Never sick, never absent, never a letter from friends, never a visit
away. The old habitues of the house liked her. She gave no sign of favor
or disfavor, till at last it was their way to respect her and leave her
alone. But whenever a mission of trust was needed Treesa was the one
called upon.

But as the calmest stream is ruffled at some time on its course, so
there comes to every human life a shock that upturns hidden forces. And
this came to Treesa. It was when she was one day summoned to the private
office downstairs: that dread tribunal for the wrongdoers of the large
household--a locality as little heeded by the girl as any other foreign
place, albeit there had been new and strange proprietors as the years
went by. Without so much as a ripple of excitement upon her homely
features, she came down and stood within the door, respectfully awaiting
orders. The two arbiters of her destiny were in close conference upon
ways and means. Expense must be cut down. There must be a weeding out.
Raising his head and looking in some curiosity at the queer apparition,
the new partner said: "Are you Teresa O'Toole?"

"Me name is that same, sir," she said, meeting the eyes. "An' what thin,
sir?" she added, as for a moment he was silent.

"Yes--ah--" he went on, this time not exactly confronting the expectant
face--"We've been thinking, Teresa--we were just saying--that you are
getting along in years now, and--ah--the fact is, we think you ought to
have a rest. Some one younger, and stronger, ought to relieve you, and
give you a chance to pick up. You are a good girl," with encouraging
justice, "a very good girl, and have been faithful and honest. But we--"
he hesitated, as Treesa's lean face suddenly darkened with an unwonted
flush. Then she broke out:

"An' is it me dischairge ye'd be afther givin' me, sir?"

"Well, yes, about that, it amounts to that, I suppose," admitted the
great man. "You see, my good woman," he ventured softly, noting the
breakers ahead, "the fact is--"

"Well, thin," she burst forth in righteous wrath, placing her hard, red
arms akimbo, and struggling to loose her tongue, "I'll be afther tellin'
yees, I'll not take a dischairge from yees, sir! It's here I've been
this fifty year, an' more. I was the first gurll in the house, for sure
I come before the likes of yees was born an' before yees iver darkened
the doors. It's no fault can be found with me. I'll stay right here!"
and turning, she went out.

There was silence in the office. Then the senior partner, his eye
twinkling, spoke:

"What are we going to do about it?"

"Why, nothing", drily said the other, "nothing, I suppose; you heard
what she said, I presume she will stay on."

And stay on she did, her one dominant idea as fixed as the polar star.
As the years rolled by she might have rested from her labors, but for
this sense of devotion to duty. Even a monthly pittance will count
through the ages; so Treesa's savings came at last to foot up into the
thousands. Not even good Father Clement could have told the amount, or
where she kept it. Like herself, it was a mystery. She continued to
hoard and to hide, with no misgiving of loss by thief, or by accident;
with no forewarning of danger. Yet dire calamity was impending.

It was past midnight when the veteran chambermaid was awakened by the
sound of crackling wood and the smell of stifling smoke. To spring out
of bed was the work of a moment, the aged limbs obedient to her call;
then all her faculties alert, she thrust her hand into a hidden recess
of the mattress, and clutching a bulky package from its depths, made her
way out into the corridor, where the smoke was still thicker, on down
the stairs from the servants' dormitory to the floor below. Staggering
to the manager's door she pounded with all her strength till those
within were aroused; and dizzy from fright and half-suffocation, she
ran to the fire alarm, banging the gong till doors flew open right and
left, and the halls were alive with people. The cry of "Fire!" on all
sides now added to the din. More alarms were turned in till ample help
was at hand. While the hotel manager's orders were being obeyed, and the
guests were deserting their rooms for greater safety in the lobby below,
Treesa was struggling to get back to the servant's floor, whence now
issued screams of terror, as, for the first time, the flames were seen
creeping in close proximity to the maid's quarters. In vain the firemen,
who were now cutting holes in the floor to insert the hose, tried to
intercept her. Bent upon serving her fellow-servants, she disappeared
through the blinding smoke Crawling flat upon her face up the stairs
to avoid the onset of the fumes, the girl reached the glass door that
imprisoned the terrified creatures, burst it through with one powerful
blow, and forced them out upon the fire escape, where now, too, the
firemen's ladders were seen manned by the helmeted brigade. All bruised
and bleeding from the splintered glass, and still clutching fast the
rescued package, Treesa turned to retrace her steps, her only thought
now being to save the parlor floor and its treasures. Again she eluded
those who would have guarded her from danger, and made a hurried dash
for the stairway, when a sudden rush of flame, now fanned by the air,
blinded her, and she fell to the landing, dropping the bulk of her
holdings, where the fire greedily licked it to destruction.

Tender hands lifted her and conveyed her, crushed and unconscious, to
a temporary couch, where it was found, when the surgeon came, that her
hip was dislocated. To the mistress alone would she unloose what her
bleeding hand still held, as she whispered, "Put it away, safe--Masses
for me soul--Father Clement."

But Treesa did not die. The morning papers rang with her heroism, but
none then knew that she had lost the hoarded earnings of a life-time;
that the one package saved represented but a small proportion of her
treasure. She was taken to a hospital, and, fortunately for her peace
of mind, the house was closed for repairs. During the weeks of building,
the old bones were mending. The sufferer counted the days with jealous
watching. When an agony of fear seized upon her lest she might never go
back, only the mistress or the kindly priest had power to quiet her, She
was promised over and over again that she should not be supplanted.

When the hotel opened anew, the daily press blazoned to the world the
fact, giving a personal paragraph to the officials, and including a
list of well-known names, among them the humble one of Teresa O'Toole,
who had been a chambermaid there during sixty years. This scrap of paper
was held fast in the horny fingers, and seemed to the fevered senses to
keep alive the link between her and the only home she knew.

Hither she was borne at last to a small room that was to be her
portion and her pension forevermore. Her old quarters, austere and clean
and bare, had been effaced by the carpenter's hammer, and this corner
retreat had been partitioned from a domestic recess in the rear. But
it was on the parlor floor, that fetich of a devoted life. Crippled
and useless, Treesa was an object of unobtrusive care. She kept her
shrunken savings about her person, more unwilling than ever to trust
the unexplored fields of finance. She grew querulous. She must be
getting to her work again. Would the mistress be after letting her earn
something--on the parlor floor, she tremulously added. Smiling sadly,
permission was granted. Fondly the old creature took up her broom and
duster--bought anew for her--and limped painfully toward the beloved
rooms--the bridal chambers--the choicest suites where beauty and fashion
came. What a journey now! The grand parlors and long corridors were
interminable vistas of elegance and luxury. And--ah! what was that
clinging to the velvet carpet pile? A bit of paper carelessly let fall?
And--yes, was there dust on the polished marble of yon table? Alas! that
her dim eyes should live to behold the desecration. What shiftless
wretch was doing the parlor floor, and she a useless block in her room!

The shock told. She staggered to a gorgeous sofa near the offending bit
of rubbish, and sunk down in the act of reaching for it. This was the
beginning of the end. Lying on her bed sleep deserted the fading eyes.
An attendant was provided, who grew accustomed to mutterings she could
not understand. She ceased to listen. In pity the mistress came often
and sat beside the couch. She listened and understood. She gathered the
last wishes of the dying, and received as a sacred charge all that the
sufferer had to leave. Still the angel of death tarried, until sweet
peace shed a radiance over the departing soul, whose faith was steadfast
to church and heaven.

At the first faint ray of dawn the mistress arose and went to her. The
bed was empty, the nurse asleep. Following the instinct of the moment,
the lady hastened along the quiet corridors to where the night taper
showed the still form of the devoted veteran stretched out on the thick,
soft carpet, her cold fingers clasping the new broom and duster.



My First Jury Case

THE DOG WITNESS


The court-house was crowded to its utmost capacity. Women as well as men
were there to hear the arguments in the case of the Commonwealth against
William Grant for the alleged murder of John Belt.

Grant was a young man of handsome exterior and pleasing manners. He sat
in the prisoner's box, and near him, closely veiled, was his beautiful
girlish wife, with her arm around a fine, manly boy, and her head bowed
upon his sunny curls.

Near the group were the surviving relatives of the dead man, consisting
of the wife, mother and daughter. Their faces were heavy and stolid, and
their whole appearance indicated not only the lower walks of life, but
the existence of evil passions and aggressive natures.

Belt had owned a small grocery some fifteen miles from town, in a wild
glen at the mouth of a shallow stream that flowed into the Kentucky
river. The region was for a long time sparsely settled; but the
establishing of a government distillery and a railroad station had led
to an increase of population, so that young Grant was induced to locate
there and open a shop for provisions and other supplies, that line of
business having been the one chosen from his boyhood.

From the first Belt, who was one of the few German settlers in that part
of the country, resented what he was pleased to call an encroachment
upon his trade, and lost no opportunity of showing his ill-feeling. He
was a heavy-set, sullen man of about forty-five years of age, and showed
a dogged spirit even to his customers. In vain Grant strove, first to
pay no attention to his enmity, and afterward to conciliate him. He
continued obstinate, and his family were not behind him in giving
insults and slights.

Time passed, and Grant prospered. He was obliging and agreeable, and
people naturally patronized his store, which he rendered as attractive
as his means and good taste would allow. His wife, too, charmed the
community by her simple, sweet ways; and motherly old ladies took
special interest in her and her babe.

Grant built a neat cottage, and this gave fresh offense. At last Belt,
who was a drinking man as well as surly, swore that he would take
Grant's life if the latter persisted in remaining there. His trade was
falling off, and Grant was the cause. Matters reached a climax then,
and Grant armed himself in case of a surprise.

One morning Belt was missing, and his family raised a hue and cry that
speedily brought a crowd about the house, just as Grant approached and
made the startling announcement that he had shot at a man the night
before, and was ready for such investigation as would be proper under
the circumstances. He stated that he had been aroused by a filing,
grating sound at his bedroom window, which was on the ground floor, and
that he sprang from his bed, threw open the front door, and fired upon
a figure that retreated rapidly and was soon lost in the darkness.

Upon this Grant was held in custody, while a party of men went in search
of Belt. Hours were spent in vain, when it was suggested that Belt's
dog, a vicious mongrel-cur, should be put upon the trail. Accordingly
the dog, which was usually seen at Belt's heels, was given the scent of
his master's coat, and started rapidly down the road, his nose to the
ground. The testimony as elicited at the trial showed that the brute had
bounded along to the Grant cottage, leaped upon the window sill, sniffed
eagerly about the spot, then ran down the path to a clump of bushes on
the river cliff. Here the creature stopped and set up a piteous howl.
The pursuing party hastened to the spot, and there lay the body of Belt,
who had fallen and died, as the autopsy revealed, of internal hemorrhage
produced by a pistol shot. As if to corroborate Grant's statement, a
chisel and a pistol were found in the grass under the window of his
bedroom.

Such was the history of the case. The absence of any testimony in behalf
of the prisoner beyond his own assertion, was painfully evident. His
wife supported him in the facts, but the law did not permit a wife to
testify in the husband's case, so this evidence was unavailable.

The natural sympathy which death awakens in the human breast,
especially a tragic one, had done its work even in the case of so
unpopular a man as Belt, and already he was considered a martyr.
The desperate lamentations and impoverished condition of his family
asserted their claims, and the time of trial found public opinion
greatly divided. The spark of envy in every community which had lain
dormant as long as the Grants were novelties, sprung into life at their
unwonted prosperity, and the gaily painted store and fanciful cottage
became eyesores to more than one. Various rumors, like uncanny spirits
of air, floated about till the prisoner felt himself sinking into an
abyss. Once down, there seemed no power ready to lift him up.

He employed several distinguished attorneys as counsel, and I, a
struggling young lawyer, whose ambition was to be worthy the mantle of
an illustrious father, was also retained. There was something about the
case that inspired me to the utmost of which I was capable. There was no
circumstantial evidence against the prisoner. He had frankly owned to
shooting the man. The issue rested upon his motive for the deed. What
was the provocation? True, Belt may have threatened his life; but Belt
was a drunkard, and who attached any importance to his words?

The prosecution endeavored to show that Grant, wearied with the enmity
of Belt, and wishing to be rid of him, had enticed him away on the night
of the killing, and shot him in cold blood. True, a chisel and pistol
had been found, but how easy for the prisoner to have placed them
there to carry out his plans! The dead man was proved to be a harmless
character, though of intemperate habits and rough ways. His antipathy to
Grant was only natural, since the latter had, by ingratiating manners,
flashy advertising dodges, and a few modern tricks of trade, ruined the
business of the old-fashioned, plain-sailing German.

In the hands of such skillful manipulators the case grew blacker and
blacker, and the face of my client reflected the anguish he saw his
wife enduring, and he powerless to comfort. He saw his beautiful,
idolized boy the son of a convict, and all that had made life worth the
living shattered to the dust. Closer and closer the meshes were weaving
about him. The jurors sat with fixed gaze as one by one the speeches
were ended. At length the honorable counsel for the prosecution
concluded a powerful argument, and I saw in the faces of the twelve
men that it had told.

There was but one point left for me to make, and I wondered that my
distinguished brethren had passed it by. They had dwelt upon the youth
and good standing of the prisoner, and the uncalled-for persecution he
had suffered. They pictured in graphic words the midnight attempt upon
his life at his own house. A man's house is his castle, and he has the
supreme right to defend both it and himself. They appealed to the
sympathies of the jurors in behalf of the young, helpless wife and
innocent child. Still there was wanting the one link in the chain of
positive evidence. Sympathy was well enough. The twelve sworn men
required proof. How was it to be shown them?

I was young, and I felt all the nervousness attendant upon a maiden
effort, but my heart was in the work and I launched forth. Nature had
given me a good voice, and I felt a certain power as I spoke. But
I had not the egotism to suppose that I could compete with the learned
gentlemen who had preceded me unless I could make a decided hit in
summing up the testimony. This I did. When I came to the hitherto
unnoticed dog, I dwelt there with a tenacity that was determined to
convince. I portrayed the well-known fidelity of the dog. No matter what
the master, whether fortune's pampered darling, or a beastly denizen of
the gutter, his dog was always his friend. Be he kind and gentle, or
cruel and pitiless, still his dog crouches in loving submission. And the
animal, whether a high-bred, glossy-coated favorite, with golden collar
and silken leash, for whom hundreds had been paid, or an ill-favored,
ungainly brute picked up from nowhere and as thankful for a kick as for
a crust, was loyal with a fidelity that puts to shame man's boasted
friendship.

This man's dog had loved him. Drunk or sober, kind or cruel, his dog was
not content out of his presence. Why was he not with the man on this
fatal night? Because Belt had chained him in order to follow out his
vengeance untraced. The master knew the sagacity of his dog. He wanted
no companion on his midnight stroll. And when, restless and uneasy, the
dog was let loose and shown the garment of his master, what did he do?
He dashed away, nose to earth, in eager, loving pursuit, along the
road to Grant's cottage. There he sniffs the ground, where undoubtedly
the familiar scent lay, jumps upon the window-ledge with his fore paws,
whimpers, starts away, and follows the trail down the path to the
beloved body now cold in death.

What proof more convincing than that Belt had been there? How improbable
the trumped-up story that Grant could decoy from his home his bitterest
enemy, especially at the midnight hour! A loaded pistol and a chisel
were found under the window. It had been alleged that Grant placed them
there for his own base purposes. But admitting that man could deceive,
the dog would not. Canine instinct could not lie. Every man who knew the
nature of the animal must feel convinced that Belt's dog would never
have gone to that window except in honest pursuit of his master.

I felt that my speech had told, and as I sat down there was a stir in
the vast crowd. My client's face was flushed, and the wife's somber veil
was thrown back, revealing her large eyes lustrous with hope.

The Commonwealth's attorney occupied the floor for an hour, during which
he ridiculed what he termed the schoolboy tales from his youthful
opponent. But when the jury retired I felt that my influence was still
uppermost. The suspense was trying, but it did not last long. They
reported in a very short time, and the verdict, announced in a clear
ringing voice, was "Not guilty!"

Grant sprang forward as his friends pressed near and seized my hand in
a vise-like grip. Loud cheers rent the air, for again the fickle public
had veered around, the crowd surged to and fro, women wept, and the
fervent "Thank God!" that broke from the pallid lips of the young wife
rang in my ears for many a day.

The foreman of the jury, a plain, intelligent farmer, drew me aside and
said, "That dog done the business! There was no gittin' around that!
I've got a dog myself."

Grant was forced to begin life anew, for his counsels' fees about
consumed his little savings, but he remained at his post honest and
industrious, and is one of the leading men in the now populous section.



Three Visits

A ROMANTIC SKETCH


The day was warm and sunny. A few industrious and enterprising pioneers
were seated on a log near the Wallace Cross Roads, in what is now
Garrard county, Ky. They were enjoying their noonday luncheon and
discussing the object of their woodland caucus. Suddenly the sound of an
advancing horse arrested their attention. Pausing and looking toward a
primitive opening in the deep-tangled wildwood, they soon saw both horse
and rider approaching, the latter looking about him as if a stranger to
the country. He was among them in another moment, receiving their rough
but hearty greetings, and manifesting genuine pleasure in his frank,
youthful countenance. Though not yet attained to full manhood, the
traveller's figure was tall and graceful, and his face, by no means
handsome, wore a genial glow that intensified the wonderful magnetism
of his manner.

"You seem to be a stranger in these parts," said one of the men, mopping
his forehead with his red bandana.

"Yes," answered the traveller. "I am a few days out from home across the
mountains yonder. Can you direct me to Lexington?"

"Easy, easy, sir," said the other, "It's a good spell from this, but
there's a pretty fair road after you get out of these thickets. Sit
down, sir; sit down and have a snack with us. You must be hungry, and
you won't find a tavern soon."

Nothing loth, the young stranger addressed himself to the cold corn
bread and bacon with a will, while the talk veered around to the
business of the day.

"You, see, sir, we are about to build a courthouse hereabouts, and have
our lawing to ourselves," said the first speaker. "We've about decided
to plant the corner stone at the Cross Roads a little way from this."

"It's a first rate location," said another. "There's good water all
around and plenty of trees for lumber."

"Nothing like making the right start," added a third voice.

They continued to discuss plans for their future township, the stranger
entering with courteous interest into all their projects.

"I have often tried," said he, "to look into the future of this grand
section of country. To the day when the spirit of internal improvement
shall have levelled the roads and converted the hidden wealth of the
soil into a glorious medium of happiness and prosperity. Then the mental
stores of our hardy settlers will rapidly develop, and civilization will
prune down the rugged points of character, as the implements of the
husbandman break up the clods."

Rapt visions illumined the young speaker's features with a glow of
national pride, and he saw not the looks of intelligent curiosity that
passed among his companions.

Then starting up, he said, "I must really be going. I have a long ride,
and the day is waning. I thank you heartily for your hospitality.
I assure you it is as refreshing as it was unexpected."

They shook hands, and the stranger mounted his horse which was quietly
grazing near by. Catching up the bridle, he said: "One of these days I
hope to visit your section again, and see the great results of which you
are now making the small beginning. Farewell."

"One moment," said the man who had first greeted him; "might I ask your
name, if it's not going too far?"

"Not at all, sir, not at all. My name is Henry Clay."

For a few minutes after the departure of the young stranger, the small
knot of pioneers commented with admiring wonder upon his singularly
fascinating address, and saying, "That man will make his mark in the
world," they proceeded to refresh themselves at a cool spring, and then
prepared to finish the survey.

       *       *       *       *       *

Years after, the little town of Lancaster, which had grown from the
humble courthouse of the Cross Roads, was in a state of excitement such
as only villages are liable to experience. It was the occasion of a
school examination, and the citizens were all more or less interested.
At the appointed hour the house was full, and the classes were
marshalled in due order to the front. Four o'clock struck, and the
programme was drawing to a close, when one of the dignitaries of the
town entered the hall, accompanied by a tall, distinguished-looking
stranger, whose presence inspired the children with a certain sense of
awe. It was at once whispered about that the great statesman, Henry
Clay, was among them. Upon presenting him to the teacher, the school
rose, and chairs being provided, the exercises went on. When the time
came for making recitations, the young people exhibited marked signs
of embarrassment; but one by one they acquitted themselves creditably.
At length a little blue-eyed, sunny-haired child ascended the platform
and recited "The Old Oaken Bucket," with wonderful pathos, so accurate
was her enunciation, so impressive the varying cadences of her sweet
voice.

"Who is she?" I inquired the great man when the storm of applause had
somewhat subsided.

"We call her 'Daisy of the Glen,'" was the reply. "She is a prodigy for
her age. Her history is a little singular. She was found not far from
here in a wild glen, or ravine, when about three years old, and has
never been able to tell who or where her parents are. But I will relate
the circumstances to you at another time. At present the trustees are
pressing in their invitation to you to say something to the children."

Whereupon the grandest orator of his day arose and addressed a few
remarks in simple language to his youthful audience. He told them of the
day, when on the highway from Virginia into the Blue Grass region, he
rode into their woodland council on the rugged spot where their pretty
little village now stood. And as their forefathers had cultivated the
then dense wilderness, so he admonished them to study and improve their
minds in school. Great men and noted women had already sprung into fame
from their young city, and many a glorious achievement of word, of pen,
and of sword, had given renown to the place whose birth he had
incidentally witnessed in the long ago.

When he ceased speaking he had implanted the germ of honest ambition in
the hearts of many of the little men and women whose future influence
was to wield power for good or ill. That night, seated among friends
in the best room the little tavern afforded, Henry Clay learned further
particulars concerning wee, winsome Daisy of the Glen, whose appearance
and address had so charmed his fancy. She was evidently a stolen child.
Her dress, when she was discovered by a hunter, was fine, and her whole
appearance indicative of an easy sphere of life. It was supposed that a
band of gypsies had decoyed her away while carelessly straying too far
from her home, but nothing definite was known. Mrs. Templeton, a kind,
motherly woman, without children, had cheerfully given the little
stranger shelter, and had in time grown so fond of her that she could
not bear the thought of parting. Hence, after the first unsuccessful
effort, no further attempt had been made to discover the parentage of
the little waif. She called herself Daisy, in her lisping fashion, and
her lovely disposition had won for her the poetical title of "Daisy of
the Glen."

Mr. Clay listened earnestly, and when about to leave, he deposited
a sum of money for the benefit of the little girl's education.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten years after, two figures sat in earnest conversation on the verdant
cliff of a romantic ravine leading from the banks of Dix river. The one,
a young girl of remarkably fair exterior, turned in an animated manner
to impress some assertion upon her companion. The other, a youth so
exceedingly handsome in face and figure, so lithe of person and eloquent
of speech, that no girl of eighteen could long resist his attractions.

"Indeed, Roye, I knew it must be he and no other. He made an impression
upon my memory when a little child of eight years, that can never be
effaced. Who else would be so likely to interest himself in my fate?"

"Indeed, Daisy," he echoed, "who is disposed to doubt the truth of your
surmises? You are probably correct, yet on the other hand, what proof
have you that Mr. Clay is your unknown benefactor?"

"None at all except the fact that he honored me so far on that memorable
visit to the school, as to inquire all about me. More than that he came
to the house and asked me a number of questions about my infancy.
Without his help I could never have gone away to complete my education
or possessed any accomplishments. Poor mamma always thought the money
came from him, and almost her last injunction to me, was to hold him in
profound veneration as long as I live."

"And it was here they found my little wanderer," fondly exclaimed Roye
Howard. "I should never, probably, have known true happiness but for the
vagabond who stole my Daisy!"

The girl's face clouded for a moment.

"Are you willing, Roye, to take me with this mystery hanging over me? If
there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed, how do we know at what
moment some revelation may come upon us that will dash our hopes to the
earth?"

"Never, never!" impetuously replied the youth. "Nature cannot so belie
herself as to make a blot or stain possible to her fairest creation."

Blushing beneath his admiring gaze, and thrilling with pleasure at his
words, Daisy proceeded to repeat all that she had ever remembered of her
home and parents. A large house, a doll as big as herself, and a tender
face bending above her, comprised her store of reminiscences. Since the
death of her foster mother she had remained with friends, and was soon
to be united in marriage to Roye Howard, a rising young lawyer, reared
in Lexington, and established at Lancaster only a few months.

Talking confidingly of their promised happiness, the pair lingered among
the sylvan shades of the romantic spot till the waning sunlight bent
their steps homeward.

Next day was the regular County Court day in the village. The public
square was crowded with vehicles, live stock, and countrymen whose chief
pleasure was to mix in motley crowds, and to whose fancy an uproar of
some kind was ever welcome. On such occasions, in the somewhat lax
administering of justice of those early times, the killing of a fellow
creature seemed indeed a trifle light as air.

At a conspicuous corner of Danville street stood the house where
Daisy Templeton had found a temporary home. A number of ladies, wives
of the Judge and various lawyers, had assembled here to dine, a custom
prevalent upon public occasions. The group were deeply engrossed in
needle-work and cheerful conversation, when suddenly the crowds on the
square began surging and clamoring as though the turbulence of an angry
sea had been turned loose upon a peaceful plain, Shouts rose higher and
higher, till at last a pistol shot resounded, and the ladies that had
crowded to the front windows plainly distinguished the cry, "The Judge
is killed! Jim Burns has shot Judge Pierce!" and the mob rushed toward
the mouth of Danville street in pursuit of the desperado, a noted
character of the county.

Quickly passing out the back door of the parlor and closing it behind
her, Daisy reached the side door, opening on Danville street and heavily
shaded with trees, and flung the door to just as a man, pale and
terrified, darted in, almost throwing her to the floor.

"Save me!" was all he had breath to ejaculate.

"Up there!" she hurriedly exclaimed, pointing up the stairway toward the
attic; then slamming the door against the mob who were pressing upon the
steps, she turned the key in the lock and stood, awaiting she knew not
what. All this was the work of a moment, while the ladies in the parlor
were too intent upon watching the square for a glimpse of the Judge to
know that so important a scene was being enacted just behind them. Mrs.
Pierce had run down the front steps inquiring of every one if the report
was true.

Meanwhile, as Daisy stood silent and alone in the little passage, her
heart throbbing fast, the crowd outside beat upon the door and clamored
for Jim Burns. At this moment Stanley Livingstone, the young man of
the house, appeared from a bed-room in the rear where he had been
administering a dose of sleep to a severe headache, and asked with more
emphasis than grace.

"What the devil's broke loose?"

She dared not tell him the truth.

"Oh, Stanley," exclaimed she, much relieved, "they are after Jim Burns.
They think he is here and are determined to force their way in. They say
he has killed Judge Pierce!"

"Let me settle them," said Stanley, and throwing wide the door, he
assured them that Burns was not there--that he would certainly have seen
the man if he had entered the house.

Incredulous, but irresistibly impressed by his earnest words, they
retired to the opposite side of the street to watch for their prey, who,
they convinced themselves, had darted through the house and concealed
himself about the premises too quickly to be detected by the inmates.
That the fugitive had disappeared at that side door, some of them knew
beyond question.

As Stanley stepped out to learn exactly what the excitement meant, Daisy
again turned the key, and observing a stain of blood on her white dress,
she dared not re-enter the parlor with the tell-tale sign.

Hurrying up the stairs, she filled a basin with water, and with a roll
of linen, proceeded quickly to the attic, where the man stood, leaning
against a packing-box, tightly clasping his hand.

"You are wounded somewhere?" she asked.

"Yes, in the hand," he faintly answered. "He shot me."

"Who?" asked the girl.

"The Judge," sullenly said Burns.

"Then you didn't kill him?"

"Kill him! I wish I had!"

Going to a back window, Daisy signed to a servant to come up, but when
there, the frightened creature refused to touch the bloody hand. So
Daisy proceeded to bathe and dress the lacerated flesh, all the while
talking kindly and warningly to the man, who stared at the lovely vision
with something like shame in his face.

As she started to leave him, a stone sped its way swiftly through the
window and fell at her feet.

"You see," said she, "your life is not safe a moment where you are.
They believe that you are here. Some one saw you enter the door.
Remain perfectly quiet till nightfall and then go home a wiser and
a better man."

"God bless you, miss!" said the man brokenly. "I have been very wicked
all my life. I have wronged many, and you more than all; but if my life
is spared, I'll make some things right."

Wondering at his words, Daisy left him and rejoined her friends, after
the brief absence which was destined to bear rich fruits to her orphaned
heart.

That night, under cover of the darkness, the man went away. But at ten
o'clock, in defiance of prudence, he came back, knocked boldly, and
asked to see Miss Templeton--he had a package for her. She came, and
placing something in her hand, abruptly left, mounted his horse, and
rode away in a fierce gallop, ere she could speak, and again Daisy
closed the door upon this thread of her romantic destiny.

On opening the package she found a coral necklace and armlets, with
clasps engraved, and a soiled, miserably-scrawled letter. The initials
on the jewels were R.M. The letter told her that he, the desperate and
outlawed writer, had been leagued with a band of reckless men some years
ago, and had stolen her away from her beautiful home in Louisville,
thinking to obtain a heavy ransom. While passing through Garrard county,
he, the man to whose care the gang had confided her, because he was
sort o' womanish, they said, had lagged behind intent upon a bottle of
whisky, and when he recovered his senses, the child was gone. Fearing
that she had met her death, and knowing nothing then of the picnic party
that had rescued her, he fled the country for some years, and after his
return he had never had courage to confess his crime. Her parents were
wealthy, and their name was Mentelle. He could tell her nothing of their
present whereabouts.

       *       *       *       *       *

New Year's Eve comes in cold, and a deep snow envelops the earth.
A wedding party at the corner house on Danville street is the event
of the evening. Roye Howard and Daisy Mentelle have just taken their
marriage vows, and the house is crowded with guests. Just before supper
a new arrival startles and astonishes the brilliant company. Henry Clay,
grown grey with years and honors, is among them, never having lost sight
of his protege. After congratulating the pair and kissing the bride,
he bade her come with him to another apartment; and when she had
wonderingly obeyed, he proudly presented to her a handsome lady richly
dressed in mourning.

"This, my dear, is your mother. I have not rested till I found her."

"It is she--it is she, indeed," exclaimed the noble-looking woman--"my
own little Ray--my Daisy!" and the mother clasped her newfound darling
to her breast in a passion of thankfulness and joy.

"This is my bridal present, my dear," said the statesman, after much had
been told, and Roye admitted to the circle.

"Since your letter of inquiry to me, my search has been constant. Your
father is no more, but this boon is the greatest of all. Receive her
with my blessing. Three times have I passed through your town. Always
has it held a warm place in my heart. May every succeeding twelve months
bring to you as happy a New Year!"



An Easter Dawn

"AND THERE WAS LIGHT"


"Are you inflexible, Doris? Can nothing alter your decision?"

"Spare us both further pain, Warner. I cannot leave my blind mother. It
is useless to ask it."

"And do I ask it? You can still care for your mother. I do not ask you
to leave her."

The girl shook her head sadly.

"As a wife I must go with my husband. In the conflict of duties the
mother must yield. No, no, it would be cruel."

"Even admitting this, is there not a way out of it? Will she not try to
have her sight restored? Once relieved she might depend upon others, and
be content without you. Then you could come to me."

"I dare not urge this. Think what she endured before--the operation, the
mismanagement, the suffering, and the final loss of the eye itself. Oh,
Warner, the recollection of that terrible time makes me shudder. I pray
that she may forget it. I dare not urge another trial. Spare me that."

There was silence in the room, broken only by the ticking of the little
mantle clock, till in a low suppressed voice she continued:

"And you know the awful blow that came so soon after, that has broken
her down. She clings to me in so many ways. No, Warner, she might yield
to my persuasions, but I should never forgive myself if things went
wrong."

"Wrong?" echoed the man, bitter pain tugging at his heart. "How much
more wrong could things go? But it is nothing to you that my life is
made desolate, that loving you through all its best years I must quietly
give you up, and that, too, when I am in condition to take care of you.
Have I shown no consideration by waiting? Have I ever pressed my claim
till I knew I could make you comfortable and happy? But why do I cringe
and beg like this?" he added, setting his teeth hard with the pain of
disappointment. "If you really loved me you could not quibble about the
thing you call duty." And he strode back and forth, refusing to take in
the situation.

Then the girl's forced composure gave way. This was not her first tilt
with the man she loved, but he had never been so hard, so desperate, so
unjust. Heroically she had tried to do her duty. Ignominously she now
felt herself faltering in the way.

He could not bear her tears. The sight of her grief drove him from
himself. Pausing before her, he said:

"Doris, I yield. Let it be as you say."

And he lifted her hand to his lips in adieu; though in his powerfully
imposed self-restraint he could not be all tenderness. His tones were
gentle, and in the look he cast upon her bowed figure there was no
reproach.

He was gone; and Doris went back to the mother who was unconscious that
she was wrecking the happiness of this devoted child; the only one left
to her. One by one they had married and gone, and now in her darkened
world she was enduring a more fearful weight of woe than blindness.
Ralph, her youngest, and her darling, the Benjamin of her old age, had
fled the country under the awful ban of murder. His employer, a hard
man, had been found dead in his private office from a blow on the back
of the head. Suspicion pointed to Ralph, who, poor, hot-headed fellow,
had been heard to vow vengeance against the dead man for his harshness.
A fellow clerk warned him in time to flee from the officers of the law.
He could not go without seeing his mother. In the silence of the night
he had clasped her trembling form in his stalwart young arms, and in
broken, quivering tones, bade her trust in his innocence. "Mother,
believe me, only believe me; I did not do it," and sped on in the
darkness, an exile. She did believe in him. She would almost as soon
have doubted her Savior's love. But her stern, unbending pride of race
was wounded. Her loving heart was pierced in its tenderest spot, and in
a few short weeks she was a fretful, peevish invalid, making wholesale
but unconscious draughts upon her noble daughter's patience.

Five years had gone by since these household fetters had been forged for
Doris. Young and lovely, she adorned every circle. Offers of marriage
were unheeded, and her heart was untouched till Warner Douglas, the
young physician, came. They had met when she was a school girl and he
a student in the same town; and now it was revealed to her why he had
chosen her place of residence as the starting point in his career. So
they had loved and hoped on only to be crushed at last.

The day after her final rejection of his suit, the post brought a note
that ran thus:

  "Doris, good-bye; not for a day, or a week, but as long as may
  require to perfect my plans. I have spent a sleepless night, and this
  is my conclusion. There is one way out of this. Maddening as is your
  decision, I am forced to yield. But I shall not give you up without
  a struggle. I have determined to study the human eye as a specialty.
  The savings I had meant to devote to our united lives shall go to this
  end. If I do not write often and in lover-like fashion, it will be
  because I must be firm in my undertaking. When I have mastered the
  science, I hope to come back to you with healing in my hand for the
  mother for whose infirmities you sacrifice me. Do not think me bitter;
  I am trying to be kind. In any case, be my probation long or short,
  I shall be

  "Ever yours,

  "WARNER DOUGLAS."


Long Doris wept heart-breaking tears over this letter. Had she decided
aright? She mused far into the night, and at last her tired spirit found
comfort in the hope that her lover might one day unlock the prison doors
of both her mother and herself. Next day and for many days she went
about her duties mechanically, but her blind mother missed nothing, knew
nothing. Wearisome vigils were those! Not for a moment could she trust
her charge alone. With the perverseness of age she would try to grope
her way about, and more than once had she wandered into danger. Besides
this active, bodily vigilance, there were papers and books to read to
her, and the post-office was fairly haunted by fruitless messages for
tidings of the wandering boy. "How long, O Lord, how long?" was the
burden of the mother's heart, and upon Doris fell the hopeless task
of comforting.

Two years dragged their slow lengths. Time and sorrow made little change
in Doris Hadyn. The fair, round cheeks had lost none of their bloom, for
duty well performed brings its own reward. She was the moving spirit in
all good works, and several of her young friends had gradually come to
share her time in amusing and interesting her invalid mother.

Her lover's departure, leaving his patients to a brother physician, had
been a nine-days' wonder, but now all were rejoicing in his success at
the city hospitals. Several wonderful operations had made a great noise,
and he awoke one morning to find himself famous. No more anxious care
for the savings he had intended for himself and his bride. They were
returning upon him tenfold. At last he wrote to Doris:

  "Are you waiting for me? I am coming, not for an hour, or for a day,
  but to cast my lot once more near you. But first I shall come as the
  physician, since till that mission is ended, I am forbidden to come
  as a lover.

  "WARNER."


Not even the reproach in this laconic letter could tinge her joy. He
was coming; that was uppermost. He came, and Doris met him as she had
parted--loving and faithful; so proud of him, too, but unalterable in
her duty as before. She found his whole nature widened and broadened,
just as in appearance he was more manly. He was then a clever
practitioner: he was now the renowned oculist. From the first day his
office swarmed with patients. Old, chronic cases seemed to spring up
everywhere, and he found himself in a fair way of being taxed beyond
the limit.

Gently he began his ministrations to the mother of his beloved. When he
had won her confidence, he felt that the battle was half fought. She
soon expressed a willingness to submit to anything, to undergo any pain,
if only her sight might be restored. This he could not promise, but his
experienced eye could detect nothing worse than a cataract obstructing
the vision, and he convinced her that it was worth the trial.

One mild winter day she was taken to his office now fitted up with
all the belongings of his service. With bated breath he adjusted his
instrument. Heavy portieres shut out the daylight. Steadily the electric
ray was thrown into the darkened eye. Shrinking with a thousand fears,
and tortured with suspense, Doris sank upon a sofa. In silence he
applied his tests. She could hear the beatings of her heart. Softly he
questioned his patient, who hung upon his words for her life sentence.

At last, lying a hand almost caressingly upon each shoulder, he said:

"My dear Mrs. Hadyn, I think I can give you sight."

An involuntary cry broke from her lips, and Doris burst into convulsive
tears. Then relaxing the tension of these many weary years, the bearer
of good tidings folded his arms about the slight form for a moment as
he led her to her mother. Not yet, even, would he give full rein to
his hopes. He might fail. There was inflammation lurking behind the
eye-ball, caused by contagion from its fellow, which, when carelessly
bandaged too closely, had burst from its socket, irretrievably lost.
He could but try; and now his humanity as well as his love nerved him
to the task.

A preliminary course of treatment was ordered, and the Lenten season was
nearly over when the eye was declared ready for the knife. The day was
appointed, and the patient's own room was selected as the place. The
night before, the doctor came in all worn and tired out from a hurried
call to a neighboring city hospital. Doris knew his step and met him at
the door.

"Come with me, Doris, into the library," he said.

Nervous with undefined apprehension, she followed him.

"Can you bear good news?" he asked, bending upon her eyes which held for
her the light of loving sympathy. "Will you be as brave as you have been
all these years? I was called away yesterday----"

"Ralph!" she gasped, catching his arm in the excitement of hope.

"Yes--Ralph," he said, placing his arm about her; "he is cleared at
last. The man I was called to see was James Green, Ralph's fellow-clerk.
He was run down by a heavy furniture van and badly crushed. I could not
save him, but he knew me, and gave me this paper, which is a confession
of his guilt. It completely exonerates your brother."

"Thank God!" she fervently exclaimed, clasping the paper to her heart.

"Shall we tell Mrs. Haydn?" he asked, still gravely supporting her.

"By all means," was her happy answer through shining tears; "now--this
moment," leading him away. "Joy does not kill."

It did not kill; it only braced the grateful sufferer for the ordeal set
for the next day.

"Find my boy as soon as you can and bring him to me," was her prayer;
and with a sense of comfort long a stranger, the mother slept peacefully
on this, her last night perhaps, of blindness.

The next day she was made ready for her couch, where she was to lie in
perfect quiet after the operation. At two o'clock, Dr. Douglas, with two
young assistants, entered easily and cheerfully upon his task.

"Are you strong enough to witness it?" he asked in alow voice, as Doris
took her stand.

She bowed her head, and the work began. It was neither long nor
difficult. A little cocaine in the eye, a quick, perpendicular incision,
the deft scooping from the orifice of a hard, pearly ball like an opal
setting, a cleansing of film by one skillful sweep, and all was over.

"Close the eye for a moment," was his order, as incomplete silence the
trio hung upon the result.

"Now open it and look."

As the lids parted, he held his hand before them, moving his fingers in
quick succession.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Well," he spoke playfully, as to a child; "what is it? I want you to
tell me. Do you see anything?"

"Yes, I see--a hand, but--it looks blue."

At this the surgeon clasped his hands in thanksgiving, and exclaimed:
"Victory! If you did not see the blue coloring at first, madam, I should
be in despair."

Yes, victory was his, for his skill and for his love. He continued his
tests, first by resting the eye, then by bringing objects within the
range of vision. At last he gently led Doris in full view.

"It is Doris, my faithful, patient child, whose dear face I have not
seen for so long," she said with emotion that threatened tears, but
this the doctor forbade, and proceeded at once to carefully seal the
patient's eyelids.

"Keep the room light, and watch her day and night. She must not touch
the eye even in sleep," was his parting injunction.

"But, doctor, don't you bandage the eye? And my room was kept dark after
the other operation was performed."

"No, madam, the room must be light, and I do not bandage the eye."

The days went by, each new one revealing some half-forgotten picture
to the patient. She already loved Dr. Douglas as a son, and her bodily
infirmities, real or fancied, were fast vanishing away. Ralph had been
found, and a telegram said he was coming. Easter eve was here, and as
the doctor took leave his grateful patient bade him good-night with
unusual feeling,

"Through you," she said, "I am made to realize the precious promise, 'At
evening time it shall be light.' Think what this anniversary must be to
me! The morning will celebrate the resurrection of Him who was the Light
of the world. Light, light, everywhere! How can I be thankful enough!"

"To-morrow I will set you free, my dear madam, and if you feel that I
have done you a service, perhaps I may show you how to repay me." And
with a warm pressure of her hand, and an unspoken good-night to Doris,
he went away.

At the dawn of the morning Doris stood beside her mother when she awoke,
and said lightly: "Whom do you want to see besides your grumpy old
Doris, this bright morning?"

"Is he here? Ralph--my boy--has he come?" And his fond arms enwrapped
her in joy too deep for words. She could not look at him enough--her
bronzed and bearded baby boy.

Later on the doctor called, but he did not at once interrupt the mother
and son. When at last he walked into the cheerful family room it was
with Doris by his side.

"My dear Mrs. Hadyn," he began, "do you want to make me as grateful as
you say you are? If so, only look!"

With the uncertain timidity she had not yet learned to overcome, she
directed her once sightless eyes toward him. He stood with Doris clasped
in his arms. The mother had not heeded his words of the previous
evening, for they bore no hidden meaning to her. A light now broke over
her features, while Ralph smilingly watched her.

"Doris, my child, how long have you loved this man?" were the only words
she found to say.

"So long, mother, that I shall not try to remember."



In the Mammoth Cave

WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY

NOTE--This story is built upon a legend of Mammoth Cave.


The open mouth of Kentucky's far-famed cavern yawned huge and black. On
the brow of the hill, ready to descend the winding rock stairway, stood
a group of young people picturesquely attired in the bloomer costume of
cave-explorers. They were disputing as to whether to take the long or
short route first, unmindful of the guide, who ventured to hint that
time was slipping away.

"If we take the long route first we will be too tired for the short
one," said one.

"Oh, that will never do!" exclaimed another, "I must see the Chapel and
the Star Chamber. That is about all I came for."

Apart from the wranglers a pair stood in earnest conversation, hardly in
keeping with the frivolity of the hour.

She was small, lovely, and winning in gypsy dress of red and black,
relieved here and there with soft white ruffles. Upon her golden curls
rested a dainty little padded cap, and strong boots protected the tender
feet. From her gloved fingers swung a torch not yet lighted.

The youth beside her showed his hardy pioneer lineage in a well-knit
frame and a countenance full of chivalry, and at present glowing with
eloquent love for his fair companion.

Neither of the absorbed pair noticed the angry light in the cruel eyes
of a man standing near the guide. He was fully thirty-five years of age,
quite tall, and as a merry girl expressed it, brigandish-looking. But
for the restless passions that marred his bearded face he might have
been called handsome. He glared at Minnie Dare as a tiger might watch
his prey, for she was indeed the destined prey of this fierce-looking
man.

By what mysterious power Jason Hammond had won the gentle girl from her
devoted father no one knew, but with haggard face and heart-wrung pain,
Colonel Dare had bidden his one ewe lamb prepare for the sacrifice.

This long-planned excursion was to be the last of freedom for Minnie
Dare.

Striding up to the unconscious lovers, the man said rudely,--

"Miss Dare, do you mean to hang about here all day? They are waiting
for you."

"I presume, sir, Miss Dare has the right to stay where she pleases,"
retorted Eldon Brand, a quick, angry flash leaping to his eyes.

"Hardly," returned the other superciliously, "at all events she knows
better, whatever your view of the matter."

With a look of appeal from her blue eyes that arrested the sharp
rejoinder from the lips of the man she loved, the girl turned away,
her face suddenly paling from fear.

"Here comes the pirate chief with his captive," exclaimed a laughing
girl.

"Hush, Cornelia; he may hear you--horrid man! He wouldn't be here if he
wasn't so rich."

"Why, where is Eldon Brand?" said another.

"Over there, cutting a staff from the cane-brake," replied the first
speaker.

"Ladies and gentlemen," here interposed the guide, striking a stage
attitude, "if you want my services you must come right along. It is
already too late for the long route; you will have to take the short
one."

"All right," agreed the party, rallying their forces, "we'll take the
short one, then. Forward, march!"

Down, down they went in pairs along the circuitous stairway to the
entrance, where the thick darkness might be felt. With lighted torches
they turned from the sunshine and entered upon the pioneer wagon tracks
imbedded in the soil for two miles. Hither the early settlers were wont
to convey their salt barrels and other stores for safe keeping from the
natives.

Laughing, talking, jesting, the merry party went in.

"Jerusalem! What's that?" ejaculated a young fellow, with more vigor
than polish, as he fought right and left an unknown foe.

"That? Oh, that's only bats flying around. They don't stay in much
further. They'll hit you in the face if you don't look out," explained
the guide.

"Yes, I think they will," said the victim, still spluttering and
flourishing his handkerchief. "A little more of that sort of thing and
I'll turn back now."

They soon reached the avenue that leads to the Side Saddle, where more
than one merry lass took a seat for effect. They heard how an explorer
named Goren had once stood idly talking and pecking against the wall
with a sharp stone when, lo! it broke through. He continued to widen
the opening till, upon throwing down a blue light, there stood revealed
a perfect dome, exquisitely filagreed. It has been known ever since as
Goren's Dome, and a good-sized window, jagging the wall, admits one or
two lookers at a time. On their knees they crawled through the Valley of
Humility, and out into almost endless space, so varied are the landmarks
of this underground miracle. Here is a chamber too vast to be lighted
by the torches; there, a defile so narrow as to be passed only in single
file. Now they traverse a level valley to emerge at the foot of a
mountainous region that must be attacked with alpenstocks and helping
hands.

"Oh, look at that awfully dark place! It might be Pluto's hallway," said
a girl.

"Don't go that way," called the guide; "you must just follow me. There
is where that stranger strayed off and was never heard of again. He was
in bad health and came in here to breathe the pure air for a few hours.
He never came out."

"Goodness!" thundered a dozen voices; "let's move on before his ghost
appears. I hear the rattle of dry bones now."

"The Star Chamber!" shouted the guide, who, being in front, had often
much ado to send his voice to the rear of the party. "Ladies and
gentlemen, walk in, take your seats, and let me have your torches."

He was obeyed with much fluttering and chattering. He extinguished all
the lights but his own, and disappeared behind a ledge of shelving rock.
They were in total darkness. Gradually a ray of blue, then of red, then
of white light, flashed upon the vast concave roof, showing myriads of
star-like points resembling the Milky Way, a crescent moon, and finally
a comet appearing in full sail. The effect was magical.

"It is usual to have a song here, if you would like it," suggested the
guide.

"By all means," was the universal response. "A chorus! a chorus!"

Then the voices swelled upon the air in a thousand reverberating echoes.
At the close the guide reappeared and lit the torches. Once more they
sallied forth.

"Where is Minnie Dare?" suddenly asked a tall girl, whose tongue was too
voluble for the guide's equanimity.

"Here!" sounded the stentorian voice of Jason Hammond.

Upon turning back, however, he found not Minnie, but another small
maiden near him. He darted again into the Star Chamber just as the fleet
steps of Minnie Dare ran toward him. Not, however, in time to prevent
his discerning among the shadows Eldon Brand hurrying to her side.

Catching the girl's tender arm in a vise-like grip, the man hissed in
her ear,--

"By Heaven, my girl, if you don't stop philandering in the dark with
that young scoundrel, I'll pitch him into the first pit I see! You
belong to me, and I'll kill you before another shall have you!"

With a cry of mingled pain and terror the girl broke from him. Eldon
Brand, who had seen the gesture without hearing the words, sprung with
uplifted arm toward the man. Ere he could strike he was seized from
behind by strong arms, and a voice urged,--

"Don't, Brand! For Heaven's sake, let that ruffian alone till we get out
of this. You will frighten the ladies, get yourself into the newspapers,
and play the deuce generally. Come on--they are calling in front."

Hammond had seen this little by-play, and would not soon forget it; but
at present he strode on after the girl.

"Why don't you fellows keep up?" grumbled a voice as the delinquents
entered the Chapel.

"Did anybody fall? I thought I heard a cry back there," said the tall
young lady peering suspiciously into the group; but all seemed serene
in the fitful torchlight.

In the Chapel huge stalactites and stalagmites meet each other to form
arm-chairs, thrones, alcoves, pulpits, and a double niche conspicuous
among its surroundings. Standing within this niche a restless pair
exclaimed:

"What a capital place to be married! Who will pronounce the ceremony?"

"Bless you, my children!" invoked a sober-looking fellow, extending
his arms in mock solemnity.

An earnest, significant look flashed from Eldon Brand's eyes into the
still blanched face of Minnie Dare. As they met the glance it bore but
one meaning to her, and the rosy color again mantled her cheek.

"Time's up," said the guide; "come along."

It was late ere the party completed the tour of the Short Route wonders,
and there was barely time to dress for the ball-room at Cave Hotel, a
dance being an attractive interlude between journeyings.

Indoor etiquette forbade the hateful espionage to which Hammond had
subjected the girl he claimed as his own during the informal jaunt of
the day. So at ten o'clock, despite the scowl on his dark face, she
stood up in the dance with Eldon Brand.

Perhaps her persecutor might have attuned his wooing to something less
ferocious, but soft words having proved futile, he sought to frighten
her into compliance. Love's dallying might come later on. He deemed his
prize secure. She could not escape him. He held her father's honor--aye,
his very life--in his relentless grasp; for Colonel Dare was not a man
who could survive disgrace. Let her rebel, and the world should hear
an ugly story of rash speculation, involving a ward's trust money; of
financial ruin and despair. Oh, yes--she was his, fast and sure.

It required all her persuasive power to withhold her lover from a
personal attack upon her betrothed husband.

"It can do no good, Eldon," she urged; "my father has promised my hand
to this man. He is somehow in his power. There seems no escape. Oh, that
I might die and be free! It is like a horrible nightmare."

Then his words came in passionate pleading. Eloquently the tones fell
upon her ears. At length the hopeless apathy in her eyes gave place
to interest, then animation, and finally to a degree of agitation but
ill-concealed from the suspicious watcher. They were standing on a low
balcony just outside the ballroom.

"Will you, dearest? Will you be brave for my sake--for our sakes?" were
Eldon's parting words.

"I will try," she murmured softly, as with a fond pressure of the hand
he resigned her to a new partner.

Early next morning Eldon Brand might have been seen returning from
a little wayside shop with a bundle, whose contents--a ball of heavy
twine, a can of oil, and a box of matches--would have surprised his
fellow tourists. He conversed earnestly for some minutes with Stephen,
the favorite guide of Mammoth Cave, to whom he also conveyed some
bank notes; and at eight o'clock he joined the party en route for the
nine-mile tramp into the cave. For two miles the way was the same as
that of the short route, bats and all. Then came the immense hall where
rude plank seats still attest the worship of pioneer settlers in the
land of Indians and wild beasts. Here they sat and sang hymns, while
countless echoes repeated the sounds.

They paused in the Ball Room; squeezed through Fat Man's Misery, that
zig-zag passage so narrow and winding that the one behind cannot see
his neighbor a yard ahead; and then out into the ample comfort of Great
Relief. Merrily they filled the little boats and sailed down Echo River,
where abound the eyeless fish; crossed Lake Lethe, where all care is
said to be left behind; passed the huge Granite Coffin; stood wondering
before the Great Eastern; shuddered beside the Dead Sea and the
Bottomless Pit; climbed Martha's Vineyard, where huge bunches of grapes
in stone looked as natural as life; took lunch in Washington Hall;
revelled in the snow-white crystals of Siliman's Avenue; crossed the
Rocky Mountains to Traveller's Rest, and there wrote their names upon
the extreme wall, that perpetual register of hundreds of sightseers.

Here some moments were given to recapitulating the marvels of the long
route; the rivers, lakes, hills, ravines and valleys; and above all,
another black, yawning chasm similar to that which had startled them on
the short route.

"Stephen, where does that lead?" was the query.

"That leads into the one we saw yesterday. We call this end Beersheba,
and the other Dan, because it is so much nearer the mouth of the cave.
I have explored the whole passage, but it has nothing worth showing
visitors. But I have no doubt there's miles that nobody has ever been
over. It's a big place, I tell you."

"Didn't you find the dead stranger?" asked the tall girl, who always had
something to say.

"Can't say as I looked for him, miss."

In high spirits the party retraced their steps as far as the Bottomless
Pit on the right, and the black chasm Beersheba, on the left, a distance
of about five miles from the entrance to the cave.

"Take care!" warned the guide; "it is wet and slippery here, and the
path is very narrow."

They were creeping on in single file when Stephen called back,--

"Mr. Hammond, you look pretty strong--would you help steady this
railing? It seems a little shaky."

Hammond came on ahead and stood bracing the bridge, which was one of the
very few man-made structures in the cavern, while the other escorts led
the girls, one at a time, around the abrupt and slippery ledge. In
consequence of this stringing out of torches, the light was dim along
the narrow way, so that even these few steps of advance had left the
Bottomless Pit in darkness.

Suddenly there was a rapid, rushing sound in the rear; a whirring echo;
a suppressed cry, and a heavy splash far below. The ladies screamed, and
the faces of the men grew pallid with horror.

"My God! What was it? Who was it?" burst from their lips.

"Don't go back, gentlemen!" shouted the guide. "It's no use! Come on
this side here--I'll go back. First, see who is missing. If anybody is
down there, the Lord have mercy on him, for man can't help him."

Soon the trembling, awe-struck party were safe on a platform, and the
lights were bunched to their full radiance. Some one cried:

"Minnie Dare is not here!" "And, by Jove, Eldon Brand is not here,
either!" said the chorus. Then in a low tone, "Could it have been
suicide? How horrible!"

And this thought was the prevailing one, for the trials of the lovers
were well known.

Jason Hammond ran back precipitately with the guide, and in a sort of
frenzy peered far into the awful chasm. Words of blasphemy were on his
lips as he began to realize to what end his persecution had driven the
fair young creature he had sworn to win. As for Brand, he rejoiced in
his fate. Could it have been an accident? He thought not.

"No use," repeated the guide, "I can come back here and bring somebody
who will go down on a rope. But I tell you the bottom of that place has
never been found yet. We let a young fellow down by a rope last summer
in a frolic--his name was Mr. Clarence Prentice--and he pretty soon
called out to haul him up. Learned folks say a river runs down there,
and there ain't any bottom at all. Everything gets swept away with the
current. I don't know how it is, I am sure,"

Slowly the terror-stricken company wended their way back to earth, the
light of enjoyment driven from their hearts. The girls gave themselves
up to sobs and tears, and all dreaded to convey the tidings to the
bereaved families.

The men went back with ropes and grappling hooks, but nothing came of
their labors. The bodies of the hapless lovers were not found, and none
knew how they had gone over the treacherous crag into the abyss below.
Surmises were rife, but prudence chose the better part of silent
sympathy. The newspapers fairly gloated over the tragedy, and summer
visitors were divided between curiosity to look upon the spot and fear
lest they, too, might miss their footing; hence the profits of Cave
Hotel were not noticeably on the decrease.

Colonel Dare refused to be comforted, unless, indeed, he could rejoice
at the escape of the dove from the eagle's clutches. Now that the girl
was lost to him, Hammond was willing to accept terms before declined;
and the Dare ancestral home was at once put upon the market for sale.

Eldon Brand had no near relatives, but there were many to mourn his
untimely fate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some hours after the disappearance of the lovers, Stephen, the guide,
re-entered the cave with a large bundle in his arms, and accompanied by
a single tourist, a sedate man who was a stranger to the region. They
proceeded along the short route to the chapel. Adjusting the torches,
Stephen gave a low whistle, when from behind a mammoth stalagmite came
forth a young man and a fair maiden, who took their stand in the Double
Niche.

Eldon Brand had left nothing undone during his hours of preparation; and
when the man of God stood before the youthful pair, he held in his hands
the properly authenticated document which was to cement the marriage
tie in the civil courts. He had never before officiated at so unique
a bridal, and when once more on terra firma proper, he bore the secret
away to his Northern home.

Days passed and still the tragic fate of the hapless lovers held a place
in fireside chats.

Night had fallen. All was quiet in the sparsely settled neighborhood of
Cave Hotel. Stephen, the guide, with basket and torch, swiftly descended
the winding stairs and entered the grand colonnade, where the bats
still held high carnival. He pushed on, sometimes a little cramped for
space, till he reached the black avenue he had called Dan. Stooping
he possessed himself of a string that was fastened to a stake in the
ground, and followed its course through intricate windings till a light
glimmered in the distance. Whistling softly, he advanced more rapidly.
A shadow was flung upon the curtains of a doorway, and parting the folds,
a figure appeared at the opening.

"Ah, old fellow, you never forget us," was the cheery greeting.

"Not I," said the man, "I think you will find your list all made out
here," depositing his basket inside.

The room was small and irregular in shape, but good taste and
moderate expenditure had converted it into a rustic boudoir of no
mean pretensions. Cretonne hangings concealed the rough walls, and
a few small pictures served to confine their bright folds to the uneven
surface of earth and rock. The earthen floor was covered by a mat.
A couch of the light, portable kind was daintily spread. A shelving rock,
covered with a mat of Japanese print, held a never-failing lamp, and two
camp-chairs completed the furniture, which had been conveyed into the
cave with the utmost care and secrecy. A few books and a number of
papers lay scattered about. The presiding deity of the fairy bower
looked a radiant welcome for the trusty ally upon whom they were
dependent.

"You dear old Stephen! Don't you think it is time we ventured out into
the world again?"

"Why, I think this looks like Heaven!" he said, with the freedom of his
office, "I don't know what you'd leave it for."

"Yes, but you know that if it were not for your basket we should be
forced to appear. But I am learning to manage the ovens and pans. See
here," and opening an inner curtain she revealed an alcove, where a few
primitive cooking utensils were collected beside a small gasoline stove.

"I reckon your cooking don't come to much more than warming over my bill
of fare," said Stephen, with an involuntary glance at the soft white
hands, and an indulgent smile for the young housekeeper.

"Oh, but I do cook, really," she protested. "Eldon, did you ever taste
nicer eggs? And the water down there carries off all the shells and
scraps. Hear it rush along now!" and busily the stream did run to flow
into Green river, so the knowing ones said. "But," she added; "if my
father only knew. The moment we hear that that hateful man has gone
abroad we will defy all the rest. Do you know, Stephen," in a lower
tone, "we were very near being caught on the hill to-day. I was all bent
over as usual in my old woman's dress, and Eldon was limping along on
his crutch stick when--hark! what was that?"

"Did you hear anything?" asked Eldon, coming to her side, "don't be
frightened, love. It could not have been any one. You are nervous."

The young wife's cheek paled a little as she reminded him of a frightful
dream she had before mentioned.

"Nonsense, dear, we are safe as long as my bank holds out. In a short
while we will brave the world and be at least a nine days' wonder."

Hoping to persuade Minnie Dare to elope with him, after their colloquy
on the balcony the night of the ball, and thereby escape her persecutor,
the young man had not followed the cave party on the long route without
first amply supplying his purse. Stephen had suggested the strategem
they impulsively employed of temporarily disappearing into the black
corridor opposite the Bottomless Pit, after throwing a heavy rock down
the abyss to simulate a fall; and Stephen had mapped out for them the
whole situation succeeding the supposed catastrophe. Thus far they had
not lacked for comforts; and stolen visits in disguise to the upper
regions had varied their solitude and given refreshing glimpses of
sunlight.

"Eldon, I am sure I heard a noise!" again exclaimed the girl, clinging
in terror to his arm.

To appease her, the two men went out and made search. All was as
usual--unless, indeed, a shred of cloth adhering to a jagged rock had
not been there before. Stephen soon after left the pair, unconscious
that a dark shadow was following him into the upper world, there to
vanish among the shadows.

For there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed; and this
well-guarded secret, known to only four persons, was trembling at its
foundation. For her beloved father's sake the young wife was willing to
endure privation; for she reasoned that Hammond would have no motive for
vengeance if she were supposed to be lost; that her death would end the
mysterious power that threatened disgrace to Colonel Dare. Stephen was
paid well to be on guard, and his report that he had more than once seen
Hammond in the vicinity, made them exercise extreme caution and
vigilance in going outside.

At first the spirit of unrest had drawn the baffled suitor to the scene,
where he had driven the unwilling maiden to her death, for he had loved
her as well as a selfish nature can love. Gradually there dawned upon
his mind a suspicion somewhat akin to the truth. Rumors were afloat that
Stephen made nightly visits to the cave, not with exploring parties, but
alone. A young couple had been seen wandering over the hills in the
moonlight. Superstition said it was the ghosts of the ill-fated lovers.
But when Jason Hammond heard these things they startled him as if struck
with an electric shock. He did not believe in ghosts. He resolved to
watch. He, too, saw the figures at night. He saw them disappear behind
the steep ledge that leads downward into the bowels of the earth. He
drew his own conclusions.

If true, what should stay his vengeance against those who had thus
duped him? He sought his opportunity, and cautiously followed the guide
unto the very portals of the lovers' retreat. He heard the voices he
remembered but too well. He knew now where to strike. He knew, too, that
fear of him kept Minnie Dare thus hidden, as in a grave. Aye, she feared
disgrace for her father, and more than all, she feared his vengeance
against her husband--for he did not doubt that they were married.
Husband? As the word forced itself, the man ground his teeth in baffled
rage and hate. He would take care that the dreaded vengeance should be
swift and sure.

The path to the subterranean retreat was perilous to a stranger; but
having gone once, he was sure he could go again. The way was even now
familiar enough as far as the black avenue of Dan. Here the string,
placed for the convenience of the lovers, would guide him, and if his
plans should be upset, he could retreat into the other black opening
leading to the Bottomless Pit, where he now knew the lost pair had
plunged into Beersheba instead of into the chasm, the two landmarks
being exactly opposite. He had not forgotten the guide's account of
these two unexplored regions where there was "nothing of interest to
show tourists." He began to see through the plot from the hour of the
so-called tragedy. How easy, with the artful guide's connivance, to cast
a stone down the echoing ravine, then conceal themselves in the corridor
close by, extinguish their torches, and await in silence the next coming
of their assistant! He himself had been adroitly decoyed out of the way
to steady the railing of the rickety bridge. The abrupt and narrow ledge
had hidden them from view. The escape was easy. All was clear now, and
the life of the man who had cheated him should pay the penalty. Should
she continue to refuse his suit, she, too, must die. The should find
their grave in the spot they loved so well. There would be none to tell
the tale.

Armed with a revolver, he groped on, using a torch as far as he dared.
The absence of crystal formations, so thick and shining elsewhere, left
large, roomy passages easy to traverse, though there were frequent turns
puzzling to the uninitiated. As he approached the cosy bower he heard,
to his chagrin, the voice of the guide. What should he do? The odds were
too many for him. Wait till next day when his victims would probably be
alone? Risk going in upon them before nightfall? How had Stephen eluded
his vigilance? In this dilemma he crept near enough to get a view of the
interior. The sight of Minnie Brand seated at her husband's knee, his
hand caressing her flowing curls, so inflamed his wrath that an oath
burst from his lips. The sound penetrated the boudoir. It was this time
unmistakable. Minnie uttered a faint cry. The two men started up, and
snatching a torch, quickly lit it, and dashed out.

"To the inner chamber, my darling!" Eldon called back, as he threw down
the folds of the portiere and rushed headlong with Stephen.

They scoured the Short Route avenue to its full length, while Hammond,
his soul raging with murderous intent, traversed as rapidly as he dared,
the Beersheba avenue toward the Long Route opening.

"By the eternal! He's gone the other way! But he can't get out! Right
about!"

Retracing their steps they had to proceed more cautiously, but they soon
caught sight of the figure ahead, now lost, now reappearing.

"It is that blackhearted villain, who has hounded us!" cried Eldon.
"On! on!"

But the guide, true to his calling, shouted:

"Surrender, or you are a dead man! The Bottomless Pit is right ahead
of you."

The fugitive halted a moment, glanced back, then dashed on again in
defiance. At a sudden projection he tripped and fell, discharging the
pistol into his own body. The sound reverberated in a thousand echoes.
The wounded man staggered to his feet, and managed to gain the frail
bridge. Here he fell across the railing, swayed there an instant; then
as his pursuers came up with helping hands, he plunged into the abyss
below.

       *       *       *       *       *

The denizens of Cave City never tire of telling how Eldon Brand and
his wife came back to the world, and how they fared in their romantic
retreat. But there was a part of the story as strange as it was
tragic. Upon dismantling the boudoir a leathern girdle was found,
which contained several hundred dollars in gold, and a letter which
ran thus:--

  "I am a dying man. I cannot find my way out. I have not strength to
  call, I must perish here of disease and want. I will make one more
  effort, but feel that I shall fail. I have made my peace with God.
  In leaving this world I leave only one enemy behind. This is Jason
  Hammond, who has wronged me foully. Living or dead, I shall haunt
  him. To whomsoever shall give this poor body Christian burial,
  I bequeath my estate." (Here followed the location and description
  of the property).

  "Signed:

  "DAVID HAMMOND."


The paper was almost illegible. It had been written in pencil. An
extended search was made and the skeleton of a man was found in one of
the most inaccessible recesses of the cave's many turnings. Beside the
body lay a torch and an exhausted lunch basket. Eldon Brand had the
remains reverently committed to earth.

The village gossips love to dwell upon the happiness of the brave young
lovers, of the restoration of the gray-haired father to his old home in
honor and in plenty, and of the blooming lads and lassies that sprang up
as time passed tenderly over the heads of the reunited household.



A REVERIE


    The twilight falls in gloom;
  All day the fitful sun and sparkling show'r
  Have played at hide-and-seek amid the bloom--
    The varied tints of Spring's fresh bow'r.
  Oh, sure each bud and blossom knows the spell
  Their subtle fragrance weaves about my brow;
  Oh, sure a mystic tale their echoes tell--
    Love's soft, low-whispered vow.

    The deep'ning sky o'ercast,
  The shadows slowly length' ning 'neath the trees,
  The tender leaves, swift in the vernal blast,
    To catch the music of the breeze;
  The young lush grass a-peep above the earth,
  The trailing vines that to the lattice cling,
  Ah, these to fancies warm and true give birth,
    And o'er my senses fling.

    On landscape charms I glance;
  The city's distant hum is lull'd to rest,
  Athwart the sunset dark'ning clouds advance.
    And shut from sight the rosy west;
  A dreamy orison enshrines my heart.
  Deep shelter'd in the sacred haunts of home,
  Where elfin sprites among the eeries dart,
    Irradiate in the gloam.

    Shine out, sweet love, unveil
  Thy ecstasy erst wrought in accents wild;
  Within my soul there breathes an anguish'd wail,
    Unsoothed by resignation mild.
  I would not, if I might, give back the joy
  That sweeps my pulses with enraptured thrill;
  In transports pure the moments cannot cloy--
    My craving lingers still.

    Nor time may rend the tie;
  The fealty that holds the captive will
  In potent thrall, if sever'd soon,
    Poor human faith a-blight and chill must die.
  O birdlings, blossoms, leaflets, flow'rs,
  Give forth chaste spirits to enchant the air;
  Let silver'd mem'ries glad the lonely hours,
    And crown my picture fair.

         *       *       *       *       *

    The night comes on apace;
  The cricket's chirp, the woodland murmur's swell,
  Bid nature's changeling melodies efface
    The glamour of yon phantom spell.
  The flashing morn adown the glist'ning aisles,
  A dew-embowered hill and grove and lea,
  With ruthless light will scatter fairy wiles,
    Nor leave my love to me.


--E.D.P.



THE MISER AND THE ANGEL


  'Twas cold and bleak that winter's night,
  When hover'd o'er the dying light,
  The miser hugg'd his shrunken form,
  And grudged the fire that made him warm.

  The old worn latch arose and felt,
  He started up with threat'ning yell--
  'Begone!"--as in the open door
  A woman stood, faint and foot-sore.

  "Just this," she begged, "this rotten board--
  'Twill not be missed from out your hoard."
  "Take it and go!" he thundered out--
  "Oh, thanks," she moaned, and turned about.

  Another shivering night he sat;
  A lad came in--"Please, Mister,"--"What?"
  "This piece of rope." He said not nay,
  But curs'd him as he went his way.

  And once again there ventured nigh
  A child, who fled with frightened cry,
  As at her head a rusty key--
  The gift she craved--he flung with glee.

         *       *       *       *       *

  The sands of life were nearly run;
  "What good to others have you done?"
  The angel ask'd. The miser sighed.
  "Not one kind act," he sadly cried.

  "Not one? Did you ne'er give, nor lend
  Relief to neighbor, suppliant, friend?"
  The dying eyes were closed--he thought
  On all the misery he had wrought.

  A ray of light! "I gave a board."
  "'Tis well--'twill span death's river ford."
  "A mouldy rope." "'Twill reach from earth
  To Heaven. What more of feeble worth?"
  "A rusty key." "Unlocks the gate.
  Is this the sum? No--not too late;
  The sinner's Friend has room for all,--
  The least you do is not too small."


--E.D.P.



REST

  For so He giveth His beloved sleep.

IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER


          A soul is gather'd home;
  At morn, at eve, on mission kind intent,
  Her footsteps evermore were wont to roam,
  Till years their ceaseless labor spent.
  Each day its olive leaf of grace brought in--
  garner'd leaf from charity's broad field;
  Each day's good deeds redeem'd a life from sin,
  And gray'd anew her shield.

          The lowly suppliant bless'd,
  When to the hovel came her welcome smile;
  The cold, the hungry, friendless and distress'd,
  With gen'rous aid she cheer'd the while;
  And not alone the desolate and poor
  Sought counsel of her wisdom and her love;
  The high-born and the cultured cross'd her door
  To share her treasure-trove.

          A nature great and high,
  No puny thought could dwell within her breast;
  How sad to see her worth untimely die!
  Yet who may wail the needful rest?
  Her willing hand, her tireless step, her active brain,
  Rear'd lofty landmarks on the busy way;
  The haunts that knew her long'd with yearning vain,
  The reaper's scythe to stay.

          The strife at last is o'er;
  The strife that all great souls must needs endure;
  And anchor'd fast on Eden's peaceful shore,
  Her roving bark is strong and sure.
  The world is full of workers for the right;
  "They also serve who only stand and wait."
  No waiting servant she; with armor bright
  She pass'd the pearly gate.


--E.D.P.



THE CHANGED CROSS


  A little gilt-edge volume,
    Its covers reddish brown,
  It glossy leaves one burden bore,
    Without the cross, no crown.

  I turned the pages slowly,
    The fly-leaf wore a name;
  With eyes suffused in quick response,
    I noted whence it came.

  A tender message bade me
    Take up the lowly cross,
  For love and mercy's joint decree
    Apportions every loss.

  "No cross--no crown"--the mandate,
    With cruel meaning falls;
  The heavy-laden soul shrinks back,
    The lonely way appals.

  Ah, me! sweet friend, I thank thee;
    This little ray of light
  Steals o'er the darken'd firmament,
    Illuming sorrow's night.





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