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´╗┐Title: Beauty and the Beast, and Tales of Home
Author: Taylor, Bayard, 1825-1878
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 "Beauty and the Beast, and Tales of Home" ***

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

AND TALES OF HOME

By Bayard Taylor.



CONTENTS.

     BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
     THE STRANGE FRIEND
     JACOB FLINT'S JOURNEY
     CAN A LIFE HIDE ITSELF?
     TWIN-LOVE
     THE EXPERIENCES OF THE A. C.
     FRIEND ELI'S DAUGHTER
     MISS BARTRAM'S TROUBLE
     MRS. STRONGITHARM'S REPORT



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

A STORY OF OLD RUSSIA.



I.

We are about to relate a story of mingled fact and fancy. The facts are
borrowed from the Russian author, Petjerski; the fancy is our own. Our
task will chiefly be to soften the outlines of incidents almost too
sharp and rugged for literary use, to supply them with the necessary
coloring and sentiment, and to give a coherent and proportioned shape
to the irregular fragments of an old chronicle. We know something, from
other sources, of the customs described, something of the character of
the people from personal observation, and may therefore the more freely
take such liberties as we choose with the rude, vigorous sketches of the
Russian original. One who happens to have read the work of Villebois can
easily comprehend the existence of a state of society, on the banks of
the Volga, a hundred years ago, which is now impossible, and will soon
become incredible. What is strangest in our narrative has been declared
to be true.



II.


We are in Kinesma, a small town on the Volga, between Kostroma and
Nijni-Novgorod. The time is about the middle of the last century, and
the month October.

There was trouble one day, in the palace of Prince Alexis, of Kinesma.
This edifice, with its massive white walls, and its pyramidal roofs of
green copper, stood upon a gentle mound to the eastward of the town,
overlooking it, a broad stretch of the Volga, and the opposite shore. On
a similar hill, to the westward, stood the church, glittering with
its dozen bulging, golden domes. These two establishments divided the
sovereignty of Kinesma between them.

Prince Alexis owned the bodies of the inhabitants, (with the exception
of a few merchants and tradesmen,) and the Archimandrite Sergius owned
their souls. But the shadow of the former stretched also over other
villages, far beyond the ring of the wooded horizon. The number of his
serfs was ten thousand, and his rule over them was even less disputed
than theirs over their domestic animals.

The inhabitants of the place had noticed with dismay that the
slumber-flag had not been hoisted on the castle, although it was half an
hour after the usual time. So rare a circumstance betokened sudden wrath
or disaster, on the part of Prince Alexis. Long experience had prepared
the people for anything that might happen, and they were consequently
not astonished at the singular event which presently transpired.

The fact is, that in the first place, the dinner had been prolonged full
ten minutes beyond its accustomed limit, owing to a discussion between
the Prince, his wife, the Princess Martha, and their son Prince Boris.
The last was to leave for St. Petersburg in a fortnight, and wished to
have his departure preceded by a festival at the castle. The Princess
Martha was always ready to second the desires of her only child. Between
the two they had pressed some twenty or thirty thousand rubles out
of the old Prince, for the winter diversions of the young one. The
festival, to be sure, would have been a slight expenditure for a noble
of such immense wealth as Prince Alexis; but he never liked his wife,
and he took a stubborn pleasure in thwarting her wishes. It was no
satisfaction that Boris resembled her in character. That weak successor
to the sovereignty of Kinesma preferred a game of cards to a bear hunt,
and could never drink more than a quart of vodki without becoming dizzy
and sick.

"Ugh!" Prince Alexis would cry, with a shudder of disgust, "the whelp
barks after the dam!"

A state dinner he might give; but a festival, with dances, dramatic
representations, burning tar-barrels, and cannon,--no! He knitted
his heavy brows and drank deeply, and his fiery gray eyes shot such
incessant glances from side to side that Boris and the Princess Martha
could not exchange a single wink of silent advice. The pet bear, Mishka,
plied with strong wines, which Prince Alexis poured out for him into
a golden basin, became at last comically drunk, and in endeavoring to
execute a dance, lost his balance, and fell at full length on his back.

The Prince burst into a yelling, shrieking fit of laughter. Instantly
the yellow-haired serfs in waiting, the Calmucks at the hall-door, and
the half-witted dwarf who crawled around the table in his tow shirt,
began laughing in chorus, as violently as they could. The Princess
Martha and Prince Boris laughed also; and while the old man's eyes were
dimmed with streaming tears of mirth, quickly exchanged nods. The sound
extended all over the castle, and was heard outside of the walls.

"Father!" said Boris, "let us have the festival, and Mishka shall
perform again. Prince Paul of Kostroma would strangle, if he could see
him."

"Good, by St. Vladimir!" exclaimed Prince Alexis. "Thou shalt have
it, my Borka! [1] Where's Simon Petrovitch? May the Devil scorch that
vagabond, if he doesn't do better than the last time! Sasha!"

A broad-shouldered serf stepped forward and stood with bowed head.

"Lock up Simon Petrovitch in the southwestern tower. Send the tailor and
the girls to him, to learn their parts. Search every one of them
before they go in, and if any one dares to carry vodki to the beast,
twenty-five lashes on the back!"


Sasha bowed again and departed. Simon Petrovitch was the court-poet of
Kinesma. He had a mechanical knack of preparing allegorical diversions
which suited the conventional taste of society at that time; but he had
also a failing,--he was rarely sober enough to write. Prince Alexis,
therefore, was in the habit of locking him up and placing a guard over
him, until the inspiration had done its work. The most comely young
serfs of both sexes were selected to perform the parts, and the
court-tailor arranged for them the appropriate dresses. It depended very
much upon accident--that is to say, the mood of Prince Alexis--whether
Simon Petrovitch was rewarded with stripes or rubles.

The matter thus settled, the Prince rose from the table and walked out
upon an overhanging balcony, where an immense reclining arm-chair of
stuffed leather was ready for his siesta. He preferred this indulgence
in the open air; and although the weather was rapidly growing cold,
a pelisse of sables enabled him to slumber sweetly in the face of the
north wind. An attendant stood with the pelisse outspread; another held
the halyards to which was attached the great red slumber-flag, ready to
run it up and announce to all Kinesma that the noises of the town must
cease; a few seconds more, and all things would have been fixed in their
regular daily courses. The Prince, in fact, was just straightening his
shoulders to receive the sables; his eyelids were dropping, and his
eyes, sinking mechanically with them, fell upon the river-road, at the
foot of the hill. Along this road walked a man, wearing the long cloth
caftan of a merchant.

Prince Alexis started, and all slumber vanished out of his eyes. He
leaned forward for a moment, with a quick, eager expression; then a loud
roar, like that of an enraged wild beast, burst from his mouth. He gave
a stamp that shook the balcony.

"Dog!" he cried to the trembling attendant, "my cap! my whip!"

The sables fell upon the floor, the cap and whip appeared in a
twinkling, and the red slumber-flag was folded up again for the first
time in several years, as the Prince stormed out of the castle. The
traveller below had heard the cry,--for it might have been heard half a
mile. He seemed to have a presentiment of evil, for he had already set
off towards the town at full speed.

To explain the occurrence, we must mention one of the Prince's many
peculiar habits. This was, to invite strangers or merchants of the
neighborhood to dine with him, and, after regaling them bountifully, to
take his pay in subjecting them to all sorts of outrageous tricks, with
the help of his band of willing domestics. Now this particular merchant
had been invited, and had attended; but, being a very wide-awake, shrewd
person, he saw what was coming, and dexterously slipped away from
the banquet without being perceived. The Prince vowed vengeance, on
discovering the escape, and he was not a man to forget his word.

Impelled by such opposite passions, both parties ran with astonishing
speed. The merchant was the taller, but his long caftan, hastily
ungirdled, swung behind him and dragged in the air.

The short, booted legs of the Prince beat quicker time, and he grasped
his short, heavy, leathern whip more tightly as he saw the space
diminishing. They dashed into the town of Kinesma a hundred yards apart.
The merchant entered the main street, or bazaar, looking rapidly to
right and left, as he ran, in the hope of espying some place of refuge.
The terrible voice behind him cried,--

"Stop, scoundrel! I have a crow to pick with you!"

And the tradesmen in their shops looked on and laughed, as well they
might, being unconcerned spectators of the fun. The fugitive, therefore,
kept straight on, notwithstanding a pond of water glittered across the
farther end of the street.

Although Prince Alexis had gained considerably in the race, such
violent exercise, after a heavy dinner, deprived him of breath. He again
cried,--

"Stop!"

"But the merchant answered,--

"No, Highness! You may come to me, but I will not go to you."

"Oh, the villian!" growled the Prince, in a hoarse whisper, for he had
no more voice.

The pond cut of all further pursuit. Hastily kicking off his loose
boots, the merchant plunged into the water, rather than encounter
the princely whip, which already began to crack and snap in fierce
anticipation. Prince Alexis kicked off his boots and followed; the pond
gradually deepened, and in a minute the tall merchant stood up to
his chin in the icy water, and his short pursuer likewise but out of
striking distance. The latter coaxed and entreated, but the victim kept
his ground.

"You lie, Highness!" he said, boldly. "If you want me, come to me."

"Ah-h-h!" roared the Prince, with chattering teeth, "what a stubborn
rascal you are! Come here, and I give you my word that I will not hurt
you. Nay,"--seeing that the man did not move,--"you shall dine with me
as often as you please. You shall be my friend; by St. Vladimir, I like
you!"

"Make the sign of the cross, and swear it by all the Saints," said the
merchant, composedly.

With a grim smile on his face, the Prince stepped back and shiveringly
obeyed. Both then waded out, sat down upon the ground and pulled on
their boots; and presently the people of Kinesma beheld the dripping
pair walking side by side up the street, conversing in the most cordial
manner. The merchant dried his clothes FROM WITHIN, at the castle table;
a fresh keg of old Cognac was opened; and although the slumber-flag was
not unfurled that afternoon, it flew from the staff and hushed the town
nearly all the next day.



III.


The festival granted on behalf of Prince Boris was one of the grandest
ever given at the castle. In character it was a singular cross between
the old Muscovite revel and the French entertainments which were then
introduced by the Empress Elizabeth.

All the nobility, for fifty versts around, including Prince Paul and the
chief families of Kostroma, were invited. Simon Petrovitch had been so
carefully guarded that his work was actually completed and the parts
distributed; his superintendence of the performance, however, was still
a matter of doubt, as it was necessary to release him from the tower,
and after several days of forced abstinence he always manifested a
raging appetite. Prince Alexis, in spite of this doubt, had been assured
by Boris that the dramatic part of the entertainment would not be a
failure. When he questioned Sasha, the poet's strong-shouldered guard,
the latter winked familiarly and answered with a proverb,--

"I sit on the shore and wait for the wind,"--which was as much as to say
that Sasha had little fear of the result.

The tables were spread in the great hall, where places for one hundred
chosen guests were arranged on the floor, while the three or four
hundred of minor importance were provided for in the galleries above.
By noon the whole party were assembled. The halls and passages of the
castle were already permeated with rich and unctuous smells, and a
delicate nose might have picked out and arranged, by their finer or
coarser vapors, the dishes preparing for the upper and lower tables. One
of the parasites of Prince Alexis, a dilapidated nobleman, officiated
as Grand Marshal,--an office which more than compensated for the
savage charity he received, for it was performed in continual fear and
trembling. The Prince had felt the stick of the Great Peter upon his own
back, and was ready enough to imitate any custom of the famous monarch.

An orchestra, composed principally of horns and brass instruments,
occupied a separate gallery at one end of the dining-hall. The guests
were assembled in the adjoining apartments, according to their rank; and
when the first loud blast of the instruments announced the beginning of
the banquet, two very differently attired and freighted processions of
servants made their appearance at the same time. Those intended for the
princely table numbered two hundred,--two for each guest. They were
the handsomest young men among the ten thousand serfs, clothed in loose
white trousers and shirts of pink or lilac silk; their soft golden
hair, parted in the middle, fell upon their shoulders, and a band of
gold-thread about the brow prevented it from sweeping the dishes
they carried. They entered the reception-room, bearing huge trays of
sculptured silver, upon which were anchovies, the finest Finnish caviar,
sliced oranges, cheese, and crystal flagons of Cognac, rum, and kummel.
There were fewer servants for the remaining guests, who were gathered
in a separate chamber, and regaled with the common black caviar, onions,
bread, and vodki. At the second blast of trumpets, the two companies set
themselves in motion and entered the dining-hall at opposite ends. Our
business, however, is only with the principal personages, so we will
allow the common crowd quietly to mount to the galleries and satisfy
their senses with the coarser viands, while their imagination is
stimulated by the sight of the splendor and luxury below.

Prince Alexis entered first, with a pompous, mincing gait, leading the
Princess Martha by the tips of her fingers. He wore a caftan of green
velvet laced with gold, a huge vest of crimson brocade, and breeches
of yellow satin. A wig, resembling clouds boiling in the confluence of
opposing winds, surged from his low, broad forehead, and flowed upon
his shoulders. As his small, fiery eyes swept the hall, every servant
trembled: he was as severe at the commencement as he was reckless at
the close of a banquet. The Princess Martha wore a robe of pink
satin embroidered with flowers made of small pearls, and a train and
head-dress of crimson velvet.

Her emeralds were the finest outside of Moscow, and she wore them all.
Her pale, weak, frightened face was quenched in the dazzle of the green
fires which shot from her forehead, ears, and bosom, as she moved.

Prince Paul of Kostroma and the Princess Nadejda followed; but on
reaching the table, the gentlemen took their seats at the head, while
the ladies marched down to the foot. Their seats were determined
by their relative rank, and woe to him who was so ignorant or so
absent-minded as to make a mistake! The servants had been carefully
trained in advance by the Grand Marshal; and whoever took a place above
his rank or importance found, when he came to sit down, that his chair
had miraculously disappeared, or, not noticing the fact, seated himself
absurdly and violently upon the floor. The Prince at the head of the
table, and the Princess at the foot, with their nearest guests of equal
rank, ate from dishes of massive gold; the others from silver. As soon
as the last of the company had entered the hall, a crowd of jugglers,
tumblers, dwarfs, and Calmucks followed, crowding themselves into the
corners under the galleries, where they awaited the conclusion of the
banquet to display their tricks, and scolded and pummelled each other in
the mean time.

On one side of Prince Alexis the bear Mishka took his station. By order
of Prince Boris he had been kept from wine for several days, and his
small eyes were keener and hungrier than usual. As he rose now and then,
impatiently, and sat upon his hind legs, he formed a curious contrast to
the Prince's other supporter, the idiot, who sat also in his tow-shirt,
with a large pewter basin in his hand. It was difficult to say whether
the beast was most man or the man most beast. They eyed each other and
watched the motions of their lord with equal jealousy; and the dismal
whine of the bear found an echo in the drawling, slavering laugh of
the idiot. The Prince glanced form one to the other; they put him in a
capital humor, which was not lessened as he perceived an expression of
envy pass over the face of Prince Paul.

The dinner commenced with a botvinia--something between a soup and a
salad--of wonderful composition. It contained cucumbers, cherries, salt
fish, melons, bread, salt, pepper, and wine. While it was being served,
four huge fishermen, dressed to represent mermen of the Volga, naked to
the waist, with hair crowned with reeds, legs finned with silver tissue
from the knees downward, and preposterous scaly tails, which dragged
helplessly upon the floor, entered the hall, bearing a broad, shallow
tank of silver. In the tank flapped and swam four superb sterlets, their
ridgy backs rising out of the water like those of alligators. Great
applause welcomed this new and classical adaptation of the old custom
of showing the LIVING fish, before cooking them, to the guests at the
table. The invention was due to Simon Petrovitch, and was (if the truth
must be confessed) the result of certain carefully measured supplies of
brandy which Prince Boris himself had carried to the imprisoned poet.

After the sterlets had melted away to their backbones, and the roasted
geese had shrunk into drumsticks and breastplates, and here and there a
guest's ears began to redden with more rapid blood, Prince Alexis judged
that the time for diversion had arrived. He first filled up the idiot's
basin with fragments of all the dishes within his reach,--fish, stewed
fruits, goose fat, bread, boiled cabbage, and beer,--the idiot grinning
with delight all the while, and singing, "Ne uyesjai golubchik moi,"
(Don't go away, my little pigeon), between the handfuls which he crammed
into his mouth. The guests roared with laughter, especially when a
juggler or Calmuck stole out from under the gallery, and pretended to
have designs upon the basin. Mishka, the bear, had also been well fed,
and greedily drank ripe old Malaga from the golden dish. But, alas! he
would not dance. Sitting up on his hind legs, with his fore paws hanging
before him, he cast a drunken, languishing eye upon the company, lolled
out his tongue, and whined with an almost human voice. The domestics,
secretly incited by the Grand Marshal, exhausted their ingenuity in
coaxing him, but in vain. Finally, one of them took a goblet of wine in
one hand, and, embracing Mishka with the other, began to waltz. The
bear stretched out his paw and clumsily followed the movements, whirling
round and round after the enticing goblet. The orchestra struck up, and
the spectacle, though not exactly what Prince Alexis wished, was comical
enough to divert the company immensely.

But the close of the performance was not upon the programme. The
impatient bear, getting no nearer his goblet, hugged the man violently
with the other paw, striking his claws through the thin shirt. The
dance-measure was lost; the legs of the two tangled, and they fell to
the floor, the bear undermost. With a growl of rage and disappointment,
he brought his teeth together through the man's arm, and it might have
fared badly with the latter, had not the goblet been refilled by some
one and held to the animal's nose.

Then, releasing his hold, he sat up again, drank another bottle, and
staggered out of the hall.

Now the health of Prince Alexis was drunk,--by the guests on the floor
of the hall in Champagne, by those in the galleries in kislischi and
hydromel. The orchestra played; a choir of serfs sang an ode by Simon
Petrovitch, in which the departure of Prince Boris was mentioned; the
tumblers began to posture; the jugglers came forth and played their
tricks; and the cannon on the ramparts announced to all Kinesma, and far
up and down the Volga, that the company were rising from the table.

Half an hour later, the great red slumber-flag floated over the castle.
All slept,--except the serf with the wounded arm, the nervous Grand
Marshal, and Simon Petrovich with his band of dramatists, guarded by the
indefatigable Sasha. All others slept,--and the curious crowd outside,
listening to the music, stole silently away; down in Kinesma, the
mothers ceased to scold their children, and the merchants whispered to
each other in the bazaar; the captains of vessels floating on the Volga
directed their men by gestures; the mechanics laid aside hammer and axe,
and lighted their pipes. Great silence fell upon the land, and continued
unbroken so long as Prince Alexis and his guests slept the sleep of the
just and the tipsy.

By night, however, they were all awake and busily preparing for the
diversions of the evening. The ball-room was illuminated by thousands of
wax-lights, so connected with inflammable threads, that the wicks could
all be kindled in a moment. A pyramid of tar-barrels had been erected
on each side of the castle-gate, and every hill or mound on the opposite
bank of the Volga was similarly crowned. When, to a stately march,--the
musicians blowing their loudest,--Prince Alexis and Princess Martha led
the way to the ball-room, the signal was given: candles and tar-barrels
burst into flame, and not only within the castle, but over the landscape
for five or six versts, around everything was bright and clear in the
fiery day. Then the noises of Kinesma were not only permitted, but
encouraged. Mead and qvass flowed in the very streets, and the castle
trumpets could not be heard for the sound of troikas and balalaikas.

After the Polonaise, and a few stately minuets, (copied from the court
of Elizabeth), the company were ushered into the theatre. The hour of
Simon Petrovitch had struck: with the inspiration smuggled to him by
Prince Boris, he had arranged a performance which he felt to be his
masterpiece. Anxiety as to its reception kept him sober. The overture
had ceased, the spectators were all in their seats, and now the curtain
rose. The background was a growth of enormous, sickly toad-stools,
supposed to be clouds. On the stage stood a girl of eighteen, (the
handsomest in Kinesma), in hoops and satin petticoat, powdered hair,
patches, and high-heeled shoes. She held a fan in one hand, and a bunch
of marigolds in the other. After a deep and graceful curtsy to the
company, she came forward and said,--

"I am the goddess Venus. I have come to Olympus to ask some questions of
Jupiter."

Thunder was heard, and a car rolled upon the stage. Jupiter sat therein,
in a blue coat, yellow vest, ruffled shirt and three-cornered hat. One
hand held a bunch of thunderbolts, which he occasionally lifted and
shook; the other, a gold-headed cane.

"Here am, I Jupiter," said he; "what does Venus desire?"

A poetical dialogue then followed, to the effect that the favorite of
the goddess, Prince Alexis of Kinesma, was about sending his son, Prince
Boris, into the gay world, wherein himself had already displayed all the
gifts of all the divinities of Olympus. He claimed from her, Venus, like
favors for his son: was it possible to grant them? Jupiter dropped his
head and meditated. He could not answer the question at once: Apollo,
the Graces, and the Muses must be consulted: there were few precedents
where the son had succeeded in rivalling the father,--yet the father's
pious wishes could not be overlooked. Venus said,--

"What I asked for Prince Alexis was for HIS sake: what I ask for the son
is for the father's sake."

Jupiter shook his thunderbolt and called "Apollo!"

Instantly the stage was covered with explosive and coruscating
fires,--red, blue, and golden,--and amid smoke, and glare, and fizzing
noises, and strong chemical smells, Apollo dropped down from above. He
was accustomed to heat and smoke, being the cook's assistant, and was
sweated down to a weight capable of being supported by the invisible
wires. He wore a yellow caftan, and wide blue silk trousers. His yellow
hair was twisted around and glued fast to gilded sticks, which stood out
from his head in a circle, and represented rays of light. He first bowed
to Prince Alexis, then to the guests, then to Jupiter, then to Venus.
The matter was explained to him.

He promised to do what he could towards favoring the world with a second
generation of the beauty, grace, intellect, and nobility of character
which had already won his regard. He thought, however, that their gifts
were unnecessary, since the model was already in existence, and nothing
more could be done than to IMITATE it.

(Here there was another meaning bow towards Prince Alexis,--a bow in
which Jupiter and Venus joined. This was the great point of the evening,
in the opinion of Simon Petrovitch. He peeped through a hole in one
of the clouds, and, seeing the delight of Prince Alexis and the
congratulations of his friends, immediately took a large glass of
Cognac).

The Graces were then summoned, and after them the Muses--all in hoops,
powder, and paint. Their songs had the same burden,--intense admiration
of the father, and good-will for the son, underlaid with a delicate
doubt. The close was a chorus of all the deities and semi-deities in
praise of the old Prince, with the accompaniment of fireworks. Apollo
rose through the air like a frog, with his blue legs and yellow arms
wide apart; Jupiter's chariot rolled off; Venus bowed herself back
against a mouldy cloud; and the Muses came forward in a bunch, with a
wreath of laurel, which they placed upon the venerated head.

Sasha was dispatched to bring the poet, that he might receive his
well-earned praise and reward. But alas for Simon Petrovitch? His legs
had already doubled under him. He was awarded fifty rubles and a new
caftan, which he was not in a condition to accept until several days
afterward.

The supper which followed resembled the dinner, except that there were
fewer dishes and more bottles. When the closing course of sweatmeats had
either been consumed or transferred to the pockets of the guests,
the Princess Martha retired with the ladies. The guests of lower rank
followed; and there remained only some fifteen or twenty, who were
thereupon conducted by Prince Alexis to a smaller chamber, where he
pulled off his coat, lit his pipe, and called for brandy. The others
followed his example, and their revelry wore out the night.

Such was the festival which preceded the departure of Prince Boris for
St. Petersburg.



IV.


Before following the young Prince and his fortunes, in the capital, we
must relate two incidents which somewhat disturbed the ordered course of
life in the castle of Kinesma, during the first month or two after his
departure.

It must be stated, as one favorable trait in the character of Prince
Alexis, that, however brutally he treated his serfs, he allowed no other
man to oppress them. All they had and were--their services, bodies,
lives--belonged to him; hence injustice towards them was disrespect
towards their lord. Under the fear which his barbarity inspired lurked a
brute-like attachment, kept alive by the recognition of this quality.

One day it was reported to him that Gregor, a merchant in the bazaar at
Kinesma, had cheated the wife of one of his serfs in the purchase of a
piece of cloth. Mounting his horse, he rode at once to Gregor's booth,
called for the cloth, and sent the entire piece to the woman, in the
merchant's name, as a confessed act of reparation.

"Now, Gregor, my child," said he, as he turned his horse's head, "have
a care in future, and play me no more dishonest tricks. Do you hear? I
shall come and take your business in hand myself, if the like happens
again."

Not ten days passed before the like--or something fully as bad--did
happen. Gregor must have been a new comer in Kinesma, or he would not
have tried the experiment. In an hour from the time it was announced,
Prince Alexis appeared in the bazaar with a short whip under his arm.

He dismounted at the booth with an ironical smile on his face, which
chilled the very marrow in the merchant's bones.

"Ah, Gregor, my child," he shouted, "you have already forgotten my
commands. Holy St. Nicholas, what a bad memory the boy has! Why, he
can't be trusted to do business: I must attend to the shop myself. Out
of the way! march!"

He swung his terrible whip; and Gregor, with his two assistants, darted
under the counter, and made their escape. The Prince then entered the
booth, took up a yard-stick, and cried out in a voice which could be
heard from one end of the town to the other,--"Ladies and gentlemen,
have the kindness to come and examine our stock of goods! We have silks
and satins, and all kinds of ladies' wear; also velvet, cloth, cotton,
and linen for the gentlemen. Will your Lordships deign to choose? Here
are stockings and handkerchiefs of the finest. We understand how to
measure, your Lordships, and we sell cheap. We give no change, and take
no small money. Whoever has no cash may have credit. Every thing sold
below cost, on account of closing up the establishment. Ladies and
gentlemen, give us a call?"

Everybody in Kinesma flocked to the booth, and for three hours Prince
Alexis measured and sold, either for scant cash or long credit, until
the last article had been disposed of and the shelves were empty. There
was great rejoicing in the community over the bargains made that day.
When all was over, Gregor was summoned, and the cash received paid into
his hands.

"It won't take you long to count it," said the Prince; "but here is a
list of debts to be collected, which will furnish you with pleasant
occupation, and enable you to exercise your memory. Would your Worship
condescend to take dinner to-day with your humble assistant? He would
esteem it a favor to be permitted to wait upon you with whatever his
poor house can supply."

Gregor gave a glance at the whip under the Prince's arm, and begged to
be excused. But the latter would take no denial, and carried out the
comedy to the end by giving the merchant the place of honor at his
table, and dismissing him with the present of a fine pup of his favorite
breed. Perhaps the animal acted as a mnemonic symbol, for Gregor was
never afterwards accused of forgetfulness.

If this trick put the Prince in a good humor, some thing presently
occurred which carried him to the opposite extreme. While taking his
customary siesta one afternoon, a wild young fellow--one of his noble
poor relations, who "sponged" at the castle--happened to pass along a
corridor outside of the very hall where his Highness was snoring. Two
ladies in waiting looked down from an upper window. The young fellow
perceived them, and made signs to attract their attention. Having
succeeded in this, he attempted, by all sorts of antics and grimaces, to
make them laugh or speak; but he failed, for the slumber-flag waved
over them, and its fear was upon them. Then, in a freak of incredible
rashness, he sang, in a loud voice, the first line of a popular ditty,
and took to his heels.

No one had ever before dared to insult the sacred quiet. The Prince was
on his feet in a moment, and rushed into the corridor, (dropping his
mantle of sables by the way,) shouting.--

"Bring me the wretch who sang!"

The domestics scattered before him, for his face was terrible to look
upon. Some of them had heard the voice, indeed, but not one of them
had seen the culprit, who al ready lay upon a heap of hay in one of the
stables, and appeared to be sunk in innocent sleep.

"Who was it? who was it?" yelled the Prince, foaming at the mouth with
rage, as he rushed from chamber to chamber.

At last he halted at the top of the great flight of steps leading into
the court-yard, and repeated his demand in a voice of thunder.

The servants, trembling, kept at a safe distance, and some of them
ventured to state that the offender could not be discovered. The Prince
turned and entered one of the state apartments, whence came the sound
of porcelain smashed on the floor, and mirrors shivered on the walls.
Whenever they heard that sound, the immates of the castle knew that a
hurricane was let loose.

They deliberated hurriedly and anxiously. What was to be done? In his
fits of blind animal rage, there was nothing of which the Prince was not
capable, and the fit could be allayed only by finding a victim. No one,
however, was willing to be a Curtius for the others, and meanwhile the
storm was increasing from minute to minute. Some of the more active
and shrewd of the household pitched upon the leader of the band, a
simple-minded, good-natured serf, named Waska. They entreated him
to take upon himself the crime of having sung, offering to have his
punishment mitigated in every possible way. He was proof against their
tears, but not against the money which they finally offered, in order to
avert the storm. The agreement was made, although Waska both scratched
his head and shook it, as he reflected upon the probable result.

The Prince, after his work of destruction, again appeared upon the
steps, and with hoarse voice and flashing eyes, began to announce that
every soul in the castle should receive a hundred lashes, when a noise
was heard in the court, and amid cries of "Here he is!" "We've got him,
Highness!" the poor Waska, bound hand and foot, was brought forward.
They placed him at the bottom of the steps. The Prince descended until
the two stood face to face. The others looked on from courtyard, door,
and window. A pause ensued, during which no one dared to breathe.

At last Prince Alexis spoke, in a loud and terrible voice--

"It was you who sang it?"

"Yes, your Highness, it was I," Waska replied, in a scarcely audible
tone, dropping his head and mechanically drawing his shoulders together,
as if shrinking from the coming blow.

It was full three minutes before the Prince again spoke. He still held
the whip in his hand, his eyes fixed and the muscles of his face rigid.
All at once the spell seemed to dissolve: his hand fell, and he said in
his ordinary voice--

"You sing remarkably well. Go, now: you shall have ten rubles and an
embroidered caftan for your singing."

But any one would have made a great mistake who dared to awaken Prince
Alexis a second time in the same manner.



V.


Prince Boris, in St. Petersburg, adopted the usual habits of his class.
He dressed elegantly; he drove a dashing troika; he played, and lost
more frequently than he won; he took no special pains to shun any
form of fashionable dissipation. His money went fast, it is true; but
twenty-five thousand rubles was a large sum in those days, and Boris did
not inherit his father's expensive constitution. He was presented to the
Empress; but his thin face, and mild, melancholy eyes did not make much
impression upon that ponderous woman. He frequented the salons of
the nobility, but saw no face so beautiful as that of Parashka, the
serf-maiden who personated Venus for Simon Petrovitch. The fact is, he
had a dim, undeveloped instinct of culture, and a crude, half-conscious
worship of beauty,--both of which qualities found just enough
nourishment in the life of the capital to tantalize and never satisfy
his nature. He was excited by his new experience, but hardly happier.

Although but three-and-twenty, he would never know the rich, vital glow
with which youth rushes to clasp all forms of sensation.

He had seen, almost daily, in his father's castle, excess in its most
excessive development. It had grown to be repulsive, and he knew not
how to fill the void in his life. With a single spark of genius, and a
little more culture, he might have become a passable author or artist;
but he was doomed to be one of those deaf and dumb natures that see the
movements of the lips of others, yet have no conception of sound. No
wonder his savage old father looked upon him with contempt, for even his
vices were without strength or character.

The dark winter days passed by, one by one, and the first week of Lent
had already arrived to subdue the glittering festivities of the court,
when the only genuine adventure of the season happened to the young
Prince. For adventures, in the conventional sense of the word, he was
not distinguished; whatever came to him must come by its own force, or
the force of destiny.

One raw, gloomy evening, as dusk was setting in, he saw a female figure
in a droschky, which was about turning from the great Morskoi into the
Gorokhovaya (Pea) Street. He noticed, listlessly, that the lady
was dressed in black, closely veiled, and appeared to be urging the
istvostchik (driver) to make better speed. The latter cut his horse
sharply: it sprang forward, just at the turning, and the droschky,
striking a lamp-post was instantly overturned. The lady, hurled with
great force upon the solidly frozen snow, lay motionless, which the
driver observing, he righted the sled and drove off at full speed,
without looking behind him. It was not inhumanity, but fear of the knout
that hurried him away.

Prince Boris looked up and down the Morskoi, but perceived no one near
at hand. He then knelt upon the snow, lifted the lady's head to his
knee, and threw back her veil. A face so lovely, in spite of its deadly
pallor, he had never before seen. Never had he even imagined so perfect
an oval, such a sweet, fair forehead, such delicately pencilled brows,
so fine and straight a nose, such wonderful beauty of mouth and chin. It
was fortunate that she was not very severely stunned, for Prince Boris
was not only ignorant of the usual modes of restoration in such cases,
but he totally forgot their necessity, in his rapt contemplation of
the lady's face. Presently she opened her eyes, and they dwelt,
expressionless, but bewildering in their darkness and depth, upon his
own, while her consciousness of things slowly returned.

She strove to rise, and Boris gently lifted and supported her. She would
have withdrawn from his helping arm, but was still too weak from the
shock. He, also, was confused and (strange to say) embarrassed; but he
had self-possession enough to shout, "Davei!" (Here!) at random. The
call was answered from the Admiralty Square; a sled dashed up the
Gorokhovaya and halted beside him. Taking the single seat, he lifted her
gently upon his lap and held her very tenderly in his arms.

"Where?" asked the istvostchik.

Boris was about to answer "Anywhere!" but the lady whispered in a voice
of silver sweetness, the name of a remote street, near the Smolnoi
Church.

As the Prince wrapped the ends of his sable pelisse about her, he
noticed that her furs were of the common foxskin worn by the middle
classes. They, with her heavy boots and the threadbare cloth of her
garments, by no means justified his first suspicion,--that she was a
grande dame, engaged in some romantic "adventure." She was not more than
nineteen or twenty years of age, and he felt--without knowing what
it was--the atmosphere of sweet, womanly purity and innocence which
surrounded her. The shyness of a lost boyhood surprised him.

By the time they had reached the Litenie, she had fully recovered her
consciousness and a portion of her strength. She drew away from him as
much as the narrow sled would allow.

"You have been very kind, sir, and I thank you," she said; "but I am now
able to go home without your further assistance."

"By no means, lady!" said the Prince. "The streets are rough, and
here are no lamps. If a second accident were to happen, you would be
helpless. Will you not allow me to protect you?"

She looked him in the face. In the dusky light, she saw not the peevish,
weary features of the worldling, but only the imploring softness of his
eyes, the full and perfect honesty of his present emotion. She made no
further objection; perhaps she was glad that she could trust the elegant
stranger.

Boris, never before at a loss for words, even in the presence of
the Empress, was astonished to find how awkward were his attempts at
conversation. She was presently the more self-possessed of the two, and
nothing was ever so sweet to his ears as the few commonplace remarks she
uttered. In spite of the darkness and the chilly air, the sled seemed to
fly like lightning. Before he supposed they had made half the way, she
gave a sign to the istvostchik, and they drew up before a plain house of
squared logs.

The two lower windows were lighted, and the dark figure of an old man,
with a skull-cap upon his head, was framed in one of them. It vanished
as the sled stopped; the door was thrown open and the man came forth
hurriedly, followed by a Russian nurse with a lantern.

"Helena, my child, art thou come at last? What has befallen thee?"

He would evidently have said more, but the sight of Prince Boris caused
him to pause, while a quick shade of suspicion and alarm passed over his
face. The Prince stepped forward, instantly relieved of his unaccustomed
timidity, and rapidly described the accident. The old nurse Katinka, had
meanwhile assisted the lovely Helena into the house.

The old man turned to follow, shivering in the night-air. Suddenly
recollecting himself, he begged the Prince to enter and take some
refreshments, but with the air and tone of a man who hopes that his
invitation will not be accepted. If such was really his hope, he was
disappointed; for Boris instantly commanded the istvostchik to wait for
him, and entered the humble dwelling.

The apartment into which he was ushered was spacious, and plainly,
yet not shabbily furnished. A violoncello and clavichord, with several
portfolios of music, and scattered sheets of ruled paper, proclaimed the
profession or the taste of the occupant. Having excused himself a moment
to look after his daughter's condition, the old man, on his return,
found Boris turning over the leaves of a musical work.

"You see my profession," he said. "I teach music?"

"Do you not compose?" asked the Prince.

"That was once my ambition. I was a pupil of Sebastian Bach.
But--circumstances--necessity--brought me here. Other lives changed the
direction of mine. It was right!"

"You mean your daughter's?" the Prince gently suggested.

"Hers and her mother's. Our story was well known in St. Petersburg
twenty years ago, but I suppose no one recollects it now. My wife was
the daughter of a Baron von Plauen, and loved music and myself better
than her home and a titled bridegroom. She escaped, we united our lives,
suffered and were happy together,--and she died. That is all."

Further conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Helena,
with steaming glasses of tea. She was even lovelier than before. Her
close-fitting dress revealed the symmetry of her form, and the quiet,
unstudied grace of her movements. Although her garments were of
well-worn material, the lace which covered her bosom was genuine point
d'Alencon, of an old and rare pattern. Boris felt that her air
and manner were thoroughly noble; he rose and saluted her with the
profoundest respect.

In spite of the singular delight which her presence occasioned him,
he was careful not to prolong his visit beyond the limits of strict
etiquette. His name, Boris Alexeivitch, only revealed to his guests the
name of his father, without his rank; and when he stated that he was
employed in one of the Departments, (which was true in a measure, for he
was a staff officer,) they could only look upon him as being, at best,
a member of some family whose recent elevation to the nobility did not
release them from the necessity of Government service. Of course he
employed the usual pretext of wishing to study music, and either by that
or some other stratagem managed to leave matters in such a shape that a
second visit could not occasion surprise.

As the sled glided homewards over the crackling snow, he was obliged
to confess the existence of a new and powerful excitement. Was it the
chance of an adventure, such as certain of his comrades were continually
seeking? He thought not; no, decidedly not. Was it--could it be--love?
He really could not tell; he had not the slightset idea what love was
like.



VI.

It was something at least, that the plastic and not un-virtuous nature
of the young man was directed towards a definite object. The elements
out of which he was made, although somewhat diluted, were active enough
to make him uncomfortable, so long as they remained in a confused state.
He had very little power of introversion, but he was sensible that his
temperament was changing,--that he grew more cheerful and contented with
life,--that a chasm somewhere was filling up,--just in proportion as
his acquaintance with the old music-master and his daughter became more
familiar. His visits were made so brief, were so adroitly timed and
accounted for by circumstances, that by the close of Lent he could feel
justified in making the Easter call of a friend, and claim its attendant
privileges, without fear of being repulsed.

That Easter call was an era in his life. At the risk of his wealth and
rank being suspected, he dressed himself in new and rich garments, and
hurried away towards the Smolnoi. The old nurse, Katinka, in her scarlet
gown, opened the door for him, and was the first to say, "Christ is
arisen!" What could he do but give her the usual kiss? Formerly he had
kissed hundreds of serfs, men and women, on the sacred anniversary, with
a passive good-will. But Katinka's kiss seemed bitter, and he secretly
rubbed his mouth after it. The music-master came next: grisly though
he might be, he was the St. Peter who stood at the gate of heaven. Then
entered Helena, in white, like an angel. He took her hand, pronounced
the Easter greeting, and scarcely waited for the answer, "Truly he has
arisen!" before his lips found the way to hers. For a second they warmly
trembled and glowed together; and in another second some new and sweet
and subtle relation seemed to be established between their natures.

That night Prince Boris wrote a long letter to his "chere maman," in
piquantly misspelt French, giving her the gossip of the court, and such
family news as she usually craved. The purport of the letter, however,
was only disclosed in the final paragraph, and then in so negative a way
that it is doubtful whether the Princess Martha fully understood it.

"Poing de mariajes pour moix!" he wrote,--but we will drop the
original,--"I don't think of such a thing yet. Pashkoff dropped a hint,
the other day, but I kept my eyes shut. Perhaps you remember her?--fat,
thick lips, and crooked teeth. Natalie D---- said to me, 'Have you ever
been in love, Prince?" HAVE I, MAMAN? I did not know what answer to
make. What is love? How does one feel, when one has it? They laugh at it
here, and of course I should not wish to do what is laughable. Give me a
hint: forewarned is forearmed, you know,'"--etc., etc.

Perhaps the Princess Martha DID suspect something; perhaps some word
in her son's letter touched a secret spot far back in her memory, and
renewed a dim, if not very intelligible, pain. She answered his question
at length, in the style of the popular French romances of that day. She
had much to say of dew and roses, turtledoves and the arrows of Cupid.

"Ask thyself," she wrote, "whether felicity comes with her presence,
and distraction with her absence,--whether her eyes make the morning
brighter for thee, and her tears fall upon thy heart like molten
lava,--whether heaven would be black and dismal without her company, and
the flames of hell turn into roses under her feet."

It was very evident that the good Princess Martha had never felt--nay,
did not comprehend--a passion such as she described.

Prince Boris, however, whose veneration for his mother was unbounded,
took her words literally, and applied the questions to himself. Although
he found it difficult, in good faith and sincerity, to answer all of
them affirmatively (he was puzzled, for instance, to know the sensation
of molten lava falling upon the heart), yet the general conclusion was
inevitable: Helena was necessary to his happiness.

Instead of returning to Kinesma for the summer, as had been arranged, he
determined to remain in St. Petersburg, under the pretence of devoting
himself to military studies. This change of plan occasioned more
disappointment to the Princess Martha than vexation to Prince Alexis.
The latter only growled at the prospect of being called upon to advance
a further supply of rubles, slightly comforting himself with the
muttered reflection,--

"Perhaps the brat will make a man of himself, after all."

It was not many weeks, in fact, before the expected petition came to
hand. The Princess Martha had also foreseen it, and instructed her son
how to attack his father's weak side. The latter was furiously jealous
of certain other noblemen of nearly equal wealth, who were with him
at the court of Peter the Great, as their sons now were at that of
Elizabeth. Boris compared the splendor of these young noblemen with his
own moderate estate, fabled a few "adventures" and drinking-bouts, and
announced his determination of doing honor to the name which Prince
Alexis of Kinesma had left behind him in the capital.

There was cursing at the castle when the letter arrived. Many serfs felt
the sting of the short whip, the slumber-flag was hoisted five minutes
later than usual, and the consumption of Cognac was alarming; but no
mirror was smashed, and when Prince Alexis read the letter to his poor
relations, he even chuckled over some portions of it. Boris had boldly
demanded twenty thousand rubles, in the desperate hope of receiving half
that amount,--and he had calculated correctly.

Before midsummer he was Helena's accepted lover. Not, however, until
then, when her father had given his consent to their marriage in the
autumn, did he disclose his true rank. The old man's face lighted up
with a glow of selfish satisfaction; but Helena quietly took her lover's
hand, and said,--

"Whatever you are, Boris, I will be faithful to you."



VII.


Leaving Boris to discover the exact form and substance of the passion of
love, we will return for a time to the castle of Kinesma.

Whether the Princess Martha conjectured what had transpired in St.
Petersburg, or was partially informed of it by her son, cannot now
be ascertained. She was sufficiently weak, timid, and nervous, to be
troubled with the knowledge of the stratagem in which she had assisted
in order to procure money, and that the ever-present consciousness
thereof would betray itself to the sharp eyes of her husband. Certain it
is, that the demeanor of the latter towards her and his household began
to change about the end of the summer. He seemed to have a haunting
suspicion, that, in some way he had been, or was about to be,
overreached. He grew peevish, suspicious, and more violent than ever in
his excesses.

When Mishka, the dissipated bear already described, bit off one of the
ears of Basil, a hunter belonging to the castle, and Basil drew his
knife and plunged it into Mishka's heart, Prince Alexis punished the
hunter by cutting off his other ear, and sending him away to a distant
estate. A serf, detected in eating a few of the pickled cherries
intended for the Prince's botvinia, was placed in a cask, and pickled
cherries packed around him up to the chin. There he was kept until
almost flayed by the acid. It was ordered that these two delinquents
should never afterwards be called by any other names than "Crop-Ear" and
"Cherry."

But the Prince's severest joke, which, strange to say, in no wise
lessened his popularity among the serfs, occurred a month or two later.
One of his leading passions was the chase,--especially the chase in his
own forests, with from one to two hundred men, and no one to dispute his
Lordship. On such occasions, a huge barrel of wine, mounted upon a
sled, always accompanied the crowd, and the quantity which the hunters
received depended upon the satisfaction of Prince Alexis with the game
they collected.

Winter had set in early and suddenly, and one day, as the Prince and his
retainers emerged from the forest with their forenoon's spoil, and found
themselves on the bank of the Volga, the water was already covered with
a thin sheet of ice. Fires were kindled, a score or two of hares and
a brace of deer were skinned, and the flesh placed on sticks to broil;
skins of mead foamed and hissed into the wooden bowls, and the cask of
unbroached wine towered in the midst. Prince Alexis had a good appetite;
the meal was after his heart; and by the time he had eaten a hare and
half a flank of venison, followed by several bowls of fiery wine, he was
in the humor for sport. He ordered a hole cut in the upper side of the
barrel, as it lay; then, getting astride of it, like a grisly Bacchus,
he dipped out the liquor with a ladle, and plied his thirsty serfs until
they became as recklessly savage as he.

They were scattered over a slope gently falling from the dark, dense
fir-forest towards the Volga, where it terminated in a rocky palisade,
ten to fifteen feet in height. The fires blazed and crackled merrily in
the frosty air; the yells and songs of the carousers were echoed back
from the opposite shore of the river. The chill atmosphere, the lowering
sky, and the approaching night could not touch the blood of that wild
crowd. Their faces glowed and their eyes sparkled; they were ready for
any deviltry which their lord might suggest.

Some began to amuse themselves by flinging the clean-picked bones
of deer and hare along the glassy ice of the Volga. Prince Alexis,
perceiving this diverson, cried out in ecstasy,--

"Oh, by St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker, I'll give you better sport than
that, ye knaves! Here's the very place for a reisak,--do you hear me
children?--a reisak! Could there be better ice? and then the rocks to
jump from! Come, children, come! Waska, Ivan, Daniel, you dogs, over
with you!"

Now the reisak was a gymnastic performance peculiar to old Russia, and
therefore needs to be described. It could become popular only among a
people of strong physical qualities, and in a country where swift rivers
freeze rapidly from sudden cold. Hence we are of the opinion that
it will not be introduced into our own winter diversions. A spot is
selected where the water is deep and the current tolerably strong; the
ice must be about half an inch in thickness. The performer leaps head
foremost from a rock or platform, bursts through the ice, is carried
under by the current, comes up some distance below, and bursts through
again. Both skill and strength are required to do the feat successfully.

Waska, Ivan, Daniel, and a number of others, sprang to the brink of the
rocks and looked over. The wall was not quite perpendicular, some large
fragments having fallen from above and lodged along the base. It would
therefore require a bold leap to clear the rocks and strike the smooth
ice. They hesitated,--and no wonder.

Prince Alexis howled with rage and disappointment.

"The Devil take you, for a pack of whimpering hounds!" he cried. "Holy
Saints! they are afraid to make a reisak!"

Ivan crossed himself and sprang. He cleared the rocks, but, instead of
bursting through the ice with his head, fell at full length upon his
back.

"O knave!" yelled the Prince,--"not to know where his head is! Thinks
it's his back! Give him fifteen stripes."

Which was instantly done.

The second attempt was partially successful. One of the hunters broke
through the ice, head foremost, going down, but he failed to come up
again; so the feat was only half performed.

The Prince became more furiously excited.

"This is the way I'm treated!" he cried. "He forgets all about finishing
the reisak, and goes to chasing sterlet! May the carps eat him up for
an ungrateful vagabond! Here, you beggars!" (addressing the poor
relations,) "take your turn, and let me see whether you are men."

Only one of the frightened parasites had the courage to obey. On
reaching the brink, he shut his eyes in mortal fear, and made a leap
at random. The next moment he lay on the edge of the ice with one leg
broken against a fragment of rock.

This capped the climax of the Prince's wrath. He fell into a state
bordering on despair, tore his hair, gnashed his teeth, and wept
bitterly.

"They will be the death of me!" was his lament. "Not a man among them!
It wasn't so in the old times. Such beautiful reisaks as I have seen!
But the people are becoming women,--hares,--chickens,--skunks! Villains,
will you force me to kill you? You have dishonored and disgraced me; I
am ashamed to look my neighbors in the face. Was ever a man so treated?"

The serfs hung down their heads, feeling somehow responsible for their
master's misery. Some of them wept, out of a stupid sympathy with his
tears.

All at once he sprang down from the cask, crying in a gay, triumphant
tone,--

"I have it! Bring me Crop-Ear. He's the fellow for a reisak,--he can
make three, one after another."

One of the boldest ventured to suggest that Crop-Ear had been sent away
in disgrace to another of the Prince's estates.

"Bring him here, I say? Take horses, and don't draw rein going or
coming. I will not stir from this spot until Crop-Ear comes."

With these words, he mounted the barrel, and recommenced ladling out the
wine. Huge fires were made, for the night was falling, and the cold had
become intense. Fresh game was skewered and set to broil, and the tragic
interlude of the revel was soon forgotten.

Towards midnight the sound of hoofs was heard, and the messengers
arrived with Crop-Ear. But, although the latter had lost his ears, he
was not inclined to split his head. The ice, meanwhile, had become
so strong that a cannon-ball would have made no impression upon it.
Crop-Ear simply threw down a stone heavier than himself, and, as it
bounced and slid along the solid floor, said to Prince Alexis,--


"Am I to go back, Highness, or stay here?"

"Here, my son. Thou'rt a man. Come hither to me."

Taking the serf's head in his hands, he kissed him on both cheeks. Then
he rode homeward through the dark, iron woods, seated astride on the
barrel, and steadying himself with his arms around Crop-Ear's and
Waska's necks.



VIII.

The health of the Princess Martha, always delicate, now began to fail
rapidly. She was less and less able to endure her husband's savage
humors, and lived almost exclusively in her own apartments. She never
mentioned the name of Boris in his presence, for it was sure to throw
him into a paroxysm of fury. Floating rumors in regard to the young
Prince had reached him from the capital, and nothing would convince him
that his wife was not cognizant of her son's doings. The poor Princess
clung to her boy as to all that was left her of life, and tried to prop
her failing strength with the hope of his speedy return. She was now
too helpless to thwart his wishes in any way; but she dreaded, more
than death, the terrible SOMETHING which would surely take place between
father and son if her conjectures should prove to be true.

One day, in the early part of November, she received a letter from
Boris, announcing his marriage. She had barely strength and presence of
mind enough to conceal the paper in her bosom before sinking in a swoon.
By some means or other the young Prince had succeeded in overcoming
all the obstacles to such a step: probably the favor of the Empress was
courted, in order to obtain her consent. The money he had received, he
wrote, would be sufficient to maintain them for a few months, though not
in a style befitting their rank. He was proud and happy; the Princess
Helena would be the reigning beauty of the court, when he should present
her, but he desired the sanction of his parents to the marriage, before
taking his place in society. He would write immediately to his father,
and hoped, that, if the news brought a storm, Mishka might be on hand to
divert its force, as on a former occasion.

Under the weight of this imminent secret, the Princess Martha could
neither eat nor sleep. Her body wasted to a shadow; at every noise in
the castle, she started and listened in terror, fearing that the news
had arrived.

Prince Boris, no doubt, found his courage fail him when he set about
writing the promised letter; for a fortnight elapsed before it made its
appearance. Prince Alexis received it on his return from the chase. He
read it hastily through, uttered a prolonged roar like that of a wounded
bull, and rushed into the castle. The sound of breaking furniture, of
crashing porcelain and shivered glass, came from the state apartments:
the domestics fell on their knees and prayed; the Princess, who heard
the noise and knew what it portended, became almost insensible from
fright.

One of the upper servants entered a chamber as the Prince was in the
act of demolishing a splendid malachite table, which had escaped all his
previous attacks. He was immediately greeted with a cry of,--

"Send the Princess to me!"

"Her Highness is not able to leave her chamber," the man replied.

How it happened he could never afterwards describe but he found himself
lying in a corner of the room. When he arose, there seemed to be a
singular cavity in his mouth: his upper front teeth were wanting.

We will not narrate what took place in the chamber of the Princess.

The nerves of the unfortunate woman had been so wrought upon by her
fears, that her husband's brutal rage, familiar to her from long
experience, now possessed a new and alarming significance. His threats
were terrible to hear; she fell into convulsions, and before morning her
tormented life was at an end.

There was now something else to think of, and the smashing of porcelain
and cracking of whips came to an end. The Archimandrite was summoned,
and preparations, both religious and secular, were made for a funeral
worthy the rank of the deceased. Thousands flocked to Kinesma; and when
the immense procession moved away from the castle, although very few
of the persons had ever known or cared in the least, for the Princess
Martha, all, without exception, shed profuse tears. Yes, there was
one exception,--one bare, dry rock, rising alone out of the universal
deluge,--Prince Alexis himself, who walked behind the coffin, his eyes
fixed and his features rigid as stone. They remarked that his face was
haggard, and that the fiery tinge on his cheeks and nose had faded into
livid purple. The only sign of emotion which he gave was a convulsive
shudder, which from time to time passed over his whole body.

Three archimandrites (abbots) and one hundred priests headed the solemn
funeral procession from the castle to the church on the opposite hill.
There the mass for the dead was chanted, the responses being sung by
a choir of silvery boyish voices. All the appointments were of the
costliest character. Not only all those within the church, but the
thousands outside, spared not their tears, but wept until the fountains
were exhausted. Notice was given, at the close of the services, that
"baked meats" would be furnished to the multitude, and that all beggars
who came to Kinesma would be charitably fed for the space of six weeks.
Thus, by her death, the amiable Princess Martha was enabled to dispense
more charity than had been permitted to her life.

At the funeral banquet which followed, Prince Alexis placed the Abbot
Sergius at his right hand, and conversed with him in the most edifying
manner upon the necessity of leading a pure and godly life. His remarks
upon the duty of a Christian, upon brotherly love, humility, and
self-sacrifice, brought tears into the eyes of the listening priests. He
expressed his conviction that the departed Princess, by the piety of her
life, had attained unto salvation,--and added, that his own life had now
no further value unless he should devote it to religious exercises.

"Can you not give me a place in your monastery?" he asked, turning to
the Abbot. "I will endow it with a gift of forty thousand rubles, for
the privilege of occupying a monk's cell."

"Pray, do not decide too hastily, Highness," the Abbot replied. "You
have yet a son."

"What!" yelled Prince Alexis, with flashing eyes, every trace of
humility and renunciation vanishing like smoke,--"what! Borka? The
infamous wretch who has ruined me, killed his mother, and brought
disgrace upon our name? Do you know that he has married a wench of no
family and without a farthing,--who would be honored, if I should allow
her to feed my hogs? Live for HIM? live for HIM? Ah-R-R-R!"

This outbreak terminated in a sound between a snarl and a bellow. The
priests turned pale, but the Abbot devoutly remarked--

"Encompassed by sorrows, Prince, you should humbly submit to the will of
the Lord."

"Submit to Borka?" the Prince scornfully laughed. "I know what I'll
do. There's time enough yet for a wife and another child,--ay,--a dozen
children! I can have my pick in the province; and if I couldn't I'd
sooner take Masha, the goose-girl, than leave Borka the hope of stepping
into my shoes. Beggars they shall be,--beggars!"

What further he might have said was interrupted by the priests rising
to chant the Blajennon uspennie (blessed be the dead),--after which,
the trisna, a drink composed of mead, wine, and rum, was emptied to
the health of the departed soul. Every one stood during this ceremony,
except Prince Alexis, who fell suddenly prostrate before the consecrated
pictures, and sobbed so passionately that the tears of the guests flowed
for the third time. There he lay until night; for whenever any one dared
to touch him, he struck out furiously with fists and feet. Finally he
fell asleep on the floor, and the servants then bore him to his sleeping
apartment.

For several days afterward his grief continued to be so violent that the
occupants of the castle were obliged to keep out of his way. The whip
was never out of his hand, and he used it very recklessly, not always
selecting the right person. The parasitic poor relations found their
situation so uncomfortable, that they decided, one and all, to detach
themselves from the tree upon which they fed and fattened, even at the
risk of withering on a barren soil. Night and morning the serfs prayed
upon their knees, with many tears and groans, that the Saints might send
consolation, in any form, to their desperate lord.

The Saints graciously heard and answered the prayer. Word came that a
huge bear had been seen in the forest stretching towards Juriewetz. The
sorrowing Prince pricked up his ears, threw down his whip, and ordered a
chase. Sasha, the broad-shouldered, the cunning, the ready, the untiring
companion of his master, secretly ordered a cask of vodki to follow the
crowd of hunters and serfs. There was a steel-bright sky, a low, yellow
sun, and a brisk easterly wind from the heights of the Ural. As the
crisp snow began to crunch under the Prince's sled, his followers saw
the old expression come back to his face. With song and halloo and blast
of horns, they swept away into the forest.

Saint John the Hunter must have been on guard over Russia that day.

The great bear was tracked, and after a long and exciting chase, fell by
the hand of Prince Alexis himself. Halt was made in an open space in the
forest, logs were piled together and kindled on the snow, and just at
the right moment (which no one knew better than Sasha) the cask of vodki
rolled into its place. When the serfs saw the Prince mount astride of
it, with his ladle in his hand, they burst into shouts of extravagant
joy. "Slava Bogu!" (Glory be to God!) came fervently from the bearded
lips of those hard, rough, obedient children. They tumbled headlong over
each other, in their efforts to drink first from the ladle, to clasp
the knees or kiss the hands of the restored Prince. And the dawn was
glimmering against the eastern stars, as they took the way to the
castle, making the ghostly fir-woods ring with shout and choric song.

Nevertheless, Prince Alexis was no longer the same man; his giant
strength and furious appetite were broken. He was ever ready, as
formerly, for the chase and the drinking-bout; but his jovial mood no
longer grew into a crisis which only utter physical exhaustion or the
stupidity of drunkenness could overcome. Frequently, while astride the
cask, his shouts of laughter would suddenly cease, the ladle would drop
from his hand, and he would sit motionless, staring into vacancy for
five minutes at a time. Then the serfs, too, became silent, and stood
still, awaiting a change. The gloomy mood passed away as suddenly. He
would start, look about him, and say, in a melancholy voice,--

"Have I frightened you, my children? It seems to me that I am getting
old. Ah, yes, we must all die, one day. But we need not think about it,
until the time comes. The Devil take me for putting it into my head!
Why, how now? can't you sing, children?"

Then he would strike up some ditty which they all knew: a hundred voices
joined in the strain, and the hills once more rang with revelry.

Since the day when the Princess Martha was buried, the Prince had not
again spoken of marriage. No one, of course, dared to mention the name
of Boris in his presence.



IX.


The young Prince had, in reality, become the happy husband of Helena.
His love for her had grown to be a shaping and organizing influence,
without which his nature would have fallen into its former confusion. If
a thought of a less honorable relation had ever entered his mind, it was
presently banished by the respect which a nearer intimacy inspired;
and thus Helena, magnetically drawing to the surface only his best
qualities, loved, unconsciously to herself, her own work in him. Ere
long, she saw that she might balance the advantages he had conferred
upon her in their marriage by the support and encouragement which she
was able to impart to him; and this knowledge, removing all painful
sense of obligation, made her both happy and secure in her new position.

The Princess Martha, under some presentiment of her approaching death,
had intrusted one of the ladies in attendance upon her with the secret
of her son's marriage, in addition to a tender maternal message, and
such presents of money and jewelry as she was able to procure without
her husband's knowledge. These presents reached Boris very opportunely;
for, although Helena developed a wonderful skill in regulating his
expenses, the spring was approaching, and even the limited circle of
society in which they had moved during the gay season had made heavy
demands upon his purse. He became restless and abstracted, until his
wife, who by this time clearly comprehended the nature of his trouble,
had secretly decided how it must be met.

The slender hoard of the old music-master, with a few thousand rubles
from Prince Boris, sufficed for his modest maintenance. Being now free
from the charge of his daughter, he determined to visit Germany, and, if
circumstances were propitious, to secure a refuge for his old age in his
favorite Leipsic. Summer was at hand, and the court had already removed
to Oranienbaum. In a few weeks the capital would be deserted.

"Shall we go to Germany with your father?" asked Boris, as he sat at a
window with Helena, enjoying the long twilight.

"No, my Boris," she answered; "we will go to Kinesma."

"But--Helena,--golubchik, mon ange,--are you in earnest?"

"Yes, my Boris. The last letter from your--our cousin Nadejda convinces
me that the step must be taken. Prince Alexis has grown much older since
your mother's death; he is lonely and unhappy. He may not welcome us,
but he will surely suffer us to come to him; and we must then begin the
work of reconciliation. Reflect, my Boris, that you have keenly wounded
him in the tenderest part,--his pride,--and you must therefore cast away
your own pride, and humbly and respectfully, as becomes a son, solicit
his pardon."

"Yes," said he, hesitatingly, "you are right. But I know his violence
and recklessness, as you do not. For myself, alone, I am willing to
meet him; yet I fear for your sake. Would you not tremble to encounter a
maddened and brutal mujik?--then how much more to meet Alexis Pavlovitch
of Kinesma!"

"I do not and shall not tremble," she replied. "It is not your marriage
that has estranged your father, but your marriage with ME. Having been,
unconsciously, the cause of the trouble, I shall deliberately, and as
a sacred duty, attempt to remove it. Let us go to Kinesma, as humble,
penitent children, and cast ourselves upon your father's mercy. At the
worst, he can but reject us; and you will have given me the consolation
of knowing that I have tried, as your wife, to annul the sacrifice you
have made for my sake."

"Be it so, then!" cried Boris, with a mingled feeling of relief and
anxiety.

He was not unwilling that the attempt should be made, especially since
it was his wife's desire; but he knew his father too well to anticipate
immediate success. All threatening POSSIBILITIES suggested themselves to
his mind; all forms of insult and outrage which he had seen perpetrated
at Kinesma filled his memory. The suspense became at last worse than any
probable reality. He wrote to his father, announcing a speedy visit
from himself and his wife; and two days afterwards the pair left St.
Petersburg in a large travelling kibitka.



X.

When Prince Alexis received his son's letter, an expression of fierce,
cruel delight crept over his face, and there remained, horribly
illuminating its haggard features. The orders given for swimming
horses in the Volga--one of his summer diversions--were immediately
countermanded; he paced around the parapet of the castle-wall until near
midnight, followed by Sasha with a stone jug of vodki. The latter had
the useful habit, notwithstanding his stupid face, of picking up the
fragments of soliloquy which the Prince dropped, and answering them as
if talking to himself. Thus he improved upon and perfected many a hint
of cruelty, and was too discreet ever to dispute his master's claim to
the invention.

Sasha, we may be sure, was busy with his devil's work that night.
The next morning the stewards and agents of Prince Alexis, in castle,
village, and field, were summoned to his presence.

"Hark ye!" said he; "Borka and his trumpery wife send me word that they
will be here to-morrow. See to it that every man, woman, and child, for
ten versts out on the Moskovskoi road, knows of their coming. Let it be
known that whoever uncovers his head before them shall uncover his back
for a hundred lashes. Whomsoever they greet may bark like a dog, meeouw
like a cat, or bray like an ass, as much as he chooses; but if he speaks
a decent word, his tongue shall be silenced with stripes. Whoever shall
insult them has my pardon in advance. Oh, let them come!--ay, let them
come! Come they may: but how they go away again"----

The Prince Alexis suddenly stopped, shook his head, and walked up
and down the hall, muttering to himself. His eyes were bloodshot, and
sparkled with a strange light. What the stewards had heard was plain
enough; but that something more terrible than insult was yet held in
reserve they did not doubt. It was safe, therefore, not only to fulfil,
but to exceed, the letter of their instructions. Before night the whole
population were acquainted with their duties; and an unusual mood of
expectancy, not unmixed with brutish glee, fell upon Kinesma.

By the middle of the next forenoon, Boris and his wife, seated in
the open kibitka, drawn by post-horses, reached the boundaries of
the estate, a few versts from the village. They were both silent and
slightly pale at first, but now began to exchange mechanical remarks, to
divert each other's thoughts from the coming reception.

"Here are the fields of Kinesma at last!" exclaimed Prince Boris.
"We shall see the church and castle from the top of that hill in the
distance. And there is Peter, my playmate, herding the cattle!

"Peter! Good-day, brotherkin!"

Peter looked, saw the carriage close upon him, and, after a moment of
hesitation, let his arms drop stiffly by his sides, and began howling
like a mastiff by moonlight. Helena laughed heartily at this singular
response to the greeting; but Boris, after the first astonishment was
over, looked terrified.

"That was done by order," said he, with a bitter smile. "The old bear
stretches his claws out. Dare you try his hug?"

"I do not fear," she answered, her face was calm.

Every serf they passed obeyed the order of Prince Alexis according
to his own idea of disrespect. One turned his back; another made
contemptuous grimaces and noises; another sang a vulgar song; another
spat upon the ground or held his nostrils. Nowhere was a cap raised, or
the stealthy welcome of a friendly glance given.

The Princess Helena met these insults with a calm, proud indifference.
Boris felt them more keenly; for the fields and hills were prospectively
his property, and so also were the brutish peasants. It was a form of
chastisement which he had never before experienced, and knew not how to
resist. The affront of an entire community was an offence against which
he felt himself to be helpless.

As they approached the town, the demonstrations of insolence were
redoubled. About two hundred boys, between the ages of ten and fourteen,
awaited them on the hill below the church, forming themselves into files
on either side of the road. These imps had been instructed to stick
out their tongues in derision, and howl, as the carriage passed between
them. At the entrance of the long main street of Kinesma, they were
obliged to pass under a mock triumphal arch, hung with dead dogs and
drowned cats; and from this point the reception assumed an outrageous
character. Howls, hootings, and hisses were heard on all sides; bouquets
of nettles and vile weeds were flung to them; even wreaths of spoiled
fish dropped from the windows. The women were the most eager and
uproarious in this carnival of insult: they beat their saucepans, threw
pails of dirty water upon the horses, pelted the coachman with rotten
cabbages, and filled the air with screeching and foul words.

It was impossible to pass through this ordeal with indifference. Boris,
finding that his kindly greetings were thrown away,--that even his old
acquaintances in the bazaar howled like the rest,--sat with head bowed
and despair in his heart. The beautiful eyes of Helena were heavy with
tears; but she no longer trembled, for she knew the crisis was yet to
come.

As the kibitka slowly climbed the hill on its way to the castle-gate,
Prince Alexis, who had heard and enjoyed the noises in the village from
a balcony on the western tower, made his appearance on the head of the
steps which led from the court-yard to the state apartments. The dreaded
whip was in his hand; his eyes seemed about to start from their sockets,
in their wild, eager, hungry gaze; the veins stood out like cords on his
forehead; and his lips, twitching involuntarily, revealed the glare
of his set teeth. A frightened hush filled the castle. Some of the
domestics were on their knees; others watching, pale and breathless,
from the windows: for all felt that a greater storm than they had ever
experienced was about to burst. Sasha and the castle-steward had taken
the wise precaution to summon a physician and a priest, provided
with the utensils for extreme unction. Both of these persons had been
smuggled in through a rear entrance, and were kept concealed until their
services should be required.

The noise of wheels was heard outside the gate, which stood invitingly
open. Prince Alexis clutched his whip with iron fingers, and
unconsciously took the attitude of a wild beast about to spring from its
ambush. Now the hard clatter of hoofs and the rumbling, of wheels echoed
from the archway, and the kibitka rolled into the courtyard. It stopped
near the foot of the grand staircase. Boris, who sat upon the farther
side, rose to alight, in order to hand down his wife; but no sooner
had he made a movement than Prince Alexis, with lifted whip and face
flashing fire, rushed down the steps. Helena rose, threw back her veil,
let her mantle (which Boris had grasped, in his anxiety to restrain her
action,) fall behind her, and stepped upon the pavement.

Prince Alexis had already reached the last step, and but a few feet
separated them. He stopped as if struck by lightning,--his body still
retaining, in every limb, the impress of motion. The whip was in his
uplifted fist; one foot was on the pavement of the court, and the other
upon the edge of the last step; his head was bent forward, his mouth
open, and his eyes fastened upon the Princess Helena's face.

She, too, stood motionless, a form of simple and perfect grace, and met
his gaze with soft, imploring, yet courageous and trustful eyes. The
women who watched the scene from the galleries above always declared
that an invisible saint stood beside her in that moment, and surrounded
her with a dazzling glory. The few moments during which the suspense of
a hundred hearts hung upon those encountering eyes seemed an eternity.

Prince Alexis did not move, but he began to tremble from head to foot.
His fingers relaxed, and the whip fell ringing upon the pavement. The
wild fire of his eyes changed from wrath into an ecstasy as intense, and
a piercing cry of mingled wonder, admiration and delight burst from his
throat. At that cry Boris rushed forward and knelt at his feet. Helena,
clasping her fairest hands, sank beside her husband, with upturned
face, as if seeking the old man's eyes, and perfect the miracle she had
wrought.

The sight of that sweet face, so near his own, tamed the last lurking
ferocity of the beast. His tears burst forth in a shower; he lifted and
embraced the Princess, kissing her brow, her cheeks, her chin, and her
hands, calling her his darling daughter, his little white dove, his
lambkin.

"And, father, my Boris, too!" said she.

The pure liquid voice sent thrills of exquisite delight through his
whole frame. He embraced and blessed Boris, and then, throwing an arm
around each, held them to his breast, and wept passionately upon their
heads. By this time the whole castle overflowed with weeping. Tears fell
from every window and gallery; they hissed upon the hot saucepans of the
cooks; they moistened the oats in the manger; they took the starch out
of the ladies' ruffles, and weakened the wine in the goblets of the
guests. Insult was changed into tenderness in a moment. Those who had
barked or stuck out their tongues at Boris rushed up to kiss his boots;
a thousand terms of endearment were showered upon him.

Still clasping his children to his breast, Prince Alexis mounted the
steps with them. At the top he turned, cleared his throat, husky from
sobbing, and shouted--

"A feast! a feast for all Kinesma! Let there be rivers of vodki, wine
and hydromel! Proclaim it everywhere that my dear son Boris and my
dear daughter Helena have arrived, and whoever fails to welcome them to
Kinesma shall be punished with a hundred stripes! Off, ye scoundrels, ye
vagabonds, and spread the news!"

It was not an hour before the whole sweep of the circling hills
resounded with the clang of bells, the blare of horns, and the songs
and shouts of the rejoicing multitude. The triumphal arch of unsavory
animals was whirled into the Volga; all signs of the recent reception
vanished like magic; festive fir-boughs adorned the houses, and the
gardens and window-pots were stripped of their choicest flowers to make
wreaths of welcome. The two hundred boys, not old enough to comprehend
this sudden bouleversement of sentiment, did not immediately desist from
sticking out their tongues: whereupon they were dismissed with a box
on the ear. By the middle of the afternoon all Kinesma was eating,
drinking, and singing; and every song was sung, and every glass emptied
in honor of the dear, good Prince Boris, and the dear, beautiful
Princess Helena. By night all Kinesma was drunk.



XI.

In the castle a superb banquet was improvised. Music, guests, and rare
dishes were brought together with wonderful speed, and the choicest
wines of the cellar were drawn upon. Prince Boris, bewildered by this
sudden and incredible change in his fortunes, sat at his father's right
hand, while the Princess filled, but with much more beauty and dignity,
the ancient place of the Princess Martha. The golden dishes were set
before her, and the famous family emeralds--in accordance with the
command of Prince Alexis--gleamed among her dark hair and flashed around
her milk-white throat. Her beauty was of a kind so rare in Russia
that it silenced all question and bore down all rivalry. Every one
acknowledged that so lovely a creature had never before been seen.
"Faith, the boy has eyes!" the old Prince constantly repeated, as he
turned away from a new stare of admiration, down the table.

The guests noticed a change in the character of the entertainment. The
idiot, in his tow shirt, had been crammed to repletion in the kitchen,
and was now asleep in the stable. Razboi, the new bear,--the successor
of the slaughtered Mishka,--was chained up out of hearing. The jugglers,
tumblers, and Calmucks still occupied their old place under the gallery,
but their performances were of a highly decorous character. At the
least-sign of a relapse into certain old tricks, more grotesque than
refined, the brows of Prince Alexis would grow dark, and a sharp glance
at Sasha was sufficient to correct the indiscretion. Every one found
this natural enough; for they were equally impressed with the elegance
and purity of the young wife. After the healths had been drunk and the
slumber-flag was raised over the castle, Boris led her into the splendid
apartments of his mother,--now her own,--and knelt at her feet.

"Have I done my part, my Boris?" she asked.

"You are an angel!" he cried. "It was a miracle! My life was not worth
a copek, and I feared for yours. If it will only last!--if it will only
last!"

"It WILL," said she. "You have taken me from poverty, and given me rank,
wealth, and a proud place in the world: let it be my work to keep the
peace which God has permitted me to establish between you and your
father!"

The change in the old Prince, in fact, was more radical than any one who
knew his former ways of life would have considered possible. He stormed
and swore occasionally, flourished his whip to some purpose, and rode
home from the chase, not outside of a brandy cask, as once, but with
too much of its contents inside of him: but these mild excesses were
comparative virtues. His accesses of blind rage seemed to be at an end.
A powerful, unaccustomed feeling of content subdued his strong nature,
and left its impress on his voice and features. He joked and sang
with his "children," but not with the wild recklessness of the days of
reisaks and indiscriminate floggings. Both his exactions and his favors
diminished in quantity. Week after week passed by, and there was no sign
of any return to his savage courses.

Nothing annoyed him so much as a reference to his former way of life,
in the presence of the Princess Helena. If her gentle, questioning eyes
happened to rest on him at such times, something very like a blush rose
into his face, and the babbler was silenced with a terribly significant
look. It was enough for her to say, when he threatened an act of cruelty
and injustice, "Father, is that right?" He confusedly retracted his
orders, rather than bear the sorrow of her face.

The promise of another event added to his happiness: Helena would
soon become a mother. As the time drew near he stationed guards at
the distance of a verst around the castle, that no clattering vehicles
should pass, no dogs bark loudly, nor any other disturbance occur which
might agitate the Princess. The choicest sweetmeats and wines, flowers
from Moscow and fruits from Astrakhan, were procured for her; and it was
a wonder that the midwife performed her duty, for she had the fear
of death before her eyes. When the important day at last arrived the
slumber-flag was instantly hoisted, and no mouse dared to squeak in
Kinesma until the cannon announced the advent of a new soul.

That night Prince Alexis lay down in the corridor, outside of
Helena's door: he glared fiercely at the nurse as she entered with the
birth-posset for the young mother. No one else was allowed to pass, that
night, nor the next. Four days afterwards, Sasha, having a message to
the Princess, and supposing the old man to be asleep, attempted to step
noiselessly over his body. In a twinkle the Prince's teeth fastened
themselves in the serf's leg, and held him with the tenacity of a
bull-dog. Sasha did not dare to cry out: he stood, writhing with pain,
until the strong jaws grew weary of their hold, and then crawled away to
dress the bleeding wound. After that, no one tried to break the Prince's
guard.

The christening was on a magnificent scale. Prince Paul of Kostroma was
godfather, and gave the babe the name of Alexis. As the Prince had paid
his respects to Helena just before the ceremony, it may be presumed that
the name was not of his own inspiration. The father and mother were
not allowed to be present, but they learned that the grandfather had
comported himself throughout with great dignity and propriety. The
Archimandrite Sergius obtained from the Metropolitan at Moscow a very
minute fragment of the true cross, which was encased in a hollow bead
of crystal, and hung around the infant's neck by a fine gold chain, as a
precious amulet.

Prince Alexis was never tired of gazing at his grandson and namesake.

"He has more of his mother than of Boris," he would say. "So much the
better! Strong dark eyes, like the Great Peter,--and what a goodly leg
for a babe! Ha! he makes a tight little fist already,--fit to handle a
whip,--or" (seeing the expression of Helena's face)--"or a sword. He'll
be a proper Prince of Kinesma, my daughter, and we owe it to you."

Helena smiled, and gave him a grateful glance in return. She had had her
secret fears as to the complete conversion of Prince Alexis; but now she
saw in this babe a new spell whereby he might be bound. Slight as was
her knowledge of men, she yet guessed the tyranny of long-continued
habits; and only her faith, powerful in proportion as it was ignorant,
gave her confidence in the result of the difficult work she had
undertaken.



XII.


Alas! the proud predictions of Prince Alexis, and the protection of the
sacred amulet, were alike unavailing. The babe sickened, wasted away,
and died in less than two months after its birth. There was great and
genuine sorrow among the serfs of Kinesma. Each had received a shining
ruble of silver at the christening; and, moreover, they were now
beginning to appreciate the milder regime of their lord, which this blow
might suddenly terminate. Sorrow, in such natures as his, exasperates
instead of chastening: they knew him well enough to recognize the
danger.

At first the old man's grief appeared to be of a stubborn, harmless
nature. As soon as the funeral ceremonies were over he betook himself to
his bed, and there lay for two days and nights, without eating a morsel
of food. The poor Princess Helena, almost prostrated by the blow,
mourned alone, or with Boris, in her own apartments. Her influence,
no longer kept alive by her constant presence, as formerly, began to
decline. When the old Prince aroused somewhat from his stupor, it was
not meat that he demanded, but drink; and he drank to angry excess.
Day after day the habit resumed its ancient sway, and the whip and the
wild-beast yell returned with it. The serfs even began to tremble as
they never had done, so long as his vices were simply those of a strong
man; for now a fiendish element seemed to be slowly creeping in. He
became horribly profane: they shuddered when he cursed the venerable
Metropolitan of Moscow, declaring that the old sinner had deliberately
killed his grandson, by sending to him, instead of the true cross of the
Saviour, a piece of the tree to which the impenitent thief was nailed.

Boris would have spared his wife the knowledge of this miserable
relapse, in her present sorrow, but the information soon reached her in
other ways. She saw the necessity of regaining, by a powerful effort,
what she had lost. She therefore took her accustomed place at the table,
and resumed her inspection of household matters. Prince Alexis, as if
determined to cast off the yoke which her beauty and gentleness had laid
upon him, avoided looking at her face or speaking to her, as much as
possible: when he did so, his manner was cold and unfriendly. During her
few days of sad retirement he had brought back the bear Razboi and the
idiot to his table, and vodki was habitually poured out to him and his
favorite serfs in such a measure that the nights became hideous with
drunken tumult.

The Princess Helena felt that her beauty no longer possessed the potency
of its first surprise. It must now be a contest of nature with nature,
spiritual with animal power. The struggle would be perilous, she
foresaw, but she did not shrink; she rather sought the earliest occasion
to provoke it.

That occasion came. Some slight disappointment brought on one of the old
paroxysms of rage, and the ox-like bellow of Prince Alexis rang through
the castle. Boris was absent, but Helena delayed not a moment to venture
into his father's presence. She found him in a hall over-looking the
court-yard, with his terrible whip in his hand, giving orders for the
brutal punishment of some scores of serfs. The sight of her, coming thus
unexpectedly upon him, did not seem to produce the least effect.

"Father!" she cried, in an earnest, piteous tone, "what is it you do?"

"Away, witch!" he yelled. "I am the master in Kinesma, not thou! Away,
or--"

The fierceness with which he swung and cracked the whip was more
threatening than any words. Perhaps she grew a shade paler, perhaps her
hands were tightly clasped in order that they might not tremble; but she
did not flinch from the encounter. She moved a step nearer, fixed her
gaze upon his flashing eyes, and said, in a low, firm voice--

"It is true, father, you are master here. It is easy to rule over those
poor, submissive slaves. But you are not master over yourself; you are
lashed and trampled upon by evil passions, and as much a slave as any of
these. Be not weak, my father, but strong!"

An expression of bewilderment came into his face. No such words had ever
before been addressed to him, and he knew not how to reply to them. The
Princess Helena followed up the effect--she was not sure that it was
an advantage--by an appeal to the simple, childish nature which she
believed to exist under his ferocious exterior. For a minute it seemed
as if she were about to re-establish her ascendancy: then the stubborn
resistance of the beast returned.

Among the portraits in the hall was one of the deceased Princess Martha.
Pointing to this, Helena cried--

"See, my father! here are the features of your sainted wife! Think that
she looks down from her place among the blessed, sees you, listens to
your words, prays that your hard heart may be softened! Remember her
last farewell to you on earth, her hope of meeting you--"

A cry of savage wrath checked her. Stretching one huge, bony hand, as if
to close her lips, trembling with rage and pain, livid and convulsed in
every feature of his face, Prince Alexis reversed the whip in his right
hand, and weighed its thick, heavy butt for one crashing, fatal blow.
Life and death were evenly balanced. For an instant the Princess became
deadly pale, and a sickening fear shot through her heart. She could not
understand the effect of her words: her mind was paralyzed, and what
followed came without her conscious volition.

Not retreating a step, not removing her eyes from the terrible picture
before her, she suddenly opened her lips and sang. Her voice of
exquisite purity, power, and sweetness, filled the old hall and
overflowed it, throbbing in scarcely weakened vibrations through
court-yard and castle. The melody was a prayer--the cry of a tortured
heart for pardon and repose; and she sang it with almost supernatural
expression. Every sound in the castle was hushed: the serfs outside
knelt and uncovered their heads.

The Princess could never afterwards describe, or more than dimly recall,
the exaltation of that moment. She sang in an inspired trance: from the
utterance of the first note the horror of the imminent fate sank out of
sight. Her eyes were fixed upon the convulsed face, but she beheld it
not: all the concentrated forces of her life flowed into the music. She
remembered, however, that Prince Alexis looked alternately from her face
to the portrait of his wife; that he at last shuddered and grew
pale; and that, when with the closing note her own strength suddenly
dissolved, he groaned and fell upon the floor.

She sat down beside him, and took his head upon her lap. For a long time
he was silent, only shivering as if in fever.

"Father!" she finally whispered, "let me take you away!"

He sat up on the floor and looked around; but as his eyes encountered
the portrait, he gave a loud howl and covered his face with his hands.

"She turns her head!" he cried. "Take her away,--she follows me with her
eyes! Paint her head black, and cover it up!"

With some difficulty he was borne to his bed, but he would not rest
until assured that his orders had been obeyed, and the painting covered
for the time with a coat of lamp-black. A low, prolonged attack of fever
followed, during which the presence of Helena was indispensable to his
comfort. She ventured to leave the room only while he slept. He was like
a child in her hands; and when she commended his patience or his good
resolutions, his face beamed with joy and gratitude. He determined (in
good faith, this time) to enter a monastery and devote the rest of his
life to pious works.

But, even after his recovery, he was still too weak and dependent on his
children's attentions to carry out this resolution. He banished from the
castle all those of his poor relations who were unable to drink vodki in
moderation; he kept careful watch over his serfs, and those who
became intoxicated (unless they concealed the fact in the stables and
outhouses) were severely punished: all excess disappeared, and a reign
of peace and gentleness descended upon Kinesma.

In another year another Alexis was born, and lived, and soon grew strong
enough to give his grandfather the greatest satisfaction he had ever
known in his life, by tugging at his gray locks, and digging the small
fingers into his tamed and merry eyes. Many years after Prince Alexis
was dead the serfs used to relate how they had seen him, in the bright
summer afternoons, asleep in his armchair on the balcony, with the rosy
babe asleep on his bosom, and the slumber-flag waving over both.

Legends of the Prince's hunts, reisaks, and brutal revels are still
current along the Volga; but they are now linked to fairer and more
gracious stories; and the free Russian farmers (no longer serfs) are
never tired of relating incidents of the beauty, the courage, the
benevolence, and the saintly piety of the Good Lady of Kinesma.



TALES OF HOME.



THE STRANGE FRIEND.


It would have required an intimate familiarity with the habitual
demeanor of the people of Londongrove to detect in them an access of
interest (we dare not say excitement), of whatever kind. Expression with
them was pitched to so low a key that its changes might be compared to
the slight variations in the drabs and grays in which they were clothed.
Yet that there was a moderate, decorously subdued curiosity present in
the minds of many of them on one of the First-days of the Ninth-month,
in the year 1815, was as clearly apparent to a resident of the
neighborhood as are the indications of a fire or a riot to the member of
a city mob.

The agitations of the war which had so recently come to an end had
hardly touched this quiet and peaceful community. They had stoutly
"borne their testimony," and faced the question where it could not be
evaded; and although the dashing Philadelphia militia had been stationed
at Camp Bloomfield, within four miles of them, the previous year, these
good people simply ignored the fact. If their sons ever listened to the
trumpets at a distance, or stole nearer to have a peep at the uniforms,
no report of what they had seen or heard was likely to be made at home.
Peace brought to them a relief, like the awakening from an uncomfortable
dream: their lives at once reverted to the calm which they had breathed
for thirty years preceding the national disturbance. In their ways they
had not materially changed for a hundred years. The surplus produce of
their farms more than sufficed for the very few needs which those farms
did not supply, and they seldom touched the world outside of their sect
except in matters of business. They were satisfied with themselves and
with their lot; they lived to a ripe and beautiful age, rarely "borrowed
trouble," and were patient to endure that which came in the fixed course
of things. If the spirit of curiosity, the yearning for an active,
joyous grasp of life, sometimes pierced through this placid temper,
and stirred the blood of the adolescent members, they were persuaded
by grave voices, of almost prophetic authority, to turn their hearts
towards "the Stillness and the Quietness."

It was the pleasant custom of the community to arrive at the
meeting-house some fifteen or twenty minutes before the usual time of
meeting, and exchange quiet and kindly greetings before taking their
places on the plain benches inside. As most of the families had lived
during the week on the solitude of their farms, they liked to see their
neighbors' faces, and resolve, as it were, their sense of isolation into
the common atmosphere, before yielding to the assumed abstraction
of their worship. In this preliminary meeting, also, the sexes were
divided, but rather from habit than any prescribed rule. They were
already in the vestibule of the sanctuary; their voices were subdued and
their manner touched with a kind of reverence.

If the Londongrove Friends gathered together a few minutes earlier on
that September First-day; if the younger members looked more frequently
towards one of the gates leading into the meeting-house yard than
towards the other; and if Abraham Bradbury was the centre of a larger
circle of neighbors than Simon Pennock (although both sat side by
side on the highest seat of the gallery),--the cause of these slight
deviations from the ordinary behavior of the gathering was generally
known. Abraham's son had died the previous Sixth-month, leaving a widow
incapable of taking charge of his farm on the Street Road, which
was therefore offered for rent. It was not always easy to obtain a
satisfactory tenant in those days, and Abraham was not more relieved
than surprised on receiving an application from an unexpected quarter. A
strange Friend, of stately appearance, called upon him, bearing a letter
from William Warner, in Adams County, together with a certificate from
a Monthly Meeting on Long Island. After inspecting the farm and making
close inquiries in regard to the people of the neighborhood, he accepted
the terms of rent, and had now, with his family, been three or four days
in possession.

In this circumstance, it is true, there was nothing strange, and the
interest of the people sprang from some other particulars which had
transpired. The new-comer, Henry Donnelly by name, had offered, in place
of the usual security, to pay the rent annually in advance; his
speech and manner were not, in all respects, those of Friends, and he
acknowledged that he was of Irish birth; and moreover, some who had
passed the wagons bearing his household goods had been struck by the
peculiar patterns of the furniture piled upon them. Abraham Bradbury
had of course been present at the arrival, and the Friends upon the
adjoining farms had kindly given their assistance, although it was
a busy time of the year. While, therefore, no one suspected that the
farmer could possibly accept a tenant of doubtful character, a general
sentiment of curious expectancy went forth to meet the Donnelly family.

Even the venerable Simon Pennock, who lived in the opposite part of the
township, was not wholly free from the prevalent feeling. "Abraham," he
said, approaching his colleague, "I suppose thee has satisfied thyself
that the strange Friend is of good repute."

Abraham was assuredly satisfied of one thing--that the three hundred
silver dollars in his antiquated secretary at home were good and lawful
coin. We will not say that this fact disposed him to charity, but will
only testify that he answered thus:

"I don't think we have any right to question the certificate from Islip,
Simon; and William Warner's word (whom thee knows by hearsay) is that of
a good and honest man. Henry himself will stand ready to satisfy thee,
if it is needful."

Here he turned to greet a tall, fresh-faced youth, who had quietly
joined the group at the men's end of the meeting-house. He was
nineteen, blue-eyed, and rosy, and a little embarrassed by the grave,
scrutinizing, yet not unfriendly eyes fixed upon him.

"Simon, this is Henry's oldest son, De Courcy," said Abraham.

Simon took the youth's hand, saying, "Where did thee get thy outlandish
name?"

The young man colored, hesitated, and then said, in a low, firm voice,
"It was my grandfather's name."

One of the heavy carriages of the place and period, new and shiny, in
spite of its sober colors, rolled into the yard. Abraham Bradbury and De
Courcy Donnelly set forth side by side, to meet it.

Out of it descended a tall, broad-shouldered figure--a man in the prime
of life, whose ripe, aggressive vitality gave his rigid Quaker garb
the air of a military undress. His blue eyes seemed to laugh above the
measured accents of his plain speech, and the close crop of his hair
could not hide its tendency to curl. A bearing expressive of energy and
the habit of command was not unusual in the sect, strengthening, but
not changing, its habitual mask; yet in Henry Donnelly this bearing
suggested--one could scarcely explain why--a different experience.
Dress and speech, in him, expressed condescension rather than fraternal
equality.

He carefully assisted his wife to alight, and De Courcy led the horse to
the hitching-shed. Susan Donnelly was a still blooming woman of forty;
her dress, of the plainest color, was yet of the richest texture; and
her round, gentle, almost timid face looked forth like a girl's from the
shadow of her scoop bonnet. While she was greeting Abraham Bradbury,
the two daughters, Sylvia and Alice, who had been standing shyly by
themselves on the edge of the group of women, came forward. The latter
was a model of the demure Quaker maiden; but Abraham experienced as much
surprise as was possible to his nature on observing Sylvia's costume.
A light-blue dress, a dark-blue cloak, a hat with ribbons, and hair in
curls--what Friend of good standing ever allowed his daughter thus to
array herself in the fashion of the world?

Henry read the question in Abraham's face, and preferred not to answer
it at that moment. Saying, "Thee must make me acquainted with the rest
of our brethren," he led the way back to the men's end. When he had
been presented to the older members, it was time for them to assemble in
meeting.

The people were again quietly startled when Henry Donnelly deliberately
mounted to the third and highest bench facing them, and sat down beside
Abraham and Simon. These two retained, possibly with some little inward
exertion, the composure of their faces, and the strange Friend became
like unto them. His hands were clasped firmly in his lap; his full,
decided lips were set together, and his eyes gazed into vacancy from
under the broad brim. De Courcy had removed his hat on entering the
house, but, meeting his father's eyes, replaced it suddenly, with a
slight blush.

When Simon Pennock and Ruth Treadwell had spoken the thoughts which had
come to them in the stillness, the strange Friend arose. Slowly, with
frequent pauses, as if waiting for the guidance of the Spirit, and with
that inward voice which falls so naturally into the measure of a chant,
he urged upon his hearers the necessity of seeking the Light and walking
therein. He did not always employ the customary phrases, but neither did
he seem to speak the lower language of logic and reason; while his tones
were so full and mellow that they gave, with every slowly modulated
sentence, a fresh satisfaction to the ear. Even his broad a's and the
strong roll of his r's verified the rumor of his foreign birth, did not
detract from the authority of his words. The doubts which had preceded
him somehow melted away in his presence, and he came forth, after the
meeting had been dissolved by the shaking of hands, an accepted tenant
of the high seat.

That evening, the family were alone in their new home. The plain
rush-bottomed chairs and sober carpet, in contrast with the dark, solid
mahogany table, and the silver branched candle-stick which stood upon
it, hinted of former wealth and present loss; and something of the same
contrast was reflected in the habits of the inmates. While the father,
seated in a stately arm-chair, read aloud to his wife and children,
Sylvia's eyes rested on a guitar-case in the corner, and her fingers
absently adjusted themselves to the imaginary frets. De Courcy twisted
his neck as if the straight collar of his coat were a bad fit, and
Henry, the youngest boy, nodded drowsily from time to time.

"There, my lads and lasses!" said Henry Donnelly, as he closed the book,
"now we're plain farmers at last,--and the plainer the better, since it
must be. There's only one thing wanting--"

He paused; and Sylvia, looking up with a bright, arch determination,
answered: "It's too late now, father,--they have seen me as one of
the world's people, as I meant they should. When it is once settled as
something not to be helped, it will give us no trouble."

"Faith, Sylvia!" exclaimed De Courcy, "I almost wish I had kept you
company."

"Don't be impatient, my boy," said the mother, gently. "Think of the
vexations we have had, and what a rest this life will be!"

"Think, also," the father added, "that I have the heaviest work to do,
and that thou'lt reap the most of what may come of it. Don't carry the
old life to a land where it's out of place. We must be what we seem to
be, every one of us!"

"So we will!" said Sylvia, rising from her seat,--"I, as well as the
rest. It was what I said in the beginning, you--no, THEE knows, father.
Somebody must be interpreter when the time comes; somebody must remember
while the rest of you are forgetting. Oh, I shall be talked about, and
set upon, and called hard names; it won't be so easy. Stay where you
are, De Courcy; that coat will fit sooner than you think."

Her brother lifted his shoulders and made a grimace. "I've an
unlucky name, it seems," said he. "The old fellow--I mean Friend
Simon--pronounced it outlandish. Couldn't I change it to Ezra or
Adonijah?"

"Boy, boy--"

"Don't be alarmed, father. It will soon be as Sylvia says; thee's right,
and mother is right. I'll let Sylvia keep my memory, and start fresh
from here. We must into the field to-morrow, Hal and I. There's no need
of a collar at the plough-tail."

They went to rest, and on the morrow not only the boys, but their father
were in the field. Shrewd, quick, and strong, they made available what
they knew of farming operations, and disguised much of their ignorance,
while they learned. Henry Donnelly's first public appearance had made
a strong public impression in his favor, which the voice of the older
Friends soon stamped as a settled opinion. His sons did their share, by
the amiable, yielding temper they exhibited, in accommodating themselves
to the manners and ways of the people. The graces which came from a
better education, possibly, more refined associations, gave them an
attraction, which was none the less felt because it was not understood,
to the simple-minded young men who worked with the hired hands in their
fathers' fields. If the Donnelly family had not been accustomed, in
former days, to sit at the same table with laborers in shirt-sleeves,
and be addressed by the latter in fraternal phrase, no little
awkwardnesses or hesitations betrayed the fact. They were anxious to
make their naturalization complete, and it soon became so.

The "strange Friend" was now known in Londongrove by the familiar
name of "Henry." He was a constant attendant at meeting, not only on
First-days, but also on Fourth-days, and whenever he spoke his words
were listened to with the reverence due to one who was truly led towards
the Light. This respect kept at bay the curiosity that might still have
lingered in some minds concerning his antecedent life. It was known
that he answered Simon Pennock, who had ventured to approach him with a
direct question, in these words:

"Thee knows, Friend Simon, that sometimes a seal is put upon our mouths
for a wise purpose. I have learned not to value the outer life except
in so far as it is made the manifestation of the inner life, and I
only date my own from the time when I was brought to a knowledge of the
truth. It is not pleasant to me to look upon what went before; but
a season may come when it shall be lawful for me to declare all
things--nay, when it shall be put upon me as a duty.

"Thee must suffer me to wait the call."

After this there was nothing more to be said. The family was on terms
of quiet intimacy with the neighbors; and even Sylvia, in spite of her
defiant eyes and worldly ways, became popular among the young men
and maidens. She touched her beloved guitar with a skill which seemed
marvellous to the latter; and when it was known that her refusal to
enter the sect arose from her fondness for the prohibited instrument,
she found many apologists among them. She was not set upon, and called
hard names, as she had anticipated. It is true that her father, when
appealed to by the elders, shook his head and said, "It is a cross to
us!"--but he had been known to remain in the room while she sang "Full
high in Kilbride," and the keen light which arose in his eyes was
neither that of sorrow nor anger.

At the end of their first year of residence the farm presented evidences
of much more orderly and intelligent management than at first, although
the adjoining neighbors were of the opinion that the Donnellys had
hardly made their living out of it. Friend Henry, nevertheless, was
ready with the advance rent, and his bills were promptly paid. He
was close at a bargain, which was considered rather a merit than
otherwise,--and almost painfully exact in observing the strict letter of
it, when made.

As time passed by, and the family became a permanent part and parcel
of the remote community, wearing its peaceful color and breathing
its untroubled atmosphere, nothing occurred to disturb the esteem and
respect which its members enjoyed. From time to time the postmaster at
the corner delivered to Henry Donnelly a letter from New York, always
addressed in the same hand. The first which arrived had an "Esq." added
to the name, but this "compliment" (as the Friends termed it) soon
ceased. Perhaps the official may have vaguely wondered whether there was
any connection between the occasional absence of Friend Henry--not at
Yearly-Meeting time--and these letters. If he had been a visitor at the
farm-house he might have noticed variations in the moods of its inmates,
which must have arisen from some other cause than the price of stock or
the condition of the crops. Outside of the family circle, however, they
were serenely reticent.

In five or six years, when De Courcy had grown to be a hale, handsome
man of twenty-four, and as capable of conducting a farm as any to the
township born, certain aberrations from the strict line of discipline
began to be rumored. He rode a gallant horse, dressed a little more
elegantly than his membership prescribed, and his unusually high,
straight collar took a knack of falling over. Moreover, he was
frequently seen to ride up the Street Road, in the direction of Fagg's
Manor, towards those valleys where the brick Presbyterian church
displaces the whitewashed Quaker meeting-house.

Had Henry Donnelly not occupied so high a seat, and exercised such
an acknowledged authority in the sect, he might sooner have received
counsel, or proffers of sympathy, as the case might be; but he heard
nothing until the rumors of De Courcy's excursions took a more definite
form.

But one day, Abraham Bradbury, after discussing some Monthly-Meeting
matters, suddenly asked: "Is this true that I hear, Henry,--that thy son
De Courcy keeps company with one of the Alison girls?"

"Who says that?" Henry asked, in a sharp voice.

"Why, it's the common talk! Surely, thee's heard of it before?"

"No!"

Henry set his lips together in a manner which Abraham understood.
Considering that he had fully performed his duty, he said no more.

That evening, Sylvia, who had been gently thrumming to herself at the
window, began singing "Bonnie Peggie Alison." Her father looked at De
Courcy, who caught his glance, then lowered his eyes, and turned to
leave the room.

"Stop, De Courcy," said the former; "I've heard a piece of news about
thee to-day, which I want thee to make clear."

"Shall I go, father?" asked Sylvia.

"No; thee may stay to give De Courcy his memory. I think he is beginning
to need it. I've learned which way he rides on Seventh-day evenings."

"Father, I am old enough to choose my way," said De Courcy.

"But no such ways NOW, boy! Has thee clean forgotten? This was among
the things upon which we agreed, and you all promised to keep watch and
guard over yourselves. I had my misgivings then, but for five years I've
trusted you, and now, when the time of probation is so nearly over--"

He hesitated, and De Courcy, plucking up courage, spoke again. With
a strong effort the young man threw off the yoke of a self-taught
restraint, and asserted his true nature. "Has O'Neil written?" he asked.

"Not yet."

"Then, father," he continued, "I prefer the certainty of my present life
to the uncertainty of the old. I will not dissolve my connection with
the Friends by a shock which might give thee trouble; but I will slowly
work away from them. Notice will be taken of my ways; there will be
family visitations, warnings, and the usual routine of discipline, so
that when I marry Margaret Alison, nobody will be surprised at my being
read out of meeting. I shall soon be twenty-five, father, and this thing
has gone on about as long as I can bear it. I must decide to be either a
man or a milksop."

The color rose to Henry Donnelly's cheeks, and his eyes flashed, but he
showed no signs of anger. He moved to De Courcy's side and laid his hand
upon his shoulder.

"Patience, my boy!" he said. "It's the old blood, and I might have known
it would proclaim itself. Suppose I were to shut my eyes to thy ridings,
and thy merry-makings, and thy worldly company. So far I might go; but
the girl is no mate for thee. If O'Neil is alive, we are sure to hear
from him soon; and in three years, at the utmost, if the Lord favors
us, the end will come. How far has it gone with thy courting? Surely,
surely, not too far to withdraw, at least under the plea of my
prohibition?"

De Courcy blushed, but firmly met his father's eyes. "I have spoken
to her," he replied, "and it is not the custom of our family to break
plighted faith."

"Thou art our cross, not Sylvia. Go thy ways now. I will endeavor to
seek for guidance."

"Sylvia," said the father, when De Courcy had left the room, "what is to
be the end of this?"

"Unless we hear from O'Neil, father, I am afraid it cannot be prevented.
De Courcy has been changing for a year past; I am only surprised that
you did not sooner notice it. What I said in jest has become serious
truth; he has already half forgotten. We might have expected, in the
beginning, that one of two things would happen: either he would become
a plodding Quaker farmer or take to his present courses. Which would be
worse, when this life is over,--if that time ever comes?"

Sylvia sighed, and there was a weariness in her voice which did not
escape her father's ear. He walked up and down the room with a troubled
air. She sat down, took the guitar upon her lap, and began to sing
the verse, commencing, "Erin, my country, though sad and forsaken,"
when--perhaps opportunely--Susan Donnelly entered the room.

"Eh, lass!" said Henry, slipping his arm around his wife's waist, "art
thou tired yet? Have I been trying thy patience, as I have that of
the children? Have there been longings kept from me, little rebellions
crushed, battles fought that I supposed were over?"

"Not by me, Henry," was her cheerful answer. "I have never have been
happier than in these quiet ways with thee. I've been thinking, what if
something has happened, and the letters cease to come? And it has seemed
to me--now that the boys are as good farmers as any, and Alice is such a
tidy housekeeper--that we could manage very well without help. Only for
thy sake, Henry: I fear it would be a terrible disappointment to thee.
Or is thee as accustomed to the high seat as I to my place on the
women's side?"

"No!" he answered emphatically. "The talk with De Courcy has set my
quiet Quaker blood in motion. The boy is more than half right; I am sure
Sylvia thinks so too. What could I expect? He has no birthright, and
didn't begin his task, as I did, after the bravery of youth was over.
It took six generations to establish the serenity and content of our
brethren here, and the dress we wear don't give us the nature. De Courcy
is tired of the masquerade, and Sylvia is tired of seeing it. Thou, my
little Susan, who wert so timid at first, puttest us all to shame now!"

"I think I was meant for it,--Alice, and Henry, and I," said she.

No outward change in Henry Donnelly's demeanor betrayed this or any
other disturbance at home. There were repeated consultations between the
father and son, but they led to no satisfactory conclusion. De Courcy
was sincerely attached to the pretty Presbyterian maiden, and found
livelier society in her brothers and cousins than among the grave,
awkward Quaker youths of Londongrove.

With the occasional freedom from restraint there awoke in him a desire
for independence--a thirst for the suppressed license of youth. His
new acquaintances were accustomed to a rigid domestic regime, but of a
different character, and they met on a common ground of rebellion. Their
aberrations, it is true, were not of a very formidable character, and
need not have been guarded but for the severe conventionalities of both
sects. An occasional fox-chase, horse-race, or a "stag party" at some
outlying tavern, formed the sum of their dissipation; they sang, danced
reels, and sometimes ran into little excesses through the stimulating
sense of the trespass they were committing.

By and by reports of certain of these performances were brought to
the notice of the Londongrove Friends, and, with the consent of
Henry Donnelly himself, De Courcy received a visit of warning and
remonstrance. He had foreseen the probability of such a visit and
was prepared. He denied none of the charges brought against him, and
accepted the grave counsel offered, simply stating that his nature was
not yet purified and chastened; he was aware he was not walking in the
Light; he believed it to be a troubled season through which he must
needs pass. His frankness, as he was shrewd enough to guess, was
a source of perplexity to the elders; it prevented them from
excommunicating him without further probation, while it left him free
to indulge in further recreations.

Some months passed away, and the absence from which Henry Donnelly
always returned with a good supply of ready money did not take place.
The knowledge of farming which his sons had acquired now came into play.
It was necessary to exercise both skill and thrift in order to keep up
the liberal footing upon which the family had lived; for each member of
it was too proud to allow the community to suspect the change in their
circumstances. De Courcy, retained more than ever at home, and bound
to steady labor, was man enough to subdue his impatient spirit for the
time; but he secretly determined that with the first change for the
better he would follow the fate he had chosen for himself.

Late in the fall came the opportunity for which he had longed. One
evening he brought home a letter, in the well-known handwriting. His
father opened and read it in silence.

"Well, father?" he said.

"A former letter was lost, it seems. This should have come in the
spring; it is only the missing sum."

"Does O'Neil fix any time?"

"No; but he hopes to make a better report next year."

"Then, father," said De Courcy, "it is useless for me to wait longer; I
am satisfied as it is. I should not have given up Margaret in any case;
but now, since thee can live with Henry's help, I shall claim her."

"MUST it be, De Courcy?"

"It must."

But it was not to be. A day or two afterwards the young man, on his
mettled horse, set off up the Street Road, feeling at last that the
fortune and the freedom of his life were approaching. He had become, in
habits and in feelings, one of the people, and the relinquishment of the
hope in which his father still indulged brought him a firmer courage, a
more settled content. His sweetheart's family was in good circumstances;
but, had she been poor, he felt confident of his power to make and
secure for her a farmer's home. To the past--whatever it might have
been--he said farewell, and went carolling some cheerful ditty, to look
upon the face of his future.

That night a country wagon slowly drove up to Henry Donnelly's door. The
three men who accompanied it hesitated before they knocked, and, when
the door was opened, looked at each other with pale, sad faces, before
either spoke. No cries followed the few words that were said, but
silently, swiftly, a room was made ready, while the men lifted from the
straw and carried up stairs an unconscious figure, the arms of which
hung down with a horrible significance as they moved. He was not dead,
for the heart beat feebly and slowly; but all efforts to restore his
consciousness were in vain. There was concussion of the brain the
physician said. He had been thrown from his horse, probably alighting
upon his head, as there were neither fractures nor external wounds.
All that night and next day the tenderest, the most unwearied care was
exerted to call back the flickering gleam of life. The shock had been
too great; his deadly torpor deepened into death.

In their time of trial and sorrow the family received the fullest
sympathy, the kindliest help, from the whole neighborhood. They had
never before so fully appreciated the fraternal character of the society
whereof they were members. The plain, plodding people living on the
adjoining farms became virtually their relatives and fellow-mourners.
All the external offices demanded by the sad occasion were performed for
them, and other eyes than their own shed tears of honest grief over De
Courcy's coffin. All came to the funeral, and even Simon Pennock, in
the plain yet touching words which he spoke beside the grave, forgot the
young man's wandering from the Light, in the recollection of his frank,
generous, truthful nature.

If the Donnellys had sometimes found the practical equality of life in
Londongrove a little repellent they were now gratefully moved by the
delicate and refined ways in which the sympathy of the people sought to
express itself. The better qualities of human nature always develop a
temporary good-breeding. Wherever any of the family went, they saw the
reflection of their own sorrow; and a new spirit informed to their eyes
the quiet pastoral landscapes.

In their life at home there was little change. Abraham Bradbury had
insisted on sending his favorite grandson, Joel, a youth of twenty-two,
to take De Courcy's place for a few months. He was a shy quiet creature,
with large brown eyes like a fawn's, and young Henry Donnelly and he
became friends at once. It was believed that he would inherit the
farm at his grandfather's death; but he was as subservient to Friend
Donnelly's wishes in regard to the farming operations as if the latter
held the fee of the property. His coming did not fill the terrible gap
which De Courcy's death had made, but seemed to make it less constantly
and painfully evident.

Susan Donnelly soon remarked a change, which she could neither clearly
define nor explain to herself, both in her husband and in their daughter
Sylvia. The former, although in public he preserved the same grave,
stately face,--its lines, perhaps, a little more deeply marked,--seemed
to be devoured by an internal unrest. His dreams were of the old times:
words and names long unused came from his lips as he slept by her side.
Although he bore his grief with more strength than she had hoped, he
grew nervous and excitable,--sometimes unreasonably petulant, sometimes
gay to a pitch which impressed her with pain. When the spring came
around, and the mysterious correspondence again failed, as in the
previous year, his uneasiness increased. He took his place on the high
seat on First-days, as usual, but spoke no more.

Sylvia, on the other hand, seemed to have wholly lost her proud,
impatient character. She went to meeting much more frequently than
formerly, busied herself more actively about household matters,
and ceased to speak of the uncertain contingency which had been so
constantly present in her thoughts. In fact, she and her father had
changed places. She was now the one who preached patience, who held
before them all the bright side of their lot, who brought Margaret
Alison to the house and justified her dead brother's heart to his
father's, and who repeated to the latter, in his restless moods, "De
Courcy foresaw the truth, and we must all in the end decide as he did."

"Can THEE do it, Sylvia?" her father would ask.

"I believe I have done it already," she said. "If it seems difficult,
pray consider how much later I begin my work. I have had all your
memories in charge, and now I must not only forget for myself, but for
you as well."

Indeed, as the spring and summer months came and went, Sylvia evidently
grew stronger in her determination. The fret of her idle force was
allayed, and her content increased as she saw and performed the possible
duties of her life. Perhaps her father might have caught something
of her spirit, but for his anxiety in regard to the suspended
correspondence. He wearied himself in guesses, which all ended in the
simple fact that, to escape embarrassment, the rent must again be saved
from the earnings of the farm.

The harvests that year were bountiful; wheat, barley, and oats stood
thick and heavy in the fields. No one showed more careful thrift or more
cheerful industry than young Joel Bradbury, and the family felt that
much of the fortune of their harvest was owing to him.

On the first day after the crops had been securely housed, all went
to meeting, except Sylvia. In the walled graveyard the sod was already
green over De Courcy's unmarked mound, but Alice had planted a little
rose-tree at the head, and she and her mother always visited the spot
before taking their seats on the women's side. The meeting-house was
very full that day, as the busy season of the summer was over, and the
horses of those who lived at a distance had no longer such need of rest.

It was a sultry forenoon, and the windows and doors of the building were
open. The humming of insects was heard in the silence, and broken lights
and shadows of the poplar-leaves were sprinkled upon the steps and
sills. Outside there were glimpses of quiet groves and orchards, and
blue fragments of sky,--no more semblance of life in the external
landscape than there was in the silent meeting within. Some quarter of
an hour before the shaking of hands took place, the hoofs of a horse
were heard in the meeting-house yard--the noise of a smart trot on the
turf, suddenly arrested.

The boys pricked up their ears at this unusual sound, and stole glances
at each other when they imagined themselves unseen by the awful faces in
the gallery. Presently those nearest the door saw a broader shadow fall
over those flickering upon the stone. A red face appeared for a moment,
and was then drawn back out of sight. The shadow advanced and receded,
in a state of peculiar restlessness. Sometimes the end of a riding-whip
was visible, sometimes the corner of a coarse gray coat. The boys who
noticed these apparitions were burning with impatience, but they dared
not leave their seats until Abraham Bradbury had reached his hand to
Henry Donnelly.

Then they rushed out. The mysterious personage was still beside the
door, leaning against the wall. He was a short, thick-set man of fifty,
with red hair, round gray eyes, a broad pug nose, and projecting mouth.
He wore a heavy gray coat, despite the heat, and a waistcoat with
many brass buttons; also corduroy breeches and riding boots. When they
appeared, he started forward with open mouth and eyes, and stared wildly
in their faces. They gathered around the poplar-trunks, and waited with
some uneasiness to see what would follow.

Slowly and gravely, with the half-broken ban of silence still hanging
over them, the people issued from the house. The strange man stood,
leaning forward, and seemed to devour each, in turn, with his eager
eyes. After the young men came the fathers of families, and lastly the
old men from the gallery seats. Last of these came Henry Donnelly.
In the meantime, all had seen and wondered at the waiting figure; its
attitude was too intense and self-forgetting to be misinterpreted. The
greetings and remarks were suspended until the people had seen for whom
the man waited, and why.

Henry Donnelly had no sooner set his foot upon the door-step than,
with something between a shout and a howl, the stranger darted forward,
seized his hand, and fell upon one knee, crying: "O my lord! my lord!
Glory be to God that I've found ye at last!"

If these words burst like a bomb on the ears of the people, what was
their consternation when Henry Donnelly exclaimed, "The Divel! Jack
O'Neil, can that be you?"

"It's me, meself, my lord! When we heard the letters went wrong last
year, I said 'I'll trust no such good news to their blasted mail-posts:
I'll go meself and carry it to his lordship,--if it is t'other side o'
the say. Him and my lady and all the children went, and sure I can go
too. And as I was the one that went with you from Dunleigh Castle, I'll
go back with you to that same, for it stands awaitin', and blessed be
the day that sees you back in your ould place!"

"All clear, Jack? All mine again?"

"You may believe it, my lord! And money in the chest beside. But where's
my lady, bless her sweet face! Among yon women, belike, and you'll help
me to find her, for it's herself must have the news next, and then the
young master--"

With that word Henry Donnelly awoke to a sense of time and place. He
found himself within a ring of staring, wondering, scandalized eyes. He
met them boldly, with a proud, though rather grim smile, took hold of
O'Neil's arm and led him towards the women's end of the house, where the
sight of Susan in her scoop bonnet so moved the servant's heart that he
melted into tears. Both husband and wife were eager to get home and
hear O'Neil's news in private; so they set out at once in their plain
carriage, followed by the latter on horseback. As for the Friends, they
went home in a state of bewilderment.

Alice Donnelly, with her brother Henry and Joel Bradbury, returned
on foot. The two former remembered O'Neil, and, although they had not
witnessed his first interview with their father, they knew enough of the
family history to surmise his errand. Joel was silent and troubled.

"Alice, I hope it doesn't mean that we are going back, don't you?" said
Henry.

"Yes," she answered, and said no more.

They took a foot-path across the fields, and reached the farm-house
at the same time with the first party. As they opened the door Sylvia
descended the staircase dressed in a rich shimmering brocade, with
a necklace of amethysts around her throat. To their eyes, so long
accustomed to the absence of positive color, she was completely
dazzling. There was a new color on her cheeks, and her eyes seemed
larger and brighter. She made a stately courtesy, and held open the
parlor door.

"Welcome, Lord Henry Dunleigh, of Dunleigh Castle!" she cried; "welcome,
Lady Dunleigh!"

Her father kissed her on the forehead. "Now give us back our memories,
Sylvia!" he said, exultingly.

Susan Donnelly sank into a chair, overcome by the mixed emotions of the
moment.

"Come in, my faithful Jack! Unpack thy portmanteau of news, for I
see thou art bursting to show it; let us have every thing from
the beginning. Wife, it's a little too much for thee, coming so
unexpectedly. Set out the wine, Alice!"

The decanter was placed upon the table. O'Neil filled a tumbler to the
brim, lifted it high, made two or three hoarse efforts to speak, and
then walked away to the window, where he drank in silence. This little
incident touched the family more than the announcement of their good
fortune. Henry Donnelly's feverish exultation subsided: he sat down with
a grave, thoughtful face, while his wife wept quietly beside him. Sylvia
stood waiting with an abstracted air; Alice removed her mother's bonnet
and shawl; and Henry and Joel, seated together at the farther end of the
room, looked on in silent anticipation.

O'Neil's story was long, and frequently interrupted. He had been Lord
Dunleigh's steward in better days, as his father had been to the old
lord, and was bound to the family by the closest ties of interest
and affection. When the estates became so encumbered that either an
immediate change or a catastrophe was inevitable, he had been taken
into his master's confidence concerning the plan which had first been
proposed in jest, and afterwards adopted in earnest.

The family must leave Dunleigh Castle for a period of probably eight or
ten years, and seek some part of the world where their expenses could be
reduced to the lowest possible figure. In Germany or Italy there would
be the annoyance of a foreign race and language, of meeting of tourists
belonging to the circle in which they had moved, a dangerous idleness
for their sons, and embarrassing restrictions for their daughters. On
the other hand, the suggestion to emigrate to America and become Quakers
during their exile offered more advantages the more they considered it.
It was original in character; it offered them economy, seclusion,
entire liberty of action inside the limits of the sect, the best
moral atmosphere for their children, and an occupation which would not
deteriorate what was best in their blood and breeding.

How Lord Dunleigh obtained admission into the sect as plain Henry
Donnelly is a matter of conjecture with the Londongrove Friends. The
deception which had been practised upon them--although it was perhaps
less complete than they imagined--left a soreness of feeling behind
it. The matter was hushed up after the departure of the family, and one
might now live for years in the neighborhood without hearing the story.
How the shrewd plan was carried out by Lord Dunleigh and his family,
we have already learned. O'Neil, left on the estate, in the north of
Ireland, did his part with equal fidelity. He not only filled up the
gaps made by his master's early profuseness, but found means to move the
sympathies of a cousin of the latter--a rich, eccentric old bachelor,
who had long been estranged by a family quarrel. To this cousin he
finally confided the character of the exile, and at a lucky time; for
the cousin's will was altered in Lord Dunleigh's favor, and he died
before his mood of reconciliation passed away. Now, the estate was not
only unencumbered, but there was a handsome surplus in the hands of the
Dublin bankers. The family might return whenever they chose, and there
would be a festival to welcome them, O'Neil said, such as Dunleigh
Castle had never known since its foundations were laid.

"Let us go at once!" said Sylvia, when he had concluded his tale. "No
more masquerading,--I never knew until to-day how much I have hated it!
I will not say that your plan was not a sensible one, father; but I wish
it might have been carried out with more honor to ourselves. Since De
Courcy's death I have begun to appreciate our neighbors: I was resigned
to become one of these people had our luck gone the other way. Will they
give us any credit for goodness and truth, I wonder? Yes, in mother's
case, and Alice's; and I believe both of them would give up Dunleigh
Castle for this little farm."

"Then," her father exclaimed, "it IS time that we should return, and
without delay. But thee wrongs us somewhat, Sylvia: it has not all been
masquerading. We have become the servants, rather than the masters, of
our own parts, and shall live a painful and divided life until we get
back in our old place. I fear me it will always be divided for thee,
wife, and Alice and Henry. If I am subdued by the element which I only
meant to assume, how much more deeply must it have wrought in your
natures! Yes, Sylvia is right, we must get away at once. To-morrow we
must leave Londongrove forever!"

He had scarcely spoken, when a new surprise fell upon the family.
Joel Bradbury arose and walked forward, as if thrust by an emotion so
powerful that it transformed his whole being. He seemed to forget every
thing but Alice Donnelly's presence. His soft brown eyes were fixed on
her face with an expression of unutterable tenderness and longing. He
caught her by the hands. "Alice, O, Alice!" burst from his lips; "you
are not going to leave me?"

The flush in the girl's sweet face faded into a deadly paleness. A
moan came from her lips; her head dropped, and she would have fallen,
swooning, from the chair had not Joel knelt at her feet and caught her
upon his breast.

For a moment there was silence in the room.

Presently, Sylvia, all her haughtiness gone, knelt beside the young man,
and took her sister from his arms. "Joel, my poor, dear friend," she
said, "I am sorry that the last, worst mischief we have done must fall
upon you."

Joel covered his face with his hands, and convulsively uttered the
words, "MUST she go?"

Then Henry Donnelly--or, rather, Lord Dunleigh, as we must now call
him--took the young man's hand. He was profoundly moved; his strong
voice trembled, and his words came slowly. "I will not appeal to thy
heart, Joel," he said, "for it would not hear me now.

"But thou hast heard all our story, and knowest that we must leave these
parts, never to return. We belong to another station and another mode of
life than yours, and it must come to us as a good fortune that our time
of probation is at an end. Bethink thee, could we leave our darling
Alice behind us, parted as if by the grave? Nay, could we rob her of the
life to which she is born--of her share in our lives? On the other hand,
could we take thee with us into relations where thee would always be a
stranger, and in which a nature like thine has no place? This is a case
where duty speaks clearly, though so hard, so very hard, to follow."

He spoke tenderly, but inflexibly, and Joel felt that his fate was
pronounced. When Alice had somewhat revived, and was taken to another
room, he stumbled blindly out of the house, made his way to the barn,
and there flung himself upon the harvest-sheaves which, three days
before, he had bound with such a timid, delicious hope working in his
arm.

The day which brought such great fortune had thus a sad and troubled
termination. It was proposed that the family should start for
Philadelphia on the morrow, leaving O'Neil to pack up and remove such
furniture as they wished to retain; but Susan, Lady Dunleigh, could not
forsake the neighborhood without a parting visit to the good friends who
had mourned with her over her firstborn; and Sylvia was with her in this
wish. So two more days elapsed, and then the Dunleighs passed down the
Street Road, and the plain farm-house was gone from their eyes
forever. Two grieved over the loss of their happy home; one was almost
broken-hearted; and the remaining two felt that the trouble of the
present clouded all their happiness in the return to rank and fortune.

They went, and they never came again. An account of the great festival
at Dunleigh Castle reached Londongrove two years later, through an Irish
laborer, who brought to Joel Bradbury a letter of recommendation signed
"Dunleigh." Joel kept the man upon his farm, and the two preserved the
memory of the family long after the neighborhood had ceased to speak
of it. Joel never married; he still lives in the house where the great
sorrow of his life befell.

His head is gray, and his face deeply wrinkled; but when he lifts the
shy lids of his soft brown eyes, I fancy I can see in their tremulous
depths the lingering memory of his love for Alice Dunleigh.



JACOB FLINT'S JOURNEY.


If there ever was a man crushed out of all courage, all self-reliance,
all comfort in life, it was Jacob Flint. Why this should have been,
neither he nor any one else could have explained; but so it was. On the
day that he first went to school, his shy, frightened face marked him as
fair game for the rougher and stronger boys, and they subjected him to
all those exquisite refinements of torture which boys seem to get by
the direct inspiration of the Devil. There was no form of their bullying
meanness or the cowardice of their brutal strength which he did not
experience. He was born under a fading or falling star,--the inheritor
of some anxious or unhappy mood of his parents, which gave its fast
color to the threads out of which his innocent being was woven.

Even the good people of the neighborhood, never accustomed to look below
the externals of appearance and manner, saw in his shrinking face and
awkward motions only the signs of a cringing, abject soul.

"You'll be no more of a man than Jake Flint!" was the reproach which
many a farmer addressed to his dilatory boy; and thus the parents, one
and all, came to repeat the sins of the children.

If, therefore, at school and "before folks," Jacob's position was always
uncomfortable and depressing, it was little more cheering at home. His
parents, as all the neighbors believed, had been unhappily married, and,
though the mother died in his early childhood, his father remained a
moody, unsocial man, who rarely left his farm except on the 1st of April
every year, when he went to the county town for the purpose of paying
the interest upon a mortgage. The farm lay in a hollow between two
hills, separated from the road by a thick wood, and the chimneys of the
lonely old house looked in vain for a neighbor-smoke when they began to
grow warm of a morning.

Beyond the barn and under the northern hill there was a log
tenant-house, in which dwelt a negro couple, who, in the course of years
had become fixtures on the place and almost partners in it. Harry,
the man, was the medium by which Samuel Flint kept up his necessary
intercourse with the world beyond the valley; he took the horses to the
blacksmith, the grain to the mill, the turkeys to market, and through
his hands passed all the incomings and outgoings of the farm, except
the annual interest on the mortgage. Sally, his wife, took care of the
household, which, indeed, was a light and comfortable task, since the
table was well supplied for her own sake, and there was no sharp eye
to criticise her sweeping, dusting, and bed-making. The place had a
forlorn, tumble-down aspect, quite in keeping with its lonely situation;
but perhaps this very circumstance flattered the mood of its silent,
melancholy owner and his unhappy son.

In all the neighborhood there was but one person with whom Jacob felt
completely at ease--but one who never joined in the general habit of
making his name the butt of ridicule or contempt. This was Mrs. Ann
Pardon, the hearty, active wife of Farmer Robert Pardon, who lived
nearly a mile farther down the brook. Jacob had won her good-will
by some neighborly services, something so trifling, indeed, that the
thought of a favor conferred never entered his mind. Ann Pardon saw that
it did not; she detected a streak of most unconscious goodness under his
uncouth, embarrassed ways, and she determined to cultivate it. No little
tact was required, however, to coax the wild, forlorn creature into
so much confidence as she desired to establish; but tact is a native
quality of the heart no less than a social acquirement, and so she did
the very thing necessary without thinking much about it.

Robert Pardon discovered by and by that Jacob was a steady, faithful
hand in the harvest-field at husking-time, or whenever any extra labor
was required, and Jacob's father made no objection to his earning
a penny in this way; and so he fell into the habit of spending his
Saturday evenings at the Pardon farm-house, at first to talk over
matters of work, and finally because it had become a welcome relief from
his dreary life at home.

Now it happened that on a Saturday in the beginning of haying-time, the
village tailor sent home by Harry a new suit of light summer clothes,
for which Jacob had been measured a month before. After supper he tried
them on, the day's work being over, and Sally's admiration was so loud
and emphatic that he felt himself growing red even to the small of his
back.

"Now, don't go for to take 'em off, Mr. Jake," said she. "I spec' you're
gwine down to Pardon's, and so you jist keep 'em on to show 'em all how
nice you KIN look."

The same thought had already entered Jacob's mind. Poor fellow! It was
the highest form of pleasure of which he had ever allowed himself to
conceive. If he had been called upon to pass through the village on
first assuming the new clothes, every stitch would have pricked him as
if the needle remained in it; but a quiet walk down the brookside, by
the pleasant path through the thickets and over the fragrant meadows,
with a consciousness of his own neatness and freshness at every step,
and with kind Ann Pardon's commendation at the close, and the flattering
curiosity of the children,--the only ones who never made fun of
him,--all that was a delightful prospect. He could never, NEVER forget
himself, as he had seen other young fellows do; but to remember himself
agreeably was certainly the next best thing.

Jacob was already a well-grown man of twenty-three, and would have made
a good enough appearance but for the stoop in his shoulders, and the
drooping, uneasy way in which he carried his head. Many a time when he
was alone in the fields or woods he had straightened himself, and looked
courageously at the buts of the oak-trees or in the very eyes of the
indifferent oxen; but, when a human face drew near, some spring in his
neck seemed to snap, some buckle around his shoulders to be drawn three
holes tighter, and he found himself in the old posture. The ever-present
thought of this weakness was the only drop of bitterness in his cup, as
he followed the lonely path through the thickets.

Some spirit in the sweet, delicious freshness of the air, some voice in
the mellow babble of the stream, leaping in and out of sight between the
alders, some smile of light, lingering on the rising corn-fields beyond
the meadow and the melting purple of a distant hill, reached to the
seclusion of his heart. He was soothed and cheered; his head lifted
itself in the presentiment of a future less lonely than the past, and
the everlasting trouble vanished from his eyes.

Suddenly, at a turn of the path, two mowers from the meadow, with their
scythes upon their shoulders, came upon him. He had not heard their feet
on the deep turf. His chest relaxed, and his head began to sink; then,
with the most desperate effort in his life, he lifted it again, and,
darting a rapid side glance at the men, hastened by. They could not
understand the mixed defiance and supplication of his face; to them he
only looked "queer."

"Been committin' a murder, have you?" asked one of them, grinning.

"Startin' off on his journey, I guess," said the other.

The next instant they were gone, and Jacob, with set teeth and clinched
hands, smothered something that would have been a howl if he had given
it voice. Sharp lines of pain were marked on his face, and, for the
first time, the idea of resistance took fierce and bitter possession of
his heart. But the mood was too unusual to last; presently he shook his
head, and walked on towards Pardon's farm-house.

Ann wore a smart gingham dress, and her first exclamation was: "Why,
Jake! how nice you look. And so you know all about it, too?"

"About what?"

"I see you don't," said she. "I was too fast; but it makes no
difference. I know you are willing to lend me a helping hand."

"Oh, to be sure," Jacob answered.

"And not mind a little company?"

Jacob's face suddenly clouded; but he said, though with an effort:
"No--not much--if I can be of any help."

"It's rather a joke, after all," Ann Pardon continued, speaking rapidly;
"they meant a surprise, a few of the young people; but sister Becky
found a way to send me word, or I might have been caught like Meribah
Johnson last week, in the middle of my work; eight or ten, she said,
but more may drop in: and it's moonlight and warm, so they'll be mostly
under the trees; and Robert won't be home till late, and I DO want help
in carrying chairs, and getting up some ice, and handing around; and,
though I know you don't care for merry makings, you CAN help me out, you
see--"

Here she paused. Jacob looked perplexed, but said nothing.

"Becky will help what she can, and while I'm in the kitchen she'll have
an eye to things outside," she said.

Jacob's head was down again, and, moreover, turned on one side, but his
ear betrayed the mounting blood. Finally he answered, in a quick, husky
voice: "Well, I'll do what I can. What's first?"

Thereupon he began to carry some benches from the veranda to a grassy
bank beside the sycamore-tree. Ann Pardon wisely said no more of the
coming surprise-party, but kept him so employed that, as the visitors
arrived by twos and threes, the merriment was in full play almost before
he was aware of it. Moreover, the night was a protecting presence: the
moonlight poured splendidly upon the open turf beyond the sycamore, but
every lilac-bush or trellis of woodbine made a nook of shade, wherein he
could pause a moment and take courage for his duties. Becky Morton, Ann
Pardon's youngest sister, frightened him a little every time she came
to consult about the arrangement of seats or the distribution of
refreshments; but it was a delightful, fascinating fear, such as he had
never felt before in his life. He knew Becky, but he had never seen her
in white and pink, with floating tresses, until now. In fact, he had
hardly looked at her fairly, but now, as she glided into the moonlight
and he paused in the shadow, his eyes took note of her exceeding beauty.
Some sweet, confusing influence, he knew not what, passed into his
blood.

The young men had brought a fiddler from the village, and it was not
long before most of the company were treading the measures of reels or
cotillons on the grass. How merry and happy they all were! How freely
and unembarrassedly they moved and talked! By and by all became involved
in the dance, and Jacob, left alone and unnoticed, drew nearer and
nearer to the gay and beautiful life from which he was expelled.

With a long-drawn scream of the fiddle the dance came to an end, and the
dancers, laughing, chattering, panting, and fanning themselves, broke
into groups and scattered over the enclosure before the house. Jacob was
surrounded before he could escape. Becky, with two lively girls in her
wake, came up to him and said: "Oh Mr. Flint, why don't you dance?"

If he had stopped to consider, he would no doubt have replied very
differently. But a hundred questions, stirred by what he had seen, were
clamoring for light, and they threw the desperate impulse to his lips.

"If I COULD dance, would you dance with me?"

The two lively girls heard the words, and looked at Becky with roguish
faces.

"Oh yes, take him for your next partner!" cried one.

"I will," said Becky, "after he comes back from his journey."

Then all three laughed. Jacob leaned against the tree, his eyes fixed on
the ground.

"Is it a bargain?" asked one of the girls.

"No," said he, and walked rapidly away.

He went to the house, and, finding that Robert had arrived, took his
hat, and left by the rear door. There was a grassy alley between the
orchard and garden, from which it was divided by a high hawthorn hedge.
He had scarcely taken three paces on his way to the meadow, when the
sound of the voice he had last heard, on the other side of the hedge,
arrested his feet.

"Becky, I think you rather hurt Jake Flint," said the girl.

"Hardly," answered Becky; "he's used to that."

"Not if he likes you; and you might go further and fare worse."

"Well, I MUST say!" Becky exclaimed, with a laugh; "you'd like to see me
stuck in that hollow, out of your way!"

"It's a good farm, I've heard," said the other.

"Yes, and covered with as much as it'll bear!"

Here the girls were called away to the dance. Jacob slowly walked up
the dewy meadow, the sounds of fiddling, singing, and laughter growing
fainter behind him.

"My journey!" he repeated to himself,--"my journey! why shouldn't I
start on it now? Start off, and never come back?"

It was a very little thing, after all, which annoyed him, but the
mention of it always touched a sore nerve of his nature. A dozen years
before, when a boy at school, he had made a temporary friendship with
another boy of his age, and had one day said to the latter, in the
warmth of his first generous confidence: "When I am a little older,
I shall make a great journey, and come back rich, and buy Whitney's
place!"

Now, Whitney's place, with its stately old brick mansion, its avenue of
silver firs, and its two hundred acres of clean, warm-lying land, was
the finest, the most aristocratic property in all the neighborhood,
and the boy-friend could not resist the temptation of repeating Jacob's
grand design, for the endless amusement of the school. The betrayal hurt
Jacob more keenly than the ridicule. It left a wound that never ceased
to rankle; yet, with the inconceivable perversity of unthinking
natures, precisely this joke (as the people supposed it to be) had been
perpetuated, until "Jake Flint's Journey" was a synonyme for any absurd
or extravagant expectation. Perhaps no one imagined how much pain he was
keeping alive; for almost any other man than Jacob would have joined
in the laugh against himself and thus good-naturedly buried the joke in
time. "He's used to that," the people said, like Becky Morton, and they
really supposed there was nothing unkind in the remark!

After Jacob had passed the thickets and entered the lonely hollow in
which his father's house lay, his pace became slower and slower.

He looked at the shabby old building, just touched by the moonlight
behind the swaying shadows of the weeping-willow, stopped, looked again,
and finally seated himself on a stump beside the path.

"If I knew what to do!" he said to himself, rocking backwards and
forwards, with his hands clasped over his knees,--"if I knew what to
do!"

The spiritual tension of the evening reached its climax: he could bear
no more. With a strong bodily shudder his tears burst forth, and the
passion of his weeping filled him from head to foot. How long he wept
he knew not; it seemed as if the hot fountains would never run dry.
Suddenly and startlingly a hand fell upon his shoulder.

"Boy, what does this mean?"

It was his father who stood before him.

Jacob looked up like some shy animal brought to bay, his eyes full of a
feeling mixed of fierceness and terror; but he said nothing.

His father seated himself on one of the roots of the old stump, laid one
hand upon Jacob's knee, and said with an unusual gentleness of manner,
"I'd like to know what it is that troubles you so much."

After a pause, Jacob suddenly burst forth with: "Is there any reason why
I should tell you? Do you care any more for me than the rest of 'em?"

"I didn't know as you wanted me to care for you particularly," said the
father, almost deprecatingly. "I always thought you had friends of your
own age."

"Friends? Devils!" exclaimed Jacob. "Oh, what have I done--what is there
so dreadful about me that I should always be laughed at, and despised,
and trampled upon? You are a great deal older than I am, father: what do
you see in me? Tell me what it is, and how to get over it!"

The eyes of the two men met. Jacob saw his father's face grow pale in
the moonlight, while he pressed his hand involuntarily upon his heart,
as if struggling with some physical pain. At last he spoke, but his
words were strange and incoherent.

"I couldn't sleep," he said; "I got up again and came out o' doors.
The white ox had broken down the fence at the corner, and would soon
have been in the cornfield. I thought it was that, maybe, but still
your--your mother would come into my head. I was coming down the edge of
the wood when I saw you, and I don't know why it was that you seemed so
different, all at once--"

Here he paused, and was silent for a minute. Then he said, in a grave,
commanding tone: "Just let me know the whole story. I have that much
right yet."

Jacob related the history of the evening, somewhat awkwardly and
confusedly, it is true; but his father's brief, pointed questions kept
him to the narrative, and forced him to explain the full significance
of the expressions he repeated. At the mention of "Whitney's place," a
singular expression of malice touched the old man's face.

"Do you love Becky Morton?" he asked bluntly, when all had been told.

"I don't know," Jacob stammered; "I think not; because when I seem to
like her most, I feel afraid of her."

"It's lucky that you're not sure of it!" exclaimed the old man with
energy; "because you should never have her."

"No," said Jacob, with a mournful acquiescence, "I can never have her,
or any other one."

"But you shall--and will I when I help you. It's true I've not seemed to
care much about you, and I suppose you're free to think as you like; but
this I say: I'll not stand by and see you spit upon! 'Covered with as
much as it'll bear!' THAT'S a piece o' luck anyhow. If we're poor, your
wife must take your poverty with you, or she don't come into MY doors.
But first of all you must make your journey!"

"My journey!" repeated Jacob.

"Weren't you thinking of it this night, before you took your seat on
that stump? A little more, and you'd have gone clean off, I reckon."

Jacob was silent, and hung his head.

"Never mind! I've no right to think hard of it. In a week we'll have
finished our haying, and then it's a fortnight to wheat; but, for that
matter, Harry and I can manage the wheat by ourselves. You may take a
month, two months, if any thing comes of it. Under a month I don't mean
that you shall come back. I'll give you twenty dollars for a start; if
you want more you must earn it on the road, any way you please. And,
mark you, Jacob! since you ARE poor, don't let anybody suppose you are
rich. For my part, I shall not expect you to buy Whitney's place; all I
ask is that you'll tell me, fair and square, just what things and what
people you've got acquainted with. Get to bed now--the matter's settled;
I will have it so."

They rose and walked across the meadow to the house. Jacob had quite
forgotten the events of the evening in the new prospect suddenly opened
to him, which filled him with a wonderful confusion of fear and desire.
His father said nothing more. They entered the lonely house together at
midnight, and went to their beds; but Jacob slept very little.

Six days afterwards he left home, on a sparkling June morning, with
a small bundle tied in a yellow silk handkerchief under his arm. His
father had furnished him with the promised money, but had positively
refused to tell him what road he should take, or what plan of action he
should adopt. The only stipulation was that his absence from home should
not be less than a month.

After he had passed the wood and reached the highway which followed
the course of the brook, he paused to consider which course to take.
Southward the road led past Pardon's, and he longed to see his only
friends once more before encountering untried hazards; but the village
was beyond, and he had no courage to walk through its one long street
with a bundle, denoting a journey, under his arm. Northward he would
have to pass the mill and blacksmith's shop at the cross-roads. Then he
remembered that he might easily wade the stream at a point where it was
shallow, and keep in the shelter of the woods on the opposite hill until
he struck the road farther on, and in that direction two or three miles
would take him into a neighborhood where he was not known.

Once in the woods, an exquisite sense of freedom came upon him. There
was nothing mocking in the soft, graceful stir of the expanded foliage,
in the twittering of the unfrightened birds, or the scampering of the
squirrels, over the rustling carpet of dead leaves. He lay down upon the
moss under a spreading beech-tree and tried to think; but the thoughts
would not come. He could not even clearly recall the keen troubles and
mortifications he had endured: all things were so peaceful and beautiful
that a portion of their peace and beauty fell upon men and invested them
with a more kindly character.

Towards noon Jacob found himself beyond the limited geography of his
life. The first man he encountered was a stranger, who greeted him with
a hearty and respectful "How do you do, sir?"

"Perhaps," thought Jacob, "I am not so very different from other people,
if I only thought so myself."

At noon, he stopped at a farm-house by the roadside to get a drink of
water. A pleasant woman, who came from the door at that moment with a
pitcher, allowed him to lower the bucket and haul it up dripping with
precious coolness. She looked upon him with good-will, for he had
allowed her to see his eyes, and something in their honest, appealing
expression went to her heart.

"We're going to have dinner in five minutes," said she; "won't you stay
and have something?"

Jacob stayed and brake bread with the plain, hospitable family. Their
kindly attention to him during the meal gave him the lacking nerve;
for a moment he resolved to offer his services to the farmer, but he
presently saw that they were not really needed, and, besides, the place
was still too near home.

Towards night he reached an old country tavern, lording it over
an incipient village of six houses. The landlord and hostler were
inspecting a drooping-looking horse in front of the stables. Now, if
there was any thing which Jacob understood, to the extent of his limited
experience, it was horse nature. He drew near, listened to the views of
the two men, examined the animal with his eyes, and was ready to answer,
"Yes, I guess so," when the landlord said, "Perhaps, sir, you can tell
what is the matter with him."

His prompt detection of the ailment, and prescription of a remedy which
in an hour showed its good effects, installed him in the landlord's best
graces. The latter said, "Well, it shall cost you nothing to-night,"
as he led the way to the supper-room. When Jacob went to bed he was
surprised on reflecting that he had not only been talking for a full
hour in the bar-room, but had been looking people in the face.

Resisting an offer of good wages if he would stay and help look after
the stables, he set forward the next morning with a new and most
delightful confidence in himself. The knowledge that now nobody knew him
as "Jake Flint" quite removed his tortured self-consciousness. When
he met a person who was glum and ungracious of speech, he saw,
nevertheless, that he was not its special object. He was sometimes asked
questions, to be sure, which a little embarrassed him, but he soon hit
upon answers which were sufficiently true without betraying his purpose.

Wandering sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, he slowly
made his way into the land, until, on the afternoon of the fourth day
after leaving home, he found himself in a rougher region--a rocky, hilly
tract, with small and not very flourishing farms in the valleys. Here
the season appeared to be more backward than in the open country; the
hay harvest was not yet over.

Jacob's taste for scenery was not particularly cultivated, but something
in the loneliness and quiet of the farms reminded him of his own home;
and he looked at one house after another, deliberating with himself
whether it would not be a good place to spend the remainder of his month
of probation. He seemed to be very far from home--about forty miles, in
fact,--and was beginning to feel a little tired of wandering.

Finally the road climbed a low pass of the hills, and dropped into
a valley on the opposite side. There was but one house in view--a
two-story building of logs and plaster, with a garden and orchard on the
hillside in the rear. A large meadow stretched in front, and when the
whole of it lay clear before him, as the road issued from a wood, his
eye was caught by an unusual harvest picture.

Directly before him, a woman, whose face was concealed by a huge,
flapping sun-bonnet, was seated upon a mowing machine, guiding a span
of horses around the great tract of thick grass which was still uncut.
A little distance off, a boy and girl were raking the drier swaths
together, and a hay-cart, drawn by oxen and driven by a man, was just
entering the meadow from the side next the barn.

Jacob hung his bundle upon a stake, threw his coat and waistcoat over
the rail, and, resting his chin on his shirted arms, leaned on the
fence, and watched the hay-makers. As the woman came down the nearer
side she appeared to notice him, for her head was turned from time to
time in his direction. When she had made the round, she stopped the
horses at the corner, sprang lightly from her seat and called to the
man, who, leaving his team, met her half-way. They were nearly a furlong
distant, but Jacob was quite sure that she pointed to him, and that
the man looked in the same direction. Presently she set off across the
meadow, directly towards him.

When within a few paces of the fence, she stopped, threw back the flaps
of her sun-bonnet, and said, "Good day to you!" Jacob was so amazed to
see a bright, fresh, girlish face, that he stared at her with all his
eyes, forgetting to drop his head. Indeed, he could not have done so,
for his chin was propped upon the top rail of the fence.

"You are a stranger, I see," she added.

"Yes, in these parts," he replied.

"Looking for work?"

He hardly knew what answer to make, so he said, at a venture, "That's as
it happens." Then he colored a little, for the words seemed foolish to
his ears.

"Time's precious," said the girl, "so I'll tell you at once we want
help. Our hay MUST be got in while the fine weather lasts."

"I'll help you!" Jacob exclaimed, taking his arms from the rail, and
looking as willing as he felt.

"I'm so glad! But I must tell you, at first, that we're not rich, and
the hands are asking a great deal now. How much do you expect?"

"Whatever you please?" said he, climbing the fence.

"No, that's not our way of doing business. What do you say to a dollar a
day, and found?"

"All right!" and with the words he was already at her side, taking long
strides over the elastic turf.

"I will go on with my mowing," said she, when they reached the horses,
"and you can rake and load with my father. What name shall I call you
by?"

"Everybody calls me Jake."

"'Jake!' Jacob is better. Well, Jacob, I hope you'll give us all the
help you can."

With a nod and a light laugh she sprang upon the machine. There was
a sweet throb in Jacob's heart, which, if he could have expressed it,
would have been a triumphant shout of "I'm not afraid of her! I'm not
afraid of her!"

The farmer was a kindly, depressed man, with whose quiet ways Jacob
instantly felt himself at home. They worked steadily until sunset, when
the girl, detaching her horses from the machine, mounted one of them and
led the other to the barn. At the supper-table, the farmer's wife said:
"Susan, you must be very tired."

"Not now, mother!" she cheerily answered. "I was, I think, but after I
picked up Jacob I felt sure we should get our hay in."

"It was a good thing," said the farmer; "Jacob don't need to be told how
to work."

Poor Jacob! He was so happy he could have cried. He sat and listened,
and blushed a little, with a smile on his face which it was a pleasure
to see. The honest people did not seem to regard him in the least as a
stranger; they discussed their family interests and troubles and hopes
before him, and in a little while it seemed as if he had known them
always.

How faithfully he worked! How glad and tired he felt when night came,
and the hay-mow was filled, and the great stacks grew beside the barn!
But ah! the haying came to an end, and on the last evening, at supper,
everybody was constrained and silent. Even Susan looked grave and
thoughtful.

"Jacob," said the farmer, finally, "I wish we could keep you until wheat
harvest; but you know we are poor, and can't afford it. Perhaps you
could--"

He hesitated; but Jacob, catching at the chance and obeying his own
unselfish impulse, cried: "Oh, yes, I can; I'll be satisfied with my
board, till the wheat's ripe."

Susan looked at him quickly, with a bright, speaking face. "It's hardly
fair to you," said the farmer.

"But I like to be here so much!" Jacob cried. "I like--all of you!"

"We DO seem to suit," said the farmer, "like as one family. And that
reminds me, we've not heard your family name yet."

"Flint."

"Jacob FLINT!" exclaimed the farmer's wife, with sudden agitation.

Jacob was scared and troubled. They had heard of him, he thought, and
who knew what ridiculous stories? Susan noticed an anxiety on his face
which she could not understand, but she unknowingly came to his relief.

"Why, mother," she asked, "do you know Jacob's family?"

"No, I think not," said her mother, "only somebody of the name, long
ago."

His offer, however, was gratefully accepted. The bright, hot summer days
came and went, but no flower of July ever opened as rapidly and richly
and warmly as his chilled, retarded nature. New thoughts and instincts
came with every morning's sun, and new conclusions were reached with
every evening's twilight. Yet as the wheat harvest drew towards the end,
he felt that he must leave the place. The month of absence had gone by,
he scarce knew how. He was free to return home, and, though he might
offer to bridge over the gap between wheat and oats, as he had already
done between hay and wheat, he imagined the family might hesitate to
accept such an offer. Moreover, this life at Susan's side was fast
growing to be a pain, unless he could assure himself that it would be so
forever.

They were in the wheat-field, busy with the last sheaves; she raking and
he binding. The farmer and younger children had gone to the barn with a
load. Jacob was working silently and steadily, but when they had reached
the end of a row, he stopped, wiped his wet brow, and suddenly said,
"Susan, I suppose to-day finishes my work here."

"Yes," she answered very slowly.

"And yet I'm very sorry to go."

"I--WE don't want you to go, if we could help it."

Jacob appeared to struggle with himself. He attempted to speak. "If I
could--" he brought out, and then paused. "Susan, would you be glad if I
came back?"

His eyes implored her to read his meaning. No doubt she read it
correctly, for her face flushed, her eyelids fell, and she barely
murmured, "Yes, Jacob."

"Then I'll come!" he cried; "I'll come and help you with the oats. Don't
talk of pay! Only tell me I'll be welcome! Susan, don't you believe I'll
keep my word?"

"I do indeed," said she, looking him firmly in the face.

That was all that was said at the time; but the two understood each
other tolerably well.

On the afternoon of the second day, Jacob saw again the lonely house of
his father. His journey was made, yet, if any of the neighbors had seen
him, they would never have believed that he had come back rich.

Samuel Flint turned away to hide a peculiar smile when he saw his son;
but little was said until late that evening, after Harry and Sally
had left. Then he required and received an exact account of Jacob's
experience during his absence. After hearing the story to the end, he
said, "And so you love this Susan Meadows?"

"I'd--I'd do any thing to be with her."

"Are you afraid of her?"

"No!" Jacob uttered the word so emphatically that it rang through the
house.

"Ah, well!" said the old man, lifting his eyes, and speaking in the air,
"all the harm may be mended yet. But there must be another test." Then
he was silent for some time.

"I have it!" he finally exclaimed. "Jacob, you must go back for the oats
harvest. You must ask Susan to be your wife, and ask her parents to let
you have her. But,--pay attention to my words!--you must tell her that
you are a poor, hired man on this place, and that she can be engaged as
housekeeper. Don't speak of me as your father, but as the owner of
the farm. Bring her here in that belief, and let me see how honest and
willing she is. I can easily arrange matters with Harry and Sally while
you are away; and I'll only ask you to keep up the appearance of the
thing for a month or so."

"But, father,"--Jacob began.

"Not a word! Are you not willing to do that much for the sake of having
her all your life, and this farm after me? Suppose it is covered with
a mortgage, if she is all you say, you two can work it off. Not a word
more! It is no lie, after all, that you will tell her."

"I am afraid," said Jacob, "that she could not leave her home now. She
is too useful there, and the family is so poor."

"Tell them that both your wages, for the first year, shall go to them.
It'll be my business to rake and scrape the money together somehow. Say,
too, that the housekeeper's place can't be kept for her--must be filled
at once. Push matters like a man, if you mean to be a complete one, and
bring her here, if she carries no more with her than the clothes on her
back!"

During the following days Jacob had time to familiarize his mind with
this startling proposal. He knew his father's stubborn will too well
to suppose that it could be changed; but the inevitable soon converted
itself into the possible and desirable. The sweet face of Susan as she
had stood before him in the wheat-field was continually present to his
eyes, and ere long, he began to place her, in his thoughts, in the old
rooms at home, in the garden, among the thickets by the brook, and in
Ann Pardon's pleasant parlor. Enough; his father's plan became his own
long before the time was out.

On his second journey everybody seemed to be an old acquaintance and an
intimate friend. It was evening as he approached the Meadows farm, but
the younger children recognized him in the dusk, and their cry of, "Oh,
here's Jacob!" brought out the farmer and his wife and Susan, with the
heartiest of welcomes. They had all missed him, they said--even the
horses and oxen had looked for him, and they were wondering how they
should get the oats harvested without him.

Jacob looked at Susan as the farmer said this, and her eyes seemed to
answer, "I said nothing, but I knew you would come." Then, first, he
felt sufficient courage for the task before him.

He rose the next morning, before any one was stirring, and waited until
she should come down stairs. The sun had not risen when she appeared,
with a milk-pail in each hand, walking unsuspectingly to the cow-yard.
He waylaid her, took the pails in his hand and said in nervous haste,
"Susan, will you be my wife?"

She stopped as if she had received a sudden blow; then a shy, sweet
consent seemed to run through her heart. "O Jacob!" was all she could
say.

"But you will, Susan?" he urged; and then (neither of them exactly knew
how it happened) all at once his arms were around her, and they had
kissed each other.

"Susan," he said, presently, "I am a poor man--only a farm hand, and
must work for my living. You could look for a better husband."

"I could never find a better than you, Jacob."

"Would you work with me, too, at the same place?"

"You know I am not afraid of work," she answered, "and I could never
want any other lot than yours."

Then he told her the story which his father had prompted. Her face grew
bright and happy as she listened, and he saw how from her very heart
she accepted the humble fortune. Only the thought of her parents threw
a cloud over the new and astonishing vision. Jacob, however, grew bolder
as he saw fulfilment of his hope so near. They took the pails and seated
themselves beside neighbor cows, one raising objections or misgivings
which the other manfully combated. Jacob's earnestness unconsciously ran
into his hands, as he discovered when the impatient cow began to snort
and kick.

The harvesting of the oats was not commenced that morning. The children
were sent away, and there was a council of four persons held in the
parlor. The result of mutual protestations and much weeping was, that
the farmer and his wife agreed to receive Jacob as a son-in-law; the
offer of the wages was four times refused by them, and then accepted;
and the chance of their being able to live and labor together was
finally decided to be too fortunate to let slip. When the shock and
surprise was over all gradually became cheerful, and, as the matter
was more calmly discussed, the first conjectured difficulties somehow
resolved themselves into trifles.

It was the simplest and quietest wedding,--at home, on an August
morning. Farmer Meadows then drove the bridal pair half-way on their
journey, to the old country tavern, where a fresh conveyance had been
engaged for them. The same evening they reached the farm-house in the
valley, and Jacob's happy mood gave place to an anxious uncertainty as
he remembered the period of deception upon which Susan was entering.
He keenly watched his father's face when they arrived, and was a little
relieved when he saw that his wife had made a good first impression.

"So, this is my new housekeeper," said the old man. "I hope you will
suit me as well as your husband does."

"I'll do my best, sir," said she; "but you must have patience with me
for a few days, until I know your ways and wishes."

"Mr. Flint," said Sally, "shall I get supper ready?" Susan looked up in
astonishment at hearing the name.

"Yes," the old man remarked, "we both have the same name. The fact is,
Jacob and I are a sort of relations."

Jacob, in spite of his new happiness, continued ill at ease, although
he could not help seeing how his father brightened under Susan's genial
influence, how satisfied he was with her quick, neat, exact ways and the
cheerfulness with which she fulfilled her duties. At the end of a week,
the old man counted out the wages agreed upon for both, and his delight
culminated at the frank simplicity with which Susan took what she
supposed she had fairly earned.

"Jacob," he whispered when she had left the room, "keep quiet one more
week, and then I'll let her know."

He had scarcely spoken, when Susan burst into the room again, crying,
"Jacob, they are coming, they have come!"

"Who?"

"Father and mother; and we didn't expect them, you know, for a week
yet."

All three went to the door as the visitors made their appearance on
the veranda. Two of the party stood as if thunderstruck, and two
exclamations came together:

"Samuel Flint!"

"Lucy Wheeler!"

There was a moment's silence; then the farmer's wife, with a visible
effort to compose herself, said, "Lucy Meadows, now."

The tears came into Samuel Flint's eyes. "Let us shake hands, Lucy," he
said: "my son has married your daughter."

All but Jacob were freshly startled at these words. The two shook hands,
and then Samuel, turning to Susan's father, said: "And this is your
husband, Lucy. I am glad to make his acquaintance."

"Your father, Jacob!" Susan cried; "what does it all mean?"

Jacob's face grew red, and the old habit of hanging his head nearly
came back upon him. He knew not what to say, and looked wistfully at his
father.

"Come into the house and sit down," said the latter. "I think we shall
all feel better when we have quietly and comfortably talked the matter
over."

They went into the quaint, old-fashioned parlor, which had already been
transformed by Susan's care, so that much of its shabbiness was hidden.
When all were seated, and Samuel Flint perceived that none of the others
knew what to say, he took a resolution which, for a man of his mood and
habit of life, required some courage.

"Three of us here are old people," he began, "and the two young ones
love each other. It was so long ago, Lucy, that it cannot be laid to my
blame if I speak of it now. Your husband, I see, has an honest heart,
and will not misunderstand either of us. The same thing often turns
up in life; it is one of those secrets that everybody knows, and that
everybody talks about except the persons concerned. When I was a young
man, Lucy, I loved you truly, and I faithfully meant to make you my
wife."

"I thought so too, for a while," said she, very calmly.

Farmer Meadows looked at his wife, and no face was ever more beautiful
than his, with that expression of generous pity shining through it.

"You know how I acted," Samuel Flint continued, "but our children must
also know that I broke off from you without giving any reason.
A woman came between us and made all the mischief. I was considered
rich then, and she wanted to secure my money for her daughter. I was an
innocent and unsuspecting young man, who believed that everybody else
was as good as myself; and the woman never rested until she had turned
me from my first love, and fastened me for life to another. Little by
little I discovered the truth; I kept the knowledge of the injury to
myself; I quickly got rid of the money which had so cursed me, and
brought my wife to this, the loneliest and dreariest place in the
neighborhood, where I forced upon her a life of poverty. I thought it
was a just revenge, but I was unjust. She really loved me: she was, if
not quite without blame in the matter, ignorant of the worst that had
been done (I learned all that too late), and she never complained,
though the change in me slowly wore out her life. I know now that I
was cruel; but at the same time I punished myself, and was innocently
punishing my son. But to HIM there was one way to make amends. 'I will
help him to a wife,' I said, 'who will gladly take poverty with him
and for his sake.' I forced him, against his will, to say that he was a
hired hand on this place, and that Susan must be content to be a hired
housekeeper. Now that I know Susan, I see that this proof might have
been left out; but I guess it has done no harm. The place is not so
heavily mortgaged as people think, and it will be Jacob's after I am
gone. And now forgive me, all of you,--Lucy first, for she has most
cause; Jacob next; and Susan,--that will be easier; and you, Friend
Meadows, if what I have said has been hard for you to hear."

The farmer stood up like a man, took Samuel's hand and his wife's, and
said, in a broken voice: "Lucy, I ask you, too, to forgive him, and I
ask you both to be good friends to each other."

Susan, dissolved in tears, kissed all of them in turn; but the happiest
heart there was Jacob's.

It was now easy for him to confide to his wife the complete story of
his troubles, and to find his growing self-reliance strengthened by her
quick, intelligent sympathy. The Pardons were better friends than
ever, and the fact, which at first created great astonishment in the
neighborhood, that Jacob Flint had really gone upon a journey and
brought home a handsome wife, began to change the attitude of the
people towards him. The old place was no longer so lonely; the nearest
neighbors began to drop in and insist on return visits. Now that Jacob
kept his head up, and they got a fair view of his face, they discovered
that he was not lacking, after all, in sense or social qualities.

In October, the Whitney place, which had been leased for several years,
was advertised to be sold at public sale. The owner had gone to the city
and become a successful merchant, had outlived his local attachments,
and now took advantage of a rise in real estate to disburden himself of
a property which he could not profitably control.

Everybody from far and wide attended the sale, and, when Jacob Flint and
his father arrived, everybody said to the former: "Of course you've
come to buy, Jacob." But each man laughed at his own smartness, and
considered the remark original with himself.

Jacob was no longer annoyed. He laughed, too, and answered: "I'm afraid
I can't do that; but I've kept half my word, which is more than most men
do."

"Jake's no fool, after all," was whispered behind him.

The bidding commenced, at first very spirited, and then gradually
slacking off, as the price mounted above the means of the neighboring
farmers. The chief aspirant was a stranger, a well-dressed man with
a lawyer's air, whom nobody knew. After the usual long pauses and
passionate exhortations, the hammer fell, and the auctioneer, turning to
the stranger, asked, "What name?"

"Jacob Flint!"

There was a general cry of surprise. All looked at Jacob, whose eyes and
mouth showed that he was as dumbfoundered as the rest.

The stranger walked coolly through the midst of the crowd to Samuel
Flint, and said, "When shall I have the papers drawn up?"

"As soon as you can," the old man replied; then seizing Jacob by the
arm, with the words, "Let's go home now!" he hurried him on.

The explanation soon leaked out. Samuel Flint had not thrown away his
wealth, but had put it out of his own hands. It was given privately to
trustees, to be held for his son, and returned when the latter should
have married with his father's consent. There was more than enough to
buy the Whitney place.

Jacob and Susan are happy in their stately home, and good as they are
happy. If any person in the neighborhood ever makes use of the phrase
"Jacob Flint's Journey," he intends thereby to symbolize the good
fortune which sometimes follows honesty, reticence, and shrewdness.



CAN A LIFE HIDE ITSELF?


I had been reading, as is my wont from time to time, one of the many
volumes of "The New Pitaval," that singular record of human crime and
human cunning, and also of the inevitable fatality which, in every
case, leaves a gate open for detection. Were it not for the latter fact,
indeed, one would turn with loathing from such endless chronicles
of wickedness. Yet these may be safely contemplated, when one has
discovered the incredible fatuity of crime, the certain weak mesh in
a network of devilish texture; or is it rather the agency of a power
outside of man, a subtile protecting principle, which allows the
operation of the evil element only that the latter may finally betray
itself? Whatever explanation we may choose, the fact is there, like a
tonic medicine distilled from poisonous plants, to brace our faith in
the ascendancy of Good in the government of the world.

Laying aside the book, I fell into a speculation concerning the mixture
of the two elements in man's nature. The life of an individual is
usually, it seemed to me, a series of RESULTS, the processes leading to
which are not often visible, or observed when they are so. Each act
is the precipitation of a number of mixed influences, more or less
unconsciously felt; the qualities of good and evil are so blended
therein that they defy the keenest moral analysis; and how shall we,
then, pretend to judge of any one? Perhaps the surest indication of evil
(I further reflected) is that it always tries to conceal itself, and
the strongest incitement to good is that evil cannot be concealed. The
crime, or the vice, or even the self-acknowledged weakness, becomes
a part of the individual consciousness; it cannot be forgotten or
outgrown. It follows a life through all experiences and to the uttermost
ends of the earth, pressing towards the light with a terrible, demoniac
power. There are noteless lives, of course--lives that accept obscurity,
mechanically run their narrow round of circumstance, and are lost; but
when a life endeavors to lose itself,--to hide some conscious guilt or
failure,--can it succeed? Is it not thereby lifted above the level of
common experience, compelling attention to itself by the very endeavor
to escape it?

I turned these questions over in my mind, without approaching, or indeed
expecting, any solution,--since I knew, from habit, the labyrinths into
which they would certainly lead me,--when a visitor was announced. It
was one of the directors of our county almshouse, who came on an errand
to which he attached no great importance. I owed the visit, apparently,
to the circumstance that my home lay in his way, and he could at once
relieve his conscience of a very trifling pressure and his pocket of a
small package, by calling upon me. His story was told in a few words;
the package was placed upon my table, and I was again left to my
meditations.

Two or three days before, a man who had the appearance of a "tramp" had
been observed by the people of a small village in the neighborhood. He
stopped and looked at the houses in a vacant way, walked back and forth
once or twice as if uncertain which of the cross-roads to take, and
presently went on without begging or even speaking to any one. Towards
sunset a farmer, on his way to the village store, found him sitting at
the roadside, his head resting against a fence-post. The man's face was
so worn and exhausted that the farmer kindly stopped and addressed him;
but he gave no other reply than a shake of the head.

The farmer thereupon lifted him into his light country-wagon, the man
offering no resistance, and drove to the tavern, where, his exhaustion
being so evident, a glass of whiskey was administered to him. He
afterwards spoke a few words in German, which no one understood. At the
almshouse, to which he was transported the same evening, he refused to
answer the customary questions, although he appeared to understand
them. The physician was obliged to use a slight degree of force in
administering nourishment and medicine, but neither was of any avail.
The man died within twenty-four hours after being received. His pockets
were empty, but two small leathern wallets were found under his pillow;
and these formed the package which the director left in my charge. They
were full of papers in a foreign language, he said, and he supposed I
might be able to ascertain the stranger's name and home from them.

I took up the wallets, which were worn and greasy from long service,
opened them, and saw that they were filled with scraps, fragments, and
folded pieces of paper, nearly every one of which had been carried for
a long time loose in the pocket. Some were written in pen and ink,
and some in pencil, but all were equally brown, worn, and unsavory in
appearance. In turning them over, however, my eye was caught by some
slips in the Russian character, and three or four notes in French;
the rest were German. I laid aside "Pitaval" at once, emptied all
the leathern pockets carefully, and set about examining the pile of
material.

I first ran rapidly through the papers to ascertain the dead man's name,
but it was nowhere to be found. There were half a dozen letters, written
on sheets folded and addressed in the fashion which prevailed before
envelopes were invented; but the name was cut out of the address in
every case. There was an official permit to embark on board a Bremen
steamer, mutilated in the same way; there was a card photograph, from
which the face had been scratched by a penknife. There were Latin
sentences; accounts of expenses; a list of New York addresses, covering
eight pages; and a number of notes, written either in Warsaw or Breslau.
A more incongruous collection I never saw, and I am sure that had it not
been for the train of thought I was pursuing when the director called
upon me, I should have returned the papers to him without troubling my
head with any attempt to unravel the man's story.

The evidence, however, that he had endeavored to hide his life, had been
revealed by my first superficial examination; and here, I reflected,
was a singular opportunity to test both his degree of success and my own
power of constructing a coherent history out of the detached fragments.
Unpromising as is the matter, said I, let me see whether he can conceal
his secret from even such unpractised eyes as mine.

I went through the papers again, read each one rapidly, and arranged
them in separate files, according to the character of their contents.
Then I rearranged these latter in the order of time, so far as it
was indicated; and afterwards commenced the work of picking out and
threading together whatever facts might be noted. The first thing I
ascertained, or rather conjectured, was that the man's life might be
divided into three very distinct phases, the first ending in Breslau,
the second in Poland, and the third and final one in America. Thereupon
I once again rearranged the material, and attacked that which related to
the first phase.

It consisted of the following papers: Three letters, in a female hand,
commencing "My dear brother," and terminating with "Thy loving sister,
Elise;" part of a diploma from a gymnasium, or high school, certifying
that [here the name was cut out] had successfully passed his
examination, and was competent to teach,--and here again, whether by
accident or design, the paper was torn off; a note, apparently to a
jeweller, ordering a certain gold ring to be delivered to "Otto," and
signed "B. V. H.;" a receipt from the package-post for a box forwarded
to Warsaw, to the address of Count Ladislas Kasincsky; and finally
a washing-list, at the bottom of which was written, in pencil, in a
trembling hand: "May God protect thee! But do not stay away so very
long."

In the second collection, relating to Poland, I found the following: Six
orders in Russian and three in French, requesting somebody to send by
"Jean" sums of money, varying from two to eight hundred rubles. These
orders were in the same hand, and all signed "Y." A charming letter in
French, addressed "cher ami," and declining, in the most delicate and
tender way, an offer of marriage made to the sister of the writer, of
whose signature only "Amelie de" remained, the family name having been
torn off. A few memoranda of expenses, one of which was curious: "Dinner
with Jean, 58 rubles;" and immediately after it: "Doctor, 10 rubles."
There were, moreover, a leaf torn out of a journal, and half of a note
which had been torn down the middle, both implicating "Jean" in some way
with the fortunes of the dead man.

The papers belonging to the American phase, so far as they were to be
identified by dates, or by some internal evidence, were fewer, but even
more enigmatical in character. The principal one was a list of addresses
in New York, divided into sections, the street boundaries of which were
given. There were no names, but some of the addresses were marked +, and
others?, and a few had been crossed out with a pencil. Then there were
some leaves of a journal of diet and bodily symptoms, of a very singular
character; three fragments of drafts of letters, in pencil, one of
them commencing, "Dog and villain!" and a single note of "Began work,
September 10th, 1865." This was about a year before his death.

The date of the diploma given by the gymnasium at Breslau was June 27,
1855, and the first date in Poland was May 3, 1861. Belonging to the
time between these two periods there were only the order for the ring
(1858), and a little memorandum in pencil, dated "Posen, Dec., 1859."
The last date in Poland was March 18, 1863, and the permit to embark at
Bremen was dated in October of that year. Here, at least, was a slight
chronological framework. The physician who attended the county almshouse
had estimated the man's age at thirty, which, supposing him to have been
nineteen at the time of receiving the diploma, confirmed the dates to
that extent.

I assumed, at the start, that the name which had been so carefully cut
out of all the documents was the man's own. The "Elise" of the letters
was therefore his sister. The first two letters related merely to
"mother's health," and similar details, from which it was impossible to
extract any thing, except that the sister was in some kind of service.
The second letter closed with: "I have enough work to do, but I keep
well. Forget thy disappointment so far as _I_ am concerned, for I never
expected any thing; I don't know why, but I never did."

Here was a disappointment, at least, to begin with. I made a note of it
opposite the date, on my blank programme, and took up the next letter.
It was written in November, 1861, and contained a passage which keenly
excited my curiosity. It ran thus: "Do, pray, be more careful of thy
money. It may be all as thou sayest, and inevitable, but I dare not
mention the thing to mother, and five thalers is all I can spare out
of my own wages. As for thy other request, I have granted it, as thou
seest, but it makes me a little anxious. What is the joke? And how can
it serve thee? That is what I do not understand, and I have plagued
myself not a little to guess."

Among the Polish memoranda was this: "Sept. 1 to Dec. 1, 200 rubles,"
which I assumed to represent a salary. This would give him eight hundred
a year, at least twelve times the amount which his sister--who must
either have been cook or housekeeper, since she spoke of going to market
for the family--could have received. His application to her for money,
and the manner of her reference to it, indicated some imprudence or
irregularity on his part. What the "other request" was, I could
not guess; but as I was turning and twisting the worn leaf in some
perplexity, I made a sudden discovery. One side of the bottom edge had
been very slightly doubled over in folding, and as I smoothed it out, I
noticed some diminutive letters in the crease. The paper had been worn
nearly through, but I made out the words: "Write very soon, dear Otto!"

This was the name in the order for the gold ring, signed "B. V. H."--a
link, indeed, but a fresh puzzle. Knowing the stubborn prejudices of
caste in Germany, and above all in Eastern Prussia and Silesia, I should
have been compelled to accept "Otto," whose sister was in service,
as himself the servant of "B. V. H.," but for the tenderly respectful
letter of "Amelie de----," declining the marriage offer for her sister.
I re-read this letter very carefully, to determine whether it was really
intended for "Otto." It ran thus:


    "DEAR FRIEND,--I will not say that your letter was entirely
    unexpected, either to Helmine or myself.  I should, perhaps, have
    less faith in the sincerity of your attachment if you had not
    already involuntarily betrayed it.  When I say that although I
    detected the inclination of your heart some weeks ago, and that I
    also saw it was becoming evident to my sister, yet I refrained from
    mentioning the subject at all until she came to me last evening
    with your letter in her hand,--when I say this, you will understand
    that I have acted towards you with the respect and sympathy which
    I profoundly feel.  Helmine fully shares this feeling, and her poor
    heart is too painfully moved to allow her to reply.  Do I not say,
    in saying this, what her reply must be?  But, though her heart
    cannot respond to your love, she hopes you will always believe her
    a friend to whom your proffered devotion was an honor, and will
    be--if you will subdue it to her deserts--a grateful thing to
    remember.  We shall remain in Warsaw a fortnight longer, as I think
    yourself will agree that it is better we should not
    immediately return to the castle.  Jean, who must carry a fresh
    order already, will bring you this, and we hope to have good news
    of Henri.  I send back the papers, which were unnecessary; we never
    doubted you, and we shall of course keep your secret so long as you
    choose to wear it.
                                        "AMELIE DE----"


The more light I seemed to obtain, the more inexplicable the
circumstances became. The diploma and the note of salary were grounds
for supposing that "Otto" occupied the position of tutor in a noble
Polish family. There was the receipt for a box addressed to Count
Ladislas Kasincsky, and I temporarily added his family name to the
writer of the French letter, assuming her to be his wife. "Jean"
appeared to be a servant, and "Henri" I set down as the son whom Otto
was instructing in the castle or family seat in the country, while the
parents were in warsaw. Plausible, so far; but the letter was not such
a one as a countess would have written to her son's tutor, under similar
circumstances. It was addressed to a social equal, apparently to a man
younger than herself, and for whom--supposing him to have been a tutor,
secretary, or something of the kind--she must have felt a special
sympathy. Her mention of "the papers" and "your secret" must refer to
circumstances which would explain the mystery. "So long as you choose to
WEAR it," she had written: then it was certainly a secret connected with
his personal history.

Further, it appeared that "Jean" was sent to him with "an order." What
could this be, but one of the nine orders for money which lay before my
eyes? I examined the dates of the latter, and lo! there was one written
upon the same day as the lady's letter. The sums drawn by these orders
amounted in all to four thousand two hundred rubles. But how should a
tutor or secretary be in possession of his employer's money? Still, this
might be accounted for; it would imply great trust on the part of the
latter, but no more than one man frequently reposes in another. Yet, if
it were so, one of the memoranda confronted me with a conflicting
fact: "Dinner with Jean, 58 rubles." The unusual amount--nearly fifty
dollars--indicated an act of the most reckless dissipation, and in
company with a servant, if "Jean," as I could scarcely doubt, acted in
that character. I finally decided to assume both these conjectures as
true, and apply them to the remaining testimony.

I first took up the leaf which had been torn out of a small journal or
pocket note-book, as was manifested by the red edge on three sides.
It was scribbled over with brief notes in pencil, written at different
times. Many of them were merely mnemonic signs; but the recurrence of
the letters J and Y seemed to point to transactions with "Jean," and the
drawer of the various sums of money. The letter Y reminded me that I
had been too hasty in giving the name of Kasincsky to the noble family;
indeed, the name upon the post-office receipt might have no connection
with the matter I was trying to investigate.

Suddenly I noticed a "Ky" among the mnemonic signs, and the suspicion
flashed across my mind that Count Kasincsky had signed the order with
the last letter of his family name! To assume this, however, suggested
a secret reason for doing so; and I began to think that I had already
secrets enough on hand.

The leaf was much rubbed and worn, and it was not without considerable
trouble that I deciphered the following (omitting the unintelligible
signs):

"Oct. 30 (Nov. 12)--talk with Y; 20--Jean. Consider.

"Nov. 15--with J--H--hope.

"Dec. 1--Told the C. No knowledge of S--therefore safe. Uncertain of----
C to Warsaw. Met J. as agreed. Further and further.

"Dec. 27--All for naught! All for naught!

"Jan. 19, '63--Sick. What is to be the end? Threats. No tidings of Y.
Walked the streets all day. At night as usual.

"March 1--News. The C. and H. left yesterday. No more to hope. Let it
come, then!"


These broken words warmed my imagination powerfully. Looking at them in
the light of my conjecture, I was satisfied that "Otto" was involved
in some crime, or dangerous secret, of which "Jean" was either the
instigator or the accomplice. "Y.," or Count Kasincsky,--and I was more
than ever inclined to connect the two,---also had his mystery, which
might, or might not, be identical with the first. By comparing dates, I
found that the entry made December 27 was three days later than the date
of the letter of "Amelie de----"; and the exclamation "All for naught!"
certainly referred to the disappointment it contained. I now guessed
the "H." in the second entry to mean "Helmine." The two last suggested
a removal to Warsaw from the country. Here was a little more ground to
stand on; but how should I ever get at the secret?

I took up the torn half of a note, which, after the first inspection,
I had laid aside as a hopeless puzzle. A closer examination revealed
several things which failed to impress me at the outset. It was written
in a strong and rather awkward masculine hand; several words were
underscored, two misspelled, and I felt--I scarcely knew why--that it
was written in a spirit of mingled contempt and defiance. Let me give
the fragment just as it lay before me:


"ARON!

       It is quite time
              be done.  Who knows
             is not his home by this
           CONCERN FOR THE
             that they are well off,
           sian officers are
              cide at once, my
              risau, or I must
             t TEN DAYS DELAY
             money can be divi-
            tier, and you may
              ever you please.
              untess goes, and she
            will know who you
                    time, unless you carry
           friend or not
                decide,
                   ann Helm."


Here, I felt sure, was the clue to much of the mystery. The first thing
that struck me was the appearance of a new name. I looked at it again,
ran through in my mind all possible German names, and found that it
could only be "Johann,"--and in the same instant I recalled the frequent
habit of the Prussian and Polish nobility of calling their German valets
by French names. This, then, was "Jean!" The address was certainly
"Baron," and why thrice underscored, unless in contemptuous satire?
Light began to break upon the matter at last. "Otto" had been playing
the part, perhaps assuming the name, of a nobleman, seduced to the
deception by his passion for the Countess' sister, Helmine. This
explained the reference to "the papers," and "the secret," and would
account for the respectful and sympathetic tone of the Countess' letter.
But behind this there was certainly another secret, in which "Y."
(whoever he might be) was concerned, and which related to money. The
close of the note, which I filled out to read, "Your friend or not, as
you may decide," conveyed a threat, and, to judge from the halves of
lines immediately preceding it, the threat referred to the money, as
well as to the betrayal of an assumed character.

Here, just as the story began to appear in faint outline, my discoveries
stopped for a while. I ascertained the breadth of the original note by a
part of the middle-crease which remained, filled out the torn part
with blank paper, completed the divided words in the same character of
manuscript, and endeavored to guess the remainder, but no clairvoyant
power of divination came to my aid. I turned over the letters again,
remarking the neatness with which the addresses had been cut off, and
wondering why the man had not destroyed the letters and other memoranda
entirely, if he wished to hide a possible crime. The fact that they were
not destroyed showed the hold which his past life had had upon him even
to his dying hour. Weak and vain, as I had already suspected him to
be,--wanting in all manly fibre, and of the very material which a keen,
energetic villain would mould to his needs,--I felt that his love for
his sister and for "Helmine," and other associations connected with his
life in Germany and Poland, had made him cling to these worn records.

I know not what gave me the suspicion that he had not even found the
heart to destroy the exscinded names; perhaps the care with which they
had been removed; perhaps, in two instances, the circumstance of their
taking words out of the body of the letters with them. But the suspicion
came, and led to a re-examination of the leathern wallets. I could
scarcely believe my eyes, when feeling something rustle faintly as I
pressed the thin lining of an inner pocket, I drew forth three or four
small pellets of paper, and unrolling them, found the lost addresses!
I fitted them to the vacant places, and found that the first letters of
the sister in Breslau had been forwarded to "Otto Lindenschmidt," while
the letter to Poland was addressed "Otto von Herisau."

I warmed with this success, which exactly tallied with the previous
discoveries, and returned again to the Polish memoranda The words
"[Rus]sian officers" in "Jean's" note led me to notice that it had
been written towards the close of the last insurrection in Poland--a
circumstance which I immediately coupled with some things in the note
and on the leaf of the journal. "No tidings of Y" might indicate that
Count Kasincsky had been concerned in the rebellion, and had fled, or
been taken prisoner. Had he left a large amount of funds in the hands
of the supposed Otto von Herisau, which were drawn from time to time by
orders, the form of which had been previously agreed upon? Then, when he
had disappeared, might it not have been the remaining funds which Jean
urged Otto to divide with him, while the latter, misled and entangled in
deception rather than naturally dishonest, held back from such a step?
I could hardly doubt so much, and it now required but a slight effort of
the imagination to complete the torn note.

The next letter of the sister was addressed to Bremen. After having
established so many particulars, I found it easily intelligible. "I have
done what I can," she wrote. "I put it in this letter; it is all I have.
But do not ask me for money again; mother is ailing most of the time,
and I have not yet dared to tell her all. I shall suffer great anxiety
until I hear that the vessel has sailed. My mistress is very good; she
has given me an advance on my wages, or I could not have sent thee any
thing. Mother thinks thou art still in Leipzig: why didst thou stay
there so long? but no difference; thy money would have gone anyhow."

It was nevertheless singular that Otto should be without money, so soon
after the appropriation of Count Kasincsky's funds. If the "20" in
the first memorandum on the leaf meant "twenty thousand rubles," as I
conjectured, and but four thousand two hundred were drawn by the Count
previous to his flight or imprisonment, Otto's half of the remainder
would amount to nearly eight thousand rubles; and it was, therefore, not
easy to account for his delay in Leipzig, and his destitute condition.

Before examining the fragments relating to the American phase of
his life,--which illustrated his previous history only by occasional
revelations of his moods and feelings,--I made one more effort to guess
the cause of his having assumed the name of "Von Herisau." The initials
signed to the order for the ring ("B. V. H.") certainly stood for the
same family name; and the possession of papers belonging to one of
the family was an additional evidence that Otto had either been in the
service of, or was related to, some Von Herisau. Perhaps a sentence in
one of the sister's letters--"Forget thy disappointment so far as _I_ am
concerned, for I never expected any thing"--referred to something of the
kind. On the whole, service seemed more likely than kinship; but in that
case the papers must have been stolen.

I had endeavored, from the start, to keep my sympathies out of the
investigation, lest they should lead me to misinterpret the broken
evidence, and thus defeat my object. It must have been the Countess'
letter, and the brief, almost stenographic, signs of anxiety and
unhappiness on the leaf of the journal, that first beguiled me into a
commiseration, which the simple devotion and self-sacrifice of the poor,
toiling sister failed to neutralize. However, I detected the feeling at
this stage of the examination, and turned to the American records, in
order to get rid of it.

The principal paper was the list of addresses of which I have spoken. I
looked over it in vain, to find some indication of its purpose; yet it
had been carefully made out and much used. There was no name of a person
upon it,--only numbers and streets, one hundred and thirty-eight in all.
Finally, I took these, one by one, to ascertain if any of the houses
were known to me, and found three, out of the whole number, to be the
residences of persons whom I knew. One was a German gentleman, and the
other two were Americans who had visited Germany. The riddle was read!
During a former residence in New York, I had for a time been quite
overrun by destitute Germans,--men, apparently, of some culture, who
represented themselves as theological students, political refugees,
or unfortunate clerks and secretaries,--soliciting assistance. I found
that, when I gave to one, a dozen others came within the next fortnight;
when I refused, the persecution ceased for about the same length of
time. I became convinced, at last, that these persons were members of an
organized society of beggars, and the result proved it; for when I
made it an inviolable rule to give to no one who could not bring me an
indorsement of his need by some person whom I knew, the annoyance ceased
altogether.

The meaning of the list of addresses was now plain. My nascent
commiseration for the man was not only checked, but I was in danger of
changing my role from that of culprit's counsel to that of prosecuting
attorney.

When I took up again the fragment of the first draught of a letter
commencing, "Dog and villain!" and applied it to the words "Jean" or
"Johann Helm," the few lines which could be deciphered became full of
meaning. "Don't think," it began, "that I have forgotten you, or the
trick you played me! If I was drunk or drugged the last night, I know
how it happened, for all that. I left, but I shall go back. And if you
make use of" (here some words were entirely obliterated).... "is true.
He gave me the ring, and meant".... This was all I could make out. The
other papers showed only scattered memoranda, of money, or appointments,
or addresses, with the exception of the diary in pencil.

I read the letter attentively, and at first with very little idea of
its meaning. Many of the words were abbreviated, and there were some
arbitrary signs. It ran over a period of about four months, terminating
six weeks before the man's death. He had been wandering about the
country during this period, sleeping in woods and barns, and living
principally upon milk. The condition of his pulse and other physical
functions was scrupulously set down, with an occasional remark of "good"
or "bad." The conclusion was at last forced upon me that he had been
endeavoring to commit suicide by a slow course of starvation and
exposure. Either as the cause or the result of this attempt, I read, in
the final notes, signs of an aberration of mind. This also explained
the singular demeanor of the man when found, and his refusal to take
medicine or nourishment. He had selected a long way to accomplish his
purpose, but had reached the end at last.

The confused material had now taken shape; the dead man, despite his
will, had confessed to me his name and the chief events of his life.
It now remained--looking at each event as the result of a long chain of
causes--to deduce from them the elements of his individual character,
and then fill up the inevitable gaps in the story from the probabilities
of the operation of those elements. This was not so much a mere venture
as the reader may suppose, because the two actions of the mind test
each other. If they cannot, thus working towards a point and back again,
actually discover what WAS, they may at least fix upon a very probable
MIGHT HAVE BEEN.

A person accustomed to detective work would have obtained my little
stock of facts with much less trouble, and would, almost instinctively,
have filled the blanks as he went along. Being an apprentice in such
matters, I had handled the materials awkwardly. I will not here retrace
my own mental zigzags between character and act, but simply repeat the
story as I finally settled and accepted it.

Otto Lindenschmidt was the child of poor parents in or near Breslau. His
father died when he was young; his mother earned a scanty subsistence
as a washerwoman; his sister went into service. Being a bright,
handsome boy, he attracted the attention of a Baron von Herisau, an old,
childless, eccentric gentleman, who took him first as page or attendant,
intending to make him a superior valet de chambre. Gradually, however,
the Baron fancied that he detected in the boy a capacity for better
things; his condescending feeling of protection had grown into an
attachment for the handsome, amiable, grateful young fellow, and he
placed him in the gymnasium at Breslau, perhaps with the idea, now, of
educating him to be an intelligent companion.

The boy and his humble relatives, dazzled by this opportunity, began
secretly to consider the favor as almost equivalent to his adoption as
a son. (The Baron had once been married, but his wife and only child had
long been dead.) The old man, of course, came to look upon the growing
intelligence of the youth as his own work: vanity and affection became
inextricably blended in his heart, and when the cursus was over, he took
him home as the companion of his lonely life. After two or three
years, during which the young man was acquiring habits of idleness and
indulgence, supposing his future secure, the Baron died,--perhaps too
suddenly to make full provision for him, perhaps after having kept up
the appearance of wealth on a life-annuity, but, in any case, leaving
very little, if any, property to Otto. In his disappointment, the latter
retained certain family papers which the Baron had intrusted to his
keeping. The ring was a gift, and he wore it in remembrance of his
benefactor.

Wandering about, Micawber-like, in hopes that something might turn up,
he reached Posen, and there either met or heard of the Polish Count,
Ladislas Kasincsky, who was seeking a tutor for his only son. His
accomplishments, and perhaps, also, a certain aristocratic grace of
manner unconsciously caught from the Baron von Herisau, speedily won for
him the favor of the Count and Countess Kasincsky, and emboldened him to
hope for the hand of the Countess' sister, Helmine ----, to whom he was
no doubt sincerely attached. Here Johann Helm, or "Jean," a confidential
servant of the Count, who looked upon the new tutor as a rival,
yet adroitly flattered his vanity for the purpose of misleading and
displacing him, appears upon the stage. "Jean" first detected Otto's
passion; "Jean," at an epicurean dinner, wormed out of Otto the secret
of the Herisau documents, and perhaps suggested the part which the
latter afterwards played.

This "Jean" seemed to me to have been the evil agency in the miserable
history which followed. After Helmine's rejection of Otto's suit, and
the flight or captivity of Count Kasincsky, leaving a large sum of money
in Otto's hands, it would be easy for "Jean," by mingled persuasions and
threats, to move the latter to flight, after dividing the money still
remaining in his hands. After the theft, and the partition, which took
place beyond the Polish frontier, "Jean" in turn, stole his accomplice's
share, together with the Von Herisau documents.

Exile and a year's experience of organized mendicancy did the rest.

Otto Lindenschmidt was one of those natures which possess no moral
elasticity--which have neither the power nor the comprehension
of atonement. The first real, unmitigated guilt--whether great
or small--breaks them down hopelessly. He expected no chance of
self-redemption, and he found none. His life in America was so utterly
dark and hopeless that the brightest moment in it must have been that
which showed him the approach of death.

My task was done. I had tracked this weak, vain, erring, hunted soul to
its last refuge, and the knowledge bequeathed to me but a single duty.
His sins were balanced by his temptations; his vanity and weakness
had revenged themselves; and there only remained to tell the simple,
faithful sister that her sacrifices were no longer required. I burned
the evidences of guilt, despair and suicide, and sent the other
papers, with a letter relating the time and circumstances of Otto
Lindenschmidt's death, to the civil authorities of Breslau, requesting
that they might be placed in the hands of his sister Elise.

This, I supposed, was the end of the history, so far as my connection
with it was concerned. But one cannot track a secret with impunity;
the fatality connected with the act and the actor clings even to the
knowledge of the act. I had opened my door a little, in order to look
out upon the life of another, but in doing so a ghost had entered in,
and was not to be dislodged until I had done its service.

In the summer of 1867 I was in Germany, and during a brief journey
of idlesse and enjoyment came to the lovely little watering-place of
Liebenstein, on the southern slope of the Thuringian Forest. I had no
expectation or even desire of making new acquaintances among the gay
company who took their afternoon coffee under the noble linden trees on
the terrace; but, within the first hour of my after-dinner leisure, I
was greeted by an old friend, an author, from Coburg, and carried away,
in my own despite, to a group of his associates. My friend and his
friends had already been at the place a fortnight, and knew the very
tint and texture of its gossip. While I sipped my coffee, I listened
to them with one ear, and to Wagner's overture to "Lohengrin" with
the other; and I should soon have been wholly occupied with the fine
orchestra had I not been caught and startled by an unexpected name.

"Have you noticed," some one asked, "how much attention the Baron von
Herisau is paying her?"

I whirled round and exclaimed, in a breath, "The Baron von Herisau!"

"Yes," said my friend; "do you know him?"

I was glad that three crashing, tremendous chords came from the
orchestra just then, giving me time to collect myself before I replied:
"I am not sure whether it is the same person: I knew a Baron von Herisau
long ago: how old is the gentleman here?"

"About thirty-five, I should think," my friend answered.

"Ah, then it can't be the same person," said I: "still, if he should
happen to pass near us, will you point him out to me?"

It was an hour later, and we were all hotly discussing the question of
Lessing's obligations to English literature, when one of the gentlemen
at the table said: "There goes the Baron von Herisau: is it perhaps your
friend, sir?"

I turned and saw a tall man, with prominent nose, opaque black eyes, and
black mustache, walking beside a pretty, insipid girl. Behind the
pair went an elderly couple, overdressed and snobbish in appearance. A
carriage, with servants in livery, waited in the open space below the
terrace, and having received the two couples, whirled swiftly away
towards Altenstein.

Had I been more of a philosopher I should have wasted no second thought
on the Baron von Herisau. But the Nemesis of the knowledge which I had
throttled poor Otto Lindenschmidt's ghost to obtain had come upon me at
last, and there was no rest for me until I had discovered who and what
was the Baron. The list of guests which the landlord gave me whetted
my curiosity to a painful degree; for on it I found the entry: "Aug.
15.--Otto V. Herisau, Rentier, East Prussia."

It was quite dark when the carriage returned. I watched the company into
the supper-room, and then, whisking in behind them, secured a place at
the nearest table. I had an hour of quiet, stealthy observation before
my Coburg friend discovered me, and by that time I was glad of his
company and had need of his confidence. But, before making use of him in
the second capacity, I desired to make the acquaintance of the adjoining
partie carree. He had bowed to them familiarly in passing, and when the
old gentleman said, "Will you not join us, Herr ----?" I answered my
friend's interrogative glance with a decided affirmative, and we moved
to the other table.

My seat was beside the Baron von Herisau, with whom I exchanged the
usual commonplaces after an introduction. His manner was cold and
taciturn, I thought, and there was something forced in the smile which
accompanied his replies to the remarks of the coarse old lady, who
continually referred to the "Herr Baron" as authority upon every
possible subject. I noticed, however, that he cast a sudden, sharp
glance at me, when I was presented to the company as an American.

The man's neighborhood disturbed me. I was obliged to let the
conversation run in the channels already selected, and stupid enough I
found them. I was considering whether I should not give a signal to my
friend and withdraw, when the Baron stretched his hand across the table
for a bottle of Affenthaler, and I caught sight of a massive gold ring
on his middle finger. Instantly I remembered the ring which "B. V. H."
had given to Otto Lindenschmidt, and I said to myself, "That is it!"
The inference followed like lightning that it was "Johann Helm" who sat
beside me, and not a Baron von Herisau!


That evening my friend and I had a long, absorbing conversation in my
room. I told him the whole story, which came back vividly to memory, and
learned, in return, that the reputed Baron was supposed to be wealthy,
that the old gentleman was a Bremen merchant or banker, known to be
rich, that neither was considered by those who had met them to be
particularly intelligent or refined, and that the wooing of the daughter
had already become so marked as to be a general subject of gossip.
My friend was inclined to think my conjecture correct, and willingly
co-operated with me in a plan to test the matter. We had no considerable
sympathy with the snobbish parents, whose servility to a title was
so apparent; but the daughter seemed to be an innocent and amiable
creature, however silly, and we determined to spare her the shame of an
open scandal.

If our scheme should seem a little melodramatic, it must not be
forgotten that my friend was an author. The next morning, as the Baron
came up the terrace after his visit to the spring, I stepped forward and
greeted him politely, after which I said: "I see by the strangers' list
that you are from East Prussia, Baron; have you ever been in Poland?" At
that moment, a voice behind him called out rather sharply, "Jean!" The
Baron started, turned round and then back to me, and all his art
could not prevent the blood from rushing to his face. I made, as if by
accident, a gesture with my hand, indicating success, and went a step
further.

"Because," said I, "I am thinking of making a visit to Cracow and
Warsaw, and should be glad of any information--"

"Certainly!" he interrupted me, "and I should be very glad to give it,
if I had ever visited Poland."

"At least," I continued, "you can advise me upon one point; but excuse
me, shall we not sit down a moment yonder? As my question relates to
money, I should not wish to be overheard."

I pointed out a retired spot, just before reaching which we were joined
by my friend, who suddenly stepped out from behind a clump of lilacs.
The Baron and he saluted each other.

"Now," said I to the former, "I can ask your advice, Mr. Johann Helm!"

He was not an adept, after all. His astonishment and confusion were
brief, to be sure, but they betrayed him so completely that his
after-impulse to assume a haughty, offensive air only made us smile.

"If I had a message to you from Otto Lindenschmidt, what then?" I asked.

He turned pale, and presently stammered out, "He--he is dead!"

"Now," said my friend, "it is quite time to drop the mask before us. You
see we know you, and we know your history. Not from Otto Lindenschmidt
alone; Count Ladislas Kasincsky--"

"What! Has he come back from Siberia?" exclaimed Johann Helm. His face
expressed abject terror; I think he would have fallen upon his knees
before us if he had not somehow felt, by a rascal's instinct, that we
had no personal wrongs to redress in unmasking him.

Our object, however, was to ascertain through him the complete facts of
Otto Lindenschmidt's history, and then to banish him from Liebenstein.
We allowed him to suppose for awhile that we were acting under the
authority of persons concerned, in order to make the best possible use
of his demoralized mood, for we knew it would not last long.

My guesses were very nearly correct. Otto Lindenschmidt had been
educated by an old Baron, Bernhard von Herisau, on account of his
resemblance in person to a dead son, whose name had also been Otto.

He could not have adopted the plebeian youth, at least to the extent
of giving him an old and haughty name, but this the latter nevertheless
expected, up to the time of the Baron's death. He had inherited a
little property from his benefactor, but soon ran through it. "He was
a light-headed fellow," said Johann Helm, "but he knew how to get
the confidence of the old Junkers. If he hadn't been so cowardly and
fidgety, he might have made himself a career."

The Polish episode differed so little from my interpretation that I need
not repeat Helm's version. He denied having stolen Otto's share of the
money, but could not help admitting his possession of the Von Herisau
papers, among which were the certificates of birth and baptism of
the old Baron's son, Otto. It seems that he had been fearful of
Lindenschmidt's return from America, for he managed to communicate with
his sister in Breslau, and in this way learned the former's death. Not
until then had he dared to assume his present disguise.

We let him go, after exacting a solemn pledge that he would betake
himself at once to Hamburg, and there ship for Australia. (I judged that
America was already amply supplied with individuals of his class.) The
sudden departure of the Baron von Herisau was a two days' wonder at
Liebenstein; but besides ourselves, only the Bremen banker knew
the secret. He also left, two days afterwards, with his wife and
daughter--their cases, it was reported, requiring Kissingen.

Otto Lindenschmidt's life, therefore, could not hide itself. Can any
life?



TWIN-LOVE.


When John Vincent, after waiting twelve years, married Phebe Etheridge,
the whole neighborhood experienced that sense of relief and satisfaction
which follows the triumph of the right. Not that the fact of a true love
is ever generally recognized and respected when it is first discovered;
for there is a perverse quality in American human nature which will not
accept the existence of any fine, unselfish passion, until it has been
tested and established beyond peradventure. There were two views of the
case when John Vincent's love for Phebe, and old Reuben Etheridge's hard
prohibition of the match, first became known to the community. The girls
and boys, and some of the matrons, ranged themselves at once on the side
of the lovers, but a large majority of the older men and a few of the
younger supported the tyrannical father.

Reuben Etheridge was rich, and, in addition to what his daughter would
naturally inherit from him, she already possessed more than her lover,
at the time of their betrothal. This in the eyes of one class was a
sufficient reason for the father's hostility. When low natures live
(as they almost invariably do) wholly in the present, they neither
take tenderness from the past nor warning from the possibilities of the
future. It is the exceptional men and women who remember their youth.
So, these lovers received a nearly equal amount of sympathy and
condemnation; and only slowly, partly through their quiet fidelity and
patience, and partly through the improvement in John Vincent's
worldly circumstances, was the balance changed. Old Reuben remained an
unflinching despot to the last: if any relenting softness touched his
heart, he sternly concealed it; and such inference as could be drawn
from the fact that he, certainly knowing what would follow his death,
bequeathed his daughter her proper share of his goods, was all that
could be taken for consent.

They were married: John, a grave man in middle age, weather-beaten
and worn by years of hard work and self-denial, yet not beyond the
restoration of a milder second youth; and Phebe a sad, weary woman,
whose warmth of longing had been exhausted, from whom youth and its
uncalculating surrenders of hope and feeling had gone forever. They
began their wedded life under the shadow of the death out of which
it grew; and when, after a ceremony in which neither bridesmaid nor
groomsman stood by their side, they united their divided homes, it
seemed to their neighbors that a separated husband and wife had come
together again, not that the relation was new to either.

John Vincent loved his wife with the tenderness of an innocent man,
but all his tenderness could not avail to lift the weight of settled
melancholy which had gathered upon her. Disappointment, waiting,
yearning, indulgence in long lament and self-pity, the morbid
cultivation of unhappy fancies--all this had wrought its work upon her,
and it was too late to effect a cure. In the night she awoke to weep at
his side, because of the years when she had awakened to weep alone;
by day she kept up her old habit of foreboding, although the evening
steadily refuted the morning; and there were times when, without any
apparent cause, she would fall into a dark, despairing mood which her
husband's greatest care and cunning could only slowly dispel.

Two or three years passed, and new life came to the Vincent farm. One
day, between midnight and dawn, the family pair was doubled; the cry of
twin sons was heard in the hushed house. The father restrained his happy
wonder in his concern for the imperilled life of the mother; he guessed
that she had anticipated death, and she now hung by a thread so slight
that her simple will might snap it. But her will, fortunately, was as
faint as her consciousness; she gradually drifted out of danger, taking
her returning strength with a passive acquiescence rather than with joy.
She was hardly paler than her wont, but the lurking shadow seemed to
have vanished from her eyes, and John Vincent felt that her features
had assumed a new expression, the faintly perceptible stamp of some
spiritual change.


It was a happy day for him when, propped against his breast and gently
held by his warm, strong arm, the twin boys were first brought to be
laid upon her lap. Two staring, dark-faced creatures, with restless
fists and feet, they were alike in every least feature of their
grotesque animality. Phebe placed a hand under the head of each, and
looked at them for a long time in silence.

"Why is this?" she said, at last, taking hold of a narrow pink ribbon,
which was tied around the wrist of one.

"He's the oldest, sure," the nurse answered. "Only by fifteen minutes or
so, but it generally makes a difference when twins come to be named;
and you may see with your own eyes that there's no telling of 'em apart
otherways."

"Take off the ribbon, then," said Phebe quietly; "_I_ know them."

"Why, ma'am, it's always done, where they're so like! And I'll never
be able to tell which is which; for they sleep and wake and feed by the
same clock. And you might mistake, after all, in giving 'em names--"

"There is no oldest or youngest, John; they are two and yet one: this is
mine, and this is yours."

"I see no difference at all, Phebe," said John; "and how can we divide
them?"

"We will not divide," she answered; "I only meant it as a sign."

She smiled, for the first time in many days. He was glad of heart, but
did not understand her. "What shall we call them?" he asked. "Elias and
Reuben, after our fathers?"

"No, John; their names must be David and Jonathan."

And so they were called. And they grew, not less, but more alike, in
passing through the stages of babyhood. The ribbon of the older one had
been removed, and the nurse would have been distracted, but for Phebe's
almost miraculous instinct. The former comforted herself with the hope
that teething would bring a variation to the two identical mouths; but
no! they teethed as one child. John, after desperate attempts, which
always failed in spite of the headaches they gave him, postponed the
idea of distinguishing one from the other, until they should be old
enough to develop some dissimilarity of speech, or gait, or habit.
All trouble might have been avoided, had Phebe consented to the least
variation in their dresses; but herein she was mildly immovable.

"Not yet," was her set reply to her husband; and one day, when he
manifested a little annoyance at her persistence, she turned to him,
holding a child on each knee, and said with a gravity which silenced
him thenceforth: "John, can you not see that our burden has passed into
them? Is there no meaning in this--that two children who are one in body
and face and nature, should be given to us at our time of life, after
such long disappointment and trouble? Our lives were held apart; theirs
were united before they were born, and I dare not turn them in different
directions. Perhaps I do not know all that the Lord intended to say to
us, in sending them; but His hand is here!"

"I was only thinking of their good," John meekly answered. "If they
are spared to grow up, there must be some way of knowing one from the
other."

"THEY will not need it, and I, too, think only of them. They have taken
the cross from my heart, and I will lay none on theirs. I am reconciled
to my life through them, John; you have been very patient and good with
me, and I will yield to you in all things but in this. I do not think I
shall live to see them as men grown; yet, while we are together, I feel
clearly what it is right to do. Can you not, just once, have a little
faith without knowledge, John?"

"I'll try, Phebe," he said. "Any way, I'll grant that the boys belong to
you more than to me."

Phebe Vincent's character had verily changed. Her attacks of
semi-hysterical despondency never returned; her gloomy prophecies
ceased. She was still grave, and the trouble of so many years never
wholly vanished from her face; but she performed every duty of her life
with at least a quiet willingness, and her home became the abode of
peace; for passive content wears longer than demonstrative happiness.

David and Jonathan grew as one boy: the taste and temper of one was
repeated in the other, even as the voice and features. Sleeping or
waking, grieved or joyous, well or ill, they lived a single life, and
it seemed so natural for one to answer to the other's name, that they
probably would have themselves confused their own identities, but for
their mother's unerring knowledge. Perhaps unconsciously guided by her,
perhaps through the voluntary action of their own natures, each quietly
took the other's place when called upon, even to the sharing of praise
or blame at school, the friendships and quarrels of the playground. They
were healthy and happy lads, and John Vincent was accustomed to say
to his neighbors, "They're no more trouble than one would be; and yet
they're four hands instead of two."

Phebe died when they were fourteen, saying to them, with almost her
latest breath, "Be one, always!" Before her husband could decide whether
to change her plan of domestic education, they were passing out of
boyhood, changing in voice, stature, and character with a continued
likeness which bewildered and almost terrified him. He procured garments
of different colors, but they were accustomed to wear each article in
common, and the result was only a mixture of tints for both. They were
sent to different schools, to be returned the next day, equally pale,
suffering, and incapable of study. Whatever device was employed, they
evaded it by a mutual instinct which rendered all external measures
unavailing. To John Vincent's mind their resemblance was an accidental
misfortune, which had been confirmed through their mother's fancy. He
felt that they were bound by some deep, mysterious tie, which, inasmuch
as it might interfere with all practical aspects of life, ought to be
gradually weakened. Two bodies, to him, implied two distinct men, and
it was wrong to permit a mutual dependence which prevented either from
exercising his own separate will and judgment.

But, while he was planning and pondering, the boys became young men, and
he was an old man. Old, and prematurely broken; for he had worked much,
borne much, and his large frame held only a moderate measure of vital
force. A great weariness fell upon him, and his powers began to give
way, at first slowly, but then with accelerated failure. He saw the end
coming, long before his sons suspected it; his doubt, for their sakes,
was the only thing which made it unwelcome. It was "upon his mind" (as
his Quaker neighbors would say) to speak to them of the future, and at
last the proper moment came.

It was a stormy November evening. Wind and rain whirled and drove among
the trees outside, but the sitting-room of the old farm-house was bright
and warm. David and Jonathan, at the table, with their arms over each
other's backs and their brown locks mixed together, read from the same
book: their father sat in the ancient rocking-chair before the fire,
with his feet upon a stool. The housekeeper and hired man had gone to
bed, and all was still in the house.

John waited until he heard the volume closed, and then spoke.

"Boys," he said, "let me have a bit of talk with you. I don't seem to
get over my ailments rightly,--never will, maybe. A man must think of
things while there's time, and say them when they HAVE to be said. I
don't know as there's any particular hurry in my case; only, we never
can tell, from one day to another. When I die, every thing will belong
to you two, share and share alike, either to buy another farm with the
money out, or divide this: I won't tie you up in any way. But two of you
will need two farms for two families; for you won't have to wait twelve
years, like your mother and me."

"We don't want another farm, father!" said David and Jonathan together.

"I know you don't think so, now. A wife seemed far enough off from me
when I was your age. You've always been satisfied to be with each other,
but that can't last. It was partly your mother's notion; I remember her
saying that our burden had passed into you. I never quite understood
what she meant, but I suppose it must rather be the opposite of what WE
had to bear."

The twins listened with breathless attention while their father,
suddenly stirred by the past, told them the story of his long betrothal.

"And now," he exclaimed, in conclusion, "it may be putting wild
ideas into your two heads, but I must say it! THAT was where I did
wrong--wrong to her and to me,--in waiting! I had no right to spoil the
best of our lives; I ought to have gone boldly, in broad day, to her
father's house, taken her by the hand, and led her forth to be my wife.
Boys, if either of you comes to love a woman truly, and she to love you,
and there is no reason why God (I don't say man) should put you asunder,
do as I ought to have done, not as I did! And, maybe, this advice is the
best legacy I can leave you."

"But, father," said David, speaking for both, "we have never thought of
marrying."

"Likely enough," their father answered; "we hardly ever think of what
surely comes. But to me, looking back, it's plain. And this is the
reason why I want you to make me a promise, and as solemn as if I was on
my death-bed. Maybe I shall be, soon."

Tears gathered in the eyes of the twins. "What is it, father?" they both
said.

"Nothing at all to any other two boys, but I don't know how YOU'll take
it. What if I was to ask you to live apart for a while?"

"Oh father!" both cried. They leaned together, cheek pressing cheek, and
hand clasping hand, growing white and trembling. John Vincent, gazing
into the fire, did not see their faces, or his purpose might have been
shaken.

"I don't say NOW," he went on. "After a while, when--well, when I'm
dead. And I only mean a beginning, to help you toward what HAS to be.
Only a month; I don't want to seem hard to you; but that's little, in
all conscience. Give me your word: say, 'For mother's sake!'"

There was a long pause. Then David and Jonathan said, in low, faltering
voices, "For mother's sake, I promise."

"Remember that you were only boys to her. She might have made all this
seem easier, for women have reasons for things no man can answer. Mind,
within a year after I'm gone!"

He rose and tottered out of the room.

The twins looked at each other: David said, "Must we?" and Jonathan,
"How can we?" Then they both thought, "It may be a long while yet." Here
was a present comfort, and each seemed to hold it firmly in holding the
hand of the other, as they fell asleep side by side.

The trial was nearer than they imagined. Their father died before the
winter was over; the farm and other property was theirs, and they might
have allowed life to solve its mysteries as it rolled onwards, but for
their promise to the dead. This must be fulfilled, and then--one thing
was certain; they would never again separate.

"The sooner the better," said David. "It shall be the visit to our uncle
and cousins in Indiana. You will come with me as far as Harrisburg;
it may be easier to part there than here. And our new neighbors, the
Bradleys, will want your help for a day or two, after getting home."

"It is less than death," Jonathan answered, "and why should it seem to
be more? We must think of father and mother, and all those twelve years;
now I know what the burden was."

"And we have never really borne any part of it! Father must have been
right in forcing us to promise."

Every day the discussion was resumed, and always with the same
termination. Familiarity with the inevitable step gave them increase
of courage; yet, when the moment had come and gone, when, speeding on
opposite trains, the hills and valleys multiplied between them with
terrible velocity, a pang like death cut to the heart of each, and the
divided life became a chill, oppressive dream.

During the separation no letters passed between them. When the neighbors
asked Jonathan for news of his brother, he always replied, "He is well,"
and avoided further speech with such evidence of pain that they spared
him. An hour before the month drew to an end, he walked forth alone,
taking the road to the nearest railway station. A stranger who passed
him at the entrance of a thick wood, three miles from home, was
thunderstruck on meeting the same person shortly after, entering the
wood from the other side; but the farmers in the near fields saw two
figures issuing from the shade, hand in hand.

Each knew the other's month, before they slept, and the last thing
Jonathan said, with his head on David's shoulder, was, "You must know
our neighbors, the Bradleys, and especially Ruth." In the morning,
as they dressed, taking each other's garments at random, as of old,
Jonathan again said, "I have never seen a girl that I like so well
as Ruth Bradley. Do you remember what father said about loving and
marrying? It comes into my mind whenever I see Ruth; but she has no
sister."

"But we need not both marry," David replied, "that might part us, and
this will not. It is for always now."

"For always, David."

Two or three days later Jonathan said, as he started on an errand to the
village: "I shall stop at the Bradleys this evening, so you must walk
across and meet me there."

When David approached the house, a slender, girlish figure, with her
back towards him, was stooping over a bush of great crimson roses,
cautiously clipping a blossom here and there. At the click of the
gate-latch she started and turned towards him. Her light gingham bonnet,
falling back, disclosed a long oval face, fair and delicate, sweet brown
eyes, and brown hair laid smoothly over the temples. A soft flush rose
suddenly to her cheeks, and he felt that his own were burning.

"Oh Jonathan!" she exclaimed, transferring the roses to her left hand,
and extending her right, as she came forward.

He was too accustomed to the name to recognize her mistake at once, and
the word "Ruth!" came naturally to his lips.

"I should know your brother David has come," she then said; "even if I
had not heard so. You look so bright. How glad I am!"

"Is he not here?" David asked.

"No; but there he is now, surely!" She turned towards the lane, where
Jonathan was dismounting. "Why, it is yourself over again, Jonathan!"

As they approached, a glance passed between the twins, and a secret
transfer of the riding-whip to David set their identity right with
Ruth, whose manner toward the latter innocently became shy with all its
friendliness, while her frank, familiar speech was given to Jonathan,
as was fitting. But David also took the latter to himself, and when they
left, Ruth had apparently forgotten that there was any difference in the
length of their acquaintance.

On their way homewards David said: "Father was right. We must marry,
like others, and Ruth is the wife for us,--I mean for you, Jonathan.
Yes, we must learn to say MINE and YOURS, after all, when we speak of
her."

"Even she cannot separate us, it seems," Jonathan answered. "We must
give her some sign, and that will also be a sign for others. It will
seem strange to divide ourselves; we can never learn it properly; rather
let us not think of marriage."

"We cannot help thinking of it; she stands in mother's place now, as we
in father's."

Then both became silent and thoughtful. They felt that something
threatened to disturb what seemed to be the only possible life for them,
yet were unable to distinguish its features, and therefore powerless
to resist it. The same instinct which had been born of their wonderful
spiritual likeness told them that Ruth Bradley already loved Jonathan:
the duty was established, and they must conform their lives to it. There
was, however, this slight difference between their natures--that David
was generally the first to utter the thought which came to the minds of
both. So when he said, "We shall learn what to do when the need comes,"
it was a postponement of all foreboding. They drifted contentedly
towards the coming change.

The days went by, and their visits to Ruth Bradley were continued.
Sometimes Jonathan went alone, but they were usually together, and the
tie which united the three became dearer and sweeter as it was more
closely drawn. Ruth learned to distinguish between the two when they
were before her: at least she said so, and they were willing to believe
it. But she was hardly aware how nearly alike was the happy warmth
in her bosom produced by either pair of dark gray eyes and the soft
half-smile which played around either mouth. To them she seemed to be
drawn within the mystic circle which separated them from others--she,
alone; and they no longer imagined a life in which she should not share.

Then the inevitable step was taken. Jonathan declared his love, and was
answered. Alas! he almost forgot David that late summer evening, as they
sat in the moonlight, and over and over again assured each other how
dear they had grown. He felt the trouble in David's heart when they met.

"Ruth is ours, and I bring her kiss to you," he said, pressing his lips
to David's; but the arms flung around him trembled, and David whispered,
"Now the change begins."

"Oh, this cannot be our burden!" Jonathan cried, with all the rapture
still warm in his heart.

"If it is, it will be light, or heavy, or none at all, as we shall bear
it," David answered, with a smile of infinite tenderness.

For several days he allowed Jonathan to visit the Bradley farm alone,
saying that it must be so on Ruth's account. Her love, he declared, must
give her the fine instinct which only their mother had ever possessed,
and he must allow it time to be confirmed. Jonathan, however, insisted
that Ruth already possessed it; that she was beginning to wonder at his
absence, and to fear that she would not be entirely welcome to the home
which must always be equally his.

David yielded at once.

"You must go alone," said Jonathan, "to satisfy yourself that she knows
us at last."

Ruth came forth from the house as he drew near. Her face beamed; she
laid her hands upon his shoulders and kissed him. "Now you cannot doubt
me, Ruth!" he said, gently.

"Doubt you, Jonathan!" she exclaimed with a fond reproach in her eyes.
"But you look troubled; is any thing the matter?"

"I was thinking of my brother," said David, in a low tone.

"Tell me what it is," she said, drawing him into the little arbor of
woodbine near the gate. They took seats side by side on the rustic
bench. "He thinks I may come between you: is it not that?" she asked.
Only one thing was clear to David's mind--that she would surely speak
more frankly and freely of him to the supposed Jonathan than to his real
self. This once he would permit the illusion.

"Not more than must be," he answered. "He knew all from the very
beginning. But we have been like one person in two bodies, and any
change seems to divide us."

"I feel as you do," said Ruth. "I would never consent to be your wife,
if I could really divide you. I love you both too well for that."

"Do you love me?" he asked, entirely forgetting his representative part.

Again the reproachful look, which faded away as she met his eyes. She
fell upon his breast, and gave him kisses which were answered with equal
tenderness. Suddenly he covered his face with his hands, and burst into
a passion of tears.

"Jonathan! Oh Jonathan!" she cried, weeping with alarm and sympathetic
pain.

It was long before he could speak; but at last, turning away his head,
he faltered, "I am David!"

There was a long silence.

When he looked up she was sitting with her hands rigidly clasped in her
lap: her face was very pale.

"There it is, Ruth," he said; "we are one heart and one soul. Could he
love, and not I? You cannot decide between us, for one is the other. If
I had known you first, Jonathan would be now in my place. What follows,
then?"

"No marriage," she whispered.

"No!" he answered; "we brothers must learn to be two men instead of one.
You will partly take my place with Jonathan; I must live with half my
life, unless I can find, somewhere in the world, your other half."

"I cannot part you, David!"

"Something stronger than you or me parts us, Ruth. If it were death,
we should bow to God's will: well, it can no more be got away from than
death or judgment. Say no more: the pattern of all this was drawn long
before we were born, and we cannot do any thing but work it out."

He rose and stood before her. "Remember this, Ruth," he said; "it is no
blame in us to love each other. Jonathan will see the truth in my face
when we meet, and I speak for him also. You will not see me again until
your wedding-day, and then no more afterwards--but, yes! ONCE, in some
far-off time, when you shall know me to be David, and still give me the
kiss you gave to-day."

"Ah, after death!" she thought: "I have parted them forever." She was
about to rise, but fell upon the seat again, fainting. At the same
moment Jonathan appeared at David's side.

No word was said. They bore her forth and supported her between them
until the fresh breeze had restored her to consciousness. Her first
glance rested on the brother's hands, clasping; then, looking from one
to the other, she saw that the cheeks of both were wet.

"Now, leave me," she said, "but come to-morrow, Jonathan!" Even then she
turned from one to the other, with a painful, touching uncertainty, and
stretched out both hands to them in farewell.

How that poor twin heart struggled with itself is only known to God. All
human voices, and as they believed, also the Divine Voice, commanded the
division of their interwoven life. Submission would have seemed easier,
could they have taken up equal and similar burdens; but David was
unable to deny that his pack was overweighted. For the first time, their
thoughts began to diverge.

At last David said: "For mother's sake, Jonathan, as we promised. She
always called you HER child. And for Ruth's sake, and father's last
advice: they all tell me what I must do."

It was like the struggle between will and desire, in the same nature,
and none the less fierce or prolonged because the softer quality foresaw
its ultimate surrender. Long after he felt the step to be inevitable,
Jonathan sought to postpone it, but he was borne by all combined
influences nearer and nearer to the time.

And now the wedding-day came. David was to leave home the same evening,
after the family dinner under his father's roof. In the morning he said
to Jonathan: "I shall not write until I feel that I have become other
than now, but I shall always be here, in you, as you will be in me,
everywhere. Whenever you want me, I shall know it; and I think I shall
know when to return."

The hearts of all the people went out towards them as they stood
together in the little village church. Both were calm, but very pale and
abstracted in their expression, yet their marvellous likeness was still
unchanged. Ruth's eyes were cast down so they could not be seen; she
trembled visibly, and her voice was scarcely audible when she spoke the
vow. It was only known in the neighborhood that David was going to make
another journey. The truth could hardly have been guessed by persons
whose ideas follow the narrow round of their own experiences; had it
been, there would probably have been more condemnation than sympathy.
But in a vague way the presence of some deeper element was felt--the
falling of a shadow, although the outstretched wing was unseen. Far
above them, and above the shadow, watched the Infinite Pity, which was
not denied to three hearts that day.

It was a long time, more than a year, and Ruth was lulling her first
child on her bosom, before a letter came from David. He had wandered
westwards, purchased some lands on the outer line of settlement, and
appeared to be leading a wild and lonely life. "I know now," he wrote,
"just how much there is to bear, and how to bear it. Strange men come
between us, but you are not far off when I am alone on these plains.
There is a place where I can always meet you, and I know that you have
found it,--under the big ash-tree by the barn. I think I am nearly
always there about sundown, and on moonshiny nights, because we are then
nearest together; and I never sleep without leaving you half my blanket.
When I first begin to wake I always feel your breath, so we are never
really parted for long. I do not know that I can change much; it is not
easy; it is like making up your mind to have different colored eyes
and hair, and I can only get sunburnt and wear a full beard. But we are
hardly as unhappy as we feared to be; mother came the other night, in a
dream, and took us on her knees. Oh, come to me, Jonathan, but for one
day! No, you will not find me; I am going across the Plains!"

And Jonathan and Ruth? They loved each other tenderly; no external
trouble visited them; their home was peaceful and pure; and yet, every
room and stairway and chair was haunted by a sorrowful ghost. As a
neighbor said after visiting them, "There seemed to be something lost."
Ruth saw how constantly and how unconsciously Jonathan turned to see
his own every feeling reflected in the missing eyes; how his hand sought
another, even while its fellow pressed hers; how half-spoken words,
day and night, died upon his lips, because they could not reach the
twin-ear. She knew not how it came, but her own nature took upon itself
the same habit. She felt that she received a less measure of love than
she gave--not from Jonathan, in whose whole, warm, transparent heart no
other woman had ever looked, but something of her own passed beyond him
and never returned. To both their life was like one of those conjurer's
cups, seemingly filled with red wine, which is held from the lips by the
false crystal hollow.

Neither spoke of this: neither dared to speak. The years dragged out
their slow length, with rare and brief messages from David. Three
children were in the house, and still peace and plenty laid their signs
upon its lintels. But at last Ruth, who had been growing thinner and
paler ever since the birth of her first boy, became seriously ill.
Consumption was hers by inheritance, and it now manifested itself in a
form which too surely foretold the result. After the physician had
gone, leaving his fatal verdict behind him, she called to Jonathan,
who, bewildered by his grief, sank down on his knees at her bedside and
sobbed upon her breast.

"Don't grieve," she said; "this is my share of the burden. If I have
taken too much from you and David, now comes the atonement. Many things
have grown clear to me. David was right when he said that there was no
blame. But my time is even less than the doctor thinks: where is David?
Can you not bid him come?"

"I can only call him with my heart," he answered. "And will he hear me
now, after nearly seven years?"

"Call, then!" she eagerly cried. "Call with all the strength of your
love for him and for me, and I believe he will hear you!"

The sun was just setting. Jonathan went to the great ash-tree, behind
the barn, fell upon his knees, and covered his face, and the sense of
an exceeding bitter cry filled his heart. All the suppressed and baffled
longing, the want, the hunger, the unremitting pain of years, came upon
him and were crowded into the single prayer, "Come, David, or I die!"
Before the twilight faded, while he was still kneeling, an arm came upon
his shoulder, and the faint touch of another cheek upon his own. It was
hardly for the space of a thought, but he knew the sign.

"David will come!" he said to Ruth.

From that day all was changed. The cloud of coming death which hung over
the house was transmuted into fleecy gold. All the lost life came back
to Jonathan's face, all the unrestful sweetness of Ruth's brightened
into a serene beatitude. Months had passed since David had been heard
from; they knew not how to reach him without many delays; yet neither
dreamed of doubting his coming.

Two weeks passed, three, and there was neither word nor sign. Jonathan
and Ruth thought, "He is near," and one day a singular unrest fell upon
the former. Ruth saw it, but said nothing until night came, when she
sent Jonathan from her bedside with the words, "Go and meet him?"

An hour afterwards she heard double steps on the stone walk in front of
the house. They came slowly to the door; it opened; she heard them along
the hall and ascending the stairs; then the chamber-lamp showed her the
two faces, bright with a single, unutterable joy.

One brother paused at the foot of the bed; the other drew near and bent
over her. She clasped her thin hands around his neck, kissed him fondly,
and cried, "Dear, dear David!"

"Dear Ruth," he said, "I came as soon as I could. I was far away, among
wild mountains, when I felt that Jonathan was calling me. I knew that I
must return, never to leave you more, and there was still a little work
to finish. Now we shall all live again!"

"Yes," said Jonathan, coming to her other side, "try to live, Ruth!"

Her voice came clear, strong, and full of authority. "I DO live, as
never before. I shall take all my life with me when I go to wait for one
soul, as I shall find it there! Our love unites, not divides, from this
hour!"

The few weeks still left to her were a season of almost superhuman
peace. She faded slowly and painlessly, taking the equal love of the
twin-hearts, and giving an equal tenderness and gratitude. Then first
she saw the mysterious need which united them, the fulness and joy
wherewith each completed himself in the other. All the imperfect past
was enlightened, and the end, even that now so near, was very good.

Every afternoon they carried her down to a cushioned chair on the
veranda, where she could enjoy the quiet of the sunny landscape, the
presence of the brothers seated at her feet, and the sports of her
children on the grass. Thus, one day, while David and Jonathan held her
hands and waited for her to wake from a happy sleep, she went before
them, and, ere they guessed the truth, she was waiting for their one
soul in the undiscovered land.

And Jonathan's children, now growing into manhood and girlhood, also
call David "father." The marks left by their divided lives have long
since vanished from their faces; the middle-aged men, whose hairs are
turning gray, still walk hand in hand, still sleep upon the same pillow,
still have their common wardrobe, as when they were boys. They talk of
"our Ruth" with no sadness, for they believe that death will make them
one, when, at the same moment, he summons both. And we who know them, to
whom they have confided the touching mystery of their nature, believe so
too.



THE EXPERIENCES OF THE A. C.


"Bridgeport! Change cars for the Naugatuck Railroad!" shouted the
conductor of the New York and Boston Express Train, on the evening of
May 27th, 1858. Indeed, he does it every night (Sundays excepted),
for that matter; but as this story refers especially to Mr. J. Edward
Johnson, who was a passenger on that train, on the aforesaid evening,
I make special mention of the fact. Mr. Johnson, carpet-bag in hand,
jumped upon the platform, entered the office, purchased a ticket for
Waterbury, and was soon whirling in the Naugatuck train towards his
destination.

On reaching Waterbury, in the soft spring twilight, Mr. Johnson walked
up and down in front of the station, curiously scanning the faces of the
assembled crowd. Presently he noticed a gentleman who was performing
the same operation upon the faces of the alighting passengers. Throwing
himself directly in the way of the latter, the two exchanged a steady
gaze.

"Is your name Billings?" "Is your name Johnson?" were simultaneous
questions, followed by the simultaneous exclamations--"Ned!" "Enos!"

Then there was a crushing grasp of hands, repeated after a pause,
in testimony of ancient friendship, and Mr. Billings, returning to
practical life, asked--

"Is that all your baggage? Come, I have a buggy here: Eunice has heard
the whistle, and she'll be impatient to welcome you."

The impatience of Eunice (Mrs. Billings, of course,) was not of long
duration, for in five minutes thereafter she stood at the door of her
husband's chocolate-colored villa, receiving his friend.

While these three persons are comfortably seated at the tea-table,
enjoying their waffles, cold tongue, and canned peaches, and asking
and answering questions helter-skelter in the delightful confusion of
reunion after long separation, let us briefly inform the reader who and
what they are.

Mr. Enos Billings, then, was part owner of a manufactory of metal
buttons, forty years old, of middling height, ordinarily quiet and
rather shy, but with a large share of latent warmth and enthusiasm in
his nature. His hair was brown, slightly streaked with gray, his eyes
a soft, dark hazel, forehead square, eyebrows straight, nose of no very
marked character, and a mouth moderately full, with a tendency to
twitch a little at the corners. His voice was undertoned, but mellow and
agreeable.

Mrs. Eunice Billings, of nearly equal age, was a good specimen of
the wide-awake New-England woman. Her face had a piquant smartness of
expression, which might have been refined into a sharp edge, but for her
natural hearty good-humor. Her head was smoothly formed, her face a full
oval, her hair and eyes blond and blue in a strong light, but brown and
steel-gray at other times, and her complexion of that ripe fairness into
which a ruddier color will sometimes fade. Her form, neither plump nor
square, had yet a firm, elastic compactness, and her slightest movement
conveyed a certain impression of decision and self-reliance.

As for J. Edward Johnson, it is enough to say that he was a tall,
thin gentleman of forty-five, with an aquiline nose, narrow face, and
military whiskers, which swooped upwards and met under his nose in a
glossy black mustache. His complexion was dark, from the bronzing of
fifteen summers in New Orleans. He was a member of a wholesale hardware
firm in that city, and had now revisited his native North for the
first time since his departure. A year before, some letters relating
to invoices of metal buttons signed, "Foster, Kirkup, & Co., per Enos
Billings," had accidentally revealed to him the whereabouts of the old
friend of his youth, with whom we now find him domiciled. The first
thing he did, after attending to some necessary business matters in New
York, was to take the train for Waterbury.

"Enos," said he, as he stretched out his hand for the third cup of tea
(which he had taken only for the purpose of prolonging the pleasant
table-chat), "I wonder which of us is most changed."

"You, of course," said Mr. Billings, "with your brown face and big
mustache. Your own brother wouldn't have known you if he had seen you
last, as I did, with smooth cheeks and hair of unmerciful length. Why,
not even your voice is the same!"

"That is easily accounted for," replied Mr. Johnson. "But in your case,
Enos, I am puzzled to find where the difference lies. Your features seem
to be but little changed, now that I can examine them at leisure; yet it
is not the same face. But, really, I never looked at you for so long
a time, in those days. I beg pardon; you used to be so--so remarkably
shy."

Mr. Billings blushed slightly, and seemed at a loss what to answer.

His wife, however, burst into a merry laugh, exclaiming--

"Oh, that was before the days of the A. C!"

He, catching the infection, laughed also; in fact Mr. Johnson laughed,
but without knowing why.

"The 'A. C.'!" said Mr. Billings. "Bless me, Eunice! how long it is
since we have talked of that summer! I had almost forgotten that there
ever was an A. C."

"Enos, COULD you ever forget Abel Mallory and the beer?--or that scene
between Hollins and Shelldrake?--or" (here SHE blushed the least bit)
"your own fit of candor?" And she laughed again, more heartily than
ever.

"What a precious lot of fools, to be sure!" exclaimed her husband.

Mr. Johnson, meanwhile, though enjoying the cheerful humor of his hosts,
was not a little puzzled with regard to its cause.

"What is the A. C.?" he ventured to ask.

Mr. and Mrs. Billings looked at each other, and smiled without replying.

"Really, Ned," said the former, finally, "the answer to your question
involves the whole story."

"Then why not tell him the whole story, Enos?" remarked his wife.

"You know I've never told it yet, and it's rather a hard thing to do,
seeing that I'm one of the heroes of the farce--for it wasn't even
genteel comedy, Ned," said Mr. Billings. "However," he continued,
"absurd as the story may seem, it's the only key to the change in my
life, and I must run the risk of being laughed at."

"I'll help you through, Enos," said his wife, encouragingly; "and
besides, my role in the farce was no better than yours. Let us
resuscitate, for to-night only, the constitution of the A. C."

"Upon my word, a capital idea! But we shall have to initiate Ned."

Mr. Johnson merrily agreeing, he was blindfolded and conducted into
another room. A heavy arm-chair, rolling on casters, struck his legs in
the rear, and he sank into it with lamb-like resignation.

"Open your mouth!" was the command, given with mock solemnity.

He obeyed.

"Now shut it!"

And his lips closed upon a cigar, while at the same time the
handkerchief was whisked away from his eyes. He found himself in Mr.
Billing's library.

"Your nose betrays your taste, Mr. Johnson," said the lady, "and I
am not hard-hearted enough to deprive you of the indulgence. Here are
matches."

"Well," said he, acting upon the hint, "if the remainder of the
ceremonies are equally agreeable, I should like to be a permanent member
of your order."

By this time Mr. and Mrs. Billings, having between them lighted the
lamp, stirred up the coal in the grate, closed the doors, and taken
possession of comfortable chairs, the latter proclaimed--

"The Chapter (isn't that what you call it?) will now be held!"

"Was it in '43 when you left home, Ned?" asked Mr. B.

"Yes."

"Well, the A. C. culminated in '45. You remember something of the
society of Norridgeport, the last winter you were there? Abel Mallory,
for instance?"

"Let me think a moment," said Mr. Johnson reflectively. "Really, it
seems like looking back a hundred years. Mallory--wasn't that the
sentimental young man, with wispy hair, a tallowy skin, and big, sweaty
hands, who used to be spouting Carlyle on the 'reading evenings' at
Shelldrake's? Yes, to be sure; and there was Hollins, with his clerical
face and infidel talk,--and Pauline Ringtop, who used to say, 'The
Beautiful is the Good.' I can still hear her shrill voice, singing,
'Would that _I_ were beautiful, would that _I_ were fair!'"

There was a hearty chorus of laughter at poor Miss Ringtop's expense.
It harmed no one, however; for the tar-weed was already thick over her
Californian grave.

"Oh, I see," said Mr. Billings, "you still remember the absurdities of
those days. In fact, I think you partially saw through them then. But I
was younger, and far from being so clear-headed, and I looked upon those
evenings at Shelldrake's as being equal, at least, to the symposia of
Plato. Something in Mallory always repelled me. I detested the sight of
his thick nose, with the flaring nostrils, and his coarse, half-formed
lips, of the bluish color of raw corned-beef. But I looked upon these
feelings as unreasonable prejudices, and strove to conquer them, seeing
the admiration which he received from others. He was an oracle on the
subject of 'Nature.' Having eaten nothing for two years, except
Graham bread, vegetables without salt, and fruits, fresh or dried, he
considered himself to have attained an antediluvian purity of health--or
that he would attain it, so soon as two pimples on his left temple
should have healed. These pimples he looked upon as the last feeble
stand made by the pernicious juices left from the meat he had formerly
eaten and the coffee he had drunk. His theory was, that through a body
so purged and purified none but true and natural impulses could find
access to the soul. Such, indeed, was the theory we all held. A Return
to Nature was the near Millennium, the dawn of which we already beheld
in the sky. To be sure there was a difference in our individual views
as to how this should be achieved, but we were all agreed as to what the
result should be.

"I can laugh over those days now, Ned; but they were really happy while
they lasted. We were the salt of the earth; we were lifted above those
grovelling instincts which we saw manifested in the lives of others.
Each contributed his share of gas to inflate the painted balloon to
which we all clung, in the expectation that it would presently soar
with us to the stars. But it only went up over the out-houses, dodged
backwards and forwards two or three times, and finally flopped down with
us into a swamp."

"And that balloon was the A. C.?" suggested Mr. Johnson.

"As President of this Chapter, I prohibit questions," said Eunice. "And,
Enos, don't send up your balloon until the proper time. Don't anticipate
the programme, or the performance will be spoiled."

"I had almost forgotten that Ned is so much in the dark," her obedient
husband answered. "You can have but a slight notion," he continued,
turning to his friend, "of the extent to which this sentimental, or
transcendental, element in the little circle at Shelldrake's increased
after you left Norridgeport. We read the 'Dial,' and Emerson; we
believed in Alcott as the 'purple Plato' of modern times; we took
psychological works out of the library, and would listen for hours to
Hollins while he read Schelling or Fichte, and then go home with a
misty impression of having imbibed infinite wisdom. It was, perhaps,
a natural, though very eccentric rebound from the hard, practical,
unimaginative New-England mind which surrounded us; yet I look back upon
it with a kind of wonder. I was then, as you know, unformed mentally,
and might have been so still, but for the experiences of the A. C."

Mr. Johnson shifted his position, a little impatiently. Eunice looked at
him with laughing eyes, and shook her finger with a mock threat.

"Shelldrake," continued Mr. Billings, without noticing this by-play,
"was a man of more pretence than real cultivation, as I afterwards
discovered. He was in good circumstances, and always glad to receive us
at his house, as this made him, virtually, the chief of our tribe,
and the outlay for refreshments involved only the apples from his
own orchard and water from his well. There was an entire absence of
conventionality at our meetings, and this, compared with the somewhat
stiff society of the village, was really an attraction. There was a
mystic bond of union in our ideas: we discussed life, love, religion,
and the future state, not only with the utmost candor, but with a warmth
of feeling which, in many of us, was genuine. Even I (and you know how
painfully shy and bashful I was) felt myself more at home there than in
my father's house; and if I didn't talk much, I had a pleasant feeling
of being in harmony with those who did.

"Well, 'twas in the early part of '45--I think in April,--when we were
all gathered together, discussing, as usual, the possibility of leading
a life in accordance with Nature. Abel Mallory was there, and Hollins,
and Miss Ringtop, and Faith Levis, with her knitting,--and also Eunice
Hazleton, a lady whom you have never seen, but you may take my wife at
her representative--"

"Stick to the programme, Enos," interrupted Mrs. Billings.

"Eunice Hazleton, then. I wish I could recollect some of the speeches
made on that occasion. Abel had but one pimple on his temple (there was
a purple spot where the other had been), and was estimating that in two
or three months more he would be a true, unspoiled man. His complexion,
nevertheless, was more clammy and whey-like than ever.

"'Yes,' said he, 'I also am an Arcadian! This false dual existence which
I have been leading will soon be merged in the unity of Nature. Our
lives must conform to her sacred law. Why can't we strip off these
hollow Shams,' (he made great use of that word,) 'and be our true
selves, pure, perfect, and divine?'

"Miss Ringtop heaved a sigh, and repeated a stanza from her favorite
poet:

        "'Ah, when wrecked are my desires
            On the everlasting Never,
         And my heart with all its fires
            Out forever,
         In the cradle of Creation
         Finds the soul resuscitation!


"Shelldrake, however, turning to his wife, said--

"'Elviry, how many up-stairs rooms is there in that house down on the
Sound?'

"'Four,--besides three small ones under the roof. Why, what made you
think of that, Jesse?' said she.

"'I've got an idea, while Abel's been talking,' he answered. 'We've
taken a house for the summer, down the other side of Bridgeport, right
on the water, where there's good fishing and a fine view of the Sound.
Now, there's room enough for all of us--at least all that can make it
suit to go. Abel, you and Enos, and Pauline and Eunice might fix matters
so that we could all take the place in partnership, and pass the summer
together, living a true and beautiful life in the bosom of Nature. There
we shall be perfectly free and untrammelled by the chains which still
hang around us in Norridgeport. You know how often we have wanted to be
set on some island in the Pacific Ocean, where we could build up a
true society, right from the start. Now, here's a chance to try the
experiment for a few months, anyhow.'

"Eunice clapped her hands (yes, you did!) and cried out--

"'Splendid! Arcadian! I'll give up my school for the summer.'

"Miss Ringtop gave her opinion in another quotation:

        "'The rainbow  hues of the Ideal
         Condense to gems, and form the Real!'


"Abel Mallory, of course, did not need to have the proposal repeated. He
was ready for any thing which promised indulgence, and the indulgence of
his sentimental tastes. I will do the fellow the justice to say that
he was not a hypocrite. He firmly believed both in himself and his
ideas--especially the former. He pushed both hands through the long
wisps of his drab-colored hair, and threw his head back until his wide
nostrils resembled a double door to his brain.

"'Oh Nature!' he said, 'you have found your lost children! We shall obey
your neglected laws! we shall hearken to your divine whispers I we
shall bring you back from your ignominious exile, and place you on your
ancestral throne!'

"'Let us do it!' was the general cry.

"A sudden enthusiasm fired us, and we grasped each other's hands in the
hearty impulse of the moment. My own private intention to make a summer
trip to the White Mountains had been relinquished the moment I heard
Eunice give in her adhesion. I may as well confess, at once, that I was
desperately in love, and afraid to speak to her.

"By the time Mrs. Sheldrake brought in the apples and water we were
discussing the plan as a settled thing. Hollins had an engagement to
deliver Temperance lectures in Ohio during the summer, but decided to
postpone his departure until August, so that he might, at least, spend
two months with us. Faith Levis couldn't go--at which, I think, we were
all secretly glad. Some three or four others were in the same case, and
the company was finally arranged to consist of the Shelldrakes, Hollins,
Mallory, Eunice, Miss Ringtop, and myself. We did not give much thought,
either to the preparations in advance, or to our mode of life when
settled there. We were to live near to Nature: that was the main thing.

"'What shall we call the place?' asked Eunice.

"'Arcadia!' said Abel Mallory, rolling up his large green eyes.

"'Then,' said Hollins, 'let us constitute ourselves the Arcadian Club!'"

"Aha!" interrupted Mr. Johnson, "I see! The A. C.!"

"Yes, you can see the A. C. now," said Mrs. Billings; "but to understand
it fully, you should have had a share in those Arcadian experiences."

"I am all the more interested in hearing them described. Go on, Enos."

"The proposition was adopted. We called ourselves The Arcadian Club; but
in order to avoid gossip, and the usual ridicule, to which we were all
more or less sensitive, in case our plan should become generally known,
it was agreed that the initials only should be used. Besides, there was
an agreeable air of mystery about it: we thought of Delphi, and Eleusis,
and Samothrace: we should discover that Truth which the dim eyes of
worldly men and women were unable to see, and the day of disclosure
would be the day of Triumph. In one sense we were truly Arcadians: no
suspicion of impropriety, I verily believe, entered any of our minds. In
our aspirations after what we called a truer life there was no material
taint. We were fools, if you choose, but as far as possible from
being sinners. Besides, the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Shelldrake, who
naturally became the heads of our proposed community were sufficient
to preserve us from slander or suspicion, if even our designs had been
publicly announced.

"I won't bore you with an account of our preparations. In fact, there
was very little to be done. Mr. Shelldrake succeeded in hiring the
house, with most of its furniture, so that but a few articles had to
be supplied. My trunk contained more books than boots, more blank paper
than linen.

"'Two shirts will be enough,' said Abel: 'you can wash one of them any
day, and dry it in the sun.'

"The supplies consisted mostly of flour, potatoes, and sugar. There was
a vegetable-garden in good condition, Mr. Shelldrake said, which would
be our principal dependence.

"'Besides, the clams!' I exclaimed unthinkingly.

"'Oh, yes!' said Eunice, 'we can have chowder-parties: that will be
delightful!'

"'Clams! chowder! oh, worse than flesh!' groaned Abel. 'Will you
reverence Nature by outraging her first laws?'

"I had made a great mistake, and felt very foolish. Eunice and I looked
at each other, for the first time."

"Speak for yourself only, Enos," gently interpolated his wife.

"It was a lovely afternoon in the beginning of June when we first
approached Arcadia. We had taken two double teams at Bridgeport, and
drove slowly forward to our destination, followed by a cart containing
our trunks and a few household articles. It was a bright, balmy day:
the wheat-fields were rich and green, the clover showed faint streaks
of ruby mist along slopes leaning southward, and the meadows were yellow
with buttercups. Now and then we caught glimpses of the Sound, and, far
beyond it, the dim Long Island shore. Every old white farmhouse, with
its gray-walled garden, its clumps of lilacs, viburnums, and early
roses, offered us a picture of pastoral simplicity and repose. We passed
them, one by one, in the happiest mood, enjoying the earth around us,
the sky above, and ourselves most of all.

"The scenery, however, gradually became more rough and broken. Knobs
of gray gneiss, crowned by mournful cedars, intrenched upon the arable
land, and the dark-blue gleam of water appeared through the trees. Our
road, which had been approaching the Sound, now skirted the head of a
deep, irregular inlet, beyond which extended a beautiful promontory,
thickly studded with cedars, and with scattering groups of elm, oak and
maple trees. Towards the end of the promontory stood a house, with white
walls shining against the blue line of the Sound.

"'There is Arcadia, at last!' exclaimed Mr. Shelldrake.

"A general outcry of delight greeted the announcement. And, indeed, the
loveliness of the picture surpassed our most poetic anticipations. The
low sun was throwing exquisite lights across the point, painting the
slopes of grass of golden green, and giving a pearly softness to the
gray rocks. In the back-ground was drawn the far-off water-line, over
which a few specks of sail glimmered against the sky. Miss Ringtop, who,
with Eunice, Mallory, and myself, occupied one carriage, expressed her
'gushing' feelings in the usual manner:

        "'Where the turf is softest, greenest,
            Doth an angel thrust me on,--
          Where the landscape lies serenest,
            In the journey of the sun!'


"'Don't, Pauline!' said Eunice; 'I never like to hear poetry flourished
in the face of Nature. This landscape surpasses any poem in the world.
Let us enjoy the best thing we have, rather than the next best.'


"'Ah, yes!' sighed Miss Ringtop, ''tis true!

        "'They sing to the ear; this sings to the eye!'


"Thenceforward, to the house, all was childish joy and jubilee. All
minor personal repugnances were smoothed over in the general exultation.
Even Abel Mallory became agreeable; and Hollins, sitting beside Mrs.
Shelldrake on the back seat of the foremost carriage, shouted to us, in
boyish lightness of heart.

"Passing the head of the inlet, we left the country-road, and entered,
through a gate in the tottering stone wall, on our summer domain. A
track, open to the field on one side, led us past a clump of deciduous
trees, between pastures broken by cedared knolls of rock, down
the centre of the peninsula, to the house. It was quite an old
frame-building, two stories high, with a gambrel roof and tall chimneys.
Two slim Lombardy poplars and a broad-leaved catalpa shaded the southern
side, and a kitchen-garden, divided in the centre by a double row of
untrimmed currant-bushes, flanked it on the east. For flowers, there
were masses of blue flags and coarse tawny-red lilies, besides a huge
trumpet-vine which swung its pendent arms from one of the gables.
In front of the house a natural lawn of mingled turf and rock sloped
steeply down to the water, which was not more than two hundred yards
distant. To the west was another and broader inlet of the Sound, out of
which our Arcadian promontory rose bluff and bold, crowned with a
thick fringe of pines. It was really a lovely spot which Shelldrake had
chosen--so secluded, while almost surrounded by the winged and moving
life of the Sound, so simple, so pastoral and home-like. No one doubted
the success of our experiment, for that evening at least.

"Perkins Brown, Shelldrake's boy-of-all-work, awaited us at the door.
He had been sent on two or three days in advance, to take charge of the
house, and seemed to have had enough of hermit-life, for he hailed
us with a wild whoop, throwing his straw hat half-way up one of the
poplars. Perkins was a boy of fifteen, the child of poor parents,
who were satisfied to get him off their hands, regardless as to what
humanitarian theories might be tested upon him. As the Arcadian Club
recognized no such thing as caste, he was always admitted to our
meetings, and understood just enough of our conversation to excite a
silly ambition in his slow mind. His animal nature was predominant, and
this led him to be deceitful. At that time, however, we all looked upon
him as a proper young Arcadian, and hoped that he would develop into a
second Abel Mallory.

"After our effects had been deposited on the stoop, and the carriages
had driven away, we proceeded to apportion the rooms, and take
possession. On the first floor there were three rooms, two of which
would serve us as dining and drawing rooms, leaving the third for the
Shelldrakes. As neither Eunice and Miss Ringtop, nor Hollins and Abel
showed any disposition to room together, I quietly gave up to them the
four rooms in the second story, and installed myself in one of the attic
chambers. Here I could hear the music of the rain close above my head,
and through the little gable window, as I lay in bed, watch the colors
of the morning gradually steal over the distant shores. The end was, we
were all satisfied.

"'Now for our first meal in Arcadia!' was the next cry. Mrs. Shelldrake,
like a prudent housekeeper, marched off to the kitchen, where Perkins
had already kindled a fire. We looked in at the door, but thought it
best to allow her undisputed sway in such a narrow realm. Eunice was
unpacking some loaves of bread and paper bags of crackers; and Miss
Ringtop, smiling through her ropy curls, as much as to say, 'You see,
_I_ also can perform the coarser tasks of life!' occupied herself with
plates and cups. We men, therefore, walked out to the garden, which we
found in a promising condition. The usual vegetables had been planted
and were growing finely, for the season was yet scarcely warm enough
for the weeds to make much headway. Radishes, young onions, and lettuce
formed our contribution to the table. The Shelldrakes, I should explain,
had not yet advanced to the antediluvian point, in diet: nor, indeed,
had either Eunice or myself. We acknowledged the fascination of tea, we
saw a very mitigated evil in milk and butter, and we were conscious of
stifled longings after the abomination of meat. Only Mallory, Hollins,
and Miss Ringtop had reached that loftiest round on the ladder of
progress where the material nature loosens the last fetter of the
spiritual. They looked down upon us, and we meekly admitted their right
to do so.

"Our board, that evening, was really tempting. The absence of meat was
compensated to us by the crisp and racy onions, and I craved only a
little salt, which had been interdicted, as a most pernicious substance.
I sat at one corner of the table, beside Perkins Brown, who took an
opportunity, while the others were engaged in conversation, to jog my
elbow gently. As I turned towards him, he said nothing, but dropped his
eyes significantly. The little rascal had the lid of a blacking-box,
filled with salt, upon his knee, and was privately seasoning his onions
and radishes.

I blushed at the thought of my hypocrisy, but the onions were so much
better that I couldn't help dipping into the lid with him.

"'Oh,' said Eunice, 'we must send for some oil and vinegar! This lettuce
is very nice.'

"'Oil and vinegar?' exclaimed Abel.

"'Why, yes,' said she, innocently: 'they are both vegetable substances.'

"Abel at first looked rather foolish, but quickly recovering himself,
said--

"'All vegetable substances are not proper for food: you would not taste
the poison-oak, or sit under the upas-tree of Java.'

"'Well, Abel,' Eunice rejoined, 'how are we to distinguish what is best
for us? How are we to know WHAT vegetables to choose, or what animal and
mineral substances to avoid?'

"'I will tell you,' he answered, with a lofty air. 'See here!' pointing
to his temple, where the second pimple--either from the change of air,
or because, in the excitement of the last few days, he had forgotten
it--was actually healed. 'My blood is at last pure. The struggle between
the natural and the unnatural is over, and I am beyond the depraved
influences of my former taste. My instincts are now, therefore, entirely
pure also. What is good for man to eat, that I shall have a natural
desire to eat: what is bad will be naturally repelled. How does the cow
distinguish between the wholesome and the poisonous herbs of the meadow?
And is man less than a cow, that he cannot cultivate his instincts to
an equal point? Let me walk through the woods and I can tell you every
berry and root which God designed for food, though I know not its name,
and have never seen it before. I shall make use of my time, during our
sojourn here, to test, by my purified instinct, every substance, animal,
mineral, and vegetable, upon which the human race subsists, and to
create a catalogue of the True Food of Man!'

"Abel was eloquent on this theme, and he silenced not only Eunice,
but the rest of us. Indeed, as we were all half infected with the same
delusions, it was not easy to answer his sophistries.

"After supper was over, the prospect of cleaning the dishes and putting
things in order was not so agreeable; but Mrs. Shelldrake and Perkins
undertook the work, and we did not think it necessary to interfere with
them. Half an hour afterwards, when the full moon had risen, we took
our chairs upon the sloop, to enjoy the calm, silver night, the soft
sea-air, and our summer's residence in anticipatory talk.

"'My friends,' said Hollins (and HIS hobby, as you may remember, Ned,
was the organization of Society, rather than those reforms which apply
directly to the Individual),--'my friends, I think we are sufficiently
advanced in progressive ideas to establish our little Arcadian community
upon what I consider the true basis: not Law, nor Custom, but the
uncorrupted impulses of our nature. What Abel said in regard to dietetic
reform is true; but that alone will not regenerate the race. We must
rise superior to those conventional ideas of Duty whereby Life is warped
and crippled. Life must not be a prison, where each one must come and
go, work, eat, and sleep, as the jailer commands. Labor must not be
a necessity, but a spontaneous joy. 'Tis true, but little labor is
required of us here: let us, therefore, have no set tasks, no fixed
rules, but each one work, rest, eat, sleep, talk or be silent, as his
own nature prompts.'

"Perkins, sitting on the steps, gave a suppressed chuckle, which I think
no one heard but myself. I was vexed with his levity, but, nevertheless,
gave him a warning nudge with my toe, in payment for the surreptitious
salt.

"'That's just the notion I had, when I first talked of our coming here,'
said Shelldrake. 'Here we're alone and unhindered; and if the plan
shouldn't happen to work well (I don't see why it shouldn't though),
no harm will be done. I've had a deal of hard work in my life, and I've
been badgered and bullied so much by your strait-laced professors,
that I'm glad to get away from the world for a spell, and talk and do
rationally, without being laughed at.'

"'Yes,' answered Hollins, 'and if we succeed, as I feel we shall, for I
think I know the hearts of all of us here, this may be the commencement
of a new Epoch for the world. We may become the turning-point between
two dispensations: behind us every thing false and unnatural, before us
every thing true, beautiful, and good.'

"'Ah,' sighed Miss Ringtop, 'it reminds me of Gamaliel J. Gawthrop's
beautiful lines:

        "'Unrobed man is lying hoary
            In the distance, gray and dead;
         There no wreaths of godless glory
            To his mist-like tresses wed,
         And the foot-fall of the Ages
            Reigns supreme, with noiseless tread.'


"'I am willing to try the experiment,' said I, on being appealed to by
Hollins; 'but don't you think we had better observe some kind of order,
even in yielding every thing to impulse? Shouldn't there be, at least, a
platform, as the politicians call it--an agreement by which we shall
all be bound, and which we can afterwards exhibit as the basis of our
success?'

"He meditated a few moments, and then answered--

"'I think not. It resembles too much the thing we are trying to
overthrow. Can you bind a man's belief by making him sign certain
articles of Faith? No: his thought will be free, in spite of it; and I
would have Action--Life--as free as Thought. Our platform--to adopt your
image--has but one plank: Truth. Let each only be true to himself: BE
himself, ACT himself, or herself with the uttermost candor. We can all
agree upon that.'

"The agreement was accordingly made. And certainly no happier or more
hopeful human beings went to bed in all New England that night.

"I arose with the sun, went into the garden, and commenced weeding,
intending to do my quota of work before breakfast, and then devote the
day to reading and conversation. I was presently joined by Shelldrake
and Mallory, and between us we finished the onions and radishes, stuck
the peas, and cleaned the alleys. Perkins, after milking the cow and
turning her out to pasture, assisted Mrs. Shelldrake in the kitchen.
At breakfast we were joined by Hollins, who made no excuse for his
easy morning habits; nor was one expected. I may as well tell you now,
though, that his natural instincts never led him to work. After a week,
when a second crop of weeds was coming on, Mallory fell off also, and
thenceforth Shelldrake and myself had the entire charge of the garden.
Perkins did the rougher work, and was always on hand when he was wanted.
Very soon, however, I noticed that he was in the habit of disappearing
for two or three hours in the afternoon.

"Our meals preserved the same Spartan simplicity. Eunice, however,
carried her point in regard to the salad; for Abel, after tasting and
finding it very palatable, decided that oil and vinegar might be classed
in the catalogue of True Food. Indeed, his long abstinence from piquant
flavors gave him such an appetite for it that our supply of lettuce was
soon exhausted. An embarrassing accident also favored us with the use of
salt. Perkins happening to move his knee at the moment I was dipping an
onion into the blacking-box lid, our supply was knocked upon the floor.
He picked it up, and we both hoped the accident might pass unnoticed.
But Abel, stretching his long neck across the corner of the table,
caught a glimpse of what was going on.

"'What's that?' he asked.

"'Oh, it's--it's only,' said I, seeking for a synonyme, 'only chloride
of sodium!'

"'Chloride of sodium! what do you do with it?'

"'Eat it with onions,' said I, boldly: 'it's a chemical substance, but I
believe it is found in some plants.'

"Eunice, who knew something of chemistry (she taught a class, though you
wouldn't think it), grew red with suppressed fun, but the others were as
ignorant as Abel Mallory himself.

"'Let me taste it,' said he, stretching out an onion.

"I handed him the box-lid, which still contained a portion of its
contents. He dipped the onion, bit off a piece, and chewed it gravely.

"'Why,' said he, turning to me, 'it's very much like salt.'

"Perkins burst into a spluttering yell, which discharged an onion-top he
had just put between his teeth across the table; Eunice and I gave way
at the same moment; and the others, catching the joke, joined us. But
while we were laughing, Abel was finishing his onion, and the result was
that Salt was added to the True Food, and thereafter appeared regularly
on the table.

"The forenoons we usually spent in reading and writing, each in his or
her chamber. (Oh, the journals, Ned!--but you shall not see mine.)
After a midday meal,--I cannot call it dinner,--we sat upon the stoop,
listening while one of us read aloud, or strolled down the shores on
either side, or, when the sun was not too warm, got into a boat, and
rowed or floated lazily around the promontory.

"One afternoon, as I was sauntering off, past the garden, towards the
eastern inlet, I noticed Perkins slipping along behind the cedar knobs,
towards the little woodland at the end of our domain. Curious to find
out the cause of his mysterious disappearances, I followed cautiously.
From the edge of the wood I saw him enter a little gap between the
rocks, which led down to the water. Presently a thread of blue smoke
stole up. Quietly creeping along, I got upon the nearer bluff and looked
down. There was a sort of hearth built up at the base of the rock, with
a brisk little fire burning upon it, but Perkins had disappeared. I
stretched myself out upon the moss, in the shade, and waited. In about
half an hour up came Perkins, with a large fish in one hand and a
lump of clay in the other. I now understood the mystery. He carefully
imbedded the fish in a thin layer of clay, placed it on the coals, and
then went down to the shore to wash his hands. On his return he found me
watching the fire.

"'Ho, ho, Mr. Enos!' said he, 'you've found me out; But you won't say
nothin'. Gosh! you like it as well I do. Look 'ee there!'--breaking open
the clay, from which arose 'a steam of rich distilled perfumes,'--'and,
I say, I've got the box-lid with that 'ere stuff in it,--ho! ho!'--and
the scamp roared again.

"Out of a hole in the rock he brought salt and the end of a loaf, and
between us we finished the fish. Before long, I got into the habit of
disappearing in the afternoon.

"Now and then we took walks, alone or collectively, to the nearest
village, or even to Bridgeport, for the papers or a late book. The few
purchases we required were made at such times, and sent down in a cart,
or, if not too heavy, carried by Perkins in a basket. I noticed that
Abel, whenever we had occasion to visit a grocery, would go sniffing
around, alternately attracted or repelled by the various articles: now
turning away with a shudder from a ham,--now inhaling, with a fearful
delight and uncertainty, the odor of smoked herrings. 'I think herrings
must feed on sea-weed,' said he, 'there is such a vegetable attraction
about them.' After his violent vegetarian harangues, however, he
hesitated about adding them to his catalogue.

"But, one day, as we were passing through the village, he was reminded
by the sign of 'WARTER CRACKERS' in the window of an obscure grocery
that he required a supply of these articles, and we therefore entered.
There was a splendid Rhode Island cheese on the counter, from which the
shop-mistress was just cutting a slice for a customer. Abel leaned over
it, inhaling the rich, pungent fragrance.

"'Enos,' said he to me, between his sniffs, 'this impresses me like
flowers--like marigolds. It must be--really--yes, the vegetable element
is predominant. My instinct towards it is so strong that I cannot be
mistaken. May I taste it, ma'am?'

"The woman sliced off a thin corner, and presented it to him on the
knife.

"'Delicious!' he exclaimed; 'I am right,--this is the True Food. Give me
two pounds--and the crackers, ma'am.'

"I turned away, quite as much disgusted as amused with
this charlatanism. And yet I verily believe the fellow was
sincere--self-deluded only. I had by this time lost my faith in him,
though not in the great Arcadian principles. On reaching home, after
an hour's walk, I found our household in unusual commotion. Abel was
writhing in intense pain: he had eaten the whole two pounds of cheese,
on his way home! His stomach, so weakened by years of unhealthy
abstinence from true nourishment, was now terribly tortured by this
sudden stimulus. Mrs. Shelldrake, fortunately, had some mustard among
her stores, and could therefore administer a timely emetic. His life was
saved, but he was very ill for two or three days. Hollins did not fail
to take advantage of this circumstance to overthrow the authority which
Abel had gradually acquired on the subject of food. He was so arrogant
in his nature that he could not tolerate the same quality in another,
even where their views coincided.

"By this time several weeks had passed away. It was the beginning of
July, and the long summer heats had come. I was driven out of my attic
during the middle hours of the day, and the others found it pleasanter
on the doubly shaded stoop than in their chambers. We were thus thrown
more together than usual--a circumstance which made our life more
monotonous to the others, as I could see; but to myself, who could at
last talk to Eunice, and who was happy at the very sight of her, this
'heated term' seemed borrowed from Elysium.

"I read aloud, and the sound of my own voice gave me confidence; many
passages suggested discussions, in which I took a part; and you may
judge, Ned, how fast I got on, from the fact that I ventured to tell
Eunice of my fish-bakes with Perkins, and invite her to join them. After
that, she also often disappeared from sight for an hour or two in the
afternoon."

----"Oh, Mr. Johnson," interrupted Mrs. Billings, "it wasn't for the
fish!"

"Of course not," said her husband; "it was for my sake."

"No, you need not think it was for you. Enos," she added, perceiving the
feminine dilemma into which she had been led, "all this is not necessary
to the story."

"Stop!" he answered. "The A. C. has been revived for this night only.
Do you remember our platform, or rather no-platform? I must follow my
impulses, and say whatever comes uppermost."

"Right, Enos," said Mr. Johnson; "I, as temporary Arcadian, take the
same ground. My instinct tells me that you, Mrs. Billings, must permit
the confession."

She submitted with a good grace, and her husband continued:

"I said that our lazy life during the hot weather had become a little
monotonous. The Arcadian plan had worked tolerably well, on the whole,
for there was very little for any one to do--Mrs. Shelldrake and Perkins
Brown excepted. Our conversation, however, lacked spirit and variety. We
were, perhaps unconsciously, a little tired of hearing and assenting to
the same sentiments. But one evening, about this time, Hollins struck
upon a variation, the consequences of which he little foresaw. We
had been reading one of Bulwer's works (the weather was too hot for
Psychology), and came upon this paragraph, or something like it:

"'Ah, Behind the Veil! We see the summer smile of the Earth--enamelled
meadow and limpid stream,--but what hides she in her sunless heart?
Caverns of serpents, or grottoes of priceless gems? Youth, whose soul
sits on thy countenance, thyself wearing no mask, strive not to lift the
masks of others! Be content with what thou seest; and wait until Time
and Experience shall teach thee to find jealousy behind the sweet smile,
and hatred under the honeyed word!'

"This seemed to us a dark and bitter reflection; but one or another of
us recalled some illustration of human hypocrisy, and the evidences,
by the simple fact of repetition, gradually led to a division of
opinion--Hollins, Shelldrake, and Miss Ringtop on the dark side, and
the rest of us on the bright. The last, however, contented herself with
quoting from her favorite poet, Gamaliel J. Gawthrop:

        "'I look beyond thy brow's concealment!
         I see thy spirit's dark revealment!
         Thy inner self betrayed I see:
         Thy coward, craven, shivering ME!'


"'We think we know one another,' exclaimed Hollins; 'but do we? We see
the faults of others, their weaknesses, their disagreeable qualities,
and we keep silent. How much we should gain, were candor as universal
as concealment! Then each one, seeing himself as others see him, would
truly know himself. How much misunderstanding might be avoided--how
much hidden shame be removed--hopeless, because unspoken, love made
glad--honest admiration cheer its object--uttered sympathy mitigate
misfortune--in short, how much brighter and happier the world would
become if each one expressed, everywhere and at all times, his true and
entire feeling! Why, even Evil would lose half its power!'

"There seemed to be so much practical wisdom in these views that we were
all dazzled and half-convinced at the start. So, when Hollins, turning
towards me, as he continued, exclaimed--'Come, why should not this
candor be adopted in our Arcadia? Will any one--will you, Enos--commence
at once by telling me now--to my face--my principal faults?' I answered
after a moment's reflection--'You have a great deal of intellectual
arrogance, and you are, physically, very indolent'

"He did not flinch from the self-invited test, though he looked a little
surprised.

"'Well put,' said he, 'though I do not say that you are entirely
correct. Now, what are my merits?'

"'You are clear-sighted,' I answered, 'an earnest seeker after truth,
and courageous in the avowal of your thoughts.'

"This restored the balance, and we soon began to confess our own private
faults and weaknesses. Though the confessions did not go very deep,--no
one betraying anything we did not all know already,--yet they were
sufficient to strength Hollins in his new idea, and it was unanimously
resolved that Candor should thenceforth be the main charm of our
Arcadian life. It was the very thing _I_ wanted, in order to make
a certain communication to Eunice; but I should probably never have
reached the point, had not the same candor been exercised towards me,
from a quarter where I least expected it.

"The next day, Abel, who had resumed his researches after the True Food,
came home to supper with a healthier color than I had before seen on his
face.

"'Do you know,' said he, looking shyly at Hollins, 'that I begin to
think Beer must be a natural beverage? There was an auction in the
village to-day, as I passed through, and I stopped at a cake-stand to
get a glass of water, as it was very hot. There was no water--only beer:
so I thought I would try a glass, simply as an experiment. Really, the
flavor was very agreeable. And it occurred to me, on the way home, that
all the elements contained in beer are vegetable. Besides, fermentation
is a natural process. I think the question has never been properly
tested before.'

"'But the alcohol!' exclaimed Hollins.

"'I could not distinguish any, either by taste or smell. I know that
chemical analysis is said to show it; but may not the alcohol be
created, somehow, during the analysis?'

"'Abel,' said Hollins, in a fresh burst of candor, 'you will never be
a Reformer, until you possess some of the commonest elements of
knowledge.'

"The rest of us were much diverted: it was a pleasant relief to our
monotonous amiability.

"Abel, however, had a stubborn streak in his character. The next day he
sent Perkins Brown to Bridgeport for a dozen bottles of 'Beer.' Perkins,
either intentionally or by mistake, (I always suspected the former,)
brought pint-bottles of Scotch ale, which he placed in the coolest part
of the cellar. The evening happened to be exceedingly hot and sultry,
and, as we were all fanning ourselves and talking languidly, Abel
bethought him of his beer. In his thirst, he drank the contents of the
first bottle, almost at a single draught.

"'The effect of beer,' said he, 'depends, I think, on the commixture of
the nourishing principle of the grain with the cooling properties of the
water. Perhaps, hereafter, a liquid food of the same character may be
invented, which shall save us from mastication and all the diseases of
the teeth.'

"Hollins and Shelldrake, at his invitation, divided a bottle between
them, and he took a second. The potent beverage was not long in acting
on a brain so unaccustomed to its influence. He grew unusually talkative
and sentimental, in a few minutes.

"'Oh, sing, somebody!' he sighed in a hoarse rapture: 'the night was
made for Song.'

"Miss Ringtop, nothing loath, immediately commenced, 'When stars are in
the quiet skies;' but scarcely had she finished the first verse before
Abel interrupted her.

"'Candor's the order of the day, isn't it?' he asked.

"'Yes!' 'Yes!' two or three answered.

"'Well then,' said he, 'candidly, Pauline, you've got the darn'dest
squeaky voice'--

"Miss Ringtop gave a faint little scream of horror.

"'Oh, never mind!' he continued. 'We act according to impulse, don't we?
And I've the impulse to swear; and it's right. Let Nature have her
way. Listen! Damn, damn, damn, damn! I never knew it was so easy. Why,
there's a pleasure in it! Try it, Pauline! try it on me!'

"'Oh-ooh!' was all Miss Ringtop could utter.

"'Abel! Abel!' exclaimed Hollins, 'the beer has got into your head.'

"'No, it isn't Beer,--it's Candor!' said Abel. 'It's your own proposal,
Hollins. Suppose it's evil to swear: isn't it better I should express
it, and be done with it, than keep it bottled up to ferment in my mind?
Oh, you're a precious, consistent old humbug, you are!'

"And therewith he jumped off the stoop, and went dancing awkwardly
down towards the water, singing in a most unmelodious voice, ''Tis home
where'er the heart is.'

"'Oh, he may fall into the water!' exclaimed Eunice, in alarm.

"'He's not fool enough to do that,' said Shelldrake. 'His head is a
little light, that's all. The air will cool him down presently.'

"But she arose and followed him, not satisfied with this assurance. Miss
Ringtop sat rigidly still. She would have received with composure the
news of his drowning.

"As Eunice's white dress disappeared among the cedars crowning
the shore, I sprang up and ran after her. I knew that Abel was not
intoxicated, but simply excited, and I had no fear on his account: I
obeyed an involuntary impulse. On approaching the water, I heard their
voices--hers in friendly persuasion, his in sentimental entreaty,--then
the sound of oars in the row-locks. Looking out from the last clump of
cedars, I saw them seated in the boat, Eunice at the stern, while Abel,
facing her, just dipped an oar now and then to keep from drifting with
the tide. She had found him already in the boat, which was loosely
chained to a stone. Stepping on one of the forward thwarts in her
eagerness to persuade him to return, he sprang past her, jerked away the
chain, and pushed off before she could escape. She would have fallen,
but he caught her and placed her in the stern, and then seated himself
at the oars. She must have been somewhat alarmed, but there was only
indignation in her voice. All this had transpired before my arrival, and
the first words I heard bound me to the spot and kept me silent.

"'Abel, what does this mean?' she asked

"'It means Fate--Destiny!' he exclaimed, rather wildly. 'Ah, Eunice, ask
the night, and the moon,--ask the impulse which told you to follow me!
Let us be candid like the old Arcadians we imitate. Eunice, we know that
we love each other: why should we conceal it any longer? The Angel of
Love comes down from the stars on his azure wings, and whispers to our
hearts. Let us confess to each other! The female heart should not be
timid, in this pure and beautiful atmosphere of Love which we breathe.
Come, Eunice! we are alone: let your heart speak to me!'

"Ned, if you've ever been in love, (we'll talk of that after a while,)
you will easily understand what tortures I endured, in thus hearing
him speak. That HE should love Eunice! It was a profanation to her, an
outrage to me. Yet the assurance with which he spoke! COULD she love
this conceited, ridiculous, repulsive fellow, after all? I almost gasped
for breath, as I clinched the prickly boughs of the cedars in my hands,
and set my teeth, waiting to hear her answer.

"'I will not hear such language! Take me back to the shore!' she said,
in very short, decided tones.

"'Oh, Eunice,' he groaned, (and now, I think he was perfectly sober,)
'don't you love me, indeed? _I_ love you,--from my heart I do: yes, I
love you. Tell me how you feel towards me.'

"'Abel,' said she, earnestly, 'I feel towards you only as a friend;
and if you wish me to retain a friendly interest in you, you must never
again talk in this manner. I do not love you, and I never shall. Let me
go back to the house.'

"His head dropped upon his breast, but he rowed back to the shore, drew
the bow upon the rocks, and assisted her to land. Then, sitting down, he
groaned forth--

"'Oh, Eunice, you have broken my heart!' and putting his big hands to
his face, began to cry.

"She turned, placed one hand on his shoulder, and said in a calm, but
kind tone--

"'I am very sorry, Abel, but I cannot help it.'

"I slipped aside, that she might not see me, and we returned by separate
paths.

"I slept very little that night. The conviction which I chased away from
my mind as often as it returned, that our Arcadian experiment was taking
a ridiculous and at the same time impracticable development, became
clearer and stronger. I felt sure that our little community could not
hold together much longer without an explosion. I had a presentiment
that Eunice shared my impressions. My feelings towards her had reached
that crisis where a declaration was imperative: but how to make it? It
was a terrible struggle between my shyness and my affection. There was
another circumstance in connection with this subject, which troubled me
not a little. Miss Ringtop evidently sought my company, and made me, as
much as possible, the recipient of her sentimental outpourings. I was
not bold enough to repel her--indeed I had none of that tact which is
so useful in such emergencies,--and she seemed to misinterpret my
submission. Not only was her conversation pointedly directed to me, but
she looked at me, when singing, (especially, 'Thou, thou, reign'st in
this bosom!') in a way that made me feel very uncomfortable. What
if Eunice should suspect an attachment towards her, on my part. What
if--oh, horror!--I had unconsciously said or done something to impress
Miss Ringtop herself with the same conviction? I shuddered as the
thought crossed my mind. One thing was very certain: this suspense was
not to be endured much longer.

"We had an unusually silent breakfast the next morning. Abel scarcely
spoke, which the others attributed to a natural feeling of shame, after
his display of the previous evening. Hollins and Shelldrake discussed
Temperance, with a special view to his edification, and Miss Ringtop
favored us with several quotations about 'the maddening bowl,'--but
he paid no attention to them. Eunice was pale and thoughtful. I had
no doubt in my mind, that she was already contemplating a removal from
Arcadia. Perkins, whose perceptive faculties were by no means dull,
whispered to me, 'Shan't I bring up some porgies for supper?' but I
shook my head. I was busy with other thoughts, and did not join him in
the wood, that day.

"The forenoon was overcast, with frequent showers. Each one occupied his
or her room until dinner-time, when we met again with something of the
old geniality. There was an evident effort to restore our former flow of
good feeling. Abel's experience with the beer was freely discussed. He
insisted strongly that he had not been laboring under its effects, and
proposed a mutual test. He, Shelldrake, and Hollins were to drink it
in equal measures, and compare observations as to their physical
sensations. The others agreed,--quite willingly, I thought,--but I
refused. I had determined to make a desperate attempt at candor, and
Abel's fate was fresh before my eyes.

"My nervous agitation increased during the day, and after sunset,
fearing lest I should betray my excitement in some way, I walked down
to the end of the promontory, and took a seat on the rocks. The sky
had cleared, and the air was deliciously cool and sweet. The Sound was
spread out before me like a sea, for the Long Island shore was veiled in
a silvery mist. My mind was soothed and calmed by the influences of the
scene, until the moon arose. Moonlight, you know, disturbs--at least,
when one is in love. (Ah, Ned, I see you understand it!) I felt
blissfully miserable, ready to cry with joy at the knowledge that I
loved, and with fear and vexation at my cowardice, at the same time.

"Suddenly I heard a rustling beside me. Every nerve in my body tingled,
and I turned my head, with a beating and expectant heart. Pshaw! It was
Miss Ringtop, who spread her blue dress on the rock beside me, and shook
back her long curls, and sighed, as she gazed at the silver path of the
moon on the water.

"'Oh, how delicious!' she cried. 'How it seems to set the spirit free,
and we wander off on the wings of Fancy to other spheres!'

"'Yes,' said I, 'It is very beautiful, but sad, when one is alone.'

"I was thinking of Eunice.

"'How inadequate,' she continued, 'is language to express the emotions
which such a scene calls up in the bosom! Poetry alone is the voice of
the spiritual world, and we, who are not poets, must borrow the language
of the gifted sons of Song. Oh, Enos, I WISH you were a poet! But you
FEEL poetry, I know you do. I have seen it in your eyes, when I quoted
the burning lines of Adeliza Kelley, or the soul-breathings of Gamaliel
J. Gawthrop. In HIM, particularly, I find the voice of my own nature.
Do you know his 'Night-Whispers?' How it embodies the feelings of such a
scene as this!

        "Star-drooping bowers bending down the spaces,
         And moonlit glories sweep star-footed on;
         And pale, sweet rivers, in their shining races,
         Are ever gliding through the moonlit places,
         With silver ripples on their tranced faces,
    And forests clasp their dusky hands, with low and sullen moan!'


"'Ah!' she continued, as I made no reply, 'this is an hour for the soul
to unveil its most secret chambers! Do you not think, Enos, that love
rises superior to all conventionalities? that those whose souls are in
unison should be allowed to reveal themselves to each other, regardless
of the world's opinions?'

"'Yes!' said I, earnestly.

"'Enos, do you understand me?' she asked, in a tender voice--almost a
whisper.

"'Yes,' said I, with a blushing confidence of my own passion.

"'Then,' she whispered, 'our hearts are wholly in unison. I know you are
true, Enos. I know your noble nature, and I will never doubt you. This
is indeed happiness!'

"And therewith she laid her head on my shoulder, and sighed--

        "'Life remits his tortures cruel,
         Love illumes his fairest fuel,
         When the hearts that once were dual
         Meet as one, in sweet renewal!'


"'Miss Ringtop!' I cried, starting away from her, in alarm, 'you don't
mean that--that--'

"I could not finish the sentence.

"'Yes, Enos, DEAR Enos! henceforth we belong to each other.'

"The painful embarrassment I felt, as her true meaning shot through my
mind, surpassed anything I had imagined, or experienced in anticipation,
when planning how I should declare myself to Eunice. Miss Ringtop was
at least ten years older than I, far from handsome (but you remember her
face,) and so affectedly sentimental, that I, sentimental as I was then,
was sick of hearing her talk. Her hallucination was so monstrous, and
gave me such a shock of desperate alarm, that I spoke, on the impulse of
the moment, with great energy, without regarding how her feelings might
be wounded.

"'You mistake!' I exclaimed. 'I didn't mean that,--I didn't understand
you. Don't talk to me that way,--don't look at me in that way, Miss
Ringtop! We were never meant for each other--I wasn't----You're so much
older--I mean different. It can't be--no, it can never be! Let us go
back to the house: the night is cold.'

"I rose hastily to my feet. She murmured something,--what, I did not
stay to hear,--but, plunging through the cedars, was hurrying with all
speed to the house, when, half-way up the lawn, beside one of the rocky
knobs, I met Eunice, who was apparently on her way to join us.

"In my excited mood, after the ordeal through which I had passed,
everything seemed easy. My usual timidity was blown to the four winds. I
went directly to her, took her hand, and said--

"'Eunice, the others are driving me mad with their candor; will you let
me be candid, too?'

"'I think you are always candid, Enos,' she answered.

"Even then, if I had hesitated, I should have been lost. But I went on,
without pausing--

"'Eunice, I love you--I have loved you since we first met. I came here
that I might be near you; but I must leave you forever, and to-night,
unless you can trust your life in my keeping. God help me, since we have
been together I have lost my faith in almost everything but you.
Pardon me, if I am impetuous--different from what I have seemed. I have
struggled so hard to speak! I have been a coward, Eunice, because of my
love. But now I have spoken, from my heart of hearts. Look at me: I can
bear it now. Read the truth in my eyes, before you answer.'

"I felt her hand tremble while I spoke. As she turned towards me her
face, which had been averted, the moon shone full upon it, and I saw
that tears were upon her cheeks. What was said--whether anything was
said--I cannot tell. I felt the blessed fact, and that was enough. That
was the dawning of the true Arcadia."

Mrs. Billings, who had been silent during this recital, took her
husband's hand and smiled. Mr. Johnson felt a dull pang about the region
of his heart. If he had a secret, however, I do not feel justified in
betraying it.

"It was late," Mr. Billings continued, "before we returned to the house.
I had a special dread of again encountering Miss Ringtop, but she was
wandering up and down the bluff, under the pines, singing, 'The dream
is past.' There was a sound of loud voices, as we approached the stoop.
Hollins, Shelldrake and his wife, and Abel Mallory were sitting together
near the door. Perkins Brown, as usual, was crouched on the lowest step,
with one leg over the other, and rubbing the top of his boot with a
vigor which betrayed to me some secret mirth. He looked up at me from
under his straw hat with the grin of a malicious Puck, glanced towards
the group, and made a curious gesture with his thumb. There were several
empty pint-bottles on the stoop.

"'Now, are you sure you can bear the test?' we heard Hollins ask, as we
approached.

"'Bear it? Why to be sure!' replied Shelldrake; 'if I couldn't bear it,
or if YOU couldn't, your theory's done for. Try! I can stand it as long
as you can.'

"'Well, then,' said Hollins, 'I think you are a very ordinary man. I
derive no intellectual benefit from my intercourse with you, but
your house is convenient to me. I'm under no obligations for your
hospitality, however, because my company is an advantage to you. Indeed
if I were treated according to my deserts, you couldn't do enough for
me.'

"Mrs. Shelldrake was up in arms.

"'Indeed,' she exclaimed, 'I think you get as good as you deserve, and
more too.'

"'Elvira,' said he, with a benevolent condescension, 'I have no doubt
you think so, for your mind belongs to the lowest and most material
sphere. You have your place in Nature, and you fill it; but it is not
for you to judge of intelligences which move only on the upper planes.'

"'Hollins,' said Shelldrake, 'Elviry's a good wife and a sensible woman,
and I won't allow you to turn up your nose at her.'

"'I am not surprised,' he answered, 'that you should fail to stand the
test. I didn't expect it.'

"'Let me try it on YOU!' cried Shelldrake. 'You, now, have some
intellect,--I don't deny that,--but not so much, by a long shot, as you
think you have. Besides that, you're awfully selfish in your opinions.
You won't admit that anybody can be right who differs from you. You've
sponged on me for a long time; but I suppose I've learned something from
you, so we'll call it even. I think, however, that what you call acting
according to impulse is simply an excuse to cover your own laziness.'

"'Gosh! that's it!' interrupted Perkins, jumping up; then, recollecting
himself, he sank down on the steps again, and shook with a suppressed
'Ho! ho! ho!'

"Hollins, however, drew himself up with an exasperated air.

"'Shelldrake,' said he, 'I pity you. I always knew your ignorance, but
I thought you honest in your human character. I never suspected you
of envy and malice. However, the true Reformer must expect to be
misunderstood and misrepresented by meaner minds. That love which I bear
to all creatures teaches me to forgive you. Without such love, all plans
of progress must fail. Is it not so, Abel?'

"Shelldrake could only ejaculate the words, 'Pity!' 'Forgive?' in his
most contemptuous tone; while Mrs. Shelldrake, rocking violently in
her chair, gave utterance to that peculiar clucking, 'TS, TS, TS, TS,'
whereby certain women express emotions too deep for words.

"Abel, roused by Hollins's question, answered, with a sudden energy--

"'Love! there is no love in the world. Where will you find it? Tell me,
and I'll go there. Love! I'd like to see it! If all human hearts were
like mine, we might have an Arcadia; but most men have no hearts. The
world is a miserable, hollow, deceitful shell of vanity and hypocrisy.
No: let us give up. We were born before our time: this age is not worthy
of us.'

"Hollins stared at the speaker in utter amazement. Shelldrake gave a
long whistle, and finally gasped out--

"'Well, what next?'

"None of us were prepared for such a sudden and complete wreck of our
Arcadian scheme. The foundations had been sapped before, it is true; but
we had not perceived it; and now, in two short days, the whole edifice
tumbled about our ears. Though it was inevitable, we felt a shock of
sorrow, and a silence fell upon us. Only that scamp of a Perkins Brown,
chuckling and rubbing his boot, really rejoiced. I could have kicked
him.

"We all went to bed, feeling that the charm of our Arcadian life was
over. I was so full of the new happiness of love that I was scarcely
conscious of regret. I seemed to have leaped at once into responsible
manhood, and a glad rush of courage filled me at the knowledge that
my own heart was a better oracle than those--now so shamefully
overthrown--on whom I had so long implicitly relied. In the first
revulsion of feeling, I was perhaps unjust to my associates. I see
now, more clearly, the causes of those vagaries, which originated in a
genuine aspiration, and failed from an ignorance of the true nature
of Man, quite as much as from the egotism of the individuals. Other
attempts at reorganizing Society were made about the same time by men of
culture and experience, but in the A. C. we had neither. Our leaders had
caught a few half-truths, which, in their minds, were speedily warped
into errors. I can laugh over the absurdities I helped to perpetrate,
but I must confess that the experiences of those few weeks went far
towards making a man of me."

"Did the A. C. break up at once?" asked Mr. Johnson.

"Not precisely; though Eunice and I left the house within two days,
as we had agreed. We were not married immediately, however. Three long
years--years of hope and mutual encouragement--passed away before that
happy consummation. Before our departure, Hollins had fallen into his
old manner, convinced, apparently, that Candor must be postponed to a
better age of the world. But the quarrel rankled in Shelldrake's mind,
and especially in that of his wife. I could see by her looks and little
fidgety ways that his further stay would be very uncomfortable. Abel
Mallory, finding himself gaining in weight and improving in color, had
no thought of returning. The day previous, as I afterwards learned, he
had discovered Perkins Brown's secret kitchen in the woods.

"'Golly!' said that youth, in describing the circumstance to me, 'I had
to ketch TWO porgies that day.'

"Miss Ringtop, who must have suspected the new relation between Eunice
and myself, was for the most part rigidly silent. If she quoted, it was
from the darkest and dreariest utterances of her favorite Gamaliel.

"What happened after our departure I learned from Perkins, on the
return of the Shelldrakes to Norridgeport, in September. Mrs. Shelldrake
stoutly persisted in refusing to make Hollins's bed, or to wash his
shirts. Her brain was dull, to be sure; but she was therefore all the
more stubborn in her resentment. He bore this state of things for about
a week, when his engagements to lecture in Ohio suddenly called him
away. Abel and Miss Ringtop were left to wander about the promontory in
company, and to exchange lamentations on the hollowness of human hopes
or the pleasures of despair. Whether it was owing to that attraction of
sex which would make any man and any woman, thrown together on a desert
island, finally become mates, or whether she skilfully ministered to
Abel's sentimental vanity, I will not undertake to decide: but the fact
is, they were actually betrothed, on leaving Arcadia. I think he would
willingly have retreated, after his return to the world; but that was
not so easy. Miss Ringtop held him with an inexorable clutch. They were
not married, however, until just before his departure for California,
whither she afterwards followed him. She died in less than a year, and
left him free."

"And what became of the other Arcadians?" asked Mr. Johnson.

"The Shelldrakes are still living in Norridgeport. They have become
Spiritualists, I understand, and cultivate Mediums. Hollins, when I
last heard of him, was a Deputy-Surveyor in the New York Custom-House.
Perkins Brown is our butcher here in Waterbury, and he often asks
me--'Do you take chloride of soda on your beefsteaks?' He is as fat as a
prize ox, and the father of five children."

"Enos!" exclaimed Mrs. Billings, looking at the clock, "it's nearly
midnight! Mr. Johnson must be very tired, after such a long story.

"The Chapter of the A. C. is hereby closed!"



FRIEND ELI'S DAUGHTER.



I.

The mild May afternoon was drawing to a close, as Friend Eli Mitchenor
reached the top of the long hill, and halted a few minutes, to allow his
horse time to recover breath. He also heaved a sigh of satisfaction,
as he saw again the green, undulating valley of the Neshaminy, with its
dazzling squares of young wheat, its brown patches of corn-land, its
snowy masses of blooming orchard, and the huge, fountain like jets
of weeping willow, half concealing the gray stone fronts of the
farm-houses. He had been absent from home only six days, but the time
seemed almost as long to him as a three years' cruise to a New Bedford
whaleman. The peaceful seclusion and pastoral beauty of the scene did
not consciously appeal to his senses; but he quietly noted how much the
wheat had grown during his absence, that the oats were up and looking
well, that Friend Comly's meadow had been ploughed, and Friend Martin
had built his half of the line-fence along the top of the hill-field.
If any smothered delight in the loveliness of the spring-time found
a hiding-place anywhere in the well-ordered chambers of his heart, it
never relaxed or softened the straight, inflexible lines of his face. As
easily could his collarless drab coat and waistcoat have flushed with a
sudden gleam of purple or crimson.

Eli Mitchenor was at peace with himself and the world--that is, so much
of the world as he acknowledged. Beyond the community of his own sect,
and a few personal friends who were privileged to live on its borders,
he neither knew nor cared to know much more of the human race than if
it belonged to a planet farther from the sun. In the discipline of the
Friends he was perfect; he was privileged to sit on the high seats,
with the elders of the Society; and the travelling brethren from other
States, who visited Bucks County, invariably blessed his house with
a family-meeting. His farm was one of the best on the banks of the
Neshaminy, and he also enjoyed the annual interest of a few thousand
dollars, carefully secured by mortgages on real estate. His wife,
Abigail, kept even pace with him in the consideration she enjoyed
within the limits of the sect; and his two children, Moses and Asenath,
vindicated the paternal training by the strictest sobriety of dress and
conduct. Moses wore the plain coat, even when his ways led him among
"the world's people;" and Asenath had never been known to wear, or
to express a desire for, a ribbon of a brighter tint than brown or
fawn-color. Friend Mitchenor had thus gradually ripened to his sixtieth
year in an atmosphere of life utterly placid and serene, and looked
forward with confidence to the final change, as a translation into a
deeper calm, a serener quiet, a prosperous eternity of mild voices,
subdued colors, and suppressed emotions.

He was returning home, in his own old-fashioned "chair," with its heavy
square canopy and huge curved springs, from the Yearly Meeting of the
Hicksite Friends, in Philadelphia. The large bay farm-horse, slow and
grave in his demeanor, wore his plain harness with an air which made him
seem, among his fellow-horses, the counterpart of his master among
men. He would no more have thought of kicking than the latter would of
swearing a huge oath. Even now, when the top of the hill was gained, and
he knew that he was within a mile of the stable which had been his
home since colthood, he showed no undue haste or impatience, but waited
quietly, until Friend Mitchenor, by a well-known jerk of the lines,
gave him the signal to go on. Obedient to the motion, he thereupon
set forward once more, jogging soberly down the eastern slope of the
hill,--across the covered bridge, where, in spite of the tempting level
of the hollow-sounding floor, he was as careful to abstain from trotting
as if he had read the warning notice,--along the wooded edge of the
green meadow, where several cows of his acquaintance were grazing,--and
finally, wheeling around at the proper angle, halted squarely in front
of the gate which gave entrance to the private lane.

The old stone house in front, the spring-house in a green little hollow
just below it, the walled garden, with its clumps of box and lilac, and
the vast barn on the left, all joining in expressing a silent welcome to
their owner, as he drove up the lane. Moses, a man of twenty-five, left
his work in the garden, and walked forward in his shirt-sleeves.

"Well, father, how does thee do?" was his quiet greeting, as they shook
hands.

"How's mother, by this time?" asked Eli.

"Oh, thee needn't have been concerned," said the son. "There she is. Go
in: I'll tend to the horse."

Abigail and her daughter appeared on the piazza. The mother was a woman
of fifty, thin and delicate in frame, but with a smooth, placid beauty
of countenance which had survived her youth. She was dressed in a
simple dove-colored gown, with book-muslin cap and handkerchief, so
scrupulously arranged that one might have associated with her for six
months without ever discovering a spot on the former, or an uneven fold
in the latter. Asenath, who followed, was almost as plainly attired,
her dress being a dark-blue calico, while a white pasteboard sun-bonnet,
with broad cape, covered her head.

"Well, Abigail, how art thou?" said Eli, quietly giving his hand to his
wife.

"I'm glad to see thee back," was her simple welcome.

No doubt they had kissed each other as lovers, but Asenath had witnessed
this manifestation of affection but once in her life--after the burial
of a younger sister. The fact impressed her with a peculiar sense of
sanctity and solemnity: it was a caress wrung forth by a season of
tribulation, and therefore was too earnest to be profaned to the uses
of joy. So far, therefore, from expecting a paternal embrace, she would
have felt, had it been given, like the doomed daughter of the Gileadite,
consecrated to sacrifice.

Both she and her mother were anxious to hear the proceedings of the
meeting, and to receive personal news of the many friends whom Eli had
seen; but they asked few questions until the supper-table was ready and
Moses had come in from the barn. The old man enjoyed talking, but it
must be in his own way and at his own good time. They must wait until
the communicative spirit should move him. With the first cup of coffee
the inspiration came. Hovering at first over indifferent details, he
gradually approached those of more importance,--told of the addresses
which had been made, the points of discipline discussed, the testimony
borne, and the appearance and genealogy of any new Friends who had taken
a prominent part therein. Finally, at the close of his relation, he
said--

"Abigail, there is one thing I must talk to thee about. Friend
Speakman's partner,--perhaps thee's heard of him, Richard Hilton,--has
a son who is weakly. He's two or three years younger than Moses. His
mother was consumptive, and they're afraid he takes after her. His
father wants to send him into the country for the summer--to some place
where he'll have good air, and quiet, and moderate exercise, and Friend
Speakman spoke of us. I thought I'd mention it to thee, and if thee
thinks well of it, we can send word down next week, when Josiah Comly
goes"

"What does THEE think?" asked his wife, after a pause

"He's a very quiet, steady young man, Friend Speakman says, and would be
very little trouble to thee. I thought perhaps his board would buy the
new yoke of oxen we must have in the fall, and the price of the fat ones
might go to help set up Moses. But it's for thee to decide."

"I suppose we could take him," said Abigail, seeing that the decision
was virtually made already; "there's the corner room, which we don't
often use. Only, if he should get worse on our hands--"

"Friend Speakman says there's no danger. He is only weak-breasted, as
yet, and clerking isn't good for him. I saw the young man at the store.
If his looks don't belie him, he's well-behaved and orderly."

So it was settled that Richard Hilton the younger was to be an inmate of
Friend Mitchenor's house during the summer.



II.


At the end of ten days he came.

In the under-sized, earnest, dark-haired and dark-eyed young man of
three-and-twenty, Abigail Mitchenor at once felt a motherly interest.
Having received him as a temporary member of the family, she considered
him entitled to the same watchful care as if he were in reality an
invalid son. The ice over an hereditary Quaker nature is but a thin
crust, if one knows how to break it; and in Richard Hilton's case, it
was already broken before his arrival. His only embarrassment, in fact,
arose from the difficulty which he naturally experienced in adapting
himself to the speech and address of the Mitchenor family. The greetings
of old Eli, grave, yet kindly, of Abigail, quaintly familiar and tender,
of Moses, cordial and slightly condescending, and finally of Asenath,
simple and natural to a degree which impressed him like a new revelation
in woman, at once indicated to him his position among them. His city
manners, he felt, instinctively, must be unlearned, or at least laid
aside for a time. Yet it was not easy for him to assume, at such short
notice, those of his hosts. Happening to address Asenath as "Miss
Mitchenor," Eli turned to him with a rebuking face.

"We do not use compliments, Richard," said he; "my daughter's name is
Asenath.

"I beg pardon. I will try to accustom myself to your ways, since you
have been so kind as to take me for a while," apologized Richard Hilton.

"Thee's under no obligation to us," said Friend Mitchenor, in his strict
sense of justice; "thee pays for what thee gets."

The finer feminine instinct of Abigail led her to interpose.

"We'll not expect too much of thee, at first, Richard," she remarked,
with a kind expression of face, which had the effect of a smile: "but
our ways are plain and easily learned. Thee knows, perhaps, that we're
no respecters of persons."

It was some days, however, before the young man could overcome his
natural hesitation at the familiarity implied by these new forms of
speech. "Friend Mitchenor" and "Moses" were not difficult to learn,
but it seemed a want of respect to address as "Abigail" a woman of such
sweet and serene dignity as the mother, and he was fain to avoid either
extreme by calling her, with her cheerful permission, "Aunt Mitchenor."
On the other hand, his own modest and unobtrusive nature soon won the
confidence and cordial regard of the family. He occasionally busied
himself in the garden, by way of exercise, or accompanied Moses to
the corn-field or the woodland on the hill, but was careful never to
interfere at inopportune times, and willing to learn silently, by the
simple process of looking on.

One afternoon, as he was idly sitting on the stone wall which
separated the garden from the lane, Asenath, attired in a new gown of
chocolate-colored calico, with a double-handled willow work-basket on
her arm, issued from the house. As she approached him, she paused and
said--

"The time seems to hang heavy on thy hands, Richard. If thee's strong
enough to walk to the village and back, it might do thee more good than
sitting still."

Richard Hilton at once jumped down from the wall.

"Certainly I am able to go," said he, "if you will allow it."

"Haven't I asked thee?" was her quiet reply.

"Let me carry your basket," he said, suddenly, after they had walked,
side by side, some distance down the lane.

"Indeed, I shall not let thee do that. I'm only going for the mail,
and some little things at the store, that make no weight at all. Thee
mustn't think I'm like the young women in the city, who, I'm told, if
they buy a spool of Cotton, must have it sent home to them. Besides,
thee mustn't over-exert thy strength."

Richard Hilton laughed merrily at the gravity with which she uttered the
last sentence.

"Why, Miss--Asenath, I mean--what am I good for; if I have not strength
enough to carry a basket?"

"Thee's a man, I know, and I think a man would almost as lief be thought
wicked as weak. Thee can't help being weakly-inclined, and it's only
right that thee should be careful of thyself. There's surely nothing in
that that thee need be ashamed of."

While thus speaking, Asenath moderated her walk, in order, unconsciously
to her companion, to restrain his steps.

"Oh, there are the dog's-tooth violets in blossom?" she exclaimed,
pointing to a shady spot beside the brook; "does thee know them?"

Richard immediately gathered and brought to her a handful of the nodding
yellow bells, trembling above their large, cool, spotted leaves.

"How beautiful they are!" said he; "but I should never have taken them
for violets."

"They are misnamed," she answered. "The flower is an Erythronium; but
I am accustomed to the common name, and like it. Did thee ever study
botany?"

"Not at all. I can tell a geranium, when I see it, and I know a
heliotrope by the smell. I could never mistake a red cabbage for a
rose, and I can recognize a hollyhock or a sunflower at a considerable
distance. The wild flowers are all strangers to me; I wish I knew
something about them."

"If thee's fond of flowers, it would be very easy to learn. I think a
study of this kind would pleasantly occupy thy mind. Why couldn't thee
try? I would be very willing to teach thee what little I know. It's not
much, indeed, but all thee wants is a start. See, I will show thee how
simple the principles are."

Taking one of the flowers from the bunch, Asenath, as they slowly walked
forward, proceeded to dissect it, explained the mysteries of stamens and
pistils, pollen, petals, and calyx, and, by the time they had reached
the village, had succeeded in giving him a general idea of the Linnaean
system of classification. His mind took hold of the subject with a
prompt and profound interest. It was a new and wonderful world which
suddenly opened before him. How surprised he was to learn that there
were signs by which a poisonous herb could be detected from a wholesome
one, that cedars and pine-trees blossomed, that the gray lichens on
the rocks belonged to the vegetable kingdom! His respect for Asenath's
knowledge thrust quite out of sight the restraint which her youth and
sex had imposed upon him. She was teacher, equal, friend; and the simple
candid manner which was the natural expression of her dignity and purity
thoroughly harmonized with this relation.

Although, in reality, two or three years younger than he, Asenath had
a gravity of demeanor, a calm self-possession, a deliberate balance of
mind, and a repose of the emotional nature, which he had never before
observed, except in much older women. She had had, as he could well
imagine, no romping girlhood, no season of careless, light-hearted
dalliance with opening life, no violent alternation even of the usual
griefs and joys of youth. The social calm in which she had expanded had
developed her nature as gently and securely as a sea-flower is unfolded
below the reach of tides and storms.

She would have been very much surprised if any one had called her
handsome: yet her face had a mild, unobtrusive beauty which seemed
to grow and deepen from day to day. Of a longer oval than the Greek
standard, it was yet as harmonious in outline; the nose was fine and
straight, the dark-blue eyes steady and untroubled, and the lips calmly,
but not too firmly closed. Her brown hair, parted over a high white
forehead, was smoothly laid across the temples, drawn behind the ears,
and twisted into a simple knot. The white cape and sun-bonnet gave her
face a nun-like character, which set her apart, in the thoughts of "the
world's people" whom she met, as one sanctified for some holy work. She
might have gone around the world, repelling every rude word, every bold
glance, by the protecting atmosphere of purity and truth which inclosed
her.

The days went by, each bringing some new blossom to adorn and illustrate
the joint studies of the young man and maiden. For Richard Hilton
had soon mastered the elements of botany, as taught by Priscilla
Wakefield,--the only source of Asenath's knowledge,--and entered,
with her, upon the text-book of Gray, a copy of which he procured from
Philadelphia. Yet, though he had overtaken her in his knowledge of the
technicalities of the science, her practical acquaintance with plants
and their habits left her still his superior. Day by day, exploring the
meadows, the woods, and the clearings, he brought home his discoveries
to enjoy her aid in classifying and assigning them to their true places.
Asenath had generally an hour or two of leisure from domestic duties
in the afternoons, or after the early supper of summer was over; and
sometimes, on "Seventh-days," she would be his guide to some locality
where the rarer plants were known to exist. The parents saw this
community of interest and exploration without a thought of misgiving.
They trusted their daughter as themselves; or, if any possible fear had
flitted across their hearts, it was allayed by the absorbing delight
with which Richard Hilton pursued his study. An earnest discussion as to
whether a certain leaf was ovate or lanceolate, whether a certain plant
belonged to the species scandens or canadensis, was, in their eyes,
convincing proof that the young brains were touched, and therefore NOT
the young hearts.

But love, symbolized by a rose-bud, is emphatically a botanical emotion.
A sweet, tender perception of beauty, such as this study requires, or
develops, is at once the most subtile and certain chain of communication
between impressible natures. Richard Hilton, feeling that his years were
numbered, had given up, in despair, his boyish dreams, even before he
understood them: his fate seemed to preclude the possibility of love.
But, as he gained a little strength from the genial season, the pure
country air, and the release from gloomy thoughts which his rambles
afforded, the end was farther removed, and a future--though brief,
perhaps, still a FUTURE--began to glimmer before him. If this could
be his life,--an endless summer, with a search for new plants every
morning, and their classification every evening, with Asenath's help
on the shady portico of Friend Mitchenor's house,--he could forget his
doom, and enjoy the blessing of life unthinkingly.

The azaleas succeeded to the anemones, the orchis and trillium followed,
then the yellow gerardias and the feathery purple pogonias, and finally
the growing gleam of the golden-rods along the wood-side and the red
umbels of the tall eupatoriums in the meadow announced the close of
summer. One evening, as Richard, in displaying his collection, brought
to view the blood-red leaf of a gum-tree, Asenath exclaimed--

"Ah, there is the sign! It is early, this year."

"What sign?" he asked.

"That the summer is over. We shall soon have frosty nights, and
then nothing will be left for us except the asters and gentians and
golden-rods."

Was the time indeed so near? A few more weeks, and this Arcadian life
would close. He must go back to the city, to its rectilinear streets,
its close brick walls, its artificial, constrained existence. How could
he give up the peace, the contentment, the hope he had enjoyed through
the summer? The question suddenly took a more definite form in his mind:
How could he give up Asenath? Yes--the quiet, unsuspecting girl, sitting
beside him, with her lap full of the September blooms he had gathered,
was thenceforth a part of his inmost life. Pure and beautiful as she
was, almost sacred in his regard, his heart dared to say--"I need her
and claim her!"

"Thee looks pale to-night, Richard," said Abigail, as they took their
seats at the supper-table. "I hope thee has not taken cold."



III.


"Will thee go along, Richard? I know where the rudbeckias grow," said
Asenath, on the following "Seventh-day" afternoon.

They crossed the meadows, and followed the course of the stream, under
its canopy of magnificent ash and plane trees, into a brake between
the hills. It was an almost impenetrable thicket, spangled with tall
autumnal flowers. The eupatoriums, with their purple crowns, stood like
young trees, with an undergrowth of aster and blue spikes of lobelia,
tangled in a golden mesh of dodder. A strong, mature odor, mixed alike
of leaves and flowers, and very different from the faint, elusive
sweetness of spring, filled the air. The creek, with a few faded leaves
dropped upon its bosom, and films of gossamer streaming from its bushy
fringe, gurgled over the pebbles in its bed. Here and there, on its
banks, shone the deep yellow stars of the flower they sought.

Richard Hilton walked as in a dream, mechanically plucking a stem of
rudbeckia, only to toss it, presently, into the water.

"Why, Richard! what's thee doing?" cried Asenath; "thee has thrown away
the very best specimen."

"Let it go," he answered, sadly. "I am afraid everything else is thrown
away."

"What does thee mean?" she asked, with a look of surprised and anxious
inquiry.

"Don't ask me, Asenath. Or--yes, I WILL tell you. I must say it to
you now, or never afterwards. Do you know what a happy life I've been
leading since I came here?--that I've learned what life is, as if I'd
never known it before? I want to live, Asenath,--and do you know why?"

"I hope thee will live, Richard," she said, gently and tenderly, her
deep-blue eyes dim with the mist of unshed tears.

"But, Asenath, how am I to live without you? But you can't understand
that, because you do not know what you are to me. No, you never guessed
that all this while I've been loving you more and more, until now I
have no other idea of death than not to see you, not to love you, not to
share your life!"

"Oh, Richard!"

"I knew you would be shocked, Asenath. I meant to have kept this to
myself. You never dreamed of it, and I had no right to disturb the peace
of your heart. The truth is told now,--and I cannot take it back, if
I wished. But if you cannot love, you can forgive me for loving
you--forgive me now and every day of my life."

He uttered these words with a passionate tenderness, standing on
the edge of the stream, and gazing into its waters. His slight frame
trembled with the violence of his emotion. Asenath, who had become very
pale as he commenced to speak, gradually flushed over neck and brow
as she listened. Her head drooped, the gathered flowers fell from her
hands, and she hid her face. For a few minutes no sound was heard but
the liquid gurgling of the water, and the whistle of a bird in the
thicket beside them. Richard Hilton at last turned, and, in a voice of
hesitating entreaty, pronounced her name--

"Asenath!"

She took away her hands, and slowly lifted her face. She was pale,
but her eyes met his with a frank, appealing, tender expression, which
caused his heart to stand still a moment. He read no reproach, no
faintest thought of blame; but--was it pity?--was it pardon?--or----

"We stand before God, Richard," said she, in a low, sweet, solemn tone.
"He knows that I do not need to forgive thee. If thee requires it, I
also require His forgiveness for myself."

Though a deeper blush now came to cheek and brow, she met his gaze with
the bravery of a pure and innocent heart. Richard, stunned with the
sudden and unexpected bliss, strove to take the full consciousness of
it into a being which seemed too narrow to contain it. His first impulse
was to rush forward, clasp her passionately in his arms, and hold her in
the embrace which encircled, for him, the boundless promise of life; but
she stood there, defenceless, save in her holy truth and trust, and his
heart bowed down and gave her reverence.

"Asenath," said he, at last, "I never dared to hope for this. God bless
you for those words! Can you trust me?--can you indeed love me?"

"I can trust thee,--I DO love thee!"

They clasped each other's hands in one long, clinging pressure. No kiss
was given, but side by side they walked slowly up the dewy meadows, in
happy and hallowed silence. Asenath's face became troubled as the old
farmhouse appeared through the trees.

"Father and mother must know of this, Richard," said she. "I am afraid
it may be a cross to them."

The same fear had already visited his own mind, but he answered,
cheerfully--

"I hope not. I think I have taken a new lease of life, and shall soon
be strong enough to satisfy them. Besides, my father is in prosperous
business."

"It is not that," she answered; "but thee is not one of us."

It was growing dusk when they reached the house. In the dim candle-light
Asenath's paleness was not remarked; and Richard's silence was
attributed to fatigue.

The next morning the whole family attended meeting at the neighboring
Quaker meeting-house, in the preparation for which, and the various
special occupations of their "First-day" mornings, the unsuspecting
parents overlooked that inevitable change in the faces of the lovers
which they must otherwise have observed. After dinner, as Eli was taking
a quiet walk in the garden, Richard Hilton approached him.

"Friend Mitchenor," said he, "I should like to have some talk with
thee."

"What is it, Richard?" asked the old man, breaking off some pods from a
seedling radish, and rubbing them in the palm of his hand.

"I hope, Friend Mitchenor," said the young man, scarcely knowing how
to approach so important a crisis in his life, "I hope thee has been
satisfied with my conduct since I came to live with thee, and has no
fault to find with me as a man."

"Well," exclaimed Eli, turning around and looking up, sharply, "does
thee want a testimony from me? I've nothing, that I know of, to say
against thee."

"If I were sincerely attached to thy daughter, Friend Mitchenor, and she
returned the attachment, could thee trust her happiness in my hands?"

"What!" cried Eli, straightening himself and glaring upon the speaker,
with a face too amazed to express any other feeling.

"Can you confide Asenath's happiness to my care? I love her with
my whole heart and soul, and the fortune of my life depends on your
answer."

The straight lines in the old man's face seemed to grow deeper and more
rigid, and his eyes shone with the chill glitter of steel. Richard, not
daring to say a word more, awaited his reply in intense agitation.

"So!" he exclaimed at last, "this is the way thee's repaid me! I didn't
expect THIS from thee! Has thee spoken to her?"

"I have."

"Thee has, has thee? And I suppose thee's persuaded her to think as
thee does. Thee'd better never have come here. When I want to lose my
daughter, and can't find anybody else for her, I'll let thee know."

"What have you against me, Friend Mitchenor?" Richard sadly asked,
forgetting, in his excitement, the Quaker speech he had learned.

"Thee needn't use compliments now! Asenath shall be a Friend while _I_
live; thy fine clothes and merry-makings and vanities are not for
her. Thee belongs to the world, and thee may choose one of the world's
women."

"Never!" protested Richard; but Friend Mitchenor was already ascending
the garden-steps on his way to the house.

The young man, utterly overwhelmed, wandered to the nearest grove and
threw himself on the ground. Thus, in a miserable chaos of emotion,
unable to grasp any fixed thought, the hours passed away. Towards
evening, he heard a footstep approaching, and sprang up. It was Moses.

The latter was engaged, with the consent of his parents and expected
to "pass meeting" in a few weeks. He knew what had happened, and felt a
sincere sympathy for Richard, for whom he had a cordial regard. His face
was very grave, but kind.

"Thee'd better come in, Richard," said he; "the evenings are damp, and I
v'e brought thy overcoat. I know everything, and I feel that it must be
a great cross for thee. But thee won't be alone in bearing it."

"Do you think there is no hope of your father relenting?" he asked, in a
tone of despondency which anticipated the answer.

"Father's very hard to move," said Moses; "and when mother and Asenath
can't prevail on him, nobody else need try. I'm afraid thee must make up
thy mind to the trial. I'm sorry to say it, Richard, but I think thee'd
better go back to town."

"I'll go to-morrow,--go and die!" he muttered hoarsely, as he followed
Moses to the house.

Abigail, as she saw his haggard face, wept quietly. She pressed his hand
tenderly, but said nothing. Eli was stern and cold as an Iceland rock.
Asenath did not make her appearance. At supper, the old man and his son
exchanged a few words about the farm-work to be done on the morrow, but
nothing else was said. Richard soon left the room and went up to
his chamber to spend his last, his only unhappy night at the farm. A
yearning, pitying look from Abigail accompanied him.

"Try and not think hard of us!" was her farewell the next morning, as
he stepped into the old chair, in which Moses was to convey him to the
village where he should meet the Doylestown stage. So, without a word
of comfort from Asenath's lips, without even a last look at her beloved
face, he was taken away.



IV.


True and firm and self-reliant as was the nature of Asenath Mitchenor,
the thought of resistance to her father's will never crossed her mind.
It was fixed that she must renounce all intercourse with Richard Hilton;
it was even sternly forbidden her to see him again during the few hours
he remained in the house; but the sacred love, thus rudely dragged to
the light and outraged, was still her own. She would take it back into
the keeping of her heart, and if a day should ever come when he would be
free to return and demand it of her, he would find it there, unwithered,
with all the unbreathed perfume hoarded in its folded leaves. If
that day came not, she would at the last give it back to God, saying,
"Father, here is Thy most precious gift, bestow it as Thou wilt."

As her life had never before been agitated by any strong emotion, so it
was not outwardly agitated now. The placid waters of her soul did not
heave and toss before those winds of passion and sorrow: they lay in
dull, leaden calm, under a cold and sunless sky. What struggles
with herself she underwent no one ever knew. After Richard Hilton's
departure, she never mentioned his name, or referred, in any way, to the
summer's companionship with him. She performed her household duties, if
not cheerfully, at least as punctually and carefully as before; and her
father congratulated himself that the unfortunate attachment had struck
no deeper root. Abigail's finer sight, however, was not deceived by this
external resignation. She noted the faint shadows under the eyes, the
increased whiteness of the temples, the unconscious traces of pain which
sometimes played about the dimpled corners of the mouth, and watched her
daughter with a silent, tender solicitude.

The wedding of Moses was a severe test of Asenath's strength, but
she stood the trial nobly, performing all the duties required by her
position with such sweet composure that many of the older female Friends
remarked to Abigail, "How womanly Asenath has grown!" Eli Mitchenor
noted, with peculiar satisfaction, that the eyes of the young
Friends--some of them of great promise in the sect, and well endowed
with worldly goods--followed her admiringly.

"It will not be long," he thought, "before she is consoled."

Fortune seemed to favor his plans, and justify his harsh treatment
of Richard Hilton. There were unfavorable accounts of the young man's
conduct. His father had died during the winter, and he was represented
as having become very reckless and dissipated. These reports at last
assumed such a definite form that Friend Mitchenor brought them to the
notice of his family.

"I met Josiah Comly in the road," said he, one day at dinner. "He's
just come from Philadelphia, and brings bad news of Richard Hilton. He's
taken to drink, and is spending in wickedness the money his father left
him. His friends have a great concern about him, but it seems he's not
to be reclaimed."

Abigail looked imploringly at her husband, but he either disregarded
or failed to understand her look. Asenath, who had grown very pale,
steadily met her father's gaze, and said, in a tone which he had never
yet heard from her lips--

"Father, will thee please never mention Richard Hilton's name when I am
by?"

The words were those of entreaty, but the voice was that of authority.
The old man was silenced by a new and unexpected power in his daughter's
heart: he suddenly felt that she was not a girl, as heretofore, but a
woman, whom he might persuade, but could no longer compel.

"It shall be as thee wishes, Asenath," he said; "we had best forget
him."

Of their friends, however, she could not expect this reserve, and she
was doomed to hear stories of Richard which clouded and embittered her
thoughts of him. And a still severer trial was in store. She accompanied
her father, in obedience to his wish, and against her own desire, to the
Yearly Meeting in Philadelphia. It has passed into a proverb that the
Friends, on these occasions, always bring rain with them; and the period
of her visit was no exception to the rule. The showery days of "Yearly
Meeting Week" glided by, until the last, and she looked forward with
relief to the morrow's return to Bucks County, glad to have escaped a
meeting with Richard Hilton, which might have confirmed her fears and
could but have given her pain in any case.

As she and her father joined each other, outside the meeting-house, at
the close of the afternoon meeting, a light rain was falling. She took
his arm, under the capacious umbrella, and they were soon alone in the
wet streets, on their way to the house of the Friends who entertained
them. At a crossing, where the water pouring down the gutter towards
the Delaware, caused them to halt a man, plashing through the flood,
staggered towards them. Without an umbrella, with dripping, disordered
clothes, yet with a hot, flushed face, around which the long black hair
hung wildly, he approached, singing to himself with maudlin voice a
song that would have been sweet and tender in a lover's mouth. Friend
Mitchenor drew to one side, lest his spotless drab should be brushed by
the unclean reveller; but the latter, looking up, stopped suddenly face
to face with them.

"Asenath!" he cried, in a voice whose anguish pierced through the
confusion of his senses, and struck down into the sober quick of his
soul.

"Richard!" she breathed, rather than spoke, in a low, terrified voice.

It was indeed Richard Hilton who stood before her, or rather--as she
afterwards thought, in recalling the interview--the body of Richard
Hilton possessed by an evil spirit. His cheeks burned with a more than
hectic red, his eyes were wild and bloodshot, and though the recognition
had suddenly sobered him, an impatient, reckless devil seemed to lurk
under the set mask of his features.

"Here I am, Asenath," he said at length, hoarsely. "I said it was death,
didn't I? Well, it's worse than death, I suppose; but what matter? You
can't be more lost to me now than you were already. This is THY doing,
Friend Eli," he continued, turning to the old man, with a sneering
emphasis on the "THY." "I hope thee's satisfied with thy work!"

Here he burst into a bitter, mocking laugh, which it chilled Asenath's
blood to hear.

The old man turned pale. "Come away, child!" said he, tugging at her
arm. But she stood firm, strengthened for the moment by a solemn feeling
of duty which trampled down her pain.

"Richard," she said, with the music of an immeasurable sorrow in
her voice, "oh, Richard, what has thee done? Where the Lord commands
resignation, thee has been rebellious; where he chasteneth to purify,
thee turns blindly to sin. I had not expected this of thee, Richard; I
thought thy regard for me was of the kind which would have helped and
uplifted thee,--not through me, as an unworthy object, but through the
hopes and the pure desires of thy own heart. I expected that thee would
so act as to justify what I felt towards thee, not to make my affection
a reproach,--oh, Richard, not to cast over my heart the shadow of thy
sin!"

The wretched young man supported himself against the post of an awning,
buried his face in his hands, and wept passionately. Once or twice he
essayed to speak, but his voice was choked by sobs, and, after a look
from the streaming eyes which Asenath could scarcely bear to meet, he
again covered his face. A stranger, coming down the street, paused out
of curiosity. "Come, come!" cried Eli, once more, eager to escape from
the scene. His daughter stood still, and the man slowly passed on.

Asenath could not thus leave her lost lover, in his despairing grief.
She again turned to him, her own tears flowing fast and free.

"I do not judge thee, Richard, but the words that passed between us give
me a right to speak to thee. It was hard to lose sight of thee then, but
it is still harder for me to see thee now. If the sorrow and pity I feel
could save thee, I would be willing never to know any other feelings. I
would still do anything for thee except that which thee cannot ask, as
thee now is, and I could not give. Thee has made the gulf between us so
wide that it cannot be crossed. But I can now weep for thee and pray for
thee as a fellow-creature whose soul is still precious in the sight of
the Lord. Fare thee well!"

He seized the hand she extended, bowed down, and showered mingled tears
and kisses upon it. Then, with a wild sob in his throat, he started up
and rushed down the street, through the fast-falling rain. The father
and daughter walked home in silence. Eli had heard every word that was
spoken, and felt that a spirit whose utterances he dared not question
had visited Asenath's tongue.

She, as year after year went by, regained the peace and patience which
give a sober cheerfulness to life. The pangs of her heart grew dull and
transient; but there were two pictures in her memory which never blurred
in outline or faded in color: one, the brake of autumn flowers under the
bright autumnal sky, with bird and stream making accordant music to the
new voice of love; the other a rainy street, with a lost, reckless man
leaning against an awning-post, and staring in her face with eyes whose
unutterable woe, when she dared to recall it, darkened the beauty of the
earth, and almost shook her trust in the providence of God.



V.

Year after year passed by, but not without bringing change to the
Mitchenor family. Moses had moved to Chester County soon after his
marriage, and had a good farm of his own. At the end of ten years
Abigail died; and the old man, who had not only lost his savings by
an unlucky investment, but was obliged to mortgage his farm, finally
determined to sell it and join his son. He was getting too old to manage
it properly, impatient under the unaccustomed pressure of debt, and
depressed by the loss of the wife to whom, without any outward show
of tenderness, he was, in truth, tenderly attached. He missed her
more keenly in the places where she had lived and moved than in a
neighborhood without the memory of her presence. The pang with which he
parted from his home was weakened by the greater pang which had preceded
it.

It was a harder trial to Asenath. She shrank from the encounter with new
faces, and the necessity of creating new associations. There was a quiet
satisfaction in the ordered, monotonous round of her life, which might
be the same elsewhere, but here alone was the nook which held all the
morning sunshine she had ever known. Here still lingered the halo of the
sweet departed summer,--here still grew the familiar wild-flowers which
THE FIRST Richard Hilton had gathered. This was the Paradise in which
the Adam of her heart had dwelt, before his fall. Her resignation and
submission entitled her to keep those pure and perfect memories, though
she was scarcely conscious of their true charm. She did not dare to
express to herself, in words, that one everlasting joy of woman's heart,
through all trials and sorrows--"I have loved, I have been beloved."

On the last "First-day" before their departure, she walked down the
meadows to the lonely brake between the hills. It was the early spring,
and the black buds of the ash had just begun to swell. The maples were
dusted with crimson bloom, and the downy catkins of the swamp-willow
dropped upon the stream and floated past her, as once the autumn leaves.
In the edges of the thickets peeped forth the blue, scentless violet,
the fairy cups of the anemone, and the pink-veined bells of the
miskodeed. The tall blooms through which the lovers walked still slept
in the chilly earth; but the sky above her was mild and blue, and
the remembrance of the day came back to her with a delicate, pungent
sweetness, like the perfume of the trailing arbutus in the air around
her. In a sheltered, sunny nook, she found a single erythronium, lured
forth in advance of its proper season, and gathered it as a relic of the
spot, which she might keep without blame. As she stooped to pluck it,
her own face looked up at her out of a little pool filled by the spring
rains. Seen against the reflected sky, it shone with a soft radiance,
and the earnest eyes met hers, as if it were her young self, evoked from
the past, to bid her farewell. "Farewell!" she whispered, taking leave
at once, as she believed, of youth and the memory of love.

During those years she had more than once been sought in marriage, but
had steadily, though kindly, refused. Once, when the suitor was a
man whose character and position made the union very desirable in Eli
Mitchenor's eyes, he ventured to use his paternal influence. Asenath's
gentle resistance was overborne by his arbitrary force of will, and her
protestations were of no avail.

"Father," she finally said, in the tone which he had once heard and
still remembered, "thee can take away, but thee cannot give."

He never mentioned the subject again.

Richard Hilton passed out of her knowledge shortly after her meeting
with him in Philadelphia. She heard, indeed, that his headlong career
of dissipation was not arrested,--that his friends had given him up as
hopelessly ruined,--and, finally, that he had left the city. After
that, all reports ceased. He was either dead, or reclaimed and leading
a better life, somewhere far away. Dead, she believed--almost hoped; for
in that case might he not now be enjoying the ineffable rest and peace
which she trusted might be her portion? It was better to think of him
as a purified spirit, waiting to meet her in a holier communion, than to
know that he was still bearing the burden of a soiled and blighted
life. In any case, her own future was plain and clear. It was simply a
prolongation of the present--an alternation of seed-time and harvest,
filled with humble duties and cares, until the Master should bid her lay
down her load and follow Him.

Friend Mitchenor bought a small cottage adjacent to his son's farm, in a
community which consisted mostly of Friends, and not far from the large
old meeting-house in which the Quarterly Meetings were held. He at once
took his place on the upper seat, among the elders, most of whom he knew
already, from having met them, year after year, in Philadelphia. The
charge of a few acres of ground gave him sufficient occupation; the
money left to him after the sale of his farm was enough to support him
comfortably; and a late Indian summer of contentment seemed now to have
come to the old man. He was done with the earnest business of life.
Moses was gradually taking his place, as father and Friend; and Asenath
would be reasonably provided for at his death. As his bodily energies
decayed, his imperious temper softened, his mind became more accessible
to liberal influences, and he even cultivated a cordial friendship
with a neighboring farmer who was one of "the world's people." Thus, at
seventy-five he was really younger, because tenderer of heart and more
considerate, than he had been at sixty.

Asenath was now a woman of thirty-five, and suitors had ceased to
approach her. Much of her beauty still remained, but her face had become
thin and wasted, and the inevitable lines were beginning to form around
her eyes. Her dress was plainer than ever, and she wore the scoop-bonnet
of drab silk, in which no woman can seem beautiful, unless she be very
old. She was calm and grave in her demeanor, save that her perfect
goodness and benevolence shone through and warmed her presence; but,
when earnestly interested, she had been known to speak her mind so
clearly and forcibly that it was generally surmised among the Friends
that she possessed "a gift," which might, in time, raise her to honor
among them. To the children of Moses she was a good genius, and a word
from "Aunt 'Senath" oftentimes prevailed when the authority of the
parents was disregarded. In them she found a new source of happiness;
and when her old home on the Neshaminy had been removed a little farther
into the past, so that she no longer looked, with every morning's sun,
for some familiar feature of its scenery, her submission brightened into
a cheerful content with life.

It was summer, and Quarterly-Meeting Day had arrived. There had been
rumors of the expected presence of "Friends from a distance," and not
only those of the district, but most of the neighbors who were not
connected with the sect, attended. By the by-road, through the woods,
it was not more than half a mile from Friend Mitchenor's cottage to the
meeting-house, and Asenath, leaving her father to be taken by Moses in
his carriage, set out on foot. It was a sparkling, breezy day, and the
forest was full of life. Squirrels chased each other along the
branches of the oaks, and the air was filled with fragrant odors of
hickory-leaves, sweet fern, and spice-wood. Picking up a flower here
and there, Asenath walked onward, rejoicing alike in shade and sunshine,
grateful for all the consoling beauty which the earth offers to a lonely
heart. That serene content which she had learned to call happiness had
filled her being until the dark canopy was lifted and the waters took
back their transparency under a cloudless sky.

Passing around to the "women's side" of the meeting-house, she mingled
with her friends, who were exchanging information concerning the
expected visitors. Micajah Morrill had not arrived, they said, but Ruth
Baxter had spent the last night at Friend Way's, and would certainly
be there. Besides, there were Friend Chandler, from Nine Partners, and
Friend Carter, from Maryland: they had been seen on the ground. Friend
Carter was said to have a wonderful gift,--Mercy Jackson had heard him
once, in Baltimore. The Friends there had been a little exercised about
him, because they thought he was too much inclined to "the newness,"
but it was known that the Spirit had often manifestly led him. Friend
Chandler had visited Yearly Meeting once, they believed. He was an old
man, and had been a personal friend of Elias Hicks.

At the appointed hour they entered the house. After the subdued rustling
which ensued upon taking their seats, there was an interval of silence,
shorter than usual, because it was evident that many persons would
feel the promptings of the Spirit. Friend Chandler spoke first, and was
followed by Ruth Baxter, a frail little woman, with a voice of exceeding
power. The not unmelodious chant in which she delivered her admonitions
rang out, at times, like the peal of a trumpet. Fixing her eyes on
vacancy, with her hands on the wooden rail before her, and her
body slightly swaying to and fro, her voice soared far aloft at the
commencement of every sentence, gradually dropping, through a melodious
scale of tone, to the close. She resembled an inspired prophetess, an
aged Deborah, crying aloud in the valleys of Israel.

The last speaker was Friend Carter, a small man, not more than forty
years of age. His face was thin and intense in its expression, his hair
gray at the temples, and his dark eye almost too restless for a child of
"the stillness and the quietness." His voice, though not loud, was clear
and penetrating, with an earnest, sympathetic quality, which arrested,
not the ear alone, but the serious attention of the auditor. His
delivery was but slightly marked by the peculiar rhythm of the Quaker
preachers; and this fact, perhaps, increased the effect of his words,
through the contrast with those who preceded him.

His discourse was an eloquent vindication of the law of kindness, as the
highest and purest manifestation of true Christian doctrine.

The paternal relation of God to man was the basis of that religion which
appealed directly to the heart: so the fraternity of each man with his
fellow was its practical application. God pardons the repentant sinner:
we can also pardon, where we are offended; we can pity, where we cannot
pardon. Both the good and the bad principles generate their like in
others. Force begets force; anger excites a corresponding anger; but
kindness awakens the slumbering emotions even of an evil heart. Love may
not always be answered by an equal love, but it has never yet created
hatred. The testimony which Friends bear against war, he said, is but a
general assertion, which has no value except in so far as they manifest
the principle of peace in their daily lives--in the exercise of pity, of
charity, of forbearance, and Christian love.

The words of the speaker sank deeply into the hearts of his hearers.
There was an intense hush, as if in truth the Spirit had moved him to
speak, and every sentence was armed with a sacred authority. Asenath
Mitchenor looked at him, over the low partition which divided her and
her sisters from the men's side, absorbed in his rapt earnestness and
truth. She forgot that other hearers were present: he spake to her
alone. A strange spell seemed to seize upon her faculties and chain them
at his feet: had he beckoned to her, she would have arisen and walked to
his side.

Friend Carter warmed and deepened as he went on. "I feel moved to-day,"
he said,--"moved, I know not why, but I hope for some wise purpose,--to
relate to you an instance of Divine and human kindness which has come
directly to my own knowledge. A young man of delicate constitution,
whose lungs were thought to be seriously affected, was sent to the
house of a Friend in the country, in order to try the effect of air and
exercise."

Asenath almost ceased to breathe, in the intensity with which she gazed
and listened. Clasping her hands tightly in her lap to prevent them from
trembling, and steadying herself against the back of the seat, she
heard the story of her love for Richard Hilton told by the lips of
a stranger!--not merely of his dismissal from the house, but of that
meeting in the street, at which only she and her father were present!
Nay, more, she heard her own words repeated, she heard Richard's
passionate outburst of remorse described in language that brought his
living face before her! She gasped for breath--his face WAS before her!
The features, sharpened by despairing grief, which her memory recalled,
had almost anticipated the harder lines which fifteen years had made,
and which now, with a terrible shock and choking leap of the heart, she
recognized. Her senses faded, and she would have fallen from her
seat but for the support of the partition against which she leaned.
Fortunately, the women near her were too much occupied with the
narrative to notice her condition. Many of them wept silently, with
their handkerchiefs pressed over their mouths.

The first shock of death-like faintness passed away, and she clung to
the speaker's voice, as if its sound alone could give her strength to
sit still and listen further.

"Deserted by his friends, unable to stay his feet on the evil path," he
continued, "the young man left his home and went to a city in another
State. But here it was easier to find associates in evil than tender
hearts that might help him back to good. He was tired of life, and the
hope of a speedier death hardened him in his courses. But, my friends,
Death never comes to those who wickedly seek him. The Lord withholds
destruction from the hands that are madly outstretched to grasp it, and
forces His pity and forgiveness on the unwilling soul. Finding that it
was the principle of LIFE which grew stronger within him, the young
man at last meditated an awful crime. The thought of self-destruction
haunted him day and night. He lingered around the wharves, gazing into
the deep waters, and was restrained from the deed only by the memory of
the last loving voice he had heard. One gloomy evening, when even this
memory had faded, and he awaited the approaching darkness to make his
design secure, a hand was laid on his arm. A man in the simple garb of
the Friends stood beside him, and a face which reflected the kindness of
the Divine Father looked upon him. 'My child,' said he, 'I am drawn to
thee by the great trouble of thy mind. Shall I tell thee what it is thee
meditates?' The young man shook his head. 'I will be silent, then, but
I will save thee. I know the human heart, and its trials and weaknesses,
and it may be put into my mouth to give thee strength.' He took the
young man's hand, as if he had been a little child, and led him to his
home. He heard the sad story, from beginning to end; and the young man
wept upon his breast, to hear no word of reproach, but only the largest
and tenderest pity bestowed upon him. They knelt down, side by side,
at midnight; and the Friend's right hand was upon his head while they
prayed.

"The young man was rescued from his evil ways, to acknowledge still
further the boundless mercy of Providence. The dissipation wherein he
had recklessly sought death was, for him, a marvellous restoration to
life. His lungs had become sound and free from the tendency to disease.
The measure of his forgiveness was almost more than he could bear.
He bore his cross thenceforward with a joyful resignation, and was
mercifully drawn nearer and nearer to the Truth, until, in the fulness
of his convictions, he entered into the brotherhood of the Friends.

"I have been powerfully moved to tell you this story." Friend Carter
concluded, "from a feeling that it may be needed, here, at this time, to
influence some heart trembling in the balance. Who is there among you,
my friends, that may not snatch a brand from the burning! Oh, believe
that pity and charity are the most effectual weapons given into the
hands of us imperfect mortals, and leave the awful attribute of wrath in
the hands of the Lord!"

He sat down, and dead silence ensued. Tears of emotion stood in the
eyes of the hearers, men as well as women, and tears of gratitude and
thanksgiving gushed warmly from those of Asenath. An ineffable peace and
joy descended upon her heart.

When the meeting broke up, Friend Mitchenor, who had not recognized
Richard Hilton, but had heard the story with feelings which he
endeavored in vain to control, approached the preacher.

"The Lord spoke to me this day through thy lips," said he; "will thee
come to one side, and hear me a minute?"

"Eli Mitchenor!" exclaimed Friend Carter; "Eli! I knew not thee was
here! Doesn't thee know me?"

The old man stared in astonishment. "It seems like a face I ought to
know," he said, "but I can't place thee." They withdrew to the shade
of one of the poplars. Friend Carter turned again, much moved, and,
grasping the old man's hands in his own, exclaimed--

"Friend Mitchenor, I was called upon to-day to speak of myself. I
am--or, rather, I WAS--the Richard Hilton whom thee knew."

Friend Mitchenor's face flushed with mingled emotions of shame and joy,
and his grasp on the preacher's hands tightened.

"But thee calls thyself Carter?" he finally said.

"Soon after I was saved," was the reply, "an aunt on the mother's side
died, and left her property to me, on condition that I should take her
name. I was tired of my own then, and to give it up seemed only like
losing my former self; but I should like to have it back again now."

"Wonderful are the ways of the Lord, and past finding out!" said the
old man. "Come home with me, Richard,--come for my sake, for there is a
concern on my mind until all is clear between us. Or, stay,--will thee
walk home with Asenath, while I go with Moses?"

"Asenath?"

"Yes. There she goes, through the gate. Thee can easily overtake her. I
'm coming, Moses!"--and he hurried away to his son's carriage, which was
approaching.

Asenath felt that it would be impossible for her to meet Richard Hilton
there. She knew not why his name had been changed; he had not betrayed
his identity with the young man of his story; he evidently did not wish
it to be known, and an unexpected meeting with her might surprise him
into an involuntary revelation of the fact. It was enough for her that a
saviour had arisen, and her lost Adam was redeemed,--that a holier light
than the autumn sun's now rested, and would forever rest, on the one
landscape of her youth. Her eyes shone with the pure brightness of
girlhood, a soft warmth colored her cheek and smoothed away the coming
lines of her brow, and her step was light and elastic as in the old
time.

Eager to escape from the crowd, she crossed the highway, dusty with its
string of returning carriages, and entered the secluded lane. The breeze
had died away, the air was full of insect-sounds, and the warm light
of the sinking sun fell upon the woods and meadows. Nature seemed
penetrated with a sympathy with her own inner peace.

But the crown of the benignant day was yet to come. A quick footstep
followed her, and ere long a voice, near at hand, called her by name.

She stopped, turned, and for a moment they stood silent, face to face.

"I knew thee, Richard!" at last she said, in a trembling voice; "may the
Lord bless thee!"

Tears were in the eyes of both.

"He has blessed me," Richard answered, in a reverent tone; "and this
is His last and sweetest mercy. Asenath, let me hear that thee forgives
me."

"I have forgiven thee long ago, Richard--forgiven, but not forgotten."

The hush of sunset was on the forest, as they walked onward, side by
side, exchanging their mutual histories. Not a leaf stirred in the
crowns of the tall trees, and the dusk, creeping along between their
stems, brought with it a richer woodland odor. Their voices were low
and subdued, as if an angel of God were hovering in the shadows, and
listening, or God Himself looked down upon them from the violet sky.

At last Richard stopped.

"Asenath," said he, "does thee remember that spot on the banks of the
creek, where the rudbeckias grew?"

"I remember it," she answered, a girlish blush rising to her face.

"If I were to say to thee now what I said to thee there, what would be
thy answer?"

Her words came brokenly.

"I would say to thee, Richard,--'I can trust thee,--I DO love thee!'"

"Look at me, Asenath."

Her eyes, beaming with a clearer light than even then when she first
confessed, were lifted to his. She placed her hands gently upon his
shoulders, and bent her head upon his breast. He tenderly lifted it
again, and, for the first time, her virgin lips knew the kiss of man.



MISS BARTRAM'S TROUBLE.



I.

It was a day of unusual excitement at the Rambo farm-house. On the farm,
it is true, all things were in their accustomed order, and all growths
did their accustomed credit to the season. The fences were in good
repair; the cattle were healthy and gave promise of the normal increase,
and the young corn was neither strangled with weeds nor assassinated
by cut-worms. Old John Rambo was gradually allowing his son, Henry, to
manage in his stead, and the latter shrewdly permitted his father to
believe that he exercised the ancient authority. Leonard Clare, the
strong young fellow who had been taken from that shiftless adventurer,
his father, when a mere child, and brought up almost as one of the
family, and who had worked as a joiner's apprentice during the previous
six months, had come back for the harvest work; so the Rambos were
forehanded, and probably as well satisfied as it is possible for
Pennsylvania farmers to be.

In the house, also, Mrs. Priscilla Rambo was not severely haunted by
the spectre of any neglected duty. The simple regular routine of the
household could not be changed under her charge; each thing had its
appropriate order of performance, must be done, and WAS done. If
the season were backward, at the time appointed for whitewashing or
soap-making, so much the worse for the season; if the unhatched goslings
were slain by thunder, she laid the blame on the thunder. And if--but
no, it is quite impossible to suppose that, outside of those two
inevitable, fearful house-cleaning weeks in each year, there could have
been any disorder in the cold prim, varnish-odored best rooms, sacred to
company.

It was Miss Betty Rambo, whose pulse beat some ten strokes faster than
its wont, as she sat down with the rest to their early country dinner.
Whether her brother Henry's participated in the accelerated movement
could not be guessed from his demeanor. She glanced at him now and then,
with bright eyes and flushed cheeks, eager to speak yet shrinking
from the half magisterial air which was beginning to supplant his old
familiar banter. Henry was changing with his new responsibility, as
she admitted to herself with a sort of dismay; he had the airs of an
independent farmer, and she remained only a farmer's daughter,--without
any acknowledged rights, until she should acquire them all, at a single
blow, by marriage.

Nevertheless, he must have felt what was in her mind; for, as he cut out
the quarter of a dried apple pie, he said carelessly:

"I must go down to the Lion, this afternoon. There's a fresh drove of
Maryland cattle just come."

"Oh Harry!" cried Betty, in real distress.

"I know," he answered; "but as Miss Bartram is going to stay two weeks,
she'll keep. She's not like a drove, that's here one day, and away the
next. Besides, it is precious little good I shall have of her society,
until you two have used up all your secrets and small talk. I know how
it is with girls. Leonard will drive over to meet the train."

"Won't I do on a pinch?" Leonard asked.

"Oh, to be sure," said Betty, a little embarrassed, "only Alice--Miss
Bartram--might expect Harry, because her brother came for me when I went
up."

"If that's all, make yourself easy, Bet," Henry answered, as he rose
from the table. "There's a mighty difference between here and there.
Unless you mean to turn us into a town family while she stays--high
quality, eh?"

"Go along to your cattle! there's not much quality, high or low, where
you are."

Betty was indignant; but the annoyance exhausted itself healthfully
while she was clearing away the dishes and restoring the room to its
order, so that when Leonard drove up to the gate with the lumbering,
old-fashioned carriage two hours afterwards, she came forth calm,
cheerful, fresh as a pink in her pink muslin, and entirely the good,
sensible country-girl she was.

Two or three years before, she and Miss Alice Bartram, daughter of the
distinguished lawyer in the city, had been room-mates at the Nereid
Seminary for Young Ladies. Each liked the other for the contrast to her
own self; both were honest, good and lovable, but Betty had the stronger
nerves and a practical sense which seemed to be admirable courage in
the eyes of Miss Alice, whose instincts were more delicate, whose tastes
were fine and high, and who could not conceive of life without certain
luxurious accessories. A very cordial friendship sprang up between
them,--not the effusive girl-love, with its iterative kisses, tears, and
flow of loosened hair, but springing from the respect inspired by sound
and positive qualities.

The winter before, Betty had been invited to visit her friend in the
city, and had passed a very excited and delightful week in the stately
Bartram mansion. If she were at first a little fluttered by the manners
of the new world, she was intelligent enough to carry her own nature
frankly through it, instead of endeavoring to assume its character.
Thus her little awkwardnesses became originalities, and she was almost
popular in the lofty circle when she withdrew from it. It was therefore,
perhaps, slightly inconsistent in Betty, that she was not quite sure how
Miss Bartram would accept the reverse side of this social experience.
She imagined it easier to look down and make allowances, as a host, than
as a guest; she could not understand that the charm of the change might
be fully equal.

It was lovely weather, as they drove up the sweet, ever-changing
curves of the Brandywine valley. The woods fairly laughed in the clear
sunlight, and the soft, incessant, shifting breezes. Leonard, in his
best clothes, and with a smoother gloss on his brown hair, sang to
himself as he urged the strong-boned horses into a trot along the
levels; and Betty finally felt so quietly happy that she forgot to be
nervous. When they reached the station they walked up and down the
long platform together, until the train from the city thundered up,
and painfully restrained its speed. Then Betty, catching sight of a
fawn-colored travelling dress issuing from the ladies' car, caught hold
of Leonard's arm, and cried: "There she is!"

Miss Bartram heard the words, and looked down with a bright, glad
expression on her face. It was not her beauty that made Leonard's heart
suddenly stop beating; for she was not considered a beauty, in society.
It was something rarer than perfect beauty, yet even more difficult
to describe,--a serene, unconscious grace, a pure, lofty maturity of
womanhood, such as our souls bow down to in the Santa Barbara of Palma
Vecchio. Her features were not "faultlessly regular," but they were
informed with the finer harmonies of her character. She was a woman,
at whose feet a noble man might kneel, lay his forehead on her knee,
confess his sins, and be pardoned.

She stepped down to the platform, and Betty's arms were about her. After
a double embrace she gently disengaged herself, turned to Leonard, gave
him her hand, and said, with a smile which was delightfully frank and
cordial: "I will not wait for Betty's introduction, Mr. Rambo. She
has talked to me so much of her brother Harry, that I quite know you
already."

Leonard could neither withdraw his eyes nor his hand. It was like a
double burst of warmth and sunshine, in which his breast seemed to
expand, his stature to grow, and his whole nature to throb with some new
and wonderful force. A faint color came into Miss Bartram's cheeks, as
they stood thus, for a moment, face to face. She seemed to be waiting
for him to speak, but of this he never thought; had any words come to
his mind, his tongue could not have uttered them.

"It is not Harry," Betty explained, striving to hide her embarrassment.
"This is Leonard Clare, who lives with us."

"Then I do not know you so well as I thought," Miss Bartram said to him;
"it is the beginning of a new acquaintance, after all."

"There isn't no harm done," Leonard answered, and instantly feeling the
awkwardness of the words, blushed so painfully that Miss Bartram felt
the inadequacy of her social tact to relieve so manifest a case of
distress. But she did, instinctively, what was really best: she gave
Leonard the check for her trunk, divided her satchels with Betty, and
walked to the carriage.

He did not sing, as he drove homewards down the valley. Seated on the
trunk, in front, he quietly governed the horses, while the two girls, on
the seat behind him, talked constantly and gaily. Only the rich, steady
tones of Miss Bartram's voice WOULD make their way into his ears, and
every light, careless sentence printed itself upon his memory. They came
to him as if from some inaccessible planet. Poor fellow! he was not the
first to feel "the desire of the moth for the star."

When they reached the Rambo farm-house, it was necessary that he should
give his hand to help her down from the clumsy carriage. He held it but
a moment; yet in that moment a gentle pulse throbbed upon his hard palm,
and he mechanically set his teeth, to keep down the impulse which made
him wild to hold it there forever. "Thank you, Mr. Clare!" said
Miss Bartram, and passed into the house. When he followed presently,
shouldering her trunk into the upper best-room, and kneeling upon the
floor to unbuckle the straps, she found herself wondering: "Is this
a knightly service, or the menial duty of a porter? Can a man be both
sensitive and ignorant, chivalrous and vulgar?"

The question was not so easily decided, though no one guessed how much
Miss Bartram pondered it, during the succeeding days. She insisted, from
the first, that her coming should make no change in the habits of the
household; she rose in the cool, dewy summer dawns, dined at noon in the
old brown room beside the kitchen, and only differed from the Rambos
in sitting at her moonlit window, and breathing the subtle odors of a
myriad leaves, long after Betty was sleeping the sleep of health.

It was strange how frequently the strong, not very graceful figure of
Leonard Clare marched through these reveries. She occasionally spoke to
him at the common table, or as she passed the borders of the hay-field,
where he and Henry were at work: but his words to her were always few
and constrained. What was there in his eyes that haunted her? Not merely
a most reverent admiration of her pure womanly refinement, although she
read that also; not a fear of disparagement, such as his awkward speech
implied, but something which seemed to seek agonizingly for another
language than that of the lips,--something which appealed to her from
equal ground, and asked for an answer.

One evening she met him in the lane, as she returned from the meadow.
She carried a bunch of flowers, with delicate blue and lilac bells, and
asked him the name.

"Them's Brandywine cowslips," he answered; "I never heard no other name.

"May I correct you?" she said, gently, and with a smile which she meant
to be playful. "I suppose the main thing is to speak one's thought, but
there are neat and orderly ways, and there are careless ways." Thereupon
she pointed out the inaccuracies of his answer, he standing beside her,
silent and attentive. When she ceased, he did not immediately reply.

"You will take it in good part, will you not?" she continued. "I hope I
have not offended you."

"No!" he exclaimed, firmly, lifting his head, and looking at her. The
inscrutable expression in his dark gray eyes was stronger than before,
and all his features were more clearly drawn. He reminded her of a
picture of Adam which she had once seen: there was the same rather low
forehead, straight, even brows, full yet strong mouth, and that broader
form of chin which repeats and balances the character of the forehead.
He was not positively handsome, but from head to foot he expressed a
fresh, sound quality of manhood.

Another question flashed across Miss Bartram's mind: Is life long enough
to transform this clay into marble? Here is a man in form, and with
all the dignity of the perfect masculine nature: shall the broad, free
intelligence, the grace and sweetness, the taste and refinement, which
the best culture gives, never be his also? If not, woman must be content
with faulty representations of her ideal.

So musing, she walked on to the farm-house. Leonard had picked up one
of the blossoms she had let fall, and appeared to be curiously examining
it. If he had apologized for his want of grammar, or promised to reform
it, her interest in him might have diminished; but his silence, his
simple, natural obedience to some powerful inner force, whatever it
was, helped to strengthen that phantom of him in her mind, which was now
beginning to be a serious trouble.

Once again, the day before she left the Rambo farmhouse to return to the
city, she came upon him, alone. She had wandered off to the Brandywine,
to gather ferns at a rocky point where some choice varieties were to
be found. There were a few charming clumps, half-way up a slaty cliff,
which it did not seem possible to scale, and she was standing at the
base, looking up in vain longing, when a voice, almost at her ear, said:

"Which ones do you want?"

Afterwards, she wondered that she did not start at the voice. Leonard
had come up the road from one of the lower fields: he wore neither
coat nor waistcoat, and his shirt, open at the throat, showed the firm,
beautiful white of the flesh below the strong tan of his neck. Miss
Bartram noticed the sinewy strength and elasticity of his form, yet when
she looked again at the ferns, she shook her head, and answered:

"None, since I cannot have them."

Without saying a word, he took off his shoes, and commenced climbing the
nearly perpendicular face of the cliff. He had done it before, many a
time; but Miss Bartram, although she was familiar with such exploits
from the pages of many novels, had never seen the reality, and it quite
took away her breath.

When he descended with the ferns in his hand, she said: "It was a great
risk; I wish I had not wanted them."

"It was no risk for me," he answered.

"What can I send you in return?" she asked, as they walked forwards. "I
am going home to-morrow."

"Betty told me," Leonard said; "please, wait one minute."

He stepped down to the bank of the stream, washed his hands carefully
in the clear water, and came back to her, holding them, dripping, at his
sides.

"I am very ignorant," he then continued,--"ignorant and rough. You are
good, to want to send me something, but I want nothing. Miss Bartram,
you are very good."

He paused; but with all her tact and social experience, she did not know
what to say.

"Would you do one little thing for me--not for the ferns, that was
nothing--no more than you do, without thinking, for all your friends?"

"Oh, surely!" she said.

"Might I--might I--now,--there'll be no chance tomorrow,--shake hands
with you?"

The words seemed to be forced from him by the strength of a fierce will.
Both stopped, involuntarily.

"It's quite dry, you see," said he, offering his hand. Her own sank upon
it, palm to palm, and the fingers softly closed over each, as if with
the passion and sweetness of a kiss. Miss Bartram's heart came to her
eyes, and read, at last, the question in Leonard's. It was: "I as man,
and you, as woman, are equals; will you give me time to reach you?" What
her eyes replied she knew not. A mighty influence drew her on, and a
mighty doubt and dread restrained her. One said: "Here is your lover,
your husband, your cherished partner, left by fate below your station,
yet whom you may lift to your side! Shall man, alone, crown the humble
maiden,--stoop to love, and, loving, ennoble? Be you the queen, and love
him by the royal right of womanhood!" But the other sternly whispered:
"How shall your fine and delicate fibres be knit into this coarse
texture? Ignorance, which years cannot wash away,--low instincts,
what do YOU know?--all the servile side of life, which is turned from
you,--what madness to choose this, because some current of earthly
magnetism sets along your nerves? He loves you: what of that? You are
a higher being to him, and he stupidly adores you. Think,--yes, DARE to
think of all the prosaic realities of life, shared with him!"

Miss Bartram felt herself growing dizzy. Behind the impulse which bade
her cast herself upon his breast swept such a hot wave of shame and pain
that her face burned, and she dropped her eyelids to shut out the
sight of his face. But, for one endless second, the sweeter voice spoke
through their clasped hands. Perhaps he kissed hers; she did not know;
she only heard herself murmur:

"Good-bye! Pray go on; I will rest here."

She sat down upon a bank by the roadside, turned away her head, and
closed her eyes. It was long before the tumult in her nature subsided.
If she reflected, with a sense of relief, "nothing was said,"
the thought immediately followed, "but all is known." It was
impossible,--yes, clearly impossible; and then came such a wild longing,
such an assertion of the right and truth and justice of love, as made
her seem a miserable coward, the veriest slave of conventionalities.

Out of this struggle dawned self-knowledge, and the strength which is
born of it. When she returned to the house, she was pale and weary, but
capable of responding to Betty Rambo's constant cheerfulness. The next
day she left for the city, without having seen Leonard Clare again.



II.


Henry Rambo married, and brought a new mistress to the farm-house.
Betty married, and migrated to a new home in another part of the
State. Leonard Clare went back to his trade, and returned no more in
harvest-time. So the pleasant farm by the Brandywine, having served its
purpose as a background, will be seen no more in this history.

Miss Bartram's inmost life, as a woman, was no longer the same. The
point of view from which she had beheld the world was shifted, and she
was obliged to remodel all her feelings and ideas to conform to it. But
the process was gradual, and no one stood near enough to her to remark
it. She was occasionally suspected of that "eccentricity" which, in
a woman of five-and-twenty, is looked upon as the first symptom of a
tendency to old-maidenhood, but which is really the sign of an earnest
heart struggling with the questions of life. In the society of cities,
most men give only the shallow, flashy surface of their natures to the
young women they meet, and Miss Bartram, after that revelation of the
dumb strength of an ignorant man, sometimes grew very impatient of the
platitudes and affectations which came to her clad in elegant words, and
accompanied by irreproachable manners.

She had various suitors; for that sense of grace and repose and sweet
feminine power, which hung around her like an atmosphere, attracted
good and true men towards her. To some, indeed, she gave that noble,
untroubled friendship which is always possible between the best of the
two sexes, and when she was compelled to deny the more intimate appeal,
it was done with such frank sorrow, such delicate tenderness, that
she never lost the friend in losing the lover. But, as one year after
another went by, and the younger members of her family fell off into
their separate domestic orbits, she began to shrink a little at the
perspective of a lonely life, growing lonelier as it receded from the
Present.

By this time, Leonard Clare had become almost a dream to her. She had
neither seen him nor heard of him since he let go her hand on that
memorable evening beside the stream. He was a strange, bewildering
chance, a cypher concealing a secret which she could not intelligently
read. Why should she keep the memory of that power which was, perhaps,
some unconscious quality of his nature (no, it was not so! something
deeper than reason cried:), or long since forgotten, if felt, by him?

The man whom she most esteemed came back to her. She knew the ripeness
and harmony of his intellect, the nobility of his character, and the
generosity of a feeling which would be satisfied with only a partial
return. She felt sure, also, that she should never possess a sentiment
nearer to love than that which pleaded his cause in her heart. But her
hand lay quiet in his, her pulses were calm when he spoke, and his face,
manly and true as it was, never invaded her dreams. All questioning was
vain; her heart gave no solution of the riddle. Perhaps her own want
was common to all lives: then she was cherishing a selfish ideal, and
rejecting the positive good offered to her hands.

After long hesitation she yielded. The predictions of society came to
naught; instead of becoming an "eccentric" spinster, Miss Bartram was
announced to be the affianced bride of Mr. Lawrie. A few weeks and
months rolled around, and when the wedding-day came, she almost hailed
it as the port of refuge, where she should find a placid and peaceful
life.

They were married by an aged clergyman, a relative of the bridegroom.
The cross-street where his chapel stood, fronting a Methodist
church--both of the simplest form of that architecture fondly supposed
to be Gothic,--was quite blocked up by the carriages of the party. The
pews were crowded with elegant guests, the altar was decorated with
flowers, and the ceremony lacked nothing of its usual solemn beauty.
The bride was pale, but strikingly calm and self-possessed, and when
she moved towards the door as Mrs. Lawrie, on her husband's arm, many
matrons, recalling their own experience, marvelled at her unflurried
dignity.

Just as they passed out the door, and the bridal carriage was summoned,
a singular thing happened. Another bridal carriage drew up from the
opposite side, and a newly wedded pair came forth from the portal of the
Methodist church. Both parties stopped, face to face, divided only by
the narrow street. Mrs. Lawrie first noticed the flushed cheeks of the
other bride, her white dress, rather showy than elegant, and the heavy
gold ornaments she wore. Then she turned to the bridegroom. He was tall
and well-formed, dressed like a gentleman, but like one who is not
yet unconscious of his dress, and had the air of a man accustomed to
exercise some authority.

She saw his face, and instantly all other faces disappeared. From the
opposite brink of a tremendous gulf she looked into his eyes, and their
blended ray of love and despair pierced her to the heart.

There was a roaring in her ears, followed a long sighing sound, like
that of the wind on some homeless waste; she leaned more heavily on her
husband's arm, leaned against his shoulder, slid slowly down into his
supporting clasp, and knew no more.

"She's paying for her mock composure, after all," said the matrons.

"It must have been a great effort."



III.


Ten years afterwards, Mrs. Lawrie went on board a steamer at
Southampton, bound for New York. She was travelling alone, having been
called suddenly from Europe by the approaching death of her aged father.
For two or three days after sailing, the thick, rainy spring weather
kept all below, except a few hardy gentlemen who crowded together on the
lee of the smoke-stack, and kept up a stubborn cheerfulness on a very
small capital of comfort. There were few cabin-passengers on board, but
the usual crowd of emigrants in the steerage.

Mrs. Lawrie's face had grown calmer and colder during these years. There
was yet no gray in her hair, no wrinkles about her clear eyes; each
feature appeared to be the same, but the pale, monotonous color
which had replaced the warm bloom of her youth, gave them a different
character. The gracious dignity of her manner, the mellow tones of her
voice, still expressed her unchanging goodness, yet those who met her
were sure to feel, in some inexplicable way, that to be good is not
always to be happy. Perhaps, indeed, her manner was older than her face
and form: she still attracted the interest of men, but with a certain
doubt and reserve.

Certain it is that when she made her appearance on deck, glad of the
blue sky and sunshine, and threw back her hood to feel the freshness of
the sea air, all eyes followed her movements, except those of a forlorn
individual, who, muffled in his cloak and apparently sea-sick, lay upon
one of the benches. The captain presently joined her, and the gentlemen
saw that she was bright and perfectly self-possessed in conversation:
some of them immediately resolved to achieve an acquaintance. The dull,
passive existence of the beginning of every voyage, seemed to be now at
an end. It was time for the little society of the vessel to awake, stir
itself, and organize a life of its own, for the few remaining days.

That night, as Mrs. Lawrie was sleeping in her berth, she suddenly awoke
with a singular feeling of dread and suspense. She listened silently,
but for some time distinguished none other than the small sounds of
night on shipboard--the indistinct orders, the dragging of ropes,
the creaking of timbers, the dull, regular jar of the engine, and the
shuffling noise of feet overhead. But, ere long, she seemed to catch
faint, distant sounds, that seemed like cries; then came hurry and
confusion on deck; then voices in the cabin, one of which said: "they
never can get it under, at this rate!"

She rose, dressed herself hastily, and made her way through pale and
excited stewards, and the bewildered passengers who were beginning
to rush from their staterooms, to the deck. In the wild tumult which
prevailed, she might have been thrown down and trampled under foot, had
not a strong arm seized her around the waist, and borne her towards the
stern, where there were but few persons.

"Wait here!" said a voice, and her protector plunged into the crowd.

She saw, instantly, the terrible fate which had fallen upon the vessel.
The bow was shrouded in whirls of smoke, through which dull red flashes
began to show themselves; and all the length and breadth of the deck was
filled with a screaming, struggling, fighting mass of desperate human
beings. She saw the captain, officers, and a few of the crew working
in vain against the disorder: she saw the boats filled before they were
lowered, and heard the shrieks as they were capsized; she saw spars and
planks and benches cast overboard, and maddened men plunging after them;
and then, like the sudden opening of the mouth of Hell, the relentless,
triumphant fire burst through the forward deck and shot up to the
foreyard.

She was leaning against the mizen shrouds, between the coils of rope.
Nobody appeared to notice her, although the quarter-deck was fast
filling with persons driven back by the fire, yet still shrinking
from the terror and uncertainty of the sea. She thought: "It is but
death--why should I fear? The waves are at hand, to save me from all
suffering." And the collective horror of hundreds of beings did not so
overwhelm her as she had both fancied and feared; the tragedy of each
individual life was lost in the confusion, and was she not a sharer in
their doom?

Suddenly, a man stood before her with a cork life-preserver in his
hands, and buckled it around her securely, under the arms. He was
panting and almost exhausted, yet he strove to make his voice firm, and
even cheerful, as he said:

"We fought the cowardly devils as long as there was any hope. Two boats
are off, and two capsized; in ten minutes more every soul must take to
the water. Trust to me, and I will save you or die with you!"

"What else can I do?" she answered.

With a few powerful strokes of an axe, he broke off the top of the
pilot-house, bound two or three planks to it with ropes, and dragged the
mass to the bulwarks.

"The minute this goes," he then said to her, "you go after it, and I
follow. Keep still when you rise to the surface."

She left the shrouds, took hold of the planks at his side, and they
heaved the rude raft into the sea. In an instant she was seized and
whirled over the side; she instinctively held her breath, felt a shock,
felt herself swallowed up in an awful, fathomless coldness, and then
found herself floating below the huge towering hull which slowly drifted
away.

In another moment there was one at her side. "Lay your hand on my
shoulder," he said; and when she did so, swam for the raft, which they
soon reached. While she supported herself by one of the planks he so
arranged and bound together the pieces of timber that in a short time
they could climb upon them and rest, not much washed by the waves. The
ship drifted further and further, casting a faint, though awful, glare
over the sea, until the light was suddenly extinguished, as the hull
sank.

The dawn was in the sky by this time, and as it broadened they could
see faint specks here and there, where others, like themselves, clung to
drifting spars. Mrs. Lawrie shuddered with cold and the reaction from an
excitement which had been far more powerful than she knew at the time.

Her preserver then took off his coat, wrapped it around her, and
produced a pocket-flask, saying; "this will support us the longest; it
is all I could find, or bring with me."

She sat, leaning against his shoulder, though partly turned away from
him: all she could say was: "you are very good."

After awhile he spoke, and his voice seemed changed to her ears. "You
must be thinking of Mr. Lawrie. It will, indeed, be terrible for him to
hear of the disaster, before knowing that you are saved."

"God has spared him that distress," she answered. "Mr. Lawrie died, a
year ago."

She felt a start in the strong frame upon which she leaned. After a
few minutes of silence, he slowly shifted his position towards her, yet
still without facing her, and said, almost in a whisper:

"You have said that I am very good. Will you put your hand in mine?"

She stretched hers eagerly and gratefully towards him. What had
happened? Through all the numbness of her blood, there sprang a strange
new warmth from his strong palm, and a pulse, which she had almost
forgotten as a dream of the past, began to beat through her frame. She
turned around all a-tremble, and saw his face in the glow of the coming
day.

"Leonard Clare!" she cried.

"Then you have not forgotten me?"

"Could one forget, when the other remembers?"

The words came involuntarily from her lips. She felt what they implied,
the moment afterwards, and said no more. But he kept her hand in his.

"Mrs. Lawrie," he began, after another silence, "we are hanging by a
hair on the edge of life, but I shall gladly let that hair break, since
I may tell you now, purely and in the hearing of God, how I have tried
to rise to you out of the low place in which you found me. At first you
seemed too far; but you yourself led me the first step of the way, and
I have steadily kept my eyes on you, and followed it. When I had learned
my trade, I came to the city. No labor was too hard for me, no study too
difficult. I was becoming a new man, I saw all that was still lacking,
and how to reach it, and I watched you, unknown, at a distance. Then I
heard of your engagement: you were lost, and something of which I had
begun to dream, became insanity. I determined to trample it out of my
life. The daughter of the master-builder, whose first assistant I was,
had always favored me in her society; and I soon persuaded her to love
me. I fancied, too, that I loved her as most married men seemed to love
their wives; the union would advance me to a partnership in her father's
business, and my fortune would then be secured. You know what happened;
but you do not know how the sight of your face planted the old madness
again in my life, and made me a miserable husband, a miserable man of
wealth, almost a scoffer at the knowledge I had acquired for your sake.

"When my wife died, taking an only child with her, there was nothing
left to me except the mechanical ambition to make myself, without you,
what I imagined I might have become, through you. I have studied and
travelled, lived alone and in society, until your world seemed to be
almost mine: but you were not there!"

The sun had risen, while they sat, rocking on their frail support. Her
hand still lay in his, and her head rested on his shoulder. Every word
he spoke sank into her heart with a solemn sweetness, in which her whole
nature was silent and satisfied. Why should she speak? He knew all.

Yes, it seemed that he knew. His arm stole around her, and her head was
drawn from his shoulder to the warm breadth of his breast.

Something hard pressed her cheek, and she lifted her hand to move it
aside. He drew forth a flat medallion case; and to the unconscious
question in her face, such a sad, tender smile came to his lips, that
she could not repress a sudden pain. Was it the miniature of his dead
wife?

He opened the case, and showed her, under the glass, a faded, pressed
flower.

"What is it?" she asked.

"The Brandywine cowslip you dropped, when you spoke to me in the lane.
Then it was that you showed me the first step of the way."

She laid her head again upon his bosom. Hour after hour they sat, and
the light swells of the sea heaved them aimlessly to and fro, and the
sun burned them, and the spray drenched their limbs. At last Leonard
Clare roused himself and looked around: he felt numb and faint, and he
saw, also, that her strength was rapidly failing.

"We cannot live much longer, I fear," he said, clasping her closely in
his arms. "Kiss me once, darling, and then we will die."

She clung to him and kissed him.

"There is life, not death, in your lips!" he cried. "Oh, God, if we
should live!"

He rose painfully to his feet, stood, tottering? on the raft, and looked
across the waves. Presently he began to tremble, then to sob like a
child, and at last spoke, through his tears:

"A sail! a sail!--and heading towards us!"



MRS. STRONGITHARM'S REPORT.

Mr. Editor,--If you ever read the "Burroak Banner" (which you will find
among your exchanges, as the editor publishes your prospectus for six
weeks every year, and sends no bill to you) my name will not be that of
a stranger. Let me throw aside all affectation of humility, and say that
I hope it is already and not unfavorably familiar to you. I am informed
by those who claim to know that the manuscripts of obscure writers are
passed over by you editors without examination--in short, that I must
first have a name, if I hope to make one. The fact that an article of
three hundred and seventy-five pages, which I sent, successively, to the
"North American Review," the "Catholic World," and the "Radical," was in
each case returned to me with MY knot on the tape by which it was tied,
convinces me that such is indeed the case. A few years ago I should not
have meekly submitted to treatment like this; but late experiences have
taught me the vanity of many womanly dreams.

You are acquainted with the part I took (I am SURE you must have seen
it in the "Burroak Banner" eight years ago) in creating that public
sentiment in our favor which invested us with all the civil and
political rights of men. How the editors of the "Revolution," to which
I subscribe, and the conventions in favor of the equal rights of women,
recently held in Boston and other cities, have failed to notice our
noble struggle, is a circumstance for which I will not try to account. I
will only say--and it is a hint which SOME PERSONS will understand--that
there are other forms of jealousy than those which spring from love.

It is, indeed, incredible that so little is known, outside the State of
Atlantic, of the experiment--I mean the achievement--of the last eight
years. While the war lasted, we did not complain that our work was
ignored; but now that our sisters in other States are acting as if in
complete unconsciousness of what WE have done--now that we need their
aid and they need ours (but in different ways), it is time that somebody
should speak. Were Selina Whiston living, I should leave the task to
her pen; she never recovered from the shock and mortification of her
experiences in the State Legislature, in '64--but I will not anticipate
the history. Of all the band of female iconoclasts, as the Hon. Mr.
Screed called us in jest--it was no jest afterwards, HIS image being the
first to go down--of all, I say, "some are married, and some are dead,"
and there is really no one left so familiar with the circumstances as I
am, and equally competent to give a report of them.

Mr. Spelter (the editor of the "Burroak Banner") suggests that I must
be brief, if I wish my words to reach the ears of the millions for
whom they are designed; and I shall do my best to be so. If I were not
obliged to begin at the very beginning, and if the interests of Atlantic
had not been swallowed up, like those of other little States, in the
whirlpool of national politics, I should have much less to say. But if
Mr. George Fenian Brain and Mrs. Candy Station do not choose to inform
the public of either the course or the results of our struggle, am I to
blame? If I could have attended the convention in Boston, and had been
allowed to speak--and I am sure the distinguished Chairwoman would have
given me a chance--it would have been the best way, no doubt, to set our
case before the world.

I must first tell you how it was that we succeeded in forcing the men to
accept our claims, so much in advance of other States. We were indebted
for it chiefly to the skill and adroitness of Selina Whiston. The matter
had been agitated, it is true, for some years before, and as early as
1856, a bill, drawn up by Mrs. Whiston herself, had been introduced into
the Legislature, where it received three votes. Moreover, we had held
meetings in almost every election precinct in the State, and our Annual
Fair (to raise funds) at Gaston, while the Legislature was in session,
was always very brilliant and successful. So the people were not
entirely unprepared.

Although our State had gone for Fremont in 1856, by a small majority,
the Democrats afterwards elected their Governor; and both parties,
therefore, had hopes of success in 1860. The canvass began early, and
was very animated. Mrs. Whiston had already inaugurated the custom of
attending political meetings, and occasionally putting a question to the
stump orator--no matter of which party; of sometimes, indeed, taking the
stump herself, after the others had exhausted their wind. She was very
witty, as you know, and her stories were so good and so capitally told,
that neither Democrat nor Republican thought of leaving the ground while
she was upon the stand.

Now, it happened that our Congressional District was one of the closest.
It happened, also, that our candidate (I am a Republican, and so is Mr.
Strongitharm) was rather favorably inclined to the woman's cause. It
happened, thirdly--and this is the seemingly insignificant pivot upon
which we whirled into triumph--that he, Mr. Wrangle, and the opposing
candidate, Mr. Tumbrill, had arranged to hold a joint meeting at
Burroak. This meeting took place on a magnificent day, just after the
oats-harvest; and everybody, for twenty miles around, was there. Mrs.
Whiston, together with Sarah Pincher, Olympia Knapp, and several other
prominent advocates of our cause, met at my house in the morning; and
we all agreed that it was time to strike a blow. The rest of us
magnanimously decided to take no part in the concerted plan, though very
eager to do so. Selina Whiston declared that she must have the field to
herself; and when she said that, we knew she meant it.

It was generally known that she was on the ground. In fact, she spent
most of the time while Messrs. Wrangle and Tumbrill were speaking,
in walking about through the crowds--so after an hour apiece for the
gentlemen, and then fifteen minutes apiece for a rejoinder, and the
Star Spangled Banner from the band, for both sides, we were not a
bit surprised to hear a few cries of "Whiston!" from the audience.
Immediately we saw the compact gray bonnet and brown serge dress (she
knew what would go through a crowd without tearing!) splitting the wedge
of people on the steps leading to the platform. I noticed that the two
Congressional candidates looked at each other and smiled, in spite of
the venomous charges they had just been making.

Well--I won't attempt to report her speech, though it was her most
splendid effort (as people WILL say, when it was no effort to her at
all). But the substance of it was this: after setting forth woman's
wrongs and man's tyranny, and taxation without representation, and an
equal chance, and fair-play, and a struggle for life (which you know all
about from the other conventions), she turned squarely around to the two
candidates and said:

"Now to the practical application. You, Mr. Wrangle, and you, Mr.
Tumbrill, want to be elected to Congress. The district is a close one:
you have both counted the votes in advance (oh, I know your secrets!)
and there isn't a difference of a hundred in your estimates. A
very little will turn the scale either way. Perhaps a woman's
influence--perhaps my voice--might do it. But I will give you an equal
chance. So much power is left to woman, despite what you withhold, that
we, the women of Putnam, Shinnebaug, and Rancocus counties, are able to
decide which of you shall be elected. Either of you would give a great
deal to have a majority of the intelligent women of the District on your
side: it would already be equivalent to success. Now, to show that we
understand the political business from which you have excluded us--to
prove that we are capable of imitating the noble example of MEN--we
offer to sell our influence, as they their votes, to the highest
bidder!"

There was great shouting and cheering among the people at this, but the
two candidates, somehow or other, didn't seem much amused.

"I stand here," she continued, "in the interest of my struggling
sisters, and with authority to act for them. Which of you will bid
the most--not in offices or material advantages, as is the way of your
parties, but in the way of help to the Woman's Cause? Which of you
will here publicly pledge himself to say a word for us, from now until
election-day, whenever he appears upon the stump?"

There was repeated cheering, and cries of "Got 'em there!" (Men are so
vulgar).

"I pause for a reply. Shall they not answer me?" she continued, turning
to the audience.

Then there were tremendous cries of "Yes! yes! Wrangle! Tumbrill!"

Mr. Wrangle looked at Mr. Tumbrill, and made a motion with his head,
signifying that he should speak. Then Mr. Tumbrill looked at Mr.
Wrangle, and made a motion that HE should speak. The people saw all
this, and laughed and shouted as if they would never finish.

Mr. Wrangle, on second thoughts (this is my private surmise), saw that
boldness would just then be popular; so he stepped forward.

"Do I understand," he said, "that my fair and eloquent friend demands
perfect political and civil equality for her sex?"

"I do!" exclaimed Selina Whiston, in her firmest manner.

"Let me be more explicit," he continued. "You mean precisely the
same rights, the same duties, the same obligations, the same
responsibilities?"

She repeated the phrases over after him, affirmatively, with an emphasis
which I never heard surpassed.

"Pardon me once more," said Mr. Wrangle; "the right to vote, to hold
office, to practise law, theology, medicine, to take part in all
municipal affairs, to sit on juries, to be called upon to aid in the
execution of the law, to aid in suppressing disturbances, enforcing
public order, and performing military duty?"

Here there were loud cheers from the audience; and a good many voices
cried out: "Got her there!" (Men are so very vulgar.)

Mrs. Whiston looked troubled for a moment, but she saw that a moment's
hesitation would be fatal to our scheme, so she brought out her words as
if each one were a maul-blow on the butt-end of a wedge:

"All--that--we--demand!"

"Then," said Mr. Wrangle, "I bid my support in exchange for the women's!
Just what the speaker demands, without exception or modification--equal
privileges, rights, duties and obligations, without regard to the
question of sex! Is that broad enough?"

I was all in a tremble when it came to that. Somehow Mr. Wrangle's
acceptance of the bid did not inspire me, although it promised so much.
I had anticipated opposition, dissatisfaction, tumult. So had Mrs.
Whiston, and I could see, and the crowd could see, that she was not
greatly elated.

Mr. Wrangle made a very significant bow to Mr. Tumbrill, and then sat
down. There were cries of "Tumbrill!" and that gentleman--none of us,
of course, believing him sincere, for we knew his private views--came
forward and made exactly the same pledge. I will do both parties
the justice to say that they faithfully kept their word; nay, it was
generally thought the repetition of their brief pleas for woman, at some
fifty meetings before election came, had gradually conducted them to
the belief that they were expressing their own personal sentiments. The
mechanical echo in public thus developed into an opinion in private.
My own political experience has since demonstrated to me that this is a
phenomenon very common among men.

The impulse generated at that meeting gradually spread all over the
State. We--the leaders of the Women's Movement--did not rest until we
had exacted the same pledge from all the candidates of both parties; and
the nearer it drew towards election-day, the more prominence was given,
in the public meetings, to the illustration and discussion of the
subject. Our State went for Lincoln by a majority of 2763 (as you will
find by consulting the "Tribune Almanac"), and Mr. Wrangle was elected
to Congress, having received a hundred and forty-two more votes than his
opponent. Mr. Tumbrill has always attributed his defeat to his want of
courage in not taking up at once the glove which Selina Whiston threw
down.

I think I have said enough to make it clear how the State of Atlantic
came to be the first to grant equal civil and political rights to women.
When the Legislature of 1860-'61 met at Gaston, we estimated that we
might count upon fifty-three out of the seventy-one Republican Senators
and Assemblymen, and on thirty-four out of the sixty-five Democrats.
This would give a majority of twenty-eight in the House, and ten in
the Senate. Should the bill pass, there was still a possibility that
it might be vetoed by the Governor, of whom we did not feel sure. We
therefore arranged that our Annual Fair should be held a fortnight later
than usual, and that the proceeds (a circumstance known only to the
managers) should be devoted to a series of choice suppers, at which we
entertained, not only the Governor and our friends in both Houses, but
also, like true Christians, our legislatorial enemies. Olympia Knapp,
who, you know, is so very beautiful, presided at these entertainments.
She put forth all her splendid powers, and with more effect than any of
us suspected. On the day before the bill reached its third reading,
the Governor made her an offer of marriage. She came to the managers in
great agitation, and laid the matter before them, stating that she was
overwhelmed with surprise (though Sarah Pincher always maintained that
she wasn't in the least), and asking their advice. We discussed the
question for four hours, and finally decided that the interests of
the cause would oblige her to accept the Governor's hand. "Oh, I am so
glad!" cried Olympia, "for I accepted him at once." It was a brave, a
noble deed!

Now, I would ask those who assert that women are incapable of conducting
the business of politics, to say whether any set of men, of either
party, could have played their cards more skilfully? Even after the
campaign was over we might have failed, had it not been for the suppers.
We owed this idea, like the first, to the immortal Selina Whiston.
A lucky accident--as momentous in its way as the fall of an apple to
Newton, or the flying of a kite to Dr. Franklin--gave her the secret
principle by which the politics of men are directed. Her house in
Whittletown was the half of a double frame building, and the rear-end of
the other part was the private office of--but no, I will not mention the
name--a lawyer and a politician. He was known as a "wirepuller," and the
other wire-pullers of his party used to meet in his office and discuss
matters. Mrs. Whiston always asserted that there was a mouse-hole
through the partition; but she had energy enough to have made a hole
herself, for the sake of the cause.

She never would tell us all she overheard. "It is enough," she would
say, "that I know how the thing is done."

I remember that we were all considerably startled when she first gave us
an outline of her plan. On my saying that I trusted the dissemination of
our principles would soon bring us a great adhesion, she burst out with:

"Principles! Why if we trust to principles, we shall never succeed! We
must rely upon INFLUENCES, as the men do; we must fight them with their
own weapons, and even then we are at a disadvantage, because we cannot
very well make use of whiskey and cigars."

We yielded, because we had grown accustomed to be guided by her; and,
moreover, we had seen, time and again, how she could succeed--as, for
instance, in the Nelson divorce case (but I don't suppose you ever heard
of that), when the matter seemed nigh hopeless to all of us. The history
of 1860 and the following winter proves that in her the world has lost
a stateswoman. Mr. Wrangle and Governor Battle have both said to me that
they never knew a measure to be so splendidly engineered both before the
public and in the State Legislature.

After the bill had been passed, and signed by the Governor, and so had
become a law, and the grand Women's Jubilee had been held at Gaston,
the excitement subsided. It would be nearly a year to the next State
election, and none of the women seemed to care for the local and
municipal elections in the spring. Besides, there was a good deal of
anxiety among them in regard to the bill, which was drawn up in almost
the exact terms used by Mr. Wrangle at the political meeting. In fact,
we always have suspected that he wrote it. The word "male" was simply
omitted from all laws. "Nothing is changed," said Mrs. Whiston, quoting
Charles X., "there are only 201,758 more citizens in Atlantic!"

This was in January, 1861, you must remember; and the shadow of the
coming war began to fall over us. Had the passage of our bill been
postponed a fortnight it would have been postponed indefinitely, for
other and (for the men) more powerful excitements followed one upon
the other. Even our jubilee was thinly attended, and all but two of the
members on whom we relied for speeches failed us. Governor Battle, who
was to have presided, was at Washington, and Olympia, already his wife,
accompanied him. (I may add that she has never since taken any active
part with us. They have been in Europe for the last three years.)

Most of the women--here in Burroak, at least--expressed a feeling of
disappointment that there was no palpable change in their lot, no sense
of extended liberty, such as they imagined would come to transform them
into brighter and better creatures. They supposed that they would at
once gain in importance in the eyes of the men; but the men were now
so preoccupied by the events at the South that they seemed to have
forgotten our political value. Speaking for myself, as a good Union
woman, I felt that I must lay aside, for a time, the interests of my
sex. Once, it is true, I proposed to accompany Mr. Strongitharm to a
party caucus at the Wrangle House; but he so suddenly discovered that
he had business in another part of the town, that I withdrew my
proposition.

As the summer passed over, and the first and second call for volunteers
had been met, and more than met, by the patriotic men of the State (how
we blessed them!) we began to take courage, and to feel, that if our
new civil position brought us no very tangible enjoyment, at least it
imposed upon us no very irksome duties.

The first practical effect of the new law came to light at the August
term of our County Court. The names of seven women appeared on the list
of jurors, but only three of them answered to their names. One, the wife
of a poor farmer, was excused by the Judge, as there was no one to look
after six small children in her absence; another was a tailoress, with
a quantity of work on hand, some of which she proposed bringing with her
into Court, in order to save time; but as this could not be allowed,
she made so much trouble that she was also finally let off. Only one,
therefore, remained to serve; fortunately for the credit of our sex,
she was both able and willing to do so; and we afterward made a
subscription, and presented her with a silver fish-knife, on account of
her having tired out eleven jurymen, and brought in a verdict of $5,000
damages against a young man whom she convicted of seduction. She told
me that no one would ever know what she endured during those three days;
but the morals of our county have been better ever since.

Mr. Spelter told me that his State exchanges showed that there had been
difficulties of the same kind in all the other counties. In Mendip (the
county-town of which is Whittletown, Mrs. Whiston's home) the immediate
result had been the decision, on the part of the Commissioners, to build
an addition at the rear of the Court-House, with large, commodious and
well-furnished jury-rooms, so arranged that a comfortable privacy was
secured to the jury-women. I did my best to have the same improvement
adopted here, but, alas! I have not the ability of Selina Whiston
in such matters, and there is nothing to this day but the one vile,
miserable room, properly furnished in no particular except spittoons.

The nominating Conventions were held in August, also, and we were
therefore called upon to move at once, in order to secure our fair
share. Much valuable time had been lost in discussing a question of
policy, namely, whether we should attach ourselves to the two parties
already in existence, according to our individual inclinations, or
whether we should form a third party for ourselves. We finally accepted
the former proposition, and I think wisely; for the most of us were so
ignorant of political tricks and devices, that we still needed to learn
from the men, and we could not afford to draw upon us the hostility of
both parties, in the very infancy of our movement.

Never in my life did I have such a task, as in drumming up a few women
to attend the primary township meeting for the election of delegates. It
was impossible to make them comprehend its importance. Even after I had
done my best to explain the technicalities of male politics, and fancied
that I had made some impression, the answer would be: "Well, I'd go,
I'm sure, just to oblige you, but then there's the tomatoes to be
canned"--or, "I'm so behindhand with my darning and patching"--or,
"John'll be sure to go, and there's no need of two from the same
house"--and so on, until I was mightily discouraged. There were just
nine of us, all told, to about a hundred men. I won't deny that our
situation that night, at the Wrangle House, was awkward and not entirely
agreeable. To be sure the landlord gave us the parlor, and most of
the men came in, now and then, to speak to us; but they managed the
principal matters all by themselves, in the bar-room, which was such a
mess of smoke and stale liquor smells, that it turned my stomach when I
ventured in for two minutes.

I don't think we should have accomplished much, but for a 'cute idea of
Mrs. Wilbur, the tinman's wife. She went to the leaders, and threatened
them that the women's vote should be cast in a body for the Democratic
candidates, unless we were considered in making up the ticket.
THAT helped: the delegates were properly instructed, and the County
Convention afterward nominated two men and one woman as candidates for
the Assembly. That woman was--as I need hardly say, for the world knows
it--myself. I had not solicited the honor, and therefore could not
refuse, especially as my daughter Melissa was then old enough to
keep house in my absence. No woman had applied for the nomination for
Sheriff, but there were seventeen schoolmistresses anxious for the
office of County Treasurer. The only other nomination given to the
women, however, was that of Director (or rather, Directress) of the
Poor, which was conferred on Mrs. Bassett, wife of a clergyman.

Mr. Strongitharm insisted that I should, in some wise, prepare
myself for my new duties, by reading various political works, and I
conscientiously tried to do so--but, dear me! it was much more of a task
than I supposed. We had all read the debate on our bill, of course; but
I always skipped the dry, stupid stuff about the tariff, and finance,
and stay laws and exemption laws, and railroad company squabbles; and
for the life of me I can't see, to this day, what connection there is
between these things and Women's Rights. But, as I said, I did my best,
with the help of Webster's Dictionary; although the further I went the
less I liked it.

As election-day drew nearer, our prospects looked brighter. The
Republican ticket, under the editorial head of the "Burroak Banner,"
with my name and Mrs. Bassett's among the men's, was such an evidence,
that many women, notably opposed to the cause, said: "We didn't want the
right, but since we have it, we shall make use of it." This was exactly
what Mrs. Whiston had foretold. We estimated that--taking the
County tickets all over the State--we had about one-twentieth of the
Republican, and one-fiftieth of the Democratic, nominations. This was
far from being our due, but still it was a good beginning.

My husband insisted that I should go very early to the polls. I could
scarcely restrain a tear of emotion as I gave my first ballot into the
hands of the judges. There were not a dozen persons present, and the
act did not produce the sensation which I expected. One man cried
out: "Three cheers for our Assemblywoman!" and they gave them; and I
thereupon returned home in the best spirits. I devoted the rest of the
day to relieving poorer women, who could not have spared the time to
vote, if I had not, meanwhile, looked after their children. The last
was Nancy Black, the shoemaker's wife in our street, who kept me waiting
upon her till it was quite dark. When she finally came, the skirt of her
dress was ripped nearly off, her hair was down and her comb broken; but
she was triumphant, for Sam Black was with her, and SOBER. "The first
time since we were married, Mrs. Strongitharm!" she cried. Then she
whispered to me, as I was leaving: "And I've killed HIS vote, anyhow!"

When the count was made, our party was far ahead. Up to this time, I
think, the men of both parties had believed that only a few women, here
and there, would avail themselves of their new right--but they were
roundly mistaken. Although only ten per cent. of the female voters went
to the polls, yet three-fourths of them voted the Republican ticket,
which increased the majority of that party, in the State, about eleven
thousand.

It was amazing what an effect followed this result. The whole country
would have rung with it, had we not been in the midst of war. Mr.
Wrangle declared that he had always been an earnest advocate of the
women's cause. Governor Battle, in his next message, congratulated
the State on the signal success of the experiment, and the Democratic
masses, smarting under their defeat, cursed their leaders for not having
been sharp enough to conciliate the new element. The leaders themselves
said nothing, and in a few weeks the rank and file recovered their
cheerfulness. Even Mrs. Whiston, with all her experience, was a little
puzzled by this change of mood. Alas! she was far from guessing the
correct explanation.

It was a great comfort to me that Mrs. Whiston was also elected to the
Legislature. My husband had just then established his manufactory of
patent self-scouring knife-blades (now so celebrated), and could not
leave; so I was obliged to go up to Gaston all alone, when the session
commenced. There were but four of us Assemblywomen, and although the
men treated us with great courtesy, I was that nervous that I seemed
to detect either commiseration or satire everywhere. Before I had even
taken my seat, I was addressed by fifteen or twenty different gentlemen,
either great capitalists, or great engineers, or distinguished lawyers,
all interested in various schemes for developing the resources of our
State by new railroads, canals or ferries. I then began to comprehend
the grandeur of the Legislator's office. My voice could assist in making
possible these magnificent improvements, and I promised it to all. Mr.
Filch, President of the Shinnebaug and Great Western Consolidated Line,
was so delighted with my appreciation of his plan for reducing the
freight on grain from Nebraska, that he must have written extravagant
accounts of me to his wife; for she sent me, at Christmas, one of the
loveliest shawls I ever beheld.

I had frequently made short addresses at our public meetings, and
was considered to have my share of self-possession; but I never could
accustom myself to the keen, disturbing, irritating atmosphere of the
Legislature. Everybody seemed wide-awake and aggressive, instead of
pleasantly receptive; there were so many "points of order," and what
not; such complete disregard, among the members, of each other's
feelings; and, finally--a thing I could never understand, indeed--such
inconsistency and lack of principle in the intercourse of the two
parties. How could I feel assured of their sincerity, when I saw the
very men chatting and laughing together, in the lobbies, ten minutes
after they had been facing each other like angry lions in the debate?

Mrs. Whiston, also, had her trials of the same character. Nothing ever
annoyed her so much as a little blunder she made, the week after the
opening of the session. I have not yet mentioned that there was already
a universal dissatisfaction among the women, on account of their being
liable to military service. The war seemed to have hardly begun, as
yet, and conscription was already talked about; the women, therefore,
clamored for an exemption on account of sex. Although we all felt
that this was a retrograde movement, the pressure was so great that we
yielded. Mrs. Whiston, reluctant at first, no sooner made up her mind
that the thing must be done, than she furthered it with all her might.
After several attempts to introduce a bill, which were always cut off by
some "point of order," she unhappily lost her usual patience.

I don't know that I can exactly explain how it happened, for what
the men call "parliamentary tactics" always made me fidgetty. But the
"previous question" turned up (as it always seemed to me to do, at the
wrong time), and cut her off before she had spoken ten words.

"Mr. Speaker!" she protested; "there is no question, previous to this,
which needs the consideration of the house! This is first in importance,
and demands your immediate--"

"Order! order!" came from all parts of the house.

"I am in order--the right is always in order!" she exclaimed, getting
more and more excited. "We women are not going to be contented with the
mere show of our rights on this floor; we demand the substance--"

And so she was going on, when there arose the most fearful tumult.
The upshot of it was, that the speaker ordered the sergeant-at-arms to
remove Mrs. Whiston; one of the members, more considerate, walked across
the floor to her, and tried to explain in what manner she was violating
the rules; and in another minute she sat down, so white, rigid and
silent that it made me shake in my shoes to look at her.

"I have made a great blunder," she said to me, that evening; "and it may
set us back a little; but I shall recover my ground." Which she did,
I assure you. She cultivated the acquaintance of the leaders of
both parties, studied their tactics, and quietly waited for a good
opportunity to bring in her bill. At first, we thought it would pass;
but one of the male members presently came out with a speech, which
dashed our hopes to nothing. He simply took the ground that there must
be absolute equality in citizenship; that every privilege was balanced
by a duty, every trust accompanied with its responsibility. He had no
objection to women possessing equal rights with men--but to give them
all civil rights and exempt them from the most important obligation
of service, would be, he said, to create a privileged class--a female
aristocracy. It was contrary to the spirit of our institutions. The
women had complained of taxation without representation; did they now
claim the latter without the former?

The people never look more than half-way into a subject, and so this
speech was immensely popular. I will not give Mrs. Whiston's admirable
reply; for Mr. Spelter informs me that you will not accept an article,
if it should make more than seventy or eighty printed pages. It is
enough that our bill was "killed," as the men say (a brutal word); and
the women of the State laid the blame of the failure upon us. You may
imagine that we suffered under this injustice; but worse was to come.

As I said before, a great many things came up in the Legislature which I
did not understand--and, to be candid, did not care to understand. But
I was obliged to vote, nevertheless, and in this extremity I depended
pretty much on Mrs. Whiston's counsel. We could not well go to the
private nightly confabs of the members--indeed, they did not invite us;
and when it came to the issue of State bonds, bank charters, and such
like, I felt as if I were blundering along in the dark.

One day, I received, to my immense astonishment, a hundred and more
letters, all from the northern part of our county. I opened them, one
after the other, and--well, it is beyond my power to tell you what
varieties of indignation and abuse fell upon me. It seems that I had
voted against the bill to charter the Mendip Extension Railroad Co.
I had been obliged to vote for or against so many things, that it
was impossible to recollect them all. However, I procured the printed
journal, and, sure enough! there, among the nays, was "Strongitharm."
It was not a week after that--and I was still suffering in mind and
body--when the newspapers in the interest of the Rancocus and Great
Western Consolidated accused me (not by name, but the same thing--you
know how they do it) of being guilty of taking bribes. Mr. Filch, of the
Shinnebaug Consolidated had explained to me so beautifully the superior
advantages of his line, that the Directors of the other company took
their revenge in this vile, abominable way.

That was only the beginning of my trouble. What with these slanders
and longing for the quiet of our dear old home at Burroak, I was
almost sick; yet the Legislature sat on, and sat on, until I was nearly
desperate. Then one morning came a despatch from my husband: "Melissa
is drafted--come home!" How I made the journey I can't tell; I was in an
agony of apprehension, and when Mr. Strongitharm and Melissa both met me
at the Burroak Station, well and smiling, I fell into a hysterical fit
of laughing and crying, for the first time in my life.

Billy Brandon, who was engaged to Melissa, came forward and took her
place like a man; he fought none the worse, let me tell you, because
he represented a woman, and (I may as well say it now) he came home a
Captain, without a left arm--but Melissa seems to have three arms for
his sake.

You have no idea what a confusion and lamentation there was all over the
State. A good many women were drafted, and those who could neither
get substitutes for love nor money, were marched to Gaston, where the
recruiting Colonel was considerate enough to give them a separate
camp. In a week, however, the word came from Washington that the Army
Regulations of the United States did not admit of their being received;
and they came home blessing Mr. Stanton. This was the end of drafting
women in our State.

Nevertheless, the excitement created by the draft did not subside at
once. It was seized upon by the Democratic leaders, as part of a plan
already concocted, which they then proceeded to set in operation. It
succeeded only too well, and I don't know when we shall ever see the end
of it.

We had more friends among the Republicans at the start, because all the
original Abolitionists in the State came into that party in 1860. Our
success had been so rapid and unforeseen that the Democrats continued
their opposition even after female suffrage was an accomplished fact;
but the leaders were shrewd enough to see that another such election
as the last would ruin their party in the State. So their trains were
quietly laid, and the match was not applied until all Atlantic was
ringing with the protestations of the unwilling conscripts and the
laments of their families. Then came, like three claps of thunder
in one, sympathy for the women, acquiescence in their rights, and
invitations to them, everywhere, to take part in the Democratic caucuses
and conventions. Most of the prominent women of the State were deluded
for a time by this manifestation, and acted with the party for the sake
of the sex.

I had no idea, however, what the practical result of this movement
would be, until, a few weeks before election, I was calling upon Mrs.
Buckwalter, and happened to express my belief that we Republicans were
going to carry the State again, by a large majority.

"I am very glad of it," said she, with an expression of great relief,
"because then my vote will not be needed."

"Why!" I exclaimed; "you won't decline to vote, surely?"

"Worse than that," she answered, "I am afraid I shall have to vote with
the other side."

Now as I knew her to be a good Republican, I could scarcely believe my
ears. She blushed, I must admit, when she saw my astonished face.

"I'm so used to Bridget, you know," she continued, "and good girls are
so very hard to find, nowadays. She has as good as said that she won't
stay a day later than election, if I don't vote for HER candidate; and
what am I to do?"

"Do without!" I said shortly, getting up in my indignation.

"Yes, that's very well for you, with your wonderful PHYSIQUE," said Mrs.
Buckwalter, quietly, "but think of me with my neuralgia, and the pain in
my back! It would be a dreadful blow, if I should lose Bridget."

Well--what with torch-light processions, and meetings on both sides,
Burroak was in such a state of excitement when election came, that most
of the ladies of my acquaintance were almost afraid to go to the polls.
I tried to get them out during the first hours after sunrise, when I
went myself, but in vain. Even that early, I heard things that made
me shudder. Those who came later, went home resolved to give up their
rights rather than undergo a second experience of rowdyism. But it was
a jubilee for the servant girls. Mrs. Buckwalter didn't gain much by her
apostasy, for Bridget came home singing "The Wearing of the Green," and
let fall a whole tray full of the best china before she could be got to
bed.

Burroak, which, the year before, had a Republican majority of three
hundred, now went for the Democrats by more than five hundred. The
same party carried the State, electing their Governor by near twenty
thousand. The Republicans would now have gladly repealed the bill giving
us equal rights, but they were in a minority, and the Democrats refused
to co-operate. Mrs. Whiston, who still remained loyal to our side,
collected information from all parts of the State, from which it
appeared that four-fifths of all the female citizens had voted the
Democratic ticket. In New Lisbon, our great manufacturing city, with
its population of nearly one hundred thousand, the party gained three
thousand votes, while the accessions to the Republican ranks were only
about four hundred.

Mrs. Whiston barely escaped being defeated; her majority was reduced
from seven hundred to forty-three. Eleven Democratic Assemblywomen and
four Senatoresses were chosen, however, so that she had the consolation
of knowing that her sex had gained, although her party had lost. She was
still in good spirits: "It will all right itself in time," she said.

You will readily guess, after what I have related, that I was not only
not re-elected to the Legislature, but that I was not even a candidate.
I could have born the outrageous attacks of the opposite party; but the
treatment I had received from my own "constituents" (I shall always hate
the word) gave me a new revelation of the actual character of political
life. I have not mentioned half the worries and annoyances to which I
was subjected--the endless, endless letters and applications for office,
or for my influence in some way--the abuse and threats when I could
not possibly do what was desired--the exhibitions of selfishness and
disregard of all great and noble principles--and finally, the shameless
advances which were made by what men call "the lobby," to secure my vote
for this, that, and the other thing.

Why, it fairly made my hair stand on end to hear the stories which the
pleasant men, whom I thought so grandly interested in schemes for
"the material development of the country," told about each other. Mrs.
Filch's shawl began to burn my shoulders before I had worn it a half a
dozen times. (I have since given it to Melissa, as a wedding-present).

Before the next session was half over, I was doubly glad of being safe
at home. Mrs. Whiston supposed that the increased female representation
would give her more support, and indeed it seemed so, at first. But
after her speech on the Bounty bill, only two of the fifteen Democratic
women would even speak to her, and all hope of concord of action in
the interests of women was at an end. We read the debates, and my blood
fairly boiled when I found what taunts and sneers, and epithets she was
forced to endure. I wondered how she could sit still under them.

To make her position worse, the adjoining seat was occupied by an
Irishwoman, who had been elected by the votes of the laborers on the
new Albemarle Extension, in the neighborhood of which she kept a grocery
store. Nelly Kirkpatrick was a great, red-haired giant of a woman, very
illiterate, but with some native wit, and good-hearted enough, I am
told, when she was in her right mind. She always followed the lead of
Mr. Gorham (whose name, you see, came before hers in the call), and
a look from him was generally sufficient to quiet her when she was
inclined to be noisy.

When the resolutions declaring the war a failure were introduced, the
party excitement ran higher than ever. The "lunch-room" (as they called
it--I never went there but once, the title having deceived me) in the
basement-story of the State House was crowded during the discussion, and
every time Nelly Kirkpatrick came up, her face was a shade deeper red.
Mr. Gorham's nods and winks were of no avail--speak she would, and speak
she did, not so very incoherently, after all, but very abusively. To
be sure, you would never have guessed it, if you had read the quiet and
dignified report in the papers on her side, the next day.

THEN Mrs. Whiston's patience broke down. "Mr. Speaker," she exclaimed,
starting to her feet, "I protest against this House being compelled
to listen to such a tirade as has just been delivered. Are we to be
disgraced before the world--"

"Oh, hoo! Disgraced, is it?" yelled Nelly Kirkpatrick, violently
interrupting her, "and me as dacent a woman as ever she was, or ever
will be! Disgraced, hey? Oh, I'll larn her what it is to blaggard her
betters!"

And before anybody could imagine what was coming, she pounced upon Mrs.
Whiston, with one jerk ripped off her skirt (it was silk, not serge,
this time), seized her by the hair, and gave her head such a twist
backwards, that the chignon not only came off in her hands, but as her
victim opened her mouth too widely in the struggle, the springs of her
false teeth were sprung the wrong way, and the entire set flew out and
rattled upon the floor.

Of course there were cries of "Order! Order!" and the nearest
members--Mr. Gorham among the first--rushed in; but the mischief was
done. Mrs. Whiston had always urged upon our minds the necessity of
not only being dressed according to the popular fashion, but also as
elegantly and becomingly as possible. "If we adopt the Bloomers," she
said, "we shall never get our rights, while the world stands. Where it
is necessary to influence men, we must be wholly and truly WOMEN, not
semi-sexed nondescripts; we must employ every charm Nature gives us and
Fashion adds, not hide them under a forked extinguisher!" I give her
very words to show you her way of looking at things. Well, now imagine
this elegant woman, looking not a day over forty, though she was--but
no, I have no right to tell it,--imagine her, I say, with only her
scanty natural hair hanging over her ears, her mouth dreadfully fallen
in, her skirt torn off, all in open day, before the eyes of a hundred
and fifty members (and I am told they laughed immensely, in spite of the
scandal that it was), and, if you are human beings, you will feel that
she must have been wounded to the very heart.

There was a motion made to expel Nelly Kirkpatrick, and perhaps it
might have succeeded--but the railroad hands, all over the State, made a
heroine of her, and her party was afraid of losing five or six thousand
votes; so only a mild censure was pronounced. But there was no end
to the caricatures, and songs, and all sorts of ribaldry, about the
occurrence; and even our party said that, although Mrs. Whiston was
really and truly a martyr, yet the circumstance was an immense damage
to THEM. When she heard THAT, I believe it killed her. She resigned her
seat, went home, never appeared again in public, and died within a year.
"My dear friend," she wrote to me, not a month before her death, "I have
been trying all my life to get a thorough knowledge of the masculine
nature, but my woman's plummet will not reach to the bottom of that
chaotic pit of selfishness and principle, expedience and firmness
for the right, brutality and tenderness, gullibility and devilish
shrewdness, which I have tried to sound. Only one thing is clear--we
women cannot do without what we have sometimes, alas! sneered at as THE
CHIVELRY OF THE SEX. The question of our rights is as clear to me as
ever; but we must find a plan to get them without being forced to share,
or even to SEE, all that men do in their political lives. We have
only beheld some Principle riding aloft, not the mud through which her
chariot wheels are dragged. The ways must be swept before we can walk in
them--but how and by whom shall this be done?"

For my part, _I_ can't say, and I wish somebody would tell me.

Well--after seeing our State, which we used to be proud of, delivered
over for two years to the control of a party whose policy was so
repugnant to all our feelings of loyalty, we endeavored to procure, at
least a qualification of intelligence for voters. Of course, we didn't
get it: the exclusion from suffrage of all who were unable to read and
write might have turned the scales again, and given us the State. After
our boys came back from the war, we might have succeeded--but their
votes were over-balanced by those of the servant-girls, every one of
whom turned out, making a whole holiday of the election.

I thought, last fall, that my Maria, who is German, would have voted
with us. I stayed at home and did the work myself, on purpose that she
might hear the oration of Carl Schurz; but old Hammer, who keeps the
lager-beer saloon in the upper end of Burroak, gave a supper and a
dance to all the German girls and their beaux, after the meeting, and
so managed to secure nine out of ten of their votes for Seymour. Maria
proposed going away a week before election, up into Decatur County,
where, she said, some relations, just arrived from Bavaria, had settled.
I was obliged to let her go, or lose her altogether, but I was comforted
by the thought that if her vote were lost for Grant, at least it could
not be given to Seymour. After the election was over, and Decatur
County, which we had always managed to carry hitherto, went against
us, the whole matter was explained. About five hundred girls, we were
informed, had been COLONIZED in private families, as extra help, for a
fortnight, and of course Maria was one of them. (I have looked at
the addresses of her letters, ever since, and not one has she sent
to Decatur). A committee has been appointed, and a report made on the
election frauds in our State, and we shall see, I suppose, whether any
help comes of it.

Now, you mustn't think, from all this, that I am an apostate from the
principle of Women's Rights. No, indeed! All the trouble we have had,
as I think will be evident to the millions who read my words, comes from
THE MEN. They have not only made politics their monopoly, but they have
fashioned it into a tremendous, elaborate system, in which there is
precious little of either principle or honesty. We can and we MUST "run
the machine" (to use another of their vulgar expressions) with them,
until we get a chance to knock off the useless wheels and thingumbobs,
and scour the whole concern, inside and out. Perhaps the men themselves
would like to do this, if they only knew how: men have so little talent
for cleaning-up. But when it comes to making a litter, they're at home,
let me tell you!

Meanwhile, in our State, things are about as bad as they can be.
The women are drawn for juries, the same as ever, but (except in
Whittletown, where they have a separate room,) no respectable woman
goes, and the fines come heavy on some of us. The demoralization among
our help is so bad, that we are going to try Co-operative Housekeeping.
If that don't succeed, I shall get brother Samuel, who lives in
California, to send me two Chinamen, one for cook and chamber-boy, and
one as nurse for Melissa. I console myself with thinking that the end of
it all must be good, since the principle is right: but, dear me! I had
no idea that I should be called upon to go through such tribulation.

Now the reason I write--and I suppose I must hurry to the end, or you
will be out of all patience--is to beg, and insist, and implore my
sisters in other States to lose no more time, but at once to coax, or
melt, or threaten the men into accepting their claims. We are now so
isolated in our rights that we are obliged to bear more than our proper
share of the burden. When the States around us shall be so far advanced,
there will be a chance for new stateswomen to spring up, and fill Mrs.
Whiston's place, and we shall then, I firmly believe, devise a plan to
cleanse the great Augean stable of politics by turning into it the river
of female honesty and intelligence and morality. But they must do this,
somehow or other, without letting the river be tainted by the heaps of
pestilent offal it must sweep away. As Lord Bacon says (in that play
falsely attributed to Shakespeare)--"Ay, there's the rub!"

If you were to ask me, NOW, what effect the right of suffrage, office,
and all the duties of men has had upon the morals of the women of our
State, I should be puzzled what to say. It is something like this--if
you put a chemical purifying agent into a bucket of muddy water, the
water gets clearer, to be sure, but the chemical substance takes up some
of the impurity. Perhaps that's rather too strong a comparison; but if
you say that men are worse than women, as most people do, then of course
we improve them by closer political intercourse, and lose a little
ourselves in the process. I leave you to decide the relative loss and
gain. To tell you the truth, this is a feature of the question which
I would rather not discuss; and I see, by the reports of the recent
Conventions, that all the champions of our sex feel the same way.

Well, since I must come to an end somewhere, let it be here. To quote
Lord Bacon again, take my "round, unvarnished tale," and perhaps the
world will yet acknowledge that some good has been done by

Yours truly,

JANE STRONGITHARM.



[Footnote 1: Little Boris.]





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