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´╗┐Title: Short Story Classics (American) Vol. 2
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Short Story Classics (American) Vol. 2" ***

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SHORT STORY CLASSICS (AMERICAN)
VOLUME TWO

EDITED BY
WILLIAM PATTEN

WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES

P. F. COLLIER & SON
NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT 1905
BY P. F. COLLIER & SON
----------------
The use of the copyrighted stories in this collection has been
authorized in every instance by the authors or their representatives.



CONTENTS--VOLUME II

THE BRIGADE COMMANDER
   J. W. DEFOREST

WHO WAS SHE?
   BAYARD TAYLOR

MADEMOISELLE OLYMPE ZABRISKI
   THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

BROTHER SEBASTIAN'S FRIENDSHIP
   HAROLD FREDERIC

A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING
   HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN

THE IDYL OF RED GULCH
   BRET HARTE

CRUTCH, THE PAGE
   GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND ("GATH")

IN EACH OTHER'S SHOES
   GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP

THE DENVER EXPRESS
   A. A. HAYES

JAUNE D'ANTIMOINE
   THOMAS ALLIBONE JANVIER

OLE 'STRACTED
   THOMAS NELSON PAGE

OUR CONSUL AT CARLSRUHE
   F. J. STIMSON ("J. S. OF DALE")



THE BRIGADE COMMANDER
---------------------
BY J. W. DE FOREST



_ John William De Forest (born March 36, 1826, in Seymour, Ct.) at the
outbreak of the Rebellion abandoned a promising career as a historian
and writer of books of travel to enlist in the Union army. He served
throughout the entire war, first as captain, then as major, and so
acquired a thorough knowledge of military tactics and the psychology of
our war which enabled him, on his return to civil life, to write the
best war stories of his generation. Of these "The Brigade Commander" is
Mr. De Forest's masterpiece. Solidly grounded on experience, and
drawing its emotive power from our greatest national cataclysm, like a
Niagara dynamo the story sends us a thrill undiminishing with the
increasing distance of its source._



THE BRIGADE COMMANDER
BY J. W. DEFOREST
[Footnote: By permission of "The New York Times."]


The Colonel was the idol of his bragging old regiment and of the
bragging brigade which for the last six months he had commanded.
He was the idol, not because he was good and gracious, not because he
spared his soldiers or treated them as fellow-citizens, but because he
had led them to victory and made them famous. If a man will win battles
and give his brigade a right to brag loudly of its doings, he may have
its admiration and even its enthusiastic devotion, though he be as
pitiless and as wicked as Lucifer.

"It's nothin' to me what the Currnell is in prrivit, so long as he
shows us how to whack the rrebs," said Major Gahogan, commandant of the
"Old Tenth." "Moses saw God in the burrnin' bussh, an' bowed down to
it, an' worrshipt it. It wasn't the bussh he worrshipt; it was his God
that was in it. An' I worr-ship this villin of a Currnell (if he is a
villin) because he's almighty and gives us the vict'ry. He's nothin'
but a human burrnin' bussh, perhaps, but he's got the god of war in
urn. Adjetant Wallis, it's a ------ long time between dhrinks, as I
think ye was sayin', an' with rayson. See if ye can't confiscate a
canteen of whiskee somewhere in the camp. Bedad, if I can't buy it I'll
stale it. We're goin' to fight tomorry, an' it may be it's the last
chance we'll have for a dhrink, unless there's more lik'r now in the
other worrld than Dives got."

The brigade was bivouacked in some invisible region, amid the damp,
misty darkness of a September night. The men lay in their ranks, each
with his feet to the front and his head rearward, each covered by his
overcoat and pillowed upon his haversack, each with his loaded rifle
nestled close beside him. Asleep as they were, or dropping placidly
into slumber, they were ready to start in order to their feet and pour
out the red light and harsh roar of combat. There were two lines of
battle, each of three regiments of infantry, the first some two hundred
yards in advance of the second. In the space between them lay two
four-gun batteries, one of them brass twelve-pounder "Napoleons," and
the other rifled Parrotts. To the rear of the infantry were the
recumbent troopers and picketed horses of a regiment of cavalry. All
around, in the far, black distance, invisible and inaudible, paced or
watched stealthily the sentinels of the grand guards.

There was not a fire, not a torch, nor a star-beam in the whole bivouac
to guide the feet of Adjutant Wallis in his pilgrimage after whiskey.
The orders from brigade headquarters had been strict against
illuminations, for the Confederates were near at hand in force, and a
surprise was proposed as well as feared. A tired and sleepy youngster,
almost dropping with the heavy somnolence of wearied adolescence, he
stumbled on through the trials of an undiscernible and unfamiliar
footing, lifting his heavy riding-boots sluggishly over imaginary
obstacles, and fearing the while lest his toil were labor misspent. It
was a dry camp, he felt dolefully certain, or there would have been
more noise in it. He fell over a sleeping sergeant, and said to him
hastily, "Steady, man--a friend!" as the half-roused soldier clutched
his rifle. Then he found a lieutenant, and shook him in vain; further
on a captain, and exchanged saddening murmurs with him; further still a
camp-follower of African extraction, and blasphemed him.

"It's a God-forsaken camp, and there isn't a horn in it," said Adjutant
Wallis to himself as he pursued his groping journey. "Bet you I don't
find the first drop," he continued, for he was a betting boy, and
frequently argued by wagers, even with himself. "Bet you two to one I
don't. Bet you three to one--ten to one."

Then he saw, an indefinite distance beyond him, burning like red-hot
iron through the darkness, a little scarlet or crimson gleam, as of a
lighted cigar.

"That's Old Grumps, of the Bloody Fourteenth," he thought. "I've raided
into his happy sleeping-grounds. I'll draw on him."

But Old Grumps, otherwise Colonel Lafayette Gildersleeve, had no
rations--that is, no whiskey.

"How do you suppose an officer is to have a drink, Lieutenant?" he
grumbled. "Don't you know that our would-be Brigadier sent all the
commissary to the rear day before yesterday? A canteenful can't last
two days. Mine went empty about five minutes ago."

"Oh, thunder!" groaned Wallis, saddened by that saddest of all
thoughts, "Too late!" "Well, least said soonest mended. I must wobble
back to my Major."

"He'll send you off to some other camp as dry as this one. Wait ten
minutes, and he'll be asleep. Lie down on my blanket and light your
pipe. I want to talk to you about, official business--about our
would-be Brigadier."

"Oh, _your_ turn will come some day," mumbled Wallis, remembering
Gildersleeve's jealousy of the brigade commander--a jealousy which only
gave tongue when aroused by "commissary." "If you do as well as usual
to-morrow you can have your own brigade."

"I suppose you think we are all going to do well to-morrow," scoffed
old Grumps, whose utterance by this time stumbled. "I suppose you
expect to whip and to have a good time. I suppose you brag on fighting
and enjoy it."

"I like it well enough when it goes right; and it generally does go
right with this brigade. I should like it better if the rebs would fire
higher and break quicker."

"That depends on the way those are commanded whose business it is to
break them," growled Old Grumps. "I don't say but what we are rightly
commanded," he added, remembering his duty to superiors. "I concede and
acknowledge that our would-be Brigadier knows his military business.
But the blessing of God, Wallis! I believe in Waldron as a soldier. But
as a man and a Christian, faugh!"

Gildersleeve had clearly emptied his canteen unassisted; he never
talked about Christianity when perfectly sober.

"What was your last remark?" inquired Wallis, taking his pipe from his
mouth to grin. Even a superior officer might be chaffed a little in the
darkness.

"I made no last remark," asserted the Colonel with dignity. "I'm not
a-dying yet. If I said anything last it was a mere exclamation of
disgust--the disgust of an officer and gentleman. I suppose you know
something about our would-be Brigadier. I suppose you think you know
something about him."

"Bet you I know _all_ about him" affirmed Wallis. "He enlisted in the
Old Tenth as a common soldier. Before he had been a week in camp they
found that he knew his biz, and they made him a sergeant. Before we
started for the field the Governor got his eye on him and shoved him
into a lieutenancy. The first battle h'isted him to a captain. And the
second--bang! whiz! he shot up to colonel right over the heads of
everybody, line and field. Nobody in the Old Tenth grumbled. They saw
that he knew his biz. I know _all_ about him. What'll you bet?"

"I'm not a betting man, Lieutenant, except in a friendly game of
poker," sighed Old Grumps. "You don't know anything about your
Brigadier," he added in a sepulchral murmur, the echo of an empty
canteen. "I have only been in this brigade a month, and I know more
than you do, far, very far more, sorry to say it. He's a reformed
clergyman. He's an apostatized minister." The Colonel's voice as he
said this was solemn and sad enough to do credit to an undertaker.
"It's a bad sort, Wallis," he continued, after another deep sigh, a
very highly perfumed one, the sigh of a barkeeper. "When a clergyman
falls, he falls for life and eternity, like a woman or an angel. I
never knew a backslidden shepherd to come to good. Sooner or later he
always goes to the devil, and takes down whomsoever hangs to him."

"He'll take down the Old Tenth, then," asserted Wallis. "It hangs to
him. Bet you two to one he takes it along."

"You're right, Adjutant; spoken like a soldier," swore Gildersleeve.
"And the Bloody Fourteenth, too. It will march into the burning pit as
far as any regiment; and the whole brigade, yes, sir! But a backslidden
shepherd, my God! Have we come to that? I often say to myself, in the
solemn hours of the night, as I remember my Sabbath-school days, 'Great
Scott! have we come to that?' A reformed clergyman! An apostatized
minister! Think of it, Wallis, think of it! Why, sir, his very wife ran
away from him. They had but just buried their first boy," pursued Old
Grumps, his hoarse voice sinking to a whimper. "They drove home from
the burial-place, where lay the new-made grave. Arrived at their door,
_he_ got out and extended his hand to help _her_ out. Instead of
accepting, instead of throwing herself into his arms and weeping there,
she turned to the coachman and said, 'Driver, drive me to my father's
house.' That was the end of their wedded life, Wallis."

The Colonel actually wept at this point, and the maudlin tears were not
altogether insincere. His own wife and children he heartily loved, and
remembered them now with honest tenderness. At home he was not a
drinker and a rough; only amid the hardships and perils of the field.

"That was the end of it, Wallis," he repeated. "And what was it while
it lasted? What does a woman leave her husband for? Why does she
separate from him over the grave of her innocent first-born? There are
twenty reasons, but they must all of them be good ones. I am sorry to
give it as my decided opinion, Wallis, in perfect confidence, that they
must all be whopping good ones. Well, that was the beginning; only the
beginning. After that he held on for a while, breaking the bread of
life to a skedaddling flock, and then he bolted. The next known of him,
three years later, he enlisted in your regiment, a smart but seedy
recruit, smelling strongly of whiskey."

"I wish I smelt half as strong of it myself," grumbled Wallis. "It
might keep out the swamp fever."

"That's the true story of Col. John James Waldron," continued Old
Grumps, with a groan which was very somnolent, as if it were a twin to
a snore. "That's the true story."

"I don't believe the first word of it--that is to say, Colonel, I think
you have been misinformed--and I'll bet you two to one on it. If he was
nothing more than a minister, how did he know drill and tactics?"

"Oh, I forgot to say he went through West Point--that is, nearly
through. They graduated him in his third year by the back door,
Wallis."

"Oh, that was it, was it? He was a West Pointer, was he? Well, then,
the backsliding was natural, and oughtn't to count against him. A
member of Benny Havens's church has a right to backslide anywhere,
especially as the Colonel doesn't seem to be any worse than some of the
rest of us, who haven't fallen from grace the least particle, but took
our stand at the start just where we are now. A fellow that begins with
a handful of trumps has a right to play a risky game."

"I know what euchered him, Wallis. It was the old Little Joker; and
there's another of the same on hand now."

"On hand where? What are you driving at, Colonel?"

"He looks like a boy. I mean she looks like a boy. You know what I
mean, Wallis; I mean the boy that makes believe to wait on him. And her
brother is in camp, got here to-night. There'll be an explanation
to-morrow, and there'll be bloodshed."

"Good-night, Colonel, and sleep it off," said Wallis, rising from the
side of a man whom he believed to be sillily drunk and altogether
untrustworthy. "You know we get after the rebs at dawn."

"I know it--goo-night, Adjutant--gawblessyou," mumbled Old Crumps.
"We'll lick those rebs, won't we?" he chuckled. "Goo-night, ole fellow,
an' gawblessyou."

Whereupon Old Grumps fell asleep, very absurdly overcome by liquor, we
extremely regret to concede, but nobly sure to do his soldierly duty as
soon as he should awake.

Stumbling wearily blanketward, Wallis found his Major and regimental
commander, the genial and gallant Gahogan, slumbering in a peace like
that of the just. He stretched himself anear, put out his hand to touch
his sabre and revolver, drew his caped greatcoat over him, moved once
to free his back of a root or pebble, glanced languidly at a single
struggling star, thought for an instant of his far-away mother, turned
his head with a sigh and slept. In the morning he was to fight, and
perhaps to die; but the boyish veteran was too seasoned, and also too
tired, to mind that; he could mind but one thing--nature's pleading for
rest.

In the iron-gray dawn, while the troops were falling dimly and
spectrally into line, and he was mounting his horse to be ready for
orders, he remembered Gildersleeve's drunken tale concerning the
commandant, and laughed aloud. But turning his face toward brigade
headquarters (a sylvan region marked out by the branches of a great
oak), he was surprised to see a strange officer, a fair young man in
captain's uniform, riding slowly toward it.

"Is that the boy's brother?" he said to himself; and in the next
instant he had forgotten the whole subject; it was time to form and
present the regiment.

Quietly and without tap of drum the small, battle-worn battalions filed
out of their bivouacs into the highway, ordered arms and waited for the
word to march. With a dull rumble the field-pieces trundled slowly
after, and halted in rear of the infantry. The cavalry trotted off
circuitously through the fields, emerged upon a road in advance and
likewise halted, all but a single company, which pushed on for half a
mile, spreading out as it went into a thin line of skirmishers.

Meanwhile a strange interview took place near the great oak which had
sheltered brigade headquarters. As the unknown officer, whom Wallis had
noted, approached it, Col. Waldron was standing by his horse ready to
mount. The commandant was a man of medium size, fairly handsome in
person and features, and apparently about twenty-eight years of age.
Perhaps it was the singular breadth of his forehead which made the
lower part of his face look so unusually slight and feminine. His eyes
were dark hazel, as clear, brilliant, and tender as a girl's, and
brimming full of a pensiveness which seemed both loving and melancholy.
Few persons, at all events few women, who looked upon him ever looked
beyond his eyes. They were very fascinating, and in a man's countenance
very strange. They were the kind of eyes which reveal passionate
romances, and which make them.

By his side stood a boy, a singularly interesting and beautiful boy,
fair-haired and blue-eyed, and delicate in color. When this boy saw the
stranger approach he turned as pale as marble, slid away from the
brigade commander's side, and disappeared behind a group of staff
officers and orderlies. The new-comer also became deathly white as he
glanced after the retreating youth. Then he dismounted, touched his cap
slightly and, as if mechanically, advanced a few steps, and said
hoarsely, "I believe this is Colonel Waldron. I am Captain Fitz Hugh,
of the --th Delaware."

Waldron put his hand to his revolver, withdrew it instantaneously, and
stood motionless.

"I am on leave of absence from my regiment, Colonel," continued Fitz
Hugh, speaking now with an elaborate ceremoniousness of utterance
significant of a struggle to suppress violent emotion. "I suppose you
can understand why I made use of it in seeking you."

Waldron hesitated; he stood gazing at the earth with the air of one who
represses deep pain; at last, after a profound sigh, he raised his eyes
and answered:

"Captain, we are on the eve of a battle. I must attend to my public
duties first. After the battle we will settle our private affair."

"There is but one way to settle it, Colonel."

"You shall have your way if you will. You shall do what you will. I
only ask what good will it do to _her_?"

"It will do good to _me_, Colonel," whispered Fitz Hugh, suddenly
turning crimson. "You forget _me_."

Waldron's face also flushed, and an angry sparkle shot from under his
lashes in reply to this utterance of hate, but it died out in an
instant.

"I have done a wrong, and I will accept the consequences," he said. "I
pledge you my word that I will be at your disposal if I survive the
battle. Where do you propose to remain meanwhile?"

"I will take the same chance, sir. I propose to do my share in the
fighting if you will use me."

"I am short of staff officers. Will you act as my aid?"

"I will, Colonel," bowed Fitz Hugh, with a glance which expressed
surprise, and perhaps admiration, at this confidence.

Waldron turned, beckoned his staff officers to approach, and said,
"Gentlemen, this is Captain Fitz Hugh of the --th Delaware. He has
volunteered to join us for the day, and will act as my aid. And now,
Captain, will you ride to the head of the column and order it forward?
There will be no drum-beat and no noise. When you have given your order
and seen it executed, you will wait for me."

Fitz Hugh saluted, sprang into his saddle and galloped away. A few
minutes later the whole column was plodding on silently toward its
bloody goal. To a civilian, unaccustomed to scenes of war, the
tranquillity of these men would have seemed very wonderful. Many of the
soldiers were still munching the hard bread and raw pork of their
meagre breakfasts, or drinking the cold coffee with which they had
filled their canteens the day previous. Many more were chatting in an
undertone, grumbling over their sore feet and other discomfits,
chaffing each other, and laughing. The general bearing, however, was
grave, patient, quietly enduring, and one might almost say stolid. You
would have said, to judge by their expressions, that these sunburned
fellows were merely doing hard work, and thoroughly commonplace work,
without a prospect of adventure, and much less of danger. The
explanation of this calmness, so brutal perhaps to the eye of a
sensitive soul, lies mainly in the fact that they were all veterans,
the survivors of marches, privations, maladies, sieges, and battles.
Not a regiment present numbered four hundred men, and the average was
not above three hundred. The whole force, including artillery and
cavalry, might have been about twenty-five hundred sabres and bayonets.

At the beginning of the march Waldron fell into the rear of his staff
and mounted orderlies. Then the boy who had fled from Fitz Hugh dropped
out of the tramping escort, and rode up to his side.

"Well, Charlie," said Waldron, casting a pitying glance at the yet
pallid face and anxious eyes of the youth, "you have had a sad fright.
I make you very miserable."

"He has found us at last," murmured Charlie in a tremulous soprano
voice. "What did he say?"

"We are to talk to-morrow. He acts as my aide-de-camp to-day. I ought
to tell you frankly that he is not friendly."

"Of course, I knew it," sighed Charlie, while the tears fell.

"It is only one more trouble--one more danger, and perhaps it may pass.
So many _have_ passed."

"Did you tell him anything to quiet him? Did you tell him that we were
married?"

"But we are not married yet, Charlie. We shall be, I hope."

"But you ought to have told him that we were. It might stop him from
doing something--mad. Why didn't you tell him so? Why didn't you think
of it?"

"My dear little child, we are about to have a battle. I should like to
carry some honor and truth into it."

"Where is he?" continued Charlie, unconvinced and unappeased. "I want
to see him. Is he at the head of the column? I want to speak to him,
just one word. He won't hurt me."

She suddenly spurred her horse, wheeled into the fields, and dashed
onward. Fitz Hugh was lounging in his saddle, and sombrely surveying
the passing column, when she galloped up to him.

"Carrol!" she said, in a choked voice, reining in by his side, and
leaning forward to touch his sleeve.

He threw one glance at her--a glance of aversion, if not of downright
hatred, and turned his back in silence.

"He is my husband, Carrol," she went on rapidly. "I knew you didn't
understand it. I ought to have written you about it. I thought I would
come and tell you before you did anything absurd. We were married as
soon as he heard that his wife was dead."

"What is the use of this?" he muttered hoarsely. "She is not dead. I
heard from her a week ago. She was living a week ago."

"Oh, Carrol!" stammered Charlie. "It was some mistake then. Is it
possible! And he was so sure! But he can get a divorce, you know. She
abandoned him. Or _she_ can get one. No, _he_ can get it--of course,
when she abandoned him. But, Carrol, she must be dead--he was so sure."

"She is not dead, I tell you. And there can be no divorce. Insanity
bars all claim to a divorce. She is in an asylum. She had to leave him,
and then she went mad."

"Oh, no, Carrol, it is all a mistake; it is not so. Carrol," she
murmured in a voice so faint that he could not help glancing at her,
half in fury and half in pity. She was slowly falling from her horse.
He sprang from his saddle, caught her in his arms, and laid her on the
turf, wishing the while that it covered her grave. Just then one of
Waldron's orderlies rode up and exclaimed: "What is the matter with
the--the boy? Hullo, Charlie."

Fitz Hugh stared at the man in silence, tempted to tear him from his
horse. "The boy is ill," he answered when he recovered his
self-command. "Take charge of him yourself." He remounted, rode onward
out of sight beyond a thicket, and there waited for the brigade
commander, now and then fingering his revolver. As Charlie was being
placed in an ambulance by the orderly and a sergeant's wife, Waldron
came up, reined in his horse violently, and asked in a furious voice,
"Is that boy hurt?

"Ah--fainted," he added immediately. "Thank you, Mrs. Gunner. Take good
care of him--the best of care, my dear woman, and don't let him leave
you all day."

Further on, when Fitz Hugh silently fell into his escort, he merely
glanced at him in a furtive way, and then cantered on rapidly to the
head of the cavalry. There he beckoned to the tall, grave, iron-gray
Chaplain of the Tenth, and rode with him for nearly an hour, apart,
engaged in low and seemingly impassioned discourse. From this interview
Mr. Colquhoun returned to the escort with a strangely solemnized,
tender countenance, while the commandant, with a more cheerful air than
he had yet worn that day, gave himself to his martial duties,
inspecting the landscape incessantly with his glass, and sending
frequently for news to the advance scouts. It may properly be stated
here that the Chaplain never divulged to any one the nature of the
conversation which he had held with his Colonel.

Nothing further of note occurred until the little army, after two hours
of plodding march, wound through a sinuous, wooded ravine, entered a
broad, bare, slightly undulating valley, and for the second time
halted. Waldron galloped to the summit of a knoll, pointed to a long
eminence which faced him some two miles distant, and said tranquilly,
"There is our battle-ground."

"Is that the enemy's position?" returned Captain Ives, his
adjutant-general. "We shall have a tough job if we go at it from here."

Waldron remained in deep thought for some minutes, meanwhile scanning
the ridge and all its surroundings.

"What I want to know," he observed, at last, "is whether they have
occupied the wooded knolls in front of their right and around their
right flank."

Shortly afterward the commander of the scouting squadron came riding
back at a furious pace.

"They are on the hill. Colonel," he shouted.

"Yes, of course," nodded Waldron; "but have they occupied the woods
which veil their right front and flank?"

"Not a bit of it; my fellows have cantered all through, and up to the
base of the hill."

"Ah!" exclaimed the brigade commander, with a rush of elation. "Then it
will be easy work. Go back, Captain, and scatter your men through the
wood, and hold it, if possible. Adjutant, call up the regimental
commanders at once. I want them to understand my plan fully."

In a few minutes, Gahogan, of the Tenth; Gilder-sleeve, of the
Fourteenth; Peck, of the First; Thomas, of the Seventh; Taylor, of the
Eighth, and Colburn, of the Fifth, were gathered around their
commander. There, too, was Bradley, the boyish, red-cheeked chief of
the artillery; and Stilton, the rough, old, bearded regular, who headed
the cavalry. The staff was at hand, also, including Fitz Hugh, who sat
his horse a little apart, downcast and sombre and silent, but
nevertheless keenly interested. It is worthy of remark, by the way,
that Waldron took no special note of him, and did not seem conscious of
any disturbing presence. Evil as the man may have been, he was a
thoroughly good soldier, and just now he thought but of his duties.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I want you to see your field of battle. The
enemy occupy that long ridge. How shall we reach it?"

"I think, if we go at it straight from here, we shan't miss it,"
promptly judged Old Crumps, his red-oak countenance admirably cheerful
and hopeful, and his jealousy all dissolved in the interest of
approaching combat.

"Nor they won't miss us nuther," laughed Major Gahogan. "Betther slide
our infantree into thim wuds, push up our skirmishers, play wid our
guns for an hour, an' thin rowl in a couple o' col'ms."

There was a general murmur of approval. The limits of volunteer
invention in tactics had been reached by Gahogan. The other regimental
commanders looked upon him as their superior in the art of war.

"That would be well, Major, if we could do nothing better," said
Waldron. "But I do not feel obliged to attack the front seriously at
all. The rebels have been thoughtless enough to leave that long
semicircle of wooded knolls unoccupied, even by scouts. It stretches
from the front of their centre clear around their right flank. I shall
use it as a veil to cover us while we get into position. I shall throw
out a regiment, a battery, and five companies of cavalry, to make a
feint against their centre and left. With the remainder of the brigade
I shall skirt the woods, double around the right of the position, and
close in upon it front and rear."

"Loike scissors blades upon a snip o' paper," shouted Gahogan, in
delight. Then he turned to Fitz Hugh, who happened to be nearest him,
and added, "I tell ye he's got the God o' War in um. He's the burrnin'
bussh of humanity, wid a God o' Battles inside on't."

"But how if they come down on our thin right wing?" asked a cautious
officer, Taylor, of the Eighth. They might smash it and seize our line
of retreat."

"Men who have taken up a strong position, a position obviously chosen
for defence, rarely quit it promptly for an attack," replied Waldron.
"There is not one chance in ten that these gentlemen will make a
considerable forward movement early in the fight. Only the greatest
geniuses jump from the defensive to the offensive. Besides, we must
hold the wood. So long as we hold the wood in front of their centre we
save the road."

Then came personal and detailed instructions. Each regimental commander
was told whither he should march, the point where he should halt to
form line, and the direction by which he should attack. The mass of the
command was to advance in marching column toward a knoll where the
highway entered and traversed the wood. Some time before reaching it
Taylor was to deploy the Eighth to the right, throw out a strong
skirmish line and open fire on the enemy's centre and left, supported
by the battery of Parrotts, and, if pushed, by five companies of
cavalry. The remaining troops would reach the knoll, file to the left
under cover of the forest, skirt it for a mile as rapidly as possible,
infold the right of the Confederate position, and then move upon it
concentrically. Counting from the left, the Tenth, the Seventh, and the
Fourteenth were to constitute the first line of battle, while five
companies of cavalry, then the First, and then the Fifth formed the
second line. Not until Gahogan might have time to wind into the enemy's
right rear should Gildersleeve move out of the wood and commence the
real attack.

"You will go straight at the front of their right," said Waldron, with
a gay smile, to this latter Colonel. "Send up two companies as
skirmishers. The moment they are clearly checked, lead up the other
eight in line. It will be rough work. But keep pushing. You won't have
fifteen minutes of it before Thomas, on your left, will be climbing the
end of the ridge to take the rebels in flank. In fifteen minutes more
Gahogan will be running in on their backs. Of course, they will try to
change front and meet us. But they have extended their line a long way
in order to cover the whole ridge. They will not be quick enough. We
shall get hold of their right, and we shall roll them up. Then, Colonel
Stilton, I shall expect to see the troopers jumping into the gaps and
making prisoners."

"All right, Colonel," answered Stilton in that hoarse growl which is
apt to mark the old cavalry officer. "Where shall we find you if we
want a fresh order?" "I shall be with Colburn, in rear of Gildersleeve.
That is our centre. But never mind me; you know what the battle is to
be, and you know how to fight it. The whole point with the infantry is
to fold around the enemy's right, go in upon it concentrically, smash
it, and roll up their line. The cavalry will watch against the infantry
being flanked, and when the latter have seized the hill, will charge
for prisoners. The artillery will reply to the enemy's guns with shell,
and fire grape at any offensive demonstration. You all know your
duties, now, gentlemen. Go to your commands, and march!"

The colonels saluted and started off at a gallop. In a few minutes
twenty-five hundred men were in simultaneous movement. Five companies
of cavalry wheeled into column of companies, and advanced at a trot
through the fields, seeking to gain the shelter of the forest. The six
infantry regiments slid up alongside of each other, and pushed on in
six parallel columns of march, two on the right of the road and four on
the left. The artillery, which alone left the highway, followed at a
distance of two or three hundred yards. The remaining cavalry made a
wide detour to the right as if to flank the enemy's left.

It was a mile and a quarter--it was a march of fully twenty minutes--to
the edge of the woodland, the proposed cover of the column. Ten minutes
before this point was reached a tiny puff of smoke showed on the brow
of the hostile ridge; then, at an interval of several seconds, followed
the sound of a distant explosion; then, almost immediately, came the
screech of a rifled shell. Every man who heard it swiftly asked
himself, "Will it strike me?" But even as the words were thought out it
had passed, high in air, clean to the rear, and burst harmlessly. A few
faces turned upward and a few eyes glanced backward, as if to see the
invisible enemy. But there was no pause in the column; it flowed onward
quietly, eagerly, and with business-like precision; it gave forth no
sound but the trampling of feet and the muttering of the officers,
"Steady, men! Forward, men!"

The Confederates, however, had got their range. A half minute later
four puffs of smoke dotted the ridge, and a flight of hoarse humming
shrieks tore the air. A little aureole cracked and splintered over the
First, followed by loud cries of anguish and a brief, slight confusion.
The voice of an officer rose sharply out of the flurry, "Close up,
Company A! Forward, men!" The battalion column resumed its even
formation in an instant, and tramped unitedly onward, leaving behind it
two quivering corpses and a wounded man who tottered rearward.

Then came more screeches, and a shell exploded over the highroad,
knocking a gunner lifeless from his carriage. The brigade commander
glanced anxiously along his batteries, and addressed a few words to his
chief of artillery. Presently the four Napoleons set forward at a
gallop for the wood, while the four Parrotts wheeled to the right,
deployed, and advanced across the fields, inclining toward the left of
the enemy. Next, Taylor's regiment (the Eighth) halted, fronted, faced
to the right, and filed off in column of march at a double-quick until
it had gained the rear of the Parrotts, when it fronted again, and
pushed on in support. A quarter of a mile further on these guns went
into battery behind the brow of a little knoll, and opened fire. Four
companies of the Eighth spread out to the right as skirmishers, and
commenced stealing toward the ridge, from time to time measuring the
distance with rifle-balls. The remainder of the regiment lay down in
line between the Parrotts and the forest. Far away to the right, five
companies of cavalry showed themselves, manoeuvring as if they proposed
to turn the left flank of the Southerners. The attack on this side was
in form and in operation.

Meantime the Confederate fire had divided. Two guns pounded away at
Taylor's feint, while two shelled the main column. The latter was
struck repeatedly; more than twenty men dropped silent or groaning out
of the hurrying files; but the survivors pushed on without faltering
and without even caring for the wounded. At last a broad belt of green
branches rose between the regiments and the ridge; and the rebel
gunners, unable to see their foe, dropped suddenly into silence.

Here it appeared that the road divided. The highway traversed the
forest, mounted the slope beyond and dissected the enemy's position,
while a branch road turned to the left and skirted the exterior of the
long curve of wooded hillocks. At the fork the battery of Napoleons had
halted, and there it was ordered to remain for the present in quiet.
There, too, the Fourteenth filed in among the dense greenery, threw out
two companies of skirmishers toward the ridge, and pushed slowly after
them into the shadows.

"Get sight of the enemy at once!" was Waldron's last word to
Gildersleeve. "If they move down the slope, drive them back. But don't
commence your attack under half an hour."

Next he filed the Fifth into the thickets, saying to Colburn, "I want
you to halt a hundred yards to the left and rear of Gildersleeve. Cover
his flank if he is attacked; but otherwise lie quiet. As soon as he
charges, move forward to the edge of the wood, and be ready to support
him. But make no assault yourself until further orders."

The next two regiments--the Seventh and First--he placed in _echelon_,
in like manner, a quarter of a mile further along. Then he galloped
forward to the cavalry, and a last word with Stilton. "You and Gahogan
must take care of yourselves. Push on four or five hundred yards, and
then face to the right. Whatever Gahogan finds let him go at it. If he
can't shake it, help him. You two _must_ reach the top of the ridge.
Only, look out for your left flank. Keep a squadron or two in reserve
on that side."

"Currnel, if we don't raich the top of the hill, it'll be because it
hasn't got wan," answered Gahogan. Stilton only laughed and rode
forward.

Waldron now returned toward the fork of the road. On the way he sent a
staff officer to the Seventh with renewed orders to attack as soon as
possible after Gildersleeve. Then another staff officer was hurried
forward to Taylor with directions to push his feint strongly, and drive
his skirmishers as far up the slope as they could get. A third staff
officer set the Parrotts in rear of Taylor to firing with all their
might. By the time that the commandant had returned to Colburn's
ambushed ranks, no one was with him but his enemy, Fitz Hugh.

"You don't seem to trust me With duty, Colonel," said the young man.

"I shall use you only in case of extremity, Captain," replied Waldron.
"We have business to settle tomorrow."

"I ask no favors on that account. I hope you will offer me none."

"In case of need I shall spare no one," declared Waldron.

Then he took out his watch, looked at it impatiently, put it to his
ear, restored it to his pocket, and fell into an attitude of deep
attention. Evidently his whole mind was on his battle, and he was
waiting, watching, yearning for its outburst.

"If he wins this fight," thought Fitz Hugh, "how can I do him a harm?
And yet," he added, "how can I help it?"

Minutes passed. Fitz Hugh tried to think of his injury, and to steel
himself against his chief. But the roar of battle on the right, and the
suspense and imminence of battle on the left, absorbed the attention of
even this wounded and angry spirit, as, indeed, they might have
absorbed that of any being not more or less than human. A private
wrong, insupportable though it might be, seemed so small amid that
deadly clamor and awful expectation! Moreover, the intellect which
worked so calmly and vigorously by his side, and which alone of all
things near appeared able to rule the coming crisis, began to dominate
him, in spite of his sense of injury. A thought crossed him to the
effect that the great among men are too valuable to be punished for
their evil deeds. He turned to the absorbed brigade commander, now not
only his ruler, but even his protector, with a feeling that he must
accord him a word of peace, a proffer in some form of possible
forgiveness and friendship. But the man's face was clouded and stern
with responsibility and authority. He seemed at that moment too lofty
to be approached with a message of pardon. Fitz Hugh gazed at him with
a mixture of profound respect and smothered hate. He gazed, turned
away, and remained silent.

Minutes more passed. Then a mounted orderly dashed up at full speed,
with the words, "Colonel, Major Gahogan has fronted."

"Has he?" answered Waldron, with a smile which thanked the trooper and
made him happy. "Ride on through the thicket here, my man, and tell
Colonel Gildersleeve to push up his skirmishers."

With a thud of hoofs and a rustling of parting foliage the cavalryman
disappeared amid the underwood. A minute or two later a thin, dropping
rattle of musketry, five hundred yards or so to the front, announced
that the sharpshooters of the Fourteenth were at work. Almost
immediately there was an angry response, full of the threatenings and
execution of death. Through the lofty leafage tore the screech of a
shell, bursting with a sharp crash as it passed overhead, and
scattering in humming slivers. Then came another, and another, and many
more, chasing each other with hoarse hissings through the trembling
air, a succession of flying serpents. The enemy doubtless believed that
nearly the whole attacking force was massed in the wood around the
road, and they had brought at least four guns to bear upon that point,
and were working them with the utmost possible rapidity. Presently a
large chestnut, not fifty yards from Fitz Hugh was struck by a shot.
The solid trunk, nearly three feet in diameter, parted asunder as if it
were the brittlest of vegetable matter. The upper portion started aside
with a monstrous groan, dropped in a standing posture to the earth, and
then toppled slowly, sublimely prostrate, its branches crashing and all
its leaves wailing. Ere long, a little further to the front, another
Anak of the forest went down; and, mingled with the noise of its sylvan
agony, there arose sharp cries of human suffering. Then Colonel
Colburn, a broad-chested and ruddy man of thirty-five, with a look of
indignant anxiety in his iron-gray eyes, rode up to the brigade
commander.

"This is very annoying, Colonel," he said. "I am losing my men without
using them. That last tree fell into my command."

"Are they firing toward our left?" asked Waldron. "Not a shot."

"Very good," said the chief, with a sigh of contentment. "If we can
only keep them occupied in this direction! By the way, let your men lie
down under the fallen tree, as far as it will go. It will protect them
from others."

Colburn rode back to his regiment. Waldron looked impatiently at his
watch. At that moment a fierce burst of line firing arose in front,
followed and almost overborne by a long-drawn yell, the scream of
charging men. Waldron put up his watch, glanced excitedly at Fitz Hugh,
and smiled.

"I must forgive or forget," the latter could not help saying to
himself. "All the rest of life is nothing compared with this."

"Captain," said Waldron, "ride off to the left at full speed. As soon
as you hear firing at the shoulder of the ridge, return instantly and
let me know."

Fitz Hugh dashed away. Three minutes carried him into perfect peace,
beyond the whistling of ball or the screeching of shell. On the right
was a tranquil, wide waving of foliage, and on the left a serene
landscape of cultivated fields, with here and there an embowered
farm-house. Only for the clamor of artillery and musketry far behind
him, he could not have believed in the near presence of battle, of
blood and suffering and triumphant death. But suddenly he heard to his
right, assaulting and slaughtering the tranquillity of nature, a
tumultuous outbreak of file firing, mingled with savage yells. He
wheeled, drove spurs into his horse, and flew back to Waldron. As he
re-entered the wood he met wounded men streaming through it, a few
marching alertly upright, many more crouching and groaning, some
clinging to their less injured comrades, but all haggard in face and
ghastly.

"Are we winning?" he hastily asked of one man who held up a hand with
three fingers gone and the bones projecting in sharp spikes through
mangled flesh.

"All right, sir; sailing in," was the answer.

"Is the brigade commander all right?" he inquired of another who was
winding a bloody handkerchief around his arm.

"Straight ahead, sir; hurrah for Waldron!" responded the soldier, and
almost in the same instant fell lifeless with a fresh ball through his
head.

"Hurrah for him!" Fitz Hugh answered frantically, plunging on through
the underwood. He found Waldron with Colburn, the two conversing
tranquilly in their saddles amid hissing bullets and dropping branches.

"Move your regiment forward now," the brigade commander was saying;
"but halt it in the edge of the wood."

"Shan't I relieve Gildersleeve if he gets beaten?" asked the
subordinate officer eagerly.

"No. The regiments on the left will help him out. I want your men and
Peck's for the fight on top of the hill. Of course the rebels will try
to retake it; then I shall call for you."

Fitz Hugh now approached and said, "Colonel, the Seventh has attacked
in force."

"Good!" answered Waldron, with that sweet smile of his which thanked
people who brought him pleasant news. "I thought I heard his fire.
Gahogan will be on their right rear in ten minutes. Then we shall get
the ridge. Ride back now to Major Bradley, and tell him to bring his
Napoleons through the wood, and set two of them to shelling the enemy's
centre. Tell him my idea is to amuse them, and keep them from changing
front."

Again Fitz Hugh galloped off as before on a comfortably safe errand,
safer at all events than many errands of that day. "This man is sparing
my life," he said to himself. "Would to God I knew how to spare his!"

He found Bradley lunching on a gun caisson, and delivered his orders.
"Something to do at last, eh?" laughed the rosy-cheeked youngster. "The
smallest favors thankfully received. Won't you take a bite of rebel
chicken, Captain? This rebellion must be put down. No? Well, tell the
Colonel I am moving on, and John Brown's soul not far ahead."

When Fitz Hugh returned to Waldron he found him outside of the wood, at
the base of the long incline which rose into the rebel position. About
the slope were scattered prostrate forms, most numerous near the
bottom, some crawling slowly rearward, some quiescent. Under the brow
of the ridge, decimated and broken into a mere skirmish line sheltered
in knots and singly, behind rocks and knolls and bushes, lay the
Fourteenth Regiment, keeping up a steady, slow fire. From the edge
above, smokily dim against a pure, blue heaven, answered another rattle
of musketry, incessant, obstinate, and spiteful. The combatants on both
sides were lying down; otherwise neither party could have lasted ten
minutes. From Fitz Hugh's point of view not a Confederate uniform could
be seen. But the smoke of their rifles made a long gray line, which was
disagreeably visible and permanent; and the sharp _whit! whit!_ of
their bullets continually passed him, and cheeped away in the leafage
behind.

"Our men can't get on another inch," he ventured say to his commander.
"Wouldn't it be well for me to ride up and say a cheering word?"

"Every battle consists largely in waiting," replied Waldron
thoughtfully. "They have undoubtedly brought up a reserve to face
Thomas. But when Gahogan strikes the flank of the reserve, we shall
win."

"I wish you would take shelter," begged Fitz Hugh. "Everything depends
on your life."

"My life has been both a help and a hurt to my fellow-creatures,"
sighed the brigade commander. "Let come what will to it."

He glanced upward with an expression of profound emotion; he was
evidently fighting two battles, an outward and an inward one.

Presently he added, "I think the musketry is increasing on the left.
Does it strike you so?"

He was all eagerness again, leaning forward with an air of earnest
listening, his face deeply flushed and his eye brilliant. Of a sudden
the combat above rose and swelled into higher violence. There was a
clamor far away--it seemed nearly a mile away--over the hill. Then the
nearer musketry--first Thomas's on the shoulder of the ridge, next
Gildersleeve's in front--caught fire and raged with new fury.

Waldron laughed outright. "Gahogan has reached them," he said to one of
his staff who had just rejoined him. "We shall all be up there in five
minutes. Tell Colburn to bring on his regiment slowly."

Then, turning to Fitz Hugh, he added, "Captain, we will ride forward."

They set off at a walk, now watching the smoking brow of the eminence,
now picking their way among dead and wounded. Suddenly there was a
shout above them and a sudden diminution of the firing; and looking
upward they saw the men of the Fourteenth running confusedly toward the
summit. Without a word the brigade commander struck spurs into his
horse and dashed up the long slope at a run, closely followed by his
enemy and aid. What they saw when they overtook the straggling,
running, panting, screaming pell-mell of the Fourteenth was victory!

The entire right wing of the Confederates, attacked on three sides at
once, placed at enormous disadvantage, completely outgeneraled, had
given way in confusion, was retreating, breaking, and flying. There
were lines yet of dirty gray or butternut; but they were few, meagre,
fluctuating, and recoiling, and there were scattered and scurrying men
in hundreds. Three veteran and gallant regiments had gone all to wreck
under the shock of three similar regiments far more intelligently
directed. A strong position had been lost because the heroes who held
it could not perform the impossible feat of forming successively two
fresh fronts under a concentric fire of musketry. The inferior brain
power had confessed the superiority of the stronger one.

On the victorious side there was wild, clamorous, fierce exultation.
The hurrying, shouting, firing soldiers, who noted their commander
riding among them, swung their rifles or their tattered hats at him,
and screamed "Hurrah!" No one thought of the Confederate dead
underfoot, nor of the Union dead who dotted the slope behind. "What are
you here for, Colonel?" shouted rough old Gildersleeve, one leg of his
trousers dripping blood. "We can do it alone."

"It is a battle won," laughed Fitz Hugh, almost worshiping the man whom
he had come to slay.

"It is a battle won, but not used," answered Waldron. "We haven't a gun
yet, nor a flag. Where is the cavalry? Why isn't Stilton here? He must
have got afoul of the enemy's horse, and been obliged to beat it off.
Can anybody hear anything of Stilton?"

"Let him go," roared Old Crumps. "The infantry don't want any help."

"Your regiment has suffered, Colonel," answered Waldron, glancing at
the scattered files of the Fourteenth. "Halt it and reorganize it, and
let it fall in with the right of the First when Peck comes up. I shall
replace you with the Fifth. Send your Adjutant back to Colburn and tell
him to hurry along. Those fellows are making a new front over there,"
he added, pointing to the centre of the hill. "I want the Fifth,
Seventh and Tenth in _echelon_ as quickly as possible. And I want that
cavalry. Lieutenant," turning to one of his staff, "ride off to the
left and find Colonel Stilton. Tell him that I need a charge in ten
minutes."

Presently cannon opened from that part of the ridge still held by the
Confederates, the shell tearing through or over the dissolving groups
of their right wing, and cracking viciously above the heads of the
victorious Unionists. The explosions followed each other with stunning
rapidity, and the shrill whirring of the splinters was ominous. Men
began to fall again in the ranks or to drop out of them wounded. Of all
this Waldron took no further note than to ride hastily to the brow of
the ridge and look for his own artillery.

"See how he attinds to iverything himself," said Major Gahogan, who had
cantered up to the side of Fitz Hugh. "It's just a matther of plain
business, an' he looks after it loike a business man. Did ye see us,
though, Captin, whin we come in on their right flank? By George, we
murthered um. There's more'n a hundred lyin' in hapes back there. As
for old Stilton, I just caught sight of um behind that wood to our
left, an' he's makin' for the enemy's right rair. He'll have lots o'
prisoners in half an hour."

When Waldron returned to the group he was told of his cavalry's
whereabouts, and responded to the information with a smile of
satisfaction.

"Bradley is hurrying up," he said, "and Taylor is pushing their left
smartly. They will make one more tussle to recover their line of
retreat; but we shall smash them from end to end and take every gun."

He galloped now to his infantry, and gave the word "Forward!" The three
regiments which composed the _echelon_ were the Fifth on the right, the
Seventh fifty yards to the rear and left of the Fifth, the Tenth to the
rear and left of the Seventh. It was behind the Fifth, that is the
foremost battalion, that the brigade commander posted himself.

"Do _you_ mean to stay here, Colonel?" asked Fitz Hugh, in surprise and
anxiety.

"It is a certain victory now," answered Waldron, with a singular glance
upward. "My life is no longer important. I prefer to do my duty to the
utmost in the sight of all men."

"I shall follow you and do mine, sir," said the Captain, much moved, he
could scarcely say by what emotions, they were so many and conflicting.

"I want you otherwheres. Ride to Colonel Taylor at once, and hurry him
up the hill. Tell him the enemy have greatly weakened their left. Tell
him to push up everything, infantry, and cavalry, and artillery, and to
do it in haste."

"Colonel, this is saving my life against my will," remonstrated Fitz
Hugh.

"Go!" ordered Waldron, imperiously. "Time is precious."

Fitz Hugh dashed down the slope to the right at a gallop. The brigade
commander turned tranquilly, and followed the march of his _echelon_.
The second and decisive crisis of the little battle was approaching,
and to understand it we must glance at the ground on which it was to be
fought. Two hostile lines were marching toward each other along the
broad, gently rounded crest of the hill and at right angles to its
general course. Between these lines, but much the nearest to the Union
troops, a spacious road came up out of the forest in front, crossed the
ridge, swept down the smooth decline in rear, and led to a single
wooden bridge over a narrow but deep rivulet. On either hand the road
was hedged in by a close board fence, four feet or so in height. It was
for the possession of this highway that the approaching lines were
about to shed their blood. If the Confederates failed to win it all
their artillery would be lost, and their army captured or dispersed.

The two parties came on without firing. The soldiers on both sides were
veterans, cool, obedient to orders, intelligent through long service,
and able to reserve all their resources for a short-range and final
struggle. Moreover, the fences as yet partially hid them from each
other, and would have rendered all aim for the present vague and
uncertain.

"Forward, Fifth!" shouted Waldron. "Steady. Reserve your fire." Then,
as the regiment came up to the fence, he added, "Halt; right dress.
Steady, men."

Meantime he watched the advancing array with an eager gaze. It was a
noble sight, full of moral sublimity, and worthy of all admiration. The
long, lean, sunburned, weather-beaten soldiers in ragged gray stepped
forward, superbly, their ranks loose, but swift and firm, the men
leaning forward in their haste, their tattered slouch hats pushed
backward, their whole aspect business-like and virile. Their line was
three battalions strong, far outflanking the Fifth, and at least equal
to the entire _echelon_. When within thirty or forty yards of the
further fence they increased their pace to nearly a double-quick, many
of them stooping low in hunter fashion, and a few firing. Then Waldron
rose in his stirrups and yelled, "Battalion! ready--aim--aim low.
Fire!"

There was a stunning roar of three hundred and fifty rifles, and a
deadly screech of bullets. But the smoke rolled out, the haste to
reload was intense, and none could mark what execution was done.
Whatever the Confederates may have suffered, they bore up under the
volley, and they came on. In another minute each of those fences, not
more than twenty-five yards apart, was lined by the shattered fragment
of a regiment, each firing as fast as possible into the face of the
other. The Fifth bled fearfully: it had five of its ten company
commanders shot dead in three minutes; and its loss in other officers
and in men fell scarcely short of this terrible ratio. On its left the
Seventh and the Tenth were up, pouring in musketry, and receiving it in
a fashion hardly less sanguinary. No one present had ever seen, or ever
afterward saw, such another close and deadly contest.

But the strangest thing in this whole wonderful fight was the conduct
of the brigade commander. Up and down the rear of the lacerated Fifth
Waldron rode thrice, spurring his plunging and wounded horse close to
the yelling and fighting file-closers, and shouting in a piercing voice
encouragement to his men. Stranger still, considering the character
which he had borne in the army, and considering the evil deed for which
he was to account on the morrow, were the words which he was distinctly
and repeatedly heard to utter. "Stand steady, men--God is with us!" was
the extraordinary battle-cry of this backslidden clergyman, this sinner
above many.

And it was a prophecy of victory. Bradley ran up his Napoleons on the
right in the nick of time, and, although only one of them could be
brought to bear, it was enough; the grape raked the Confederate left,
broke it, and the battle was over. In five minutes more their whole
array was scattered, and the entire position open to galloping cavalry,
seizing guns, standards, and prisoners.

It was in the very moment of triumph, just as the stubborn Southern
line reeled back from the fence in isolated clusters, that the
miraculous immunity of Waldron terminated, and he received his death
wound. A quarter of an hour later Fitz Hugh found a sorrowful group of
officers gazing from a little distance upon their dying commander.

"Is the Colonel hit?" he asked, shocked and grieved, incredible as the
emotion may seem.

"Don't go near him," called Gildersleeve, who, it will be remembered,
knew or guessed his errand in camp. "The chaplain and surgeon are
there. Let him alone."

"He's going to render his account," added Gahogan. "An' whativer he's
done wrong, he's made it square to-day. Let um lave it to his brigade."

Adjutant Wallis, who had been blubbering aloud, who had cursed the
rebels and the luck energetically, and who had also been trying to pray
inwardly, groaned out, "This is our last victory. You see if it ain't.
Bet you, two to one."

"Hush, man!" replied Gahogan. "We'll win our share of urn, though we'll
have to work harder for it. We'll have to do more ourselves, an' get
less done for us in the way of tactics."

"That's so, Major," whimpered a drummer, looking up from his duty of
attending to a wounded comrade. "He knowed how to put his men in the
right place, and his men knowed when they was in the right place. But
it's goin' to be uphill through the steepest part of hell the rest of
the way."

Soldiers, some of them weeping, some of them bleeding, arrived
constantly to inquire after their commander, only to be sent quietly
back to their ranks or to the rear. Around lay other men--dead men, and
senseless, groaning men--all for the present unnoticed. Everything,
except the distant pursuit of the cavalry, waited for Waldron to die.
Fitz Hugh looked on silently with the tears of mingled emotions in his
eyes, and with hopes and hatreds expiring in his heart. The surgeon
supported the expiring victor's head, while Chaplain Colquhoun knelt
beside him, holding his hand and praying audibly. Of a sudden the
petition ceased, both bent hastily toward the wounded man, and after
what seemed a long time exchanged whispers. Then the Chaplain rose,
came slowly toward the now advancing group of officers, his hands
outspread toward heaven in an attitude of benediction, and tears
running down his haggard white face.

"I trust, dear friends," he said, in a tremulous voice, "that all is
well with our brother and commander. His last words were, 'God is with
us.'"

"Oh! but, man, _that_ isn't well," broke out Gahogan, in a groan. "What
did ye pray for his soul for? Why didn't ye pray for his loife?"

Fitz Hugh turned his horse and rode silently away. The next day he was
seen journeying rearward by the side of an ambulance, within which lay
what seemed a strangely delicate boy, insensible, and, one would say,
mortally ill.



WHO WAS SHE?
-------------
BY BAYARD TAYLOR



_James Bayard Taylor (born at Kennett Square, Pa., in 1825; died in
1878) was probably in his day the best American example of the
all-round literary craftsman. He was poet, novelist, journalist, writer
of books of travel, translator, and, in general, magazine writer. Says
Albert H. Smith in the volume on Taylor in the "American Men of
Letters" series: "He was a man of talent, and master of the mechanics
of his craft. On all sides he touched the life of his time." Henry A.
Beers, in his "Initial Studies in American Letters," says that in his
short stories, as in his novels, "Taylor's pictorial skill is greater,
on the whole, than his power of creating characters or inventing
plots." In the present selection, however, he has both conceived an
original type of character in the mysterious heroine, and invented an
ingenious situation, if not plot, and so, in one instance at least, has
achieved a short story classic._



WHO WAS SHE?
BY BAYARD TAYLOR
[Footnote: Reprinted by permission. From "The Atlantic Monthly" for
September, 1874.]


Come, now, there may as well be an end of this! Every time I meet your
eyes squarely, I detect the question just slipping out of them. If you
had spoken it, or even boldly looked it; if you had shown in your
motions the least sign of a fussy or fidgety concern on my account; if
this were not the evening of my birthday, and you the only friend who
remembered it; if confession were not good for the soul, though harder
than sin to some people, of whom I am one--well, if all reasons were
not at this instant converged into a focus, and burning me rather
violently, in that region where the seat of emotion is supposed to lie,
I should keep my trouble to myself. Yes, I have fifty times had it on
my mind to tell you the whole story. But who can be certain that his
best friend will not smile--or, what is worse, cherish a kind of
charitable pity ever afterward--when the external forms of a very
serious kind of passion seem trivial, fantastic, foolish? And the worst
of all is that the heroic part which I imagined I was playing proves to
have been almost the reverse. The only comfort which I can find in my
humiliation is that I am capable of feeling it. There isn't a bit of a
paradox in this, as you will see; but I only mention it, now, to
prepare you for, maybe, a little morbid sensitiveness of my moral
nerves.

The documents are all in this portfolio under my elbow. I had just read
them again completely through when you were announced. You may examine
them as you like afterward: for the present, fill your glass, take
another Cabana, and keep silent until my "ghastly tale" has reached its
most lamentable conclusion.

The beginning of it was at Wampsocket Springs, three years ago last
summer. I suppose most unmarried men who have reached, or passed, the
age of thirty--and I was then thirty-three--experience a milder return
of their adolescent warmth, a kind of fainter second spring, since the
first has not fulfilled its promise. Of course, I wasn't clearly
conscious of this at the time: who is? But I had had my youthful
passion and my tragic disappointment, as you know: I had looked far
enough into what Thackeray used to call the cryptic mysteries to save
me from the Scylla of dissipation, and yet preserved enough of natural
nature to keep me out of the Pharisaic Charyb-dis. My devotion to my
legal studies had already brought me a mild distinction; the paternal
legacy was a good nest-egg for the incubation of wealth--in short, I
was a fair, respectable "party," desirable to the humbler mammas, and
not to be despised by the haughty exclusives.

The fashionable hotel at the Springs holds three hundred, and it was
packed. I had meant to lounge there for a fortnight and then finish my
holidays at Long Branch; but eighty, at least, out of the three hundred
were young and moved lightly in muslin. With my years and experience I
felt so safe that to walk, talk, or dance with them became simply a
luxury, such as I had never--at least so freely--possessed before. My
name and standing, known to some families, were agreeably exaggerated
to the others, and I enjoyed that supreme satisfaction which a man
always feels when he discovers, or imagines, that he is popular in
society. There is a kind of premonitory apology implied in my saying
this, I am aware. You must remember that I am culprit, and culprit's
counsel, at the same time.

You have never been at Wampsocket? Well, the hills sweep around in a
crescent, on the northern side, and four or five radiating glens,
descending from them, unite just above the village. The central one,
leading to a waterfall (called "Minne-hehe" by the irreverent young
people, because there is so little of it), is the fashionable drive and
promenade; but the second ravine on the left, steep, crooked, and
cumbered with bowlders which have tumbled from somewhere and lodged in
the most extraordinary groupings, became my favorite walk of a morning.
There was a footpath in it, well-trodden at first, but gradually fading
out as it became more like a ladder than a path, and I soon discovered
that no other city feet than mine were likely to scale a certain rough
slope which seemed the end of the ravine. With the aid of the tough
laurel-stems I climbed to the top, passed through a cleft as narrow as
a doorway, and presently found myself in a little upper dell, as wild
and sweet and strange as one of the pictures that haunts us on the
brink of sleep.

There was a pond--no, rather a bowl--of water in the centre; hardly
twenty yards across, yet the sky in it was so pure and far down that
the circle of rocks and summer foliage inclosing it seemed like a
little planetary ring, floating off alone through space. I can't
explain the charm of the spot, nor the selfishness which instantly
suggested that I should keep the discovery to myself. Ten years earlier
I should have looked around for some fair spirit to be my "minister,"
but now--

One forenoon--I think it was the third or fourth time I had visited the
place--I was startled to find the dent of a heel in the earth, half-way
up the slope. There had been rain during the night and the earth was
still moist and soft. It was the mark of a woman's boot, only to be
distinguished from that of a walking-stick by its semicircular form. A
little higher, I found the outline of a foot, not so small as to awake
an ecstasy, but with a suggestion of lightness, elasticity, and grace.
If hands were thrust through holes in a board-fence, and nothing of the
attached bodies seen, I can easily imagine that some would attract and
others repel us: with footprints the impression is weaker, of course,
but we can not escape it. I am not sure whether I wanted to find the
unknown wearer of the boot within my precious personal solitude: I was
afraid I should see her, while passing through the rocky crevice, and
yet was disappointed when I found no one.

But on the flat, warm rock overhanging the tarn--my special throne--lay
some withering wild-flowers and a book! I looked up and down, right and
left: there was not the slightest sign of another human life than mine.
Then I lay down for a quarter of an hour, and listened: there were only
the noises of bird and squirrel, as before. At last, I took up the
book, the flat breadth of which suggested only sketches. There were,
indeed, some tolerable studies of rocks and trees on the first pages; a
few not very striking caricatures, which seemed to have been commenced
as portraits, but recalled no faces I knew; then a number of
fragmentary notes, written in pencil. I found no name, from first to
last; only, under the sketches, a monogram so complicated and laborious
that the initials could hardly be discovered unless one already knew
them.

The writing was a woman's, but it had surely taken its character from
certain features of her own: it was clear, firm, individual. It had
nothing of that air of general debility which usually marks the
manuscript of young ladies, yet its firmness was far removed from the
stiff, conventional slope which all Englishwomen seem to acquire in
youth and retain through life. I don't see how any man in my situation
could have helped reading a few lines--if only for the sake of
restoring lost property. But I was drawn on, and on, and finished by
reading all: thence, since no further harm could be done, I reread,
pondering over certain passages until they stayed with me. Here they
are, as I set them down, that evening, on the back of a legal blank:

"It makes a great deal of difference whether we wear social forms as
bracelets or handcuffs."

"Can we not still be wholly our independent selves, even while doing,
in the main, as others do? I know two who are so; but they are
married."

"The men who admire these bold, dashing young girls treat them like
weaker copies of themselves. And yet they boast of what they call
'experience'!"

"I wonder if any one felt the exquisite beauty of the noon as I did
to-day? A faint appreciation of sunsets and storms is taught us in
youth, and kept alive by novels and flirtations; but the broad,
imperial splendor of this summer noon!--and myself standing alone in
it---yes, utterly alone!"

"The men I seek must exist: where are they? How make an acquaintance,
when one obsequiously bows himself away, as I advance? The fault is
surely not all on my side."

There was much more, intimate enough to inspire me with a keen interest
in the writer, yet not sufficiently so to make my perusal a painful
indiscretion. I yielded to the impulse of the moment, took out my
pencil, and wrote a dozen lines on one of the blank pages. They ran
something in this wise:

"IGNOTUS IGNOTAE!--You have bestowed without intending it, and I have
taken without your knowledge. Do not regret the accident which has
enriched another. This concealed idyl of the hills was mine, as I
supposed, but I acknowledge your equal right to it. Shall we share the
possession, or will you banish me?"

There was a frank advance, tempered by a proper caution, I fancied, in
the words I wrote. It was evident that she was unmarried, but outside
of that certainty there lay a vast range of possibilities, some of them
alarming enough. However, if any nearer acquaintance should arise out
of the incident, the next step must be taken by her. Was I one of the
men she sought? I almost imagined so--certainly hoped so.

I laid the book on the rock, as I had found it, bestowed another keen
scrutiny on the lonely landscape, and then descended the ravine. That
evening, I went early to the ladies' parlor, chatted more than usual
with the various damsels whom I knew, and watched with a new interest
those whom I knew not. My mind, involuntarily, had already created a
picture of the unknown. She might be twenty-five, I thought; a
reflective habit of mind would hardly be developed before that age.
Tall and stately, of course; distinctly proud in her bearing, and
somewhat reserved in her manners. Why she should have large dark eyes,
with long dark lashes, I could not tell; but so I seemed to see her.
Quite forgetting that I was (or had meant to be) _Ignotus_, I found
myself staring rather significantly at one or the other of the young
ladies, in whom I discovered some slight general resemblance to the
imaginary character. My fancies, I must confess, played strange pranks
with me. They had been kept in a coop so many years that now, when I
suddenly turned them loose, their rickety attempts at flight quite
bewildered me.

No! there was no use in expecting a sudden discovery. I went to the
glen betimes, next morning: the book was gone and so were the faded
flowers, but some of the latter were scattered over the top of another
rock, a few yards from mine. Ha! this means that I am not to withdraw,
I said to myself: she makes room for me! But how to surprise her?--for
by this time I was fully resolved to make her acquaintance, even though
she might turn out to be forty, scraggy, and sandy-haired.

I knew no other way so likely as that of visiting the glen at all times
of the day. I even went so far as to write a line of greeting, with a
regret that our visits had not yet coincided, and laid it under a stone
on the top of _her_ rock. The note disappeared, but there was no answer
in its place. Then I suddenly remembered her fondness for the noon
hours, at which time she was "utterly alone." The hotel _table d'hote_
Avas at one o'clock: her family, doubtless, dined later, in their own
rooms. Why, this gave me, at least, her place in society! The question
of age, to be sure, remained unsettled; but all else was safe.

The next day I took a late and large breakfast, and sacrificed my
dinner. Before noon the guests had all straggled back to the hotel from
glen and grove and lane, so bright and hot was the sunshine. Indeed, I
could hardly have supported the reverberation of heat from the sides of
the ravine, but for a fixed belief that I should be successful. While
crossing the narrow meadow upon which it opened, I caught a glimpse of
something white among the thickets higher up. A moment later it had
vanished, and I quickened my pace, feeling the beginning of an absurd
nervous excitement in my limbs. At the next turn, there it was again!
but only for another moment. I paused, exulting, and wiped my drenched
forehead. "She can not escape me!" I murmured between the deep draughts
of cooler air I inhaled in the shadow of a rock.

A few hundred steps more brought me to the foot of the steep ascent,
where I had counted on overtaking her. I was too late for that, but the
dry, baked soil had surely been crumbled and dislodged, here and there,
by a rapid foot. I followed, in reckless haste, snatching at the laurel
branches right and left, and paying little heed to my footing. About
one-third of the way up I slipped, fell, caught a bush which snapped at
the root, slid, whirled over, and before I fairly knew what had
happened, I was lying doubled up at the bottom of the slope.

I rose, made two steps forward, and then sat down with a groan of pain;
my left ankle was badly sprained, in addition to various minor
scratches and bruises. There was a revulsion of feeling, of course--
instant, complete, and hideous. I fairly hated the Unknown. "Fool that
I was!" I exclaimed, in the theatrical manner, dashing the palm of my
hand softly against my brow: "lured to this by the fair traitress! But,
no!--not fair: she shows the artfulness of faded, desperate
spinsterhood; she is all compact of enamel, 'liquid bloom of youth' and
hair dye!"

There was a fierce comfort in this thought, but it couldn't help me out
of the scrape. I dared not sit still, lest a sunstroke should be added,
and there was no resource but to hop or crawl down the rugged path, in
the hope of finding a forked sapling from which I could extemporize a
crutch. With endless pain and trouble I reached a thicket, and was
feebly working on a branch with my pen-knife, when the sound of a heavy
footstep surprised me.

A brown harvest-hand, in straw hat and shirtsleeves, presently
appeared. He grinned when he saw me, and the thick snub of his nose
would have seemed like a sneer at any other time.

"Are you the gentleman that got hurt?" he asked. "Is it pretty
tolerable bad?"

"Who said I was hurt?" I cried, in astonishment.

"One of your town-women from the hotel--I reckon she was. I was binding
oats, in the field over the ridge; but I haven't lost no time in comin'
here."

While I was stupidly staring at this announcement, he whipped out a big
clasp-knife, and in a few minutes fashioned me a practicable crutch.
Then, taking me by the other arm, he set me in motion toward the
village.

Grateful as I was for the man's help, he aggravated me by his
ignorance. When I asked if he knew the lady, he answered: "It's more'n
likely _you_ know her better." But where did she come from? Down from
the hill, he guessed, but it might ha' been up the road. How did she
look? was she old or young? what was the color of her eyes? of her
hair? There, now, I was too much for him. When a woman kept one o' them
speckled veils over her face, turned her head away, and held her
parasol between, how were you to know her from Adam? I declare to you,
I couldn't arrive at one positive particular. Even when he affirmed
that she was tall, he added, the next instant: "Now I come to think on
it, she stepped mighty quick; so I guess she must ha' been short."

By the time we reached the hotel, I was in a state of fever; opiates
and lotions had their will of me for the rest of the day. I was glad to
escape the worry of questions, and the conventional sympathy expressed
in inflections of the voice which are meant to soothe, and only
exasperate. The next morning, as I lay upon my sofa, restful, patient,
and properly cheerful, the waiter entered with a bouquet of wild
flowers.

"Who sent them?" I asked.

"I found them outside your door, sir. Maybe there's a card; yes, here's
a bit o' paper."

I opened the twisted slip he handed me, and read: "From your dell--and
mine." I took the flowers; among them were two or three rare and
beautiful varieties which I had only found in that one spot. Fool,
again! I noiselessly kissed, while pretending to smell them, had them
placed on a stand within reach, and fell into a state of quiet and
agreeable contemplation.

Tell me, yourself, whether any male human being is ever too old for
sentiment, provided that it strikes him at the right time and in the
right way! What did that bunch of wild flowers betoken? Knowledge,
first; then, sympathy; and finally, encouragement, at least. Of course
she had seen my accident, from above; of course she had sent the
harvest laborer to aid me home. It was quite natural she should imagine
some special, romantic interest in the lonely dell, on my part, and the
gift took additional value from her conjecture.

Four days afterward, there was a hop in the large dining-room of the
hotel. Early in the morning, a fresh bouquet had been left at my door.
I was tired of my enforced idleness, eager to discover the fair unknown
(she was again fair, to my fancy!), and I determined to go down,
believing that a cane and a crimson velvet slipper on the left foot
would provoke a glance of sympathy from certain eyes, and thus enable
me to detect them.

The fact was, the sympathy was much too general and effusive.
Everybody, it seemed, came to me with kindly greetings; seats were
vacated at my approach, even fat Mrs. Huxter insisting on my taking her
warm place, at the head of the room. But Bob Leroy--you know him--as
gallant a gentleman as ever lived, put me down at the right point, and
kept me there. He only meant to divert me, yet gave me the only place
where I could quietly inspect all the younger ladies, as dance or
supper brought them near.

One of the dances was an old-fashioned cotillon, and one of the
figures, the "coquette," brought every one, in turn, before me. I
received a pleasant word or two from those whom I knew, and a long,
kind, silent glance from Miss May Danvers. Where had been my eyes? She
was tall, stately, twenty-five, had large dark eyes, and long dark
lashes! Again the changes of the dance brought her near me; I threw (or
strove to throw) unutterable meanings into my eyes, and cast them upon
hers. She seemed startled, looked suddenly away, looked back to me,
and--blushed. I knew her for what is called "a nice girl"--that is,
tolerably frank, gently feminine, and not dangerously intelligent. Was
it possible that I had overlooked so much character and intellect?

As the cotillon closed, she was again in my neighborhood, and her
partner led her in my direction. I was rising painfully from my chair,
when Bob Leroy pushed me down again, whisked another seat from
somewhere, planted it at my side, and there she was!

She knew who was her neighbor, I plainly saw; but instead of turning
toward me, she began to fan herself in a nervous way and to fidget with
the buttons of her gloves. I grew impatient.

"Miss Danvers!" I said, at last.

"Oh!" was all her answer, as she looked at me for a moment.

"Where are your thoughts?" I asked.

Then she turned, with wide, astonished eyes, coloring softly up to the
roots of her hair. My heart gave a sudden leap.

"How can you tell, if I can not?" she asked.

"May I guess?"

She made a slight inclination of the head, saying nothing. I was then
quite sure.

"The second ravine to the left of the main drive?"

This time she actually started; her color became deeper, and a leaf of
the ivory fan snapped between her fingers.

"Let there be no more a secret!" I exclaimed. "Your flowers have
brought me your messages; I knew I should find you--"

Full of certainty, I was speaking in a low, impassioned voice. She cut
me short by rising from her seat; I felt that she was both angry and
alarmed. Fisher, of Philadelphia, jostling right and left in his haste,
made his way toward her. She fairly snatched his arm, clung to it with
a warmth I had never seen expressed in a ballroom, and began to whisper
in his ear. It was not five minutes before he came to me, alone, with a
very stern face, bent down, and said:

"If you have discovered our secret, you will keep silent. You are
certainly a gentleman."

I bowed, coldly and savagely. There was a draught from the open window;
my ankle became suddenly weary and painful, and I went to bed. Can you
believe that I didn't guess, immediately, what it all meant? In a vague
way, I fancied that I had been premature in my attempt to drop our
mutual incognito, and that Fisher, a rival lover, was jealous of me.
This was rather flattering than otherwise; but when I limped down to
the ladies' parlor, the next day, no Miss Danvers was to be seen. I did
not venture to ask for her; it might seem importunate, and a woman of
so much hidden capacity was evidently not to be wooed in the ordinary
way.

So another night passed by; and then, with the morning, came a letter
which made me feel, at the same instant, like a fool and a hero. It had
been dropped in the Wampsocket post-office, was legibly addressed to me
and delivered with some other letters which had arrived by the night
mail. Here it is; listen!

"NOTO IGNOTA!--Haste is not a gift of the gods, and you have been
impatient, with the usual result. I was almost prepared for this, and
thus am not wholly disappointed. In a day or two more you will discover
your mistake, which, so far as I can learn, has done no particular
harm. If you wish to find me, there is only one way to seek me; should
I tell you what it is, I should run the risk of losing you--that is, I
should preclude the manifestation of a certain quality which I hope to
find in the man who may--or, rather, must--be my friend. This sounds
enigmatical, yet you have read enough of my nature, as written in those
random notes in my sketch-book, to guess, at least, how much I require.
Only this let me add: mere guessing is useless.

"Being unknown, I can write freely. If you find me, I shall be
justified; if not, I shall hardly need to blush, even to myself, over a
futile experiment.

"It is possible for me to learn enough of your life, henceforth, to
direct my relation toward you. This may be the end; if so, I shall know
it soon. I shall also know whether you continue to seek me. Trusting in
your honor as a man, I must ask you to trust in mine, as a woman."

I _did_ discover my mistake, as the Unknown promised. There had been a
secret betrothal between Fisher and Miss Danvers, and, singularly
enough, the momentous question and answer had been given in the very
ravine leading to my upper dell! The two meant to keep the matter to
themselves; but therein, it seems, I thwarted them; there was a little
opposition on the part of their respective families, but all was
amicably settled before I left Wampsocket.

The letter made a very deep impression upon me. What was the one way to
find her? What could it be but the triumph that follows ambitious
toil--the manifestation of all my best qualities as a man? Be she old
or young, plain or beautiful, I reflected, hers is surely a nature
worth knowing, and its candid intelligence conceals no hazards for me.
I have sought her rashly, blundered, betrayed that I set her lower, in
my thoughts, than her actual self: let me now adopt the opposite
course, seek her openly no longer, go back to my tasks, and, following
my own aims vigorously and cheerfully, restore that respect which she
seemed to be on the point of losing. For, consciously or not, she had
communicated to me a doubt, implied in the very expression of her own
strength and pride. She had meant to address me as an equal, yet,
despite herself, took a stand a little above that which she accorded to
me.

I came back to New York earlier than usual, worked steadily at my
profession and with increasing success, and began to accept
opportunities (which I had previously declined) of making myself
personally known to the great, impressible, fickle, tyrannical public.
One or two of my speeches in the hall of the Cooper Institute, on
various occasions--as you may perhaps remember--gave me a good headway
with the party, and were the chief cause of my nomination for the State
office which I still hold. (There, on the table, lies a resignation,
written to-day, but not yet signed. We'll talk of it afterward.)
Several months passed by, and no further letter reached me. I gave up
much of my time to society, moved familiarly in more than one province
of the kingdom here, and vastly extended my acquaintance, especially
among the women; but not one of them betrayed the mysterious something
or other--really I can't explain precisely what it was!--which I was
looking for. In fact, the more I endeavored quietly to study the sex,
the more confused I became.

At last, I was subjected to the usual onslaught from the strong-minded.
A small but formidable committee entered my office one morning and
demanded a categorical declaration of my principles. What my views on
the subject were, I knew very well; they were clear and decided; and
yet, I hesitated to declare them! It wasn't a temptation of Saint
Anthony--that is, turned the other way--and the belligerent attitude of
the dames did not alarm me in the least; but _she_! What was _her_
position? How could I best please her? It flashed upon my mind, while
Mrs. ------ was making her formal speech, that I had taken no step for
months without a vague, secret reference to _her_. So I strove to be
courteous, friendly, and agreeably noncommittal; begged for further
documents, and promised to reply by letter in a few days.

I was hardly surprised to find the well-known hand on the envelope of a
letter shortly afterward. I held it for a minute in my palm, with an
absurd hope that I might sympathetically feel its character before
breaking the seal. Then I read it with a great sense of relief.

"I have never assumed to guide a man, except toward the full exercise
of his powers. It is not opinion in action, but opinion in a state of
idleness or indifference, which repels me. I am deeply glad that you
have gained so much since you left the country. If, in shaping your
course, you have thought of me, I will frankly say that, _to that
extent,_ you have drawn nearer. Am I mistaken in conjecturing that you
wish to know my relation to the movement concerning which you were
recently interrogated? In this, as in other instances which may come, I
must beg you to consider me only as a spectator. The more my own views
may seem likely to sway your action, the less I shall be inclined to
declare them. If you find this cold or unwomanly, remember that it is
not easy!"

Yes! I felt that I had certainly drawn much nearer to her. And from
this time on, her imaginary face and form became other than they were.
She was twenty-eight--three years older; a very little above the middle
height, but not tall; serene, rather than stately, in her movements;
with a calm, almost grave face, relieved by the sweetness of the full,
firm lips; and finally eyes of pure, limpid gray, such as we fancy
belonged to the Venus of Milo. I found her thus much more attractive
than with the dark eyes and lashes--but she did not make her appearance
in the circles which I frequented.

Another year slipped away. As an official personage, my importance
increased, but I was careful not to exaggerate it to myself. Many have
wondered (perhaps you among the rest) at my success, seeing that I
possess no remarkable abilities. If I have any secret, it is simply
this--doing faithfully, with all my might, whatever I undertake.
Nine-tenths of our politicians become inflated and careless, after the
first few years, and are easily forgotten when they once lose place.

I am a little surprised now that I had so much patience with the
Unknown. I was too important, at least, to be played with; too mature
to be subjected to a longer test; too earnest, as I had proved, to be
doubted, or thrown aside without a further explanation.

Growing tired, at last, of silent waiting, I bethought me of
advertising. A carefully written "Personal," in which _Ignotus_
informed _Ignota_ of the necessity of his communicating with her,
appeared simultaneously in the "Tribune," "Herald," "World," and
"Times." I renewed the advertisement as the time expired without an
answer, and I think it was about the end of the third week before one
came, through the post, as before.

Ah, yes! I had forgotten. See! my advertisement is pasted on the note,
as a heading or motto for the manuscript lines. I don't know why the
printed slip should give me a particular feeling of humiliation as I
look at it, but such is the fact. What she wrote is all I need read to
you:

"I could not, at first, be certain that this was meant for me. If I
were to explain to you why I have not written for so long a time, I
might give you one of the few clews which I insist on keeping in my own
hands. In your public capacity, you have been (so far as a woman may
judge) upright, independent, wholly manly: in your relations with other
men I learn nothing of you that is not honorable: toward women you are
kind, chivalrous, no doubt, overflowing with the _usual_ social
refinements, but--Here, again, I run hard upon the absolute necessity
of silence. The way to me, if you care to traverse it, is so simple, so
very simple! Yet, after what I have written, I can not even wave my
hand in the direction of it, without certain self-contempt. When I feel
free to tell you, we shall draw apart and remain unknown forever.

"You desire to write? I do not prohibit it. I have heretofore made no
arrangement for hearing from you, in turn, because I could not discover
that any advantage would accrue from it. But it seems only fair, I
confess, and you dare not think me capricious. So, three days hence, at
six o'clock in the evening, a trusty messenger of mine will call at
your door. If you have anything to give her for me, the act of giving
it must be the sign of a compact on your part that you will allow her
to leave immediately, unquestioned and unfollowed."

You look puzzled, I see: you don't catch the real drift of her words?
Well, that's a melancholy encouragement. Neither did I, at the time: it
was plain that I had disappointed her in some way, and my intercourse
with or manner toward women had something to do with it. In vain I ran
over as much of my later social life as I could recall. There had been
no special attention, nothing to mislead a susceptible heart; on the
other side, certainly no rudeness, no want of "chivalrous" (she used
the word!) respect and attention. What, in the name of all the gods,
was the matter?

In spite of all my efforts to grow clearer, I was obliged to write my
letter in a rather muddled state of mind. I had _so_ much to say!
sixteen folio pages, I was sure, would only suffice for an introduction
to the case; yet, when the creamy vellum lay before me and the moist
pen drew my fingers toward it, I sat stock dumb for half an hour. I
wrote, finally, in a half-desperate mood, without regard to coherency
or logic. Here's a rough draft of a part of the letter, and a single
passage from it will be enough:

"I can conceive of no simpler way to you than the knowledge of your
name and address. I have drawn airy images of you, but they do not
become incarnate, and I am not sure that I should recognize you in the
brief moment of passing. Your nature is not of those which are
instantly legible. As an abstract power, it has wrought in my life and
it continually moves my heart with desires which are unsatisfactory
because so vague and ignorant. Let me offer you personally, my
gratitude, my earnest friendship, _you_ would laugh if I were to _now_
offer more."

Stay! here is another fragment, more reckless in tone:

"I want to find the woman whom I can love--who can love me. But this is
a masquerade where the features are hidden, the voice disguised, even
the hands grotesquely gloved. Come! I will venture more than I ever
thought was possible to me. You shall know my deepest nature as I
myself seem to know it. Then, give me the commonest chance of learning
yours, through an intercourse which shall leave both free, should we
not feel the closing of the inevitable bond!"

After I had written that, the pages filled rapidly. When the appointed
hour arrived, a bulky epistle, in a strong linen envelope, sealed with
five wax seals, was waiting on my table. Precisely at six there was an
announcement: the door opened, and a little outside, in the shadow, I
saw an old woman, in a threadbare dress of rusty black.

"Come in!" I said.

"The letter!" answered a husky voice. She stretched out a bony hand,
without moving a step.

"It is for a lady--very important business," said I, taking up the
letter; "are you sure that there is no mistake?"

She drew her hand under the shawl, turned without a word, and moved
toward the hall door.

"Stop!" I cried: "I beg a thousand pardons! Take it--take it! You are
the right messenger!"

She clutched it, and was instantly gone.

Several days passed, and I gradually became so nervous and uneasy that
I was on the point of inserting another "Personal" in the daily papers,
when the answer arrived. It was brief and mysterious; you shall hear
the whole of it:

"I thank you. Your letter is a sacred confidence which I pray you never
to regret. Your nature is sound and good. You ask no more than is
reasonable, and I have no real right to refuse. In the one respect
which I have hinted, _I_ may have been unskilful or too narrowly
cautious: I must have the certainty of this. Therefore, as a generous
favor, give me six months more! At the end of that time I will write to
you again. Have patience with these brief lines: another word might be
a word too much."

You notice the change in her tone? The letter gave me the strongest
impression of a new, warm, almost anxious interest on her part. My
fancies, as first at Wampsocket, began to play all sorts of singular
pranks: sometimes she was rich and of an old family, sometimes
moderately poor and obscure, but always the same calm, reposeful face
and clear gray eyes. I ceased looking for her in society, quite sure
that I should not find her, and nursed a wild expectation of suddenly
meeting her, face to face, in the most unlikely places and under
startling circumstances. However, the end of it all was patience--
patience for six months.

There's not much more to tell; but this last letter is hard for me to
read. It came punctually, to a day. I knew it would, and at the last I
began to dread the time, as if a heavy note were falling due, and I had
no funds to meet it. My head was in a whirl when I broke the seal. The
fact in it stared at me blankly, at once, but it was a long time before
the words and sentences became intelligible.

"The stipulated time has come, and our hidden romance is at an end. Had
I taken this resolution a year ago, it would have saved me many vain
hopes, and you, perhaps, a little uncertainty. Forgive me, first, if
you can, and then hear the explanation:

"You wished for a personal interview: _you have had, not one, but
many._ We have met, in society, talked face to face, discussed the
weather, the opera, toilettes, Queechy, Aurora Floyd, Long Branch and
Newport, and exchanged a weary amount of fashionable gossip; and you
never guessed that I was governed by any deeper interest! I have
purposely uttered ridiculous platitudes, and you were as smilingly
courteous as if you enjoyed them: I have let fall remarks whose
hollowness and selfishness could not have escaped you, and have waited
in vain for a word of sharp, honest, manly reproof. Your manner to me
was unexceptionable, as it was to all other women: but there lies the
source of my disappointment, of--yes--of my sorrow!

"You appreciate, I can not doubt, the qualities in woman which men
value in one another--culture, independence of thought, a high and
earnest apprehension of life; but you know not how to seek them. It is
not true that a mature and unperverted woman is flattered by receiving
only the general obsequiousness which most men give to the whole sex.
In the man who contradicts and strives with her, she discovers a truer
interest, a nobler respect. The empty-headed, spindle-shanked youths
who dance admirably, understand something of billiards, much less of
horses, and still less of navigation, soon grow inexpressibly wearisome
to us; but the men who adopt their social courtesy, never seeking to
arouse, uplift, instruct us, are a bitter disappointment.

"What would have been the end, had you really found me? Certainly a
sincere, satisfying friendship. No mysterious magnetic force has drawn
you to me or held you near me, nor has my experiment inspired me with
an interest which can not be given up without a personal pang. I am
grieved, for the sake of all men and all women. Yet, understand me! I
mean no slightest reproach. I esteem and honor you for what you are.
Farewell!"

There! Nothing could be kinder in tone, nothing more humiliating in
substance. I was sore and offended for a few days; but I soon began to
see, and ever more and more clearly, that she was wholly right. I was
sure, also, that any further attempt to correspond with her would be
vain. It all comes of taking society just as we find it, and supposing
that conventional courtesy is the only safe ground on which men and
women can meet.

The fact is--there's no use in hiding it from myself (and I see, by
your face, that the letter cuts deep into you own conscience)--she is a
free, courageous, independent character, and--I am not.

But who _was_ she?



MADEMOISELLE OLYMPE ZABRISKI
----------------------------
BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH



_Thomas Bailey Aldrich (born at Portsmouth, N. H., Nov. n, 1836) is an
artist to his finger tips, whether working in verse or prose. His short
story of a non-existent heroine, "Marjorie Daw" has been repeatedly
mentioned by the critics as a masterpiece of dainty workmanship.
Consequently most readers are familiar with it. It gave title to a
volume of short stories, one of which, the present selection, hardly
deserved to be thrust in this manner into the background. Its
denouement is fully as ingenious and unexpected as that of "Marjorie
Daw," and it is led up to with an art that is just as illusory. The
reader, too, is relieved at the final shattering of the romance, where,
in the same case with "Marjorie Daw," he can hardly bring himself to
forgive the author._



MADEMOISELLE OLYMPE ZABRISKI
BY THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
[Footnote: Copyright, 1873 and 1901, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
Published by special arrangement with Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,
publishers of Mr. Aldrich's works.]

I

We are accustomed to speak with a certain light irony of the tendency
which women have to gossip, as if the sin itself, if it is a sin, were
of the gentler sex, and could by no chance be a masculine peccadillo.
So far as my observation goes, men are as much given to small talk as
women, and it is undeniable that we have produced the highest type of
gossiper extant. Where will you find, in or out of literature, such
another droll, delightful, chatty busybody as Samuel Pepys, Esq.,
Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of those fortunate gentlemen
Charles II and James II of England? He is the king of tattlers, as
Shakespeare is the king of poets.

If it came to a matter of pure gossip, I would back Our Club against
the Sorosis or any women's club in existence. Whenever you see in your
drawing-room four or five young fellows lounging in easy chairs, cigar
in hand, and now and then bringing their heads together over the small
round Japanese table which is always the pivot of these social circles,
you may be sure that they are discussing Tom's engagement, or Dick's
extravagance, or Harry's hopeless passion for the younger Miss
Fleurdelys. It is here old Tippleton gets execrated for that
everlasting _bon mot_ of his which was quite a success at
dinner-parties forty years ago; it is here the belle of the season
passes under the scalpels of merciless young surgeons; it is here B's
financial condition is handled in a way that would make B's hair stand
on end; it is here, in short, that everything is canvassed--everything
that happens in our set, I mean--much that never happens, and a great
deal that could not possibly happen. It was at Our Club that I learned
the particulars of the Van Twiller affair.

It was great entertainment to Our Club, the Van Twiller affair, though
it was rather a joyless thing, I fancy, for Van Twiller. To understand
the case fully, it should be understood that Ralph Van Twiller is one
of the proudest and most sensitive men living. He is a lineal
descendant of Wouter Van Twiller, the famous old Dutch governor of New
York--Nieuw Amsterdam, as it was then; his ancestors have always been
burgomasters or admirals or generals, and his mother is the Mrs.
Vanrensselaer Vanzandt Van Twiller whose magnificent place will be
pointed out to you on the right bank of the Hudson as you pass up the
historic river toward Idlewild. Ralph is about twenty-five years old.
Birth made him a gentleman, and the rise of real estate--some of it in
the family since the old governor's time--made him a millionaire. It
was a kindly fairy that stepped in and made him a good fellow also.
Fortune, I take it, was in her most jocund mood when she heaped her
gifts in this fashion on Van Twiller, who was, and will be again, when
this cloud blows over, the flower of Our Club.

About a year ago there came a whisper--if the word "whisper" is not too
harsh a term to apply to what seemed a mere breath floating gently
through the atmosphere of the billiard-room--imparting the intelligence
that Van Twiller was in some kind of trouble. Just as everybody
suddenly takes to wearing square-toed boots, or to drawing his
neckscarf through a ring, so it became all at once the fashion, without
any preconcerted agreement, for everybody to speak of Van Twiller as a
man in some way under a cloud. But what the cloud was, and how he got
under it, and why he did not get away from it, were points that lifted
themselves into the realm of pure conjecture. There was no man in the
club with strong enough wing to his imagination to soar to the
supposition that Van Twiller was embarrassed in money matters. Was he
in love? That appeared nearly as improbable; for if he had been in love
all the world--that is, perhaps a hundred first families--would have
known all about it instantly.

"He has the symptoms," said Delaney, laughing. "I remember once when
Jack Fleming--"

"Ned!" cried Flemming, "I protest against any allusion to that
business."

This was one night when Van Twiller had wandered into the club, turned
over the magazines absently in the reading-room, and wandered out again
without speaking ten words. The most careless eye would have remarked
the great change that had come over Van Twiller. Now and then he would
play a game of billiards with De Peyster or Haseltine, or stop to chat
a moment in the vestibule with old Duane; but he was an altered man.
When at the club, he was usually to be found in the small smoking-room
upstairs, seated on a fauteuil fast asleep, with the last number of
"The Nation" in his hand. Once, if you went to two or three places of
an evening, you were certain to meet Van Twiller at them all. You
seldom met him in society now.

By and by came whisper number two--a whisper more emphatic than number
one, but still untraceable to any tangible mouthpiece. This time the
whisper said that Van Twiller _was_ in love. But with whom? The list of
possible Mrs. Van Twillers was carefully examined by experienced hands,
and a check placed against a fine old Knickerbocker name here and
there, but nothing satisfactory arrived at. Then that same still small
voice of rumor but now with an easily detected staccato sharpness to
it, said that Van Twiller was in love--with an actress! Van Twiller,
whom it had taken all these years and all this waste of raw material in
the way of ancestors to bring to perfection--Ralph Van Twiller, the net
result and flower of his race, the descendant of Wouter, the son of
Mrs. Vanrensselaer Vanzandt Van Twiller--in love with an actress! That
was too ridiculous to be believed--and so everybody believed it.

Six or seven members of the club abruptly discovered in themselves an
unsuspected latent passion for the histrionic art. In squads of two or
three they stormed successively all the theatres in town--Booth's,
Wallack's, Daly's Fifth Avenue (not burned down then), and the Grand
Opera House. Even the shabby homes of the drama over in the Bowery,
where the Germanic Thespis has not taken out his naturalization papers,
underwent rigid exploration. But no clew was found to Van Twiller's
mysterious attachment. The _opera bouffe_, which promised the widest
field for investigation, produced absolutely nothing, not even a crop
of suspicions. One night, after several weeks of this, Delaney and I
fancied that we caught sight of Van Twiller in the private box of an
uptown theatre, where some thrilling trapeze performance was going on,
which we did not care to sit through; but we concluded afterward that
it was only somebody who looked like him. Delaney, by the way, was
unusually active in this search. I dare say he never quite forgave Van
Twiller for calling him Muslin Delaney. Ned is fond of ladies' society,
and that's a fact.

The Cimmerian darkness which surrounded Van Twiller's inamorata left us
free to indulge in the wildest conjectures. Whether she was
black-tressed Melpomene, with bowl and dagger, or Thalia, with the fair
hair and the laughing face, was only to be guessed at. It was popularly
conceded, however, that Van Twiller was on the point of forming a
dreadful _mesalliance_.

Up to this period he had visited the club regularly. Suddenly he ceased
to appear. He was not to be seen on Fifth Avenue, or in the Central
Park, or at the houses he generally frequented. His chambers--and
mighty comfortable chambers they were--on Thirty-fourth Street were
deserted. He had dropped out of the world, shot like a bright
particular star from his orbit in the heaven of the best society.

The following conversation took place one night in the smoking-room:

"Where's Van Twiller?"

"Who's seen Van Twiller?

"What has become of Van Twiller?"

Delaney picked up the "Evening Post," and read--with a solemnity that
betrayed young Firkins into exclaiming, "By Jove, now!--"

"Married, on the 10th instant, by the Rev. Friar Laurence, at the
residence of the bride's uncle, Montague Capulet, Esq., Miss Adrienne
Le Couvreur to Mr. Ralph Van Twiller, both of this city. No cards."

"Free List suspended," murmured De Peyster.

"It strikes me," said Frank Livingstone, who had been ruffling the
leaves of a magazine at the other end of the table, "that you fellows
are in a great fever about Van Twiller."

"So we are."

"Well, he has simply gone out of town."

"Where?"

"Up to the old homestead on the Hudson."

"It's an odd time of year for a fellow to go into the country."

"He has gone to visit his mother," said Livingstone.

"In February?"

"I didn't know, Delaney, that there was any statute in force
prohibiting a man from visiting his mother in February if he wants to."

Delaney made some light remark about the pleasure of communing with
Nature with a cold in her head, and the topic was dropped.

Livingstone was hand in glove with Van Twiller, and if any man shared
his confidence it was Living-stone. He was aware of the gossip and
speculation that had been rife in the club, but he either was not at
liberty or did not think it worth while to relieve our curiosity. In
the course of a week or two it was reported that Van Twiller was going
to Europe; and go he did. A dozen of us went down to the "Scythia" to
see him off. It was refreshing to have something as positive as the
fact that Van Twiller had sailed.

II

Shortly after Van Twiller's departure the whole thing came out. Whether
Livingstone found the secret too heavy a burden, or whether it
transpired through some indiscretion on the part of Mrs. Vanrensselaer
Vanzandt Van Twiller, I can not say; but one evening the entire story
was in the possession of the club.

Van Twiller had actually been very deeply interested--not in an
actress, for the legitimate drama was not her humble walk in life,
but--in Mademoiselle Olympe Zabriski, whose really perilous feats on
the trapeze had astonished New York the year before, though they had
failed to attract Delaney and me the night we wandered into the up-town
theatre on the trail of Van Twiller's mystery.

That a man like Van Twiller should he fascinated even for an instant by
a common circus-girl seems incredible; but it is always the incredible
thing that happens. Besides, Mademoiselle Olympe was not a common
circus-girl; she was a most daring and startling gymnaste, with a
beauty and a grace of movement that gave to her audacious performance
almost an air of prudery. Watching her wondrous dexterity and pliant
strength, both exercised without apparent effort, it seemed the most
natural proceeding in the world that she should do those unpardonable
things. She had a way of melting from one graceful posture into another
like the dissolving figures thrown from a stereopticon. She was a
lithe, radiant shape out of the Grecian mythology, now poised up there
above the gaslights, and now gleaming through the air like a slender
gilt arrow.

I am describing Mademoiselle Olympe as she appeared to Van Twiller on
the first occasion when he strolled into the theatre where she was
performing. To me she was a girl of eighteen or twenty years of age
(maybe she was much older, for pearl powder and distance keep these
people perpetually young), slightly but exquisitely built, with sinews
of silver wire; rather pretty, perhaps, after a manner, but showing
plainly the effects of the exhaustive draughts she was making on her
physical vitality. Now, Van Twiller was an enthusiast on the subject of
calisthenics. "If I had a daughter," Van Twiller used to say, "I
wouldn't send her to a boarding school, or a nunnery; I'd send her to a
gymnasium for the first five years. Our American women have no
physique. They are lilies, pallid, pretty--and perishable. You marry an
American woman, and what do you marry? A headache. Look at English
girls. They are at least roses, and last the season through."

Walking home from the theatre that first night, it flitted through Van
Twiller's mind that if he could give this girl's set of nerves and
muscles to any one of the two hundred high-bred women he knew, he would
marry her on the spot and worship her forever.

The following evening he went to see Mademoiselle Olympe again. "Olympe
Zabriski," he soliloquized as he sauntered through the lobby--"what a
queer name! Olympe is French and Zabriski is Polish. It is her _nom de
guerre_, of course; her real name is probably Sarah Jones. What kind of
creature can she be in private life, I wonder? I wonder if she wears
that costume all the time, and if she springs to her meals from a
horizontal bar. Of course she rocks the baby to sleep on the trapeze."
And Van Twiller went on making comical domestic tableaux of
Mademoiselle Zabriski, like the clever, satirical dog he was, until the
curtain rose.

This was on a Friday. There was a matinee the next day, and he attended
that, though he had secured a seat for the usual evening entertainment.
Then it became a habit of Van Twiller's to drop into the theatre for
half an hour or so every night, to assist at the interlude, in which
she appeared. He cared only for her part of the programme, and timed
his visits accordingly. It was a surprise to himself when he reflected,
one morning, that he had not missed a single performance of
Mademoiselle Olympe for nearly two weeks.

"This will never do," said Van Twiller. "Olympe"--he called her Olympe,
as if she were an old acquaintance, and so she might have been
considered by that time--"is a wonderful creature; but this will never
do. Van, my boy, you must reform this altogether."

But half-past nine that night saw him in his accustomed orchestra
chair, and so on for another week. A habit leads a man so gently in the
beginning that he does not perceive he is led--with what silken threads
and down what pleasant avenues it leads him! By and by the soft silk
threads become iron chains, and the pleasant avenues Avernus!

Quite a new element had lately entered into Van Twiller's enjoyment of
Mademoiselle Olympe's ingenious feats--a vaguely born apprehension that
she might slip from that swinging bar; that one of the thin cords
supporting it might snap, and let her go headlong from the dizzy
height. Now and then, for a terrible instant, he would imagine her
lying a glittering, palpitating heap at the foot-lights, with no color
in her lips! Sometimes it seemed as if the girl were tempting this kind
of fate. It was a hard, bitter life, and nothing but poverty and sordid
misery at home could have driven her to it. What if she should end it
all some night, by just unclasping that little hand? It looked so small
and white from where Van Twiller sat!

This frightful idea fascinated while it chilled him, and helped to make
it nearly impossible for him to keep away from the theatre. In the
beginning his attendance had not interfered with his social duties or
pleasures; but now he came to find it distasteful after dinner to do
anything but read, or walk the streets aimlessly, until it was time to
go to the play. When that was over, he was in no mood to go anywhere
but to his rooms. So he dropped away by insensible degrees from his
habitual haunts, was missed, and began to be talked about at the club.
Catching some intimation of this, he ventured no more in the orchestra
stalls, but shrouded himself behind the draperies of the private box in
which Delaney and I thought we saw him on one occasion.

Now, I find it very perplexing to explain what Van Twiller was wholly
unable to explain to himself. He was not in love with Mademoiselle
Olympe. He had no wish to speak to her, or to hear her speak. Nothing
could have been easier, and nothing further from his desire, than to
know her personally. A Van Twiller personally acquainted with a
strolling female acrobat! Good heavens! That was something possible
only with the discovery of perpetual motion. Taken from her theatrical
setting, from her lofty perch, so to say, on the trapeze-bar, Olympe
Zabriski would have shocked every aristocratic fibre in Van Twiller's
body. He was simply fascinated by her marvelous grace and _elan_, and
the magnetic recklessness of the girl. It was very young in him and
very weak, and no member of the Sorosis, or all the Sorosisters
together, could have been more severe on Van Twiller than he was on
himself. To be weak, and to know it, is something of a punishment for a
proud man. Van Twiller took his punishment, and went to the theatre,
regularly.

"When her engagement comes to an end," he meditated, "that will finish
the business."

Mademoiselle Olympe's engagement finally did come to an end and she
departed. But her engagement had been highly beneficial to the
treasury-chest of the uptown theatre, and before Van Twiller could get
over missing her she had returned from a short Western tour, and her
immediate reappearance was underlined on the play-bills.

On a dead wall opposite the windows of Van Twiller's sleeping-room
there appeared, as if by necromancy, an aggressive poster with
MADEMOISELLE OLYMPE ZABRISKI on it in letters at least a foot high.
This thing stared him in the face when he woke up one morning. It gave
him a sensation as if she had called on him overnight and left her
card.

From time to time through the day he regarded that poster with a
sardonic eye. He had pitilessly resolved not to repeat the folly of the
previous month. To say that this moral victory cost him nothing would
be to deprive it of merit. It cost him many internal struggles. It is a
fine thing to see a man seizing his temptation by the throat, and
wrestling with it, and trampling it underfoot like St. Anthony. This
was the spectacle Van Twiller was exhibiting to the angels.

The evening Mademoiselle Olympe was to make her reappearance, Van
Twiller, having dined at the club, and feeling more like himself than
he had felt for weeks, returned to his chamber, and, putting on
dressing-gown and slippers, piled up the greater portion of his library
about him, and fell to reading assiduously. There is nothing like a
quiet evening at home with some slight intellectual occupation, after
one's feathers have been stroked the wrong way.

When the lively French clock on the mantelpiece--a base of malachite
surmounted by a flying bronze Mercury with its arms spread gracefully
in the air, and not remotely suggestive of Mademoiselle Olympe in the
act of executing her grand flight from the trapeze--when the clock, I
repeat, struck nine, Van Twiller paid no attention to it. That was
certainly a triumph. I am anxious to render Van Twiller all the justice
I can, at this point of the narrative, inasmuch as when the half hour
sounded musically, like a crystal ball dropping into a silver bowl, he
rose from the chair automatically, thrust his feet into his
walking-shoes, threw his overcoat across his arm, and strode out of the
room.

To be weak and to scorn your weakness, and not to be able to conquer
it, is, as has been said, a hard thing; and I suspect it was not with
unalloyed satisfaction that Van Twiller found himself taking his seat
in the back part of the private box night after night during the second
engagement of Mademoiselle Olympe. It was so easy not to stay away!

In this second edition of Van Twiller's fatuity, his case was even
worse than before. He not only thought of Olympe quite a number of
times between breakfast and dinner, he not only attended the interlude
regularly, but he began, in spite of himself, to occupy his leisure
hours at night by dreaming of her. This was too much of a good thing,
and Van Twiller regarded it so. Besides, the dream was always the
same--a harrowing dream, a dream singularly adapted to shattering the
nerves of a man like Van Twiller. He would imagine himself seated at
the theatre (with all the members of Our Club in the parquette),
watching Mademoiselle Olympe as usual, when suddenly that young lady
would launch herself desperately from the trapeze, and come flying
through the air like a firebrand hurled at his private box. Then the
unfortunate man would wake up with cold drops standing on his forehead.

There is one redeeming feature in this infatuation of Van Twiller's
which the sober moralist will love to look upon--the serene
unconsciousness of the person who caused it. She went through her
_role_ with admirable aplomb, drew her salary, it may be assumed,
punctually, and appears from first to last to have been ignorant that
there was a miserable slave wearing her chains nightly in the left-hand
proscenium box.

That Van Twiller, haunting the theatre with the persistency of an
ex-actor, conducted himself so discreetly as not to draw the fire of
Mademoiselle Olympe's blue eyes shows that Van Twiller, however deeply
under a spell, was not in love. I say this, though I think if Van
Twiller had not been Van Twiller, if he had been a man of no family and
no position and no money, if New York had been Paris and Thirty-fourth
Street a street in the Latin Quarter--but it is useless to speculate on
what might have happened. What did happen is sufficient.

It happened, then, in the second week of Queen Olympe's second
unconscious reign, that an appalling Whisper floated up the Hudson,
effected a landing at a point between Spuyten Duyvil Creek and Cold
Spring, and sought out a stately mansion of Dutch architecture standing
on the bank of the river. The Whisper straightway informed the lady
dwelling in this mansion that all was not well with the last of the Van
Twillers; that he was gradually estranging himself from his peers, and
wasting his nights in a playhouse watching a misguided young woman
turning unmaidenly somersaults on a piece of wood attached to two
ropes.

Mrs. Vanrensselaer Vanzandt Van Twiller came down to town by the next
train to look into this little matter.

She found the flower of the family taking an early breakfast at
11 A. M., in his cosey apartments on Thirty-fourth Street. With the
least possible circumlocution she confronted him with what rumor had
reported of his pursuits, and was pleased, but not too much pleased,
when he gave her an exact account of his relations with Mademoiselle
Zabriski, neither concealing nor qualifying anything. As a confession,
it was unique, and might have been a great deal less entertaining. Two
or three times in the course of the narrative, the matron had some
difficulty in preserving the gravity of her countenance. After
meditating a few minutes, she tapped Van Twiller softly on the arm with
the tip of her parasol, and invited him to return with her the next day
up the Hudson and make a brief visit at the home of his ancestors. He
accepted the invitation with outward alacrity and inward disgust.

When this was settled, and the worthy lady had withdrawn, Van Twiller
went directly to the establishment of Messrs. Ball, Black, and Company,
and selected, with unerring taste, the finest diamond bracelet
procurable. For his mother? Dear me, no! She had the family jewels.

I would not like to state the enormous sum Van Twiller paid for this
bracelet. It was such a clasp of diamonds as would have hastened the
pulsation of a patrician wrist. It was such a bracelet as Prince
Camaralzaman might have sent to the Princess Badoura, and the Princess
Badoura--might have been very glad to get.

In the fragrant Levant morocco case, where these happy jewels lived
when they were at home, Van Twiller thoughtfully placed his card, on
the back of which he had written a line begging Mademoiselle Olympe
Zabriski to accept the accompanying trifle from one who had witnessed
her graceful performances with interest and pleasure. This was not done
inconsiderately. "Of course, I must inclose my card, as I would to any
lady," Van Twiller had said to himself. "A Van Twiller can neither
write an anonymous letter nor make an anonymous present." Blood entails
its duties as well as its privileges.

The casket despatched to its destination, Van Twiller felt easier in
his mind. He was under obligations to the girl for many an agreeable
hour that might otherwise have passed heavily. He had paid the debt,
and he had paid it _en prince_, as became a Van Twiller. He spent the
rest of the day in looking at some pictures at Goupil's, and at the
club, and in making a few purchases for his trip up the Hudson. A
consciousness that this trip up the Hudson was a disorderly retreat
came over him unpleasantly at intervals.

When he returned to his rooms late at night, he found a note lying on
the writing-table. He started as his eyes caught the words "------
Theatre" stamped in carmine letters on one corner of the envelope. Van
Twiller broke the seal with trembling fingers.

Now, this note some time afterward fell into the hands of Livingstone,
who showed it to Stuyvesant, who showed it to Delaney, who showed it to
me, and I copied it as a literary curiosity. The note ran as follows:

MR VAN TWILLER DEAR SIR--i am verry greatfull to you for that
Bracelett. it come just in the nic of time for me. The Mademoiselle
Zabriski dodg is about Plaid out. my beard is getting to much for me. i
shall have to grow a mustash and take to some other line of busyness, i
dont no what now, but will let you no. You wont feel bad if i sell that
Bracelett. i have seen Abrahams Moss and he says he will do the square
thing. Pleas accep my thanks for youre Beautifull and Unexpected
present. Youre respectfull servent,
CHARLES MONTMORENCI WALTERS.

The next day Van Twiller neither expressed nor felt any unwillingness
to spend a few weeks with his mother at the old homestead.

And then he went abroad.



BROTHER SEBASTIAN'S FRIENDSHIP
------------------------------
BY HAROLD FREDERIC



_Harold Frederic (born at Utica, N. Y., August 19, 1856; died in 1898)
was a novelist whose every book exceeded its predecessor in conception,
general construction, and technique of detail. His death at the
maturity of his powers was therefore a great loss to American
literature. His posthumous novel, "The Market Place" indicates that
Frederic, had he lived, might have outshone even Balzac in the fiction
of business life. "Brother Sebastian's Friendship" is a clever short
story of the days of his literary 'prenticeship. It was his
introduction to the "Utica Observer," where he worked for several
years._



BROTHER SEBASTIAN'S FRIENDSHIP
BY HAROLD FREDERIC
[Footnote: By permission of the "Utica Observer."]

I who tell this story am called Brother Sebastian. This name was given
me more than forty years ago, while Louis Philippe was still king. My
other name has been buried so long that I have nearly forgotten it. I
think that my people are dead. At least I have heard nothing from them
in many years. My reputation has always been that of a misanthrope--if
not that, then of a dreamer. In the seminary I had no intimates. In the
order, for I am a Brother of the Christian Schools, my associates are
polite--nothing more. I seem to be outside their social circles, their
plans, their enjoyments. True, I am an old man now. But in other years
it was the same. All my life I have been in solitude.

To this there is a single exception--one star shining in the blackness.
And my career has been so bleak that, although it ended in deeper
sadness than I had known before, I look back to the epsiode with
gratitude. The bank of clouds which shut out this sole light of my life
quickened its brilliancy before they submerged it.

After the terrible siege of '71, when the last German was gone, and our
houses had breasted the ordeal of the Commune, I was sent to the South.
The Superior thought my cheeks were ominously hollow, and suspected
threats of consumption in my cough. So I was to go to the
Mediterranean, and try its milder air. I liked the change. Paris, with
its gloss of noisy gayety and its substance of sceptical heartlessness,
was repugnant to me. Perhaps it was because of this that Brother
Sebastian had been mured up in the capital two-thirds of his life. If
our surroundings are too congenial we neglect the work set before us.
But no matter; to the coast I went.

My new home was a long-established house, spacious, venerable, and
dreary. It was on the outskirts of an ancient town, which was of far
more importance before our Lord was born than it has ever been since.
We had little to do. There were nine brothers, a handful of resident
orphans, and some threescore pupils. Ragged, stupid, big-eyed urchins
they were, altogether different from the keen Paris boys. For that
matter, every feature of my new home was odd. The heat of the summer
was scorching in its intensity. The peasants were much more respectful
to our cloth, and, as to appearance, looked like figures from Murillo's
canvases. The foliage, the wine, the language, the manners of the
people--everything was changed. This interested me, and my morbidness
vanished. The Director was delighted with my improved condition. Poor
man! he was positive that my cheeks had puffed out perceptibly after
the first two months. So the winter came--a mild, wet, muggy winter,
wholly unlike my favorite sharp season in the North.

We were killing time in the library one afternoon, the Director and a
Swiss Brother sitting by the lamp reading, I standing at one of the
tall, narrow windows, drumming on the panes and dreaming. The view was
not an inspiring one. There was a long horizontal line of pale yellow
sky and another of flat, black land, out of Avhich an occasional poplar
raised itself solemnly. The great mass below the stripes was brown;
above, gloomy gray. Close under the window two boys were playing in the
garden of the house. I recall distinctly that they threw armfuls of wet
fallen leaves at each other with a great shouting. While I stood thus,
the Brother Servitor, Abonus, came in and whispered to the Director. He
always whispered. It was not fraternal, but I did not like this Abonus.

"Send him up here," said the Director. Then I remembered that I had
heard the roll of a carriage and the bell ring a few moments before.
Abonus came in again. Behind him there was some one else, whose
footsteps had the hesitating sound of a stranger's. Then I heard the
Director's voice:

"You are from Algiers?"--"I am, Brother."

"Your name?"

"Edouard, Brother."

"Well, tell me more."

"I was under orders to be in Paris in January, Brother. As my health
was poor, I received permission to come back to France this autumn. At
Marseilles I was instructed to come here. So I am here. I have these
papers from the Mother house, and from Etienne, Director, of Algiers."

Something in the voice seemed peculiar to me. I turned and examined the
new-comer. He stood behind and to one side of the Director, who was
laboriously deciphering some papers through his big horn spectacles.
The light was not very bright, but there was enough to see a
wonderfully handsome face, framed in dazzling black curls. Perhaps it
looked the more beautiful because contrasted with the shaven gray poll
and surly features of grim Abonus, But to me it was a dream of St. John
the Evangel. The eyes of the face were lowered upon the Director, so I
could only guess their brilliancy. The features were those of an
extreme youth--round, soft, and delicate. The expression was one of
utter fatigue, almost pain. It bore out the statement of ill-health.

The Director had finished his reading. He lifted his head now and
surveyed the stranger in turn. Finally, stretching out his fat hand, he
said:

"You are welcome, Brother Edouard. I see the letter says you have had
no experience except with the youngest children. Brother Photius does
that now. We will have you rest for a time. Then we will see about it.
Meanwhile I will turn you over to the care of good Abonus, who will
give you one of the north rooms."

So the two went out, Abonus shuffling his feet disagreeably. It was
strange that he could do nothing to please me.

"Brother Sebastian," said the Director, as the door closed, "it is
curious that they should have sent me a tenth man. Why, I lie awake now
to invent pretences of work for those I have already. I will give up
all show of teaching presently, and give out that I keep a hospital--a
retreat for ailing brothers. Still, this Edouard is a pretty boy."

"Very."

"Etienne's letter says he is twenty and a Savoyard. He speaks like a
Parisian."

"Very likely he is seminary bred," put in the Swiss.

"Whatever he is, I like his looks," said our Superior. This good man
liked every one. His was the placid, easy Alsatian nature, prone to
find goodness in all things--even crabbed Abonus. The Director, or, as
he was known, Brother Elysee, was a stout, round little man, with a
fine face and imperturbable good spirits. He was adored by all his
subordinates. But I fancy he did not advance in favor at Paris very
rapidly.

I liked Edouard from the first. The day after he came we were together
much, and, when we parted after vespers, I was conscious of a vast
respect for this new-comer. He was bright, ready spoken, and almost a
man of the world. Compared with my dull career, his short life had been
one of positive gayety. He had seen Frederic le Maitre at the Comedie
Francaise. He had been at Court and spoken with the Prince Imperial. He
was on terms of intimacy with Monsignori, and had been a protege of the
sainted Darboy. It was a rare pleasure to hear him talk of these
things.

Before this, the ceaseless shifting of brothers from one house to
another had been indifferent to me. For the hundreds of strangers who
came and went in the Paris house on Oudinot Street I cared absolutely
nothing. I did not suffer their entrance nor their exit to excite me.
This was so much the case that they called me a machine. But with
Edouard this was different. I grew to love the boy from the first
evening, when, as he left my room, I caught myself saying, "I shall be
sorry when he goes." He seemed to be fond of me, too. For that matter
most of the brothers petted him, Elysee especially. But I was flattered
that he chose me as his particular friend. For the first time my heart
had opened.

We were alone one evening after the holidays. It was cold without, but
in my room it was warm and bright. The fire crackled merrily, and the
candles gave out a mellow and pleasant light. The Director had gone up
to Paris, and his mantle had fallen on me. Edouard sat with his feet
stretched to the fender, his curly head buried in the great curved back
of my invalid chair, the red fire-light reflected on his childish
features. I took pleasure in looking at him. He looked at the coals and
knit his brows as if in a puzzle. I often fancied that something
weightier than the usual troubles of life weighed upon him. At last he
spoke, just as I was about to question him:

"Are you afraid to die, Sebastian?"

Not knowing what else to say, I answered, "No, my child."

"I wonder if you enjoy life in community?"

This was still stranger. I could but reply that I had never known any
other life; that I was fitted for nothing else.

"But still," persisted he, "would you not like to leave it--to have a
career of your own before you die? Do you think this is what a man is
created for--to give away his chance to live?"

"Edouard, you are interrogating your own conscience," I answered.
"These are questions which you must have answered yourself, before you
took your vows. When you answered them, you sealed them."

Perhaps I spoke too harshly, for he colored and drew up his feet. Such
shapely little feet they were. I felt ashamed of my crustiness.

"But, Edouard," I added, "your vows are those of the novitiate. You are
not yet twenty-eight. You have still the right to ask yourself these
things. The world is very fair to men of your age. Do not dream that I
was angry with you."

He sat gazing into the fire. His face wore a strange, far-away
expression, as he reached forth his hand, in a groping way, and rested
it on my knee, clutching the gown nervously. Then he spoke slowly,
seeking for words, and keeping his eyes on the flames.


"You have been good to me, Brother Sebastian. Let me ask you: May I
tell you something in confidence--something which shall never pass your
lips? I mean it."

He had turned and poured those marvelous eyes into mine with
irresistible magnetism. Of course I said, "Speak!" and I said it
without the slightest hesitation.

"I am not a Christian Brother. I do not belong to your order. I have no
claim upon the hospitality of this roof. I am an impostor!"

He ejected these astounding sentences with an energy almost fierce,
gripping my knee meanwhile. Then, as suddenly, his grasp relaxed, and
he fell to weeping bitterly.

I stared at him solemnly, in silence. My tongue seemed paralyzed.
Confusing thoughts whirled in a maze unbidden through my head. I could
say nothing. But a strange impulse prompted me to reach out and take
his hot hand in mine. It was piteous to hear him sobbing, his head upon
his raised arm, his whole frame quivering with emotion. I had never
seen any one weep like that before. So I sat dumb, trying in vain to
answer this bewildering self-accusation. At last there came out of the
folds of the chair the words, faint and tear-choked:

"You have promised me secrecy, and you will keep your word; but you
will hate me."

"Why, no, no, Edouard, not hate you," I answered, scarcely knowing what
I said. I did not comprehend it at all. There was nothing more for me
to say. Finally, when some power of thought returned, I asked:

"Of all things, my poor boy, why should you choose such a dreary life
as this? What possible reason led you to enter the community? What
attractions has it for you?"

Edouard turned again from the fire to me. His eyes sparkled. His teeth
were tight set.

"Why? Why? I will tell you why, Brother Sebastian. Can you not
understand how a poor hunted beast should rejoice to find shelter in
such an out-of-the-way place, among such kind men, in the grave of this
cloister life? I have not told you half enough. Do you not know in the
outside world, in Toulon, or Marseilles, or that fine Paris of yours,
there is a price on my head?--or no, not that, but enemies that are
looking for me, searching everywhere, turning every little stone for
the poor privilege of making me suffer? And do you know that these
enemies wear shakos, and are called gens d'armes? Would you be pleased
to learn that it is a prison I escape by coming here? _Now_, will you
hate me?"

The boy had risen from his chair. He spoke hurriedly, almost
hysterically, his eyes snapping at mine like coals, his curls
disheveled, his fingers curved and stiffened like the talons of a hawk.
I had never seen such intense earnestness in a human face. Passions
like these had never penetrated the convent walls before.

While I sat dumb before him, Edouard left the room. I was conscious of
his exit only in a vague way. For hours I sat in my chair beside the
grate thinking, or trying to think. You can see readily that I was more
than a little perplexed. In the absence of Elysee, I was director. The
management of the house, its good fame, its discipline, all rested on
my shoulders. And to be confronted by such an abyss as this! I could do
absolutely nothing. The boy had tied my tongue by the pledge. Besides,
had I been unsworn, I am sure the idea of exposure would never have
come to me. It was late before I retired that night. And I recall with
terrible distinctness the chaos of brain and faculty which ushered in a
restless sleep almost as dawn was breaking.

I had fancied that Brother Edouard would find life intolerable in
community after his revelation to me. He would be chary of meeting me
before the brothers; would be constantly tortured by fear of detection.
As I saw this prospect of the poor innocent--for it was absurd to think
of him as anything else--dreading exposure at each step in his false
life, shrinking from observation, biting his tongue at every word--I
was greatly moved by pity. Judge my surprise, then, when I saw him the
next morning join in the younger brothers' regular walk around the
garden, joking and laughing as I had never seen before. On his right
was thin, sickly Victor, rest his soul! and on the other pursy,
thick-necked John, as merry a soul as Cork ever turned out. And how
they laughed, even the frail consumptive! It was a pleasure to see his
blue eyes brighten with enjoyment and his warm cheeks blush. Above
John's queer, Irish chuckle, I heard Edouard's voice, with its dainty
Parisian accent, retailing jokes and leading in the laughter. The tramp
was stretched out longer than usual, so pleasant did they find it. At
this development I was much amazed.

The same change was noticeable in all that Edouard did. Instead of the
apathy with which he had discharged his nominal duties, his baby pupils
(for Photius had gone to Peru) now became bewitched with him. He told
them droll stories, incited their rivalry in study by instituting
prizes for which they struggled monthly, and, in short, metamorphosed
his department. The change spread to himself. His cheeks took on a
ruddier hue, the sparkle of his black eyes mellowed into a calm and
steady radiance. There was no trace of feverish elation which, in
solitude, recoiled to the brink of despair. He sang to himself evenings
in his dormitory, clearly and with joy. His step was as elastic as that
of any schoolboy. I often thought upon this change, and meditated how
beautiful an illustration of confession's blessings it furnished.
Frequently we were alone, but he never referred again to that memorable
evening, even by implication. At first I dreaded to have the door close
upon us, feeling that he must perforce seek to take up the thread where
he had broken it then. But he talked of other things, and so easily and
naturally that I felt embarrassed. For weeks I could not shake off the
feeling that, at our next talk, he would broach the subject. But he
never did.

Elysee returned, bringing me kind words from the Mother house, and a
half-jocular hint that Superior General Philippe had me much in his
mind. No doubt there had been a time when the idea of becoming a
Director would have stirred my pulses. Surely it was gone now. I asked
for nothing but to stay beside Edouard, to watch him, and to be near to
lend him a helping hand when his hour of trouble should come. From that
ordeal, which I saw approaching clearly and certainly, I shrank with
all my nerves on edge. As the object of my misery grew bright-eyed and
strong, I felt myself declining in health. My face grew thin, and I
could not eat. I saw before my eyes always this wretched boy singing
upon the brow of the abyss. Sometimes I strove not to see his fall--
frightful and swift. His secret seemed to harass him no longer. To me
it was heavier than lead.

The evening the Brother Director returned, we sat together in the
reading-room, the entire community. Elysee had been speaking of the
Mother house concerning which Brother Barnabas, an odd little Lorrainer
who spoke better German than French, and who regarded Paris with the
true provincial awe and veneration, exhibited much curiosity. We had a
visitor, a gaunt, self-sufficient old Parisian, who had spent fourteen
days in the Mazas prison during the Commune. I will call him Brother
Albert, for his true name in religion is very well known.

"I heard a curious story in the Vaugirard house," said the Brother
Director, refreshing himself with a pinch of snuff, "which made the
more impression upon me that I once knew intimately one of the persons
in it. Martin Delette was my schoolmate at Pfalsbourg in the old days.
A fine, studious lad he was, too. He took orders and went to the north,
where he lived for many years a quiet country cure. He had a niece, a
charming girl who is not now more than twenty or one-and-twenty. She
was an orphan, and lived with him, going to a convent to school and
returning at vacations. She was not a bad girl, but a trifle wayward
and easily led. She gave the Sisters much anxiety. Last spring she
barely escaped compromising the house by an escapade with a young
_miserable_ of the town, named Banin."

"I know your story," said Albert, with an air which hinted that this
was a sufficient reason why the rest should not hear it. "Banin is in
prison."

Elysee proceeded: "The girl was reprimanded. Next week she disappeared.
To one of her companions she had confided a great desire to see Paris.
So good Father Delette was summoned, and, after a talk with the
Superioress, started post-haste for the capital. He found no signs
either of poor Renee or of Banin, who had also disappeared. The Cure
was nearly heart-broken. Each day, they told me, added a year to his
appearance. He did not cease to importune the police chiefs and to
haunt the public places for a glimpse of his niece's face. But the
summer came, and no Renee. The Cure began to cough and grow weak. But
one day in August the Director, good Prosper, called him down to the
reception-room to see a visitor.

"'There is news for you,'" he whispered, pressing poor Martin's hand.
In the room he found--"

"In the room he found--" broke in Albert, impertinently, but with a
quiet tone of authority which cowed good Elysee, "a shabby man, looking
like a poorly fed waiter. This person rose and said, 'I am a detective;
do you know Banin--young man, tall, blond, squints, broken tooth upper
jaw, hat back on his head, much talk, hails from Rheims?'

"'Ah,' said Delette, 'I have not seen him, but I know him too well.'

"The detective pointed with his thumb over his left shoulder. 'He is in
jail. He is good for twenty years. I did it myself. My name is
So-and-so. Good job. Procurator said you were interested--some woman in
the case, parishioner of yours, eh?'

"'My niece,' gasped the Cure.

"'O ho! does you credit; pretty girl, curly head. good manners. Well,
she's off. Good trick, too. She was the decoy. Banin stood in the
shadow with club. She brought gentleman into alley, friend did work.
That's Banin's story. Perhaps a lie. You have a brother in Algiers?
Thought so. Girl went out there once? So I was told. Probably there
now. African officers say not; but they're a sleepy lot. If I was a
criminal I'd go to Algiers. Good hiding. The detective went. Delette
stood where he was in silence. I went to him, and helped carry him
upstairs. We put him in his bed. He died there."

Brother Albeit stopped. He had told the story, dialogue and all, like a
machine. We did not doubt its correctness. The memory of Albert had
passed into a proverb years before.

Brother Albert raised his eyes again, and added, as if he had not
paused, "He was ashamed to hold his head up. He might well be."

A strange, excited voice rose from the other end of the room. I looked
and saw that it was Edouard who spoke. He had half arisen from his
chair and scowled at Albert, throwing out his words with the tremulous
haste of a young man first addressing an audience:

"Why should he be ashamed? Was he not a good man? Was the blame of his
bad niece's acts his? From the story, she was well used and had no
excuse. It is he who is to be pitied, not blamed!"

The Brother Director smiled benignly at the young enthusiast. "Brother
Edouard is right," he said. "Poor Martin was to be compassioned. None
the less, my heart is touched for the girl. In Banin's trial it
appeared that he maltreated her, and forced her to do what she did by
blows. They were really married. Her neighbors gave Renee a name for
gentleness and a good heart. Poor thing!"

"And she never was found?" asked Abonus, eagerly. He spoke very rarely.
He looked now at me as he spoke, and there was a strange, ungodly
glitter in his eyes which made me shudder involuntarily.

"Never," replied the Director, "although there is a reward, 5,000
francs, offered for her recovery. Miserable child, who can tell what
depths of suffering she may be in this moment?"

"It would be remarkable if she should be found now, after all this
time," said Abonus, sharply. His wicked, squinting old eyes were still
fastened upon me. This time, as by a flash of eternal knowledge, I read
their meaning, and felt the ground slipping from under me.

I shall never forget the night that followed. I made no pretence of
going to bed. Edouard's little dormitory was in another part of the
house. I went once to see him, but dared not knock, since Abonus was
stirring about just across the hall, in his own den. I scratched on a
piece of paper "Fly!" in the dark, and pushed it under the door. Then I
returned to walk my chamber, chafing like a wild beast. Ah, that night,
that night!

With the first cock crow in the village below, long before the bell, I
left my room. I wanted air to breathe. I passed Abonus on the broad
stairway. He strode up with unwonted vigor, bearing a heavy caldron of
water as if it had been straw. His gown was tumbled and dusty; his
greasy _rabat_ hung awry about his neck. I had it in my head to speak
with him, but could not. So the early hours, with devotions which I
went through in a dream, wore on in horrible suspense, and breakfast
came.

We sat at the long table, five on a side, the Director--looking
red-eyed and weary from the evening's unaccustomed dissipation--sitting
at the head. Below us stood Brother Albert, reading from Tertullian in
a dry, monotonous chant. I recall, as I write, how I found a certain
comfort in those splendid, sonorous Latin sentences, though I was
conscious of not comprehending a word. I dreaded the moment they should
end. Edouard sat beside me. We had not exchanged a word during the
morning. How could I speak? What should I say? I was in a nervous
flutter, like unto those who watch the final pinioning of a criminal
whose guillotine is awaiting him. I could not keep my eyes from the
fair face beside me, with its delicately cut profile, made all the more
cameo-like by its pallid whiteness. The lips were tightly compressed. I
could see askant that the tiny nostrils were quivering with excitement.
All else was impassive on Edouard's face. We two sat waiting for the
axe to fall.

It is as distinct as a nightmare to me. Abonus came in with his great
server laden with victuals. He stumbled as he approached. He too was
excited. He drew near, and stood behind me. I seemed to feel his breath
penetrate my skull; and yet I was forced to answer a whispered question
of Brother John's with a smooth face. I saw Edouard suddenly reach for
the milk glass in front of his plate, and hand it back to Abonus with
the disdain of a duchess. He said, in a sharp, peremptory tone:

"Take it away and cleanse it. No one but a dirty monk would place such
a glass on the table."

Albert ceased his reading. Abonus did not touch the glass. He shuffled
hastily to the sideboard and deposited his burden. Then he came back
with the same eager movement. He placed his fists on his hips, like a
fish-woman, and hissed, in a voice choking with concentrated rage:

"No one but a woman would complain of it!"

The brothers stared at each other and the two speakers in mute
surprise. But they saw nothing in the words beyond a personal
wrangle--though even that was such a novelty as to arrest instant
attention. I busied myself with my plate. The Director assumed his
harshest tone, and asked the cause of the altercation. Abonus leaned
over and whispered something in his ear. I remember next a room full of
confusion, a babel of conflicting voices, and a whirling glimpse of
uniforms. Then I fainted.

When I revived I was in my own room, stretched upon my pallet. I looked
around in a dazed way and saw the Brother Director and a young gendarme
by the closed door. Something black and irregular in the outline of the
bed at my side attracted my eyes. I saw that it was Edouard's head
buried in the drapery. As in a dream I laid my numb hand upon those
crisp curls. I was an old man, she was a weak, wretched girl. She
raised her face at my touch, and burned in my brain a vision of
stricken agony, of horrible soul-pain, which we liken, for want of a
better simile, to the anguish in the eyes of a dying doe. Her lips
moved; she said something, I know not what. Then she went, and I was
left alone with Elysee. His words--broken, stumbling words--I remember:

"She asked to see you, Sebastian, my friend. I could not refuse. Her
papers were forged. She did come from Algiers, where her uncle is a
Capuchin. I do not ask, I do not wish to know, how much you know of
this. Before my Redeemer, I feel nothing but pity for the poor lamb.
Lie still, my friend; try to sleep. We are both older men than we were
yesterday."

There is little else to tell. Only twice have reflections of this
episode in my old life reached me in the seclusion of a missionary post
at the foot of the Andes. I learned a few weeks ago that the wretched
Abonus had bought a sailor's cafe on the Toulon wharves with his five
thousand francs. And I know also that the heart of the
Marshal-President was touched by the sad story of Renee, and that she
left the prison La Salpetriere to lay herself in penitence at the foot
of Mother Church. This is the story of my friendship.



A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING
--------------------
BY HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN



_Hjalmar Hjorth Boyescn (born at Frederiksvaern, Norway, September 23,
1848; died in 1895) was a university graduate who came to this country
in 1869 to take a professorship of languages in a small Ohio college.
Soon after he was called to Cornell, and in 1882 he became Professor of
German in Columbia. His proficiency in the English language was
phenomenal. His mastery of scholarly English in the essay form was to
be expected, but his ready command of the delicately shaded style
required of a literary novelist has not been equaled by any other
naturalized American author. Hence in this series he has received
citizenship among those to the manner born. The story selected by his
son, as representative of his work in brief fiction, is a fine study of
character, with a pathetic ending, whose poignancy is due to its
fidelity to truth._



A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING
BY HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN
[Footnote: By permission of Charles Scribner's Sons. Copyright, 1876,
by James R. Osgood & Co.]

I

Ralph Grim was born a gentleman. He had the misfortune of coming into
the world some ten years later than might reasonably have been
expected. Colonel Grim and his lady had celebrated twelve anniversaries
of their wedding-day, and had given up all hopes of ever having a son
and heir, when this late comer startled them by his unexpected
appearance. The only previous addition to the family had been a
daughter, and she was then ten summers old.

Ralph was a very feeble child, and could only with great difficulty be
persuaded to retain his hold of the slender thread which bound him to
existence. He was rubbed with whiskey, and wrapped in cotton, and given
mare's milk to drink, and God knows what not, and the Colonel swore a
round oath of paternal delight when at last the infant stopped gasping
in that distressing way and began to breathe like other human beings.
The mother, who, in spite of her anxiety for the child's life, had
found time to plot for him a career of future magnificence, now
suddenly set him apart for literature, because that was the easiest
road to fame, and disposed of him in marriage to one of the most
distinguished families of the land. She cautiously suggested this to
her husband when he came to take his seat at her bedside; but to her
utter astonishment she found that he had been indulging a similar train
of thought, and had already destined the infant prodigy for the army.
She, however, could not give up her predilection for literature, and
the Colonel, who could not bear to be contradicted in his own house, as
he used to say, was getting every minute louder and more flushed, when,
happily, the doctor's arrival interrupted the dispute.

As Ralph grew up from infancy to childhood, he began to give decided
promise of future distinction. He was fond of sitting down in a corner
and sucking his thumb, which his mother interpreted as the sign of that
brooding disposition peculiar to poets and men of lofty genius. At the
age of five, he had become sole master in the house. He slapped his
sister Hilda in the face, or pulled her hair, when she hesitated to
obey him, tyrannized over his nurse, and sternly refused to go to bed
in spite of his mother's entreaties. On such occasions, the Colonel
would hide his face behind his newspaper, and chuckle with delight; it
was evident that nature had intended his son for a great military
commander. As soon as Ralph himself was old enough to have any thoughts
about his future destiny, he made up his mind that he would like to be
a pirate. A few months later, having contracted an immoderate taste for
candy, he contented himself with the comparatively humble position of a
baker; but when he had read "Robinson Crusoe" he manifested a strong
desire to go to sea in the hope of being wrecked on some desolate
island. The parents spent long evenings gravely discussing these
indications of uncommon genius, and each interpreted them in his or her
own way.

"He is not like any other child I ever knew," said the mother.

"To be sure," responded the father, earnestly. "He is a most
extraordinary child. I was a very remarkable child too, even if I do
say it myself; but, as far as I remember, I never aspired to being
wrecked on an uninhabited island."

The Colonel probably spoke the truth; but he forgot to take into
account that he had never read "Robinson Crusoe."

Of Ralph's school-days there is but little to report, for, to tell the
truth, he did not fancy going to school, as the discipline annoyed him.
The day after his having entered the gymnasium, which was to prepare
him for the Military Academy, the principal saw him waiting at the gate
after his class had been dismissed. He approached him, and asked why he
did not go home with the rest.

"I am waiting for the servant to carry my books," was the boy's answer.

"Give me your books," said the teacher.

Ralph reluctantly obeyed. That day the Colonel was not a little
surprised to see his son marching up the street, and every now and then
glancing behind him with a look of discomfort at the principal, who was
following quietly in his train, carrying a parcel of school-books.
Colonel Grim and his wife, divining the teacher's intention, agreed
that it was a great outrage, but they did not mention the matter to
Ralph. Henceforth, however, the boy refused to be accompanied by his
servant. A week later he was impudent to the teacher of gymnastics, who
whipped him in return. The Colonel's rage knew no bounds; he rode in
great haste to the gymnasium, reviled the teacher for presuming to
chastise _his_ son, and committed the boy to the care of a private
tutor.

At the age of sixteen, Ralph went to the capital with the intention of
entering the Military Academy. He was a tall, handsome youth, slender
of stature, and carried himself as erect as a candle. He had a light,
clear complexion of almost feminine delicacy; blond, curly hair, which
he always kept carefully brushed; a low forehead, and a straight,
finely modeled nose. There was an expression of extreme sensitiveness
about the nostrils, and a look of indolence in the dark-blue eyes. But
the _ensemble_ of his features was pleasing, his dress irreproachable,
and his manners bore no trace of the awkward self-consciousness
peculiar to his age. Immediately on his arrival in the capital he hired
a suite of rooms in the aristocratic part of the city, and furnished
them rather expensively, but in excellent taste. From a bosom friend,
whom he met by accident in the restaurant's pavilion in the park, he
learned that a pair of antlers, a stuffed eagle, or falcon, and a
couple of swords, were indispensable to a well-appointed apartment. He
accordingly bought these articles at a curiosity shop. During the first
weeks of his residence in the city he made some feeble efforts to
perfect himself in mathematics, in which he suspected he was somewhat
deficient. But when the same officious friend laughed at him, and
called him "green," he determined to trust to fortune, and henceforth
devoted himself the more assiduously to the French ballet, where he had
already made some interesting acquaintances.

The time for the examination came; the French ballet did not prove a
good preparation; Ralph failed. It quite shook him for the time, and he
felt humiliated. He had not the courage to tell his father; so he
lingered on from day to day, sat vacantly gazing out of his window, and
tried vainly to interest himself in the busy bustle down on the street.
It provoked him that everybody else should be so light-hearted, when he
was, or at least fancied himself, in trouble. The parlor grew
intolerable; he sought refuge in his bedroom. There he sat one evening
(it was the third day after the examination), and stared out upon the
gray stone walls which on all sides inclosed the narrow courtyard. The
round stupid face of the moon stood tranquilly dozing like a great
Limburger cheese suspended under the sky.

Ralph, at least, could think of a no more fitting simile. But the
bright-eyed young girl in the window hard by sent a longing look up to
the same moon, and thought of her distant home on the fjords, where the
glaciers stood like hoary giants, and caught the yellow moonbeams on
their glittering shields of snow. She had been reading "Ivanhoe" all
the afternoon, until the twilight had overtaken her quite unaware, and
now she suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to write her German
exercise. She lifted her face and saw a pair of sad, vacant eyes gazing
at her from the next window in the angle of the court. She was a little
startled at first, but in the next moment she thought of her German
exercise and took heart.

"Do you know German?" she said; then immediately repented that she had
said it.

"I do," was the answer.

She took up her apron and began to twist it with an air of
embarrassment.

"I didn't mean anything," she whispered, at last. "I only wanted to
know."

"You are very kind."

That answer roused her; he was evidently making sport of her.

"Well, then, if you do, you may write my exercise for me. I have marked
the place in the book."

And she flung her book over to the window, and he caught it on the edge
of the sill, just as it was falling.

"You are a very strange girl," he remarked, turning over the leaves of
the book, although it was too dark to read. "How old are you?"

"I shall be fourteen six weeks before Christmas," answered she,
frankly.

"Then I excuse you."

"No, indeed," cried she, vehemently. "You needn't excuse me at all. If
you don't want to write my exercise, you may send the book back again.
I am very sorry I spoke to you, and I shall never do it again."

"But you will not get the book back again without the exercise,"
replied he, quietly. "Good-night."

The girl stood long looking after him, hoping that he would return.
Then, with a great burst of repentance, she hid her face in her lap,
and began to cry.

"Oh, dear, I didn't mean to be rude," she sobbed. "But it was Ivanhoe
and Rebecca who upset me."

The next morning she was up before daylight, and waited for two long
hours in great suspense before the curtain of his window was raised. He
greeted her politely; threw a hasty glance around the court to see if
he was observed, and then tossed her book dexterously over into her
hands.

"I have pinned the written exercise to the flyleaf," he said. "You will
probably have time to copy it before breakfast."

"I am ever so much obliged to you," she managed to stammer.

He looked so tall and handsome, and grown-up, and her remorse stuck in
her throat, and threatened to choke her. She had taken him for a boy as
he sat there in his window the evening before.

"By the way, what is your name?" he asked, carelessly, as he turned to
go.

"Bertha."

"Well, my dear Bertha, I am happy to have made your acquaintance."

And he again made her a polite bow, and entered his parlor.

"How provokingly familiar he is," thought she; "but no one can deny
that he is handsome."

The bright roguish face of the young girl haunted Ralph during the
whole next week. He had been in love at least ten times before, of
course; but, like most boys, with young ladies far older than himself.
He found himself frequently glancing over to her window in the hope of
catching another glimpse of her face; but the curtain was always drawn
down, and Bertha remained invisible. During the second week, however,
she relented, and they had many a pleasant chat together. He now
volunteered to write all her exercises, and she made no objections. He
learned that she was the daughter of a well-to-do peasant in the
sea-districts of Norway (and it gave him quite a shock to hear it), and
that she was going to school in the city, and boarded with an old lady
who kept a pension in the house adjoining the one in which he lived.

One day in the autumn Ralph was surprised by the sudden arrival of his
father, and the fact of his failure in the examination could no longer
be kept a secret. The old Colonel flared up at once when Ralph made his
confession; the large veins upon his forehead swelled; he grew
coppery-red in his face, and stormed up and down the floor, until his
son became seriously alarmed; but, to his great relief, he was soon
made aware that his father's wrath was not turned against him
personally, but against the officials of the Military Academy who had
rejected him. The Colonel took it as insult to his own good name and
irreproachable standing as an officer; he promptly refused any other
explanation, and vainly racked his brain to remember if any youthful
folly of his could possibly have made him enemies among the teachers of
the Academy. He at last felt satisfied that it was envy of his own
greatness and rapid advancement which had induced the rascals to take
vengeance on his son. Ralph reluctantly followed his father back to the
country town where the latter was stationed, and the fair-haired Bertha
vanished from his horizon. His mother's wish now prevailed, and he
began, in his own easy way, to prepare himself for the University. He
had little taste for Cicero, and still less for Virgil, but with the
use of a "pony" he soon gained sufficient knowledge of these authors to
be able to talk in a sort of patronizing way about them, to the great
delight of his fond parents. He took quite a fancy, however, to the ode
in Horace ending with the lines:

Dulce ridentem,
Dulce loquentem,
Lalagen amabo.

And in his thought he substituted for Lalage the fair-haired Bertha,
quite regardless of the requirements of the metre.

To make a long story short, three years later Ralph returned to the
capital, and, after having worn out several tutors, actually succeeded
in entering the University.

The first year of college life is a happy time to every young man, and
Ralph enjoyed its processions, its parliamentary gatherings, and its
leisure, as well as the rest. He was certainly not the man to be
sentimental over the loss of a young girl whom, moreover, he had only
known for a few weeks. Nevertheless, he thought of her at odd times,
but not enough to disturb his pleasure. The standing of his family, his
own handsome appearance, and his immaculate linen opened to him the
best houses of the city, and he became a great favorite in society. At
lectures he was seldom seen, but more frequently in the theatres, where
he used to come in during the middle of the first act, take his station
in front of the orchestra box, and eye, through his lorgnette, by
turns, the actresses and the ladies of the parquet.

II

Two months passed, and then came the great annual ball which the
students give at the opening of the second semester. Ralph was a man of
importance that evening; first, because he belonged to a great family;
secondly, because he was the handsomest man of his year. He wore a
large golden star on his breast (for his fellow-students had made him a
Knight of the Golden Boar) and a badge of colored ribbons in his
buttonhole.

The ball was a brilliant affair, and everybody was in excellent
spirits, especially the ladies. Ralph danced incessantly, twirled his
soft mustache, and uttered amiable platitudes. It was toward midnight,
just as the company was moving out to supper, that he caught the glance
of a pair of dark-blue eyes, which suddenly drove the blood to his
cheeks and hastened the beating of his heart. But when he looked once
more the dark-blue eyes were gone, and his unruly heart went on
hammering against his side. He laid his hand on his breast and glanced
furtively at his fair neighbor, but she looked happy and unconcerned,
for the flavor of the ice cream was delicious. It seemed an endless
meal, but, when it was done, Ralph rose, led his partner back to the
ballroom, and hastily excused himself. His glance wandered round the
wide hall, seeking the well-remembered eyes once more, and, at length,
finding them in a remote corner, half hid behind a moving wall of
promenaders. In another moment he was at Bertha's side.

"You must have been purposely hiding yourself, Miss Bertha," said he,
when the usual greetings were exchanged. "I have not caught a glimpse
of you all this evening, until a few moments ago."

"But I have seen you all the while," answered the girl, frankly. "I
knew you at once as I entered the hall."

"If I had but known that you were here," resumed Ralph, as it were
invisibly expanding with an agreeable sense of dignity, "I assure you,
you would have been the very first one I should have sought."

She raised her large grave eyes to his, as if questioning his
sincerity; but she made no answer.

"Good gracious!" thought Ralph. "She takes things terribly in earnest."

"You look so serious, Miss Bertha," said he, after a moment's pause. "I
remember you as a bright-eyed, flaxen-haired little girl, who threw her
German exercise-book to me across the yard, and whose merry laughter
still rings pleasantly in my memory. I confess I don't find it quite
easy to identify this grave young lady with my merry friend of three
years ago."

"In other words, you are disappointed at not finding me the same as I
used to be."

"No, not exactly that; but--"

Ralph paused and looked puzzled. There was something in the earnestness
of her manner which made a facetious compliment seem grossly
inappropriate, and in the moment no other escape suggested itself.

"But what?" demanded Bertha, mercilessly.

"Have you ever lost an old friend?" asked he, abruptly.

"Yes; how so?"

"Then," answered he, while his features lighted up with a happy
inspiration--"then you will appreciate my situation. I fondly cherished
my old picture of you in my memory. Now I have lost it, and I can not
help regretting the loss. I do not mean, however, to imply that this
new acquaintance--this second edition of yourself, so to speak--will
prove less interesting."

She again sent him a grave, questioning look, and began to gaze
intently upon the stone in her bracelet.

"I suppose you will laugh at me," began she, while a sudden blush
flitted over her countenance. "But this is my first ball, and I feel as
if I had rushed into a whirlpool, from which I have, since the first
rash plunge was made, been vainly trying to escape. I feel so
dreadfully forlorn. I hardly know anybody here except my cousin, who
invited me, and I hardly think I know him either."

"Well, since you are irredeemably committed," replied Ralph, as the
music, after some prefatory flourishes, broke into the delicious rhythm
of a Strauss waltz, "then it is no use struggling against fate. Come,
let us make the plunge together. Misery loves company."

He offered her his arm, and she rose, somewhat hesitatingly, and
followed.

"I am afraid," she whispered, as they fell into line with the
procession that was moving down the long hall, "that you have asked me
to dance merely because I said I felt forlorn. If that is the case, I
should prefer to be led back to my seat."

"What a base imputation!" cried Ralph.

There was something so charmingly _naive_ in this
self-depreciation--something so altogether novel in his experience,
and, he could not help adding, just a little bit countrified. His
spirits rose; he began to relish keenly his position as an experienced
man of the world, and, in the agreeable glow of patronage and conscious
superiority, chatted with hearty _abandon_ with his little rustic
beauty.

"If your dancing is as perfect as your German ex1-ercises were," said
she, laughing, as they swung out upon the floor, "then I promise myself
a good deal of pleasure from our meeting."

"Never fear," answered he, quickly reversing his step, and whirling
with many a capricious turn away among the thronging couples.

When Ralph drove home in his carriage toward morning he briefly summed
up his impressions of Bertha in the following adjectives: intelligent,
delightfully unsophisticated, a little bit verdant, but devilish
pretty.

Some weeks later Colonel Grim received an appointment at the fortress
of Aggershuus, and immediately took up his residence in the capital. He
saw that his son cut a fine figure in the highest circles of society,
and expressed his gratification in the most emphatic terms. If he had
known, however, that Ralph was in the habit of visiting, with alarming
regularity, at the house of a plebeian merchant in a somewhat obscure
street, he would, no doubt, have been more chary of his praise. But the
Colonel suspected nothing, and it was well for the peace of the family
that he did not. It may have been cowardice in Ralph that he never
mentioned Bertha's name to his family or to his aristocratic
acquaintances; for, to be candid, he himself felt ashamed of the power
she exerted over him, and by turns pitied and ridiculed himself for
pursuing so inglorious a conquest. Nevertheless it wounded his egotism
that she never showed any surprise at seeing him, that she received him
with a certain frank unceremoniousness, which, however, was very
becoming to her; that she invariably went on with her work heedless of
his presence, and in everything treated him as if she had been his
equal. She persisted in talking with him in a half sisterly fashion
about his studies and his future career, warned him with great
solicitude against some of his reprobate friends, of whose merry
adventures he had told her; and if he ventured to compliment her on her
beauty or her accomplishments, she would look up gravely from her
sewing, or answer him in a way which seemed to banish the idea of
love-making into the land of the impossible. He was constantly
tormented by the suspicion that she secretly disapproved of him, and
that from a mere moral interest in his welfare she was conscientiously
laboring to make him a better man. Day after day he parted from her
feeling humiliated, faint-hearted, and secretly indignant both at
himself and her, and day after day he returned only to renew the same
experience. At last it became too intolerable, he could endure it no
longer. Let it make or break, certainty, at all risks, was at least
preferable to this sickening suspense. That he loved her, he could no
longer doubt; let his parents foam and fret as much as they pleased;
for once he was going to stand on his own legs. And in the end, he
thought, they would have to yield, for they had no son but him.

Bertha was going to return to her home on the sea-coast in a week.
Ralph stood in the little low-ceiled parlor, as she imagined, to bid
her good-by. They had been speaking of her father, her brothers, and
the farm, and she had expressed the wish that if he ever should come to
that part of the country he might pay them a visit. Her words had
kindled a vague hope in his breast, but in their very frankness and
friendly regard there was something which slew the hope they had
begotten. He held her hand in his, and her large confiding eyes shone
with an emotion which was beautiful, but was yet not love.

"If you were but a peasant born like myself," said she, in a voice
which sounded almost tender, "then I should like to talk to you as I
would to my own brother; but--"

"No, not brother, Bertha," cried he, with sudden vehemence; "I love you
better than I ever loved any earthly being, and if you knew how firmly
this love has clutched at the roots of my heart, you would perhaps--you
would at least not look so reproachfully at me."

She dropped his hand, and stood for a moment silent.

"I am sorry that it should have come to this, Mr. Grim," said she,
visibly struggling for calmness. "And I am perhaps more to blame than
you."

"Blame," muttered he, "why are you to blame?"

"Because I do not love you; although I sometimes feared that this might
come. But then again I persuaded myself that it could not be so."

He took a step toward the door, laid his hand on the knob, and gazed
down before him.

"Bertha," began he, slowly, raising his head, "you have always
disapproved of me, you have despised me in your heart, but you thought
you would be doing a good work if you succeeded in making a man of me."

"You use strong language," answered she, hesitatingly; "but there is
truth in what you say."

Again there was a long pause, in which the ticking of the old parlor
clock grew louder and louder.

"Then," he broke out at last, "tell me before we part if I can do
nothing to gain--I will not say your love--but only your regard? What
would you do if you were in my place?"

"My advice you will hardly heed, and I do not even know that it would
be well if you did. But if I were a man in your position, I should
break with my whole past, start out into the world where nobody knew
me, and where I should be dependent only upon my own strength, and
there I would conquer a place for myself, if it were only for the
satisfaction of knowing that I was really a man. Here cushions are
sewed under your arms, a hundred invisible threads bind you to a life
of idleness and vanity, everybody is ready to carry you on his hands,
the road is smoothed for you, every stone carefully moved out of your
path, and you will probably go to your grave without having ever
harbored one earnest thought, without having done one manly deed."

Ralph stood transfixed, gazing at her with open mouth; he felt a kind
of stupid fright, as if some one had suddenly seized him by the
shoulders and shaken him violently. He tried vainly to remove his eyes
from Bertha. She held him as by a powerful spell. He saw that her face
was lighted with an altogether new beauty; he noticed the deep glow
upon her cheek, the brilliancy of her eye, the slight quiver of her
lip. But he saw all this as one sees things in a half-trance, without
attempting to account for them; the door between his soul and his
senses was closed.

"I know that I have been bold in speaking to you in this way," she said
at last, seating herself in a chair at the window. "But it was yourself
who asked me. And I have felt all the time that I should have to tell
you this before we parted."

"And," answered he, making a strong effort to appear calm, "if I follow
your advice, will you allow me to see you once more before you go?"

"I shall remain here another week, and shall, during that time, always
be ready to receive you."

"Thank you. Good-by."

"Good-by."

Ralph carefully avoided all the fashionable thoroughfares; he felt
degraded before himself, and he had an idea that every man could read
his humiliation in his countenance. Now he walked on quickly, striking
the sidewalk with his heels; now, again, he fell into an uneasy,
reckless saunter, according as the changing moods inspired defiance of
his sentence, or a qualified surrender. And, as he walked on, the
bitterness grew within him, and he piteously reviled himself for having
allowed himself to be made a fool of by "that little country goose,"
when he was well aware that there were hundreds of women of the best
families of the land who would feel honored at receiving his
attentions. But this sort of reasoning he knew to be both weak and
contemptible, and his better self soon rose in loud rebellion.

"After all," he muttered, "in the main thing she was right. I am a
miserable good-for-nothing, a hothouse plant, a poor stick, and if I
were a woman myself, I don't think I should waste my affections on a
man of that calibre."

Then he unconsciously fell to analyzing Bertha's character, wondering
vaguely that a person who moved so timidly in social life, appearing so
diffident, from an ever-present fear of blundering against the
established forms of etiquette, could judge so quickly, and with such a
merciless certainty, whenever a moral question, a question of right and
wrong, was at issue. And, pursuing the same train of thought, he
contrasted her with himself, who moved in the highest spheres of
society as in his native element, heedless of moral scruples, and
conscious of no loftier motive for his actions than the immediate
pleasure of the moment.

As Ralph turned the corner of a street, he heard himself hailed from
the other sidewalk by a chorus of merry voices.

"Ah, my dear Baroness," cried a young man, springing across the street
and grasping Ralph's hand (all his student friends called him the
Baroness), "in the name of this illustrious company, allow me to salute
you. But why the deuce--what is the matter with you? If you have the
_Katzenjammer_ [Footnote: _Katzenjammer_ is the sensation a man has the
morning after a carousal.] soda-water is the thing. Come along--it's my
treat!"

The students instantly thronged around Ralph, who stood distractedly
swinging his cane and smiling idiotically.

"I am not quite well," said he; "leave me alone."

"No, to be sure, you don't look well," cried a jolly youth, against
whom Bertha had frequently warned him; "but a glass of sherry will soon
restore you. It would be highly immoral to leave you in this condition
without taking care of you."

Ralph again vainly tried to remonstrate; but the end was, that he
reluctantly followed.

He had always been a conspicuous figure in the student world; but that
night he astonished his friends by his eloquence, his reckless humor,
and his capacity for drinking. He made a speech for "Woman," which
bristled with wit, cynicism, and sarcastic epigrams. One young man,
named Vinter, who was engaged, undertook to protest against his
sweeping condemnation, and declared that Ralph, who was a universal
favorite among the ladies, ought to be the last to revile them.

"If," he went on, "the Baroness should propose to six well-known ladies
here in this city whom I could mention, I would wager six
Johannisbergers, and an equal amount of champagne, that every one of
them would accept him."

The others loudly applauded this proposal, and Ralph accepted the
wager. The letters were written on the spot, and immediately
despatched. Toward morning, the merry carousal broke up, and Ralph was
conducted in triumph to his home.

III

Two days later, Ralph again knocked on Bertha's door. He looked paler
than usual, almost haggard; his immaculate linen was a little crumpled,
and he carried no cane; his lips were tightly compressed, and his face
wore an air of desperate resolution.

"It is done," he said, as he seated himself opposite her. "I am going."

"Going!" cried she, startled at his unusual appearance. "How, where?"

"To America. I sail to-night. I have followed your advice, you see. I
have cut off the last bridge behind me."

"But, Ralph," she exclaimed, in a voice of alarm. "Something dreadful
must have happened. Tell me quick; I must know it."

"No; nothing dreadful," muttered he, smiling bitterly. "I have made a
little scandal, that is all. My father told me to-day to go to the
devil, if I chose, and my mother gave me five hundred dollars to help
me along on the way. If you wish to know, here is the explanation."

And he pulled from his pocket six perfumed and carefully folded notes,
and threw them into her lap.

"Do you wish me to read them?" she asked, with growing surprise.
"Certainly. Why not?"

She hastily opened one note after the other, and read.

"But, Ralph," she cried, springing up from her seat, while her eyes
flamed with indignation, "what does this mean? What have you done?"

"I didn't think it needed any explanation," replied he, with feigned
indifference. "I proposed to them all, and, you see, they all accepted
me. I received all these letters to-day. I only wished to know whether
the whole world regarded me as such a worthless scamp as you told me I
was."

She did not answer, but sat mutely staring at him, fiercely crumpling a
rose-colored note in her hand.  He began to feel uncomfortable under
her gaze, and threw himself about uneasily in his chair.

"Well," said he, at length, rising, "I suppose there is nothing more.
Good-by."

"One moment, Mr. Grim," demanded she, sternly. "Since I have already
said so much, and you have obligingly revealed to me a new side of your
character, I claim the right to correct the opinion I expressed of you
at our last meeting."

"I am all attention."

"I did think, Mr. Grim," began she, breathing hard, and steadying
herself against the table at which she stood, "that you were a very
selfish man--an embodiment of selfishness, absolute and supreme, but I
did not believe that you were wicked."

"And what convinced you that I was selfish, if I may ask?"

"What convinced me?" repeated she, in a tone of inexpressible contempt.
"When did you ever act from any generous regard for others? What good
did you ever do to anybody?"

"You might ask, with equal justice, what good I ever did to myself."

"In a certain sense, yes; because to gratify a mere momentary wish is
hardly doing one's self good."

"Then I have, at all events, followed the Biblical precept, and treated
my neighbor very much as I treat myself."

"I did think," continued Bertha, without heeding the remark, "that you
were, at bottom kind-hearted, but too hopelessly well-bred ever to
commit an act of any decided complexion, either good or bad. Now I see
that I have misjudged you, and that you are capable of outraging the
most sacred feelings of a woman's heart in mere wantonness, or for the
sake of satisfying a base curiosity, which never could have entered the
mind of an upright and generous man."

The hard, benumbed look in Ralph's face thawed in the warmth of her
presence, and her words, though stern, touched a secret spring in his
heart. He made two or three vain attempts to speak, then suddenly broke
down, and cried:

"Bertha, Bertha, even if you scorn me, have patience with me, and
listen."

And he told her, in rapid, broken sentences, how his love for her had
grown from day to day, until he could no longer master it; and how, in
an unguarded moment, when his pride rose in fierce conflict against his
love, he had done this reckless deed of which he was now heartily
ashamed. The fervor of his words touched her, for she felt that they
were sincere. Large mute tears trembled in her eyelashes as she sat
gazing tenderly at him, and in the depth of her soul the wish awoke
that she might have been able to return this great and strong love of
his; for she felt that in this love lay the germ of a new, of a
stronger and better man. She noticed, with a half-regretful pleasure,
his handsome figure, his delicately shaped hands, and the noble cast of
his features; an overwhelming pity for him rose within her, and she
began to reproach herself for having spoken so harshly, and, as she now
thought, so unjustly. Perhaps he read in her eyes the unspoken wish. He
seized her hand, and his words fell with a warm and alluring cadence
upon her ear.

"I shall not see you for a long time to come, Bertha," said he, "but if
at the end of five or six years your hand is still free, and I return
another man--a man to whom you could safely intrust your
happiness--would you then listen to what I may have to say to you? For
I promise, by all that we both hold sacred--"

"No, no," interrupted she, hastily. "Promise nothing. It would be
unjust to yourself, and perhaps also to me; for a sacred promise is a
terrible thing, Ralph. Let us both remain free; and, if you return and
still love me, then come, and I shall receive you and listen to you.
And even if you have outgrown your love, which is, indeed, more
probable, come still to visit me wherever I may be, and we shall meet
as friends and rejoice in the meeting."

"You know best," he murmured. "Let it be as you have said."

He arose, took her face between his hands, gazed long and tenderly into
her eyes, pressed a kiss upon her forehead, and hastened away.

That night Ralph boarded the steamer for Hull, and three weeks later
landed in New York.

IV

The first three months of Ralph's sojourn in America were spent in vain
attempts to obtain a situation. Day after day he walked down Broadway,
calling at various places of business, and night after night he
returned to his cheerless room with a faint heart and declining
spirits. It was, after all, a more serious thing than he had imagined,
to cut the cable which binds one to the land of one's birth. There a
hundred subtile influences, the existence of which no one suspects
until the moment they are withdrawn, unite to keep one in the straight
path of rectitude, or at least of external respectability; and Ralph's
life had been all in society; the opinion of his fellow-men had been
the one force to which he implicitly deferred, and the conscience by
which he had been wont to test his actions had been nothing but the
aggregate judgment of his friends. To such a man the isolation and the
utter irresponsibility of a life among strangers was tenfold more
dangerous; and Ralph found, to his horror, that his character contained
innumerable latent possibilities which the easy-going life in his home
probably never would have revealed to him. It often cut him to the
quick, when, on entering an office in his daily search for employment,
he was met by hostile or suspicious glances, or when, as it
occasionally happened, the door was slammed in his face, as if he were
a vagabond or an impostor. Then the wolf was often roused within him,
and he felt a momentary wild desire to become what the people here
evidently believed him to be. Many a night he sauntered irresolutely
about the gambling places in obscure streets, and the glare of light,
the rude shouts and clamors in the same moment repelled and attracted
him. If he went to the devil, who would care? His father had himself
pointed out the way to him; and nobody could blame him if he followed
the advice. But then again a memory emerged from that chamber of his
soul which still he held sacred; and Bertha's deep-blue eyes gazed upon
him with their earnest look of tender warning and regret. When the
summer was half gone, Ralph had gained many a hard victory over
himself, and learned many a useful lesson; and at length he swallowed
his pride, divested himself of his fine clothes, and accepted a
position as assistant gardener at a villa on the Hudson. And as he
stood perspiring with a spade in his hand, and a cheap broad-brimmed
straw hat on his head, he often took a grim pleasure in picturing to
himself how his aristocratic friends at home would receive him if he
should introduce himself to them in this new costume.

"After all, it was only my position they cared for," he reflected,
bitterly; "without my father's name what would I be to them?"

Then, again, there was a certain satisfaction in knowing that, for his
present situation, humble as it was, he was indebted to nobody but
himself; and the thought that Bertha's eyes, if they could have seen
him now, would have dwelt upon him with pleasure and approbation, went
far to console him for his aching back, his sunburned face, and his
swollen and blistered hands.

One day, as Ralph was raking the gravel-walks in the garden, his
employer's daughter, a young lady of seventeen, came out and spoke to
him. His culture and refinement of manner struck her with wonder, and
she asked him to tell her his history; but then he suddenly grew very
grave, and she forbore pressing him. From that time she attached a kind
of romantic interest to him, and finally induced her father to obtain
him a situation that would be more to his taste. And, before winter
came, Ralph saw the dawn of a new future glimmering before him. He had
wrestled bravely with fate, and had once more gained a victory. He
began the career in which success and distinction awaited him as
proofreader on a newspaper in the city. He had fortunately been
familiar with the English language before he left home, and by the
strength of his will he conquered all difficulties. At the end of two
years he became attached to the editorial staff; new ambitious hopes,
hitherto foreign to his mind, awoke within him; and with joyous tumult
of heart he saw life opening its wide vistas before him, and he labored
on manfully to repair the losses of the past, and to prepare himself
for greater usefulness in times to come. He felt in himself a stronger
and fuller manhood, as if the great arteries of the vast universal
world-life pulsed in his own being. The drowsy, indolent existence at
home appeared like a dull remote dream from which he had awaked, and he
blessed the destiny which, by its very sternness, had mercifully saved
him; he blessed her, too, who, from the very want of love for him, had,
perhaps, made him worthier of love.

The years flew rapidly. Society had flung its doors open to him, and
what was more, he had found some warm friends, in whose houses he could
come and go at pleasure. He enjoyed keenly the privilege of daily
association with high-minded and refined women; their eager activity of
intellect stimulated him, their exquisite ethereal grace and their
delicately chiseled beauty satisfied his aesthetic cravings, and the
responsive vivacity of their nature prepared him ever new surprises. He
felt a strange fascination in the presence of these women, and the
conviction grew upon him that their type of womanhood was superior to
any he had hitherto known. And by way of refuting his own argument, he
would draw from his pocketbook the photograph of Bertha, which had a
secret compartment there all to itself, and, gazing tenderly at it,
would eagerly defend her against the disparaging reflections which the
involuntary comparison had provoked. And still, how could he help
seeing that her features, though well molded, lacked animation; that
her eye, with its deep, trustful glance, was not brilliant, and that
the calm earnestness of her face, when compared with the bright,
intellectual beauty of his present friends, appeared pale and simple,
like a violet in a bouquet of vividly colored roses? It gave him a
quick pang, when, at times, he was forced to admit this; nevertheless,
it was the truth.

After six years of residence in America, Ralph had gained a very high
reputation as a journalist of rare culture and ability, and in 1867 he
was sent to the World's Exhibition in Paris, as correspondent of the
paper on which he had during all these years been employed. What
wonder, then, that he started for Europe a few weeks before his
presence was needed in the imperial city, and that he steered his
course directly toward the fjord valley where Bertha had her home? It
was she who had bidden him Godspeed when he fled from the land of his
birth, and she, too, should receive his first greeting on his return.

V

The sun had fortified itself behind a citadel of flaming clouds, and
the upper forest region shone with a strange ethereal glow, while the
lower plains were wrapped in shadow; but the shadow itself had a strong
suffusion of color. The mountain peaks rose cold and blue in the
distance.

Ralph, having inquired his way of the boatman who had landed him at the
pier, walked rapidly along the beach, with a small valise in his hand,
and a light summer overcoat flung over his shoulder. Many half-thoughts
grazed his mind, and ere the first had taken shape, the second and the
third came and chased it away. And still they all in some fashion had
reference to Bertha; for in a misty, abstract way, she filled his whole
mind; but for some indefinable reason, he was afraid to give free rein
to the sentiment which lurked in the remoter corners of his soul.

Onward he hastened, while his heart throbbed with the quickening tempo
of mingled expectation and fear. Now and then one of those chill gusts
of air, which seem to be careering about aimlessly in the atmosphere
during early summer, would strike into his face, and recall him to a
keener self-consciousness.

Ralph concluded, from his increasing agitation, that he must be very
near Bertha's home. He stopped and looked around him. He saw a large
maple at the roadside, some thirty steps from where he was standing,
and the girl who was sitting under it, resting her head in her hand and
gazing out over the sea, he recognized in an instant to be Bertha. He
sprang up on the road, not crossing, however, her line of vision, and
approached her noiselessly from behind.

"Bertha," he whispered.

She gave a little joyous cry, sprang up, and made a gesture as if to
throw herself in his arms; then suddenly checked herself, blushed
crimson, and moved a step backward.

"You came so suddenly," she murmured.

"But, Bertha," cried he (and the full bass of his voice rang through
her very soul), "have I gone into exile and waited these many years for
so cold a welcome?"

"You have changed so much, Ralph," she answered, with that old grave
smile which he knew so well, and stretched out both her hands toward
him. "And I have thought of you so much since you went away, and blamed
myself because I had judged you so harshly, and wondered that you could
listen to me so patiently, and never bear me any malice for what I
said."

"If you had said a word less," declared Ralph, seating himself at her
side on the greensward, "or if you had varnished it over with
politeness, then you would probably have failed to produce any effect
and I should not have been burdened with that heavy debt of gratitude
which I now owe you. I was a pretty thick-skinned animal in those days,
Bertha. You said the right word at the right moment; you gave me a bold
and a good piece of advice, which my own ingenuity would never have
suggested to me. I will not thank you, because, in so grave a case as
this, spoken thanks sound like a mere mockery. Whatever I am, Bertha,
and whatever I may hope to be, I owe it all to that hour."

She listened with rapture to the manly assurance of his voice; her eyes
dwelt with unspeakable joy upon his strong, bronzed features, his full
thick blond beard, and the vigorous proportions of his frame. Many and
many a time during his absence had she wondered how he would look if he
ever came back, and with that minute conscientiousness which, as it
were, pervaded her whole character, she had held herself responsible
before God for his fate, prayed for him, and trembled lest evil powers
should gain the ascendency over his soul.

On their way to the house they talked together of many things, but in a
guarded, cautious fashion, and without the cheerful abandonment of
former years. They both, as it were, groped their way carefully in each
other's minds, and each vaguely felt that there was something in the
other's thought which it was not well to touch unbidden. Bertha saw
that all her fears for him had been groundless, and his very appearance
lifted the whole weight of responsibility from her breast; and still,
did she rejoice at her deliverance from her burden? Ah, no; in this
moment she knew that that which she had foolishly cherished as the best
and noblest part of herself had been but a selfish need of her own
heart. She feared that she had only taken that interest in him which
one feels in a thing of one's own making, and now, when she saw that he
had risen quite above her; that he was free and strong, and could have
no more need of her, she had, instead of generous pleasure at his
success, but a painful sense of emptiness, as if something very dear
had been taken from her.

Ralph, too, was loth to analyze the impression his old love made upon
him. His feelings were of so complex a nature, he was anxious to keep
his more magnanimous impulses active, and he strove hard to convince
himself that she was still the same to him as she had been before they
had ever parted. But, alas! though the heart be warm and generous, the
eye is a merciless critic. And the man who had moved on the wide arena
of the world, whose mind had housed the large thoughts of this century,
and expanded with its invigorating breath--was he to blame because he
had unconsciously outgrown his old provincial self, and could no more
judge by its standards?

Bertha's father was a peasant, but he had, by his lumber trade,
acquired what in Norway was called a very handsome fortune. He received
his guest with dignified reserve, and Ralph thought he detected in his
eyes a lurking look of distrust. "I know your errand," that look seemed
to say, "but you had better give it up at once. It will be of no use
for you to try."

And after supper, as Ralph and Bertha sat talking confidingly with each
other at the window, he sent his daughter a quick, sharp glance, and
then, without ceremony, commanded her to go to bed. Ralph's heart gave
a great thump within him; not because he feared the old man, but
because his words, as well as his glances, revealed to him the sad
history of these long, patient years. He doubted no longer that the
love which he had once so ardently desired was his at last: and he made
a silent vow that, come what might, he would remain faithful.

As he came down to breakfast the next morning, he found Bertha sitting
at the window, engaged in hemming what appeared to be a rough kitchen
towel. She bent eagerly over her work, and only a vivid flush upon her
cheek told him that she had noticed his coming. He took a chair, seated
himself opposite her, and bade her "good-morning." She raised her head,
and showed him a sweet, troubled countenance, which the early sunlight
illumined with a high spiritual beauty. It reminded him forcibly of
those pale, sweet-faced saints of Fra Angelico, with whom the frail
flesh seems ever on the point of yielding to the ardent aspirations of
the spirit. And still even in this moment he could not prevent his eyes
from observing that one side of her forefinger was rough from sewing,
and that the whiteness of her arm, which the loose sleeves displayed,
contrasted strongly with the browned and sunburned complexion of her
hands.

After breakfast they again walked together on the beach, and Ralph,
having once formed his resolution, now talked freely of the New World--
of his sphere of activity there; of his friends and of his plans for
the future; and she listened to him with a mild, perplexed look in her
eyes, as if trying vainly to follow the flight of his thoughts. And he
wondered, with secret dismay, whether she was still the same strong,
brave-hearted girl whom he had once accounted almost bold; whether the
life in this narrow valley, amid a hundred petty and depressing cares,
had not cramped her spiritual growth, and narrowed the sphere of her
thought. Or was she still the same, and was it only he who had changed?
At last he gave utterance to his wonder, and she answered him in those
grave, earnest tones which seemed in themselves to be half a refutation
of his doubts.

"It was easy for me to give you daring advice then, Ralph," she said.
"Like most school-girls, I thought that life was a great and glorious
thing, and that happiness was a fruit which hung within reach of every
hand. Now I have lived for six years trying single-handed to relieve
the want and suffering of the needy people with whom I come in contact,
and their squalor and wretchedness have sickened me, and, what is still
worse, I feel that all I can do is as a drop in the ocean, and, after
all, amounts to nothing. I know I am no longer the same reckless girl
who, with the very best intention, sent you wandering through the wide
world; and I thank God that it proved to be for your good, although the
whole now appears quite incredible to me. My thoughts have moved so
long within the narrow circle of these mountains that they have lost
their youthful elasticity, and can no more rise above them."

Ralph detected, in the midst of her despondency, a spark of her former
fire, and grew eloquent in his endeavors to persuade her that she was
unjust to herself, and that there was but a wider sphere of life needed
to develop all the latent powers of her rich nature.

At the dinner-table, her father again sat eying his guest with that
same cold look of distrust and suspicion. And when the meal was at an
end, he rose abruptly and called his daughter into another room.
Presently Ralph heard his angry voice resounding through the house,
interrupted now and then by a woman's sobs, and a subdued, passionate
pleading. When Bertha again entered the room, her eyes were very red,
and he saw that she had been weeping. She threw a shawl over her
shoulders, beckoned to him with her hand, and he arose and followed
her. She led the way silently until they reached a thick copse of birch
and alder near the strand. She dropped down upon a bench between two
trees, and he took his seat at her side.

"Ralph," began she, with a visible effort, "I hardly know what to say
to you; but there is something which I must tell you--my father wishes
you to leave us at once."

"And _you_, Bertha?"

"Well--yes--I wish it too."

She saw the painful shock which her words gave him, and she strove hard
to speak. Her lips trembled, her eyes became suffused with tears, which
grew and grew, but never fell; she could not utter a word.

"Well, Bertha," answered he, with a little quiver in his voice, "if
you, too, wish me to go, I shall not tarry. Good-by."

He rose quickly, and, with averted face, held out his hand to her; but
as she made no motion to grasp the hand, he began distractedly to
button his coat, and moved slowly away.

"Ralph."

He turned sharply, and, before he knew it, she lay sobbing upon his
breast.

"Ralph," she murmured, while the tears almost choked her words, "I
could not have you leave me thus. It is hard enough--it is hard
enough--"

"What is hard, beloved?"

She raised her head abruptly, and turned upon him a gaze full of hope
and doubt, and sweet perplexity.

"Ah, no, you do not love me," she whispered, sadly.

"Why should I come to seek you, after these many years, dearest, if I
did not wish to make you my wife before God and men? Why should I--"

"Ah, yes, I know," she interrupted him with a fresh fit of weeping,
"you are too good and honest to wish to throw me away, now when you
have seen how my soul has hungered for the sight of you these many
years, how even now I cling to you with a despairing clutch. But you
can not disguise yourself, Ralph, and I saw from the first moment that
you loved me no more.

"Do not be such an unreasonable child," he remonstrated, feebly. "I do
not love you with the wild, irrational passion of former years; but I
have the tenderest regard for you, and my heart warms at the sight of
your sweet face, and I shall do all in my power to make you as happy as
any man can make you who--"

"Who does not love me," she finished.

A sudden shudder seemed to shake her whole frame, and she drew herself
more tightly up to him.

"Ah, no," she continued, after a while, sinking back upon her seat. "It
is a hopeless thing to compel a reluctant heart. I will accept no
sacrifice from you. You owe me nothing, for you have acted toward me
honestly and uprightly, and I shall be a stronger or--at least--a
better woman for what you gave me--and--for what you could not give me,
even though you would."

"But, Bertha," exclaimed he, looking mournfully at her, "it is not true
when you say that I owe you nothing. Six years ago, when first I wooed
you, you could not return my love, and you sent me out into the world,
and even refused to accept any pledge or promise for the future."

"And you returned," she responded, "a man, such as my hope had pictured
you; but, while I had almost been standing still, you had outgrown me,
and outgrown your old self, and, with your old self, outgrown its love
for me, for your love was not of your new self, but of the old. Alas!
it is a sad tale, but it is true."

She spoke gravely now, and with a steadier voice, but her eyes hung
upon his face with an eager look of expectation, as if yearning to
detect there some gleam of hope, some contradiction of the dismal
truth. He read that look aright and it pierced him like a sharp sword.
He made a brave effort to respond to its appeal, but his features
seemed hard as stone, and he could only cry out against his destiny,
and bewail his misfortune and hers.

Toward evening, Ralph was sitting in an open boat, listening to the
measured oar-strokes of the boatmen who were rowing him out to the
nearest stopping-place of the steamer. The mountains lifted their great
placid heads up among the sun-bathed clouds, and the fjord opened its
cool depths as if to make room for their vast reflections. Ralph felt
as if he were floating in the midst of the blue infinite space, and,
with the strength which this feeling inspired, he tried to face boldly
the thought from which he had but a moment ago shrunk as from something
hopelessly sad and perplexing.

And in that hour he looked fearlessly into the gulf which separates the
New World from the Old. He had hoped to bridge it; but, alas! it can
not be bridged.



THE IDYL OF RED GULCH
---------------------
BY BRET HARTE



_Francis Bret Harte (born at Albany, N. Y., August 25, 1839; died in
1902) wrought a revolution in the art of story-writing by his
California tale, "The Luck of Roaring Camp" which appeared in 1868 in
the second number of "The Overland Monthly," of which Harte was editor.
This was followed by a number of stories of the same original quality,
such as "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" and "The Idyl of Red Gulch,"
concerning which Parke Godwin wrote in "Putnam's Magazine," 1870: "Bret
Harte has deepened and broadened our literary and moral sympathies; he
has broken the sway of the artificial and conventional; he has
substituted actualities for idealities--but actualities that manifest
the grandeur of self-sacrifice, the beauty of love, the power of
childhood, and the ascendency of nature."_



THE IDYL OF RED GULCH
BY BRET HARTE
[Footnote: Copyright, 1899, by Bret Harte. Published by special
arrangement with Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., publishers of Mr.
Harte's works.]



Sandy was very drunk. He was lying under an azalea-bush, in pretty much
the same attitude in which he had fallen some hours before. How long he
had been lying there he could not tell, and didn't care; how long he
should lie there was a matter equally indefinite and unconsidered. A
tranquil philosophy, born of his physical condition, suffused and
saturated his moral being.

The spectacle of a drunken man, and of this drunken man in particular,
was not, I grieve to say, of sufficient novelty in Red Gulch to attract
attention. Earlier in the day some local satirist had erected a
temporary tombstone at Sandy's head, bearing the inscription, "Effects
of McCorkle's whiskey--kills at forty rods," with a hand pointing to
McCorkle's saloon. But this, I imagine, was, like most local satire,
personal; and was a reflection upon the unfairness of the process
rather than a commentary upon the impropriety of the result. With this
facetious exception, Sandy had been undisturbed. A wandering mule,
released from his pack, had cropped the scant herbage beside him, and
sniffed curiously at the prostrate man; a vagabond dog, with that deep
sympathy which the species have for drunken men, had licked his dusty
boots and curled himself up at his feet, and lay there, blinking one
eye in the sunlight, with a simulation of dissipation that was
ingenious and dog-like in its implied flattery of the unconscious man
beside him.

Meanwhile the shadows of the pine-trees had slowly swung around until
they crossed the road, and their trunks barred the open meadow with
gigantic parallels of black and yellow. Little puffs of red dust,
lifted by the plunging hoofs of passing teams, dispersed in a grimy
shower upon the recumbent man. The sun sank lower and lower, and still
Sandy stirred not. And then the repose of this philosopher was
disturbed, as other philosophers have been, by the intrusion of an
unphilosophical sex.

"Miss Mary," as she was known to the little flock that she had just
dismissed from the log schoolhouse beyond the pines, was taking her
afternoon walk. Observing an unusually fine cluster of blossoms on the
azalea-bush opposite, she crossed the road to pluck it, picking her way
through the red dust, not without certain fierce little shivers of
disgust and some feline circumlocution. And then she came suddenly upon
Sandy!

Of course she uttered the little staccato cry of her sex. But when she
had paid that tribute to her physical weakness she became overbold and
halted for a moment--at least six feet from this prostrate
monster--with her white skirts gathered in her hand, ready for flight.
But neither sound nor motion came from the bush. With one little foot
she then overturned the satirical headboard, and muttered "Beasts!"--an
epithet which probably, at that moment, conveniently classified in her
mind the entire male population of Red Gulch. For Miss Mary, being
possessed of certain rigid notions of her own, had not, perhaps,
properly appreciated the demonstrative gallantry for which the
Californian has been so justly celebrated by his brother Californians,
and had, as a new-comer, perhaps fairly earned the reputation of being
"stuck up."

As she stood there she noticed, also, that the slant sunbeams were
heating Sandy's head to what she judged to be an unhealthy temperature,
and that his hat was lying uselessly at his side. To pick it up and to
place it over his face was a work requiring some courage, particularly
as his eyes were open. Yet she did it and made good her retreat. But
she was somewhat concerned, on looking back, to see that the hat was
removed, and that Sandy was sitting up and saying something.

The truth was, that in the calm depths of Sandy's mind he was satisfied
that the rays of the sun were beneficial and healthful; that from
childhood he had objected to lying down in a hat; that no people but
condemned fools, past redemption, ever wore hats; and that his right to
dispense with them when he pleased was inalienable. This was the
statement of his inner consciousness. Unfortunately, its outward
expression was vague, being limited to a repetition of the following
formula: "Su'shine all ri'! Wasser maar, eh? Wass up, su'shine?"

Miss Mary stopped, and, taking fresh courage from her vantage of
distance, asked him if there was anything that he wanted.

"Wass up? Wasser maar?" continued Sandy, in a very high key.

"Get up, you horrid man!" said Miss Mary, now thoroughly incensed; "get
up and go home."

Sandy staggered to his feet. He was six feet high, and Miss Mary
trembled. He started forward a few paces and then stopped.

"Wass I go home for?" he suddenly asked, with great gravity.

"Go and take a bath," replied Miss Mary, eying his grimy person with
great disfavor.

To her infinite dismay, Sandy suddenly pulled off his coat and vest,
threw them on the ground, kicked off his boots, and, plunging wildly
forward, darted headlong over the hill in the direction of the river.

"Goodness heavens! the man will be drowned!" said Miss Mary; and then,
with feminine inconsistency, she ran back to the schoolhouse and locked
herself in.

That night, while seated at supper with her hostess, the blacksmith's
wife, it came to Miss Mary to ask, demurely, if her husband ever got
drunk. "Abner," responded Mrs. Stidger reflectively--"let's see! Abner
hasn't been tight since last 'lection." Miss Mary would have liked to
ask if he preferred lying in the sun on these occasions, and if a cold
bath would have hurt him; but this would have involved an explanation,
which she did not then care to give. So she contented herself with
opening her gray eyes widely at the red-cheeked Mrs. Stidger--a fine
specimen of Southwestern efflorescence--and then dismissed the subject
altogether. The next day she wrote to her dearest friend in Boston: "I
think I find the intoxicated portion of this community the least
objectionable. I refer, my dear, to the men, of course. I do not know
anything that could make the women tolerable."

In less than a week Miss Mary had forgotten this episode, except that
her afternoon walks took thereafter, almost unconsciously, another
direction. She noticed, however, that every morning a fresh cluster of
azalea, blossoms appeared among the flowers on her desk. This was not
strange, as her little flock were aware of her fondness for flowers,
and invariably kept her desk bright with anemones, syringas, and
lupines; but, on questioning them, they one and all professed ignorance
of the azaleas. A few days later, Master Johnny Stidger, whose desk was
nearest to the window, was suddenly taken with spasms of apparently
gratuitous laughter, that threatened the discipline of the school. All
that Miss Mary could get from him was, that some one had been "looking
in the winder." Irate and indignant, she sallied from her hive to do
battle with the intruder. As she turned the corner of the schoolhouse
she came plump upon the quondam drunkard, now perfectly sober, and
inexpressibly sheepish and guilty-looking.

These facts Miss Mary was not slow to take a feminine advantage of, in
her present humor. But it was somewhat confusing to observe, also, that
the beast, despite some faint signs of past dissipation, was
amiable-looking--in fact, a kind of blond Samson, whose corn-colored
silken beard apparently had never yet known the touch of barber's razor
or Delilah's shears. So that the cutting speech which quivered on her
ready tongue died upon her lips, and she contented herself with
receiving his stammering apology with supercilious eyelids and the
gathered skirts of uncontamination. When she re-entered the schoolroom,
her eyes fell upon the azaleas with a new sense of revelation; and then
she laughed, and the little people all laughed, and they were all
unconsciously very happy.

It was a hot day, and not long after this, that two short-legged boys
came to grief on the threshold of the school with a pail of water,
which they had laboriously brought from the spring, and that Miss Mary
compassionately seized the pail and started for the spring herself. At
the foot of the hill a shadow crossed her path, and a blue-shirted arm
dexterously but gently relieved her of her burden. Miss Mary was both
embarrassed and angry. "If you carried more of that for yourself," she
said spitefully to the blue arm, without deigning to raise her lashes
to its owner, "you'd do better." In the submissive silence that
followed she regretted the speech, and thanked him so sweetly at the
door that he stumbled. Which caused the children to laugh again--a
laugh in which Miss Mary joined, until the color came faintly into her
pale cheek. The next day a barrel was mysteriously placed beside the
door, and as mysteriously filled with fresh spring-water every morning.

Nor was this superior young person without other quiet attentions.
"Profane Bill," driver of the Slumgullion Stage, widely known in the
newspapers for his "gallantry" in invariably offering the box-seat to
the fair sex, had excepted Miss Mary from this attention, on the ground
that he had a habit of "cussin' on up grades," and gave her half the
coach to herself. Jack Hamlin, a gambler, having once silently ridden
with her in the same coach, afterward threw a decanter at the head of a
confederate for mentioning her name in a barroom. The over-dressed
mother of a pupil whose paternity was doubtful had often lingered near
this astute Vestal's temple, never daring to enter its sacred
precincts, but content to worship the priestess from afar.

With such unconscious intervals the monotonous procession of blue
skies, glittering sunshine, brief twilights, and starlit nights passed
over Red Gulch. Miss Mary grew fond of walking in the sedate and proper
woods. Perhaps she believed, with Mrs. Stidger, that the balsamic odors
of the firs "did her chest good," for certainly her slight cough was
less frequent and her step was firmer; perhaps she had learned the
unending lesson which the patient pines are never weary of repeating to
heedful or listless ears. And so one day she planned a picnic on
Buckeye Hill, and took the children with her. Away from the dusty road,
the straggling shanties, the yellow ditches, the clamor of restless
engines, the cheap finery of shop-windows, the deeper glitter of paint
and colored glass, and the thin veneering which barbarism takes upon
itself in such localities, what infinite relief was theirs! The last
heap of ragged rock and clay passed, the last unsightly chasm crossed--
how the waiting woods opened their long files to receive them! How the
children--perhaps because they had not yet grown quite away from the
breast of the bounteous Mother--threw themselves face downward on her
brown bosom with uncouth caresses, filling the air with their laughter;
and how Miss Mary herself--felinely fastidious and intrenched as she
was in the purity of spotless skirts, collar, and cuffs--forgot all,
and ran like a crested quail at the head of her brood, until, romping,
laughing, and panting, with a loosened braid of brown hair, a hat
hanging by a knotted ribbon from her throat, she came suddenly and
violently, in the heart of the forest, upon the luckless Sandy!

The explanations, apologies, and not overwise conversation that ensued
need not be indicated here. It would seem, however, that Miss Mary had
already established some acquaintance with this ex-drunkard. Enough
that he was soon accepted as one of the party; that the children, with
that quick intelligence which Providence gives the helpless, recognized
a friend, and played with his blond beard and long silken mustache, and
took other liberties--as the helpless are apt to do. And when he had
built a fire against a tree, and had shown them other mysteries of
woodcraft, their admiration knew no bounds. At the close of two such
foolish, idle, happy hours he found himself lying at the feet of the
schoolmistress, gazing dreamily in her face as she sat upon the sloping
hillside weaving wreaths of laurel and syringa, in very much the same
attitude as he had lain when first they met. Nor was the similitude
greatly forced. The weakness of an easy, sensuous nature, that had
found a dreamy exaltation in liquor, it is to be feared was now finding
ah equal intoxication in love.

I think that Sandy was dimly conscious of this himself. I know that he
longed to be doing something--slaying a grizzly, scalping a savage, or
sacrificing himself in some way for the sake of this sallow-faced,
gray-eyed schoolmistress. As I should like to present him in an heroic
attitude, I stay my hand with great difficulty at this moment, being
only withheld from introducing such an episode by a strong conviction
that it does not usually occur at such times. And I trust that my
fairest reader, who remembers that, in a real crisis, it is always some
uninteresting stranger or unromantic policeman, and not Adolphus, who
rescues, will forgive the omission.

So they sat there undisturbed--the woodpeckers chattering overhead and
the voices of the children coming pleasantly from the hollow below.
What they said matters little. What they thought--which might have been
interesting--did not transpire. The woodpeckers only learned how Miss
Mary was an orphan; how she left her uncle's house to come to
California for the sake of health and independence; how Sandy was an
orphan too; how he came to California for excitement; how he had lived
a wild life, and how he was trying to reform; and other details, which,
from a woodpecker's viewpoint, undoubtedly must have seemed stupid and
a waste of time. But even in such trifles was the afternoon spent; and
when the children were again gathered, and Sandy, with a delicacy which
the schoolmistress well understood, took leave of them quietly at the
outskirts of the settlement, it had seemed the shortest day of her
weary life.

As the long, dry summer withered to its roots, the school term of Red
Gulch--to use a local euphuism--"dried up" also. In another day Miss
Mary would be free, and for a season, at least, Red Gulch would know
her no more. She was seated alone in the school-house, her cheek
resting on her hand, her eyes half closed in one of those day-dreams in
which Miss Mary, I fear, to the danger of school discipline, was lately
in the habit of indulging. Her lap was full of mosses, ferns, and other
woodland memories. She was so preoccupied with these and her own
thoughts that a gentle tapping at the door passed unheard, or
translated itself into the remembrance of far-off woodpeckers. When at
last it asserted itself more distinctly, she started up with a flushed
cheek and opened the door. On the threshold stood a woman, the
self-assertion and audacity of whose dress were in singular contrast to
her timid, irresolute bearing.

Miss Mary recognized at a glance the dubious mother of her anonymous
pupil. Perhaps she was disappointed, perhaps she was only fastidious;
but as she coldly invited her to enter, she half unconsciously settled
her white cuffs and collar, and gathered closer her own chaste skirts.
It was, perhaps, for this reason that the embarrassed stranger, after a
moment's hesitation, left her gorgeous parasol open and sticking in the
dust beside the door, and then sat down at the further end of a long
bench. Her voice was husky as she began:

"I heerd tell that you were goin' down to the Bay to-morrow, and I
couldn't let you go until I came to thank you for your kindness to my
Tommy."

Tommy, Miss Mary said, was a good boy, and deserved more than the poor
attention she could give him.

"Thank you, miss; thank ye!" cried the stranger, brightening even
through the color which Red Gulch knew facetiously as her "war paint,"
and striving, in her embarrassment, to drag the long bench nearer the
schoolmistress. "I thank you, miss, for that; and if I am his mother,
there ain't a sweeter, dearer, better boy lives than him. And if I
ain't much as says it, thar ain't a sweeter, dearer, angeler teacher
lives than he's got."

Miss Mary, sitting primly behind her desk, with a ruler over her
shoulder, opened her gray eyes widely at this, but said nothing.

"It ain't for you to be complimented by the like of me, I know," she
went on hurriedly. "It ain't for me to be comin' here, in broad day, to
do it, either; but I come to ask a favor--not for me, miss--not for me,
but for the darling boy."

Encouraged by a look in the young schoolmistress's eye, and putting her
lilac-gloved hands together, the ringers downward, between her knees,
she went on, in a low voice:

"You see, miss, there's no one the boy has any claim on but me, and I
ain't the proper person to bring him up. I thought some, last year, of
sending him away to Frisco to school, but when they talked of bringing
a schoolma'am here, I waited till I saw you, and then I knew it was all
right, and I could keep my boy a little longer. And, oh! miss, he loves
you so much; and if you could hear him talk about you in his pretty
way, and if he could ask you what I ask you now, you couldn't refuse
him.

"It is natural," she went on rapidly, in a voice that trembled
strangely between pride and humility--"it's natural that he should take
to you, miss, for his father, when I first knew him, was a gentleman--
and the boy must forget me, sooner or later--and so I ain't a-goin' to
cry about that. For I come to ask you to take my Tommy--God bless him
for the bestest, sweetest boy that lives--to--to--take him with you."

She had risen and caught the young girl's hand in her own, and had
fallen on her knees beside her.

"I've money plenty, and it's all yours and his. Put him in some good
school, where you can go and see him, and help him to--to--to forget
his mother. Do with him what you like. The worst you can do will be
kindness to what he will learn with me. Only take him out of this
wicked life, this cruel place, this home of shame and sorrow. You will!
I know you will--won't you? You will--you must not, you can not say no!
You will make him as pure, as gentle as yourself; and when he has grown
up, you will tell him his father's name--the name that hasn't passed my
lips for years--the name of Alexander Morton, whom they call here
Sandy! Miss Mary!--do not take your hand away! Miss Mary, speak to me!
You will take my boy? Do not put your face from me. I know it ought not
to look on such as me. Miss Mary!--my God, be merciful!--she is leaving
me!"

Miss Mary had risen, and in the gathering twilight had felt her way to
the open window. She stood there, leaning against the casement, her
eyes fixed on the last rosy tints that were fading from the western
sky. There was still some of its light on her pure young forehead, on
her white collar, on her clasped white hands, but all fading slowly
away. The suppliant had dragged herself, still on her knees, beside
her.

"I know it takes time to consider. I will wait here all night; but I
can not go until you speak. Do not deny me now. You will!--I see it in
your sweet face--such a face as I have seen in my dreams. I see it in
your eyes, Miss Mary!--you will take my boy!"

The last red beam crept higher, suffused Miss Mary's eyes with
something of its glory, flickered, and faded, and went out. The sun had
set on Red Gulch. In the twilight and silence Miss Mary's voice sounded
pleasantly.

"I will take the boy. Send him to me to-night."

The happy mother raised the hem of Miss Mary's skirts to her lips. She
would have buried her hot face in its virgin folds, but she dared not.
She rose to her feet.

"Does--this man--know of your intention?" asked Miss Mary suddenly.

"No, nor cares. He has never seen the child to know it."

"Go to him at once--to-night--now! Tell him what you have done. Tell
him I have taken his child, and tell him--he must never see--see--the
child again. Wherever it may be, he must not come; wherever I may take
it, he must not follow! There, go now, please--I'm weary, and--have
much yet to do!"

They walked together to the door. On the threshold the woman turned.

"Good-night!"

She would have fallen at Miss Mary's feet. But at the same moment the
young girl reached out her arms, caught the sinful woman to her own
pure breast for one brief moment, and then closed and locked the door.

It was with a sudden sense of great responsibility that Profane Bill
took the reins of the Slumgullion stage the next morning, for the
schoolmistress was one of his passengers. As he entered the highroad,
in obedience to a pleasant voice from the "inside," he suddenly reined
up his horses and respectfully waited, as Tommy hopped out at the
command of Miss Mary.

"Not that bush, Tommy--the next."

Tommy whipped out his new pocket-knife, and cutting a branch from a
tall azalea-bush, returned with it to Miss Mary.

"All right now?"

"All right!"

And the stage-door closed on the Idyl of Red Gulch.



CRUTCH, THE PAGE
-------------------
BY GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND



_George Alfred Townsend (born at Georgetown, Del., January 30, 1841)
has written over his signature of "Gath" more newspaper correspondence
than any other living writer. In addition he has found time to write a
number of books, one of which, "Tales of the Chesapeake" published in
1880, ranks among the notable collections of American short stories. It
contains tales in the manner of Hawthorne, Poe, and Bret Harte, which
critics have complimented as being equal to the work of these masters.
Of the present selection, a story in which a famous Washington
character, "Beau Hickman" is introduced, E. C. Stedman said: "It is
good enough for Bret Harte or anybody."_



CRUTCH, THE PAGE
BY GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND ("OATH")
[Footnote: From "Tales of the Chesapeake." Copyright, 1880, by George
Alfred Townsend]

I--CHIPS

The Honorable Jeems Bee, of Texas, sitting in his committee-room half
an hour before the convening of Congress, waiting for his negro
familiar to compound a julep, was suddenly confronted by a small boy on
crutches.

"A letter!" exclaimed Mr. Bee, "with the frank of Reybold on it--that
Yankeest of Pennsylvania Whigs! Yer's familiarity! Wants me to appoint
one U--U--U, what?"

"Uriel Basil," said the small boy on crutches, with a clear, bold, but
rather sensitive voice.

"Uriel Basil, a page in the House of Representatives, bein' an infirm,
deservin' boy, willin' to work to support his mother. Infirm boy wants
to be a page, on the recommendation of a Whig, to a Dimmycratic
committee. I say, gen'lemen, what do you think of that, heigh?"

This last addressed to some other members of the committee, who had
meantime entered.

"Infum boy will make a spry page," said the Hon. Box Izard, of
Arkansaw.

"Harder to get infum page than the Speaker's eye," said the orator,
Pontotoc Bibb, of Georgia.

"Harder to get both than a 'pintment in these crowded times on a
opposition recommendation when all ole Virginny is yaw to be tuk care
of," said Hon. Fitzchew Smy, of the Old Dominion.

The small boy standing up on crutches, with large hazel eyes swimming
and wistful, so far from being cut down by these criticisms, stood
straighter, and only his narrow little chest showed feeling, as it
breathed quickly under his brown jacket.

"I can run as fast as anybody," he said impetuously. "My sister says
so. You try me!"

"Who's yo' sister, bub?"

"Joyce."

"Who's Joyce?"

"Joyce Basil--_Miss_ Joyce Basil to you, gentlemen. My mother keeps
boarders. Mr. Reybold boards there. I think it's hard when a little boy
from the South wants to work, that the only body to help him find it is
a Northern man. Don't you?"

"Good hit!" cried Jeroboam Coffee, Esq., of Alabama. "That boy would
run, if he could!"

"Gentlemen," said another member of the committee, the youthful
abstractionist from South Carolina, who was reputed to be a great poet
on the stump, the Hon. Lowndes Cleburn--"gentlemen, that boy puts the
thing on its igeel merits and brings it home to us. I'll ju my juty in
this issue. Abe, wha's my julep?"

"Gentlemen," said the Chairman of the Committee, Jeems Bee, "it 'pears
to me that there's a social p'int right here. Reybold, bein' the only
Whig on the Lake and Bayou Committee, ought to have something if he
sees fit to ask for it. That's courtesy! We, of all men, gentlemen,
can't afford to forget it."

"No, by durn!" cried Fitzchew Smy.

"You're right, Bee!" cried Box Izard. "You give it a constitutional
set."

"Reybold," continued Jeems Bee, thus encouraged, "Reybold is (to speak
out) no genius! He never will rise to the summits of usefulness. He
lacks the air, the swing, the _pose_, as the sculptors say; he won't
treat, but he'll lend a little money, provided he knows where you goin'
with it. If he ain't open-hearted, he ain't precisely mean!"

"You're right, Bee!" (General expression.)

"Further on, it may be said that the framers of the gov'ment never
intended _all_ the patronage to go to one side. Mr. Jeff'son put _that_
on the steelyard principle: the long beam here, the big weight of being
in the minority there. Mr. Jackson only threw it considabul more on one
side, but even he, gentlemen, didn't take the whole patronage from the
Outs; he always left 'em enough to keep up the courtesy of the thing,
and we can't go behind _him_. Not and be true to our traditions. Do I
put it right?"

"Bee," said the youthful Lowndes Cleburn, extending his hand, "you put
it with the lucidity and spirituality of Kulhoon himself!"

"Thanks, Cleburn," said Bee; "this is a compliment not likely to be
forgotten, coming from you. Then it is agreed, as the Chayman of yo'
Committee, that I accede to the request of Mr. Reybold, of
Pennsylvania?"

"Aye!" from everybody.

"And now," said Mr. Bee, "as we wair all up late at the club last
night, I propose we take a second julep, and as Reybold is coming in he
will jine us."

"I won't give you a farthing!" cried Reybold at the door, speaking to
some one. "Chips, indeed! What shall I give you money to gamble away
for? A gambling beggar is worse than an impostor! No, sir! Emphatically
no!"

"A dollar for four chips for brave old Beau!" said the other voice.
"I've struck 'em all but you. By the State Arms! I've got rights in
this distreek! Everybody pays toll to brave old Beau! Come down!"

The Northern Congressman retreated before this pertinacious mendicant
into his committee-room, and his pesterer followed him closely, nothing
abashed, even into the privileged cloisters of the committee. The
Southern members enjoyed the situation.

"Chips, Right Honorable! Chips for old Beau. Nobody this ten-year has
run as long as you. I've laid for you, and now I've fell on you. Judge
Bee, the fust business befo' yo' committee this mornin' is a assessment
for old Beau, who's 'way down! Rheu-matiz, bettin' on the black,
failure of remittances from Fauqueeah, and other casualties by wind an'
flood, have put ole Beau away down. He's a institution of his country
and must be sustained!"

The laughter was general and cordial among the Southerners, while the
intruder pressed hard upon Mr. Reybold. He was a singular object; tall,
grim, half-comical, with a leer of low familiarity in his eyes, but his
waxed mustache of military proportions, his patch of goatee just above
the chin, his elaborately oiled hair and flaming necktie, set off his
faded face with an odd gear of finery and impressiveness. His skin was
that of an old _roue's,_ patched up and chalked, but the features were
those of a once handsome man of style and carriage.

He wore what appeared to be a cast-off spring overcoat, out of season
and color on this blustering winter day, a rich buff waistcoat of an
embossed pattern, such as few persons would care to assume, save,
perhaps, a gambler, negro buyer, or fine "buck" barber. The assumption
of a large and flashy pin stood in his frilled shirt-bosom. He wore
watch-seals without the accompanying watch, and his pantaloons, though
faded and threadbare, were once of fine material and cut in a style of
extravagant elegance, and they covered his long, shrunken, but
aristocratic limbs, and were strapped beneath his boots to keep them
shapely. The boots themselves had been once of varnished kid or fine
calf, but they were cracked and cut, partly by use, partly for comfort;
for it was plain that their wearer had the gout, by his aristocratic
hobble upon a gold-mounted cane, which was not the least inconsistent
garniture of mendicancy.

"Boys," said Fitzchew Smy, "I s'pose we better come down early. There's
a shillin', Beau. If I had one more such constituent as you, I should
resign or die premachorely!"

"There's a piece o' tobacker," said Jeems Bee languidly, "all I can
afford, Beau, this mornin'. I went to a chicken-fight yesterday and
lost all my change."

"Mine," said Box Izard, "is a regulation pen-knife, contributed by the
United States, with the regret, Beau, that I can't 'commodate you with
a pine coffin for you to git into and git away down lower than you ever
been."

"Yaw's a dollar," said Pontotoc Bibb; "it'll do for me an' Lowndes
Cleburn, who's a poet and genius, and never has no money. This buys me
off, Beau, for a month."

The gorgeous old mendicant took them all grimly and leering, and then
pounced upon the Northern man, assured by their twinkles and winks that
the rest expected some sport.

"And now, Right Honorable from the banks of the Susquehanna, Colonel
Reybold--you see, I got your name; I ben a layin' for you!--come down
handsome for the Uncle and ornament of this capital and country. What's
yore's?"

"Nothing," said Reybold in a quiet way. "I can not give a man like you
anything, even to get rid of him."

"You're mean," said the stylish beggar, winking to the rest. "You hate
to put your hand down in yer pocket, mightily. I'd rather be ole Beau,
and live on suppers at the faro banks, than love a dollar like you!"

"I'll make it a V for Beau," said Pontotoc Bibb, "if he gives him a rub
on the raw like that another lick. Durn a mean man, Cleburn!"

"Come down, Northerner," pressed the incorrigible loafer again; "it
don't become a Right Honorable to be so mean with old Beau."

The little boy on crutches, who had been looking at this scene in a
state of suspense and interest for some time, here cried hotly:

"If you say Mr. Reybold is a mean man, you tell a story, you nasty
beggar! He often gives things to me and Joyce, my sister. He's just got
me work, which is the best thing to give; don't you think so,
gentlemen?"

"Work," said Lowndes Cleburn, "is the best thing to give away, and the
most onhandy thing to keep. I like play the best--Beau's kind o' play!"

"Yes," said Jeroboam Coffee; "I think I prefer to make the chips fly
out of a table more than out of a log."

"I like to work!" cried the little boy, his hazel eyes shining, and his
poor, narrow body beating with unconscious fervor, half suspended on
his crutches, as if he were of that good descent and natural spirit
which could assert itself without bashfulness in the presence of older
people. "I like to work for my mother. If I was strong, like other
little boys, I would make money for her, so that she shouldn't keep any
boarders--except Mr. Reybold. Oh! she has to work a lot; but she's
proud and won't tell anybody. All the money I get I mean to give her;
but I wouldn't have it if I had to beg for it like that man!"

"O Beau," said Colonel Jeems Bee, "you've cotched it now! Reybold's
even with you. Little Crutch has cooked your goose! Crutch is right
eloquent when his wind will permit."

The fine old loafer looked at the boy, whom he had not previously
noticed, and it was observed that the last shaft had hurt his pride.
The boy returned his wounded look with a straight, undaunted, spirited
glance, out of a child's nature. Mr. Reybold was impressed with
something in the attitude of the two, which made him forget his own
interest in the controversy.

Beau answered with a tone of nearly tender pacification:

"Now, my little man; come, don't be hard on the old veteran! He's down,
old Beau is, sence the time he owned his blooded pacer and dined with
the _Corps Diplomatique_; Beau's down sence then; but don't call the
old feller hard names. We take it back, don't we?--we take _them_ words
back?"

"There's a angel somewhere," said Lowndes Cleburn, "even in a
Washington bummer, which responds to a little chap on crutches with a
clear voice. Whether the angel takes the side of the bummer or the
little chap, is a p'int out of our jurisdiction. Abe, give Beau a
julep. He seems to have been demoralized by little Crutch's last."

"Take them hard words back, Bub," whined the licensed mendicant, with
either real or affected pain; "it's a p'int of honor I'm a-standin' on.
Do, now, little Major!"

"I shan't!" cried the boy. "Go and work like me. You're big, and you
called Mr. Reybold mean. Haven't you got a wife or little girl, or
nobody to work for? You ought to work for yourself, anyhow. Oughtn't
he, gentlemen?"

Reybold, who had slipped around by the little cripple and was holding
him in a caressing way from behind, looked over to Beau and was even
more impressed with that generally undaunted worthy's expression. It
was that of acute and suffering sensibility, perhaps the effervescence
of some little remaining pride, or it might have been a twinge of the
gout. Beau looked at the little boy, suspended there with the weak back
and the narrow chest, and that scintillant, sincere spirit beaming out
with courage born in the stock he belonged to. Admiration,
conciliation, and pain were in the ruined vagrant's eyes. Reybold felt
a sense of pity. He put his hand in his pocket and drew forth a dollar.

"Here, Beau," he said, "I'll make an exception. You seem to have some
feeling. Don't mind the boy!"

In an instant the coin was flying from his hand through the air. The
beggar, with a livid face and clinched cane, confronted the Congressman
like a maniac.

"You bilk!" he cried. "You supper customer! I'll brain you! I had
rather parted with my shoes at a dolly shop and gone gadding the hoof,
without a doss to sleep on--a town pauper, done on the vag--than to
have been made scurvy in the sight of that child and deserve his words
of shame!"

He threw his head upon the table and burst into tears.

II--HASH

Mrs. Tryphonia Basil kept a boarding-house of the usual kind on
Four-and-a-Half Street. Male clerks--there were no female clerks in the
Government in 1854--to the number of half a dozen, two old bureau
officers, an architect's assistant, Reybold, and certain temporary
visitors made up the table. The landlady was the mistress; the slave
was Joyce.

Joyce Basil was a fine-looking girl, who did not know it--a fact so
astounding as to be fitly related only in fiction. She did not know it,
because she had to work so hard for the boarders and her mother. Loving
her mother with the whole of her affection, she had suffered all the
pains and penalties of love from that repository. She was to-day
upbraided for her want of coquetry and neatness; to-morrow, for
proposing to desert her mother and elope with a person she had never
thought of. The mainstay of the establishment, she was not aware of her
usefulness. Accepting every complaint and outbreak as if she deserved
it, the poor girl lived at the capital a beautiful scullion, an
unsalaried domestic, and daily forwarded the food to the table, led in
the chamber work, rose from bed unrested and retired with all her bones
aching. But she was of a natural grace that hard work could not make
awkward; work only gave her bodily power, brawn, and form. Though no
more than seventeen years of age, she was a superb woman, her chest
thrown forward, her back like the torso of a Venus de Milo, her head
placed on the throat of a Minerva, and the nature of a child molded in
the form of a matron. Joyce Basil had black hair and eyes--very long,
excessive hair, that in the mornings she tied up with haste so
imperfectly that once Reybold had seen it drop like a cloud around her
and nearly touch her feet. At that moment, seeing him, she blushed. He
pleaded, for once, a Congressman's impudence, and without her objection
wound that great crown of woman's glory around her head, and as he did
so, the perfection of her form and skin, and the overrunning health and
height of the Virginia girl, struck him so thoroughly that he said:

"Miss Joyce, I don't wonder that Virginia is the mother of Presidents."

Between Reybold and Joyce there were already the delicate relations of
a girl who did not know that she was a woman and a man who knew she was
beautiful and worthy. He was a man vigilant over himself, and the
poverty and menial estate of Joyce Basil were already insuperable
obstacles to marrying her, but still he was attracted by her
insensibility that he could ever have regarded her in the light of
marriage. "Who was her father, the Judge?" he used to reflect. The
Judge was a favorite topic with Mrs. Basil at the table.

"Mr. Reybold," she would say, "you commercial people of the Nawth can't
hunt, I believe. Jedge Basil is now on the mountains of Fawquear
hunting the plova. His grandfather's estate is full of plova."

If, by chance, Reybold saw a look of care on Mrs. Basil's face, he
inquired for the Judge, her husband, and found he was still shooting on
the Occequan.

"Does he never come to Washington, Mrs. Basil?" asked Reybold one day,
when his mind was very full of Joyce, the daughter.

"Not while Congress is in session," said Mrs, Basil. "It's a little too
much of the _oi polloi_ for the Judge. His family, you may not know,
Mr. Reybold, air oi the Basils of King George. They married into the
Tayloze of Mount Snaffle. The Tayloze of Mount Snaffle have Ingin blood
in their veins--the blood of Pokyhuntus. They dropped the name of
Taylor, which had got to be common through a want of Ingin blood, and
spelled it with a E. It used to be Taylor, but now it's Tayloze."

On another occasion, at sight of Joyce Basil cooking over the fire,
against whose flame her molded arms took momentary roses upon their
ivory, Reybold said to himself: "Surely there is something above the
common in the race of this girl." And he asked the question of Mrs.
Basil:

"Madame, how was the Judge, your husband, at the last advices?"

"Hunting the snipe, Mr. Reybold. I suppose you do not have the snipe in
the Nawth. It is the aristocratic fowl of the Old Dominion. Its bill is
only shorter than its legs, and it will not brown at the fire, to
perfection, unless upon a silver spit. Ah! when the Jedge and myself
were young, before his land troubles overtook us, we went to the
springs with our own silver and carriages, Mr. Reybold."

Looking up at Mrs. Basil, Reybold noticed a pallor and flush
alternately, and she evaded his eye.

Once Mrs. Basil borrowed a hundred dollars from Reybold in advance of
board, and the table suffered in consequence.

"The Judge," she had explained, "is short of taxes on his Fawquear
lands. It's a desperate moment with him." Yet in two days the Judge was
shooting blue-winged teal at the mouth of the Acco-tink, and his entire
indifference to his family set Reybold to thinking whether the Virginia
husband and father was anything more than a forgetful savage. The
boarders, however, made very merry over the absent unknown. If the
beefsteak was tough, threats were made to send for "the Judge," and let
him try a tooth on it; if scant, it was suggested that the Judge might
have paid a gunning visit to the premises and inspected the larder. The
daughter of the house kept such an even temper, and was so obliging
within the limitations of the establishment, that many a boarder went
to his department without complaint, though with an appetite only
partly satisfied. The boy, Uriel, also was the guardsman of the
household, old-faced as if with the responsibility of taking care of
two women. Indeed, the children of the landlady were so well behaved
and prepossessing that, compared with Mrs. Basil's shabby _hauteur_ and
garrulity, the legend of the Judge seemed to require no other
foundation than offspring of such good spirit and intonation.

Mrs. Tryphonia Basil was no respecter of persons. She kept boarders,
she said, as a matter of society, and to lighten the load of the Judge.
He had very little idea that she was making a mercantile matter of
hospitality, but, as she feelingly remarked, "the old families are
misplaced in such times as these yer, when the departments are filled
with Dutch, Yankees, Crackers, Pore Whites, and other foreigners." Her
manner was, at periods, insolent to Mr. Reynold, who seldom protested,
out of regard to the daughter and the little Page; he was a man of
quite ordinary appearance, saying little, never making speeches or
soliciting notice, and he accepted his fare and quarters with little or
no complaint.

"Crutch," he said one day to the little boy, "did you ever see your
father?"

"No, I never saw him, Mr. Reybold, but I've had letters from him."

"Don't he ever come to see you when you are sick?"

"No. He wanted to come once when my back was very sick, and I laid in
bed weeks and weeks, sir, dreaming, oh! such beautiful things. I
thought mamma and sister and I were all with papa in that old home we
are going to some day. He carried me up and down in his arms, and I
felt such rest that I never knew anything like it, when I woke up, and
my back began to ache again. I wouldn't let mamma send for him, though,
because she said he was working for us all to make our fortunes, and
get doctors for me, and clothes and school for dear Joyce. So I sent
him my love, and told papa to work, and he and I would bring the family
out all right."

"What did your papa seem like in that dream, my little boy?"

"Oh! sir, his forehead was bright as the sun. Sometimes I see him now
when I am tired at night after running all day through Congress."

Reybold's eyes were full of tears as he listened to the boy, and,
turning aside, he saw Joyce Basil weeping also.

"My dear girl," he said to her, looking up significantly, "I fear he
will see his great Father very soon."

Reybold had few acquaintances, and he encouraged the landlady's
daughter to go about with him when she could get a leisure hour or
evening. Sometimes they took a seat at the theatre, more often at the
old Ascension Church, and once they attended a President's reception.
Joyce had the bearing of a well-bred lady, and the purity of thought of
a child. She was noticed as if she had been a new and distinguished
arrival in Washington.

"Ah! Reybold," said Pontotoc Bibb, "I understand, ole feller, what
keeps you so quiet now. You've got a wife unbeknown to the Remittee!
and a happy man I know you air."

It pleased Reybold to hear this, and deepened his interest in the
landlady's family. His attention to her daughter stirred Mrs. Basil's
pride and revolt together.

"My daughter, Colonel Reybold," she said, "is designed for the army.
The Judge never writes to me but he says: 'Tryphonee, be careful that
you impress upon my daughter the importance of the military profession.
My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother married into the army,
and no girl of the Basil stock shall descend to civil life while I can
keep the Fawquear estates.'"

"Madame," said the Congressman, "will you permit me to make the
suggestion that your daughter is already a woman and needs a father's
care, if she is ever to receive it. I beseech you to impress this
subject upon the Judge. His estates can not be more precious to his
heart, if he is a man of honor; nay, what is better than honor, his
duty requires him to come to the side of these children, though he be
ever so constrained by business or pleasure to attend to more worldly
concerns."

"The Judge," exclaimed Mrs. Basil, much miffed, "is a man of hereditary
ijees, Colonel Reybold. He is now in pursuit of the--ahem!--the
Kinvas-back on his ancestral waters. If he should hear that you suggest
a pacific life and the groveling associations of the capital for him,
he might call you out, sir!"

Reybold said no more; but one evening when Mrs. Basil was absent,
called across the Potomac, as happened frequently, at the summons of
the Judge--and on such occasions she generally requested a temporary
loan or a slight advance of board--Reybold found Joyce Basil in the
little parlor of the dwelling. She was alone and in tears, but the
little boy Uriel slept before the chimney-fire on a rug, and his pale,
thin face, catching the glow of the burning wood, looked beautified as
Reybold addressed the young woman.

"Miss Joyce," he said, "our little brother works too hard. Is there
never to be relief for him? His poor, withered body, slung on those
crutches for hours and hours, racing up the aisles of the House with
stronger pages, is wearing him out. His ambition is very interesting to
see, but his breath is growing shorter and his strength is frailer
every week. Do you know what it will lead to?"

"O my Lord!" she said, in the negrofied phrase natural to her latitude,
"I wish it was no sin to wish him dead."

"Tell me, my friend," said Reybold, "can I do nothing to assist you
both? Let me understand you. Accept my sympathy and confidence. Where
is Uriel's father? What is this mystery?"

She did not answer.

"It is for no idle curiosity that I ask," he continued. "I will appeal
to him for his family, even at the risk of his resentment. Where is
he?"

"Oh, do not ask!" she exclaimed. "You want me to tell you only the
truth. He is _there_!"

She pointed to one of the old portraits in the room--a picture fairly
painted by some provincial artist--and it revealed a handsome face, a
little voluptuous, but aristocratic, the shoulders clad in a martial
cloak, the neck in ruffles, and a diamond in the shirt bosom. Reybold
studied it with all his mind.

"Then it is no fiction," he said, "that you have a living father, one
answering to your mother's description. Where have I seen that face?
Has some irreparable mistake, some miserable controversy, alienated him
from his wife? Has he another family?"

She answered with spirit:

"No, sir. He is my father and my brother's only. But I can tell you no
more."

"Joyce," he said, taking her hand, "this is not enough. I will not
press you to betray any secret you may possess. Keep it. But of
yourself I must know something more. You are almost a woman. You are
beautiful."

At this he tightened his grasp, and it brought him closer to her side.
She made a little struggle to draw away, but it pleased him to see that
when the first modest opposition had been tried she sat quite happily,
though trembling, with his arm around her.

"Joyce," he continued, "you have a double duty: one to your mother and
this poor invalid, whose journey toward that Father's house not made
with hands is swiftly hastening; another duty toward your nobler self--
the future that is in you and your woman's heart. I tell you again that
you are beautiful, and the slavery to which you are condemning yourself
forever is an offence against the creator of such perfection. Do you
know what it is to love?"

"I know what it is to feel kindness," she answered after a time of
silence. "I ought to know no more. Your goodness is very dear to me. We
never sleep, brother and I, but we say your name together, and ask God
to bless you."

Reybold sought in vain to suppress a confession he had resisted. The
contact of her form, her large dark eyes now fixed upon him in emotion,
the birth of the conscious woman in the virgin and her affection still
in the leashes of a slavish sacrifice, tempted him onward to the
conquest.

"I am about to retire from Congress," he said. "It is no place for me
in times so insubstantial. There is darkness and beggary ahead for all
your Southern race. There is a crisis coming which will be followed by
desolation. The generation to which your parents belong is doomed! I
open my arms to you, dear girl, and offer you a home never yet
gladdened by a wife. Accept it, and leave Washington with me and with
your brother. I love you wholly."

A happy light shone in her face a moment. She was weary to the bone
with the day's work and had not the strength, if she had the will, to
prevent the Congressman drawing her to his heart. Sobbing there, she
spoke with bitter agony:

"Heaven bless you, dear Mr. Reybold, with a wife good enough to deserve
you! Blessings on your generous heart. But I can not leave Washington.
I love another here!"

III--DUST

The Lake and Bayou Committee reaped the reward of a good action.
Crutch, the page, as they all called Uriel Basil, affected the
sensibility of the whole committee to the extent that profanity almost
ceased there, and vulgarity became a crime in the presence of a child.
Gentle words and wishes became the rule; a glimmer of reverence and a
thought of piety were not unknown in that little chamber.

"Dog my skin!" said Jeems Bee, "if I ever made a 'pintment that give me
sech satisfaction! I feel as if I had sot a nigger free!"

The youthful abstractionist, Lowndes Cleburn, expressed it even better.
"Crutch," he said, "is like a angel reduced to his bones. Them air
wings or pinions, that he might have flew off with, being a pair of
crutches, keeps him here to tarry awhile in our service. But,
gentlemen, he's not got long to stay. His crutches is growing too heavy
for that expandin' sperit. Some day we'll look up and miss him through
our tears."

They gave him many a present; they put a silver watch in his pocket,
and dressed him in a jacket with gilt buttons. He had a bouquet of
flowers to take home every day to that marvelous sister of whom he
spoke so often; and there were times when the whole committee, seeing
him drop off to sleep as he often did through frail and weary nature,
sat silently watching lest he might be wakened before his rest was
over. But no persuasion could take him off the floor of Congress. In
that solemn old Hall of Representatives, under the semicircle of gray
columns, he darted with agility from noon to dusk, keeping speed upon
his crutches with the healthiest of the pages, and racing into the
document-room, and through the dark and narrow corridors of the old
Capitol loft, where the House library was lost in twilight. Visitors
looked with interest and sympathy at the narrow back and body of this
invalid child, whose eyes were full of bright, beaming spirit. He
sometimes nodded on the steps by the Speaker's chair; and these spells
of dreaminess and fatigue increased as his disease advanced upon his
wasting system. Once he did not awaken at all until adjournment. The
great Congress and audience passed out, and the little fellow still
slept, with his head against the Clerk's desk, while all the other
pages were grouped around him, and they finally bore him off to the
committee-room in their arms, where, among the sympathetic watchers,
was old Beau. When Uriel opened his eyes the old mendicant was looking
into them.

"Ah! little Major," he said, "poor Beau has been waiting for you to
take those bad words back. Old Beau thought it was all bob with his
little cove."

"Beau," said the boy, "I've had such a dream! I thought my dear father,
who is working so hard to bring me home to him, had carried me out on
the river in a boat. We sailed through the greenest marshes, among
white lilies, where the wild ducks were tame as they can be. All the
ducks were diving and diving, and they brought up long stalks of celery
from the water and gave them to us. Father ate all his. But mine turned
into lilies and grew up so high that I felt myself going with them, and
the higher I went the more beautiful grew the birds. Oh! let me sleep
and see if it will be so again."

The outcast raised his gold-headed cane and hobbled up and down the
room with a laced handkerchief at his eyes.

"Great God!" he exclaimed, "another generation is going out, and here I
stay without a stake, playing a lone hand forever and forever."

"Beau," said Reybold, "there's hope while one can feel. Don't go away
until you have a good word from our little passenger."

The outstretched hand of the Northern Congressman was not refused by
the vagrant, whose eccentric sorrow yet amused the Southern
Committeemen.

"Ole Beau's jib-boom of a mustache '11 put his eye out," said Pontotoc
Bibb, "ef he fetches another groan like that."

"Beau's very shaky around the hams an' knees," said Box Izard; "he's
been a good figger, but even figgers can lie ef they stand up too
long."

The little boy unclosed his eyes and looked around on all those kindly,
watching faces.

"Did anybody fire a gun?" he said. "Oh! no. I was only dreaming that I
was hunting with father, and he shot at the beautiful pheasants that
were making such a whirring of wings for me. It was music. When can I
hunt with father, dear gentlemen?"

They all felt the tread of the mighty hunter before the Lord very near
at hand--the hunter whose name is Death.

"There are little tiny birds along the beach," muttered the boy. "They
twitter and run into the surf and back again, and I am one of them! I
must be, for I feel the water cold, and yet I see you all, so kind to
me! Don't whistle for me now; for I don't get much play, gentlemen!
Will the Speaker turn me out if I play with the beach birds just once?
I'm only a little boy working for my mother."

"Dear Uriel," whispered Reybold, "here's Old Beau, to whom you once
spoke angrily. Don't you see him?"

The little boy's eyes came back from far-land somewhere, and he saw the
ruined gamester at his feet.

"Dear Beau," he said, "I can't get off to go home with you. They Avon't
excuse me, and I give all my money to mother. But you go to the back
gate. Ask for Joyce. She'll give you a nice warm meal every day. Go
with him, Mr. Reybold! If you ask for him it will be all right; for
Joyce--dear Joyce!--she loves you."

The beach birds played again along the strand; the boy ran into the
foam with his companions and felt the spray once more. The Mighty
Hunter shot his bird--a little cripple that twittered the sweetest of
them all. Nothing moved in the solemn chamber of the committee but the
voice of an old forsaken man, sobbing bitterly.

IV--CAKE

The funeral was over, and Mr. Reybold marveled much that the Judge had
not put in an appearance. The whole committee had attended the
obsequies of Crutch and acted as pall-bearers. Reybold had escorted the
page's sister to the Congressional cemetery, and had observed even old
Beau to come with a wreath of flowers and hobble to the grave and
deposit them there. But the Judge, remorseless in death as frivolous in
life, never came near his mourning wife and daughter in their severest
sorrow. Mrs. Tryphonia Basil, seeing that this singular want of
behavior on the Judge's part was making some ado, raised her voice
above the general din of meals.

"Jedge Basil," she exclaimed, "has been on his Tennessee purchase.
These Christmas times there's no getting through the snow in the
Cumberland Gap. He's stopped off thaw to shoot the--ahem!--the wild
torkey--a great passion with the Jedge. His half-uncle, Gineral
Johnson, of Awkinso, was a torkey-killer of high celebrity. He was a
Deshay on his Maw's side. I s'pose you haven't the torkey in the Dutch
country, Mr. Reybold?"

"Madame," said Reybold, in a quieter moment, "have you written to the
Judge the fact of his son's death?"

"Oh, yes--to Fawquear."

"Mrs. Basil," continued the Congressman, "I want you to be explicit
with me. Where is the Judge, your husband, at this moment?"

"Excuse me, Colonel Reybold, this is a little of a assumption, sir. The
Jedge might call you out, sir, for intruding upon his incog. He's very
fine on his incog., you air awair."

"Madame," exclaimed Reybold straightforwardly, "there are reasons why I
should communicate with your husband. My term in Congress is nearly
expired. I might arouse your interest, if I chose, by recalling to your
mind the memorandum of about seven hundred dollars in which you are my
debtor. That would be a reason for seeing your husband anywhere north
of the Potomac, but I do not intend to mention it. Is he aware--are
you?--that Joyce Basil is in love with some one in this city?"

Mrs. Basil drew a long breath, raised both hands, and ejaculated:
"Well, I declaw!"

"I have it from her own lips," continued Reybold. "She told me as a
secret, but all my suspicions, are awakened. If I can prevent it,
madame, that girl shall not follow the example of hundreds of her class
in Washington, and descend, through the boarding-house or the lodging
quarter, to be the wife of some common and unambitious clerk, whose
penury she must some day sustain by her labor. I love her myself, but I
will never take her until I know her heart to be free. Who is this
lover of your daughter?"

An expression of agitation and cunning passed over Mrs. Basil's face.

"Colonel Reybold," she whined, "I pity your blasted hopes. If I was a
widow, they should be comfoted. Alas! my daughter is in love with one
of the Fitz-chews of Fawqueeah. His parents is cousins of the Jedge,
and attached to the military."

The Congressman looked disappointed, but not yet satisfied.

"Give me at once the address of your husband," he spoke. "If you do
not, I shall ask your daughter for it, and she can not refuse me."

The mistress of the boarding-house was not without alarm, but she
dispelled it with an outbreak of anger.

"If my daughter disobeys her mother," she cried, "and betrays the
Jedge's incog., she is no Basil, Colonel Reybold. The Basils repudiate
her, and she may jine the Dutch and other foreigners at her pleasure."

"That is her only safety," exclaimed Reybold. "I hope to break every
string that holds her to yonder barren honor and exhausted soil."

He pointed toward Virginia, and hastened away to the Capitol. All the
way up the squalid and muddy avenue of that day he mused and wondered:
"Who is Fitzhugh? Is there such a person any more than a Judge Basil?
And yet there _is_ a Judge, for Joyce has told me so. _She_, at least,
can not lie to me. At last," he thought, "the dream of my happiness is
over. Invincible in her prejudice as all these Virginians, Joyce Basil
has made her bed among the starveling First Families, and there she
means to live and die. Five years hence she will have her brood around
her. In ten years she will keep a boarding-house and borrow money. As
her daughters grow up to the stature and grace of their mother, they
will be proud and poor again and breed in and out, until the race will
perish from the earth."

Slow to love, deeply interested, baffled but unsatisfied, Reybold made
up his mind to cut his perplexity short by leaving the city for the
county of Fauquier. As he passed down the avenue late that afternoon,
he turned into E Street, near the theatre, to engage a carriage for his
expedition. It was a street of livery stables, gambling dens, drinking
houses, and worse; murders had been committed along its sidewalks. The
more pretentious _canaille_ of the city harbored there to prey on the
hotels close at hand and aspire to the chance acquaintance of
gentlemen. As Reybold stood in an archway of this street, just as the
evening shadows deepened above the line of sunset, he saw something
pass which made his heart start to his throat and fastened him to the
spot. Veiled and walking fast, as if escaping detection or pursuit, the
figure of Joyce Basil flitted over the pavement and disappeared in a
door about at the middle of this Alsatian quarter of the capital.

"What house is that?" he asked of a constable passing by, pointing to
the door she entered.

"Gambling den," answered the officer. "It used to be old Phil
Pendleton's."

Reybold knew the reputation of the house: a resort for the scions of
the old tidewater families, where hospitality thinly veiled the
paramount design of plunder. The connection established the truth of
Mrs. Basil's statement. Here, perhaps, already married to the
dissipated heir of some unproductive estate, Joyce Basil's lot was cast
forever. It might even be that she had been tempted here by some wretch
whose villany she knew not of. Reybold's brain took fire at the
thought, and he pursued the fugitive into the doorway. A negro steward
unfastened a slide and peeped at Reybold knocking in the hall; and,
seeing him of respectable appearance, bowed ceremoniously as he let
down a chain and opened the door.

"Short cards in the front saloon," he said; "supper and faro back.
Chambers on the third floor. Walk up."

Reybold only tarried a moment at the gaming tables, where the silent,
monotonous deal from the tin box, the lazy stroke of the markers, and
the transfer of ivory "chips" from card to card of the sweat-cloth,
impressed him as the dullest form of vice he had ever found. Treading
softly up the stairs, he was attracted by the light of a door partly
ajar, and a deep groan, as of a dying person. He peeped through the
crack of the door and beheld Joyce Basil leaning over an old man, whose
brow she moistened with her handkerchief. "Dear father," he heard her
say, and it brought consolation to more than the sick man. Reybold
threw open the door and entered into the presence of Mrs. Basil and her
daughter. The former arose with surprise and shame, and cried:

"Jedge Basil, the Dutch have hunted you down. He's here--the Yankee
creditor."

Joyce Basil held up her hand in imploration, but Reybold did not heed
the woman's remark. He felt a weight rising from his heart, and the
blindness of many months lifted from his eyes. The dying mortal upon
the bed, over whose face the blue billow of death was rolling rapidly,
and whose eyes sought in his daughter's the promise of mercy from on
high, was the mysterious parent who had never arrived--the Judge from
Fauquier. In that old man's long waxed mustache, crimped hair, and
threadbare finery the Congressman recognized old Beau, the outcast
gamester and mendicant, and the father of Joyce and Uriel Basil.

"Colonel Reybold," faltered that old wreck of manly beauty and of
promise long departed, "old Beau's passing in his checks. The chant
coves will be telling to-morrow what they know of his life in the
papers, but I've dropped a cold deck on 'em these twenty years. Not one
knows old Beau, the Bloke, to be Tom Basil, cadet at West Point in the
last generation. I've kept nothing of my own but my children's good
names. My little boy never knew me to be his father. I tried to keep
the secret from my daughter, but her affection broke down my disguises.
Thank God! the old rounder's deal has run out at last. For his wife
he'll flash her diles no more, nor be taken on the vag."

"Basil," said Reybold, "what trust do you leave to me in your family?"

Mrs. Basil strove to interpose, but the dying man raised his voice:

"Tryphonee can go home to Fauquier. She was always welcome there--
without me. I was disinherited. But here, Colonel! My last drop of
blood is in the girl. She loves you."

A rattle arose in the sinner's throat. He made an effort, and
transferred his daughter's hand to the Congressman's. Not taking it
away, she knelt with her future husband at the bedside and raised her
voice:

"Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember him!"



IN EACH OTHER'S SHOES
-----------------------
BY GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP



_George Parsons Lathrop (born in Hawaii, August 25, 1851; died in 1898)
was literally wedded to American literature, in that he married Rose,
the second daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. She had inspired his
youthful poems, and now collaborated with him in several prose works,
as well as helped him materially in his master work, a biographical
edition of the works of Hawthorne. The fantastic conception of the
present story is reminiscent of the imaginative tales of his
father-in-law, but there is lacking the glamour of mysticism that
Hawthorne would have thrown around it. However, in aiming directly at
the moral sense of his readers, instead of approaching this through the
aesthetic sense, the obvious treatment of Lathrop gains in human
interest more than it loses in literary quality._



IN FACH OTHER'S SHOES
BY GEORGE PARSONS LATHROP
[Footnote: By permission of the publishers. From "True and Other
Stories" copyright, 1884, by Punk & Wagnalls.]

I

John Crombie had taken a room at the new apartment building, The Lorne;
having advanced so far in his experience of New York as to be aware
that if he could once establish himself in a house associated by name
with foreign places and titles his chance of securing "position" would
be greatly increased. He did not, however, take his meals in the
expensive cafe of that establishment, finding it more economical to go
to an outlandish little French restaurant, some distance away, which
had been nicknamed among those of his acquaintance who resorted to it
"The Fried Cat." This designation, based on a supposed resemblance to
the name of the proprietor, Fricat, was also believed to have value as
a sarcasm.

It was with no pleasant sensations, therefore, that Crombie, waking on
a gray and drizzling morning of November, remembered that he must hie
him to "The Fried Cat" for an early breakfast. He was in a hurry that
day; he had a great deal to do. His room was very small and dark; he
bounced up and dressed himself, in an obscure sort of way,
surreptitiously opening the door and reaching vaguely for his shoes,
which stood just outside, ready blacked. Nor did it add to his comfort
to know that the shoes were very defective as to their soles, and would
admit the water freely from the accumulated puddles of the sidewalks.
In fact, he had been ashamed to expose their bad condition to the
porter when he put them out every night, as he was forced to do, since
they were his only pair. Drawing them on hastily, in order to conceal
his mortification from even his own mind, he sallied forth; and though
at the moment of putting them on a dim sense of something unfamiliar
crossed his mind, it was not until he reached "The Fried Cat" that he
became fully aware that he had carried off some one else's shoes. He
turned up the soles, privately, underneath the low-hanging tablecloth,
and by a brief examination convinced himself that the gaiters did not
belong to him. The test was simple: his feet were unaccountably dry,
and there were none of those breaks in the lower surface of their
leather covering which he had so often been obliged to contemplate.

He saw at once that the porter of The Lorne had made a mistake, and
must have deposited at another apartment his own very insufficient
foot-gear; but there was no chance now to remedy the confusion. Crombie
had barely time to reach the office where he was employed.

On an ordinary occasion he would perhaps have gone back to The Lorne
and effected an honorable exchange. This particular day, however, was
by no means an ordinary occasion. Crombie had made up his mind to take
a momentous step; and it was therefore essential that he should appear
at his desk exactly on time.

He was a clerk in an important engraving company. For several years he
had occupied that post, without any opportunity having presented itself
for a promotion. At the best, even should he rise, what could he
expect? To be cashier, perhaps, or possibly, under exceptional
circumstances, a confidential private secretary. This prospect did not
satisfy him; he was determined to strike for something higher.

It will naturally be inferred that he was ambitious. I am not in a
position to deny this; but all I can be certain of is, that he was in
love--which is often about the same thing.

Several times at The Lorne he had met in the hallways or in the
elevator a young lady, who was in no small degree beautiful, and
charmed him still more by her generous presence, which conveyed the
idea of a harmonious and lovely character. She had light hair and blue
eyes, but these outward attributes were joined with a serenity and
poise of manner that indicated greater stability than is attributed, as
a rule, to individuals of her type.

Once he happened to arrive at the main entrance just as this vision of
beauty emerged to take her place in a coupe which was waiting by the
curbstone. She dropped her card-case upon the sidewalk, and Crombie's
heart throbbed with delight as he picked it up, gave it to her, and
received her smiling thanks for his little service. Another time, as he
was descending in the elevator, a door opposite the shaft, on the
second floor, stood open, and he caught a glimpse of the apartment to
which it gave access. The room was finished in soft tints, and was full
of upholstery and hangings that lent it a dim golden atmosphere. In the
middle of it stood the young girl, clad in the palest blue, above which
her hair shone like a golden cloud on some dim evening sky.

Slight occurrences of this sort had affected him. He learned that she
was the daughter of Littimer, the rich, widowed banker: her name was
Blanche.

II

In these new, stout shoes that did not belong to him Crombie trod with
a buoyancy and assurance strongly in contrast with the limp and
half-hearted pace to which his old, shabby gaiters had formerly
inclined him. He rattled down the stairs of the elevated station with
an alacrity almost bumptious; and the sharp, confident step that
announced his entrance into the company's office made the other clerks
quite ashamed of their own want of spirit.

He worked at his desk until noon; but when the bells of Trinity rang
twelve in solemn music over the busy streets, he dropped his pen,
walked with a decisive air the length of the room, and, opening a door
at the other end, presented himself before Mr. Blatchford, the
treasurer, who was also an influential director. "Crombie, eh? Well,
what is it?"

"I want to speak with you a moment, sir."

"Anything important? I'm busy."

"Yes, sir; quite important--to me. Possibly it may be to you."

"Fire away, then; but cut it short." Mr. Blatchford's dense,
well-combed gray side-whiskers were directed toward the young man in an
aggressive way, as if they had been some sort of weapon.

Crombie nonchalantly settled himself in a chair, at ease.

"I am tired of being a clerk," he said. "I'm going to be a director in
this company."

"I guess you're going to be an inmate of a lunatic asylum," Mr.
Blatchford remarked with astonished cheerfulness.

"That seems as unlikely to me as the other thing does to you," said
Crombie.

Hereupon Mr. Blatchford became sarcastically deferential. "And just
about when do you propose to become a director?" he asked.

"In the course of a month. The election, I believe, takes place in
December."

"Quite right," said his senior, whose urbanity was meant to be
crushing. "Meanwhile, you will need leisure to attend to this little
matter. Suppose I oblige you by saying that the company has no further
need of your services?"

"Suppose you do. What then?"

Mr. Blatchford gave way to his anger. "What then? Why, then you would
have to go; that's all. You would be thrown out of employment. You
would have to live on your principal, as long as there was any; and
afterward you would be obliged to find some other work, or beg, or
borrow, or--"

"That's enough," said Crombie, rising with dignity.

"No, it isn't," the treasurer declared, "for you don't seem to
understand even now. I discharge you, Mr. Crombie, on the company's
behalf, and you may leave this office at once."

Crombie bowed and went out. "I'm going to be a director, all the same,"
he told Mr. Blatchford before he closed the door. Then he collected the
few articles that belonged to him from his desk, and departed, a free
man. He had his future to himself; or else he had no future worth
speaking of; he wasn't sure which. Nevertheless, he felt quite happy.
Such a result as this had seemed to him, in the prospect, hardly
possible; but now that it had arrived he was not discomfited. Unbounded
courage seemed to rise from the stout soles of the alien boots,
percolating through his whole system. He was surprised at himself. He
had intended to use more diplomacy with Mr. Blatchford, and it was no
joke to him to lose his place. But instead of feeling despondent, or
going at once in search of new employment, he cheerfully went about
making calls on several gentlemen who, he thought, might be induced to
aid in his ambitious project. His manner was that of a person sure of
his powers and enjoying a well-earned leisure. It had its effect. Two
or three stockholders of the company joined in agreeing with him that
improved methods could be introduced into its management, and that it
would be a good thing to have in the board, say, two young, fresh,
active men--of whom Crombie, by reason of his experience and training,
should be one.

"I own a little stock," said the deposed clerk, who had taken the
precaution to obtain a couple of shares by great effort in saving.
"Besides, not having any other engrossing interests at present, I could
give my whole attention to the company's affairs."

"Quite so," said the merchant whom he was addressing, comfortably. "We
must see if we can get together a majority; no time to be lost, you
know."

"No, sir. I shall go right to work; and perhaps you will speak to some
of your friends, and give me some names."

"Certainly. Come in again pretty soon; will you?"

Crombie saw that he had a good foundation to build upon already.
Blatchford was not popular, even among the other directors; and sundry
stockholders, as well as people having business with the company, had
conceived a strong dislike of him on account of his overbearing
manners. Therefore it would not be hard to enlist sympathy for a
movement obnoxious to him. But it was imperative that the
self-nominated candidate should acquire more of the stock; and to do
this capital must be had. Crombie did not see quite how it was to be
got; he had no sufficient influence with the bankers.

The afternoon was nearly spent, and he trudged uptown, thinking of the
ways and means. But though the problem was far from solved, he still
continued in a state of extraordinary buoyancy. Those shoes, those
shoes! He was so much impressed by their comfort and the service they
had done him in making a good appearance that he resolved to get a new
pair of his own. He stopped and bought them; then kept on toward The
Lorne, carrying his purchase under his arm without embarrassment. The
cold drizzle had ceased, and the sunset came out clear and golden,
dipping its bright darts into the shallow pools of wet on the pavement,
and somehow mingling with his financial dreams a dream of that fair
hair that gave a glory to Miss Blanche's face.

On regaining his modest apartment he sent for the boot-boy, and
inquired the whereabouts of his missing shoes.

"Couldn't tell you, sir," said the servant. "Pretty near all the men's
boots in the house has gone out, you see, and they'll only be coming
back just about now. I'll look out for 'em, sir, and nab 'em as soon as
they show up."

"All right. Whose are these that I've been wearing?"

The boy took them, turned them over, and examined them with the eye of
a connoisseur in every part. "Them? I should say, sir, them was Mr.
Littimer's."

Crombie blushed with mortification. Of all the dwellers in The Lorne,
this was the very one with whom it was the most embarrassing to have
such a complication occur; and yet, strange inconsistency! he had been
longing for any accident, no matter how absurd or fantastic, that could
bring him some chance of an acquaintance with Blanche.

"Take these boots, dry them right away, and give 'em a shine. Then
carry them up to Mr. Littimer's rooms." He gave the boy a quarter: he
was becoming reckless.

Now that he had embarked upon a new career, he perceived the
impropriety of a future director in the Engraving Company going to dine
at "The Fried Cat," and so resolved to take his dinner in the gorgeous
cafe of The Lorne. While he was waiting for the proper moment to
descend thither, he could not get the shoe question out of his mind.
Surely, the boot-boy could not have been so idiotic as to have left
that ancient, broken-down pair at Littimer's threshold! And yet it was
possible. Crombie felt another flush of humility upon his cheeks. Then
he wandered off into reverie upon the multifarious errands of all the
pairs of boots and shoes that had gone forth from the great apartment
house that day. Patter, patter, patter! tramp, tramp!--he imagined he
heard them all walking, stamping, shuffling along toward different
parts of the city, with many different objects, and sending back
significant echoes. Whither had his own ruinous Congress gaiters
gone?--to what destination which they would never have reached had he
been in them? Had they carried their temporary possessor into any such
worriment and trouble as he himself had often traveled through on their
worn but faithful soles?

Breaking off from these idle fancies at length, he went down to the
cafe; and there he had the pleasure of dining at a table not far from
Blanche Littimer. But, to his surprise, she was alone. Her father did
not appear during the meal.

III

The fact was that the awful possibility, mere conjecture of which had
frightened Crombie, had occurred. Littimer had received the young man's
shoes in place of his own.

They happened to fit him moderately well; so that he, likewise, did not
notice the exchange until he had started for his office. He believed in
walking the entire distance, no matter what the weather; and to this
practice he made rare exceptions. But he had not progressed very far
before he became annoyed by an unaccustomed intrusion of dampness that
threatened him with a cold. He looked down, carefully surveyed the
artificial casing of his extremities, and decided to hail the first
unoccupied coupe he should meet. It was some time before he found one;
and when finally he took his seat in the luxurious little bank parlor
at Broad Street, his feet were quite wet.

His surprise at this occurrence was doubled when, on taking off the
shoes and scrutinizing them more closely, he ascertained that they were
the work of his usual maker. What had happened to him? Was he dreaming?
It seemed to him that he had gone back many years; that he was a poor
young man again, entering upon his first struggle for a foothold in the
crowded, selfish, unhomelike metropolis. He remembered the day when
_he_ had worn shoes like these.

He sent out for an assortment of new ones, from which, with unnecessary
lavishness, he chose and kept three or four pairs. All the rest of the
day, nevertheless, those sorry Congress boots of Crombie's, which he
had directed his office-boy to place beside the soft-coal fire, for
drying, faced him with a sort of haunting look. However much he might
be occupied with weightier matters, he could not keep his eyes from
straying in that direction; and whenever they rested on that battered
"right" and that way-worn "left," turned up in that mute, appealing
repose and uselessness at the fender, his thoughts recurred to his
early years of trial and poverty. Ah! how greatly he had changed since
then! On some accounts he could almost wish that he were poor again.
But when he remembered Blanche, he was glad, for her sake, that he was
rich.

But if for her sake, why not for others? Perhaps he had been rather
selfish, not only about Blanche, but toward her. His conscience began
to reproach him. Had he made for her a large life? Since her mother's
premature death, had he instilled into her sympathies, tastes,
companionships that would make her existence the richer? Had he not
kept her too much to himself? On the other hand, he had gratified all
her material wants; she could wear what she pleased, she could go where
she chose, she had acquaintances of a sort becoming to the daughter of
a wealthy man. Yet there was something lacking. What did she know about
old, used-up boots and all that pertains to them? What did she know
about indigence, real privation, and brave endurance, such as a hundred
thousand fellow-creatures all around her were undergoing?

Somehow it dawned upon the old banker that if she knew about all these
things and had some share in them, albeit only through sympathy and
helping, she might be happier, more truly a woman, than she was now.

As he sat alone, in revery, he actually heaved a deep sigh. A sigh is
often as happy a deliverance as a laugh, in this world of sorrows. It
was the first that had escaped Littimer in years. Let us say that it
was a breathing space, which gave him time for reflection; it marked
the turning of a leaf; it was the beginning of a new chapter in his
life.

Before he left the bank he locked the door of the private parlor, and
was alone for two or three minutes. The office boy was greatly puzzled
the next morning, when he found all the new pairs of shoes ranged
intact in the adjoining cupboard. The old ones were missing.

Littimer had gone away in them, furtively. He was ashamed of his own
impulse.

This time he resolutely remained afoot instead of hiring a carriage. He
despatched a messenger to Blanche, saying that sudden business would
prevent his returning to dinner, and continued indefinitely on his
way--whither? As to that he was by no means certain; he knew only that
he must get out of the beaten track, out of the ruts. For an hour or
two he must cease to be Littimer, the prosperous moneyed man, and must
tread once more the obscure paths through which he had made his way to
fortune. He could hardly have explained the prompting which he obeyed.
Could it have had anything to do with the treacherous holes in the
bottoms of those old shoes?

As it chanced, he passed by "The Fried Cat"; and, clingy though the
place was, lie felt an irresistible desire to enter it. Seating
himself, he ordered the regular dinner of the day. The light was dim;
the tablecloth was dirty; the attendance was irregular and distracted.
Littimer took one sip of the sour wine--which had a flavor resembling
vinegar and carmine ink in equal parts--and left the further contents
of his bottle untasted. The soup, the stew, and the faded roast that
were set before him, he could scarcely swallow; but a small cup of
coffee at the end of the wellnigh Barmecide repast came in very
palatably.

In default of prandial attractions, Littimer tried to occupy himself by
looking at the people around him. The omnifarious assembly included
pale, prim-whiskered young clerks; shabby, lonely, sallow young women,
whose sallowness and shabbiness stamped them with the mark of
integrity; other females whose specious splendor was not nearly so
reassuring; old men, broken-down men, middle-aged men of every
description, except the well-to-do.

"Some of them," Littimer reflected, "are no worse than I am. But are
any of them really any better?"

He could not convince himself that they were; yet his sympathies,
somehow, went out toward this motley crowd. It appeared to him very
foolish that he should sympathize, but he could not help it. "And,
after all," was the next thought that came to him, "are we to give pity
to people, or withhold it, simply because they are better or worse than
ourselves? No; there is something more in it than that."

Leaving "The Fried Cat" abruptly, he betook himself to an acquaintance
who, he knew, was very active in charities--a man who worked
practically, and gave time to the work.

"Do you visit any of your distress cases to-night?" he asked.

"Yes, I shall make a few calls," answered the man of charity. "Would
you like to go along?"

"Very much."

So the two started out together. The places they went to were of
various kinds, and revealed a considerable diversity of misfortune.
Sometimes they entered tenement houses of the most wretched character;
but in other instances they went to small and cheap but decent lodgings
over the shops on West Side avenues, or even penetrated into
boarding-houses of such good appearance that the banker was surprised
to find his friend's mission carrying him thither. All the cases,
however, had been studied, and were vouched for; and several were those
of young men and women having employment, but temporarily disabled, and
without friends who could help them.

"You do well to help these beginners, at critical times," said the
banker, with satisfaction. "I take a special interest in them."

It was almost the same as if he were receiving relief himself. Who
knows? Perhaps he was; but to the outward eye it appeared merely that,
with his friend's sanction, he was dispensing money and offers of
goodwill to the needy. What a strange freak it was, though, in
Littimer! He kept on with the work until quite late in the evening,
regardless of the risk he ran by continuing out-of-doors when so ill
shod.

I think he had some idea in his mind that he was performing an act of
penance.

IV

Having waited a reasonable length of time after dinner, Crombie again
left his room, resolved to make a call upon Mr. Littimer, on the plea
of apologizing for having marched away with his shoes.

He would not run the risk, by sending his card, of being denied as a
stranger; so, notwithstanding much hesitation and tremor, he approached
the door which he had once seen standing open, and knocked. A voice
which he now heard for the second time in his life, but which was so
sweet and crept so naturally into the centre of his heart that the
thought of it seemed always to have been there, answered: "Come in."
And he did come in.

"Is Mr. Lit--is your father at home?" It seemed to bring him a little
nearer to her to say "your father."

Blanche had risen from the chair where she was reading, and looked very
much surprised. "Oh," she exclaimed, with girlish simplicity, "I
thought it was the waiter! N-no; he hasn't come home yet."

"I beg pardon. Then perhaps I'd better call later." Crombie made a
feeble movement toward withdrawal.

"Did you want to see him on business? Who shall I tell him?"

"Mr. Crombie, please. It's nothing very important."

"Oh," said Blanche, with a little blush at her own deception, "haven't
I seen you in the house before? Are you staying here?"

She remembered distinctly the incident of the card-case, and how very
nice she had thought him, both on that occasion and every time she had
seen him. But as for him, his heart sank at the vague impersonality
with which she seemed to regard him.

"Yes, I'm here, and can easily come in again."

"I expect my father almost any moment," she said. "Would you like to
wait?"

What an absurd question, to one in his frame of mind! "Well, really, it
is such a very small matter," he began, examining his hat attentively.
Then he glanced up at her again, and smiled: "I only wanted to--to make
an apology."

"An apology!" echoed Blanche, becoming rather more distant. "Oh, dear!
I'm very sorry, I'm sure. I didn't know there'd been any trouble." She
began to look anxious, and turned her eyes upon the smouldering fire in
the grate. So this was to be the end of her pleasant, cheerful reveries
about this nice young man. And the reveries had been more frequent than
she had been aware of until now.

"There has been no trouble," he assured her, eagerly. "Just a little
mistake that occurred; and, in fact, I was hardly responsible for it."

Blanche's eyes began to twinkle with a new and amusing interpretation.
"Ah!" she cried, "are you the gentleman who--" Then she stopped short.

Crombie was placed in an unexpected embarrassment. How could he
possibly drag into his conversation with this lovely young creature so
commonplace and vulgar a subject as shoe-leather! Ignoring her
unfinished question, he asked: "Do you know, Miss Littimer, whether
the--a--one of the servants here has brought up anything for your
father--that is, a parcel, a--"

"A pair of shoes?" Blanche broke in, her eyes dancing, while her lips
parted in a smile.

"Yes, yes; that's what I meant."

"They came up just after dinner," Blanche returned. "Then you _are_ the
gentleman."

"I'm afraid I am," Crombie owned, and they both laughed.

Blanche quietly, and with no apparent intention, resumed her chair; and
this time Crombie took a seat without waiting to be invited again. Thus
they fell to talking in the friendliest way.

"I can't imagine what has become of papa," said Blanche. "He sent word,
in the most mysterious manner, that he had an engagement; and it is so
unusual! Perhaps it's something about the new house he's
building--up-town, you know. Dear me! it does make so much trouble, and
I don't believe I shall like it half as well as these little, cosey
rooms."

The little, cosey rooms were as the abode of giants compared with
Crombie's contracted quarters; but he drew comfort from what she said,
thinking how such sentiments might make it possible to win even so
unattainable an heiress into some modest home of his own.

"You don't know till you try it," he replied. "Just think of having a
place all to yourself, belonging to you."

Blanche lifted her eyebrows, and a little sigh escaped her. She was
reflecting, perhaps, that a place all to herself would be rather
lonely.

"You have never met my father?" she asked.

"No. I have seen him."

"Well, I think you will like him when you know him."

"I don't doubt it!" Crombie exclaimed with fervor, worshiping the very
furniture that surrounded Blanche.

"I hope we may become better acquainted."

"Only I think, Mr. Crombie, he will owe you an apology now."

"Why?"

"For keeping your shoes out so late."

"My shoes!" said the young man, in vehement surprise.

"Why, yes. Didn't you know they came to him? The porter said so."

Crombie grew red with the sense of his disgrace in having his
poverty-stricken boots come to the knowledge of the banker. Really, his
mortification was so great that the accident seemed to him to put an
end to all his hopes of further relations with Blanche and her father.

"Oh, I assure you," he said, rising, "that makes no difference at all!
I'm sorry I mentioned the matter. Pray tell Mr. Littimer not to think
of it. I--I believe I'd better go now, Miss Littimer."

Blanche rose too, and Crombie was on the point of bowing a good-night,
when the door opened, and a weary figure presented itself on the
threshold; the figure of a short man with a spare face, and whiskers in
which gray mingled with the sandy tint. He had a pinched, half-growling
expression, was draped in a light, draggled overcoat, and carried an
umbrella, the ribs of which hung loose around the stick.

"There's papa this moment!" cried Blanche.

Crombie perceived that escape was impossible, and, in a few words, the
reason of his presence there was made known to the old gentleman.

Littimer examined the visitor swiftly, from head to foot--especially
the foot. He advanced to the fire, toasted first one and then the other
of the damp gaiters he had on? and at length broke out, in a tone
bordering on reproach: "So you are the owner, are you? Then my sympathy
has all been wasted! Why, I supposed, from the condition of these
machines that I've been lugging around with me half the day that you
must be in the greatest distress. And, lo and behold! I find you a
young fellow in prime health, spruce and trim, doing well, I should
say, and perfectly happy."

"I can't help that, sir," retorted Crombie, nettled, but speaking with
respect. "I confess I was very happy until a moment or two ago."

"What do you mean by that?" the other demanded, with half-yielding
pugnacity. "Till I came in--is that the idea?"

"Oh, papa!" said Banche, softly.

"Well, honey-bee, what's the matter?" her father asked, trying to be
gruff. "Can't I say what I like, here?" But he surrendered at once by
adding: "You may be sure I don't want to offend any one. Sit down, Mr.
Crombie, and wait just a few moments while I go into the other room and
rejuvenate my hoofs, so to speak--for I fear I've made a donkey of
myself."

He disappeared into an adjoining room with Blanche, who there informed
him artlessly of Crombie's consideration and attentiveness in restoring
the errant shoes. When they came back Littimer insisted upon having the
young man remain a little longer and drink a glass of port with him.
Before taking his departure, however, Crombie, who felt free to speak
since Blanche had retired, made a brief statement in satisfaction of
conscience.

"You hinted," he said, "that you judged me to be doing well. I don't
want to leave you with a false impression. The truth is, I am not doing
well. I have no money to speak of, and to-day I lost the position on
which I depended."

"You don't tell me!" Littimer's newly roused charitable impulses came
to the fore. "Why, now you begin to be really interesting, Mr.
Crombie."

"Thanks," said Crombie; "I'm not ambitious to interest people in that
way, I told you only because I thought it fair."

"Don't be touchy, my dear sir," answered the banker. "I meant what I
said. Come, let's see what can be done. Have you any scheme in view?"

"Yes, I have," said Crombie, with decision.

Littimer gave a grunt. He was afraid of people with schemes, and was
disappointed with the young man's want of helplessness. Dependence
would have been an easier thing to deal with.

"Well," said he, "we must talk it over. Come and see me at the bank
to-morrow. You know the address."

The next day Crombie called at the bank; but Littimer was not there. He
was not very well, it was said; had not come down-town. Crombie did
what he could toward organizing his fight for a directorship, and then
returned to The Lorne, where he punctually inquired after Mr.
Littimer's health, and learned that the banker's ardor in making the
rounds among distressed people the night before had been followed by
reaction into a bad cold, with some threat of pneumonia. Blanche was
plainly anxious. The attack lasted three or four days, and Crombie,
though the affair of the directorship was pressing for attention, could
not forbear to remain as near as possible to Blanche, offering every
aid within his power, so far as he might without overstepping the lines
of his very recent acquaintance. But the Littimers did not, according
to his observation, number any very intimate companions in their
circle, or at least had not many friends who would be assiduous in such
an emergency. Perhaps their friends were too busy with social
engagements. Consequently, he saw a good deal of Blanche, and became to
her an object of reliance.

Well, it was simply one of those things that happen only in fairy tales
or in romances--or in real life. Littimer recovered without any serious
illness, and, after a brief conference with Crombie, entered heartily
into the young man's campaign. Crombie showed him just what
combinations could be formed, how success could be achieved, and what
lucrative results might be made to ensue. He conquered by figures and
by lucid common-sense. Littimer agreed to buy a number of shares in the
Engraving Company, which he happened to know could be purchased, and to
advance Crombie a good sum with which to procure a portion of the same
lot. But before this agreement could be consummated, Crombie, with his
usual frankness, said to the banker:

"I will conceal nothing from you, Mr. Littimer. I fell in love with
Blanche before I knew her, and if this venture of mine succeeds, I
shall ask her to become my wife."

"Let us attend to business," said Littimer, severely. "Sentiment can
take care of itself."

Their manoeuvre went on so vigorously that Blatchford became alarmed,
and sent an ambassador to arrange a compromise; but by this time
Crombie had determined to oust Blatchford himself and elect an entirely
new set of men, to compose more than half the Board, and so control
everything.

He succeeded.

But Littimer did not forget the charitable enthusiasm which had been
awakened by a circumstance on the surface so trivial as the mistake of
a boot-boy. He did not desist from his interest in aiding disabled or
unfortunate people who could really be aided. Some time after Crombie
had achieved his triumph in the Engraving Company, and had repaid
Littimer's loan, he was admitted to a share in the banking business;
and eventually the head of the house was able to give a great deal of
attention to perfecting his benevolent plans.

When the details of their wedding were under discussion, Crombie said
to Blanche: "Oughtn't we to have an old shoe thrown after the carriage
as we drive away?"

She smiled; looked him full in the eyes with a peculiar tenderness in
which there was a bright, delicious sparkle of humor. "No; old shoes
are much too useful to be wasted that way."

Somehow she had possessed herself of that particular, providential
pair; and, though I don't want anybody to laugh at my two friends, I
must risk saying that I suspect Mrs. Crombie of preserving it somewhere
to this day, in the big new house up-town.



THE DENVER EXPRESS
------------------
BY A. A. HAYES



_Augustus Alien Hayes (born in New England in 1837, died in 1892) was
the author of two works relating to the Far West which have placed on
permanent record an interesting phase, now forever past, of the
development of civilisation in that region. "New Colorado and the Santa
Fe Trail" is a descriptive book yielding the information of fact
concerning the pioneer period of settlement in that region; and "The
Denver Express" is a stirring piece of fiction vividly reproducing the
spirit of those days when the forces of social order introduced by the
railroad were battling with the primitive elements of vice and crime.
The latter story, which is here reproduced, appeared in an English
magazine, "Belgravia," where it was most favorably received by readers
whose appetite for such fiction had already been whetted by the tales
of Bret Harte._



THE DENVER EXPRESS
BY A. A. HAYES
[Footnote: From "Belgravia" for January, 1884]

Any one who has seen an outward-bound clipper ship getting under way,
and heard the "shanty-songs" sung by the sailors as they toiled at
capstan and halliards, will probably remember that rhymeless but
melodious refrain--

"I'm bound to see its muddy waters,
 Yeo ho! that rolling river;
Bound to see its muddy waters,
 Yeo ho! the wild Missouri."

Only a happy inspiration could have impelled Jack to apply the
adjective "wild" to that ill-behaved and disreputable river which,
tipsily bearing its enormous burden of mud from the far Northwest,
totters, reels, runs its tortuous course for hundreds on hundreds of
miles; and which, encountering the lordly and thus far well-behaved
Mississippi at Alton, and forcing its company upon this splendid river
(as if some drunken fellow should lock arms with a dignified
pedestrian), contaminates it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

At a certain point on the banks of this river, or rather--as it has the
habit of abandoning and destroying said banks--at a safe distance
therefrom, there is a town from which a railroad takes its departure,
for its long climb up the natural incline of the Great Plains, to the
base of the mountains; hence the importance to this town of the large
but somewhat shabby building serving as terminal station. In its smoky
interior, late in the evening and not very long ago, a train was nearly
ready to start. It was a train possessing a certain consideration. For
the benefit of a public easily gulled and enamored of grandiloquent
terms, it was advertised as the "Denver Fast Express"; sometimes, with
strange unfitness, as the "Lightning Express"; "elegant" and "palatial"
cars were declared to be included therein; and its departure was one of
the great events of the twenty-four hours in the country round about. A
local poet described it in the "live" paper of the town, cribbing from
an old Eastern magazine and passing off as original the lines--

"Again we stepped into the street,
 A train came thundering by,
Drawn by the snorting iron steed
 Swifter than eagles fly.
Rumbled the wheels, the whistle shrieked,
 Far rolled the smoky cloud,
Echoed the hills, the valleys shook,
 The flying forests bowed."

The trainmen, on the other hand, used no fine phrases. They called it
simply "Number Seventeen"; and, when it started, said it had "pulled
out."

On the evening in question, there it stood, nearly ready. Just behind
the great hissing locomotive, with its parabolic headlight and its
coal-laden tender, came the baggage, mail, and express cars; then the
passenger coaches, in which the social condition of the occupants
seemed to be in inverse ratio to their distance from the engine. First
came emigrants, "honest miners," "cowboys," and laborers; Irishmen,
Germans, Welshmen, Mennonites from Russia, quaint of garb and speech,
and Chinamen. Then came long cars full of people of better station, and
last the great Pullman "sleepers," in which the busy black porters were
making up the berths for well-to-do travelers of diverse nationalities
and occupations.

It was a curious study for a thoughtful observer, this motley crowd of
human beings sinking all differences of race, creed, and habits in the
common purpose to move westward--to the mountain fastnesses, the
sage-brush deserts and the Golden Gate.

The warning bell had sounded, and the fireman leaned far out for the
signal. The gong struck sharply the conductor shouted, "All aboard,"
and raised his hand; the tired ticket-seller shut his window, and the
train moved out of the station, gathered way as it cleared the
outskirts of the town, rounded a curve, entered on an absolutely
straight line, and, with one long whistle from the engine, settled down
to its work. Through the night hours it sped on, past lonely ranches
and infrequent stations, by and across shallow streams fringed with
cottonwood trees, over the greenish-yellow buffalo grass near the old
trail where many a poor emigrant, many a bold frontiersman, many a
brave soldier, had laid his bones but a short time before.

Familiar as they may be, there is something strangely impressive about
all-night journeys by rail, and those forming part of an American
transcontinental trip are almost weird. From the windows of a night
express in Europe or the older portions of the United States, one looks
on houses and lights, cultivated fields, fences, and hedges; and,
hurled as he may be through the darkness, he has a sense of
companionship and semi-security. Far different is it when the long
train is running over those two rails which, seen before night set in,
seem to meet on the horizon. Within all is as if between two great
seaboard cities; the neatly dressed people, the uniformed officials,
the handsome fittings, the various appliances for comfort. Without are
now long dreary levels, now deep and wild canyons, now an environment
of strange and grotesque rock-formations, castles, battlements,
churches, statues. The antelope fleetly runs, and the coyote skulks
away from the track, and the gray wolf howls afar off. It is for all
the world, to one's fancy, as if a bit of civilization, a family or
community, its belongings and surroundings complete, were flying
through regions barbarous and inhospitable.

From the cab of Engine No. 32, the driver of the Denver Express saw,
showing faintly in the early morning, the buildings grouped about the
little station ten miles ahead, where breakfast awaited his passengers.
He looked at his watch; he had just twenty minutes in which to run the
distance, as he had run it often before. Something, however, traveled
faster than he. From the smoky station out of which the train passed
the night before, along the slender wire stretched on rough poles at
the side of the track, a spark of that mysterious something which we
call electricity flashed at the moment he returned the watch to his
pocket; and in five minutes' time the station-master came out on the
platform, a little more thoughtful than his wont, and looked eastward
for the smoke of the train. With but three of the passengers in that
train has this tale especially to do, and they were all in the new and
comfortable Pullman "City of Cheyenne." One was a tall, well-made man
of about thirty--blond, blue-eyed, bearded, straight, sinewy, alert. Of
all in the train he seemed the most thoroughly at home, and the
respectful greeting of the conductor, as he passed through the car,
marked him as an officer of the road. Such was he--Henry Sinclair,
assistant engineer, quite famed on the line, high in favor with the
directors, and a rising man in all ways. It was known on the road that
he was expected in Denver, and there were rumors that he was to
organize the parties for the survey of an important "extension." Beside
him sat his pretty young wife. She was a New Yorker--one could tell at
first glance--from the feather of her little bonnet, matching the gray
traveling dress, to the tips of her dainty boots; and one, too, at whom
old Fifth Avenue promenaders would have turned to look. She had a
charming figure, brown hair, hazel eyes, and an expression at once
kind, intelligent, and spirited. She had cheerfully left a luxurious
home to follow the young engineer's fortunes; and it was well known
that those fortunes had been materially advanced by her tact and
cleverness.

The third passenger in question had just been in conversation with
Sinclair and the latter was telling his wife of their curious meeting.
Entering the toilet-room at the rear of the car, he said, he had begun
his ablutions by the side of another man, and it was as they were
sluicing their faces with water that he heard the cry:

"Why, Major, is that you? Just to think of meeting you here!"

A man of about tweny-eight years of age, slight, muscular, wiry, had
seized his wet hand and was wringing it. He had black eyes, keen and
bright, swarthy complexion, black hair and mustache. A keen observer
might have seen about him some signs of a _jeunesse orageuse_, but his
manner was frank and pleasing. Sinclair looked him in the face, puzzled
for a moment.

"Don't you remember Foster?" asked the man.

"Of course I do," replied Sinclair. "For a moment I could not place
you. Where have you been and what have you been doing?"

"Oh," replied Foster, laughing, "I've braced up and turned over a new
leaf. I'm a respectable member of society, have a place in the express
company, and am going to Denver to take charge."

"I am very glad to hear it, and you must tell me your story when we
have had our breakfast."

The pretty young woman was just about to ask who Foster was, when the
speed of the train slackened, and the brakeman opened the door of the
car and cried out in stentorian tones:

"Pawnee Junction; twenty minutes for refreshments!"

II

When the celebrated Rocky Mountain gold excitement broke out, more than
twenty years ago, and people painted "PIKE'S PEAK OR BUST" on the
canvas covers of their wagons and started for the diggings, they
established a "trail" or "trace" leading in a southwesterly direction
from the old one to California.

At a certain point on this trail a frontiersman named Barker built a
forlorn ranch-house and _corral_, and offered what is conventionally
called "entertainment for man and beast."

For years he lived there, dividing his time between fighting the
Indians and feeding the passing emigrants and their stock. Then the
first railroad to Denver was built, taking another route from the
Missouri, and Barker's occupation was gone. He retired with his gains
to St. Louis and lived in comfort.

Years passed on, and the "extension" over which our train is to pass
was planned. The old pioneers were excellent natural engineers and
their successors could find no better route than they had chosen. Thus
it was that "Barker's" became, during the construction period, an
important point, and the frontiersman's name came to figure on
time-tables. Meanwhile the place passed through a process of evolution
which would have delighted Darwin. In the party of engineers which
first camped there was Sinclair and it was by his advice that the
contractors selected it for division headquarters. Then came drinking
"saloons" and gambling houses--alike the inevitable concomitant and the
bane of Western settlements; then scattered houses and shops and a
shabby so-called hotel, in which the letting of miserable rooms
(divided from each other by canvas partitions) was wholly subordinated
to the business of the bar. Before long, Barker's had acquired a worse
reputation than even other towns of its type, the abnormal and uncanny
aggregations of squalor and vice which dotted the plains in those days;
and it was at its worst when Sinclair returned thither and took up his
quarters in the engineers' building. The passion for gambling was
raging, and to pander thereto were collected as choice a lot of
desperadoes as ever "stacked" cards or loaded dice. It came to be
noticed that they were on excellent terms with a man called "Jeff"
Johnson, who was lessee of the hotel; and to be suspected that said
Johnson, in local parlance, "stood in with" them. With this man had
come to Barker's his daughter Sarah, commonly known as "Sally," a
handsome girl, with a straight, lithe figure, fine features, reddish
auburn hair, and dark-blue eyes. It is but fair to say that even the
"toughs" of a place like Barker's show some respect for the other sex,
and Miss Sally's case was no exception to the rule. The male population
admired her; they said she "put on heaps of style"; but none of them
had seemed to make any progress in her good graces.

On a pleasant afternoon just after the track had been laid some miles
west of Barker's, and construction trains were running with some
regularity to and from the end thereof, Sinclair sat on the rude
veranda of the engineers' quarters, smoking his well-colored meerschaum
and looking at the sunset. The atmosphere had been so clear during the
day that glimpses were had of Long's and Pike's peaks, and as the young
engineer gazed at the gorgeous cloud display he was thinking of the
miners' quaint and pathetic idea that the dead "go over the Range."

"Nice-looking, ain't it, Major?" asked a voice at his elbow, and he
turned to see one of the contractors' officials taking a seat near him.

"More than nice-looking to my mind, Sam," he replied. "What is the news
to-day?"

"Nothin' much. There's a sight of talk about the doin's of them faro
an' keno sharps. The boys is gettin' kind o' riled, fur they allow the
game ain't on the square wuth a cent. Some of 'em down to the tie-camp
wuz a-talkin' about a vigilance committee, an' I wouldn't be surprised
ef they meant business. Hev yer heard about the young feller that come
in a week ago from Laramie an' set up a new faro-bank?"

"No. What about him?"

"Wa'al, yer see he's a feller thet's got a lot of sand an' ain't
afeared of nobody, an' he's allowed to hev the deal to his place on the
square every time. Accord-in' to my idee, gamblin's about the wust
racket a feller kin work, but it takes all sorts of men to make a
world, an' ef the boys is bound to hev a game, I cal-kilate they'd like
to patronize his bank. Thet's made the old crowd mighty mad an' they're
a-talkin' about puttin' up a job of cheatin' on him an' then stringin'
him up. Besides, I kind o' think there's some cussed jealousy on
another lay as comes in. Yer see the young feller--Cyrus Foster's his
name--is sweet on thet gal of Jeff Johnson's. Jeff wuz to Laramie
before he come here, an' Foster knowed Sally up thar. I allow he moved
here to see her. Hello! Ef thar they ain't a-coming now."

Down a path leading from the town past the railroad buildings, and well
on the prairie, Sinclair saw the girl walking with the "young feller."
He was talking earnestly to her and her eyes were cast down. She looked
pretty and, in a way, graceful; and there was in her attire a
noticeable attempt at neatness, and a faint reminiscence of bygone
fashions. A smile came to Sinclair's lips as he thought of a couple
walking up Fifth Avenue during his leave of absence not many months
before, and of a letter many times read, lying at that moment in his
breast-pocket.

"Papa's bark is worse than his bite," ran one of its sentences. "Of
course he does not like the idea of my leaving him and going away to
such dreadful and remote places as Denver and Omaha and I don't know
what else; but he will not oppose me in the end, and when you come on
again.--"

"By thunder!" exclaimed Sam; "ef thar ain't one of them cussed sharps
a-watchin' 'em."

Sure enough a rough-looking fellow, his hat pulled over his eyes, half
concealed behind a pile of lumber, was casting a sinister glance toward
the pair.

"The gal's well enough," continued Sam; "but I don't take a cent's wuth
of stock in thet thar father of her'n. He's in with them sharps, sure
pop, an' it don't suit his book to hev Foster hangin' round. It's ten
to one he sent that cuss to watch 'em. Wa'al, they're a queer lot, an'
I'm afeared thar's plenty of trouble ahead among 'em. Good luck to you,
Major," and he pushed back his chair and walked away.

After breakfast next morning, when Sinclair was sitting at the table in
his office, busy with maps and plans, the door was Lhrown open, and
Foster, panting for breath, ran in.

"Major Sinclair," he said, speaking with difficulty, "I've no claim on
you, but I ask you to protect me. The other gamblers are going to hang
me. They are more than ten to one. They will track me here unless you
harbor me, I'm a dead man."

Sinclair rose from his chair in a second and Avalked to the window. A
party of men were approaching the building. He turned to Foster:

"I do not like your trade," said he; "but I will not see you murdered
if I can help it. You are welcome here." Foster said "Thank you," stood
still a moment, and then began to pace the room, rapidly clinching his
hands, his whole frame quivering, his eyes flashing fire--"for all the
world," Sinclair said, in telling the story afterward, "like a fierce
caged tiger."

"My God!" he muttered, with concentrated intensity, "to be _trapped_,
TRAPPED like this!"

Sinclair stepped quickly to the door of his bedroom and motioned Foster
to enter. Then there came a knock at the outer door, and he opened it
and stood on the threshold erect and firm. Half a dozen "toughs" faced
him.

"Major," said their spokesman, "we want that man."

"You can not have him, boys."

"Major, we're a-goin' to take him."

"You had better not try," said Sinclair, with perfect ease and
self-possession, and in a pleasant voice. "I have given him shelter,
and you can only get him over my dead body. Of course you can kill me,
but you won't do even that without one or two of you going down; and
then you know perfectly well, boys, what will happen. You _know_ that
if you lay your finger on a railroad man it's all up with you. There
are five hundred men in the tie-camp, not five miles away, and you
don't need to be told that in less than one hour after they get word
there won't be a piece of one of you big enough to bury."

The men made no reply. They looked him straight in the eyes for a
moment. Had they seen a sign of flinching they might have risked the
issue, but there was none. With muttered curses, they slunk away.
Sinclair shut and bolted the door, then opened the one leading to the
bedroom.

"Foster," he said, "the train will pass here in half an hour. Have you
money enough?"

"Plenty, Major."

"Very well; keep perfectly quiet and I will try to get you safely off."
He went to an adjoining room and called Sam, the contractor's man. He
took in the situation at a glance.

"Wa'al, Foster," said he, "kind o' 'close call' for yer, warn't it?
Guess yer'd better be gittin' up an' gittin' pretty lively. The train
boys will take yer through an' yer kin come back when this racket's
worked out."

Sinclair glanced at his watch, then he walked to the window and looked
out. On a small _mesa_, or elevated plateau, commanding the path to the
railroad, he saw a number of men with rifles.

"Just as I expected," said he. "Sam, ask one of the boys to go down to
the track and, when the train arrives, tell the conductor to come
here."

In a few minutes the whistle was heard and the conductor entered the
building. Receiving his instructions, he returned, and immediately on
engine, tender, and platform appeared the trainmen, with _their_ rifles
covering the group on the bluff. Sinclair put on his hat.

"Now, Foster," said he, "we have no time to lose. Take Sam's arm and
mine, and walk between us."

The trio left the building and walked deliberately to the railroad. Not
a word was spoken. Besides the men in sight on the train, two behind
the window-blinds of the one passenger coach, and unseen, kept their
fingers on the triggers of their repeating carbines. It seemed a long
time, counted by anxious seconds, until Foster was safe in the coach.

"All ready, conductor," said Sinclair. "Now, Foster, good-by. I am not
good at lecturing, but if I were you, I would make this the
turning-point in my life."

Foster was much moved.

"I will do it, Major," said he; "and I shall never forget what you have
done for me to-day. I am sure we shall meet again."

With another shriek from the whistle the train started. Sinclair and
Sam saw the men quietly returning the firearms to their places as it
gathered way. Then they walked back to their quarters. The men on the
_mesa_, balked of their purpose, had withdrawn.

Sam accompanied Sinclair to his door, and then sententiously remarked:
"Major, I think I'll light out and find some of the boys. You ain't got
no call to know anything about it, but I allow it's about time them
cusses was bounced."

Three nights after this, a powerful party of _Vigilantes_, stern and
inexorable, made a raid on all the gambling dens, broke the tables and
apparatus, and conducted the men to a distance from the town, where
they left them with an emphatic and concise warning as to the
consequences of any attempt to return. An exception was made in Jeff
Johnson's case--but only for the sake of his daughter--for it was found
that many a "little game" had been carried on in his house.

Ere long he found it convenient to sell his business and retire to a
town some miles to the eastward, where the railroad influence was not
as strong as at Barker's. At about this time, Sinclair made his
arrangements to go to New York, with the pleasant prospect of marrying
the young lady in Fifth Avenue. In due time he arrived at Barker's,
with his young and charming wife and remained for some days. The
changes were astounding. Commonplace respectability had replaced
abnormal lawlessness. A neat station stood where had been the rough
contractor's buildings. At a new "Windsor" (or was it "Brunswick"?) the
performance of the kitchen contrasted sadly (alas! how common is such
contrast in these regions) with the promise of the _menu_. There was a
tawdry theatre yclept "Academy of Music," and there was not much to
choose in the way of ugliness between two "meeting-houses."

"Upon my word, my dear," said Sinclair to his wife, "I ought to be
ashamed to say it, but I prefer Barker's _au naturel._"

One evening, just before the young people left the town, and as Mrs.
Sinclair sat alone in her room, the frowzy waitress announced "a lady,"
and was requested to bid her enter. A woman came with timid mien into
the room, sat down, as invited, and removed her veil. Of course the
young bride had never known Sally Johnson, the whilom belle of
Barker's, but her husband would have noticed at a glance how greatly
she was changed from the girl who walked with Foster past the
engineers' quarters. It would be hard to find a more striking contrast
than was presented by the two women as they sat facing each other: the
one in the flush of health and beauty, calm, sweet, self-possessed; the
other still retaining some of the shabby finery of old days, but pale
and haggard, with black rings under her eyes, and a pathetic air of
humiliation.

"Mrs. Sinclair," she hurriedly began, "you do not know me, nor the like
of me. I've got no right to speak to you, but I couldn't help it. Oh!
please believe me, I am not real downright bad. I'm Sally Johnson,
daughter of a man whom they drove out of the town. My mother died when
I was little, and I _never_ had a show; and folks think because I live
with my father, and he makes me know the crowd he travels with, that I
must be in with them, and be of their sort. I never had a woman speak a
kind word to me, and I've had so much trouble that I'm just drove wild,
and like to kill myself; and then I was at the station when you came
in, and I saw your sweet face and the kind look in your eyes, and it
came in my heart that I'd speak to you if I died for it." She leaned
eagerly forward, her hands nervously closing on the back of a chair. "I
suppose your husband never told you of me; like enough he never knew
me; but I'll never forget him as long as I live. When he was here
before, there was a young man"--here a faint color came in the wan
cheeks--"who was fond of me, and I thought the world of him, and my
father was down on him, and the men that father was in with wanted to
kill him; and Mr. Sinclair saved his life. He's gone away, and I've
waited and waited for him to come back--and perhaps I'll never see him
again. But oh! dear lady, I'll never forget what your husband did. He's
a good man, and he deserves the love of a dear good woman like you, and
if I dared I'd pray for you both, night and day."

She stopped suddenly and sank back in her seat, pale as before, and as
if frightened by her own emotion. Mrs. Sinclair had listened with
sympathy and increasing interest.

"My poor girl," she said, speaking tenderly (she had a lovely, soft
voice) and with slightly heightened color, "I am delighted that you
came to see me, and that my husband was able to help you. Tell me, can
we not do more for you? I do not for one moment believe you can be
happy with your present surroundings. Can we not assist you to leave
them?"

The girl rose, sadly shaking her head. "I thank you for your words,"
she said. "I don't suppose I'll ever see you again, but I'll say, God
bless you!"

She caught Mrs. Sinclair's hand, pressed it to her lips, and was gone.

Sinclair found his wife very thoughtful when he came home, and he
listened with much interest to her story.

"Poor girl!" said he; "Foster is the man to help her. I wonder where he
is? I must inquire about him."

The next day they proceeded on their way to San Francisco, and matters
drifted on at Barker's much as before. Johnson had, after an absence of
some months, come back and lived without molestation amid the shifting
population. Now and then, too, some of the older residents fancied they
recognized, under slouched sombreros, the faces of some of his former
"crowd" about the "Ranchman's Home," as his gaudy saloon was called.

Late on the very evening on which this story opens, and they had been
"making up" the Denver Express in the train-house on the Missouri,
"Jim" Watkins, agent and telegrapher at Barker's, was sitting in his
little office, communicating with the station rooms by the ticket
window. Jim was a cool, silent, efficient man, and not much given to
talk about such episodes in his past life as the "wiping out" by
Indians of the construction party to which he belonged, and his own
rescue by the scouts. He was smoking an old and favorite pipe, and
talking with one of "the boys" whose head appeared at the wicket. On a
seat in the station sat a woman in a black dress and veil, apparently
waiting for a train.

"Got a heap of letters and telegrams there, ain't yer, Jim?" remarked
the man at the window.

"Yes," replied Jim; "they're for Engineer Sinclair, to be delivered to
him when he passes through here. He left on No. 17, to-night." The
inquirer did not notice the sharp start of the woman near him.

"Is that good-lookin' wife of his'n a-comin' with him?" asked he.

"Yes, there's letters for her, too." "Well, good-night, Jim. See yer
later," and he went out. The woman suddenly rose and ran to the window.
"Mr. Watkins," cried she, "can I see you for a few moments where no one
can interrupt us? It's a matter of life and death." She clutched the
sill with her thin hands, and her voice trembled. Watkins recognized
Sally Johnson in a moment. He unbolted a door, motioned her to enter,
closed and again bolted it, and also closed the ticket window. Then he
pointed to a chair, and the girl sat down and leaned eagerly forward.

"If they knew I was here," she said in a hoarse whisper, "my life
wouldn't be safe five minutes. I was waiting to tell you a terrible
story, and then I heard who was on the train due here to-morrow night.
Mr. Watkins, don't, for God's sake, ask me how I found out, but I hope
to die if I ain't telling you the living truth! They're going to wreck
that train--No. 17--at Dead Man's Crossing, fifteen miles east, and rob
the passengers and the express car. It's the worst gang in the country,
_Perry's_. They're going to throw the train off the track, the
passengers will be maimed and killed--and Mr. Sinclair and his wife on
the cars! Oh! my God! Mr. Watkins, send them warning!"

She stood upright, her face deadly pale, her hands clasped. Watkins
walked deliberately to the railroad map which hung on the wall and
scanned it. Then he resumed his seat, laid his pipe down, fixed his
eyes on the girl's face, and began to question her. At the same time
his right hand, with which he had held the pipe, found its way to the
telegraph key. None but an expert could have distinguished any change
in the _clicking_ of the instrument, which had been almost incessant;
but Watkins had "called" the head office on the Missouri. In two
minutes the "sounder" rattled out "_All right! What is it_?"

Watkins went on with his questions, his eyes still fixed on the poor
girl's face, and all the time his fingers, as it were, playing with the
key. If he were imperturbable, so was _not_ a man sitting at a
receiving instrument nearly five hundred miles away. He had "taken" but
a few words when he jumped from his chair and cried:

"Shut that door, and call the superintendent and be quick! Charley,
brace up--lively--and come and write this out!" With his wonderful
electric pen, the handle several hundreds of miles long, Watkins,
unknown to his interlocutor, was printing in the Morse alphabet this
startling message:

"Inform'n rec'd. Perry gang going to throw No. 17 off track near --xth
mile-post, this division, about nine to-morrow (Thursday) night, kill
passengers, and rob express and mail. Am alone here. No chance to
verify story, but believe it to be on square. Better make arrangements
from your end to block game. No Sheriff here now. Answer."

The superintendent, responding to the hasty summons, heard the message
before the clerk had time to write it out. His lips were closely
compressed as he put his own hand on the key and sent these laconic
sentences: "_O. K. Keep perfectly dark. Will manage from this end_."

Watkins, at Barker's, rose from his seat, opened the door a little way,
saw that the station was empty, and then said to the girl, brusquely,
but kindly:

"Sally, you've done the square thing, and saved that train. I'll take
care that you don't suffer and that you get well paid. Now come home
with me, and my wife will look out for you."

"Oh! no," cried the girl, shrinking back, "I must run away. You're
mighty kind, but I daren't go with you." Detecting a shade of doubt in
his eye, she added: "Don't be afeared; I'll die before they'll know
I've given them away to you!" and she disappeared in the darkness.

At the other end of the wire, the superintendent had quietly impressed
secrecy on his operator and clerk, ordered his fast mare harnessed, and
gone to his private office.

"Read that!" said he to his secretary. "It was about time for some
trouble of this kind, and now I'm going to let Uncle Sam take care of
his mails. If I don't get to the reservation before the General's
turned in, I shall have to wake him up. Wait for me, please."

The gray mare made the six miles to the military reservation in just
half an hour. The General was smoking his last cigar, and was alert in
an instant; and before the superintendent had finished the jorum of
"hot Scotch" hospitably tendered, the orders had gone by wire to the
commanding officer at Fort ------, some distance east of Barker's, and
been duly acknowledged.

Returning to the station, the superintendent remarked to the waiting
secretary:

"The General's all right. Of course we can't tell that this is not a
sell; but if those Perry hounds mean business they'll get all the fight
they want--and if they've got any souls--which I doubt--may the Lord
have mercy on them!"

He prepared several despatches, two of which were as follows:

"MR. HENRY SINCLAIR:

"On No. 17, Pawnee Junction:

This telegram your authority to take charge of train on which you are,
and demand obedience of all officials and trainmen on road. Please do
so, and act in accordance with information wired station agent at
Pawnee Junction."

To the Station Agent:

"Reported Perry gang will try wreck and rob No. 17 near --xth
mile-post, Denver Division, about nine Thursday night. Troops will
await train at Fort ------. Car ordered ready for them. Keep everything
secret, and act in accordance with orders of Mr. Sinclair."

"It's worth about ten thousand dollars," sententiously remarked he,
"that Sinclair's on that train. He's got both sand and brains.
Good-night," and he went to bed and slept the sleep of the just.

III

The sun never shone more brightly and the air was never more clear and
bracing than when Sinclair helped his wife off the train at Pawnee
Junction. The station-master's face fell as he saw the lady, but he
saluted the engineer with as easy an air as he could assume, and
watched for an opportunity to speak to him alone. Sinclair read the
despatches with an unmoved countenance, and after a few minutes'
reflection simply said: "All right. Be sure to keep the matter
perfectly quiet." At breakfast he was _distrait_--so much so that his
wife asked him what was the matter. Taking her aside, he at once showed
her the telegrams.

"You see my duty," he said. "My only thought is about you, my dear
child. Will you stay here?"

She simply replied, looking into his face without a tremor:

"My place is with you." Then the conductor called "All aboard," and the
train once more started.

Sinclair asked Foster to join him in the smoking compartment and tell
him the promised story, which the latter did. His rescue at Barker's,
he frankly and gratefully said, _had_ been the turning point in his
life. In brief, he had "sworn off" from gambling and drinking, had
found honest employment, and was doing well.

"I've two things to do now, Major," he added; "first, I must show my
gratitude to you; and next"--he hesitated a little--"I want to find
that poor girl that I left behind at Barker's. She was engaged to marry
me, and when I came to think of it, and what a life I'd have made her
lead, I hadn't the heart till now to look for her; but, seeing I'm on
the right track, I'm going to find her, and get her to come with me.
Her father's an--old scoundrel; but that ain't her fault, and I ain't
going to marry _him_."

"Foster," quietly asked Sinclair, "do you know the Perry gang?"

The man's brow darkened.

"Know them?" said he. "I know them much too well. Perry is as ungodly a
cutthroat as ever killed an emigrant in cold blood, and he's got in his
gang nearly all those hounds that tried to hang me. Why do you ask,
Major?"

Sinclair handed him the despatches. "You are the only man on the train
to whom I have shown them," said he.

Foster read them slowly, his eyes lighting up as he did so. "Looks as
if it was true," said he. "Let me see! Fort ----. Yes, that's the --th
infantry. Two of their boys were killed at Sidney last summer by some
of the same gang, and the regiment's sworn vengeance. Major, if this
story's on the square, that crowd's goose is cooked, and _don't you
forget it_! I say, you must give me a hand in."

"Foster," said Sinclair, "I am going to put responsibility on your
shoulders. I have no doubt that, if we be attacked, the soldiers will
dispose of the gang; but I must take all possible precautions for the
safety of the passengers. We must not alarm them. They can be made to
think that the troops are going on a scout, and only a certain number
of resolute men need be told of what we expect. Can you, late this
afternoon, go through the cars, and pick them out? I will then put you
in charge of the passenger cars, and you can post your men on the
platforms to act in case of need. My place will be ahead."

"Major, you can depend on me," was Foster's reply. "I'll go through the
train and have my eye on some boys of the right sort, and that's got
their shooting-irons with them."

Through the hours of that day on rolled the train, still over the crisp
buffalo grass, across the well-worn buffalo trails, past the
prairie-dog villages. The passengers chatted, dozed, played cards,
read, all unconscious, with the exception of three, of the coming
conflict between the good and the evil forces bearing on their fate; of
the fell preparations making for their disaster; of the grim
preparations making to avert such disaster; of all of which the little
wires alongside of them had been talking back and forth. Watkins had
telegraphed that he still saw no reason to doubt the good faith of his
warning, and Sinclair had reported his receipt of authority and his
acceptance thereof. Meanwhile, also, there had been set in motion a
measure of that power to which appeal is so reluctantly made in time of
peace. At Fort ------, a lonely post on the plains, the orders had that
morning been issued for twenty men under Lieutenant Halsey to parade at
4 p. M., with overcoats, two days' rations, and ball cartridges; also
for Assistant Surgeon Kesler to report for duty with the party. Orders
as to destination were communicated direct to the lieutenant from the
post commander, and on the minute the little column moved, taking the
road to the station. The regiment from which it came had been in active
service among the Indians on the frontier for a long time, and the
officers and men were tried and seasoned fighters. Lieutenant Halsey
had been well known at the West Point balls as the "leader of the
german." From the last of these balls he had gone straight to the
field, and three years had given him an enviable reputation for
_sang-froid_ and determined bravery. He looked every inch the soldier
as he walked along the trail, his cloak thrown back and his sword
tucked under his arm. The doctor, who carried a Modoc bullet in some
inaccessible part of his scarred body, growled good-naturedly at the
need of walking, and the men, enveloped in their army-blue overcoats,
marched easily by fours. Reaching the station, the lieutenant called
the agent aside, and with him inspected, on a siding, a long platform
car on which benches had been placed and secured. Then he took his seat
in the station and quietly waited, occasionally twisting his long blond
mustache. The doctor took a cigar with the agent, and the men walked
about or sat on the edge of the platform. One of them, who obtained a
surreptitious glance at his silent commander, told his companions that
there was trouble ahead for somebody.

"That's just the way the leftenant looked, boys," said he, "when we was
laying for them Apaches that raided Jones's Ranch and killed the women
and little children."

In a short time the officer looked at his watch, formed his men, and
directed them to take their places on the seats of the car. They had
hardly done so when the whistle of the approaching train was heard.
When it came up, the conductor, who had his instructions from Sinclair,
had the engine detached and backed on the siding for the soldiers' car,
which thus came between it and the foremost baggage car when the train
was again made up. As arranged, it was announced that the troops were
to be taken a certain distance to join a scouting party, and the
curiosity of the passengers was but slightly excited. The soldiers sat
quietly in their seats, their repeating rifles held between their
knees, and the officer in front. Sinclair joined the latter, and had a
few words with him as the train moved on. A little later, when the
stars were shining brightly overhead, they passed into the express car,
and sent for the conductor and other trainmen, and for Foster. In a few
words Sinclair explained the position of affairs. His statement was
received with perfect coolness, and the men only asked what they were
to do.

"I hope, boys," said Sinclair, "that we are going to put this gang
to-night where they will make no more trouble. Lieutenant Halsey will
bear the brunt of the fight, and it only remains for you to stand by
the interests committed to your care. Mr. Express Agent, what help do
you want?" The person addressed, a good-natured giant, girded with a
cartridge belt, smiled as he replied:

"Well, sir, I'm wearing a watch which the company gave me for standing
off the James gang in Missouri for half an hour, when we hadn't the
ghost of a soldier about. I'll take the contract, and welcome, to hold
_this_ fort alone."

"Very well," said Sinclair. "Foster, what progress have you made?"

"Major, I've got ten or fifteen as good men as ever drew a bead, and
just red-hot for a fight."

"That will do very well. Conductor, give the trainmen the rifles from
the baggage car and let them act under Mr. Foster. Now, boys, I am sure
you will do your duty. That is all."

From the next station Sinclair telegraphed "All ready" to the
superintendent, who was pacing his office in much suspense. Then he
said a few words to his brave but anxious wife, and walked to the rear
platform. On it were several armed men, who bade him good-evening, and
asked "when the fun was going to begin." Walking through the train, he
found each platform similarly occupied, and Foster going from one to
the other. The latter whispered as he passed him:

"Major, I found Arizona Joe, the scout, in the smokin' car, and he's on
the front platform. That lets me out, and although I know as well as
you that there ain't any danger about that rear sleeper where the madam
is, I ain't a-going to be far off from her." Sinclair shook him by the
hand; then he looked at his watch. It was half-past eight. He passed
through the baggage and express cars, finding in the latter the agent
sitting behind his safe, on which lay two large revolvers. On the
platform car he found the soldiers and their commander sitting silent
and unconcerned as before. When Sinclair reached the latter and nodded,
he rose and faced the men, and his fine voice was clearly heard above
the rattle of the train.

"Company, 'ten_tion_!" The soldiers straightened themselves in a
second.

"With ball cartridge, _load_!" It was done with the precision of a
machine. Then the lieutenant spoke, in the same clear, crisp, tones
that the troops had heard in more than one fierce battle.

"Men," said he, "in a few minutes the Perry gang, which you will
remember, are going to try to run this train off the track, wound and
kill the passengers, and rob the cars and the United States mail. It is
our business to prevent them. Sergeant Wilson" (a gray-bearded
non-commissioned officer stood up and saluted), "I am going on the
engine. See that my orders are repeated. Now, men, aim low, and don't
waste any shots." He and Sinclair climbed over the tender and spoke to
the engine-driver.

"How are the air-brakes working?" asked Sinclair.

"First-rate."

"Then, if you slowed down now, you could stop the train in a third of
her length, couldn't you?"

"Easy, if you don't mind being shaken up a bit."

"That is good. How is the country about the --xth mile-post?"

"Dead level, and smooth."

"Good again. Now, Lieutenant Halsey, this is a splendid head-light, and
we can see a long way with my night glass. I will have a--"

"--2d mile-pole just past," interrupted the engine-driver.

"Only one more to pass, then, before we ought to strike them. Now,
lieutenant, I undertake to stop the train within a very short distance
of the gang. They will be on both sides of the track, no doubt; and the
ground, as you hear, is quite level. You will best know what to do."

The officer stepped back. "Sergeant," called he, "do you hear me
plainly?" "Yes, sir."

"Have the men fix bayonets. When the train stops, and I wave my sword,
let half jump off each side, run up quickly, and form line _abreast of
the engine_--not ahead."

"Jack," said Sinclair to the engine-driver, "is your hand steady?" The
man held it up with a smile. "Good. Now stand by your throttle and your
air-brake. Lieutenant, better warn the men to hold on tight, and tell
the sergeant to pass the word to the boys on the platforms, or they
will be knocked off by the sudden stop. Now for a look ahead!" and he
brought the binocular to his eyes.

The great parabolic head-light illuminated the track a long way in
advance, all behind it being of course in darkness. Suddenly Sinclair
cried out:

"The fools have a light there, as I am a living man; and there is a
little red one near us. What can that be? All ready, Jack! By heaven!
they have taken up two rails. Now _hold on, all_! STOP HER!!"

The engine-driver shut his throttle-valve with a jerk. Then, holding
hard by it, he sharply turned a brass handle. There was a fearful
jolt--a grating--and the train's way was checked. The lieutenant,
standing sidewise, had drawn his sword. He waved it, and almost before
he could get off the engine the soldiers were up and forming, still in
shadow, while the bright light was thrown on a body of men ahead.

"Surrender, or you are dead men!" roared the officer. Curses and
several shots were the reply. Then came the orders, quick and sharp:

"_Forward! Close tip! Double-quick! Halt!_ FIRE!" . . . It was speedily
over. Left on the car with the men, the old sergeant had said:

"Boys, you hear. It's that ------ Perry gang. Now, don't forget Larry
and Charley that they murdered last year," and there had come from the
soldiers a sort of fierce, subdued _growl_. The volley was followed by
a bayonet charge, and it required all the officer's authority to save
the lives even of those who "threw up their hands." Large as the gang
was (outnumbering the troops), well armed and desperate as they were,
every one was dead, wounded, or a prisoner when the men who guarded the
train platforms ran up. The surgeon, with professional coolness, walked
up to the robbers, his instrument case under his arm.

"Not much for me to do here, Lieutenant," said he. "That practice for
Creedmoor is telling on the shooting. Good thing for the gang, too.
Bullets are better than rope, and a Colorado jury will give them plenty
of that."

Sinclair had sent a man to tell his wife that all was over. Then he
ordered a fire lighted, and the rails relaid. The flames lit a strange
scene as the passengers flocked up. The lieutenant posted men to keep
them back.

"Is there a telegraph station not far ahead, Sinclair?" asked he. "Yes?
All right." He drew a small pad from his pocket, and wrote a despatch
to the post commander.

"Be good enough to send that for me," said he, "and leave orders at
Barker's for the night express eastward to stop for us, and bring a
posse to take care of the wounded and prisoners. And now, my dear
Sinclair, I suggest that you get the passengers into the cars, and go
on as soon as those rails are spiked. When they realize the situation,
some of them will feel precious ugly, and you know we can't have any
lynching."

Sinclair glanced at the rails and gave the word at once to the
conductor and brakemen, who began vociferating, "All aboard!"' Just
then Foster appeared, an expression of intense satisfaction showing
clearly on his face, in the firelight.

"Major," said he, "I didn't use to take much stock in special
Providence, or things being ordered; but I'm darned if I don't believe
in them from this day. I was bound to stay where you put me, but I was
uneasy, and wild to be in the scrimmage; and, if I had been there, I
wouldn't have taken notice of a little red light that wasn't much
behind the rear platform when we stopped. When I saw there was no
danger there I ran back, and what do you think I found? There was a
woman in a dead faint, and just clutching a lantern that she had tied
up in a red scarf, poor little thing! And, Major, it was Sally! It was
the little girl that loved me out at Barker's, and has loved me and
waited for me ever since! And when she came to, and knew me, she was so
glad she 'most fainted away again; and she let on as it was her that
gave away the job. And I took her into the sleeper, and the madam, God
bless her!--she knew Sally before and was good to her--she took care of
her and is cheering her up. And now, Major, I'm going to take her
straight to Denver, and send for a parson and get her married to me,
and she'll brace up, sure pop."

The whistle sounded, and the train started. From the window of the
"sleeper" Sinclair and his wife took their last look at the weird
scene. The lieutenant, standing at the side of the track, wrapped in
his cloak, caught a glimpse of Mrs. Sinclair's pretty face, and
returned her bow. Then, as the car passed out of sight, he tugged at
his mustache and hummed:

"Why, boys, why,
 Should we be melancholy, boys,
Whose business 'tis to die?"

In less than an hour, telegrams having in the meantime been sent in
both directions, the train ran alongside the platform at Barker's; and
Watkins, imperturbable as usual, met Sinclair, and gave him his
letters.

"Perry gang wiped out, I hear, Major," said he. "Good thing for the
country. That's a lesson the 'toughs' in these parts won't forget for a
long time. Plucky girl that give 'em away, wasn't she? Hope she's all
right."

"She is all right," said Sinclair with a smile.

"Glad of that. By the way, that father of her'n passed in his checks
to-night. He'd got one warning from the Vigilantes, and yesterday they
found out he was in with this gang, and they was a-going for him; but
when the telegram come, he put a pistol to his head and saved them all
trouble. Good riddance to everybody, I say. The sheriff's here now, and
is going east on the next train to get them fellows. He's got a big
posse together, and I wouldn't wonder if they was hard to hold in,
after the 'boys in blue' is gone."

In a few minutes the train was off, and its living freight--the just
and the unjust, the reformed and the rescued, the happy and the
anxious. With many of the passengers, the episode of the night was
already a thing of the past. Sinclair sat by the side of his wife, to
whose cheeks the color had all come back; and Sally Johnson lay in her
berth, faith still, but able to give an occasional smile to Foster. In
the station on the Missouri the reporters were gathered around the
happy superintendent, smoking his cigars, and filling their note-books
with items. In Denver, their brethren would gladly have done the same,
but Watkins failed to gratify them. He was a man of few words. When the
train had gone through, and a friend remarked: "Hope they'll get
through all right, now," he simply said: "Yes, likely. Two shots don't
'most always go in the same hole." Then he went to the telegraph
instrument. In a few minutes, he could have told a story as wild as a
Norse _saga_, but what he said, when Denver had responded, was only--

"_No. 17, fifty-five minutes late_."



JAUNE D'ANTIMOINE
--------------------
BY THOMAS ALLIBONE TANVIER



_Thomas Allibone Janvier (born in Philadelphia in 1849) began work as a
journalist in his native city in 1870. In 1881 he went to spend several
years in Colorado, and New and Old Mexico--sojourns which left their
impression upon his literary work, A well-known writer of short
stories, Janvier is especially skilled in the delineation of the
picturesque foreign life of New York._



JAUNE D'ANTIMOINE
BY THOMAS ALLIBONE JANVIER
[Footnote: By permission of Charles Scribner's Sons. From "Color
Studies and a Mexican Campaign," copyright, 1891.]

Down Greenwich way--that is to say, about in the heart of the city of
New York--in a room with a glaring south light that made even the
thought of painting in it send shivers all over you, Jaune d'Antimoine
lived and labored in the service of Art.

By all odds, it was the very worst room in the whole building; and that
was precisely the reason why Jaune d'Antimoine had chosen it, for the
rent was next to nothing: he would have preferred a room that rented
for even less. It certainly was a forlorn-looking place. There was no
furniture in it worth speaking of; it was cheerless, desolate. A lot of
studies of animals were stuck against the walls, and a couple of
finished pictures--a lioness with her cubs, and a span of stunning
draught-horses--stood in one corner, frameless. There was good work in
the studies, and the pictures really were capital--a fact that Jaune
himself recognized, and that made him feel all the more dismal because
they so persistently remained unsold. Indeed, this animal painter was
having a pretty hard time of it, and as he sat there day after day in
the shocking light, doing honest work and getting no return for it, he
could not help growing desperately blue.

But to-day Jaune d'Antimoine was not blue, for of a sudden he had come
to be stayed by a lofty purpose and upheld by a high resolve: and his
purpose and resolve were that within one month's time he would gain for
himself a new suit of clothes! There were several excellent reasons
which together served to fortify him in his exalted resolution. The
most careless observer could not fail to perceive that the clothes
which he wore--and which were incomparably superior to certain others
which he possessed, but did not wear--were sadly shabby; and Vandyke
Brown had asked him to be best man at his wedding; and further--and
this was the strongest reason of all--Jaune d'Antimoine longed, from
the very depths of his soul, to make himself pleasing in the eyes of
Rose Carthame.

How she managed it none but herself knew; but this charming young
person, although the daughter of a widowly exile of France who made an
uncertain living by letting lodgings in the region between south and
west of Washington Square, always managed to dress herself
delightfully. It is true that feminine analysis might reveal the fact
that the materials of which her gowns were made were of the cheapest
product of the loom; yet was feminine envy aroused--yea, even in the
dignified portion of Fifth Avenue that lies not south but north of
Washington Square--by the undeniable style of these same gowns, and by
their charming accord with the stylish gait and air of the trig little
body who wore them. Therefore it was that when Monsieur Jaune
graciously was permitted to accompany Mademoiselle Rose in her jaunts
into the grand quarter of the town, the propriety of her garments and
the impropriety of his own brought a sense of desolation upon his
spirit and a great heaviness upon his loyal heart.

For Jaune loved Rose absolutely to distraction. To say that he would
have laid his coat in the mud for her to walk over does not--the
condition of the coat being remembered--imply a very superior sort of
devotion. He would have done more than this; he would have laid himself
in the mud, and most gladly, that he might have preserved from
contamination her single pair of nice shoes. Even a cool and
unprejudiced person, being permitted to see these shoes--and he
certainly would have been, for Rose made anything but a mystery of
them--would have declared that such gallant sacrifice was well
bestowed.

The ardor of Jaune's passion was increased--as has been common in love
matters ever since the world began--by the knowledge that he had a
rival; and this rival was a most dangerous rival, being none other than
Madame Carthame's second-story-front lodger, the Count Siccatif de
Courtray. Simply to be the second-story-front lodger carries with it a
most notable distinction in a lodging-house; but to be that and a count
too was a combination of splendors that placed Jaune's rival on a
social pinnacle and kept him there. Not that counts are rare in the
region between west and south of Washington Square; on the contrary,
they are rather astonishingly plentiful. But the sort of count who is
very rare indeed there is the count who pays his way as he goes along.
Now, in the matter of payments, at least so far as Madame Carthame was
concerned, the Count Siccatif de Courtray was exemplary.

That there was something of a mystery about this nobleman was
undeniable. Among other things, he had stated that he was a relative of
the Siccatifs of Harlem--the old family established here in New
Amsterdam in the early days of the Dutch Colony. Persons disposed to
comment invidiously upon this asserted relationship, and such there
were, did not fail to draw attention to the fact that the Harlem
Siccatifs, without exception, were fair, while the Count Siccatif de
Courtray was strikingly dark; and to the further fact that, if the
distinguished American family really was akin to the Count, its several
members were most harmoniously agreed to give him the cold shoulder.
With these malicious whisperings, however, Madame Carthame did not
concern herself. She was content, more than content, to take the Count
as he was, and at his own valuation. That he was a proscribed
Bonapartist, as he declared himself to be, seemed to her a reasonable
and entirely credible statement; and it certainly had the effect of
creating about him a halo of romance. Though not proscribed, Madame
Carthame herself was a Bonapartist, and a most ardent one; a fact, it
may be observed, concerning which the Count assured himself prior to
the avowal of his own political convictions. When, on the 2Oth of
April, he came home wearing a cluster of violets in his buttonhole, and
bearing also a bunch of these imperial flowers for Madame Carthame, and
with the presentation confessed his own imperialistic faith and touched
gloomily upon the sorry reward that it had brought him--when this event
occurred, Madame Carthame's kindly feelings toward her second-floor
lodger were resolved into an abiding faith and high esteem. It was upon
this auspicious day that the conviction took firm root in her mind that
the Count Siccatif de Courtray was the heaven-sent husband for her
daughter Rose.

That Rose approved this ambitious matrimonial project of her mother's
was a matter open to doubt; at least her conduct was such that two
diametrically opposite views were entertained in regard to her
intentions. On the one hand, Madame Carthame and the Count Siccatif de
Courtray believed that she had made up her mind to live in her mother's
own second-story front and be a countess. On the other hand, Jaune
d'Antimoine, whose wish, perhaps, was father to his thought, believed
that she would not do anything of the sort. Jaune gladly would have
believed, also, that she cherished matrimonial intentions in quite a
different, namely, an artistic, direction; but he was a modest young
fellow, and suffered his hopes to be greatly diluted by his fears. And,
in truth, the conduct of Rose was so perplexing, at times so
atrociously exasperating, that a person much more deeply versed in
women's ways than this young painter was, very well might have been
puzzled hopelessly; for if ever a born flirt came out of France, that
flirt was Rose Carthame.

Of one thing, however, Jaune was convinced: that unless something of a
positive nature was done, and done speedily, for the improvement of his
outward man, his chance of success was gone forever. Already, Madame
Carthame eyed his seedy garments askance; already, for Rose had
admitted the truth of his suspicions in this dismal direction, Madame
Carthame had instituted most unfavorable comparisons between his own
chronic shabbiness and the no less chronic splendor of the Count
Siccatif de Courtray. Therefore, it came to pass--out of his abstract
need for presentable habiliments, out of his desire to appear in
creditable form at Vandyke Brown's wedding, and, more than all else,
out of his love for Rose--that Jaune d'Antimoine registered a mighty
oath before high heaven that within a month's time a new suit of
clothes should be his!

Yet the chances are that he would have gone down Christopher Street to
the North River, and still further down, even into a watery grave--as
he very frequently thought of doing during this melancholy period of
his existence--had not his fortunes suddenly been irradiated by the
birth in his mind of a happy thought. It came to him in this wise: He
was standing drearily in front of a ready-made clothing store on
Broadway, sadly contemplating a wooden figure clad in precisely the
morning suit for which his soul panted, when suddenly something gave
him a whack in the back. Turning sharply, and making use of an
exclamation not to be found in the French dictionaries compiled for the
use of young ladies' boarding-schools, he perceived a wooden framework,
from the lower end of which protruded the legs of a man. From a cleft
in the upper portion of the framework came the apologetic utterance,
"Didn't mean ter hit yer, boss," and then the structure moved slowly
away through the throng. Over its four sides, he observed, were
blazoned announcements of the excellences of the garments manufactured
by the very clothing establishment in front of which he stood.

The thought came idly into his mind that this method of advertising was
clumsy, and not especially effective; followed by the further thought
that a much better plan would be to set agoing upon the streets a
really gentlemanly-looking man, clad in the best garments that the
tailoring people manufactured--while a handsome sign upon the man's
back, or a silken banner proudly borne aloft, should tell where the
clothes were made, and how, for two weeks only, clothes equally
excellent could be bought there at a tremendous sacrifice. And then
came into his mind the great thought of his life: he would disguise
himself by changing his blond hair and beard to gray, and by wearing
dark eye-glasses, and thus disguised he would be that man! Detection he
believed to be impossible, for merely dressing himself in respectable
clothes almost would suffice to prevent his recognition by even the
nearest of his friends. With that prompt decision which is the sure
sign of genius backed by force of character, he paused no longer to
consider. He acted. With a firm step he entered the clothing
establishment; with dignity demanded a personal interview with its
proprietor; with eloquence presented to that personage his scheme.

"You will understand, sare," he said, in conclusion, "that these
clothes such as yours see themselves in the best way when they are
carried by a man very well made, and who 'as the air _comme il faut_. I
'ave not the custom to say that I am justly that man. But now we talk
of _affaires_. Look at me and see!" And so speaking, he drew himself up
his full six feet, and turned slowly around. There could not be any
question about it: a handsomer, a more distinguished-looking man was
not to be found in all New York. With the added dignity of age, his
look of distinction would be but increased.

The great head of the great tailoring establishment was visibly
affected. Original devices in advertising had been the making of him.
He perceived that the device now suggested to him was superior to
anything that his own genius had struck out. "It's a pretty good plan,"
he said, meditatively. "What do you want for carrying it out?"

"For you to serve two weeks, I ask but the clothes I go to wear."

For a moment the tailor paused. In that moment the destinies of Jaune
d'Antimoine, of Rose Carthame, of the Count Siccatif de Courtray, hung
in the balance. It was life or death. Jaune felt his heart beating like
a trip-hammer. There was upon him a feeling of suffocation. The silence
seemed interminable; and the longer it lasted, the more did he feel
that his chances of success were oozing away, that the crisis of his
life was going against him. Darkness, the darkness of desolate despair,
settled down upon his soul. Mechanically he felt in his waistcoat
pocket for a five-cent piece that he believed to be there--for the
stillness, the restful oblivion of the North River were in his mind.
His fingers clutched the coin convulsively, thankfully. At least he
would not be compelled' to walk down Christopher Street to his death:
he could pay his way to eternity in the one-horse car. Yet even while
the blackness of shattered hope seemed to be closing him in
irrevocably, the glad light came again. As the voice of an angel
sounded the voice of the tailor; and the words which the tailor spake
were these:

"Young man, it's a bargain!"

But the tailor, upon whom Heaven had bestowed shrewdness to an
extraordinary degree, perceived in the plan proposed to him higher,
more artistic possibilities than had been perceived in it by its
inventor. There was a dramatic instinct, an appreciation of surprise,
of climax, in this man's mind that he proceeded to apply to the
existing situation. With a wave of his hand he banished the suggested
sign on the walking advertiser's back, and the suggested silken banner.
His plan at once was simpler and more profound. Dressed in the highest
style of art, Jaune was to walk Broadway daily between the hours of 11
A. M. and 2 P. M. He was to walk slowly; he was to look searchingly in
the faces of all young women of about the age of twenty years; he was
to wear, over and above his garments of price, an air of confirmed
melancholy. That was all.

"But of the advertisement? 'Ow ----"

"Now, never you mind about the advertisement, young man. Where that is
going to come in is my business. But you can just bet your bottom
dollar that I don't intend to lose any money on you. All that you have
to do is just what I've told you; and to be well dressed, and walk up
and down Broadway for three hours every day, and look in all the girls'
faces, don't strike me as being the hardest work that you might be set
at. Now come along and be measured, and day after to-morrow you shall
begin."

As Jaune walked slowly homeward to his dismal studio, he meditated
deeply upon the adventure before him. He did not fancy it at all; but
it was the means to an end, and he was braced morally to go through
with it without flinching. For the chance of winning Rose he would have
stormed a battery single-handed; and not a bit more of moral courage
would have been needed for such desperate work than was needed for the
execution of the bloodless but soul-trying project that he had in hand.
For the life and spirit of him, though, he could not see how the tailor
was to get any good out of this magnificent masquerading.

In one of the evening papers, about a week later, there appeared a
half-column romance that quite took Jaune d'Antimoine's breath away. It
began with a reference to the distinguished elderly gentleman who,
during the past week, had been seen daily upon Broadway about the hour
of noon; who gazed with such intense though respectful curiosity into
every 'young woman's face; who, in the gay crowd, was conspicuous not
less by the elegance of his dress than by his air of profound
melancholy. Then briefly, but precisely, the sorrowful story of the
Marquis de ------ ("out of consideration for the nobleman's feelings"
the name was withheld) was told: how, the son of a peer of France, he
had married, while yet a minor, against the wishes of his stern father;
how his young wife and infant daughter had been spirited away by the
stern father's orders; how on his death-bed the father had confessed
his evil deed to his son, and had told that mother and child had been
banished to America, where the mother speedily had died of grief, and
where the child, though in ignorance of her noble origin, had been
adopted by an enormously rich American, about whom nothing more was
known than the fact that he lived in New York. The Marquis, the article
stated, now was engaged in searching for his long-lost daughter, and
among other means to the desired end had hit upon this--of walking New
York's chief thoroughfare in the faith that should he see his child his
paternal instinct would reveal to him her identity.

"I calculate that this will rather whoop up public interest in our
performance," said the tailor, cheerfully, the next day, as he handed
the newspaper containing the pleasing fiction to Jaune. "That's my
idea, for a starter. I've got the whole story ready to come out in
sections--paid a literary feller twenty dollars to get it up for me.
And you be careful to-day when you are interviewed" (Jaune shuddered)
"to keep the story up--or" (for Jaune was beginning a remonstrance)
"you can keep out of it altogether, if you'd rather. Say you must
refuse to talk upon so delicate a subject, or something of that sort.
Yes, that's your card. It'll make the mystery greater, you know--and
I'll see that the public gets the facts, all the same."

The tailor chuckled, and Jaune was unutterably wretched. He was on the
point of throwing up his contract. He opened his mouth to speak the
decisive words--and shut it again as the thought came into his mind
that his misery must be borne, and borne gallantly, because it was all
for the love of Rose.

That day there was no affectation in his air of melancholy. He was
profoundly miserable. Faithful to his contract, he looked searchingly
upon the many young women of twenty years whom he met; and such of them
as were possessors of tender hearts grew very sorrowful at sight of the
obvious woe by which he was oppressed. His woe, indeed, was keen, for
the newspaper article had had its destined effect, and he was a marked
man. People turned to look at him as people had not turned before; it
was evident that he was a subject of conversation. Several times he
caught broken sentences which he recognized as portions of his
supposititious biography. His crowning torture was the assault of the
newspaper reporters. They were suave, they were surly, they were
insinuatingly sympathetic, they were aggressively peremptory--but all
alike were determined to wring from him to the uttermost the details of
the sorrow that he never had suffered, of the life that he never had
lived. It was a confusing sort of an experience. He began to wonder, at
last, whether or not it were possible that he could be somebody else
without knowing it; and if it were, in whom, precisely, his identity
was vested. Being but a simple-minded young fellow, with no taste
whatever for metaphysics, this line of thought was upsetting.

While involved in these perplexing doubts and the crowd at the Fifth
Avenue crossing, he was so careless as to step upon the heel of a lady
in front of him. And when the lady turned, half angrily, half to
receive his profuse apologies, he beheld Mademoiselle Carthame. The
face of this young person wore an expression made up of not less than
three conflicting emotions: of resentment of the assault upon the heel
of her one pair of good shoes, of friendly recognition of the familiar
voice, of blank surprise upon perceiving that this voice came from the
lips of a total stranger. She looked searchingly upon the smoked
glasses, obviously trying to pry into the secret of the hidden eyes.
Jaune's blood rushed up into his face, and he realized that detection
was imminent. Mercifully, at that moment the crowd opened, and with a
bow that hid his face behind his hat he made good his retreat. During
the remaining half hour of his walk, he thought no more of metaphysics.
The horrid danger of physical discovery from which he had escaped so
narrowly filled him with a shuddering alarm. Nor could he banish from
his mind the harrowing thought that perhaps, for all his gray hair and
painted wrinkles and fine clothes, Rose in truth had recognized him.

That night an irresistible attraction drew him to the Carthame abode.
In the little parlor he found the severe Madame Carthame, her adorable
daughter, and the offensive Count Siccatif de Courtray. Greatly to his
relief, his reception was in the usual form: Madame Carthame conducted
herself after the fashion of a well-bred iceberg; Rose endeavored to
mitigate the severity of her parent's demeanor by her own affability;
the Count, as much as possible, ignored his presence. Jaune could not
repress a sigh of relief. She had not recognized him.

But his evening was one of trial. With much vivacity, Rose entertained
the little company with an account of her romantic adventure with the
French nobleman who had come to America in quest of his lost daughter;
for she had read the newspaper story, and had identified its hero with
the assailant of her heel. She dwelt with enthusiasm upon the
distinguished appearance of the unhappy foreigner; she ventured the
suggestion, promptly and sternly checked by her mamma, that she herself
might be the lost child; she grew plaintive, and expressed a burning
desire to comfort this stricken parent with a daughter's love, and,
worst of all, she sat silent, with a far-away look in her charming
eyes, and obviously suffered her thoughts to go astray after this
handsome Marquis in a fashion that made even the Count Siccatif de
Courtray fidget, and that filled the soul of Jaune d'Antimoine with a
consuming jealousy--not the less consuming because of the absurd fact
that it was jealousy of himself! As he walked home that night through
the devious ways of Greenwich to his dismal studio, he seriously
entertained the wish that he never had been born.

The next day all the morning papers contained elaborate "interviews"
with the Marquis: for each of the several reporters who had been put on
the case, believing that he alone had failed to get the facts, and
being upheld by a lofty determination that no other reporter should
"get a beat on him," had evolved from his own inner consciousness the
story that Jaune, for the best of reasons, had refused to tell. The
stories thus told, being based upon the original fiction, bore a family
resemblance to each other; and as all of them were interesting, they
stimulated popular curiosity in regard to their hero to a very high
pitch. As the result of them, Jaune found himself the most conspicuous
man in New York. During the three hours of his walk he was the centre
of an interested crowd. Several benevolent persons stopped to tell him
of fatherless young women with whom they were acquainted, and to urge
upon him the probability that each of these young women was his
long-lost child. The representatives of a dozen detective bureaus
introduced themselves to him, and made offer of their professional
services; a messenger from the chief of police handed him a polite note
tendering the services of the department and inviting him to a
conference. It was maddening.

But worst of all were his meetings with Rose. As these multiplied, the
conviction became irresistible that they were not the result of chance;
indeed, her manner made doubt upon this head impossible. At first she
gave him only a passing glance, then a glance somewhat longer, then a
look of kindly interest, then a long look of sympathy; and at last she
bestowed upon him a gentle, almost affectionate, smile that expressed,
as plainly as a smile could express, her sorrow for his misery and her
readiness to comfort him. In a word, Rose Carthame's conduct simply was
outrageous!

The jealous anger which had inflamed Jattne's breast the night before
swelled and expanded into a raging passion. He longed to engage in
mortal combat this stranger who was alienating the affection that
should be his. The element of absurdity in the situation no longer was
apparent to him. In truth, as he reasoned, the situation was not
absurd. To all intents and purposes he was two people and it was the
other one of him, not himself at all, who was winning Rose's interest,
perhaps her love. For a moment the thought crossed his mind that he
would adjust the difficulty in his own favor by remaining this other
person always. But the hard truth confronted him that every time he
washed his face he would cease to be the elderly Marquis, with the
harder truth that the fabulous wealth with which, as the Marquis, the
newspapers had endowed him was too entirely fabulous to serve as a
basis for substantial life. And being thus cut off from hope, he fell
back upon jealous hatred of himself.

That night the evening paper in which the first mention of the
mysterious French nobleman had been made contained an article cleverly
contrived to give point to the mystery in its commercial aspect. The
fact had been observed, the article declared, that the nobleman's
promenade began and ended at a prominent clothing establishment on
Broadway; and then followed, in the guise of a contribution toward the
clearing up of the mystery, an interview with the proprietor of the
establishment in question. However, the interview left the mystery just
where it found it, for all that the tailor told was that the Marquis
had bought several suits of clothes from him; that he had shown himself
to be an exceptionally critical person in the matter of his wearing
apparel; that he had expressed repeatedly his entire satisfaction with
his purchases. In another portion of the paper was a glaring
advertisement, in which the clothing man set forth, in an animated
fashion, the cheapness and desirability of "The Marquis Suit"--a suit
that "might be seen to advantage on the person of the afflicted French
nobleman now in our midst who had honored it with his approval, and in
whose honor it had been named." Upon reading the newspaper narrative
and its advertisement pendant, Jaune groaned aloud. He was oppressed by
a horror of discovery, and here, as it seemed to him in his morbidly
nervous condition, was a clew to his duplex identity sufficiently
obvious to be apparent even to a detective.

The Count Siccatif de Courtray, as has been intimated, went so far as
to fidget while listening to Mademoiselle Carthame's vivacious
description of her encounter with the handsome Marquis. Being regaled
during the ensuing evening with a very similar narrative--a materially
modified version of the events which had aroused in so lively a manner
the passion of jealousy in the breast of Jaune d'Antimoine--the Count
ceased merely to fidget and became the prey to a serious anxiety. He
determined that the next day, quite unobtrusively, he would observe
Mademoiselle Carthame in her relations with this unknown but
dangerously fascinating nobleman; and also that he would give some
attention to the nobleman himself. This secondary purpose was
strengthened the next morning, while the Count was engaged with his
coffee and newspaper, by his finding in the "Courrier des Etats-Unis" a
translation of the paragraph stating the curious fact that the daily
walk of the Marquis began and ended at the Broadway tailor shop.

Having finished his breakfast, the Count leisurely betook himself to
Broadway. As he slowly strolled eastward, he observed on the other side
of the street Jaune d'Antimoine, in his desperately shabby raiment,
hurriedly walking eastward also. The Count murmured a brief panegyric
upon M. d'Antimoine, in which the words "cet animal" alone were
distinguishable. They were near Broadway at this moment, and to the
Count's surprise M. d'Antimoine entered the clothing establishment from
which the Marquis departed upon his daily walk. Could it be possible,
he thought, that fortune had smiled upon the young artist, and that he
was about to purchase a new suit of clothes? The Count entertained the
charitable hope that such could not be the case.

It was the Count's purpose, in order that he might follow also the
movements of Mademoiselle Carthame, to follow the Marquis from the
beginning to the end of his promenade. He set himself, therefore, to
watching closely--for the appearance of the grief-stricken foreigner,
moving carelessly the while from one shop-window to another that
commanded a view of the field. At the end of half an hour, when the
Count was beginning to think that the object of his solicitude was a
myth, out from the broad portal of the clothing establishment came the
Marquis in all his glory--more glorious, in truth, than Solomon, and
more melancholy than the melancholy Jaques. And yet for an instant the
Count Siccatif de Courtray was possessed by the absurd fancy that this
stately personage was Jaune d'Antimoine! Truly, here was the same tall,
handsome figure, the same easy, elegant carriage, the same cut of hair
and beard. But the resemblance went no further, for beard and hair were
gray almost to whiteness, the face was pale and old, and the clothes,
so far from being desperately seedy, were more resplendent even than
the Count's own. No, the thought was incredible, preposterous, and yet
the Count could not discharge it from his mind. He stamped his foot
savagely; this mystery was becoming more interesting than pleasing.

In the crowd that the Marquis drew in his wake, as he slowly, sadly
sauntered up Broadway, the Count had no difficulty in following him
unobserved. The situation was that of the previous day, only it was
intensified, and therefore, to its hero, the more horrible. The
benevolent people with stray fatherless young women to dispose of were
out in greater force; the detectives were more aggressive; the
newspaper people were more persistent; the general public was more
keenly interested in the whole performance. And Rose--most dreadful of
all--was more outrageous than ever! The Count grew almost green with
rage during the three hours that he was a witness of this young woman's
scandalous conduct. A dozen times she met the Marquis in the course of
his walk, and each time that she met him she greeted him with a yet
more tender smile. A curious fact that at first surprised, then
puzzled, then comforted the Count was the very obvious annoyance which
these flattering attentions caused their recipient. Evidently, he
persistently endeavored to evade the meetings which Rose as
persistently and more successfully endeavored to force upon him. Within
the scope of M. de Courtary's comprehension only one reason seemed to
be sufficient to explain the determination on the part of the Marquis
to resist the advances of a singularly attractive young woman, whose
good disposition toward him was so conspicuously, though so
irregularly, manifested: a fear of recognition. And this reason
adjusted itself in a striking manner to the queer notion that had come
into his mind that the Marquis was an ideal creation whose reality was
Jeaune d'Antimoine. The thought was absurd, irrational, but it grew
stronger and stronger within him--and became an assured conviction
when, shortly after the promenade of the Marquis had ended, Jaune came
forth from the clothing store in his normal condition of shabbiness and
youth. The Count was not in all respects a praiseworthy person, but
among his vices was not that of stupidity. Without any very tremendous
mental effort he grasped the fact that his rival had sold himself into
bondage as a walking advertisement, and, knowing this, a righteous
exultation filled his soul. Jaune's destiny, so far as Mademoiselle
Carthame was concerned, he felt was in his power: and he was perplexed
by no nice doubts as to the purpose to which the power that he had
gained should be applied.

Untroubled by the knowledge that his secret was discovered, Jaune
entered upon the last day of his martyrdom. It was the most agonizing
day of all. The benevolent persons, the reporters, the detectives, the
crowd surging about him, drove him almost to madness. He walked as one
dazed. And above and over all he was possessed by a frenzy of jealousy
that came of the offensively friendly smiles which Rose bestowed upon
him as she forced meetings upon him again and again. It was with
difficulty that he restrained himself from laying violent hands upon
this bogus Marquis who falsely and infamously had beguiled away from
him the love for which he gladly would have given his life. Only the
blood of his despicable rival, he felt, would satisfy him. He longed to
find himself with a sword in his hand on a bit of smooth turf, and the
villanous Marquis over against him, ready to be run through. The
thought was so delightful, so animating, that involuntarily he made a
lunge--and had to apologize confusedly to an elderly gentleman whom he
had poked in the back with his umbrella.

At last the three hours of torture, the last of his two weeks of
hateful servitude, came to an end. Pale beneath his false paleness,
haggard beyond his false haggardness of age, he entered the clothing
store and once more was himself. With a gladness unspeakable he washed
off his wrinkles and washed out the gray from his hair and beard; with
a sense of infinite satisfaction that, a fortnight earlier, he would
not have believed possible, he resumed his shabby old clothes. Had he
chosen to do so, he might have walked away in the new and magnificent
apparel which he now fairly had earned; but just at present his
loathing for these fine garments was beyond all words.

The tailor fain would have had the masquerade continue longer, for, as
he frankly stated, "The Marquis Suit" was having a tremendous sale. But
Jaune was deaf not only to the tailor's blandishments, but to his
offers of substantial cash. "Not for the millions would I be in this
part of the Marquis for one day yet more," he said firmly. And he
added, "I trust to you in honor, sare, that not never shall my name be
spoken in this affair."

"Couldn't speak it if I wanted to, my dear boy. It's a mystery to me
how you're able to say it yourself! Well, I'd like you to run the
'Marquis' for another week; but if you won't, you won't, I suppose, so
there's an end of it. I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed it. I have. It's
been as good a thing as I ever got hold of. Now give me your address
and I'll have your clothes sent to you. Don't you want some more? I
don't mind letting you have a regular outfit if you want it. One good
turn, you know--and you've done me a good turn, and that's a fact."

But Jaune declined this liberal offer, and declined also to leave his
address, which would have involved a revelation of his name. It was a
comfort to him to know that his name was safe--a great comfort. So the
garments of the forever departed Marquis were put up in a big bundle,
and Jaune journeyed homeward to his studio in Greenwich--bearing his
sheaves with him--in a Bleecker Street car.

"Well, you are a cheeky beggar, d'Antimoine," said Vandyke Brown,
cheerfully, the next morning, as he came into Jaune's studio with a
newspaper in his hand. "So you are the Marquis who has been setting the
town wild for the last week, eh? And whom did you bet with? And what
started you in such a crazy performance, anyway? Tell me all about it.
It's as funny--Good heavens! d'Antimoine, what's the matter? Are you
ill?" For Jaune had grown deathly pale and was gasping.

"I do not know of what it is that you talk," he answered, with a great
effort.

"Oh, come now, that's too thin, you know. Why, here's a whole column
about it, telling how you made a bet with somebody that you could set
all the town to talking about you, and yet do it all in such a clever
disguise that nobody would know who you really were, not even your most
intimate friends. And I should say that you had won handsomely. Why,
I've seen you on Broadway a dozen times myself this last week, and I
never had the remotest suspicion that the Marquis was you. I must say,
though," continued Brown, reflectively, and looking closely at Jaune,
"that it was stupid of me. I did think that you had a familiar sort of
look; and once, I remember, it did occur to me that you looked
astonishingly like yourself. It--it was the clothes, you see, that
threw me out. Where ever did you get such a stunning rig? I don't
believe that I'd have known you dressed like that, even if you hadn't
been gray and wrinkled. But tell me all about it, old man. It must have
been jolly fun!"

"Fun!" groaned Jaune; "it was the despair!" And then, his heart being
very full and his longing for sympathy overpowering, Jatine told Brown
the whole story. "But what is this of one bet, my dear Van," he
concluded, "I do not of the least know."

"Well, here it all is in the paper, anyway. Calls you 'a distinguished
animal-painter,' and alludes to your 'strikingly vigorous "Lioness and
Cubs" and powerful "Dray Horses" at the last spring exhibition of the
Society of American Artists.' Must be somebody who knows you, you see,
and somebody who means well by you, too. There's nothing at all about
your being an advertisement; indeed, there's nothing in the story but a
good joke, of which you are the hero. It's an eccentric sort of
heroism, to be sure; but then, for some unknown reason, people never
seem to believe that artists are rational human beings, so your
eccentricity will do you no harm. And it's no end of an advertisement
for you. Whoever wrote it meant well by you. And, by Jove! I know who
it is! It's little Conte Crayon. He's a good-hearted little beggar, and
he likes you ever so much, for I've heard him say so; but how he ever
got hold of the story, and especially of such a jolly version of it, I
don't see."

At this moment, by a pleasing coincidence, Conte Crayon himself
appeared with the desired explanation. "You see," he said, "that beast
of a Siccatif de Courtray hunted me up yesterday and told me the yarn
about you and the slop-shop man. He wanted me to write it up and
publish it, 'as a joke,' he said; but it was clear enough that he was
in ugly earnest about it. And so, you see, I had to rush it into print
in the way I chose to tell it--which won't do you a bit of harm,
d'Antimoine--in order to head him off. The blackguard meant to get you
into a mess, and if I'd hung fire he'd have told somebody else about
it, and had the real story published. Of course, you know, there's
nothing in the real story that you need be ashamed of; but if it had
been told, you certainly would have been laughed at, and nasty people
would have said nasty things about it. And as there wasn't any time to
lose, I had to print it first and then come here and explain matters
afterward. And what I've got to say is this: Just you cheek it out and
say that it was a bet, and that you won it! Brown and I will back you
up in it, and so will the slop-shop man. I've been to see him this
morning, and he is so pleased with the way that 'The Marquis Suit' is
selling, and with the extra free advertisement that he has got out of
my article, that he's promised to adopt the bet version in his
advertisement in all the papers. He is going to advertise that The
Marquis Suit is so called because everybody who wears it looks like a
marquis--just as you did. This cuts the ground right from under the
Count's feet, you see; for nobody'd believe him on his oath if they
could help it.

"And now I must clear out. I've got a race at Jerome Park at two
o'clock. It's all right, d'Antimoine; I assure you it's all right--but
I should advise you to punch the Count's head, all the same."

Vandyke Brown thought it was all right, too, as he talked the matter
over with Jaune after little Conte Crayon had gone. But Jaune refused
to be comforted. So far as the public was concerned he admitted that
Conte Crayon's story had saved him, but he was oppressed by a great
dread of what might be the effect of the truth upon Rose. For Juane
d'Antimoine was too honest a gentleman even to think of deceiving his
mistress. He must tell her the whole story, without reserve, and as she
approved or disapproved of what he had done must his hopes of happiness
live or die.

"Better have it out with her to-day, and be done with it," counseled
Brown.

"Ah! it is well for you to speak of a 'urry, my good Van; but it is not
you who go to execute your life. No, I 'ave not the force to go to-day.
To-day I go to make a long walk. Then this night I sleep well.
Tomorrow, in the morning, do I go to affront my destiny." And from this
resolution Jaune was not to be moved.

Yet it was an unfortunate resolution, for it gave the Count Siccatif de
Courtray time and opportunity for a flank movement. In the Count's
breast rage and astonishment contended for the mastery as he
contemplated the curious miscarriage of his newspaper assault. He had
chosen this line of attack partly because his modesty counseled him to
keep his own personality in the background, partly because the wider
the publicity of his rival's disgrace the more complete would that
disgrace be. But as his newspaper ally failed him, he took the campaign
into his own hands; that is to say, he hurried to tell the true story,
and a good deal more than the true story, to Rose and Madame Carthame.

Concerning its effect upon Rose, he was in doubt; but its effect upon
Madame Carthame was all that he could desire. This severe person
instantly took the cue that the Count dexterously gave her by affecting
to palliate Jaune's erratic conduct. He urged that, inasmuch as M.
d'Antimoine was a conspicuous failure as an artist, for him to engage
himself to a tailor as a walking advertisement, so far from being a
disgrace to him, was greatly to his credit. And Madame Carthame
promptly and vehemently asserted that it wasn't. She refused to regard
what he had done in any other light than that of a crime. She declared
that never again should his offensive form darken her door. Solemnly
she forbade Rose from recognizing him when in the future they should
chance to meet. And then she abated her severity to the extent of
thanking the Count with tears in her eyes for the service that he had
done her in tearing off this viper's disguise. Naturally, the Count was
charmed by Ma-dame Carthame's energetic indignation. He perceived that
his unselfish investigations of the actions of Monsieur Jaune were
bearing excellent fruit. Already, as he believed, the way toward his
own happiness was smooth and clear. As the Count retired from this
successful conference, he laughed softly to himself: nor did he pause
in his unobtrusive mirth to reflect that those laugh best who laugh
last.

And thus it came to pass that when Jaune, refreshed by sound slumber
and a little cheered by hope, presented himself the next morning at
Madame Carthame's gates, fate decreed that Rose herself should open the
gates to him--in response to his ring--and in her own proper person
should tell him that she was not at home. In explanation of this
obviously inexact statement she announced to him her mother's stern
decree. Being but a giddy young person, however, and one somewhat
lacking in fit reverence of maternal authority, she added, on her own
account, that in half an hour or so she was going up Fourth Street to
the Gansevoort market, and that Fourth Street was a public
thoroughfare, upon which M. d'Antimoine also had a perfect right to
walk.

In the course of this walk, while Jaune gallantly carried the
market-basket, the story that Rose already had heard from the Count
Siccatif de Courtray was told again--but told with a very different
coloring. For Mademoiselle Carthame clearly perceived how great the
sacrifice had been that Jaune had made for her sake, and how bravely,
because it was for her sake, it had been made. There was real pathos in
his voice; once or twice he nearly broke down. Possibly it was because
she did not wish him to see her eyes that she manifested so marked an
interest in the shop windows as they walked along.

"And so that adorable Marquis was unreal?" queried Mademoiselle
Carthame sadly, and somewhat irrelevantly, when Jaune had told her all.

"He was not adorable. He was a disgusting beast!" replied M.
d'Antimoine savagely.

"I--I loved him!" answered Rose, turning upon Jaune, at last, her black
eyes. They did not sparkle, as was their wont, but they were
wonderfully lustrous and soft.

Jaune looked down into the market-basket and groaned.

"And--and I love him still. I think, I--I hope, that he will live
always in my heart."

The voice of Mademoiselle Carthame trembled, and her hand grasped very
tightly the bag of carrots that they had been unable to make a place
for in the basket: they were coming back from the market now.

Jaune did not look up. For the life of him he could not keep back a
sob. It was bitter hard, he felt, that out of his love for Rose should
come love's wreck; and harder yet that the rival who had stolen her
from him should be himself! Through the mist of his misery he seemed to
hear Rose laughing softly. Could this be so? Then, indeed, was the
capstone set upon his grief!

"Jaune!"

He started, and so violently that a cabbage, with half a dozen potatoes
after it, sprang out of the basket and rolled along the pavement at her
feet. His bowed head rose with a jerk, and their eyes met full. In hers
there was a look half mocking, that as he gazed changed into
tenderness; into his, as he saw the change and perceived its meaning,
there came a look of glad delight.

"As though you could deceive _me_! Why, of course, I knew you from the
very first!"

Then they collected the potatoes and the cabbage and walked slowly on,
and great happiness was in their hearts.

The world was a brighter world for Jaune d'Antimoine when he gave into
Rose's hand the market-basket on her own doorstep, and turned
reluctantly away. But there still were clouds in it. Rose had admitted
that two things were necessary before getting married could be thought
of at all seriously: something must be done by which the nose of the
Count Siccatif de Courtray would be disjointed; something must be done
to assure Madame Carthame that M. d'Antimoine, in some fashion at least
a little removed from semi-starvation, could maintain a wife.

It was certain that until these things were accomplished Madame
Carthame's lofty resolution to transform her daughter into a countess,
and her stern disapprobation of Jaune as a social outcast, never would
be overcome!

As events turned out, it was the second of these requirements that was
fulfilled first.


Mr. Badger Brush was a very rich sporting man, whose tastes were
horsey, but whose heart was in the right place. It was his delight to
make or to back extraordinary wagers. Few New Yorkers have forgotten
that very queer bet of his that resulted in putting high hats on all
the Broadway telegraph poles. When Mr. Brush read the story of Jaune
d'Antimoine's wager, therefore, he was greatly pleased with its
originality; and when, later in the day, he fell in with little Conte
Crayon at Jerome Park, he pressed that ingenious young newspaper man
for additional particulars. And knowing the whereabouts of Mr. Badger
Brush's heart, Conte Crayon did not hesitate to tell the whole story--
winding up with the pointed suggestion that inasmuch as the hero of the
story was an animal-painter of decided, though as yet unrecognized,
ability, Mr. Brush could not do better than manifest his interest in a
practical way by giving him an order. The sporting man rose to the
suggestion with a commendable promptness and warmth.

"I don't care a blank if it wasn't a bet," he said, heartily. "That
young man has pluck, and he deserves to be encouraged. I'll go down and
see him to-morrow, and I'll order a portrait of Celeripes; a life-size,
thousand-dollar portrait, by Jove! Celeripes deserves it, after the pot
of money he brought me at Long Branch, and your friend deserves it too.
And I have some other horses that I want painted, and some dogs--he
paints dogs, I suppose? And I know a lot of other fellows who ought to
have their horses painted, and I'll start them along at him. I'll give
him all the painting he can handle in the next ten years. For it _was_
a bet, you see, after all. Didn't he back his cleverness in disguise
against the wits of the whole town? And didn't the slop-shop man put up
the stakes? And didn't he just win in a canter? I should rather think
he did! Of course it was a bet, and a mighty good one at that. Gad!
Crayon, it's the best thing that's been done in New York for years.
It's what I call first-class cheek. I couldn't have done it better,
sir, myself!"

Thus it fell out that half an hour after Jaune got back to his studio
from that memorable walk to the Gansevoort market, he had the
breath-taking-away felicity of booking a thousand-dollar order, and of
receiving such obviously trustworthy assurances of many more orders
that his wildest hopes of success in a moment were resolved into
substantial realities. When he was alone again he certainly would have
believed that he had been dreaming but for the fact that Mr. Badger
Brush had insisted upon paying half the price of the picture down in
advance; for whatever this good-hearted, horsey gentleman did, he did
thoroughly well. The crisp notes, more than Jaune ever had seen
together in all his life before--save once, when he took a dealer's
check for ten dollars to a bank and looked through the wire screen
while the bank man haughtily cashed it--lay on the table where Mr.
Badger Brush had left them; and their blissful presence proved that his
happiness was not a dream, but real.

From the corner into which, loathingly, he had kicked it, he drew forth
the bundle containing "The Marquis Suit." With a certain solemnity he
resumed these garments of price in which he had suffered so much
torture, and, being clad, boldly presented himself to Madame Carthame
with a formal demand for her daughter's hand. And in view of the sudden
and prodigious change that had come over M. d'Antimoine's fortunes,
almost was Madame Carthame persuaded that the matrimonial plans which
she had laid out for her daughter might be changed. Yet did she
hesitate before announcing that their Median and Persian quality might
be questioned: for the hope that Rose might be a countess lay very
close to Madarne Carthame's heart. However, her determination was
shaken, which was a great point gained.

And presently--for Jaune's star was triumphantly in the ascendant--it
was completely destroyed. The instrument of its destruction was Mr.
Badger Brush's groom, Stumps.

Stumps was a talkative creature, and whenever he came down to Jaune's
studio, as he very often did while the portrait of Celeripes was in
progress, he had a good deal to say over and above the message that he
brought, as to when the horse would be free for the next "sitting" in
the paddock at Mr. Brush's country place, where Jaune was painting him.
And Jaune, who was one of the best-natured of mortals, usually suffered
Stumps to talk away until he was tired.

"You might knock me down with a wisp of hay, you might, indeed, sir,"
said the groom one morning a fortnight after the picture had been
begun--the day but one, in fact, before that set for Vandyke Brown's
wedding. "Yes, sir," he continued, "with a wisp of hay, or even with a
single straw! Here I've been face to face with my own father's
brother's son, and I've put out my hand to him, and he's turned away
short and pretended as he didn't know me and went off! And they tells
me at his lodgin', for I follered him a-purpose to find him out, that
he calls hisself a Frenchman, and says as how his name--which it is
Stumps, and always has been--is Count Sikativ de Cortray!"

Jaune's palette and brushes fell to the floor with a crash. "Is it
posseeble that you do tell me of the Comte Siccatif de Courtray? Are
you then sure that you do not make one grand meestake? Is it 'im truly
that you 'ave seen?"

"Him, sir? Why, in course it's him. Haven't I knowed him ever since he
wasn't higher'n a hoss's fetlock? Don't I tell you as me and him's fust
cousins? Him? In course it's him--the gump!"

"Then, my good Stump, you will now tell me of this wonder all."

It's not much there is to tell, sir, and wat there is isn't to his
credit. His father was my father's brother. My father was in the hoss
line out Saint John's Wood way--in Lunnon, you know, sir--and his
father lived in our street and was a swell barber. Uncle'd married a
French young 'ooman as was dressmakin' and had been a lady's maid; it's
along of his mother that he gets his Frenchness, you see. He was an
only son, he was, and they made a lot of him--dressin' him fine, and
coddlin' him, and sendin' him to school like anythink. Uncle was doin'
a big trade, you see, and makin' money fast. Then, when he was a young
fellow of twenty or so, and after he'd served at barberin' with his
father for a couple of years, he took service with young Lord Cadmium--
as had his 'cousin' livin' in a willa down our way and came to uncle's
to be barbered frequent. And wen Lord Cadmium went sudden-like over to
the Continent, wishin' to give his 'cousin' the slip, havin' got sick
of her, Stumps he went along. That's a matter of ten years ago, sir,
and blessed if I've laid eyes on him since until I seed him here in New
York to-day. Uncle died better'n two year back, aunt havin' died fust,
and he left a tidy pot of money to Stumps; and I did hear that Stumps,
who'd been barberin' in Paris, had giv' up work when he got the cash
and had set up to be a gentleman, but I didn't know as he'd set up to
be a count too. The like of this I never did see!"

"And you are then sure, you will swear, my good Stump, that this are
the same man?"

"Swear, sir! I'll swear to it 'igh and low and all day long! But I must
be goin', sir. You will please to remember that the hoss will be ready
for you at ten o'clock to-morrow mornin', sharp."

Jaune rushed down to Vandyke Brown's studio for counsel as to whether
he should go at once to the Count's lodgings and charge him with fraud
to his face, or should make the charge first to Madame Carthame. But
Brown was out. Nor was he in old Madder's studio, though about this
time he was much more likely to be there than in his own. Old Madder
said that Brown had taken Rose over to Brooklyn, to the Philharmonic,
and he believed that they were going to dinner at Mr. Mangan Brown's
afterward, and would not be in till late; and he seemed to be pretty
grumpy about it.

Jaune fumed and fretted away what was left of the afternoon and a good
part of the evening. At last Brown and Rose came home, and Brown, with
a very bad grace, suffered himself to be led away from old Madder's
threshold. To do him justice, though, when he had heard the story that
Jaune had to tell, he was all eagerness. His advice was to make the
attack instantly; and without more words they set off together, walking
briskly through the chill air of the late October night.

As they were passing along Macdougal Street--midway between Bleecker
and Houston, in front of the row of pretty houses with verandas all
over their fronts--Jaune suddenly gripped Brown's arm and drew him
quickly within one of the little front yards and into the shadow of the
high iron steps.

"Look!" he said.

On the other side of the street, in the light of the gas-lamp that
stands in the centre of the block, was the Count himself. For the
moment that he was beneath the gas-lamp they saw him clearly. His face
was set in an expression of gloomy sternness; his rapid, resolute walk
indicated a definite purpose; he carried a little bundle in his hand.

"What a villain he looks!" whispered Brown. "Upon my soul, I do believe
that he is going to murder somebody!"

"Ah, the vile animal! We will pursue," answered Jaune, also in a
whisper.

Giving the Count a start of a dozen house fronts, they stepped out from
their retreat and followed him cautiously. He walked quickly up
Macdougal Street until he came out on Washington Square. For a moment
he paused--by Sam Wah's laundry--and then turned sharply to the left
along Fourth Street. At a good pace he crossed Sixth Avenue, swung
around the curve that Fourth Street makes before beginning its
preposterous journey northward, went on past the three little balconied
houses whose fronts are on Washington Place, and so came out upon the
open space where Washington Place and Barrow Street and Fourth Street
all run into each other. It was hereabout that Wouter Van Twiller had
his tobacco farm a trifle less than two centuries ago.

The Count stopped, as though to get his bearings, and while they waited
for him to go on Brown nudged Jaune to look at the delightfully
picturesque frame house, set in a deep niche between two high brick
houses, with the wooden stair elbowing up its outside to its third
story. It came out wonderfully well in the moonlight, but Jaune was too
much excited even to glance at it.

At the next group of corners--where Fourth Street crosses Grove and
Christopher Streets at the point where they go sidling into each other
along the slanting lines of the little park--the Count halted again.
Evidently, the exceeding crookedness of Greenwich Village puzzled him--
as well it might. Presently a Christopher Street car came along and set
him straight; and thus guided, he started resolutely westward, as
though heading for the river.

"Is it posseeble that he goes 'imself to drown?" suggested d'Antimoine.

"No such good luck," Brown answered shortly.

Coming out on what used to be called "the Strand"--West Street they
call it now--the Count bore away from the lights of the Hoboken Ferry
and from the guarded docks of the White Star and Anchor lines of
steamers, skirted the fleet of oyster boats, and so came to the quiet
pier at the foot of Perry Street, where the hay barges unload. This
pier runs a long way out into the river, for it is a part of what was
called Sapo-kamikke Point in Indian times. The Count stopped and looked
cautiously around him, but his pursuers promptly crouched behind a dray
and became invisible.

As he went out upon the pier, though, they were close upon his heels--
walking noiselessly over the loose hay and keeping themselves hidden in
the shadow of the barges and behind the piles of bales. At the very end
of the pier he stopped. Jaune and Brown, hidden by a bale of hay, were
within five feet of him. Their hearts were beating tremendously. There
had been no tragical purpose in their minds when they started, but it
certainly did look now as though they were in the thick of a tragedy.
In the crisp October moonlight the Count's face shone deathly pale;
they could see the fingers of his right hand working convulsively; they
could hear his labored breathing. Below him was the deep, black water,
lapping and rippling as the swirl of the tide sucked it into the dark,
slimy recesses among the piles. In its bosom was horrible death. The
Count stepped out upon the very edge of the pier and gazed wofully down
upon the swelling waters. His dismal purpose no longer admitted of
doubt. Involuntarily the two followed him until they were close at his
back. Little as they loved him, they could not suffer him thus
despairingly to leave the world.

But instead of casting himself over the edge of the pier, the Count
slowly raised the hand that held the bundle, with the obvious intention
of throwing the bundle and whatever was the evil secret that it
contained into the river's depths. Quick as thought, Brown had seized
the upraised arm, and Jaune had settled upon the other arm with a grip
like a vise.

"No, you don't, my boy! Let's see what it is before it goes overboard.
Hold fast, d'Antimoine!"

The Count struggled furiously, but hopelessly.

"It's no use. You may as well give in, Stumps!"

As Brown uttered this name the Count suddenly became limp. The little
bundle that he had clutched tightly through the struggle dropped from
his nerveless hand, and fell open as it struck the ground. And there,
gleaming in the moonlight, a brace of razors, a stubby brush, a stout
pair of shears, lay loosely in the folds of a barber's jacket!

And this was the sorry climax to the brilliant romance of the
proscribed Bonapartist, the Count Sicca-tif de Courtray!

Jaune, who was a generous-hearted young fellow, was for setting free
his crestfallen rival at once, and so having done with him. Brown took
a more statesmanlike view of the situation. "We will let him go after
he has owned up to Madame Carthame what a fraud he is," he said. The
Count winced when this sentence was pronounced, but he uttered no
remonstrance. The shock of the discovery had completely demoralized
him.

It was after midnight when they reached Madame Carthame's dwelling, and
Rose herself, with her hair done up in curl papers, opened the door for
them, When she recognized the three visitors and perceived that the
Count was in custody, and at the same moment remembered her curl
papers, on her face the gaze of astonishment and the blush of maidenly
modesty contended for the right of way.

Madame Carthame fairly was in bed--as was evident from the spirited
conversation between herself and her vivacious daughter that was
perfectly audible through the folding doors which separated the little
parlor from her bedroom. It was evident, also, that she was indisposed
to rise. However, her indisposition was overcome and in the course of
twenty minutes or so she appeared arrayed in a frigid dignity and a
loose wrapper. Rose, meanwhile, had taken off her curl papers, and
Jaune regarded her tumbled hair with ecstasy.

The tribunal being assembled, the prisoner was placed at the bar and
the trial began. It was an eminently irregular trial, looking at it
from a legal point of view, for the verbal evidence all was hearsay.
But it also was extra-legal in that it was brief and decisive. Brown
gave his testimony in the shape of a repetition of the story that Jaune
had told him had been told by Mr. Badger Brush's groom; and when this
was concluded, Jaune produced the jacket, razors, shears, and shaving
brush, and stated the circumstances under which they had been found.
Then the prosecution rested.

Being questioned by the court--that is to say, by Madame Carthame--in
his own defence, the Count replied gloomily that he hadn't any. "When I
saw that horse fellow," he said, "I knew that I was likely to get into
trouble, and that was the reason why I wanted to get rid of these
things. And now the game is up. It is all true. I was a barber. I am
not a count. My real name is Stumps."

Then it was that Madame Carthame, blissfully ignorant of the fact that
she had neglected to remove her nightcap, stood up in her place, with
her wrapper gathered about her in a statuesque fashion, and in a tragic
tone uttered the single word:

"Sortez!"

And the Count went!

Out, out into the chill and gloom of night went the false Count, never
to return; and with him went Madame Carthame's fond hope that her
daughter would be a countess, which also was the last barrier in the
way of Jaune d'Antimoine's love. Perceiving that the force of fate
inexorably was pressing upon her, Madame Carthame--still in her
night-cap--bestowed upon Rose and Jaune the maternal blessing in a
manner that, even allowing for the nightcap, was both stately and
severe.

As at Vandyke Brown's wedding Jaune d'Antimoine was radiantly
magnificent in "The Marquis Suit," adding splendor to the ceremony and
rendering himself most pleasing in the eyes of Rose Carthame; so, a
month later, he was yet more radiant when he wore the famous suit
again, in the church of Saint Vincent de Paul, and was himself married.

Conte Crayon brought Mr. Badger Brush down to the wedding, and the
groom came too, and the tailor got wind of it and came without being
asked--and had to be implored not to work it up into an advertisement,
as he very much wanted to do. Mrs. Vandyke Brown, just home from her
wedding journey, was the first--after the kiss of Madame Carthame had
been sternly bestowed--to kiss the bride; and Mr. Badger Brush
irreverently whispered to Conte Crayon that he wished, by gad! he had
her chance!



OLE 'STRACTED
---------------
BY THOMAS NELSON PAGE



_Thomas Nelson Page (born in Oakland, Virginia, April 23, 1853)
represents the generation of Southerners who were too young to fight
but not to feel during the Civil War. In the middle eighties he
published a number of stories in the "Century Magazine" which presented
with loving sympathy charming views of the old aristocratic regime that
it had become a literary fashion sweepingly to condemn. These tales of
courtly ideals on the part of the masters, and affecting loyalty on the
side of the slaves, were gathered together and published in 1887 in a
volume entitled "In Ole Virginia." "Marse Chan," "Meh Lady" and "Ole
'Stracted" the present selection, are the favorites of the collection._



OLE 'STRACTED
BY THOMAS NELSON PAGE
[Footnote: This story is reprinted, by permission, from the book
entitled "In Ole Virginia." Copyright, 1887, by Charles Scribner's
Sons.]

"Awe, little Ephum! _awe_ little E-phum! ef you don' come 'long heah,
boy, an' rock dis chile, I'll buss you haid open!" screamed the
high-pitched voice of a woman, breaking the stillness of the summer
evening. She had just come to the door of the little cabin, where she
was now standing, anxiously scanning the space before her, while a
baby's plaintive wail rose and fell within with wearying monotony. The
log cabin, set in a gall in the middle of an old field all grown up in
sassafras, was not a very inviting-looking place; a few hens loitering
about the new hen-house, a brood of half-grown chickens picking in the
grass and watching the door, and a runty pig tied to a "stob," were the
only signs of thrift; yet the face of the woman cleared up as she gazed
about her and afar off, where the gleam of green made a pleasant spot,
where the corn grew in the river bottom; for it was her home, and the
best of all was she thought it belonged to them.

A rumble of distant thunder caught her ear, and she stepped down and
took a well-worn garment from the clothes-line, stretched between two
dogwood forks, and having, after a keen glance down the path through
the bushes, satisfied herself that no one was in sight, she returned to
the house, and the baby's voice rose louder than before. The mother, as
she set out her ironing table, raised a dirge-like hymn, which she
chanted, partly from habit and partly in self-defence. She ironed
carefully the ragged shirt she had just taken from the line, and then,
after some search, finding a needle and cotton, she drew a chair to the
door and proceeded to mend the garment.

"Dis de on'ies' shut Ole 'Stracted got," she said, as if in apology to
herself for being so careful.

The cloud slowly gathered over the pines in the direction of the path;
the fowls carefully tripped up the path, and after a prudent pause at
the hole, disappeared one by one within; the chickens picked in a
gradually contracting circuit, and finally one or two stole furtively
to the cabin door, and after a brief reconnaissance came in, and
fluttered up the ladder to the loft, where they had been born, and yet
roosted. Once more the baby's voice prevailed, and once more the woman
went to the door, and, looking down the path, screamed, "Awe, little
Ephum! awe, little Ephum!"

"Ma'm," came the not very distant answer from the bushes.

"Why 'n't you come 'long heah, boy, an' rock dis chile?"

"Yes'm, I comin'," came the answer. She waited, watching, until there
emerged from the bushes a queer little caravan, headed by a small brat,
who staggered under the weight of another apparently nearly as large
and quite as black as himself, while several more of various degrees of
diminutiveness struggled along behind.

"Ain't you heah me callin' you, boy? You better come when I call you.
I'll tyah you all to pieces!" pursued the woman, in the angriest of
keys, her countenance, however, appearing unruffled. The head of the
caravan stooped and deposited his burden carefully on the ground; then,
with a comical look of mingled alarm and penitence, he slowly
approached the door, keeping his eye watchfully on his mother, and,
picking his opportunity, slipped in past her, dodging skilfully just
enough to escape a blow which she aimed at him, and which would have
"slapped him flat" had it struck him, but which, in truth, was intended
merely to warn and keep him in wholesome fear, and was purposely aimed
high enough to miss him, allowing for the certain dodge.

The culprit, having stifled the whimper with which he was prepared,
flung himself on to the foot of the rough plank cradle, and began to
rock it violently and noisily, using one leg as a lever, and singing an
accompaniment, of which the only words that rose above the noise of the
rockers were "By-a-by, don't you cry; go to sleep, little baby"; and
sure enough the baby stopped crying and went to sleep.

Eph watched his mammy furtively as she scraped away the ashes and laid
the thick pone of dough on the hearth, and shoveled the hot ashes upon
it. Supper would be ready directly, and it was time to propitiate her.
He bethought himself of a message.

"Mammy, Ole 'Stracted say you must bring he shut; he say he marster
comin' to-night."

"How he say he is?" inquired the woman, with some interest.

"He ain' say--jes say he want he shut. He sutny is comical--he layin'
down in de baid." Then, having relieved his mind, Eph went to sleep in
the cradle.

"'Layin' down in de baid?'" quoted the woman to herself as she moved
about the room. "I 'ain' nuver hern 'bout dat befo'. Dat sutny is a
comical ole man anyways. He say he used to live on dis plantation, an'
yit he al'ays talkin' 'bout de gret house an' de fine kerridges dee
used to have, an' 'bout he marster comin' to buy him back. De 'ain'
nuver been no gret house on dis place, not sence I know nuttin 'bout
it, 'sep de overseer house whar dat man live. I heah Ephum say Aunt
Dinah tell him de ole house whar used to be on de hill whar dat gret
oak-tree is in de pines bu'nt down de year he wuz born, an' he ole
marster had to live in de overseer house, an' hit break he heart, an'
dee teck all he niggers, an' dat's de way _he_ come to blongst to we
all; but dat ole man ain' know nuttin 'bout dat house, 'cause hit bu'nt
down. I wonder whar he did come from?" she pursued, "an' what he sho'
'nough name? He sholy couldn' been named 'Ole 'Stracted,' jes so; dat
ain' no name 'tall. Yit ef he ain' 'stracted, 'tain' nobody is. He ain'
even know he own name," she continued, presently. "Say he marster'll
know him when he come--ain' know de folks is free; say he marster gwi
buy him back in de summer an' kyar him home, an' 'bout de money he
gwine gi' him. Ef he got any money, I wonder he live down dyah in dat
evil-sperit hole." And the woman glanced around with great complacency
on the picture-pasted walls of her own by no means sumptuously
furnished house. "Money!" she repeated aloud, as she began to rake in
the ashes, "He ain' got nuttin. I got to kyar him piece o' dis bread
now," and she went off into a dream of what they would do when the big
crop on their land should be all in, and the last payment made on the
house; of what she would wear, and how she would dress the children,
and the appearance she would make at meeting, not reflecting that the
sum they had paid for the property had never, even with all their
stinting, amounted in any one year to more than a few dollars over the
rent charged for the place, and that the eight hundred dollars yet due
on it was more than they could make at the present rate in a lifetime.

"Ef Ephum jes had a mule, or even somebody to help him," she thought,
"but he ain' got nuttin. De chil'n ain big 'nough to do nuttin but eat;
he 'ain' not no brurrs, an' he deddy took 'way an' sold down Souf de
same time my ole marster whar dead buy him; dat's what I al'ays heah
'em say, an' I know he's dead long befo' dis, 'cause I heah 'em say
dese Virginia niggers earn stan' hit long deah, hit so hot, hit frizzle
'em up, an' I reckon he die befo' he ole marster, whar I heah say die
of a broked heart torectly after dee teck he niggers an' sell 'em befo'
he face. I heah Aunt Dinah say dat, an' dat he might'ly sot on he ole
servants, spressaly on Ephum deddy, whar named Little Ephum, an' whar
used to wait on him. Dis mus' 'a' been a gret place dem days, 'cordin'
to what dee say." She went on: "Dee say he sutny live strong, wuz jes
rich as cream, an' weahed he blue coat an' brass buttons, an' lived in
dat ole house whar was up whar de pines is now, an' whar bu'nt down,
like he owned de wull. An' now look at it; dat man own it all, an'
cuttin' all de woods off it. He don't know nuttin 'bout black folks,
ain' nuver been fotch up wid 'em. Who ever heah he name 'fo' he come
heah an' buy de place, an' move in de overseer house, an' charge we all
eight hundred dollars for dis land, jes 'cause it got little piece o'
bottom on it, an' forty-eight dollars rent besides, wid he ole stingy
wife whar oon' even gi' 'way buttermilk!" An expression of mingled
disgust and contempt concluded the reflection.

She took the ash-cake out of the ashes, slapped it first on one side,
then on the other, with her hand, dusted it with her apron, and walked
to the door and poured a gourd of water from the piggin over it. Then
she divided it in half; one half she set up against the side of the
chimney, the other she broke up into smaller pieces and distributed
among the children, dragging the sleeping Eph, limp and soaked with
sleep, from the cradle to receive his share. Her manner was not rough--
was perhaps even tender--but she used no caresses, as a white woman
would have done under the circumstances. It was only toward the baby at
the breast that she exhibited any endearments. Her nearest approach to
it with the others was when she told them, as she portioned out the
ash-cake, "Mammy ain't got nuttin else; but ntiver min', she gwine have
plenty o' good meat next year, when deddy done pay for he land."

"Hi! who dat out dyah?" she said, suddenly. "Run to de do', son, an'
see who dat comin'," and the whole tribe rushed to inspect the
new-comer.

It was, as she suspected, her husband, and as soon as he entered she
saw that something was wrong. He dropped into a chair, and sat in moody
silence, the picture of fatigue, physical and mental. After waiting for
some time, she asked, indifferently. "What de matter?"

"Dat man."

"What he done do now?" The query was sharp with suspicion.

"He say he ain' gwine let me have my land."

"He's a half-strainer," said the woman, with sudden anger. "How he
gwine help it? Ain' you got crap on it?" She felt that there must be a
defence against such an outrage.

"He say he ain' gwine wait no longer; dat I wuz to have tell Christmas
to finish payin' for it, an' I ain' do it, an' now he done change he
min'."

"Tell dis Christmas comin'," said his wife, with the positiveness of
one accustomed to expound contracts.

"Yes; but I tell you he say he done change he min'." The man had
evidently given up all hope; he was dead beat.

"De crap's yourn," said she, affected by his surrender, but prepared
only to compromise.

"He say he gwine teck all dat for de rent, and dat he gwine drive Ole
'Stracted 'way too."

"He ain' nuttin but po' white trash!" It expressed her supreme
contempt.

"He say he'll gi' me jes one week mo' to pay him all he ax for it,"
continued he, forced to a correction by her intense feeling, and the
instinct of a man to defend the absent from a woman's attack, and
perhaps in the hope that she might suggest some escape.

"He ain' nuttin sep po' white trash!" she repeated. "How you gwine
raise eight hundred dollars at once? Dee kyarn nobody do dat. Gord
mout! He ain' got good sense."

"You ain' see dat corn lately, is you?" he asked. "Hit jes as rank! You
can almos' see it growin' ef you look at it good. Dat's strong land. I
know dat when I buy it."

He knew it was gone now, but he had been in the habit of calling it his
in the past three years, and it did him good to claim the ownership a
little longer.

"I wonder whar Marse Johnny is?" said the woman. He was the son of her
former owner; and now, finding her proper support failing her, she
instinctively turned to him. "He wouldn' let him turn we all out."

"He ain' got nuttin, an' ef he is, he kyarn get it in a week," said
Ephraim.

"Kyarn you teck it in de co't?"

"Dat's whar he say he gwine have it ef I don' git out," said her
husband, despairingly.

Her last defence was gone.

"Ain' you hongry?" she inquired.

"What you got?"

"I jes gwine kill a chicken for you."

It was her nearest approach to tenderness, and he knew it was a mark of
special attention, for all the chickens and eggs had for the past three
years gone to swell the fund which was to buy the home, and it was only
on special occasions that one was spared for food.

The news that he was to be turned out of his home had fallen on him
like a blow, and had stunned him; he could make no resistance, he could
form no plans. He went into a rough estimate as he waited.

"Le' me see: I done wuck for it three years dis Christmas done gone;
how much does dat meek?"

"An' fo' dollars, an' five dollars, an' two dollars an' a half last
Christmas from de chickens, an' all dem ducks I done sell he wife, an'
de washin' I been doin' for 'em; how much is dat?" supplemented his
wife.

"Dat's what I say!"

His wife endeavored vainly to remember the amount she had been told it
was; but the unaccounted-for washing changed the sum and destroyed her
reliance on the result. And as the chicken was now approaching
perfection, and required her undivided attention, she gave up the
arithmetic and applied herself to her culinary duties.

Ephraim also abandoned the attempt, and waited in a reverie, in which
he saw corn stand so high and rank over his land that he could scarcely
distinguish the bulk, and a stable and barn and a mule, or maybe two--
it was a possibility--and two cows which his wife would milk, and a
green wagon driven by his boys, while he took it easy and gave orders
like a master, and a clover patch, and wheat, and he saw the' yellow
grain waving, and heard his sons sing the old harvest song of "Cool
Water" while they swung their cradles, and--

"You say he gwine turn Ole 'Stracted out, too?" inquired his wife,
breaking the spell. The chicken was done now, and her mind reverted to
the all-engrossing subject.

"Yes; say he tired o' ole 'stracted nigger livin' on he place an'
payin' no rent."

"Good Gord A'mighty! Pay rent for dat ole pile o' logs! Ain't he been
mendin' he shoes an' harness for rent all dese years?"

"'Twill kill dat ole man to tu'n him out dat house," said Ephraim; "he
ain 'nuver stay away from dyah a hour since he come heah."

"Sutny 'twill," assented his wife; then she added, in reply to the rest
of the remark, "Nuver min'; den we'll see what he got in dyah." To a
woman, that was at least some compensation. Ephraim's thoughts had
taken a new direction.

"He al'ays feared he marster'd come for him while he 'way," he said, in
mere continuance of his last remark.

"He sen' me wud he marster comin' to-night, an he want he shut," said
his wife, as she handed him his supper. Ephraim's face expressed more
than interest; it was tenderness which softened the rugged lines as he
sat looking into the fire. Perhaps he thought of the old man's
loneliness, and of his own father torn away and sold so long ago,
before he could even remember, and perhaps very dimly of the beauty of
the sublime devotion of this poor old creature to his love and his
trust, holding steadfast beyond memory, beyond reason, after the
knowledge even of his own identity and of his very name was lost.

The woman caught the contagion of his sympathy.

"De chil'n say he mighty comical, an' he layin' down in de baid," she
said.

Ephraim rose from his seat.

"Whar you gwine?"

"I mus' go to see 'bout him," he said, simply.

"Ain' you gwine finish eatin'?"

"I gwine kyar dis to him."

"Well, I kin cook you anurr when we come back," said his wife, with
ready acquiescence.

In a few minutes they were on the way, going single file down the path
through the sassafras, along which little Eph and his followers had
come an hour before, the man in the lead and his wife following, and,
according to the custom of their race, carrying the bundles, one the
surrendered supper and the other the neatly folded and well-patched
shirt in which Ole 'Stracted hoped to meet his long-expected loved
ones.

As they came in sight of the ruinous little hut which had been the old
man's abode since his sudden appearance in the neighborhood a few years
after the war, they observed that the bench beside the door was
deserted, and that the door stood ajar--two circumstances which neither
of them remembered ever to have seen before; for in all the years in
which he had been their neighbor Ole 'Stracted had never admitted any
one within his door, and had never been known to leave it open. In mild
weather he occupied a bench outside, where he either cobbled shoes for
his neighbors, accepting without question anything they paid him, or
else sat perfectly quiet, with the air of a person waiting for some
one. He held only the briefest communication with anybody, and was
believed by some to have intimate relations with the Evil One, and his
tumble-down hut, which he was particular to keep closely daubed, was
thought by such as took this view of the matter to be the temple where
he practiced his unholy rites. For this reason, and because the little
cabin, surrounded by dense pines and covered with vines which the
popular belief held "pizenous," was the most desolate abode a human
being could have selected, most of the dwellers in that section gave
the place a wide berth, especially toward nightfall, and Ole 'Stracted
would probably have suffered but for the charity of Ephraim and his
wife, who, although often wanting the necessaries of life themselves,
had long divided it with their strange neighbor. Yet even they had
never been admitted inside his door, and knew no more of him than the
other people about the settlement knew.

His advent in the neighborhood had been mysterious. The first that was
known of him was one summer morning, when he was found sitting on the
bench beside the door of this cabin, which had long been unoccupied and
left to decay. He was unable to give any account of himself, except
that he always declared that he had been sold by some one other than
his master from that plantation, that his wife and boy had been sold to
some other person at the same time for twelve hundred dollars (he was
particular as to the amount), and that his master was coming in the
summer to buy him back and take him home, and would bring him his wife
and child when he came. Everything since that day was a blank to him,
and as he could not tell the name of his master or wife, or even his
own name, and as no one was left old enough to remember him, the
neighborhood having been entirely deserted after the war, he simply
passed as a harmless old lunatic laboring under a delusion. He was
devoted to children, and Ephraim's small brood were his chief delight.
They were not at all afraid of him, and whenever they got a chance they
would slip off and steal down to his house, where they might be found
any time squatting about his feet, listening to his accounts of his
expected visit from his master, and what he was going to do afterward.
It was all of a great plantation, and fine carriages and horses, and a
house with his wife and the boy.

This was all that was known of him, except that once a stranger,
passing through the country, and hearing the name Ole 'Stracted, said
that he heard a similar one once, long before the war, in one of the
Louisiana parishes, where the man roamed at will, having been bought of
the trader by the gentleman who owned him, for a small price, on
account of his infirmity.

"Is you gwine in dyah?" asked the woman, as they approached the hut.

"Hi! yes; 'tain' nuttin' gwine hu't you; an' you say Ephum say he be
layin' in de baid?" he replied, his mind having evidently been busy on
the subject.

"An' mighty comical," she corrected him, with exactness born of
apprehension.

"Well? I 'feared he sick."

"I ain' nuver been in dyah," she persisted.

"Ain' de chil'n been in dyah?"

"Dee say 'stracted folks oon hu't chil'n."

"Dat ole man oon hu't nobody; he jes tame as a ole tomcat."

"I wonder he ain' feared to live in dat lonesome ole house by hisself.
I jes lieve stay in a graveyard at once. I ain' wonder folks say he
sees sperrits in dat hanty-lookin' place." She came up by her husband's
side at the suggestion. "I wonder he don' go home."

"Whar he got any home to go to sep heaven?" said Ephraim.

"What was you mammy name, Ephum?"

"Mymy," said he, simply.

They were at the cabin now, and a brief pause of doubt ensued. It was
perfectly dark inside the door, and there was not a sound. The bench
where they had heretofore held their only communication with their
strange neighbor was lying on its side in the weeds which grew up to
the very walls of the ruinous cabin, and a lizard suddenly ran over it,
and with a little rustle disappeared under the rotting ground-sill. To
the woman it was an ill omen. She glanced furtively behind her, and
moved nearer her husband's side. She noticed that the cloud above the
pines was getting a faint yellow tinge on its lower border, while it
was very black above them. It filled her with dread, and she was about
to call her husband's notice to it, when a voice within arrested their
attention. It was very low, and they both listened in awed silence,
watching the door meanwhile as if they expected to see something
supernatural spring from it.

"Nem min'--jes wait--'tain so long now--he'll be heah torectly," said
the voice. "Dat's what he say--gwine come an' buy me back--den we gwine
home."

In their endeavor to catch the words they moved nearer, and made a
slight noise. Suddenly the low, earnest tone changed to one full of
eagerness.

"Who dat?" was called in sharp inquiry.

"'Tain' nobody but me an' Polly, Ole 'Stracted," said Ephraim, pushing
the door slightly wider open and stepping in. They had an indistinct
idea that the poor deluded creature had fancied them his longed-for
loved ones, yet it was a relief to see him bodily.

"Who you say you is?" inquired the old man, feebly.

"Me an' Polly."

"I done bring you shut home," said the woman, as if supplementing her
husband's reply. "Hit all bran' clean, an' I done patch it."

"Oh, I thought--" said the voice, sadly.

They knew what he thought. Their eyes were now accustomed to the
darkness, and they saw that the only article of furniture which the
room contained was the wretched bed or bench on which the old man was
stretched. The light sifting through the chinks in the roof enabled
them to see his face, and that it had changed much in the last
twenty-four hours, and an instinct told them that he was near the end
of his long waiting.

"How is you, Ole 'Stracted?" asked the woman.

"Dat ain' my name," answered the old man, promptly. It was the first
time he had ever disowned the name.

"Well, how is you, Ole--What I gwine to call you?" asked she, with
feeble finesse.

"I don' know--he kin tell you."

"Who?"

"Who? Marster. He know it. Ole 'Stracted ain' know it; but dat ain'
nuttin. _He_ know it--got it set down in de book. I jes waitin' for 'em
now."

A hush fell on the little audience--they were in full sympathy with
him, and, knowing no way of expressing it, kept silence. Only the
breathing of the old man was audible in the room. He was evidently
nearing the end. "I mighty tired of waitin'," he said, pathetically.
"Look out dyah and see ef you see anybody," he added suddenly.

Both of them obeyed, and then returned and stood silent; they could not
tell him no.

Presently the woman said, "Don' you warn put you' shut on?"

"What did you say my name was?" he said.

"Ole 'Str--" She paused at the look of pain on his face, shifted
uneasily from one foot to the other, and relapsed into embarrassed
silence.

"Nem min'! dee'll know it--dee'll know me 'dout any name, oon dee?" He
appealed wistfully to them both. The woman for answer unfolded the
shirt. He moved feebly, as if in assent.

"I so tired waitin'," he whispered; "done 'mos gin out, an' he oon
come; but I thought I heah little Eph to-day?" There was a faint
inquiry in his voice.

"Yes, he wuz heah."

"Wuz he?" The languid form became instantly alert, the tired face took
on a look of eager expectancy. "Heah, gi'm'y shut quick. I knowed it.
Wait; go over dyah, son, and git me dat money. He'll be heah torectly."
They thought his mind wandered, and merely followed the direction of
his eyes with theirs. "Go over dyah quick--don't you heah me?"

And to humor him Ephraim went over to the corner indicated.

"Retch up dyah, an' run you' hand in onder de second jice. It's all in
dyah," he said to the woman--"twelve hunderd dollars--dat's what dee
went for. I wucked night an' day forty year to save dat money for
marster; you know dee teck all he land an' all he niggers an' tu'n him
out in de old fiel'? I put 'tin dyah 'ginst he come. You ain' know he
comin' dis evenin', is you? Heah, help me on wid dat shut, gal--I
stan'in' heah talkin' an' maybe ole marster waitin'. Push de do' open
so you kin see. Forty year ago," he murmured, as Polly jammed the door
back and returned to his side--"forty year ago dee come an' leveled on
me: marster sutny did cry. 'Nem min',' he said, 'I comin' right down in
de summer to buy you back an' bring you home.' He's comin', too--nuver
tol' me a lie in he life--comin' dis evenin.' Make 'aste." This in
tremulous eagerness to the woman, who had involuntarily caught the
feeling, and was now with eager and ineffectual haste trying to button
his shirt.

An exclamation from her husband caused her to turn around, as he
stepped into the light and held up an old sock filled with something.

"Heah, hoi you' apron," said the old man to Polly, who gathered up the
lower corners of her apron and stood nearer the bed.

"Po' it in dyah." This to Ephraim, who mechanically obeyed. He pulled
off the string, and poured into his wife's lap the heap of glittering
coin--gold and silver more than their eyes had ever seen before.

"Hit's all dyah," said the old man, confidentially, as if he were
rendering an account. "I been savin' it ever sence dee took me 'way. I
so busy savin' it I ain' had time to eat, but I ain' hongry now; have
plenty when I git home." He sank back exhausted. "Oon marster be glad
to see me?" he asked presently in pathetic simplicity. "You know we
grewed up to-gerr? I been waitin' so long I 'feared dee 'mos' done
forgit me. You reckon dee is?" he asked the woman, appealingly.

"No, suh, dee ain' forgit you," she said, comfortingly.

"I know dee ain'," he said, reassured. "Dat's what he tell me--he ain'
nuver gwine forgit me." The reaction had set in, and his voice was so
feeble now it was scarcely audible. He was talking rather to himself
than to them, and finally he sank into a doze. A painful silence
reigned in the little hut, in which the only sign was the breathing of
the dying man. A single shaft of light stole down under the edge of the
slowly passing cloud and slipped up to the door. Suddenly the sleeper
waked with a start, and gazed around.

"Hit gittin' mighty dark," he whispered, faintly. "You reckon dee'll
git heah 'fo' dark?"

The light was dying from his eyes.

"Ephum," said the woman, softly, to her husband.

The effect was electrical.

"Heish! you heah dat!" exclaimed the dying man, eagerly.

"Ephum"--she repeated. The rest was drowned by Ole 'Stracted's joyous
exclamation.

"Gord! I knowed it!" he cried, suddenly rising upright, and, with
beaming face, stretching both arms toward the door. "Dyah dee come! Now
watch 'em smile. All y'all jes stand back. Heah de one you lookin' for.
Marster--Mymy--heah's Little Ephum!" And with a smile on his face he
sank back into his son's arms.

The evening sun, dropping on the instant to his setting, flooded the
room with light; but as Ephraim gently eased him down and drew his arm
from around him, it was the light of the unending morning that was on
his face. His Master had at last come for him, and after his long
waiting, Ole 'Stracted had indeed gone home.



OUR CONSUL AT CARLSRUHE
-----------------------
BY F. J. STIMSON



_Frederic Jesup Stimson is a prominent lawyer of Boston. He is a member
of the New York and Boston bars and is a special lecturer at Harvard.
He has been more or less identified with State politics in
Massachusetts for a great many years, was Assistant Attorney-General of
the State in 1884-85, general counsel to the United States Industrial
Commission, and Democratic candidate for Congress in 1902. In addition
to being the author of several novels, essays, etc., Mr. Stimson has
written a number of law books. His earlier novels were published under
the pen-name of "J. S. of Dale." Mr. Stimsorfs latest novel is entitled
"In Cure of Her Soul". The hero of the story, Austin Pinckney, is a son
of the "Consul at Carlsruhe."_



OUR CONSUL AT CARLSRUHE
BY F. J. STIMSON ("J. S. OF DALE")
[Footnote: By permission of the publishers, from "The Sentimental
Calendar," by J. S. of Dale (F. J. Stimson). Copyright, 1886, by
Charles Scribner's Sons.]

DIED.--_In Baden, Germany, the 22d instant, Charles Austin Pinckney,
late U. S. Consul at Carlsruhe, aged sixty years._

There: most stories of men's lives end with the epitaph, but this of
Pinckney's shall begin there. If we, as haply God or Devil can, could
unroof the houses of men's souls, if their visible works were of their
hearts rather than their brains, we should know strange things. And
this alone, of all the possible, is certain. For bethink you, how men
appear to their Creator, as He looks down into the soul, that matrix of
their visible lives we find so hard to localize and yet so sure to be.
For all of us believe in self, and few of us but are forced, one way or
another, to grant existence to some selves outside of us. Can you not
fancy that men's souls, like their farms, would show here a patch of
grain, and there the tares; there the weeds and here the sowing; over
this place the rain has been, and that other, to one looking down upon
it from afar, seems brown and desolate, wasted by fire or made arid by
the drought? In this man's life is a poor beginning, but a better end;
in this other's we see the foundations, the staging, and the schemes of
mighty structures, now stopped, given over, or abandoned; of vessels,
fashioned for the world's seas, now rotting on the stocks. Of this one
all seems ready but the launching, of that the large keelson only has
been laid; but both alike have died unborn, and the rain falls upon
them, and the mosses grow: the sound of labor is far off, and the scene
of work is silent. Small laws make great changes; slight differences of
adjustment end quick in death. Small, now, they would seem to us; but
to the infinite mind all things small and great are alike; the spore of
rust in the ear is very slight, but a famine in the corn will shake the
world.

Pinckney's life the world called lazy; his leisure was not fruitful,
and his sixty years of life were but a gentleman's. Some slight lesion
may have caused paralysis of energy, some clot of heart's blood pressed
upon the soul: I make no doubt our doctors could diagnose it, if they
knew a little more. Tall and slender, he had a strange face, a face
with a young man's beauty; his white hair gave a charm to the rare
smile, like new snow to the spring, and the slight stoop with which he
walked was but a grace the more. In short, Pinckney was interesting.
Women raved about him; young men fell in love with him; and if he was
selfish, the fault lay between him and his Maker, not visible to other
men. There are three things that make a man interesting in his old age:
the first, being heroism, we may put aside; but the other two are
regret and remorse. Now, Mr. Pinckney's fragrance was not of remorse--
women and young men would have called it heroism: it may have been. As
much heroism as could be practiced in thirty-six years of Carlsruhe.

Why Carlsruhe? That was the keynote of inquiry; and no one knew. Old
men spoke unctuously of youthful scandals; women dreamed. I suspect
even Mrs. Pinckney wondered, about as much as the plowed field may
wonder at the silence of the autumn. But Pinckney limped gracefully
about the sleepy avenues which converge at the Grand Duke's palace,
like a wakeful page in the castle of the Sleeping Beauty. Pinckney was
a friend of the Grand Duke's, and perhaps it was a certain American
flavor persisting in his manners which made him seem the only man at
the Baden court who met his arch-serene altitude on equal terms. For
one who had done nothing and possessed little, Pinckney certainly
preserved a marvelous personal dignity. His four daughters were all
married to scions of Teutonic nobility; and each one in turn had asked
him for the Pinckney arms, and quartered them into the appropriate
check-square with as much grave satisfaction as he felt for the far-off
patch of Hohenzollern, or of Hapsburg in sinister chief. Pinckney had
laughed at it and referred them to the Declaration of Independence,
clause the first; but his wife had copied them from some spoon or sugar
bowl. She was very fond of Pinckney, and no more questioned him why
they always lived in Carlsruhe than a Persian would the sun for rising
east. Now and then they went to Baden, and her cup was full.

Pinckney died of a cold, unostentatiously, and was buried like a
gentleman; though the Grand Duke ac tually wanted to put the court in
mourning for three days, and consulted with his chamberlain whether it
would do. Mrs. Pinckney had preceded him by some six years; but she was
an appendage, and her husband's deference had always seemed in
Carlsruhe a trifle strained. It was only in these last six years that
any one had gossiped of remorse, in answer to the sphinx-like question
of his marble brow. Such questions vex the curious. Furrows trouble
nobody--money matters are enough f them; but white smoothness in old
age is a bait, and tickles curiosity. Some said at home he was a devil
and beat his wife.

But Pinckney never beat his wife. Late in the last twilight of her life
she had called him to her, and excluded even the four daughters, with
their stout and splendid barons; then, alone with him, she looked to
him and smiled. And suddenly his gentleman's heart took a jump, and the
tears fell on her still soft hands. I suppose some old road was opened
again in the gray matter of his brain. Mrs. Pinckney smiled the more
strongly and said--not quite so terribly as Mrs. Amos Barton: "Have I
made you happy, dearest Charles?" And Charles, the perfect-mannered,
said she had; but said it stammering. "Then," said she, "I die very
happily, dear." And she did; and Pinckney continued to live at
Carlsruhe.

The only activities of Pinckney's mind were critical. He was a
wonderful orator, but he rarely spoke. People said he could have been a
great writer, but he never wrote, at least nothing original. He was the
art and continental-drama critic of several English and American
reviews; in music, he was a Wagnerian, which debarred him from writing
of it except in German; but the little Court Theatre at Carlsruhe has
Wagner's portrait over the drop-curtain, and the consul's box was never
empty when the mighty heathen legends were declaimed or the holy music
of the Grail was sung. In fiction of the earnest sort, and poetry,
Pinckney's critical pen showed a marvelous magic, striking the scant
springs of the author's inspiration through the most rocky ground of
incident or style. He had a curious sympathy with youthful tenderness.
But, after all, as every young compatriot who went to Baden said, what
the deuce and all did he live in Baden for? Miles Breeze had said it in
'Fifty, when he made the grand tour with his young wife, and dined with
him in Baden-Baden; that is, when Breeze dined with him, for his young
wife was indisposed and could not go. Miles Breeze, junior, had said
it, as late as 'Seventy-six, when he went abroad, ostensibly for
instruction, after leaving college. He had letters to Mr. Pinckney, who
was very kind to the young Baltimorean, and greatly troubled the Grand
Duke his Serenity by presenting him as a relative of the Bonapartes.
Many another American had said it, and even some leading politicians:
he might have held office at home: but Pinckney continued to live in
Carlsruhe.

His critical faculties seemed sharpened after his wife's death, as his
hair grew whiter; and if you remember how he looked before you must
have noticed that the greatest change was in the expression of his
face. There was one faint downward line at either side of his mouth,
and the counterpart at the eyes; n doubtful line which, faint as it was
graven, gave a strange amount of shading to the face. And in speaking
of him still earlier, you must remember to take your india-rubber and
rub out this line from his face. This done, the face is still serious;
but it has a certain light, a certain air of confidence, of
determination, regretful though it be, which makes it loved by women.
Women can love a desperate, but never begin to love a beaten, cause.
Women fell in love with Pinckney, for the lightning does strike twice
in the same place; but his race was rather that of Lohengrin than of
the Asra, and he saw it, or seemed to see it, not. Still, in these
times those downward lines had not come, and there was a certain sober
light in his face as of a sorrowful triumph. This was in the epoch of
his greatest interestingness to women.

When he first came to Carlsruhe, he was simply the new consul, nothing
more; a handsome young man, almost in his honeymoon, with a young and
pretty wife. He had less presence in those days, and seemed absorbed in
his new home, or deeply sunk in something; people at first fancied he
was a poet, meditating a great work, which finished, he would soon
leave Carlsruhe. He never was seen to look at a woman, not overmuch at
his wife, and was not yet popular in society.

But it was true that he was newly married. He was married in Boston, in
'Forty-three or four, to Emily Austin, a far-off cousin of his, whom he
had known (he himself was a Carolinian) during his four years at
Cambridge. For his four years in Cambridge were succeeded by two more
at the Law School; then he won a great case against Mr. Choate, and was
narrowly beaten in an election for Congress; after that it surprised no
one to hear the announcement of his engagement to Miss Austin, for his
family was unexceptionable and he had a brilliant future. The marriage
came in the fall, rather sooner than people expected, at King's Chapel.
They went abroad, as was natural; and then he surprised his friends and
hers by accepting his consulship and staying there. And they were
imperceptibly, gradually, slowly, and utterly forgotten.

The engagement came out in the spring of 'Forty-three. And in June of
that year young Pinckney had gone to visit his _fiancee_ at Newport.
Had you seen him there, you would have seen him in perhaps the
brightest role that fate has yet permitted on this world's stage. A
young man, a lover, rich, gifted, and ambitious, of social position
unquestioned in South Carolina and the old Bay State--all the world
loved him, as a lover; the many envied him, the upper few desired him.
Handsome he has always remained.

And the world did look to him as bright as he to the world. He was in
love, as he told himself, and Miss Austin was a lovable girl; and the
other things he was dimly conscious of; and he had a long vacation
ahead of him, and was to be married late in the autumn, and he walked
up from the wharf in Newport swinging his cane and thinking on these
pleasant things.

Newport, in those days, was not the paradise of cottages and curricles,
of lawns and laces, of new New Yorkers and Nevada miners; it was the
time of big hotels and balls, of Southern planters, of Jullien's
orchestras, and of hotel hops; such a barbarous time as the wandering
New Yorker still may find, lingering on the simple shores of Maine,
sunning in the verdant valleys of the Green Mountains; in short, it was
Arcadia, not Belgravia. And you must remember that Pinckney, who was
dressed in the latest style, wore a blue broadcloth frock coat, cut
very low and tight in the waist, with a coat-collar rolling back to
reveal a vast expanse of shirt-bosom, surmounted by a cravat of awful
splendor, bow-knotted and blue-fringed. His trousers were of white
duck, his boots lacquered, and he carried a gold-tipped cane in his
hand. So he walked up the narrow old streets from the wharf, making a
sunshine in those shady places. It was the hottest hour of a midsummer
afternoon; not a soul was stirring, and Pinckney was left to his own
pleasant meditations.

He got up the hill and turned into the park by the old mill; over
opposite was the great hotel, its piazzas deserted, silent even to the
hotel band. But one flutter of a white dress he saw beneath the trees,
and then it disappeared behind them, causing Pinckney to quicken his
steps. He thought he knew the shape and motion, and he followed it
until he came upon it suddenly, behind the trees, and it turned.

A young girl of wonderful beauty, rare, erect carriage, and eyes of a
strange, violet-gray, full of much meaning. This was all Pinckney had
time to note; it was no one he had ever seen before. He had gone up
like a hunter, sure of his game, and too far in it to retract. The
embarrassment of the situation was such that Pinckney forgot all his
cleverness of manner, and blurted out the truth like any schoolboy.

"I beg pardon--I was looking for Miss Austin," said he; and he raised
his hat.

A delightful smile of merriment curled the beauty's lips. "My
acquaintance with Miss Austin is too slight to justify my finding her
for you; but I wish you all success in your efforts," she said, and
vanished, leaving the promising young lawyer to blush at his own
awkwardness and wonder who she was. As she disappeared, he only saw
that her hair was a lustrous coil of pale gold-brown, borne proudly.

He soon found Emily Austin, and forgot the beauty, as he gave his
betrothed a kiss and saw her color heighten; and in the afternoon they
took a long drive. It was only at tea, as he was sitting at table with
the Austins in the long dining-room, that some one walked in like a
goddess; and it was she. He asked her name; and they told him it was a
Miss Warfield, of Baltimore, and she was engaged to a Mr. Breeze.

In the evening there was a ball; and as they were dancing (for every
one danced in those days) he saw her again, sitting alone this time and
unattended. She was looking eagerly across the room, through the
dancers and beyond; and in her eyes was the deepest look of sadness
Pinckney had ever seen in a girl's face; a look such as he had thought
no girl could feel. A moment after, and it was gone, as some one spoke
to her; and Pinckney wondered if he had not been mistaken, so fleeting
was it, and so strange. An acquaintance--one of those men who delight
to act as brokers of acquaintances--who had noticed his gaze came up.
"That is the famous Miss Mary Warfield," said he. "Shall I not
introduce you?"

"No," said Pinckney; and he turned away rudely. To be rude when you
like is perhaps one of the choicest prerogatives of a good social
position. The acquaintance stared after him, as he went back to Miss
Austin, and then went up and spoke to Miss Warfield himself. A moment
after, Pinckney saw her look over at him with some interest; and he
wondered if the man had been ass enough to tell her. Pinckney was
sitting withlimily Austin; and, after another moment, he saw Miss
Warfield look at her. Then her glance seemed to lose its interest; her
eyelids drooped, and Pinckney could see, from her interlocutor's
mantief^ that he was put to his trumps to keep her attention. At last
he got away, awkwardly; and for many minutes the strange girl sat like
a statue, her long lashes just veiling her eyes, so that Pinckney, from
a distance, could not see what was in them. Suddenly the veil was drawn
and her eyes shone full upon him, her look meeting his. Pinckney's
glance fell, and his cheeks grew redder. Miss Warfield's face did not
change, but she rose and walked unattended through the centre of the
ballroom to the door. Pinckney's seat was nearer it than hers; she
passed him as if without seeing him, moving with unconscious grace,
though it would not have been the custom at that time for a girl to
cross so large a room alone. Just then some one asked Miss Austin for a
dance; and Pinckney, who was growing weary of it, went out on the
piazza for a cigar, and then, attracted by the beauty of the night,
strayed further than he knew, alone, along the cliffs above the sea.

The next day he was walking with Miss Austin, and they passed her, in
her riding habit, waiting by the mounting stone; she bowed to Miss
Austin alone, leaving him out, as it seemed to Pinckney, with
exaggerated care.

"Is she not beautiful?" said Emily, ardently.

"Humph!" said Pinckney. A short time after, as they were driving on the
road to the Fort, he saw her again; she was riding alone, across
country, through the rocky knolls and marshy pools that form the
southern part of Rhode Island. She had no groom lagging behind, but it
was not so necessary then as now; and, indeed, a groom would have had a
hard time to keep up with her, as she rattled up the granite slopes and
down over logs and bushes with her bright bay horse. The last Pinckney
saw of her she disappeared over a rocky hill against the sky; her
beautiful horse flecked with foam, quivering with happy animal life,
and the girl calm as a figure carved in stone, with but the faintest
touch of rose upon her face, as the pure profile was outlined one
moment against the sunlit blue.

"How recklessly she rides!" whispered Miss Austin to him, and Pinckney
said _yes_, absently, and, whipping up his horse, drove on, pretending
to listen to his fiancee's talk. It seemed to be about dresses, and
rings, and a coming visit to the B------s, at Nahant. He had never seen
a girl like her before; she was a puzzle to him.

"It is a great pity she is engaged to Mr. Breeze," said Miss Austin;
and Pinckney woke up with a start, for he was thinking of Miss Warneld
too.

"Why?" said he.

"I don't like him," said Emily. "He isn't good enough for her."

As this is a thing that women say of all wooers after they have won,
and which the winner is usually at that period the first to admit,
Pinckney paid little attention to this remark. But that evening he met
Miles Breeze, saw him, talked with him, and heard others talk of him. A
handsome man, physically; well made, well dressed, well fed; well bred,
as breeding goes in dogs or horses; a good shot, a good sportsman,
yachtsman, story-teller; a good fellow, with a weak mouth; a man of
good old Maryland blood, yet red and healthy, who had come there in his
yacht and had his horses sent by sea. A well-appointed man, in short;
provided amply with the conveniences of fashionable life. A man of good
family, good fortune, good health, good sense, good nature, whom it
were hypercritical to charge with lack of soul. "The first duty of a
gentleman is to be a good animal," and Miles Breeze performed it
thoroughly. Pinckney liked him, and he could have been his companion
for years and still have liked him, except as a husband for Miss
Warfield.

He could not but recognize his excellence as a _parti_. But the race of
Joan of Arc does not mate with Bon-homme Richard, even when he owns the
next farm. Pinckney used to watch the crease of Breeze's neck, above
the collar, and curse.

Coming upon Miss Austin one morning, she had said, "Come--I want to
introduce you to Miss War-field." Pinckney had demurred, and offered as
an excuse that he was smoking. "Nonsense, Charles," said the girl; "I
have told her you are coming." Pinckney threw away his cigar and
followed, and the presentation was made. Miss Warfield drew herself
almost unusually erect after courtesying, as if in protest at having to
bow at all. She was so tall that, as Emily stood between them, he could
meet Miss War-field's iron-gray eyes above her head. It was the first
time in Pinckney's life that he had consciously not known what to say.

"I was so anxious to have you meet Charles before he left," said Emily.
Evidently, his fiancee had been expatiating upon him to this new
friend, and if there is anything that puts a man in a foolish position
it is to have this sort of preamble precede an acquaintance.

"An anxiety I duly shared, Miss Warfield, I assure you," said he; which
was a truth spoiled in the uttering--what the conversational Frenchman
terms _banale_.

"Thank you," said Miss Warfield, very simply and tremendously
effectively. Pinckney, for the second time with this young lady, felt
himself a schoolboy. Emily interposed some feeble commonplaces, and
then, after a moment, Miss Warfield said, "I must go for my ride"; and
she left, with a smile for Emily and the faintest possible glance for
him. She went off with Breeze; and it gave Pinckney some relief to see
that she seemed equally to ignore the presence of the man who was her
acknowledged lover, as he trotted on a smart cob beside her. That
evening, when he went on the piazza, after tea, he found her sitting
alone, in one corner, with her hands folded: it was one peculiarity
about this woman that she was never seen with work. She made no sign of
recognition as he approached; but, none the less, he took the chair
that was beside her and waited a moment for her to speak. "Have you
found Miss Austin?" said the beauty, with the faintest trace of malice
in her coldly modulated tones, not looking at him. "I am not looking
for Miss Austin," said he; and she continued not looking at him, and so
this strange pair sat there in the twilight, silent.

What was said between them I do not know. But in some way or other
their minds met; for long after Miss Austin and her mother had returned
from some call, long after they had all left him, Pinckney continued to
pace up and down restlessly in the dark. Pinckney had never seen a
woman like this. After all, he was very young; and he had, in his
heart, supposed that the doubts and delights of his soul were peculiar
to men alone. He thought all women--at all events, all young and worthy
women--regarded life and its accepted forms as an accomplished fact,
not to be questioned, and, indeed, too delightful to need it. The young
South Carolinian, in his ambitions, in his heart-longings and
heart-sickenings, in his poetry, even in his emotions, had always been
lonely; so that his loneliness had grown to seem to him as merely part
of the day's work. The best women, he knew, where the best housewives;
they were a rest and a benefit for the war-weary man, much as might be
a pretty child, a bed of flowers, a strain of music. With Emily Austin
he should find all this; and he loved her as good, pretty, amiable,
perfect in her way. But now, with Miss Warfield--it had seemed that he
was not even lonely.

Pinckney did not see her again for a week. When he met her, he avoided
her; she certainly avoided him. Breeze, meantime, gave a dinner. He
gave it on his yacht, and gave it to men alone. Pinckney was of the
number.

The next day there was a driving party; it was to drive out of town to
Purgatory, a pretty place, where there is a brook in a deep ravine with
a verdant meadow-floor; and there they were to take food and drink, as
is the way of humanity in pretty places. Now it so happened that the
Austins, Miss Warfield, Breeze, and Pinckney were going to drive in a
party, the Austins and Miss Warfield having carriages of their own; but
at the last moment Breeze did not appear, and Emily Austin was
incapacitated by a headache. She insisted, as is the way of loving
women, that "Charles should not lose it"; for to her it was one of
life's pleasures, and such pleasures satisfied her soul. (It may be
that she gave more of her soul to life's duties than did Charles, and
life's pleasures were thus adequate to the remainder; I do not know.)
Probably Miles Breeze also had a headache; at all events, he did not,
at the last moment, appear. It was supposable that he would turn up at
the picnic; Mrs. Austin joined her daughter's entreaty; Miss Warfield
was left unattended; in fine, Pinckney went with her.

Miss Warfield had a solid little phaeton with two stout ponies: she
drove herself. For some time they were silent; then, insensibly,
Pinckney began to talk and she to answer. What they said I need not say
--indeed I could not, for Pinckney was a poet, a man of rare intellect
and imagination, and Miss Warfield was a woman of this world and the
next; a woman who used conventions as another might use a fan, to'
screen her from fools; whose views were based on the ultimate. But they
talked of the world, and of life in it; and when it came to an end,
Pinckney noted to himself this strange thing, that they had both talked
as of an intellectual problem, no longer concerning their emotions--in
short, as if this life were at an end, and they were two dead people
discussing it.

So they arrived at the picnic, silent; and the people assembled looked
to one another and smiled, and said to one another how glum those two
engaged people looked, being together, and each wanting another. Mr.
Breeze had not yet come; and as the people scattered while the luncheon
was being prepared, Pinckney and she wandered off like the others. They
went some distance--perhaps a mile or more--aimlessly; and then, as
they seemed to have come about to the end of the valley, Pinckney sat
down upon a rock, but she did not do so, but remained standing. Hardly
a word had so far been said between them: and then Pinckney looked at
her and said:

"Why are you going to marry Mr. Breeze?"

"Why not?"--listlessly.

"You might as well throw yourself into the sea," said Pinckney; and he
looked at the sea which lay beyond them shimmering.

"That I had not thought of," said she; and she looked at the sea
herself with more interest. Pinckney drew a long breath.

"But why this man?" he said at length.

"Why that man?" said the woman; and her beautiful lip curled, with the
humor of the mind, while her eyes kept still the sadness of the heart,
the look that he had seen in the ballroom. "We are all poor," she
added; then scornfully, "it is my duty to marry."

"But Miles Breeze?" persisted Pinckney.

The lip curled almost to a laugh. "I never met a better fellow than
Miles," said she; and the thought was so like his own of the night
before that Pinckney gasped for breath. They went back, and had chicken
croquettes and champagne, and a band that was hidden in the wood made
some wild Spanish music.

Going home, a curious thing happened. They had started first and far
preceded all the others. Miss Warfield was driving; and when they were
again in the main road, not more than a mile from the hotel, Pinckney
saw ahead of them, coming in a light trotting buggy of the sort that
one associates with the gentry who call themselves "sports," two of the
gentlemen whom he had met at Breeze's dinner the night before. Whether
Miss Warfield also knew them he did not know; but they evidently had
more wine than was good for them, and were driving along in a reckless
manner on the wrong side of the road. The buggy was much too narrow for
the two; and the one that was driving leaned out toward them with a
tipsy leer. Pinckney shouted at him, but Miss War-field drove calmly
on. He was on the point of grasping the reins, but a look of hers
withheld him, and he sat still, wondering; and in a moment their small
front wheel had crashed through both the axles and spider-web wheels of
the trotting buggy. The shock of the second axle whirled them round,
and Pinckney fell violently against the dasher, while Miss Warfield was
thrown clear of the phaeton on the outer side. But she had kept the
reins, and before Pinckney could get to her she was standing at her
horses' heads, patting their necks calmly, with a slight cut in her
forehead where she had fallen, and only her nostril quivering like
theirs, as the horses stood there trembling. The buggy was a wreck, and
the horse had disappeared; and the two men, sobered by the fall, came
up humbly to her to apologize. She heard them silently, with a pale
face like some injured queen's; and then, bowing to them their
dismissal, motioned Pinckney into the phaeton, which, though much
broken, was still standing, and, getting in herself, drove slowly home.

"She might have killed herself," thought Pinckney, but he held his
peace, as if it were the most natural course of action in the world. To
tell the truth, under the circumstances he might have done the same
alone.

Then it began. Pinckney could not keep this woman out of his head. He
would think of her at all times, alone and in company. Her face would
come to him in the loneliness of the sea, in the loneliness of crowds;
the strong spirit of the morning was hers, and the sadness of the
sunset and the wakeful watches of the night. Her face was in the clouds
of evening, in the sea-coal fire by night; her spirit in the dreams of
summer morns, in the hopeless breakers on the stormy shores, in the
useless, endless effort of the sea. Her eyes made some strange shining
through his dreams; and he would wake with a cry that she was going
from him, in the deepest hours of the night, as if in the dreams he had
lost her, vanishing forever in the daily crowd. Then he would lie awake
until morning, and all the laws of God and men would seem like cobwebs
to his sorrow, and the power of it freezing in his heart. This was the
ultimate nature of his being, to follow her, as drop of water blends in
drop of water, as frost rends rock. Let him then follow out his law, as
other beings do theirs; gravitation has no conscience; should he be
weaker than a drop of water, because he was conscious, and a man?

So these early morning battles would go on, and character, training,
conscience, would go down before the simpler force, like bands of man's
upon essential nature. Then, with the first ray of the dawn, he would
think of Emily Austin, sleeping near him, perhaps dreaming of him, and
his mad visions seemed to fade; and he would rise exhausted, and wander
out among the fresh fields and green dewy lanes, and calm, contentful
trees, and be glad that these things were so; yet could these not be
moved, nor their destiny be changed. And as for him, what did it
matter?

So the days went by. And Emily Austin looked upon him with eyes of
limitless love and trust, and Pinckney did not dare to look upon
himself; but his mind judged by day-time and his heart strove by night.
Hardly at all had he spoken to Miss Warfield since; and no reference
had ever been made between them to the accident, or to the talk between
them in the valley. Only Pinckney knew that she was to be married very
shortly; and he had urged Miss Austin to hasten their own wedding.

Emily went off with her mother to pay her last visit among the family,
and to make her preparations; and it was deemed proper that at this
time Pinckney should not be with her. So he stayed in Newport five long
days alone; and during this time he never spoke to Miss Warfield. I
believe he tried not to look at her: she did not look at him. And on
the fifth night Pinckney swore that he must speak to her once more,
whatever happened.

In the morning there was talk of a sailing party; and Pinckney noted
Breeze busying himself about the arrangements. He waited; and at noon
Breeze came to him and said that there was a scarcity of men: would he
go? Yes. They had two sail-boats, and meant to land upon Conanicut,
which was then a barren island without a house, upon the southern end,
where it stretches out to sea.

Pinckney did not go in the same boat with Breeze and Miss Warfield;
and, landing, he spent the afternoon with others and saw nothing of
her. But after dinner was over, he spoke to her, inviting her to walk;
and she came, silently. A strange evening promenade that was: they took
a path close on the sheer brink of the cliffs, so narrow that one must
go behind the other. Pinckney had thought at first she might be
frightened, with the rough path, and the steepness of the rocks, and
the breakers churning at their base; but he saw that she was walking
erect and fearlessly. Finally she motioned him to let her go ahead; and
she led the way, choosing indiscriminately the straightest path,
whether on the verge of the sea or leading through green meadows. A few
colorless remarks were made by him, and then he saw the folly of it,
and they walked in silence. After nearly an hour, she stopped.

"We must be getting back," she said.

"Yes," said he, in the same tone; and they turned; she still leading
the way, while he followed silently. They were walking toward the
sunset; the sun was going down in a bank of dense gray cloud, but its
long, level rays came over to them, across a silent sea. She walked on
over the rugged cliff, like some siren, some genius of the place, with
a sure, proud grace of step; she never looked around, and his eyes were
fixed upon the black line of her figure, as it went before him, toward
the gray and blood-red sunset. It seemed to him this was the last hour
of his life; and even as he thought his ankle turned, and he stumbled
and fell, walking unwittingly into one of the chasms, where the line of
the cliff turned in. He grasped a knuckle of rock, and held his fall,
just on the brink of a ledge above the sea. Miss Warfield had turned
quickly and seen it all; and she leaned down over the brink, with one
hand around the rock and the other extended to help him, the ledge on
which he lay being some six feet below. Pinckney grasped her hand and
kissed it.

Her color did not change at this; but, with a strange strength in her
beautiful lithe figure, she drew him up steadily, he helping partly
with the other hand, until his knees rested on the path again. He stood
up with some difficulty, as his ankle was badly wrenched.

"I am afraid you can not walk," said she.

"Oh, yes," he answered; and took a few steps to show her. The pain was
great; but she walked on, and he followed, as best he could, limping.
She looked behind now, as if to encourage him; and he set his teeth and
smiled.

"We must not be late," she said. "It is growing dark, and they will
miss us."

But they did not miss them; for when they got to the landing-place,
both the sail-boats had left the shore without them. There was nothing
but the purple cloud-light left by this time; but Pinckney fancied he
could see her face grow pale for the first time that day.

"We must get home," she said, hurriedly. "Is there no boat?"

Pinckney pointed to a small dory on the beach, and then to the sea. In
the east was a black bank of cloud, rifted now and then by lightning;
and from it the wind came down and the white caps curled angrily toward
them.

"No matter," said she; "we must go."

Pinckney found a pair of oars under the boat, and dragged it, with much
labor, over the pebbles, she helping him. The beach was steep and
gravelly, with short breakers rather than surf; and he got the bow well
into the water and held it there.

"Get in," said he.

Miss Warfield got into the stern, and Pinckney waded out, dragging the
flat-bottomed boat until it was well afloat. Then he sprang in himself,
and, grasping the oars, headed the boat for the Fort point across the
channel, three miles away. She sat silently in the stern, and it was
too dark for him to see her face. He rowed savagely.

But the wind was straight ahead, and the sea increasing every moment.
They were not, of course, exposed to the full swell of the ocean; but
the wide sea-channel was full of short, fierce waves that struck the
little skiff repeated rapid blows, and dashed the spray over both of
them.

"Are you not afraid?" said he, calmly. "It is growing rougher every
minute."

"Oh, no, Mr. Pinckney," said she. "Pray keep on."

Pinckney noticed a tremor of excitement in her voice; but by a flash of
lightning that came just then he saw her deep eyes fixed on his, and
the pure white outline of her face undisturbed. So he rowed the harder,
and she took a board there was and tried to steer; and now and then, as
the clouds were lit, he saw her, like a fleeting vision in the night.

But the storm grew stronger; and Pinckney knew the boat that they were
in was not really moving at all, though, of course, the swash of the
waves went by and the drifted spray. He tried to row harder, but with
the pain in his ankle and the labor he was nearly exhausted, and his
heart jumped in his chest at each recover. "Can you not make it?" said
she, in the dark; and Pinckney vowed that he could, and set his teeth
for a mighty pull. The oar broke, and the boat's head fell rapidly off
in the trough of the sea. He quickly changed about his remaining oar,
and with it kept the head to the wind. "We must go back," he said,
panting. "I know," said she. The windstorm was fairly upon them; and,
in spite of all his efforts, an occasional wave would get upon the beam
and spill its frothing crest into the boat. Pinckney almost doubted
whether it would float until it reached the shore; but Miss Warfield
did not seem in the least disturbed, and spoke without a tremor in her
voice. The lightning had stopped now, and he could not see her.

He had miscalculated the force of the wind and waves, however; for in a
very minutes they were driven broadside back upon the beach, almost at
the same place from which they had started. Miss War-field sprang out
quickly, and he after, just as a wave turned the dory bottom upward on
the stones.

"They will soon send for us," he said; and stepping painfully up the
shore, he occupied himself with spreading her shawl in a sheltered spot
for them to wait in. She sat down, and he beside her. He was very wet,
and she made him put some of the shawl over himself. The quick summer
storm had passed now, with only a few big drops of rain; and the moon
was breaking out fitfully through veils of driving clouds and their
storm-scud. By its light he looked at her, and their eyes met. Pinckney
groaned aloud, and stood up. "Would that they would never come; would
God that we could--"

"We can not," said she, softly, in a voice that he had never heard from
her before--a voice with tears in it; and the man threw himself down at
her feet, inarticulate, maddened. Then, with a great effort at control,
not touching her, but looking straight into her eyes, he said, in
blunt, low speech: "Miss Warfield, I love you--do you know it?"

Her head sank slowly down; but she answered, very low, but clearly,
_yes_. Then their eyes met again; and, by some common impulse, they
rose and walked apart. After a few steps, he stopped, being lame, and
leaned against the cliff; but she went on until her dark figure was
blended with the shadows of the crags.

So, when the boat came back, its sail silvered by the moonlight, they
saw it, and, coming down, they met again; but only as the party were
landing on the beach. Several of the party had come back; and Mr.
Breeze, who was among them, was full of explanation how he had missed
the first boat and barely caught the second, supposing that his fiancee
was in the first. An awkward accident, but easily explained by
Pinckney, with the sprain in his ankle; and, indeed, the others were
too full of excuses for having forgotten them to inquire into the
causes of their absence together.

Pinckney went to his room, and had a night of delirium. Toward morning,
his troubled wakefulness ended, and he fell into a dream. He dreamed
that in the centre of the world was one green bower, beneath a
blossoming tree, and he and Miss Warfield were there. And the outer
world was being destroyed, one sphere by fire and the other by flood,
and there was only this bower left. But they could not stay there, or
the tree would die. So they went away, he to the one side and she to
the other, and the ruins of the world fell upon them, and they saw each
other no more.

In the morning his delirium left him, and his will resumed its sway. He
went down, and out into the green roads, and listened to the singing of
the birds; and then out to the cliff-path, and there he found Miss
Warfield sitting as if she knew that he would come. He watched her pure
face while she spoke, and her gray eyes: the clear light of the morning
was in them, and on the gleaming sea beyond.

"You must go," said she.

"Yes," he said, and that was all. He took her hand for one moment, and
lifted it lightly to his lips; then he turned and took the path across
the fields. When he got to the first stile, he looked around. She was
still sitting there, turned toward him. He lifted his hat, and held it
for a second or two; then he turned the corner of the hedge and went
down to the town.

Thus it happened that this story, which began sadly, with an epitaph,
may end with wedding bells:

MARRIED. _At King's Chapel, by the Rev. Dr. A----, the 21st of
September, Charles Austin Pinckney to Emily, daughter of the late James
Austin._



END OF VOLUME TWO





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