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Title: The New Penelope and Other Stories and Poems
Author: Victor, Frances Fuller, 1826-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Libraries)



THE NEW PENELOPE

AND

OTHER STORIES AND POEMS.



BY

Mrs. Frances Fuller Victor.



San Francisco:
A. L. BANCROFT & COMPANY, PRINTERS.
1877.

Copyright, 1877, by
MRS. FRANCES FULLER VICTOR.



PREFACE.


This collection consists of sketches of Pacific Coast life, most of
which have appeared, from time to time, in the _Overland Monthly_, and
other Western magazines. If they have a merit, it is because they
picture scenes and characters having the charm of newness and
originality, such as belong to border life.

The poems embraced in the collection, have been written at all periods
of my life, and therefore cannot be called peculiarly Western. But they
embody feelings and emotions common to all hearts, East or West; and as
such, I dedicate them to my friends on the Pacific Coast, but most
especially in Oregon.

Portland, August, 1877.



CONTENTS.


STORIES.
                                                   PAGE

The New Penelope                                      9
A Curious Interview                                  80
Mr. Ela's Story                                      96
On the Sands                                        112
An Old Fool                                         132
How Jack Hastings Sold His Mine                     180
What They Told Me at Wilson's Bar                   197
Miss Jorgensen                                      212
Sam Rice's Romance                                  231
El Tesoro                                           247


POEMS.

A Pagan Reverie                                     269
Passing by Helicon                                  272
Lost at Sea                                         275
'Twas June, Not I                                   276
Lines to a Lump of Virgin Gold                      281
Magdalena                                           284
Repose                                              289
Aspasia                                             291
A Reprimand                                         296
To Mrs. ----                                        297
Moonlight Memories                                  299
Verses for M----                                    301
Autumnalia                                          303
Palo Santo                                          305
A Summer Day                                        306
He and She                                          308
O Wild November Wind                                308
By the Sea                                          309
Polk County Hills                                   310
Waiting                                             312
Palma                                               314
Making Moan                                         316
Childhood                                           317
A Little Bird that Every One Knows                  318
Wayward Love                                        319
A Lyric of Life                                     320
From an Unpublished Poem                            321
Nevada                                              324
The Vine                                            326
What the Sea Said to Me                             327
Hymn                                                328
Do You Hear the Women Praying?                      329
Our Life is Twofold                                 331
Souvenir                                            334
I Only Wished to Know                               335
Lines Written in an Album                           335
Love's Footsteps                                    336
The Poet's Ministers                                336
Sunset at the Mouth of the Columbia                 340
The Passing of the Year                             342



STORIES.


The New Penelope and Other Stories And Poems.



THE NEW PENELOPE.


I may as well avow myself in the beginning of my story as that anomalous
creature--a woman who loves her own sex, and naturally inclines to the
study of their individual peculiarities and histories, in order to get
at their collective qualities. If I were to lay before the reader all
the good and bad I know about them by actual discovery, and all the
mean, and heroic, attributes this habit I have of studying people has
revealed to me, I should meet with incredulity, perhaps with opprobrium.
However that may be, I have derived great enjoyment from having been
made the recipient of the confidences of many women, and by learning
therefrom to respect the moral greatness that is so often coupled with
delicate physical structure, and almost perfect social helplessness.
Pioneer life brings to light striking characteristics in a remarkable
manner; because, in the absence of conventionalities and in the presence
of absolute and imminent necessities, all real qualities come to the
surface as they never would have done under different circumstances. In
the early life of the Greeks, Homer found his Penelope; in the pioneer
days of the Pacific Coast, I discovered mine.

My wanderings, up and down among the majestic mountains and the sunny
valleys of California and Oregon, had made me acquainted with many
persons, some of whom were to me, from the interest they inspired me
with, like the friends of my girlhood. Among this select number was Mrs.
Anna Greyfield, at whose home among the foot-hills of the Sierras in
Northern California, I had spent one of the most delightful summers of
my life. Intellectual and intelligent without being learned or
particularly bookish; quick in her perceptions and nearly faultless in
her judgment of others; broadly charitable, not through any laxity of
principle on her own part, but through knowledge of the stumbling-blocks
of which the world is full for the unwary, she was a constant surprise
and pleasure to me. For, among the vices of women I had long counted
uncharitableness; and among their disadvantages want of actual knowledge
of things--the latter accounting for the former.

I had several times heard it mentioned that Mrs. Greyfield had been
twice married; and as her son Benton was also called Greyfield, I
presumed that he was the son of the second marriage. How I found out
differently I am about to relate.

One rainy winter evening, on the occasion of my second visit to this
friend, we were sitting alone before a bright wood fire in an open
fireplace, when we chanced to refer to the subject of her son's personal
qualities; he then being gone on a visit to San Francisco, and of course
very constantly in his mother's thoughts, as only sons are sure to be.

"Benton is just like his father," she said. "He is self-possessed and
full of expedients, but he says very little. I have often wished he
conversed more readily, for I admire a good talker."

"And yet did not marry one:--the common lot!"

Mrs. Greyfield smiled, and gazed into the fire, whose pleasant radiance
filled the room, bringing out the soft warm colors in the carpet, and
making fantastic shadows of our easy-chairs and ourselves upon the wall.

"Mr. Greyfield was your second husband?" I said, in an inquiring tone,
but without expecting to be contradicted.

"Mr. Greyfield was my first, last, and only husband," she replied, with
a touch of asperity, yet not as if she meant it for me.

"I beg your pardon," I hastened to explain: "but I had been told--"

"Yes, I can guess what you have been told. Very few people know the
truth: but I never had a second husband, though I was twice married;"
and my hostess regarded me with a smile half assumed and half
embarrassed.

For my own part, I was very much embarrassed, because I had certainly
been informed that she had lived for a number of years with a second
husband who had not used her well, and from whom she was finally
divorced. Doubt her word I could not; neither could I reconcile her
statement with facts apparently well known. She saw my dilemma, and,
after a brief silence, mentally decided to help me out of it. I could
see that, in the gradual relaxing of certain muscles of her face, which
had contracted at the first reference to this--as I could not
doubt--painful subject. Straightening her fine form as if ease of
position was not compatible with what was in her mind, she grasped the
arms of her chair with either hand, and looking with a retrospective
gaze into the fire, began:

"You see it was this way: the man I married the second time had another
wife."

While she drew a deep breath, and made a momentary pause, I seemed to
take it all in, for I had heard so many stories of deserted Eastern
homes, and subsequent illegal marriages in California, that I was
prepared not to be at all surprised at what I should learn from her.
Directly she went on:

"I found out about it the very day of the marriage. We were married in
the morning, and in the afternoon a man came over from Vancouver who
told me that Mr. Seabrook had a wife, and family of children, in a
certain town in Ohio." Another pause followed, while she seemed to be
recalling the very emotions of that time.

"Vancouver?" I said: "that is on the Columbia River."

"Yes; I was living in Portland at that time."

In reply to my glance of surprise, she changed the scene of her story to
an earlier date.

"Mr. Greyfield had always wanted to come to California, after the gold
discoveries; but when he married me he agreed not to think of it any
more. I was very young and timid, and very much attached to my
childhood's home, and my parents; and I could not bear the thought of
going so long a distance away from them. It was not then, as it is now,
an easy journey of one week; but a long six months' pilgrimage through a
wilderness country infested by Indians. To reach what? another
wilderness infested by white barbarians!"

"But I have always heard," I said, "that women were idealized and
idolized in those days."

"That is a very pretty fiction. If you had seen what I have seen on this
coast, you would not think we had been much idealized. Women have a
certain value among men, when they can be useful to them. In the old
States, where every man has a home, women have a fixed position and
value in society, because they are necessary to make homes. But on this
coast, in early times, and more or less even now, men found they could
dispense with homes; they had been converted into nomads, to whom earth
and sky, a blanket and a frying-pan, were sufficient for their needs.
Unless we came to them armed with endurance to battle with primeval
nature, we became burdensome. Strong and coarse women who could wash
shirts in any kind of a tub out of doors under a tree, and iron them
kneeling on the ground, to support themselves and half a dozen little,
hungry young ones, were welcome enough--before the Chinamen displaced
them. We had some value as cooks, before men, with large means, turned
their attention to supplying their brothers with prepared food for a
consideration below what we could do with our limited means. And then
the ladies, the educated, refined women, who followed their husbands to
this country, or who came here hoping to share, perchance, in the golden
spoils of the mines! Where are they to-day, and what is their condition?
Look for them in the sunless back rooms of San Francisco
boarding-houses, and you will find them doing a little fine sewing for
the shops; or working on their own garments, which they must make out of
school hours, because the niggardly pay of teachers in the lower grades
will not allow of their getting them done. Idealized indeed! Men talk
about our getting out of our places where we clamor for paying work of
some kind, for something to do that will enable us to live in half
comfort by working more hours than they do to earn lordly livings."

How much soever I might have liked to talk this labor question over with
my intelligent hostess at any other time, my curiosity concerning her
own history having been so strongly aroused, the topic seemed less
interesting than usual, and I seized the opportunity given by an
emphasized pause to bring her back to the original subject.

"Did you come first to California?" I asked.

"No. I had been married little over a year when Benton was born. 'Now,'
I thought, 'my husband will be contented to stay at home.' He had been
fretting about having promised not to take me to California; but I hoped
the baby would divert his thoughts. We were doing well, and had a
pleasant house, with everything in and about it that a young couple
ought to desire. I deceived myself in expecting Mr. Greyfield to give up
anything he had strongly desired; and seeing how much he brooded over
it, I finally told him to be comforted; that I would go with him to
California if he would wait until the baby was a year old before
starting; and to this he agreed."

"How old were you at that time?"

"Only about nineteen. I was twenty the spring we started; and celebrated
my anniversary by making a general gathering of all my relatives and
friends at our house, before we broke up and sold off our house-keeping
goods--all but such as could be carried in our wagons across the
plains."

"You were not starting by yourselves?"

"O no. There was a large company gathering together on the Missouri
river, to make the start in May; and we, with some of our neighbors,
made ready to join them. I shall never forget my feelings as I stood in
my own house for the last time, taking a life-long leave of every
familiar object! But you do not want to hear about that."

"I want to hear what you choose to tell me; but most of all about your
second marriage, and what led to it."

"It is not easy to go back so many years and take up one thread in the
skein of life, and follow that alone. I will disentangle it as rapidly
as I can; but first let us have a fresh fire."

Suiting the action to the word, my hostess touched a bell and ordered a
good supply of wood, which I took as an intimation that we were to have
one of our late sittings. In confirmation of this suspicion a second
order was given to have certain refreshments, including hot lemonade,
made ready to await our pleasure. When we were once more alone I begged
her to go on with her story.

"We left the rendezvous in May, and traveled without any unusual
incidents all through the summer."

"I beg pardon for interrupting you; but I do want to know how you
endured that sort of life. Was it not terrible?"

"It was monotonous, it was disagreeable, but it was not _terrible_ while
everybody was well. There were compensations in it, as in almost any
kind of life. My husband was strong and cheerful, now that he was having
his own way; the baby throve on fresh air and good milk--for we had
milch cows with us--and the summer months on the grassy plains are
delightful, except for rather frequent thunder storms. The grass was
good, and our cattle in fine order. Everything went well until the
cholera broke out among us."

"And then?"

"And then my husband died."

"Ah, what have not pioneer women endured!"

"Mr. Greyfield had from the first been regarded as a sort of leader.
Without saying much, but by being always in the right place at the right
time, he had gained an ascendancy over the less courageous, strong and
decided men. When the cholera came he was continually called upon to
nurse the sick, to bury the dead and comfort the living."

"And so became the easier victim?"

My remark was unheeded, while my hostess lived over again in
recollection the fearful scenes of the cholera season on the plains. I
wanted to divert her, and called her attention to the roaring of the
wind and beating of the rain without.

"Yes," she said; "it stormed just in that way the night before he died.
We all were drenched to the skin, and he was not in a condition to bear
the exposure. I was myself half sick with fever, and when the shock came
I became delirious. When I came to myself we were a hundred and fifty
miles away from the place where he died."

"How dreadful!" I could not help exclaiming. "Not even to know how and
where he was buried."

"Nor if he were buried at all. So frightened were the people in our
train that they could not be prevailed upon to take proper care of the
sick and dying, nor pay proper respect to the dead. After my reason
returned, the one subject that I could not bear to have mentioned was
that of my husband's death. Some of the men belonging to the train had
taken charge of my affairs and furnished a driver for the wagon I was
in. The women took care of Benton; and I lived, who would much rather
have died. Probably I should have died, but for the need I felt, when I
could think, of somebody to care for, support and educate my child. My
constitution was good; and that, with the anxiety about Benton, made it
possible for me to live."

"My dear friend," I exclaimed; "what a dreadful experience! I wonder
that you are alive and sit there talking to me, this moment."

"You will wonder more before I have done," she returned, with what might
be termed a superior sort of smile at my inexperience.

"But how did you get to Oregon?" I asked, interrupting her again.

"Our train was about at the place where the Oregon and California
emigrants parted company, when I recovered my reason and strength enough
to have any concern about where I was going. Some of those who had
started for Oregon had determined to go to California; and the most
particular friend Mr. Greyfield had in the train had decided to go to
Oregon instead of to California, as he first intended. Now, when my
husband was hopeless of his own recovery, he had given me in charge of
this man, with instructions to be governed by him in all my business
affairs; and I had no thought of resisting his will, though that bequest
was the cause of the worst sorrows of my life, by compelling me to go to
Oregon."

"Why cannot people be contented with ruling while living, without
subjecting others to the domination of an irrevocable will, when they
are no longer able to mold or govern circumstances. I beg your pardon.
Pray go on. But first let me inquire whether the person to whom you were
commanded to trust your affairs proved trustworthy?"

"As trustworthy as nearly absolute power on one side, and timid
inexperience on the other, is likely to make any one. When we arrived
finally in Portland, he took my wagons and cattle off my hands, and
returned me next to nothing for them. Yet, he was about like the average
administrator; it did not make much difference, I suppose, whether this
one man got my property, or a probate court."

"Poor child! I can see just how you were situated. Alone in a new
country, with a baby on your hands, and without means to make a home for
yourself. What _did_ you do? did you never think of going back to your
parents?"

"How could I get back? The tide of travel was not in that direction.
Besides, I had neither money nor a sufficient outfit. There was no
communication by mail in those days oftener than once in three months.
You might perish a thousand times before you could get assistance from
the East. O, no! there was nothing to be done, except to make the best
of the situation."

"Certainly, you had some friends among your fellow-immigrants who
interested themselves in your behalf to find you a home? Somebody
besides your guardian already mentioned."

"The most of them were as badly off as myself. Many had lost near
friends. I was not the only widow; but some women had lost their
husbands who had several young children. They looked upon me as
comparatively fortunate. Men had lost wives, and these were the most
wretched of all; for a woman can contrive some way to take care of her
children, where a man is perfectly helpless. Families, finding no houses
to go into by themselves, were huddled together in any shelter that
could be procured. The lines of partition in houses were often as
imaginary as the parallels of latitude on the earth; or were defined by
a window, or a particular board in the wall. O, I couldn't live in that
way. My object was to get a real home somewhere. As soon as I could, I
rented a room in a house with a good family, for the sake of the
protection they would be to me, and went to work to earn a living. Of
course, people were forward enough with their suggestions."

"Of what, for instance?"

"Most persons--in fact everybody that I talked with--said I should have
to marry. But I could not think of it; the mention of it always made me
sick that first winter. I was recovering strength, and was young; so I
thought I need not despair."

"Such a woman could not but have plenty of offers, in a new country
especially; but I understand how you must have felt. You could not marry
so soon after your husband's death, and it revolted you to be approached
on the subject. A wife's love is not so easily transferred."

"You speak as any one might think, not having been in my circumstances.
But there was something more than that in the feeling I had. I could not
realize the fact of Mr. Greyfield's death. It was as if he had only
fallen behind the train, and might come up with us any day. I _waited_
for him all that winter."

"How distressing!" I could not help saying. Mrs. Greyfield sat silent
for some minutes, while the storm raged furiously without. She rested
her cheek on her hand and gazed into the glowing embers, as if the past
were all pictured there in living colors. For me to say, as I did, "how
distressing," no doubt seemed to her the merest platitude. There are no
conventional forms for the expression of the utmost grief or sympathy.
Silence is most eloquent, but I could not keep silence. At last I asked,
"What did she do to earn a living?"

"I learned to make men's clothes. There was a clothing store in the
place that gave me employment. First I made vests, and then pants; and
finally I got to be quite expert, and could earn several dollars a day.
But a dollar did not buy much in those times; and oh, the crying spells
that I had over my work, before I had mastered it sufficiently to have
confidence in myself. Sancho Panza blessed the man that invented
sleep--I say, blessed be the woman that invented crying-fits, for they
save thousands and thousands of women from madness, annually!"

This was a return to that sprightly manner of speech that was one of
Mrs. Greyfield's peculiar attractions; and which often cropped out in
the least expected places. But though she smiled, it was easy to see
that tears would not be far to seek. "And yet," I said, "it is a bad
habit to cultivate--the habit of weeping. It wastes the blood at a
fearful rate."

"Don't I know it? But it is safer than frenzy. Why I used--but I'll not
tell you about that yet. I set out to explain to you my marriage with
Mr. Seabrook. As I told you, everybody said I must marry; and the
reasons they gave were, that I must have somebody to support me; that it
was not safe for me to live alone; that my son would need a man's
restraining hand when he came to be a few years older; and that I,
myself, was too young to live without love!--therefore the only correct
thing to do was to take a husband--a good one, if you could get him--a
husband, anyway. As spring came round, and my mind regained something of
its natural elasticity, and my personal appearance probably improved
with returned health, the air seemed full of husbands. Everybody that
had any business with me, if he happened not to have a wife, immediately
proposed to take me in that relation. All the married men of my
acquaintance jested with me on the subject, and their wives followed in
the same silly iteration. I actually felt myself of some consequence,
whether by nature or by accident, until it became irksome."

"How did all your suitors contrive to get time for courtship?" I
laughingly inquired.

"O, time was the least of their requirements. You know, perhaps, that
there was an Oregon law, or, rather, a United States law, giving a mile
square of land to a man and his wife: to each, half. Now some of the
Oregonians made this "Donation Act" an excuse for going from door to
door to beg a wife, as they pretended, in order to be able to take up a
whole section, though when not one of them ever cultivated a quarter
section, or ever meant to."

"And they come to _you_ in this way? What did they say? how did they
act?"

"Why, they rode a spotted cayuse up to the door with a great show of
hurry, jangling their Mexican spurs, and making as much noise as
possible. As there were no sidewalks in Portland, then, they could sit
on their horses and open a door, or knock at one, if they had so much
politeness. In either case, as soon as they saw a woman they asked if
she were married; and if not, would she marry? there was no more
ceremony about it."

"Did they ever really get wives in that way, or was it done in
recklessness and sport? It seems incredible that any woman could accept
such an offer as that."

"There were some matches made in that way; though, as you might
conjecture, they were not of the kind made in heaven, and most of them
were afterwards dissolved by legislative action or decree of the
courts."

"Truly you were right, when you said women are not idealized in
primitive conditions of society," I said, after the first mirthful
impulse created by so comical a recital had passed. "But how was it,
that with so much to disgust you with the very name of marriage, you
finally did consent to take a husband? He, certainly, was not one of the
kind that came riding up to doors, proposing on the instant?"

"No, he was not: but he might as well have been for any difference it
made to me," said Mrs. Greyfield, with that bitterness in her tone that
always came into it when she spoke of Seabrook. "You ask 'how was it
that I at last consented to take a husband?' Do you not know that such
influences as constantly surrounded me, are demoralizing as I said? You
hear a thing talked of until you become accustomed to it. It is as Pope
says: You 'first endure, then pity, then embrace.' I endured, felt
contempt, and finally yielded to the pressure.

"Why, you have no idea, from what I have told you, of the reality. My
house as I have already mentioned, was one room in a tenement. It opened
directly upon the street. In one corner was a bed. Opposite the door
was a stove for cooking and warming the house. A table and two chairs
besides my little sewing-chair completed the furnishing of the
apartment. The floor was bare, except where I had put down an old
coverlet for a rug before the bed. Here in this crowded place I cooked,
ate, slept, worked, and received company and offers!

"Just as an example of the way in which some of my suitors broached
the subject I will describe a scene. Fancy me kneeling on the floor,
stanching the blood from quite a serious cut on Benton's hand. The door
opens behind me, and a man I never have seen before, thrusts his head
and half his body in at the opening. His salutation is 'Howdy!'--his
first remark, 'I heern thar was a mighty purty widder livin' here; and
I reckon my infurmation was correct. If you would like to marry, I'm
agreeable.'"

"How did you receive this candidate? You have not told me what you
replied on these occasions," I said, amused at this picture of pioneer
life.

"I turned my head around far enough to get one look at his face, and
asking him rather crossly 'if there were any more fools where he came
from,' went on bandaging Benton's hand."

The recollection of this absurd incident caused the narrator to laugh as
she had not often laughed in my hearing.

"This may have been a second Werther," I remarked, "and surely no
Charlotte could have been more unfeeling than you showed yourself. It
could not be that a man coming in that way expected to get any other
answer than the one you gave him?"

"I do not know, and I did not then care. One day a man, to whose
motherless children I had been kind when opportunity offered, slouched
into my room without the ceremony of knocking and dropping into a chair
as if his knees failed him, began twirling his battered old hat in an
embarrassed manner, and doing as so many of his predecessors had
done--proposing off-hand. He had a face like a terra-cotta image, a long
lank figure, faded old clothes, and a whining voice."

"He told me that he had no 'woman,' and that I had no 'man,' a condition
that he evidently considered deplorable. He assured me that I suited him
'fustrate;' that his children 'sot gret store by me,' and 'liked my
victuals;' and that he thought a 'heap' of my little boy. He also
impressed upon me that he had been 'considerin' the 'rangement of jinin'
firms for some time. To close the business at once, he proposed that I
should accept of him for my husband then and there."

"And pray, what did you say to _him_!"

"I told him that I did not know what use I had for him, unless I should
put him behind the stove, and break bark over his head."

This reply tickled my fancy so much that I laughed until I cried. I
insisted on knowing what put it into her mind to say that.

"You see, we burned fir wood, the bark of which is better to make heat
than the woody portion of the tree; but is never sawed or split, and has
to be broken. I used to take up a big piece, and bring it down with a
blow over any sharp corner to knock it into smaller fragments, and
something in the man's appearance, I suppose, suggested that he might be
good for that, if for nothing else. I did not stop to frame my replies
on any forms laid down in young ladies' manuals; but they seemed to be
conclusive as a general thing."

"I should think so. Yet, there must have been some, more nearly your
equals, attracted by your youth and beauty, loving you, or capable of
loving you, to whom you could not give such answers, by whom such
answers would not be taken."

"As I look back upon it now, I cannot think of any one I might have
taken and did not, that I regret. There were men of all classes nearly;
but they were not desirable, as I saw it then, or as I see it now. It is
true that I was young, and pretty, perhaps, and that women were in a
minority. But then, too, the men who were floating about on the surface
of pioneer society were not likely to be the kind of men that make true
lovers and good husbands. Some of them have settled down into
steady-going benedicts, and have money and position. The worst effect of
all this talk about marrying was, that it prepared me to be persuaded
against my inner consciousness into doing that which I ought not to have
done. My truer judgment had become confused, my perceptions clouded,
from being so often assailed by the united majority who could not bear
to see poor, little minority go unappropriated. But come, let us have
our cakes and lemonade. You need something to sustain you while I
complete the recital of my conquests."

I felt that she needed a brief interval in which to collect her thoughts
and calm a growing nervousness that in spite of her efforts at
pleasantry would assert itself in various little ways, evident enough to
my observation. A saucepan of water was set upon the hot coals on the
hearth, the lemons cut and squeezed into two elegant goblets, upon
square lumps of sugar that eagerly took up the keen acid, and grew
yellow and spongy in consequence. A sociable little round table was
rolled out of its seclusion in a corner, and made to support a tray
between us, whereon were such dainty cakes and confections as my hostess
delighted in.

There was an air of substantial comfort in all the arrangements of my
friend's house that made it a peculiarly pleasant one to visit. It
lacked nothing to make it home-like, restful, attractive. The house
itself was large and airy, with charming views; the furniture
sufficiently elegant without being too fine for use; flowers, birds, and
all manner of _curios_ abounded, yet were never in the way, as they so
often are in the houses of people who are fond of pretty and curious
things, but have no really refined taste to arrange them. Our little
ten-o'clock lunch was perfect in its appointments--a "thing of beauty,"
as it was of palatableness and refreshment. So strongly was I impressed
at the moment with this talent of Mrs. Greyfield's, that I could not
refrain from speaking of it, as we sat sipping hot and spicy lemonade
from those exquisite cut-glass goblets of her choosing, and tasting
dainties served on the loveliest china: "Yes, I suppose it is a gift of
God, the same as a taste for the high arts is an endowment from the same
source. Did it never strike you as being absurd, that men should expect,
and as far as they can, require all women to be good housekeepers? They
might as well expect every mechanic to carve in wood or chisel marble
into forms of life. But it is my one available talent, and has stood me
in good stead, though I have no doubt it was one chief cause of my
trouble, by attracting Mr. Seabrook."

"You must know," I said, "that I am tortured with curiosity to hear
about that person. Will you not now begin?"

"Let me see--where did I leave off? I was telling you that although I
had so many suitors, of so many classes, and none of them desirable, to
my way of thinking, I was really gradually being influenced to marry.
You must know that a woman so young and so alone in the world, and who
had to labor for her bread, and her child's bread, could not escape the
solicitations of men who did not care to marry; and it was this class
who gave me more uneasiness than all the presuming ignorant ones, who
would honor me by making me a wife. I know it is constantly asserted,
by men themselves, that no woman is approached in that way who does
not give some encouragement. But no statement could be more utterly
false--unless they determine to construe ordinary politeness and
friendliness into a covert advance. The cunning of the "father of lies"
is brought to bear to entrap artless and inexperienced women into
situations whence they are assured there is no escape without disgrace.

"During my first year of widowhood my feelings were several times
outraged in this way; and at first I was so humiliated, and had such a
sense of guilt, that it made me sick and unfit for my work. The guilty
feeling came, I now know, from the consciousness I had of the popular
opinion I have referred to, that there must be something wrong in my
deportment. But by calling to mind all the circumstances connected with
these incidents, and studying my own behavior and the feelings that
impelled me, I taught myself at last not to care so very much about it,
after the first emotions of anger had passed away. Still I thought I
could perceive that I was not quite the same person: you
understand?--the 'bloom' was being brushed away."

"What an outrage! What a shame, that a woman in your situation could not
be left to be herself, with her own pure thoughts and tender sorrows!
Was there no one to whom you could go for advice and sympathy?--none
among all those who came to the country with you who could have helped
you?"

"The people who came out with me were mostly scattered through the
farming country; and would have been of very little use to me if they
had not been. In fact, they would, probably, have been first to condemn
me, being chiefly of an uneducated class, and governed more by
traditions than by the wisdom of experience. There were two or three
families whose acquaintance I had made after arriving in Portland, who
were kindly disposed towards me, and treated me with great
neighborliness; especially the family that was in the same tenement with
me. To them I sometimes mentioned my troubles; but while they were
willing to do anything for me in the way of a common friendly service,
like the loaning of an article of household convenience, or sitting with
me when Benton was sick--as he very often was--they could not understand
other needs, or minister to the sickness of the mind. If I received any
counsel, it was to the effect that a woman was in every way better off
to be married. I used to wonder why God had not made us married--why he
had given us our individual natures, since there was forever this
necessity of being paired!"

"Yet you had loved your husband?"

"I had never ceased to love him!--and that was just what these people
could not understand. Death cut _them_ loose from everything, and they
were left with only strong desires, and no sentiment to sanctify them.
That I should love a dead husband, and turn with disgust from a living
one, was inexplicable to them."

"My dear, I think I see the rock on which you wrecked your happiness."
For the moment I had forgotten what she had told me in the beginning,
that Seabrook had married her illegally; and was imagining her married
to a living husband, and loving only the memory of one dead. She saw my
error, and informed me by a look. Pushing away the intervening table
with its diminished contents, and renewing the fire, Mrs. Greyfield
proceeded:

"It would take too long to go over the feelings of those times, and
assign their causes. You are a woman that can put yourself in my place,
to a great extent, though not wholly; for there are some things that
cannot be imagined, and only come by experience."

"Benton was two years and a half old; a very delicate child, suffering
nearly all the time with chills and fever. I had occasional attacks of
illness from the malaria, always to be met with on the clearing up of
low-lands near a river. Still I was able to sew enough to keep a shelter
over our heads, and bread in our mouths, until I had been a year in
Portland. But I could not get ahead in the least, and was often very low
spirited. About this time I made the acquaintance of Mr. Seabrook. He
was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance, and having a little
knowledge of medicine, gave me both advice and remedies for Benton. He
used to come in quite often, and look after the child, and praise my
housekeeping, which probably was somewhat better than that of the
average pioneer of those days. He never paid me any silly compliments,
or disturbed my tranquillity with love-making of any sort. Just for that
reason I began to like him. He was twelve or fifteen years older than
myself; and more than ordinarily fine-looking and intelligent. You have
no idea, because you have never been so placed, what a comfort it was to
me to have such a friend."

"Yes, I think I know."

"One day he said to me, 'Mrs. Greyfield, this sitting and sewing all day
is bad for your health. Now, I should think, being so good a housekeeper,
you might do very well by taking a few boarders; and I believe you could
stand that kind of labor better than sewing.' We had a little talk about
it, and he proposed trying to find me a house suited to the purpose; to
which I very readily consented; for, though I was wholly inexperienced
in any business, I thought it better to venture the experiment than to
keep on as I was doing."

"How did you expect to get furniture? Pardon me; but you see I want to
learn all about the details of so strange a life."

"I don't think I expected anything, or thought of all the difficulties
at once."

"Which was fortunate, because they would have discouraged you."

"It is hard to say what has or has not been for the best. But for that
boarding-house scheme, I do not believe I should have married the man I
did.

"As I was saying, Mr. Seabrook never annoyed me with attentions. He came
and talked to me in a friendly manner, and with a superior air that
disarmed apprehension on that score. Mrs. ----, my neighbor in the next
room, once hinted to me that his visits were indicative of his
intentions, and thereby caused me a sleepless night. But as _he_ never
referred to the subject, and as I was now full of my new business
project, the alarm subsided. A house was finally secured, or a part of a
house, consisting of a kitchen, dining-room and bed-room, on the first
floor; and the same number of rooms above. I had a comfortable supply of
bedding and table linen; the trouble was about cabinet furniture. But as
most of my boarders were bachelors, who quartered themselves where they
could, I got along very well."

"You made a success of it, then?"

"I made a success. I threw all my energies into it, and had all the
boarders I could cook for."

"Mr. Seabrook boarded with you?--I conjecture that."

"Yes; and he took a room at my house. At first I liked it well enough; I
had so much confidence in him. But in a short time I thought I could
perceive that my other boarders were disposed to think that we looked
toward a nearer relationship in the future. Perhaps they were justified
in thinking so, as they could only judge from appearances; and I had
asked Mr. Seabrook to take the foot of the table, and carve, because I
had so much else to do that it was impossible for me to do that also.
Gradually he assumed more the air of proprietor than of boarder; but as
he was so much older and wiser, and had been of so much service to me, I
readily pardoned what I looked upon as a matter of no great consequence.

"It proved to be, however, a matter of very great consequence. I had
been established in the new house and business four or five weeks, when
one evening, Benton being unusually ill, I asked Mr. Seabrook's advice
about him. My bed-room was up stairs, against the partition which
separated my apartments from those occupied by a family of Germans. I
chose that room for myself because it seemed less lonely, and safer for
me, to be where I could hear the voice of the little German woman, and
she could hear mine. In the same manner my kitchen joined on to hers,
and we could hear each other at our work. Benton being too ill to be
dressed, was lying on the bed in my room, and I asked Mr. Seabrook to go
up and look at him. He examined him and told me what to do, in his usual
decided and assured manner, and went back to the dining-room, which was
also my sitting-room. As soon as Benton was quieted, so that I could
leave him, I also returned to the lower part of the house to finish my
evening tasks.

"There is such a feeling of hatred arises in my heart when I recall that
part of my history that it makes me fear my own wickedness! Do you think
we can hate so much as to curse and blight our own natures?"

"Undoubtedly; but that would be a sort of frenzy, and would finally end
in madness. _You_ do not feel in that way. It is the over-mastering
sense of wrong suffered, for which there can be no redress. Terrible as
the feeling is, it must be free from the wickedness you impute to
yourself. Your nature is sound and sweet at the core--I feel sure of
that."

"Thank you. I have had many grave doubts about myself. But to go on.
Contrary to his usual habit, Mr. Seabrook remained at the house that
evening, and in the dining-room instead of his own room. I was so busy
with my work and anxious about Benton, that I did not give more than a
passing thought to him. He, also, seemed much pre-occupied.

"At last my work was done, and I took a light to go to my room, telling
Mr. Seabrook to put out the lights below stairs, as I should not be down
again. 'Stop a moment,' said he, 'I have something to tell you that you
ought to know.' He very politely placed a chair for me, which I took.
His manners were faultless in the matter of etiquette--and how very far
a fine manner goes, in our estimate of people! I had not the shadow of a
suspicion of what was coming. 'Mrs. Greyfield,' he said, with great
gravity, 'I fear I have unintentionally compromised you very seriously.
In advising you to take this house, and open it for boarders, I was
governed entirely by what I conceived to be your best interests; but it
seems that I erred in my judgment. You are very young--only
twenty-three, I believe, and--I beg your pardon--too beautiful to pass
unnoticed in a community like this. Your boarders, so far, are all
gentlemen. Further, it has been noticed and commented upon that--really,
I do not know how to express it--that _I_ have seemed to take the place
in your household that--pray, forgive me, Mrs. Greyfield--only a
husband, in fact or in expectancy, could be expected or permitted to
occupy. Do you see what I mean?'

"I sat stunned and speechless while he went on. 'I presume your good
sense will direct you in this matter, and that you will grasp the right
horn of the dilemma. If you would allow me to help you out of it, you
would really promote my happiness. Dear Mrs. Greyfield, permit me to
offer you the love and protection of a husband, and stop these gossips'
mouths.'"

"You do not think he had premeditated this?" I asked.

"I did not take it in then, but afterwards I saw it plainly enough. He
pressed me for an answer, all the time plausibly protesting that
although he had hoped some time to win my love, he had not anticipated
the necessity for urging his suit as a matter of expediency. In vain I
argued that if his presence in the house was an injury to me, he could
leave it. It was too late, he said. I indignantly declared that it was
not my fault that my boarders were all men. I was working for my living,
and would just as willingly have boarded any other creature if I could
have got my money for it; a monkey or a sheep; it was all the same to
me. He smiled superiorly on my fretfulness; and when I at last burst
into a passion of tears, bade me good night with such an air of being
extremely forbearing and judicious that I could not help regarding
myself as a foolish and undisciplined child.

"That night I scarcely slept at all. Benton was feverish, and I half
wild. All sorts of plans ran through my head; but turn the matter over
any way I would, it amounted to the same thing. The money I must earn,
must come from men. Whether I sewed or cooked, or whatever I did, they
were the paymasters to whom I looked for my wages. How, then, was it
possible to escape contact with them, or avoid being misunderstood. In
one breath I resented, with all the ardor of my soul, the impertinence
of the world's judgment, and in the next I declared to myself that I did
not care; that conscious innocence should sustain me, and that I had a
right to do the best I could for myself and child.

"But that was only sham courage. I was morally a coward, and could not
possibly face the evil spirit of detraction. Therefore, the morning
found me feverish in body and faint in spirit. I kept out of sight of my
boarders, except Mr. Seabrook, who looked into the kitchen with a
sympathizing face, and inquired very kindly after Bennie, as he
pet-named Benton. When my dinner was over that day, I asked the little
German woman to keep the child until I could go on an errand, and went
over to Mrs. ----, my old house-mate, to get advice.

"Do you know how much advice is worth? If you like it, you haven't needed
it; and if you do not like it, you will not take it. Mrs. ---- told me
that if she were in my place, as if she _could be_ in my place! she would
get rid of all her troubles by getting some man to take charge of her and
her affairs. When I asked, with transparent duplicity, where I was to
find a man for this service, she laughed in my face. People _did_ talk
so then, and what Mr. Seabrook said was the unexaggerated truth. It did
not occur to me to examine into the authorship of the rumors; I was too
shrinking and sensitive for that.

"When I reached home I found Mr. Seabrook at the house. A sudden feeling
of anger flashed into my mind, and must have illuminated my eyes; for he
gave me one deprecating glance, and immediately went out. This made me
fear I was unjust to him. That evening he did not come to tea, but sent
me a note saying he had business at Vancouver and would not return for
two or three days; but that when he did return it would be better to
have my mind made up to dismiss him entirely out of the country, or to
have our engagement made known.

"That threw the whole responsibility upon me; and it was, as he knew it
would be, too heavy for my twenty-three years to carry. To lose the most
helpful and agreeable friend I had in the country, to banish him for no
fault but being too kind to me, or to take him in place of one whose
image would always stand between us: that was the alternative.

"The next day an incident occurred that decided my destiny. I had to go
out to make some purchases for the house. At the store where I usually
bought provisions I chanced to meet a woman who had crossed the
continent in my company; and she turned her back upon me without
speaking. She was an ignorant, bigoted sort of woman, of an uncertain
temper, and at another time I might not have cared for the slight; but
coming at a time when I was in a state of nervous alarm, it cut me to
the quick. With great difficulty I restrained my tears, and left the
store. While hurrying home with a basket on my arm, almost choked with
grief, I passed a kind old gentleman who had always before had a
pleasant word for me, and an inquiry about my child. He, too, passed me
with only the slightest sign of recognition. I thought my heart would
burst in my breast, so terrible was the sense of outrage and shame--"

"Which was, after all, probably imaginary," I interrupted. "The insult
of the ignorant, ill-tempered woman was purely an accidental display of
those qualities, and the slight recognition of your old friend the
consequence of the other, for your face certainly expressed the state of
your feelings, and your friend was surprised into silence by seeing you
in such distress."

"That, very likely, is the true explanation. But it did not so impress
me then. You cannot, in the state of mind I was in, go after people, and
ask them to tell you whether or not they really mean to insult you,
because you are only too certain that they do. I was sick with pain and
mortification. How I got through my day's work I do not remember; but
you can understand that my demoralization was complete by this time, and
that when Mr. Seabrook returned I was like wax in his hands. All that I
stipulated for was a little more time; he had my permission to announce
our engagement.

"My boarders and every one who spoke to me about it congratulated me.
When I look back upon it now, it seems strange that no one ever
suggested to me the importance of knowing the antecedents of the man I
was going to marry; but they did not. It seemed to be tacitly understood
that antecedents were not to be dragged to light in this new world, and
that "by-gones should be by-gones." As to myself, it never occurred to
my inexperience to suspect that a man might be dishonorable, even
criminal, though he had the outside bearing of a gentleman."

"Did he propose to relieve you of the necessity of keeping boarders?"

"No. The business was a good one; and, as I have said, I was a success
in this line. My constitution was good; my energy immense, in labor; my
training in household economy good; and, besides, I had a real talent
for pleasing my boarders. I was to be provided with a servant; and the
care of the marketing would devolve upon Mr. Seabrook. With this
amelioration of my labors, the burden could be easily borne for the sake
of the profits."

"What business was Mr. Seabrook in?"

"I never thought of the subject at that time. He was always well
dressed; associated with men of business; seemed to have money; and I
never doubted that such a man was able to do anything he proposed.
Women, you know, unconsciously attribute at least an earthly omnipotence
to men. Afterwards, of course, I was disillusioned. But I must hasten,
for it is growing late; and either the storm or these old memories shake
my nerves.

"I had asked for a month's time to prepare my mind for my coming
marriage. At the end of a week, however, Mr. Seabrook came to me and
told me that imperative business called him away for an absence of
several weeks, and that, in his judgment, the marriage ceremony should
take place before he left. He should be away over the month I had
stipulated for; and, in case of accident, I would have the protection of
his name. My objections were soon overruled, and on the morning of his
departure we were married--as I believed, legally and firmly bound--in
the presence of my family of boarders, and two or three women, including
Mrs. ----. He went away immediately, and I was left to my tumultuous
thoughts."

"May I be permitted to know whether you loved him at all, at that time?
It seems to me that you must have sometimes yearned for the ownership of
some heart, and the strong tenderness of man's firmer nature."

Mrs. Greyfield looked at me with a curiously mixed expression, half of
sarcastic pity, half of amused contempt. But the thought, whatever it
was, went unspoken. She reflected a moment silently before she answered.

"I have told you that my heart remained unweaned from the memory of my
dead husband. I told Mr. Seabrook the same. But I admired, respected and
believed in him; he was agreeable to me, and had my confidence. There
can be no doubt, but if he had been all that he seemed, I should have
ended by loving him in a quiet and constant way. As it was, the shock I
felt at the discovery of his perfidy was terrible.

"My ears were yet tingling with my new name, when, everybody having
gone, I sat down with Benton on my lap to have the pleasure of the few
natural tears that women are bound to shed over their relinquished
freedom. I was very soon aroused by a knock at the door, which opened to
admit an old acquaintance, then residing in Vancouver, and a former
suitor of mine. Almost the first thing he said was, 'I hear you have
been getting married?' 'Yes,' I said, trying to laugh off my
embarrassment, 'I had to marry a man at last to get rid of them!'

"'You made a poor selection, then,' he returned, rather angrily.

"His anger roused mine, for his tone was, as I thought, insolent, 'Do
you think I should have done better to have taken you?' I asked,
scornfully.

"'You would at least have got a man that the law could give you,' he
retorted, 'and not another woman's husband.'

"The charge seemed so enormous that I laughed in his face, attributing
his conduct to jealous annoyance at my marriage. But something in his
manner, in spite of our mutual excitement, unsettled my confidence. He
was not inventing this story; he evidently believed it himself. 'For
God's sake,' I entreated, 'if you have any proof of what you say, give
it me at once!' And then he went on to tell me that on the occasion of
Mr. Seabrook's late visit to Vancouver, he had been recognized by an
emigrant out from Ohio, who met and talked with him at the Hudson's Bay
store. That man had told him, my informant, that he was well acquainted
with the family of Mr. Seabrook, and that his wife and several children
were living when he left Ohio.

"'Can you bring this man to me?' I asked, trembling with horrible
apprehensions.

"'I don't know as I could,' said he; 'for he went, I think, over to the
Sound to look up a place. But I can give you the name of the town he
came from, if that would be of any use.' I had him write the address for
me, as I was powerless to do it for myself.

"'I am sorry for you,' he said, as he handed me the slip of paper; 'that
is, if you care anything for the rascal.'

"'Thank you,' I returned, 'but this thing is not proven yet. If you
really mean well by me, keep what you have told me to yourself.'

"'You mean to live with him?' he asked.

"'I don't know what I shall do; I must have time to think.'

"'Very well; it is no affair of mine. I don't want a bullet through my
head for interfering; but I thought it was no more than fair to let you
know.'

"'I am very grateful, of course;--I mean I am if there is any occasion;
but this story is so strange, and has come upon me so suddenly that I
cannot take it all in at once, with all its consequences.'

"'I know what you think,' he said finally: 'You suspect me of making up
this thing to be revenged on you for preferring Seabrook to me. I'd be a
damned mean cuss, to do such a turn by any woman, wouldn't I? As to
consequences, if the story is true, and I believe it is, why your
marriage amounts to nothing, and you are just as free as you were
before!'

"I fancied his face brightened up with the idea of my freedom, and a
doubt of his veracity intruded upon my growing conviction. Distracted,
excited, pressed down with cares and fears, I still had to attend to my
daily tasks. I begged him to go away, and not to say a word to any other
mortal about what he had told me; and he gave me the promise I desired.
That was a fatal error, and fearfully was I punished."

"How an error? It seems to me quite remarkable prudence for one in your
situation."

"So I thought then; but the event proved differently."

"Pray do tell me how you bore up under all this excitement, and the care
and labor of a boarding-house? The more I know of your life, the more
surprised I am at your endurance."

"It was the care and labor that saved me, perhaps. At all events, here I
am, alive and well, to-night. I sometimes liken myself to a tree that I
know of. It was a small fir tree in a friend's garden. For some reason,
it began to pine and dwindle and turn red. My friend's husband insisted
on cutting it down, as unsightly; but this she objected to, until all
the leaves were dry and faded, and the tree apparently dead. Still she
asked for it to be spared for another season; and, taking a stick, she
beat the tree all over until not a leaf was left on a single bough; and
there it stood, a mere frame of dry branches, until everybody wished it
out of the way. But behold! at last it was covered with little green
dots of leaves, that rapidly grew to the usual size, and now that tree
is the thriftiest in my friend's garden, and a living evidence of the
uses of adversity. But for the beating it got, it would now be a dead
tree! I had my child to live and work for; and really, but for this last
trouble, I should have thought myself doing well. I had found out how I
could make and lay up money, and was gaining that sense of independence
such knowledge gives. Besides, I was young, and in good physical health
most of the time before this last and worst stroke of fortune. _That_
broke down my powers of resistance in some directions, I had so much to
resist in others."

"Do you see what o'clock it is?" I asked.

"Yes; but if you do not mind the sitting up, let's make a night of it. I
feel as if I could not sleep--as if something were going to happen."

Very cheerfully I consented to the proposed vigil. I wanted to hear the
rest of the story; and I knew she had a sort of prophetic consciousness
of coming events. If she said "something was going to happen," something
surely did happen. So the fire was renewed, and we settled ourselves
again for "a night of it.

"What did you do? and why do you say that you committed a fatal error by
keeping silence?"

"By suffering the matter to rest, I unfortunately fixed myself in the
situation I would have avoided. My object was what yours would have
been, or any woman's--to save all scandal, until the facts were known to
a certainty. I was so sensitive about being talked over; and besides
felt that I had no right to expose Mr. Seabrook to a slanderous
accusation. It was not possible for me to have foreseen what actually
happened.

"I took one night to think the matter over. It was a longer night than
this one will seem to you. My decision was to write to the postmaster of
the town from which Mr. Seabrook was said to come. _Now_ that would be a
simple affair enough; the telegraph would procure us the information
wanted in a day. _Then_ a letter was five or six months going and
coming. In the meantime I had resolved not to live with Mr. Seabrook as
his wife; but you will see how I would, under the circumstances, be
compelled to seem to do so. I did not think of that at first, however.
You know how you mentally go over impending scenes beforehand? I meant
to surprise him into a confession, if he were guilty; and believed I
should be able to judge of his innocence, if he should be wrongly
accused. I wrote and dispatched my letter at once, and under an assumed
name, to prevent its being stolen. When that was done I tried to rest
unconcerned; but, of course, that was impossible. My mind ran on this
subject day and night.

"The difficulties of my position could never be imagined; you would have
to be in the same place to see them. Everybody now called me Mrs.
Seabrook, and I could not repudiate the name without sufficient cause. I
was forced to appear to have confidence in the man I had married of my
own free will. Besides, I really did not know, of a verity, that he was
not worthy of confidence. It seemed quite as credible that another man
should invent a lie, as that Mr. Seabrook should be guilty of an
enormous crime.

"Naturally I had a buoyant temper; was inclined to see the amusing side
of things; enjoyed frolicsome conversation; and in a general way was
well fitted to bear up under worries, and recover quickly from depressed
conditions. The gentlemen who boarded with me were a cheerful and
intelligent set, whose conversation entertained me, as they met three
times a day at table. They were all friends of Mr. Seabrook, which gave
them the privilege of saying playful things to me about him daily. To
these remarks I must make equally playful replies, or seem ungracious to
them. You will see how every such circumstance complicated my
difficulties afterwards.

"You know, too, how pliable we all are at twenty-three--how often our
opinions waver and our emotions change. I was particularly mercurial in
my temperament before the events I am relating hardened me. I often laid
in a half-waking state almost all night, my imagination full of horrible
images; and when breakfast-time came, and I listened to an hour of
entertaining talk, with frequent respectful allusions to Mr. Seabrook,
and kindly compliments to myself, these ugly visions took flight, while
I persuaded myself that everything would come out right in the end.

"A little while ago you asked me if I did not love Mr. Seabrook at
all?--did not long for tenderness from him? The question roused
something of the wickedness in me that I confessed to you before; but I
will answer the inquiry now, by asking _you_ if you think any woman in
her twenties is quite reconciled to live unloved? I had not wished to
marry again; yet undoubtedly there was a great blank in my life, which
my peculiarly friendless condition made me very sensible of; and there
_was_ a yearning desire in my heart to be petted and cared for, as in my
brief married life I had been. But the coarseness and intrusiveness I
had experienced in my widowhood had made me as irritable as the 'fretful
porcupine' towards that class of men. The thought of Mr. Seabrook loving
me had never taken root in my mind. Even when he proposed marriage, it
had seemed much more a matter of expediency than of love. But when,
after I had accepted him as an avowed lover, his conduct had continued
to be unintrusive, and delicately flattering to my womanly pride, it was
most natural that I should begin to congratulate myself on the prospect
before me of life-long protection from such wounds as I had received,
with the great satisfaction of increased dignity in point of social
position; for then, much more than now, and in a new country more than
in an old one, a woman's position depended on her relationship to men;
the wife of the most worthless man being the superior of an unmarried
woman. Accordingly I felt my promised importance, and began to exult in
it."

"In short, you were preparing to become much more subject to the second
love than the first; a not infrequent experience," I interrupted. "You
certainly must have loved a handsome, agreeable, courteous, and manly
man, who would have interposed between you and the rude shocks of the
world; and you had begun to realize that you could, in spite of your
first love?"

"And to have a feeling of disappointment when the possibility presented
itself that after all these blessings might be wrested from me; of
horror when I reflected that in that case my last estate would be
inexpressibly worse than the first."

"There was a terrible temptation there!"

"No; that was the one thing I was perfectly clear about. Not to be
dragged into crime or deserved disgrace, I was determined upon. How I
should avoid it was where I was in doubt."

"I am very anxious to know how you met him on his return."

"There was no one in the house except myself, and Benton, who was now
quite well again for the time. I was standing by the dining-room window,
arranging some ferns in a hanging basket, and Benton was amusing himself
with toys the boarders were always giving him. I heard a footstep, and
turned my head slightly to see who it was. Mr. Seabrook stood in the
door, regarding us with a pleased smile.

"'How is my wife and boy?' he said, cheerily, advancing towards me, and
proffering a kiss of greeting.

"I put up my hand to ward him off, and my heart stood motionless. I
seemed to be struck with a chill. My teeth chattered together, while the
ends of my fingers turned cold at once.

"Naturally, he was surprised; but thinking perhaps that the suddenness
of his return, under the circumstances, had overcome me, he quickly
recovered his tenderness of manner.

"'Have I frightened you, my darling?' he asked, putting out his arms to
fold me to his breast. Not being able to speak, I whirled round rapidly,
and hastened to place the table between us. Of course, he could not
comprehend such conduct, but thought it some nervous freak, probably.

"Turning to Benton, he took him up in his arms and kissed him, asking
him some questions about himself and toys. 'Could you tell me what is
the matter with your mamma, Bennie?' he asked, seeing that my manner
remained inexplicable.

"'I tink see has a till,' answered Benton, who by this time knew the
meaning of the word 'chill' by experience.

"'She has given _me_ one, I know,' said Mr. Seabrook, regarding me
curiously. I began to feel faint, and sat down, leaning my head on my
hand, my elbow on the table.

"'Anna,' said he, addressing me by my Christian name for the first time,
and giving me a little shock in consequence--for I had almost forgotten
I had ever been called 'Anna'--'if I am so disagreeable to you, I will
go away again; though I certainly had reason to expect a different
reception.'

"'No,' I said, suddenly rousing up; 'you must not go until I have told
you something; unless you go to stay--which would perhaps be best.'

"'To stay! go to stay? There seems great need of explanation here. Will
you be good enough to tell me why I am to go away to stay?'

"'The reason is, Mr. Seabrook,' I answered, 'that your true wife, and
your own children expect you at home, in Ohio.'

"I had worded my answer with the intention of shocking the truth out of
him, if possible. If he should be innocent, I thought, he would forgive
me. There was too much at stake to stand upon niceties of speech; and I
watched him narrowly."

"How did he receive such a blow as that? I am curious to know how guilty
people act, on being accused."

"You cannot tell an innocent from a guilty person," Mrs. Greyfield
returned, with a touch of that asperity that was sometimes noticeable in
her utterances. Then, more quietly: "Both are shocked alike at being
accused; one because he is innocent; the other, because he is guilty.
How much a person is shocked depends upon temperament and circumstance.
The guilty person, always consciously in danger of being accused, is
likely to be prepared and on the defensive, while the other is not.

"What Mr. Seabrook did, was to turn upon me a look of keen observation,
not unmixed with surprise. It might mean one thing; it might mean
another; how could I tell? He always impressed me so with his
superiority that even in that moment, when my honor and life's happiness
were at stake, I was conscious of a feeling of abasement and guiltiness
that I dare accuse _him_ to his face. Perhaps, he saw that I was
frightened at my own temerity; at all events he was not thrown off his
guard.

"'Do I understand you to charge me with crime--a very ugly crime,
indeed?' he asked pointedly.

"'You know,' I said, 'whether you are guilty. If you are, may God so
deal with you as you have meant to deal with me.'

"I fancied that he winced slightly at this; but in my excitement could
not have seen very clearly. He knitted his brows, and took several turns
up and down the room.

"'If I knew who had put this monstrous idea into your mind,' he finally
said with vehemence; 'I would send a bullet through his heart!'

"'In that case,' I replied: 'you could not expect me to tell you;' and I
afterwards made that threat my excuse for concealing the name of my
informant.

"Mr. Seabrook continued to pace the floor in an excited manner, stroking
his long blonde beard rapidly and unconsciously. I still sat by the
table, trying to appear the calm observer that I was not. He came and
stood by me, saying: 'Do you believe this thing against me?'

"'I do not know what to believe, Mr. Seabrook,' I replied, 'but
something will have to be done about this rumor.' I could not bear to go
on; but he understood me. He leaned over my chair, and touched my cheek
with his:

"'Are you my wife, or not?' he asked. I shuddered, and put my face down
on my hands. He knelt by my side, and taking my hands in his, so that my
face must be seen, asked me to look into his eyes and listen to him.
What he said, was this:

"'If I swear to you, by Almighty God, that you are my true and only
wife, will you then believe me?'"

Mrs. Greyfield was becoming visibly agitated by these reminiscences, and
paused to collect herself.

"You dared not say 'yes,'" I cried, carried away with sympathy, "and yet,
you could not say 'no.' What did you do?"

"I burst into a passion of tears, and cried convulsively. He would have
caressed and consoled me, but I would have none of it.

"'Anna, what a strange home-coming for a bridegroom!' he said,
reproachfully.

"'Go away, and leave me to myself,' I entreated; 'You must not stay
here.'

"'What madness?' he exclaimed. 'Do you wish to set everybody to talking
about us?' Ah! 'talking about us,' was the bugbear I most dreaded, and
he knew it. But I wanted to seem brave; so I said that in private
matters we were at liberty to do as we thought right and best.

"'And I think it right and best to stay where my wife is. Anna, what is
to be the result of this strange suspicion of yours, but to make us both
unhappy, and me desperate! Why, I shall be the laughing-stock of the
town--and I confess it is more than I can bear without flinching, to
have it circulated about, that Seabrook married a wife who cut him
adrift the first thing she did. And then look at your position, too,
which would be open to every unkind remark. You must not incur this
almost certain ruin.'

"'Mr. Seabrook,' I said, more calmly than I had yet spoken; 'what you
have said has suggested itself to me before. Stay here, then, if you
must, until I can take measures to satisfy myself of the legality of our
marriage. You can keep your own counsel, and I can keep mine. I have
spoken to no one about this matter, nor will I for the present. There is
your old room; your old place at the table. I will try to act as natural
as possible; more than this you must not expect of me.' This
business-like tone nettled him.

"'May I inquire, Mrs. Seabrook, how long a probation I may anticipate,
and what measures you intend taking to establish my good or bad
character? A man may not be willing to wait always for a wife.'

"'Very well,' I replied to this covert threat; 'when you tire of
waiting, you know what to do.' But my voice must have trembled, for he
instantly changed his manner. There was more chance of winning me
through my weakness than of intimidating me, coward though I was.

"'My dear Anna,' he said kindly, 'this is a most mortifying and trying
predicament that I am in; and you must pardon me if I seem selfish. I do
not know how I am to bear several months of this unnatural life you
propose; and in thinking of myself I forget you. Yet your case, as _you_
see it, is harder than mine; and I ought to pity and comfort you. If my
darling would only let me!' He stretched out his arms to me. It was all
I could do to keep from rushing into them, and sobbing on his breast. I
was so tempest-tossed and weary!--what would I not have given to lay
down my burdens?"

"That is where the unrecognized heroism of women comes in. How few men
would suffer in this way for the right! Had you chosen to ignore the
tale that you had heard, and taken this man whom fortune had thrown with
you upon this far-off coast, he might have been to you a kind friend and
protector. Do you not think so?"

"Very likely. Plenty of bad men, when deferred to, have made good
husbands, as men go. But I, by resisting the will of one bad man, made
infinite trouble for myself. Are you becoming wearied?"

"No, no; go on."

"I must pass over a great deal; and, thank God! some things have been
forgotten. Mr. Seabrook took his old room down stairs. As before, he sat
at the foot of the table and carved, but now as master of the house.
Servants not being easily obtained, it was not remarked that my duties
prevented my sitting down with my supposed husband at meals. He marketed
for me, and received the money of my boarders when pay-day came; and at
first he did--what he failed to do afterwards--pay the money over to me.

"You are curious to know how Mr. Seabrook conducted himself toward me
personally, and in particular. For a few days, well; so that I began to
feel confidence that so honorable a gentleman would be proved free from
all stain. But he soon began to annoy me with the most persistent
courtship, looking, as I could see, to breaking down my reserve, and
subjecting me to the domination of a passion for him. If I had ever
really loved Mr. Seabrook, it would have been a love of the senses, of
interest, of the understanding, and not of the imagination and heart. I
was just on the eve of such a love when it was fortunately put in check
by my suspicions. For him to endeavor to create a feeling now that
might, nay, that was intended to subvert principle and virtue, appeared
even to my small worldly sense, an insult and an outrage.

"When I talked in this way to him, he half laughingly and half in
earnest always declared that I should get into the habit of forgetting
our marriage before my 'proofs' came from Ohio, unless he every day put
me in mind of it! and this willingness to refer to 'proofs' threw me off
my guard a little. He designed very cunningly, but not quite cunningly
enough. As time wore on and he feared the proofs might come before he
had bent me to his will, his attempts lost even the semblance of love or
decency. Many and many a night I feared to close my eyes in sleep, lest
he should carry out his avowed purpose; for locks and bolts in a house
in those days were considered unnecessary, and I improvised such
defenses as I could. I used to threaten to call in my little German
neighbor, to which he replied she would probably recognize a man's right
to occupy the same apartment with his wife! Still, I think he was
deterred somewhat by the fear of exposure from using violence."

The recital of such sufferings and anxieties as these; endured, too, by
a young and lonely woman, affected me powerfully. My excited imagination
was engaged in comparing the Mrs. Greyfield I saw before me, wearing her
nearly fifty years with dignity and grace, full of a calm and ripe
experience, still possessing a dark and striking beauty, with the
picture she had given me of herself at twenty-three. What a wonder it
was that with her lively temperament either for pain or pleasure; with
her beauty and her helplessness, she had come out of the furnace
unscathed, as she now appeared.

"How could you," I said, with a feeling of deep disgust, "how _could_
you allow such a man to remain in your house?"

"How could I get him out? We were legally married, so far as anybody in
Oregon knew, except himself. Everybody presumed us to be living amicably
together. He was careful to act the courteous gentleman to me in the
presence of others. If we never went out together, it was easily
explained by reference to my numerous household cares, and Benton's
frequent illness. As I before said, no one could understand the position
who had not been in it. I could not send him away from me; nor could I
go away from him. He would have followed me, he said, to the 'ends of
the earth.' Besides, where could I go? There was nothing for me but to
endure until the answer to my letter came. Never was letter so anxiously
desired as that one; for, of course, I fully expected that whatever news
it contained, would bring relief in some way. But I had made up my mind
to his guilt, rightly judging that, had he been innocent, he would
either have found means to satisfy me, or have gone away and left me
altogether.

"It had been six or seven months since my marriage. I had a large family
of boarders to cook for, and Benton giving me a great deal of worry,
fearing I should lose him. Working hard all day, and sleeping very
little nights, with constant excitement and dread, had very much
impaired my health. My boarders of ten said to me: 'Mrs. Seabrook, you
are working too hard; you must make Mr. Seabrook get you a cook.' What
could I say in return, except to force a smile, and turn the drift of
the conversation? Once, carried away with indignation, I replied that
'Mr. Seabrook found it as much as _he_ could do to collect the money I
earned!'"

"And you were set down at once as a vixen!" I said, smiling.

"Well, they were not expected to know how matters stood, when I had
taken so much pain to conceal the truth. I was sorry I had not held my
peace a little longer, or altogether. Men never can understand a woman's
right to resent selfishness, however atrocious; even when they are
knowing to it, which in this case they were not. I might as well have
held my tongue, since every unguarded speech of mine militated against
me afterwards."

"You allowed Mr. Seabrook to have all your earnings?"

"I could not prevent it; he was _my husband_. Sometimes I thought he
meant to save up all he could, to take him out of the country, when the
hoped-for proofs of his crime should arrive. And in that light I was
inclined to rejoice in his avarice. I would have given all I had for
that purpose. Oh, those dreadful, dreadful days! when I was so near
insane with sleeplessness and anxiety, that I seemed to be walking on
the air! Such, indeed, was my mental and physical condition, that
everything seemed unreal, even myself; and it surprises me now that my
reason did not give way."

"Did you never pray?"

"My training had been religious, and I had always prayed. This, I felt,
entitled me to help; and yet help did not come. I felt forsaken of God,
and sullenly shut my lips to prayer or complaint. All severely tried
souls go through a similar experience. Christ himself cried out: 'My
God, my God, why hast _forsaken_ me!'"

"No wonder you felt forsaken, indeed."

"You think I was as tried as I could be then, when I had a hope of
escape; but worse came after that--worse, because more hopeless."

"You were really married to him then?" I cried in alarm: "I thought you
told me in the beginning, that you were not."

"Neither was I; but that did not release me. When at last I received an
answer to my inquiries, confirming the statement of the immigrant from
Ohio, it was too late."

"You do not mean!"--I interrupted, in a frightened voice.

"No, no! I only mean that I had committed a great error, in keeping
silence on the subject at the first. You can imagine one of your
acquaintances who had been several months peaceably living with a man of
good appearance and repute, to whom you had seen her married, suddenly
declaring her husband a bigamist and refusing to live with him; and on
no other evidence than a letter obtained, nobody knew how. To _me_ the
proof was conclusive; and it made me frantic to find that it was not so
received by others."

"What did he say, when you told him that you had this evidence? How did
he act?"

"He swore it was a conspiracy; and declared that now he had borne enough
of such contumelious conduct; he should soon bring me into subjection.
He represented himself to me, as an injured and long-suffering man; and
me, to myself, as an unkind, undutiful, and most unwomanly woman. He
told me, what was true, that I need not expect people to believe such a
'cock and bull story;' and used every possible means of intimidation,
except actual corporeal punishment. _That_ he threatened long after; and
I told him if he ever laid a finger on me, I should certainly shoot him
dead. But we had not come to that yet."

"Long after!" I repeated. "You do not, you cannot mean that this wretch
continued to live under the same roof with you, long after he knew that
you would never acknowledge him as your husband?"

"Yes, for years! For years after he knew that I knew he was _what he
was_, he lived in my house and took my earnings; yes, and ordered me
about and insulted me as much as he liked."

"But," I said, "I cannot understand such a condition of things. Was
there no law in the land? no succor in the society about you? How could
other women hold still, and know that a young creature like you was
being tortured in that way?"

"The inertia of women in each other's defense is immense," returned Mrs.
Greyfield, in her most incisive tone. "You must not forget that Portland
was then almost a wilderness, and families were few, and often 'far
between.' Among the few, my acquaintances were still fewer; for I had
come among them poor and alone, and with all I could do to support
myself, without time or disposition to visit. The peculiar circumstances
I have related to you broke my spirit and inclined me to seclusion.
However, I did carry my evidence, and my story together, to two or three
women that I knew, and what do you suppose they said? That I 'should
have thought of all that before I married!' They treated it exactly as
if, having gone through the marriage ceremony, I was bound, no matter
how many wives Mr. Seabrook had back in Ohio."

"They could not have believed your story," I said; not being able to
take in such inferior morality.

"What they believed I do not know: what they said I have told you. I
incline to the opinion that they thought I might be a little daft--I am
sure I must have looked so at times, from sheer sleeplessness and
exhaustion. Or they thought I had no chance of establishing the truth,
and would be better off to submit quietly. At all events, not one
encouraged me to resist Mr. Seabrook; and to overflow my cup of misery,
he contrived to find the important letter, which I had hidden, and
destroy it."

"Did you never go to men about your case, and ask for assistance?"

"At first I was afraid to appeal to them, having had so many unpleasant
experiences; and when I at last was driven to seek counsel, I was too
late, as I before explained."

"Too late?"

"Yes; I mean that the idea of my being Mr. Seabrook's wife was so firmly
seated in their minds that they could not see it in any other light. The
fact of my having written and received a letter did not impress them as
of any consequence. You will find this to be a truth among men; they
respect the sense of ownership in women, entertained by each other; and
they respect it so much that they would as soon be caught stealing, as
seeming in any way to interfere with it. That is the reason that,
although there is nothing in the wording of the marriage contract
converting the woman into a bond-slave or a chattel, the man who
practices any outrage or wrong on his wife is so seldom called to
account. In the eyes of these men, having entered into marriage with Mr.
Seabrook, I belonged to him, and there was no help for me. For life and
until death, I was his, to do what he pleased with, so long as he did
not bruise my flesh nor break my bones. Is not that an awful power to be
lodged with any human being?"

"But," I said, "if they were told the whole truth, that the marriage had
never been consummated, and why, would they not have been moved by a
feeling of chivalry to interfere? Your view of their sentiments
pre-supposes the non-existence of what I should call chivalry."

"There may be in men such a sentiment as you would call chivalry; but I
never yet have seen the occasion where they were pleased to exercise it.
I would not advise any other young woman to tell one of them that she
had lived alone in the same house with a man reputed to be her husband,
for seven months, without the marriage having been consummated. She
would find, as I did, that his chivalry would be exhibited by an
ineffectual effort to suppress a smile of incredulity."

"Can it be possible," I was forced to exclaim, "that there was no help
for you?"

"You see how it was. I have outlined the bare facts to you. Nobody
wanted to be mixed up in my troubles, and the worst of it was that Mr.
Seabrook got more sympathy than I did, as the unfortunate husband of a
terrible termagant, who made his life a burden to him. He could talk in
a certain way around among men, and put on an aggrieved air at home
before the boarders, and what was the use of my saying anything. If it
had not been for my little German neighbor, I should have felt utterly
forsaken by all the world. But she, whatever she thought of my domestic
affairs, was sorry for me. 'What for you cry so much all de time?' she
said to me one day. 'You makes yourself sick all de time mit cryin'; an'
your face be gettin' wite as my hankershif. De leedle boy, too, he sees
you, an' he gets all so wite as you are, all de same. Dat is not goot.
You gomes to see me, an' brings de boy to see my Hans. You get sheered
up den.' And I took her advice for Benton's sake."

"What object had Mr. Seabrook in remaining where he was so unwelcome? He
certainly entertained no hope that you would finally yield; and his
position could not have been an agreeable one, from any point of view;
for whether he was regarded as the monster he was, or only as a sadly
beshrewed husband, he must have felt himself the subject of unpleasant
remark."

"He could afford to be remarked upon when he was a free pensioner upon a
woman's bounty, and in receipt of a fine income which I earned for him
by ceaseless toil. I can see him now sitting at the bottom of the table,
my table, flourishing his white hands, and stroking his flowing blonde
beard occasionally as something very gratifying to his vanity was said;
talking and laughing with perfect unconcern, while he fattened himself
at my expense; while I, who earned and prepared his dinner for him,
gasped half fainting in the heat of a kitchen, sick in heart and body.
Do you wonder that I hated him?"

"I wonder more that you did not kill him," I said; feeling that this
would have been a case of 'justifiable homicide.'

"The impulse certainly came to me at times to kill him; or if not
exactly that, to wish him dead. Yet when the opportunity came to be
revenged upon him by fate itself, I interfered to save him. That was
strange, was it not? To be suffering as I suffered at this man's hands,
and yet when he was in peril to have compassion upon him?"

"You could not alter your nature," I said, "which is, as I told you
before, thoroughly sound and sweet. It goes against us to suffer wrong;
but it goes still harder with us to do wrong. Besides, you had your
religious training to help you."

"I had the temptation, all the same. It happened in this way: One night
I was lying awake, as I usually did, until I heard Mr. Seabrook come in
and go to his room. He came in rather later than usual, and I listened
until all was still in the house, that I might sleep the more safely and
soundly afterwards. I had, however, become so nervously wakeful by this
time that the much needed and coveted sleep refused to visit me, and I
laid tossing feverishly upon my bed when I became aware that there was a
smell of fire in the air. Rapidly dressing, I took Benton in my arms and
hastened down stairs, to have him where I could save him, should the
house be in danger. There was a still stronger odor of burning cloth and
wood in the lower rooms, but very little smoke to be detected. After
looking into the kitchen and finding all right there, I feared the fire
might be in the other part of the house, and was about to give the
alarm, when it occurred to me that the trouble might be in Mr.
Seabrook's room.

"Leaving Benton asleep on the dining-room table, I ran to his door and
knocked. No answer came; but I could smell the smoke within. Pushing
open the door I discovered him lying in a perfectly unconscious state,
and half undressed, on the bed, sleeping off the effects of a wine
supper. A candle which he had lighted, and left burning, had consumed
itself down to the socket, and by some chance had ignited a few loose
papers on the table beside the bed; the fire had communicated to the
bedding on one side, and to some of his wearing apparel on the other.
All was just ready to burst into a blaze with the admission of fresh
air, which I had the presence of mind to prevent, by closing the door
behind me.

"There I was, in the presence of my enemy, and he in the clutches of
death. I shudder when I think of the feelings of that moment! An evil
spirit plainly said to me, 'Now you shall have rest. Let him alone; he
is dying by his own hand, not yours--why do you interfere with the
decree of fate?' An exulting yet consciously guilty joy agitated my
heart, which was beating violently. 'Let him die!' I said to myself,
'let him die!'

"Very rapidly such thoughts whirl through the brain under great
excitement. The instant that I hesitated seemed an age of cool
deliberation to me. Then the wickedness of my self-gratulation rushed
into my mind, making me feel like a murderer. 'O, God,' I cried in
anguish of spirit, 'why have I been put to this test?' The next instant
I was working with might and main to extinguish the fire, which with the
aid of blankets and a pitcher of water was soon suppressed.

"Through it all he slept on, breathing heavily, an object of disgust to
my senses and my feelings. When all was safe I returned to my room,
thankful that I had been able on the spot to expiate my murderous
impulses. The next day he took occasion to say to me, 'I shouldn't have
expected a visit of mercy from you, Mrs. Seabrook. If I had known you
were coming, I should have tried to keep awake!' 'If ever you refer to
such a subject again,' I replied, 'I will set fire to you myself, and
let you burn;' and either the threat deterred him, or some spark of
generosity in his nature was struck by the benefit received, but he
never afterwards offered me any annoyance of that kind."

"How did Mr. Seabrook usually treat your son? Was he kind to him?"

"He was not unkind. Perhaps you cannot understand such a character; but
he was one who would be kind to man, woman, or child who would be
governed by him; yet resistance to his will, however just, roused a
tyranny that sought for opportunities to exhibit itself. Such a one
passes in general society for a 'good fellow,' because 'the iron hand in
the velvet glove' is scarcely perceptible there, while its ungloved
force is felt most heavily in the relations of private life. If I had
been in a position to flatter Mr. Seabrook, undoubtedly he would have
shown me a corresponding consideration, notwithstanding his selfishness.
It would have been one way of gratifying his own vanity, by putting me
in a humor to pander to it. But knowing how I hated and despised him, he
felt toward me all the rancor of his vain and tyrannical nature. It is
always more dangerous to hate justly than unjustly, and that is the
reason why domestic differences are so bitter. Somebody has always done
wrong and knows it, and cannot bear to suffer the natural
consequences--the disapprobation of the injured party, in addition to
the stings of conscience."

"I suppose, then," I said, "it has been the perception of this truth that
has caused the sweetest and purest women in all time to ignore the baser
sins of man, while calling their own sex to strict account. And yet I
cannot think but that this degree of mercy is injurious to their own
purity and derogatory to their dignity. I remember being excessively
shocked several years ago by having this trait of _forgiveness_ in
woman placed in its true light by an accidental publication in a New
York paper, which was intended to have just the opposite effect. It
was headed 'A Model Woman,' and appeared in the _Evening Post_--Bryant's
paper. With a curious desire to know the poet's model for a woman--though
the article may have never come under his eye--I commenced reading it.
It ran to this effect: A certain man in New York had a good wife and two
interesting little children. But he met and fell in love with a handsome,
dashing, and rather coarse girl; and the affair had gone so far as to
lead to serious expostulation on the part of the wife. The writer did
not relate whether or not the girl knew the man to be married; but only
that the two were infatuated with each other.

"As the story ran, the wife expostulated, and the husband was firm in
his determination to possess the girl at all hazards, concluding his
declaration with this business-like statement: 'I shall take the girl,
and go to California. If you keep quiet about it, I will leave a
provision for you and the children; if you do not, I shall go just the
same, but without leaving you anything.' _The wife acquiesced in the
terms._ Her husband went to California with his paramour, and tired of
her (it was in old steamer times), about as soon as he got there. Very
soon he deserted her and returned to New York _a la prodigal_, and was
received back to the arms of his forgiving wife. The girl followed her
faithless lover to New York, and failing to win a kind word from him by
the most piteous appeals, finally committed suicide at her hotel in that
city. The wife continued to live with the author of this misery upon the
most affectionate terms.

"That was the whole story. Is it possible, I asked myself, that the
writer of that article, whoever he may be, could have meant its title in
anything but irony? Yet, there it stood on the front page of a most
respectable journal, indorsed by an editor of the highest reputation. To
my way of thinking, the wife was accessory to the crime; had no womanly
self-respect, no delicacy, no Christian feeling for her husband's
victim; was, in short, morally, as guilty as he was; and yet a newspaper
of high standing made her out to be a model for wives. For what? Plainly
for consenting to, or for forgiving three of the most heinous crimes in
the decalogue, because committed _by her husband_. I confess that since
that day I have been prone to examine into the claims of men to be
forgiven, or the moral right of women to forgive them certain offenses."

"When you examine into the motives of women," said Mrs. Greyfield, "I
think you will find there is a large measure of sordid self-interest in
their mercy, as in the case you have just quoted. While some women are
so weak, and so foolishly fond of the men to whom they became early
attached, as to be willing to overlook everything rather than part with
them; a far greater number yield an unwilling submission to wrongs
imposed upon them, simply because they do not know how to do without the
pecuniary support afforded them by their husbands. The bread-and-butter
question is demoralizing to women as well as to men, the difference
being that men have a wider field to be demoralized in; and that the
demoralization of women is greatly consequent upon their circumscribed
field of action."

"Do you think that the enlargement of woman's sphere of work would have
a tendency to elevate her moral influence?"

"The way the subject presents itself to me is, that it is degrading to
have sex determine everything for us: our employments, our position in
society, the obedience we owe to others, the influence we are permitted
to exercise, all and everything to be dependent upon the delicate matter
of a merely physical function. It affects me so unpleasantly to hear
such frequent reference to a physiological fact, that I have often
wished the word _female_ stricken from our literature. And when you
reflect, that we are born and bred to this narrow view of ourselves, as
altogether the creatures of sex, you cannot but recognize its
belittleing, not to say depraving effect, or fail to see the temptation;
we have to seize any base advantage it may give us."

When we had canvassed this, to us interesting, topic a little further, I
begged Mrs. Greyfield to go on with the relation of her history.

"I find I must be less particular," she said, "to give so many and
frequent explanations of my feelings. By this time you can pretty well
imagine them, and my story is likely to be too long, unless I
abbreviate.

"I had been living in the way I have described, for two years, and had
learned to do a good many things in my own defence, very disagreeable to
me, but nevertheless very useful. I had gotten a little money together
by asking some of my boarders for pay before pay-day came, or by making
such remarks as prompted them to hand the money to me instead of Mr.
Seabrook. It was my intention to save enough in such ways to take me to
California, where I felt confident, with the experience I had gained, I
should be able to make myself a competence. This plan I had nourished in
secret for more than a year, when I was tempted to do a very unwise
thing.

"I ought to say, perhaps, that with every year that had passed since my
arrival in Portland, the population had increased, and with this
increase there was a proportionate rise in the value of property.
Hearing business topics discussed almost every day at table, I could not
help being more or less infected with the spirit of speculation; and it
often almost drove me wild to think how profitably I might have invested
my earnings could I have gained possession of them for myself.

"Having an opportunity one day to speak on the subject to a gentleman in
whose honor I placed great confidence, I mentioned that I was tempted to
buy some property, but that my means were so limited I feared I could
not do so. He immediately said that he would sell me a certain very good
piece of land in the best business locality, on the installment plan,
and at a bargain, so that when it was paid up I could immediately sell
again at an advance. Thinking this would accelerate the carrying out of
my scheme of fleeing from my master, to a land of freedom, I eagerly
accepted the proposition, and paid down all the money I had, taking a
bond for a deed. The transaction was to be kept a secret between us, and
he was to assist me in selling when it came the proper time, by deeding
direct to my purchaser. I felt almost light-hearted in view of the fact
that I should be able, after all, to achieve a kind of independence in
the course of time."

"It seems to me," I said, "that I should have grown reckless before
this, and have done something of a desperate nature--committed suicide,
for instance. Did the thought never occur to you to end your bondage in
that way?"

"My desperation never took that form, because I had my child to take
care of. If I killed myself, I should have to kill him, too. But many
and many a night I have felt it so impossible to be alive in the
morning, and go right on in my miserable round of life, worn out in mind
and body, with Benton always ailing--often very ill, that I have
prepared both myself and him for burial, and laid down praying God to
take us both before another day. But Death is like our other friends--he
is not at hand to do us a service when most desired.

"I have told you that I used to cry a good deal. Weeping, though a
relief to us in one way, by removing the pressure upon the brain, is
terribly exhausting when excessive, and I was very much wasted by it. An
incident occurred about the time I was just speaking of, which gave me
comfort in a strange manner. I used sometimes, when my work for the day
was done, to leave Benton with my German friend, and go out for a walk,
or to call on an acquaintance. All the sights and sounds of nature are
beautiful and beneficial to me in a remarkable degree. With trees and
flowers and animals, I am happy and at home.

"One evening I set out to make a visit to Mrs. ----, my old neighbor,
who lived at some distance from me. The path led through the fir forest,
and at the time of day when I was at liberty, was dim and gloomy. I
walked hurriedly along, fearing darkness would overtake me; and looking
about me as I went, was snatching a hasty pleasure from the
contemplation of Nature's beneficence, when my foot caught in a
projecting root of some tough shrub, and I fell prostrate.

"In good health and spirits I should not have minded the fall; but to
me, in my weak condition, every jar to the nervous system affected me
seriously. I rose with difficulty, and seating myself upon a fallen
tree, burst into tears, and wept violently. It seemed as if even the
sticks and stones were in league to injure me. Looking back upon my
feelings, I can understand how man, in the infancy of the race,
attributed power and will to everything in Nature. In his weakness and
inexperience, Nature was too strong for him, and bruised him
continually.

"As I sat weeping with pain and an impotent resentment, a clear sweet
voice spoke to me out of the dusky twilight of the woods. '_Don't cry so
much!_' it said. Astonishment dried my tears instantly. I looked about
me, but no one was near; nor any sound to be heard, but the peculiar cry
of a bird that makes itself heard in the Oregon woods at twilight only.
A calm that I cannot explain came over my perturbed spirit. It was like
the heavenly voices heard upon the earth thousands of years ago, in its
power to move the heart. It may make you smile for me to say so; but
from that hour I regained a degree of cheerfulness that I had not felt
since the day of my marriage to Mr. Seabrook. I did not go to Mrs.
----'s that evening, but returned home and went to my bed without
putting on clothes to be buried in!"

We talked for a little of well attested instances of similar incidents
of the seeming supernatural. Then I said:

"And how did your investment turn out?"

"As might have been expected by a more worldly-wise person. After
succeeding, almost, I was defeated by the selfishness and indifference
of the man I had trusted to help me through with it. He sold out his
property, including that bonded to me, when nearly the whole
indebtedness was paid, without mentioning his design, or giving me an
opportunity to complete the purchase. The new proprietor went
immediately to Mr. Seabrook, who, delighted with this unexpected piece
of fortune, borrowed the small amount remaining to be paid, and had the
property deeded to himself. A short time after he sold it at a handsome
advance on the price I paid for it, and I had never one dollar of the
money. The entire savings of the whole time I had been in a really
profitable business, went with that unlucky venture."

"You were just as far from getting to California as ever? O, what
outrageous abuse of the power society gives men over women!" I exclaimed
with vehemence.

"You may imagine I was bitterly disappointed. The lesson was a hard one,
but salutary. I took no more disinterested advice; I bought no more
property. There are too many agents between a woman and the thing she
aims at, for her ever to attain it without danger of discomfiture. The
experience, as you may guess, put me in no amicable mood towards Mr.
Seabrook. Just think of it! There were three years I had supported, by
my labor, a large family of men, for that is what it amounted to. My
money purchased the food they all ate, and I had really received nothing
for it except my board and the clothes I worked in. The fault was not
theirs; it was Mr. Seabrook's and society's."

"I will tell you what you remind me of," I said: "You are like Penelope,
and her train of ravenous suitors, in the _Odyssey_ of Homer."

"In my busy life, I have not had time to read Homer," Mrs. Greyfield
replied; "but if any other woman has been so eaten out of house and
home, as I was, I am sorry for her."

"Homer's Penelope, if we may believe the poet, was in much better
circumstances to bear the ravages of her riotous boarders, than you were
to feed yours gratuitously."

"Talking about suitors," said Mrs. Greyfield, "I was not without those
entirely, either. No young mismated woman can escape them perhaps. The
universal opinion among men seems to be that, if you do not like the man
you have, you _must_ like some other one; and each one thinks it is
himself."

The piquant tone in which Mrs. Greyfield uttered her observations always
provoked a smile. But I caught at an intimation in her speech.
"Sometimes," I said, "you speak as if you acknowledged Mr. Seabrook as
your husband, and it shocks me unpleasantly."

"I am speaking of things as they appeared to others. In truth, I was as
free to receive suitors as ever I had been; but such was not the common
understanding, and I resented the advances of men upon the ground that
_they_ believed themselves to be acting unlawfully, and that they hoped
to make me a party to their breaches of law and propriety. I laugh now,
in remembering the blunders committed by self-conceit so long ago; but I
did not laugh then; it was a serious matter at that time."

"Was Mr. Seabrook jealous in his behavior, fearing you might fancy some
one else?"

"Just as jealous as vain and tyrannical men always are when they are
thwarted in their designs. No real husband could have been more critical
in his observations on his wife's deportment, than he was in his remarks
on mine. If I could have been guilty of coquetry, the desire to annoy
him would have been incentive enough; but I always considered that I
could not afford to suffer in my own estimation for the sake of
punishing him. When I recall all these things, I take credit to myself
for magnanimity; though then I was governed only by my poor uncultivated
judgment, and my impulses. For instance, Mr. Seabrook fell ill of a
fever not long after he appropriated my real estate. Of course, I was as
bitter towards him in my heart as it is possible to conceive, but I
could not know that he was lying unattended in his room, without
offering assistance; so, after many struggles with myself to overcome my
strong repulsion, I visited him often enough to give him such attentions
as were necessary, but not more. I had no intention of raising any false
expectations."

"I hope you took advantage of his being confined to his room, to collect
board-money," I said.

"I found out, in time, several ways of managing that matter, which I
would once have thought inadmissible. When I had begged some money from
a boarder, Mr. Seabrook discovered it when payday came, very naturally.
He then ordered me to do the marketing. Without paying any attention to
the command, I served up at meal-time whatever there was in the house.
This brought out murmurs from the boarders, and haughty inquiries from
the host himself. All the reply I vouchsafed was, that what he procured
I would cook. In this way I forced him to pay out the money in his
possession, at the expense of my character as a good wife, and a polite
one. He took his revenge in abusive language, and occasional fits of
destructiveness in the kitchen, which alarmed my little German neighbor
more than it did me. So long as he secured all my earnings, and deceived
people thoroughly as to his real conduct, he maintained, before others
at least, a gentlemanly demeanor. But this was gradually giving way to
the pressure of a constant thorn in his flesh, and the consciousness of
his own baseness. He could swear, threaten, and almost strike at slight
provocation now. He never really attempted the latter, but once, and it
was then I told him I should shoot him, if he dared it.

"I ought to say here, that in the last year I had two or three families
in the house for a short time. I don't know what these real wives
thought of me; that I was a termagant probably; but they were not the
kind of women I could talk to about myself, and I made no confidences. A
plan was maturing in my mind that was to make it a matter of
indifference what any one thought. I had relinquished the idea of
getting money enough together to make a sure start in California, and
was only waiting to have enough to take me out of the country in any way
that I could go cheapest. Another necessary point to gain was secrecy.
That could not be gained while I was surrounded by boarders, nor while
Mr. Seabrook was in the house, and I resolved to be rid of both."

"Oh," I cried, delighted and relieved, "how _did_ you manage that?"

"I am going to tell you by how simple an expedient. _I starved them
out!_"

"How strange that in all those years you never thought of that," I said
laughing. "But, then, neither did Homer's heroine, who kept a
first-class free boarding house for twice or thrice as long as you. Do
tell me how you accomplished the feat of clearing your house."

"It is not quite true that I had not thought of it; but I had not dared
to do it. Besides, I wanted to get some money, if possible. Perhaps I
should not have done it at the time I did, had not a little help come to
me in the shape of real friends. I was all the time like a wild bird in
a cage, and the continual attempts to escape I was making, only bruised
my wings. It occurred to me one day to go to a certain minister who had
lately come to Portland, and whose looks pleased me, as did his wife's,
and tell them my story. This I did.

"Instead of receiving it as fiction, or doubting the strange parts of it
in a way to make me wish I had never spoken of them, they manifested the
greatest interest and sympathy, and promised me any assistance they
could give. This was the first recognition I had gotten from anyone as
being what I was; a woman held in bondage worse than that of African
slavery, by a man to whom she owed nothing, and in the midst of a free,
civilized, and Christian community. They were really and genuinely
shocked, and firmly determined to help me. I told them all the
difficulties in the way, and of the expedient I had almost decided upon,
to free my house from every one; for I thought that when his income
stopped, Mr. Seabrook would be forced to go away, and seek some other
means of living. They agreed with me that there appeared no better way,
and I decided to attempt it.

"It did not take long, of course, to drive away the boarders, for they
were there only to eat; and when provisions entirely failed, or were
uncooked, there was nothing to be done but to go where they could be
better served. I did not feel very comfortable over it, as many of them
were men I liked and respected, whose ill opinion it was disagreeable to
incur, even in a righteous cause; and then no woman likes to be the talk
of the town, as I knew I must be. The 'town talk,' as it happened, in
time suggested my further course to me.

"Pray tell me if Mr. Seabrook followed the boarders, or did he stay and
compel you to cook for him?"

"He stayed, but he did not compel me to cook for him. That I
peremptorily refused to do. Neither would I buy any supplies. If he
wanted a meal, he must go out, get his provisions, and cook them for
himself. Then he refused to buy anything to come in the house, lest I
should share _his_ plenty. This reduced our rations to nothing. I used
to take Benton out and buy him good, wholesome food, myself eating as
little as would support nature. Occasionally, now that I had time on my
hands, I spent a day out among my few visiting acquaintances; and
sometimes I took a meal with my German friend. In this way I compelled
my former master to look out for himself.

"One night, there not being a mouthful in the house to eat, I went out
and bought a loaf of bread and some milk for Benton's breakfast; for I
was careful not to risk the child's health as I risked my own. In the
morning when I came down stairs the bread and milk were gone. Mr.
Seabrook had breakfasted. 'Bennie' and I could go hungry. And that
brings me back to what 'town talk' did for me.

"It soon became noised about that Mr. and Mrs. Seabrook, who had never
got on well together, were now going on dreadfully, and that probably
there would be a divorce. 'Divorce!' I said, when my new friend, the
minister, mentioned it to me, 'divorce from what? How can there be a
divorce where there is no marriage?' 'Nevertheless,' he replied, 'it is
worth considering. If the society you live in insist that you are
married, why not gratify this society, and ask its leave to be legally
separated from your nominal husband?'

"At first I rebelled strongly against making this tacit admission of a
relationship of that kind to Mr. Seabrook. It appeared to me to be a
confession of falsehood to those few persons who were in my confidence,
some of whom I felt had always half-doubted the full particulars, as
being too ugly for belief. And what was quite as unpalatable as the
other was that my enemy would rejoice that for once, at least, and in a
public record, I should have to confess myself his wife. My friends
argued that it could make little difference, as that was the popular
understanding already, which nothing could alter; and that so far as Mr.
Seabrook was concerned his triumph would be short-lived and valueless.
They undertook to procure counsel, and stand by me through the trial."

"What complaint did you purpose making?" I interrupted.

"'Neglect of support, and cruel treatment;' the general charge that is
made to cover so many abominable sins, because we women shrink from
exposing the crimes we have been in a measure partners to. My attorney
assured me that, under the circumstances, Mr. Seabrook would not make
any opposition, fearing we might prove the whole, if he did so; but
would let the case go by default. This was just what he did; and oh, you
should have witnessed his abject humility when I at last had the
acknowledged right to put him out of my house!

"Up to the time the divorce was obtained, he kept possession of the room
he had first taken, on the lower floor, and which I hired an Indian
woman to take care of as one of the chores assigned her about the house.
For myself, I would not set my foot in it, except on the occasions
referred to; but the rent, and the care of it, he had free. Such was the
moral degradation of the man, through his own acts, that after all that
had passed, he actually cried, and begged of me the privilege to remain
in that room, and be taken care of, as he had been used to be."

"What did you answer him?"

"I told him never to darken my door--never to offend my sight again;
that I should never be quite happy while his head was above the sod. O,
I was very vindictive! And he was as mild as milk. He 'could not see why
I should hate him so, who had always had so high a regard for me. He had
never known a woman he admired and loved so much!' Even I was astonished
at the man's abjectness."

"It is not uncommon in similar cases. Dependence makes any one more or
less mean; but it is more noticeable in men, who by nature and by custom
are made independent. And so you were free at last?"

"Free and happy. I felt as light as a bird, and wondered I couldn't fly!
I was poor; but that was nothing. My business was broken up; but I felt
confidence in myself to begin again. My health, however, was very much
broken down, and my friends said I needed change. That, with the desire
to quit a country where I had suffered so much, determined me to come to
California. It was the land of promise to my husband--the El Dorado he
was seeking when he died. I always felt that if I had come here in the
first place, my life would have been very different. So, finally, with
the help of my kind friends I came."

"_I_ should have felt, with your experience, no courage to undertake
life among strangers, and they mostly men."

"On the contrary, I felt armed in almost every point. The fact of being
a divorced woman was my only annoyance; but I was resolved to suppress
it so far as I was able, and to represent myself to be, as I was, the
widow of Mr. Greyfield. I took letters from my friends, to use in case
of need; and with nothing but my child, and money enough to take me
comfortably to the mines on the American River, left Oregon forever."

"To behold you as you are now, in this delightful home, it seems
impossible that you should have gone through what you describe; and yet
there must have been much more before you achieved the success here
indicated."

"It was nothing--nothing at all compared with the other. I proceeded
direct to the most populous mining town, hired a house, bought furniture
on credit, and took boarders again. I kept only first-class boarders,
had high prices--and succeeded."

"Did you never have the mining-stock fever, and invest and lose?"

"Not to any dangerous extent. One or two parties, in whose judgment I
knew I might confide, indicated to me where to invest, and I fortunately
lost nothing, while I made a little. My best mining-stock was a present
from a young man who was sick at my house for a long time, and to whom I
was attentive. He was an excellent young fellow, and my sympathies were
drawn out towards him; alone in a mining-camp, and sick, and, as I
suspected, moneyless. When he was well enough to go away, he confessed
his inability to pay up, and presented me with several shares in a mine
then but little known; saying that it might not be worth the paper it
was printed on, but that he hoped it might bring enough to reimburse my
actual outlay on his account; 'the kindness he had received could not be
repaid with filthy lucre.' A few months afterwards that stock was worth
several thousand dollars. I made diligent inquiry for my young friend,
but could get no news of him from that day to this. I have been
fortunate in everything I have touched since I came to California.
Benton grew well and strong; I recovered my health; Fortune's wheel for
me seemed to remain in one happy position; and now there seems nothing
for me to do but to move slowly and easily down the sunset slope of life
to my final rest."

Mrs. Greyfield smiled and sighed, and remarked upon the fact that the
hour-hand of the clock pointed to two in the morning. "It is really
unkind of me to keep you out of bed until such an hour as this," she
said, laughing a little, as if we had only been talking of ordinary
things. "But I am in the mood, like the 'Ancient Mariner;' and you are
as much forced to listen as the 'Wedding Guest.'"

"There is one thing yet I desire to be satisfied about," I replied. "As
a woman, I cannot repress my curiosity to know whether, since all the
troubles of your early life have been past, you have desired to marry
again. Opportunities I know you must have had. What I want to be
informed about is your feeling upon this subject, and whether any man
has been able to fill your eye or stir your heart."

The first smile my question called up died away, and an introspective
look came over Mrs. Greyfield's still handsome face. She sat silent for
a little time, that seemed long to me, for I was truly interested in her
reply.

"I think," she said at last, "that women who have had anything like my
experience, are unfitted for married life. Either they are ruined
morally and mentally, by the terrible pressure; or they become so
sharp-sighted and critical that no ordinary man would be able to win
their confidence. I believe in marriage; a single life has an
incomplete, one-sided aspect, and is certainly lonely." Then rallying,
with much of her usual brightness: "Undoubtedly I have had my times of
doubt, when I found it hard to understand myself; and still, here I am!
Nobody would have me; or I would not have anybody; or both."

"One more question, then, if it is a fair one: Could you love again the
husband of your youth; or has your ideal changed?"

Mrs. Greyfield was evidently disturbed by the inquiry. Her countenance
altered, and she hesitated to reply.

"I beg your pardon," I said; "I hope you will not answer me, if I have
been impertinent."

"That is a question I never asked myself," she finally replied. "My
husband was all in all to me during our brief married life. His death
left me truly desolate, and his memory sacred. But we were both young,
and probably he may have been unformed in character, to a great degree,
as well as myself. How he would seem now, if he could be restored to me
as he was then, I can only half imagine. What he would now _be_, if he
had lived on, I cannot at all imagine. But let us now go take a wink of
sleep. My eyelids at last begin to feel dry and heavy; and you, I am
sure, are perishing under the tortures of resistance to the drowsy god."

"The storm is over," I said. "I thought you felt that something was
going to happen!"

"It will be breakfast, I suppose. By the way, I must go and put a note
under Jane's door, telling her not to have it before half-past nine.
There will be a letter from Benton, by the morning mail. Good night; or,
good morning, and sweet slumber."

"God be with you," I responded, and in twenty minutes was sleeping
soundly.

Not so my hostess, it seems, for when we met again at our ten o'clock
breakfast, she looked pale and distraught, and acknowledged that she had
not been able to compose herself after our long talk. The morning was
clear and sunny, but owing to the storm of the night, the mail was late
getting in, a circumstance which gave her, as I thought, a degree of
uneasiness not warranted by so natural a delay.

"You know I told you," she said, trying to laugh off her nervousness,
"that something was going to happen!"

"It would be a strange condition of things where nothing did happen," I
answered; and just then the horn of the mail-carrier sounded, and the
lumbering four-horse coach rattled down the street in sight of our
windows.

"There," I said, "is your U. S. M. safe and sound, road-agents and
land-slides to the contrary and of no effect."

Very soon our letters were brought us, and my hostess, excusing herself,
retired to her room to read hers. Two hours later she sent for me to
come to her. I found her lying with a wet handkerchief folded over her
forehead and eyes. A large and thick letter laid half open upon a table
beside the bed.

"Read that," she said, without uncovering her eyes. When I had read the
letter, "My dear friend," I said, "what _are_ you going to do? I hope,
after all, this may be good news."

"What _can_ I do? What a strange situation!"

"You will wish to see him, I suppose? 'Arthur Greyfield.' You never told
me his name was Arthur," I remarked, thinking to weaken the intensity of
her feelings by referring to a trifling circumstance.

"Why have I not died before this time?" she exclaimed, unheeding my
attempt at diversion. "This is too much, too much!"

"Perhaps there is still happiness in store for you, my dear Mrs.
Greyfield," I said. "Strange as is this new dispensation, may there not
be a blessing in it?"

She remained silent a long time, as if thinking deeply. "He has a
daughter," she at length remarked; "and Benton says she is very sweet
and loveable."

"And motherless," I added, not without design. I had meant only to
arouse a feeling of compassion for a young girl half-orphaned; but
something more than was in my mind had been suggested to hers. She
quickly raised herself from a reclining posture, threw off the
concealing handkerchief, and gazed intently in my face, while saying
slowly, as if to herself: "Not only motherless, but according to law,
fatherless."

"Precisely," I answered. "Her mother was in the same relation to Mr.
Greyfield, that you were in to Mr. Seabrook; but happily she did not
know it in her lifetime."

"Nor he--nor he! Arthur Greyfield is not to be spoken of in the same
breath with Mr. Seabrook."

The spirit with which this vindication of her former husband was made,
caused me to smile, in spite of the dramatic interest of the situation.
The smile did not escape her notice.

"You think I am blown about by every contending breath of feeling," she
said, wearily; "when the truth is, I am trying to make out the right of
a case in which there is so much wrong; and it is no easy thing to do."

"But you will find the right of it at last," I answered. "You are not
called upon to decide in a moment upon a matter of such weight as this.
Take time, take rest, take counsel."

"Will you read the letter over to me?" she asked, lying down again, and
preparing to listen by shielding her face with her hands.

The letter of Arthur Greyfield ran as follows:

"My Dear Anna: How strange it seems to me to be writing to you again! It
is like conversing with one returned from another world, to you, too, no
doubt. There is so much to explain, and some things that perhaps will
not ever be explained satisfactorily to you, that I know not where to
begin or what to say. Still Benton insists on my writing before seeing
you, and perhaps this is best.

"To begin at the beginning. When I was left for dead by my frightened
comrades on the plains, I had not died, but was only insensible; and I
do not believe they felt at all sure of my death, for they left me
unburied, as if to give me a chance; and deserted me rather than take
any risks by remaining any longer in that place. How long I laid
insensible I do not know. When I came to myself I was alone, well
wrapped up in a large bed-quilt, and lying on the ground close by the
wagon-trail. Nothing was left for my support, if alive, from which I
concluded that they agreed to consider me dead.

"When I opened my eyes again on the wilderness world about me, the sun
was shining brightly, and the wind blowing cool from the near mountains;
but I was too much exhausted to stir; and laid there, kept alive by the
pure air alone, until sunset. About that time of day I heard the tread
of cattle coming, and the rumbling of wagons. The shock of joy caused me
to faint, in which condition I was found by the advance guard of a large
train bound for the mines in California. I need not tell you all those
men did for me to bring me round, but they were noble fellows, and
earned my everlasting gratitude.

"You can imagine that the first thought in my mind was about you and
Benton. When I was able to talk about myself and answer questions, my
new friends, who had laid by for a couple of days on my account, assured
me that they should be able to overtake the California train, in which I
supposed you were, before they came to the Sierras. But we had accidents
and delays, and failed to come up with that train anywhere on the route.

"At last we arrived in the mining country, and my new friends speedily
scattered abroad, looking for gold. I was still too feeble to work in
the water, washing out, or to dig. I had no money or property of any
kind, and was obliged to accept any means that offered of earning a
subsistence. Meanwhile I made such inquiry as I could under the
circumstances, and in such a country, but without learning anything of
any of my former friends and acquaintances, for two years. Before this
time, however, my health was restored, notwithstanding great hardships;
and being quite successful in mining, I was laying up considerable
gold-dust.

"About this time a man came into our camp from Oregon. As I was in the
habit of inquiring of any newcomer concerning you, and the people in the
train you were in, I asked this man if he had ever met a Mrs. Greyfield,
or any of the others. He replied that he thought there was a woman of my
name living in Portland, Oregon, a year or two before--he was sure he
had heard of a young widow of that name. I immediately wrote to you at
that place; but whether the letter was lost on the way, or whether it
was intercepted there (as by some intimations I have from Benton, it
might have been), no reply ever came to it. I also sent a letter to Mr.
----, in whose care I had left you, but nothing was ever heard from
him.

"When I had waited a reasonable length of time I wrote again to the
postmaster of the same place, asking him if he knew of such a person as
Mrs. Greyfield, in Oregon. The reply came this time from a man named
Seabrook, who said that there had been a woman of the name of Greyfield
in Portland at one time, but that both she and her child were dead. This
news put an end to inquiries in that direction, though I continued to
look for any one who might have known you, and finally found one of our
original party, who confirmed the intelligence of your having gone to
Oregon instead of California, and so settled the question, as I
supposed, forever.

"You may wonder, dear Anna, that I did not go to Oregon when I had the
barest suspicion of your being there. The distance and the trouble of
getting there were not what deterred me. I was making money where I was,
and did not wish to abandon my claim while it was producing well, for an
uncertain hint that might mislead me."

"Stop there!" interrupted Mrs. Greyfield. "Do you think _I_ should have
hesitated in a case like that? But go on."

"I knew you had considerable property, and thought I knew you were with
friends who would not let you suffer--"

"Though they had abandoned him while still alive, in the wilderness! Beg
pardon; please go on again."

"And that Oregon was really a more comfortable, and safe place for a
family than California, as times were then--"

Mrs. Greyfield groaned.

"And that you, if there, would do very well until I could come for you.
I could not suspect that you would avail yourself of the privilege of
widowhood within so short a time, if ever."

"Oh!" ejaculated my listener, with irrepressible impatience.

I read on without appearing to observe the interruption.

"To tell the truth, I had not thought of myself as dead, and that is
probably where I made the greatest mistake. It did not occur to me, that
you were thinking of yourself as a widow; therefore, I did not realize
the risk. But when the news came of your death, if it were really you,
as I finally made up my mind it must be--"

An indignant gesture, accompanied by a sob, expressed Mrs. Greyfield's
state of feeling on this head.

"I fell into a state of confirmed melancholy, reproaching myself
severely for not having searched the continent over before stopping to
dig gold! though it was for you I was digging it, and our dear boy, whom
I believed alive and well, somewhere, until I received Mr. Seabrook's
letter.

"My dear Anna, I come now to that which will try your feelings; but you
must keep in view that I have the same occasion for complaint. Having
made a comfortable fortune, and feeling miserable about you and the boy,
I concluded to return to the Atlantic States, to visit my old home.
While there I met a lovely and excellent girl, who consented to be my
wife, and I was married the second time. We had one child, a girl, now
eighteen years of age; and then my wife died. I mourned her sincerely,
but not more so than I had mourned you.

"At last, after all these years, news came of you from a reliable
source. The very man to whose charge I committed you when I expected to
die, returned to the States, and from him I heard of your arrival in
Oregon, your marriage, and your subsequent divorce. Painful as this last
news was to my feelings, I set out immediately for California (I had
learned from him that you were probably in this State), and commenced
inquiries. An advertisement of mine met Benton's eye only two days ago,
and you may imagine my pleasure at the discovery of my only and dear
son, so long lost to me. He is a fine, manly fellow, and good; for which
I have to thank you, of course."

"You see, he appropriates Benton at once. Never so much as 'by your
leave.' But Benton will not quit me to follow this new-found father,"
Mrs. Greyfield said, with much feeling.

"He may not be put to the test of a choice. You have a proposition to
consider," I replied. "Let me read it."

"No, no! Yet, read it; what do I care? Go on."

"My daughter, Nellie, is the very picture of her mother, and as sweet
and good as one could desire. Benton seems to be delighted with her for
a sister. And now that the young folks have taken such a fancy to each
other, there is something that I wish to propose to you. It cannot be
expected, after all that has passed, and with the lapse of so many
years, we could meet as if nothing had come between us--"

"Who suffered all this to come between us?" cried Mrs. Greyfield, much
agitated.

"But I trust we can meet as friends, dear friends, and that possibly in
time we may be re-united, as much for our own sakes, as the children's."

"Oh, how can I ever forgive him? Does it not seem to you that if Mr.
Greyfield had done his duty, all this terrible trouble and illegal
marrying would have been avoided? Do you think a man should consider
anything in this world before his wife and children, or fail of doing
his utmost in any circumstances for them? How else is marriage superior
to any illicit relation, if its duties are not sacred and not to be set
aside for anything? I could never have done as he has done, blameless as
he thinks himself."

The condition of Mrs. Greyfield's mind was such that no answer was
written or attempted that day nor the next. She sent a brief dispatch to
Benton, asking him to come home, and come alone. I wished to go away,
thinking she would prefer being left quite to herself under the
circumstances, but she insisted on my remaining until something had been
decided on about the meeting between her and Mr. Greyfield. Benton came
home as requested, and the subject was canvassed in all its bearings.
The decision arrived at was, that an invitation should be sent to Mr.
Greyfield and daughter to visit Mrs. Greyfield for a fortnight.
Everything beyond that was left entirely to the future. When all was
arranged, I took my leave, promising and being promised frequent
letters.

The last time I was at Mrs. Greyfield's, I found there only herself and
her daughter Nellie.

"I have adopted her," she said, "with her father's consent. She is a
charming girl, and I could not bear to leave her motherless. Benton is
very much attached to his father. They are off on a mountaineering
expedition at present, but I hope they will come home before you go
away."

"Are you not going to tell me," I asked, "how you finally settled
matters between Mr. Greyfield and yourself."

"He is a very persistent suitor," she replied, smiling, "I can hardly
tell what to do with him."

"You do not want to break bark over his head?" I said, laughing.

"No; but I do almost wish that since he had stayed away so long he had
never come back. I had got used to my own quiet, old-maid ways. I was
done, or thought I was done, with passion and romance; and now to be
tossed about in this way, on the billows of doubt--to love and not to
love--to feel revengeful and forgiving--to think one way in the morning
and another way by noon, is very tiresome. I really do _not_ know what
to do with him."

I smiled, because I thought the admission was as good as Mr. Greyfield
need desire, for his prospects.

"I think I can understand," I said, "how difficult it must be to get
over all the gaps made by so many years of estrangement--of fancied
death, even. Had you been looking for him for such a length of time,
there would still be a great deal of awkwardness in the meeting, when
you came together again."

"Yes," said Mrs. Greyfield, "it is inevitable. The most artistic bit of
truth in the _Odyssey_ (you see I have read Homer since you called me
PENELOPE), is where the poet describes the difficulty the faithful wife
had in receiving the long-absent, and now changed, Ulysses as her true
husband."

"But she did receive him," I interrupted, "and so will you."

"The minister will have to bless the reception then. And to confess the
whole truth to you, we are corresponding with my friend of long ago in
Portland. He has promised to come down to perform the ceremony, and as
his health is impaired, we have invited him to bring his family, at our
expense, and to remain in our home while Mr. Greyfield and I, with
Benton and Nellie, make a tour to and through Europe."

"How much you and Mr. Greyfield must have to talk over! It will take a
year or two of close association to make you even tolerably well
acquainted again."

"No; the 'talking over' is _tabooed_, and that is why we are going to
travel--to have something else to talk about. You see I am so
unforgiving that I cannot bear to hear Mr. Greyfield's story, and too
magnanimous, notwithstanding, to inflict mine upon him. To put
temptation out of my way, I proposed this European excursion."

"You are commencing a new life," I said. "May it be as happy as your
darkest days were sad. There is one thing you never told me, what became
of Mr. Seabrook."

"I saw his death in a Nevada paper, only a few days ago. He died old,
poor and alone, or so the account ran, in a cabin among the mountains.
'The mills of the gods,' etc., you know?"

"Then I am not to see Mr. Greyfield?"

"O yes; if you will stay until Mr. ---- comes from Portland. I shall be
glad of your presence on that occasion. Mr. Greyfield, you must
understand, is under orders to keep out of the way until that time
arrives. You can be of service to me, if you will stay."

I staid and saw them off to Europe, then went on my way to Lake Tahoe,
to meet other friends; but I have a promise from this strangely reunited
couple, to spend a summer in Oregon, when they return from their
trans-Atlantic tour; at which time I hope to be able to remove from Mrs.
Greyfield's mind the painful impression derived from her former
acquaintance with the city of my adoption.



A CURIOUS INTERVIEW.


Vancouver's Island furnishes some of the finest scenery on the Pacific
Coast; not grandest, perhaps, but quietly charming. Its shores are
indented every here and there with the loveliest of bays and sounds,
forming the most exquisite little harbors to be found anywhere in the
world. The climate of the Island, especially its summer climate, is
delightful. Such bright, bracing airs as come from the sea on one side,
and from the snow-capped mountains of the mainland on the other, are
seldom met with on either hemisphere. Given a July day, a pleasant
companion or two in a crank little boat, whose oars we use to make
silvery interludes in our talk, and I should not envy your sailor on the
Bosphorus.

On such a July day as I am hinting at, our party had idled away the
morning, splashing our way indolently through the blue waters of
Nittinat Sound, the mountains towering behind us, the open sea not far
off; but all around us a shore so emerald green and touched with bits of
color, so gracefully, picturesquely wild, that not, in all its
unrestraint, was there an atom of savagery to be subdued in the interest
of pure beauty. It was a wilderness not wild, a solitude not solitary;
but rather populous with happy fancies, born of all harmonious
influences of earth, air and water; of sunlight, shadow, color and
fragrance.

    "My soul to-day is far away,
    Sailing a sunny tropic bay,"

sang Charlie, bursting with poetry. The next moment "Hallo! boat ahoy!"
and into the scene in which just now we had been the only life, slipped
from some hidden inlet, an Indian canoe.

"Isn't she a beauty, though?" said Charlie, laying on his oar. "Fourteen
paddles; slim, crank, and what a curious figure-head! By George, that's
a pretty sight!"

And a pretty sight it was, as the canoe, with its red and blue-blanketed
oarsmen, was propelled swiftly through the water, and quickly brought
alongside; when we had opportunity to observe that the crew were all
stalwart young fellows, with rather fine, grand features, that looked as
if they might have been cut in bronze, so immobile and fixed were they.
Their dress was the modern dress of the Northern Indians, supplied by
the Hudson's Bay Company, of bright colors and fine texture. But what
most engaged our attention was the figure of the fifteenth occupant of
the canoe, who acted as steersman. He was evidently a very old man, and
instead of being dressed in blankets, had on a mantle of woven rushes,
and leggins of wolf-skin. A quiver full of arrows hung at his back; his
bow rested on his knees. On his grizzled head was a tall, pointed and
gaily painted hat, made of braided grasses, which completely resembled a
mammoth extinguisher. As the canoe shot past us, I imagined that I
detected an expression of contempt upon the old man's face, though he
never moved nor spoke, nor in any way evinced any interest in us.

"Eheu! what a funny-looking old cove," said Charlie, gazing after the
canoe, "I should like to cultivate his acquaintance."

"Well, you have the opportunity," rejoined Fanny, the third member of
our party. "They are going to land on that point just ahead of us."

We were all watching them, fascinated by the noiseless dexterity of
their movements, when suddenly there was nothing to be seen of either
boat or crew.

"Where the deuce have they gone to?" asked Charlie, staring at the
vacant spot where the canoe had disappeared.

"Great heavens!" cried Fanny, who, like her brother, used a very
exclamatory style of speech; "why, they have all vanished into thin
air!"

As I could not contradict this assertion, I proposed that we should
follow, and examine into the mystery; but Fanny cried out, "O, for
goodness' sake, don't! I'm afraid. If they have the power to make
themselves invisible, they may be hiding to do us harm."

"It is only visible harm that I'm afraid of," answered Charlie, with his
eyes still fixed wonderingly on the point of space where they had so
lately been; "pull fast, Pierre, let us find out what the rascals are up
to."

Thus urged, I threw what force I could into my oar-stroke (for I was but
a convalescent), and very soon we came to the long sloping point of
mossy rocks where we had expected to see the canoe's passengers land. I
own that I approached it with some caution, thinking it possible that a
whirlpool might have sucked the boat and its freight of fifteen lives
out of sight, in some point of time when our eyes were for an instant
averted. But the water was perfectly quiet, and the whole place, both on
water and on land, silent, sunny, and not in the least uncanny or
alarming. We dropped our oars and gazed at each other in amazement.

"Well, if that don't beat the Dutch!" was Charlie's comment; and I
fancied that his brown cheek grew a shade less ruddy than usual. As for
Fanny, she was in a fright, paling and shrinking as if from some
terrible real and visible danger; and when I proposed to land and
investigate the mystery, fairly mustered quite a copious shower of tears
with which to melt my resolve.

"O, Pierre--Mr. Blanchett, I mean--oh, please don't go ashore. I am sure
either that these dreadful savages are lurking here to destroy us, or
that we have been deceived by some wicked conjuror. Oh, I am so
frightened!"

"My dear Miss Lane," I answered, "I give you my word no harm shall come
to you. Shall we let a lot of blanketed savages perform a conjurer's
trick right before our faces that we do not attempt to have explained?
By no means. If you are too nervous to come ashore with us, Charlie may
stay with you in the boat, and I will go by myself to look into this
matter." Whereupon Fanny gave me so reproachful a look out of her great
brown eyes that I quailed beneath it.

"Do you think Charlie and I would leave you to go into danger alone? No,
indeed; if you _will_ be so rash, we will accompany you; and if _die_ we
must, we will all die together." That last appeal being made with a very
touching quaver of a very melodious voice.

For answer, I assisted her out of the boat, which Charlie was already
fastening by the chain to some bushes near the bit of beach; and tucking
the little gloved hand under my arm, seized an opportunity to whisper
something not particularly relevant to this story.

The boat being secured, we climbed a short distance up the rocky bank,
stopping to gather wild roses and mock-orange blossoms, which, in spite
of her alarm, engaged Miss Lane's attention to such an extent that
Charlie had gotten fairly out of sight before we missed him. But as we
turned to follow, he confronted us with a face expressive of a droll
kind of perplexity.

"Not a red rascal in sight," said he, glancing back over his shoulder,
"except that queer old cove that was sitting in the stern. _He's_ just
over there," jerking his head in the direction meant, "sitting on his
haunches like an Egyptian idol, and about as motionless, and about as
ancient."

"But their canoe," I said, "what could they have done with their canoe?
It is not in the water, and there is no sign here of their having
dragged it ashore."

"They didn't land, not in the regular way, I mean, for I was watching
for them every instant; and how that old chap got there, and how that
canoe got out of sight so quick, is too hard a nut for me to crack, I
confess."

"Let us not go near the dreadful old thing," pleaded Fanny once more,
her alarm returning.

Again I proposed to her to stay in the boat with Charlie, which had the
effect, as before, to determine her upon going with us; which
determination I strengthened by an encouraging pressure of the little
gloved hand in my possession; and without waiting for further alarms
pressed on at once, with Charlie for guide, to the spot where the
"dreadful old thing" was understood to be.

And there, sure enough, he was, squatting on the ground beside a spring,
where grew a thicket of willows and wild roses; alone and silent,
evidently watching, if not waiting, for our approach.

"What will you say to him?" asked Fanny, as we came quite near, eyeing
the singular object with evident dread.

"We'll ask him if he is hungry," said Charlie lightly. "If he is a live
Indian he is sure to say 'yes' to that proposition;" and Charlie
actually produced from his pockets some sandwiches, in a slightly
damaged condition. Holding these before him, very much as one holds an
ear of corn to a frisky colt he wishes to catch, he approached near
enough to offer them, Fanny still holding me back just enough to let
this advance be made before we came up. To her great relief the mummy
put out a skinny hand, and snatched the offered provisions under its
robe.

"You see he is only a poor starving old Indian," I said.

"Me no poor--no starve; me big chief," retorted the old man, glancing
disdainfully at us, with eyes that now appeared bright.

I exchanged telegraphic communication with Charlie and Fanny, seated her
comfortably upon a mossy boulder, and threw myself at her feet, while
Charlie disposed of himself also, within conversational distance.

"May I ask what is your name?" I inquired, insinuatingly.

"My name is Nittinat--this is my country; this water is mine; this
earth, these stones--all mine that you see."

"Such a great chief must have many warriors--many people. I do not see
any. Were those your people that I saw in the canoe?"

"Nittinat's people all gone," answered the old man sadly, dropping his
chin upon his rush-clad breast.

"But we saw a canoe with fourteen warriors in it, besides yourself,"
Charlie eagerly asserted. "Where are those young men?"

"Me great medicine man; make see canoe--make see young men," responded
the owner of the place, with a wan yet superior sort of smile.

Charlie glanced at us, then asked quite deferentially, "Can you make us
see what is not here?"

"You have seen," was the brief reply.

"Ask him why we are thus favored," whispered Fanny.

"This young cloochman (you see I must talk to him in his own tongue,
Fanny), wishes to know why you opened our eyes to your great medicine."

"White man come to Nittinat's land, white man see Nittinat's power.
White man ask questions!"--this last contemptuously, at which Fanny
laughed, as asking questions was one of her reserved rights.

"You must be an old man, since these waters are named after you,"
suggested I. "Who was the first white man you remember seeing?"

"_Hyas tyee_, Cappen Cook. Big ship--big guns!" answered Nittinat,
warming with the recollection.

"This is a good lead," remarked Charlie, _sotto voce_; "follow it up,
Pierre."

"You were a child then? very little?" making a movement with my hand to
indicate a child's stature.

"Me a chief--many warriors--big chief. Ugh!" said the mummy, with
kindling eyes.

At this barefaced story, Charlie made a grimace, while he commented in
an undertone: "But it is ninety-six years since Captain Cook visited
this coast. How the old humbug lies."

At this whispered imputation upon his honor, the old chief regarded us
scornfully; though how such a parchment countenance could be made to
express anything excited my wonder.

"Me no lie. Nittinat's heart big. Nittinat's heart good. _Close
tum-tum_, ugh!"

"White man's eyes are closed--his heart is darkened," said I, adopting
what I considered to be a conciliatory style of speech. "My friend cannot
understand how you could have known Captain Cook so long ago. All the
white men who knew the great white chief have gone to their fathers."

"Ugh, all same as Cappen Cook. He no believe my cousin Wiccanish see big
Spanish ship 'fore he came."

"How did he make him see it at last?" asked Charlie, stretching himself
out on the grass, and covering his eyes with his hat, from under the
brim of which he shot quizzical glances at Fanny and I.

"Wiccanish showed Cook these," replied Nittinat, drawing from beneath
his robe a necklace of shells, to which two silver spoons were attached,
of a peculiar pattern, and much battered and worn.

"Oh, do let me see them," cried Fanny, whose passion for relics was
quickly aroused. Charlie, too, was constrained to abandon his lazy
attitude for a moment to examine such a curiosity as these quaint old
spoons.

"Only to think that they are more than a hundred years old! But I cannot
make out the lettering upon them; perhaps he is deceiving us after all,"
said Fanny, passing them to me for inspection.

I took out of my pocket a small magnifying-glass, which, although it
could not restore what was worn away, brought to light all that was left
of an inscription, probably the manufacturer's trade-mark, the only
legible part of which was 17-0.

"Did the Spanish captain give these to your cousin?" I asked.

"Ugh!" responded Nittinat, nodding his tall extinguisher. "Wiccanish go
on board big ship, see cappen."

"And stole the spoons," murmured Charlie from under his hat.

Fanny touched his foot with the stick of her parasol, for she stood in
awe of this ancient historian, not wishing to be made a subject of his
powerful "medicine."

"And so you knew Captain Cook?" I repeated, when the spoons were hidden
once more under the mantle of rushes, "and other white men too, I
suppose. Did your people and the white people always keep on friendly
terms?"

"Me have good heart," answered Nittinat rather sadly. "Me and my cousins
Wiccanish, Clyoquot, Maquinna, and Tatoocheatticus, we like heap sell
our furs, and get knives, beads, and brass buttons. Heap like nails,
chisels, and such things. If my young men sometimes stole very little
things, Nittinat's heart was not little. He made the white chiefs
welcome to wood and water; he gave them his women; and sometime make a
big feast--kill two, three, six slaves. White chief heap mean to make
trouble about a few chains or hammers after all that!"

"Oh, the horrid wretch!" whispered Fanny: "Does he say he killed half a
dozen slaves for amusement?"

"If he did, Miss Lane," I answered; "was it worse than the elegant
Romans used to do? The times and the manners have to be considered, you
know."

Fanny shuddered, but said nothing, and I went on addressing myself to
Nittinat:

"How many ships did you ever see in these waters at one time?--I mean
long ago, in Captain Cook's time?"

The old chief held up five fingers, for answer.

"And you and your cousins were friendly to all of them?"

"Maquinna's heart good, too,--_close tum-tum_. Sell land to one Cappen;
he go 'way. Sell land to other Cappen; he go 'way, too. Bime-by two
Cappens come back, quarrel 'bout the land. Maquinna no say anything.
When one Cappen ask: 'Is the land mine?' Maquinna tell him 'yes.' When
other Cappen ask: 'Is the land mine?' Maquinna tell him 'yes,' too, all
same. O yes; Indian have good heart; no want to fight great white chief
with big guns. He stay in his lodge, and laugh softly to himself, and
let the white chiefs fight 'bout the land. Ugh!"

"The mercenary old diplomat!" muttered Charlie, under his hat. "Here's
your 'noble savage,' Fanny. Burn a little incense, can't you?" But Fanny
preferred remaining silent to answering her brother's bantering remarks;
and if she was burning incense at all, I had reason to think it was to
one who shall be nameless.

"Did you always have skins to sell to so many vessels?" I asked,
returning to the subject of the trading vessels.

"Long ago had plenty; bime-by not many. White chief he heap mean. Skin
not good, throw 'em back to Indian. My young men take 'em ashore,
stretch tail long like sea-otter, fix 'em up nice; give 'em to other
Indian, tell him go sell 'em. All right. Cappen buy 'em next time; pay
good price; like 'em heap;" at which recollection the mummy actually
laughed.

"How is that for Yankee shrewdness?" asked a muffled voice under a hat;
to which, however, I paid no attention.

"You speak of the white chiefs fighting about land. Did they ever use
their big guns on each other? Tell me what you remember about the white
men who came here in ships, long ago."

"After Cappen Cook go 'way, long time, come Spanish ship, King George
ship, Boston ship. Spanish Cappen no like King George Cappen. One day
fight with long knives; (swords) and Spanish Cappen put King George man
in big ship; send him 'way off. Many ships came and went; sold many
skins. One time all go 'way but the Boston ships. Bime-by King George's
ships came back and fight the Boston's."

"And you kept your good heart all the time? Never killed the Bostons or
King George men?"

At this interrogation, Nittinat shuffled his withered limbs uneasily
beneath his rush mantle, and averted his parchment countenance. Upon my
pressing the question, as delicately as I knew how, he at length
recovered his immobility, and answered in a plausible tone enough:

"Boston Cappen Gray, he build a fort at Clyoquot. My cousin Wiccanish
sell him the ground, and Cappen Gray bring all his goods from the ship,
and put them in the fort for winter. Our young men were lazy, and had
not many skins to sell; but they wanted Cappen Gray's goods; they liked
the firewater a heap. So the young men they say, 'kill Cappen Gray, and
take his goods.' My cousin say, 'no; that a heap bad.' Nittinat say that
bad too. But we tell our young men if they _will_ do this bad thing, we
will not leave them without a chief to direct them. So my young men came
to Clyoquot to help their cousins take the big guns of the fort. But
Cappen Gray find all out in time to save our young men from doing wrong.
We tell him our hearts all good. He give us presents, make _close
tum-tum_. No use kill Boston _tyee_ when he give us what we want."

Charlie tilted up his sombrero, and shot an approving glance at the
venerable philosopher that caused a smile to ripple Fanny's face at the
instant she was saying, "The horrid wretch!" with feminine vehemence. To
cover this by-play, I asked if Nittinat remembered the _Tonquin_.

"Oh, come!" ejaculated Charlie, starting up, "I say we have had enough
of this artless historian's prattle; don't you?"

"Consider," I urged, "how rare the opportunity of verifying tradition.
Compose yourself, my friend, while I continue my interviewing." Turning
to Nittinat I asked: "Why did the Indians destroy Captain Thorn's
vessel?"

"Cappen Thorn big chief; no like Indian; big voice; no give presents; no
let Indian come on board without leave; Indian no like Cappen Thorn. He
get mad at my cousin Kasiascall for hiding on his ship; keep him all
night prisoner, cause he no punish his young men for cutting the
boarding-netting. Kasiascall get mad. Next day no Indian go to trade
with the ship; then Cappen Thorn he send McKay ashore to say he is
sorry, and talk to Indian 'bout trade.

"Indian very good to McKay; say not mad; say come next day to trade
plenty. Kasiascall, too, tell McKay all right; come trade all same. But
McKay he look dark; he no believe my cousin; think Indian lie. All same
he tell come to-morrow; and he shake hands, and go back to ship. He tell
Cappen Thorn, 'Indian say he trade to-morrow.' Big Cappen walk the deck
very proud. He say he 'teach the damned Indians to behave themselves.'

"Next day six white men come ashore to visit our lodges. My cousin treat
white men well. Kasiascall and his young men go to the ship to trade.
Pretty soon Kasiascall come back: say McKay look dark and sad; say
Indian buy plenty of knives and hide under their blankets; say I will
see the ship taken by the Indians in one hour. My heart was sad for
McKay. He good man. Indian like McKay heap. But my cousin and his people
want plenty goods; no like Cappen Thorn; so Nittinat say nothing.

"Bimeby there was big noise like a hundred guns, and the ship was all in
pieces, flying through the air like leaves on the wind. My cousin's
people were all in pieces too; one arm, one leg, one piece head. Ugh!"

"Served them right, too!" ejaculated Charlie. "Is that the whole story,
old mortality?"

But Nittinat was silent--overcome, as it seemed by these sad
reminiscences. He bowed his head upon his breast until the extinguisher
pointed directly at Fanny's nose, as her brother mischievously made her
aware. When I thought that Nittinat had taken time to sufficiently
regret his cousin's misfortune in losing so many young men, I gently
reminded him of Charlie's question.

"Kasiascall's heart was very little when he saw the destruction of his
warriors, and heard the wailing of the women and children. To comfort
him the six white men were taken and bound for slaves. When the days of
mourning were past, my cousin laid the six white slaves in a row, their
throats resting on the sharp edge of a rock, and set his Indian slaves
to saw off their heads with a cedar plank. It was a very fine sight; our
hearts were good; we were comforted."

As no one uttered an opposing sentiment, Nittinat, after a pause,
continued:

"For many moons we feared the Bostons down on the Columbia would come to
make war on us; and we went no more to trade with any ships. But after a
time Kasiascall's heart grew big within him. He asked my advice. I said
'you are my brother. Go kill all the whites on the Columbia.' Then we
danced the medicine dance; and Kasiascall went alone to the country of
the Chinooks, to the fort of the Boston men. He told the chief of the
Bostons how the _Tonquin_ was destroyed, with all on board; but he kept
a dark place in his heart, and his tongue was crooked. He said
Kasiascall knew not of the treachery of his relations, and people, and
he said nothing of the six white slaves. Then the Boston chief gave him
presents, and he staid many days at the fort, until he heard that some
Indians from Sooke were coming there. Fearing the Sooke Indians might
have straight tongues, Kasiascall left the fort that day, and went among
the Klatskenines, and stirred them up to take the fort and kill all the
Bostons. But the chief discovered the plot, and my cousin fled back to
Neweeta. Ugh?"

"These events occurred a long time ago," I suggested. "Your hearts were
dark then, but surely you have a better heart now. You would not kill
the whites to-day if you could?"

A very expressive "Ugh!" was the only rejoinder.

"But the Indians I see about here look very comfortable and happy. They
have good warm blankets, and enough to eat."

"Indian hunt furs to pay for blanket; Indian catch fish for eat. Bime-by
furs grow scarce; white man catch fish, too. Bime-by Hudson Bay men go
way; Indian go naked. Then come black-gowns (priests, or preachers). He
say, 'Indian pray for what he want.' But that all d----d lie; pray one
moon--two, three moons, nothing comes. White man say to Indian, 'work.'
What can Indian do? Indian big fool--know nothing."

"He is making out a case," said Charlie; "but he don't look as if _he_
need concern himself about the future."

"Ask him if he ever saw any white ladies, in that long ago time he has
been telling us of," whispered Fanny, who could not muster courage to
address the manikin directly. I considered how best to put the desired
question, but Nittinat was beforehand with me.

"I have seen many things with my eyes. First came the big ships, with
wings; and only men came in them. By and by came a long, black ship,
without sails, or oars, but with a great black and white smoke. I went
on board this vessel with one of my wives, the youngest and prettiest;
and here I saw the first white woman that came to my country. I liked
the white woman, and asked her to be my wife. She laughed, and said, 'go
ask the Cappen.' I asked the Cappen, but he would not hear. I offered
him many skins, and my new wife. He swore at me. I am sworn at and
laughed at for wanting wife with a white skin. White man take Indian
wife when he please. Nittinat has many wrongs; yet Nittinat has good
heart, all same. Bime-by big medicine-man come and make all right. White
man all melt away like snow on the mountain-side. Indian have plenty
house, plenty blankets, plenty eat--all, everything, all the time.
Good!"

"White wives included, I presume. Well," said Charlie, "I think this
interview might be brought to a close. Hold fast to Pierre and I, Fanny,
or the wizard may spirit you off to his wigwam, to inaugurate the good
time coming that he speaks of."

So saying, Charlie rose to his feet, stretched his limbs lazily, and
turned to disengage his sister's veil from a vicious thorn-bush in our
way. Not succeeding immediately, I lent my assistance, and the delicate
tissue being at last rescued with some care, turned to say farewell to
the chief of all the Nittinats, when lo! I addressed myself to space.

"The old cove has taken himself off as mysteriously as he came. That is
a confounded good trick; couldn't do it better myself. Does anybody miss
anything?" was Charlie's running comment on the transaction.

"Can't say that I do, unless it is my luncheon. I'm ravenously hungry,
and every sandwich gone. Could that dreadful old ghoul have eaten those
you gave him, Charlie? Do you know, I couldn't help thinking he must be
a ghost?"

"Well, the ghost of an Indian could eat, steal, and beg, I should think.
I felt like rattling his dry bones, when he so coolly confessed to the
most atrocious murders of white men."

"That is because you are not an Indian, I presume," said I, with a heavy
sense of conviction about what I gave expression to. "Indian virtue is
not white men's virtue. If it won you rank, and riches, and power, to
become a mighty slayer, a slayer you would undoubtedly become. A man,
even an Indian, is what his circumstances make him. The only way I can
conceive to make a first-class man, is to place him under first-class
influences. I am generalizing now, of course; the exceptions are rare
enough to prove the rule."

"I wish I had those spoons," said Fanny, "they would be such a curiosity
at home."

"The spoon I wish for is one of the vessel's forks, with a bit of roast
beef on it. Here, Sis, jump in; we shall be late for dinner, and the
Captain will call us to account."

In a few moments we were out of the little cove, and in open water of
the sound, pulling back toward the harbor, where the steamer was lying
that had brought us this summer excursion. As we came abreast of a
certain inlet, Fanny cried out, "Look there!" and turning our eyes in
the direction of her glance, we saw the canoe with its bronzed crew just
disappearing up the narrow entrance, half-hidden in shrubbery.

Our adventure was related at dinner in the steamer's cabin, and various
were the conjectures regarding the identity of Chief Nittinat. The
captain declared his ignorance of any such personage. Most of the party
were inclined to regard the whole affair as a practical joke, though who
could have been the authors of it no one ventured to say. It was
proposed that another party should repeat the excursion on the following
day, in order that another opportunity might be given the mysterious
medicine man to put in an appearance. And this, I believe, really was
carried into effect, but without result, so far as solving the mystery
was concerned. A canoe, similar to the one we had seen, had been
discovered up one of the numerous arms of the Sound, but on attempting
to overtake it, the pursuing party had been easily distanced, and the
clue lost, so that all hope of clearing up the mystery was relinquished.

One evening, shortly after, Fanny and I sat together in the soft, clear
moonlight, listening to the dance-music in the cabin, and the gentle
splash of the waters about the vessel's keel. All at once, a canoe-load
of Nootkans shot across the moon's wake, not fifty yards from our
anchorage, and as suddenly was lost again in shadow. "Fanny," I said,
"being the only invalid of this party, I feel a good deal nervous about
these apparitions. They are usually regarded, I believe, as portentious.
Without designing to take advantage of your too sympathizing
disposition, I am tempted to remind you that if I am ever to have the
happiness of calling your precious self truly my own, it ought to be
before the third appearance of the ghostly presence; will you condescend
to name the day?"

"I should prefer, Pierre, not to have any ghostly influences brought to
bear on this occasion. Suppose we try a valse, which I think will tend
to dissipate your melancholy forebodings."

I may as well own it here: the little witch could not be brought to make
any final arrangements, although I did entreat her seriously.

"You must talk about these things when I am at home with my papa and
mamma," she insisted; and I was compelled to respect her decision.

But we have been married almost a year, and we often refer to the
strange interview we had with Chief Nittinat. Perhaps the Smoke-eller
doctrine now popular among the northern Indians, and which corresponds
to our spiritualism, may have some foundation in similar occurrences
themselves. Who knows but Nittinat was talking to us through a medium?



MR. ELA'S STORY.


Three or four years ago, my husband and I were making a winter voyage up
the Oregon coast. The weather was not peculiarly bad: it was the
ordinary winter weather, with a quartering wind, giving the ship an
awkward motion over an obliquely-rolling sea. Cold, sick, thoroughly
uncomfortable, with no refuge but the narrow and dimly-lighted
state-room, I was reduced in the first twenty-four hours to a condition
of ignominious helplessness, hardly willing to live, and not yet fully
wishing or intending to die.

In this unhappy frame of mind the close of the second weary day found
me, when my husband opened our state-room door to say that Mr. Ela, of
----, Oregon, was on board, and proposed to come and talk to me, in the
hope of amusing me and making me forget my wretchedness. Submitting
rather than agreeing to the proposal, chairs were brought and placed
just inside the door-way, where the light of the saloon lamps shown
athwart the countenance of my self-constituted physician. He was a young
man, and looked younger than his years; slightly built, though
possessing a supple, well-knit frame, with hands of an elegant shape,
fine texture, and great expression. You saw at a glance that he had a
poet's head, and a poet's sensitiveness of face; but it was only after
observation that you saw how much the face was capable of which it did
not convey, for faces are apt to indicate not so much individual culture
as the culture of those with whom we are habitually associated. Mr.
Ela's face clearly indicated to me the intellectual poverty, the want of
æsthetic cultivation in his accustomed circle of society, at the same
time that it suggested possible phases of great beauty, should it ever
become possible for certain emotions to be habitually called to the
surface by sympathy. Evidently a vein of drollery in his nature had been
better appreciated, and oftener exhibited to admiring audiences, than
any of the finer qualities of thought or sentiment of which you
instinctively knew him to be capable; and yet the face protested against
it, too, by a gentle irony with a hint of self-scorn in it, as if its
owner, in his own estimation, wrote himself a buffoon for his
condescension. Altogether it was a good face; but one to make you wish
it were better, since by not being so, it was untrue to itself. I
remember thinking all this, looking out with sluggish interest from my
berth, while the two gentlemen did a little preliminary talking.

Mr. Ela's voice, I observed, like his face, was susceptible of great
change and infinite modulations. Deep chest tones were followed by
finely attenuated sounds; droning nasal tones, by quick and clear ones.
The quality of the voice was soft and musical; the enunciation slow,
often emphatic. His manner was illustrative, egotistic, and keenly
watchful of effects.

"You never heard the story of my adventure in the mountains?" Ela began,
turning to me with the air of a man who had made up his mind to tell his
story.

"No; please tell it."

"Well"--running his tapering fingers through his hair and pulling it
over his forehead--"I started out in life with a theory, and it was
this: that no young man should ask a woman to marry him until he had
prepared a home for her. Correct, wasn't it? I was about nineteen years
old when I took up some land down in the Rogue River Valley, and worked
away at it with this object."

"Had you really a wife selected at that age?"

"No; but it was the fashion in early times in that country to marry
early, and I was getting ready, according to my theory; don't you see? I
was pretty successful, too; had considerable stock, built me a house,
made a flower garden for my wife, even put up the pegs or nails she was
to hang her dresses on. I intended that fall to get on my horse, ride
through the Wallamet Valley, and find me my girl."

At the notion of courting in that off-hand, general style, both my
husband and I laughed doubtingly. Ela laughed, too, but as if the
recollection pleased him.

"You think that is strange, do you? 'Twasn't so very strange in those
days, because girls were scarce, don't you see? There was not a girl
within forty miles of me; and just the thought of one now, as I was
fixing those nails to hang her garments on; why, it ran just through me
like a shock of electricity!

"Well, as I said, I had about two hundred and fifty head of cattle, a
house with a garden, a young orchard, and vegetables growing; everything
in readiness for the wife I had counted on getting to help me take care
of it. And what do you think happened? There came such a plague of
grasshoppers upon the valley that they destroyed every green thing:
crops, orchard, flowers, grass, everything! My stock died, the greater
portion of them, and _I was ruined_." (Deep bass.) "I considered myself
disappointed in love, too, because, though I hadn't yet found my girl, I
knew she was somewhere in the valley waiting for me; and I felt somehow,
when the grasshoppers ate up every thing, as if I had been jilted.
Actually, it pierces me with a pang now to think of those useless pegs
on which so often my imagination hung a pink calico dress and a girl's
sun-bonnet."

Knitting his brows, and sighing as he shifted his position, Ela once
more pulled the hair over his forehead, in his peculiar fashion, and
went on:

"I became misanthropic; felt myself badly used. Packing up my books and
a few other traps, I started for the mountains with what stock I had
left, built myself a fort, and played hermit."

"A regular fort?"

"A stockade eighteen feet high, with an embankment four feet high around
it, a strong gate, a tent in the middle of the inclosure, all my
property, such as books, feed, arms, etc., inside."

"On account of Indians?"

"Indians and White Men. Yes, I've seen a good many Indians through the
bead of my rifle. They learned to keep away from my fort. There were
mining camps down in the valley, and you know the hangers-on of those
camps? I sold beef to the miners; had plenty of money by me sometimes.
It was necessary to be strongly forted."

"What a strange life for a boy! What did you do? How spend your time?"

"I herded my cattle, drove them to market, cooked, studied, wrote, and
indulged in misanthropy, with a little rifle practice. By the time I had
been one summer in the mountains, I had got my hand in, and knew how to
make money buying up cattle to sell again in the mines."

"So there was method in your madness--misanthropy, I mean?"

"Well, a man cannot resign life before he is twenty-one. I was doing
well, and beginning to think again of visiting the Wallamet to hunt up
my girl. One Sunday afternoon, I knew it was Sunday, because I kept a
journal; I was sitting outside of my fort writing, when a shadow fell
across the paper, and, looking up, lo! a skeleton figure stood before
me." (Sepulchral tones, and a pause.) "Used as I was to lonely
encounters with strange men, my hair stood on end as I gazed on the
spectre before me. He was the merest boy in years; pretty and delicate
by nature, and then reduced by starvation to a shadow. His story was
soon told. He had left Boston on a vessel coming out to the northwest
coast, had been wrecked at the mouth of the Umpqua, and been wandering
about in the mountains ever since, subsisting as best he could on roots
and berries. But you are becoming tired?"

"No, I assure you; on the contrary, growing deeply interested."

"The boy was not a young woman in disguise, or anything like that, you
know"--with an amused look at me. "I thought you'd think so; but as he
comes into the story as a collateral, I just mention his introduction to
myself. I fed him and nursed him until he was able to go to work, and
then I got Sam Chong Lung to let him take up a claim alongside a Chinese
camp, promising to favor the Chinaman in a beef contract if he was good
to the boy. His claim proved a good one, and he was making money, when
two Chinamen stole a lot of horses from Sam Chong Lung, and he offered
four hundred dollars to Edwards if he would go after them and bring them
back. Edwards asked my advice, and I encouraged him to go, telling him
how to take and bring back his prisoners." (Reflective pause.) "You
can't imagine me living alone, now, can you? Such an egotistical fellow
as I am, and fond of ladies' society. You can't believe it, can you?"

"Hermits and solitaires are always egotists, I believe. As to the
ladies, your loneliness was the result of circumstances, as you have
explained."

"Well, I should have missed Edwards a good deal, if it had not been for
some singular _incidents_ which happened during his absence." Ela always
accented the last syllable of any word ending in e-n-t, like "incident"
or "commencement," giving it besides a peculiar nasal sound, which was
sure to secure the attention. The word incident, as he pronounced it,
produced quite a different effect from the same word, spoken in the
usual style.

"A man came to my fort one day who was naked and starving. He was a
bad-looking fellow; but a man naturally does look bad when his clothes
are in rags, and his bones protruding through his skin. I clothed him,
fed him, cared for him kindly, until he was able to travel, and then he
went away. The next Sunday, I was sitting outside the stockade, as
customary, reading some translations of the Greek poets, when, on
raising my eyes from the book to glance over the approach to my fort--I
was always on the alert--I beheld a VISION. Remember, I had not
seen a woman for a year and half! She was slowly advancing, riding with
superb grace a horse of great beauty and value, richly caparisoned. She
came slowly up the trail, as if to give me time for thought, and I
needed it. That picture is still indelibly impressed upon my mind; the
very flicker of the sunlight and shadow across the road, and the glitter
of her horse's trappings, as he champed his bit and arched his neck with
impatience at her restraining hand----. Are you very tired?" asked Ela,
suddenly.

"Never less so in my life; pray go on."

"You see I had been alone so long, and I am very susceptible. That
vision coming upon me suddenly as it did, in my solitude, gave me the
strangest sensations I ever had. I was spell-bound. Not so she. Reining
in her horse beside me, she squared around in her saddle, as if asking
assistance to dismount. Struggling with my embarrassment, I helped her
down, and she accepted my invitation into the fort, signifying, at the
same time, that she wished me to attend to stripping and feeding her
horse. This gave us mutually an opportunity to prepare for the coming
interview.

"When I returned to my guest, she had laid aside her riding-habit and
close sun-bonnet, and stood revealed a young, beautiful,
elegantly-dressed woman. To my unaccustomed eyes, she looked a goddess.
Her figure was noble; her eyes large, black, and melting; her hair long
and curling; her manner easy and attractive. She was hungry, she said;
would I give her something to eat? And, while I was on hospitable cares
intent, she read to me some of my Greek poems, especially an ode of one
of the votaries of Diana, with comments by herself. She was a splendid
reader. Well," said Ela, slowly, with a furtive glance at me, and in his
peculiar nasal tones, "you can guess whether a young man, used to the
mountains, as I was, and who had been disappointed and jilted as I had
been, enjoyed this sort of thing or not. It wasn't in my line, you see,
this entertaining goddesses; though, doubtless, in this way, before now,
men have entertained angels unawares. You shall judge whether I did.

"What with reading, eating together, singing--she sang 'Kate Kearney'
for me, and her voice was glorious--our acquaintance ripened very fast.
Finally, I conquered my embarrassment so far as to ask her some
questions about herself, and she told me that she was of a good New
England family, raised in affluence, well educated, accomplished, but by
a freak of fortune, reduced to poverty: that she had come to California
resolved to get money, and had got it. She went from camp to camp of the
miners with stationery, and other trifling articles needed by them; sold
them these things, wrote letters for them, sang to them, nursed them
when sick, or carried letters express to San Francisco, to be mailed.
For all these services, she received high prices, and had also had a
good deal of gold given to her in specimens. I asked her if she liked
that kind of a life, so contrary to her early training. She answered me:
'It's not what we choose that we select to do in this world, but what
chooses us to do it. I have made a competency, and gained a rich and
varied experience. If life is not what I once dreamed it was, I am
content.' But she sighed as she said it, and I couldn't believe in her
content."

"You have not told us yet what motives brought her to you," I remarked,
in an interval of silence.

"No; she hadn't told me herself, then. By and by, I asked her, in my
green kind of way, what brought her to see _me_. I never shall forget
the smile with which she turned to answer me. We were sitting quite
close: it never was in my nature, when once acquainted with a woman, to
keep away from her. Her garments brushed my knees; occasionally, in the
enthusiasm of talk, I leaned near her cheek. You know how it was. I was
thinking of the useless pegs in my house down in the valley: 'You will
be disappointed,' she said, 'when you learn that I came to do you a real
service.' And then she went on to relate that, having occasion to pass
the night at a certain place not many miles away, she had overheard
through the thin partitions of the house, the description of my fort, an
account of my wealth, real or supposed, and a plan for my murder and
robbery. The would-be murderer was so described as to make it quite
certain that it was he whom I had fed, clothed, and sent away rejoicing,
only a few days previous. I was inclined to treat the matter as a jest;
but she awed me into belief and humility at once by the majesty with
which she reproved my unbelief: 'A _woman_ does not trifle with subjects
like this; nor go out of her way to tell travelers tales. I warn you.
Good bye.'

"After this she would not stay, though I awkwardly expressed my regret
at her going. By her command I saddled her horse, and helped her mount
him. Once in the saddle, her humor turned, and she reminded me that I
had not invited her to return. She said she 'could fancy that a week of
reading, talking, riding, trout-fishing, and romancing generally, up
there in those splendid woods, might be very charming. Was I going to
ask her to come?'

"I didn't ask her. A young man with a reputation to sustain up there in
the mountains, couldn't invite a young lady to come and stop a week with
him, could he? I must have refused to invite her, now, mustn't I?"

The perfect ingenuousness with which Ela put these questions, and the
plaintive appeal against the hard requirements of social laws in the
mountains, which was expressed in his voice and accent, were so
indescribably ludicrous that both my husband and myself laughed
convulsively. "I never tell my wife that part of the story, for fear she
might not believe in my regard for appearances, knowing how fond I am of
ladies' society. And the struggle _was_ great; I assure you, it was
_great_.

"So she went away. As she rode slowly down the trail, she turned and
kissed her hand to me, with a gesture of such grace and sweetness that I
thrilled all over. I've never been able to quite forgive myself for what
happened afterward. _She came back, and I drove her away!_ Usually, when
I tell that to women, they call me mean and ungrateful; but a young man
living alone in the mountains has his reputation to look after--now,
hasn't he? That's what I ought to have done--now, wasn't it--what I
always say I did do. It was the right thing to do under the
circumstances, wasn't it?"

While we had our laugh out, Ela shifted position, shook himself, and
thridded his soft, light hair with his slender fingers. He was satisfied
with his success in conveying an impression of the sort of care he took
of his reputation. "Now, then, I was left alone again, in no pleasant
frame of mind. I couldn't doubt what my beautiful visitant had told me,
and the thought of my murder all planned out was depressing, to say the
least of it. But, as sure as I am telling you, the departure of my
unknown friend depressed me more than the thought of my possible murder.
The gate barred for the night, I sat and looked into my fire for hours,
thinking wild thoughts, and hugging to my lonely bosom an imaginary
form. The solitude and the sense of loss were awful.

"This was Sunday night. Tuesday morning I received a visit from three or
four mounted men, one of whom was my former naked and hungry _protege_.
He did not now try to conceal his character from me, but said he was
going down to clean out the Chinese camp, and proposed to me to join
him, saying that when Edwards returned with the horses we would pay him
the $400, as agreed by Sam Chong Lung. I was on my guard; but told him I
would have nothing to do with robbing the Chinese; that they were my
friends and customers, and he had better let them alone; after which
answer he went off. That afternoon, Edwards came in with his prisoners
and horses. He was very tired, on account of having traveled at night,
to prevent the rescue of his prisoners by other vagabonds, and to avoid
the Indians.

"You will understand how the presence of the horses increased my peril,
as there was no doubt the scoundrels meant to take them. It wouldn't do
either to let Edwards go on to the Chinese camp; so I persuaded him to
wait another day. We brought the prisoners, bound, inside the fort, and
took care of the horses. I said nothing to Edwards of my suspicions.

"About dusk, my expected visitor came. He appeared to have been
drinking; and, after some mumbling talk, laid down inside the fort, near
the gate. I made the gate fast, driving the big wooden pins home with an
axe; built up a great fire, and sent Edwards to bed in the tent. The
Chinese prisoners were already asleep on the ground. Then I sat down on
the opposite side of the fire, facing the gate, placed my
double-barreled rifle beside me, and mounted guard."

"Had you no arms but your rifle?" asked my husband, anxiously.

"I wanted none other, for we understood each other--my rifle and I."

"What were you looking for; what did you expect? A hand-to-hand
encounter with these men?" was my next inquiry.

"It seemed most likely that he had planned an attack on the fort. If so,
his associates would be waiting outside for a signal. He had intended,
when he laid down close to the gate, to open it to them; but when I
drove the pins in so tight, I caught a gleam from his eyes that was not
a drunken one, and he knew that I suspected him. After that, it was a
contest of skill and will between us. He was waiting his opportunity,
and so was I.

"You think I've a quick ear, don't you? You see what my temperament is;
all sense, all consciousness. My hearing was cultivated, too, by
listening for Indians. Well, by and by, I detected a very stealthy
movement outside the fort, and then a faint chirrup, such as a young
squirrel might make. In an instant the drunken man sprang up; and I
covered him with my rifle, cocked. He saw the movement and drew his
pistol, but not before I had ordered him to throw down his arms, _or_
DIE."

It is impossible to convey, by types, an idea of Ela's manner or tone as
he pronounced these last words. They sounded from the bottom of his
chest, and conveyed in the utterance a distinct notion that death was
what was meant. Hearing him repeat the command, it was easy to believe
that the miscreant dared not do more than hesitate in his obedience.
After a moment's silence--which was the climax to his rendering of the
scene--he continued:

"I haven't told you, yet, how the man looked. He was a tall, swarthy,
black-bearded fellow, who might have been handsome once, but who had
lost the look which distinguishes men in sympathy with their kind; so
that then he resembled some cruel beast, in the shape of a man, yet
whose disguise fitted him badly. His eyes burned like rubies, out of the
gloomy caverns under his shaggy eyebrows. His lips were drawn apart, so
that his teeth glistened. The man's whole expression, as he stood there,
glaring at me, was Hate and Murder.

"My eye never winked, while he hesitated. He saw that, and it made him
quail. With my finger on the trigger, I kept my rifle leveled, while he
threw down his arms--pistols and knife--with a horrible oath. With the
knife in his hand, he made a movement, as if he would rush on me; but
changed his purpose in time to stop my fire. His cursing was awful; the
foam flew from his mouth. He demanded to be let out of the fort; accused
me of bad intentions toward him, and denounced me for a robber and
murderer. To all his ravings I had but one answer: To be quiet, to obey
me, and he might live; dare to disobey me, and he should die.

"I directed him to sit down on the opposite side of the fire--not to
move from that one spot--not to make a doubtful motion. And then I told
him I knew what he was, and what he had meant to do. When he became
convinced of this, he broke down utterly, and wept like a child,
declaring that now he knew my pluck, and I had been the first man ever
to get the best of him, he loved me like a brother!

"There was a long night before us, and I had got to sit there, with my
rifle across my knees, till morning. I could move a little, to stir up
or add to the fire; but he could have no liberty whatever. The restraint
was horrible to him. One moment he laughed uneasily--another cursed or
cried. It was a strange scene, wasn't it? Finally, to pass the time, I
asked him to relate the history of his life. He wanted first to shake
hands, for the love he bore me. Touching my rifle, significantly, I
pointed to a stick lying across the fire between us. 'That is our
boundary line; don't go to reaching your hands over that.' Then he sank
into a fit of gloom and sullenness.

"We must have remained thus silent until near midnight. Several times I
observed him listening to slight sounds outside the fort. But his
associates must have given up the game and gone off, for, as the morning
hours approached, he ceased to listen, and everything remained quiet.
His head was bent forward, his chin resting on his breast, the shaggy
beard spreading over it like a mantle."

"How horrible it must have been to keep such company. Why not call on
Edwards?"

"The boy was worn out, and there was no need. I was very much strung up,
too; so that the exhaustion of sleeplessness, fatigue, or excitement was
not felt or noticed. But _he_ suffered. He was like a hyena caged,
though he showed it only by involuntary movements and furtive glances.
Finally, he could bear it no longer, and entreated me piteously,
abjectly, to give him his freedom or blow out his brains. I told him he
couldn't have his freedom just yet; but he knew how to get his brains
blown out, if he desired it. Then followed more execration, ending in
renewed protestations of regard for me. I reminded him that talking
would relieve the irksomeness of his position, again inviting him to
tell me his history. He replied that if he talked about himself, he
would be sure to get excited and move about; but I promised to remind
him.

"Once on the subject of himself, it seemed to have a fascination for
him. What he told me was, in substance, this: He had been honestly
raised, by good, affectionate parents, in the State of Missouri; loved a
young girl in the town where he lived; and, wishing to marry her, had
resolved to go to California, to make the necessary money, quickly. He
was successful; returned full of joyful anticipations, and arrived at an
old neighbor's, a few miles from his home, having hardly tasted food or
taken any rest the previous twenty-four hours.

"While he hastily ate some breakfast and listened to the friendly gossip
of his entertainers, one name, the name of her he loved, his promised
wife, was mentioned. _She was married._ He staggered to his feet, asking
the name of her husband; and when he heard it, he knew he had been
betrayed by that man. He could recall a strange sensation in his brain,
as if molten lead had been poured into it; that was the last of his
recollections. Afterward, he learned that he had been weeks in a brain
fever.

"When he had recovered, some of his old friends, thinking to do him
honor, made an evening party for him. To this party came his love, and
her husband; his betrayer. When she gave her hand to welcome him home,
and looked in his eyes, he knew that she too had been betrayed. Again
the molten lead seemed poured upon his brain. Turning to leave the room,
fate placed in his path the man he now hated with a deadly hatred. With
one blow of a knife, he laid him dead at his feet. A few hours later, in
the desperation of trying to escape, he killed two other men. Then he
eluded his pursuers, and got back to California. Since then he had
reveled in murder, and every species of crime. Once he had seen, in the
streets of Sacramento, the woman he loved. Up to that moment, it had
never occurred to him that she was free. Following her to her home, he
forced himself into her house, and reminded her of their former
relations. She had denied all knowledge of him, finally calling upon her
husband to satisfy him. The husband ordered him out of the house, and he
shot him. Then the Vigilantes made it hazardous to remain in California.
He fled to the mountains, where he was nearly starved out, when I took
him in and fed and clothed him.

"Such was his story. My blood curdled in my veins, as I listened to the
recitals of his atrocities. 'In God's name,' I said, 'who are you--what
is your name?' 'I am BOONE HELM.'"

"Who was Boone Helm?" I asked.

"One of the greatest desperadoes that ever was on this coast. He met his
fate, afterward, up east of the mountains."

"What did you do with him? What _could_ you do with him?"

"You ought to have shot him while you had him," my husband suggested.

"_I_ didn't want to shoot him. He said, if I had been a coward, I would
have killed him. To confess the truth, the wretch appealed to my
sympathies. I don't think he had ever been sane since the time when he
felt the 'molten lead poured into his brain.' I knew somebody was sure
to kill him, before long; so, when morning came, I called Edwards to
open the gate; and, when it was unbarred, escorted my visitor out,
telling him that there was not room enough in that part of the country
for both of us, and that the next time I pointed my rifle at him it
would be to shoot. I never saw him again."

"Then he did not molest the Chinese camp?"

"No. Edwards got his four hundred dollars, and went home to Boston."

There fell a silence upon us, and, through my open door, I could see
that the cabin was nearly deserted. Ela seemed wearied--sighed, and made
a movement, as if to go.

"What about your Guardian Angel?" my husband asked. "You have not told
us about her second coming."

"I always say that she didn't come; or else I say that she came, and I
drove her away. That is proper; isn't it, now?" glancing at me.

"But _I_ want to know if you have seen her--if you never met her
anywhere in the world--since that time. I have a right to be
curious--yes, or no?" I urged, laughingly.

"How do you feel, now?"--with a light laugh and peculiar change of
expression.

"O, better; a great deal better. To be perfectly cured, I only need to
hear the sequel."

"I may as well tell it, I suppose. It has been running in my head all
day. Wouldn't want my wife to know it. Didn't think of meeting her when
I came down to 'Frisco. You see, I've been in Oregon a long while--never
traveled on a railroad in my life--wanted to see something of the great
outside world--and so, ran down to the great city to see the sights. The
first thing I did, I went up to Colfax, on the cars; and while I was up
there, the engineer invited me to take a ride on the engine--a special
one. Now, I knew that he meant to astonish me, because he thought I was
green; and I didn't know, really, how fast the thing ought to run. But
we came down the grade with a speed that was ter-rif-ic!--more than a
mile a minute, the engineer said. When we got to Lincoln, the fellow
asked me, with his superior sort of smile, 'How I liked _that_ rate of
travel?' I told him I liked _that_ pretty well; 'but, I suppose, when
you want to make time, you can travel at a considerably _more_
accelerated rate of locomotion?'"

How we laughed at the natural drollery of the man, the deliberate
utterance, the unsophisticated air. While we laughed, he prepared
himself to finish his story.

"It was only day before yesterday," he said, "that I met her. I happened
to be in the parlor of the hotel when she came in. At first, I wasn't
certain of its being her; but, as I watched her, I became certain of it.
And she recognized me; I felt certain of that, too. It was in the early
part of the evening, and I had to wait until the people in the parlor
would disperse. She saw what I was waiting for, and stayed, too; she
told me with her eyes that she _remembered_. After a while she went to
the piano, and played and sang 'Kate Kearney.' Then I was satisfied that
she would not leave me before I had spoken to her. As soon as the
opportunity came, we confessed ourselves."

"Was she married? was she happy?"

"She was married, yes. Happy? she told me, as she had once before, that
she was 'content.' She said it with a sigh, as she did the first time;
and I doubted her as I did then. But they are putting out the lights.
There is always, in this world, somebody going around, putting out our
lights. Good-night."

"Good-night."



ON THE SANDS.


I was summering at our Oregon Newport, known to us by the aboriginal
name of Clatsop. Had a balloonist, uninstructed in the geography and
topography of this portion of the Pacific coast, dropped down among us,
his impression would have been that he had alighted in a military
encampment, very happily chosen, as military encampments usually are.

Given, one long, low, whitewashed house enclosed by whitewashed pickets;
a group of tents outside the enclosure and on the bank of a beautiful
graveled-bottom, tree-shadowed stream, and you have the brief summing up
of accommodations for summer visitors at Clatsop. The plentiful
sprinkling of army buttons among the guests--for there are two forts
within a three hours' ride of this beach--tend to confirm the impression
of military possession. Besides, our host of the whitewashed hotel is a
half-breed; and there is enough of the native element hanging about the
place, picking berries and digging clams, to suggest an Indian family
where a temporary station might be demanded. It would only be by peeping
inside those tents where ladies and children are more numerous than
bearded men, that one could be convinced of the gypsy nature of this
encampment; though, to be sure, one need not press inside to find them,
for the gay campers are sauntering about in all directions, ladies with
their escorts, children with their nurses, parties returning from
boating or fishing, or riding or bathing: everybody living out in the
open air the whole day through on one pretense or another, and only
repairing to the hotel at meal times, when the exquisite dishes prepared
by French half-breeds suffer the most instant demolition--such hunger
does open air inspire.

I had come here just invalid enough to be benefited by our primitive
style of living; not too delicate to endure it, nor too robust to enjoy
the utter vagabondism of it. There had been no necessity upon us to ape
fashionable manners; no obligation to dress three times a day; no balls
to weary ourselves with at night. Therefore this daily recurring picnic
was just sufficient for our physical recreation, while our mental powers
took absolute rest. For weeks I had arisen every morning to a breakfast
of salmon-trout. French coffee (_au lait_), delicious bread, and fresh
berries; and afterwards to wander about in the cool sea-fog, well
wrapped up in a water-proof cloak. Sometimes we made a boating party up
the lovely Neah-can-a-cum, pulling our boat along under the overhanging
alders and maples, frightening the trout into their hiding-places under
the banks, instead of hooking them as was our ostensible design. The
limpid clearness of the water seemed to reflect the trees from the very
bottom, and truly made a medium almost as transparent as air, through
which the pebbles at the greatest depth appeared within reach of our
hands. A morning idled away in this manner, and an afternoon spent in
seeing the bathers--I never trust my easily curdled blood to the chill
of the sea--and in walking along the sands with a friend, or dreaming
quietly by myself as I watched the surf rolling in all the way from
Tilamook Head to Cape Disappointment,--these were my daily labors and
recreations. The arrival of a bundle of letters, or, still better, of a
new visitor, made what variety there was in our life.

I had both of these excitements in one day. One of my correspondents had
written: "I hope to see you soon, and to have the opportunity, long
sought, of telling you some of the experiences of my early life. When I
promised you this I had not anticipated the pleasure of talking over the
recollections of my youth while listening with you to the monotone of
the great Pacific, whose 'ever, forever' is more significant to me than
to most lovers of its music. I never gaze upon its restless waves, nor
hear the sound of their ripple on the sands, or their thunder on the
rocks without being reminded of one episode in my life peculiarly
agitating to remember; but perhaps when I have told it to you, you may
have power to exercise the restless spirit which rises in me at the
recollection."

So here was promise of the intellectual aliment I had begun to crave
after all these weeks of physical, without mental, action. I folded my
letter with a feeling of self-congratulation, and turned to watch the
movements of a newly arrived party for whom our half-breed host was
spreading a tent, and placing in it rather an extra amount of furniture;
for, be it known to the uninitiated, we had platform floors under our
tents, real bedsteads, dressing-bureaus, rugs, and other comforts to
match. That our new arrival exceeded us in elegant conveniences was, of
course, duly noted by such idlers as we.

The party consisted of a lady, a little girl of ten, and a Kanaka
servant. The lady's name, we learned, was Mrs. Sancy, and she was from
the Sandwich Islands. More than that no one was informed. We discussed
her looks, her manners, her dress, and her probable circumstances, as we
sat around the camp-fire that evening, after the way of idle people. It
occurred to me, as I glanced toward her tent door, illuminated by our
blazing fire, and saw her regarding the weird scene with evident
admiration of its picturesqueness, to ask her to come and sit with us
and help us eat roast potatoes--roasted as they cook pigs in the
Islands, by covering up in the ground with hot stones. The fact that the
potatoes, and the butter which went with them, were purloined from our
host's larder, gave a special flavor to the feast--accompanied as it
was, too, by instrumental and vocal music, and enlivened by sallies of
wit.

Mrs. Sancy seemed to enjoy the novelty of her surroundings, contributing
her quota to the general fund of mirth and sparkling talk, and I
congratulated myself on having acquired an interesting acquaintance,
whose cheerfulness, notwithstanding the partial mourning of her dress,
promised well for its continuance. Had she been sad or reserved she
certainly would not have been sought as she was by our pleasure-loving
summer idlers, consequently my chances of becoming intimate with her
would have been greatly abridged. As she was, she soon became, without
question, one of the chief social attractions; easily falling into our
vagabond ways, yet embellishing them with so much grace and elegance
that they became doubly precious to us on account of the new charm
imparted to them. All the things any of us could do, Mrs. Sancy could do
better; and one thing she could do that none of the rest of us could,
which was to swim out and float herself in on a surf-board, like a
native island woman; and seeing Mrs. Sancy do this became one of the
daily sensations of Clatsop Beach.

I had known Mrs. Sancy about one week, and came to like her extremely,
not only for her brilliant, social qualities, but on account of her
native originality of thought, and somewhat peculiar culture. I say
peculiar, because her thinking and reading seemed to be in the byways
rather than the highways of ordinary culture. If she made a figure of
speech, it was something noticeably original; if she quoted an author,
it was one unfamiliar though forcible. And so she constantly supplied my
mind with novelties which I craved, and became like a new education to
me. One forenoon, a misty one, we were out on the beach alone, wrapped
up in water-proofs, pacing up and down the sands, and watching the grey
sullen sea, or admiring the way in which the masses of fog roll in among
the tops of the giant firs on Tilamook Head, and were torn into
fragments, and tangled among them.

"You never saw the like of this in the islands?" I said, meaning the
foggy sea, and the dark, fir-clad mountains.

"I have seen _this_ before;" she answered, waving her hand to indicate
the scene as we then beheld it. "You look surprised, but I am familiar
with every foot of this ground. I have lived years in this
neighborhood--right over there, in fact, under the Head. This spot has,
in truth, a strong fascination for me, and it was to see it once more
that I made the voyage."

"You lived in this place, and liked it years ago! How strange! It is but
a wilderness still, though a pleasant one, I admit."

She gave me a playfully superior smile: "We are apt to think ourselves
the discoverers of every country where we chance to be set down; and so
Adam thought he was the first man on the earth, though his sons went out
and found cities where they learned the arts of civilization. So birth,
and love, and death, never cease to be miracles to us, notwithstanding
the millions who have been born, and loved, and died, before our
experience began."

"But how did it happen," I urged, unable to repress my curiosity, "that
you lived here, in this place, _years ago_? That seems so strange to
me."

"My parents brought me here when a little child. It is a common enough
history. My mother was an enthusiast with brain, who joined her fortunes
to those of an enthusiast without brain, and emigrated to this coast,
when it was an Indian country, in the vain hope of doing good to the
savages. They only succeeded in doing harm to themselves, and
indirectly, harm to the savages also. The spirit of the man became
embittered, and the mean traits of his nature asserted themselves, and
wreaked their malice, as is customary with mean natures, on the nearest
or most inoffensive object. My poor mother! Maternity was marred for you
by fear and pain and contempt; and whatever errors your child has fallen
into, were an evil inheritance that only years of suffering and
discipline could eradicate."

As Mrs. Sancy pronounced the last sentence, she seemed for the moment to
have forgotten my presence, and stood, looking off over the calm grey
sea, with absent unrecognizing gaze. After a brief silence she turned to
me with a smile: "Pardon my mental desertion. It is not good to talk of
our own lives. We all become Adams again, and imagine ourselves sole in
the universe."

On this hint I changed the conversation, and we returned to the hotel to
lunch, after which, I saw no more of Mrs. Sancy for that day.

That afternoon, my correspondent, Mr. Kittredge arrived; and as it was
bright and sunny after the fog, we took a boat, and pulled along under
the alders that shade the Neah-can-a-cum. It was there that I listened
to this story:

"While I was still a young man, nearly fifteen years ago, I floated on
this stream, as we are doing to-day. My companion was a young girl whom
I shall call Teresa. She was very young, I remember now with sorrow, and
very beautiful; though _beautiful_ is not so much the word to describe
her as _charming_--magnetic, graceful, intelligent. A lithe, rather tall
figure, a high-bred, sensitive, fine face, and pleasing manners. She
seemed older than she really was, on account of her commanding physique
and distinguished manner.

"I will not go over the details of our acquaintance, which ripened
rapidly into love;--so I thought. This was a new country then, even more
emphatically that it is now; new with the charm of novelty--not new
because it had ceased to progress, as is now the case. Scattered around
here within a radius of a dozen miles were half-a-dozen other young men
like myself, who had immigrated to the far west, in the spirit of
romantic adventure; and once here, were forced to do whatever came to
our hands to gain a subsistence. I lived on a farm which I improved,
keeping house quite by myself, and spending my leisure hours in study.
Of course, the other young men, similarly situated, often visited me,
and we usually talked over authors, or such questions of the day as we
were familiar with or interested in.

"But one evening love was the theme of our conversation, and incidently,
Teresa's name was mentioned among us. I don't know who first uttered it,
but I observed at once, that the faces of all three of my companions
betrayed an interest too strong and too peculiar to be attributed to an
ordinary acquaintanceship with the subject of our remarks. For myself, I
felt my own face flushing hotly, as a horrible suspicion seized my
consciousness, becoming on the instant, conviction too painful to
endure.

"You being a woman, cannot imagine the situation. I believed myself to
be Teresa's accepted lover; and so I knew intuitively, did all my three
companions; their faces revealing their thoughts to me, as did mine to
them. Whatever you women do in the presence of your rivals, I know not.
Men rage. It is not often, either, that a man encounters more than one
rival at a time. But three!--each of us poor rivals saw three rivals
before him. Whatever of friendship had hitherto existed among us was
forgotten in the extreme anguish of the moment, and we sat glaring at
each other in silence, with heaving chests and burning brows.

"All but Charlie Darling--darling Charlie, we used to call him--his face
was deathly white, and his eyes glowed like a panther's in the dark. Yet
he was the first to recover himself. 'Boys,' said he, 'we ought not to
have brought a lady's name into the discussion; but since Teresa's has
been mentioned, we may as well have an understanding. I consider the
young lady as engaged to me, and you will please remember that fact when
you are talking of her.'

"He said it bravely, proudly, though his lip trembled a little, but he
eyed us unflinchingly. No one replied for some moments. Then Tom Allen,
a big clumsy, good-hearted, but conceited fellow, lifted his eyes
slowly, and answered with a hysterical laugh: 'You may be her darling
Charlie, but I'll be d----d if I am not to be her husband!'

"This was the match to the powder. Charlie, myself, and Harry King, each
sprang simultaneously forward, as if we meant to choke poor Tom for his
words. Again Charlie was the first to use reason:

"'Hold, boys;' cried he hoarsely; 'let us take a little time to reflect.
Two of us have declared ourselves to be engaged to Teresa. Let us hear
if she contemplates marrying King and Kittredge, also. What do you say,
King?'

"'I say yes!' thundered King, bending his black brows, and bringing down
his fist on the table by which he stood.

"'And _I_ say, I contemplate marrying _her_,' was my answer to Charlie's
challenge.

"Charlie flung himself into a chair, and covered his face with his
hands. The action touched some spring in our ruder natures which
responded in sympathy for our favorite, and had the effect to calm us,
in manner at least. I motioned the others to sit down, and addressed
myself to Charlie Darling. 'See here, Charlie?' I said, 'it seems that
Teresa has been playing us false. A girl who could be engaged to four
young men at once cannot be worth the regards of any of us. Let us
investigate the matter, and if she is truly guilty of such falsehood,
let us one and all quit her forever without a word of explanation. What
do you say? do you agree to that?'

"'How are you going to investigate?' asked Tom Allen, roughly. 'Have not
we each declared that she was committed to us individually, and what
more can be said?'

"'It appears incredible to me that any girl, much less a girl like
Teresa, could so compromise her self-respect as to encourage four
suitors, each in such a manner as that he expected to marry her. It is
so strange that I cannot believe it, except each man swears to his
statement. Can we all swear to it?'

"I laid my little pocket-bible on the table, and set the example of
taking an oath to the effect that Teresa had encouraged me to believe
that she meant to marry me. King and Allen followed with a similar oath.
Charlie Darling was the last to take the oath; but as he did so, a gleam
of gladness broke over his pale, handsome face; for he could word his
oath differently from ours. 'I swear before these witnesses and Almighty
God,' said Charlie, 'that Teresa Bryant is my _promised wife_.'

"'That takes the wind out of our sails,' remarked Allen.

"'Do you allow other men to kiss your promised wife?' asked King, with a
sneer.

"Charlie sprang at King, and had his hand on his throat in an instant;
but Allen and I interfered to part them. It was no difficult matter, for
Darling, excited as he was, felt the force of my observations on the
quarrel. I said: 'Shall a trifling girl make us enemies, when she has so
behaved that no one of us can trust her. You, Darling, do not, cannot
have confidence in her promise, after all you have this night learned.
You had best accept my first suggestion, and join with the rest of us in
renouncing her forever and at once.'

"'That _I_ will not,' broke out King, vehemently. 'Her word is no better
than her acts, and I have as much right to her as Charlie Darling, or
either of you, and I'll not give up the right to a man of you.'

"'We'll have to fight a four-cornered duel,' remarked Tom Allen,
beginning to see the ludicrous side of the affair. 'Shall we choose up,
two on a side?'

"'I will withdraw my pretensions,' I reiterated, 'if the others will do
so, or even if King and Allen will quit the field to Charlie, who feels
himself bound by Teresa's promise to him.'

"'I have said I would not withdraw,' replied King, sullenly. And thus we
contended, hot-browed and angry-voiced, for more than an hour. Then
rough but practical Tom proposed a scheme, which was no less than to
compel Teresa to decide between us. After long deliberation, an
agreement was entered into, and I hope I shall not shock you too much
when I tell you what it was."

Kittredge paused, and looked at me doubtingly. I glanced aside at the
over-hanging trees, the glints of sunshine on the bank, a brown bird
among the leaves, at anything, rather than him, for he was living over
again the excitement of that time, and his face was not pleasant to
study. After a little waiting, I answered:

"I must know the remainder of the story, since I know so much; what did
you agree upon?"

"A plan was laid by which Teresa should be confronted with her four
lovers, and forced to explain her conduct. To carry out our design it
was necessary to use artifice, and I was chosen as the one who should
conduct the affair. I invited her to accompany me to a neighboring
farm-house to meet the young folks of the settlement. There was nothing
unusual in this, as in those primitive times great latitude was granted
to young people in their social intercourse. To mount her horse and ride
several miles to a neighbor's house with a single escort, not to return
until far into the night, was the common privilege of any young lady,
and therefore there was no difficulty about obtaining either her consent
or that of her parents to my proposition.

"We set off just at sunset, riding along the beach some distance,
admiring the gorgeous western sky, the peaceful sea, and watching the
sand-pipers skating out on the wet sands after every receding wave. I
had never seen Teresa more beautiful, more sparkling, or more
fascinating in every way; and my heart grew 'very little' as the Indians
say. It was impossible to accuse her even in my thoughts, while under
that bewitching influence. She was so full of life and vivacity that she
did not observe the forced demeanor I wore, or if she did, had too much
tact to seem to do so. As for me, guarded both by my hidden suspicions
and by my promise to my friends, I uttered no word of tenderness or
admiration with my tongue, whatever my eyes may have betrayed.

"The road we were going led past my house. When we were almost abreast
of it I informed Teresa that there were some of our friends waiting for
us there, and invited her to alight. Without suspicion she did
so.----Don't look at me that way, if you can help it. It was terribly
mean of us fellows, as I see it now. It looked differently then; and we
had none of us seen much of the world and were rude in our notions of
propriety.

"When she came inside of the house and saw only three men in place of
the girls of her acquaintance she expected to meet, she cast a rapid,
surprised glance all round, blushed, asked, 'where are the girls?'--all
in the most natural manner. There was positively nothing in her
deportment to betray a guilty conscience. I recognized that, and so, I
could see, did Darling. He made haste to hand her a chair, which she
declined, still looking about her with a puzzled, questioning air. I was
getting nervous already over my share in the business, and so plunged at
once into explanation.

"'Teresa,' I said, 'we four fellows have made a singular discovery,
recently, to the effect that we each believed himself to be your
accepted lover. We have met together to hear your explanation. Is there
a man in the house you are engaged to?"

"She gave one quick, scrutinizing glance at our faces, and read in them
that we were in earnest. Indeed, the scene would have given scope to the
genius of a Hogarth. Alternate red and white chased each other in quick
succession over her brow, cheeks, neck. Her eyes scintillated, and her
chest heaved.

"'Please answer us, Teresa,' said Darling, after a most painful silence
of a minute, which seemed an hour.

"She raised her flashing eyes to his, and her tones seemed to stab him
as she uttered, '_You_? you too?' Then gathering up her riding-skirt,
she made haste to leave us, but found the door guarded by Tom Allen.
When she saw that she was really a prisoner among us, alarm seized her,
and woman-like, she began to cry, but not passionately or humbly. Her
spirit was still equal to the occasion, and she faced us with the tears
running over her cheeks.

"'If there is a man among you with a spark of honor, open this door! Mr.
Kittredge, this is your house. Allow me to ask if I am to be retained a
prisoner in it, or what you expect to gain by my forcible detention?"

"Tom Allen whispered something unheard by any save her, and she struck
at him with her riding-whip. This caused both Darling and myself to
interpose, and I turned door-keeper while Allen retreated to the other
side of the room with rather a higher color than usual on his lumpish
face. All this while--not a long while, at all--King had remained in
sullen silence, scowling at the proceedings. At this juncture, however,
he spoke:

"'Boys,' said he, 'this joke has gone far enough, and if you will permit
us to take our leave, I will see Miss Bryant safe home.'

"Involuntarily she turned toward the only one who proffered help; but
Darling and I were too angry at the ruse to allow him to succeed, and
stood our ground by the door. 'You see, Teresa, how it is,' continued
King, glancing at us defiantly: 'these fellows mean to keep you a
prisoner in this house until they make you do and say as they please.'

"'What is it you wish me to do and say?" asked Teresa, with forced
composure.

"'We wish you to state,' said I, hoarsely, 'whether or not you are or
have been engaged to either of us. We want you to say it because we are
all candidates for your favor, and because there is a dispute among us
as to whose claim is the strongest. It will put an end to our quarrel,
and secure to you the instant return of your liberty, if you will
declare the truth.'

"At that she sank down on a chair and covered her face with her hands.
After a little time she gathered courage and looked up at Darling and
me. I observed, even then, that she took no notice of the others. 'If I
am promised to either of you, you know it. But this I say now: if I were
a hundred times promised, I would break that promise after such insult
as you have all offered me this evening. Let me go!'

"What Charlie Darling suffered all through the interview had been patent
to each of us. When she delivered his sentence in tones so determined, a
cry that was a groan escaped his colorless lips. To say that _I_ did not
writhe under her just scorn would be false. Tears, few, but hot and
bitter, blinded my eyes. She took no further notice of any of us, but
sat waiting for her release.

"'You knew by this time,' I said, 'that you had been deceived.'

"I felt by this time that I had been a fool--a poor, coarse fool; there
had been treachery somewhere, and that all together we were a villainous
lot. I was only hesitating about how to get out of the scrape decently,
when Darling spoke in a voice that was hardly recognizable:

"'Teresa, we _were_ engaged; I told these others so before; but they
would not believe me. On the contrary, each one claims to have received
such encouragement from you as to entitle him to be considered your
favored lover. Hard as it was for me to believe such falsehood possible
to you, two of these claimants insisted upon their rights against mine,
and they overruled my judgment and wishes to such a degree that I
consented to this trial for you. It has resulted in nothing except shame
to us and annoyance to you! I beg your pardon. More I will not say
to-night.'

"Then she rose up and faced us all again with burning cheeks and
flashing eyes. 'If any other man says I have given him a promise, or
anything amounting to a promise, he lies. To Tom Allen I have always
been friendly, and have romped with him at our little parties; but
to-night he grossly insulted me, and I will never speak to him again. As
to Harry King, I was friendly with him, too, until about a fortnight ago
he presumed to kiss me rudely, in spite of resistance, since which time
I have barely recognized him. If Mr. Kittredge says I have made him any
promises, he is unworthy of the great respect I have always had for
him;' and with that last word she broke down, and sobbed as if her heart
would break. But it was only for a few minutes that she cried--she was
herself again before we had recovered our composure.

"'What was it Tom Allen said to you?' asked Charlie, when her tears were
dried.

"'He said _he_ would have me, if the rest did cast me off. Thank you,'
with a mocking courtesy to Allen. 'It is fortunate for you--and for you
all, that I have no "big brother."'

"'I beg you will believe no "big brother" could add to my punishment,'
Charlie answered; and I felt included in the confession. Then he offered
to see her home without more delay, but she declined any escort
whatever, only requesting us to remain where we were until she had been
gone half an hour; and rode off into the moonlight and solitude
unattended, with what feelings in her heart God knows. We all watched
her until she was hidden from sight by the shadows of a grove of pines,
and I still remember the shudder with which I saw her plunge recklessly
into the gloom--manlike, careful about her beautiful body, and not
regarding her tender girl heart."

"That must have been a pleasant half hour for you," I could not help
remarking.

"Pleasant! yes; we were like a lot of devils chained. That night
dissolved all friendships between any two of us, except between Darling
and me; and _that_ could never be quite the same again, for had I not
shown him that I believed myself a favored rival? though I afterwards
pretended to impute my belief to vanity."

"How did you account _to yourself_ for the delusion? Had she not
flirted, as it is called, with you?"

"She had certainly caused me to be deluded, innocently or otherwise,
into a belief that she regarded me with peculiar favor; and I had been
accustomed to take certain little liberties with her, which probably
seemed of far greater importance to me than they did to her; for her
passional nature was hardly yet awakened, and among our primitive
society there was no great restraint upon any innocent familiarities."

"What became of her after that night?--did she marry Darling?"

The answer did not come at once. Thought and feeling were with the past;
and I could not bring myself to intrude the present upon it, but busied
myself with the leaves and vines and mosses that I had snatched from the
banks in passing, while my friend was absorbed in his silent
reminiscences.

"You have not heard the saddest part of the story yet," he said at last,
slowly and reluctantly. "She kept her word with each of us; ignoring
Allen and King entirely; and only vouchsafing a passing word to Charlie
and me. Poor Charlie was broken-hearted. He had never been strong, and
now he was weak, ill; in short, fell into a decline, and died in the
following year."

"Did the story never get out?"

"Not the true story. That scoundrel King spread a rumor abroad which
caused much mischief, and was most cruel after what we had done to
outrage her feelings in the first instance; but that was his revenge for
her slight--I never knew whether she regretted Darling or not. She was
so sensitive and willfully proud that she would have died herself sooner
than betray a regret for any one who had offended her. Her mother died,
and her father took her away with him to the Sandwich Islands. It was
said he was not kind to her, especially after her 'disgrace,' as he
called it."

"She never forgave you? What do you know about her subsequent history?"

"Nothing of it. But she had her revenge for what went before. After she
went to the Islands I wrote her a very full and perfect confession of my
fault, and the extenuating circumstances, and offered her my love, with
the assurance that it had always been hers. What do you think she wrote
me in return? Only this: that once she _had_ loved me; that she had but
just made the discovery that she loved me, and not Charlie Darling, when
we mutually insulted her as we did, and forced her to discard both of
us; for which she was not now sorry."

"After all, she was not an angel," I said, laughing lightly, to his
embarrassment.

"But to think of using a girl of sixteen like that!"

"You are in a self-accusing mood to-day. Let us talk of our neighbors.
Bad as that practice is, I believe it is better than talking about
ourselves:--Mrs. Sancy thinks so, I know?"

"Who is Mrs. Sancy?"

"I will introduce you to-morrow."

Next to being principal in a romantic _affaire de coeur_ is the
excitement of being an interested third party. In consonance with this
belief I laid awake most of the night imagining the possible and
probable "conclusion of the whole matter." I never doubted that Mrs.
Sancy was Teresa, nor that she was more fascinating at thirty-one than
she had been at sixteen: but fifteen years work great changes in the
intellectual and moral person, and much as I desired to play the part of
Fate in bringing these two people together, I was very doubtful about
the result. But I need not have troubled myself to assume the
prerogative of Fate, which by choosing its own instruments saved me all
responsibility in the matter.

As Mr. Kittredge messed with a party of military officers, and was off
on an early excursion to unknown localities, I saw nothing of him the
following morning. We were to ride on the beach after lunch, returning
on the turn of the tide to see the bathers. Therefore no opportunity
seemed likely to present itself before evening for the promised
introduction.

The afternoon proved fine, and we were cantering gaily along in the
fresh breeze and sunshine, when another party appeared, advancing from
the opposite direction, whom I knew to be Mrs. Sancy, her little
daughter Isabelle, and the Kanaka servant. The child and servant were
galloping hard, and passed us with a rush. But the lady seemed in a
quieter mood, riding easily and carelessly, with an air of
pre-occupation. Suddenly she too gave her horse whip and rein, and as
she dashed past I heard her exclaim, "The quicksands! the quicksands!"

Instinctively we drew rein, turned, and followed. We rode hard for a few
minutes, without overtaking her; then slackened our speed on seeing her
come up with the child, and arrest the race which had so alarmed her.

"There are no quicksands in this direction;" was the first remark of
Kittredge when we could speak.

"What should make her think so?"

"There _were_ quicksands there a number of years ago, and by her manner
she must have known it then."

"And by the same token," I replied, "she cannot have been here since the
change."

"Who is she?"

"My friend, Mrs. Sancy."

"Where is she from?"

"From the quicksands;" I replied evasively, as I saw the lady
approaching us.

"I fear you have shared my fright," she said, as soon as she came within
speaking distance. "When I used to be familiar with these sands there
was a dangerous spot out there; but I perceive time has effaced it, as
he does so many things;" smiling, and bowing to my escort.

"There are some things time never effaces, even from the sands,"
returned Kittredge, growing visibly pale.

"That is contrary to the poets," laughingly she rejoined; "but I believe
the poets have been superseded by the scientists, who prove everything
for you by a fossil."

I could not help watching her to learn how much or how little
recognition there was in her face. The color came and went, I could
perceive; but whether with doubt or certainty I could not determine. I
felt I ought to introduce them, but shrunk from helping on the
denouement in that way. In my embarrassment I said nothing. We were now
approaching the vicinity of the bathing-houses, and seeing the visitors
collecting for the bath, an excuse was furnished for quickening our
paces. Mrs. Sancy bowed and left us. Mr. Kittredge seemed to have lost
the power of speech.

Fifteen minutes after I was sitting on some drift-wood, watching the
pranks of the gayest of the crowd as they "jumped the rollers," when
Mrs. Sancy came out of a dressing-room, followed by her Kanaka with a
surf-board. Her bathing-dress was very jaunty and becoming, and her
skill as a swimmer drew to her a great deal of attention. To swim out
and float in on the rollers seemed to be to her no more of a feat than
it would be to a sea-gull, she did it so easily and gracefully. But
to-day something went wrong with her. Either she was too warm from
riding, or her circulation was disturbed by the meeting with Kittredge,
or both; at all events the second time she swam out she failed to
return. The board slipped away from her, and she sank out of sight.

While I gazed horror-stricken, scarce understanding what had taken
place, a man rushed past me in his bathing clothes, running out to where
the water was deep enough to float him, and striking out rapidly from
there. I could not recognize him in that dress, but I knew it was
Kittredge. Fate had sent him. The incoming tide kept her where she sank,
and he soon brought her to the surface and through the surf to the
beach. I spread my cloak on the sand, and, wrapping her in it, began
rubbing and rolling her, with the assistance of other ladies, for
resuscitation from drowning.

In three minutes more Kittredge was kneeling by my side with a
brandy-flask, administering its contents drop by drop, and giving
orders. "It is congestion," said he. "You must rub her chest, her back,
her hands and feet; so, so. She will die in your hands if you are not
quick. For God's sake, work fast!"

By his presence of mind she was saved as by a miracle. When she was
removed to her lodgings, and able to converse, she asked me who it was
that had rescued her.

"Mr. Kittredge," I said.

"The same I met on the beach?"

"The same."

She smiled in a faint, half-dreaming way, and turned away her face. She
thought I did not know her secret.

I am not going to let my hero take advantage of the first emotion of
gratitude after a service, to mention his wishes in, as many
story-tellers do. I consider it a mean advantage; besides Mr. Kittredge
did not do it. In fact, he absented himself for a week. When he
returned, I introduced him formally to Mrs. Sancy, and we three walked
together down to the beach, and seated ourselves on a white old
cottonwood that had floated out of the Columbia river, and been cast by
the high tides of winter above the shelving sands.

We were rather a silent party for a few minutes. In his abstraction, Mr.
Kittredge reached down and traced a name in the sand with the point of
my parasol stick--TERESA.

Then, seeing the letters staring at him, he looked up at her, and said,
"I could not brush them out if I would. Time has failed to do that." Her
gaze wandered away, out to sea, up towards the Capes, down toward the
Head; and a delicate color grew upon her cheek. "It has scarcely changed
in fifteen years," she said. "I did not count on finding all things the
same."

With that I made a pretense of leaving them, to seek shells along the
beach; for I knew that fate could no longer be averted. When I returned
she was aware that I possessed the secret of both, and she smiled upon
me a recognition of my right to be pleased with what I saw; what I
beheld seeming the prelude to a happy marriage. That night I wrote in my
diary, after some comments on my relations with Mr. Kittredge:

    "It is best to be off with the old love,
    Before you are on with the new."



AN OLD FOOL.

PART I.


The annual rain-fall on the lower Columbia River is upward of eighty
inches--often almost ninety; and the greater amount of this fall is
during the winter months, from November to March, generally the least
intermittent in December. I mention this climatic fact, the better to be
understood in attempting to describe a certain December afternoon in the
year 186-.

It lacked but two days of Christmas, and the sun had not shone out
brightly for a single hour in three weeks. On this afternoon the steady
pour from the clouds was a strong reminder of the ancient deluge.
Between the rain itself and the mist which always accompanies the
rain-fall in Oregon, the world seemed nearly blotted out. Standing on
the wharf at Astoria, the noble river looked like a great gray caldron
of steaming water, evaporating freely at 42°. The lofty highlands on the
opposite shore had lost all shape, or certain altitude. The stately
forest of firs along their summits were shrouded in ever-changing masses
of whitish-gray fog. Nothing could be seen of the light-house on the
headland at the mouth of the river; nothing of Tongue Point, two miles
above Astoria; and only a dim presentment of the town itself, and the
hills at the back of it. Even the old Astorians, used to this sort of
weather and not disliking it, having little to do in the winter time,
and being always braced up by sea-airs that even this fresh-water flood
could not divest of their tonic flavor--these old sea-dogs, pilots,
fishermen, and other _amphibia_, were constrained at last to give
utterance to mild growls at the persistent character of the storm.

A crowd of these India-rubber clad, red-cheeked, and, alas! too often
red-nosed old men of the sea, had taken shelter in the Railroad
Saloon--called that, apparently, because there was no railroad then
within hundreds of miles--and were engaged in alternate wild railings at
the weather, reminiscences of other storms, and whisky-drinking; there
being an opinion current among these men that water-proof garments alone
did not suffice to keep out the all-prevailing wet.

"If 'twant that we're so near the sea, with a good wide sewage of river
to carry off the water, we should all be drownded; thet's my view on't,"
said Rumway, a bar pilot, whose dripping hat-rim and general shiny
appearance gave point to his remark.

"You can't count on the sea to befriend you this time, Captain. Better
git yer ark alongside the wharf; fur we're goin' to hev the Columbia
runnin' up stream to-night, sure as you're born."

"Hullo! Is that you, Joe Chillis? What brought you to town in this kind
o' weather? And what do you know about the tides?--that's _my_ business,
I calculate."

"Mebbe it is; and mebbe a bar pilot knows more about the tides nor a
mountain man. But there'll be a rousin' old tide to-night, and a
sou'wester, to boot; you bet yer life on that!"

"I'll grant you thet a mountain man knows a heap thet other men don't.
But I'll never agree thet he can tell _me_ anything about _my_ business.
Take a drink, Joe, and then let's hear some o' your mountain yarns."

"Thankee; don't keer ef I do. I can't stop to spin yarns, tho', this
evenin'. I've got to git home. It won't be easy work pullin' agin the
tide an hour or two from now."

"What's your hurry?" "A story--a story!" "Let's make a night of it." "O,
come, Joe, you are not wanted at home. Cabin won't run away; wife won't
scold." "Stop along ov us till mornin';" were the various rather noisy
and ejaculatory remarks upon Chillis's avowed intention of abandoning
good and appreciative company, without stopping to tell one of his
ever-ready tales of Indian and bear fighting in the Rocky Mountains
thirty years before.

"Why, you ain't goin' out again till you've shaken off the water, Joe.
You're dripping like a Newfoundland;" said Captain Rumway, as Chillis
put down his empty glass, and turned toward the door, which he had
entered not five minutes before. This thoughtfulness for his comfort,
however, only meant, "Stay till you've taken another drink, and then
maybe you will tell us a story;" and Chillis knew the bait well enough
to decline it.

"Thankee, Captain. One bucketful more or less won't make no difference.
I'm wet to the skin now. Thank ye all, gentlemen; I've got business to
attend to this evenin'. Have any of you seen Eb Smiley this
arternoon?"--looking back, with his hand on the door-knob. "I'd like to
speak to him afore I leave, ef you can tell me whar to find him."

"You'll find him in there," answered the bar-tender, crooking his thumb
toward a room leading out of the saloon, containing a tumbled single-bed
and a wooden settee, besides various masculine bijouterie in the shape
of boots, old and new, clean and dirty; candle and cigar ends; dusty
bits of paper on a stand, the chief ornament of which was a
black-looking derringer; coats, vests, fishing-tackle; and cheap prints,
adorning the walls in the wildest disregard of effect--except, indeed,
the effect aimed at were chaos.

Into this apartment Chillis unceremoniously thrust himself through the
half-open door, frowning as darkly as his fine and pleasant features
would admit of, and muttering to himself, "Damme, I thought as much."

On the wooden settee reclined a man thirty years his junior--Chillis was
over sixty, though he did not look it--sleeping the heavy, stupid sleep
of intoxication. The old hunter did not stand upon ceremony, nor
hesitate to invade the sleeper's privacy, but marched up to the settee,
his ragged old blanket-coat dripping tiny streams from every separate
tatter, and proceeded at once roughly to arouse the drunken man by a
prolonged and vigorous shaking.

"Wha'er want? Lemme 'lone," grumbled Smiley, only dimly conscious of
what was being said or done to him.

"Get up, I say. Get up, you fool! and come along home. Your wife is
needin' ye. Go home and take care of her and the boy. Come along--d'ye
hear?"

But the sleeper's brain was impervious to sound or sense. He only
muttered, in a drowsy whisper, "Lemme 'lone," a few times, and went off
into a deeper stupor than before.

"You miserable cuss," snarled Chillis, in his wrath, "be d----d to you,
then! Drink yerself to death, ef you want to--the sooner the better;"
and, with this parting adjuration, and an extra shake, the old mountain
man, who had drank barrels of alcohol himself with comparative immunity
from harm, turned his back upon this younger degenerate victim of modern
whisky, and strode out of the room and the house, without stopping to
reply to the renewed entreaties of his friends to remain and "make a
night of it."

Making directly for the wharf, where his boat was moored, half filled
with water, he hastily bailed it out, pushed off, and, dropping the oars
into the row-locks, bent to the work before him; for the tide was
already beginning to run up, and the course he had to take brought him
dead against it for the first two or three miles, after which the tide
would be with him, and, if there should not be too much sea, the labor
of impelling the boat would be materially lessened.

The lookout from a small boat was an ugly one at three o'clock of this
rainy December afternoon. A dense, cold fog had been rolling in from the
sea for the last half hour, and the wind was rising with the tide. Under
the shelter of the hills at the foot of which Astoria nestled, the wind
did not make itself felt; but once past "The Point," and in the exposed
waters of Young's Bay, the south-westers had a fair sweep of the great
river, of which the bay is only an inlet. One of these dreaded storms
was preparing to make itself felt, as Chillis had predicted, and as he
now saw by the way in which the mist was being blown off the face of the
river, and the "white-caps" came instead. Before he arrived off the
Point he laid down his oars, and, taking out of his coat-pocket a
saturated yellow cotton handkerchief, proceeded to tie his old soft felt
hat down over his ears, and otherwise make ready for a struggle with
wind and water--neither of them adversaries to be trifled with, as he
knew.

Not a minute too soon, either; for, just when he had resumed the oars,
the boat, having drifted out of her course, was caught by a wave and a
blast on its broadside, and nearly upset.

"Steady, little gal," said Chillis, bringing his boat round, head to the
wind. "None o' your capers now. Thar is serious work on hand, an' I want
you to behave better'n ever you did afore. It's you an' me, an' the
White Rose, this time, sure," and he pressed his lips together grimly,
and peered out from under his bent old hat at the storm which was
driving furiously against his broad breast, and into his white, anxious
face, almost blinding and strangling him. His boat was a small one--too
small for the seas of the lower Columbia--but it was trim and light, and
steered easily. Besides, the old mountaineer was a skilled oarsman,
albeit this accomplishment was not a part of the education of American
hunters and trappers, as it was of the French _voyageurs_. Keeping his
little craft head to the wind, he took each wave squarely on the prow,
and with a powerful stroke of the oars cut through it, or sprang over
it, and then made ready for the next. Meanwhile, the storm increased,
the rain driving at an angle of 45°, and in sheets that flapped
smotheringly about him like wet blankets, and threatened to swamp his
boat without assistance from the waves. It was growing colder, too, and
his sodden garments were of little service to protect him from the chill
that comes with a south-wester; nor was the grip of the naked hands upon
the oars stimulating to the circulation of his old blood through the
swollen fingers.

But old Joe Chillis had a distinct comprehension of the situation, and
felt himself to be master of it. He had gone over to Astoria that day,
not to drink whisky and tell stories, but to do a good turn for the
"White Rose." Failing in his purpose, he was going back again, at any
cost, to make up for the miscarriage of that effort. Death itself could
not frighten him; for what was the Columbia in a storm to the dangers he
had passed through in years of hunting and trapping in the Rocky
Mountains? He had seemed to bear a charmed life then; he would believe
that the charm had not deserted him.

But, O, how his old arms ached! and the storm freshening every minute,
with two miles further to row, in the teeth of it. The tide was with him
now; but the wind was against the tide, and made an ugly sea. If he only
could reach the mouth of the creek before dark. If he could? Why, he
must. The tide would be up so that he could not find the entrance in the
dark. He worked resolutely--worked harder than ever--but he did not
accomplish so much, because his strength was giving out. When he first
became aware of this, he heaved a great sigh, as if his heart were
broken, then pressed his lips together as before, and peered through the
thick gray twilight, looking for the creek's mouth while yet there was a
little light.

He was now in the very worst part of the bay, where the current from
Young's River was strongest, setting out toward the Columbia, and where
the wind had the fairest sweep, blowing from the coast across the low
Clatsop plains. Only the tide and his failing strength were opposed to
these; would they enable him to hold his own? He set his teeth harder
than ever, but it was all in vain, and directly the catastrophe came.
His strength wavered, the boat veered round, a sudden gust and roll of
water took it broadside, and over she went, keel up, more than a mile
from land.

But this was not the last of Joe Chillis--not by any manner of means. He
had trapped beaver too many years to mind a ducking more or less, if he
only had his strength. So, when he came up, he clutched an oar that was
floating past him, and looked about for the boat. She was not far
off--the tide was holding her, bobbing up and down like a cork. In a few
minutes she was righted, and Chillis had scrambled in, losing his oar
while doing it, and regaining it while being nearly upset again.

It had become a matter of life and death now to keep afloat, with only
one oar to fight the sea with; and, though hoping little from the
expedient, in such a gale--blowing the wrong way, besides--Chillis
shouted for assistance in every lull of the tempest. To his own intense
astonishment, as well as relief, his hail was answered.

"Where away?" came on the wind, the sound seeming to flap and flutter
like a shred of torn sail.

"Off the creek, about a mile?" shouted Chillis, with those powerful
lungs of his, that had gotten much of their bellows-like proportions
during a dozen years of breathing the thin air of the mountains.

"All right!" was returned on the snapping, fluttering gale. After this
answer, Chillis contented himself with keeping his boat right side up,
and giving an occasional prolonged "Oh-whoo!" to guide his rescuers
through the thickening gloom. How long it seemed, with the growing
darkness, and the effort to avoid another upset! But the promised help
came at last, in the shape of the mail-carrier's plunger, her trim
little mast catching his eyes, shining white and bare out of the dusk.
Directly he heard the voices of the mail-carrier and another.

"Where be ye? _Who_ be ye?"

"Right here, under yer bow. Joe Chillis, you bet your life!"

"Waal, come aboard here, mighty quick. Make fast. Mind your boat; don't
let her strike us. Pole off--pole off, with yer oar!"

"Mind _your_ oars," returned Chillis; "I'll mind mine"--every word
spoken with a yell.

"What was the row, out there?" asks the mail-carrier, making a trumpet
of his hand.

"Boat flopped over; lost an oar," answered Chillis, keeping his little
craft from flying on board by main force.

"Guess I won't go over to-night," says the carrier. "'Taint safe for
the mail"--The wind snatching the word "mail" out of his mouth, and
scattering it over the water as if it had been a broken bundle of
letters. "I'll go back to Skippanon"--the letters flying every way
again.

"Couldn't get over noways, now," shouts back Chillis, glad in his heart
that he could not, and that the chance, or mischance, favored his
previous designs. Then he said no more, but watched his boat, warding it
off carefully until they reached the mouth of the creek and got inside,
with nothing worse to contend against than the insolent wind and rain.

"This is a purty stiff tide, for this time o' day. It won't take long to
pull up to Skippanon, with all this water pushin' us along. Goin' home
to-night, Joe?"

"Yes, I'm goin' home, ef I can borrer an oar," said Chillis. "My house
ain't altogether safe without me, in sech weather as this."

"Safer 'n most houses, ef she don't break away from her moorin's,"
returned the mail-carrier, laughing. "Ef I can git somebody to take my
place for a week, I'm comin' up to spend it with you, an' do some
shootin'. Nothin' like such an establishment as yours to go huntin'
in--house an' boat all in one--go where you please, an' stay as long as
you please."

"Find me an oar to git home with, an' you can come an' stay as long as
the grub holds out."

"Waal, I can do that, I guess, when we git to the landin'. I keep an
extra pair or two for emergencies. But it's gittin' awful black,
Chillis, an' I don't envy you the trip up the creek. It's crooked as a
string o' S's, an' full o' shoals, to boot."

"It won't be shoal to-night," remarked Chillis, and relapsed into
silence.

In a few minutes the boat's bow touched the bank. "Mind the tiller!"
called out both oarsmen, savagely. But as no one minded it, and it was
too dark to see what was the matter, the mail-carrier dropped his oar,
and stepped back to the stern to _feel_ what it was.

"He's fast asleep, or drunk, or dead, I don't know which," he called to
the other oarsman, as he got hold of the steering gear, and headed the
boat up-stream again. His companion made no reply, and the party
proceeded in silence to the landing. Here, by dint of much shouting and
hallooing, the inmates of a house close by became informed of something
unusual outside, and, after a suitable delay, a man appeared, carrying a
lantern.

"It's you, is it?" he said to the mail-carrier. "I reckoned you wouldn't
cross to-night. Who ye got in there?"

"It's Joe Chillis. We picked him up outside, about a mile off the land.
His boat had been upset, an' he'd lost an oar; an' ef we hadn't gone to
his assistance it would have been the last of old Joe, I guess."

"Hullo, Joe! Why don't you git up?" asked the man, seeing that Chillis
did not rise, or change his position.

"By George! I don't know what's the matter with him. Give me the
lantern;" and the mail-carrier took the light and flashed it over
Chillis's face.

"I don't know whether he's asleep, or has fainted, or what. He's awful
white, an' there's an ugly cut in his shoulder, an' his coat all torn
away. Must have hurt himself tryin' to right his boat, I guess. George!
the iron on the rowlock must have struck right into the flesh."

"He didn't say he was hurt," rejoined the other oarsman.

"It's like enough he didn't know it," said the man with the lantern.
"When a man's in danger he doesn't feel a hurt. Poor old Joe! he wasn't
drunk, or he couldn't have handled his boat at all in this weather. We
must take him in, I s'pose."

Then the three men lifted him upon his feet, and, by shaking and
talking, aroused him sufficiently to walk with their support to the
house. There they laid him on a bench, and brought him a glass of hot
whisky and water; and the women of the house gathered about shyly,
gazing compassionately upon the ugly wound in the old man's delicate
white flesh, white and delicate as the fairest woman's.

Presently, Chillis sat up and looked about him. "Have you got me the
oars?" he said to the mail-carrier.

"You won't row any more to-night, Joe, _I_ guess," the carrier answered,
smiling grimly. "Look at your shoulder, man."

"Shoulder be d----d!" retorted Chillis. "Beg pardon, ladies; I didn't
see you. Been asleep, haven't I? Perhaps, sence you seem to think I'm
not fit for rowin', one of these ladies will do me the favor to help me
put myself in order. Have you a piece of court-plaster, or a healing
salve, ma'am?"--to the elder woman. "Ladies mostly keep sech trifles
about them, I believe."

Then he straightened himself up to his magnificent height, and threw out
his broad, round chest, as if the gash in his shoulder were an epaulet
or a band of stars instead.

"Of course, I can do something for you," said the woman he had
addressed, very cheerfully and quickly. "I have the best healing salve
in all the country;" and, running away, she quickly returned with a roll
of linen, and the invaluable salve.

"I must look at the wound, and see if it wants washing out. Ugh! O,
dear! it is a dreadful cut, and ragged. You will have to go to the
doctor with that, I'm afraid. But I'll just put this on to-night, to
prevent your taking cold in it; though you will take cold, anyway, if
you do not get a change of clothes;" and the good woman looked round at
her husband, asking him with her eyes to offer this very necessary
kindness.

"You'll stop with us to-night, Joe," said the man, in answer to this
appeal, "an' the sooner you git off them wet clothes the better. I'll
lend you some o' mine."

"Yes, indeed, Mr. Chillis, you must get out of these wet things, and put
on some of Ben's. Then you will let me get you a bit of hot supper, and
go right to bed. You don't look as if you could sit up. There!" she
added, as the salve was pressed gently down over the torn flesh, and
heaving a deep sigh, "if you feel half as sick as I do, just looking at
it, you will do well to get ready to lie down."

"Thankee, ma'am. It's worth a man's while to git hurt a leetle, ef he
has a lady to take care o' him," answered Chillis, gallantly. "But I
can't accept your kindness any furder to-night. Ef I can git the loan of
a lantern an' a pair o' oars, it is all I ask, for home I must go, as
soon as possible."

"Ben will lend you a lantern," said the mail-carrier, "an' I will lend
you the oars, as I promised; but what on earth you want to go any
further in this storm for, beats me."

"This storm has only jist begun, and its goin' to last three days,"
returned Chillis. "No use waitin' for it to quit; so, good-night to you
all. I've made a pretty mess o' your floor," he added, turning to glance
at the little black puddles that had drained out of his great spongy
blanket coat, and run down through his leaky boots on to the
white-scoured boards of the kitchen; then, glancing from them to the
mistress of the house--"I hope you'll excuse me." And with that he
opened the door quickly, and shut himself out into the tempest once
more, making his way by the lantern's aid to the boat-house at the
landing, where he helped himself to what he needed, and was soon pulling
up the creek. Luckily there was no current against him, for it was
sickening work making the oar-stroke with that hurt in his shoulder.

He could see by the light of the lantern, which he occasionally held
aloft, that the long grass of the tide-marsh was already completely
submerged, the immense flats looking like a sea, with the wind driving
the water before it in long rolls, or catching it up and flirting it
through the air in spray and foam. His only guide to his course was the
scattering line of low willows whose tops still bent and shook above the
flood, indicating the slightly raised banks of the creek, everything
more distant being hidden in the profound darkness which brooded over
and seemed a part of the storm. But even with these landmarks he
wandered a good deal in his reckoning, and an hour or more had elapsed
before his watchful eyes caught the gleam of what might have been a star
reflected in the ocean.

"Thank God!" he whispered, and pulled a little faster toward that spark
of light.

In ten minutes more, he moored his boat to the hitching-post in front of
a tiny cottage, from whose uncurtained window the light of a brisk
wood-fire was shining. As the chain clanked in the ring, the door
opened, and a woman and child looked out.

"Is that you, Eben?" asked the woman, in an eager voice, made husky by
previous weeping. "I certainly feared you were drowned." Then seeing, as
her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, that the figure still
lingering about the boat was not her husband's she shrank back, fearing
the worst.

"I'm sorry I'm not the one you looked for, Mrs. Smiley," answered
Chillis, standing on the bit of portico, with its dripping honeysuckle
vines swinging in the wind; "but I'm better than nobody, I reckon, an'
Smiley will hardly be home to-night. The bay's awful rough, an' ef I
hadn't started over early, I shouldn't have ventured, neither. No, you
needn't look for your husband to-night, ma'am."

"Will you not come in by the fire, Mr. Chillis?" asked the woman,
hesitatingly, seeing that he seemed waiting to be invited.

"Thankee. But I shall spile your floor, ef I do. I'm a perfect sponge,
not fit to come near a lady, nohow. I thought," he added, as he closed
the door and advanced to the hearth, "that I would jest stop an' see ef
I could do anything for you, seein' as I guessed you'd be alone, and
mebbe afeard o' the storm an' the high tide. Ladies mostly is afeard to
be alone at sech times"--untying the yellow cotton handkerchief and
throwing his sodden hat upon the stone hearth.

"Do you think there is any danger?" asked Mrs. Smiley, embarrassed, yet
anxious. She stood in the middle of the room, behind him, with that
irresolute air an inexperienced person has in unexpected circumstances.

He turned around with his back to the blaze, while a faint mist of
evaporation began to creep out all over him, and occasionally to dart
out in slender streams and float up the wide chimney.

"There's no danger _now_, an' mebbe there won't _be_ any. But the tide
will not turn much afore midnight, an' it's higher now than it generally
is when it is full."

"What's that?" cried Willie, the boy, his senses sharpened by the
mention of danger.

"It's the wind rattlin' my boat-chains," returned Chillis, smiling at
the little fellow's startled looks.

"Your boat-chain!" echoed his mother, not less startled. "Was it your
boat that you were fastening to the hitching-post? I thought it was your
horse. Is the water up so high, then, already?"--her cheeks paling as
she spoke.

"I dragged it up a little way," returned Chillis, slowly, and turning
his face back to the fire. He was listening attentively, and thought he
caught the sound of lapping water.

"Have you just come from Astoria?" asked Mrs. Smiley, approaching, and
standing at one corner of the hearth. The fire-light shone full upon her
now, and revealed a clear white face; large, dark-gray eyes, full of
sadness and perplexity; a beautifully shaped head, coiled round and
round with heavy twists of golden hair, that glittered in its high
lights like burnished metal; and a figure at once full and lithe in its
proportions, clad in a neat-fitting dress of some soft, dark material,
set off with a tiny white collar and bright ribbon. It was easy to see
why she was the "White Rose" to the rough old mountain man. She was
looking up at him with an eager, questioning gaze, that meant, O, ever
so much more than her words.

"Not quite direct. I stopped down at the landin', an' I lost a little
time gittin' capsized in the bay. I left about three o'clock."

"Might not Eben have left a little later," the gray eyes added, "and
have been capsized, too?"

"He wouldn't _try_ to cross half an hour later--I'll wager my head on
that. He can't get away from town to-night; an', what is worse, I don't
think he can cross for two or three days. We've got our Christmas storm
on hand, an' a worse one than we've had for twenty years, or I'm
mistaken."

"If you thought the storm was going to be severe, why did you not warn
Eben, Mr. Chillis?" The gray eyes watched him steadily.

"I did say, there would be a sou'-wester uncommon severe; but Rumway
laughed at me for prophesyin' in his company. Besides, I was in a hurry
to get off, myself, and wouldn't argue with 'em. Smiley's a man to take
his own way pretty much, too."

"I wish you had warned him," sighed Mrs. Smiley, and turned wearily
away. She left her guest gazing into the fire and still steaming in a
very unsavory manner, lighted a candle, set it in the window, and opened
the door to look out. What she saw made her start back with a cry of
affright, and hurriedly close the door.

"Your boat is this side of the hitching-post, and the water is all
around us!"

"An' it is not yet eight o'clock. I guessed it would be so."

Just then, a fearful blast shook the house, and the boat's chain clanked
nearer. Willie caught his mother's hand, and shivered all over with
terror. "O, mamma!" he sobbed, "will the water drown our house?"

"I hope not, my boy. It may come up and wet our warm, dry floor; but I
trust it will not give us so much trouble. We do not like wet feet, do
we, Willie?"

Then the mother, intent on soothing the child, sat down in the
fire-light and held his curly head in her lap, whispering little cooing
sentences into his ear whenever he grew restless; while her strange,
unbidden guest continued to evaporate in one corner of the hearth,
sitting with his hands on his knees, staring at something in the coals.
There was no attempt at conversation. There had never, until this
evening, been a dozen words exchanged between these neighbors, who knew
each other by sight and by reputation well enough. Joe Chillis was not a
man whose personal appearance--so far as clothes went--nor whose
reputation, would commend him to women generally--the one being shabby
and careless, the other smacking of recklessness and whisky. Not that
any great harm was known of the man; but that he was out of the pale of
polite society even in this new and isolated corner of the earth. He had
had an Indian wife in his youth; being more accustomed to the ways of
her people than of his own. For nearly twenty years he had lived a
thriftless, bachelor existence, known among men, and by hearsay among
women, as a noted story-teller, and genial, devil-may-care, old mountain
man, whose heart was in the right place, but who never drew very heavily
upon his brain resources, except to embellish a tale of his early
exploits in Indian-fighting, bear-killing and beaver-trapping. It was
with a curious feeling of wonder that Mrs. Smiley found herself
_tête-a-tête_ with him at her own fireside; and, in spite of her anxiety
about other matters, she could not help studying him a good deal, as he
sat there, silent and almost as motionless as a statue; nor keep from
noticing his splendid _physique_, and the aristocratic cut of his
features; nor from imagining him as he must have been in his youth. She
was absorbed for a little while, picturing this gallant young White
among his Indian associates--trying to fancy how he treated his squaw
wife, and whether he really cared for her as he would for a White woman;
then, she wondered what kind of an experience his present life would be
for any one else--herself, for instance--living most of the year on a
flat-boat housed in, and hiding in sloughs, and all manner of watery,
out-of-the-way places. She loved forest and stream, and sylvan shades,
well enough; but not well enough for that. So a human creature who could
thus voluntarily exile himself must be peculiar. But Joe Chillis did not
look peculiar; he looked as alive and human as anybody--in fact,
particularly alive and human just now; and it was not any eccentricity
which had brought him to her this night, but a real human reason. What
was the reason?

What with his mother's cooing whispers, and the passing of her light
hand over his hair, Willie had fallen asleep. Mrs. Smiley lifted him in
her arms and laid him on the lounge, covering him carefully, and
touching him tenderly, kissing his bright curls at the last. Chillis
turned to watch her--he could not help it. Perhaps he speculated about
_her_ way of living and acting, as she had speculated about his.
Meantime, the tempest outside increased in fury, and the little cottage
trembled with its fitful shocks.

Now that Willie was asleep, Mrs. Chillis felt a growing nervousness and
embarrassment. She could not bring herself to sit down again, alone with
Joe Chillis. Not that she was afraid of him--there was nothing in his
appearance to inspire a dread of the man; but she wanted to know what he
was there for. The sensitive nerves of the man felt this mental inquiry
of her, but he would not be the first to speak; so he let her flutter
about--brightening the fire, putting to right things that were right
enough as they were, and making a pretense of being busied with
household cares. At length, there was nothing more to do except to wind
the clock, which stood on the mantel, over the hearth. Here was her
opportunity. "The evening has seemed very long," she said, "but it is
nine o'clock, at last."

Chillis got up, went to the door, and opened it. The boat was bumping
against the floor of the tiny portico. She saw it, too, and her heart
gave a great bound. Chillis came back, and sat down by the fire, looking
very grave and preoccupied. With a little shiver, she sat down opposite.
It was clear that he had no intention of going; and, strange as she felt
the situation to be, she experienced a sort of relief that he was there.
She was not a cowardly woman, nor was her guest one she would have been
likely to appeal to in any peril; but, since a possible peril had come,
and he was there of his own accord, she owned to herself she was not
sorry. She was a woman, any way, and must needs require services of men,
whoever they might be. Having disposed of this question, it occurred to
her to be gracious to the man whose services she had made up her mind to
accept. Glancing into his face, she noticed its pallor; and then
remembered what he had said about being capsized in the bay, and that he
was an old man; and then, that he might not have had any supper. All of
which inspired her to say, "I beg pardon, Mr. Chillis. I presume you
have eaten nothing this evening. I shall get you something, right
away--a cup of hot coffee, for instance." And, without waiting to hear
his faint denial, Mrs. Smiley made all haste to put her hospitable
intentions into practice, and soon had spread a little table with a very
appetizing array of cold meats, fruit, bread, and coffee.

While her guest, with a few words of thanks, accepted and disposed of
the refreshments, Mrs. Smiley sat and gazed at the fire in her turn. The
little cottage trembled, the windows rattled, the storm roared without,
and--yes, the water actually lapped against the house! She started,
turning to the door. The wind was driving the flood in under it. She
felt a chill run through her flesh.

"Mr. Chillis, the water is really coming into the house!"

"Yes, I reckoned that it would," returned the old man, calmly, rising
from the table and returning to the hearth. "That is the nicest supper
I've had for these dozen years; and it has done me good, too. I was a
little wore out with pullin' over the bay, agin the wind."

Mrs. Smiley looked at him curiously, and then at the water splashing in
under the door. He understood her perfectly.

"A wettin' wouldn't hurt you, though it would be disagreeable, an' I
should be sorry to have you put to that inconvenience. But the wind
_and_ the water may unsettle the foundation o' your house, the chimney
bein' on the outside, an' no support to it. Even that would not
certainly put you in danger, as the frame would likely float. But I
knew, ef sech a thing should happen, an' you here alone, you would be
very much frightened, an' perhaps lose your life a-tryin' to save it."

"And you came up from the landing in all this storm to take care of me?"
Mrs. Smiley exclaimed, with flushing cheeks.

"I came all the way from Astoria to do it," answered Chillis, looking at
the new-blown roses of her face.

"And Eben----" She checked herself, and fixed her eyes upon the hearth.

"He thought there was no danger, most likely."

"Mr. Chillis, I can never thank you!" she cried, fervently, as she
turned to glance at the sleeping child.

"White Rose," he answered, under his breath, "I don't want any thanks
but those I've got." Then, aloud to her: "You might have some blankets
ready, in case we are turned out o' the house. The fire will be 'most
sure to be put out, any way, an' you an' the boy will be cold."

Mrs. Smiley was shivering with that tenseness of the nerves which the
bravest women suffer from, when obliged to wait the slow but certain
approach of danger. Her teeth chattered together, as she went about her
band-box of a house, collecting things that would be needed, should she
be forced to abandon the shelter of its lowly roof; and, as she was thus
engaged, she thought the place had never seemed so cosy as it did this
wild and terrible night. She put on her rubber overshoes, tied snugly on
a pretty woollen hood, got ready a pile of blankets and a warm shawl,
lighted a large glass lantern (as she saw the water approaching the
fireplace), and, last, proceeded to arouse Willie, and wrap him up in
overcoat, little fur cap, and warm mittens; when all was done, she
turned and looked anxiously at the face of her guest. It might have been
a mask, for all she could learn from it. He was silently watching her,
not looking either depressed or hopeful. She went up to him, and touched
his sleeve. "How wet you are, still," she said, compassionately. "I had
forgotten that you must have been uncomfortable after your capsize in
the bay. Perhaps it is not too late to change your clothes. You will
find some of Eben's in the next room. Shall I lay them out for you?"

He smiled when she touched him, a bright, warm smile, that took away ten
years of his age; but he did not move.

"No," said he, "it's no use now, to put on dry clothes. It won't hurt me
to be wet; I'm used to it; but I shall be sorry when this cheerful fire
is out."

He had hardly spoken, when a blast struck the house, more terrific than
any that had gone before it, and a narrow crack became visible between
the hearth-stone and the floor, through which the water oozed in quite
rapidly. Mrs. Smiley's face blanched.

"That started the house a leetle," said Chillis, lighting his lantern by
the fire.

"Could we get to the landing, do you think?" asked Mrs. Smiley,
springing instinctively to the lounge, where the child lay in a
half-slumber.

"Not afore the tide begins to run out. Ef it was daylight, we might, by
keepin' out o' the channel; but the best we can do now is to stick to
the place we're in as long as it holds together, or keeps right side up.
When we can't stay no longer, we'll take to the boat."

"I believe you know best, Mr. Chillis; but it's frightful waiting for
one's house to float away from under one's feet, or fall about one's
head. And the tide, too! I have always feared and hated the tides, they
have been a horror to me ever since I came here. It seems so dreadful to
have the earth slowly sinking into the sea; for that is the way it
appears to do, you know."

"Yes, I remember hearin' you say you were nervous about the tides, once,
when I called here to see your husband. Curious, that I often thought o'
that chance sayin' o' yours, isn't it?"

Mrs. Smiley's reply was a smothered cry of terror, as another
blast--sudden, strong, protracted--pushed the house still further away
from the fire-place, letting the storm in at the opening; for it was
from that direction that the wind came.

"Now she floats!" exclaimed Chillis. "We'll soon know whether she's
seaworthy or not. I had better take a look at my boat, I reckon; for
that's our last resort, in case your ark is worthless, Mrs. Smiley." He
laughed softly, and stepped more vigorously than he had done, as the
danger grew more certain.

"All right yet--cable not parted; ready to do us a good turn, if we need
it."

"We shall not be floated off to the bay, shall we?" asked Mrs. Smiley,
trying to smile too.

"Not afore the tide turns, certain."

"It seems to me that I should feel safer anywhere than here. Unseen
dangers always are harder to battle with, even in imagination. I do not
wish to put you to any further trouble; but I should not mind the storm
and the open boat so much as seeing my house going to pieces, with me in
it--and Willie."

"I've been a-thinkin'," replied Chillis, "that the house, arter all,
ain't goin' to be much protection, with the water splashin' under foot,
an' the wind an' rain drivin' in on that side where the chimney is took
away. It's an awful pity such a neat, nice little place should come to
grief, like this--a real snug little home!"

"And what else were you thinking?"--bringing him back to the subject of
expedients.

"You mentioned goin' to the landin'. Well, we can't go there; for I
doubt ef I could find the way in the dark, with the water over the tops
of the bushes on the creek bank. Besides, in broad daylight it would be
tough work, pullin' agin' the flood; an' I had the misfortin to hurt my
shoulder, tryin' to right my boat in the bay, which partly disables me,
I am sorry to say; for I should like to put my whole strength to your
service."

"O, Mr. Chillis!--say no more, I beg. How selfish I am! when you have
been so kind--with a bruise on your shoulder, and all! Cannot I do
anything for you? I have liquor in the closet, if you would like to
bathe with it."

"See--she moves again!" cried he, as the house swayed yet further away
from the smouldering fire. "I've heard of 'abandonin' one's
hearth-stone;' but I'd no idea that was the way they done it."

"I had best get the brandy, any way, I think. We may need it, if we are
forced to go into the boat. But do let me do something for you now, Mr.
Chillis? It seems cruel, that you have been in your wet clothes for
hours, and tired and bruised besides."

"Thankee--'tain't no use!"--as she offered him the brandy-flask. "The
lady down at the landin' put on a plaster, as you can see for
yourself"--throwing back the corner of a cloth cape the woman had placed
over his shoulders, to cover the rent in his coat. "The doctor will have
to fix it up, I reckon; for it is cut up pretty bad with the iron."

Mrs. Smiley turned suddenly sick. She was just at that stage of
excitement when "a rose-leaf on the beaker's brim" causes the overflow
of the cup. The undulations of the water, under the floor and over it,
contributed still further to the feeling; and she hurried to the lounge
to save herself from falling. Here she threw herself beside Willie, and
cried a little, quietly, under cover of her shawl.

"There she goes! Well, this isn't pleasant, noways," said Chillis, as
the house, freed with a final crash from impediments, swayed about
unsteadily, impelled by wind and water. "I was sayin', a bit ago, that
we could not git to the landin', at present. There are three ways o'
choosin', though, which are these: to stay where we are; to git into the
boat, an' let the house take its chances; or to try to git to my cabin,
where we would be safe an' could keep warm."

"How long would it take us to get to your house?" asked Mrs. Smiley,
from under her shawl.

"An hour, mebbe. We should have to feel our way."

Mrs. Smiley reflected. Sitting out in an open boat, without trying to do
anything, would be horrible; staying where she was would be hardly less
so. It would be six or seven hours still to daylight. There was no
chance of the storm abating, though the water must recede after
midnight.

"Let us go," she said, sitting up. "You will not desert _me_, I know;
and why should I keep you here all night, in anxiety and peril? Once at
home, you can rest and nurse yourself."

"So be it; an' God help us!"

"Amen!"

Chillis opened the door and looked out, placing a light first in the
window. Then coming back for a basin, he waded out, bailed his boat,
and, unfastening the chain, hauled it alongside the doorway. Mrs. Smiley
had hastily put some provisions into a tin bucket, with a cover, and
some things for Willie into another, and stood holding them, ready to be
stowed away.

"You will have to take the tiller," said Chillis, placing the buckets
safely in the boat.

"I meant to take an oar," said she.

"If you know how to steer, it will be better for me to pull alone. Now,
let us have the boy, right in the bottom here, with plenty o' blankets
under and over him; the same for yourself. The lanterns--so. Now, jump
in!"

"The fire is dead on the hearth," she said, looking back through the
empty house, and across the gap of water showing through the broken
wall. "What a horrible scene! God sent you, Mr. Chillis, to help me live
through it."

"I believe he did. Are you quite ready?"

"Quite; only tell me what I must do. I wish I could help you."

"You do?" he answered; and then he bent himself to the work before him,
with a sense of its responsibility which exalted it into a deed of the
purest chivalry.

                        *    *    *    *    *

PART II.


The widow Smiley did not live on Clatsop Plains. Ever since the great
storm at Christmas, when her house was carried off its foundations by
the high tide, she had refused to go back to it. When the neighbors
heard of her husband's death, they took her over to Astoria to see him
buried, for there was no home to bring him to, and she had never
returned. Smiley, they say, was drowned where he fell, in the streets of
Astoria, that night of the high tide, being too intoxicated to get up.
But nobody told the widow that. They said to her that he stumbled off
the wharf, in the dark, and that the tide brought him ashore, and that
was enough for her to know.

She was staying with the family at the landing when the news came, two
days after his death. Joe Chillis brought her things down to the
landing, and had them sent over to Astoria, where she decided to stay;
and afterward she sold the farm and bought a small house in town, where,
after two or three months, she opened a school for young children. And
the women of the place had all taken to making much of Joe Chillis, in
consideration of his conduct during that memorable time, and of his
sufferings in consequence; for he was laid up a long while afterward
with that hurt in his shoulder, and the consequences of his exposure.
Mrs. Smiley always treated him with the highest respect, and did not
conceal that she had a great regard for him, if he _was_ nothing but an
old mountain man, who had had a squaw wife; which regard, under the
circumstances, was not to be wondered at.

Widow Smiley was young, and pretty, and _smart_; and Captain Rumway, the
pilot, was dreadfully taken up with her, and nobody would blame her for
taking a second husband, who was able and willing to provide well for
her. If it was to be a match, nobody would speak a word against it. It
was said that he had left off drinking on her account, and was building
a fine house up on the hill, on one of the prettiest lots in town. Such
was the gossip about Mrs. Smiley, a year and a half after the night of
the high tide.

It was the afternoon of a July day, in Astoria; and, since we have given
the reader so dismal a picture of December, let us, in justice, say a
word about this July day. All day long the air had been as bright and
clear as crystal, and the sun had sparkled on the blue waters of the
noblest of rivers without blinding the eyes with glare, or sickening the
senses with heat. Along either shore rose lofty highlands, crowned with
cool-looking forests of dark-green firs. Far to the east, like a cloud
on the horizon, the snowy cone of St. Helen's mountain stood up above
the wooded heights of the Cascade Range, with Mount Adams peeping over
its shoulder. Quite near, and partly closing off the view up the river,
was picturesque Tongue Point--a lovely island of green--connected with
the shore only by a low and narrow isthmus. From this promontory to the
point below the town, the bank of the river was curtained and garlanded
with blossoming shrubs--mock-orange, honeysuckle, spirea, _aerifolia_,
crimson roses, and clusters of elder-berries, lavender, scarlet, and
orange--everywhere, except where men had torn them away to make room for
their improvements.

Looking seaward, there was the long line of white surf which marks where
sea and river meet, miles away; with the cape and light-house tower
standing out in sharp relief against the expanse of ocean beyond, and
sailing vessels lying off the bar waiting for Rumway and his associates
to come off and show them the entrance between the sand-spits. And
nearer, all about on the surface of the sparkling river, snowy sails
were glancing in the sun, like the wings of birds that skim beside them.
It is hard, in July, to believe it has ever been December.

Perhaps Mrs. Smiley was thinking so, as from her rose-embowered
cottage-porch on the hill, not far from Captain Rumway's new house, she
watched the sun sinking in a golden glory behind the light-house and the
cape. Her school dismissed for the week, and her household tasks
completed, she was taking her repose in a great sleepy-hollow of a
chair, near enough to the roses to catch their delicate fragrance. Her
white dress looked fresh and dainty, with a rose-colored ribbon at the
throat, and a bunch of spirea; sea-foam, Willie called it, in her
gleaming, braided hair. Her great gray eyes, neither sad nor bright, but
sweetly serious, harmonized the delicate pure tones that made up her
person and her dress, leaving nothing to be desired, except, perhaps, a
suggestion of color in the clear, white oval of her cheeks. And that an
accident supplied.

For, while the sun yet sent lances of gold up out of the sea, the garden
gate clicked, and Captain Rumway came up the walk. He was a handsome
man, of fine figure, with a bronzed complexion, dark eyes, and hair
always becomingly tossed up, owing to a slight wave in it, and a springy
quality it had of its own. The sun and sea-air, while they had bronzed
his face, had imparted to his cheeks that rich glow which is often the
only thing lacking to make a dark face beautiful. Looking at him, one
could hardly help catching something of his glow, if only through
admiration of it. Mrs. Smiley's sudden color was possibly to be
accounted for on this ground.

"Good evening, Mrs. Smiley," he said, lifting his hat gracefully. "I
have come to ask you to walk over and look at my house. No, thank you; I
will not come in, if you are ready for the walk. I will stop here and
smell these roses while you get your hat."

"Is your house so nearly completed, then?" she asked, as they went down
the walk together.

"So nearly, that I require a woman's opinion upon the inside
arrangements; and there is no one whose judgment upon such matters I
value more than yours."

"I suppose you mean to imply that I am a good housekeeper? But there is
great diversity of taste among good housekeepers, Mr. Rumway."

"Your taste will suit me--that I am sure of. I did not see Willie at
home; is he gone away?" he asked, to cover a sudden embarrassing
consciousness.

"I let him go home with Mr. Chillis, last evening, but I expect him home
to-night."

"Poor old Joe! He takes a great deal of comfort with the boy. And no
wonder!--he is a charming child, worthy such parentage,"--glancing at
his companion's face.

"I am glad when anything of mine gives Mr. Chillis pleasure," returned
Mrs. Smiley, looking straight ahead. "I teach Willie to have a great
respect and love for him. It is the least we can do."

Rumway noticed the inclusive _we_, and winced. "He is a strange man," he
said, by way of answer.

"A hero!" cried Mrs. Smiley firmly.

"And never more so then when in whisky," added Rumway, ungenerously.

"Younger and more fortunate men have had that fault," she returned,
thinking of Eben.

"And conquered it," he added, thinking of himself.

"Here we are. Just step in this door-way a bit and look at the view.
Glorious, isn't it? I have sent for a lot of very choice shrubs and
trees for the grounds, and mean to make this the prettiest place in
town."

"It must be very pretty, with this view," replied Mrs. Smiley, drinking
in the beauty of the scene with genuine delight.

"Please to step inside. Now, it is about the arrangement of the doors,
windows, closets, and all that, I wanted advice. I am told that ladies
claim to understand these things better than men."

"They ought, I am sure, since the house is alone their realm. What a
charming room! So light, so airy, with such a view! and the doors and
windows in the right places, too. And this cunning little porch towards
the west! I'm glad you have that porch, Mr. Rumway. I have always said
every house should have a sunset porch. I enjoy mine so much these
lovely summer evenings."

And so they went through the house: she delighted with it, in the main,
but making little suggestions, here and there; he palpitating with her
praises, as if they had been bestowed on himself. And, indeed, was not
this house a part of himself, having so many of his sweetest hopes built
into it? For what higher proof does a man give of a worthy love then in
constructing a bright and cheerful shelter for the object of it--than in
making sure of a fitting home?

"It will lack nothing," she said, as they stood together again on the
"sunset porch," talking of so grouping the shrubbery as not to intercept
the view.

"Except a mistress," he added, turning his eyes upon her face, full of
intense meaning. "With the right woman in it, it will seem perfect to
me, without her, it is nothing but a monument of my folly. There is but
one woman I ever want to see in it. Can you guess who it is? Will you
come?"

Mrs. Smiley looked up into the glowing face bent over her, searching the
passionate dark eyes with her clear, cool gaze; while slowly the
delicate color crept over face and neck, as her eyes fell before his
ardent looks, and she drew in her breath quickly.

"I, I do not know; there are so many things to think of."

"What things? Let me help you consider them. If you mean--"

"O, mamma, mamma!" shouted Willie, from the street. "Here we are, and
I've had such a splendid time. We've got some fish for you, too. Are you
coming right home?" And there, on the sidewalk, was Chillis, carrying a
basket, with his hat stuck full of flowers, and as regardless as a child
of the drollery of his appearance.

Mrs. Smiley started a little as she caught the expression of his face,
thinking it did not comport with the holiday appearance of his
habiliments, and hastened at once to obey its silent appeal. Rumway
walked beside her to the gate.

"Have you no answer for me?" he asked, hurriedly.

"Give me a week," she returned, and slipped away from him, taking the
basket from Chillis, and ordering Willie to carry it, while she walked
by the old man's side.

"You have been lookin' at your new house?" he remarked. "You need not
try to hide your secret from me. I see it in your face;" and he looked
long and wistfully upon the rosy record.

"If you see something in _my_ face, I see something in yours. You have a
trouble, a new pain of some kind. Yesterday you looked forty, and
radiant; this evening your face is white and drawn by suffering."

"You do observe the old man's face sometimes, then? That other has not
quite blotted it out? O, my lovely lady! How sweet an' dainty you look,
in that white dress. It does my old eyes good to look at you."

"You are never too ill or sad to make me pretty compliments, Mr.
Chillis. Do you know, I think I have grown quite vain since I have had
you to flatter me. We constitute a mutual admiration society, I'm sure."

Then she led him into the rose-covered porch, and seated him in the
"sleepy-hollow;" brought him a dish of strawberries, and told him to
rest while she got ready his supper.

"Rest!" he answered; "_I'm_ not tired. Willie an' I cooked our own
supper, too. So you jest put Willie to bed--he's tired enough, I
guess--an' then come an' talk to me. That's all I want to-night--is jest
to hear the White Rose talk."

While Mrs. Smiley was occupied with Willie--his wants and his
prattle--her guest sat motionless, his head on his hand, his elbow
resting on the arm of the chair. He had that rare repose of bearing
which is understood to be a sign of high breeding, but in him was
temperament, or a quietude caught from nature and solitude. It gave a
positive charm to his manner, whether animated or depressed; a
dignified, introspective, self-possessed carriage, that suited with his
powerfully built, symmetrical frame, and regular cast of features. Yet,
self-contained as his usual expression was, his face was capable of
vivid illuminations, and striking changes of aspect, under the influence
of feelings either pleasant or painful. In the shadow of the rose-vines,
and the gathering twilight, it would have been impossible to discern, by
any change of feature, what his meditations might be now.

"The moon is full to-night," said Mrs. Smiley, bringing out her low
rocker and placing it near her friend. "It will be glorious on the
river, and all the 'young folks' will be out, I suppose."

"Did not Rumway ask you to go? Don't let me keep you at home, ef he
did."

"No; I am not counted among young folks any longer," returned she, with
a little sigh, that might mean something or nothing. Then a silence fell
between them for several minutes. It was the fashion of these friends to
wait for the spirit to move them to converse, and not unfrequently a
silence longer than that which was in heaven came between their
sentences; but to-night there was thunder in their spiritual atmosphere,
and the stillness was oppressive. Mrs. Smiley beat a tattoo with her
slipper.

"Rumway asked you to marry him, did he?" began Chillis, at last, in a
low and measured tone.

"Yes."

"An' you accepted him?"

"Not yet"--in a quavering adagio.

"But you will?"

"Perhaps so. I do not know"--in a firmer voice.

"Rumway is doin' well, an' he is a pretty good fellow, as men go. But he
is not half the man that I was at his age--or, rather, that I might have
been, ef I had had sech a motive for bein' a man as he has."

"It is not difficult to believe that, Mr. Chillis. There is heroic
material in you, and, I fear, none in Mr. Rumway." She spoke naturally
and cheerfully now, as if she had no sentiment too sacred to be revealed
about the person in question. "But why was there no motive?"

"Why? It was my fate; there was none--that's all. I had gone off to the
mountains when a lad, an' couldn't git back--couldn't even git letters
from home. The fur companies didn't allow o' correspondence--it made
their men homesick. When I came to be a man, I did as the other men did,
took an Indian wife, an' became the father o' half-breed children. I
never expected to live any other way than jest as we lived then--roamin'
about the mountains, exposed to dangers continually, an' reckless
because it was no use to think. But, after I had been a savage for a
dozen years--long enough to ruin any man--the fur companies began to
break up. The beaver were all hunted out o' the mountains. The men were
ashamed to go home--Indians as we all were--an' so drifted off down
here, where it was possible to git somethin' to eat, an' where there was
quite a settlement o' retired trappers, missionaries, deserted sailors,
and such-like Whites."

"You brought your families with you?"

"Of course. We could not leave them in the mountains, with the children,
to starve. Besides, we loved our children. They were not to blame for
bein' half-Indian; an' we could not separate them from their mothers, ef
we had a-wished. We did the only thing we could do, under the
circumstances--married the mothers by White men's laws, to make the
children legitimate. Even the heads of the Hudson's Bay Company were
forced to comply with the sentiment of the White settlers; an' their
descendants are among the first families of Oregon. But they had money
an' position; the trappers had neither, though there were some splendid
men among them--so our families were looked down upon. O, White Rose!
didn't I use to have some bitter thoughts in those days? for my blood
was high blood, in the State where I was raised."

"I can imagine it, very easily," said Mrs. Smiley, softly.

"But I never let on. I was wild and devil-may-care. To hide my
mortification, I faced it out, as well as I could; but I wasn't made, in
the beginnin', for that kind o' life, an' it took away my manhood. After
the country began to settle up, an' families--real White families--began
to move in, I used to be nearly crazy, sometimes. Many's the day that
I've rode through the woods, or over the prairies, tryin' to git away
from myself; but I never said a cross word to the squaw wife. Why should
I?--it was not her fault. Sometimes she fretted at me (the Indian women
are great scolds); but I did not answer her back. I displeased her with
my vagabond ways, very likely--her White husband, to whom she looked for
better things. I couldn't work; I didn't take no interest in work, like
other men."

"O, Mr. Chillis! was not that a great mistake? Would not some kind of
ambition have helped to fill up the blank in your life?"

"I didn't have any--I couldn't have any, with that old Indian woman
sittin' there, in the corner o' my hearth. When the crazy fit came on, I
jest turned my back on home, an' mounted my horse for a long, lonely
ride, or went to town and drank whisky till I was past rememberin' my
trouble. But I never complained. The men I associated with expected me
to amuse them, an' I generally did, with all manner o' wild freaks an'
incredible stories--some o' which were truer than they believed, for I
had had plenty of adventures in the mountains. White Rose, do you
imagine I ever loved that squaw wife o' mine?"

"I remember asking myself such a question, that night of the storm, as
you stood by the fire, so still and strange. I was speculating about
your history, and starting these very queries you have answered
to-night."

"But you have never asked me."

"No; how could I? But I am glad to know. Now I understand the great
patience--the tender, pathetic patience--which I have often remarked in
you. Only those who have suffered long and silently can ever attain to
it."

"An' so people say, 'Poor old Joe!' an' they don't know what they mean,
when they say it. They think I am a man without the ambitions an'
passions of other men; a simple, good fellow, without too much brain,
an' only the heart of a fool. But they don't know me--they don't know
me!"

"How could they, without hearing what you have just told me, or without
knowing you as I know you?"

"They never will know. I don't want to be pitied for my mistakes. 'Poor
old Joe' is proud, as well as poor."

Mrs. Smiley sat silent, gazing at the river's silver ripples. Her
shapely hands were folded in her lap; her whole attitude quiet,
absorbed. Whether she was thinking of what she had heard, or whether she
had forgotten it, no one could have guessed from her manner; and Chillis
could not wait to know. The fountains of the deep had been stirred until
they would not rest.

"Was there no other question you asked yourself about the old mountain
man which he can answer? Did you never wonder whether he ever had loved
at all?"

"You have made me wonder, to-night, whether, at some period of your
life, you have not loved some woman of your own race and color. You must
have had some opportunities of knowing white women."

"Very few. An' my pride was agin seekin' what I knew was not for me; for
the woman I fancied to myself was no common white woman. White Rose, I
carried a young man's heart in my bosom until I was near sixty, _an'
then I lost it_." He put out a hand and touched one of hers, ever so
lightly. "I need not tell you any more."

A silence that made their pulses seem audible followed this confession.
A heavy shadow descended upon both hearts, and a sudden dreary sense of
an unutterable and unalterable sorrow burdened their spirits.

After a little, "Mr. Chillis! Mr. Chillis!" wailed the woman's pathetic
voice; and "O, my lovely lady!" sighed the man's.

"What shall I do? what shall I do? I am so sorry. What shall I do?"

"Tell me to go. I knew it would have to end so. I knew that Rumway would
drive me to say what I ought not to say; for he is not worthy of you--no
man that I know of is. Ef I was as young as he, an' had his chance, I
would _make_ myself worthy o' you, or die. But it is too late. Old Joe
Chillis may starve his heart, as he has many a time starved his body in
the desert. But I did love you so! O, my sweet White Rose, I did love
you so! always, from the first time I saw you."

"What is that you say?" said Mrs. Smiley, in a shocked voice.

"Always, I said, from the first time I saw you. My love was true; it did
not harm you. I said, '_There_ is such a woman as God designed for me.
But it is too late to have her now. I will jest worship her humbly, a
great ways off, an' say "God bless her!" when she passes; an' think o'
her sweet ways when I am ridin' through the woods, or polin' my
huntin'-boat up the sloughs, among the willows an' pond-lilies. She
would hardly blame me, ef she knew I loved her that way.'

"But it grew harder afterwards, White Rose, when you were grateful to
me, in your pretty, womanly way, an' treated me so kindly before all the
world, an' let your little boy love me, an' loved me yourself--I knew
it--in a gentle, friendly fashion. O, but it was sweet!--but not sweet
enough, sometimes. Ef I have been crazed for the lack o' love in my
younger days, I have been crazed with love since then. There have been
days when I could neither work nor eat, nights when I could not sleep,
for thinkin' o' what might have been, but never could be; times when I
have been tempted to upset my boat in the bay, an' never try to right
it. But when I had almost conquered my madness, that you might never
know, then comes this Rumway, with his fine looks, an' his fine house,
an' his fine professions, an' blots me out entirely; for what will old
Joe be worth to Madame Rumway, or to Madame Rumway's fine husband?"

Mrs. Smiley sat thoughtful and silent a long time after this declaration
of love, that gave all and required so little. She was sorry for it; but
since it was so, and she must know it, she was glad that she had heard
it that night. She could place it in the balance with that other
declaration, and decide upon their relative value to her; for she saw,
as he did, that the two were incompatible--one must be given up.

"It is late," she said, rising. "You will come up and take breakfast
with Willie and me, before you go home? My strawberries are in their
prime."

"I thought you would a-told me to go, an' never come back," he said,
stepping out into the moonlight with the elastic tread of twenty-five.
He stopped and looked back at her, with a beaming countenance, like a
boy's.

She was standing on the step above him, looking down at him with a
pleasant but serious expression. "I am going to trust you never to
repeat to me what you have said to-night. I know I can trust you."

"So be it, White Rose," he returned, with so rapid and involuntary a
change of attitude, voice, and expression, that the pang of his hurt
pierced her heart also. "But I know I can trust you," she repeated, as
if she had not seen that shrinking from the blow. "And I am going to try
to make your life a little pleasanter, and more like other people's.
When you are dressed up, and ordered to behave properly, and made to
look as handsome as you can, so that ladies shall take notice of you and
flatter you with their eyes and tongues, and you come to have the same
interest in the world that other men have--and why shouldn't you?--then
your imagination will not be running away with you, or making angels out
of common little persons like myself--how dreadfully prosy and
commonplace you have no idea! And I forbid you to allow Willie to stick
your hat full of flowers, when you go fishing together; and order you to
make that young impudence respectful to you on all occasions--asserting
your authority, if necessary. And, lastly, I prefer you should not call
me Madame Rumway until I have a certified and legal claim to the title.
Good-night."

He stood bareheaded, his face drooping and half-concealed, pulling the
withered flowers out of his hat. Slowly he raised it, made a military
salute, and placed it on his head. "It is for you to command and me to
obey," he said.

"Breakfast at seven o'clock precisely," called out the tuneful voice of
Mrs. Smiley after him, as he went down the garden-path with bent head,
walking more like an old man than she had ever seen him. Then she went
into the house, closed it carefully, after the manner of lone women, and
went up to her room. But deliciously cool and fragrant as was the tiny
chamber, Mrs. Smiley could not sleep that night. Nor did Chillis come to
breakfast next morning.

A month passed away. Work was suspended on Mr. Rumway's house, the doors
and windows boarded up, and the gate locked. Everybody knew it could
mean but one thing--that Mrs. Smiley had refused the owner. But the
handsome captain put a serene face upon it, and kept about his business
industriously and like a gentleman. The fact that he did not return to
his wild courses was remarked upon as something hardly to be credited,
but greatly to his honor; for it was universally conceded, that such a
disappointment as his was enough to drive almost any man to drink who
had indulged in it previously; such is the generally admitted frailty of
man's moral constitution.

Toward the last of August, Mrs. Smiley received a visit from Chillis. He
was dressed with more than his customary regard to appearances, and
looked a little paler and thinner than usual. Otherwise, he was just the
same as ever; and, with no questions asked or answered on either side,
their old relations were re-established, and Willie was rapturously
excited with the prospect of more Saturday excursions. Yet there was
this difference in their manner toward each other--that he now seldom
addressed her as "White Rose," and never as "my lovely lady;" while it
was she who made graceful little compliments to him, and was always gay
and bright in his company, and constantly watchful of his comfort or
pleasure. She prevailed upon him, too, to make calls with her upon other
ladies; and gave him frequent commissions that would bring him in
contact with a variety of persons. But she could not help seeing, that
it was only in obedience to her wishes that he made calls, or mingled
with the town-people; and when, one evening, returning together from a
visit where he had been very much patronized, he had remarked, with a
shrug and smile of self-contempt, "It is no use, Mrs. Smiley--oil an'
water won't mix," she had given it up, and never more interfered with
his old habits.

So the summer passed, and winter came again, with its long rains, dark
days, and sad associations. Although Mrs. Smiley was not at all a
"weakly woman," constant effort and care, and the absence of anything
very flattering in her future, or inspiring in her present, wore upon
her, exhausting her vitality too rapidly for perfect health, as the
constantly increasing delicacy of her appearance testified. In truth,
when the spring opened, she found herself so languid and depressed as to
be hardly able to teach, in addition to her house-work. Then it was that
the gossips took up her case once more, and declared, with considerable
unanimity, that Mrs. Smiley was pining for the handsome Captain, after
all, and, if ever she had refused him, was sorry for it--thus revenging
themselves upon a woman audacious enough to refuse a man many others
would have thought "good enough for them," and "too good for" so
unappreciative a person.

With the first bright and warm weather, Willie went to spend a week with
his friend, and Mrs. Smiley felt forced to take a vacation. A
yachting-party were going over to the cape, and Captain Rumway was to
take them out over the bar. Rumway himself sent an invitation to Mrs.
Smiley--this being the first offer of amity he had felt able to make
since the previous July. She laughed a little, to herself, when the note
came (for she was not ignorant of the town-tattle--what school-teacher
ever is?) and sent an acceptance. If Captain Rumway were half as
courageous as she, the chatterers would be confounded, she promised
herself, as she made her toilet for the occasion--not too nice for
sea-water, but bright and pretty, and becoming, as her toilets always
were.

So she sailed over to the cape with the "young folks," and, as widows
can--particularly widows who have gossip to avenge--was more charming
than any girl of them all, to others beside Captain Rumway. The officers
of the garrison vied with each other in showing her attentions; and the
light-house keeper, in exhibiting the wonders and beauties of the place,
always, if unconsciously, appealed to Mrs. Smiley for admiration and
appreciation. Yet she wore her honors modestly, contriving to share this
homage with some other, and never accepting it as all meant for herself.
And toward Captain Rumway her manner was as absolutely free from either
coquetry or awkwardness as that of the most indifferent acquaintance.
Nobody, seeing her perfectly frank yet quiet and cool deportment with
her former suitor, could say, without falsehood, that she in any way
concerned herself about him; and if he had heard that she was pining for
him, he was probably undeceived during that excursion. Thus she came
home feeling that she had vindicated herself, and with a pretty color in
her face that made her look as girlish as any young lady of them all.

But, if Captain Rumway had reopened an acquaintance with Mrs. Smiley out
of compassion for any woes she might be suffering on his account, or out
of a design to show how completely he was master of himself, or, in
short, for any motive whatever, he was taken in his own devices, and
compelled to surrender unconditionally. Like the man in Scripture, out
of whom the devils were cast only to return, his last estate was worse
than the first, as he was soon compelled to acknowledge; and one of the
first signs of this relapse into fatuity was the resumption of work on
the unfinished house, and the ornamentation of the neglected grounds.

"I will make it such a place as she cannot refuse," he said to himself,
more or less hopefully. "She will have to accept the house and grounds,
with me thrown in. And whatever she is pining for, she _is_ pining,
_that_ I can see. It may be for outdoor air and recreation, and the care
which a husband only can give her. If it be that she can take them along
with me."

Thus it was, that when Chillis brought Willie home from his long visit
to the woods and streams, he saw the workmen busy on the Captain's
house. He heard, too, about the excursion to the cape, and the
inevitable comments upon Rumway's proceedings. But he said nothing about
it to Mrs. Smiley, though he spent the evening in the snug little
parlor, and they talked together of many things personally interesting
to both; especially about Willie's education and profession in life.

"He ought to go to college," said his mother. "I wish him to be a
scholarly man, whatever profession he decides upon afterward. I could
not bear that he should not have a liberal education."

"Yes, Willie must be a gentleman," said Chillis; "for his mother's sake
he must be that."

"But how to provide the means to furnish such an education as he ought
to have, is what puzzles me," continued Mrs. Smiley, pausing in her
needle-work to study that problem more closely, and gazing absently at
the face of her guest. "Will ten years more of school-teaching do it, I
wonder?"

"Ten years o' school-teachin', an' house-work, an' sewin'!" cried he.
"Yes, long before that you will be under the sod o' the grave-yard!
_You_ cannot send the boy to college."

"Who, then?"--smiling at his vehemence.

"_I_ will."

"You, Mr. Chillis? I thought...." She checked herself, fearing to hurt
his pride.

"You thought I was poor, an' so I am, for I never tried to make money.
_I_ don't want money. But there is land belongin' to me out in the
valley--five or six hundred acres--an' land is growin' more valuable
every year. Ten years from now I reckon mine would pay a boy's
schoolin'. So you needn't work yourself to death for that, Mrs. Smiley."

The tears sprang to the gray eyes which were turned upon him with such
eloquent looks. "It is like you," she said, in a broken voice, "and I
have nothing to say."

"You are welcome to my land, White Rose, an' there is nothin' _to_ be
said."

Then she bent her head over her sewing, feeling, indeed, that there was
little use for words.

"Do you know," he asked, breaking a protracted silence, "that you have
got to give up teachin'?"

"And do what? I might take to gardening. That would be better, perhaps;
I have thought about it."

"Let me see your hands. They look like gardenin': two rose-leaves! Don't
it make me wish to be back in my prime? Work for you! Wouldn't I love to
work for you?"

"And do you not, in every way you can? Am I to have no pride about
accepting so much service? What a poor creature you must take me for,
Mr. Chillis."

"There is nothin' else in the world that I think of; nothin' else that I
live for; an' after all it is so little, that I cannot save you from
spoilin' your pretty looks with care. An' you have troubled yourself
about me, too; don't think I haven't seen it. You fret your lovely soul
about the old man's trouble, when you can't help it--you, nor nobody.
An', after all, what does it matter about _me_? _I_ am nothin', and you
are everything. I want you to remember that, and do everything for your
own happiness without wastin' a thought on me. I am content to keep my
distance, ef I only see you happy and well off. Do you understand me?"

Mrs. Smiley looked up with a suffused face. "Mr. Chillis," she answered,
"you make me ashamed of myself and my selfishness. Let us never refer to
this subject again. Work don't hurt me; and since you have offered to
provide for Willie's education, you have lifted half my burden. Why
should you stand at a distance to see me happier than I am, when I am so
happy as to have such a friend as you? How am I to be happier by your
being at a distance, who have been the kindest of friends? You are out
of spirits this evening, and you talk just a little--nonsense." And she
smiled at him in a sweetly apologetic fashion for the word.

"That is like enough," he returned gravely; "but I want you to remember
my words, foolish or not. Don't let me stand in your light--not for one
minute; and don't forgit this: that Joe Chillis is happy when he sees
the White Rose bloomin' and bright."

Contrary to his command, Mrs. Smiley did endeavor to forget these words
in the weeks following, when the old mountain-man came no more to her
rose-embowered cottage, and when Captain Rumway invented many ingenious
schemes for getting the pale school-teacher to take more recreation and
fresh air. She endeavored to forget them, but she could not, though her
resolve to ignore them was as strong as it ever had been when her
burdens had seemed lighter! But in spite of her resolve, and in spite of
the fact that it could not be said that any encouragement had been given
to repeat his addresses, Rumway continued to work at his house and
grounds steadily, and, to all appearance, hopefully. And although he
never consulted Mrs. Smiley now concerning the arrangement of either, he
showed that he remembered her suggestions of the year before, by
following them out without deviation.

Thus quietly, without incident, the June days slipped away, and the
perfect July weather returned once more, when there was always a chair
or two out on the sunset porch at evening. At last Chillis re-appeared,
and took a seat in one of them, quite in the usual way. He had been
away, he said, attending to some business.

"An' I have fixed that matter all right about the boy's schoolin'," he
added. "The papers are made out in the clerk's office, an' will be sent
to you as soon as they are recorded. There are five hundred and forty
acres, which you will know how to manage better than I can tell you. You
can sell by and by, ef you can't yet the money out of it any other way.
The taxes won't be much, the land being unimproved."

"You do not mean that you have _deeded_ all your land to Willie?" asked
Mrs. Smiley. "I protest against it: he must not have it! Would you let
us rob you," she asked wonderingly. "What are _you_ to do, by and by, as
you say?"

"Me? I shall do well enough. Money is o' no use to me. But ef I should
want a meal or a blanket that I couldn't get, the boy wouldn't see me
want them long. Ef he forgot old Joe Chillis, his mother wouldn't, I
reckon."

"You pay too high a price for our remembrance, Mr. Chillis; we are not
worth it. But why do you talk of forgetting? You are not going away from
us?"

"Yes; I am goin' to start to-morrow for my old stampin' ground, east o'
the mountains. My only livin' son is over there, somewhar. He don't
amount to much--the Indian in him is too strong; but, like enough, he
will be glad to see his father afore I die. An' I want to git away from
here."

"You will come back? Promise me you will come back?" For something in
his voice, and his settled expression of melancholy and renunciation,
made her fear he was taking this step for a reason that could not be
named between them.

"It is likely," he said; "but ef I come or no, don't fret about me. Just
remember this that I am tellin' you now. The day I first saw you was the
most fortunate day of my life. Ef I hadn't a-met you, I should have died
as I had lived--like a creature without a soul. An' now I have a soul,
in you. An' when I come to die, as I shall before many years, I shall
die happy, thinkin' how my old hands had served the sweetest woman under
heaven, and how they had been touched by hers so kindly, many a time,
when she condescended to serve _me_."

What could she say to a charge like this? Yet say something she must,
and so she answered, that he thought too highly of her, who was no
better than other women; but, that, since in his great singleness of
heart, he did her this honor, to set her above all the world, she could
only be humbly grateful, and wish really to be what in his vivid
imagination she seemed to him. Then she turned the talk upon less
personal topics, and Willie was called and informed of the loss he was
about to sustain; upon which there was a great deal of childish
questioning, and boyish regret for the good times no more to be that
summer.

"I should like to take care of your boat," said he--"your hunting-boat,
I mean. If I had it over here, I would take mamma down to it every
Saturday, and she could sew and do everything there, just as she does at
home; and it would be gay, now, wouldn't it?"

"The old boat is sold, my boy; that an' the row-boat, and the pony, too.
You'll have to wait till I come back for huntin', and fishin', and
ridin'."

Then Mrs. Smiley knew almost certainly that this visit was the last she
would ever receive from Joe Chillis, and, though she tried hard to seem
unaffected by the parting, and to talk of his return hopefully, the
effort proved abortive, and conversation flagged. Still he sat there
silent and nearly motionless through the whole evening, thinking what
thoughts she guessed only too well. With a great sigh, at last he rose
to go.

"You will be sure to write at the end of your journey, and let us know
how you find things there, and when you are coming back?"

"I will write," said he; "an' I want you to write back and tell me that
you remember what I advised you some time ago." He took her hands,
folded them in his own, kissed them reverently, and turned away.

Mrs. Smiley watched him going down the garden-walk, as she had watched
him a year before, and noted how slow and uncertain his steps had grown
since then. At the gate he turned and waved his hand, and she in turn
fluttered her little white handkerchief. Then she sat down with the
handkerchief over her head, and sobbed for full five minutes.

"There are things in life one cannot comprehend," she muttered to
herself, "things we cannot dare to meddle with or try to alter;
Providences, I suppose, they are. If God had made a man like that for
me, of my own age, and given him opportunities suited to his capacities,
and he had loved me as this man loves, what a life ours would have
been!"

The summer weather and bracing north-west breezes from the ocean
renewed, in a measure, Mrs. Smiley's health, and restored her cheerful
spirits; and, if she missed her old friend, she kept silent about it, as
she did about most things that concerned herself. To Willie's
questioning she gave those evasive replies children are used to receive;
but she frequently told him, in talks about his future, that Mr. Chillis
had promised to send him to college, and that as long as he lived he
must love and respect so generous a friend. "And, Willie," she never
failed to add, "if ever you see an old man who is in need of anything;
food, or clothes, or shelter; be very sure that you furnish them, as far
as you are able." She was teaching him to pay his debt: "for, inasmuch
as ye have done it unto the least of these," he had done it unto his
benefactor.

September came, and yet no news had arrived from beyond the mountains.
Captain Rumway's house was finished up to the last touch of varnish. The
lawn, and the shrubbery, and fence were all just as they should be; yet,
so far as anybody knew, no mistress had been provided for them, when,
one warm and hazy afternoon, Mrs. Smiley received an invitation to look
at the completed mansion, and pass her judgment upon it.

"I am going to furnish it in good style," said its master, rather
vauntingly, Mrs. Smiley thought, "and I hoped you would be so good as to
give me your assistance in making out a list of the articles required to
fit the house up perfectly, from parlor to kitchen."

"Any lady can furnish a list of articles for each room, Mr. Rumway, more
or less costly, as you may order; but only the lady who is to live in
the house can tell you what will please _her_;" and she smiled the very
shadow of a superior smile.

Mr. Rumway had foolishly thought to get his house furnished according to
Mrs. Smiley's taste, and now found he should have to consult Mrs.
Rumway's, present or prospective, and the discovery annoyed him. Yet,
why should he be annoyed? Was not the very opportunity presented that he
had desired, of renewing his proposal to her to take the establishment
in charge? So, although it compelled him to change his programme, he
accepted the situation, and seized the tide at flood.

"It is that lady--the one I entreat to come and live in it--whose wishes
I now consult. Once more will you come?"

Mrs. Smiley, though persistently looking aside, had caught the eloquent
glance of the Captain's dark eyes, and something of the warmth of his
face was reflected in her own. But she remained silent, looking at the
distant highlands, without seeing them.

"You must have seen," he continued, "that notwithstanding your former
answer, I have been bold enough to hope you might change your mind; for,
in everything I have done here, I have tried to follow your expressed
wishes. I should in all else strive to make you as happy as by accepting
this home you would make me. You do not answer; shall I say it is
'yes?'" He bent so close that his dark, half-curling mop of hair just
brushed her golden braids, and gave her a little shock like electricity,
making her start away with a blush.

"Will you give me time to decide upon my answer, Mr. Rumway?"

"You asked for time before," he replied, in an agitated voice, "and,
after making me suffer a week of suspense, refused me."

"I know it," she said simply, "and I was sorry I had asked it; but my
reasons are even more imperative than they were then for wishing to
delay. I want to decide right, at last," she added, with a faint attempt
at a smile.

"That will be right which accords with your feelings, and certainly you
can tell me now what they are--whether you find me the least bit lovable
or not."

The gray eyes flashed a look up into the dark eyes, half of mirth and
half of real inquiry. "I think one might learn to endure you, Mr.
Rumway," she answered, demurely. "But"--changing her manner--"I can not
tell you whether or not I can marry you, until--until--well," she
concluded desperately--"it may be a day, or a week, or a month. There is
something to be decided, and until it is decided, I can not give an
answer."

Captain Rumway looked very rebellious.

"I do not ask you to wait, Mr. Rumway," said Mrs. Smiley, tormentingly.
"Your house need not be long without a mistress."

"Of course, I must wait, if you give me the least ground of hope. This
place was made for you, and no other woman shall ever come into it as my
wife--that I swear. If you will not have me, I will sell it, and live a
bachelor."

Mrs. Smiley laughed softly and tunefully. "Perhaps you would prefer to
limit your endurance, and tell me how long you _will_ allow me to
deliberate before you sell and retire to bachelorhood?"

"You know very well," he returned, ruefully, "that I shall always be
hoping against all reason that the wished-for answer was coming at
last."

"Then we will say no more about it at present."

"And I may come occasionally to learn whether that 'something' has been
decided?"

"Yes, if you have the patience for it. But, I warn you, there is a
chance of my having to say 'No.'"

"If there is only a chance of your having to say 'No,' I think I may
incur the risk," said Rumway, with a sudden accession of hopefulness;
and, as they walked home together once more, the gossips pronounced it
an engagement. The Captain himself felt that it was, although, when he
reviewed the conversation, he discovered that he founded his impression
upon that one glance of the gray eyes, rather than upon anything that
had been said. And Mrs. Smiley put the matter out of mind as much as
possible, and waited.

One day, about the last of the month, a letter came to her from over the
mountains. It ran in this wise:

    "MY LOVELY LADY: I am once more among the familyar seanes of 40
    year ago. My son is hear, an' about as I expected. I had rather
    be back at Clatsop, with the old bote; but, owin' to circumstances
    I can't controll, think it better to end my dais on this side ov
    the mountains. You need not look for me to come back, but I send
    you an' the boy my best love, an' hope you hav done as I advised.

    "Yours, faithfully, til deth,

    "JOE CHILLIS."

Soon after the receipt of this letter, Captain Rumway called to inquire
concerning the settlement of the matter on which his marriage depended.
That evening he stayed later than usual, and, in a long confidential
talk which he had with Mrs. Smiley, learned that there was a condition
attached to the consummation of his wishes, which required his
recognition of the claims of "poor old Joe" to be considered a friend of
the family. To do him justice, he yielded the point more gracefully
than, from his consciousness of his own position, could have been
expected.

The next day, Mrs. Smiley wrote as follows:

    "DEAR MR. CHILLIS: I shall move into the new house about the
    last of October, _according to your advice_. We--that is, myself,
    and Willie, and the present owner of the house--shall be delighted
    if you will come and stay with us. But if you decide to remain
    with your son, believe that we think of you very often and very
    affectionately, and wish you every possible happiness. R. agrees
    with me that the land ought to be deeded back to you; and _I_
    think you had best return and get the benefit of it. It would
    make you very comfortable for life, properly managed, and about
    that we might help you. Please write and let us know what to do
    about it.

    "Yours affectionately,

    "ANNIE SMILEY."

No reply ever came to this letter; and, as it was written ten years ago,
Mrs. Rumway has ceased to expect any. Willie is about to enter College.



HOW JACK HASTINGS SOLD HIS MINE.


The passenger train from the East came thundering down the head of the
Humboldt Valley, just as morning brightened over the earth--refreshing
eyes wearied with yesterday's mountains and cañons, by a vision of green
willows and ash trees, a stream that was not a torrent, and a stretch of
grassy country.

Among the faces oftenest turned to the flitting views was that of a
young, gracefully-formed, neatly-dressed, delicate-looking woman. The
large brown eyes often returned from gazing at the landscape, to scan
with seriousness some memoranda she held in her hand. "Arrive at Elko at
eight o'clock a.m." said the memorandum. Consulting a tiny watch, whose
hands pointed to ten minutes of eight, the lady began making those little
preparations which betoken the journey's end at hand.

"What a strange looking place it is!" she thought, as the motley
collection of board shanties and canvas houses came in sight;--for the
famous Chloride District had been discovered but a few months before,
and the Pacific Railroad was only four weeks open. "I wish Jack had come
to meet me! I'm sure I don't see how I am to find the stage agent to
give him Jack's letter. What a number of people!"

This mental ejaculation was called forth by the sight of the long
platform in front of the eating-house, crowded with a surging mass of
humanity just issuing from the dining-room. They were the passengers of
the eastward-bound train, ready to rush headlong for the cars when the
momently-expected "All aboard!" should be shouted at them by the
conductor. Into this crowd the freshly-arrived passengers of the
westward-bound train were a moment after ejected--each eyeing the other
with a natural and pardonable interest.

The brown-eyed, graceful young lady conducted herself in a very
business-like manner--presenting the checks for her baggage; inquiring
out the office of Wells, Fargo & Co., and handing in her letter, all in
the briefest possible time. Having secured a seat in a coach to Chloride
Hill, with the promise of the agent to call for her when the time for
departure arrived, the lady repaired to the dining-room just in time to
see her acquaintances of the train departing. Sitting down alone to a
hastily-cooked and underdone repast, she was about finishing a cup of
bitter black coffee with a little shudder of disgust, when a gentleman
seated himself opposite her at table. The glance the stranger cast in
her direction was rather a lingering one; then he ordered his breakfast
and ate it. Meanwhile the lady retired to the ladies' sitting-room.

After an hour of waiting, one, two, three, coaches rolled past the door,
and the lady began to fear she had been forgotten, when the polite agent
appeared to notify "Mrs. Hastings" that "the stage was ready." This was
Mrs. Alice Hastings, then--wife of Mr. Jack Hastings, of Deep Cañon,
Chloride District. The agent thought Mr. Hastings had a very pretty
wife, and expressed his opinion in his manner, as men will.

When, just before starting, there entered three of the roughest-looking
men she had ever encountered, Mrs. Hastings began to fear that in his
zeal to obey instructions, the agent had exceeded them, and in packing
the first three coaches with first-comers, had left this one to catch up
the fag end of travel. If the first impression, gained from sight, had
made her shrink a little, what was her dismay when, at the end of ten
minutes, one of her fellow-travelers--the only American of the
three--produced a bottle of brandy, which, having offered it first to
her, he passed to the bullet-headed Irishman and very shabby Jew:
repeating the courtesy once in twenty minutes for several times.

Mrs. Hastings was a brave sort of woman, where courage was needful; and
she now began to consider the case in hand with what coolness she could
command. One hundred and thirty miles--eighteen or twenty hours of such
companionship--with no chance of change or intermission; a wilderness
country to travel over, and all the other coaches a long way ahead. The
dainty denizen of a city home, shuddering inwardly, showed outwardly a
serene countenance. Her American friend, with wicked black eyes and a
jolly and reckless style of carrying himself, continued to offer brandy
at short intervals.

"Best take some, Madame," said he; "this dust will choke you if you
don't."

"Thanks," returned the lady, with her sweetest smile, "I could not drink
brandy. I have wine in my traveling-basket, should I need it; but much
prefer water."

At the next station, although hardly four minutes were lost in changing
horses, the men procured for her a cup of water. Mrs. Hastings' thanks
were frank and cordial. She even carefully opened a conversation about
the country they were passing over, and contrived to get them to ask a
question or two about herself. When they learned that she had come all
the way from New York on the newly-opened railroad, their interest was
at its height; and when they heard that she was going to join her
husband in the Chloride District, their sympathy was thoroughly
enlisted.

"Wonderful--such a journey! How she could be six days on the cars, and
yet able to take such a stage-ride as this, is astonishing."

Such were the American's comments. The Jew thought of the waiting
husband--for your Israelite is a man of domestic and family affections.
"Her husband looking for her, and she behind time! How troubled he must
be! Didn't _he_ know how it was? Wasn't his wife gone away on a visit
once, and didn't write; and he a running to the express office every
morning and evening for a letter, and getting so anxious as to
telegraph? Such an expense and loss of time!--and all because he felt so
uneasy about his wife!"

The bullet-headed young Irishman said nothing. He was about half asleep
from brandy and last night's travel; too stupid to know that his hat had
flown out of the window, and was bowling along in the wind and dust half
a mile behind--all the better for his head, which looked at a red heat
now.

The lady had lifted the rude men up to her level, when directly they
were ashamed of their brandy and other vices, and began to show
instinctive traits of gentlemen. By the time they arrived at the dinner
station, where half an hour was allowed for food and rest out of the
eighteen or twenty, she had at least two humble servitors, who showed
great concern for her comfort.

The day began to wane. They had traveled continuously over a long
stretch of plain between two mountain ranges, over a country entirely
uninhabited except by the stage company's employees, who kept the
stations and tended the stock. This lone woman had seen but one other
woman on the road. Plenty of teams--great "prairie schooners," loaded
with every conceivable thing for supplying the wants of an isolated
non-producing community, and drawn by ten or fourteen mules--had been
passed through the day.

As night fell, Mrs. Hastings saw what she had never before seen or
imagined--the camps of these teamsters by the roadside; horses and mules
staked, or tied to the wagons; the men lying prone upon the earth,
wrapped in blankets, their dust-blackened faces turned up to the frosty
twinkling stars. Did people really live in that way?--how many
superfluous things were there in a city!

The night was moonless and clear, and cold as at that altitude they
always are. Sleep, from the roughness of the road, was impossible. Her
companions dozed, and woke with exclamations when the heavy lurchings of
the coach disturbed them too roughly. Mrs. Hastings never closed her
eyes. When morning dawned, they were on the top of a range of mountains,
like those that had been in sight all the day before. Down these heights
they rattled away, and at four in the morning entered the streets of
Chloride Hill--a city of board and canvas houses. Arrived at the stage
office, the lady looked penetratingly into the crowd of men always
waiting for the stages, but saw no face she recognized. Yes, one--and
that the face of the gentleman who sat down opposite her at table in
Elko.

"Permit me," he said; "I think you inquired for Mr. Hastings?"

"I did; he is my husband. I expected to find him here," she replied,
feeling that sense of injury and desire to cry which tired women feel,
jostled about in a crowd of men.

Leaving her a moment to say something to an employee of the office, the
stranger returned immediately, saying to the man: "Take this lady to
Mrs. Robb's boarding-house." Then to her: "I will inquire for your
husband, and send him to you if he is in town. The hack does not go over
to Deep Cañon for several hours yet. Meanwhile you had better take some
rest. You must be greatly fatigued."

Fatigued! her head swam round and round; and she really was too much
exhausted to feel as disappointed as she might at Jack's non-appearance.
Much relieved by the prospect of a place to rest in, she followed the
man summoned to escort her, and fifteen minutes after was sound asleep
on a sofa of the boarding-house.

Three hours of sleep and a partial bath did much to restore tired
nature's equilibrium; and, although her head still felt absurdly light,
Mrs. Hastings enjoyed the really excellent breakfast provided for her,
wondering how such delicacies ever got to Chloride Hill. Breakfast over,
and no news of Jack, the time began to drag wearily. She was more than
half inclined to be angry--only relenting when she remembered that she
was two or three days behind time, and of course Jack could not know
when to expect her. She had very full directions, and if she could not
find her way to Deep Cañon she was a goose, that was all!

So she sent for the driver of the hack, told him to get her baggage from
the express office; and started for Deep Cañon. Who should she find in
the hack but her friend of the morning!

"I could not hear of your husband," said he; "but you are sure to find
him at home."

Mrs. Hastings smiled faintly, and hoped she should. Then she gave her
thoughts to the peculiar scenery of the country, and to the sharpness of
the descent, as they whirled rapidly down the four miles of cañon at the
bottom of which was the town of that name--another one of those places
which had "come up as a flower" in a morning. She longed to ask about
her husband and his "home"; but as there were several persons in the
stage, she restrained her anxiety, and said never a word until they
stopped before the door of a saloon where all the other passengers
alighted. Then she told the driver she wanted to be taken to Mr.
Hastings' house.

He didn't know where that was, he said, but would inquire.

Did he know Dr. Earle?

"That's him, ma'am;" pointing out her friend of the morning.

"How can I serve you?" he asked, raising his hat politely.

Mrs. Hastings blushed rosily, between vexation at Jack's invisibility
and confusion at being so suddenly confronted with Dr. Earle.

"Mr. Hastings instructed me to inquire of you, if I had any difficulty
in finding him," she said, apologetically.

"I will show you his place with pleasure," returned the Doctor
pleasantly; and, jumping on the box, proceeded to direct the driver.

Had ladies of Mrs. Hastings' style been as plenty in Deep Cañon as in
New York, the driver would have grumbled at the no road he had to follow
along the stony side of a hill and among the stumps of mahogany trees.
But there were few like her in that mountain town, and his chivalry
compelled him to go out of his way with every appearance of
cheerfulness. Presently the stage stopped where the sloping ground made
it very uncertain how long it could maintain its balance in that
position; and the voice of Dr. Earle was heard saying "This is the
place."

Mrs. Hastings, who had been looking out for some sign of home, was
seized with a doubt of the credibility of her senses. It was on the tip
of her tongue to say "This must be the house of some other Mr.
Hastings," when she remembered prudence, and said nothing. Getting out
and going toward the house to inquire, the door opened, and a man in a
rough mining suit came quickly forward to meet her.

"Alice!"

"Jack!"

Dr. Earle and the driver studiously looked the other way while
salutations were exchanged between Mr. and Mrs. Hastings. When they
again ventured a look, the lady had disappeared within the cabin, the
first glimpse of which had so dismayed her.

That afternoon, Jack initiated Alice into the mysteries of cooking by an
open fire, and expatiated largely on the merits of his outside kitchen.
Alice hinted to him that she was accustomed to sleep on something softer
than a board, and the two went together to a store to purchase materials
out of which to make a mattress.

After that, for two or three weeks, Mrs. Hastings was industriously
engaged in wondering what her husband meant when he wrote that he had
built a house, and was getting things ready to receive her. Reason or
romance as she might, she could not make that single room of rough
boards, roofed with leaky canvas and unfurnished with a single comfort
of life, into a house or home. At last, Jack seemed to guess her
thoughts, for she never spoke them.

"If I could sell my mine," he then often said, "I could fix things up."

"If you sold your mine, Jack, you would go back to New York, and then
there would be no need of fixing up this place." Alice wanted to say
"horrid" place, but refrained.

At length, from uncongenial air, water, food, and circumstances in
general, the transplanted flower began to droop. The great heat and
rarified mountain air caused frantic headaches, aggravated by the glare
which came through the white canvas roof. Then came the sudden mountain
tempests, when the rain deluged everything, and it was hard to find a
spot to stand in where the water did not drip through. She grew wild,
looking forever at bare mountain sides simmering in the sun by day, and
at night over their tops up to the piercing stars. A constant anxious
fever burnt in her blood, that the cold night air could not quench,
though she often left her couch to let it blow chilly over her, in her
loose night robes. Then she fell really ill.

Sitting by her bedside, Jack said: "If I could sell my mine!" And she
had answered, "let the mine go, Jack, and let us go home. Nothing is
gained by stopping in this dreadful place."

Then Mr. Hastings had replied to her, "I have no money, Alice, to go
home with, not a cent. I borrowed ten dollars of Earle to-day to buy
some fruit for you."

That was the last straw that broke the camel's back. By night Mrs.
Hastings was delirious, and Dr. Earle was called.

"She has a nervous fever," he said, "and needs the carefullest nursing."

"Which she cannot have in this d----d place," Mr. Hastings replied,
profanely.

"Why don't you try to get something to do?" asked Earle of the
sad-visaged husband, a day or two after.

"What is there to do? Everything is flat; there is neither business nor
money in this cursed country. I've stayed here trying to sell my mine,
until I'm dead broke; nothing to live on here, and nothing to get out
with. What I'm to do with my wife there, I don't know. Let her die,
perhaps, and throw her bones up that ravine to bleach in the sun. God!
what a position to be in!"

"But you certainly must propose to do something, and that speedily.
Couldn't you see it was half that that brought this illness on your
wife; the inevitable which she saw closing down upon you?"

"If I cannot sell my mine soon, I'll blow out my brains, as that poor
German did last week. Alice heard the report of the shot which killed
him, and I think it hastened on her sickness."

"And so you propose to treat her to another such scene, and put an end
to her?" said Earle, savagely.

"Better so than to let her starve," Jack returned, growing pale with the
burden of possibilities which oppressed him. "How the devil I am to save
her from that last, I don't know. There is neither business, money, nor
credit in this infernal town. I've been everywhere in this district,
asking for a situation at something, and cannot get anything better than
digging ground on the new road."

"Even that might be better than starving," said Dr. Earle.

Jack was a faithful nurse; Dr. Earle an attentive physician; young
people with elastic constitutions die hard: so Alice began to mend, and
in a fortnight was convalescent. Jack got a situation in a quartz mill
where the Doctor was part owner.

Left all day alone in the cabin, Alice began staring again at the dreary
mountains whose walls inclosed her on every side. The bright scarlet and
yellow flowers which grew out of their parched soil sometimes tempted
her to a brief walk; but the lightness of the air fatigued her, and she
did not care to clamber after them.

One day, being lonely, she thought to please Jack by dressing in
something pretty and going to the mill to see him. So, laying aside the
wrapper which she had worn almost constantly lately, she robed herself
in a delicate linen lawn, donned a coquettish little hat and parasol,
and set out for the mill, a mile away. Something in the thought of the
pleasant surprise it would be to Jack gave her strength and animation;
and though she arrived somewhat out of breath, she looked as dainty and
fresh as a rose, and Jack was immensely proud and flattered. He
introduced her to the head of the firm, showed her over the mill,
pointed out to her the mule-train packing wood for the engine fires, got
the amalgamator to give her specimens, and in every way showed his
delight.

After an hour or so she thought about going home; but the walk home
looked in prospect very much longer than the walk to the mill. In truth,
it was harder by reason of being up-hill. But opportunely, as it seemed,
just as Jack was seeing her off the door-stone of the office, Dr. Earle
drove up, and, comprehending the situation, offered to take Mrs.
Hastings to her own door in his carriage, if she would graciously allow
him five minutes to see the head man in.

When they were seated in the carriage, a rare luxury in Deep Cañon; and
had driven a half mile in embarrassed silence--for Mrs. Hastings somehow
felt ashamed of her husband's dependence upon this man,--the Doctor
spoke, and what he said was this:

"Your life is very uncongenial to you; you wish to escape from it, don't
you?"

"Yes, I wish to escape; that is the word which suits my feeling--a very
strange feeling it is."

"Describe it," said the Doctor, almost eagerly.

"Ever since I left the railroad, in the midst of a wilderness and was
borne for so many hours away into the heart of a still more desert
wilderness, my consciousness of things has been very much confused. I
can only with difficulty realize that there is any such place as New
York; and San Francisco is a fable. The world seems a great bare
mountain plane; and I am hanging on to its edge by my fingertips, ready
to drop away into space. Can you account for such impressions?"

"Easily, if I chose. May I tell you something?"

"What is it?"

"I've half a mind to run away with you."

Now, as Dr. Earle was a rather young and a very handsome man, had been
very kind, and was now looking at her with eyes actually moistened with
tears, a sudden sense of being on the edge of a pitfall overcame Mrs.
Hastings; and she turned pale and red alternately. Yet, with the
instinct of a pure woman, to avoid recognizing an ugly thought, she
answered with a laugh as gay as she could make it.

"If you were a witch, and offered me half of your broomstick to New
York, I don't know but I should take it;--that is, if there was room on
it anywhere for Jack."

"There wouldn't be," said the Doctor, and said no more.

The old fever seemed to have returned that afternoon. The hills glared
so that Mrs. Hastings closed the cabin door to shut out the burning
vision. The ground-squirrels, thinking from the silence that no one was
within, ran up the mahogany tree at the side, and scampered over the
canvas roof in glee. One, more intent on gain than the rest, invaded
Jack's outside kitchen, knocking down the tin dishes with a clang, and
scattering the dirt from the turf roof over the flour-sack and the two
white plates. Every sound made her heart beat faster. Afraid of the
silence and loneliness at last, she reopened the door; and then a
rough-looking man came to the entrance, to inquire if there were any
silver leads up the ravine.

Leads? she could not say: prospectors in plenty there were.

Then he went his way, having satisfied his curiosity; and the door was
closed again. Some straggling donkeys wandered near, which were mistaken
for "Diggers;" and dreading their glittering eyes, the nervous prisoner
drew the curtain over the one little sliding window. There was nothing
to read, nothing to sew, no housekeeping duties, because no house to
keep; she was glad when the hour arrived for preparing the late
afternoon meal.

That night she dreamed that she was a skeleton lying up the cañon--the
sunshine parching her naked bones; that Dr. Earle came along with a
pack-train going to the mill, and picking her up carefully, laid her on
top of a bundle of wood; that the Mexican driver covered her up with a
blanket, which so smothered her that she awakened, and started up
gasping for breath. The feeling of suffocation continuing, she stole
softly to the door, and opening it, let the chilly night air blow over
her. Most persons would have found Mr. Hastings' house freely
ventilated, but some way poor Alice found it hard to breathe in it.

The summer was passing; times grew, if possible, harder than before. The
prospectors, who had found plenty of "leads," had spent their "bottom
dollar" in opening them up and in waiting for purchasers, and were going
back to California any way they could. The capitalists were holding off,
satisfied that in the end all the valuable mines would fall into their
hands, and caring nothing how fared the brave but unlucky discoverers.
In fact, they overshot themselves, and made hard times for their own
mills, the miners having to stop getting out rock.

Then Jack lost his situation. Very soon food began to be scarce in the
cabin of Mr. Hastings. Scanty as it was, it was more than Alice craved;
or rather, it was not what she craved. If she ate for a day or two, for
the next two or three days she suffered with nausea and aversion to
anything which the outside kitchen afforded. Jack seldom mentioned his
mine now, and looked haggard and hopeless. The conversation between her
husband and Dr. Earle, recorded elsewhere, had been overheard by Alice,
lying half conscious; and she had never forgotten the threat about
blowing out his brains in case he failed to sell his mine. Trifling as
such an apprehension may appear to another, it is not unlikely that it
had its effect to keep up her nervous condition. The summer was
going--was gone. Mrs. Hastings had not met Dr. Earle for several weeks;
and, despite herself, when the worst fears oppressed her, her first
impulse was to turn to him. It had always seemed so easy for him to do
what he liked!

Perhaps _he_ was growing anxious to know if he could give the
thumb-screw another turn. At all events, he directed his steps toward
Mr. Hastings' house on the afternoon of the last day in August. Mrs.
Hastings received him at the threshold and offered him the
camp-stool--the only chair she had--in the shade outside the door; at
the same time seating herself upon the door-step with the same grace as
if it had been a silken sofa.

She was not daintily dressed this afternoon; for that luxury, like
others, calls for the expenditure of a certain amount of money, and
money Alice had not--not even enough to pay a Chinaman for "doing up"
one of her pretty muslins. Neither had she the facilities for doing them
herself, had she been skilled in that sort of labor; for even to do your
own washing and ironing pre-supposes the usual conveniences of a
laundry, and these did not belong to the furniture of the outside
kitchen. She had not worn her linen lawn since the visit to the mill.
The dust which blew freely through every crack of the shrunken boards
precluded such extravagance. Thus it happened that a soiled cashmere
wrapper was her afternoon wear. She had faded a good deal since her
coming to Deep Cañon; but still looked pretty and graceful, and rather
too _spirituelle_.

The Doctor held in his hand, on the point of a knife, the flower of a
cactus very common in the mountains, which he presented her, warning her
at the same time against its needle-like thorns.

"It makes me sick," said Alice hastily, throwing it away. "It is the
color of gold, which I want so much; and of the sunshine, which I hate
so."

"I brought it to you to show you the little emerald bee that is always
to be found in one: it is wonderously beautiful,--a living gem, is it
not?"

"Yes, I know," Alice said, "I admired the first one I saw; but I admire
nothing any longer--nothing at least which surrounds me here."

"I understand that, of course," returned the Doctor. "It is because your
health is failing you--because the air disagrees with you."

"And because my husband is so unfortunate. If he could only get away
from here--and I!" The vanity of such a supposition, in their present
circumstances, brought the tears to her eyes and a quiver about her
mouth.

"Why did you ever come here! Why did he ever ask you to come;--how
_dared_ he?" demanded the Doctor, setting his teeth together.

"That is a strange question, Doctor!" Mrs. Hastings answered with
dignity, lifting her head like an antelope. "My husband was deceived by
the same hopes which have ruined others. If I suffer, it is because we
are both unfortunate."

"What will he do next?" questioned the Doctor curtly. The cruel meaning
caused the blood to forsake her cheeks.

"I cannot tell what he will do,"--her brief answer rounded by an
expressive silence.

"You might help him: shall I point out the way to you?"--watching her
intently.

"Can you? _can_ I help him?"--her whole form suddenly inspired with
fresh life.

Dr. Earle looked into her eager face with a passion of jealous inquiry
that made her cast down her eyes:

"Alice, do you _love_ this Hastings?"

He called her Alice; he used a tone and asked a question which could not
be misunderstood. Mrs. Hastings dropped her face into her hands, her
hands upon her knees. She felt like a wild creature which the dogs hold
at bay. She knew now what the man meant, and the temptation he used.

"Alice," he said again, "this man, your husband, possesses a prize he
does not value; or does not know how to care for. Shall you stay here
and starve with him? Is he worth it?"

"He is my husband," she answered simply, lifting up her face, calm, if
mortally pale.

"And I might be your husband, after a brief interval," he said quickly.
"There would have to be a divorce;--it could be conducted quietly. I do
not ask you to commit yourself to dishonor. I will shield you; no care
shall fall upon you, nor any reproach. Consider this well, dearest
darling Alice! and what will be your fate if you depend upon him."

"Will it help _him_ then, to desert him?" she asked faintly.

"Yes, unless by remaining with him you can insure his support. Maintain
you he cannot. Suppose his mine were sold, he would waste that money as
he wasted what he brought here. I don't want his mine, yet I will buy it
tomorrow if that will satisfy you, and I have your promise to go with
me. I told you once that I wanted to run away with you, and now I mean
to. Shall I tell you my plan?"

"No, not to-day," Mrs. Hastings answered, struggling with her pain and
embarrassment; "I could not bear it to-day, I think."

"How cruel I am while meaning to be kind! You are agitated as you ought
not to be in your weak state. Shall I see you to-morrow--a professional
visit, you know?"

"You will buy the mine?"--faintly, with something like a blush.

"Certainly; I swear I will--on what conditions, you know."

"On none other?"

"Shall I rob myself, not of money only, but of what is far dearer?--On
_none other_." He rose, took her cold hand, clasped it fervently, and
went away.

When Jack came home to his very meagre dinner, he brought a can of
peaches, which, being opened, looked so deliciously cool and tempting
that Alice could not refrain from volubly exulting over them. "But how
did you get them, Jack?" she asked; "not by going into debt, I hope."

"No. I was in Scott's store, and Earle, happening to come in just as
Scott was selling some, and praising them highly, paid for a can, and
asked me to take them to you and get your opinion. They are splendid, by
Jove!"

"I do not fancy them," said Alice, setting down her plate; "but don't
tell the Doctor," she added hastily.

"You don't fancy anything, lately, Alice," Mr. Hastings replied, rather
crossly.

"Never mind, Jack; my appetite will come when you have sold your mine;"
and upon that the unreasonably fastidious woman burst into tears.

"As if my position is not trying enough without seeing you cry!" said
Jack, pausing from eating long enough to look injured. Plastic Jack!
your surroundings were having their effect on you.

The _Mining News_ of the second of September had a notice of the sale of
Mr. Hastings' mine, the "Sybil," bearing chloride of silver, to Dr.
Eustance Earle, all of Deep Cañon. The papers to be handed over and cash
paid down at Chloride Hill on the seventh; at which time Dr. Earle would
start for San Francisco on the business of the mining firm to which he
belonged. Mr. Hastings, it was understood, would go east about the same
time.

All the parties were at Chloride Hill on the morning of the seventh,
promptly. By eleven o'clock, the above-mentioned transaction was
completed. Shortly after, one of the Opposition Line's stages stopped at
Mrs. Robb's boarding-house, and a lady, dressed for traveling, stepped
quickly into it. Having few acquaintances, and being closely veiled, the
lady passed unrecognized at the stage-office, where the other passengers
got in.

Half an hour afterwards Mr. Jack Hastings received the following note:

    "DEAR JACK: I sold your mine for you. Dr. Earle is running away with
    me, per agreement; but if you take the express this afternoon, you
    will reach Elko before the train leaves for San Francisco to-morrow.
    There is nothing worth going back for at Deep Cañon. If you love me,
    save me.

    "Devotedly,

    "ALICE."

It is superfluous to state that Jack took the express, which, arriving
at Elko before the Opposition, made him master of the situation. Not
that he felt very masterful; he didn't. He was thinking of many things
that it hurt him to remember; but he was meaning to do differently in
future. He had at last sold his mine--no, he'd be d----d if _he_ had
sold it; but--Hallo! there's a big dust out on the road there!--it must
be the other stage. Think what you'll do and say, Jack Hastings!

What he did say was: "Ah, Doctor! you here? It was lucky for my wife,
wasn't it, since I got left, to have you to look after her? Thanks, old
fellow; you are just in time for the train. Alice and I will stop over a
day to rest. A thousand times obliged: good-bye! Alice, say good-bye to
Doctor Earle! you will not see him again."

Their hands and eyes met. He was pale as marble: she flushed one
instant, paled the next, with a curious expression in her eyes which the
Doctor never forgot and never quite understood. It was enough to know
that the game was up. He had another mine on his hands, and an ugly pain
in his heart which he told himself bitterly would be obstinate of cure.
If he only could be sure what that look in her eyes had meant!



WHAT THEY TOLD ME AT WILSON'S BAR.


The mining season was ended in the narrow valley of one of the
Sacramento's northern tributaries, as, in fact, it was throughout the
whole region of "placer diggings;" for it was October of a dry year, and
water had failed early in all the camps. The afternoon of a long, idle
day at Wilson's Bar was drawing to a close. The medium through which the
sun's hot rays reached the parched earth was one of red dust, the effect
of which was that of a mellow Indian summer haze, pleasing to the eye,
if abhorred by the skin and lungs, compelled to take it in, whether
brute or human. In the landscape was an incongruous mingling of beauty
and deformity; the first, the work of nature; the last, the marring of
man.

To the east and to the west rose hills, whose ruggedness was softened by
distance to outlines of harmonious grandeur. Scattered over the valley
between them, the stately "digger," or nut-pines, grew at near
intervals, singly or in groups of three or five, harmonizing by their
pale gray-green with the other half-tints of earth, air, and sky.
Following the course of the dried up river was a line, more or less
continuous, of the evergreen oaks, whose round, spreading tops are such
a grateful relief to the eye in the immense levels of the lower
Sacramento and upper San Joaquin valleys. Depending from these, hung
long, venerable-looking beards of gray moss, as devoid of color as
everything else in the landscape; everything else, except the California
wild grape, which, so far from being devoid of color, was gorgeous
enough in itself to lighten up the whole foreground of the picture.
Growing in clumps upon the ground, it was gay as a bed of tulips.
Clambering up occasional tall trees, it flaunted its crimson and
party-colored foliage with true bacchanalian jollity, each leaf seeming
drunk with its own red wine. There is truly nothing that grows in the
Golden State more beautiful than the _Vitus Californica_ in October.

That was Nature's side of the picture. The reverse was this: the earth
everywhere torn and disfigured by prospectors, whose picks had produced
the effect of some huge snout of swine, applied with the industry
characteristic of that animal in forbidden grounds. Rude cabins were
scattered about, chiefly in the neighborhood of the stream. Rockers,
sluice-boxes, and sieves strewed its borders. Along the dusty road which
led to Wilson's Bar toiled heavily laden trains of freight-wagons,
carrying supplies for the coming winter. At each little deviation from
the general level, the eight-mule teams strained every muscle; the
dust-enswathed drivers swore frantically and whipped mercilessly; the
immense wagons groaned and creaked, and--the world moved on, however
much the pained observer might wish to bring it to a stand-still.

A rosy sunset beyond the western mountains was casting its soft glamour
over the scene--happily not without one appreciative beholder--when Bob
Matheny's wagon drew up in front of the Traveler's Rest, the principal
hotel of Wilson's Bar. From the commotion which ensued immediately
thereupon, it would appear that Matheny was a person widely and also
somewhat favorably known; such ejaculations as "Hulloa! thar's Bob
Matheny," "How-dy, old feller!" and many other similar expressions of
welcome greeting him on all sides, as he turned from blocking the wheels
of his wagon, which else might have backed down the slight incline that
led to Traveler's Rest.

At the same moment that the hand-shaking was progressing, a young woman,
mounted on a handsome filly, rode up to the rude steps of the hotel and
prepared to dismount; and Bob Matheny instantly broke away from his
numerous friends, to lift her from the saddle, which act occasioned a
sympathetic smile in that same numerous circle, and a whisper ran round
it, half audible, to the effect that Bob had "bin gittin' married," "A
dog-goned purty gal," "The old cock's puttin' on frills," and similar
appropriate remarks, _ad infinitum_. In the meantime--the young woman
disappearing within the hotel, and Matheny occupying himself firstly
with the wants of his team, and lastly with his own and those of his
traveling companion--gossip had busily circulated the report among the
idlers of Wilson's Bar that Bob Matheny had taken to himself a young
wife, who was accompanying him on his monthly trip to the mountains.
This report was published with the usual verbal commentaries, legends,
and annotations; as relevant and piquant as that sort of gossip usually
is, and as elegant as, from the dialect of Wilson's Bar, might be
expected.

Late that evening, a group of honest miners discussed the matter in the
Star Empire Saloon.

"He's the last man I'd a-suspected ov doin' sech a act," said Tom Davis,
with a manly grief upon his honest countenance, as he hid the ace and
right-bower under the brim of his ragged old _sombrero_, and proceeded
to play the left upon the remainder of that suit--with emphasis, "the
very last man!"

"It's a powerful temptation to a feller in _his_ shoes," remarked the
tall Kentuckian on his right. "A young gal is a mighty purty thing to
look at, and takes a man's mind off from his misfortin's. You mind the
verse, don't ye:

    'Sorrows I divide, and joys I double?'"

"And give this world a world o' trouble," subjoined Davis's partner,
with a good natured laugh at his own wit. "It's your deal, Huxly. Look
and see if all the cards are in the pack. Deuced if I don't suspect
somebody's hidin' them."

"Every keerd's thar thet I hed in my hands, ef you mean _me_," said the
Kentuckian, sharply.

"Waal, I _don't_ mean you. A feller may have his little joke, I
suppose."

"Depends on the kind o' jokes. Here's the two missin' keerds on the
floor. Now, ef you say I put 'em thar, it's a little joke I reckon I
won't stand. _Sabe_?"

"Come, I'll pay for the drinks, old fel', if you'll allow me to
apologize. Waiter, drinks all round. What'll you take, gentlemen?"

"Now, that's what I call blarsted 'an'some," remarked Huxley, who was an
Englishman from Australia:

    "'Friend of me soul, this goblet sip,
      'Twill dry the starting tear;
    'Tis not so bright as woman's lip,
      But oh, 'tis more sincere!'

"Here's to ye, me hearties."

"Which brings us back to our subject," responded Davis's partner,
commonly called "Gentleman Bill," as the glasses were drained and sent
away. "Do you believe in curses, Kentuck?"

"B'lieve in cusses? Don't the Bible tell about cussin'? Wasn't thar an
old man in the Bible--I disremember his name--that cussed one of his
sons, and blessed t'other one? I reckon I _do_ b'lieve in cussin'."

His interlocutor laughed softly at the statement and argument. "Did you
ever know any body to be cursed in such a manner that it was plain he
was under a ban of unintermitting vengeance?"

"Ef you mean did I ever know a man as was cussed, I ken say I did, onct.
He was a powerful mean man--a nigger-driver down in Tennessee. He was
orful to swear, and cruel to the niggers, an' his wife besides. One day
she died an' left a mite of a baby; an' he was so mad he swore he
'wouldn't bury her; the neighbors might bury her, an' the brat, too, if
they liked.' As he was a-swearin' an' a-tearin' with all his might, an'
a-callin' on God to cuss him ef he didn't do so an' so, all of a
suddent, just as his mouth opened with a oath, he was struck speechless,
an' never has spoke a word till this day!--leastways, not that I ever
heard ov."

"That is what I should call a special example of Divine wrath," said
Gentleman Bill, deftly dealing the cards for a new game. "What I meant
to ask was, whether any one, yourself especially, had ever known one man
to curse another man so as to bring ruin upon him, in spite of his will
to resist it."

"Waal, I've heern tell of sech things; can't say as I know such a man,
without it's Bob Matheny. _He_ says he's cussed; an' I reckon he _is_.
Everybody in Wilson's Bar has heern about that."

"Not everybody, for I am still ignorant of his story. Was that why Mr.
Davis objected so strongly to his marriage? I begin to be interested.
Count me another game, partner. I should like to hear about Mr.
Matheny."

"You may tell the story, Davis," said Kentuck, magnanimously. "I want
ter chaw terbacker fur awhile, an' I can't talk an' chaw."

Tom Davis gladly took up the theme, as it gave him an opportunity to
display his oratorical and rhetorical abilities, of which he was almost
as proud as he was of his skill in hiding cards in his sleeves, his hat,
his hair, his boots.

"Gentlemen," he began, hesitating an instant--while, attention being
fixed on what he was about to say, he stocked the cards--"gentlemen,
it's one of the curusest things you ever heerd in yer life. It seems
thar was a woman at the bottom of it--I believe thar allers is at the
bottom of everything. Waal, he stole another man's sunflower--I've heerd
Bob say so, hisself--an' the other feller got mad--as mad as
thunder--an', when he found his gal had vamosed with Bob, he cursed him;
an' his curse was this: that as long as he lived all that he did should
prosper for a little while, an' jest when he begun to enj'y it, a curse
should come onto it. Ef it wor business, when he thought he was sure of
a good thing, it should fail. Ef it wor love, the woman he loved should
die. Ef it wor children, they should grow up, and turn agin' him; or, if
they stuck to him, the same curse should be on them; what they undertook
should fail; what they loved should die."

"Did the woman he loved die? did his children desert him?" asked the
Englishman, eagerly.

"His wife died seven year arter he married her; one ov his boys was
killed by his horse fallin' on him; the other got into bad company down
to Red Bluffs, an', arter leadin' the old man a devil of a life for two
year or more, run off, an' got taken by the lynchers--so folks said. I
b'lieve he has a gal, back in the States; but his wife's folks won't let
her come to Californy. They're a-eddicatin' her quite grand, an' she
writes a powerful nice letter. The old man showed me one, last time he
was up to the Bar. Han'some as any school-marm's ever ye saw. But Bob
says he don't see what's the use; somethin's sure to happen her;
somethin' allers does happen to him an' to his chillern."

"Is that why he thinks he's cursed--because 'something always happens?'"
asked Gentleman Bill, indifferently.

"Sart'in; an' it's so, as sure as yer born. Nothin' never pans out long
with Bob Matheny. His beginnin's is all good, an' his endin's all bad. I
reckon thar never was a man to Wilson's Bar has been cleaned eout, down
to the bed-rock, as often as Matheny."

"Is he a good man?" asked the Englishman, interested.

"Never had a better man to Wilson's Bar," responded Kentuck, decidedly,
as he cast his quid under the table. "He ain't a lucky feller, an' he's
mighty superstitious an' the like; but I make a heap o' Bob Matheny. His
luck an' his cuss don't hurt him none for me. It's jest a notion,
mebbe."

"Notion or no notion," said Davis, with a knowing leer, "he's not the
man to marry a nice gal like that 'un he's got up to the Rest. Better
let her be for some lucky young feller as could make her happy. Don't
you say so, boys?"

While the laugh went round, the crowd that had been gradually collecting
and listening to the story, began to move, and then to part, as the man
so much talked of forced his way toward the group of speakers.

"Hold yer tongue, Tom Davis," said Kentuck. "Hulloa, Bob! take my hand,
won't ye? I'll introduce ye to my friends. My pardner is Huxly--a
tip-top feller, as you'll diskiver fur yerself. Davis' pardner is
Randolph--Gentleman Bill, we call him fur short, he's so nice and
perlite. He's from yer State, too, I reckon."

"Randolphs of Booneville," said Gentleman Bill; rising and extending his
hand.

Matheny, who was a mild-looking man of about fifty, with a hesitating
manner and rather care-worn countenance, half concealed under a
wide-brimmed, dusty black hat, instead of meeting half-way the extended
hand of his friend's friend, thrust his own into his pockets and gazed
fixedly at young Randolph. "Be ye Boone Randolph, or be ye his sperrit?"
he asked, hoarsely.

"Neither, quite," said the young man, smiling, yet a little flushed. "I
am son of Boone Randolph of Booneville, if you know who he was."

Matheny turned and hurried out of the crowd, followed by Kentuck, who
wanted to have explained this singular conduct of Bob's towards his
friends. As there was no witness of their conversation, its meaning can
only be guessed at by another which took place two hours later, after
Matheny had turned in at the Traveler's Rest. It was late, even for him,
when Kentuck started for his lodgings at the other end of the long,
densely crowded street--crowded not only with buildings of wood and
canvas, but choked up with monstrous freight wagons, and their numerous
horse and mule-teams, for which there was not stable-room enough in all
Wilson's Bar. Stumbling along the uneven sidewalk, often touching with
his feet some unhoused vagabond, Kentuck was about to mount the stairs
which led to his bedroom, when some one touched him on the shoulder, and
the voice of Gentleman Bill addressed him:

"I beg your pardon, Kentuck; but you've been with Matheny, haven't you?
I want to know why he wouldn't shake hands. He told you, of course?"

"Waal, I'm a friend of Bob's, ye know, Bill; an' he is mighty rough on
you, sure. Better not say nothin' about it."

"That wouldn't suit me, Kentuck. I want to understand something about
the matter which concerns me so evidently. Come, out with it, and I'll
leave you to go to bed."

"Waal, you heerd Tom Davis' blab this evenin'; an' you know that Bob's
got the idee into his intelleck that the cuss of a sart'in man as he
onct wronged is a-stickin' to him yit, an' never will let loose till he
passes in his checks?"

"Who was the man?"

"Boone Randolph, of Booneville."

"My father?"

"Yaas, yer pap. He's down powerful on your pap, that's sart'in. Sez he
to me: 'Loh! that's the ornary whelp ov the devil that cussed me. Old's
I am I'd like to fight him, fur the sake o' the man that I knowed onct.
I feel my young blood a-risin'; he looks so mighty like Boone Randolph.'
But I tole him he war a fool to talk ov fightin' yer; ye'd whip him all
ter flinders."

"I wouldn't fight him, of course: he's too old for me. And then he's
just married, too, isn't he? I have no wish to make that young woman a
widow."

"A widow!" said Kentuck, laughing. "That girl's name is Anne Matheny;
but she ain't Bob's wife, not by a long shot. Why, she's Bob's darter,
as has just come out to see her old pap."

"Well, I like that. I am less than ever inclined to fight the man who
owns such a daughter. I must find a way to make friends with him, even
if I have to quarrel with him to do it. Good-night, Kentuck. Pleasant
dreams to you."

Gentleman Bill felt more than ordinarily wide-awake, whether it was from
the novel excitement of the brief encounter with Matheny or not. When
Kentuck had left him, he stood for some time irresolute, with no wish
for rest, and no desire to go anywhere in particular. He looked up to
the sky. It was murky with filmy fog-clouds and dust not yet settled to
the earth. Not a star was visible in the whole arch of heaven. He looked
down the street, and his eyes, accustomed to the darkness, could just
faintly distinguish the outlines of the wagons that crowded it. Every
sound was hushed, except the occasional movement of a restless animal,
or the deep sighing of a sleeping one. Not a light was burning anywhere
along the street. While gazing aimlessly into the gloom he saw, all at
once, as if lighted by a flash from the sky, a sudden illumination
spring up, and a column of flame stand erect over the Traveler's Rest.

Now, Wilson's Bar did not boast a fire company. At some seasons of the
year, had a fire broken out, there would have been a chance of its
extinguishment, inflammable as were the materials of which the place was
built; but just after the long, hot summer, when the river was all but
dried up, and every plank in houses, fences, and sidewalks so much
tinder, a fire that should get under headway would have everything its
own way. Seeing the danger, Gentleman Bill started down the street on a
run, shouting, in his clarion tones, that ever-thrilling cry of "Fire!
fire! fire!" till it seemed to him he must wake the dead. But it was
that hour of the night, or rather morning, when sleep is heaviest, and
the watchful senses off their guard. The teamsters, who slept in their
wagons, were the first to be aroused; but they, seeing the peril which
might come to their teams, and destruction to their property, kept by
their own. The inhabitants of the dwellings awoke more slowly, and came
pouring into the street only in time to see the roof of the Traveler's
Rest falling in, although the lower story was not yet consumed.

Nobody knew much about the details of the scene that ensued. The current
of heated air produced the usual rush of cold wind, which spread and fed
the flames, until, in half an hour, all hope of saving any part of the
principal street in the Bar was abandoned, and people were flying for
safety to the outskirts of the town.

On a little eminence, overlooking the burning buildings, together stood
Gentleman Bill and a young woman he had rescued from smoke and flame
just in time to save her from suffocation. Together they looked down
upon the conflagration, and together listened to the horrible medley of
sounds proceeding from it.

"If I could only know that my father is safe!" was the repeated moan of
Anne Matheny, as she gazed intently upon the scene of distress.

Seeing the fright and trouble in her eyes, her companion cunningly
diverted her attention for one moment to the weird landscape stretching
away toward the western mountains. It was the same scene she had beheld
for the first time with such interest twelve hours before; but in what
a different aspect! The murky heavens reflected the red glare of the
flames upon every object for miles around, tinging each with a lurid
gleam like nothing in nature. The dark neutrals of the far-off
mountains, the gray-green of the pines, the sere colors of the parched
valley, the dark dull-green of the oaks, garlanded with hoary moss, and
the gay foliage of the wild grape; all came out distinctly in this
furnace-glow, but with quite new effects. In the strong and strange
fascination of the scene, both these young people, so singularly
situated, forgot for three minutes their mutual anxiety. Longer it
would be impossible to forget it.

"Do not you think I might go to look for my father now, Mr. ----?"

"Randolph"--supplied that gentleman.

"Oh, thank you!--Mr. Randolph?"

"I do not see how you could, really;" and, without intending it in the
least, but simply through his embarrassment, Randolph glanced hastily at
her scanty dress, which thereby she blushingly understood to be his
objection.

"If I could get only a blanket from father's wagon! Do you think it
would be possible? Would you be running a risk to try for a blanket, do
you think, Mr. Randolph? If there is any risk, please do not go; but I
am so anxious--so terribly anxious."

He knew she was, and knew the reason she had for her apprehensions; so,
although he mistrusted the result of his errand, he answered simply:
"Certainly; I will go, if you are not afraid to be left alone. _I_ shall
be in no danger."

"O, thank you--thank you! You will bring me a message from my father?"

"I hope so, indeed, since you desire it so much. I think you had better
sit down on this newspaper, and let me cover your shoulders with my
coat."

"No, indeed. If you are going near the fire, you will need it to protect
you from cinders."

But Randolph quickly divested himself of his upper garment, and laid it
lightly over her shivering form; then quietly charging her to feel no
alarm, and as little anxiety as possible, strode rapidly away toward the
fire. Fifteen minutes afterward he returned more slowly, with a blanket,
which Anne rose up to receive.

"My father? Did you see my father?"

"I did not see him. He must have taken his horses off a little distance
for safety, and you may not see him for several hours. Do not indulge in
apprehensions. In the morning we shall find him: it is almost daylight
now."

He pointed to a faint light along the eastern horizon; but her eyes were
blinded with tears.

"It is not like my father to leave me so long--at such a time, too! He
would not care for his horses, nor for anything but me. O, can he have
perished!"

She spoke as though the awful significance of her loneliness had just
dawned upon her. Randolph, from whom the thought had never been absent
from the moment he saw the pillar of flame shooting up over the
Traveler's Rest, was startled by the suddenness of her anguish; and an
expression of profound grief came over his face, noticeable even to her
inattentive eyes, and which comforted her by its sympathy, even in the
midst of her alarm and distress.

The day had dawned when Anne Matheny lifted her tear-swollen face from
her knees, and looked upon the smoking ruins of Wilson's Bar. It was
but a blackened heap of rubbish; yet somewhere in its midst, she felt
assured, were buried the charred remains of her father. Each moment that
he came not deepened her conviction, until at last her companion ceased
his efforts to inspire hope, and accepted her belief as his own. Then,
with the inconsistency of sorrow, she violently repudiated the suspicion
of her father's death, and besought him piteously to seek and bring him
to her side.

It was while obeying this last command that Gentleman Bill encountered
Kentuck, who, after the confusion of the fire was over, was, like
himself, looking for Matheny. When they had consulted together, the
two returned to the place where Anne was awaiting them.

"There is one request I have to make, Kentuck: which is, that you will
not inform Miss Matheny of the enmity of her father toward my father and
myself. It would only distress her. Besides, I should like to befriend
her, poor girl! and I could not, if she looked upon me with her father's
eyes."

"No, 'tain't no use to tell her nothin' about that, sure enough. It's
mighty curus, though, 'bout that fire: not another man got hurt, not a
mite; and Bob Matheny dead! I'll be hanged if it ain't mighty curus. I
hope _ye_ won't hurt the gal, bein' yer the son of yer father."

"Hurt her! I'd----"

Gentleman Bill did not say what he would do: but Kentuck, glancing his
way, caught a perfectly comprehensible expression, and muttered softly
to himself:

"Waal, if that ain't the dog-gondest curusest sarcumstance I ever seed.
Hit, the first pop! Waal, I'm not the feller to come atween 'em ef
thet's ther notion. Far play's my rule."

To Bill, aloud, he said: "Reckon you'll hev' to let _me_ be her uncle
for awhile yet. Yer most too young a feller to offer to take car' of a
gal like that. Bob Matheny's darter has a right to what leetle dust pans
out o' Kentuck's claim. Thet's my go."

Just at this moment Anne, who had been watching for the return of her
friend, seeing two figures approaching, uttered a cry of joy and ran
forward to meet them. The shock of her disappointment at seeing a
stranger in place of her father, caused her nearly to swoon away in
Kentuck's arms.

"Neow, don't ye, honey," he said, soothingly, in his kind Kentucky
dialect. "Sho! don't ye take on. We's all got to die, sometime or
'nother. Don't mind me: I'm yer pap's oldest friend on this coast--hev'
prospected an' dug an' washed up with him sence '49; and a kinder
comrade a man never hed. In course, I consider it my dooty an' privilege
to see that you're took car' ov. The Bar's purty much cleared
eout--thet's so; but I'll soon hev' a cabin up somewhere; an' ye can
jest run my shebang anyway ye like. Reckon I can find some nice woman to
stay along with ye, fur comp'ny."

This was just the kind of talk best calculated to engage the attention
of one in Anne's situation--half soothing and half suggestive--and by
degrees her father's old friend succeeded in arousing her to face her
loss, and the prospects of her future.

                        *    *    *    *    *

They told me at Wilson's Bar, only last October--it must have been about
the anniversary of the fire--that in two or three months Anne had
recovered her spirits and health so far as to essay teaching the little
flock of children at the Bar, with flattering success; and that in two
or three more it began to be observed that Gentleman Bill--now more
commonly called Mr. Randolph, out of respect to Miss Matheny--generally
happened to be in the neighborhood of the school-house about the hour of
closing, in order that he might walk home with the teacher. In truth,
the young people had taken to looking and sighing after each other in a
way that provoked remark, and augured a wedding. As Anne insisted on
completing her term of teaching, as well as on taking a little time for
preparation, the wedding did not come off until the first part of
September.

On this occasion--the only one of the kind Kentuck had ever had anything
to do with--the rude, but generous-hearted Kentuckian made a point of
displaying his hospitality on a scale commensurate with his ideas of its
importance; and the _êlite_ of Wilson's Bar were invited to eat, drink,
and dance from dusk till dawn of that memorable day. As for the bride,
she looked as lovely as it is the right and duty of all brides to
look--even lovelier than the most; and the groom was the very prince of
bridegrooms--so all the maiden guests declared.

On the following morning, when the young couple were to go away, Annie
kissed and cried over Kentuck, her second father, in a truly gratifying
fashion; and Randolph behaved very gentlemanly and kindly--as, in fact,
he always did; and Kentuck put on paternal airs, blessing his children
in all the honeyed epithets of a true Kentuckian.

Alas, that the legend does not end here! If the reader is of my mind, he
will wish that it had. But if he is of that sanguinary sort who always
insist upon seeing the grist the gods send to their slow-grinding mills,
he will prefer to know the sequel. As I have already told you, it was in
September they were married. On the morning they left Kentuck the
weather was extremely hot, with queer little clouds hanging about the
mountains. They took the road up the cañon, toward McGibeney's
ranch--laughing and chatting, as they rode along side by side, Anne
replying to every lark singing by the roadside in a voice almost as
musical.

Well, if it must be told, there was a cloud-burst on the mountains about
noon that day. Not four hours after they had taken leave of him, Kentuck
received their poor bruised bodies at his very threshold, brought there
without the interposition of human hands. Wilson's Bar will long
remember that day. The fire took chiefly that which could be replaced;
but the flood washed out claims, ruined aqueducts, and destroyed lives
of men and brutes, carrying away with it the labors and hopes of years.



MISS JORGENSEN.


I am a plain, elderly, unmarried man, and I board at Mrs. Mason's. A
great deal of what I am about to relate came under my own observation;
and the remainder was confided to me from time to time by my landlady,
with whom I am upon terms of friendship and intimacy, having had a home
in her house for a period of seven years.

Mrs. Mason lives in her own tenement, in a quiet part of the city; and
besides myself, has usually three or four other boarders, generally
teachers, or poor young authors--some person always of the class that,
having few other pleasures, makes it a point to secure rooms with a fine
view of the bay. When Miss Jorgensen came to us, we were a quiet,
studious, yet harmonious and happy family; so well satisfied with our
little community that we did not take kindly to the proposed addition to
our circle when Mrs. Mason mentioned it. Neither did our landlady seem
to desire any change; but she explained to us that the young person
applying had made a strong appeal; that her classes (she was a teacher
of French) were principally in our part of the city; and that she would
be satisfied with a mere closet for a room. The only privilege for which
she stipulated was the use of the common parlor twice a week to receive
her company in.

"But I cannot agree to give up the parlor any single evening," Mrs.
Mason replied, "because it is used by all the family, every evening. You
will be entitled to the same privileges with the others." After some
hesitation this was agreed to, and our new boarder was installed in the
upper hall bed-room, which, when it had received the necessary furniture
and a saratoga trunk, with numerous boxes and baskets, would scarcely
allow space enough to dress in. However, Mrs. Mason reported that the
tenant professed real satisfaction with her quarters; and we all were on
tiptoe with curiosity to see the new inmate.

"Miss Jorgensen," said Mrs. Mason, that evening, as she escorted to the
dinner-table a small, pale, dark-eyed young person, in deep mourning;
and we being severally and separately presented afterward, endeavored to
place this little lonely scrap of humanity at ease with ourselves. But
in this well-intentioned effort Miss Jorgensen did not seem to meet us
half way. On the contrary, she repelled us. She was reserved without
being diffident; mercilessly critical, and fierily disputatious--all of
which we found out in less than a week. She never entered or left a room
without somehow disturbing the mental atmosphere of it, and giving the
inmates a little shock; so that Mr. Quivey, our dramatic writer, soon
took to calling her the "Electrical Eel," substituting "E. E." when the
person indicated was within ear-shot possibly or probably. In return, as
we afterward discovered, Miss Jorgensen told Miss Flower, our other
young lady boarder, that she had christened Mr. Quivey "I.
I."--"Incurable Idiot." How the "E. E." came to her knowledge was never
made plain. Before three months were past, she had quarreled with every
one in the house except Mrs. Mason and myself; though, to her credit be
it said, she always apologized for her temper when they were over, with
a frankness that disarmed resentment. Nevertheless, she was so
frequently in a hostile attitude toward one or another in the family,
that the mere mention of Miss Jorgensen's name was sure to arrest
attention and excite expectations. Thus, when I only chanced to whisper
to Mrs. Mason at breakfast one morning, "Miss Jorgensen keeps late
hours," every one at the table glanced our way inquiringly, as much as
to ask, "What has the little woman done now?" And when she appeared at
the close of the meal with pale face and swollen eyes, explaining her
tardiness by saying she had a headache, no one gave her sympathizing
looks except the landlady.

That kind-hearted person confided to me, later in the day, that her new
boarder troubled and puzzled her very much. "She will sit up until one
or two o'clock every night, writing something or other, and that makes
her late to breakfast. She goes out teaching every morning, and comes
back tired and late to luncheon; and you see she is never in her place
at dinner until the soup is removed, and every one at the table helped.
When I once suggested that she ought not to sit up so long at night, and
that her classes should be arranged not to fatigue her so much, with
other bits of friendly advice, she gave me to understand, very promptly,
that her ways were her own, and not to be interfered with by any one.
And directly afterward the tears came into her eyes. I confess I did not
understand her at all."

"What about the young man who calls here twice a week?" I inquired.

"She is engaged to him, she says."

"What sort of a person does he seem to be?"

"He looks well enough, only rather shabby, is very quiet, very attentive
to her, and what you might call obedient to her requirements. She often
seems displeased with him, but what she says to him at such times is
unknown to me, for she does her scolding all in French; and he usually
then invites her out to walk, by way of diversion, I suppose."

"Do you know that he comes every morning and carries her books for her?
He certainly cannot be employed, or he would not have time for such
gallantries."

"Perhaps he is engaged on one of the morning papers, and so is off duty
in the forenoon. I cannot think so industrious a person as she would
take up with a man both poor and idle. But you never know what a woman
will do," sighed Mrs. Mason, who had known something of heart-troubles
in her youth, and could sympathize with other unlucky women. "Excuse me;
I must not stand here gossiping." And the good lady went about her house
affairs.

A few moments later I was hurrying down town to my office, when I
overtook Miss Jorgensen and Mr. Hurst. As usual, she was leaning upon
his arm, and he was carrying her books. She was talking excitedly, in
French, and I thought her to be crying, though her face was covered with
a black veil. The few words I caught before she recognized me reminded
me of my conversation with Mrs. Mason.

"You _must_ get something to do, Harry," she was saying. "You know that
I work every instant of the time, yet how little I can save if I have to
supply you with money. It is a shame to be so idle and helpless, when
there is so much to be done before----"

She perceived me and stopped short. "So," I thought, "this precious
scamp is living off the earnings of the little French teacher, is he? A
pretty fellow, truly! I'll get him his _congé_ if I have to make love to
her myself." Which latter conceit so amused me, that I had forgotten to
be indignant with Mr. Hurst before I reached my office and plunged into
the business of the day.

But I never made love to Miss Jorgensen. She was not the kind of person
even a flirtish man would choose to talk sentiment with, and I was
always far enough from being a gallant. So our affairs went on in just
the usual way at Mrs. Mason's for three or four months. Miss Jorgensen
and Mr. Quivey let fly their arrows of satire at each other; Miss
Flower, the assistant high-school teacher, enacted the amiable
go-between; our "promising young artist" was wisely neutral; Mrs. Mason
and myself were presumed to be old enough to be out of the reach of
boarding-house tiffs, and preserved a prudent unconsciousness. Mr. Hurst
continued to call twice a week in the evening, and Miss Jorgensen kept
on giving French lessons by day, and writing out translations for the
press at night. She was growing very thin, very pale, and cried a good
deal, as I had reason to know, for her room adjoined mine, and more than
a few times I had listened to her sobbing, until I felt almost forced to
interfere; but interfered I never had yet.

One foggy July evening, on coming home to dinner, I encountered Miss
Jorgensen in the hall. She appeared to be just going out, a circumstance
which surprised me somewhat, on account of the hour. I however opened
the door for her without comment, when by the fading daylight I
perceived that her face was deathly pale, and her black eyes burning.
She passed me without remark, and hurried off into the foggy twilight.
Nor did she appear at dinner; but came in about eight o'clock and went
directly to her own room. When Mrs. Mason knocked at her door to inquire
if she was not going to take some refreshments, the only reply that
could be elicited was, that she had a headache, and could not be induced
to eat or drink--spoken through the closed door.

"She's been having a row with that sunflower of hers," was Mr. Quivey's
comment, when he overheard Mrs. Mason's report to me, made in an
undertone. Truth to tell, Mr. Quivey, from associating so much with
theatrical people in the capacity of playwright, had come to be rather
stagy in his style at times. "By the way, he was not on escort duty this
morning. I saw her proceeding along Powell street alone, and anxiously
peering up and down all the cross streets, evidently on the lookout, but
he failed to put in an appearance."

"Which was very unkind of him, if she expected that he would," put in
Miss Flower, glancing from under her long lashes at the speaker.

"That is so," returned Quivey; "for the fellow does nothing else, I do
believe, but play lackey to Miss Jorgensen; and if that is his sole
occupation, he ought to perform that duty faithfully. I do not see, for
my part, how he pays his way."

"Perhaps it pays him to be a lackey," I suggested, remembering what I
had once overheard between them. Mrs. Mason gave me a cautioning glance,
which she need not have done, for I had no intention of making known
Miss Jorgensen's secrets.

"Well," said Miss Flower, as if she had been debating the question in
her mind for some time previous, "I doubt if a woman can love a man who
submits to her will as subserviently as Mr. Hurst seems to, to Miss
Jorgensen. I know _some women_ could not."

"By which you mean _you_ could not," Mrs. Mason returned, smiling. "I do
not see that the case need be very different with men. Subserviency
never won anybody's respect or love either. Neither does willful
opposition, any more. Proper self-respect and a fair share of self-love
is more sure of winning admiration, from men or women, than too little
self-assertion or too much."

"But where the self-assertion is all on one side, and the self-abasement
all on the other--as in the case of Miss Jorgensen and Mr. Hurst--then
how would you establish an equilibrium, Mrs. Mason?"

"It establishes itself in that case, I should say," clipped in Mr.
Quivey. "Oil and water do not mix, but each keeps its own place
perfectly, and without disturbance."

I do not know how long this conversation might have gone on in this
half-earnest, half-facetious style, with Miss Jorgensen for its object,
had not something happened just here to bring it abruptly to a close;
and that something was the report of a pistol over our very heads.

"Great heaven!" ejaculated Miss Flower, losing all her color and
self-possession together.

"E. E., as I live--she has shot herself!" cried Quivey, half doubting,
half convinced.

I caught these words as I made a rapid movement toward the staircase.
They struck me as so undeniably true that I never hesitated in making an
assault upon her door. It was locked on the inside, and I could hear
nothing except a faint moaning sound within. Fearing the worst, I threw
my whole weight and strength against it, and it flew open with a crash.
There lay Miss Jorgensen upon the floor, in the middle of her little
room, uttering low moaning sobs, though apparently not unconscious. I
stooped over and lifted her in my arms to lay her upon the bed, and as I
did so, a small pocket-pistol fell at my feet, and I discovered blood
upon the carpet.

"Yes, Miss Jorgensen had certainly shot herself, I told Mrs. Mason, and
the rest who crowded after us into the little woman's room; but whether
dangerously or not, I could not say, nor whether purposely or
accidentally. Probably not dangerously, as she was already making signs
to me to exclude people from the apartment.

"You had better bring a surgeon," I said to Quivey, who turned away
muttering, followed by Miss Flower.

With Mrs. Mason's assistance, I soon made out the location of the wound,
which was in the flesh of the upper part of the left arm, and
consequently not so alarming as it would be painful during treatment.

"Could she have meant to shoot herself through the heart, and failed
through agitation?" whispered Mrs. Mason to me, aside.

"No, no; it was an accident," murmured the victim, whose quick ear had
caught the words. "I did not mean to shoot myself."

"Poor child, I am very sorry for you," returned Mrs. Mason gently, whose
kind heart had always leaned toward the little French teacher, in spite
of her singular ways. "It is very unfortunate; but you shall receive
careful nursing until you recover. You need not worry about yourself,
but try to bear it the best you can."

"O, I cannot bear it--I _must_ be well to-morrow. O, what shall I do!"
moaned Miss Jorgensen. "O, that this should have happened to-night!" And
momently, after this thought occurred to her, her restlessness seemed to
increase, until the surgeon came and began an examination of the wound.

While this was going on, notwithstanding the sickening pain, the
sufferer seemed anxious only about the opinion to be given upon the
importance of the wound as interfering with her usual pursuits.

When, in answer to a direct appeal, she was told that it must be some
weeks before she could resume going out, a fainting fit immediately
followed, which gave us no little trouble and alarm.

Before taking leave, the doctor accompanied me to my own apartment and
proceeded to question me.

"What is the history of the case?" said he. "Is there anything peculiar
in the life or habits of Miss Jorgensen, to account for her great
anxiety to get well immediately?"

"She fears to lose her classes, I presume; and there may be other
engagements which are unknown to us." I still had a great reluctance to
saying what I suspected might be troubling Miss Jorgensen.

"Neither of which accounts for all that I observe in her case," returned
the doctor. "What are her connections?--has she any family ties--any
lover, even?"

"I believe she told Mrs. Mason she was engaged to a young man who calls
here twice a week."

"Ah! Do you know where this young man is to be found? It might be best
to communicate with him, in the morning. Possibly he may be able to
dispel this anxious fear of hers, from whatever cause it arises."

I promised the Doctor to speak to Mrs. Mason about it, and he soon after
took leave, having first satisfied himself that the unlucky pistol was
incapable of doing further mischief, and safely hidden from Miss
Jorgensen.

Naturally, the next morning, the table-talk turned upon the incident of
the evening previous.

"She need not tell me that it was an accident," Mr. Quivey was saying,
very decidedly. "She is just the sort of woman for desperate remedies;
and she is tired of living, with that vampire friend of hers draining
her life-blood!"

I confess I felt startled by the correspondence of Quivey's opinion with
my own; for I had heretofore believed that myself and Mrs. Mason were
the only persons who suspected that Hurst was dependent upon Miss
Jorgensen for the means of living. In my surprise I said: "You know that
he does this?"

"I know that Craycroft paid him yesterday for a long translation done by
Miss Jorgensen, and I do not believe he had an order for it, other than
verbal. Craycroft seeing them so much together, paid the money, and took
a receipt."

"Perhaps he paid the money to Mr. Hurst by her instructions, for her own
use," suggested Miss Flower. "But then he did not see her last evening,
did he? I hope he does not rob Miss Jorgensen. Such a delicate little
woman has enough to do to look out for herself, I should think."

"One thing is certain," interposed Mrs. Mason, "Miss Jorgensen does what
she does, and permits what she permits, intelligently; and our
speculations concerning her affairs will not produce a remedy for what
we fancy we see wrong in them." Which hint had the effect of silencing
the discussion for that time.

Before I left the house that morning, I had a consultation with Mrs.
Mason, who had passed the night in attendance upon Miss Jorgensen, and
who had informed me that she had been very restless, in spite of the
quieting prescription left by the doctor. "I wish you would go up and
speak to her," Mrs. Mason said. "Perhaps you can do something for her
which I could not; and I am sure she needs some such service."

Thus urged, I obeyed an impulse of my own, which had been to do this
very thing. When I tapped softly at her door, she said, "Come in!" in a
pained and petulant tone, as if any interruption was wearisome to her;
but when she saw who it was, her countenance assumed an eager and
animated expression, which rewarded me at once for the effort I was
making.

"Thank you for coming to see me," said she quickly. "I was almost on the
point of sending for you." Pausing for a moment, while her eyes searched
my face, she continued: "I am in trouble, which cannot be all explained,
and which will force you, if you do a service for me, to take me very
much upon trust; but I will first assure you that what you may do for me
will not involve _you_ in any difficulty. More than this I cannot now
say. Will you do this service for me, and keep your agency in the matter
secret? The service is slight, the importance of secrecy great."

I expressed my willingness to do anything which would not compromise me
with myself, and that, I told her, I did not fear her requiring.

She then proceeded, with some embarrassment, to say that she wished a
note conveyed to Mr. Hurst; upon which I smiled, and answered, "I had
conjectured as much."

"But you must not conjecture anything," she replied, with some asperity;
"for you are sure to go wide of the truth. You think I have only to send
for Mr. Hurst to bring him here; but you are mistaken. He cannot come,
because he _dare_ not. He is in hiding, but I cannot tell you why. Only
do not betray him; I ask no more. You are not called upon to do any
more--to do anything against him, I mean." Seeing me hesitate, she
continued: "I need not tell you that I believe my life is in your hands.
I have been living a long time with all my faculties upon a severe
strain, so severe that I feel I shall go mad if the pressure is
increased. I entreat you not to refuse me."

"Very well," I answered, "I will do what you require."

"It is only to take this"--she pulled a note from beneath her pillow,
addressed to "Mr. Harry Hurst," and handed it to me--"to the address,
which you will have no difficulty in finding, though I am sorry to have
to send you on a walk so out of your way. And please take this
also"--handing me a roll of coin, marked $100. "No answer is expected. Of
course, you will not give these things to any one but Mr. Hurst. That is
all." And she sunk back wearily upon her pillow, with closed eyes, as if
she had no further interest in the affair.

I know as well as if she had told me that this note was a warning to
fly, and this money the means to make flight good. I had promised to
deliver them on her simple entreaty and assurance that I should not
dishonor myself. But might I not wrong society? Might not she be herself
deceived about Hurst? The assertion of Quivey that he had collected
money from her employers the day before occurred to me. Did she know it
or not? I questioned, while regarding the thin, pale, weary face on the
pillow before me. While I hesitated she opened her eyes with a
wondering, impatient gaze.

"Do you repent?" she asked.

"I deliberate, rather," I replied. "I chanced to learn yesterday, that
Mr. Hurst had drawn money from Craycroft & Co., and was thinking that if
you knew it, you might not wish to send this also."

For an instant her black eyes blazed with anger, but whether at me or at
Mr. Hurst I could not tell, and she seemed to hesitate, as I had done.

"Yes, take it," she said, with hopeless sadness in her tone, "He may
need it; and for myself, what does it matter now?"

"I shall do as you bid me," I replied, "but it is under protest; for it
is my impression that you are doing yourself an injury, and Mr. Hurst no
good."

"You don't understand," she returned, sharply. "Now go, please."

"Very well; I am gone. But I promise you that if you exact services of
me, I shall insist on your taking care of your health, by way of return.
You are in a fever at this moment, which I warn you will be serious if
not checked. Here comes the doctor. Good-morning."

I pass over the trifling incidents of my visit to the residence of Mr.
Hurst. Suffice to say that Mr. Hurst had departed to parts unknown, and
that I had to carry about all day Miss Jorgensen's letter and money. On
returning home to dinner that afternoon, I found a stranger occupying
Miss Jorgensen's place at table. He was a shrewd-looking man of about
forty years, talkative, versatile, and what you might call "jolly."
Nothing escaped his observation; nothing was uttered that he did not
hear, often replying most unexpectedly to what was not intended for
him--a practice that would have been annoying but for a certain tact and
good humor which disarmed criticism. The whole family, while admitting
that our new day-boarder was not exactly congenial, confessed to liking
his amusing talk immensely.

"He quite brightens us up; don't you think so, Mr. Quivey?" was Miss
Flower's method of indorsing him.

"He does very well just now," replied Quivey, "though I'd lots rather
see E. E. back in that place. When one gets used to pickles or pepper,
one wants pickles or pepper; honey palls on the appetite."

"I thought you had almost too much pepper sometimes," said Miss Flower,
remembering the "I. I."

"It's a healthful stimulant," returned Quivey, ignoring the covert
reminder.

"But not always an agreeable one."

I suspected that Miss Flower, who had an intense admiration for dramatic
talent, entertained her own reasons for jogging Mr. Quivey's memory; and
being willing to give her every opportunity to promote her own views, I
took this occasion to make my report to Miss Jorgensen. As might have
been expected, she had been feverishly anticipating my visit. I had no
sooner entered the room than she uttered her brief interrogation:

"Well?"

I laid the note and the money upon the bed. "You see how it is?" I said.

"He is gone?"

"Yes."

"I am so very glad!" she said, with emphasis, while something like a
smile lighted up her countenance. "This gives me a respite, at least. If
he is prudent"--she checked herself, and giving me a grateful glance,
exclaimed, "I am so much obliged to you."

"Nobody could be more welcome, I am sure, to so slight a service. I
shall hope now to see you getting well."

"O, yes," she answered, "I must get well; there is so much to do. But my
classes and my writing must be dropped for a while, I presume, unless
the doctor will let me take in some of my scholars, for, of course, I
cannot go out."

"Your arm must begin to heal before you can think of teaching, ever so
little. I have an idea, Miss Jorgensen, from what you have said of
yourself, that this necessity for repose, which is forced upon you, will
prove to be an excellent thing. Certainly, you were wearing out very
fast with your incessant labor."

"Perhaps so--I mean, perhaps inforced rest will not be bad for me; but,
O, there is such need to work! I can so poorly afford to be idle."

"What you say relieves my mind of a suspicion, which at first I
harbored, that the firing of that mischievous pistol was not wholly
accidental. I now see you wish to live and work. But why had you such a
weapon about you? Are you accustomed to fire-arms?"

"The mischief this one did me shows that I am not; and my having it
about me came from a fear I had of its doing worse mischief in the hands
of Mr. Hurst."

"Are affairs so desperate with him?"

"Please don't question me. I cannot answer you satisfactorily. Mr. Hurst
is in trouble, and the least that is said or known about him is the
best. And yet you wonder, no doubt, that I should interest myself about
a man who is compelled to act the part of a culprit. Well, I cannot tell
you why at present; and it would be a great relief to know that you
thought nothing more about it." This last she uttered rather petulantly,
which warned me that this conversation was doing her no good.

"Believe, then," I said, "that I have no interest in your affairs,
except the wish to promote your welfare. And I think I may venture to
affirm that everybody in the house is equally at your service when you
wish to command him or her."

"Thank you all; but I do not deserve your kindness; I have been so
ill-tempered. The truth is I cannot afford to have friends; friends pry
into one's affairs so mercilessly. Mrs. Mason tells me there is a new
boarder," she said, suddenly changing the subject.

I assented, and gave what I intended to be an amusing account of the
new-comers' conversation and manners.

"Was there anything said about me at dinner?" she asked, with a painful
consciousness of the opinion I might have of such a question.

"I do not think there was. We were all so taken up with the latest
acquisition that we forgot you for the time."

"May I ask this favor of you, to keep the conversation away from me as
much as possible? I am morbidly sensitive, I presume," she said, with a
poor attempt at a smile, "and I cannot keep from fancying, while I lie
here, what you are saying about me in the dining-room or parlor."

Of course, I hastened to disavow any disposition on the part of the
family to make her a subject of conversation, and even promised to
discountenance any reference to her whatever, if thereby she would be
made more comfortable; after which I bade her good-night, having
received the assurance that my visit had relieved her mind of several
torturing apprehensions.

The more I saw and thought of Miss Jorgensen, the more she interested
and puzzled me. I should have inclined to the opinion that she was a
little disturbed at times in her intellect, had it not been that there
was apparent so much "method in her madness;" this reflection always
bringing me back at last to the conclusion that her peculiarities could
all be accounted for upon the hypothesis she herself presented; too much
work and some great anxiety. The spectacle of this human mite fighting
the battle of life, not only for herself but for the strong man who
should have been her protector, worked so upon my imagination and my
sympathy that I found it difficult to keep the little woman out of my
thoughts.

I kept my word to her, discountenancing, as far as I could, the
discussion of her affairs, and in this effort Mrs. Mason co-operated
with me; but it was practically impossible to prevent the inquiries and
remarks of those of the family who were not so well informed concerning
her as we were. The new boarder, also, with that quick apprehension he
had of every subject, had caught enough to become interested in the
patient up-stairs, and daily made some inquiries concerning her
condition, and, as it appeared to me--grown a little morbid, like Miss
Jorgensen--was peculiarly adroit in extracting information.

Three weeks slipped away, and Miss Jorgensen had passed the most painful
period of suppuration and healing in her arm, and had promised to come
down-stairs next day to dine with the family. Mrs. Mason had just
communicated the news to us in her cheeriest tones, as if each
individual was interested in it, and was proceeding to turn out our
coffee, when a servant brought in the letters for the house and laid
them beside the tray, directly under the eye of the new boarder, who sat
on the landlady's left.

"'Miss Jorgensen," said he, reading the address of the topmost one. "A
very peculiar handwriting." Then taking up the letter, as if to further
examine the writing, I observed that he was studying the postmark as
well, which, being offended at his unmannerly curiosity, I sincerely
hoped was illegible. But that it was only too fatally plain will soon
appear.

With an air of _hauteur_ I seldom assumed, I recalled the servant, and
ordered the letter to be taken at once to Miss Jorgensen. Before leaving
the house I was informed that Miss Jorgensen wished to speak to me.

"Mr. Hurst has done a most imprudent thing!" she exclaimed, the moment I
was inside the door. "I ought to have published a 'personal,' or done
something to let him know I could not go to the post-office, and to
account for his not hearing from me."

"He has returned to the city?"

"Yes!" She fairly ground her teeth with rage at this "stupidity," as she
termed it. "He always does the very thing he ought never to have done,
and leaves undone the things most important to do. Of course he cannot
come here, and I can not go to him without incurring the greatest risk.
I really do not know what to do next."

Tears were now coursing down her pale cheeks--tears, it seemed, as much
of anger as of sorrow.

"Let him take care of himself," I said, rather hotly. "It is not your
province to care for him as you do."

She gave me an indescribable look. "What can you, what can any one know
about it? He may want money; how can he take care of himself in such
circumstances without money? I sent for you to contrive some plan by
which he can be communicated with. Do tell me at once what to do."

"How can I tell you, when, as you say, I do not know what is required.
You wish to see him, I presume?"

"How can I--O, I dislike so much to ask this of you--but _will_ you take
a message to him?" She asked this desperately, half expecting me to
decline, as decline I did.

"Miss Jorgensen, you are now able to ride. Shall I send a carriage for
you?"

"There may be those on the lookout who would instantly suspect my
purpose in going out in that way. On the contrary, nobody would suspect
you."

"Still, I might be observed, which would not be pleasant, I can imagine,
from what you leave me to surmise. No, Miss Jorgensen, much as I should
like to serve you personally, you must excuse me from connecting myself
in any way with Mr. Hurst; and if I might be allowed to offer advice, I
should say that, in justice to yourself, you ought to cut loose from him
at once."

Miss Jorgensen covered her face with one little emaciated hand, and sat
silent a few seconds. "Send me the carriage," she said, "and I will go."

"You forgive me?"

"You have been very good," she said. "I ought not have required more of
you. I will go at once; the sooner the better."

When I had reached the head of the stairs, I turned back again to her
door.

"Once more let me counsel you to free yourself from all connection with
Mr. Hurst. Why should you ruin your chances of happiness for one so
undeserving, as I must think he is? Keep away from him; let him shift
for himself."

"You don't know what you are talking about," she replied, with a touch
of the old fierceness. "I have no chances of happiness to lose. Please
go."

On my way down to the office I ordered a carriage.

What happened afterward I learned from Mrs. Mason and the evening
papers. Miss Jorgensen, dressed in deep black, with her face veiled,
entered the carriage, directing the driver to take her to the houses of
some of her pupils. At the corner of the street, a gentleman, who proved
to be our day-boarder, got upon the box with the driver, and remained
there while Miss Jorgensen made her calls. Finding him constantly there,
and becoming suspicious, she ordered the carriage home, and gave
directions to have it return an hour later to take her down town for
some shopping. At the time set, the carriage was in attendance, and
conveyed her to one of the principal stores in the city. After
re-entering the carriage, and giving her directions, our day-boarder
once more mounted the box, though unobserved by her, and was conveyed
with herself to the hiding-place of Mr. Hurst, contriving, by getting
down before the door was opened, to elude her observation.

Another carriage, containing officers of the police, was following in
the wake of this one, and drew up when Miss Jorgensen had entered the
house where Hurst was concealed. After waiting long enough to make it
certain that the person sought was within, the officers entered to
search and capture.

At the moment they entered Hurst's apartment, he was saying, with much
emotion, "If I can only reach China in safety, a way will be opened for
me--"

"Hush!" cried Miss Jorgensen, seeing the door opened, and by whom.

"All is over!" exclaimed Hurst. "I will never be taken to prison!" And,
drawing a revolver, he deliberately shot himself through the head.

Miss Jorgensen was brought back to Mrs. Mason's in a fainting condition,
and was ill for weeks afterward. That same evening our day-boarder
called, and while settling his board with Mrs. Mason, acknowledged that
he belonged to the detective police, and had for months been "working
up" the case of a bank-robber and forger who had escaped from one of the
eastern cities, and been lost to observation for a year and a half.

And we further learned in the same way, and ultimately from the lady
herself, that Miss Jorgensen was a myth, and that the little French
teacher was Madame ----, who had suffered, and toiled, and risked
everything for her unworthy husband, and who deserved rather to be
congratulated than condoled with upon his loss.

It is now a year since all this happened, and it is the common gossip of
our boarding-house that Mr. Quivey is devoted to the little dark-eyed
widow; and although Miss Flower still refers to "E. E." and "I. I.,"
nobody seems to be in the least disturbed by the allusion. When I say to
Quivey, "Make haste slowly, my dear fellow;" he returns: "Never fear, my
friend; I shall know when the time comes to speak."



SAM RICE'S ROMANCE.


The coach of Wells, Fargo & Co. stood before the door of Piney-woods
Station, and Sam Rice, the driver, was drawing on his lemon-colored
gloves with an air, for Sam was the pink of stage-drivers, from his high
white hat to his faultless French boots. Sad will it be when his
profession shall have been altogether superseded; and the coach-and-six,
with its gracious and graceful "whip," shall have been supplanted, on
all the principal lines of travel, by the iron-horse with its grimy
"driver" and train of thundering carriages.

The passengers had taken their seats--the one lady on the box--and Sam
Rice stood, chronometer held daintily between thumb and finger, waiting
for the second hand to come round the quarter of a minute, while the
grooms slipped the last strap of the harness into its buckle. At the
expiration of the quarter of a minute, as Sam stuck an unlighted cigar
between his lips and took hold of the box to pull himself up to his
seat, the good-natured landlady of Piney-woods Station called out, with
some officiousness:

"Mr. Rice, don't you want a match?"

"That's just what I've been looking for these ten years," responded Sam;
and at that instant his eyes were on a level with the lady's on the box,
so that he could not help seeing the roguish glint of them, which so far
disconcerted the usually self-possessed professor of the whip that he
heard not the landlady's laugh, but gathered up the reins in such a
hasty and careless manner as to cause Demon, the nigh-leader, to go off
with a bound that nearly threw the owner of the eyes out of her place.
The little flurry gave opportunity for Mrs. Dolly Page--that was the
lady's name--to drop her veil over her face, and for Sam Rice to show
his genteel handling of the ribbons, and conquer the unaccountable
disturbance of his pulses.

Sam had looked at the way-bill, not ten minutes before, to ascertain the
name of the pretty black-eyed woman seated at his left hand; and the
consciousness of so great a curiosity gratified, may have augmented his
unaccustomed embarrassment. Certain it is, Sam Rice had driven six
horses, on a ticklish mountain road, for four years, without missing a
trip; and had more than once encountered the "road-agents," without ever
yet delivering them an express box; had had old and young ladies, plain
and beautiful ones, to sit beside him, hundreds of times: yet this was
the first time he had consulted the way-bill, on his own account, to
find a lady's name. This one time, too, it had a _Mrs._ before it, which
prefix gave him a pang he was very unwilling to own. On the other hand,
Mrs. Dolly Page was clad in extremely deep black. Could she be in
mourning for Mr. Page? If Demon had an unusual number of starting fits
that afternoon, his driver was not altogether guiltless in the matter;
for what horse, so sensitive as he, would not have felt the magnetism of
something wrong behind him?

But as the mocking eyes kept hidden behind a veil, and the rich, musical
voice uttered not a word through a whole half-hour, which seemed an age
to Sam, he finally recovered himself so far as to say he believed he
would not smoke, after all; and thereupon returned the cigar, still
unlighted, to his pocket.

"I hope you do not deprive yourself of a luxury on my account," murmured
the soft voice.

"I guess this dust and sunshine is enough for a lady to stand, without
my smokin' in her face," returned Sam, politely, and glancing at the
veil.

"Still, I beg you will smoke, if you are accustomed," persisted the
cooing voice behind it. But Sam, to his praise be it spoken, refused to
add anything to the discomforts of a summer day's ride across the
mountains. His chivalry had its reward; for the lady thus favored,
feeling constrained to make some return for such consideration, began to
talk, in a vein that delighted her auditor, about horses--their points
and their traits--and, lastly, about their drivers.

"I have always fancied," said Mrs. Dolly Page, "that if I were a man I
should take to stage-driving as a profession. It seems to me a free and
manly calling, one that develops some of the best qualities of a man. Of
course, it has its drawbacks. One cannot always choose one's society on
a stage, and there are temptations to bad habits. Besides, there are
storms, and upsets, and all that sort of thing. I've often thought,"
continued Mrs. Dolly, "that we do not consider enough the hardships of
drivers, nor what we owe them. You've read that poem--the Post-boy's
Song:

    "'Like a shuttle thrown by the hand of Fate,
    Forward and back I go.'

"Well, it is just so. They do bring us our letters, full of good and ill
news, helping to weave the web of Fate for us; yet not to blame for what
tidings they bring, and always faithful to their duties, in storm or
shine."

"I shall like my profession better after what you have said of it,"
answered Sam, giving his whip a curl to make it touch the off-leader's
right ear. "I've done my duty mostly, and not complained of the
hardships, though once or twice I've been too beat out to get off the
box at the end of my drive; but that was in a long spell of bad weather,
when the roads was just awful, and the rain as cold as snow."

"Would you mind letting me hold the lines awhile?" asked the cooing
voice, at last. "I've driven a six-in-hand before."

Though decidedly startled, and averse to trusting his team to such a
pair of hands, Sam was compelled, by the psychic force of the little
woman, to yield up the reins. It was with fear and trembling that he
watched her handling of them for the first mile; but, as she really
seemed to know what she was about, his confidence increased, and he
watched her with admiration. Her veil was now up, her eyes were
sparkling, and cheeks glowing. She did not speak often, but, when she
did, it was always something piquant and graceful that she uttered. At
last, just as the station was in sight, she yielded up the lines, with a
deep-drawn sigh of satisfaction, apologizing for it by saying that her
hands, not being used to it, were tired. "I'm not sure," she added, "but
I shall take to the box, at last, as a steady thing."

"If you do," responded Sam, gallantly, "I hope you will drive on my
line."

"Thanks. I shall ask you for a reference, when I apply for the
situation."

There was then a halt, a supply of fresh horses, and a prompt, lively
start. But the afternoon was intensely hot, and the team soon sobered
down. Mrs. Page did not offer again to take the lines. She was overwarm
and weary, perhaps, quiet and a little sad, at any rate. Mr. Rice was
quiet, too, and thoughtful. The passengers inside were asleep. The coach
rattled along at a steady pace, with the dust so deep under the wheels
as to still their rumble. At intervals, a freight-wagon was passed,
drawn to one side, at a "turn-out," or a rabbit skipped across the road,
or a solitary horseman suggested alternately a "road-agent," or one of
James's heroes. Grand views presented themselves of wooded cliffs and
wild ravines. Tall pines threw lengthening shadows across the open
spaces on the mountain-sides. And so the afternoon wore away; and, when
the sun was setting, the passengers alighted for their supper at the
principal hotel of Lucky-dog--a mining-camp, pretty well up in the
Sierras.

"We both stop here," said Sam, as he helped the lady down from her high
position; letting her know by this remark that her destination was known
to him.

"I'm rather glad of that," she answered, frankly, with a little smile;
and, considering all that had transpired on that long drive, Sam was
certainly pardonable if he felt almost sure that her reason for being
glad was identical with his own.

Lucky-dog was one of those shambling, new camps, where one street serves
for a string on which two or three dozen ill-assorted tenements are
strung, every fifth one being a place intended for the relief of the
universal American thirst, though the liquids dispensed at these
beneficent institutions were observed rather to provoke than to abate
the dryness of their patrons. Eating-houses were even more frequent than
those which dispensed moisture to parched throats; so that, taking a
cursory view of the windows fronting on the street, the impression was
inevitably conveyed of the expected rush of famished armies, whose wants
this charitable community were only too willing to supply for a
sufficient consideration. The houses that were not eating and
drinking-houses were hotels, if we except occasional grocery and general
merchandise establishments. Into what out-of-the-way corners the
inhabitants were stowed, it was impossible to conjecture, until it was
discovered that the men lived at the places already inventoried, and
that women abode not at all in Lucky-dog--or if there were any, not more
than a half a dozen of them, and they lived in unaccustomed places.

The advent of Mrs. Page at the Silver Brick Hotel naturally made a
sensation. As assemblage of not less than fifty gentlemen of leisure
crowded about the entrance, each more intent than the other on getting a
look at the arrivals, and especially at this one arrival--whose age,
looks, name, business, and intentions in coming to Lucky-dog, were
discussed with great freedom. Sam Rice was closely questioned, but
proved reticent and non-committal. The landlord was besieged with
inquiries--the landlady, too--and all without anybody being made much
the wiser. There was the waybill, and there was the lady herself; put
that and that together, and make what you could of it.

Mrs. Dolly Page did not seem discomposed in the least by the evident
interest she inspired. With her black curls smoothly brushed, her black
robes immaculately neat, with a pretty color in her round cheeks, and a
quietly absorbed expression in her whole bearing, she endured the
concentrated gaze of fifty pairs of eyes during the whole of dinner,
without so much as one awkward movement, or the dropping of a fork or
teaspoon. So it was plain that the curious would be compelled to await
Mrs. Page's own time for developments.

But developments did not seem likely to come overwhelmingly. Mrs. Page
made a fast friend of the landlady of the Silver Brick, by means of
little household arts peculiarly her own, and, before a fortnight was
gone, had become as indispensable to all the boarders as she was to Mrs.
Shaughnessy herself. If she had a history, she kept it carefully from
curious ears. Mrs. Shaughnessy was evidently satisfied, and quite
challenged criticism of her favorite. Indeed, there was nothing to
criticise. It was generally understood that she was a widow, who had to
get on in the world as best she could, and thus the public sympathy was
secured, and an embargo laid upon gossip. To be sure, there were certain
men in Lucky-dog, of a class which has its representatives everywhere,
who regarded all unappropriated women, especially pretty women, very
much as the hunter regards game, and the more difficult the approach,
the more exciting the chase. But these moral Nimrods had not half the
chance with self-possessed Mrs. Dolly Page that they would have had with
a different style of woman. The grosser sort got a sudden _congé_; and
with the more refined sportsmen she coquetted just enough to show them
that two could play at a game of "make-believe," and then sent them off
with a lofty scorn edifying to behold--to the mingled admiration and
amusement of Mrs. Shaughnessy.

The only affair which seemed to have a kernel of seriousness in it, was
that of Mr. Samuel Rice. Regularly, when the stage was in, on Sam's
night, he paid his respects to Mrs. Page. And Mrs. Page always received
him with a graceful friendliness, asking after the horses, and even
sometimes going so far as to accompany him to their stables. On these
occasions she never failed to carry several lumps of sugar in her
pocket, which she fed to the handsome brutes off her own pink palm,
until there was not one of them she could not handle at her will.

Thus passed many weeks, until summer was drawing to a close. Two or
three times she had gone down to Piney-woods Station and back, on Sam's
coach, and always sat on the box, and drove a part of the way, but never
where her driving would excite remark. It is superfluous to state, that
on these occasions there was a happy heart beneath Sam's linen-duster,
or that the bantering remarks of his brother-drivers were borne with
smiling equanimity, not to say pride; for Sam was well aware that Mrs.
Dolly Page's brunette beauty, and his blonde-bearded style, together
furnished a not unpleasing _tableau_ of personal charms. Besides, Sam's
motto was, "Let those laugh who win;" and he seemed to himself to be on
the road to heights of happiness beyond the ken of ordinary
mortals--especially ordinary stage-drivers.

"I don't calkelate to drive stage more than a year or two longer," Sam
said to Mrs. Page, confidentially, on the return from their last trip
together to Piney-woods Station. "I've got a little place down in
Amador, and an interest in the Nip-and-tuck gold-mine, besides a few
hundreds in bank. I've a notion to settle down some day, in a cottage
with vines over the porch, with a little woman to tend the flowers in
the front-garden."

As if Sam's heightened color and shining eyes had not sufficiently
pointed this confession of his desires, it chanced that at this moment
the eyes of both were attracted to a way-side picture: a cottage, a
flower-bordered walk, a fair young woman standing at the gate, with a
crowing babe in her arms lifting its little white hands to the
sun-browned face of a stalwart young farmer who was smiling proudly on
the two. At this sudden apparition of his inmost thoughts, Sam's heart
gave a great bound, and there was a simultaneous ringing in his ears.
His first instinctive act was to crack his whip so fiercely as to set
the leaders off prancing; and when, by this diversion, he had partly
recovered self-possession to glance at the face of his companion, a new
embarrassment seized him when he discovered two little rivers of tears
running over the crimsoned cheeks. But a coach-box is not a convenient
place for sentiment to display itself; and, though the temptation was
great to inquire into the cause of the tears, with a view of offering
consolation, Sam prudently looked the other way, and maintained silence.
The reader, however, knows that those tears sank into the beholder's
soul, and caused to germinate countless tender thoughts and emotions,
which were, on some future occasion, to be laid upon the alter of his
devotion to Mrs. Dolly Page. And none the less, that, in a few minutes,
the eyes which shed them resumed their roguish brightness, and the lady
was totally unconscious of having heard, seen, or felt any
embarrassment. Sentiment between them was successfully _tabooed_, so far
as utterance was concerned, for that time. And so Sam found, somewhat to
his disappointment, it continued to fall out, that whenever he got upon
delicate ground, the lady was off like a humming-bird, darting hither
and yon, so that it was impossible to put a finger upon her, or get so
much as a look at her brilliant and restless wings. But nobody ever
tired of trying to find a humming-bird at rest; and so Sam never gave up
looking for the opportune moment of speaking his mind.

Meanwhile, Lucky-dog Camp was having a fresh sensation. An organized
band of gamblers, robbers, and "road-agents" had made a swoop upon its
property, of various kinds, and had succeeded in making off with it. The
very night after the ride just mentioned, the best horses in Sam Rice's
team were stolen, making it necessary to substitute what Sam called "a
pa'r of ornery cayuses." To put the climax to his misfortunes, the
"road-agents" attacked him next morning, when, the "ornery cayuses"
becoming unmanageable, Sam was forced to surrender the treasure-box, and
the passengers their bullion. The excitement in Lucky-dog was intense. A
vigilance committee, secretly organized, lay in waiting for the
offenders, and, after a week or two, made a capture of a well-known
sporting-man, whose presence in camp had for some time been regarded
with suspicion. Short shrift was afforded him. That same afternoon his
gentlemanly person swung dangling from a gnarled pine-tree limb, and his
frightened soul had fled into outer darkness.

When this event became known to Mrs. Dolly Page, she turned ghostly
white, and then fainted dead away. Mrs. Shanghnessy was very much
concerned for her friend; berating in round terms, the brutishness of
people who could talk of such things before a tender-hearted lady like
that. To Mr. Rice, particularly, she expatiated upon the coarseness of
certain people, and the refined sensitiveness of others; and Sam was
much inclined to agree with her, so far as her remarks applied to her
friend, who was not yet recovered sufficiently to be visible. Indeed,
Mrs. Page was not visible for so many days, that Sam's soul began to
long for her with a mighty longing. At length, she made her appearance,
considerably paler and thinner than was her wont; but doubly interesting
and lovely to the eyes of so partial an observer as Sam, who would
willingly have sheltered her weakness in his strong, manly arms. Sam,
naturally enough, would never have hinted at the event which had so
distressed her; but she relieved him of all embarrassment on that
subject, by saying to him almost at once:

"Mr. Rice, I am told they have not buried the man they hung, so
shockingly, the other day. They certainly will not leave him _there_?"
she added, with a shudder.

"I don't know--I suppose," stammered Sam, "it is their way, with them
fellows."

"But you will not allow it? You _cannot_ allow it!"--excitedly.

"I couldn't prevent them," said Sam, quite humbly.

"Mr. Rice," and her voice was at once a command and an entreaty, "you
_can_ and _must_ prevent it. You are not afraid? I will go with
you--this very night--and will help you. Don't say you will not; for I
cannot sleep until it is done. I have not slept for a week."

She looked so white and so wild, as she uttered this confession, that
Sam would have been the wretch he was not, to refuse her. So he said:

"Don't you fret. I'll bury him, if it troubles you so. But you needn't
go along. You couldn't; it's too far, and you're too weak,"--seeing how
she trembled.

"I am not weak--only nervous. I prefer to go along. But we must be
secret, I suppose? Oh!"--with a start that was indeed "nervous."

"Yes, we must be secret," said Sam; and he looked as if he did not half
like the business, but would not refuse.

"You are a good man, Mr. Rice, and I thank you." And with that, Mrs.
Dolly Page caught up one of his hands, and kissing it hastily, began to
cry, as she walked quickly away.

"Don't cry, and don't go until I have promised to do whatever you ask,
if it will make you well again," Sam said, following her to the door.

"Then call for me to take a walk with you to-night. The moon is full,
but no one will observe us. They would not think of our going
_there_,"--with another shudder--and she slipped away from his detaining
hand.

That evening Mr. Samuel Rice and Mrs. Page took a walk by moonlight.
Laughing gossips commented on it after their fashion; and disagreeable
gossips remarked that they came home very late, after _their_ fashion.
But nobody, they believed, saw where they went, or what they did. Yet
those two came from performing an act of Christian charity, each with a
sense of guilt and unworthiness very irritating to endure, albeit from
very different causes. One, because an unwelcome suspicion had thrust
itself into his mind; and the other----

The ground of Sam's suspicion was a photograph, which, in handling the
gambler's body somewhat awkwardly, by reason of its weight--Mrs. Page
had found, at the last, she could not render any assistance--had slipped
from some receptacle in its clothing. A hasty glance, under the full
light of the moon, had shown him the features of the lady who sat twelve
paces away, with her hands over her face. It is not always those that
sin who suffer most from the consciousness of sin; and Sam, perhaps,
with that hint of possible--nay, almost certain--wickedness in his
breast-pocket, was more burdened by the weight of it than many a
criminal about to suffer all the terrors of the law; for the woman that
he loved stood accused, if not convicted, before his conscience and her
own, and he could not condemn, because his heart refused to judge her.

When the two stood together under the light of the lamp in the deserted
parlor of the Silver Brick Hotel, the long silence which, by her quick
perceptions, had been recognized as accusing her, upon what evidence she
did not yet know, was at length broken by Sam's voice, husky with
agitation.

"Mrs. Page," he said, assuming an unconscious dignity of mien and
sternness of countenance, "I shall ask you some questions, sometime,
which you may not think quite polite. And you must answer me: you
understand. I'm bound to know the truth about this man."

"About this man!" Then he suspected her of connection with the wretched
criminal whose body had only just now been hidden from mocking eyes? How
much did he suspect? how much did he _know_? Her pale face and
frightened eyes seemed to ask these questions of him; but not a sound
escaped her lips. The imploring look, so strange upon her usually bright
face, touched all that was tender in Sam's romantic nature. In another
moment he would have recalled his demand, and trusted her infinitely;
but in that critical moment she fainted quite away, to his mingled
sorrow and alarm; and Mrs. Shaughnessy being summoned, Sam received a
wordy reprimand for having no more sense than to keep a sick woman up
half of the night; smarting under which undeserved censure, he retired,
to think over the events of the evening.

The hour of departure from Luckydog, for Sam's coach, was four o'clock
in the morning; and its driver was not a little surprised, when about to
mount the box, to discover Mrs. Page waiting to take a seat beside him.
After the adventure of the previous night, it was with some restraint
that he addressed her; and there was wanting, also, something of his
cheerful alacrity of manner, when he requested the stranger who had
taken the box-seat, to yield it to a lady. The stranger's mood seemed
uncongenial, for he declined to abdicate, intimating that there was room
for the lady between himself and the driver, if she insisted upon an
outside seat.

But Mrs. Page did not insist. She whispered Sam to open the coach-door,
and quietly took a seat inside; and Sam, with a sense of irritation very
unusual with him, climbed reluctantly to his place, giving the "cayuses"
the lash in a way that set them off on a keen run. By the time he had
gotten his team cooled down, the unusual mood had passed, and the
longing returned to hear the sweet voice, and watch the bright eyes that
had made his happiness on former occasions. Puzzled as he was, and
pained by the evidence he possessed of her connection, in some way, with
the victim of lynch-law, _that_ seemed like a dream in the clear, sunny
air of morning, while the more blissful past asserted its claim to be
considered reality. Not a lark, warbling its flute-notes by the
way-side, not a pretty bit of the familiar landscape, nor glimpse of
brook, that leaped sparkling down the mountain, but recalled some
charming utterance of Mrs. Dolly Page, as he first knew her; as he could
not now recognize her in the pale, nervous, and evidently suffering
woman, sitting, closely veiled, inside the coach.

Occupied with these thoughts, Sam felt a disagreeable shock when the
outside passenger--in a voice that contrasted roughly with that other
voice which was murmuring in his ear--began a remark about the mining
prospects of Lucky-dog.

"Some rich discoveries made in the neighborhood, eh? Did you ever try
your luck at mining?"

"Waal, no. I own a little stock, though," answered Sam, carelessly.

"In what mine?"

"In the Nip-and-tuck."

"Good mine, from all I hear about it. Never did any prospecting?" asked
the stranger, in that tone which denotes only a desire to make talk,
with a view to kill time.

"No," in the same tone.

"That's odd," stuffing a handful of cut tobacco into his mouth. "I'd
have sworn 'twas you I saw swinging a pick in the cañon east of camp
last night."

"I'm not much on picks," Sam returned, with a slowness that well
counterfeited indifference. "I was visiting a lady last evening, which is
a kind of prospecting more in my line."

"Yes, I understand; that lady inside the coach. She's a game one."

"It strikes me you're devilish free in your remarks," said Sam, becoming
irritated again.

"No offense meant, I'm sure. Take a cigar? We may as well talk this
matter over calmly, Mr. Rice. You see it's ten to one that you are
implicated in this business. Been very attentive to Mrs. Page. Made
several trips together. Let her handle your horses, so she could take
them out of the stable for them thieves. Buried her thieving, gambling
husband for her. You see the case _looks_ bad, anyway; though I'm
inclined to think you've just been made a tool of. I know she's a smart
one. Tain't often you find one smarter."

Sam's eyes scintillated. He was strangely minded to pitch the outside
passenger off the coach. The struggle in his breast between conviction
and resistance to conviction amounted to agony. He could not, in that
supreme moment, discriminate between the anger he felt at being falsely
accused, and the grief and rage of being so horrible disillusioned.
Their combined anguish paled his cheeks, and set his teeth on edge: of
all of which the outside passenger was coolly cognizant. As they were,
at that moment, in sight of the first station, he resumed.

"Let her get up here, if she wants to; I can ride inside. I don't want
to be hard on her; but mind, if you breathe a word to her about my being
an officer, I'll arrest you on suspicion. Let every tub stand on its own
bottom. If she's guilty, you can't help her, and don't want to, either;
if she's innocent, she'll come out all right, never fear. Are you on the
square, now?"

"Have you got a warrant?" asked Sam, in a low tone, as he wound the
lines around the break, previous to getting down.

"You bet! but I'm in no hurry to serve it. Piney-woods station 'ill do
just as well. Telegraph office there."

Mr. Rice was not in any haste this morning, being, as he said, ahead of
time. He invited Mrs. Page to take her usual place on the box, telling
her the gentleman had concluded to go inside; and brought her a glass of
water from the bar. While he was returning the glass, the passengers,
including him of the outside, being busied assuaging their thirst with
something stronger than water, a rattle of wheels and a clatter of hoofs
was heard, and, lo! Mrs. Dolly Page was discovered to be practicing her
favorite accomplishment of driving six-in-hand!

When the "outside" recovered from his momentary surprise, he clapped his
hand on the shoulder of Mr. Rice, and said, in a voice savage with spite
and disappointment:

"I arrest you, sir."

"Arrest and be d----d!" returned Sam. "If you had done your duty, you'd
have arrested _her_ while you had the chance."

"That's so--your head is level; and if you'll assist me in getting on to
Piney-woods station in time to catch the run-away--for she can't very
well drive beyond that station--I'll let you off."

"You'll wait till I'm on, I reckon. My horses can't go on that errand,
and you darsn't take the up-driver's team. Put that it your pipe and
smoke it, old smarty!"--and Sam's eyes emitted steel-blue lightnings,
though his face wore a fixed expression of smiling.

Upon inquiry, it was ascertained that horses might be procured a mile
back from the station; and, while the baffled officer, and such of the
passengers as could not wait until next day, went in pursuit of them,
Sam mounted one of the "cayuses," and made what haste he could after the
coach and Wells, Fargo & Company's express-box. Within a mile or less of
Piney-woods Station, he met the keeper, the grooms, and an odd man or
two, that chanced to have been about the place, all armed to the teeth,
who, when they saw him, halted in surprise.

"Why, we reckoned you was dead," said the head man, with an air of
disappointment.

"Dead?" repeated Sam. "Have you seen my coach?"

"That's all right, down to the station; and the plucky gal that druv it
told us all about the raid the 'road-agents' made on you. Whar's the
passengers? any of 'em killed?"

"Passengers are all right. Where is Mrs. Page?"

"She cried, an' tuk on awful about ye; an' borrered a hoss to ride right
on down the road to meet the other stage, an' let 'em know what's up."

"She did, did she?" said Sam, very thoughtfully. "Waal, that _is_ odd.
Why, she ran away with my team--that's what she did; and it's all a hoax
about the 'road-agents.' The passengers are back at the other station."

Sam had suddenly become "all things to all men," to a degree that
surprised himself. He was wrong about the horse, too, as was proven by
its return to its owner four days after. By the same hand came the
following letter to Mr. Samuel Rice:

    "DEAR MR. RICE: It was so good of you! I thank you more than I
    can say. I wish I could set myself right in your eyes, for I prize
    your friendship dearly--dearly; but I know that I cannot. It has not
    been all my fault. I was married to a bad, bad man, when I was only
    fifteen. He has ruined my life; but now he is dead, and I need not
    fear him. I _will_ hereafter live as a good woman should live. The
    tears run down my cheeks as I write you this farewell--as they did
    that day when I saw that sweet woman and her babe at the farm-house
    gate; and knew what was in your thought. Heaven send you such a wife.
    Good-bye, dear Mr. Rice, good-bye.

    "DOLLY PAGE!"

There are some men, as well as women, in this world, who could figure in
the _role_ of _Evangeline_, who have tender, loyal, and constant hearts.
Such a one was the driver of the Lucky-dog stage. But, though he sat on
that box for two years longer, and scrutinized every dark-eyed,
sweet-voiced lady-passenger who rode in his coach during that time,
often with an intense longing for a sight of the face he craved--it
never came. Out of the heaven of his life that star had vanished
forever, and nothing was left him but a soiled photograph, and a
tear-stained letter, worn with frequent folding and unfolding.



EL TESORO.


"Wimmen nater is cur'us nater, that I'll allow. But a feller kind o'
hankers arter 'em, fur all that. They're a mighty handy thing to hev
about a house."

The above oracular statement proceeded from the parched and puckered
lips of Sandy-haired Jim--one of the many "hands" employed on the
immense Tesoro Rancho, which covered miles of valley, besides extending
up on to the eastern flank of the Coast Range, and taking in
considerable tracts of woodland and mountain pasture. Long before, when
it acquired its name, under Spanish occupancy, there had been a rumor of
the existence of the precious metals in the mountains which formed a
portion of the grant; hence, its name, Tesoro, signifying _treasure_.
All search for, or belief in, gold mines, had been abandoned, even
before the land came into the possession of American owners, and now was
only spoken of in the light of a Spanish legend; but the name was
retained, partly as a geographical distinction of a large tract of
country, though it was sometimes called the Edwards Ranch, after its
present proprietor, and after the American fashion of pronunciation.

John Edwards had more than once said, in hearing of his men, that he
would give half the proceeds of the mine and an interest in the ranch,
to any one who would discover it and prove it to be of value; a remark
which was not without weight, especially with the herders and shepherds,
whose calling took them into the mountains a considerable portion of the
year. But as the offer of the proprietor never seemed to assume the air
of a business proposition, the men who might have been inflamed by it
with a prospecting fever, held in check their desire to acquire sudden
riches, and never looked very sharp at the "indications," which it was
easy sometimes to imagine they had found. But that is neither here nor
there with Sandy-haired Jim, who was not a cattle-herder, nor yet a
shepherd, but farmer or teamster, as the requirement was, at different
seasons of the year.

He was expressing himself concerning John Edwards' sister, who, just one
year ago, had come to set up domesticity in the house of her brother;
whereas, previous to her advent, John had "bach'd it" on the ranch, with
his men, for four or five years. Jim, and the chum to whom his remarks
were addressed, were roosting on a fence, after the manner of a certain
class of agriculturists, hailing usually from Missouri, and most
frequently from the county of Pike.

The pale December sunshine colored with a soft gold the light morning
haze which hung over the valley in which lay the Tesoro Rancho. In spite
of the year of drought which had scorched up the grain-fields, and given
a character of aridity to the landscape, it had a distinctive soft
beauty of tint and outline, seen in the favoring light we have
mentioned. Of all the fascinating pictures we remember to have seen, the
most remarkable was one of a desert scene, with nothing but the
stretches of yellow sand and the golden atmosphere for middle distance
and background, and, for a foreground, a white tent, with camels and
picturesquely costumed Arabs grouped before it. There was the sense of
infinite distance in it which is so satisfying to the mind, which the
few figures and broken lines intensified; and there was that witching
warmth and mellowness of coloring which does not belong to landscapes
where green and gray hues predominate.

Having said thus much about a picture, we have explained why Californian
views, even in our great, almost treeless valleys, grow so into our
hearts and imaginations, after the first dash of disappointment at not
finding them like the vernal vales of New England or central New York.
But Tesoro Rancho was not treeless. Great spreading oaks furnished just
the necessary dark-green tones in the valley landscape; and the
mountain-sides had multifarious shades of color, furnished by rocks and
trees, by shadows, and by the atmosphere itself.

It was no wonder, then, that sandy-haired Jim, sitting on a rail-fence,
in an attitude more curious than graceful, cast his glance often
unconsciously over the far valley-reaches, and up the mountain-sides,
with a dim perception of something pleasant in the view which his
thought took no cognizance of. In fact, for the last minute or two, his
gaze had been a silent one; and any observer might have pondered,
considering the sharpness of the perch beneath him, whether he might not
be making up his mind to descend from it as soon as his slow-working
mentality had had time to convey the decision of his brain to his
muscles.

At all events, that was what he did in answer to our mental query,
taking up the thread of his discourse where it was broken off, as
follows:

"Miss Edwards, neow (thar she is, a-comin down from the mount'in, with
her arms full of them 'zalias she's so fond of), she's a mighty peart
kind of a gal, and wuth a heap more to keep a man's house in good shape
than one o' them soft-lookin' Chinee. Them's my sentiments."

"That's _so_," responded his chum, seeming constitutionally disinclined
to a longer sentence.

"John Edwards has tuk to dressin' hisself nicer, and fixin' up the place
as he didn't used to when he bach'd it, I can tell ye! When I see her
bringin' her pianny, and her picturs, and books, and sich like traps, I
just told myself, 'Neow, John Edwards has got a pretty passel of trash
on his hands, I veow.' And I ment _her_ as well as the other
fol-de-rols. But, you bet your life, she's got more sense, two to one,
than ary one of us! It was a lucky day for Edwards when she came onto
this ranch, sure's you're born."

What further this equally philosophical and devoted admirer of Miss
Edwards might have said on this, to him, evidently interesting topic,
had he not been interrupted, will never be known. For the lady herself
appeared upon the scene, putting an end to her own praises, and
discovering to us, upon nearer view, that she added youth and grace, if
not absolute beauty, to her other qualities.

Checking the rapid lope of her horse, as she came near where the men
were standing, in attitudes of frank, if awkward, deference, she saluted
them with a cheerful "Good-morning," and drew rein beside them.

"Take Brownie by the head, and walk a little way with me, if you please,
James. I have something I wish to say to you," was the lady's low-voiced
command. A certain flush and pleased expression on honest Jim's ruddy
countenance reminded her instantly of the inherent vanity of man, and
when she next addressed her attendant it was as "Mr. Harris," for such,
indeed, was the surname of our lank Missourian, though not many of his
associates had ever heard it.

"How long have you been on this place, Mr. Harris?"

"Near onto six year, Miss Edwards," replied Jim.

"Did you know Mr. Charles Erskine, my brother's former partner?"

"Just as well as I know your brother, Miss."

"What became of him, after he left this place?"

"I couldn't rightly say, miss. Some said he went to the mines, up in
Idaho, and other folks said they'd seen him in 'Frisco: but I don't know
nary thing about him."

"He must be found, Mr. Harris. Do you think you could find him, if I
were to send you on such a mission? It is a very important one, and it
is not every one I would intrust it to."

The flush and the pleased look returned to Jim's face. "I'd do the best
I could, miss; and, mebbe, I'd do as well as another."

"That is what I was thinking, Mr. Harris. You have been a long time
here, and you are prompt and capable about your own business; so I
concluded I could trust you with mine. I am sure I was quite right."

Jim was going on to "swar she was," when Miss Edwards interrupted him,
to enlighten him further as to the requirements of "her business:" "I do
not wish my brother to know what errand I send you on. They had a
dreadful quarrel once, I believe; and he might not agree with me as to
the wisdom of what I am about to do. It will, therefore, be necessary
for you to ask John's permission to go on a visit to San Francisco, as
if it was for yourself you were going. The drought has left so little to
do that you can be spared, without embarrassment, until the rains begin.
I am going to have a grand festival at Christmas, and I would like you
to be home before that time. I will explain further when you have got
John's consent to your absence. Come to the house after, and ask if I
have any commission for you."

When Miss Edwards cantered off, leaving him alone in the road, Jim was
in a state of pleased bewilderment, not unmixed with an instinctive
jealousy.

"I do wonder, neow, what she wants with Charlie Erskine. He was a
powerful nice feller, and smart as lightnin'; but, somehow, he an'
Edwards never could hitch hosses. Erskine allus went too fast for steady
John, an' I doubt ef he didn't git him into some money troubles. I'd
like to know, though, what that girl's got to do about it. Wonder ef she
knowed him back in the States. Wimmen is cur'us, sure enough."

Jim's suggestion was the true one. Miss Edwards had known Charles
Erskine "back in the States," and when they parted last, it had been as
engaged lovers. When she left her home in the East to join her brother,
a speedy marriage with him had been in contemplation. But how often did
it happen, in old "steamer times," that wives left New York to join
husbands in San Francisco, only to find, on arrival at the end of a long
voyage, the dear ones hidden from sight in the grave, or the false ones
gone astray! And so it happened to Mary Edwards, that, when she set foot
on California soil, no lover appeared to welcome her, and her trembling
and blushing were turned to painful suspense and secret bitter tears.

Her brother had vouchsafed very little explanation; only declaring
Charles Erskine a scoundrel, who had nearly ruined him, and swearing he
should never set foot on Tesoro Rancho until every dollar of
indebtedness was paid. Poor Mary found it hard settling into a place so
new, and duties so unaccustomed; but her good sense and good spirits
conquered difficulties as they arose, until now she was quite inclined
to like the new life for its own sake. Her brother was kind, and
gathered about her every comfort and many luxuries; though, owing to
embarrassments into which Erskine had drawn him, and to the losses of a
year of drought, his purse was not overflowing. Such was the situation
of affairs on the December morning when our story opens.

Miss Edwards mentioned to her brother, during the day, that James Harris
had spoken of going to the city, and that she had some commissions for
him to perform. She had made up her mind to discountenance the heathen
habits into which everybody on the ranch had fallen. She had done all
she could to keep the men from going to bull-fights on the Sabbath, and
had offered to read the morning service, if the men would attend; and
now she was going to celebrate Christmas, though she realty did believe
that the people who never saw snow forgot that Christ was ever born! Yet
was he not born in a country very strongly resembling this very one
which ignored him?

John smiled, and offered no opposition; only bidding her remember not to
make her commissions to the city very expensive ones, and suggesting,
that, since she meant to be gay, she had better send some invitations to
certain of their friends.

"By the way John, do you know where Charles Erskine is?" Miss Edwards
asked, with much forced composure.

"The last I heard of him he was in San Francisco, lying dangerously
ill," answered John coldly.

"Oh, John!"

"Mary, you must hope nothing from that man. Don't waste your sympathies
on him, either; he'll never repay you the outgo."

"Tell me just one thing, John: Was Charles ever false to me? Tell me the
truth."

"I think he kept good faith with you. It is not that I complain of in
his conduct. The quarrel is strictly between us. He can never come here,
with my consent."

"But I can go to him," said Miss Edwards, very quietly.

And she did go--with Sandy-haired Jim for an escort, and her brother's
frowning face haunted her.

"If all is right," she said to him, at the very last, "I will be back to
keep Christmas with you. Think as well as you can of me, John,
and--good-by."

It will be seen, that, whatever Miss Edwards' little, womanly plan of
reconciliation had been, it was, as to details, all changed by the
information John had given her. What next she would do depended on
circumstances. It was, perhaps, a question of life and death. The long,
wearying, dusty stage-ride to San Francisco, passed like a disagreeable
dream; neither incident of heat by day, nor cold by night, or influence
of grand or lovely scenes, seemed to touch her consciousness. James
Harris, in his best clothes and best manners--the latter having a
certain gentle dignity about them that was born of the occasion--sat
beside her, and ministered assiduously to those personal wants which she
had forgotten in the absorption of her painful thoughts.

What Jim himself thought, if his mental processes could be called
thinking, it would be difficult to state. He was dimly conscious that in
his companion's mind there was a heavy trouble brooding; and conscious,
also, of a desire to alleviate it, as far as possible, though in what
way that might be done, he had not the remotest idea. There seemed an
immense gulf between her and him, over which he never could reach to
proffer consolation; and while he blindly groped in his own mind for
some hint of his duty, he was fain to be content with such personal
attentions as defending her from heat and cold, dust and fatigue, and
reminding her that eating and drinking were among the necessary
inconveniences of this life. After a couple of days spent in revolving
the case hopelessly in his brain, his thoughts at length shaped
themselves thus:

"Waal, neow, 'taint no concern of mine, to be sure; but I'm beound to
see this gal threough. She's captain of this train, an' only got ter
give her orders. I'll obey 'em, ef they take me to thunder. That's so, I
veow!" After which conclusion of the whole matter, Jim appeared more at
his ease in all respects. In truth, the most enlightened of us go to
school to just such mental struggles, with profit to our minds and
manners.

Arrived at San Francisco, Miss Edwards took quarters at a hotel,
determined before reporting herself to any of her acquaintance to first
find whether Charles Erskine was alive, and, if so, where he could be
found. What a wearisome search was that before traces of him were
discovered, in a cheap boarding-house, in a narrow, dirty street. And
what bitter disappointment it was to learn that he had gone away some
weeks before, as soon as he was able to be moved. To renew the search in
the city, to send telegrams in every direction, was the next effort,
which, like the first, proved fruitless; and, at the end of ten days
Miss Edwards made a few formal calls on her friends, concluded some
necessary purchases, and set out on her return to Tesoro Rancho,
exhausted in mind and body.

If Jim was careful of her comfort before, he was tender toward her now;
and the lady accepted the protecting care of the serving-man with a dull
sense of gratitude. She even smiled on him faintly, in a languid way,
but in a way that seemed to him to lessen the distance between them.
Jim's education had been going on rapidly during the last ten days. He
seemed to himself to be quite another man than the one who sat on the
fence with Missouri Joe, less than two weeks agone.

Perhaps Miss Edwards noticed the change, and innocently encouraged him
to aspire. We must not blame her if she did. This is what woman's
education makes of her. The most cultured women must be grateful and
flattering toward the rudest men, if circumstances throw them together.
Born to depend on somebody, they must depend on their inferiors when
their superiors are not at hand; must, in fact, assume an inferiority to
those inferiors. If they sometimes turn their heads with the dangerous
deference, what wonder!

Secure in the distance between them, Miss Edwards assumed that she could
safely defer to Sandy-haired Jim, if, as it seemed, he enjoyed the sense
of being her protector. Even had he been her equal, she would have said
to herself, "He knows my heart is breaking for another, and will respect
my grief." In this double security, she paid no heed to the devotion of
her companion, only thinking him the kindest and most awkward of good
and simple-minded men. That is just what any of us would have thought
about Sandy-haired Jim, gentle readers.

John Edwards received his sister with a grave kindliness, which
aggravated her grief. He would not ask her a question, nor give her the
smallest opportunity of appealing to his sympathies. She had undertaken
this business without his sanction, and without his sympathy she must
abide the consequences. Toward her, personally, he should ever feel and
act brotherly; but toward her foolish weakness for Erskine, he felt no
charity. He was surprised and pleased to see that his sister's spirit
was nearly equal to his own; for, though visibly "pale and pining,"
after the absurd fashion of women, she went about her duties and
recreations as usual, and prosecuted the threatened preparations for
Christmas with enthusiasm.

In some of these, it was necessary to employ the services of one of the
men, and Miss Edwards, without much thought of why, except that she was
used to him, singled out Jim as her assistant. To her surprise, he
excused himself, and begged to substitute Missouri Joe.

"You see, Miss Edwards, I've been a long time meanin' to take a trip
into the mount'ins. I allow it'll rain in less nor a week, an' then
it'll be too late; so ef you'll excuse me this onct, I'll promise to be
on hand next time, sure."

"Oh, certainly, Mr. Harris; Joe will do very well, no doubt; and there
is no need for you to make excuses. I thought you would like to assist
about these preparations, and I am sure you would, too; but go, by all
means, for, as you say, it must rain very soon, when it will be too
late."

"Thar's nothing I'd like better nor stayin' to work for you, Miss
Edwards," answered Jim, with some appearance of confusion; "but this
time I'm obleeged to go--I am, sure."

"Well, good-by, and good luck to you, Mr. Harris," Miss Edwards said,
pleasantly.

"Ef she only knowed what I'm a goin' fur!" muttered Jim to himself, as
he went to "catch up" his horse, and pack up two or three days' rations
of bread and meat. "But I ain't goin' to let on about it to a single
soul. It's best to keep this business to myself, I reckon. 'Peared like
'twas a hint of that kind she give me, the other day, when she said,
'The gods help them that help themselves, Mr. Harris.' Such a heap o'
sense as that gal's got! She's smarter'n John Edwards and me, and
Missouri Joe, to boot: but I'm a-gainin' on it a leetle--I'm a-gainin'
on it a leetle," concluded Jim, slowly, puckering his parched and
sunburnt lips into a significant expression of mystery.

What it was he was "gainin' on," did not appear, for the weight of his
thoughts had brought him to a dead-stand, a few feet from the fence, on
the hither side of which was the animal he contemplated riding. At this
juncture of entire absence of mind, the voice of John Edwards, hailing
him from the road, a little way off, dissolved the spell:

"I say, Jim," hallooed Edwards; "if you discover that mine, I will give
you half of it, and an interest in the ranch."

The words seemed to electrify the usually slow mind to which the idea
was addressed. Turning short about, Jim, in a score of long strides,
reached the fence separating him from Edwards.

"Will you put that in writin'?"

"To be sure, I will," answered John, nodding his head, with a puzzled
and ironical smile.

"I'll go to the house with ye, an' hev it done to onct," said Jim,
sententiously. "I hev about an hour to spar, I reckon."

John Edwards was struck by the unusual manner of the proverbially
deliberate man, who had served him with the same unvarying "slow and
sure" faithfulness for years; but he refrained from comments. Jim, in
his awkward way, proved to be more of a man of business than could have
been expected.

"I want a bond fur a deed, Mr. Edwards. That's the best way to settle
it, I reckon."

"That is as good a way as any; the discovery to be made within a certain
time."

"An' what interest in the ranch, Mr. Edwards?"

"Well, about the ranch," said John, thoughtfully, "I don't want to run
any risk of trading it off for nothing, and there will have to be
conditions attached to the transfer of any portion of that more than the
one of discovery of the mine. Let it be this way: that on the mine
proving by actual results to be worth a certain sum--say $50,000--the
deed shall be given to half the mine and one-third interest in the
ranch; the supposition being, that, if it is proved to be worth $50,000,
it is probably worth four times or ten times that amount."

"That's about it, I should say," returned Jim. "It's lib'ral in you, any
way, Mr. Edwards."

"The truth is, Harris," said Edwards, looking him steadily in the eye,
"I am in a devil of a pinch, that's the truth of it; and I am taking
gambling chances on this thing. I only hope you may earn your third of
the ranch. I'll not grudge it to you, if you do."

"Thank ye, sir. An' when them papers is made eout, I'll be off."

John handed him his papers half an hour afterward, which Jim prudently
took care to have witnessed. Miss Edwards being called in, signed her
name.

"So, this is what takes you to the mountains, Mr. Harris? I'm sure I
wish you good luck."

"You did that afore, miss; an' it came, right on the spot."

"I must be your 'wishing fairy,'" said she, laughing.

"I'll bring you a Christmas present, Miss Edwards, like as not," Jim
answered, coloring with delight at the thought.

"I hope you may. Thank you for the intention, any way."

"Are you going all alone, Harris?" asked Edwards, as he accompanied him
a short distance from the house. "It is not quite safe going alone, is
it? Have you any heirs, supposing you lose yourself or break your neck?"

Once more Jim was electrified with an idea. His light, gray eyes turned
on his questioner with a sudden flash of intelligence:

"I mought choose my heir, I reckon."

"Certainly."

"Mought we go back to the house, an' make a will?"

"Aren't you afraid turning back so often may spoil your luck?" asked
Edwards, laughing.

"Ef you think so, I'll never do it," answered Jim, soberly. "But I'll
tell you, onct fur all, who it is shall be my heir if any thing chance
me, an' I'll expect you'll act on the squar: that person is Miss Mary
Edwards, your own sister, an' you'll not go fur to dispute my will?"

"I've no right to dispute your will, whether I approve of it or not.
There will be no proof of it, however, and I could not make over your
property to my sister, should there be other heirs with a natural and
rightful claim to it. But you are not going to make your will just yet,
Harris; so, good-by. You'll be home on Christmas?"

"I reckon I will."

John Edwards turned back to the house, and to banter his sister on Jim
Harris's will, while that individual went about the business of his
journey. His spirits were in a strange state of half-elation,
half-depression. The depression was a natural consequence of the talk
about a will, and the elation was the result of a strong and sudden
faith which had sprung up in him in the success of his undertaking, and
of the achievements of every kind it would render possible.

"She's my 'wishin' fairy,' she said, an' she wished me luck twice. I got
the first stroke of it when John Edwards called to me across the field.
I've got him strong on that; an' I war a leetle surprised, too. He
wanted to make me look sharp, that's clar as mud. I'll look sharp, you
bet, John Edwards! Didn't her hand look purty when she wrote her name?
I've got her name to look at, any way." And at this stage of his
reverie, Jim drew from an inner breast-pocket the bond which Miss
Edwards had witnessed, and, after gazing at the signature for a moment
with moveless features, gave a shy, hasty glance all round him, and
pressed his parched and puckered lips on the paper.

The sentiment which caused this ebullition of emotion in Sandy-haired
Jim was one so dimly defined, so little understood, and so absolutely
pure in its nature, that had Miss Edwards been made aware of it, she
could only have seen in it the touching tribute which it was to abstract
womanliness--to the "wimmen nater," of which Jim was so frank an
admirer. The gulf which was between them had never yet been crossed,
even in imagination, though it is presumable; that, unknown to himself,
Jim was trembling on the verge of it at this moment, dragged thither by
the excitement of prospective wealth and the possibilities involved in
it, and by the recollection of the pleasant words and smiles of this, to
him, queen of women.

After this gush of romance--the first and only one Jim had ever been
guilty of--he returned the document to his pocket, and, with his
customary deliberation, proceeded to catch and mount his horse, and
before noon was on his way across the valley, toward that particular
gorge in the mountain where _el tesoro_ was supposed to be located. John
Edwards stood in the house door watching him ambling over the waste,
yellow plain, until Jim and his horse together appeared a mere speck in
the distance, when he went to talk over with his sister the late
transaction, and make some jesting remarks on the probability of the
desired discovery.

The days sped by, and there remained but two before Christmas. John and
his sister were consulting together over the arrangement of some
evergreen arches and wreaths of bay-leaves. Miss Edwards was explaining
where the floral ornaments should come in, where she would have this
picture, and where that, and how it would be best to light the rooms.

"I confess, John," she said, sitting down to braid the scarlet berries
of the native _arbutus_ into a wreath with the leaves of the California
nutmeg, "that I can not make it seem like winter or like Christmas, with
these open doors, these flowers, and this warm sunlight streaming in at
the windows. I do wish we could have a flurry of snow, to make it seem
like the holidays."

"Snow is out of the question; but I should be thankful for a good
rain-storm. If it does not rain soon, there will be another failure of
crops next year in all this part of the country."

"And then we should have to 'go down into Egypt for corn,' as the
Israelites used to. Do you feel very apprehensive, John?"

Before John could reply, his attention was diverted by a strange
arrival. Dismounting from Jim's horse was a man whom he did not at once
recognize, so shabby were his clothes, so worn and haggard his
appearance. With a feeling of vague uneasiness and curiosity, he
sauntered toward the gate, to give such greeting as seemed fit to the
stranger who came in this guise, yet riding a well-conditioned horse
belonging to one of his own men.

Miss Edwards, who had also recognized the animal, ran, impulsively, to
the door. She saw her brother advance to within a few feet of the
stranger, then turn abruptly on his heel and return toward the house.
The man thus contemptuously received, reeled, as if he would have
fallen, but caught at the gate-post, where he remained, leaning, as if
unable to walk.

"Who is it, John?" asked Miss Edwards, anxiously regarding her brother's
stern countenance; but he passed her, without a word.

A sudden pallor swept over her face, and she looked, for one moment, as
if she might have fainted; then, with a cry of, "Oh, John, John, be
merciful!" she ran after him, and threw her arms about him.

"Let me go, Mary," said he, hoarsely. "If you wish to see Charles
Erskine, you can do as you please. _I_ wash my hands of him."

"But, John, he is ill; he is suffering; he may die--and at your gate!"

"Let him die!"

It was then that the soul of Miss Edwards "stood up in her eyes, and
looked at" her brother. She withdrew her arms and turned mutely toward
the door, out of which she passed, with a proud, resolute, and rapid
tread. Without hesitation she did that which is so hard for a woman to
do--make advances toward the man with whom she had once been in tender
relations, but whose position has, for any reason, been made to appear
doubtful. She went to him, took him by the hand, and inquired, more
tremulously than she meant, what she could do for him.

"Mary!" answered the sick man, and then fainted quite away.

Miss Edwards had him conveyed to her own room, by the hands of Missouri
Joe and the Chinese cook, where she dispensed such restoratives as
finally brought back consciousness; and some slight nourishment being
administered, revealed the fact that exhaustion and famine, more than
disease, had reduced the invalid to his present condition; on becoming
aware of which fact, Miss Edwards grew suddenly embarrassed, and,
arranging everything for his comfort, was about to withdraw from the
apartment, when Erskine beckoned to her, and, fumbling in his pockets,
brought out several pieces of white quartz, thickly studded with yellow
metal, but of the value of which she had little conception.

"Take these to John," he said, "and tell him they are a peace-offering.
They came from _el tesoro_."

"You have seen James Harris; and he has discovered the mine!"

"I have seen no one. I discovered the mine myself."

"But the horse? It was Harris' horse you were riding."

"I did not know it; I found him, fortunately, when I could no longer
walk."

"Poor Charlie," whispered Miss Edwards, moved by that womanly weakness
which is always betraying the sex. She never knew how it was, but her
head sank on the pillow; and, when she remembered it afterward, she was
certain that, in the confusion of her ideas, he kissed her. Then she
fled from the room, and sought her brother everywhere, saying, over and
over, to herself, "Poor Jim! I wonder what has happened to him;" with
tears streaming from her eyes, which she piously attributed to
apprehensions for James Harris.

When John was found, and the "specimens" placed in his hands, he was
first incredulous, and then indignant; for it hurts a proud man to be
forced to change an opinion, or forgive an injury. The pressure of
circumstances being too strong for him, he relented so far as to see
Erskine, and talk over the discovery with him. What more the two men
talked of, never transpired; but Miss Edwards concluded that everything
was settled, as her brother gave orders concerning the entertainment of
his former partner, and looked and spoke with unusual vivacity for the
remainder of the day.

Many conjectures were formed concerning the fate of Sandy-haired Jim, by
the men on the ranch, who generally agreed that his horse would not
leave him, and that, if he were alive, he would be found not far from
the spot where Charles Erskine picked up the animal. From Erskine's
account, it appeared that he had been several weeks in the mountains,
prospecting, before he discovered the mine; by which time he was so
reduced in strength, through hardship and insufficient food, that it was
with difficulty he made his way down to the valley. Just at a time when
to proceed further seemed impossible, and when he had been absent two
days from the mine, he fell in with a riding-horse, quietly grazing, at
the foot of the mountain. Catching and mounting him, he rode, first
along the edge of the valley for some distance, to find, if possibly a
party were encamped there; but finding no one, started for his old home,
riding as long as his strength allowed, and dismounting quite often to
rest. In this way, three days and a half had passed, since the discovery
of the mine. Judging from where the horse was found, Harris must have
gone up on the other side of the ridge or spur, in which _el tesoro_ was
located. At all events, it was decided to send a party to look for him,
as, whether or not any accident had befallen him, he was now without the
means of reaching home; and, to provide for any emergencies, John
ordered the light wagon to be taken along, with certain other articles,
so suggestive of possible pain and calamity, that Miss Edwards felt her
blood chilled by the sight of them.

"He will be so disappointed," she said, "not to have been the discoverer
of the mine. John, you must make him a handsome present, and I will see
what I can do, to show my gratitude for his many kindnesses."

And then, happy in the presence of her lover, and the returning
cheerfulness of her brother, Miss Edwards forgot to give more than a
passing thought to James Harris, while she busied herself in the
preparations for a holiday, which, to her, would be doubly an
anniversary, ever afterward.

The clouds, which had been gathering for a storm, during the past week,
sent down a deluge of rain, on Christmas Eve, making it necessary to
light fires in the long-empty fire-places, and giving a truly festive
glow to the holiday adornments of the Edwards Rancho. The ranch hands
were dancing to the music of the "Arkansas Traveler," in their separate
quarters. John Edwards's half-dozen friends from the city, with two or
three of his sister's, and the now convalescent Charles Erskine, clothed
in a suit of borrowed broadcloth, were making mirth and music, after
their more refined fashion, in Miss Edwards's parlor.

At the hour when, according to tradition, the Bethlehem Babe was born,
Missouri Joe appeared at the door, and made a sign to the master of the
house.

"It's a pity, like," said Joe, softly, "to leave him out thar in the
storm."

"'Him!' Do you mean Harris? How is he?"

"The storm can't hurt him none," continued Joe; "an' it do not look
right to fetch him in yer, nor to 'tother house, no more."

"What is it, John?" Miss Edwards asked anxiously, looking over his
shoulder into the darkness. "Has Harris returned?"

"They have brought him," answered John; "and we must have him in here."

She shrank away, frightened and distressed, while the men brought what
remained of Sandy-haired Jim, and deposited it carefully on a wooden
bench in the hall. There was little to be told. The men had found him at
the foot of a precipice where he had fallen. Beside him was a heavy
nugget of pure gold, which he was evidently carrying when he fell. He
had not died immediately, for in his breast-pocket was found the bond,
with this indorsement, in pencil:

    "I hev lit onto the mine foller mi trail up the kenyon miss Mary
    edwards is mi air so help me God goodby.

    "JAMES HARRIS."

They buried him on Christmas Day; and Miss Edwards, smiling through her
quiet-flowing tears, adorned his coffin with evergreen-wreaths and
flowers. "I am glad to do this for him," she whispered to her lover,
"for if ever there was a heart into which Christ was born at its birth,
it was poor Jim's."



POEMS.



    A PAGAN REVERIE.

    Tell me, mother Nature! tender yet stern mother!
    In what nomenclature (fitlier than another)
    Can I laud and praise thee, entreat and implore thee;
    Ask thee what thy ways be, question yet adore thee.

    Over me thy heaven bends its royal arches;
    Through its vault the seven planets keep their marches:
    Rising, shining, setting, with no change or turning;
    Never once forgetting--wasted not with burning.

    On and on, unceasing, move the constellations,
    Lessening nor increasing since the birth of nations:
    Sun and moon unfailing keep their times and seasons,--
    But man, unavailing, pleads to thee for reasons.

    Why the great dumb mountains, why the ocean hoary--
    Even the babbling fountains, older are than story,
    And his life's duration's but a few short marches
    Of the constellations through the heavenly arches!

    Even the oaks of Mamre, and the palms of Kedar,
    (Praising thee with psalmry) and the stately cedar,
    Through the cycling ages, stinted not are growing,--
    While the holiest sages have not time for knowing.

    Mother whom we cherish, savage while so tender,
    Do the lilies perish mourning their lost splendor?
    Does the diamond shimmer brightlier that eternal
    Time makes nothing dimmer of its light supernal?

    Do the treasures hidden in earth's rocky bosom,
    Cry to men unbidden that they come and loose them?
    Is the dew of dawntide sad because the Summer
    Kissed to death the fawn-eyed Spring, the earlier comer?

    Would the golden vapors trooping over heaven,
    Quench the starry tapers of the sunless even?
    When the arrowy lightnings smite the rocks asunder,
    Do they shrink with frightenings from the bellowing thunder?

    Inconceivable Nature! these, thy inert creatures,
    With their sphinx-like stature, are of man the teachers;
    Silent, secret, passive, endless as the ages,
    'Gainst their forces massive fruitlessly he rages.

    Winds and waves misuse him, buffet and destroy him;
    Thorns and pebbles bruise him, heat and cold annoy him;
    Sting of insect maddens, snarl of beast affrights him;
    Shade of forest saddens, breath of flowers delights him.

    O thou great, mysterious mother of all mystery!
    At thy lips imperious man entreats his history.--
    Whence he came--and whither is his spirit fleeing:
    Ere it wandered hither had it other being:

    Will its subtile essence, passing through death's portal,
    Put on nobler presence in a life immortal?
    Or is man but matter, that a touch ungentle,
    Back again may shatter to forms elemental?

    Can mere atoms question how they feel sensation?
    Or dust make suggestion of its own creation?
    Yet if man were better than his base conditions,
    Could things baser fetter his sublime ambitions?

    What unknown conjunction of the pure etherial,
    With the form and function of the gross material,
    Gives the product mortal? whose immortal yearning
    Brings him to the portal of celestial learning.

    To the portal gleaming, where the waiting sphinxes,
    Humoring his dreaming, give him what he thinks is
    Key to the arcana--plausible equation
    Of the problems many in his incarnation.

    Pitiful delusion!--in no nomenclature--
    Maugre its profusion--O ambiguous nature!
    Can man find expression of his own relation
    To the great procession of facts in creation?

    Fruitless speculating! none may lift the curtain
    From the antedating ages and uncertain
    When what is was not, and tides of pristine being
    Beat on shores forgot, and all, as now, unseeing.

    Whence impelled or whither, or by what volition;
    Borne now here, now thither, in blind inanition.
    Out of this abysmal, nebulous dim distance,
    Haunted by a dismal, phantomic existence,

    Issued man?--a creature without inspiration,
    Gross of form and feature, dull of inclination?
    Or was his primordial self a something higher?
    Fresh from test and ordeal of elemental fire.

    Were these ages golden while the world was younger,
    When the giants olden knew not toil nor hunger?
    When no pain nor malice marred joy's full completeness,
    And life's honeyed chalice rapt the soul with sweetness?

    When the restless river of time loved to linger;
    Ere flesh felt the quiver of death's dissolving finger;
    When man's intuition led without deflection,
    To a sure fruition, and a full perfection.

    Individual man is ever new created:
    What his being's plan is, loosely predicated
    On the circumstances of his sole condition,
    Colored by the fancies borrowed from tradition.

    His creation gives him clue to nothing older:
    Naked, life receives him--wondering beholder
    Of the world about him--and ere aught is certain,
    Time and mystery flout him; and death drops the curtain.

    Man, the dreamer, groping after what he should be,
    Cheers himself with hoping to be what he would be:
    When he hopes no longer, with self-adulation,
    Fancies he was stronger at his first creation:

    Else--in him inhering powers of intellection--
    Death, by interfering with his mind's perfection,
    Itself gives security to restore life's treasure,
    Freed from all impurity and in endless measure.

    Thou, O Nature, knowest, yet no word is spoken.
    Time, that ever flowest, presses on unbroken:
    All in vain the sages toil with proof and question--
    The immemorial ages give no least suggestion.


    PASSING BY HELICON.

      My steps are turned away;
        Yet my eyes linger still,
      On their beloved hill,
        In one long, last survey:
    Gazing through tears that multiply the view,
          Their passionate adieu!

      O, joy-empurpled height,
        Down whose enchanted sides
        The rosy mist now glides,
      How can I loose thy sight?
    How can my eyes turn where my feet must go,
          Trailing their way in woe?

      Gone is my strength of heart;
        The roses that I brought
        From thy dear bowers, and thought
      To keep, since we must part--
    Thy thornless roses, sweeter until now,
          Than round Hymettus' brow.

      The golden-vested bees
        Find sweetest sweetness in--
        Such odors dwelt within
      The moist red hearts of these--
    Alas, no longer give out blissful breath,
          But odors rank with death.

      Their dewiness is dank;
        It chills my pallid arms,
        Once blushing 'neath their charms;
      And their green stems hang lank,
    Stricken with leprosy, and fair no more,
          But withered to the core.

      Vain thought! to bear along,
        Into this torrid track,
        Whence no one turneth back
      With his first wanderer's song
    Yet on his lips, thy odors and thy dews,
          To deck these dwarfed yews.

      No more within thy vales,
        Beside thy plashing wells,
        Where sweet Euterpe dwells
      With songs of nightingales,
    And sounds of flutes that make pale Silence glow,
          Shall I their rapture know.

      Farewell, ye stately palms!
        Clashing your cymbal tones,
        In thro' the mystic moans
      Of pines at solemn psalms:
    Ye myrtles, singing Love's inspired song,
          We part, and part for long!

      Farewell, majestic peaks!
        Whereon my listening soul
        Hath trembled to the roll
      Of thunders that Jove wreaks--
    And calm Minerva's oracles hath heard
          All more than now unstirred!

      Adieu, ye beds of bloom!
        No more shall zephyr bring
        To me, upon his wing,
      Your loveliest perfume;
    No more upon your pure, immortal dyes,
          Shall rest my happy eyes.

      I pass by; at thy foot,
        O, mount of my delight!
        Ere yet from out thy sight,
      I drop my voiceless lute:
    It is in vain to strive to carry hence
          Its olden eloquence.

      Your sacred groves no more
        My singing shall prolong,
        With echoes of my song,
      Doubling it o'er and o'er.
    Haunt of the muses, lost to wistful eyes,
          What dreams of thee shall rise!

      Rise but to be dispelled--
        For here where I am cast,
        Such visions may not last,
      By sterner fancies quelled:
    Relentless Nemesis my doom hath sent--
          This cruel banishment!


    LOST AT SEA.

    A fleet set sail upon a summer sea:
        'Tis now so long ago,
    I look no more to see my ships come home;
    But in that fleet sailed all 'twas dear to me.

    Ships never bore such precious freight as these,
        Please God, to any woe.
    His world is wide, and they may ride the foam,
    Secure from danger, in some unknown seas.

    But they have left me bankrupt on life's 'change;
        And daily I bestow
    Regretful tears upon the blank account,
    And with myself my losses rearrange.

    Oh, mystic wind of fate, dost hold my dower
        Where I may never know?
    Of all my treasure ventured what amount
    Will the sea send me in my parting hour!


    'TWAS JUNE, NOT I.

    "Come out into the garden, Maud;"
      In whispered tones young Percy said:
      He but repeated what he'd read
    That afternoon, with soft applaud:
    A snatch, which for my same name's sake,
      He caught, out of the sweet, soft song,
    A lover for his love did make,
      In half despite of some fond wrong:--
    And more he quoted, just to show
      How still the rhymes ran in his head,
      With visions of the roses red
    That on the poet's pen did grow.

    The poet's spell was on our blood;
      The spell of June was in the air;
    We felt, more than we understood,
      The charm of being young and fair.
    Where everything is fair and young--
      As on June eves doth fitly seem:
    The Earth herself lies in among
      The misty, azure fields of space,
    A bride, whose startled blushes glow
      Less flame-like through the shrouds of lace
    That sweeter all her beauties show.

    We walked and talked beneath the trees--
      Bird-haunted, flowering trees of June--
      The roses purpled in the moon:
    We breathed their fragrance on the breeze--
    Young Percy's voice is tuned to clear
    Deep tones, as if his heart were deep:
    This night it fluttered on my ear
    As young birds flutter in their sleep.
    My own voice faltered when I said
    How very sweet such hours must be
    With one we love. At that word he
    Shook like the aspen overhead:
    "Must be!" he drew me from the shade,
    To read my face to show his own:
    "Say _are_, dear Maud!"--my tongue was stayed;
    My pliant limbs seemed turned to stone.

    He held my hands I could not move--
    The nerveless palms together prest--
    And clasped them tightly to his breast;
    While in my heart the question strove.
    The fire-flies flashed like wandering stars--
    I thought some sprang from out his eyes:
    Surely some spirit makes or mars
    At will our earthly destinies!
    "Speak, Maud!"--at length I turned away:
    He must have thought it woman's fear;
    For, whispering softly in my ear
    Such gentle thanks as might allay
    Love's tender shame; left on my brow,
    And on each hand, a warm light kiss--
    I feel them burn there even now--
    But all my fetters fell at this.

    I spoke like an injured queen:
    It's our own defence when we're surprised--
    The way our weakness is disguised;
    I said things that I could not mean,
    Or ought not--since it was a lie
    That love had not been in my mind:
    'Twas in the air I breathed; the sky
    Shone love, and murmured it the wind.
    It had absorbed my soul with bliss;
    My blood ran love in every vein,
    And to have been beloved again
    Were heavenly!--so I thought till this
    Unlooked for answer to the prayer
    My heart was making with its might,
    Thus challenged, caught in sudden snare,
    Like two clouds meeting on a height,
    And, pausing first in short strange lull,
    Then bursting into awful storm,
    Opposing feelings multiform,
    Struggled in silence: and then full
    Of our blind woman-wrath, broke forth
    In stinging hail of sharp-edged ice,
    As freezing as the polar north,
    Yet maddening. O, the poor mean vice
    We women have been taught to call
    By virtue's name! the holy scorn
    We feel for lovers left love-lorn
      By our own coldness, or by the wall
      Of other love 'twixt them and us!

    The tempest past, I paused. He stood
    Silent,--and yet "Ungenerous!"
    Was hurled back, plainer than ere could
    His lips have said it, by his eyes
      Fire-flashing, and his pale, set face,
      Beautiful, and unmarred by trace
    Of aught save pain and pained surprise.
      --I quailed at last before that gaze,
      And even faintly owned my wrong:
    I said I "spoke in such amaze
      I could not choose words that belong
    To such occasions." Here he smiled,
      To cover one low, quick-drawn sigh:
      "June eves disturb us differently,"
    He said, at length; "and I, beguiled
    By something in the air, did do
      My Lady Maud unmeant offence;
    And, what is stranger far, she too,
    Under the baleful influence
    of this fair heaven"--he raised his eyes,
    And gestured proudly toward the stars--
    "Has done me wrong. Wrong, lady, mars
    God's purpose, written on these skies,
    Painted and uttered in this scene:
    Acknowledged in each secret heart;
    We both are wrong, you say; 'twould mean
    That we too should be wide apart--
    And so, adieu!"--with this he went.

    I sat down whitening in the moon,
    With heat as of a desert noon,
    Sending its fever vehement
    Across my brow, and through my frame--
    The fever of a wild regret--
    A vain regret without a name,
    In which both love and loathing met.

    Was this the same enchanted air
    I breathed one little hour ago?
    Did all these purple roses blow
    But yestermorn, so sweet, so fair?
    Was it _this_ eve that some one said
    "Come out into the garden, Maud?"
    And while the sleepy birds o'erhead
    Chirped out to know who walked abroad,
    Did _we_ admire the plumey flowers
    On the wide-branched catalpa trees,
    And locusts, scenting all the breeze;
    And call the balm-trees our bird-towers?
    Did _we_ recall the "black bat Night,"
    That flew before young Maud walked forth--
    And say this Night's wings were too bright
    For bats'--being feathered, from its birth,
    Like butterflies' with powdered gold:
    Still talking on, from gay to grave,
    And trembling lest some sudden wave
    Of the soul's deep, grown over-bold,
    Should sweep the barriers of reserve,
    And whelm us in tumultuous floods
    Of unknown power? What did unnerve
    Our frames, as if we walked with gods?
    Unless they, meaning to destroy,
    Had made us mad with a false heaven,
    Or drunk with wine and honey given
    Only for immortals to enjoy.

    Alas, I only knew that late
    I'd seemed in an enchanted sphere;
    That now I felt the web of fate
    Close round me, with a mortal fear.
    If only once the gods invite
    To banquets that are crowned with roses;
    After which the celestial closes
    Are barred to us; if in despite
    Of such high favor, arrogant
    We blindly choose to bide our time,
    Rejecting Heaven's--and ignorant
    What we have spurned, attempt to climb
    To heavenly places at our will--
    Finding no path thereto but one,
    Nemesis-guarded, where atone
    To heaven, all such as hopeful still,
    Press toward the mount,--yet find it strewn
    With corses, perished by the way,
    Of those who Fate did importune
    Too rashly, or her will gainsay.
    If _I_ have been thrust out from heaven,
    This night, for insolent disdain,
    Of putting a young god in pain,
    How shall I hope to be forgiven?
    Yet let me not be judged as one
    Who mocks at any high behest;
    My fault being that I kept the throne
    Of a JOVE vacant in my breast,
    And when APOLLO claimed the place
    I was too loyal to my Jove;
    Unmindful how the masks of love
    Transfigure all things to our face.

    Ah, well! if I have lost to fate
    The greatest boon that heaven disposes;
    And closed upon myself the gate
    To fields of bliss; 'tis on these roses,
    On this intoxicating air,
    The witching influence of the moon,
    The poet's rhymes that went in tune
    To the night's voices low and rare;
    To all, that goes to make such hours
    Like hasheesh-dreams. These did defy,
    With contrary fate-compelling power,
    The intended bliss;--'_twas June, not I_.


    LINES TO A LUMP OF VIRGIN GOLD.

    Dull, yellow, heavy, lustreless--
    With less of radiance than the burnished tress,
    Crumpled on Beauty's forehead: cloddish, cold,
    Kneaded together with the common mold!
    Worn by sharp contact with the fretted edges
    Of ancient drifts, or prisoned in deep ledges;
    Hidden within some mountain's rugged breast
    From man's desire and quest--
    Would thou could'st speak and tell the mystery
    That shrines thy history!

    Yet 'tis of little consequence,
    To-day, to know how thou wert made, or whence
    Earthquake and flood have brought thee: thou art here,
    At once the master that men love and fear--
    Whom they have sought by many strange devices,
    In ancient river-beds; in interstices
    Of hardest quartz; upon the wave-wet strand,
    Where curls the tawny sand
    By mountain torrents hurried to the main,
    And thence hurled back again:--

    Yes, suffered, dared, and patiently
    Offered up everything, O gold, to thee!--
    Home, wife and children, native soil, and all
    That once they deemed life's sweetest, at thy call;
    Fled over burning plains; in deserts fainted;
    Wearied for months at sea--yet ever painted
    Thee as the shining Mecca, that to gain
    Invalidated pain,
    Cured the sick soul--made nugatory evil
    Of man or devil.

    Alas, and well-a-day! we know
    What idle dreams were these that fooled men so.
    On yonder hillside sleep in nameless graves,
    To which they went untended, the poor slaves
    Of fruitless toil; the victims of a fever
    Called home-sickness--no remedy found ever;
    Or slain by vices that grow rankly where
    Men madly do and dare,
    In alternations of high hope and deep abysses
    Of recklessnesses.

    Painfully, and by violence:
    Even as heaven is taken, thou wert dragged whence
    Nature had hidden thee--whose face is worn
    With anxious furrows, and her bosom torn
    In the hard strife--and ever yet there lingers
    Upon these hills work for the "effacing fingers"
    Of time, the healer, who makes all things seem
    A half forgotten dream;
    Who smooths deep furrows and lone graves together,
    By touch of wind and weather.

    Thou heavy, lustreless, dull clod!
    Digged from the earth like a base common sod;
    I wonder at thee, and thy power to hold
    The world in bond to thee, thou yellow gold!
    Yet do I sadly own thy fascination,
    And would I gladly show my estimation
    By giving house-room to thee, if thou'lt come
    And cumber up my home;--
    I'd even promise not to call attention
    To these things that I mention!

    "The King can do no wrong," and thou
    Art King indeed to most of us, I trow.
    Thou'rt an enchanter, at whose sovereign will
    All that there is of progress, learning, skill,
    Of beauty, culture, grace--and I might even
    Include religion, though that flouts at heaven--
    Comes at thy bidding, flies before thy loss;--
    And yet men call thee dross!
    If thou art dross then I mistaken be
    Of thy identity.

    Ah, solid, weighty, beautiful!
    How could I first have said that thou wert dull?
    How could have wondered that men willingly
    Gave up their homes, and toiled and died for thee?
    Theirs was the martyrdom in which was planted
    A glorious State, by precious memories haunted:
    Ours is the comfort, ease, the power, the fame
    Of an exalted name:
    Theirs was the struggle of a proud ambition--
    Ours is the full fruition.

    Thou, yellow nugget, wert the star
    That drew these willing votaries from afar,
    'Twere wrong to call thee lustreless or base
    That lightest onward all the human race,
    Emblem art thou, in every song or story,
    Of highest excellence and brightest glory:
    Thou crown'st the angels, and enthronest Him
    Who made the cherubim:
    My reverend thought indeed is not withholden,
    O nugget golden!


    MAGDALENA.

    You say there's a Being all-loving,
      Whose nature is justice and pity;
    Could you say where you think he is roving?
      We have sought him from city to city,
    But he never is where we can find him,
      When outrage and sorrow beset us;
    It is strange we are always behind him,
      Or that He should forever forget us.

    But being a god, he is thinking
      Of the masculine side of the Human;
    And though just, it would surely be sinking
      The God to be thoughtful for woman.
    For him and by him was man made:
      Sole heir of the earth and its treasures;
    An after-thought, woman--the handmaid,
      Not of God, but of man and his pleasures.

    Should you say that man's God would reprove us,
      If we found him and showed him our bruises?
    It is dreary with no one to love us,
      Or to hold back the hand that abuses:
    Man's hand, that first led and caressed us,
      Man's lips, that first kissed and betrayed;--
    If his God could know how he's oppressed us,
      Do you think that we need be afraid?

    For we loved him--and he who stood nearest
      To God, who could doubt or disdain?
    When he swore by that God, and the dearest
      Of boons that he hoped to obtain
    Of that God, that he truly would keep us
      In his heart of hearts precious and only:
    Say, how could we think he would steep us
      In sorrow, and leave us thus lonely?

    But you see how it is: he has left us,
      This demi-god, heir of creation;
    Of our only good gifts has bereft us,
      And mocked at our mad desolation:
    Says that we knew that such oaths would be broken--
      Says we lured him to lie and betray;
    Quotes the word of his God as a token
      Of the law that makes woman his prey.

    And now what shall we do? We have given
      To this master our handmaiden's dower:
    Our beauty and youth, aye, and even
      Our souls have we left in his power.
    Though we thought when we loved him, that loving
      Made of woman an angel, not demon;
    We have found, to our fond faith's disproving,
      That love makes of woman a leman!

    Yes, we gave, and he took: took not merely
      What we gave, for his lying pretences:
    But our whole woman world, that so dearly
      We held by till then: our defences
    Of home, of fair fame; the affection
      Of parents and kindred; the human
    Delight of child-love; the protection
      That is everywhere owed to a woman.

    You say there's a Being all-loving,
      Whose nature is justice and pity:
    Could you say where you think he is roving?
      We have sought him from city to city.
    We have called unto him, our eyes streaming
      With the tears of our pain and despair:
    We have shouted unto him blaspheming,
      And whispered unto him in prayer.

    But he sleeps, or is absent, or lending
      His ear to man's prouder petition:
    And the black silence over us bending
      Scorches hot with the breath of perdition.
    For this fair world of man's, in which woman
      Pays for all that she gets with her beauty,
    Is a desert that starves out the human,
      When her charms charm not squarely with duty.

    For man were we made, says the preacher,
      To love him and serve him in meekness,
    Of man's God is man solely the teacher
      Interpreting unto our weakness:
    He the teacher, the master, dispenser
      Not only of law, but of living,
    Breaks his own law with us, then turns censor,
      Accusing, but never forgiving.

    Do you think that we have not been nursing
      Resentment for wrong and betrayal?
    From our hearts, filled with gall, rises cursing,
      To our own and our masters' dismayal.
    'Tis for this that we seek the all-loving,
      Whose nature is justice and pity;
    And we'll find Him, wherever he's roving,
      In country, in town, or in city.

    He must show us his justice, who made us;
      He must place sin where sin was conceived;
    We must know if man's God will upbraid us
      Because we both loved and believed.
    We must know if man's riches and power,
      His titles, crowns, sceptres and ermine,
    Weigh with God against womanhood's dower,
      Or whether man's guilt they determine.

    It would seem that man's God should restrain him,
      Or else should avenge our dishonor:
    Shall the cries of the hopeless not pain him,
      Or shall woman take all guilt upon her?
    Let us challenge the maker that made us;
      Let us cry to Christ, son of a woman;
    We shall learn if, when man has betrayed us,
      Heaven's justice accords with the human.

    We must know if because we were lowly,
      And kept in the place man assigned us,
    He could seek us with passions unholy
      And be free, while his penalties bind us.
    We would ask if his gold buys exemption,
      Or whether his manhood acquits him;
    How it is that we scarce find redemption
      For sins less than his self-law permits him.

    Do we dare the Almighty to question?
      Shall the clay to the potter appeal?
    To whom else shall we go with suggestion?
      Shall the vase not complain to the wheel?
    God answered Job out of the groaning
      Of thunder and whirlwind and hailing;
    Will he turn a deaf ear to our moaning,
      Or reply to our prayers with railing?

    Did you speak of a Christ who is tender--
      A deity born of a woman?
    Of the sorrowful, God and defender,
      And brother and friend of the human?
    Long ago He ascended to heaven,
      Long ago was His teaching forgotten;
    The lump has no longer the leaven,
      But is heavy, unwholesome and rotten.

    The gods are all man's, whom he praises
      For laws that make woman his creature;
    For the rest, theological mazes
      Furnish work for the salaried preacher.
    In the youth of the world it was better,
      We had deities then of our choosing;
    We could pray, though we wore then a fetter,
      To a GODDESS of binding and loosing.

    We could kneel in a grove or a temple,
      No man's heavy hand on our shoulder:
    Had in Pallas Athene example
      To make womanhood stronger and bolder.
    But the temples are broken and plundered,
      Sacred altars profanely o'erthrown;
    Where the oracle trembled and thundered,
      Are a cavern, a fount, and a stone.

    Yet we would of the Christ hear the story,
      'Twas familiar in days that are ended;
    His humility, purity, glory,
      Are they not into heaven ascended?
    We see naught but scorning and hating;
      We hear naught but threats and contemning:
    For your Christian is good and berating,
      And your sinner is first in condemning.

    Should you say that the Christ would reprove us,
      If we found him and told him our trouble?
    It is fearful with no one to love us,
      And our pain and despair growing double.
    It is mad'ning to feel we're excluded
      From the homes of the mothers that bore us;
    And that man, by no false arts deluded,
      May enter unchallenged before us.

    It is hard to be humble when trodden;
      We cannot be meek when oppressed;
    Nor pure while our souls are made sodden
      With loathing that can't be confessed;
    Or true, while our bread and our shelter
      By a lying pretence is obtained--
    Deceived, in deception we welter;
      By a touch are we evermore stained.

    O hard lot of woman! the creature
      Of a creature whose God is asleep,
    Or gone on a journey. You teach her
      She was made to sin, suffer, and weep;
    We wait for a new revelation,
      We cry for a God of our own;
    O God unrevealed, bring salvation,
      From our necks lift the collar of stone!


    REPOSE.

    I lay me down straight, with closed eyes,
      And pale hands folded across my breast,
    Thinking, unpained, of the sad surprise
      Of those who shall find me thus fall'n to rest;
    And the grief in their looks when they learn no endeavor,
    Can disturb my repose--for my sleep is forever.
    I know that a smile will lie hid in my eyes,
      Even a soft throb of joy stir the pulse in my breast,
    When they sit down to mourning, with tears and with sighs,
      And shudder at death, which to me is but rest.

    So sweet to be parted at once from our pain;
      To put off our care as a robe that is worn;
    To drop like a link broken out of a chain,
      And be lost in the sands by Time's tide overborne:
    And to know at my loss all the wildest regretting,
    Will be as a foot-print, washed out in forgetting.
    To be certain of this--that my faults perish first;
      That when they behold me so calmly asleep,
    They can but forgive me my errors at worst,
      And speak of my praises alone as they weep.

    "Whom the gods love die young," they will say;
      Though they should think it, they will not say so:
    "Whom the world pierces with thorns pass away,
      Grieving, yet asking and longing to go!"
    No, when they see how divine my repose is,
    They'll forget that my-life-path is not over roses;
    And they'll whisper together, with hands full of flowers,
      How always I loved them to wear on my breast;
    And strewing them over my bosom in showers,
      With hands shaken by sobs, leave me softly to rest.

    There is one who will come when the rest are away;
      One bud of a rose will he bring for my hair;
    He knows how I liked it, worn always that way,
      And his fingers will tremble while placing it there.
    Yes, he'll remember those soft June-day closes,
    When the sky was as flushed as our own crimson roses;
    He'll remember the flush on the sky and the flowers,
      And the red on my cheek where his lips had been prest;
    But the throes of his heart in the long, silent hours,
      Will disturb not my dreams, so profoundly I'll rest.

    So, all will forget, what to think of mere pain,
      That the heart now asleep in this solemn repose,
    Had contended with tempests of sorrow in vain,
      And gone down in the strife at the feet of its foes:
    They will choose to be mute when a deed I have done,
    Or a word I have spoke I can no more atone;
    They'll remember I loved them, was faithful and true;
      They'll not say what a wild will abode in my breast;
    But repeat to each other, as if they were new,
      Old stories of what did the loved one at rest.

    Ah! while I lie soothing my soul with this dream,
      The terror of waking comes back to my heart;
    Why is it not as I thus make it seem?
      Must I come back to the world, ere we part?
    Deep was the swoon of my spirit--why break it?
    Why bring me back to the struggles that shake it?
    Alas, there is room on my feet for fresh bruises--
      The flowers are not dead on my brow or my breast--
    When shall I learn "sweet adversity's uses,"
      And my tantalized spirit be truly at rest!


    ASPASIA.

    O, ye Athenians, drunken with self-praise,
      What dreams I had of you, beside the sea,
    In far Miletus! while the golden days
      Slid into silver nights, so sweet to me;
    For then I dreamed my day-dreams sweetly o'er,
      Fancying the touch of Pallas on my brow--
    Libations of both heart and wine did pour,
      And offered up my being with my vow.

    'Twas thus to Athens my heart drew at last
      My life, my soul, myself. Ah, well, I learn
    To love and loathe the bonds that hold me fast,
      Your captive and your conquerer in turn;
    Am I not shamed to match my charms with those
      Of fair boy-beauties? gentled for your love
    To match the freshness of the morning rose,
      And lisp in murmurs like the cooing dove.

    O, men of Athens! by the purple sea
      In far Miletus, when I dreamed of you,
    Watching the winged ships that invited me
      To follow their white track upon the blue;
    'Twas the desire to mate my lofty soul
      That drew me ever like a viewless chain
    Toward Homer's land of heroes, 'til I stole
      Away from home and dreams, to you and pain.

    I brought you beauty--but your _boys_ invade
      My woman's realm of love with girlish airs.
    I brought high gifts, and powers to persuade,
      To charm, to teach, with your philosophers.
    But knowledge is man's realm alone, you hold;
      And I who am your equal am cast down
    Level with those who sell themselves for gold--
      A crownless queen--a woman of the town!

    Ye vain Athenians, know this, that I
      By your hard laws am only made more free;
    Your unloved dames may sit at home and cry,
      But, being unwed, I meet you openly,
    A foreigner, you cannot wed with me;
      But I can win your hearts and sway your will,
    And make your free wives envious to see
      What power Aspasia wields, Milesian still.

    Who would not be beloved of Pericles?
      I could have had all Athens at my feet;
    And have them for my flatterers, when I please;
      Yet, one great man's great love is far more sweet!
    He is my proper mate as I am his--
      You see my young dreams were not all in vain--
    And I have tasted of ineffable bliss,
      If I am stung at times with fiery pain.

    It is not that I long to be a wife
      By your Athenian laws, and sit at home
    Behind a lattice, prisoner for life,
      With my lord left at liberty to roam;
    Nor is it that I crave the right to be
      At the symposium or the Agora known;
    My grievance is, that your proud dames to me
      Came to be taught, in secret and alone.

    They fear; what _do_ they fear? is't me or you?
      Am I not pure as any of them all?
    But your laws are against me; and 'tis true,
      If fame is lowering, I have had a fall!
    O, selfish men of Athens, shall the world
      Remember you, and pass my glory by?
    Nay, 'til from their proud heights your names are hurled,
      Mine shall blaze with them on your Grecian sky.

    Am I then boastful? It is half in scorn
      Of caring for your love, or for your praise,
    As women do, and must. Had I been born
      In this proud Athens, I had spent my days
    In jealousy of boys, and stolen hours
      With some Milesian, of a questioned place,
    Learning of her the use of woman's powers
      Usurped by men of this patrician race.

    Alas! I would I were a child again,
      Steeped in dream langours by the purple sea;
    And Athens but the vision it was then,
      Its great men good, its noble women free:
    That I in some winged ship should strive to fly
      To reach this goal, and founder and go down!
    O impious thought, how could I wish to die,
      With all that I have felt and learned unknown?

    Nay, I am glad to be to future times
      As much Athenian as is Pericles;
    Proud to be named by men of other climes
      The friend and pupil of great Socrates.
    What is the gossip of the city dames
      Behind their lattices to one like me?
    More glorious than their high patrician names
      I hold my privilege of being free!

    And yet I would that they were free as I;
      It angers me that women are so weak,
    Looking askance when ere they pass me by
      Lest on a chance their lords should see us speak;
    And coming next day to an audience
      In hope of learning to resemble me:
    They wish, they tell me, to learn eloquence--
      The lesson they should learn is _liberty_.

    O Athens, city of the beautiful,
      Home of all art, all elegance, all grace;
    Whose orators and poets sway the soul
      As the winds move the sea's unstable face;
    O wonderous city, nurse and home of mind,
      This is my oracle to you this day--
    No generous growth from starved roots will you find,
      But fruitless blossoms weakening to decay.

    You take my meaning? Sappho is no more,
      And no more Sapphos will be, in your time;
    The tree is dead on one side that before
      Ran with such burning sap of love and rhyme.
    Your glorious city is the utmost flower
      Of a one-sided culture, that will spend
    Itself upon itself, 'till, hour by hour,
      It runs its sources dry, and so must end.

    That race is doomed, behind whose lattices
      Its once free women are constrained to peer
    Upon the world of men with vacant eyes;
      It was not so in Homer's time, I hear.
    But Eastern slaves have eaten of your store,
      Till in your homes all eating bread are slaves;
    They're built into your walls, beside your door,
      And bend beneath your lofty architraves.

    A woman of the race that looks upon
      The sculptured emblems of captivity,
    Shall bear a slave or tyrant for a son;
      And none shall know the worth of liberty.
    Am I seditious?--Nay, then, I will keep
      My lesson for your dames when next they steal
    On tip-toe to an audience. Pray sleep
      Securely, and dream well: we wish your weal!

    Why, what vain prattle: but my heart is sore
      With thinking on the emptiness of things,
    And these Athenians, treacherous to the core,
      Who hung on Pericles with flatterings.
    I would indeed I were a little child,
      Resting my tired limbs on the sunny sands
    In far Miletus, where the airs blow mild,
      And countless looms throb under busy hands.

    The busy hand must calm the busy thought,
      And labor cool the passions of the hour;
    To the tired weaver, when his web is wrought,
      What signifies the party last in power?
    But here in Athens, 'twixt philosophers
      Who reason on the nature of the soul;
    And all the vain array of orators,
      Who strove to hold the people in control.

    Between the poets, artists, critics, all,
      Who form a faction or who found a school,
    We weave Penelope's web with hearts of gall,
      And my poor brain is oft the weary tool.
    Yet do I choose this life. What is to me
      Peace or good fame, away from all of these,
    But living death? I do choose liberty,
      And leave to Athens' dames their soulless ease.

    The time shall come, when Athens is no more,
      And you and all your gods have passed away;
    That other men, upon another shore,
      Shall from your errors learn a better way.
    To them eternal justice will reveal
      Eternal truth, and in its better light
    All that your legal falsehoods now conceal,
      Will stand forth clearly in the whole world's sight.


    A REPRIMAND.

    Behold my soul? She sits so far above you
      Your wildest dream has never glanced so high;
    Yet in the old-time when you said, "I love you,"
      How fairly we were mated, eye to eye
    How long we dallied on in flowery meadows,
      By languid lakes of purely sensuous dreams,
    Steeped in enchanted mists, beguiled by shadows,
      Casting sweet flowers upon loitering streams,
    My memory owns, and yours; mine with deep shame,
      Yours with a sigh that life is not the same.

    What parted us, to leave you in the valley
      And send me struggling to the mountain-top?
    Too weak for duty, even love failed to rally
      The manhood that should float your pinions up.
    On my spent feet are many half-healed bruises,
      My limbs are wasted with their heavy toil,
    But I have learned adversity's "sweet uses,"
      And brought my soul up pure through every soil;
    _Have I_ no right to scorn the man's dead power
      That leaves you far below me at this hour?

    Scorn you I do, while pitying even more
      The ignoble weakness of a strength debased.
    Do I yet mourn the faith that died of yore--
      The trust by timorous treachery effaced?
    Through all, and over all, my soul mounts free
      To heights of peace you cannot hope to gain,
    Sings to the stars its mountain minstrelsy,
      And smiles down proudly on your murky plain;
    'Tis vain to invite you--yet come up, come up,
      Conquer your way toward the mountain-top!


    TO MRS. ----.

    I cannot find the meaning out
      That lies in wrong and pain and strife;
    I know not why we grope through grief,
      Tear-blind, to touch the higher life.

    I see the world so subtly fair,
      My heart with beauty often aches;
    But ere I quiet this sweet pain,
      Some cross so presses, the heart breaks.

    To-day, this lovely golden day,
      When heaven and earth are steeped in calm;
    When every lightest air that blows,
      Sheds its delicious freight of balm.

    If I but ope my lips, I sob;
      If but an eyelid lift, I weep;
    I deprecate all good or ill,
      And only wish for endless sleep.

    For who, I ask, has set my feet
      In all these dark and troubled ways?
    And who denies my soul's desire,
      When with its might it cries and prays?

    In my unconscious veins there runs
      Perchance, some old ancestral taint;
    In Eve _I_ sinned: poor Eve and I!
      We each may utter one complaint:--

    One and the same--for knowledge came
      Too late to save _her_ paradise;
    And I my paradise have lost;
      Forsooth because _I_ am not wise.

    O vain traditions! small the aid
      We women gather from your lore:
    Why, when the world was lost, did death
      Not come our children's birth before?

    It had been better to have died,
      Sole prey of death, and ended so;
    Than to have dragged through endless time,
      One long, unbroken trail of woe.

    To suffer, yet not expiate;
      To die at last, yet not atone;
    To mourn our heirship to a guilt,
      Erased by innocent blood alone!

    You lift your hands in shocked surprise;
      You say enough I have not prayed:
    Can prayer go back through centuries,
      And change the web of fate one braid?

    Nay, own the truth, and say that we
      Are but the bonded slaves of doom;
    Unconscious to the cradle came,
      Unwilling must go to the tomb.

    Your woman's hands are void of help,
      Though my soul should be stung to death;
    Could I avert one pang from you,
      Imploring with my latest breath?

    And men!--we suffer any wrong
      That men, or mad, or blind, may do;--
    Let me alone in my despair!
      There is no help for me or you.

    I wait to find the meaning out
      That lies beyond the bitter end;
    Comfort yourself with 'wearying heaven,
      I ask no comfort, oh my friend!


    MOONLIGHT MEMORIES.

    Do thy chamber windows open east,
      Beloved, as did ours of old?
    And do you stand when day has ceased,
      Withdrawn thro' evening's porch of gold,
    And watch the pink flush fade above
      The hills on which the wan moon leans,
    Remembering the sweet girlish love
      That blest this hour in other scenes!

    I see your hand upon your heart--
      I see you dash away the tears--
    It is the same undying smart,
      That touched us in the long-gone years;
    And cannot pass away. You stand
      Your forehead to the window crest,
    And stifle sobs that no command
      Can keep from rising in your breast.

    Dear, balm is not for griefs like ours,
      Nor resurrection for dead hope:
    In vain we cover wounds with flowers,
      That grow upon life's western slope.
    Their leaves tho' bright, are hard, and dry,
      They have no soft and healing dew;
    The pansies of past spring-times lie
      Dead in the shadow of the yew.

    You feel this in your heart, and turn
      To pace the dimness of your room;
    But lo, like fire within an urn,
      The moonlight glows through all the gloom.
    It sooths you like a living touch,
      And spite of the slow-falling tears,
    Sweet memories crowd with oh, so much,
      Of all that girlhood's time endears.

    On nights like this, with such a moon,
      Full shining in a wintry sky;
    Or on the softer nights of June,
      When fleecy clouds fled thought-like by,
    Within our chamber opening east,
      With curtains from the window parted,
    With hands and cheeks together prest,
      We dreamed youth's glowing dreams, light-hearted.

    Or talked of that mysterious love
      That comes like fate to every soul:
    And vowed to hold our lives above,
      Perchance its sorrowful control.
    Alas, the very vow we made,
      To keep our lives from passion free,
    To wiser hearts well had betrayed
      Some future love's intensity.

    How well that youthful vow was kept,
      Is written on a deathless page--
    Vain all regrets, vain tears we've wept,
      The record lives from age to age.
    But one who "doeth all things well,"
      Who made us differ from the throng,
    Has it within his heart to quell
      This torturing pain of thirst, ere long.

    And you, whose soul is all aglow
      With fire Prometheus brought from heaven,
    Shall in some future surely know
      Joys for which high desires are given.
    Not always in a restless pain
      Shall beat your heart, or throb your brow;
    Not always shall you sigh in vain
      For hope's fruition, hidden now.

    Beloved, are your tear-drops dried?
      The moon is riding high above:--
    Though each from other's parted wide,
      We have not parted early love.
    And tho' you never are forgot,
      The moonrise in the east shall be
    The token that my evening thought
      Returns to home, and love and thee!


    VERSES FOR M----.

        The river on the east
    Ripples its azure flood within my sight;
        And, darting from the west,
    Are "sunset arrows," feathered with red light.
        The northern breeze has hung
    His wintry harp upon some giant pine;
        And the pale stars among,
    I see the star I love to name as mine:
        But toward the south I turn my eager eyes--
        Beyond its flushed horizon my heart lies.

        The snow-clad isles of ice,
    Launched by wild Boreas from a northern shore,
        Journey the way my eyes
    Turn with an envious longing evermore--
        Smiling back to the sky
    Its own pink blush, and, floating out of sight,
        Bear south the softest dye
    Of northern heavens, to fade in southern night:--
        My eyes but look the way my joys are gone,
        And the ice-islands travel not alone.

        The untrod fields of snow,
    Glow with the rosy blush of parting day;
        And fancy asks if so
    The snow is stained with sunset far away;
        And if some face, like mine,
    Its forehead pressed against the window-pane,
        Peers northward, with the shine
    Of the pole-star reflected in eyes' rain:
        "Ah yes," my heart says, "it is surely so;"
        And, like a bound bird, flutters hard to go.

        Sad eyes, that, blurred with tears,
    Gaze into darkness, gaze no more in vain
        Whence no loved face appears,
    And no voice comes to lull the heart's fond pain!
        Sad heart! restrain thy throbs,
    For beauty, like a presence out of heaven,
        Rests over all, and robs
    Sorrow of pain, and makes earth seem forgiven:--
        Twilight the fair eve ushers in with grace,
        And rose clouds melt for stars to take their place.


    AUTUMNALIA.

        The crimson color lays
    As bright as beauty's blush along the West;
        And a warm golden haze,
    Promising sheafs of ripe Autumnal days
        To crown the old year's crest.
    Hangs in mid air, a half-pellucid maze,
        Through which the sun at set,
    Grown round and rosy, looks with Bacchian blush,
        For an old wine-god meet--
    Whose brows are dripping with the grape-blood sweet,
        As if his southern flush
    Rejoiced him, in his northern-zone retreat.

        The amber-colored air
    Musical is with hum of tiny things
        Held idly, struggling there,
    As if the golden mist entangled were
        About the viewless wings,
    That beat out music on their gilded snare.

        If but a leaf, all gay
    With Autumn's gorgeous coloring, doth fall,
        Along its fluttering way
    A shrill alarum wakes a sharp dismay,
        And, answering to the call,
    The insect chorus swells and dies away
        With a fine piping noise.
    As if some younger singing notes cried out,
        As do mischievous boys--
    Startling their playmates with a pained voice,
        Or sudden thrilling shout,
    Followed by laughters, full of little joys.

        Perchance a lurking breeze
    Springs, just awakened to its wayward play,
        Tossing the sober trees
    Into a frolic maze of ecstasies,
        And snatching at the gay
    Banners of Autumn, strews them where it please.

        The sunset colors glow
    A second time in flame from out the wood,
        As bright and warm as though
    The vanished clouds had fallen, and lodged below
        Among the tree-tops, hued
    With all the colors of heaven's signal-bow.

        The fitful breezes die
    Into a gentle whisper, and then sleep;
        And sweetly, mournfully,
    Starting to sight, in the transparent sky,
        Lone in the upper deep,
    Sad Hesper pours its beams upon the eye;
        And for one little hour,
    Holds audience with the lesser lights of heaven;
        Then to its western bower
    Descends in sudden darkness, as the flower
        That at the fall of Even
    Shuts its bright eye, and yields to slumber's power.

        Soon, with a dusky face,
    Pensive and proud as an East Indian queen,
        And with a solemn grace,
    The moon ascends, and takes her royal place
        In the fair evening scene;
    While all the reverential stars, apace,
    Take up their march through the cool fields of space,
    And dead is the sweet Autumn day whose close we've seen.


    PALO SANTO.

    In the deep woods of Mexico,
      Where screams the "painted paraquet,"
    And mocking-birds flit to and fro,
      With borrowed notes they half forget;
    Where brilliant flowers and poisonous vines
      Are mingled in a firm embrace,
    And the same gaudy plant entwines
      Some reptile of a poisonous race;
    Where spreads the _Itos'_ icy shade,
      Benumbing, even in summer's heat,
    The thoughtless traveler who hath laid
      Himself to noonday slumbers sweet;--
    Where skulks unseen the beast of prey--
    The native robber glares and hides,--
      And treacherous death keeps watch alway
    On him who flies, or he who bides.

    In these deep tropic woods there grows
    A tree, whose tall and silvery bole
      Above the dusky forest shows,
      As shining as a saintly soul
    Among the souls of sinful men;--
    Lifting its milk-white flowers to heaven,
      And breathing incense out, as when
      The passing saints of earth are shriven.

    The skulking robber drops his eyes,
      And signs himself with holy cross,
    If, far between him and the skies,
      He sees its pearly blossoms toss.
    The wanderer halts to gaze upon
      The lovely vision, far or near,
    And smiles and sighs to think of one
      He wishes for the moment here.

    The Mexic native fears not fang
      Of poisonous serpent, vine, nor bee,
    If he may soothe the baleful pang
      With juices of this "holy tree."

    How do we all, in life's wild ways,
      Which oft we traverse lost and lone,
    Need that which heavenward draws the gaze,
      Some _Palo Santo_ of our own!


    A SUMMER DAY.

        Fade not, sweet day!
        Another hour like this--
        So full of tranquil bliss--
        May never come my way,
    I walk in paths so shadowed and so cold:
        But stay thou, darling hour,
        Nor stint thy gracious power
    To smile away the clouds that me enfold:
        Oh stay! when thou art gone,
        I shall be lost and lone.

        Lost, lone, and sad;
        And troubled more and more,
        By the dark ways, and sore,
        In which my feet are led;--
    Alas, my heart, it was not always so!
        Therefore, O happy day,
        Haste not to fade away,
    Nor let pale night chill all thy tender glow--
        Thy rosy mists, that steep
        The violet hills in sleep--

        Thy airs of gold,
        That over all the plain,
        And fields of ripened grain,
        A shimmering glory hold,--
    The soft fatigue-dress of the drowsy sun;
        Dreaming, as one who goes
        To peace, and sweet repose,
    After a battle hardly fought, and won:
        Even so, my heart, to-day,
        Dream all thy fears away.

        O happy tears,
        That everywhere I gaze,
        Jewel the golden maze,
        Flow on, till earth appears
    Worthy the soft perfection of this scene:
        Beat, heart, more soft and low,
        Creep, hurrying blood, more slow:
    Waste not one throb, to lose me the serene,
        Deep, satisfying bliss
        Of such an hour as this!

        How like our dream,
        Of that delightful rest
        God keepeth for the blest,
        This lovely peace doth seem;--
    Perchance, my heart, He sent this gracious day,
        That when the dark and cold,
        Thy doubtful steps enfold,
    Thou, may'st remember, and press on thy way,
        Nor faint midway the gloom
        That lies this side the tomb.

        All, all in vain,
        Sweet day, do I entreat
        To stay thy wingéd feet;
        The gloom, the cold, the pain,
    Gather me back as thou dost pale and fade;
        Yet in my heart I make
        A chamber for thy sake,
    And keep thy picture in warm color laid:--
        Thy memory, happy day,
        Thou can'st not take away.


    HE AND SHE.

    Under the pines sat a young man and maiden,
    "Love," said he; "life is sweet, think'st thou not so?"
    Sweet were her eyes, full of pictures of Aidenn,--
    "Life?" said she; "love is sweet; no more I know."

    Into the wide world the maid and her lover
    Wandered by pathways that sundered them far;
    From pine-groves to palm-groves, he flitted a rover,
    She tended his roses, and watched for his star.

    Oft he said softly, while melting eyes glistened,
    "Sweet is my life, love, with you ever near:"
    Morning and evening she waited and listened
    For a voice and a foot-step that never came near.

    Fainting at last, on her threshold she found him:
    "Life is but ashes, and bitter," he sighed.
    She, with her tender arms folded around him,
    Whispered--"But love is still sweet;" and so died.


    O WILD NOVEMBER WIND.

    O wild November wind, blow back to me
      The withered leaves, that drift adown the past;
    Waft me some murmur of the summer sea,
      On which youth's fairy fleet of dreams was cast;
    Return to me the beautiful No More--
      O wild November wind, restore, restore!

    November wind, in what dim, loathsome cave,
      Languish the tender-plumed gales of spring?
    No more their dances dimple o'er the wave,
      Nor freighted pinions song and perfume bring:
    Those gales are dead--that dimpling sea is dark;
      And cloudy ghosts clutch at each mist-like bark.

    O wild, wild wind, where are the summer airs
      That kissed the roses of the long-ago?
    Taking them captive--swooned in blissful snares--
      To let them perish. Now no roses blow
    In the waste gardens thou art laying bare:
      Where are my heart's bright roses, where, oh where?

    Thou hast no answer, thou unpitying gale?
      No gentle whisper from the past to me!
    No snatches of sweet song--no tender tale--
      No happy ripple of that summer sea;
    Are all my dreams wrecked on the nevermore?
      O wild November wind, restore, restore!


    BY THE SEA.

    Blue is the mist on the mountains,
      White is the fog on the sea;
    Ruby and gold is the sunset,--
      And Bertha is waiting for me.

    Down on the loathsome sand-beach,
      Her eyes as blue as the mist;
    Her brows as white as the sea-fog,--
      Bertha, whose lips I have kissed.

    Bertha, whose lips are like rubies,
      Whose hair is like coiléd gold;
    Whose sweet, rare smile is tenderer
      Than any legend of old.

    One morn, one noon, one sunset,
      Must pass before we meet;
    O wind and sail bear steady on,
      And bring me to her feet.

    The morn rose pale and sullen,
      The noon was still and dun;
    Across the storm at sunset,
      Came the boom of a signal-gun.

    Who treads the loathsome sand-beach,
      With wet, disordered hair;
    With garments tangled with sea-weed,
      And cheeks more pale than fair?

    O blue-eyed, white-browed maiden,
      He will keep love's tryst no more;
    His ship sailed safely into port--
      But on the heavenward shore.


    POLK COUNTY HILLS.

      November came that day,
      And all the air was gray
      With delicate mists, blown down
    From hill-tops by the south wind's balmy breath;
      And all the oaks were brown
      As Egypt's kings in death;
      The maple's crown of gold
      Laid tarnished on the wold;
    The alder and the ash, the aspen and the willow,
      Wore tattered suits of yellow.

      The soft October rains
      Had left some scarlet stains
    Of color on the landscape's neutral ground;
      Those fine ephemeral things,
      The winged motes of sound,
      That sing the "Harvest Home"
      Of ripe Autumn in the gloam
    Of the deep and bosky woods, in the field and by the river,
      Sang that day their best endeavor.

      I said: "In what sweet place
      Shall we meet face to face,
      Her loveliest self to see--
    Meet Nature at her sad autumnal rites,
      And learn the mystery
      Of her unnamed delights?"
      Then you said: "Let us go
      Where the late violets blow
    In hollows of the hills, under dead oak leaves hiding;--
      We'll find she's there abiding."

      Do we recall that day?
      Has its grace passed away?
      Its tenderest, dream-like tone,
    Like one of Turner's landscapes limned on air--
      Has its fine perfume flown
      And left the memory bare?
      Not so; its charm is still
      Over wood, vale and hill--
    The ferny odor sweet, the humming insect chorus,
      The spirit that before us

      Enticed us with delights
      To the blue, breezy hights.
      O, beautiful hills that stand
    Serene 'twixt earth and heaven, with the grace
      Of both to make you grand,--
      Your loveliness leaves place
      For nothing fairer; fair
      And complete beyond compare.
    O, lovely purple hills, O, first day of November,
      Be sure that I remember!


    WAITING.

    I cannot wean my wayward heart from waiting,
      Though the steps watched for never come anear;
    The wearying want clings to it unabating--
      The fruitless wish for presences once dear.

    No fairer eve e'er blessed a poet's vision;
      No softer airs e'er kissed a fevered brow;
    No scene more truly could be called Elysian,
      Than this which holds my gaze enchanted now.

    And yet I pine;--this beautiful completeness
      Is incomplete, to my desiring heart;
    'Tis Beauty's form, without her soul of sweetness--
      The pure, but chiseled loveliness of art.

    There is no longer pleasure in emotion.
      I envy those dead souls no touch can thrill;
    Who--"painted ships upon a painted ocean,"--
      Seem to be moved, yet are forever still.

    Where are they fled?--they whose delightful voices,
      Whose very footsteps had a charmed fall:
    No more, no more their sound my heart rejoices:
      Change, death, and distance part me now from all.

    And this fair evening, with remembrance teeming,
      Pierces my soul with every sharp regret;
    The sweetest beauty saddens to my seeming,
      Since all that's fair forbids me to forget.

    Eyes that have gazed upon yon silver crescent,
      'Till filled with light, then turned to gaze in mine,
    Lips that could clothe a fancy evanescent,
      In words whose magic thrilled the brain like wine:

    Hands that have wreathed June's roses in my tresses,
      And gathered violets to deck my breast,
    Where are ye now? I miss your dear caresses--
      I miss the lips, the eyes, that made me blest.

    Lonely I sit and watch the fitful burning
      Of prairie fires, far off, through gathering gloom;
    While the young moon, and one bright star returning
      Down the blue solitude, leave Night their room.

    Gone is the glimmer of the silent river;
      Hushed is the wind that sped the leaves to-day;
    Alone through silence falls the crystal shiver
      Of the sweet starlight, on its earthward way.

    And yet I wait, how vainly! for a token--
      A sigh, a touch, a whisper from the past;
    Alas, I listen for a word unspoken,
      And wail for arms that have embraced their last.

    I wish no more, as once I wished, each feeling
      To grow immortal in my happy breast;
    Since not to feel will leave no wounds for healing--
      The pulse that thrills not has no need of rest.

    As the conviction sinks into my spirit
      That my quick heart is doomed to death in life;
    Or that these pangs must pierce and never sear it,
      I am abandoned to despairing strife.

    To the lost life, alas! no more returning--
      In this to come no semblance of the past--
    Only to wait!--hoping this ceaseless yearning
      May, 'ere long, end--and rest may come at last.


    PALMA.

    What tellest thou to heaven,
    Thou royal tropic tree?
    At morn or noon or even,
    Proud dweller by the sea,
    What is thy song to heaven?

    The homesick heart that fainted
    In torrid sun and air,
    With peace becomes acquainted
    Beholding thee so fair--
    With joy becomes acquainted:

    And charms itself with fancies
    About thy kingly race--
    With gay and wild romances
    That mimic thee in grace--
    Of supple, glorious fancies.

    I feel thou art not tender,
    Scion of sun and sea--
    The wild-bird does not render
    To thee its minstrelsy--
    Fearing thou art not tender:

    But calm, serene and saintly,
    As highborn things should be:
    Who, if they love us faintly,
    Make us love reverently,
    Because they are so saintly.

    To be loved without loving,
    O proud and princely palm!
    Is to fancy our ship moving
    With the ocean at dead calm--
    The joy of love is loving.

    Because the Sun did sire thee,
    The Ocean nurse thy youth,
    Because the Stars desire thee,
    The warm winds whisper truth,
    Shall nothing ever fire thee?

    What is thy tale to heaven
    In the sultry tropic noon?
    What whisperest thou at even
    To the dusky Indian Moon--
    Has she sins to be forgiven?

    Keep all her secrets; loyal
    As only great souls are--
    As only souls most royal,
    To the flower or to the star
    Alike are purely loyal.

    O Palma, if thou hearest,
    Thou proud and princely tree!
    Thou knowest that my Dearest
    Is emblemed forth in thee--
    My kingly Palm, my Dearest.

    I am his Moon admiring,
    His wooing Wind, his Star;
    And I glory in desiring
    My Palm-tree from afar--
    Glad as happier lovers are,
    Am happy in desiring!


    MAKING MOAN.

          _I have learned how vainly given_
          _Life's most precious things may be._

                                                --Landon.


        O, Christ, to-night I bring
    A sad, weak heart, to lay before thy feet;
        Too sad, almost, to cling
        Even to Thee; too suffering,
    If Thou shouldst pierce me, to regard the sting;
    Too stunned to feel the pity I entreat
    Closing around me its embraces sweet.

        Shepherd, who gatherest up
    The weary ones from all the world's highways;
        And bringest them to sup
        Of Thy bread, and Thy blessed cup;
    If so Thou will, lay me within the scope
    Only of Thy great tenderness, that rays
    Too melting may not reach me from Thy face.

        Here let me lie, and press
    My forehead's pain out on Thy mantle's hem;
        And chide not my distress,
        For this, that I have loved thee less,
    In loving so much some, whose sordidness
    Has left me outcast, at the last, from them
    And their poor love, which I cannot contemn.

        No, cannot, even now,
    Put Thee before them in my broken heart.
        But, gentle Shepherd, Thou
        Dost even such as I allow
    The healing of Thy presence. Let my brow
    Be covered from thy sight, while I, apart,
    Brood over in dull pain my mortal hurt.


    CHILDHOOD.

    A child of scarcely seven years,
      Light haired, and fair as any lily;
    With pure eyes ready in their tears
      At chiding words, or glances chilly;
    And sudden smiles, as inly bright
      As lamps through alabaster shining,
    With ready mirth, and fancies light,
      Dashed with strange dreams of child-divining:
        A child in all infantile grace,
        Yet with the angel lingering in her face.

    A curious, eager, questioning child,
      Whose logic leads to naive conclusions;
    Her little knowledge reconciled
      To truth amid some odd confusions;
    Yet credulous, and loving much
      The problems hardest for her reason,
    Placing her lovely faith on such,
      And deeming disbelief a treason;
        Doubting that which she can disprove,
        And wisely trusting all the rest to love.

    Such graces dwell beside your hearth,
      And bless you in a priceless pleasure,
    Leaving no sweeter spot on earth
      Than that which holds your household treasure.
    No entertainment ever yet
      Had half the exquisite completeness--
    The gladness without one regret,
      You gather from your darling's sweetness:
        An angel sits beside the hearth
        Where e're an innocent child is found on earth.


    A LITTLE BIRD THAT EVERY ONE KNOWS.

    There's a little bird with a wondrous song--
    A little bird that every one knows--
    (Though it sings for the most part _under the rose_),
    That is petted and pampered wherever it goes,
    And nourished in bosoms gentle and strong.

    This petted bird has a crooked beak
    And eyes like live coals set in its head,
    A gray breast dappled with glowing red--
    DABBLED--not dappled, I should have said,
    From a fancy it has of which I shall speak.

    This eccentricity that I name
    Is, that whenever the bird would sing
    It darts its black head under its wing,
    And moistens its beak in--darling thing!--
    A human heart that is broken with shame.

    Then this cherished bird its song begins--
    Always begins its song one way--
    With two little dulcet words, THEY SAY,
    Carolled in such a charming way
    That the listener's heart it surely wins.

    This sweetest of songsters sits beside
    Every hearth in this Christian land,
    Ever so humble or never so grand,
    Gloating o'er crumbs which many a hand
    Gathers to nourish it, far and wide.

    Over each crumb that it gathers up
    It winningly carols those two soft words
    In the dulcet notes of the sweetest of birds,
    Darting its sharp beak under its wing
    As it might in a ruby drinking-cup.

    A delicate thing is our bird withal
    And owns but a fickle appetite,
    So that old and young take a keen delight
    In serving it ever, day and night,
    With the last gay heart now turned to gall.

    Thus, though a dainty dear, it sings
    In a very well-conditioned way
    A truly wonderful sort of lay,
    Whose burden is ever the same--THEY SAY--
    Darting its dabbled beak under its wings.


    WAYWARD LOVE.

    I leant above your chair last night,
      And on your brow once and again,
    I pressed a kiss as still and light
      As I would have your bosom's pain.
    You did not feel the gentle touch,
      It gave you neither grief nor pleasure,
    Though that caress held, oh, so much,
      Of love and blessing without measure.

    Thus ever when I see you sad,
      My heart toward you overflows;
    But when again you're gay and glad,
      I shrink back into cold repose,
    I know not why I like you best,
      O'erclouded by a passing sorrow--
    Unless because it gives a zest
      To the _insouciance_ of to-morrow.

    You're welcome to my light caress,
      And all the love that with it went;
    To live, and love you any less,
      Would rob me of my soul's content.
    Continue sometimes to be sad,
      That I may feel that pity tender,
    Which grieves for you, and yet is glad
      Of an excuse for love's surrender.


    A LYRIC OF LIFE.

    Said one to me: "I seem to be--
    Like a bird blown out to sea,
    In the hurricane's wild track--
    Lost, wing-weary, beating back
    Vainly toward a fading shore,
    It shall rest on nevermore."

    Said I: "Betide, some good ships ride,
    Over all the waters wide;
    Spread your wings upon the blast,
    Let it bear you far and fast:
    In some sea, serene and blue,
    Succor-ships are waiting you."

    This soul then said: "Would I were dead--
    Billows rolling o'er my head!
    Those that sail the ships will cast
    Storm-waifs back into the blast;
    Omens evil will they call
    What the hurricane lets fall."

    For my reply: "Beneath the sky
    Countless isles of beauty lie:
    Waifs upon the ocean thrown,
    After tossings long and lone,
    To those blessed shores have come,
    Finding there love, heaven, and home."

    This soul to me: "The seething sea,
    Tossing hungry under me,
    I fear to trust; the ships I fear;
    I see no isle of beauty near;
    The sun is blotted out--no more
    'Twill shine for me on any shore."

    Once more I said: "Be not afraid;
    Yield to the storm without a dread;
    For the tree, by tempests torn
    From its native soil, is borne
    Green, to where its ripened fruit
    Gives a sturdy forest-root.

    "That which we lose, we think we choose,
    Oft, from slavery to use.
    Shocks that break our chains, tho' rude,
    Open paths to highest good:
    Wise, my sister soul, is she
    Who takes of life the proffered key."


    FROM AN UNPUBLISHED POEM.

        "Nay, Hylas, I have come
    To where life's landscape takes a western slope,
    And breezes from the occidental shores
    Sigh thro' the thinning locks around my brow,
    And on my cheeks fan flickering summer fires.
    Oh, winged feet of Time, forget your flight,
    And let me dream of those rose-scented bowers
    That lapped my soul in youth's enchanted East!
    It needs no demon-essence of Hasheesh
    To flash _that_ sunrise glory in my eyes!--
    It needs no Flora to bring back those flowers--
    No gay Apollo to sound liquid reeds--
    No muse to consecrate the hills and streams--
    No God or oracle within those groves
    To render sacred all the emerald glooms:
    For here dwelt such bright angels as attend
    The innocent ways of youth's unsullied feet;
    And all the beautiful band of sinless hopes,
    Twining their crowns of pearl-white amaranth;
    And rosy, dream-draped, sapphire-eyed desires
    Whose twin-born deities were Truth and Faith
    Having their altars over all the land.
    Beauty held court within its vales by day,
    And Love made concert with the nightingales
    In singing 'mong the myrtles, starry eves."

        "You are inspired, Zobedia, your eyes
    Look not upon the present summer world,
    But see some mystery beyond the close
    Of this pale blue horizon."

        "Erewhile I wandered from this happy land.
    Crowned with its roses, wearing in my eyes
    Reflections of its shining glorious heaven,
    And bearing on my breast and in my hands
    Its violets, and lilies white and sweet,--
    Following the music floating in the air
    Made by the fall of founts, the voice of streams
    And murmur of the winds among the trees,
    I strayed in reveries of soft delight
    Beyond the bounds of this delicious East.

    "But oh, the splendors of that newer clime!
    It was as if those oriental dreams
    In which my soul was steeped to fervidness,
    Were here transmuted to their golden real
    With added glories for each shape or hue.
    The stately trees wore coronals of flowers
    That swung their censers in the mid-day sun:
    The pines and palms of my delightful east
    Chaunted their wild songs nearer to the stars;
    Even the roses had more exquisite hues,
    And for one blossom I had left behind
    I found a bower in this fragrant land.
    Bright birds, no larger than the costly gems
    The river bedded in their golden sands,
    Sparkle like prismal rain-drops 'mong the leaves;
    And others sang, or flashed their plumage gay
    Like rainbow fragments on my dazzled eyes.
    The sky had warmer teints: I could not tell
    Whether the heavens lent color to the flowers,
    Or but reflected that which glowed in them.
    The gales that blew from off the cloud-lost hills,
    Struck from the clambering vines Eolian songs,
    That mingled with the splashing noise of founts,
    In music such as stirs to passionate thought:
    This peerless land was thronged with souls like mine,
    Straying from East to South, impelled unseen,
    And lost, like mine, in its enchanted vales:--
    Souls that conversed apart in pairs, or sang
    Low breeze-like airs, more tender than sweet words;
    Save here and there a wanderer like myself,
    Dreaming alone, and dropping silent tears,
    Scarce knowing why, upon the little group
    Of Eastern flowers we had not yet resigned:--
    'Till one came softly smiling in my eyes,
    And dried their tears with radiance from his own.

    "At last it came--I knew not how it came--
    But a tornado swept this sunny South,
    And when I woke once more, I stood alone.
    My senses sickened at the dismal waste,
    And caring not, now all things bright were dead,
    That a volcano rolled its burning tide
    In fiery rivers far athwart the land,
    I turned my feet to aimless wanderings.
    The equatorial sun poured scorching beams,
    On my defenceless head. The burning winds
    Seemed drying up the blood within my veins.
    The straggling flowers that had outlived the storm
    Won but a feeble, half-contemptuous smile;
    And if a bird attempted a brief song,
    I closed my ears lest it should burst my brain.
    After much wandering I came at last
    To cooler skies and a less stifling air;
    And finally to this more temperate clime.
    Where every beauty is of milder type--
    Where the simoon nor tempest ever come,
    And I can soothe the fever of my soul
    In the bland breezes blowing from the West."


    NEVADA.

          Sphinx, down whose rugged face
    The sliding centuries their furrows cleave
    By sun and frost and cloud-burst; scarce to leave
          Perceptible a trace
          Of age or sorrow;
    Faint hints of yesterdays with no to-morrow;--
    My mind regards thee with a questioning eye,
          To know thy secret, high.

          If Theban mystery,
    With head of woman, soaring, bird-like wings
    And serpent's tail on lion's trunk, were things
          Puzzling in history;
          And men invented
    For it an origin which represented
    Chimera and a monster double-headed,
          By myths Phenician wedded--

          Their issue being this--
    This most chimerical and wonderous thing
    From whose dumb mouth not even the gods could wring
          Truth, nor antithesis:
          Then, what I think is,
    This creature--being chief among men's sphinxes--
    Is eloquent, and overflows with story,
          Beside thy silence hoary!

          Nevada!--desert waste!
    Mighty, and inhospitable, and stern;
    Hiding a meaning over which we yearn
          In eager, panting haste--
          Grasping and losing,
    Still being deluded ever by our choosing--
    Answer us Sphinx: What is thy meaning double
          But endless toil and trouble?

          Inscrutable, men strive
    To rend thy secret from thy rocky breast;
    Breaking their hearts, and periling heaven's rest
          For hopes that cannot thrive;
          Whilst unrelenting,
    Upon thy mountain throne, and unrepenting,
    Thou sittest, basking in a fervid sun,
          Seeing or hearing none.

          I sit beneath thy stars,
    The shallop moon beached on a bank of clouds--;
    And see thy mountains wrapped in shadowed shrouds,
          Glad that the darkness bars
          The day's suggestion--
    The endless repetition of one question;
    Glad that thy stony face I cannot see,
          Nevada--Mystery!


    THE VINE.

      "Too many clusters weaken the vine"--
      And that is why, on this morn in May,
    She who should walk doth weakly recline
      By the window whose view overlooks the Bay;
    While I and the "clusters" dance in the sun,
      Defying the breeze coming in from the sea,
      Mocking the bird-song and chasing the bee,
    Letting our fullness of mirth over-run,
      While the "Vine" at the window smiles down on our glee.

    If I should vow that these "clusters" are fair,
      So, you would say, are a million more;
    Ah, even jewels a rank must share--
      Not every diamond's a Koh-i-noor!
    Thus when our LILLIAN, needing but wings,
      Plays us the queen of the fairies, we deem
      Grace such as hers a bewildering dream--
    Her laughter, her gestures, a dozen things,
      Furnish our worshiping fondness a theme.

    Or when our ALICE, scarcely less tall,
      And none the less fair, tries her slim baby feet,
    Or a new has lisped, to the pride of us all,
      Smiling, we cry, "was aught ever so sweet?"
    Even wee BERTHA, turning her eyes,
      Searching and slow from one face to another--
    Wrinkling her brow in a comic surprise,
      And winking so soberly at her pale mother,
    For a baby, is wondrously pretty and wise!

    Well, _let_ the "vine" recline in the sun--
      Three such rare "clusters" in three short years,
    Have sapped the red wine in her veins that should run--
      For the choicest of species the gardener fears!
    LILLIAN, queen of the lilies shall be,
      Fair, tall and graceful--queenly in will;
    ALICE a Provence rose--rarely sweet she;
      BERTHA NARCISSA--white daffodil--
    And the "vine," once more strong, shall entwine around the three!


    WHAT THE SEA SAID TO ME.

    One evening as I sat beside the sea,
    A little rippling wave stole up to me,
    And whispered softly, yet impressively,
            The word Eternity:
    I smiled, that anything so small should utter,
    A word the ocean in its wrath might mutter;
    And with a mirthful fancy, vainly strove,
    To suit its cadence to some word of love--
    But all the little wave would say to me,
    Was, over and again, Eternity!

    After a time, the winds, from their dark caves,
    Arose, and wrestled with the swelling waves,
    Shrieking as doth a madman when he raves;
            Yet still Eternity
    Was spoken audibly unto my hearing;
    While foaming billows, their huge crests up-rearing,
    Rushed with a furious force upon the shore,
    That only answered with a sullen roar;
    As if it hoarsely echoed what the sea
    Said with such emphasis--Eternity!

    And by and by, the sky grew dun and dim;
    Soon all was darkness, save the foam's white gleam;
    And all was silence save the sea's deep hymn--
            That hymn Eternity:
    While some dread presence, all the darkness filling,
    Crept round my heart, its healthy pulses chilling;
    Making the night, so awful unto me,
    More fearful with that word Eternity.

    So that my spirit, trembling and afraid,
    Bowed down itself before its God, and prayed
    For His strong arm of terror to be stayed;
            And sighed Eternity
    From its white lips, as the dark sea, subsiding,
    Sank into broken murmurs; and the gliding
    Of the soothed waters seemed once more to me
    The whisper I first heard, Eternity.

    But now I mocked not what the ripple said:
    I only reverently bent my head,
    While the pure stars, unveiled, their lustre shed
            Upon the peaceful sea--
    And the mild moon, with a majestic motion,
    Uprose, and shed upon the murmuring ocean,
    Her calm and radiant glory, as if she
    Knew it the symbol of Eternity.


    HYMN.

    Down through the dark, my God,
      Reach me Thy hand;
    Guide me along the road
      I fail to understand.
    Blindly I grope my way,
      In doubt and fear,
    Uncertain when I pray
      If Thou art near.

    O, God, renew my trust,
      Hear when I cry;
    Out of the cloud and dust
      Lift me to thee on high.
    The crooked paths make plain,
      The burden light;
    Touch me and heal my pain,
      And clear my sight.

    O, take my hand in Thine,
      And lead me so
    That all my steps incline
      In Thy right way to go.
    Out of this awful night
      Some whisper send,
    That I may feel my God,
      My loving friend.

    O, let me feel and see
      Thy hand and face;
    And let me learn of Thee
      My true right place.
    For I am Thine, and Thou
      Art also mine.
    Unto Thy will I bow,
      Helper divine!


    DO YOU HEAR THE WOMEN PRAYING?

    [Read before the Women's Prayer League of Portland,
    Oregon, May 27, 1874.]

    Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?
      Do you hear what words they say?
    These, this free-born nation's wives and mothers,
      Bowing, where you proudly stand, to pray!
    Can you coldly look upon their faces,
      Pale, sad faces, seamed with frequent tears;
    See their hands uplifted in their places--
      Hands that toiled for all your boyhood's years?

    Can you see your wives and daughters pleading
      In the dust you spurn beneath your feet,
    Baring hearts for years in secret bleeding,
      To the scoffs and jestings of the street?
    Can you hear, and yet not heed the crying
      Of the children perishing for bread?
    Born in fear, not love, and daily dying,
      Cursed of God, they think, but cursed of _you_ instead?

    Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?
      Hear the oft-repeated burden of their prayer--
    Hear them asking for one boon above all others--
      _Not_ for vengeance on the wrongs they have to bear;
    But imploring, as their Lord did, "God forgive them,
      For they know not what they do;
    Strike the sin, but spare the sinners--save them"--
      Meaning, oh ye men and brothers, _you_!

    For your heels have ground the women's faces;
      You have coined their blood and tears for gold;
    Have betrayed their kisses and embraces--
      Returned their love with curses twentyfold;
    Made the wife's crown one of thorns and not of honor,
      Made her motherhood a pain and dread;
    Heaped life's toil unrecompensed upon her;
      Laid her sons upon her bosom, dead!

    Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?
      Have you not one word to say?
    Will a _just_ God be as gentle as these mothers,
      If you dare to say them nay?
    Oh, ye men, God waits for _you_ to answer
      The prayers that to him rise,
    He waits to know if _you_ are just ere _He_ is--
      There your deliverance lies!

    Rise and assert the manhood of this nation,
      Its courage, honor, might--
    Wipe off the dust of our humiliation--
      Dare nobly to do right!
    Shall women plead from out the dust forever?
      Will you not work, men, if you cannot pray?
    Hold up the suppliant hands with your endeavor,
      And seize the world's salvation while you may.

    Yes, from the eastern to the western ocean,
      The sound of prayer is heard;
    And in our hearts great billows of emotion
      At every breath are stirred.
    From mountain tops of prayer down to sin's valley
      The voice of women sounds the cry, "Come up!"
    O, men and brothers, heed that cry, and rally--
      Help us to dash to earth the deadly cup!


    "OUR LIFE IS TWOFOLD."

    Sweet, kiss my eyelids close, and let me lie,
    On this old-fashioned sofa, in the dim
    And purple twilight, shut out from the sky,
    Which is too garish for my softer whim.
    And while I, looking inward on my thought,
    Tell thee what phantoms thicken in its air.
    Twine thou thy gentle fingers, slumber-fraught,
    With the loose shreds of my disheveled hair:
    I shall see inly better if thou keep
    My outer senses in a charmed sleep.

    Sweet friend!--I love that pleasant name of friend--
    We walk not ever singly, through the world;
    But even as our shadow doth attend
    Our going in the sunshine, and is furled
    About us in the darkness--so that shade
    Which haunts our other self, is faintly seen
    Beside us in our gladness, and is made
    To wrap us coldly life's bright hours between.
    Unconsciously we court it. In our youth,
    While yet our morning sky is pink with joy,
    We, curious if our happiness be truth,
    Try to discern the shadow of alloy.
    O, I remember well the earliest time
    A sorrow touched me, and I nursed it then;
    Tho' but few summers of our northern clime
    Had sunned my growth among the souls of men.

    In an old wood, reputed for its age,
    And for its beauty wild and picturesque;
    The bound and goal of each day's pilgrimage,
    Where were all forms of graceful and grotesque;
    And countless hues, from the dark stately pine
    That whispered its wild mysteries to my ear,
    To the smooth silver of the birch-trees shine,
    Showing between the aspens straight and fair;
    With forest flowers, and delicate vines that crept
    From the rich soil far up among the trees,
    Seeking that light their boughs did intercept,
    And dalliance and caresses of the breeze.
    In midst of these, sheltered from sun and wind
    Glimmered a lake, in long and shining curves,
    Like a bright fillet that should serve to bind
    That scene to earth--if she the gem deserves!
    For gem it was, as proud upon her brow
    As jewels on the forehead of a queen;
    And one thought as one turned from it, of how
    Eve exiled, must have missed some just such scene.
    O, there I type my life! I used to sigh
    Sitting on this side, with my lap piled up
    With violets of the real sapphire dye,
    For the gay gold of the bright buttercup
    Spangling the green sod on the other side--
    For the lake's breadth was but an arrow's flight,
    And the brief distance did not serve to hide
    What yet could not be reached except by sight.

    Day after day I dreamed there, while my heart
    Gathered up knowledge in its childish way,
    Making fine pictures with unconscious art,
    And learning beauty more and more each day.
    Ever and ever haunted I that spot--
    Sitting in dells scooped out between the hills,
    That rising close around me, formed a grot
    Fragrant with ferns, and musical with rills.
    Far up above me grew the long-armed beech,
    Dropping its branches down in graceful bent;
    While farther up, beyond my utmost reach,
    Stood dusky hemlocks, crowning the ascent.
    And all about were sweeter sights and sounds
    Than elsewhere, but in poet's dream, abounds.

    Thus, and because my life was all too fair,
    I sought to color it with thoughts I nursed
    In sylvan solitudes: and in the air
    Of these soft, silent influences, I first
    Saw, or felt, rather, that the shadow fell
    Upon my pathway from the light behind--
    The light of youth's first joyousness. Ah, well,
    If it had stayed there, nor been more unkind!
    My earliest sorrow was a flower's death--
    At which I wept until my swollen eyes
    Refused to shed more tears--just that my wreath
    One morn in autumn lacked its choicest dyes.
    So, knowing what it was to have a loss,
    I went on losing, and the shadow grew
    Darker and longer, 'till it lies across
    My pathway to the measure of my view.
    We all remember sorrow's first impress--
    No matter whether we had cause to grieve,
    Or whether sad in very willfulness--
    The lesson is the same that we receive.
    And afterwards, when the great shadow falls--
    The tempest--when the lightning's flash reveals
    The darkness brooding o'er us, and appals
    Hope by the terror of the stroke it deals--
    _Then_, how the shadow hugs us in its fold!
    We see no light behind, and none to come;
    But dumbly shiver in the gloom and cold,
    Or with despair lie down, and wait our doom.

    Sweet, press thy cheek upon my own again--
    Even now my life's dark ghost is haunting nigh:
    Sing me to sleep with some old favorite strain--
    Some gentle poet's loving lullaby;
    For I would dream, and in my dream forget
    Our twofold life is full of shadows set.


    SOUVENIR.

    You ask me, "Do you think of me?"
      Dear, thoughts of thee are like this river,
    Which pours itself into the sea,
      Yet empties its own channel never.

    All other thoughts are like these sail
      Drifting the river's surface over;
    _They_ veer about with every gale--
      The _river_ keeps its course forever.

    So deep and still, so strong and true,
      The current of my soul sets thee-ward,
    Thy river I, my ocean you,
      And all myself am running seaward.


    I ONLY WISH TO KNOW.

    Pray do not take the kiss again
      I risked so much in getting,
    Nor let my blushes make you vain
      To your and my regretting.
    I'm sure I've heard your sex repeat
      A thousand times or so,
    That stolen kisses are most sweet--
      I only wished to know!

    I own 'twas not so neatly done
      As you know how to do it,
    And that the fright out-did the fun,
      But still I do not rue it.
    I can afford the extra beat
      My heart took at your "Oh!"
    Which plainly said _that_ kiss was sweet--
      _When I so wished to know!_

    Nay, I will not give back the kiss,
      Nor will I take a second;
    _Creme de la creme_ of pain and bliss
      This one shall e'er be reckoned.
    The pain was mine, the bliss was--_ours_,
      You smile to hear it so;
    But the same thought was surely yours,
      As I have cause to know.


    LINES WRITTEN IN AN ALBUM.

      The highest use of happy love is this;
        To make us loving to the loveless ones;
      Willing indeed to halve our meed of bliss,
        If our sweet plenty others' want atones:
    Of love's abundance may God give thee store,
    To spend in love's sweet charities, LENORE.


    LOVE'S FOOTSTEPS.

    I sang a song of olden times,
      Sitting upon our sacred hill--
      Sang it to feel my bosom thrill
    To the sweet pathos of its rhymes.

    I trilled the music o'er and o'er,
      And happy, gazed upon the scene,
      Thinking that there had never been
    So blue a sea, so fair a shore.

    A vague half dream was in my mind;
      I hardly saw how sat the sun;
      I noted not the day was gone
    The rosy western hills behind.

    'Till, soft as if Apollo blew
      For me the sweet Thessalian flute,
      I heard a sound which made me mute,
    And more than singing thrilled me through.

    THY STEP--well known and well beloved!
      No more I dreamed on shore or sea;
      I thought of, saw but only thee,
    Nor spoke, but blushed to be so moved.


    THE POET'S MINISTERS.

        POET.

    Oh, my soul! the draught is bitter
      Yet it must be sweetly drunken:
    Heart and soul! the grinding fetter
      Galls, yet have ye never shrunken:
    Heart and soul, and pining spirit,
      Fail me not! no coward weakness
    Such as ye are should inherit--
    Be ye strong even in your meekness.

    Born were ye to these strange uses,
      To brief joy and crushing ill,
    To small good and great abuses;
      Yet oh, yield not, till they kill.
    The stag wounded runneth steady
      With his blood in streams a-gushing;
    Soul and spirit, be ye ready
      For the arrows toward ye rushing.


        SPIRIT OF THE FLOWERS.

    Now what ails our gentle friend?
      In his eye a meaning double,
    Sorrow and defiance blend--
      Let us soothe him of his trouble.
    Poet! do not pass us by:
      See how we are robed to meet you;
    Heed you not our perfumed sigh?
      Heed you not how sweet we greet you?
    Ever since the breath of morn
      We have waited for your coming,
    Fearing when the bee's dull horn
      Round our quiet bower was humming:
    We have kept our sweets for thee--
      Poet, do not pass us by:
    Place us on thy breast, for see!
      By the sunset we must die.


        SPIRIT OF THE MOUNTAIN STREAM.

    Bathe thy pale face in the flood
      Which overflows this crystal fountain,
    Then to rouse thy sluggish blood,
      Seek its source far up the mountain.
    Note thou how the stream doth sing
      Its soft carol, low and light,
    To the jagged rocks that fling
      Mildew shadows, black and blight.
    Learn a lesson from the stream,
      Poet! though thy path may lie
    Hid forever from the gleam
      Of the blue and sunny sky,--
    Though thy way be steep and long,
      Sing thou still a cheerful song!


        SPIRIT OF BEAUTY.

    Come sister spirits, touch his eyelids newly,
      With that rare juice whose magic power it is,
    To give the rose-hue to those things which truly
      Wear the sad livery of ugliness.
    Oh, dignify the office of the meanest
      Of all God's manifold created things;
    And sprinkle his heart's wounds with the serenest
      Waters of sweetness, from our fabled springs.
    Oh, close him round with visions of all rareness,
      Make him see everything with smiling eye;
    Let all his dreams be unsurpassed for fairness,
      And what we feign out-charm reality.
    Come, sister spirits, up and do your duty;
    When the Poet pines, feast his soul with beauty.


        SPIRIT OF THE TREES.

    Let us wave our branches gently
      With a murmur low and loving;
    He will say we sang him quaintly
      Some old ballad, sweetly moving.
    'Tis of all the ways the surest
      To awake a poet's fancies,
    For he loves these things the purest--
      Sigh of leaves, and scent of pansies.
    He has loved us, we will love him,
      And will cheer his hour of sadness,
    Spirits, wave your boughs above him
      To a measure of soft gladness.


        SPIRIT OF LOVE.

    Ye gentle ministers, ye have done well,
      But 'tis for love that most the poet pineth,
    And till I spell him with my magic spell,
      In vain for him earth smiles or heaven shineth.
    Behold I touch his heart, and there upspring
      Blooms to his cheeks, and flashes to his eyes;
    His scornful lips upon the instant sing,
      And all his pulses leap with ecstasies.
    'Tis love the poet wants; he cannot live
    Without caressing and without caress,
      Which all to charity his fellows give;
    But I will wrap his soul in tenderness,
      And straightway from his lips will burst a song
      All loving hearts shall echo and prolong.


        POET.

    O Earth, and Sky, and Flowers, and Streams agushing,
      God made ye beautiful to make us blest:
    O bright-winged Songsters through the blue air rushing;
      O murmuring Tree-tops, by the winds carest;
    O Waves of Ocean, Ripples of the River,
      O Dew and Fragrance, Sunlight, and Starbeam,
    O blessed summer-sounds that round me quiver,
      Delights impassable that round me teem--
        Oh all things beautiful! God made ye so
        That the glad hearts of men might overflow!

    O Soul within me, whose wings sweep a lyre--
      God gave thee song that thou might'st give him praise;
    O Heart that glows with the Promethean fire,
      O Spirit whose fine chords some influence plays:
    O all sweet thoughts and beautiful emotions,
      O smiles and tears, and trembling and delight,
    Have ye not all part in the soul's devotions,
      To help it swell its anthem's happy height?
        Spirit of Love, of God, of inspiration,
        The poet's glad heart bursts in acclamation!


                      CHORUS OF SPIRITS.

              Ring every flower-bell on the wind,
                And let each insect louder sing;
              Let elfin "joy be unconfined;"
                And let the laughing fairies bring
              A wreath enchanted, and to bind
                Upon the Poet's worthy brow
              Heartsease and laurel, and a kind
                Of valley lily, white as snow;
              And fresh May-roses, branching long--
                Braid all these in a garland gay,
              To crown the Poet for his song,
              Sung in our haunts this summer day!


    SUNSET AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA.

    There sinks the sun; like cavalier of old,
      Servant of crafty Spain,
    He flaunts his banner, barred with blood and gold,
      Wide o'er the western main,
    A thousand spear heads glint beyond the trees
      In columns bright and long:
    While kindling fancy hears upon the breeze
      The swell and shout of song.

    And yet, not here Spain's gay, adventurous host,
      Dipped sword or planted cross;
    The treasures guarded by this rock-bound coast,
      Counted them gain nor loss.
    The blue Columbia, sired by the eternal hills,
      And wedded with the sea;
    O'er golden sands, tithes from a thousand rills,
      Rolled in lone majesty--

    Through deep ravine, through burning, barren plain,
      Through wild and rocky strait,
    Through forest dark, and mountain rent in twain,
      Toward the sunset gate.
    While curious eyes, keen with the lust of gold,
      Caught not the informing gleam;
    These mighty breakers age on age have rolled
      To meet this mighty stream.

    Age after age these noble hills have kept,
      The same majestic lines:
    Age after age the horizon's edge been swept
      By fringe of pointed pines.
    Summers and Winters circling came and went,
      Bringing no change of scene;
    Unresting, and unhasting, and unspent,
      Dwelt nature here serene.

    Till God's own time to plant of Freedom's seed,
      In this selected soil;
    Denied forever unto blood and greed;
      But blest to honest toil.
    There sinks the sun. Gay Cavalier! no more
      His banners trail the sea,
    And all his legions shining on the shore
      Fade into mystery.

    The swelling tide laps on the shingly beach,
      Like any starving thing;
    And hungry breakers, white with wrath, upreach,
      In vain clamoring.
    The shadows fall; just level with mine eye
      Sweet Hesper stands and shines,
    And shines beneath an arc of golden sky,
      Pinked round with pointed pines.

    A noble scene! all breadth, deep tone and power,
      Suggesting glorious themes;
    Shaming the idler who would fill the hour
      With unsubstantial dreams.
    Be mine the dreams prophetic, shadowing forth
      The things that yet shall be,
    When through this gate the treasures of the North
      Flow outward to the sea.


    THE PASSING OF THE YEAR.

                       Worn and poor,
    The Old Year came to Eternity's door.
    Once, when his limbs were young and strong,
    From that shining portal came he forth,
    Led by the sound of shout and song,
    To the festive halls of jubilant earth;--
    Now, his allotted cycle o'er,
    He waited, spent, by the Golden Door.

            Faint and far--faint and far,
    Surging up soft between sun and star,
    Strains of revelry smote his ear;
    Musical murmurs from lyre and lute--
    Rising in choruses grand and clear,
    Sinking in cadences almost mute--
    Vexing the ear of him who sate
    Wearied beside the Shining Gate.

                    Sad and low,
    Flowed in an undertone of woe:
    Wailing among the moons it came,
    Sobbing in echoes against the stars;
    Smothered behind some comet's flame,
    Lost in the wind of the war-like Mars,
    --Mingling, ever and anon,
    With the music's swell a sigh or moan.

                       "As in a glass,
    Let the earth once before me pass,"
    The Old Year said; and space untold
    Vanished, till nothing came between;
    Folded away, crystal and gold,
    Nor azure air did intervene;
    "As in a glass" he saw the earth
    Decking a bier and waiting a birth.

    "You crown me dead," the Old Year said,
    "Before my parting hour is sped:
    O fickle, false, and reckless world!
    Time to Eternity may not haste;
    Not till the last Hour's wing is furled
    Within the gate my reign is past!
    O Earth! O World! fair, false and vain,
    I grieve not at my closing reign."

                       Yet spirit-sore
    The dead king noted a palace door;
    He saw the gay crowd gather in;
    He scanned the face of each passer by;
    Snowiest soul, and heart of sin;
    Tried and untried humanity:
    Age and Youth, Pleasure and Pain,
    Braided at chance in a motley skein.

                       "Ill betide
    Ye thankless ones!" the Old Year cried;
    "Have I not given you night and day,
    Over and over, score upon score,
    Wherein to live, and love, and pray,
    And suck the ripe world to its rotten core?
    Yet do you reek if my reign be done?
    E're I pass ye crown the newer one!
    At ball and rout ye dance and shout,
    Shutting men's cries of suffering out,
    That startle the white-tressed silences
    Musing beside the fount of light,
    In the eternal space, to press
    Their roses, each a nebula bright,
    More close to their lips serene,
    While ye wear this unconscious mein!"

                       "Even so."
    The revelers said: "We'll have naught of woe.
    Why should we mourn, who have our fill?
    Enough that the hungry wretches cry:
    We from our plenty cast at will
    Some crumbs to make their wet eyelids dry;
    But to the rich the world is fair--
    Why should we grovel in tears and prayer?"

                       In her innocent bliss,
    A fair bride said with sweet earnestness,
    "For the dead Year am I truly sad;
    Since in its happy and hopeful days,
    Every brief hour my heart was glad,
    And blessings were strewn in all my ways:
    Will it be so forevermore?
    Will the New Years bring of love new store?"

                       Youth and maid.
    Of their conscious blushes half afraid,
    Shunning each other's tell-tale eyes,
    Yet cherishing hopes too fond to own;
    Speed the Old Year with secret sighs;
    And smile that his time is overflown;
    Shall they not hear each other say
    "Dear Love!" ere the New Year's passed away?

                       "O, haste on!
    The year or the pleasure is dead that is gone!"
    Boasted the man of pomp and power;
    "That which we hold is alone the good;
    Give me new pleasures for every hour,
    And grieve over past joys ye who would--
    Joys that are fled are poor, I wis--
    Give me forever the newest bliss!"

                       "Wish me joy,"
    Girl-Beauty cried, with glances coy:
    "In the New Year a woman I;
    I'll then have jewels in my hair,
    And such rare webs as Princes buy
    Be none too choice for me to wear:
    I'll queen it as a beauty should,
    And not be won before I'm wooed!"

        "Poor and proud--poor and proud!"
    Sighed a student in the motley crowd--
    "I heard her whisper that aside:
    O fatal fairness, aping heaven
    When earthly most!--I'll not deride--
    God knows that were all good gifts given
    To me as lavishly as rain,
    I'd bring them to her feet again."

        "Here are the fools we use for tools;
    Bending their passion, ere it cools,
    To any need," the cynic said:
    "Lo, I will give him gold, and he
    Shall sell me brain as it were bread!
    His very soul I'll hold in fee
    For baubles that shall buy the hand
    Of the coldest woman in the land!"

                       Spirit sore,
    The Old Year cared to see no more;
    While, as he turned, he heard a moan--
    Frosty and keen was the wintry night--
    Prone on the marble paving-stone,
    Unwatched, unwept, a piteous sight,
    Starved and dying a poor wretch lay;
    Through the blast he heard him gasping say:

                       "O, Old Year!
    From sightless eyes you force this tear;
    Sorrows you've heaped upon my head,
    Losses you've gathered to drive me wild,
    All that I lived for, loved, are dead,--
    Brother and sister, wife and child,
    I, too, am perishing as well;
    I shall share the toll of your passing bell!"

                       Grieved, and sad,
    For the sins and woes the Human had,
    The Old Year strove to avert his eyes;
    But fly or turn wherever he would,
    On his vexed ear smote the mingled cries
    Of revel and new-made widowhood--
    Of grief that would not be comforted
    With the loved and beautiful lying dead.

                  Evermore, every hour,
    Rising from hovel, hall and tower,
    Swelling the strain of discontent;
    Gurgled the hopeless prayer for alms,
    Rung out the wild oath impotent;
    Echoed by some brief walls of calms,
    Straining the listener's shrinking ears,
    Like silence when thunderbolts are near.

    Across that calm, like gales of balm,
    Some low, sweet household voices came;
    Thrilling, like flute-notes straying out
    From land to sea, some stormy night,
    The ear that listens for the shout
    Of drowning boatmen lost to sight--
    And died away, again so soon
    The pulseless air seemed fallen in a swoon.

                          Once pure and clear,
    Clarion strains fell on his ear:
    The preacher shook the soulless creeds,
    And pierced men's hearts with arrowy words,
    Yet failed to stir them to good deeds:
    Their new-fledged thoughts, like July birds,
    Soared on the air and glanced away,
    Before the eloquent voice could stay.

                "'Tis very sad the man is mad,"
    The men and women gaily said;
    As they, laughing, thread their homeward road,
    Talking of other holidays;
    Of last year, how it rained or snowed;
    Who went abroad, who wed a blaze
    Of diamonds with his shoddy bride,
    On certain days--and who had died.

                          "Would I were dead,
    And vexed no more," the Old Year said:
    "In vain may the preacher pray and warn;
    The tinkling cymbals in your ears
    Turn every gracious word to scorn;
    Ye care not for the orphan's tears;
    Your sides are fed, and your bodies clad
    Is there anything heaven itself could add?"

            And then he sighed, as one who died,
    With a great wish unsatisfied;
    Around him like a wintry sea,
    Whose waves were nations, surged the world,
    Stormy, unstable, constantly
    Upheaved to be again down-hurled;
    Here struggled some for freedom; here
    Oppression rode in the high career.

                              In hot debate
    Men struggled, while the hours waxed late;
    Contending with the watchful zeal
    Of gladiators, trained to die;
    Yet not for life, nor country's weal,
    But that their names might hang on high
    As men who loved themselves, indeed,
    And robbed the State to satisfy their need!

                    Heads of snow, and eyes aglow
    With fires that youth might blush to know;
    And brows whose youthful fairness shamed
    The desperate thoughts that strove within;
    While each his cause exulting named
    As purest that the world had seen:
    All names they had to tickle honest ears,
    Reform, and Rights, and sweet Philanthropy's cares.

                    "Well-a-day! Well-a-day!"
    The Old Year strove to put away
    Sight and sound of the reckless earth;
    But soft! from out a cottage door,
    Sweet strains of neither grief nor mirth,
    Upon his dying ear did pour;
    "Give us, O God," the singers said,
    "As good a year as this one dead!"

    Pealing loud from sod to cloud,
    Earth's bell's rang out in a chorus proud;
    Great waves of music shook the air
    From organs pulsing with the sound;
    Hushed was the voice of sob and prayer,
    As time touched the eternal bound:
    To the dead monarch earth was dimmed,
    But the golden portals brighter beamed.

                    Sad no more,
    The Old Year reached the golden door,
    Just as the hours with crystal clang
    Aside the shining portals bent
    And murmuring 'mong the spheres there rang
    The chorus of earth's acknowledgment:
    One had passed out at the golden door,
    And one had gone in forevermore!

    THE END.





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translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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