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Title: A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life.
Author: Whitney, A. D. T. (Adeline Dutton Train), 1824-1906
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life." ***

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A SUMMER IN
LESLIE GOLDTHWAITE'S LIFE


By

Mrs. A. D. T. WHITNEY



1866, 1894



     To

     THE MEMORY OF MY DEAR FRIEND

     MARIA S. CUMMINS

     AND OF DAYS AMONG THE MOUNTAINS MADE
     BEAUTIFUL BY HER COMPANIONSHIP

     I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE STORY



PREFACE TO REAL FOLKS SERIES.


"Leslie Goldthwaite" was the first of a series of four, which grew from
this beginning, and was written in 1866 and the years nearly following;
the first two stories--this and "We Girls"--having been furnished, by
request, for the magazine "Our Young Folks," published at that time with
such success by Messrs. Fields, Osgood & Co., and edited by Mr. Howard
M. Ticknor and Miss Lucy Larcom. The last two volumes--"Real Folks" and
"The Other Girls"--were asked for to complete the set, and were not
delayed by serial publication, but issued at once, in their order of
completion, in book form.

There is a sequence of purpose, character, and incident in the four
stories, of which it is well to remind new readers, upon their
reappearance in fresh editions. They all deal especially with girl-life
and home-life; endeavoring, even in the narration of experiences outside
the home and seeming to preclude its life, to keep for girlhood and
womanhood the true motive and tendency, through whatever temporary
interruption and necessity, of and toward the best spirit and shaping of
womanly work and surrounding; making the home-life the ideal one, and
home itself the centre and goal of effort and hope.

The writing of "The Other Girls" was interrupted by the Great Fire of
1872, and the work upon the Women's Relief Committee, which brought
close contact and personal knowledge to reinforce mere sympathy and
theory,--and so, I hope, into this last of the series, a touch of
something that may deepen the influence of them all to stronger help.

       *       *       *       *       *

I wish, without withdrawing or superseding the special dedication of
"Leslie Goldthwaite" to the memory of the dear friend with whom the
weeks were spent in which I gathered material for Leslie's "Summer," to
remember, in this new presentation of the whole series, that other
friend, with whom all the after work in it was associated and made the
first links of a long regard and fellowship, now lifted up and reaching
onward into the hopes and certainties of the "Land o' the Leal."

I wish to join to my own name in this, the name of Lucy Larcom, which
stands representative of most brave and earnest work, in most gentle,
womanly living.


ADELINE D. T. WHITNEY.
Milton, 1893.



              CONTENTS.

     CHAPTER
           I. THE GREEN OF THE LEAF
          II. WAYSIDE GLIMPSES
         III. EYESTONES
          IV. MARMADUKE WHARNE
           V. HUMMOCKS
          VI. DAKIE THAYNE
         VII. DOWN AT OUTLEDGE
        VIII. SIXTEEN AND SIXTY
          IX. "I DON'T SEE WHY"
           X. GEODES
          XI. IN THE PINES
         XII. CROWDED OUT
        XIII. A HOWL
         XIV. "FRIENDS OF MAMMON"
          XV. QUICKSILVER AND GOLD
         XVI. "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?"
        XVII. LEAF-GLORY



A SUMMER IN LESLIE GOLDTHWAITE'S LIFE.



CHAPTER I.


THE GREEN OF THE LEAF.

"Nothing but leaves--leaves--leaves! The green things don't know enough
to do anything better!"

Leslie Goldthwaite said this, standing in the bay-window among her
plants, which had been green and flourishing, but persistently
blossomless, all winter, and now the spring days were come.

Cousin Delight looked up; and her white ruffling, that she was daintily
hemstitching, fell to her lap, as she looked, still with a certain wide
intentness in her eyes, upon the pleasant window, and the bright, fresh
things it framed. Not the least bright and fresh among them was the
human creature in her early girlhood, tender and pleasant in its
beautiful leafage, but waiting, like any other young and growing life,
to prove what sort of flower should come of it.

"Now you've got one of your 'thoughts,' Cousin Delight! I see it
'biggening,' as Elspie says." Leslie turned round, with her little green
watering-pot suspended in her hand, waiting for the thought.

To have a thought, and to give it, were nearly simultaneous things with
Cousin Delight; so true, so pure, so unselfish, so made to give,--like
perfume or music, which cannot be, and be withheld,--were thoughts with
her.

I must say a word, before I go further, of Delight Goldthwaite. I think
of her as of quite a young person; you, youthful readers, would
doubtless have declared that she was old,--very old, at least for a
young lady. She was twenty-eight, at this time of which I write; Leslie,
her young cousin, was just "past the half, and catching up," as she said
herself,--being fifteen. Leslie's mother called Miss Goldthwaite,
playfully, "Ladies' Delight;" and, taking up the idea, half her women
friends knew her by this significant and epigrammatic title. There was
something doubly pertinent in it. She made you think at once of nothing
so much as heart's-ease,--a garden heart's-ease, that flower of many
names; not of the frail, scentless, wild wood-violet,--she had been
cultured to something larger. The violet nature was there, colored and
shaped more richly, and gifted with rare fragrance--for those whose
delicate sense could perceive it. The very face was a pansy face; with
its deep, large, purple-blue eyes, and golden brows and lashes, the
color of her hair,--pale gold, so pale that careless people who had
perception only for such beauty as can flash upon you from a crowd, or
across a drawing-room, said hastily that she had _no_ brows or lashes,
and that this spoiled her. She was not a beauty, therefore; nor was she,
in any sort, a belle. She never drew around her the common attention
that is paid eagerly to very pretty, outwardly bewitching girls; and she
never seemed to care for this. At a party, she was as apt as not to sit
in a corner; but the quiet people,--the mothers, looking on, or the
girls, waiting for partners,--getting into that same corner also, found
the best pleasure of their evening there. There was something about her
dress, too, that women appreciated most fully; the delicate textures,
the finishings--and only those--of rare, exquisite lace, the perfect
harmony of the whole unobtrusive toilet,--women looked at these in
wonder at the unerring instinct of her taste; in wonder, also, that they
only with each other raved about her. Nobody had ever been supposed to
be devoted to her; she had never been reported as "engaged;" there had
never been any of this sort of gossip about her; gentlemen found her,
they said, hard to get acquainted with; she had not much of the small
talk which must usually begin an acquaintance; a few--her relatives, or
her elders, or the husbands of her intimate married friends--understood
and valued her; but it was her girl friends and women friends who knew
her best, and declared that there was nobody like her; and so came her
sobriquet, and the double pertinence of it.

Especially she was Leslie Goldthwaite's delight. Leslie had no sisters,
and her aunts were old,--far older than her mother; on her father's
side, a broken and scattered family had left few ties for her; next to
her mother, and even closer, in some young sympathies, she clung to
Cousin Delight.

With this diversion, we will go back now to her, and to her thought.

"I was thinking," she said, with that intent look in her eyes, "I often
think, of how something else was found, once, having nothing but leaves;
and of what came to it."

"I know," answered Leslie, with an evasive quickness, and turned round
with her watering-pot to her plants again.

There was sometimes a bit of waywardness about Leslie Goldthwaite; there
was a fitfulness of frankness and reserve. She was eager for truth; yet
now and then she would thrust it aside. She said that "nobody liked a
nicely pointed moral better than she did; only she would just as lief
it shouldn't be pointed at her." The fact was, she was in that sensitive
state in which many a young girl finds herself, when she begins to ask
and to weigh with herself the great questions of life, and shrinks shyly
from the open mention of the very thing she longs more fully to
apprehend.

Cousin Delight took no notice; it is perhaps likely that she understood
sufficiently well for that. She turned toward the table by which she
sat, and pulled toward her a heavy Atlas that lay open at the map of
Connecticut. Beside it was Lippincott's Gazetteer,--open, also.

"Traveling, Leslie?"

"Yes. I've been a charming journey this morning, before you came. I
wonder if I ever _shall_ travel, in reality. I've done a monstrous deal
of it with maps and gazetteers."

"This hasn't been one of the stereotyped tours, it seems."

"Oh, no! What's the use of doing Niagara or the White Mountains, or even
New York and Philadelphia and Washington, on the map? I've been one of
my little by-way trips, round among the villages; stopping wherever I
found one cuddled in between a river and a hill, or in a little seashore
nook. Those are the places, after all, that I would hunt out, if I had
plenty of money to go where I liked with. It's so pleasant to imagine
how the people live there, and what sort of folks they would be likely
to be. It isn't so much traveling as living round,--awhile in one home,
and then in another. How many different little biding-places there are
in the world! And how queer it is only really to know about one or two
of them!"

"What's this place you're at just now? Winsted?"

"Yes; there's where I've brought up, at the end of that bit of railroad.
It's a bigger place than I fancied, though. I always steer clear of the
names that end in 'ville.' They're sure to be stupid, money-making
towns, all grown up in a minute, with some common man's name tacked on
to them, that happened to build a saw-mill, or something, first. But
Winsted has such a sweet, little, quiet, English sound. I know it never
_began_ with a mill. They make pins and clocks and tools and machines
there now; and it's 'the largest and most prosperous post-village of
Litchfield County.' But I don't care for the pins and machinery.
It's got a lake alongside of it; and Still River--don't that sound
nice?--runs through; and there are the great hills, big enough to put on
the map, out beyond. I can fancy where the girls take their sunset
walks; and the moonlight parties, boating on the pond, and the way the
woods look, round Still River. Oh, yes! that's one of the places I mean
to go to."

Leslie Goldthwaite lived in one of the inland cities of Massachusetts.
She had grown up and gone to school there, and had never yet been thirty
miles away. Her father was a busy lawyer, making a handsome living for
his family, and laying aside abundantly for their future provision, but
giving himself no lengthened recreations, and scarcely thinking of them
as needful for the rest.

It was a pleasant, large, brown, wooden house they lived in, on the
corner of two streets; with a great green door-yard about it on two
sides, where chestnut and cherry trees shaded it from the public way,
and flower-beds brightened under the parlor windows and about the porch.
Just greenness and bloom enough to suggest, always, more; just sweetness
and sunshine and bird-song enough, in the early summer days, to whisper
of broad fields and deep woods where they rioted without stint; and
these days always put Leslie into a certain happy impatience, and set
her dreaming and imagining; and she learned a great deal of her
geography in the fashion that we have hinted at.

Miss Goldthwaite was singularly discursive and fragmentary in her
conversation this morning, somehow. She dropped the map-traveling
suddenly, and asked a new question. "And how comes on the
linen-drawer?"

"O Cousin Del! I'm humiliated,--disgusted! I feel as small as
butterflies' pinfeathers! I've been to see the Haddens. Mrs. Linceford
has just got home from Paris, and brought them wardrobes to last to
remotest posterity! And _such_ things! Such rufflings, and stitchings,
and embroiderings! Why, mine look--as if they'd been made by the
blacksmith!"

The "linen-drawer" was an institution of Mrs. Goldthwaite's; resultant,
partly, from her old-fashioned New England ideas of womanly industry and
thrift,--born and brought up, as she had been, in a family whose
traditions were of house-linen sufficient for a lifetime spun and woven
by girls before their twenty-first year, and whose inheritance, from
mother to daughter, was invariably of heedfully stored personal and
household plenishings, made of pure material that was worth the laying
by, and carefully bleached and looked to year by year; partly, also,
from a certain theory of wisdom which she had adopted, that when girls
were once old enough to care for and pride themselves on a plentiful
outfit, it was best they should have it as a natural prerogative of
young-ladyhood, rather than that the "trousseau" should come to be, as
she believed it so apt to be, one of the inciting temptations to
heedless matrimony. I have heard of a mother whose passion was for
elegant old lace; and who boasted to her female friends that, when her
little daughter was ten years old, she had her "lace-box," with the
beginning of her hoard in costly contributions from the stores of
herself and of the child's maiden aunts. Mrs. Goldthwaite did a better
and more sensible thing than this; when Leslie was fifteen, she
presented her with pieces of beautiful linen and cotton and cambric, and
bade her begin to make garments which should be in dozens, to be laid
by, in reserve, as she completed them, until she had a well-filled
bureau that should defend her from the necessity of what she called a
"wretched living from hand to mouth,--always having underclothing to
make up, in the midst of all else that she would find to do and to
learn."

Leslie need not have been ashamed, and I don't think in her heart she
was, of the fresh, white, light-lying piles that had already begun to
make promise of filling a drawer, which she drew out as she answered
Cousin Delight's question.

The fine-lined gathers; the tiny dots of stitches that held them to
their delicate bindings; the hems and tucks, true to a thread, and
dotted with the same fairy needle dimples (no machine-work, but all
real, dainty finger-craft); the bits of ruffling peeping out from the
folds, with their edges in almost invisible whip-hems; and here and
there a finishing of lovely, lace-like crochet, done at odd minutes, and
for "visiting work,"--there was something prettier and more precious,
really, in all this than in the imported fineries which had come,
without labor and without thought, to her friends the Haddens. Besides,
there were the pleasant talks and readings of the winter evenings, all
threaded in and out, and associated indelibly with every seam. There was
the whole of "David Copperfield," and the beginning of "Our Mutual
Friend," ruffled up into the night-dresses; and some of the crochet was
beautiful with the rhymed pathos of "Enoch Arden," and some with the
poetry of the "Wayside Inn;" and there were places where stitches had
had to be picked out and done over, when the eye grew dim and the hand
trembled while the great war news was being read.

Leslie loved it, and had a pride in it all; it was not, truly and only,
humiliation and disgust at self-comparison with the Haddens, but some
other and unexplained doubt which moved her now, and which was stirred
often by this, or any other of the objects and circumstances of her
life, and which kept her standing there with her hand upon the
bureau-knob, in a sort of absence, while Cousin Delight looked in,
approved, and presently dropped quietly among the rest, like a bit of
money into a contribution-box, the delicate breadths of linen cambric
she had just finished hemstitching and rolled together.

"Oh, thank you! But, Cousin Delight," said Leslie, shutting the drawer,
and turning short round, suddenly, "I wish you'd just tell me--what you
think--is the sense of that--about the fig-tree! I suppose it's awfully
wicked, but I never could see. Is everything fig-leaves that isn't out
and out fruit, and is it all to be cursed, and why _should_ there be
anything but leaves when 'the time of figs was not yet'?" After her
first hesitation, she spoke quickly, impetuously, and without pause, as
something that _would_ come out.

"I suppose that has troubled you, as I dare say it has troubled a great
many other people," said Cousin Delight. "It used to be a puzzle and a
trouble to me. But now it seems to me one of the most beautiful things
of all." She paused.

"I can_not_ see how," said Leslie emphatically. "It always seems to me
so--somehow--unreasonable; and--angry."

She said this in a lower tone, as afraid of the uttered audacity of her
own thought; and she walked off, as she spoke, towards the window once
more, and stood with her back to Miss Goldthwaite, almost as if she
wished to have done, again, with the topic. It was not easy for Leslie
to speak out upon such things; it almost made her feel cross when she
had done it.

"People mistake the true cause and effect, I think," said Delight
Goldthwaite, "and so lose all the wonderful enforcement of that acted
parable. It was not, 'Cursed be the fig-tree because I have found
nothing thereon;' but, 'Let _no fruit_ grow on thee, henceforward,
forever.' It seems to me I can hear the tone of tender solemnity in
which Jesus would say such words; knowing, as only he knew, all that
they meant, and what should come, inevitably, of such a sentence. 'And
presently the fig-tree withered away.' The life was nothing, any longer,
from the moment when it might not be, what all life is, a reaching
forward to the perfecting of some fruit. There was nothing to come, ever
again, of all its greenness and beauty, and the greenness and beauty,
which were only a form and a promise, ceased to be. It was the way he
took to show his disciples, in a manner they should never forget, the
inexorable condition upon which all life is given, and that the barren
life, so soon as its barrenness is absolutely hopeless, becomes a
literal death."

Leslie stood still, with her back to Miss Goldthwaite, and her face to
the window. Her perplexity was changed, but hardly cleared. There were
many things that crowded into her thoughts, and might have been spoken;
but it was quite impossible for her to speak. Impossible on this topic,
and she certainly could not speak, at once, on any other.

Many seconds of silence counted themselves between the two. Then Cousin
Delight, feeling an intuition of much that held and hindered the young
girl, spoke again. "Does this make life seem hard?"

"Yes," said Leslie then, with an effort that hoarsened her very voice,
"frightful." And as she spoke, she turned again quickly, as if to be
motionless longer were to invite more talk, and went over to the other
window, where her bird-cage hung, and began to take down the glasses.

"Like all parables, it is manifold," said Delight gently. "There is a
great hope in it, too."

Leslie was at her basin, now, turning the water faucet, to rinse and
refill the little drinking-vessel. She handled the things quietly, but
she made no pause.

"It shows that, while we see the leaf, we may have hope of the fruit, in
ourselves or in others."

She could not see Leslie's face. If she had, she would have perceived a
quick lifting and lightening upon it; then a questioning that would not
very long be repressed to silence.

The glasses were put in the cage again, and presently Leslie came back
to a little low seat by Miss Goldthwaite's side, which she had been
occupying before all this talk began. "Other people puzzle me as much as
myself," she said. "I think the whole world is running to leaves,
sometimes."

"Some things flower almost invisibly, and hide away their fruit under
thick foliage. It is often only when the winds shake their leaves down,
and strip the branches bare, that we find the best that has been
growing."

"They make a great fuss and flourish with the leaves, though, as long as
they can. And it's who shall grow the broadest and tallest, and flaunt
out, with the most of them. After all, it's natural; and they _are_
beautiful in themselves. And there's a 'time' for leaves, too, before
the figs."

"Exactly. We have a right to look for the leaves, and to be glad of
them. That is a part of the parable."

"Cousin Delight! Let's talk of real things, and let the parable alone a
minute."

Leslie sprang impulsively to her bureau again, and flung forth the linen
drawer.

"There are my fig-leaves,--some of them; and here are more." She turned,
with a quick movement, to her wardrobe; pulled out and uncovered a
bonnet-box which held a dainty headgear of the new spring fashion, and
then took down from a hook and tossed upon it a silken garment that
fluttered with fresh ribbons. "How much of this outside business is
right, and how much wrong, I should be glad to know? It all takes time
and thoughts; and those are life. How much life must go into the leaves?
That's what puzzles me. I can't do without the things; and I can't be
let to take 'clear comfort' in them, as grandma says, either." She was
on the floor, now, beside her little fineries; her hands clasped
together about one knee, and her face turned up to Cousin Delight's. She
looked as if she half believed herself to be ill-used.

"And clothes are but the first want,--the primitive fig-leaves; the
world is full of other outside business,--as much outside as these,"
pursued Miss Goldthwaite, thoughtfully.

"Everything is outside," said Leslie. "Learning, and behaving, and
going, and doing, and seeing, and hearing, and having. 'It's all a
muddle,' as the poor man says in 'Hard Times.'"

"I don't think I can do without the parable," said Cousin Delight. "The
real inward principle of the tree--that which corresponds to thought and
purpose in the soul--urges always to the finishing of its life in the
fruit. The leaves are only by the way,--an outgrowth of the same
vitality, and a process toward the end; but never, in any living thing,
the end itself."

"Um," said Leslie, in her nonchalant fashion again; her chin between her
two hands now, and her head making little appreciative nods. "That's
like condensed milk; a great deal in a little of it. I'll put the
fig-leaves away now, and think it over."

But, as she sprang up, and came round behind Miss Goldthwaite's chair,
she stopped and gave her a little kiss on the top of her head. If Cousin
Delight had seen, there was a bright softness in the eyes, which told of
feeling, and of gladness that welcomed the quick touch of truth.

Miss Goldthwaite knew one good thing,--when she had driven her nail.
"She never hammered in the head with a punch, like a carpenter," Leslie
said of her. She believed that, in moral tool-craft, that finishing
implement belonged properly to the hand of an after-workman.



CHAPTER II.


WAYSIDE GLIMPSES

I have mentioned one little theory, relating solely to domestic thrift,
which guided Mrs. Goldthwaite in her arrangements for her daughter. I
believe that, with this exception, she brought up her family very
nearly without any theory whatever. She did it very much on the
taking-for-granted system. She took for granted that her children were
born with the same natural perceptions as herself; that they could
recognize, little by little, as they grew into it, the principles of the
moral world,--reason, right, propriety,--as they recognized, growing
into them, the conditions of their outward living. She made her own life
a consistent recognition of these, and she lived _openly_ before them.
There was never any course pursued with sole calculation as to its
effect on the children. Family discussion and deliberation was seldom
with closed doors. Questions that came up were considered as they came;
and the young members of the household perceived as soon as their elders
the "reasons why" of most decisions. They were part and parcel of the
whole régime. They learned politeness by being as politely attended to
as company. They learned to be reasonable by seeing how the _reason_
compelled father and mother, and not by having their vision stopped
short at the arbitrary fact that father and mother compelled them. I
think, on the whole, the Goldthwaite no-method turned out as good a
method as any. Men have found out lately that even horses may be guided
without reins.

It was characteristic, therefore, that Mrs. Goldthwaite--receiving one
day a confidential note proposing to her a pleasant plan in behalf of
Leslie, and intended to guard against a premature delight and eagerness,
and so perhaps an ultimate disappointment for that young lady--should
instantly, on reading it, lay it open upon the table before her
daughter. "From Mrs. Linceford," she said, "and concerning you."

Leslie took it up, expecting, possibly, an invitation to tea. When she
saw what it really was, her dark eyes almost blazed with sudden, joyous
excitement.

"Of course, I should be delighted to say yes for you," said Mrs.
Goldthwaite, "but there are things to be considered. I can't tell how it
will strike your father."

"School," suggested Leslie, the light in her eyes quieting a little.

"Yes, and expense; though I don't think he would refuse on that score.
I should have _liked_"--Mrs. Goldthwaite's tone was only half, and very
gently, objecting; there was an inflection of ready self-relinquishment
in it, also--"to have had your _first_ journey with me. But you might
have waited a long time for that."

If Leslie were disappointed in the end, she would have known that her
mother's heart had been with her from the beginning, and grown people
seldom realize how this helps even the merest child to bear a denial.

"There is only a month now to vacation," said the young girl.

"What do you think Mr. Waylie would say?"

"I really think," answered Leslie, after a pause, "that he would say it
was better than books."

They sat at their sewing together, after this, without speaking very
much more, at the present time, about it. Mrs. Goldthwaite was thinking
it over in her motherly mind, and in the mind of Leslie thought and hope
and anticipation were dancing a reel with each other. It is time to tell
the reader of the what and why.

Mrs. Linceford, the elder married daughter of the Hadden family,--many
years the elder of her sisters, Jeannie and Elinor,--was about to take
them, under her care, to the mountains for the summer, and she kindly
proposed joining Leslie Goldthwaite to her charge. "The mountains" in
New England means usually, in common speech, the one royal range of the
White Hills.

You can think what this opportunity was to a young girl full of fancy,
loving to hunt out, even by map and gazetteer, the by-nooks of travel,
and wondering already if she should ever really journey otherwise. You
can think how she waited, trying to believe she could bear any decision,
for the final determination concerning her.

"If it had been to Newport or Saratoga, I should have said no at once,"
said Mr. Goldthwaite. "Mrs. Linceford is a gay, extravagant woman, and
the Haddens' ideas don't precisely suit mine. But the mountains,--she
can't get into much harm there."

"I shouldn't have cared for Newport or the Springs, father, truly," said
Leslie, with a little hopeful flutter of eagerness in her voice; "but
the real mountains,--O father!"

The "O father!" was not without its weight. Also Mr. Waylie, whom Mr.
Goldthwaite called on and consulted, threw his opinion into the favoring
scale, precisely as Leslie had foreseen. He was a teacher who did not
imagine all possible educational advantage to be shut up within the four
walls of his or any other schoolroom. "She is just the girl to whom it
will do great good," he said. Leslie's last week's lessons were not
accomplished the less satisfactorily for this word of his, and the
pleasure it opened to her.

There came a few busy days of stitching and starching, and crimping and
packing, and then, in the last of June, they would be off. They were to
go on Monday. The Haddens came over on Saturday afternoon, just as
Leslie had nearly put the last things into her trunk,--a new trunk,
quite her own, with her initials in black paint upon the russet leather
at each end. On the bed lay her pretty balmoral suit, made purposely for
mountain wears and just finished. The young girls got together here, in
Leslie's chamber, of course.

"Oh, how pretty! It's perfectly charming,--the loveliest balmoral I ever
saw in my life!" cried Jeannie Hadden, seizing upon it instantly as she
entered the room. "Why, you'll look like a hamadryad, all in these wood
browns!"

It was an uncommonly pretty striped petticoat, in two alternating shades
of dark and golden brown, with just a hair-line of black defining their
edges; and the border was one broad, soft, velvety band of black, and a
narrower one following it above and below, easing the contrast and
blending the colors. The jacket, or rather shirt, finished at the waist
with a bit of a polka frill, was a soft flannel, of the bright brown
shade, braided with the darker hue and with black; and two pairs of
bright brown raw-silk stockings, marked transversely with mere
thread-lines of black, completed the mountain outfit.

"Yes; all I want is"--said Leslie, stopping short as she took up the hat
that lay there also,--last summer's hat, a plain black straw, with a
slight brim, and ornamented only with a round lace veil and two bits of
ostrich feather. "But never mind! It'll do well enough!"

As she laid it down again and ceased speaking, Cousin Delight came in,
straight from Boston, where she had been doing two days' shopping; and
in her hand she carried a parcel in white paper. I was going to say a
round parcel, which it would have been but for something which ran out
in a sharp tangent from one side, and pushed the wrappings into an odd
angle. This she put into Leslie's hands.

"A fresh--fig-leaf--for you, my dear."

"What _does_ she mean?" cried the Haddens, coming close to see.

"Only a little Paradise fashion of speech between Cousin Del and me,"
said Leslie, coloring a little and laughing, while she began, somewhat
hurriedly, to remove the wrappings.

"What have you done? And how did you come to think?" she exclaimed, as
the thing inclosed appeared: a round brown straw turban,--not a staring
turban, but one of those that slope with a little graceful downward
droop upon the brow,--bound with a pheasant's breast, the wing shooting
out jauntily, in the tangent I mentioned, over the right ear; all in
bright browns, in lovely harmony with the rest of the hamadryad costume.

"It's no use to begin to thank you, Cousin Del. It's just one of the
things you re always doing, and rejoice in doing." The happy face was
full of loving thanks, plainer than many words. "Only you're a kind of a
_sarpent_ yourself after all, I'm afraid, with your beguilements. I
wonder if you thought of that," whispered Leslie merrily, while the
others oh-oh'd over the gift. "What else do you think I shall be good
for when I get all those on?"

"I'll venture you," said Cousin Delight; and the trifling words conveyed
a real, earnest confidence, the best possible antidote to the
"beguilement."

"One thing is funny," said Jeannie Hadden suddenly, with an accent of
demur. "We're all pheasants. _Our_ new hats are pheasants, too. I don't
know what Augusta will think of such a covey of us."

"Oh, it's no matter," said Elinor. "This is a golden pheasant, on brown
straw, and ours are purple, on black. Besides, we all _look_ different
enough."

"I suppose it doesn't signify," returned Jeannie; "and if Augusta thinks
it does, she may just give me that black and white plover of hers I
wanted so. I think our complexions _are_ all pretty well suited."

This was true. The fair hair and deep blue eyes of Elinor were as pretty
under the purple plumage as Jeannie's darker locks and brilliant bloom;
and there was a wonderful bright mingling of color between the golden
pheasant's breast and the gleaming chestnut waves it crowned, as Leslie
took her hat and tried it on.

This was one of the little touches of perfect taste and adaptation which
could sometimes make Leslie Goldthwaite almost beautiful, and was there
ever a girl of fifteen who would not like to be beautiful if she could?
This wish, and the thought and effort it would induce, were likely to be
her great temptation. Passably pretty girls, who may, with care, make
themselves often more than passable, have far the hardest of it with
their consciences about these things; and Leslie had a conscience, and
was reflective for her age,--and we have seen how questions had begun to
trouble her.

A Sunday between a packing and a journey is a trying day always. There
are the trunks, and it is impossible not to think of the getting up and
getting off to-morrow; and one hates so to take out fresh sleeves and
collars and pocket-handkerchiefs, and to wear one's nice white skirts.
It is a Sunday put off, too probably, with but odds and ends of thought
as well as apparel.

Leslie went to church, of course,--the Goldthwaites were always regular
in this; and she wore her quiet straw bonnet. Mrs. Goldthwaite had a
feeling that hats were rather pert and coquettish for the sanctuary.
Nevertheless they met the Haddens in the porch, in the glory of their
purple pheasant plumes, whereof the long tail-feathers made great
circles in the air as the young heads turned this way and that, in the
excitement of a few snatched words before they entered.

The organ was playing; and the low, deep, tremulous rumble that an organ
gives sometimes, when it seems to creep under and vibrate all things
with a strange, vital thrill, overswept their trivial chat and made
Leslie almost shiver. "Oh, I wish they wouldn't do that," she said,
turning to go in.

"What?" said Jeannie Hadden, unaware.

"Touch the nerve. The great nerve--of creation."

"What queer things Les' Goldthwaite says sometimes," whispered Elinor;
and they passed the inner door.

The Goldthwaites sat two pews behind the Haddens. Leslie could not help
thinking how elegant Mrs. Linceford was, as she swept in, in her rich
black silk, and real lace shawl, and delicate, costly bonnet; and the
perfectly gloved hand that upheld a bit of extravagance in Valenciennes
lace and cambric made devotion seem--what? The more graceful and
touching in one who had all this world's luxuries, or--almost a mockery?

The pheasant-plumed hats went decorously down in prayer-time, but the
tail-feathers ran up perker than ever, from the posture; Leslie saw
this, because she had lifted her own head and unclosed her eyes in a
self-indignant honesty, when she found on what her secret thoughts were
running. Were other people so much better than she? And _could_ they do
both things? How much was right in all this that was outwardly so
beguiling, and where did the "serving Mammon" begin?

Was everything so much intenser and more absorbing with her than with
the Haddens? Why could she not take things as they came, as these girls
did, or seemed to do?--be glad of her pretty things, her pretty looks
even, her coming pleasures, with no misgivings or self-searchings, and
then turn round and say her prayers properly?

Wasn't beauty put into the world for the sake of beauty? And wasn't it
right to love it, and make much of it, and multiply it? What were arts
and human ingenuities for, and the things given to work with? All this
grave weighing of a great moral question was in the mind of the young
girl of fifteen again this Sunday morning. Such doubts and balancings
begin far earlier, often, than we are apt to think.

The minister shook hands cordially and respectfully with Mrs. Linceford
after church. He had no hesitation at her stylishness and fineries.
Everybody took everybody else for granted; and it was all right, Leslie
Goldthwaite supposed, except in her own foolish, unregulated thoughts.
Everybody else had done their Sunday duty, and it was enough; only she
had been all wrong and astray, and in confusion. There was a time for
everything, only her times and thoughts would mix themselves up and
interfere. Perhaps she was very weak-minded, and the only way for her
would be to give it all up, and wear drab, or whatever else might be
most unbecoming, and be fiercely severe, mortifying the flesh. She got
over that--her young nature reacting--as they all walked up the street
together, while the sun shone down smilingly upon the world in Sunday
best, and the flowers were gay in the door-yards, and Miss Milliken's
shop was reverential with the green shutters before the windows that
had been gorgeous yesterday with bright ribbons and fresh fashions; and
there was something thankful in her feeling of the pleasantness that was
about her, and a certainty that she should only grow morose if she took
to resisting it all. She would be as good as she could, and let the
pleasantness and the prettiness come "by the way." Yes, that was just
what Cousin Delight had said. "All these things shall be added,"--was
not that the Gospel word? So her troubling thought was laid for the
hour; but it should come up again. It was in the "seeking first" that
the question lay. By and by she would go back of the other to this, and
see clearer,--in the light, perhaps, of something that had been already
given her, and which, as she lived on toward a fuller readiness for it,
should be "brought to her remembrance."

Monday brought the perfection of a traveler's morning. There had been a
shower during the night, and the highways lay cool, moist, and dark
brown between the green of the fields and the clean-washed, red-brick
pavements of the town. There would be no dust even on the railroad, and
the air was an impalpable draught of delight. To the three young girls,
standing there under the station portico,--for they chose the smell of
the morning rather than the odors of apples and cakes and
indescribables which go to make up the distinctive atmosphere of a
railway waiting-room,--there was but one thing to be done to-day in the
world; one thing for which the sun rose, and wheeled himself toward that
point in the heavens which would make eight o'clock down below. Of all
the ships that might sail this day out of harbors, or the trains that
might steam out of cities across States, they recked nothing but of this
that was to take them toward the hills. There were unfortunates,
doubtless, bound elsewhere, by peremptory necessity; there were people
who were going nowhere but about their daily work and errands; all these
were simply to be pitied, or wondered at, as to how they could feel
_not_ to be going upon a mountain journey. It is queer to think, on a
last Thursday in November, or on a Fourth of July, of States where there
may not be a Thanksgiving, or of far-off lands that have no Independence
day. It was just as strange, somehow, to imagine how this day, that was
to them the culminating point of so much happy anticipation, the
beginning of so much certain joy, could be otherwise, and yet be
anything to the supernumerary people who filled up around them the life
that centred in just this to them. Yet in truth it was, to most folks,
simply a fair Monday morning, and an excellent "drying day."

They bounded off along the iron track,--the great steam pulse throbbed
no faster than in time to their bright young eagerness. It had been a
momentous matter to decide upon their seats, of which there had been
opportunity for choice when they entered the car; at last they had been
happily settled, face to face, by the good-natured removal of a couple
of young farmers, who saw that the four ladies wished to be seated
together. Their hand-bags were hung up, their rolls of shawls disposed
beneath their feet, and Mrs. Linceford had taken out her novel. The
Haddens had each a book also in her bag, to be perfectly according to
rule in their equipment; but they were not old travelers enough to care
to begin upon them yet. As to Leslie Goldthwaite, _her_ book lay ready
open before her, for long, contented reading, in two chapters, both
visible at once--the broad, open country, with its shifting pictures and
suggestions of life and pleasantness; and the carriage interior, with
its dissimilar human freight, and its yet more varied hints of history
and character and purpose.

She made a story in her own mind, half unconsciously, of every one about
her. Of the pretty girl alone, with no elaborate traveling arrangements,
going only, it was evident, from one way-station to another, perhaps to
spend a summer day with a friend. Of the stout old country grandmamma,
with a basket full of doughnuts and early apples, that made a spiciness
and orchard fragrance all about her, and that she surely never meant to
eat herself, seeing, first, that she had not a tooth in her head, and
also that she made repeated anxious requests of the conductor, catching
him by the coat-skirts as he passed, to "let her know in season when
they began to get into Bartley;" who asked, confidentially, of her next
neighbor, a well-dressed elderly gentleman, if "he didn't think it was
about as cheap comin' by the cars as it would ha' ben to hire a passage
any other way?" and innocently endured the smile that her query called
forth on half a dozen faces about her. The gentleman, _without_ a smile,
courteously lowered his newspaper to reply that "he always thought it
better to avail one's self of established conveniences rather than to
waste time in independent contrivances;" and the old lady sat back,--as
far back as she dared, considering her momentary apprehension of
Bartley,--quite happily complacent in the confirmation of her own
wisdom.

There was a trig, not to say prim, spinster, without a vestige of
comeliness in her face, save the comeliness of a clear, clean, energetic
expression,--such as a new broom or a bright tea-kettle might have,
suggesting capacity for house thrift and hearth comfort,--who wore a
gray straw bonnet, clean and neat as if it had not lasted for six years
at least, which its fashion evidenced, and which, having a bright green
tuft of artificial grass stuck arbitrarily upon its brim by way of
modern adornment, put Leslie mischievously in mind of a roof so old that
blades had sprouted in the eaves. She was glad afterwards that she had
not spoken her mischief.

What made life beautiful to all these people? These farmers, who put on
at daybreak their coarse homespun, for long hours of rough labor? These
homely, home-bred women, who knew nothing of graceful fashions; who had
always too much to do to think of elegance in doing? Perhaps that was
just it; they had always something to do, something outside of
themselves,--in their honest, earnest lives there was little to tempt
them to a frivolous self-engrossment. Leslie touched close upon the very
help and solution she wanted, as she thought these thoughts.

Opposite to her there sat a poor man, to whom there had happened a great
misfortune. One eye was lost, and the cheek was drawn and marked by some
great scar of wound or burn. One half his face was a fearful blot. How
did people bear such things as these,--to go through the world knowing
that it could never be pleasant to any human being to look upon them?
that an instinct of pity and courtesy would even turn every casual
glance away? There was a strange, sorrowful pleading in the one
expressive side of the man's countenance, and a singularly untoward
incident presently called it forth, and made it almost ludicrously
pitiful. A bustling fellow entered at a way-station, his arms full of a
great frame that he carried. As he blundered along the passage, looking
for a seat, a jolt of the car, in starting, pitched him suddenly into
the vacant place beside this man; and the open expanse of the large
looking-glass--for it was that which the frame held--was fairly smitten,
like an insult of fate, into the very face of the unfortunate.

"Beg pardon," the new comer said, in an off-hand way, as he settled
himself, holding the glass full before the other while he righted it;
and then, for the first time, giving a quick glance toward him. The
astonishment, the intuitive repulsion, the consciousness of what he had
done, betokened by the instant look of the one man, and the helpless,
mute "How could you?" that seemed spoken in the strange, uprolled,
one-sided expression of the other,--these involuntarily-met regards made
a brief concurrence at once sad and irresistibly funny, as so many
things in this strange life are.

The man of the mirror inclined his burden quietly the other way; and now
it reflected the bright faces opposite, under the pheasant plumes. Was
it any delight to Leslie to see her own face so? What was the use of
being--what right had she to wish to be--pretty and pleasant to look at,
when there were such utter lifelong loss and disfigurement in the world
for others? Why should it not as well happen to her? And how did the
world seem to such a person, and where was the _worth while_ of it? This
was the question which lingered last in her mind, and to which all else
reverted. _To be able to bear_--perhaps this was it; and this was
greater, indeed, than any outer grace.

Such as these were the wayside meanings that came to Leslie Goldthwaite
that morning in the first few hours of her journey. Meanwhile, Jeannie
and Elinor Hadden had begun to be tired; and Mrs. Linceford, not much
entertained with her novel, held it half closed over her finger, drew
her brown veil closely, and sat with her eyes shut, compensating herself
with a doze for her early rising. Had the same things come to these? Not
precisely; something else, perhaps. In all things, one is still taken
and another left. I can only follow, minutely, one.



CHAPTER III.


EYESTONES.

The road left the flat farming country now, and turned northward, up the
beautiful river valley. There was plenty to enjoy outside; and it was
growing more and more lovely with almost every mile. They left the great
towns gradually behind; each succeeding one seemed more simply rural.
Young girls were gathered on the platforms at the little stations where
they stopped sometimes; it was the grand excitement of the place,--the
coming of the train,--and to these village lasses was what the piazzas
or the springs are to gay dwellers at Saratoga.

By dinner-time they steamed up to the stately back staircase of the
"Pemigewasset." In the little parlor where they smoothed their hair and
rested a moment before going to the dining-hall, they met again the lady
of the grass-grown bonnet. She took this off, making herself
comfortable, in her primitive fashion, for dinner; and then Leslie
noticed how little it was from any poverty of nature that the fair and
abundant hair, at least, had not been made use of to take down the
severe primness of her outward style. It did take it down in spite of
all, the moment the gray straw was removed. The great round coil behind
was all real and _solid_, though it was wound about with no thought save
of security, and fastened with a buffalo-horn comb. Hair was a matter of
course; the thing was, to keep it out of the way; that was what the
fashion of this head expressed, and nothing more. Where it was tucked
over the small ears,--and native refinement or the other thing shows
very plainly in the ears,--it lay full, and shaped into a soft curve.
She was only plain, not ugly, after all; and they are very different
things,--there being a beauty of plainness in men and women, as there is
in a rich fabric, sometimes.

While Leslie was noticing these things, Elinor Hadden stood by a window
with her back to the others. She did not complain at first; one doesn't
like to allow, at once, that the toothache, or a mischance like this
that had happened to her, is an established fact,--one is in for it the
moment one does that. But she had got a cinder in her eye; and though
she had winked, and stared, and rolled her eyelid under, and tried all
the approved and instinctive means, it seemed persistent; and she was
forced at last, just as her party was going in to dinner, to acknowledge
that this traveler's misery had befallen her, and to make up her mind
to the pain and wretchedness and ugliness of it for hours, if not even
for days. Her face was quite disfigured already; the afflicted eye was
bloodshot, and the whole cheek was red with tears and rubbing; she could
only follow blindly along, her handkerchief up, and, half groping into
the seat offered her, begin comfortlessly to help herself to some soup
with her left hand. There was leaning across to inquire and pity; there
were half a dozen things suggested, to which she could only reply,
forlornly and impatiently, "I've tried it." None of them could eat much,
or with any satisfaction; this atom in the wrong place set everything
wrong all at once with four people who, till now, had been so cheery.

The spinster lady was seated at some little distance down, on the
opposite side. She began to send quick, interested glances over at them;
to make little half-starts toward them, as if she would speak; and at
last, leaving her own dinner unfinished, she suddenly pushed back her
chair, got up, and came round. She touched Elinor Hadden on the
shoulder, without the least ado of ceremony. "Come out here with me,"
she said. "I can set you right in half a minute;" and, confident of
being followed, moved off briskly out of the long hall.

Elinor gave a one-sided, questioning glance at her sisters before she
complied, reminding Leslie comically of the poor, one-eyed man in the
cars; and presently, with a little hesitation, Mrs. Linceford and
Jeannie compromised the matter by rising themselves and accompanying
Elinor from the room. Leslie, of course, went also.

The lady had her gray bonnet on when they got back to the little parlor;
there is no time to lose in mere waiting for anything at a railway
dining-place; and she had her bag--a veritable, old-fashioned, home-made
carpet thing--open on a chair before her, and in her hand a long, knit
purse with steel beads and rings. Out of this she took a twisted bit of
paper, and from the paper a minute something which she popped between
her lips as she replaced the other things. Then she just beckoned,
hastily, to Elinor.

"It's only an eyestone; did you ever have one in? Well, you needn't be
afraid of it; I've had 'em in hundreds of times. You wouldn't know 't
was there, and it'll just ease all the worry; and by and by it'll drop
out of itself, cinder and all. They're terribly teasing things, cinders;
and somebody's always sure to get one. I always keep three eyestones in
my purse. You needn't mind my not having it back; I've got a little
glass bottle full at home, and it's wonderful the sight of comfort
they've been to folks."

Elinor shrunk; Mrs. Linceford showed a little high-bred demur about
accepting the offered aid of their unknown traveling companion; but the
good woman comprehended nothing of this, and went on insisting.

"You'd better let me put it in right off; it's only just to drop it
under the eyelid, and it'll work round till it finds the speck. But you
can take it and put it in yourself, when you've made up your mind, if
you'd rather." With which she darted her head quickly from side to side,
looking about the room, and, spying a scrap of paper on a table, had the
eyestone twisted in it in an instant, and pressed it into Elinor's hand.
"You'll be glad enough of it, yet," said she, and then took up her bag,
and moved quickly off among the other passengers descending to the
train.

"What a funny woman, to be always carrying eyestones about, and putting
them in people's eyes!" said Jeannie.

"It was quite kind of her, I'm sure," said Mrs. Linceford, with a
mingling in her tone of acknowledgment and of polite tolerance for a
great liberty. When elegant people break their necks or their limbs,
common ones may approach and assist; as, when a house takes fire,
persons get in who never did before; and perhaps a suffering eye may
come into the catalogue of misfortunes sufficient to equalize
differences for the time being. But it _is_ queer for a woman to make
free to go without her own dinner to offer help to a stranger in pain.
Not many people, in any sense of the word, go about provided with
eyestones against the chance cinders that may worry others. Something in
this touched Leslie Goldthwaite with a curious sense of a beauty in
living that was not external.

If it had not been for Elinor's mishap and inability to enjoy, it would
have been pure delight from the very beginning, this afternoon's ride.
They had their seats upon the "mountain side," where the view of the
thronging hills was like an ever-moving panorama; as, winding their way
farther and farther up into the heart of the wild and beautiful region,
the horizon seemed continually to fill with always vaster shapes, that
lifted themselves, or emerged, over and from behind each other, like
mustering clans of giants, bestirred and curious, because of the
invasion among their fastnesses of this sprite of steam.

"Where you can come down, I can go up," it seemed to fizz, in its
strong, exulting whisper, to the river; passing it always, yet never
getting by; tracking, step by step, the great stream backward toward its
small beginnings.

"See, there are real blue peaks!" cried Leslie joyously, pointing away
to the north and east where the outlines lay faint and lovely in the far
distance.

"Oh, I wish I could see! I'm losing it all!" said Elinor, plaintively
and blindfold.

"Why don't you try the eyestone?" said Jeannie.

But Elinor shrunk, even yet, from deliberately putting that great thing
in her eye, agonized already by the presence of a mote.

There came a touch on her shoulder, as before. The good woman of the
gray bonnet had come forward from her seat farther down the car.

"I'm going to stop presently," she said, "at East Haverhill; and I
_should_ feel more satisfied in my mind if you'd just let me see you
easy before I go. Besides, if you don't do something quick, the cinder
will get so bedded in, and make such an inflammation, that a dozen
eyestones wouldn't draw it out."

At this terror, poor Elinor yielded, in a negative sort of way. She
ceased to make resistance when her unknown friend, taking the little
twist of paper from the hand still fast closed over it with the
half-conscious grasp of pain, dexterously unrolled it, and produced the
wonderful chalky morsel.

"Now, 'let's see, says the blind man;'" and she drew down hand and
handkerchief with determined yet gentle touch. "Wet it in your own
mouth,"--and the eyestone was between Elinor's lips before she could
refuse or be aware. Then one thumb and finger was held to take it again,
while the other made a sudden pinch at the lower eyelid, and, drawing it
at the outer corner before it could so much as quiver away again, the
little white stone was slid safely under.

"Now 'wink as much as you please,' as the man said that took an
awful-looking daguerreotype of me once. Good-by. Here's where I get out.
And there they all are to meet me." And then, the cars stopping, she
made her way, with her carpet-bag and parasol and a great newspaper
bundle, gathered up hurriedly from goodness knows where, along the
passage, and out upon the platform.

"Why, it's the strangest thing! I don't feel it in the least! Do you
suppose it ever _will_ come out again, Augusta?" cried Elinor, in a tone
greatly altered from any in which she had spoken for two hours.

"Of course it will," cried "Gray-bonnet" from beneath the window. "Don't
be under the least mite of concern about anything but looking out for it
when it does, to keep it against next time."

Leslie saw the plain, kindly woman surrounded in a minute by half a
dozen eager young welcomers and claimants, and a whole history came out
in the unreserved exclamations of the few instants for which the train
delayed.

"Oh, it's _such_ a blessing you've come! I don't know as Emma Jane would
have been married at all if you hadn't!"

"We warn't sure you'd get the letter."

"Or as Aunt Nisby would spare you."

"'Life wanted to come over on his crutches. He's just got his new ones,
and he gets about first-rate. But we wouldn't let him beat himself out
for to-morrow."

"How is 'Life?"

"Hearty as would anyway be consistent--with one-leggedness. He'd never
'a' got back, we all know, if you hadn't gone after him." It was a young
man's voice that spoke these last sentences, and it grew tender at the
end.

"You're to trim the cake," began one of the young girls again, crowding
up. "She says nobody else can. Nobody else _ever_ can. And"--with a
little more mystery--"there's the veil to fix. She says you're used to
wedd'n's and know about veils; and you was down to Lawrence at Lorany's.
And she wants things in _real style_. She's dreadful _pudjicky_, Emma
Jane is; she won't have anything without it's exactly right."

The plain face was full of beaming sympathy and readiness. The
stiff-looking spinster woman, with the "grass in the eaves of her
bonnet,"--grass grown, also, over many an old hope in her own life, may
be,--was here in the midst of young joy and busy interest, making them
all her own; had come on purpose, looked for and hailed as the one
without whom nothing could ever be done,--more tenderly yet, as one but
for whom some brave life and brother love would have gone down. In the
midst of it all she had had ear and answer, to the very last, for the
stranger she had comforted on her way. What difference did it make
whether she wore an old bonnet with green grass in it, or a round hat
with a gay feather? whether she were fifteen or forty-five, but for the
good she had had time to do? whether Lorany's wedding down at Lawrence
had been really a stylish festival or no? There was a beauty here which
verily shone out through all; and such a life should have no time to be
tempted.

The engine panted, and the train sped on. She never met her
fellow-traveler again, but these things Leslie Goldthwaite had learned
from her,--these things she laid by silently in her heart. And the woman
in the gray bonnet never knew the half that she had done.

After taking one through wildernesses of beauty, after whirling one past
nooks where one could gladly linger whole summers, it is strange at what
commonplace and graceless termini these railroads contrive to land one.
Lovely Wells River, where the road makes its sharp angle, and runs back
again until it strikes out eastward through the valley of the
Ammonoosuc; where the waters leap to each other, and the hills bend
round in majestic greeting; where our young party cried out, in an
ignorance at once blessed and pathetic, "Oh, if Littleton should only be
like this, or if we could stop here!"--yet where one cannot stop,
because here there is no regular stage connection, and nothing else to
be found, very probably, that travelers might want, save the outdoor
glory,--Wells River and Woodsville were left behind, lying in the
evening stillness of June,--in the grand and beautiful disregard of
things greater than the world is rushing by to seek,--and for an hour
more they threaded through fair valley sweeps and reaches, past solitary
hillside clearings and detached farms and the most primitive of mountain
hamlets, where the limit and sparseness of neighborhood drew forth from
a gentleman sitting behind them--come, doubtless, from some suburban
home, where numberless household wants kept horse and wagon perpetually
on the way for city or village--the suggestive query, "I wonder what
they do here when they're out of saleratus?"

They brought them up, as against a dead wall of dreariness and
disappointment, at the Littleton station. It had been managed as it
always is: the train had turned most ingeniously into a corner whence
there was scarcely an outlook upon anything of all the magnificence that
must yet be lying close about them; and here was only a tolerably
well-populated country town, filled up to just the point that excludes
the picturesque and does not attain to the highly civilized. And into
the heart of this they were to be borne, and to be shut up there this
summer night, with the full moon flooding mountain and river, and the
woods whispering up their peace to heaven.

It was bad enough, but worse came. The hotel coach was waiting, and they
hastened to secure their seats, giving their checks to the driver, who
disappeared with a handful of these and others, leaving his horses with
the reins tied to the dash-board, and a boy ten years old upon the box.

There were heads out anxiously at either side, between concern for
safety of body and of property. Mrs. Linceford looked uneasily toward
the confused group upon the platform, from among whom luggage began to
be drawn out in a fashion regardless of covers and corners. The large
russet trunk with the black "H,"--the two linen-cased ones with "Hadden"
in full;--the two square bonnet-boxes,--these, one by one, were dragged
and whirled toward the vehicle and jerked upon the rack; but the "ark,"
as they called Mrs. Linceford's huge light French box, and the one
precious receptacle that held all Leslie's pretty outfit, where were
these?

"Those are not all, driver! There is a high black French trunk, and a
russet leather one."

"Got all you give me checks for,--seb'm pieces;" and he pointed to two
strange articles of luggage waiting their turn to be lifted up,--a long,
old-fashioned gray hair trunk, with letters in brass nails upon the lid,
and as antiquated a carpet-bag, strapped and padlocked across the mouth,
suggestive in size and fashion of the United States mail.

"Never saw them before in my life! There's some dreadful mistake! What
_can_ have become of ours?"

"Can't say, ma'am, I'm sure. Don't often happen. But them was your
checks."

Mrs. Linceford leaned back for an instant in a breathless despair. "I
must get out and see."

"If you please, ma'am. But 't ain't no use. The things is all cleared
off." Then, stooping to examine the trunk, and turning over the bag,
"Queer, too. These things is chalked all right for Littleton. Must ha'
been a mistake with the checks, and somebody changed their minds on the
way,--Plymouth, most likely,--and stopped with the wrong baggage.
Wouldn't worry, ma'am; it's as bad for one as for t' other, anyhow, and
they'll be along to-morrow, no kind o' doubt. Strays allers turns up on
this here road. No danger about that. I'll see to havin' these 'ere
stowed away in the baggage-room." And shouldering the bag, he seized the
trunk by the handle and hauled it along over the rough embankment and up
the steps, flaying one side as he went.

"But, dear me! what am I to do?" said Mrs. Linceford piteously.
"Everything in it that I want to-night,--my dressing-box and my wrappers
and my air-cushion; they'll be sure not to have any bolsters on the
beds, and only one feather in each corner of the pillows!"

But this was only the first surprise of annoyance. She recollected
herself on the instant, and leaned back again, saying nothing more. She
had no idea of amusing her unknown stage companions at any length with
her fine-lady miseries. Only, just before they reached the hotel, she
added low to Jeannie, out of the unbroken train of her own private
lamentation, "And my rose-glycerine! After all this dust and heat! I
feel parched to a mummy, and I shall be an object to behold!"

Leslie sat upon her right hand. She leaned closer, and said quickly,
glad of the little power to comfort, "I have some rose-glycerine here in
my bag."

Mrs. Linceford looked round at her; her face was really bright. As if
she had not lost her one trunk also! "You are a phoenix of a traveling
companion, you young thing!" the lady thought, and felt suddenly ashamed
of her own unwonted discomfiture.

Half an hour afterward Leslie Goldthwaite flitted across the passage
between the two rooms they had secured for their party, with a bottle in
her hand and a pair of pillows over her arm. "Ours is a double-bedded
room, too, Mrs. Linceford, and neither Elinor nor I care for more than
one pillow. And here is the rose-glycerine."

These essential comforts, and the instinct of good-breeding, brought the
grace and the smile back fully to Mrs. Linceford's face. More than that,
she felt a gratefulness, and the contagion and emulation of cheerful
patience under a common misfortune. She bent over and kissed Leslie as
she took the bottle from her hand. "You're a dear little sunbeam," she
said. "We'll send an imperative message down the line, and have all our
own traps again to-morrow."

The collar that Elinor Hadden had lent Leslie was not very becoming,
the sleeves had enormous wristbands, and were made for double
sleeve-buttons, while her own were single; moreover, the brown silk net,
which she had supposed thoroughly trustworthy, had given way all at
once into a great hole under the waterfall, and the soft hair would fret
itself through and threaten to stray untidily.

She had two such pretty nets in reserve in her missing trunk, and she
did hate so to be in any way coming to pieces! Yet there was somehow a
feeling that repaid it all, and even quieted the real anxiety as to
the final "turning up" of their fugitive property,--not a mere
self-complacence, hardly a self-complacence at all, but a half-surprised
gladness, that had something thankful in it. If she might not be all
leaves, perhaps, after all! If she really could, even in some slight
thing, care most for the life and spirit underneath, to keep this sweet
and pleasant, and the fruit of it a daily good, and not a bitterness; if
she could begin by holding herself undisturbed, though obliged to wear a
collar that stood up behind and turned over in front with those lappet
corners she had always thought so ugly,--yes, even though the waterfall
should leak out and ripple over stubbornly,--though these things must go
on for twenty-four hours at least, and these twenty-four hours be spent
unwillingly in a dull country tavern, where the windows looked out from
one side into a village street, and from the other into stable and
clothes yards! There would be something for her to do: to keep bright
and help to keep the others bright. There was a hope in it; the life
was more than raiment; it was better worth while than to have only got
on the nice round collar and dainty cuffs that fitted and suited her, or
even the little bead net that came over in a Marie Stuart point so
prettily between the small crimped puffs of her hair.

A little matter, nothing to be self-applauding about,--only a straw;
but--if it showed the possible way of the wind, the motive power that
might be courted to set through her life, taking her out of the
trade-currents of vanity? Might she have it in her, after all? Might she
even be able to come, if need be, to the strength of mind for wearing an
old gray straw bonnet, and bearing to be forty years old, and helping to
adorn the young and beautiful for looks that never--just so--should be
bent again on her?

Leslie Goldthwaite had read of martyr and hero sufferance all her life,
as she had looked upon her poor one-eyed fellow-traveler to-day; the
pang of sympathy had always been: "These things have been borne, are
being borne, in the world; how much of the least of them could I
endure,--I, looking for even the little things of life to be made
smooth?" It depended, she began faintly and afar off to see, upon where
the true life lay; how far behind the mere outer covering vitality
withdrew itself.



CHAPTER IV.


MARMADUKE WHARNE.

Up--up--up,--from glory to glory!

This was what it seemed to Leslie Goldthwaite, riding, that golden June
morning, over the road that threaded along, always climbing, the chain
of hills that _could_ be climbed, into the nearer and nearer presence of
those mountain majesties, penetrating farther and father into the grand
solitudes sentineled forever by their inaccessible pride.

Mrs. Linceford had grown impatient; she had declared it impossible, when
the splendid sunshine of that next day challenged them forth out of
their dull sojourn, to remain there twenty-four hours longer, waiting
for anything. Trunks or none, she would go on, and wait at Jefferson, at
least, where there was something to console one. All possible precaution
was taken; all possible promises were made; the luggage should be sent
on next day,--perhaps that very night; wagons were going and returning
often now; there would be no further trouble, they might rest assured.
The hotel-keeper had a "capital team,"--his very best,--at their
instant service, if they chose to go on this morning; it could be at the
door in twenty minutes. So it was chartered, and ordered round,--an open
mountain wagon, with four horses; their remaining luggage was secured
upon it, and they themselves took their seats gayly.

"Who cares for trunks or boxes now?" Leslie cried out in joyousness,
catching the first, preparatory glimpse of grandeur, when their road,
that wound for a time through the low, wet valley-lands, began to ascend
a rugged hillside, whence opened vistas that hinted something of the
glory that was to come. All the morning long, there wheeled about them,
and smiled out in the sunshine, or changed to grave, grand reticence
under the cloud-shadows, those shapes of might and beauty that filled up
earth and heaven.

Leslie grew silent, with the hours of over-full delight. Thoughts
thronged in upon her. All that had been deepest and strongest in the
little of life that she had lived wakened and lifted again in such
transcendent presence. Only the high places of spirit can answer to
these high places of God in his creation.

Now and then, Jeannie and Elinor fell into their chatter, about their
summer plans, and pleasures, and dress; about New York, and the new
house Mrs. Linceford had taken in West Twenty-ninth Street, where they
were to visit her next winter, and participate for the first time, under
her matronizing, in city gayeties. Leslie wondered how they could; she
only answered when appealed to; she felt as if people were jogging her
elbow, and whispering distractions, in the midst of some noble
eloquence.

The woods had a word for her; a question, and their own sweet answer of
help. The fair June leafage was out in its young glory of vivid green;
it reminded her of her talk with Cousin Delight.

"We _do_ love leaves for their own sake; trees, and vines, and the very
green grass, even." So she said to herself, asking still for the perfect
parable that should solve and teach all.

It came, with the breath of wild grape vines, hidden somewhere in the
wayside thickets. "Under the leaf lies our tiny green blossom," it said;
"and its perfume is out on the air. Folded in the grass-blade is a
feathery bloom, of seed or grain; and by and by the fields will be all
waving with it. Be sure that the blossom is under the leaf."

Elinor Hadden's sweet child-face, always gentle and good-humored, though
visited little yet with the deep touch of earnest thought,--smiling upon
life as life smiled upon her,--looked lovelier to Leslie as this whisper
made itself heard in her heart; and it was with a sweeter patience and a
more believing kindliness that she answered, and tried to enter into,
her next merry words.

There was something different about Jeannie. She was older; there was a
kind of hard determination sometimes with her, in turning from
suggestions of graver things; the child-unconsciousness was no longer
there; something restless, now and then defiant, had taken its place;
she had caught a sound of the deeper voices, but her soul would not yet
turn to listen. She felt the blossom of life yearning under the leaf;
but she bent the green beauty heedfully above it, and made believe it
was not there.

Looking into herself and about her with asking eyes, Leslie had learned
something already by which she apprehended these things of others.
Heretofore, her two friends had seemed to her alike,--able, both of
them, to take life innocently and carelessly as it came; she began now
to feel a difference.

Her eyes were bent away off toward the Franconia hills, when Mrs.
Linceford leaned round to look in them, and spoke, in the tone her voice
had begun to take toward her. She felt one of her strong likings--her
immense fancies, as she called them, which were really warm sympathies
of the best of her with the best she found in the world--for Leslie
Goldthwaite.

"It seems to me you are a _stray_ sunbeam this morning," she said, in
her winning way. "What kind of thoughts are going out so far? What is it
all about?"

A verse of the Psalms was ringing itself in Leslie's mind; had been
there, under all the other vague musings and chance suggestions for many
minutes of her silence. But she would not have spoken it--she _could_
not--for all the world. She gave the lady one of the chance suggestions
instead. "I have been looking down into that lovely hollow; it seems
like a children's party, with all the grave, grown folks looking on."

"Childhood and grown-up-hood; not a bad simile."

It was not, indeed. It was a wild basin, within a group of the lesser
hills close by; full of little feathery birches, that twinkled and
played in the light breeze and gorgeous sunshine slanting in upon them
between the slopes that lay in shadow above,--slopes clothed with ranks
of dark pines and cedars and hemlocks, looking down seriously, yet with
a sort of protecting tenderness, upon the shimmer and frolic they seemed
to have climbed up out of. Those which stood in the half way shadow were
gravest. Hoar old stems upon the very tops were touched with the
self-same glory that lavished itself below. This also was no less a true
similitude.

"Know ye not this parable?" the Master said. "How then shall ye know
all parables?" Verily, they lie about us by the wayside, and the whole
earth is vocal with the wisdom of the Lord.

I cannot go with our party step by step; I have a summer to spend with
them. They came to Jefferson at noon, and sat themselves down in the
solemn high court and council of the mountain kings. First, they must
have rooms. In the very face of majesty they must settle their traps.

"You are lucky in coming in for one vacancy, made to-day," the
proprietor said, throwing open a door that showed them a commodious
second-floor corner-room, looking each way with broad windows upon the
circle of glory, from Adams to Lafayette. A wide balcony ran along the
southern side against the window which gave that aspect. There were two
beds here, and two at least of the party must be content to occupy. Mrs.
Linceford, of course; and it was settled that Jeannie should share it
with her.

Upstairs, again, was choice of two rooms,--one flight, or two. But the
first looked out westward, where was comparatively little of what they
had come for. Higher up, they could have the same outlook that the
others had; a slanting ceiling opened with dormer window full upon the
grandeur of Washington, and a second faced southward to where beautiful
blue, dreamy Lafayette lay soft against the tender heaven.

"Oh, let us have this!" said Leslie eagerly. "We don't mind stairs." And
so it was settled.

"Only two days here?" they began to say, when they gathered in Mrs.
Linceford's room at nearly tea-time, after a rest and freshening of
their toilets.

"We might stay longer," Mrs. Linceford answered. "But the rooms are
taken for us at Outledge, and one can't settle and unpack, when it's
only a lingering from day to day. All there is here one sees from the
windows. A great deal, to be sure; but it's all there at the first
glance. We'll see how we feel on Friday."

"The Thoresbys are here, Augusta. I saw Ginevra on the balcony just now.
They seem to have a large party with them. And I'm sure I heard them
talk of a hop to-night. If your trunks would only come!"

"They could not in time. They can only come in the train that reaches
Littleton at six."

"But you'll go in, won't you? 'T isn't likely they dress much
here,--though Ginevra Thoresby always dresses. Elinor and I could just
put on our blue grenadines, and you've got plenty of things in your
other boxes. One of your shawls is all you want, and we can lend Leslie
something."

"I've only my thick traveling boots," said Leslie; "and I shouldn't
feel fit without a thorough dressing. It won't matter the first night,
will it?"

"Leslie Goldthwaite, you're getting slow! Augusta!"

"As true as I live, there is old Marmaduke Wharne!"

"Let Augusta alone for not noticing a question till she chooses to
answer it," said Jeannie Hadden, laughing. "And who, pray, is Marmaduke
Wharne? With a name like that, if you didn't say 'old,' I should make up
my mind to a real hero, right out of a book."

"He's an original. And--yes--he is a hero,--_out_ of a book, too, in his
way. I met him at Catskill last summer. He stayed there the whole
season, till they shut the house up and drove him down the mountain.
Other people came and went, took a look, and ran away; but he was a
fixture. He says he always does so,--goes off somewhere and 'finds an
Ararat,' and there drifts up and sticks fast. In the winter he's in New
York; but that's a needle in a haystack. I never heard of him till I
found him at Catskill. He's an English-man, and they say had more to his
name once. It was Wharne_cliffe_, or Wharne_leigh_, or something, and
there's a baronetcy in the family. I don't doubt, myself, that it's his,
and that a part of his oddity has been to drop it. He was a poor
preacher, years ago; and then, of a sudden, he went out to England, and
came back with plenty of money, and since then he's been an apostle and
missionary among the poor. That's his winter work; the summers, as I
said, he spends in the hills. Most people are half afraid of him; for
he's one you'll get the blunt truth from, if you never got it before.
But come, there's the gong,--ugh! how they batter it! and we must get
through tea and out upon the balcony, to see the sunset and the 'purple
light.' There's no time now, girls, for blue grenadines; and it's always
vulgar to come out in a hurry with dress in a strange place." And Mrs.
Linceford gave a last touch to her hair, straightened the things on her
dressing-table, shut down the lid of a box, and led the way from the
room.

Out upon the balcony they watched the long, golden going down of the
sun, and the creeping shadows, and the purple half-light, and the
after-smile upon the crests. And then the heaven gathered itself in its
night stillness, and the mountains were grand in the soft gloom, until
the full moon came up over Washington.

There had been a few words of recognition with the Thoresby party, and
then our little group had betaken itself to the eastern end of the
piazza. After a while, one by one, the others strayed away, and they
were left almost alone. There was a gathering and a sound of voices
about the drawing-room, and presently came the tones of the piano,
struck merrily. They jarred, somehow, too; for the ringing, thrilling
notes of a horn, blown below, had just gone down the diminishing echoes
from cliff to cliff, and died into a listening silence, away over, one
could not tell where, beyond the mysterious ramparts.

"It's getting cold," said Jeannie impatiently. "I think we've stayed
here long enough. Augusta, _don't_ you mean to get a proper shawl, and
put some sort of lace thing on your head, and come in with us for a
look, at least, at the hop? Come, Nell; come, Leslie; you might as well
be at home as in a place like this, if you're only going to mope."

"It seems to me," said Leslie, more to herself than to Jeannie, looking
over upon the curves and ridges and ravines of Mount Washington, showing
vast and solemn under the climbing moon, "as if we had got into a
cathedral!"

"And the 'great nerve' was being touched! Well,--that don't make _me_
shiver. Besides, I didn't come here to shiver. I've come to have a right
good time; and to look at the mountains--as much as is reasonable."

It was a pretty good definition of what Jeannie Hadden thought she had
come into the world for. There was subtle indication in it, also, that
the shadow of some doubt had not failed to touch her either, and that
this with her was less a careless instinct than a resolved conclusion.

Elinor, in her happy good-humor, was ready for either thing: to stay in
the night splendor longer, or to go in. It ended in their going in.
Outside, the moon wheeled on in her long southerly circuit, the stars
trembled in their infinite depths, and the mountains abided in awful
might. Within was a piano tinkle of gay music, and demi-toilette, and
demi-festival,--the poor, abridged reproduction of city revelry in the
inadequate parlor of an unpretending mountain-house, on a three-ply
carpet.

Marmaduke Wharne came and looked in at the doorway. Mrs. Linceford rose
from her seat upon the sofa close by, and gave him courteous greeting.
"The season has begun early, and you seem likely to have a pleasant
summer here," she said, with the half-considered meaning of a common
fashion of speech.

"No, madam!" answered Marmaduke Wharne, out of his real thought, with a
blunt emphasis.

"You think not?" said Mrs. Linceford suavely, in a quiet amusement. "It
looks rather like it to-night."

"_This?_--It's no use for people to bring their bodies to the
mountains, if they can't bring souls in them!" And Marmaduke Wharne
turned on his heel, and, without further courtesy, strode away.

"What an old Grimgriffinhoof!" cried Jeannie under her breath; and
Elinor laughed her little musical laugh of fun.

Mrs. Linceford drew up her shawl, and sat down again, the remnant of a
well-bred smile upon her face. Leslie Goldthwaite rather wished old
Marmaduke Wharne would come back again and say more. But this first
glimpse of him was all they got to-night.



CHAPTER V.


HUMMOCKS.

      "Blown crystal clear by Freedom's northern wind."

Leslie said the last line of Whittier's glorious mountain sonnet, low,
to herself, standing on the balcony again that next morning, in the
cold, clear breeze; the magnificent lines of the great earth-masses
rearing themselves before her sharply against a cloudless morning sky,
defining and revealing themselves anew.

"Freedom's northern wind will take all the wave out of your hair, and
give you a red nose!" said Jeannie, coming round from her room, and upon
Leslie unaware.

Well, Jeannie _was_ a pretty thing to look at, in her delicate blue
cambric morning dress, gracefully braided with white, with the fresh
rose of recent sleep in her young cheeks, and the gladness of young life
in her dark eyes. One might look away from the mountains to look at her;
for, after all, the human beauty is the highest. Only, it must express
high things, or at last one turns aside.

"And there comes Marmaduke; he's worse than the north wind. I can't
stay to be 'blown clear' by him." And Jeannie, in high, merry
good-humor, flitted off. It is easy to be merry and good-humored when
one's new dress fits exquisitely, and one's hair hasn't been fractious
in the doing up.

Leslie had never, apparently to herself, cared less, somehow, for self
and little vanities; it seemed as if it were going to be quite easy for
her, now and henceforth, to care most for the nobler things of life. The
great mountain enthusiasm had seized her for the first time and swept
away before it all meaner thought; and, besides, her trunk had been left
behind, and she had nothing to put herself into but her plain brown
traveling dress.

She let the wind play with the puffs of her hair, and send some little
light locks astray about her forehead. She wrapped her shawl around her,
and went and sat where she had sat the night before, at the eastern end
of the balcony, her face toward the morning hills, as it had been toward
the evening radiance and purple shade. Marmaduke Wharne was moving up
and down, stopping a little short of her when he turned, keeping his own
solitude as she kept hers. Faces and figures glanced out at the
hall-door for an instant each, and the keen salute of the north wind
sent them invariably in again. Nobody wanted to go with a red nose or
tossed hair to the breakfast-table; and breakfast was almost ready. But
presently Mrs. Linceford came, and, seeing Mr. Wharne, who always
interested and amused her, she ventured forth, bidding him good-morning.

"Good-morning, madam. It _is_ a good morning."

"A little sharp, isn't it?" she said, shrugging her shoulders together,
irresolute about further lingering. "Ah, Leslie? Let me introduce you to
the Reverend Mr. Wharne. My young friend and traveling companion, Miss
Leslie Goldthwaite, Mr. Wharne. Have you two driven everybody else off,
or is it the nipping air?"

"I think it is either that they have not said their prayers this
morning, or that they don't know their daily bread when they see it.
They think it is only saleratus cakes and maple molasses."

"As cross this morning as last night?" the lady questioned playfully.

"Not cross at all, Mrs. Linceford. Only jarred upon continually by these
people we have here just now. It was different two years ago. But
Jefferson is getting to be too well known. The mountain places are being
spoiled, one after another."

"People will come. You can't help that."

"Yes, they will come, and frivel about the gates, without ever once
entering in. 'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who shall
stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who
hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity.'"

Leslie Goldthwaite's face quickened and glowed; they were the psalm
lines that had haunted her thought yesterday, among the opening visions
of the hill-country. Marmaduke Wharne bent his keen eyes upon her, from
under their gray brows, noting her narrowly. She wist not that she was
noted, or that her face shone.

"One soul here, at least!" was what the stern old man said to himself in
that moment.

He was cynical and intolerant here among the mountains, where he felt
the holy places desecrated, and the gift of God unheeded. In the haunts
of city misery and vice,--misery and vice shut in upon itself, with no
broad outlook to the heavens,--he was tender, with the love of Christ
himself.

"'My house shall be called the house of prayer, but these have made it a
den of thieves.' It is true not alone of the temples built with hands."

"Is that fair? How do you _know_, Mr. Wharne?" The sudden, impetuous
questions come from Leslie Goldthwaite.

"I see--what I see."

"The whole?" said Leslie, more restrainedly. She remembered her respect
for age and office. Yet she felt sorely tempted, shy, proud girl as she
was, to take up cudgels for her friends, at least. Mr. Wharne liked her
the better for that.

"They turn away from this, with five words,--the toll of custom,--or
half a look, when the wind is north; and they go in to what you saw last
night."

"After all, isn't it just _enjoyment_, either way? Mayn't one be as
selfish as the other? People were kind, and bright, and pleasant with
each other last night. Is that a bad thing?"

"No, little girl, it is not." And Marmaduke Wharne came nearer to
Leslie, and looked at her with a gentle look that was wonderfully
beautiful upon his stern gray face. "Only, I would have a kindness that
should go deep,--coming from a depth. There are two things for live men
and women to do: to receive, from God; and to give out, to their
fellows. One cannot be done without the other. No fruit, without the
drinking of the sunshine. No true tasting of the sunshine that is not
gathering itself toward the ripening of fruit."

Here it was again; more teaching to the self-same point,--as we always
do get it, with a seeming strangeness, whether it be for mind only, or
for soul. You never heard of a new name, or fact in history, that did
not come out again presently in some fresh or further mention or
allusion. It is the tender training of Him before whom our life is of
so great value.

At this moment, the gong sounded again; saleratus cakes and maple
molasses were ready, and they all went in.

Leslie saw Imogen Thoresby change seats with her mother, because the
draught from the door was less in her place; and take the pale top cake
from the plate, leaving a brown one for the mother. Everybody likes
brown cakes best; and it was very unbecoming to sit opposite a great,
unshaded window, to say nothing of the draught. Surely a little blossom
peeped out here from under the leaf. Leslie thought Imogen Thoresby
might be forgiven for having done her curls so elaborately, and put on
such an elegant wrapper; even for having ventured only a half-look out
at the balcony door, when she found the wind was north. The parable was
already teaching her both ways.

I do not mean to preach upon every page. I have begun by trying to tell
you how a great influencing thought was given into Leslie Goldthwaite's
life, and began to unravel for her perplexing questions that had
troubled her,--questions that come, I think, to many a young girl just
entering upon the world, as they came to her; how, in the simple history
of her summer among the mountains, a great deal solved itself and grew
clear. I would like to succeed in making you divine this, as you follow
out the simple history itself.

"Just in time!" cried Jeannie Hadden, running up into Leslie's room at
mid-afternoon that day. "There's a stage over from Littleton, and your
trunk is being brought up this minute."

"And the hair-trunk and the mail-bag came on, too, after all, and the
queerest people with them!" added Elinor, entering behind her.

They both stood back and were silent, as a man came heavily along the
passage with the trunk upon his shoulder. He set it down and unfastened
the straps, and in a minute more was gone, and Leslie had the lid open.
All there, just as it had been in her own room at home three days ago.
Her face brightened, seeing her little treasures again. She had borne it
well; she had been able to enjoy without them; but she was very glad
that they were come.

"It's nice that dinner is at lunch-time here, and that nobody dresses
until now. Make haste, and get on something pretty. Augusta won't let us
get out organdies, but we're determined on the blue grenadines. It's
awfully hot,--hot enough for anything. Do your hair over the high rats,
just for once."

"I always get into such a fuss with them, and I can't bear to waste the
time. How will this do?" Leslie unpinned from its cambric cover a gray
iron barége, with a narrow puffing round the hem of the full skirt and
the little pointed bertha cape. With it lay bright cherry ribbons for
the neck and hair.

"Lovely! Make haste and come down to our room." And having to dress
herself, Jeannie ran off again, and Elinor shut the door.

It was nice to have on everything fresh; to have got her feet into
rosetted slippers instead of heavy balmoral boots; to feel the lightness
and grace of her own movement as she went downstairs and along the halls
in floating folds of delicate barége, after wearing the close,
uncomfortable traveling-dress, with the sense of dust and fatigue that
clung about it; to have a little flutter of bright ribbon in her hair,
that she knew was, as Elinor said, "the prettiest part of her." It was
pleasant to see Mrs. Linceford looked pleased, as she opened her door to
her, and to have her say, "You always do get on exactly the right
thing!" There was a fresh feeling of pleasure even in looking over at
Washington, sun-lighted and shadowed in his miles of heights and depths,
as she sat by the cool east window, feeling quite her dainty self again.
Dress is but the outside thing, as beauty is but "skin deep;" but there
is a deal of inevitable skin-sensation, pleasurable or uncomfortable,
and Leslie had a good right to be thoroughly comfortable now.

The blinds to the balcony window were closed; that led to a funny little
episode presently,--an odd commentary on the soul-and-body question, as
it had come up to them in graver fashion.

Outside, to two chairs just under the window, came a couple newly
arrived,--the identical proprietors of the exchanged luggage. It was an
elderly countryman, and his home-bred, matter-of-fact wife. They, too,
had had their privations and anxieties, and the outset of their
evidently unusual travels had been marred in its pleasure. In plain
truth, the good woman was manifestly soured by her experience.

Right square before the blinds she turned her back, unconscious of the
audience within, lifted her elbows, like clothes-poles, to raise her
draperies, and settled herself with a dissatisfied flounce, that
expressed beforehand what she was about to put in words. "For _my_
part," she announced deliberately, "I think the White Mountains is a
clear--_hummux!_"

"Good large hummocks, anyway," returned her companion.

"You know what I mean. 'T ain't worth comin' for. Losin' baggage, an'
everything. We'd enough sight better ha' stayed at Plymouth. An' if it
hadn't 'a' ben for your dunderheadedness, givin' up the checks an' never
stoppin' to see what was comin' of 'em, trunks or hencoops, we might.
There's somethin' to see, there. That little bridge leadin' over to the
swings and seats across the river was real pretty and pleasant. And the
cars comin' in an' startin' off, right at the back door, made it lively.
I alwers _did_ like to see passin.'"

The attitudes inside the blinds were something, at this moment. Mrs.
Linceford, in a spasm of suppressed laughter herself, held her
handkerchief to her lips with one hand, and motioned peremptory silence
to the girls with the other. Jeannie was noiselessly clapping her hands,
and dancing from one toe to the other with delight. Leslie and Elinor
squeezed each other's fingers lightly, and leaned forward together,
their faces brimming over with fun; and the former whispered with
emphatic pantomime to Mrs. Linceford, "_If_ Mr. Wharne were only here!"

"You've ben worried," said the man. "And you've ben comin' up to 'em
gradooal. You don't take 'em in. If one of these 'ere hills was set out
in our fields to home, you'd think it was something more than a hummock,
I guess."

"Well, why ain't they, then? It's the best way to put things where you
can see 'em to an advantage. They're all in the way of each other here,
and don't show for nothing to speak of. Worried! I guess I hev ben! I
shan't git over it till I've got home an' ben settled down a week. It's
a mercy I've ever laid eyes agin on that bran'-new black alpacky!"

"Well, p'r'aps the folks felt wuss that lost them stylish-lookin'
trunks. I'll bet they had something more in 'em than black alpackys."

"That don't comfort me none. I've had _my_ tribulation."

"Well, come, don't be grouty, Hannah. We've got through the wust of it,
and if you ain't satisfied, why, we'll go back to Plymouth again. I can
stand it awhile, I guess, if 't _is_ four dollars a day."

He had evidently sat still a good while for him, honest man; and he got
up with this, and began to pace up and down, looking at the "hummocks,"
which signified greater meanings to him than to his wife.

Mrs. Linceford came over and put the window down. It was absolutely
necessary to laugh now, however much of further entertainment might be
cut off.

Hannah jumped up, electrified, as the sash went down behind her.

"John! John! There's folks in there!"

"S'pose likely," said John, with quiet relish of amends. "What's good
for me 'ill do for them!"



CHAPTER VI.


DAKIE THAYNE.

"Grimgriffinhoof won't speak to you to-night," said Jeannie Hadden,
after tea, upon the balcony.

She was mistaken. There was something different, still, in Leslie
Goldthwaite's look, as she came out under the sunset light, from the
looks that prevailed in the Thoresby group when they, too, made their
appearance. The one moved self-forgetfully,--her consciousness and
thought sent forth, not fluttering in her robes and ribbons; with the
others there was a little air and bustle, as of people coming into an
opera-box in presence of a full house. They said "lovely!" and
"splendid!" of course,--their little word of applause for the scenic
grandeur of mountain and heaven, and then the half of them turned their
backs upon it, and commenced talking together about whether waterfalls
were really to be given up or not, and of how people were going to look
in high-crowned bonnets.

Mrs. Linceford told the "hummux" story to Marmaduke Wharne. The old man
laughed till the Thoresby party turned to see.

"But I like one thing," he said. "The woman was honest. Her 'black
alpacky' was most to her, and she owned up to it."

The regular thing being done, outside, the company drifted back, as the
shadows fell, to the parlor again. Mrs. Linceford's party moved also,
and drifted with the rest. Marmaduke Wharne, quite graciously, walked
after. The Lancers was just forming.

"The bear is playing tame and amiable," whispered Jeannie. "But he'll
eat you up, for all that. I wouldn't trust him. He's going to watch, to
see how wicked you'll be."

"I shall let him see," replied Leslie quietly.

"Miss Goldthwaite, you're for the dance to-night? For the 'bright and
kind and pleasant,' eh?" the "bear" said, coming to her side within the
room.

"If anybody asks me," answered Leslie, with brave simplicity. "I like
dancing--_very_ much."

"I'll find you a partner, then," said Mr. Wharne.

She looked up, surprised; but he was quite in earnest. He walked across
the room, and brought back with him a lad of thirteen or so,--well grown
for his age, and bright and manly-looking; but only a boy, and a little
shy and stiff at first, as boys have to be for a while. Leslie had seen
him before, in the afternoon, rolling the balls through a solitary game
of croquet; and afterward taking his tea by himself at the lower end of
the table. He had seemed to belong to nobody, and as yet hardly to have
got the "run" of the place.

"This is Master Thayne, Miss Leslie Goldthwaite, and I think he would
like to dance, if you please."

Master Thayne made a proper bow, and glanced up at the young girl with a
smile lurking behind the diffidence in his face. Leslie smiled outright,
and held out her hand.

It was not a brilliant début, perhaps. The Haddens had been appropriated
by a couple of youths in frock coats and orthodox kids, with a suspicion
of mustaches; and one of the Thoresbys had a young captain of cavalry,
with gold bars on his shoulders. Elinor Hadden raised her pretty
eyebrows, and put as much of a mock-miserable look into her happy little
face as it could hold, when she found her friend, so paired, at her
right hand.

"It's very good of you to stand up with me," said the boy simply. "It's
awful slow, not knowing anybody."

"Are you here alone?" asked Leslie.

"Yes; there was nobody to come with me. Oliver--my brother--will come
by and by, and perhaps my uncle and the rest of them, to meet me where
I'm to be, down among the mountains. We're all broken up this summer,
and I'm to take care of myself."

"Then you don't stay here?"

"No; I only came this way to see what it was like. I've got a jolly
place engaged for me, at Outledge."

"Outledge? Why, we are going there!"

"Are you? That's--jolly!" repeated the boy, pausing a second for a
fresher or politer word, but unable to supply a synonym.

"I'm glad you think so," answered Leslie, with her genuine smile again.

The two had already made up their minds to be friends. In fact, Master
Thayne would hardly have acquiesced in being led up for introduction to
any other young girl in the room. There had been something in Leslie
Goldthwaite's face that had looked kind and sisterly to him. He had no
fear of a snub with her; and these things Mr. Wharne had read, in his
behalf, as well.

"He's a queer old fellow, that Mr. Wharne, isn't he?" pursued Master
Thayne, after forward and back, as he turned his partner to place. "But
he's the only one that's had anything to say to me, and I like him.
I've been down to the old mill with him to-day. Those people"--motioning
slightly toward the other set, where the Thoresbys were dancing--"were
down there, too. You'd ought to have seen them look! Don't they hate
him, though?"

"Hate him? Why should they do that?"

"Oh, I don't know. People feel each other out, I suppose. And a word of
his is as much as a whole preach of anybody's else. He says a word now
and then, and it hits."

"Yes," responded Leslie, laughing.

"What _did_ you do it for?" whispered Elinor, in hands across.

"I like him; he's got something to say," returned Leslie.

"Augusta's looking at you, like a hen after a stray chicken. She's all
but clucking now."

"Mr. Wharne will tell her."

But Mr. Wharne was not in the room. He came back just as Leslie was
making her way again, after the dance, to Mrs. Linceford.

"Will you do a galop with me presently?--if you don't get a better
partner, I mean," said Master Thayne.

"That wouldn't be much of a promise," answered Leslie, smiling. "I will,
at any rate; that is, if--after I've spoken to Mrs. Linceford."

Mr. Wharne came up and said something to young Thayne, just then; and
the latter turned eagerly to Leslie. "The telescope's fixed, out on the
balcony; and you can see Jupiter and three of his moons! We must make
haste, before _our_ moon's up."

"Will you go and look, Mrs. Linceford?" asked Mr. Wharne of the lady, as
Leslie reached her side.

They went with him, and Master Thayne followed. Jeannie and Elinor and
the Miss Thoresbys were doing the inevitable promenade after the
dance,--under difficulties.

"Who is your young friend?" inquired Mrs. Linceford, with a shade of
doubt in her whisper, as they came out on the balcony.

"Master"--Leslie began to introduce, but stopped. The name, which she
had not been quite certain of, escaped her.

"My name is Dakie Thayne," said the boy, with a bow to the matron.

"Now, Mrs. Linceford, if you'll just sit here," said Mr. Wharne, placing
a chair. "I suppose I ought to have come to you first; but it's all
right," he added, in a low tone, over her shoulder. "He's a nice boy."

And Mrs. Linceford put her eye to the telescope. "Dakie Thayne! It's a
queer name; and yet it seems as if I had heard it before," she said,
looking away through the mystic tube into space, and seeing Jupiter with
his moons, in a fair round picture framed expressly to her eye; yet
sending a thought, at the same time, up and down the lists of a mental
directory, trying to place Dakie Thayne among people she had heard of.

"I'll be responsible for the name," answered Marmaduke Wharne.

"'Dakie' is a nickname, of course; but they always call me so, and I
like it best," the boy was explaining to Leslie, while they waited in
the doorway.

Then her turn came. Leslie had never looked through a telescope upon the
stars before. She forgot the galop, and the piano tinkled out its gayest
notes unheard. "It seems like coming all the way back," she said, when
she moved away for Dakie Thayne.

Then they wheeled the telescope upon its pivot eastward, and met our own
moon coming up, as if in a grand jealousy, to assert herself within her
small domain, and put out faint, far satellites of lordlier planets.
They looked upon her mystic, glistening hill-tops, and down her awful
craters; and from these they seemed to drop a little, as a bird might,
and alight on the earth-mountains looming close at hand, with their
huge, rough crests and sides, and sheer escarpments white with
nakedness; and so--got home again. Leslie, with her maps and gazetteer,
had done no traveling like this.

She would not have cared, if she had known, that Imogen Thoresby was
looking for her within, to present, at his own request, the cavalry
captain. She did not know in the least, absorbed in her pure enjoyment,
that Marmaduke Wharne was deliberately trying her, and confirming his
estimate of her, in these very things.

She danced her galop with Dakie Thayne, after she went back. The cavalry
captain was introduced, and asked for it. "That was something," as Hans
Andersen would say; but "What a goose not to have managed better!" was
what Imogen Thoresby thought concerning it, as the gold bars turned
themselves away.

Leslie Goldthwaite had taken what came to her, and she had had an
innocent, merry time; she had been glad to be dressed nicely, and to
look her best: but somehow she had not thought of that much, after all;
the old uncomfortableness had not troubled her to-night.

"_Just to be in better business_. That's the whole of it," she thought
to herself, with her head upon the pillow. She put it in words,
mentally, in the same off-hand fashion in which she would have spoken
it to Cousin Delight. "One must look out for that, and keep at it.
_That's_ the eye-stone-woman's way; and it's what has kept me from
worrying and despising myself to-night. It only happened so, this time;
it was Mr. Wharne, not I. But I suppose one can always find something,
by trying. And the trying"--The rest wandered off into a happy musing;
and the musing merged into a dream.

Object and motive,--the "seeking first;" she had touched upon that, at
last, with a little comprehension of its working.

She liked Dakie Thayne. The next day they saw a good deal of him; he
joined himself gradually, but not obtrusively, to their party; they
included him in their morning game of croquet. This was at her instance;
he was standing aside, not expecting to be counted in, though he had
broken off his game of solitaire, and driven the balls up to the
starting-stake, as they came out upon the ground. The Thoresby set had
ignored him, always, being too many already among themselves,--and he
was only a boy.

This morning there were only Imogen, and Etty, the youngest; a
walking-party had gone off up the Cherry Mountain road, and Ginevra was
upstairs, packing; for the Thoresbys had also suddenly decided to leave
for Outledge on the morrow. Mrs. Thoresby declared, in confidence, to
Mrs. Linceford, that "old Wharne would make any house intolerable; and
that Jefferson, at any rate, was no place for more than a week's stay."
She "wouldn't have it mentioned in the house, however, that she was
going, till the time came,--it made such an ado; and everybody's plans
were at loose ends among the mountains, ready to fix themselves to
anything at a day's notice; they might have tomorrow's stage loaded to
crushing, if they did not take care."

"But I thought Mrs. Devreaux and the Klines were with you," remarked
Mrs. Linceford.

"Of our party? Oh, no indeed; we only fell in with them here."

"Fell in" with them; became inseparable for a week; and now were
stealing a march,--_dodging_ them,--lest there might be an overcrowding
of the stage, and an impossibility of getting outside seats! Mrs.
Thoresby was a woman of an imposing elegance and dignity, with her large
curls of resplendent gray hair high up on her temples, her
severely-handsome dark eyebrows, and her own perfect, white teeth; yet
she could do a shabby thing, you see,--a thing made shabby by its
motive. The Devreaux and Klines were only "floating people," boarding
about,--not permanently valuable as acquaintances; well enough to know
when one met them,--that was all. Mrs. Thoresby had daughters; she was
obliged to calculate as to what was worth while. Mrs. Linceford had an
elegant establishment in New York; she had young sisters to bring out;
there was suitability here; and the girls would naturally find
themselves happy together.

Dakie Thayne developed brilliantly at croquet. He and Leslie, with Etty
Thoresby, against Imogen and the Haddens, swept triumphantly around the
course, and came in to the stake, before there had been even a "rover"
upon the other side. Except, indeed, as they were _sent_ roving, away
off over the bank and down the road, from the sloping, uneven
ground,--the most extraordinary field, in truth, on which croquet was
ever attempted. But then you cannot expect a level, velvet lawn on the
side of a mountain.

"Children always get the best of it at croquet,--when they know anything
at all," said Imogen Thoresby discontentedly, throwing down her mallet.
"You 'poked' awfully, Etty."

Etty began an indignant denial; unable to endure the double accusation
of being a child,--she, a girl in her fourteenth year,--and of "poking."
But Imogen walked away quite unconcernedly, and Jeannie Hadden followed
her. These two, as nearest in age, were growing intimate. Ginevra was
almost too old,--she was twenty.

They played a four-ball game then; Leslie and Etty against Elinor and
Dakie Thayne. But Elinor declared--laughing, all the same, in her
imperturbably good-natured way--that not only Etty's pokes were against
her, but that Dakie would _not_ croquet Leslie's ball downhill. Nothing
ever really put Elinor Hadden out, the girls said of her, except when
her hair wouldn't go up; and then it was funny to see her. It was a
sunbeam in a snarl, or a snow flurry out of a blue sky. This in
parenthesis, however; it was quite true, as she alleged, that Dakie
Thayne had taken up already that chivalrous attitude toward Leslie
Goldthwaite which would not let him act otherwise than as her loyal
knight, even though opposed to her at croquet.

"You'll have enough of that boy," said Mrs. Linceford, when Leslie came
in, and found her at her window that overlooked the wickets. "There's
nothing like a masculine creature of that age for adoring and
monopolizing a girl two or three years older. He'll make you mend his
gloves, and he'll beg your hair-ribbons for hat-strings; and when you're
not dancing or playing croquet with him, he'll be after you with some
boy-hobby or other, wanting you to sympathize and help. 'I know their
tricks and their manners.'" But she looked amused and kind while she
threatened, and Leslie only smiled back and said nothing.

Presently fresh fun gathered in Mrs. Linceford's eyes. "You're making
queer friends, child, do you know, at the beginning of your travels? We
shall have Cocky-locky, and Turkey-lurky, and Goosie-poosie, and all the
rest of them, before we get much farther. Don't breathe a word, girls,"
she went on, turning toward them all, and brimming over with merriment
and mischief;--"but there's the best joke brewing. It's just like a
farce. Is the door shut, Elinor? And are the Thoresbys gone upstairs?
They're going with us, you know? And there's nothing to be said about
it? And it's partly to get away from Marmaduke Wharne? Well, _he_'s
going, too. And it's greatly because they're spoiling the place for him
here. He thinks he'll try Outledge; and there's nothing to be said about
that, either! And I'm the unhappy depositary of all their complaints and
secrets. And if nobody's stopped, they'll all be off in the stage with
us to-morrow morning! I couldn't help telling you, for it was too good
to keep."

The secrets were secrets through the day; and Mrs. Linceford had her
quiet fun, and opportunity for her demure teasing.

"How long since Outledge was discovered and settled?--by the moderns, I
mean," said Mr. Wharne. "What chance will one really have of quiet
there?"

"Well, really, to be honest, Mr. Wharne, I'm afraid Outledge will be
just at the rampant stage this summer. It's the second year of anything
like general accommodation, and everybody has just heard of it, and it's
the knowing and stylish thing to go there. For a week or two it may be
quiet; but then there'll be a jam. There'll be hops, and tableaux, and
theatricals, of course; interspersed with 'picnicking at the tomb of
Jehoshaphat,' or whatever mountain solemnity stands for that. It'll be
human nature right over again, be assured, Mr. Wharne."

Yet, somehow, Mr. Wharne would not be frightened from his
determination,--until the evening; when plans came out, and good-bys and
wonders and lamentations began.

"Yes, we have decided quite suddenly; the girls want to see Outledge,
and there's a pleasant party of friends, you know,--one can't always
have that. We shall probably fill a stage: so they will take us through,
instead of dropping us at the Crawford House." In this manner Mrs.
Thoresby explained to her dear friend, Mrs. Devreaux.

"We shall be quite sorry to lose you all. But it would only have been a
day or so longer, at any rate. Our rooms are engaged for the fifteenth,
at Saratoga; we've very little time left for the mountains, and it
wouldn't be worth while to go off the regular track. We shall probably
go down to the Profile on Saturday."

And then--_da capo_--"Jefferson was no place really to _stay_ at; you
got the whole in the first minute," etc., etc.

"Good-night, Mrs. Linceford. I'm going up to unpack my valise and make
myself comfortable again. All things come round, or go by, I find, if
one only keeps one's self quiet. But I shall look in upon you at
Outledge yet." These were the stairway words of Marmaduke Wharne
to-night.

"'One gets the whole in the first minute'! How can they keep saying
that? Look, Elinor, and see if you can tell me where we are?" was
Leslie's cry, as, early next morning, she drew up her window-shade, to
look forth--on what?

Last night had lain there, underneath them, the great basin between
Starr King, behind, and the roots of that lesser range, far down, above
which the blue Lafayette uprears itself: an enormous valley, filled with
evergreen forest, over whose tall pines and cedars one looked, as if
they were but juniper and blueberry bushes; far up above whose heads the
real average of the vast mountain-country heaped itself in swelling
masses,--miles and miles of beetling height and solid breadth. This
morning it was gone; only the great peaks showed themselves, as a
far-off, cliff-bound shore, or here and there a green island in a vast,
vaporous lake. The night-chill had come down among the heights,
condensing the warm exhalations of the valley-bosom that had been shone
into all day yesterday by the long summer sun; till, when he lifted
himself once more out of the east, sending his leaping light from crest
to crest, white fallen clouds were tumbling and wreathing themselves
about the knees and against the mighty bosoms of the giants, and at
their feet the forest was a sea.

"We must dress, and we must look!" exclaimed Leslie, as the early
summons came for them. "Oh dear! oh dear! if we were only like the
birds! or if all this would wait till we get down!"

"Please drop the shade just a minute, Les. This glass is in such a
horrid light! I don't seem to have but half a face, and I can't tell
which is the up-side of that! And--oh dear! I've no _time_ to get into a
fuss!" Elinor had not disdained the beauty and wonder without; but it
was, after all, necessary to be dressed, and in a given time; and a bad
light for a looking-glass is such a disastrous thing!

"I've brushed out half my crimps," she said, again; "and my ruffle is
basted in wrong side out, and altogether I'm got up _à la furieuse_!"
But she laughed before she had done scolding, catching sight of her own
exaggerated little frown in the distorting glass, that was unable, with
all its malice, to spoil the bright young face when it came to smiles
and dimples.

And then Jeannie came knocking at the door. They had spare minutes,
after all, and the mists were yet tossing in the valley when they went
down. They were growing filmy, and floating away in shining fragments up
over the shoulders of the hills, and the lake was lower and less, and
the emerging green was like the "Thousand Islands."

They waited a little there, in the wide, open door together, and looked
out upon it; and then the Haddens went round into their sister's room,
and Leslie was left alone in the rare, sweet, early air. The secret joy
came whispering at her heart again: that there was all this in the
world, and that one need not be utterly dull and mean, and dead to it;
that something in her answered to the greatness overshadowing her; that
it was possible, sometimes, and that people did reach out into a larger
life than that of self and every-day. How else did the great mountains
draw them to themselves so? But then she would not always be among the
mountains.

And so she stood, drinking in at her eyes all the shifting and melting
splendors of the marvelous scene, with her thought busy, once more, in
its own questioning. She remembered what she had said to Cousin
Delight: "It is all outside. Going, and doing, and seeing, and hearing,
and having. In myself, am I good for any more, after all? Or only--a
green fig-tree in the sunshine?"

Why, with that word, did it all flash together for her, as a connected
thing? Her talk that morning, many weeks ago, that had seemed to ramble
so from one irrelevant matter to another,--from the parable to her
fancy-traveling, the scenes and pleasures she had made for herself,
wondering if the real would ever come; to the linen-drawer, representing
her little feminine absorptions and interests; and back to the fig-tree
again, ending with that word,--"the real living is the urging toward the
fruit"? Her day's journey, and the hints of life--narrowed, suffering,
working--that had come to her, each with its problem? Marmaduke Wharne's
indignant protest against people who "did not know their daily bread,"
and his insistence upon the _two_ things for human creatures to do: the
_receiving_ and the giving; the taking from God, in the sunshine, to
grow; the ripening into generous uses for others,--was it all one, and
did it define the whole, and was it identical, in the broadest and
highest, with that sublime double command whereon "hang the law and the
prophets"?

Something like this passed into her mind and soul, brightening there,
like the morning. It seemed, in that glimpse, so clear and
gracious,--the truth that had been puzzling her.

Easy, beautiful summer work: only to be shone upon; to lift up one's
branching life, and be--reverently--glad; to grow sweet and helpful and
good-giving, in one's turn,--could she not begin to do that? Perhaps--by
ever so little; the fruit might be but a berry, yet it might be fair and
full, after its kind; and at least some little bird might be the better
for it. All around her, too, the life of the world that had so troubled
her,--who could tell, in the tangle of green, where the good and the
gift might ripen and fall? Every little fern-frond has its seed.

Jeannie came behind her again, and called her back to the contradictory
phase of self that, with us all, is almost ready, like Peter, to deny
the true. "What are you deep in now, Les?"

"Nothing. Only--we go _down_ from here, don't we, Jeannie?"

"Yes. And a very good thing for you, too. You've been in the clouds long
enough. I shall be glad to get you to the common level again."

"You've no need to be anxious. I can come down as fast as anybody.
_That_ isn't the hard thing to do. Let's go in, and get salt-fish and
cream for our breakfast."

The Haddens were new to mountain travel; the Thoresbys, literally, were
"old stagers;" they were up in the stable-yard before Mrs. Linceford's
party came out from the breakfast-room. Dakie Thayne was there, too; but
that was quite natural for a boy.

They got their outside seats by it, scrambling up before the horses were
put to, and sitting there while the hostlers smiled at each other over
their work. There was room for two more, and Dakie Thayne took a place;
but the young ladies looked askance, for Ginevra had been detained by
her mother, and Imogen had hoped to keep a seat for Jeannie, without
drawing the whole party after her, and running aground upon politeness.
So they drove round to the door.

"First come, first served," cried Imogen, beckoning Jeannie, who
happened to be there, looking for her friend. "I've saved a place for
you,"--and Jeannie Hadden, nothing loath, as a man placed the mounting
board, sprang up and took it.

Then the others came out. Mrs. Thoresby and Mrs. Linceford got inside
the vehicle at once, securing comfortable back corner-seats. Ginevra,
with Leslie and Elinor, and one or two others too late for their own
interest, but quite comprehending the thing to be preferred, lingered
while the last trunks went on, hoping for room to be made somehow.

"It's so gay on the top, going down into the villages. There's no fun
inside," said Imogen complacently, settling herself upon her perch.

"Won't there be another stage?"

"Only half way. This one goes through."

"I'll go half way on the other, then," said Ginevra.

"This is the best team, and goes on ahead," was the reply.

"You'll be left behind," cried Mrs. Thoresby. "Don't think of it,
Ginevra!"

"Can't that boy sit back, on the roof?" asked the young lady.

"That boy" quite ignored the allusion; but presently, as Ginevra moved
toward the coach-window to speak with her mother, he leaned down to
Leslie Goldthwaite. "I'll make room for _you_," he said.

But Leslie had decided. She could not, with effrontery of selfishness,
take the last possible place,--a place already asked for by another. She
thanked Dakie Thayne, and, with just one little secret sigh, got into
the interior, placing herself by the farther door.

At that moment she missed something. "I've left my brown veil in your
room, Mrs. Linceford,"--and she was about to alight again to go for it.

"I'll fetch it," cried Dakie Thayne from overhead, and, as he spoke,
came down on her side by the wheel, and, springing around to the house
entrance, disappeared up the stairs.

"Ginevra!" Then there came a laugh and a shout and some crinoline
against the forward open corner of the coach, and Ginevra Thoresby was
by the driver's side. A little ashamed, in spite of herself, though it
was done under cover of a joke; but "All's fair among the mountains,"
somebody said, and "Possession's nine points," said another, and the
laugh was with her, seemingly.

Dakie Thayne flushed up, hot, without a word, when he came out, an
instant after.

"I'm _so_ sorry!" said Leslie, with real regret, accented with honest
indignation.

"It's your place," called out a rough man, who made the third upon the
coach-box. "Why don't you stick up for it?"

The color went down slowly in the boy's face, and a pride came up in his
eye. He put his hand to his cap, with a little irony of deference, and
lifted it off with the grace of a grown man. "I know it's my place. But
the young lady may keep it--now. _I'd_ rather be a gentleman!" said
Dakie Thayne.

"You've got the best of it!" This came from Marmaduke Wharne, as the
door closed upon the boy, and the stage rolled down the road toward
Cherry Mountain.

There is a "best" to be got out of everything; but it is neither the
best of place or possession, nor the chuckle of the last word.



CHAPTER VII.


DOWN AT OUTLEDGE.

Among the mountains, somewhere between the Androscoggin and the Saco,--I
don't feel bound to tell you precisely where, and I have only a
story-teller's word to give you for it at all,--lies the little
neighborhood of Outledge. An odd corner of a great township such as they
measure off in these wilds; where they take in, with some eligible
"locations" of intervale land, miles also of pathless forest where the
bear and the moose are wandering still, a pond, perhaps, filling up a
basin of acres and acres in extent, and a good-sized mountain or two,
thrown in to keep off the north wind; a corner cut off, as its name
indicates, by the outrunning of a precipitous ridge of granite, round
which a handful of population had crept and built itself a group of
dwellings,--this was the spot discovered and seized to themselves some
four or five years since by certain migratory pioneers of fashion.

An old two-story farmhouse, with four plain rooms of generous dimensions
on each floor, in which the first delighted summer party had divided
itself, glad and grateful to occupy them double and even treble bedded,
had become the "hotel," with a name up across the gable of the new
wing,--"Giant's Cairn House,"--and the eight original rooms made into
fourteen. The wing was clapped on by its middle; rushing out at the
front toward the road to meet the summer tide of travel as it should
surge by, and hold up to it, arrestively, its titular sign-board; the
other half as expressively making its bee-line toward the river and the
mountain view at back,--just as each fresh arrival, seeking out the
preferable rooms, inevitably did. Behind, upon the other side, an L
provided new kitchens; and over these, within a year, had been carried
up a second story, with a hall for dancing, tableaux, theatricals, and
traveling jugglers.

Up to this hostelry whirled daily, from the southward, the great
six-horse stage; and from the northward came thrice a week wagons or
coaches "through the hills," besides such "extras" as might drive down
at any hour of day or night.

Round the smooth curve of broad, level road that skirted the ledges from
the upper village pranced four splendid bays; and after them rollicked
and swayed, with a perfect delirium of wheels and springs, the great
black and yellow bodied vehicle, like a huge bumble-bee buzzing back
with its spoil of a June day to the hive. The June sunset was golden and
rosy upon the hills and cliffs, and Giant's Cairn stood burnished
against the eastern blue. Gay companies, scattered about piazzas and
greenswards, stopped in their talk, or their promenades, or their
croquet, to watch the arrivals.

"It's stopping at the Green Cottage."

"It's the Haddens. Their rooms have been waiting since the twenty-third,
and all the rest are full." And two or three young girls dropped mallets
and ran over.

"Maud Walcott!" "Mattie Shannon!"

"Jeannie!" "Nell!"

"How came _you_ here?"

"We've been here these ten days,--looking for you the last three."

"Why, I can't take it in! I'm so surprised!"

"Isn't it jolly, though?"

"Miss Goldthwaite--Miss Walcott; Miss Shannon--Miss Goldthwaite;--my
sister, Mrs. Linceford."

"_Me voici_!" And a third came up suddenly, laying a hand upon each of
the Haddens from behind.

"You, Sin Saxon! How many more?"

"We're coming, Father Abraham! All of us, nearly, three hundred thousand
more--or less; half the Routh girls, with Madam to the fore!"

"And we've got all the farther end of the wing downstairs,--the garden
bedrooms; you've no idea how scrumptious it is! You must come over after
tea, and see."

"Not all, Mattie; you forget the solitary spinster."

"No, I don't; who ever does? But can't you ignore her for once?"

"Or let a fellow speak in the spirit of prophecy?" said Sin Saxon.
"We're sure to get the better of Graywacke, and why not anticipate?"

"Graywacke?" said Jeannie Hadden. "Is that a name? It sounds like the
side of a mountain."

"And acts like one," rejoined Sin Saxon. "Won't budge. But it isn't her
name, exactly, only Saxon for Craydocke; suggestive of obstinacy and the
Old Silurian,--an ancient maiden who infests our half the wing. We've
got all the rooms but hers, and we're bound to get her out. She's been
there three years, in the same spot,--went in with the lath and
plaster,--and it's _time_ she started. Besides, haven't I got manifest
destiny on my side? Ain't I a Saxon?" Sin Saxon tossed up a merry,
bewitching, saucy glance out of her blue, starlike eyes, that shone
under a fair, low brow touched and crowned lightly with the soft haze
of gold-brown locks frizzed into a delicate mistiness after the ruling
fashion of the hour.

"What a pretty thing she is!" said Mrs. Linceford, when, seeing her busy
with her boxes, and the master of the house approaching to show the new
arrivals to their rooms, Sin Saxon and her companions flitted away as
they had come, with a few more sentences of bright girl-nonsense flung
back at parting. "And a witty little minx as well. Where did you know
her, Jeannie? And what sort of a satanic name is that you call her by?"

"Just suits such a mischief, doesn't it? Short for Asenath,--it was
always her school-name. She's just finished her last year at Madam
Routh's; she came there soon after we did. It's a party of the
graduates, and some younger ones left with Madam for the long holidays,
that she's traveling with. I wonder if she isn't sick of her life,
though, by this time! Fancy those girls, Nell, with a whole half-wing of
the hotel to themselves, and Sin Saxon in the midst!"

"Poor 'Graywacke' in the midst, you mean," said Nell.

"Like a respectable old grimalkin at the mercy of a crowd of boys and a
tin kettle," added Jeannie, laughing.

"I've no doubt she's a very nice person, too. I only hope, if I come
across her, I mayn't call her Graywacke to her face," said Mrs.
Linceford.

"Just what you'll be morally sure to do, Augusta!"

With this, they had come up the staircase and along a narrow passage
leading down between a dozen or so of small bedrooms on either
side,--for the Green Cottage also had run out its addition of two
stories since summer guests had become many and importunate,--and stood
now where three open doors, one at the right and two at the left,
invited their entrance upon what was to be their own especial territory
for the next two months. From one side they looked up the river along
the face of the great ledges, and caught the grandeur of far-off
Washington, Adams, and Madison, filling up the northward end of the long
valley. The aspect of the other was toward the frowning glooms of
Giant's Cairn close by, and broadened then down over the pleasant
subsidence of the southern country to where the hills grew less, and
fair, small, modest peaks lifted themselves just into blue height and
nothing more, smiling back with a contented deference toward the
mightier majesties, as those who might say: "We do our gentle best; it
is not yours; yet we, too, are mountains, though but little ones." From
underneath spread the foreground of green, brilliant intervale, with
the river flashing down between margins of sand and pebbles in the
midst.

Here they put Leslie Goldthwaite; and here, somehow, her first
sensation, as she threw back her blinds to let in all the twilight for
her dressing, was a feeling of half relief from the strained awe and
wonder of the last few days. Life would not seem so petty here as in the
face of all that other solemn stateliness. There was a reaction of
respite and repose. And why not? The great emotions are not meant to
come to us daily in their unqualified strength. God knows how to dilute
his elixirs for the soul. His fine, impalpable air, spread round the
earth, is not more cunningly mixed from pungent gases for our hourly
breath, than life itself is thinned and toned that we may receive and
bear it.

Leslie wondered if it were wrong that the high mountain fervor let
itself go from her so soon and easily; that the sweet pleasantness of
this new resting-place should come to her as a rest; that the laughter
and frolic of the schoolgirls made her glad with such sudden sympathy
and foresight of enjoyment; that she should have "come down" all the way
from Jefferson in Jeannie's sense, and that she almost felt it a
comfortable thing herself not to be kept always "up in the clouds."

Sin Saxon, as they called her, was so bright and odd and fascinating;
was there any harm--because no special, obvious good--in that? There was
a little twinge of doubt, remembering poor Miss Craydocke; but that had
seemed pure fun, not malice, after all, and it was, hearing Sin Saxon
tell it, very funny. She could imagine the life they led the quiet lady;
yet, if it were quite intolerable, why did she remain? Perhaps, after
all, she saw through the fun of it. And I think, myself, perhaps she
did.

The Marie Stuart net went on to-night; and then such a pretty muslin,
white, with narrow, mode-brown stripes, and small, bright leaves dropped
over them, as if its wearer had stood out under a maple-tree in October
and all the tiniest and most radiant bits had fallen and fastened
themselves about her. And, last of all, with her little hooded cape of
scarlet cashmere over her arm, she went down to eat cream biscuit and
wood strawberries for tea. Her summer life began with a charming
freshness and dainty delight.

There were pleasant voices of happy people about them in hall and open
parlor, as they sat at their late repast. Everything seemed indicative
of abundant coming enjoyment; and the girls chatted gayly of all they
had already discovered or conjectured, and began to talk of the ways of
the place and the sojourners in it, quite like old _habituées_.

It was even more delightful yet, strolling out when tea was over, and
meeting the Routh party again half way between the cottage and the
hotel, and sauntering on with them, insensibly, till they found
themselves on the wide wing-piazza, upon which opened the garden
bedrooms, and being persuaded after all to sit down, since they had got
there, though Mrs. Linceford had demurred at a too hasty rushing over,
as new comers, to begin visits.

"Oh, nobody knows when they _are_ called upon here, or who comes first,"
said Mattie Shannon. "We generally receive half way across the green,
and it's a chance which turns back, or whether we get near either house
again or not. Houses don't signify, except when it rains."

"But it just signifies that you should see how magnificently we have
settled ourselves for nights, and dressing, and when it _does_ rain,"
said Sin Saxon, throwing back a door behind her, that stood a little
ajar. It opened directly into a small apartment, half parlor and half
dressing-room, from which doors showed others, on either side, furnished
as sleeping-rooms.

"It was Maud Walcott's, between the Arnalls' and mine; but, what with
our trunks, and our beds, and our crinolines, and our towel-stands, we
wanted a Bowditch's Navigator to steer clear of the reefs, and
something was always getting knocked over; so, one night, we were seized
simultaneously with an idea. We'd make a boudoir of this for the general
good, and forthwith we fell upon the bed, and amongst us got it down. It
was the greatest fun! We carried the pieces and the mattresses all off
ourselves up to the attic, after ten o'clock, and we gave the
chambermaid a dollar next morning, and nobody's been the wiser since.
And then we walked to the upper village and bought that extraordinary
chintz, and frilled and cushioned our trunks into ottomans, and
curtained the dress-hooks; and Lucinda got us a rocking-chair, and Maud
came in with me to sleep, and we kept our extra pillows, and we should
be comfortable as queens if it wasn't for Graywacke."

"Now, Sin Saxon, you know Graywacke is just the life of the house. What
would such a parcel of us do, if we hadn't something to run upon?"

"Only I'm afraid I shall get tired of it at last. She bears it so. It
isn't exactly saintliness, nor Graywackeiness, but it seems sometimes as
if she took a quiet kind of fun out of it herself,--as if she were
somehow laughing at us, after all, in her sleeve; and if she is, she's
got the biggest end. _She_'s bright enough."

"Don't we tree-toad her within an inch of her life, though, when we come
home in the wagons at night? I shouldn't think she could stand that
long. I guess she wants all her beauty-sleep. And Kate Arnall can
tu-whit, tu-whoo! equal to Tennyson himself, or any great white
_American_ owl."

"Yes, but what do you think? As true as I live, I heard her answer back
the other night with such a sly little 'Katy-did! she did! she did!' I
thought at first it actually came from the great elm-trees. Oh, she's
been a girl once, you may depend; and hasn't more than half got over it
either. But wait till we have our 'howl'!"

What a "howl" was, superlative to "tree-toading," "owl-hooting," and
other divertisements, did not appear at this time; for a young man did,
approaching from the front of the hotel, and came up to the group on the
piazza with the question, "At what time do we set off for Feather-Cap
to-morrow?"

"Oh, early, Mr. Scherman; by nine o'clock."

"Earlier than you'll be ready," said Frank Scherman's sister, one of the
"Routh" girls also.

"I shan't have any crimps to take down, that's one thing," Frank
answered. And Sin Saxon, glancing at his handsome waving hair, whispered
saucily to Jeannie Hadden, "I don't more than half believe that,
either;"--then, aloud, "You must join the party too, girls, by the way.
It's one of the nicest excursions here. We've got two wagons, and
they'll be full; but there's Holden's 'little red' will take six, and I
don't believe anybody has spoken for it. Mr. Scherman! wouldn't it make
you happy to go and see?"

"Most intensely!" and Frank Scherman bowed a low graceful bow, settling
back into his first attitude, however, as one who could quite willingly
resign himself to his present comparative unhappiness awhile longer.

"Where is Feather-Cap?" asked Leslie Goldthwaite.

"It's the mountain you see there, peeping round the shoulder of Giant's
Cairn; a comfortable little rudiment of a mountain, just enough for a
primer-lesson in climbing. Don't you see how the crest drops over on one
side, and that scrap of pine--which is really a huge gaunt thing a
hundred years old--slants out from it with just a tuft of green at the
very tip, like an old feather stuck in jauntily?"

"And the pine woods round the foot of the Cairn are lovely," said Maud.

"Oh!" cried Leslie, drawing a long breath, as if their spicy smell were
already about her, "there is nothing I delight in so as pines!"

"You'll have your fill to-morrow, then; for it's ten miles through
nothing else, and the road is like a carpet with the soft brown
needles."

"I hope Augusta won't be too tired to feel like going," said Elinor.

"We had better ask her soon, then; she is looking this way now. We ought
to go, Sin; we've got all our settling to do for the night."

"We'll walk over with you," said Sin Saxon. "Then we shall have done up
all the preliminaries nicely. We called on you--before you were off the
stage-coach; you've returned it; and now we'll pay up and leave you
owing us one. Come, Mr. Scherman; you'll be so far on your way to
Holden's, and perhaps inertia will carry you through."

But a little girl presently appeared, running from the hotel portico at
the front, as they came round to view from thence. Madam Routh was
sitting in the open hall with some newly arrived friends, and sent one
of her lambs, as Sin called them, to say to the older girls that she
preferred they should not go away again to-night.

"'Ruin seize thee, Routh--less king!'" quoted Sin Saxon, with an absurd
air of declamation. "'Twas ever thus from childhood's hour;' and now,
just as we thought childhood's hour was comfortably over,--that the
clock had struck one, and down we might run, hickory, dickory,
dock,--behold the lengthened sweetness long drawn out of school rule in
vacation, even before the very face and eyes of Freedom on her mountain
heights! Well, we must go, I suppose. Mr. Scherman, you'll have to
represent us to Mrs. Linceford, and persuade her to join us to
Feather-Cap. And be sure you get the 'little red'!"

"It'll be all the worse for Graywacke, if we're kept in and sent off
early," she continued, _sotto voce_, to her companions, as they turned
away. "My! what _has_ that boy got?"



CHAPTER VIII.


SIXTEEN AND SIXTY.

After all this, I wonder if you wouldn't just like to look in at Miss
Craydocke's room with me, who can give you a pass anywhere within the
geography of my story?

She came in here "with the lath and plaster," as Sin Saxon had said. She
had gathered little comforts and embellishments about her from summer to
summer, until the room had a home-cheeriness, and even a look of luxury,
contrasted with the bare dormitories around it. Over the straw matting,
that soon grows shabby in a hotel, she had laid a large, nicely-bound
square of soft, green carpet, in a little mossy pattern, that covered
the middle of the floor, and was held tidily in place by a foot of the
bedstead and two forward ones each of the table and washstand. On this
little green stood her Shaker rocking-chair and a round white-pine
light-stand with her work-basket and a few books. Against the wall hung
some white-pine shelves with more books,--quite a little circulating
library they were for invalids and read-out people, who came to the
mountains, like foolish virgins, with scant supply of the oil of
literature for the feeding of their brain-lamps. Besides these, there
were engravings and photographs in _passe-partout_ frames, that
journeyed with her safely in the bottoms of her trunks. Also, the wall
itself had been papered, at her own cost and providing, with a pretty
pale-green hanging; and there were striped muslin curtains to the
window, over which were caught the sprays of some light, wandering vine
that sprung from a low-suspended terra-cotta vase between.

She had everything pretty about her, this old Miss Craydocke. How many
people do, that have not a bit of outward prettiness themselves! Not one
cubit to the stature, not one hair white or black, can they add or
change; and around them grow the lilies in the glory of Solomon, and a
frosted leaf or a mossy twig, that they can pick up from under their
feet and bring home from the commonest walk, comes in with them, bearing
a brightness and a grace that seems sometimes almost like a satire! But
in the midst grows silently the century-plant of the soul, absorbing to
itself hourly that which feeds the beauty of the lily and the radiance
of the leaf,--waiting only for the hundred years of its shrouding to be
over!

Miss Craydocke never came in from the woods and rocks without her
trophies. Rare, lovely mosses and bits of most delicate ferns,
maidenhair and lady-bracken, tiny trails of wintergreen and arbutus,
filled a great shallow Indian china dish upon her bureau top, and grew,
in their fairy fashion, in the clear, soft water she kept them freshened
with.

Shining scraps of mountain minerals--garnets and bright-tinted quartz
and beryls, heaped artistically, rather than scientifically, on a base
of jasper and malachite and dark basalt and glistening spar and curious
fossils; these not gathered by any means in a single summer or in
ordinary ramblings, but treasured long, and standing, some of them, for
friendly memories--balanced on the one side a like grouping of shells
and corals and sea-mosses on the other, upon a broad bracket-mantel put
up over a little corner fireplace; for Miss Craydocke's room, joining
the main house, took the benefit of one of its old chimneys.

Above or about the pictures lay mossy, gnarled, and twisted branches,
gray and green, framing them in a forest arabesque; and great pine
cones, pendent from their boughs, crowned and canopied the mirror.

"What _do_ you keep your kindling wood up there for?" Sin Saxon had
asked, with a grave, puzzled face, coming in, for pure mischief, on one
of her frequent and ingenious errands.

"Why, where should I put a pile of wood or a basket? There's no room
for things to lie round here; you have to hang everything up!" was Miss
Craydocke's answer, quick as a flash, her eyes twinkling comically with
appreciation of the fun.

And Sin Saxon had gone away and told the girls that the old lady knew
how to feather her nest better than any of them, and was sharp enough at
a peck, too, upon occasion.

She found her again, one morning, sitting in the midst of a pile of
homespun, which she was cutting up with great shears into boys' blouses.

"There! that's the noise that has disturbed me so!" cried the girl. "I
thought it was a hay-cutter or a planing-machine, or that you had got
the asthma awfully. I couldn't write my letter for listening to it, and
came round to ask what _was_ the matter!--Miss Craydocke, I don't see
why you keep the door bolted on your side. It isn't any more fair for
you than for me; and I'm sure I do all the visiting. Besides, it's
dangerous. What if anything should happen in the night? I couldn't get
in to help you. Or there might be a fire in our room,--I'm sure I expect
nothing else. We boiled eggs in the Etna the other night, and got too
much alcohol in the saucer; and then, in the midst of the blaze and
excitement, what should Madam Routh do but come knocking at the door!
Of course we had to put it in the closet, and there were all our muslin
dresses,--that weren't hanging on the hooks in Maud's room! I assure you
I felt like the man sitting on the safety-valve, standing with my back
against the door, and my clothes spread out for fear she would see the
flash under the crack. For we'd nothing else but moonlight in the
room.--But now tell me, please, what are all these things? Meal-bags?"

"Do you really want to know?"

"Of course I do. Now that I've got over my fright about your strangling
with the asthma--those shears did wheeze so!--my curiosity is all alive
again."

"I've a cousin down in North Carolina teaching the little freedmen."

"And she's to have all these sacks to tie the naughty ones up in? What a
bright idea! And then to whip them with rods as the Giant did his
crockery, I suppose? Or perhaps--they can't be petticoats! Won't she be
warm, though?"

"May be, if you were to take one and sew up the seams, you would be able
to satisfy yourself."

"I? Why, I never _could_ put anything together! I tried once, with a
pair of hospital drawers, and they were like Sam Hyde's dog, that got
cut in two, and clapped together again in a hurry, two legs up and two
legs down. Miss Craydocke, why don't _you_ go down among the freedmen?
You haven't half a sphere up here. Nothing but Hobbs's Location, and the
little Hoskinses."

"I can't organize and execute. Letitia can. It's her gift. I can't do
great things. I can only just carry round my little cup of cold water."

"But it gets so dreadfully joggled in such a place as this! Don't we
girls disturb you, Miss Craydocke? I should think you'd be quieter in
the other wing, or upstairs."

"Young folks are apt to think that old folks ought to go a story higher.
But we're content, and they must put up with us, until the proprietor
orders a move."

"Well, good-by. But if ever you do smell smoke in the night, you'll draw
your bolt the first thing, won't you?"

This evening,--upon which we have offered you your pass, reader,--Miss
Craydocke is sitting with her mosquito bar up, and her candle alight,
finishing some pretty thing that daylight has not been long enough for.
A flag basket at her feet holds strips and rolls of delicate birch-bark,
carefully split into filmy thinness, and heaps of star-mosses,
cup-mosses, and those thick and crisp with clustering brown spires, as
well as sheets of lichen silvery and pale green; and on the lap-board
across her knees lies her work,--a graceful cross in perspective, put
on card-board in birch shaded from faint buff to bistre, dashed with the
detached lines that seem to have quilted the tree-teguments together.
Around the foot of the cross rises a mound of lovely moss-work in
relief, with feathery filaments creeping up and wreathing about the
shaft and thwart-beam. Miss Craydocke is just dotting in some bits of
slender coral-headed stems among little brown mushrooms and chalices, as
there comes a sudden, imperative knocking at the door of communication,
or defense, between her and Sin Saxon.

"You must just open this time, if you please! I've got my arms full, and
I couldn't come round."

Miss Craydocke slipped her lap-board--work and all--under her bureau,
upon the floor, for safety; and then with her quaint, queer expression,
in which curiosity, pluckiness, and a foretaste of amusement mingled so
as to drive out annoyance, pushed back her bolt, and presented herself
to the demand of her visitor, much as an undaunted man might fling open
his door at the call of a mob.

Sin Saxon stood there, in the light of the good lady's candle, making a
pretty picture against the dim background of the unlighted room beyond.
Her fair hair was tossed, and her cheeks flushed; her blue eyes bright
with sauciness and fun. In her hands, or across her arms, rather, she
held some huge, uncouth thing, that was not to the last degree
dainty-smelling, either; something conglomerated rudely upon a great
crooked log or branch, which, glanced at closer, proved to be a fragment
of gray old pine. Sticks and roots and bark, straw and grass and locks
of dirty sheep's-wool, made up its bulk and its untidiness; and this
thing Sin held out with glee, declaring she had brought a real treasure
to add to Miss Craydocke's collection.

"Such a chance!" she said, coming in. "One mightn't have another in a
dozen years. I have just given Jimmy Wigley a quarter for it, and he'd
just all but broken his neck to get it. It's a real crow's nest.
Corvinus something-else-us, I suppose. Where will you have it? I'm going
to nail it up for you myself. Won't it make a nice contrast to the
humming-bird's? Over the bed, shall I? But then, if it _should_ drop
down on your nose, you know! I think the corner over the fireplace will
be best. Yes, we'll have it right up perpendicular, in the angle. The
branch twists a little, you see, and the nest will run out with its odds
and ends like an old banner. Might I push up the washstand to get on
to?"

"Suppose you lay it _in_ the fireplace? It will just rest nicely across
those evergreen boughs, and--be in the current of ventilation outward."

"Well, that's an idea, to be sure.--Miss Craydocke!"--Sin Saxon says
this in a sudden interjectional way, as if it were with some quite fresh
idea,--"I'm certain you play chess!"

"You're mistaken. I don't."

"You would, then, by intuition. Your counter-moves are--so--triumphant.
Why, it's really an ornament!" With a little stress and strain that made
her words interjectional, she had got it into place, thrusting one end
up the throat of the chimney, and lodging the crotch that held the nest
upon the stems of fresh pine that lay across the andirons; and the "odds
and ends," in safe position, and suggesting neither harm nor
unsuitableness, looked unique and curious, and not so ugly.

"It's really an ornament!" repeated Sin, shaking the dust off her dress.

"As you expected, of course," replied Miss Craydocke.

"Well, I wasn't--not to say--confident. I was afraid it mightn't be much
but scientific. But now--if you don't forget and light a fire under it
some day, Miss Craydocke!"

"I shan't forget; and I'm very much obliged, really. Perhaps by and by I
shall put it in a rough box and send it to a nephew of mine, with some
other things, for his collection."

"Goodness, Miss Craydocke! They won't express it. They'll think it's an
infernal machine, or a murder. But it's disposed of for the present,
anyway. The truth was, you know, twenty-five cents is a kind of cup of
cold water to Jimmy Wigley, and then there was the fun of bringing it
in, and I didn't know anybody but you to offer it to; I'm so glad you
like it; the girls thought you wouldn't. Perhaps I can get you another,
or something else as curious, some day,--a moose's horns, or a
bear-skin; there's no knowing. But now, apropos of the nest, I've a crow
to _pick_ with you. You gave me horrible dreams all night, the last time
I came to see you. I don't know whether it was your little freedmen's
meal-bags, or Miss Letitia's organizing and executive genius, or the cup
of cold water you spoke of, or--it's just occurred to me--the fuss I had
over my waterfall that day, trying to make it into a melon; but I had
the most extraordinary time endeavoring to pay you a visit. Down South
it was, and there you were, organizing and executing, after all, on the
most tremendous scale, some kind of freedmen's institution. You were
explaining to me and showing me all sorts of things, in such enormous
bulk and extent and number! First I was to see your stables, where the
cows were kept. A trillion of cows!--that was what you told me. And on
the way we went down among such wood-piles!--whole forests cut up into
kindlings and built into solid walls that reached up till the sky looked
like a thread of blue sewing-silk between. And presently we came to a
kind of opening and turned off to see the laundry (Mrs. Lisphin had just
brought home my things at bedtime); and _there_ was a place to do the
world's washing in, or bleach out all the Ethiopians! Tubs like the hold
of the Great Eastern, and spouts coming into them like the Staubbach!
Clothes-lines like a parade-ground of telegraphs, fields like prairies,
snow-patched, as far as you could see, with things laid out to whiten!
And suddenly we came to what was like a pond of milk, with crowds of
negro women stirring it with long poles; and all at once something came
roaring behind and you called to me to jump aside,--that the hot water
was let on to make the starch; and down it rushed, a cataract like
Niagara, in clouds of steam! And then--well, it changed to something
else, I suppose; but it was after that fashion all night long, and the
last I remember, I was trying to climb up the Cairn with a cup of cold
water set on atilt at the crown of my head, which I was to get to the
sky parlor without spilling a drop!"

"Nobody's brain but yours would have put it together like that,"
said Miss Craydocke, laughing till she had to feel for her
pocket-handkerchief to wipe away the tears.

"Don't cry, Miss Craydocke," said Sin Saxon, changing suddenly to the
most touching tone and expression of regretful concern. "I didn't mean
to distress you. I don't think anything is really the matter with my
brain!"

"But I'll tell you what it is," she went on presently, in her old
manner, "I _am_ in a dreadful way with that waterfall, and I wish you'd
lend me one of your caps, or advise me what to do. It's an awful thing
when the fashion alters, just as you've got used to the last one. You
can't go back, and you don't dare to go forward. I wish hair was like
noses, born in a shape, without giving you any responsibility. But we do
have to finish ourselves, and that's just what makes us restless."

"You haven't come to the worst yet," said Miss Craydocke significantly.

"What do you mean? What is the worst? Will it come all at once, or will
it be broken to me?"

"It will be broken, and _that_'s the worst. One of these years you'll
find a little thin spot coming, may be, and spreading, over your
forehead or on the top of your head; and it'll be the fashion to comb
the hair just so as to show it off and make it worse; and for a while
that'll be your thorn in the flesh. And then you'll begin to wonder why
the color isn't so bright as it used to be, but looks dingy, all you can
do to it; and again, after a while, some day, in a strong light, you'll
see there are white threads in it, and the rest is fading; and so by
degrees, and the degrees all separate pains, you'll have to come to it
and give up the crown of your youth, and take to scraps of lace and
muslin, or a front, as I did a dozen years ago."

Sin Saxon had no sauciness to give back for that; it made her feel all
at once that this old Miss Craydocke had really been a girl too, with
golden hair like her own, perhaps,--and not so very far in the past,
either, but that a like space in her own future could picture itself to
her mind; and something, quite different in her mood from ordinary, made
her say, with even an unconscious touch of reverence in her voice: "I
wonder if I shall bear it, when it comes, as well as you!"

"There's a recompense," said Miss Craydocke. "You'll have got it all
then. You'll know there's never a fifty or a sixty years that doesn't
hold the tens and the twenties."

"I've found out something," said Sin Saxon, as she came back to the
girls again. "A picked-up dinner argues a fresh one some time. You can't
have cold roast mutton unless it has once been hot!" And never a word
more would she say to explain herself.



CHAPTER IX.


"I DON'T SEE WHY."

The "little red" was at the door of the Green Cottage. Frank Scherman
had got the refusal of it the night before, and early in the morning
Madam Routh's compliments had come to Mrs. Linceford, with the request,
in all the form that mountain usage demanded, that she and the young
ladies would make part of the expedition for the day.

Captain Jotham Green, host and proprietor, himself stood at the horses'
heads. The Green Cottage, you perceive, had double right to its
appellation. It was both baptismal and hereditary, surname and given
name,--given with a coat of fresh, pale, pea-green paint that had been
laid on it within the year, and had communicated a certain tender,
newly-sprouted, May-morning expression to the old centre and its
outshoots.

Mrs. Green, within, was generously busy with biscuits, cold chicken,
doughnuts fried since sunrise, and coffee richly compounded with cream
and sugar, which a great tin can stood waiting to receive and convey,
and which was at length to serve as cooking utensil in reheating upon
the fire of coals the picnickers would make up under the very tassel of
Feather-Cap.

The great wagons were drawn up also before the piazza of the hotel; and
between the two houses flitted the excursionists, full of the bright
enthusiasm of the setting off, which is the best part of a jaunt,
invariably.

Leslie Goldthwaite, in the hamadryad costume, just aware--which it was
impossible for her to help--of its exceeding prettiness, and of glances
that recognized it, pleased with a mixture of pleasures, was on the
surface of things once more, taking the delight of the moment with a
young girl's innocent abandonment. It was nice to be received so among
all these new companions; to be evidently, though tacitly, _voted_ nice,
in the way girls have of doing it; to be launched at once into the
beginning of apparently exhaustless delights,--all this was superadded
to the first and underlying joy of merely being alive and breathing,
this superb summer morning, among these forests and hills.

Sin Saxon, whatever new feeling of half sympathy and respect had been
touched in her toward Miss Craydocke the night before, in her morning
mood was all alive again to mischief. The small, spare figure of the
lady appeared at the side-door, coming out briskly toward them along
the passage, just as the second wagon filled up and was ready to move.

I did not describe Miss Craydocke herself when I gave you the glimpse
into her room. There was not much to describe; and I forgot it in
dwelling upon her surroundings and occupations. In fact, she extended
herself into these, and made you take them involuntarily and largely
into the account in your apprehension of her. Some people seem to have
given them at the outset a mere germ of personality like this, which
must needs widen itself out in like fashion to be felt at all. Her
mosses and minerals, her pressed leaves and flowers, her odds and ends
of art and science and prettiness which she gathered about her, her
industries and benevolences,--these were herself. Out of these she was
only a little elderly thread-paper of a woman, of no apparent account
among crowds of other people, and with scarcely enough of bodily bulk or
presence to take any positive foothold anywhere.

What she might have seemed, in the days when her hair was golden, and
her little figure plump, and the very unclassical features rounded and
rosy with the bloom and grace of youth, was perhaps another thing; but
now, with her undeniable "front," and cheeks straightened into lines
that gave you the idea of her having slept all night upon both of them,
and got them into longitudinal wrinkles that all day was never able to
wear out; above all, with her curious little nose (that was the exact
expression of it), sharply and suddenly thrusting itself among things in
general from the middle plane of her face with slight preparatory hint
of its intention,--you would scarcely charge her, upon suspicion, with
any embezzlement or making away of charms intrusted to her keeping in
the time gone by.

This morning, moreover, she had somehow given herself a scratch upon
the tip of this odd, investigating member; and it blushed for its
inquisitiveness under a scrap of thin pink adhesive plaster.

Sin Saxon caught sight of her as she came. "Little Miss Netticoat!" she
cried, just under her breath, "_with_ a fresh petticoat, _and_ a red
nose!" Then, changing her tone with her quotation,--

     "'Wee, modest, crimson-tippèd flower,
     Thou'st met me in a luckless hour!'

Thou always dost! What _hast_ thou gone and got thyself up so for, just
as I was almost persuaded to be good? Now--_can_ I help that?" And she
dropped her folded hands in her lap, exhaled a little sigh of vanquished
goodness, and looked round appealingly to her companions.

"It's only," said Miss Craydocke, reaching them a trifle out of breath,
"this little parcel,--something I promised to Prissy Hoskins,--and
_would_ you just go round by the Cliff and leave it for me?"

"Oh, I'm afraid of the Cliff!" cried Florrie Arnall. "Creggin's horses
backed there the other day. It's horribly dangerous."

"It's three quarters of a mile round," suggested the driver.

"The 'little red' might take it. They'll go faster than we, or can, if
they try," said Mattie Shannon.

"The 'little red' 's just ready," said Sin Saxon. "You needn't laugh.
That wasn't a pun. But oh, Miss Craydocke!"--and her tone suggested the
mischievous apropos--"what _can_ you have been doing to your nose?"

"Oh, yes!"--Miss Craydocke had a way of saying "Oh, yes!"--"It was my
knife slipped as I was cutting a bit of cord, in a silly fashion, up
toward my face. It's a mercy my nose served, to save my eyes."

"I suppose that's partly what noses are for," said Sin Saxon gravely.
"Especially when you follow them, and 'go it blind.'"

"It was a piece of good luck, too, after all," said Miss Craydocke, in
her simple way, never knowing, or choosing to know, that she was snubbed
or quizzed. "Looking for a bit of plaster, I found my little parcel of
tragacanth that I wanted so the other day. It's queer how things turn
up."

"Excessively queer," said Sin solemnly, still looking at the injured
feature. "But, as you say, it's all for the best, after all. 'There _is_
a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.' Hiram, we
might as well drive on. I'll take the parcel, Miss Craydocke. We'll get
it there somehow, going or coming."

The wagon rolled off, veils and feathers taking the wind bravely, and
making a gay moving picture against the dark pines and gray ledges as it
glanced along. Sin Saxon tossed Miss Craydocke's parcel into the "little
red" as they passed it by, taking the road in advance, giving a saucy
word of command to Jim Holden, which transferred the charge of its
delivery to him, and calling out a hurried explanation to the ladies
over her shoulder that "it would take them round the Cliff,--the most
wonderful point in all Outledge; up and down the whole length of New
Hampshire they could see from there, if their eyes were good enough!"
And so they were away.

Miss Craydocke turned back into the house, not a whit discomfited, and
with not so much as a contrasting sigh in her bosom or a rankle in her
heart. On the contrary, a droll twinkle played among the crow's-feet at
the corners of her eyes. They could not hurt her, these merry girls,
meaning nothing but the moment's fun, nor cheat her of her quiet share
of the fun either.

Up above, out of a window over the piazza roof, looked two
others,--young girls, one of them at least,--also, upon the scene of
the setting-off.

I cannot help it that a good many different people will get into my
short story. They get into a short time, in such a summer holiday, and
so why not? At any rate, I must tell you about these Josselyns.

These two had never in all their lives been away pleasuring before. They
had nobody but each other to come with now. Susan had been away a good
deal in the last two years, but it had not been pleasuring. Martha was
some five or six years the younger. She had a pretty face, yet marked,
as it is so sad to see the faces of the young, with lines and
loss--lines that tell of cares too early felt, and loss of the first
fresh, redundant bloom that such lines bring.

They sat a great deal at this window of theirs. It was a sort of
instinct and habit with them, and it made them happier than almost
anything else,--sitting at a window together. It was home to them
because at home they lived so: life and duty were so framed in for
them,--in one dear old window-recess. Sometimes they thought that it
would he heaven to them by and by: that such a seat, and such a quiet,
happy outlook, they should find kept for them together, in the Father's
mansion, up above.

At home, it was up three flights of stairs, in a tall, narrow city
house, of which the lower floors overflowed with young, boisterous half
brothers and sisters,--the tide not seldom rising and inundating their
own retreat,--whose delicate mother, not more than eight years older
than her eldest step-daughter, was tied hand and foot to her nursery,
with a baby on her lap, and the two or three next above with hands
always to be washed, disputes and amusements always to be settled, small
morals to be enforced, and clean calico tiers to be incessantly put on.

And Susan and Martha sat upstairs and made the tiers.

Mr. Josselyn was a book-keeper, with a salary of eighteen hundred
dollars, and these seven children. And Susan and Martha were girls of
fair culture, and womanly tastes, and social longings. How does this
seem to you, young ladies, and what do you think of their upstairs life
together, you who calculate, if you calculate at all, whether five
hundred dollars may carry you respectably through your half-dozen city
assemblies, where you shine in silk and gossamer, of which there will
not be "a dress in the room that cost less than seventy-five dollars,"
and come home, after the dance, "a perfect rag"?

Two years ago, when you were perhaps performing in tableaux for the
"benefit of the Sanitary," these two girls had felt the great enthusiasm
of the time lay hold of them in a larger way. Susan had a friend--a dear
old intimate of school-days, now a staid woman of eight-and-twenty--who
was to go out in yet maturer companionship into the hospitals. And
Susan's heart burned to go. But there were all the little tiers, and the
ABC's, and the faces and fingers.

"I can do it for a while," said Martha, "without you." Those two words
held the sacrifice. "Mamma is so nicely this summer, and by and by Aunt
Lucy may come, perhaps. I can do _quite_ well."

So Martha sat, for months and months, in the upstairs window alone.
There were martial marchings in the streets beneath; great guns
thundered out rejoicings; flags filled the air with crimson and blue,
like an aurora; she only sat and made little frocks and tiers for the
brothers and sisters. God knew how every patient needle thrust was
really also a woman's blow for her country.

And now, pale and thin with close, lonely work, the time had come to
her at last when it was right to take a respite; when everybody said it
must be; when Uncle David, just home from Japan, had put his hand in his
pocket and pulled out three new fifty-dollar bills, and said to them in
his rough way, "There, girls! Take that, and go your lengths." The war
was over, and among all the rest here were these two women-soldiers
honorably discharged, and resting after the fight. But nobody at
Outledge knew anything of the story.

There is almost always at every summer sojourn some party of persons who
are to the rest what the mid-current is to the stream; who gather to
themselves and bear along in their course--in their plans and pleasures
and daily doings--the force of all the life of the place. If any
expedition of consequence is afoot, _they_ are the expedition; others
may join in, or hold aloof, or be passed by; in which last cases, it is
only in a feeble, rippling fashion that they go their ways and seek some
separate pleasure in by-nooks and eddies, while the gay hum of the main
channel goes whirling on. At Outledge this party was the large and merry
schoolgirl company with Madam Routh.

"I don't see why," said Martha Josselyn, still looking out, as the
"little red" left the door of the Green Cottage,--"I don't see why those
new girls who came last night should have got into everything in a
minute, and we've been here a week and don't seem to catch to anything
at all. Some people are like burrs, I think, or drops of quicksilver,
that always bunch or run together. We don't _stick_, Susie. What's the
reason?"

"Some of these young ladies have been at Madam Routh's; they were over
here last evening. Sin Saxon knows them very well."

"You knew Effie Saxon at school, too."

"Eight years ago. And this is the little one. That's nothing."

"You petted her, and she came to the house. You've told her stories
hundreds of times. And she sees we're all by ourselves."

"She don't see. She doesn't think. That's just the whole of it."

"People ought to see, then. You would, Sue, and you know it."

"I've been used to seeing--and thinking."

"Used! Yes, indeed! And she's been _used_ to the other. Well, it's queer
how the parts are given out. Shall we go to the pines?"



CHAPTER X.


GEODES.

A great cliff-side rearing itself up, rough with inaccessible crags,
bristling with old, ragged pines, and dark with glooms of close cedars
and hemlocks, above a jutting table of rock that reaches out and makes a
huge semicircular base for the mountain, and is in itself a
precipice-pedestal eighty feet sheer up from the river-bank; close in
against the hill front, on this platform of stone, that holds its foot
or two of soil, a little, poor unshingled house, with a tumbledown
picket-fence about it, attempting the indispensable dooryard of all
better country-dwellings here where the great natural dooryard or
esplanade makes it such an utter nonsense,--this is the place at which
the "little red" drew up, ten minutes later, to leave Prissy Hoskins's
parcel.

Dakie Thayne jumped down off the front seat, and held up his arms to
help Leslie out over the wheel, upon her declaring that she must go and
do the errand herself, to get a nearer look at Hoskins life.

Dakie Thayne had been asked, at Leslie's suggestion, to fill the vacant
sixth seat beside the driver, the Thoresbys one and all declining. Mrs.
Thoresby was politic: she would not fall into the wake of this
schoolgirl party at once. By and by she should be making up her own
excursions, and asking whom she would.

"There's nothing like a boy of that age for use upon a picnic, Mrs.
Linceford," Leslie had pleaded, with playful parody, in his behalf, when
the lady had hinted something of her former sentiment concerning the
encroachments and monopolies of "boys of that age." And so he came.

The Haddens got Jim Holden to lift them down on the opposite side, for a
run to the verge of the projecting half-circle of rock that, like a
gigantic bay-window or balcony in the mighty architecture of the hills,
looked up and down the whole perspective of the valley. Jim Holden would
readily have driven them round its very edge upon the flat, mossy sward,
but for Mrs. Linceford's nerves, and the vague idea of almost an
accident having occurred there lately which pervaded the little party.
"Creggin's horses had backed," as Florrie Arnall said; and already the
new comers had picked up, they scarcely knew how, the incipient
tradition, hereafter to grow into an established horror of the "Cliff."

"It was nothing," Jim Holden said; "only the nigh hoss was a res'less
crittur, an' contrived to git his leg over the pole; no danger with
_his_ cattle." But Mrs. Linceford cried out in utter remonstrance, and
only begged Leslie to be quick, that they might get away from the place
altogether.

All this bustle of arrival and discussion and alighting had failed,
curiously, to turn the head of an odd, unkempt-looking child,--a girl of
nine or ten, with an old calico sun-bonnet flung back upon her
shoulders, tangled, sunburnt hair tossing above it; gown, innocent of
crinoline, clinging to lank, growing limbs, and bare feet, whose heels
were energetically planted at a quite safe distance from each other, to
insure a fair base for the centre of gravity,--who, at the moment of
their coming, was wrathfully "shoo-ing" off from a bit of rude
toy-garden, fenced with ends of twigs stuck up-right, a tall Shanghai
hen and her one chicken, who had evidently made nothing, morally or
physically, of the feeble inclosure.

"I wish you were dead and in your gravies!" cried the child, achieving,
between her righteous indignation and her relenting toward her uncouth
pets at the last breath, a sufficiently queer play upon her own word.
And with this, the enemy being routed, she turned face to face with
Dakie Thayne and Leslie Goldthwaite, coming in at the dilapidated gate.

"They've scratched up all my four-o'clocks!" she said. And then her
rustic shyness overcame suddenly all else, and she dragged her great toe
back and forth in the soft mould, and put her forefinger in her mouth,
and looked askance at them from the corners of her eyes.

"Prissy? Prissy Hoskins?" Leslie addressed her in sweet, inquiring
tones. But the child stood still with finger in mouth, and toe working
in the ground, not a bit harder nor faster, nor changing in the least,
for more or less, the shy look in her face.

"That's your name, isn't it? I've got something for you. Won't you come
and get it?'" Leslie paused, waiting; fearing lest a further advance on
her own part might put Prissy altogether to flight. Nothing answered in
the girl's eyes to her words; there was no lighting up of desire or
curiosity, however restrained; she stood like one indifferent or
uncomprehending.

"She's awful deef!" cried a new voice from the doorway. "She ain't that
scared. She's sarcy enough, sometimes."

A woman, middle-aged or more, stood on the rough, slanting door-stone.
She had bare feet, in coarse calf-skin slippers, stringy petticoats
differing only from the child's in length, sleeves rolled up to the
shoulders, no neck garniture,--not a bit of anything white about her.
Over all looked forth a face sharp and hard, that might have once been
good-looking, in a raw, country fashion, and that had undoubtedly always
been, what it now was, emphatically Yankee-smart. An inch-wide stripe of
black hair was combed each way over her forehead, and rolled up on her
temples in what, years and years ago, used to be called most
appropriately "flat curls,"--these fastened with long horn side-combs.
Beyond was a strip of desert,--no hair at all for an inch and a half
more toward the crown; the rest dragged back and tied behind with the
relentless tightness that gradually and regularly, by the persistence of
years, had accomplished this peculiar belt of clearing. It completed her
expression; it was as a very halo of Yankee saintship crowning the woman
who in despite of poverty and every discouragement had always hated, to
the very roots of her hair, anything like what she called a "sozzle;"
who had always been screwed up and sharp set to hard work. She couldn't
help the tumbledown fence; she had no "men-folks" round; and she
couldn't have paid for a hundred pickets and a day's carpentering, to
have saved her life. She couldn't help Prissy's hair even; for it would
kink and curl, and the minute the wind took it "there it was again;" and
it was not time yet, thank goodness! to harrow it back and begin in her
behalf the remarkable engineering which had laid out for herself that
broad highway across all the thrifty and energetic bumps up to
Veneration (who knows how much it had had to do with mixing them in one
common tingle of mutual and unceasing activity?) and down again from ear
to ear. Inside the poor little house you would find all spick and span,
the old floor white and sanded, the few tins and the pewter spoons
shining upon the shelf, the brick hearth and jambs aglow with fresh
"redding," table and chairs set back in rectangular tidiness. Only one
thing made a litter, or tried to; a yellow canary that hung in the
window and sang "like a house afire," as Aunt Hoskins said, however that
is, and flung his seeds about like the old "Wash at Edmonton," "on both
sides of the way." Prissy was turned out of doors in all pleasant
weather, so otherwise the keeping-room stayed trim, and her curly hair
grew sunburnt.

"She's ben deef ever sence she hed the scarlet-fever. Walk in," said the
woman, by no means satisfied to let strangers get only the outside
impression of her premises, and turning round to lead the way without
waiting for a reply. "Come in, Prissy!" she bawled, illustrating her
summons with what might be called a beckoning in broad capitals, done
with the whole arm from finger-tips to shoulder, twice or thrice.

Leslie followed over the threshold, and Prissy ran by like a squirrel,
and perched herself on a stool just under the bird-cage.

"I wouldn't keep it if 't warn't for her," said Aunt Hoskins
apologetically. She was Prissy's aunt, holding no other close domestic
relation to living thing, and so had come to be "Aunt Hoskins" in the
whole region round about, so far as she was known at all. "It's the only
bird she can hear sing of a morning. It's as good as all outdoors to
her, and I hain't the heart to make her do without it. _I_'ve done
without most things, but it don't appear to me as if I _could_ do
without them. Take a seat, do."

"I thank you, but my friends are waiting. I've brought something for
Prissy, from Miss Craydocke at the hotel." And Leslie held out the
package which Dakie Thayne, waiting at the door, had put into her hand
as she came in.

"Lawful suz, Prissy! if 't ain't another book!" cried the good woman, as
Prissy, quick to divine the meaning of the parcel, the like of which she
had been made accustomed to before, sprang to her aunt's side within
hearing of her exclamation. "If she ain't jest the feelingest and
thoughtfullest--Well! open it yourself, child; there's no good of a
bundle if you don't."

Poor Prissy was thus far happy that she had not been left in the
providence of her little life to utter ignorance of this greatest
possible delight--a common one to more outwardly favored children--of a
real parcel all one's own. The book, without the brown paper and string,
would have been as nothing, comparatively.

Leslie could not but linger to see it untied. There came out a book,--a
wonderful big book,--Grimm's Tales; and some little papers fell to the
floor. These were flower seeds,--bags labeled "Petunia," "Candytuft,"
"Double Balsam," "Portulaca."

"Why, Prissy!" shouted Miss Hoskins in her ear as she picked them up,
and read the names; "them's elegant things! They'll beat your
four-o'clocks all to nothin'. It's lucky the old Shank-high did make a
clearin' of 'em. Tell Miss Craydocke," she continued, turning again to
Leslie, "that I'm comin' down myself, to--no, I _can't_ thank her! She's
made a _life_ for that 'ere child, out o' nothin', a'most!"

Leslie stood hushed and penetrated in the presence of this good deed,
and the joy and gratitude born of it.

"This ain't all, you see; nor't ain't nothin' new. She's ben at it these
two year; learnin' the child to read, an' tellin' her things, an'
settin' her to hunt 'em out, and to do for herself. She was crazy about
flowers, allers, an' stories; but, lor, I couldn't stop to tell 'em to
her, an' I never knew but one or two; an' now she can read 'em off to
me, like a minister. She's told her a lot o' stuff about the rocks,--_I_
can't make head nor tail on't; but it'd please you to see her fetchin'
'em in by the apern-full, an' goin' on about 'em, that is, if there was
reely any place to put 'em afterwards. That's the wust on't. I tell you,
it _is_ jest _makin_' a life out o' pieces that come to hand. Here's the
girl, an' there's the woods an' rocks; there's all there was to do with,
or likely to be; but she found the gumption an' the willingness, an'
she's done it!"

Prissy came close over to Leslie with her book in her hand. "Wait a
minute," she said, with the effort in her tone peculiar to the deaf.
"I've got something to send back."

"_If_ it's convenient, you mean," put in Aunt Hoskins sharply. "She's as
blunt as a broomstick, that child is."

But Prissy had sprung away in her squirrel-like fashion, and now came
back, bringing with her something really to make one's eyes water, if
one happened, at least, to be ever so little of a geologist,--a mass of
quartz rock as large as she could grasp with her two hands, shot through
at three different angles with three long, superb, columnar crystals of
clear, pale-green beryl. If Professor Dana had known this exact
locality, and a more definite name for the "Cliff," wouldn't he have had
it down in his Supplement with half a dozen exclamation points after the
"beryl"!

"I found it a-purpose!" said Prissy, with the utmost simplicity, putting
the heavy specimen out of her own hands into Leslie's. "She's been
a-wantin' it this great while, and we've looked for it everywheres!"

"A-purpose" it did seem as if the magnificent fragment had been laid in
the way of the child's zealous and grateful search. "There were only the
rocks," as Aunt Hoskins said; in no other way could she so joyously have
acknowledged the kindness that had brightened now three summers of her
life.

"It'll bother you, I'm afeard," said the woman.

"No, indeed! I shall _like_ to take it for you," continued Leslie, with
a warm earnestness, stooping down to the little girl, and speaking in
her clear, glad tone close to her cheek. "I only wish _I_ could find
something to take her myself." And with that, close to the little
red-brown cheek as she was, she put the period of a quick kiss to her
words.

"Come again, and we'll hunt for some together," said the child, with
instant response of cordiality.

"I will come--if I possibly can," was Leslie's last word, and then she
and Dakie Thayne hurried back to the wagon.

The Haddens had just got in again upon their side. They were full of
exclamations about the wonderful view up and down the long
valley-reaches.

"You needn't tell _me_!" cried Elinor, in high enthusiasm. "I don't care
a bit for the geography of it. That great aisle goes straight from Lake
Umbagog to the Sound!"

"It is a glorious picture," said Mrs. Linceford. "But I've had a little
one, that you've lost. You've no idea, Leslie, what a lovely tableau you
have been making,--you and Dakie, with that old woman and the blowzy
child!"

Leslie blushed.

"You'll never look prettier, if you try ever so hard."

"Don't, Mrs. Linceford!"

"Why not?" said Jeannie. "It's only a pity, I think, that you couldn't
have known it at the time. They say we don't know when we're happiest;
and we _can't_ know when we're prettiest; so where's the satisfaction?"

"That's part of your mistake, Jeannie, perhaps," returned her sister.
"If you had been there you'd have spoiled the picture."

"Look at that!" exclaimed Leslie, showing her beryl. "That's for Miss
Craydocke." And then, when the first utterances of amazement and
admiration were over, she told them the story of the child and her
misfortune, and of what Miss Craydocke had done. "_That_'s beautiful, I
think," said she. "And it's the sort of beauty, may be, that one might
feel as one went along. I wish I could find--a diamond--for that woman!"

"Thir garnits on Feather-Cap," put in Jim the driver.

"Oh, _will_ you show us where?"

"Well, 't ain't nowhers in partickler," replied Jim. "It's jest as you
light on 'em. And you wouldn't know the best ones when you did. I've
seen 'em,--dead, dull-lookin' round stones that'll crack open,
chock--full o' red garnits as an egg is o' meat."

"Geodes!" cried Dakie Thayne.

Jim Holden turned round and looked at him as if he thought he had got
hold of some new-fashioned expletive,--possibly a pretty hard one.

They came down, now, on the other side of the Cliff, and struck the
ford. This diverted and absorbed their thoughts, for none of the ladies
had ever forded a river before.

"Are you sure it's safe?" asked Mrs. Linceford.

"Safe as meetin'," returned Jim. "I'd drive across with my eyes shot."

"Oh, don't!" cried Elinor.

"I ain't agoin' ter; but I could,--an' the hosses, too, for that
matter."

It was exciting, nevertheless, when the water in mid-channel came up
nearly to the body of the wagon, and the swift ripples deluded the eye
into almost conviction that horses, vehicle, and all were not gaining an
inch in forward progress, but drifting surely down. They came up out of
the depths, however, with a tug, and a swash, and a drip all over, and a
scrambling of hoofs on the pebbles, at the very point aimed at in such
apparently sidelong fashion,--the wheel-track that led them up the bank
and into the ten-mile pine woods through which they were to skirt the
base of the Cairn and reach Feather-Cap on his accessible side. It was
one long fragrance and stillness and shadow.

They overtook the Routh party at the beginning of the mountain-path. The
pine woods stretched on over the gradual slope, as far as they would
climb before dinner. Otherwise the midday heats would have been too much
for them. This was the easy part of the way, and there was breath for
chat and merriment.

Just within the upper edge of the woods, in a comparatively smooth
opening, they halted. Here they spread their picnic, while up above, on
the bare, open rock, the young men kindled their fire and heated the
coffee; and here they ate and drank, and rested through the noontide.

Light clouds flitted between the mountains and the heavens, later in the
day, and flung bewildering, dreamy shadows on the far-off steeps, and
dropped a gracious veil over the bald forehead and sun-bleak shoulders
of Feather-Cap. It was "weather just made for them," as fortunate
excursionists are wont to say.

Sin Saxon was all life, and spring, and fun. She climbed at least three
Feather-Caps, dancing from stone to stone with tireless feet, and
bounding back and forth with every gay word that it occurred to her to
say to anybody. Pictures? She made them incessantly. She was a living
dissolving view. You no sooner got one bright look or graceful attitude
than it was straightway shifted into another. She kept Frank Scherman at
her side for the first half-hour, and then, perhaps, his admiration or
his muscles tired, for he fell back a little to help Madam Routh up a
sudden ridge, and afterwards, somehow, merged himself in the quieter
group of strangers.

By and by one of the Arnalls whispered to Mattie Shannon,--"He's sidled
off with her, at last. Did you ever know such a fellow for a new face?
But it's partly the petticoat. He's such an artist's eye for color. He
was raving about her all the while she stood hanging those shawls among
the pines to keep the wind from Mrs. Linceford. She isn't downright
pretty either. But she's got up exquisitely!"

Leslie Goldthwaite, in her lovely mountain dress, her bright bloom from
enjoyment and exercise, with the stray light through the pines
burnishing the bronze of her hair, had innocently made a second picture,
it would seem. One such effects deeper impression, sometimes, than the
confusing splendor of incessant changes.

"Are you looking for something? Can I help you?" Frank Scherman had
said, coming up to her, as she and her friend Dakie, a little apart from
the others, were poising among some loose pebbles.

"Nothing that I have lost," Leslie answered, smiling. "Something I have
a very presumptuous wish to find. A splendid garnet geode, if you
please!"

"That's not at all impossible," returned the young man. "We'll have it
before we go down,--see if we don't!"

Frank Scherman knew a good deal about Feather-Cap, and something of
geologizing. So he and Leslie--Dakie Thayne, in his unswerving devotion,
still accompanying--"sidled off" together, took a long turn round under
the crest, talking very pleasantly--and restfully, after Sin Saxon's
continuous brilliancy--all the way. How they searched among loose drift
under the cliff, how Mr. Scherman improvised a hammer from a slice of
rock; and how, after many imperfect specimens, they did at last "find
a-purpose" an irregular oval of dull, dusky stone, which burst with a
stroke into two chalices of incrusted crimson crystals,--I ought to be
too near the end of a long chapter to tell. But this search and this
finding, and the motive of it, were the soul and the crown of Leslie's
pleasure for the day. She did not even stop to think how long she had
had Frank Scherman's attention all to herself, or the triumph that it
was in the eyes of the older girls, among whom he was excessively
admired, and not very disguisedly competed for. She did not know how
fast she was growing to be a sort of admiration herself among them, in
their girls' fashion, or what she might do, if she chose, in the way of
small, early belleship here at Outledge with such beginning,--how she
was "getting on," in short, as girls express it. And so, as Jeannie
Hadden asked, "Where was the satisfaction?"

"You never knew anything like it," said Jeannie to her friend Ginevra,
talking it all over with her that evening in a bit of a visit to Mrs.
Thoresby's room. "I never saw anybody take so among strangers. Madam
Routh was delighted with her; and so, I should think, was Mr. Scherman.
They say he hates trouble; but he took her all round the top of the
mountain, hammering stones for her to find a geode."

"That's the newest dodge," said Mrs. Thoresby, with a little sarcastic
laugh. "Girls of that sort are always looking for geodes." After this,
Mrs. Thoresby had always a little well-bred venom for Leslie
Goldthwaite.

At the same time Leslie herself, coming out on the piazza for a moment
after tea, met Miss Craydocke approaching over the lawn. She had only
her errand to introduce her, but she would not lose the opportunity. She
went straight up to the little woman, in a frank, sweet way. But a bit
of embarrassment underneath, the real respect that made her
timid,--perhaps a little nervous fatigue after the excitement and
exertion of the day,--did what nerves and embarrassment, and reverence
itself will do sometimes,--played a trick with her perfectly clear
thought on its way to her tongue.

"Miss Graywacke, I believe?" she said, and instantly knew the dreadful
thing that she had done.

"Exactly," said the lady, with an amused little smile.

"Oh, I _do_ beg your pardon," began Leslie, blushing all over.

"No need,--no need. Do you think I don't know what name I go by, behind
my back? They suppose because I'm old and plain and single, and wear a
front, and don't understand rats and the German, that I'm deaf and blind
and stupid. But I believe I get as much as they do out of their jokes,
after all." The dear old soul took Leslie by both her hands as she
spoke, and looked a whole world of gentle benignity at her out of two
soft gray eyes, and then she laughed again. This woman had no _self_ to
be hurt.

"We stopped at the Cliff this morning," Leslie took heart to say; "and
they were so glad of your parcel,--the little girl and her aunt. And
Prissy gave me something to bring back to you; a splendid specimen of
beryl that she has found."

"Then my mind's at rest!" said Miss Craydocke, cheerier than ever. "I
was sure she'd break her neck, or pull the mountain down on her head
some day looking for it."

"Would you like--I've found--I should like you to have that, too,--a
garnet geode from Feather--Cap?" Leslie thought she had done it very
clumsily, and in a hurry, after all.

"Will you come over to my little room, dear,--number fifteen, in the
west wing,--to-morrow sometime, with your stones? I want to see more of
you."

There was a deliberate, gentle emphasis upon her words. If the grandest
person of whom she had ever known had said to Leslie Goldthwaite, "I
want to see more of you," she would not have heard it with a warmer
thrill than she felt that moment at her heart.



CHAPTER XI.


IN THE PINES.

It was a glorious July morning, and there was nothing particular on
foot. In the afternoon, there would be drives and walks, perhaps; for
some hours, now, there would be intensifying heat. The sun had burned
away every cloud that had hung rosy about his rising, and the great gray
flanks of Washington glared in a pale scorch close up under the sky,
whose blue fainted in the flooding presence of the full white light of
such unblunted day. Here and there, adown his sides, something flashed
out in a clear, intense dazzle, like an enormous crystal cropping from
the granite, and blazing with reflected splendor. These were the leaps
of water from out dark rifts into the sun.

"Everybody will be in the pines to-day," said Martha Josselyn. "I think
it is better when they all go off and leave us."

"We can go up under our rock," said Sue, putting stockings and mending
cotton into a large, light basket. "Have you got the chess-board? What
_should_ we do without our mending-day?"

These two girls had bought new stockings for all the little feet at
home, that the weekly darning might be less for the mother while they
were away; and had come with their own patiently cared for old hose,
"which they should have nothing else to do but to embroider."

They had made a sort of holiday, in their fashion, of mending-day at
home, till it had come to seem like a positive treat and rest; and the
habit was so strong upon them that they hailed it even here. They always
got out their little chess-board, when they sat down to the big basket
together. They could darn, and consider, and move, and darn again; and
so could keep it up all day long, as else even they would have found it
nearly intolerable to do. So, though they seemed slower at it, they
really in the end saved time. Thursday night saw the tedious work all
done, and the basket piled with neatly folded pairs, like a heap of fine
white rolls. This was a great thing, and "enough for one day," as Mrs.
Josselyn said. It was disastrous if they once began to lie over. If they
could be disposed of between sun and sun, the girls were welcome to any
play they could get out of it.

"There they go, those two together. Always to the pines, and always with
a work-basket," said Leslie Goldthwaite, sitting on the piazza step at
the Green Cottage, by Mrs. Linceford's feet, the latter lady occupying
a Shaker rocking-chair behind. "What nice girls they seem to be,--and
nobody appears to know them much, beyond a 'good-morning'!"

"Henny-penny, Goosie-poosie, Turkey-lurky, Ducky-daddles, _and_ Chicken
Little!" said Mrs. Linceford, counting up from thumb to little finger.
"Dakie Thayne and Miss Craydocke, Marmaduke Wharne and these two,--they
just make it out," she continued, counting back again. "Whatever you do,
Les, don't make up to Fox Lox at last, for all our sakes!"

Out came Dakie Thayne, at this point, upon them, with his hands full.
"Miss Leslie, _could_ you head these needles for me with black wax? I
want them for my butterflies, and I've made _such_ a daub and scald of
it! I've blistered three fingers, and put lop-sided heads to two
miserable pins, and left no end of wax splutters on my table. I haven't
but two sticks more, and the deacon don't keep any; I must try to get a
dozen pins out of it, at least." He had his sealing-wax and a lighted
"homespun candle," as Leslie called the dips of Mrs. Green's
manufacture, in one hand, and a pincushion stuck full of needles waiting
for tops, in the other.

"I told you so," said Mrs. Linceford to Leslie. "That's it, then?" she
asked of Dakie Thayne.

"What, ma'am?"

"Butterflies. I knew you'd some hobby or other,--I said so. I'm glad
it's no worse," she answered, in her pleasant, smiling way. Dakie Thayne
had a great liking for Mrs. Linceford, but he adored Leslie Goldthwaite.

"I'd like to show them to you, if you'd care," he said. "I've got some
splendid ones. One great Turnus, that I brought with me in the
chrysalis, that hatched out while I was at Jefferson. I rolled it up in
a paper for the journey, and fastened it in the crown of my hat. I've
had it ever since last fall. The asterias worms are spinning now,--the
early ones. They're out on the carrot-tops in shoals. I'm feeding up a
dozen of 'em in a box. They're very handsome,--bright green with black
and yellow spots,--and it's the queerest thing to see them stiffen out
and change."

"_Can_ you? Do they do it all at once?" asked Etty Thoresby, slipping
into the rocking-chair, as Mrs. Linceford, by whom she had come and
placed herself within the last minute, rose and went in to follow her
laundress, just then going up the stairs with her basket.

"Pretty much; it seems so. The first thing you know they stick
themselves up by their tails, and spin a noose to hang back their heads
in, and there they are, like a papoose in a basket. Then their skin
turns a queer, dead, ashy color, and grows somehow straight and tight,
and they only squirm a little in a feeble way now and then, and grow
stiffer and stiffer till they can't squirm at all, and then they're
mummies, and that's the end of it till the butterflies are born. It's a
strange thing to see a live creature go into its own shroud, and hang
itself up to turn into a corpse. Sometimes a live one, crawling round to
find a place for itself, will touch a mummy accidentally; and then, when
they're not quite gone, I've seen 'em give an odd little quiver, under
the shell, as if they were almost at peace, and didn't want to be
intruded on, or called back to earthly things, and the new comer takes
the hint, and respects privacy, and moves himself off to find quarters
somewhere else. Miss Leslie, how splendidly you're doing those! What's
the difference, I wonder, between girls' fingers and boys'? I couldn't
make those atoms of balls so round and perfect, 'if I died and
suffered,' as Miss Hoskins says."

"It's only centrifugal force," said Leslie, spinning round between her
finger and thumb a needle to whose head she had just touched a globule
of the bright black wax. "The world and a pin-head--both made on the
same principle."

The Haddens and Imogen Thoresby strolled along together, and added
themselves to the group.

"Let's go over to the hotel, Leslie. We've seen nothing of the girls
since just after breakfast. They must be up in the hall, arranging about
the tableaux."

"I'll come by and by, if you want me; don't wait. I'm going to finish
these--properly;" and she dipped and twirled another needle with dainty
precision, in the pause between her words.

"Have you got a lot of brothers at home, Miss Leslie?" asked Dakie
Thayne.

"Two," replied Leslie; "not at home, though, now; one at Exeter, and the
other at Cambridge. Why?"

"I was thinking it would be bad--what do you call it--political economy
or something, if you hadn't any, that's all."

"Mamma wants you," said Ginevra Thoresby, looking out at the door to
call her sisters. "She's in the Haughtleys' room. They're talking about
the wagon for Minster Rock to-night. What _do_ you take up your time
with that boy for?" she added, not inaudibly, as she and Imogen turned
away together.

"Oh dear!" cried blunt Etty, lingering, "I wonder if she meant me. I
want to hear about the caterpillars. Mamma thinks the Haughtleys are
such nice people, because they came in their own carriage, and they've
got such big trunks, and a saddle-horse, and elegant dressing-cases, and
ivory-backed brushes! I wish she didn't care so much about such things."

Mrs. Thoresby would have been shocked to hear her little daughter's
arrangement and version of her ideas. She had simply been kind to these
strangers on their arrival, in their own comfortable carriage, a few
days since; had stepped forward,--as somehow it seemed to devolve upon
her, with her dignified air and handsome gray curls, when she chose, to
do,--representing by a kind of tacit consent the household in general,
as somebody in every such sojourn usually will; had interested herself
about their rooms, which were near her own, and had reported of them,
privately, among other things noted in these first glimpses, that "they
had everything about them in the most _per_fect style; ivory-backed
brushes, and lovely inlaid dressing-cases, Ginevra; the best all
_through_, and no sham!" Yes, indeed, if that could but be said truly,
and need not stop at brushes and boxes!

Imogen came back presently, and called to Etty from the stairs, and she
was obliged to go. Jeannie Hadden waited till they were fairly off the
landing, and then walked away herself, saying nothing, but wearing a
slightly displeased air.

Mrs. Thoresby and her elder daughter had taken a sort of dislike to
Dakie Thayne. They seemed to think he wanted putting down. Nobody knew
anything about him; he was well enough in his place, perhaps; but why
should he join himself to their party? The Routh girls had Frank
Scherman, and two or three other older attendants; among them he was
simply not thought of, often, at all. If it had not been for Leslie and
Mrs. Linceford, he would have found himself in Outledge, what boys of
his age are apt to find themselves in the world at large,--a sort of odd
or stray, not provided for anywhere in the general scheme of society.
For this very reason, discerning it quickly, Leslie had been loyal to
him; and he, with all his boy-vehemence of admiration and devotion, was
loyal to her. She had the feeling, motherly and sisterly in its mingled
instinct, by which all true and fine feminine natures are moved, in
behalf of the man-nature in its dawn, that so needs sympathy and gentle
consideration and provision, and that certain respect which calls forth
and fosters self-respect; to be allowed and acknowledged to be somebody,
lest for the want of this it should fail, unhappily, ever to be anybody.
She was not aware of it; she only followed her kindly instinct. So she
was doing, unconsciously, one of the best early bits of her woman-work
in the world.

Once in a while it occurred to Leslie Goldthwaite to wonder why it was
that she was able to forget--that she found she had forgotten, in a
measure--those little self-absorptions that she had been afraid of, and
that had puzzled her in her thoughtful moments. She was glad to be
"taken up" with something that could please Dakie Thayne; or to go over
to the Cliff and see Prissy Hoskins, and tell her a story; or help Dakie
to fence in safely her beds of flower-seedlings (she had not let her
first visit be her last, in these weeks since her introduction there),
or to sit an hour with dear old Miss Craydocke and help her in a bit of
charity work, and hear her sweet, simple, genial talk. She had taken up
her little opportunities as they came. Was it by instinct only, or
through a tender Spirit-leading, that she winnowed them and chose the
best, and had so been kept a little out of the drift and hurry that
might else have frothed away the hours? "Give us our daily bread," "Lead
us not into temptation,"--they have to do with each other, if we "know
the daily bread when we see it." But that also is of the grace of God.

There was the beginning of fruit under the leaf with Leslie Goldthwaite;
and the fine life-current was setting itself that way with its best
impulse and its rarest particles.

The pincushion was well filled with the delicate, bristling,
tiny-headed needles, when Miss Craydocke appeared, walking across, under
her great brown sun-umbrella, from the hotel.

"If you've nothing else to do, my dears, suppose we go over to the pines
together? Where's Miss Jeannie? Wouldn't she like it? All the breeze
there is haunts them always."

"I'm always ready for the pines," said Leslie. "Here, Dakie, I hope
you'll catch a butterfly for every pin. Oh, now I think of it, have you
found your _elephant_?"

"Yes, half way up the garret-stairs. I can't feed him comfortably, Miss
Leslie. He wants to eat incessantly, and the elm-leaves wilt so quickly,
if I bring them in, that the first thing I know, he's out of proper
provender and off on a raid. He needs to be on the tree; but then I
should lose him."

Leslie thought a minute. "You might tie up a branch with
mosquito-netting," she said.

"Isn't that bright? I'll go right and do it,--only I haven't any
netting," said he.

"Mrs. Linceford has. I'll go and beg a piece for you. And then, if
you'll just sit here a minute, I'll come, Miss Craydocke."

When she came back, she brought Jeannie with her. To use a vulgar
proverb, Jeannie's nose was rather out of joint since the Haughtleys had
arrived. Ginevra Thoresby was quite engrossed with them, and this often
involved Imogen. There was only room for six in Captain Green's wagon,
and nothing had been said to Jeannie about the drive to Minster Rock.

Leslie had hanging upon her finger, also, the finest and whitest and
most graceful of all possible little splint baskets, only just big
enough to carry a bit of such work as was in it now,--a strip of sheer,
delicate grass-linen, which needle and thread, with her deft guidance,
were turning into a cobweb border, by a weaving of lace-lines, strong,
yet light, where the woof of the original material had been drawn out.
It was "done for odd-minute work, and was better than anything she could
buy." Prettier it certainly was, when, with a finishing of the merest
edge of lace, it came to encircle her round, fair arms and shoulders, or
to peep out with its dainty revelation among the gathering treasures of
the linen-drawer I told you of. She had accomplished yards of it already
for her holiday work.

She had brought the netting, as she promised, for Dakie Thayne, who
received it with thanks, and straightway hastened off to get his
"elephant" and a piece of string, and to find a convenient elm-branch
which he could convert into a cage-pasture.

"I'll come round to the pines, afterward," he said.

And just then,--Sin Saxon's bright face and pretty figure showing
themselves on the hotel piazza, with a seeking look and
gesture,--Jeannie and Elinor were drawn off also to ask about the
tableaux, and see if they were wanted, with the like promise that "they
would come presently." So Miss Craydocke and Leslie walked slowly round,
under the sun-umbrella, to the head of the ledge, by themselves.

Up this rocky promontory it was very pretty little climbing, over the
irregular turf-covered crags that made the ascent; and once up, it was
charming. A natural grove of stately old pine-trees, with their glory of
tasseled foliage and their breath of perfume, crowned and sheltered it;
and here had been placed at cosy angles, under the deepest shade, long,
broad, elastic benches of boards, sprung from rock to rock, and made
secure to stakes, or held in place by convenient irregularities of the
rock itself. Pine-trunks and granite offered rough support to backs that
could so fit themselves; and visitors found out their favorite seats,
and spent hours there, with books or work, or looking forth in a
luxurious listlessness from out the cool upon the warm, bright
valley-picture, and the shining water wandering down from far heights
and unknown solitudes to see the world.

"It's better so," said Miss Craydocke, when the others left them. "I
had a word I wanted to say to you. What do you suppose those two came up
here to the mountains for?" And Miss Craydocke nodded up, indicatively,
toward the two girl-figures just visible by their draperies in a nook of
rock beyond and above the benches.

"To get the good of them, as we did, I suppose," Leslie answered,
wondering a little what Miss Craydocke might exactly mean.

"I suppose so, too," was the reply. "And I suppose--the Lord's love came
with them! I suppose He cares whether they get the full of the good. And
yet I think He leaves it, like everything else, a little to us."

Leslie's heart beat quicker, hearing these words. It beat quicker always
when such thoughts were touched. She was shy of seeking them; she almost
tried, in an involuntary way, to escape them at first, when they were
openly broached; yet she longed always, at the same time, for a deeper
understanding of them. "I should like to know the Miss Josselyns
better," she said presently, when Miss Craydocke made no haste to speak
again. "I have been thinking so this morning. I have thought so very
often. But they seem so quiet, always. One doesn't like to intrude."

"They ought to be more with young people," Miss Craydocke went on. "And
they ought to do less ripping and sewing and darning, if it could be
managed. They brought three trunks with them. And what do you think the
third is full of?"

Leslie had no idea, of course.

"Old winter dresses. To be made over. For the children at home. So that
their mother may be coaxed to take her turn and go away upon a visit
when they get back, seeing that the fall sewing will be half done!
That's a pretty coming to the mountains for two tired-out young things,
I think!"

"Oh dear!" cried Leslie pitifully; and then a secret compunction seized
her, thinking of her own little elegant, odd-minute work, which was all
she had to interfere with mountain pleasure.

"And isn't it some of our business, if we could get at it?" asked Miss
Craydocke, concluding.

"Dear Miss Craydocke!" said Leslie, with a warm brightness in her face,
as she looked up, "the world is full of business; but so few people find
out any but their own! Nobody but you dreamt of this, or of Prissy
Hoskins, till you showed us,--or of all the little Wigleys. How do you
come to know, when other people go on in their own way, and see
nothing,--like the priests and Levites?" This last she added by a sudden
occurrence and application, that half answered, beforehand, her own
question.

"When we think of people's needs as the _Master's!_" said Miss
Craydocke, evading herself, and never minding her syntax. "When we think
what every separate soul is to Him, that He came into the world to care
for as God cares for the sparrows! It's my faith that He's never gone
away from his work, dear; that his love lies alongside every life, and
in all its experience; and that his life is in his love; and that if we
want to find Him--_there_ we may! Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the
least of these, ye have done it unto me.'" She grew eloquent--the plain,
simple-speaking woman--when something that was great and living to her
would find utterance.

"How do you mean that?" said Leslie, with a sort of abruptness, as of
one who must have definiteness, but who hurried with her asking, lest
after a minute she might not dare. "That He really knows, and thinks, of
every special thing and person,--and cares? Or only _would?_"

"I take it as He said it," said Miss Craydocke. "'All power is given me
in heaven and in earth.' 'And lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world!' He put the two together himself, dear!"

A great, warm, instant glow seemed to rush over Leslie inwardly. In the
light and quickening of it, other words shone out and declared
themselves. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide
in me." And this was the abiding! The sympathy, the interest, that found
itself side by side with his! The faith that felt his uniting presence
with all!

To this child of sixteen came a moment's glimpse of what might be,
truly, that life which is "hid with Christ in God," and which has its
blessed work with the Lord in the world,--came, with the word of a
plain, old, unconsidered woman, whom heedless girls made daily sport
of,--came, bringing with it "old and new," like a householder of the
kingdom of heaven; showing how the life and the fruit are inextricably
one,--how the growth and the withering are inevitably determined!

They reached the benches now; they saw the Josselyns busy up beyond,
with their chess-board between them, and their mending basket at their
feet; they would not go now and interrupt their game.

The seat which the sisters had chosen, because it was just a quiet
little corner for two, was a nook scooped out, as it were, in a jut of
granite; hollowed in behind and perpendicularly to a height above their
heads, and embracing a mossy little flat below, so that it seemed like a
great solid armchair into which two could get together, and a third
could not possibly intrude.

Miss Craydocke and Leslie settled themselves, and both were silent.
Presently Leslie spoke again, giving out a fragmentary link of the train
of thought that had been going on in her. "If it weren't for just one
thing!" she said, and there she stopped.

"What?" asked Miss Craydocke, as not a bit at a loss to made out the
unseen connection.

"The old puzzle. We _have_ to think and work a good deal of the time for
ourselves. And then we lose sight"--

"Of Him? Why?"

Leslie said no more, but waited. Miss Craydocke's tone was clear,
untroubled. The young girl looked, therefore, for this clear confidence
to be spoken out.

"Why, since He is close to _our_ life also, and cares tenderly for
that?--since, if we let him possess himself of it, it is one of his own
channels, by which He still gives himself unto the world? He didn't do
it all in one single history of three years, my child, or thirty-three,
out there in Judaea. He keeps on,--so I believe,--through every possible
way and circumstance of human living now, if only the life is grafted on
his. The Vine and the branches, and God tending all. And the fruit is
the kingdom of heaven."

It is never too late, and never impossible, for a human face to look
beautiful. In the soft light and shadow of the stirring pines, with the
moving from within of that which at once illumined and veiled, with an
exultation and an awe, there came a glory over the homely and faded
features which they could neither bar nor dim. And the thought took
possession of the word and tone, and made them simply grand and heavenly
musical.

After that they sat still again,--it matters not how many minutes. The
crisp green spines rustled dreamily over their heads; the wild birds
called to each other, far back in the closer lying woods; the water
glanced on, millions of new drops every instant making the self-same
circles and gushes and falls, and the wealth of summer sunshine holding
and vivifying all. Leslie had word and scene stamped together on her
spirit and memory in those moments. There was a Presence in the hush and
beauty. Two souls were here met together in the name of the living
Christ. And for that there is the promise.

Martha Josselyn and her sister sat and played and mended on.

By and by Dakie Thayne came; said a bright word or two; glanced round,
in restless boy-fashion, as if taking in the elements of the situation,
and considering what was to be made out of it; perceived the pair at
chess; and presently, with his mountain stick, went springing away from
point to point, up and around the piles and masses of rock and mound
that made up the broadening ascent of the ledge.

"Check to your queen," said Sue.

Martha put her elbow upon her knee, and held her needle suspended by its
thread. Sue darned away, and got a great hole laid lengthwise with
smooth lines, before her threatening move had been provided for. Then a
red knight came with gallant leap, right down in the midst of the white
forces, menacing in his turn right and left; and Martha drew a long
sigh, and sat back, and poised her needle-lance again, and went to work;
and it was Sue's turn to lean over the board with knit brows and holden
breath.

Something peered over the rock above them at this moment. A boy's head,
from which the cap had been removed.

"If only they'll play now, and not chatter!" thought Dakie Thayne, lying
prone along the cliff above, and putting up his elbows to rest his head
between his hands. "This'll be jolly, if it don't turn to eavesdropping.
Poor old Noll! I haven't had a game since I played with him!"

Sue would not withdraw her attack. She planted a bishop so that, if the
knight should move, it would open a course straight down toward a weak
point beside the red king.

"She means to 'fight it out on that line, if it takes all summer,'"
Dakie went on within himself, having grasped, during the long pause
before Sue's move, the whole position. "They're no fools at it, to have
got it into a shape like that! I'd just like Noll to see it!"

Martha looked, and drew a thread or two into her stocking, and looked
again. Then she stabbed her cotton-ball with her needle, and put up both
hands--one with the white stocking-foot still drawn over it--beside her
temples. At last she castled.

Sue was as calm as the morning. She always grew calm and strong as the
game drew near the end. She had even let her thoughts go off to other
things while Martha pondered and she wove in the cross-threads of her
darn.

"I wonder, Martha," she said now, suddenly, before attending to the new
aspect of the board, "if I couldn't do without that muslin skirt I made
to wear under my _piña_, and turn it into a couple of white waists to
carry home to mother? If she goes away, you know"--

"Aigh!"

It was a short, sharp, unspellable sound that came from above. Sue
started, and a red piece rolled from the board. Then there was a
rustling and a crashing and a leaping, and by a much shorter and more
hazardous way than he had climbed, Dakie Thayne came down and stood
before them. "I had to let you know! I couldn't listen. I was in hopes
you wouldn't talk. Don't move, please! I'll find the man. I do beg your
pardon,--I had no business,--but I so like chess,--when it's any sort of
a game!"

While he spoke, he was looking about the base of the rock, and by good
fortune spied and pounced upon the bit of bright-colored ivory, which
had rolled and rested itself against a hummock of sod.

"May I see it out?" he begged, approaching, and putting the piece upon
the board. "You must have played a good deal," looking at Sue.

"We play often at home, my sister and I; and I had some good practice
in"--There she stopped.

"In the hospital," said Martha, with the sharp little way she took up
sometimes. "Why shouldn't you tell of it?"

"Has Miss Josselyn been in the hospitals?" asked Dakie Thayne, with a
certain quick change in his tone.

"For the best of two years," Martha answered.

At this moment, seeing how Dakie was breaking the ice for them, up came
Miss Craydocke and Leslie Goldthwaite.

"Miss Leslie! Miss Craydocke! This lady has been away among our
soldiers, in the hospitals, half through the war! Perhaps--did you
ever"--But with that he broke off. There was a great flush on his face,
and his eyes glowed with boy-enthusiasm lit at the thought of the war,
and of brave men, and of noble, ministering women, of whom he suddenly
found himself face to face with one.

The game of chess got swept together. "It was as good as over," Martha
Josselyn said. And these five sat down together among the rocks, and in
half an hour, after weeks of mere "good-mornings," they had grown to be
old friends. But Dakie Thayne--he best knew why--left his fragment of a
question unfinished.



CHAPTER XII.


CROWDED OUT.

The "by and by" people came at last: Jeannie and Elinor, and Sin Saxon,
and the Arnalls, and Josie Scherman. They wanted Leslie,--to tell and
ask her half a hundred things about the projected tableaux. If it had
only been Miss Craydocke and the Josselyns sitting together, with Dakie
Thayne, how would that have concerned them,--the later comers? It would
only have been a bit of "the pines" preoccupied: they would have found a
place for themselves, and gone on with their own chatter. But Leslie's
presence made all the difference. The little group became the nucleus of
the enlarging circle. Miss Craydocke had known very well how this would
be.

They asked this and that of Leslie which they had come to ask; and she
would keep turning to the Josselyns and appealing to them; so they were
drawn in. There was a curtain to be made, first of all. Miss Craydocke
would undertake that, drafting Leslie and the Miss Josselyns to help
her; they should all come to her room early to-morrow, and they would
have it ready by ten o'clock. Leslie wondered a little that she found
_work_ for them to do: a part of the play she thought would have been
better; but Miss Craydocke knew how that must come about. Besides, she
had more than one little line to lay and to pull, this serpent-wise old
maiden, in behalf of her ultimate designs concerning them.

I can't stay here under the pines and tell you all their talk this
summer morning,--how Sin Saxon grew social and saucy with the quiet Miss
Josselyns; how she fell upon the mending-basket and their notability,
and declared that the most foolish and pernicious proverb in the world
was that old thing about a stitch in time saving nine; it might save
certain special stitches; but how about the _time_ itself, and _other_
stitches? She didn't believe in it,--running round after a
darning-needle and forty other things, the minute a thread broke, and
dropping whatever else one had in hand, to let it ravel itself all out
again; "she believed in a good big basket, in a dark closet, and laying
up there for a rainy day, and being at peace in the pleasant weather.
Then, too, there was another thing; she didn't believe in notability
itself, at all: the more one was fool enough to know, the more one had
to do, all one's life long. Providence always took care of the lame and
the lazy; and, besides, those capable people never had contented minds.
They couldn't keep servants: their own fingers were always itching to do
things better. Her sister Effie was a lamentable instance. She'd married
a man,--well, not _very_ rich,--and she had set out to learn and direct
everything. The consequence was, she was like Eve after the apple,--she
knew good and evil; and wasn't the garden just a wilderness after that?
She never thought of it before, but she believed that was exactly what
that old poem in Genesis was written for!"

How Miss Craydocke answered, with her gentle, tolerant common-sense, and
right thought, and wide-awake brightness; how the Josselyns grew cordial
and confident enough to confess that, with five little children in the
house, there wasn't a great necessity for laying up against a rainy day,
and with stockings at a dollar and a half a pair, one was apt to get the
nine stitches, or a pretty comfortable multiple of them, every Wednesday
when the wash came in; and how these different kinds of lives, coming
together with a friendly friction, found themselves not so uncongenial,
or so incomprehensible to each other, after all,--all this, in its
detail of bright words, I cannot stop to tell you; it would take a good
many summers to go through one like this so fully; but when the big
bell rang for dinner, they all came down the ledge together, and Sue
and Martha Josselyn, for the first time in four weeks, felt themselves
fairly one with the current interest and life of the gay house in which
they had been dwellers and yet only lookers-on.

Mrs. Thoresby, coming down to dinner, a few minutes late, with her
daughters, and pausing--as people always did at the Green Cottage,
without knowing why--to step from the foot of the stairway to the open
piazza-door, and glance out before turning toward the dining-room, saw
the ledge party just dividing itself into its two little streams, that
were to head, respectively, for cottage and hotel.

"It is a wonder to me that Mrs. Linceford allows it!" was her comment.
"Just the odds and ends of all the company here. And those girls, who
might take whatever stand they pleased."

"Miss Leslie always finds out the nicest people, and the best times, _I_
think," said Etty, who had dragged through but a dull morning behind the
blinds of her mother's window, puzzling over crochet,--which she hated,
because she said it was like everlastingly poking one's finger after a
sliver,--and had caught now and then, over the still air, the laughter
and bird-notes that came together from among the pines. One of the Miss
Haughtleys had sat with them; but that only "stiffened out the
dullness," as Etty had declared, the instant the young lady left them.

"Don't be pert, Etty. You don't know what you want, or what is for your
interest. The Haddens were well enough, by themselves; but when it comes
to Tom, Dick, and Harry!"

"I don't believe that's elegant, mamma," said Etty demurely; "and there
isn't Tom, Dick, nor Harry; only Dakie Thayne, and that nice, _nice_
Miss Craydocke! And--I _hate_ the Haughtleys!" This with a sudden
explosiveness at the last, after the demureness.

"Etty!"--and Mrs. Thoresby intoned an indescribable astonishment of
displeasure in her utterance of her daughter's name,--"remember
yourself. You are neither to be impertinent to me, nor to speak rudely
of persons whom I choose for your acquaintance. When you are older, you
will come to understand how these chance meetings may lead to the most
valuable friendships, or, on the contrary, to the most mortifying
embarrassments. In the mean time, you are to be guided." After which
little sententious homily out of the Book of the World, Mrs. Thoresby
ruffled herself with dignity, and led her brood away with her.

Next day, Tom, Dick, and Harry--that is to say, Miss Craydocke, Susan
and Martha Josselyn, and Leslie Goldthwaite--were gathered in the
first-named lady's room, to make the great green curtain. And there Sin
Saxon came in upon them,--ostensibly to bring the curtain-rings, and
explain how she wanted them put on; but after that she lingered.

"It's like the Tower of Babel upstairs," she said, "and just about as
likely ever to get built. I can't bear to stay where I can't hear myself
talk. You're nice and cosy here, Miss Craydocke." And with that, she
settled herself down on the floor, with all her little ruffles and
flounces and billows of muslin heaping and curling themselves about her,
till her pretty head and shoulders were like a new and charming sort of
floating-island in the midst.

And it came to pass that presently the talk drifted round to vanities
and vexations,--on this wise.

"Everybody wants to be everything," said Sin Saxon. "They don't say so,
of course. But they keep objecting, and unsettling. Nothing hushes
anybody up but proposing them for some especially magnificent part. And
you can't hush them all at once in that way. If they'd only _say_ what
they want, and be done with it! But they're so dreadfully polite! Only
finding out continual reasons why nobody will do for this and that, or
have time to dress, or something, and waiting modestly to be suggested
and shut up! When I came down they were in full tilt about 'The Lady of
Shalott.' It's to be one of the crack scenes, you know,--river of blue
cambric, and a real, regular, lovely property-boat. Frank Scherman sent
for it, and it came up on the stage yesterday,--drivers swearing all the
way. Now they'll go on for half an hour, at least; and at the end of
that time I shall walk in, upon the plain of Shinar, with my hair all
let down,--it's real, every _bit of it_, not a tail tied on
anywhere,--and tell them I--myself--am to be the Lady of Shalott! I
think I shall relish flinging in that little bit of honesty, like a dash
of cold water into the middle of a fry. Won't it sizzle?"

She sat twirling the cord upon which the dozens of great brass rings
were strung, watching the shining ellipse they made as they
revolved,--like a child set down upon the carpet with a
plaything,--expecting no answer, only waiting for the next vagrant
whimsicality that should come across her brain,--not altogether without
method, either,--to give it utterance.

"I don't suppose I could convince you of it," she resumed; "but I do
actually have serious thoughts sometimes. I think that very likely some
of us--most of us--are going to the dogs. And I wonder what it will be
when we get there. Why don't you contradict, or confirm, what I say,
Miss Craydocke?"

"You haven't said out, yet, have you?"

Sin Saxon opened wide her great, wondering, saucy blue eyes, and turned
them full upon Miss Craydocke's face. "Well, you _are_ a oner! as
somebody in Dickens says. There's no such thing as a leading question
for you. It's like the rope the dog slipped his head out of, and left
the man holding fast at the other end, in touching confidence that he
was coming on. I saw that once on Broadway. Now I experience it. I
suppose I've got to say more. Well, then, in a general way, do you think
living amounts to anything, Miss Craydocke?"

"Whose living?"

"Sharp--as a knife that's just cut through a lemon! _Ours_, then, if you
please; us girls', for instance."

"You haven't done much of your living yet, my dear." The tone was
gentle, as of one who looked down from such a height of years that she
felt tenderly the climbing that had been, for those who had it yet to
do.

"We're as busy at it, too, as we can be. But sometimes I've mistrusted
something like what I discovered very indignantly one day when I was
four years old, and fancied I was making a petticoat, sewing through
and through a bit of flannel. The thread hadn't any knot in it!"

"That was very well, too, until you knew just where to put the stitches
that should stay."

"Which brings us to our subject of the morning, as the sermons say
sometimes, when they're half through, or ought to be. There are all
kinds of stitches,--embroidery, and plain over-and-over, and whippings,
and darns! When are we to make our knot and begin? and which kind are we
to do?"

"Most lives find occasion, more or less, for each. Practiced fingers
will know how to manage all."

"But--it's--the--pro_por_tion!" cried Sin, in a crescendo that ended
with an emphasis that was nearly a little scream.

"I think that, when one looks to what is really needed most and first,
will arrange itself," said Miss Craydocke. "Something gets crowded out,
with us all. It depends upon what, and how, and with what willingness we
let it go."

"_Now_ we come to the superlative sort of people,--the extra good ones,
who let everything go that isn't solid duty; all the ornament of
life,--good looks,--tidiness even,--and everything that's the least bit
jolly, and that don't keep your high-mindedness on the strain. I want to
be _low_-minded--_weak_-minded at least--now and then. I can't bear
ferociously elevated people, who won't say a word that don't count;
people that talk about their time being interrupted (as if their time
wasn't everybody else's time, too), because somebody comes in once in a
while for a friendly call; and who go about the streets as if they were
so intent upon some tremendous good work, or big thinking, that it would
be dangerous even to bow to a common sinner, for fear of being waylaid
and hindered. I know people like that; and all I've to say is that, if
they're to make up the heavenly circles, I'd full as lief go down lower,
where they're kind of social!"

There can scarcely be a subject touched, in ever so light a
way,--especially a moral or a spiritual subject,--in however small a
company of persons, that shall not set in motion varied and intense
currents of thought; bear diverse and searching application to
consciousness and experience. The Josselyns sat silent with the long
breadths of green cambric over their laps, listening with an amusement
that freshened into their habitual work-day mood like a willful little
summer breeze born out of blue morning skies, unconscious of clouds, to
the oddities of Sin Saxon; but the drift of her sayings, the meaning she
actually had under them, bore down upon their different knowledge
with a significance whose sharpness she had no dream of. "Plain
over-and-over,"--how well it illustrated what their young days and the
disposal of them had been. Miss Craydocke thought of the darns; her
story cannot be told here; but she knew what it meant to have the darns
of life fall to one's share,--to have the filling up to do, with
dexterousness and pains and sacrifice, of holes that other people make!

For Leslie Goldthwaite, she got the next word of the lesson she was
learning,--"_It depends on what one is willing to let get crowded out_."

Sin Saxon went on again.

"I've had a special disgust given me to superiority. I wouldn't be
superior for all the world. We had a superior specimen come among us at
Highslope last year. She's there yet, it's commonly believed; but nobody
takes the trouble to be positive of it. Reason why, she took up
immediately such a position of mental and moral altitude above our
heads, and became so sublimely unconscious of all beneath, that all
beneath wasn't going to strain its neck to look after her, much less
provide itself with telescopes. We're pretty nice people, we think, but
we're not particularly curious in astronomy. We heard great things of
her, beforehand; and we were all ready to make much of her. We asked her
to our parties. She came, with a look upon her as if some unpleasant
duty had forced her temporarily into purgatory. She shied round like a
cat in a strange garret, as if all she wanted was to get out. She
wouldn't dance; she wouldn't talk; she went home early,--to her studies,
I suppose, and her plans for next day's unmitigated usefulness. She took
it for granted we had nothing in us _but_ dance, and so, as Artemus Ward
says, 'If the American Eagle could solace itself in that way, we let it
went!' She might have done some good to us,--we needed to be done to, I
don't doubt,--but it's all over now. That light is under a bushel, and
that city's hid, so far as Highslope is concerned. And we've pretty much
made up our minds, among us, to be bad and jolly. Only sometimes I get
thinking,--that's all."

She got up, giving the string of rings a final whirl, and tossing them
into Leslie Goldthwaite's lap. "Good-by," she said, shaking down her
flounces. "It's time for me to go and assert myself at Shinar.
'_L'empire, c'est moi!_' Napoleon was great when he said that. A great
deal greater than if he'd pretended to be meek, and want nothing but the
public good!"

"What gets crowded out?" Day by day that is the great test of our life.

Just now, everything seemed likely to get crowded out with the young
folks at Outledge but dresses, characters, and rehearsals. The swivel
the earth turned on at this moment was the coming Tuesday evening and
its performance. And the central axis of that, to nearly every
individual interest, was what such particular individual was to "be."

They had asked Leslie to take the part of Zorayda in the "Three Moorish
Princesses of the Alhambra." Jeannie and Elinor were to be Zayda and
Zorahayda. As for Leslie, she liked well enough, as we know, to look
pretty; it was, or had been, till other thoughts of late had begun to
"crowd it out," something like a besetting weakness; she had only
lately--to tell the whole truth as it seldom is told--begun to be
ashamed, before her higher self, to turn, the first thing in the
morning, with a certain half-mechanical anxiety toward her glass, to see
how she was looking. Without studying into separate causes of complexion
and so forth, as older women given to these things come to do, she knew
that somehow there was often a difference; and beside the standing
question in her mind as to whether there were a chance of her growing up
to anything like positive beauty or not, there was apt often to be a
reason why she would like _to-day_, if possible, to be in particular
good looks. When she got an invitation, or an excursion was planned, the
first thing that came into her head was naturally what she should wear;
and a good deal of the pleasure would depend on that. A party without an
especially pretty dress didn't amount to much; she couldn't help that;
it did count with everybody, and it made a difference. She would like,
undoubtedly, a "pretty part" in these tableaux; but there was more in
Leslie Goldthwaite, even without touching upon the deep things, than all
this. _Only_ a pretty part did not quite satisfy: she had capacity for
something more. In spite of the lovely Moorish costume to be contrived
out of blue silk and white muslin, and to contrast so picturesquely with
Jeannie's crimson, and the soft, snowy drapery of Elinor, she would have
been half willing to be the "discreet Kadiga" instead; for the old woman
had really to look _something_ as well as _somehow_, and there was a
spirit and a fun in that.

The pros and cons and possibilities were working themselves gradually
clear to her thoughts, as she sat and listened, with external attention
in the beginning, to Sin Saxon's chatter. Ideas about the adaptation of
her dress-material, and the character she could bring out of, or get
into, her part, mingled themselves together; and Irving's delicious old
legend that she had read hundreds of times, entranced, as a child,
repeated itself in snatches to her recollection. Jeannie must be
stately; that would quite suit her. Elinor--must just be Elinor. Then
the airs and graces remained for herself. She thought she could
illustrate with some spirit the latent coquetry of the imprisoned
beauty; she believed, notwithstanding the fashion in which the story
measured out their speech in rations,--always an appropriate bit, and
just so much of it to each,--that the gay Zorayda must have had the
principal hand in their affairs; must have put the others up to
mischief, and coaxed most winningly the discreet Kadiga. She could make
something out of it: it shouldn't be mere flat prettiness. She began to
congratulate herself upon the character. And then her ingenious fancy
flew off to something else that had occurred to her, and that she had
only secretly proposed to Sin Saxon; an illustration of a certain
ancient nursery ballad, to vary by contrast the pathetic representations
of "Auld Robin Gray" and "The Lady of Shalott." It was a bright plan,
and she was nearly sure she could carry it out; but it was not a "pretty
part," and Sin Saxon had thought it fair she should have one; therefore
Zorayda. All this was reason why Leslie's brain was busy, like her
fingers, as she sat and sewed on the green curtain, and let Sin Saxon
talk. Till Miss Craydocke said that "something always gets crowded out,"
and so those words came to her in the midst of all.

The Josselyns went away to their own room when the last rings had been
sewn on; and the curtain was ready, as had been promised, at ten
o'clock. Leslie stayed, waiting for Dakie Thayne to come and fetch it.
While she sat there, silent, by the window, Miss Craydocke brought out a
new armful of something from a drawer, and came and placed her Shaker
rocking-chair beside her. Leslie looked around, and saw her lap full of
two little bright plaid dresses.

"It's only the buttonholes," said Miss Craydocke. "I'm going to make
them now, before they find me out."

Leslie looked very uncomprehending.

"You didn't suppose I let those girls come in here and spend their
morning on that nonsense for nothing, did you? This is some of _their_
work, the work that's crowding all the frolic out of their lives. I've
found out where they keep it, and I've stolen some. I'm Scotch, you
know, and I believe in brownies. They're good to believe in. Old fables
are generally _all but_ true. You've only to 'put in one to make it so,'
as children say in 'odd and even.'" And Miss Craydocke overcasted her
first buttonhole energetically.

Leslie Goldthwaite saw through the whole now, in a minute. "You did it
on purpose, for an excuse!" she said; and there was a ring of
applauding delight in her voice which a note of admiration poorly
marks.

"Well, you must begin somehow," said Miss Craydocke. "And after you've
once begun, you can keep on." Which, as a generality, was not so
glittering, perhaps, as might be; but Leslie could imagine, with a warm
heart-throb, what, in this case, Miss Craydocke's "keeping on" would be.

"I found them out by degrees," said Miss Craydocke. "They've been
overhead here, this month nearly, and if you _don't_ listen nor look
more than is lady-like, you can't help scraps enough to piece something
out of by that time. They sit by their window, and I sit by mine. I
cough, and sneeze, and sing, as much as I find comfortable, and they
can't help knowing where their neighbors are; and after that, it's their
lookout, of course. I lent them some books one Sunday, and so we got on
a sort of visiting terms, and lately I've gone in, sometimes, and sat
down awhile when I've had an errand, and they've been here; the amount
of it is, they're two young things that'll grow old before they know
they've ever been young, if somebody don't take hold. They've only got
just so much time to stay; and if we don't contrive a holiday for them
before it's over, why,--there's the 'Inasmuch,'--that's all."

Dakie Thayne came to the door to fetch Leslie and the curtain.

"It's all ready, Dakie,--here; but I can't go just now,--not unless
they want me _very_ much, and then you'll come, please, won't you, and
let me know again?" said Leslie, bundling up the mass of cambric, and
piling it upon Dakie's arms.

Dakie looked disappointed, but promised, and departed. They were finding
him useful upstairs, and Leslie had begged him to help.

"Now give me that other dress," she said, turning to Miss Craydocke.
"And you,--couldn't you go and steal something else?" She spoke
impetuously, and her eyes shone with eagerness, and more.

"I've had to lay a plan," resumed Miss Craydocke, as Leslie took the
measure of a buttonhole and began. "Change of work is as good as a rest.
So I've had them down here on the curtain among the girls. Next, I'm
going to have a bee. I've got some things to finish up for Prissy
Hoskins, and they're likely to be wanted in something of a hurry. She's
got another aunt in Portsmouth, and if she can only be provided with
proper things to wear, she can go down there, Aunt Hoskins says, and
stay all winter, get some schooling, and see a city doctor. The man here
tells them that something might be done for her hearing by a person
skilled in such things, and Miss Hoskins says 'there's a little money of
the child's own, from the vandoo when her father died,' that would pay
for traveling and advice, and 'ef the right sort ain't to be had in
Portsmouth, when she once gets started, she shall go whuzzever't is, if
she has to have a vandoo herself!' It's a whole human life of comfort
and usefulness, Leslie Goldthwaite, may be, that depends!--Well, I'll
have a bee, and get Prissy fixed out. Her Portsmouth aunt is coming up,
and will take her back. She'll give her a welcome, but she's poor
herself, and can't afford much more. And then the Josselyns are to have
a bee. Not everybody; but you and me, and we'll see by that time who
else. It's to begin as if we meant to have them all round, for the
frolic and the sociability; and besides that, we'll steal all we can.
For your part, you must get intimate. Nobody can do anything, except as
a friend. And the last week they're here is the very week I'm going
everywhere in! I'm going to charter the little red, and have parties of
my own. We'll have a picnic at the Cliff, and Prissy will wait on us
with raspberries and cream. We'll walk up Feather-Cap, and ride up
Giant's Cairn, and we'll have a sunset at Minster Rock. And it's going
to be pleasant weather every day!"

They stitched away, then, dropping their talk. Miss Craydocke was out of
breath; and Leslie measured her even loops with eyes that glittered more
and more.

The half-dozen buttonholes apiece were completed; and then Miss
Craydocke trotted off with the two little frocks upon her arm. She came
back, bringing some two or three pairs of cotton-flannel drawers.

"I took them up, just as they lay, cut out and ready, on the bed. I
wouldn't have a word. I told them I'd nothing to do, and so I haven't.
My hurry is coming on all of a sudden when I have my bee. Now I've done
it once, I can do it again. They'll find out it's my way, and when
you've once set up a way, people always turn out for it."

Miss Craydocke was in high glee.

Leslie stitched up three little legs before Dakie came again, and said
they must have her upstairs.

One thing occurred to her, as they ran along the winding passages, up
and down, and up again, to the new hall in the far-off L.

The Moorish dress would take so long to arrange. Wouldn't Imogen
Thoresby like the part? She was only in the "Three Fishers." Imogen and
Jeannie met her as she came in.

"It is just you I wanted to find," cried Leslie, sealing her warm
impulse with immediate act. "Will you be Zorayda, Imogen,--with Jeannie
and Elinor, you know? I've got so much to do without. Sin Saxon
understands; it's a bit of a secret as yet. I shall be _so_ obliged!"

Imogen's blue eyes sparkled and widened. It was just what she had been
secretly longing for. But why in the world should Leslie Goldthwaite
want to give it up?

It had got crowded out, that was all.

Another thing kept coming into Leslie's head that day,--the yards of
delicate grass-linen that she had hemstitched, and knotted into bands
that summer,--just for idle work, when plain bindings and simple
ruffling would have done as well,--and all for her accumulating treasure
of reserved robings, while here were these two girls darning stockings,
and sewing over heavy woollen stuffs, that actual, inevitable work might
be dispatched in these bright, warm hours that had been meant for
holiday. It troubled her to think of it, seeing that the time was gone,
and nothing now but these threads and holes remained of it to her share.

Martha Josselyn had asked her yesterday about the stitch,--some little
baby-daintiness she had thought of for the mother who couldn't afford
embroideries and thread-laces for her youngest and least of so many.
Leslie would go and show her, and, as Miss Craydocke said, get intimate.
It was true there were certain little things one could not do, except as
a friend.

Meanwhile, Martha Josselyn must be the Sister of Charity in that lovely
tableau of Consolation.

It does not take long for two young girls to grow intimate over tableau
plans and fancy stitches. Two days after this, Leslie Goldthwaite was as
cosily established in the Josselyns' room as if she had been there every
day all summer. Some people _are_ like drops of quicksilver, as Martha
Josselyn had declared, only one can't tell how that is till one gets out
of the bottle.

"Thank you," she said to Leslie, as she mastered the little intricacy of
the work upon the experimental scrap of cambric she had drawn. "I
understand it now, I think, and I shall find time, somehow, after I get
home, for what I want to do." With that, she laid it in a corner of her
basket, and took up cotton-flannel again.

Leslie put something, twisted lightly in soft paper, beside it. "I want
you to keep that, please, for a pattern, and to remember me," she said.
"I've made yards more than I really want. It's nothing," she added,
hastily interrupting the surprised and remonstrating thanks of the
other. "And now we must see about that scapulary thing, or whatever it
is, for your nun's dress."

And there was no more about it, only an unusual feeling in Martha
Josselyn's heart, that came up warm long after, and by and by a little
difference among Leslie Goldthwaite's pretty garnishings, where
something had got crowded out.

This is the way, from small to great, things sort themselves.

"No man can serve two masters," is as full and true and strong upon the
side of encouragement as of rebuke.



CHAPTER XIII.


A HOWL.

The tableaux had to be put off. Frank Scherman was obliged to go down to
Boston, unexpectedly, to attend to business, and nothing could be done
without him. The young girls felt all the reaction that comes with the
sudden interruption of eager plans. A stagnation seemed to succeed to
their excitement and energy. They were thrown back into a vacuum.

"There is nothing on earth to do, or to think about," said Florrie
Arnall dolefully.

"Just as much as there was last week," replied Josie Scherman,
common-sense-ically. Frank was only her brother, and that made a
difference. "There's Giant's Cairn as big as ever, and Feather-Cap, and
Minster Rock, and the Spires. And there's plenty to do. Tableaux aren't
everything. There's your 'howl,' Sin Saxon. That hasn't come off yet."

"'It isn't the fall that hurts,--it's the fetch-up,' as the Irishman
observed," said Sin Saxon, with a yawn. "It wasn't that I doted
particularly on the tableaux, but 'the waters wild went o'er my child,
and I was left lamenting.' It was what I happened to be after at the
moment. When I get ready for a go, I do hate to take off my bonnet and
sit down at home."

"But the 'howl,' Sin! What's to become of that?"

"Ain't I howling all I can?"

And this was all Sin Saxon would say about it. The girls meant to keep
her in mind, and to have their frolic,--the half of them in the most
imaginative ignorance as to what it might prove to be; but somehow their
leader herself seemed to have lost her enthusiasm or her intention.

Leslie Goldthwaite felt neither disappointment nor impatience. She had
got a permanent interest. It is good always to have something to fall
back upon. The tableaux would come by and by; meanwhile, there was
plenty of time for their "bees," and for the Cliff.

They had long mornings in the pines, and cool, quiet afternoons in Miss
Craydocke's pretty room. It was wonderful the cleverness the Josselyns
had come to with little frocks. One a skirt, and the other a body,--they
made nothing of finishing the whole at a sitting. "It's only seeing
the end from the beginning," Martha said, when Leslie uttered her
astonishment. "We know the way, right through; and no way seems
long when you've traveled it often." To be sure, Prissy Hoskins's
delaines and calicoes didn't need to be contrived after Demorest's
fashion-plates.

Then they had their holiday, taking the things over to the Cliff, and
trying them all on Prissy, very much as if they had been a party of
children, and she a paper doll. Her rosy little face and willful curls
came out of each prettier than the last, precisely as a paper dolly's
does, and when at the end of all they got her into a bright violet print
and a white bib-apron, it was well they were the last, for they couldn't
have had the heart to take her out of them. Leslie had made for her a
small hoop from the upper half of one of her own, and laced a little
cover upon it, of striped seersucker, of which there was a petticoat
also to wear above. These, clear, clean, and stiffened, came from Miss
Craydocke's stores. She never traveled without her charity-trunk,
wherein, put at once in perfect readiness for different use the moment
they passed beyond her own, she kept all spare material that waited for
such call. Breadths of old dresses, ripped and sponged and pressed, or
starched, ironed, and folded; flannel petticoats shrunken short;
stockings "cut down" in the old, thrifty, grandmother fashion;
underclothing strongly patched (as she said, "the Lord's mark put upon
it, since it had pleased Him to give her the means to do without
patches"); odds and ends of bonnet-ribbons, dipped in spirits and rolled
tightly upon blocks, from which they unrolled nearly as good as
new,--all these things, and more, religiously made the most of for
whomsoever they might first benefit, went about with her in this, the
biggest of her boxes, which, give out from it as she might, she never
seemed, she said, to get quite to the bottom of.

Under the rounded skirts, below the short, plain trousers, Prissy's
ankles and feet were made shapely with white stockings and new, stout
boots. (Aunt Hoskins believed in "white stockin's, or go athout. Bilin'
an' bleachin' an' comin' out new; none o' yer aggravations 'v
everlastin' dirt-color.") And one thing more, the prettiest of all. A
great net of golden-brown silk that Leslie had begged Mrs. Linceford,
who liked netting, to make, gathered into strong, large meshes the
unruly wealth of hair brushed back in rippling lines from Prissy's
temples, and showing so its brighter, natural color from underneath,
where the outside had grown sun-faded.

"I'm just like Cinderella,--with four godmothers!" cried the child; and
she danced up and down, as Leslie let her go from under her hands.

"You're just like--a little heathen!" screamed Aunt Hoskins. "Where's
yer thanks?" Her own thanks spoke themselves, partly in an hysterical
sort of chuckle and sniffle, that stopped each other short, and the
rebuke with them. "But there! she don't know no better! 'T ain't fer
every day, you needn't think. It's for company to-day, an' fer Sundays,
an' to go to Portsmouth."

"Don't spoil it for her, Miss Hoskins. Children hate to think it isn't
for every day," said Leslie Goldthwaite.

But the child-antidote to that was also ready.

"I don't care," cried Prissy. "To-day's a great, long day, and Sunday's
for ever and ever, and Portsmouth'll be always."

"_Can't_ yer stop ter kerchy, and say--Lud-o'-light 'n' massy, I donno
what to _tell_ ye ter say!" And Miss Hoskins sniffled and gurgled again,
and gave it up.

"She has thanked us, I think," said Miss Craydocke, in her simple way,
"when she called us Godmothers!" The word came home to her good heart.
God had given her, the lonely woman, the larger motherhood. "Brothers,
and sisters, and mothers!" She thought how Christ traced out the
relationships, and claimed them even to himself!

"Now, for once, _you_'re to be done up. That's general order number
two," Miss Craydocke said to the Josselyn girls, as they all first met
together again after the Cliff party. "We've worked together till we're
friends. And so there's not a word to be said. We owe you time that
we've taken, and more that we mean to take before you go. I'll tell you
what for, when it's necessary."

It was a nicer matter to get the Josselyns to be helped than to help. It
was not easy for them to bring forth their breadths and their linings,
and their braids that were to be pieced, and their trimmings that
were to be turned, and to lay bare to other eyes all their little
economies of contrivance; but Miss Craydocke managed it by simple
straightforwardness,--by not behaving as if there were anything to be
glossed over or ignored. Instead of hushing up about economies, she
brought them forward, and gave them a most cheery and comfortable, not
to say dignified air. It was all ordinary matter of course,--the way
everybody did, or ought to do. This was the freshest end of this
breadth, and should go down; this other had a darn that might be cut
across, and a straight piecing made, for which the slope of the skirt
would allow,--_she_ should do it so; that hem might be taken off
altogether and a new one turned; this was a very nice trimming, and
plenty of it, and the wrong side was brighter than the right; she knew a
way of joining worsted braid that never showed,--you might have a dozen
pieces in the binding of a skirt and not be noticed. This little blue
frock had no trimming; they would finish that at home. No, the prettiest
thing in the world for it would be pipings of black silk, and Miss
Craydocke had some bits just right for covering cord, thick as a board,
big enough for nothing else; and out they came, as did many another
thing, without remark, from her bags and baskets. She had hooks and
eyes, and button-fasteners, when these gave out; she used from her own
cotton-spools and skeins of silk; she had tailors' twist for
buttonholes, and large black cord for the pipings; and these were but
working implements, like scissors and thimble,--taken for granted,
without count. There was nothing on the surface for the most shrinking
delicacy to rub against; but there was a kindness that went down into
the hearts of the two young girls continually.

For an hour or two at least each day they sat together so, for the being
together. The work was "taken up." Dakie Thayne read stories to them
sometimes: Miss Craydocke had something always to produce and to summon
them to sit and hear; some sketch of strange adventure, or a ghost
marvel, or a bright, spicy magazine essay; or, knowing where to find
sympathizers and helpers, Dakie would rush in upon them uncalled, with
some discovery, or want, or beautiful thing to show of his own. They
were quite a little coterie by themselves. It shaped itself to this more
and more.

Leslie did not neglect her own party. She drove and walked with Mrs.
Linceford, and was ready for anything the Haddens really wanted of her;
but Mrs. Linceford napped and lounged a good deal, and could spare her
then; and Jeannie and Elinor seemed somehow to feel the want of her less
than they had done,--Elinor unconsciously drawn away by new attraction,
Jeannie rather of a purpose.

I am afraid I cannot call it anything else but a little loss of caste
which seemed coming to Leslie Goldthwaite just now, through these new
intimacies of hers. "Something always gets crowded out." This, too,--her
popularity among the first,--might have to be, perhaps, one of the
somethings.

Now and then she felt it so,--perceived the shade of difference toward
her in the tone and manner of these young girls. I cannot say that it
did not hurt her a little. She had self-love, of course; yet, for all,
she was loyal to the more generous love,--to the truer self-respect. If
she could not have both, she would keep the best. There came to be a
little pride in her own demeanor,--a waiting to be sought again.

"I can't think what has come over Les'," said Jeannie Hadden, one
night, on the piazza, to a knot of girls. She spoke in a tone at once
apologetic and annoyed. "She was always up to anything at home. I
thought she meant to lead us all off here. She might have done almost
what she pleased."

"Everybody likes Leslie," said Elinor.

"Why, yes, we all do," put in Mattie Shannon. "Only she will take up
queer people, you see. And--well, they're nice enough, I suppose; only
there's never room enough for everybody."

"I thought we were all to be nowhere when she first came. There was
something about her,--I don't know what,--not wonderful, but taking.
'Put her where you pleased, she was the central point of the picture,'
Frank said." This came from Josie Scherman.

"And she's just dropped all, to run after goodness knows what and whom!
I can't see through her!" rejoined Jeannie, with a sort of finality in
her accent that seemed to imply, "_I_ wash my hands of her, and won't be
supposed accountable."

"Knew ye not," broke in a gentle voice, "that she must be about her
Master's business?" It was scarcely addressed to them. Miss Craydocke
just breathed audibly the thought she could not help.

There came a downfall of silence upon the group.

When they took breath again,--"Oh, if she's _religious_!" Mattie
Shannon just said, as of a thing yet farther off and more finally done
with. And then their talk waited under a restraint again.

"I supposed we were all religious,--Sundays, at least," broke forth Sin
Saxon suddenly, who, strangely, had not spoken before. "I don't know,
though. Last Saturday night we danced the German till half past twelve,
and we talked charades instead of going to church, till I felt--as if
I'd sat all the morning with my feet over a register, reading a novel,
when I'd ought to have been doing a German exercise or something. If
she's religious every day, she's seven times better than we are, that's
all. _I_ think--she's got a knot to her thread!"

Nobody dared send Leslie Goldthwaite quite to Coventry after this.

Sin Saxon found herself in the position of many another leader,--obliged
to make some demonstration to satisfy the aroused expectations of her
followers. Her heart was no longer thoroughly in it; but she had
promised them a "howl," and a howl they were determined upon, either
with or against her.

Opportunity arose just now also. Madam Routh went off on a party to the
Notch, with some New York friends, taking with her one or two of the
younger pupils, for whom she felt most constant responsibility. The
elder girls were domesticated and acquainted now at Outledge; there were
several matronly ladies with whom the whole party was sufficiently
associated in daily intercourse for all the air of chaperonage that
might be needed; and one assistant pupil, whom, to be sure, the young
ladies themselves counted as a most convenient nonentity, was left in
nominal charge.

Now or never, the girls declared with one voice it must be. All they
knew about it--the most of them--was that it was some sort of an
out-of-hours frolic, such as boarding-school ne'er-do-weels delight in;
and it was to plague Miss Craydocke, against whom, by this time, they
had none of them really any manner of spite; neither had they any longer
the idea of forcing her to evacuate; but they had got wound up on that
key at the beginning, and nobody thought of changing it. Nobody but Sin
Saxon. She had begun, perhaps, to have a little feeling that she would
change it, if she could.

Nevertheless, with such show of heartiness as she found possible, she
assented to their demand, and the time was fixed. Her merry, mischievous
temperament asserted itself as she went on, until she really grew into
the mood for it once more, from the pure fun of the thing.

It took two days to get ready. After the German on Thursday night, the
howl was announced to come off in Number Thirteen, West Wing. This, of
course, was the boudoir; but nobody but the initiated knew that. It was
supposed to be Maud Walcott's room. The assistant pupil made faint
remonstrances against she knew not what, and was politely told so;
moreover, she was pressingly invited to render herself with the other
guests at the little piazza door, precisely at eleven. The matronly
ladies, always amused, sometimes a little annoyed and scandalized, at
Sin Saxon's escapades, asked her, one and another, at different times,
what it was all to be, and if she really thought she had better, and
among themselves expressed tolerably grave doubts about proprieties, and
wished Madam Routh would return. The vague mystery and excitement of the
howl kept all the house gently agog for this Tuesday and Wednesday
intervening. Sin Saxon gave out odd hints here and there in confidence.

It was to be a "spread;" and the "grub" (Sin was a boarding-school girl,
you know, and had brothers in college) was all to be stolen. There was
an uncommon clearance of cakes and doughnuts, and pie and cheese, from
each meal, at this time. Cup-custards, even, disappeared,--cups and all.
A cold supper, laid at nine on Wednesday evening, for some expected
travelers, turned out a more meagre provision on the arrival of the
guests than the good host of the Giant's Cairn had ever been known to
make. At bedtime Sin Saxon presented herself in Miss Craydocke's room.

"There's something heavy on my conscience," she said, with a disquiet
air. "I'm really worried; and it's too late to help it now."

Miss Craydocke looked at her with a kind anxiety.

"It's never too late to _try_ to help a mistake. And _you_, Miss
Saxon,--you can always do what you choose."

She was afraid for her,--the good lady,--that her heedlessness might
compromise herself and others in some untoward scrape. She didn't like
these rumors of the howl,--the last thing she thought of being her own
rest and comfort, which were to be purposely invaded.

"I've let the chance go by," said Sin Saxon desperately. "It's of no use
now." And she rocked herself back and forth in the Shaker chair of which
she had taken possession.

"My dear," said Miss Craydocke, "if you would only explain to
me,--perhaps"--

"You _might_!" cried Sin, jumping up, and making a rush at the good
woman, seizing her by both hands. "They'd never suspect you. It's that
cold roast chicken in the pantry. I _can't_ get over it, that I didn't
take that!"

Sin was incorrigible. Miss Craydocke shook her head, taking care to
turn it aside at the same moment; for she felt her lips twitch and her
eyes twinkle, in spite of herself.

"I won't take this till the time comes," said Sin, laying her hand on
the back of the Shaker chair. "But it's confiscated for to-morrow night,
and I shall come for it. And, Miss Craydocke, if you _do_ manage about
the chicken,--I hate to trouble you to go downstairs, but I dare say you
want matches, or a drink of water, or something, and another time I'll
wait upon you with pleasure,--here's the door, made for the emergency,
and I on the other side of it dissolved in tears of gratitude!"

And so, for the time, Sin Saxon disappeared.

The next afternoon, Jimmy Wigley brought a big basket of raspberries to
the little piazza door. A pitcher of cream vanished from the tea-table
just before the gong was struck. Nobody supposed the cat had got it. The
people of the house understood pretty well what was going on, and who
was at the bottom of it all; but Madam Routh's party was large, and the
life of the place; they would wink hard and long before complaining at
anything that might be done in the west wing.

Sin Saxon opened her door upon Miss Craydocke when she was dressed for
the German, and about to go downstairs. "I'll trust you," she said,
"about the rocking-chair. You'll want it, perhaps, till bedtime, and
then you'll just put it in here. I shouldn't like to disturb you by
coming for it late. And please step in a minute now, won't you?"

She took her through the boudoir. There lay the "spread" upon a long
table, contrived by the contribution of one ordinary little one from
each sleeping-chamber, and covered by a pair of clean sheets, which
swept the floor along the sides. About it were ranged chairs. Two
pyramids of candles, built up ingeniously by the grouping of bedroom
tins upon hidden supports, vine-sprays and mosses serving gracefully for
concealment and decoration, stood, one on each side, half way between
the ends and centre. Cake-plates were garnished with wreathed
oak-leaves, and in the midst a great white Indian basket held the red,
piled-up berries, fresh and fragrant.

"That's the little bit of righteousness to save the city. That's paid
for," said Sin Saxon. "Jimmy Wigley's gone home with more scrip than he
ever got at once before; and if your chicken-heartedness hadn't taken
the wrong direction, Miss Craydocke, I should be perfectly at ease in my
mind."

"It's very pretty," said Miss Craydocke; "but do you think Madam Routh
would quite approve? And why couldn't you have had it openly in the
dining-room? And what do you call it a 'howl' for?" Miss Craydocke's
questions came softly and hesitatingly, as her doubts came. The little
festival was charming--but for the way and place.

"Oh, Miss Craydocke! Well, you're not wicked, and you can't be supposed
to know; but you must take my word for it, that, if it was tamed down,
the game wouldn't be worth the candle. And the howl? You just wait and
see!"

The invited guests were told to come to the little piazza door. The
girls asked all their partners in the German, and the matronly ladies
were asked, as a good many respectable people are civilly invited where
their declining is counted upon. Leslie Goldthwaite, and the Haddens,
and Mrs. Linceford, and the Thoresbys were all asked, and might come if
they chose. Their stay would be another matter. And so the evening and
the German went on.

Till eleven, when they broke up; and the entertainers in a body rushed
merrily and noisily along the passages to Number Thirteen, West Wing,
rousing from their first naps many quietly disposed, delicate people,
who kept early hours, and a few babies whose nurses and mammas would
bear them anything but gratefully in mind through the midnight hours to
come.

They gained two minutes, perhaps, upon their guests, who had, some of
them, to look up wraps, and to come round by the front hall and piazzas.
In these two minutes, by Sin Saxon's order, they seated themselves
comfortably at table. They had plenty of room; but they spread their
robes gracefully,--they had all dressed in their very prettiest
to-night,--and they quite filled up the space. Bright colors, and soft,
rich textures floating and mingling together, were like a rainbow
encircling the feast. The candles had been touched with kerosene, and
matches lay ready. The lighting-up had been done in an instant. And then
Sin Saxon went to the door, and drew back the chintz curtains from
across the upper half, which was of glass. A group of the guests, young
men, were already there, beneath the elms outside. But how should she
see them, looking from the bright light into the tree-shadows? She went
quietly back, and took her place at the head, leaving the door fast
bolted.

There came a knock. Sin Saxon took no heed, but smilingly addressed
herself to offering dainties right and left. Some of the girls stared,
and one or two half rose to go and give admittance.

"Keep your seats," said Sin, in her most lady-like way and tone, with
the unchanged smile upon her face. "_That_'s the _howl_!"

They began to perceive the joke outside. They began to knock
vociferously. They took up their cue with a readiness, and made plenty
of noise, not doubting, as yet, that they should be admitted at last.
Some of the ladies came round, gave a glance, saw how things were going,
and retreated,--except a few, parties from other houses who had escorts
among the gentlemen, and who waited a little to see how the frolic would
end, or at least to reclaim their attendants.

Well, it was very unpardonable,--outrageous, the scandalized neighbors
were beginning already to say in their rooms. Even Sin Saxon had a
little excitement in her eye beyond the fun, as she still maintained the
most graceful order within, and the exchange of courtesies went on
around the board, and the tumult increased without. They tree-toaded,
they cat-called, they shouted, they cheered, they howled, they even
hissed. Sin Saxon sat motionless an instant when it came to that, and
gave a glance toward the lights. A word from her would put them out, and
end the whole. She held her _coup_ in reserve, however, knowing her
resource, and sat, as it were, with her finger on the spring, determined
to carry through coolly what she had begun.

Dakie Thayne had gone away with the Linceford party when they crossed to
the Green Cottage. Afterward, he came out again and stood in the open
road. Some ladies, boarders at Blashford's, up above, came slowly away
from the uproar, homeward. One or two young men detached themselves from
the group on the piazza, and followed to see them safe, as it belonged
to them to do. The rest sat themselves down, at this moment, upon the
steps and platform, and struck up, with one accord, "We won't go home
till morning." In the midst of this, a part broke off and took up,
discordantly, the refrain, "Polly, put the kettle on, we'll all have
tea;" others complicated the confusion further with, "Cruel, cruel Polly
Hopkins, treat me so,--oh, treat me so!" till they fell, at last,
into an indistinguishable jumble and clamor, from which extricated
themselves now and again and prevailed, the choruses of "Upidee," and
"Bum-bum-bye," with an occasional drum-beat of emphasis given upon the
door.

"Don't go back there, James," Dakie Thayne heard a voice from the
retiring party say as they passed him; "it's disgraceful!"

"The house won't hold Sin Saxon after this," said another. "They were
out in the upper hall, half a dozen of them, just now, ringing their
bells and calling for Mr. Biscombe."

"The poor man don't know who to side with. He don't want to lose the
whole west wing. After all, there must be young people in the house,
and if it weren't one thing it would be another. It's only a few fidgets
that complain. They'll hush up and go off presently, and the whole thing
will be a joke over the breakfast-table to-morrow morning, after
everybody's had a little sleep."

The singing died partially away just then, and some growling, less
noisy, but more in earnest, began.

"They don't _mean_ to let us in! I say, this is getting rather rough!"

"It's only to smash a pane of glass above the bolt and let ourselves in.
Why shouldn't we? We're invited." The latent mob-element was very near
developing itself in these young gentlemen, high-bred, but irate.

At this moment, a wagon came whirling down the road around the ledges.
Dakie Thayne caught sight of the two white leaders, recognized them, and
flew across to the hotel. "Stop!" cried he. At the same instant a figure
moved hastily away from behind Miss Craydocke's blinds. It was a mercy
that the wagon had driven around to the front hall door.

A mercy in one way; but the misfortune was that the supper-party within
knew nothing of it. A musical, lady-like laugh, quite in contrast to the
demonstrative utterances outside, had just broken forth, in response to
one of Sin Saxon's brightest speeches, when through the adjoining
apartment came suddenly upon them the unlooked-for apparition of "the
spinster." Miss Craydocke went straight across to the beleaguered door,
drew the bolt, and threw it back. "Gently, young gentlemen! Draw up the
piazza chairs, if you please, and sit down," said she. "Mr. Lowe, Mr.
Brookhouse, here are plates; will you be kind enough to serve your
friends?"

In three minutes she had filled and passed outward half a dozen saucers
of fruit, and sent a basket of cake among them. Then she drew a seat for
herself, and began to eat raspberries. It was all done so quickly--they
were so either taken by surprise--that nobody, inside or out, gain-said
or delayed her by a word.

It was hardly done when a knock sounded at the door upon the passage.
"Young ladies!" a voice called,--Madam Routh's.

She and her friends had driven down from the Notch by sunset and
moonlight. Nobody had said anything to her of the disturbance when she
came in: her arrival had rather stopped the complaints that had begun;
for people are not malignant, after all, as a general thing, and there
is a curious propensity in human nature which cools off indignation even
at the greatest crimes, just as the culprit is likely to suffer. We are
apt to check the foot just as we might have planted it upon the noxious
creature, and to let off great state criminals on parole. Madam Routh
had seen the bright light and the gathering about the west wing. She had
caught some sounds of the commotion. She made her way at once to look
after her charge.

Sin Saxon was not a pupil now, and there was no condign punishment
actually to fear; but her heart stood still a second, for all that, and
she realized that she had been on the verge of an "awful scrape." It was
bad enough now, as Madam Routh stood there gravely silent. She could not
approve. She was amazed to see Miss Craydocke present, countenancing and
matronizing. But Miss Craydocke _was_ present, and it altered the whole
face of affairs. Her eye took in, too, the modification of the
room,--quite an elegant little private parlor as it had been made. The
young men were gathered decorously about the doorway and upon the
platform, one or two only politely assisting within. They had taken this
cue as readily as the other; indeed, they were by no means aware that
this was not the issue intended from the beginning, long as the joke had
been allowed to go on, and their good-humor and courtesy had been
instantly restored. Miss Craydocke, by one master-stroke of generous
presence of mind, had achieved an instantaneous change in the position,
and given an absolutely new complexion to the performance.

"It is late, young ladies," was all Madam Routh's remark at length.

"They gave up their German early on purpose; it was a little surprise
they planned," Miss Craydocke said, as she moved to meet her.

And then Madam Routh, with wise, considerate dignity, took _her_ cue.
She even came forward to the table and accepted a little fruit; stayed
five minutes perhaps, and then, without a spoken word, her movement to
go broke up, with unmistakable intent, the party. Fifteen minutes after,
all was quiet in the west wing.

But Sin Saxon, when the doors closed at either hand, and the girls alone
were left around the fragments of their feast, rushed impetuously across
toward Miss Craydocke, and went down beside her on her knees.

"Oh, you dear, magnificent old Christian!" she cried out, and laid her
head down on her lap, with little sobs, half laughter and half tears.

"There, there!"--and Miss Craydocke softly patted her golden hair, and
spoke as she would soothe a fretted and excited child.

Next morning, at breakfast, Sin Saxon was as beautifully ruffled,
ratted, and crimped, as gay, as bewitching, and defiant as ever, seated
next Madam Routh, assiduously devoted to her in the little attentions
of the meal, in high spirits and favor; even saucily alluding, across
the table, to "_our_ howl, Miss Craydocke!"

Public opinion was carried by storm; the benison of sleep had laid
wrath. Nobody knew that, an hour before, she had been in Madam Routh's
room, making a clean breast of the whole transaction, and disclosing
the truth of Miss Craydocke's magnanimous and tactful interposition,
confessing that without this she had been at her wits' ends how to put a
stop to it, and promising, like a sorry child, to behave better, and
never do so any more.

Two hours later she came meekly to Miss Craydocke's room, where the
"bee" was gathered,--for mere companionship to-day, with chess and
fancy-work,--her flourishes all laid aside, her very hair brushed close
to her pretty head, and a plain gingham dress on.

"Miss Craydocke!" she said, with an air she could not divest of a little
comicality, but with an earnestness behind it shining through her eyes,
"I'm good; I'm converted. I want some tow-cloth to sew on immediately."
And she sat down, folding her hands, waiting.

Miss Craydocke laughed. "I don't know. I'm afraid I haven't anything to
be done just now, unless I cut out some very coarse, heavy homespun."

"I'd be glad if you would. Beggars mustn't be choosers; but if they
might, I should say it was the very thing. Sackcloth, you know; and
then, perhaps, the ashes might be excused. I'm in solemn earnest,
though. I'm reformed. You've done it; and you," she added, turning
round short on Leslie Goldthwaite,--"you've been at it a long time,
_unbeknownst_ to yourself; and you, ma'am,--you finished it last night.
It's been like the casting out of the devils in Scripture. They always
give a howl, you know, and go out of 'em!"



CHAPTER XIV.


"FRIENDS OF MAMMON."

Sin Saxon came heart and soul into Miss Craydocke's generous and
delicate plans. The work was done, to be sure. The third trunk, that had
been "full of old winter dresses to be made over," was locked upon the
nice little completed frocks and sacks that forestalled the care and
hurry of "fall work" for the overburdened mother, and were to gladden
her unexpecting eyes, as such store only can gladden the anxious family
manager who feels the changeful, shortening days come treading, with
their speedy demands, upon the very skirts of long, golden sunshiny
August hours.

Susan and Martha Josselyn felt, on their part, as only busy workers feel
who fasten the last thread, or dash a period to the last page, and turn
around to breathe the breath of the free, and choose for once and for a
while what they shall do. The first hour of this freedom rested them
more than the whole six weeks that they had been getting half-rest, with
the burden still upon their thought and always waiting for their hands.
It was like the first half-day to children, when school has closed and
books are brought home for the long vacation. All the possible delight
of coming weeks is distilled to one delicious drop, and tasted then.

"It's 'none of my funeral,' I know," Sin Saxon said to Miss Craydocke.
"I'm only an eleventh-hour helper; but I'll come in for the holiday
business, if you'll let me; and perhaps, after all, that's more in my
line."

Everything seemed to be in her line that she once took hold of. She had
little private consultations with Miss Craydocke. "It's to be your party
to Feather-Cap, but it shall be my party to Minster Rock," she said.
"Leave that to me, please. Now the howl's off my hands, I feel equal to
anything.'"

Just in time for the party to Minster Rock, a great basket and box from
home arrived for Sin Saxon. In the first were delicious early peaches,
rose-color and gold, wrapped one by one in soft paper and laid among
fine sawdust; early pears, also, with the summer incense in their
spiciness; greenhouse grapes, white and amber and purple. The other held
delicate cakes and confections unknown to Outledge, as carefully put up,
and quite fresh and unharmed. "Everything comes in right for me," she
exclaimed, running back and forth to Miss Craydocke with new and more
charming discoveries as she excavated. Not a word did she say of the
letter that had gone down from her four days before, asking her mother
for these things, and to send her some money; "for a party," she told
her, "that she would rather give here than to have her usual summer
_fête_ after her return."

"You quite eclipse and extinguish my poor little doings," said Miss
Craydocke, admiring and rejoicing all the while as genuinely as Sin
herself.

"Dear Miss Craydocke!" cried the girl; "if I thought it would seem like
that, I would send and tip them all into the river. But you,--you
_can't_ be eclipsed! Your orbit runs too high above ours."

Sin Saxon's brightness and independence, that lapsed so easily
into sauciness, and made it so hard for her to observe the mere
conventionalisms of respect, in no way hindered the real reverence that
grew in her toward the superiority she recognized, and that now softened
her tone to a tenderness of humility before her friend.

There was a grace upon her in these days that all saw. Over her real wit
and native vivacity, it was like a porcelain shade about a flame. One
could look at it, and be glad of it, without winking. The brightness was
all there, but there was a difference in the giving forth. What had been
a bit self-centred and self-conscious--bright as if only for being
bright and for dazzling--was outgoing and self-forgetful, and so
softened. Leslie Goldthwaite read by it a new answer to some of her old
questions. "What harm is there in it?" she had asked herself on their
first meeting, when Sin Saxon's overflow of merry mischief, that yet did
"no special or obvious good," made her so taking, so the centre of
whatever group into which she came. Afterward, when, running to its
height, this spirit showed in behavior that raised misgivings among the
scrupulous and orderly that would not let them any longer be wholly
amused; and came near betraying her, or actually did betray her, into
indecorums beyond excuse or countenance, Leslie had felt the harm, and
begun to shrink away. "Nothing _but_ leaves" came back to her; her
summer thought recurred and drew to itself a new illustration. This it
was to have no aim but to rustle and flaunt; to grow leaves continually;
to make one's _self_ central and conspicuous, and to fill great space.
But now among these very leaves gleamed something golden and glorious;
something was ripening suddenly out that had lain unseen in its
greenness; the time of figs seemed coming. Sin Saxon was intent upon new
purpose; something to be _done_ would not let her "stand upon the order"
or the fashion of her doing. She forgot her little airs, that had been
apt to detract from her very wit, and leave it only smartness; bright
things came to her, and she uttered and acted them; but they seemed
involuntary and only on the way; she could not help herself, and nobody
would have had it helped; she was still Sin Saxon; but she had simply
told the truth in her wayward way that morning. Miss Craydocke had done
it, with her kindly patience that was no stupidity, her simple dignity
that never lowered itself and that therefore could not be lowered, and
her quiet continuance in generous well-doing,--and Sin Saxon was
different. She was won to a perception of the really best in life,--that
which this plain old spinster, with her "scrap of lace and a front," had
found worth living for after the golden days were over. The impulse of
temperament, and the generosity which made everything instant and entire
with her, acted in this also, and carried her full over to an enthusiasm
of affectionate coöperation.

There were a few people at Outledge--of the sort who, having once made
up their minds that no good is ever to come out of Nazareth, see all
things in the light of that conviction--who would not allow the praise
of any voluntary amendment to this tempering and new direction of Sin's
vivacity. "It was time she was put down," they said, "and they were glad
that it was done. That last outbreak had finished her. She might as well
run after people now whom she had never noticed before; it was plain
there was nothing else left for her; her place was gone, and her reign
was over." Of all others, Mrs. Thoresby insisted upon this most
strongly.

The whole school-party had considerably subsided. Madam Routh held a
tighter rein; but that Sin Saxon had a place and a power still, she
found ways to show in a new spirit. Into a quiet corner of the
dancing-hall, skimming her way, with the dance yet in her feet, between
groups of staid observers, she came straight, one evening, from a
bright, spirited figure of the German, and stretched her hand to Martha
Josselyn. "It's in your eyes," she whispered,--"come!"

Night after night Martha Josselyn had sat there with the waltz-music in
her ears, and her little feet, that had had one merry winter's training
before the war, and many a home practice since with the younger ones,
quivering to the time beneath her robes, and seen other girls chosen out
and led away,--young matrons, and little short-petticoated children
even, taken to "excursionize" between the figures,--while nobody thought
of her. "I might be ninety, or a cripple," she said to her sister, "from
their taking for granted it is nothing to me. How is it that everything
goes by, and I only twenty?" There had been danger that Martha
Josselyn's sweet, generous temper should get a dash of sour, only
because of there lying alongside it a clear common-sense and a pure
instinct of justice. Susan's heart longed with a motherly tenderness for
her young sister when she said such words,--longed to put all pleasant
things somehow within her reach. She had given it up for herself, years
since. And now, all at once, Sin Saxon came and "took her out."

It was a more generous act than it shows for, written. There is a little
tacit consent about such things which few young people of a "set" have
thought, desire, or courage to disregard. Sin Saxon never did anything
more gracefully. It was one of the moments that came now, when she wist
not that she shone. She was dropping, little by little, in the reality
of a better desire, that "satisfaction" Jeannie Hadden had spoken of, of
"knowing when one is at one's prettiest," or doing one's cleverest. The
"leaf and the fruit" never fitted better in their significance than to
Sin Saxon. Something intenser and more truly living was taking the place
of the mere flutter and flash and grace of effect.

It was the figure in which the dancers form in facing columns, two and
two, the girls and the young men; when the "four hands round" keeps them
moving in bright circles all along the floor, and under arches of raised
and joined hands the girls came down, two and two, to the end, forming
their long line face to face against the opposing line of their
partners. The German may be, in many respects, an undesirable dance; it
may be, as I have sometimes thought, at least a selfish dance, affording
pleasure chiefly to the initiated few, and excluding gradually, almost
from society itself, those who do not participate in it. I speak of it
here neither to uphold nor to condemn,--simply because they _did_ dance
it at Outledge as they do everywhere, and I cannot tell my story without
it; but I think at this moment, when Sin Saxon led the figure with
Martha Josselyn, there was something lovely, not alone in its graceful
grouping, but in the very spirit and possibility of the thing that so
appeared. There is scope and chance even here, young girls, for the
beauty of kindness and generous thought. Even here, one may give a joy,
may soothe a neglect, may make some heart conscious for a moment of the
great warmth of a human welcome; and, though it be but to a pastime, I
think it comes into the benison of the Master's words when, even for
this, some spirit gets a feeling like them,--"I was a stranger, and ye
took me in."

Some one, standing behind where Leslie Goldthwaite came to her place at
the end of the line by the hall-door, had followed and interpreted the
whole; had read the rare, shy pleasure in Martha Josselyn's face and
movement, the bright, expressive warmth in Sin Saxon's and the
half-surprise of observation upon others; and he thought as I do.

"'Friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.' That girl has even
sanctified the German!"

There was only one voice like that, only one person who would so speak
himself out. Leslie Goldthwaite turned quickly, and found herself face
to face with Marmaduke Wharne. "I am so glad you have come!" said she.

He regarded her shrewdly. "Then you can do without me," he said. "I
didn't know by this time how it might be."

The last two had taken their places below Leslie while these words were
exchanged, and now the whole line moved forward to meet their partners,
and the waltz began. Frank Scherman had got back to-day, and was dancing
with Sin Saxon. Leslie and Dakie Thayne were together, as they had been
that first evening at Jefferson, and as they often were. The four
stopped, after their merry whirl, in this same corner by the door where
Mr. Wharne was standing. Dakie Thayne shook hands with his friend in his
glad boy's way. Across their greetings came Sin Saxon's words, spoken to
her companion,--"You're to take her, Frank." Frank Scherman was an old
childhood's friend, not a mere mountain acquaintance. "I'll bring up
plenty of others first, but you're to wait and take _her_. And, wherever
she got her training, you'll find she's the featest-footed among us." It
was among the children--training them--that she had caught the trick of
it, but Sin Saxon did not know.

"I'm ready to agree with you, with but just the reservation that _you_
could not make," Frank Scherman answered.

"Nonsense," said Sin Saxon. "But stop! here's something better and
quicker. They're getting the bouquets. Give her yours. It's your turn.
Go!"

Sin Saxon's blue eyes sparkled like two stars; the golden mist of
her hair was tossed into lighter clouds by exercise; on her cheeks a
bright rose-glow burned; and the lips parted with their sweetest,
because most unconscious, curve over the tiny gleaming teeth. Her
word and her glance sent Frank Scherman straight to do her bidding;
and a bunch of wild azaleas and scarlet lilies was laid in Martha
Josselyn's hand, and she was taken out again into the dance by the
best partner there. We may trust her to Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman, and her own "feat-footedness;" everything will not go by
her any more, and she but twenty.

Marmaduke Wharne watched it all with that keen glance of his that was
like a level line of fire from under the rough, gray brows.

"I am glad you saw that," said Leslie Goldthwaite, watching also, and
watching him.

"By the light of your own little text,--'kind, and bright, and
pleasant'? You think it will do me good?"

"I think it _was_ good; and I am glad you should really know Sin
Saxon--at the first." And at the best; Marmaduke Wharne quite understood
her. She gave him, unconsciously, the key to a whole character. It might
as easily have been something quite different that he should have first
seen in this young girl.

Next morning they all met on the piazza. Leslie Goldthwaite presented
Sin Saxon to Mr. Wharne.

"So, my dear," he said, without preface, "you are the belle of the
place?"

He looked to see how she would take it. There was not the first twinkle
of a simper about eye or lip. Surprised, but quite gravely, she looked
up, and met his odd bluntness with as quaint an honesty of her own. "I
was pretty sure of it a while ago," she said. "And perhaps I was, in a
demoralized sort of a way. But I've come down, Mr. Wharne,--like the
coon. I'll tell you presently," she went on,--and she spoke now with
warmth,--"who is the real belle,--the beautiful one of this place! There
she comes!"

Miss Craydocke, in her nice, plain cambric morning-gown, and her smooth
front, was approaching down the side passage across the wing. Just as
she had come one morning, weeks ago; and it was the identical "fresh
petticoat" of that morning she wore now. The sudden coincidence and
recollection struck Sin Saxon as she spoke. To her surprise, Miss
Craydocke and Marmaduke Wharne moved quickly toward each other, and
grasped hands like old friends.

"Then you know all about it!" Sin Saxon said, a few minutes after, when
she got her chance. "But you _don't_ know, sir," she added, with a
desperate candor, "the way I took to find it out! I've been tormenting
her, Mr. Wharne, all summer. And I'm heartily ashamed of it."

Marmaduke Wharne smiled. There was something about this girl that suited
his own vein. "I doubt she _was_ tormented," he said quietly.

At that Sin Saxon smiled, too, and looked up out of her hearty shame
which she had truly felt upon her at her own reminder. "No, Mr. Wharne,
she never was; but that wasn't my fault. After all, perhaps,--isn't that
what the optimists think?--it was best so. I should never have found her
thoroughly out in any other way. It's like"--and there she stopped short
of her comparison.

"Like what?" asked Mr. Wharne, waiting.

"I can't tell you now, sir," she answered with a gleam of her old
fearless brightness. "It's one end of a grand idea, I believe, that I
just touched on. I must think it out, if I can, and see if it all holds
together."

"And then I'm to have it?"

"It will take a monstrous deal of thinking, Mr. Wharne."



CHAPTER XV.


QUICKSILVER AND GOLD.

"If I could only remember the chemicals!" said Sin Saxon. She was down
among the outcrops and fragments at the foot of Minster Rock. Close in
around the stones grew the short, mossy sward. In a safe hollow between
two of them, against a back formed by another that rose higher with a
smooth perpendicular, she had chosen her fireplace, and there she had
been making the coffee. Quite intent upon the comfort of her friends she
was to-day; something really to do she had: "in better business," as
Leslie Goldthwaite phrased it to herself once, she found herself, than
only to make herself brilliant and enchanting after the manner of the
day at Feather-Cap. And let me assure you, if you have not tried it,
that to make the coffee and arrange the feast at a picnic like this is
something quite different from being merely an ornamental. There is the
fire to coax with chips and twigs, and a good deal of smoke to swallow,
and one's dress to disregard. And all the rest are off in scattered
groups, not caring in the least to watch the pot boil, but supposing,
none the less, that it will. To be sure, Frank Scherman and Dakie Thayne
brought her firewood, and the water from the spring, and waited loyally
while she seemed to need them; indeed, Frank Scherman, much as he
unquestionably was charmed with her gay moods, stayed longest by her in
her quiet ones; but she herself sent them off, at last, to climb with
Leslie and the Josselyns again into the Minster, and see thence the
wonderful picture that the late sloping light made on the far hills and
fields that showed to their sight between framing tree-branches and tall
trunk-shafts as they looked from out the dimness of the rock.

She sat there alone, working out a thought; and at last she spoke as I
have said: "If I could only remember the chemicals!"

"My dear! What do you mean? The chemicals? For the coffee?" It was Miss
Craydocke who questioned, coming up with Mr. Wharne.

"Not the coffee,--no," said Sin Saxon, laughing rather absently, as too
intent to be purely amused. "But the--assaying. There,--I've remembered
_that_ word, at least!"

Miss Craydocke was more than ever bewildered. "What is it, my dear? An
experiment?"

"No; an analogy. Something that's been in my head these three days. I
can't make everything quite clear, Mr. Wharne, but I know it's there. I
went, I must tell you, a little while ago, to see some Colorado
specimens--ores and things--that some friends of ours had, who are
interested in the mines; and they talked about the processes, and
somebody explained. There were gold and silver and iron, and copper and
lead and sulphur, that had all been boiled up together some time, and
cooled into rock. And the thing was to sort them out. First, they
crushed the whole mass into powder, and then did something to
it--applied heat, I believe--to drive away the sulphur. That fumed off,
and left the rest as promiscuous as before. Then they--oxidized the
lead, however they managed it, and got that out. You see I'm not quite
sure of the order of things, or of the chemical part. But they got it
out, and something took it. Then they put in quicksilver, and that took
hold of the gold. Then there were silver and copper and iron. So they
had to put back the lead again, and that grappled the silver. And what
they did with the copper and iron is just what I can't possibly
recollect, but they divided them somehow, and there was the great rock
riddle all read out. Now, haven't we been just like that this summer?
And I wonder if the world isn't like it, somehow? And ourselves, too,
all muddled up, and not knowing what we _are_ made of, till the right
chemicals touch us? There's so much in it, Mr. Wharne, I can't put it
in clear order. But it _is_ there,--isn't it?"

"Yes, it is there," answered Mr. Wharne, with the briefest gravity. For
Miss Craydocke, there were little shining drops standing in her eyes,
and she tried not to wink lest they should fall out, pretending they had
been really tears. And what was there to cry about, you know?

"Here we have been," Sin Saxon resumed, "all crushed up together, and
the characters coming out little by little, with different things.
Sulphur's always the first,--heats up and flies off,--it don't take long
to find that; and common oxygen gets at common lead, and so on; but,
dear Miss Craydocke, do you know what comforts me? That you _must_ have
the quicksilver to discover the gold!"

Miss Craydocke winked. She had to do it then, and the two little round
drops fell. They went down, unseen, into the short pasture-grass, and I
wonder what little wild-flowers grew of their watering some day
afterward.

It was getting a little too quiet between them now for people on a
picnic, perhaps; and so in a minute Sin Saxon said again: "It's good to
know there is a way to sort everything out. Perhaps the tares and wheat
mean the same thing. Mr. Wharne, why is it that things seem more sure
and true as soon as we find out we can make an allegory to them?"

"Because we do _not_ make the allegory. It is there, as you have said.
'I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things which have been
kept secret from the foundation of the world.' These things are that
speech of God that was in the beginning. The Word made flesh,--it is He
that interpreteth."

That was too great to give small answer to. Nobody spoke again till Sin
Saxon had to jump up to attend to her coffee, that was boiling over, and
then they took up their little cares of the feast, and their chat over
it.

Cakes and coffee, fruits and cream,--I do not care to linger over these.
I would rather take you to the cool, shadowy, solemn Minster cavern, the
deep, wondrous recess in the face of solid rock, whose foundation and
whose roof are a mountain; or above, upon the beetling crag that makes
but its porch-lintel, and looks forth itself across great air-spaces
toward its kindred cliffs, lesser and more mighty, all around, making
one listen in one's heart for the awful voices wherewith they call to
each other forevermore.

The party had scattered again, after the repast, and Leslie and the
Josselyns had gone back into the Minster entrance, where they never
tired of standing, and out of whose gloom they looked now upon all the
flood of splendor, rosy, purple, and gold, which the royal sun flung
back--his last and richest largess--upon the heights that looked longest
after him. Mr. Wharne and Miss Craydocke climbed the cliff. Sin Saxon,
on her way up, stopped short among the broken crags below. There was
something very earnest in her gaze, as she lifted her eyes, wide and
beautiful with the wonder in them, to the face of granite upreared
before her, and then turned slowly to look across and up the valley,
where other and yet grander mountain ramparts thrust their great
forbiddance on the reaching vision. She sat down, where she was, upon a
rock.

"You are very tired?" Frank Scherman said, inquiringly.

"See how they measure themselves against each other," Sin Saxon said,
for answer. "Look at them, Leslie and the rest, inside the Minster that
arches up so many times their height above their heads,--yet what a
little bit, a mere mousehole, it is out of the cliff itself; and then
look at the whole cliff against the Ledges, that, seen from anywhere
else, seem to run so low along the river; and compare the Ledges with
Feather-Cap, and Feather-Cap with Giant's Cairn, and Giant's Cairn with
Washington, thirty miles away!"

"It is grand surveying," said Frank Scherman.

"I think we see things from the little best," rejoined Sin Saxon.
"Washington is the big end of the telescope."

"Now you have made me look at it," said Frank Scherman, "I don't think I
have been in any other spot that has given me such a real idea of the
mountains as this. One must have steps to climb by, even in imagination.
How impertinent we are, rushing at the tremendousness of Washington in
the way we do; scaling it in little pleasure-wagons, and never taking in
the thought of it at all!"

Something suddenly brought a flush to Sin Saxon's face, and almost a
quiver to her lips. She was sitting with her hands clasped across her
knees, and her head a little bent with a downward look, after that long,
wondering mountain gaze, that had filled itself and then withdrawn for
thought. She lifted her face suddenly to her companion. The impetuous
look was in her eyes. "There's other measuring too, Frank. What a fool
I've been!"

Frank Scherman was silent. It was a little awkward for him, scarcely
comprehending what she meant. He could by no means agree with Sin Saxon
when she called herself a fool; yet he hardly knew what he was to
contradict.

"We're well placed at this minute. Leslie Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne
and the Josselyns half way up above there, in the Minster. Mr. Wharne
and Miss Craydocke at the top. And I down here, where I belong.
Impertinence! To think of the things I've said in my silliness to that
woman, whose greatness I can no more measure! Why didn't somebody stop
me? I don't answer for you, Frank, and I won't keep you; but I think
I'll just stay where I am, and not spoil the significance!"

"I'm content to rank beside you; we can climb together," said Frank
Scherman. "Even Miss Craydocke has not got to the highest, you see," he
went on, a little hurriedly.

Sin Saxon broke in as hurriedly as he, with a deeper flush still upon
her face. "There's everything beyond. That's part of it. But she helps
one to feel what the higher--the Highest--must be. She's like the rock
she stands on. She's one of the steps."

"Come, Asenath, let's go up." And he held out his hand to her till she
took it and rose. They had known each other from childhood, as I said;
but Frank Scherman hardly ever called her by her name. "Miss Saxon" was
formal, and her school sobriquet he could not use. It seemed to mean a
great deal when he did say "Asenath."

And Sin Saxon took his hand and let him lead her up, notwithstanding the
"significance."

They are young, and I am not writing a love-story; but I think they
will "climb together;" and that the words that wait to be said are mere
words,--they have known and understood each other so long.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I feel like a camel at a fountain, drinking in what is to last through
the dry places," said Martha Josselyn, as they came up. "Miss Saxon, you
don't know what you have given us to-day. I shall take home the hills in
my heart."

"We might have gone without seeing this," said Susan.

"No, you mightn't," said Sin Saxon. "It's my good luck to see you see
it, that's all. It couldn't be in the order of things, you know, that
you should be so near it, and want it, and not have it, somehow."

"So much _is_ in the order of things, though!" said Martha. "And there
are so many things we want, without knowing them even to _be_!"

"That's the beauty of it, I think," said Leslie Goldthwaite, turning
back from where she stood, bright in the sunset glory, on the open rock.
Her voice was like that of some young prophet of joy, she was so full of
the gladness and loveliness of the time. "That's the beauty of it, I
think. There is such a worldful, and you never know what you may be
coming to next!"

"Well, this is our last--of the mountains. We go on Tuesday."

"It isn't your last of us, though, or of what we want of you," rejoined
Sin Saxon. "We must have the tableaux for Monday. We can't do without
you in Robin Gray or Consolation. And about Tuesday,--it's only your own
making up of minds. You haven't written, have you? They don't expect
you? When a week's broken in upon, like a dollar, the rest is of no
account. And there'll be sure to be something doing, so many are going
the week after."

"We shall have letters to-night," said Susan. "But I think we must go on
Tuesday."

Everybody had letters that night. The mail was in early, and Captain
Green came up from the post-office as the Minster party was alighting
from the wagons. He gave Dakie Thayne the bag. It was Dakie's delight to
distribute, calling out the fortunate names as the expectant group
pressed around him, like people waiting the issue of a lottery venture.

"Mrs. Linceford, Miss Goldthwaite, Mrs. Linceford, Mrs. _Lince_ford!
Master--hm!--Thayne," and he pocketed a big one like a dispatch.
"Captain Jotham Green. Where is he? Here, Captain Green; you and I have
got the biggest, if Mrs. Linceford does get the most. I believe she
tells her friends to write in hits, and put one letter into three or
four envelopes. When I was a _very_ little boy, I used to get a dollar
changed into a hundred coppers, and feel ever so much richer."

"That boy's forwardness is getting insufferable!" exclaimed Mrs.
Thoresby, sitting apart, with two or three others who had not joined the
group about Dakie Thayne. "And why Captain Green should give _him_ the
bag always, I can't understand. It is growing to be a positive
nuisance."

Nobody out of the Thoresby clique thought it so. They had a merry time
together,--"you and I and the post," as Dakie said. But then, between
you and me and that confidential personage, Mrs. Thoresby and her
daughters hadn't very many letters.

"That is all," said Dakie, shaking the bag. "They're only for the very
good, to-night." He was not saucy: he was only brimming-over glad. He
knew "Noll's" square handwriting, and his big envelopes.

There was great news to-night at the Cottage. They were to have a hero,
perhaps two or three, among them. General Ingleside and friends were
coming, early in the week, the Captain told them with expansive face.
There are a great many generals and a great many heroes now. This man
had been a hero beside Sheridan, and under Sherman. Colonel Ingleside
he was at Stone River and Chattanooga,--leading a brave Western regiment
in desperate, magnificent charges, whose daring helped to turn that
terrible point of the war and made his fame.

But Leslie, though her heart stirred at the thought of a real, great
commander fresh from the field, had her own news that half neutralized
the excitement of the other: Cousin Delight was coming, to share her
room with her for the last fortnight.

The Josselyns got their letters. Aunt Lucy was staying on. Aunt Lucy's
husband had gone away to preach for three Sundays for a parish where he
had a prospect of a call. Mrs. Josselyn could not leave home
immediately, therefore, although the girls should return; and their room
was the airiest for Aunt Lucy. There was no reason why they should not
prolong their holiday if they chose, and they might hardly ever get away
to the mountains again. More than all, Uncle David was off once more for
China and Japan, and had given his sister two more fifties,--"for what
did a sailor want of greenbacks after he got afloat?" It was "a clover
summer" for the Josselyns. Uncle David and his fifties wouldn't be back
among them for two years or more. They must make the most of it.

Sin Saxon sat up late, writing this letter to her mother:--

DARLING MAMMA,--I've just begun to find out really what to do here.
Cream doesn't always rise to the top. You remember the Josselyns, our
quiet neighbors in town, that lived in the little house in the
old-fashioned block opposite,--Sue Josselyn, Effie's schoolmate? And how
they used to tell me stories and keep me to nursery-tea? Well, they're
the cream; they and Miss Craydocke. Sue has been in the hospitals,--two
years, mamma!--while I've been learning nocturnes, and going to Germans.
And Martha has been at home, sewing her face sharp; and they're here now
to get rounded out. Well now, mamma, I want so--a real dish of mountains
and cream, if you ever heard of such a thing! I want to take a wagon,
and invite a party as I did my little one to Minster Rock, and go
through the hills,--be gone as many days as you will send me money for.
And I want you to take the money from that particular little corner of
your purse where my carpet and wall-paper and curtains, that were to
new-furnish my room on my leaving school, are metaphorically rolled up.
There's plenty there, you know; for you promised me my choice of
everything, and I had fixed on that lovely pearl-gray paper at ----'s,
with the ivy and holly pattern, and the ivy and scarlet-geranium carpet
that was such a match. I'll have something cheaper, or nothing at all,
and thank you unutterably, if you'll only let me have my way in this. It
will do me so much good, mamma! More than you've the least idea of.
People can do without French paper and Brussels carpets, but everybody
has a right to mountain and sea and cloud glory,--only they don't half
of them get it, and perhaps that's the other half's lookout!

I know you'll understand me, mamma, particularly when I talk sense; for
you always understood my nonsense when nobody else did. And I'm going to
do your faith and discrimination credit yet.

Your bad child,--with just a small, hidden savor of grace in her,
_being_ your child,--

ASENATH SAXON.



CHAPTER XVI.


"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?"

Saturday was a day of hammering, basting, draping, dressing, rehearsing,
running from room to room. Upstairs, in Mrs. Green's garret, Leslie
Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne, with a third party never before introduced
upon the stage, had a private practicing; and at tea-time, when the
great hall was cleared, they got up there with Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman, locked the doors, and in costume, with regular accompaniment
of bell and curtain, the performance was repeated.

Dakie Thayne was stage-manager and curtain-puller; Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman represented the audience, with clapping and stamping, and
laughter that suspended both; making as nearly the noise of two hundred
as two could: this being an essential part of the rehearsal in respect
to the untried nerves of the _débutant_, which might easily be a little
uncertain.

"He stands fire like a Yankee veteran."

"It's inimitable," said Sin Saxon, wiping the moist merriment from her
eyes. "And your cap, Leslie! And that bonnet! And this unutterable old
oddity of a gown! Who did contrive it all? and where did they come from?
You'll carry off the glory of the evening. It ought to be the last."

"No, indeed," said Leslie. "Barbara Frietchie must be last, of course.
But I'm so glad you think it will do. I hope they'll be amused."

"Amused! If you could only see your own face!"

"I see Sir Charles's, and that makes mine."

The new performer, you perceive, was an actor with a title.

That night's coach, driving up while the dress-rehearsal of the other
tableaux was going on at the hall, brought Cousin Delight to the Green
Cottage, and Leslie met her at the door.

Sunday morning was a pause and rest and hush of beauty and joy. They
sat--Delight and Leslie--by their open window, where the smell of the
lately harvested hay came over from the wide, sunshiny entrance of the
great barn, and away beyond stretched the pine woods, and the hills
swelled near in dusky evergreen, and indigo shadows, and lessened far
down toward Winnipiseogee, to where, faint and tender and blue, the
outline of little Ossipee peeped in between great shoulders so
modestly,--seen only through the clearest air on days like this.
Leslie's little table, with fresh white cover, held a vase of ferns and
white convolvulus, and beside this Cousin Delight's two books that came
out always from the top of her trunk,--her Bible and her little "Daily
Food." To-day the verses from Old and New Testaments were these: "The
steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his
way." "Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the
time."

They had a talk about the first,--"The steps," the little details; not
merely the general trend and final issue; if, indeed, these could be
directed without the other.

"You always make me see things, Cousin Delight," Leslie said.

"It is very plain," Delight answered; "if people only would read the
Bible as they read even a careless letter from a friend, counting each
word of value, and searching for more meaning and fresh inference to
draw out the most. One word often answers great doubts and askings that
have troubled the world."

Afterward, they walked round by a still wood-path under the Ledge to the
North Village, where there was a service. It was a plain little church,
with unpainted pews; but the windows looked forth upon a green mountain
side, and whispers of oaks and pines and river-music crept in, and the
breath of sweet water-lilies, heaped in a great bowl upon the communion
table of common stained cherrywood, floated up and filled the place. The
minister, a quiet, gray-haired man, stayed his foot an instant at that
simple altar, before he went up the few steps to the desk. He had a
sermon in his pocket from the text, "The hairs of your heads are all
numbered." He changed it at the moment in his mind, and, when presently
he rose to preach, gave forth in a tone touched, through the very
presence of that reminding beauty, with the very spontaneousness of the
Master's own saying, "Consider the lilies." And then he told them of
God's momently thought and care.

There were scattered strangers, from various houses, among the simple
rural congregation. Walking home through the pines again, Delight and
Leslie and Dakie Thayne found themselves preceded and followed along the
narrow way. Sin Saxon and Frank Scherman came up and joined them when
the wider openings permitted.

Two persons just in front were commenting upon the sermon.

"Very fair for a country parson," said a tall, elegant-looking man,
whose broad, intellectual brow was touched by dark hair slightly
frosted, and whose lip had the curve that betokens self-reliance and
strong decision,--"very fair. All the better for not flying too high.
Narrow, of course. He seems to think the Almighty has nothing grander to
do than to finger every little cog of the tremendous machinery of the
universe,--that he measures out the ocean of his purposes as we drop a
liquid from a phial. To me it seems belittling the Infinite."

"I don't know whether it is littleness or greatness, Robert, that must
escape minutiae," said his companion, apparently his wife. "If we could
reach to the particles, perhaps we might move the mountains."

"We never agree upon this, Margie. We won't begin again. To my mind, the
grand plan of things was settled ages ago,--the impulses generated that
must needs work on. Foreknowledge and intention, doubtless; in that
sense the hairs _were_ numbered. But that there is a special direction
and interference to-day for you and me--well, we won't argue, as I said;
but I never can conceive it so; and I think a wider look at the world
brings a question to all such primitive faith."

The speakers turned down a side way with this, leaving the ledge path
and their subject to our friends. Only to their thoughts at first; but
presently Cousin Delight said, in a quiet tone, to Leslie, "That doesn't
account for the steps, does it?"

"I am glad it _can't_," said Leslie.

Dakie Thayne turned a look toward Leslie, as if he would gladly know of
what she spoke,--a look in which a kind of gentle reverence was
strangely mingled with the open friendliness. I cannot easily indicate
to you the sort of feeling with which the boy had come to regard this
young girl, just above him in years and thought and in the attitude
which true womanhood, young or old, takes toward man. He had no sisters;
he had been intimately associated with no girl-companions; he had lived
with his brother and an uncle and a young aunt, Rose. Leslie
Goldthwaite's kindness had drawn him into the sphere of a new and
powerful influence,--something different in thought and purpose from the
apparent unthought of the present little world about her; and this
lifted her up in his regard and enshrined her with a sort of pure
sanctity. He was sometimes really timid before her, in the midst of his
frank chivalry.

"I wish you'd tell me," he said suddenly, falling back with her as the
path narrowed again. "What are the 'steps'?"

"It was a verse we found this morning,--Cousin Delight and I," Leslie
answered; and as she spoke the color came up full in her cheeks, and her
voice was a little shy and tremulous. "'The steps of a good man are
ordered by the Lord.' That one word seemed to make one certain.
'Steps,'--not path, nor the end of it; but all the way." Somehow she was
quite out of breath as she finished.

Meantime Sin Saxon and Frank had got with Miss Goldthwaite, and were
talking too.

"Set spinning," they heard Sin Saxon say, "and then let go. That was his
idea. Well! Only it seems to me there's been especial pains taken to
show us it can't be done. Or else, why don't they find out perpetual
motion? Everything stops after a while, unless--I can't talk
theologically, but I mean all right--you hit it again."

"You've a way of your own of putting things, Asenath," said Frank
Scherman,--with a glance that beamed kindly and admiringly upon her and
"her way,"--"but you've put that clear to me as nobody else ever did. A
proof set in the very laws themselves, momentum that must lessen and
lose itself with the square of the distance. The machinery cavil won't
do."

"Wheels; but a living spirit within the wheels," said Cousin Delight.

"Every instant a fresh impulse; to think of it so makes it real, Miss
Goldthwaite,--and grand and awful." The young man spoke with a strength
in the clear voice that could be so light and gay.

"And tender, too. 'Thou layest Thine hand upon me,'" said Delight
Goldthwaite.

Sin Saxon was quiet; her own thought coming back upon her with a
reflective force, and a thrill at her heart at Frank Scherman's words.
Had these two only planned tableaux and danced Germans together before?

Dakie Thayne walked on by Leslie Goldthwaite's side, in his happy
content touched with something higher and brighter through that
instant's approach and confidence. If I were to write down his thought
as he walked, it would be with phrase and distinction peculiar to
himself and to the boy-mind,--"It's the real thing with her; it don't
make a fellow squirm like a pin put out at a caterpillar. She's _good_;
but she isn't _pious!_"

This was the Sunday that lay between the busy Saturday and Monday. "It
is always so wherever Cousin Delight is," Leslie Goldthwaite said to
herself, comparing it with other Sundays that had gone. Yet she too, for
weeks before, by the truth that had come into her own life and gone out
from it, had been helping to make these moments possible. She had been
shone upon, and had put forth; henceforth she should scarcely know when
the fruit was ripening or sowing itself anew, or the good and gladness
of it were at human lips.

She was in Mrs. Linceford's room on Monday morning, putting high
velvet-covered corks to the heels of her slippers, when Sin Saxon came
over hurriedly, and tapped at the door.

"_Could_ you be _two_ old women?" she asked, the instant Leslie opened.
"Ginevra Thoresby has given out. She says it's her cold,--that she
doesn't feel equal to it; but the amount of it is she got her chill with
the Shannons going away so suddenly, and the Amy Robsart and Queen
Elizabeth picture being dropped. There was nothing else to put her in,
and so she won't be Barbara."

"Won't be Barbara Frietchie!" cried Leslie, with an astonishment as if
it had been angelhood refused.

"No. Barbara Frietchie is only an old woman in a cap and kerchief, and
she just puts her head out of a window: the _flag_ is the whole of it,
Ginevra Thoresby says."

"_May_ I do it? Do you think I can be different enough in the two? Will
there be time?" Leslie questioned eagerly.

"We'll change the programme, and put 'Taking the Oath' between. The caps
can be different, and you can powder your hair for one, and--_would_ it
do to ask Miss Craydocke for a front for the other?" Sin Saxon had grown
delicate in her feeling for the dear old friend whose hair had once been
golden.

"I'll tell her about it, and ask her to help me contrive. She'll be sure
to think of anything that can be thought of."

"Only there's the dance afterward, and you had so much more costume for
the other," Sin Saxon said demurringly.

"Never mind. I shall _be_ Barbara; and Barbara wouldn't dance, I
suppose."

"Mother Hubbard would, marvelously."

"Never mind," Leslie answered again, laying down the little slipper,
finished.

"She don't care _what_ she is, so that she helps along," Sin Saxon said
of her, rejoining the others in the hall. "I'm ashamed of myself and all
the rest of you, beside her. Now make yourselves as fine as you please."

We must pass over the hours as only stories and dreams do, and put
ourselves, at ten of the clock that night, behind the green curtain and
the footlights, in the blaze of the three rows of bright lamps, that,
one above another, poured their illumination from the left upon the
stage, behind the wide picture-frame.

Susan Josselyn and Frank Scherman were just "posed" for "Consolation."
They had given Susan this part, after all, because they wanted Martha
for "Taking the Oath," afterward. Leslie Goldthwaite was giving a hasty
touch to the tent drapery and the gray blanket; Leonard Brookhouse and
Dakie Thayne manned the halyards for raising the curtain; there was the
usual scuttling about the stage for hasty clearance; and Sin Saxon's
hand was on the bell, when Grahame Lowe sprang hastily in through the
dressing-room upon the scene.

"Hold on a minute," he said to Brookhouse. "Miss Saxon, General
Ingleside and party are over at Green's,--been there since nine o'clock.
Oughtn't we to send compliments or something, before we finish up?"

Then there was a pressing forward and an excitement. The wounded soldier
sprang from his couch; the nun came nearer, with a quick light in her
eye; Leslie Goldthwaite, in her mob cap, quilted petticoat, big-flowered
calico train, and high-heeled shoes; two or three supernumeraries, in
Rebel gray, with bayonets, coming on in "Barbara Frietchie;" and Sir
Charles, bouncing out from somewhere behind, to the great hazard of the
frame of lights,--huddled together upon the stage and consulted. Dakie
Thayne had dropped his cord and almost made a rush off at the first
announcement; but he stood now, with a repressed eagerness that trembled
through every fibre, and waited.

"Would he come?" "Isn't it too late?" "Would it be any compliment?"
"Won't it be rude not to?" "All the patriotic pieces are just coming!"
"Will the audience like to wait?" "Make a speech and tell 'em. You,
Brookhouse." "Oh, he _must_ come! Barbara Frietchie and the flag! Just
think!" "Isn't it grand?" "Oh, I'm so frightened!" These were the
hurried sentences that made the buzz behind the scenes; while in front
"all the world wondered." Meanwhile, lamps trembled, the curtain
vibrated, the very framework swayed.

"What is it? Fire?" queried a nervous voice from near the footlights.

"This won't do," said Frank Scherman. "Speak to them, Brookhouse. Dakie
Thayne, run over to Green's, and say, the ladies' compliments to General
Ingleside and friends,--and beg the honor of their presence at the
concluding tableaux."

Dakie was off with a glowing face. Something like an odd, knowing smile
twinkling out from the glow also, as he looked up at Scherman and took
his orders. All this while he had said nothing.

Leonard Brookhouse made his little speech, received with applause and a
cheer. Then they quieted down behind the scenes, and a rustle and buzz
began in front,--kept up for five minutes or so, in gentle fashion, till
two gentlemen, in plain clothes, walked quietly in at the open door; at
sight of whom, with instinctive certainty, the whole assembly rose.
Leslie Goldthwaite, peeping through the folds of the curtain, saw a
tall, grand-looking man, in what may be called the youth of middle age,
every inch a soldier, bowing as he was ushered forward to a seat vacated
for him, and followed by one younger, who modestly ignored the notice
intended for his chief. Dakie Thayne was making his way, with eyes
alight and excited, down a side passage to his post.

Then the two actors hurried once more into position; the stage was
cleared by a whispered peremptory order; the bell rung once, the tent
trembling with some one whisking further out of sight behind it,--twice,
and the curtain rose upon "Consolation."

Lovely as the picture is, it was lovelier in the living tableau. There
was something deep and intense in the pale calm of Susan Josselyn's
face, which they had not counted on even when they discovered that hers
was the very face for the "Sister." Something made you thrill at the
thought of what those eyes would show, if the downcast, quiet lids were
raised. The earnest gaze of the dying soldier met more, perhaps, in its
uplifting; for Frank Scherman had a look, in this instant of enacting,
that he had never got before in all his practicings. The picture was too
real for applause,--almost, it suddenly seemed, for representation.

"Don't I know that face, Noll?" General Ingleside asked, in a low tone,
of his companion.

Instead of answering at once, the younger man bent further forward
toward the stage, and his own very plain, broad, honest face, full over
against the downcast one of the Sister of Mercy, took upon itself that
force of magnetic expression which makes a look felt even across a
crowd of other glances, as if there were but one straight line of
vision, and that between such two. The curtain was going slowly down;
the veiling lids trembled, and the paleness replaced itself with a
slow-mounting flush of color over the features, still held motionless.
They let the cords run more quickly then. She was getting tired, they
said; the curtain had been up too long. Be that as it might, nothing
could persuade Susan Josselyn to sit again, and "Consolation" could not
be repeated.

So then came "Mother Hubbard and her Dog"--the slow old lady and the
knowing beast that was always getting one step ahead of her. The
possibility had occurred to Leslie Goldthwaite as she and Dakie Thayne
amused themselves one day with Captain Green's sagacious Sir Charles
Grandison, a handsome black spaniel, whose trained accomplishment was to
hold himself patiently in any posture in which he might be placed, until
the word of release was given. You might stand him on his hind legs,
with paws folded on his breast; you might extend him on his back, with
helpless legs in air; you might put him in any attitude possible to be
maintained, and maintain it he would, faithfully, until the signal was
made. From this prompting came the illustration of Mother Hubbard. Also,
Leslie Goldthwaite had seized the hidden suggestion of application, and
hinted it in certain touches of costume and order of performance. Nobody
would think, perhaps, at first, that the striped scarlet and white
petticoat under the tucked-up train, or the common print apron of dark
blue, figured with innumerable little white stars, meant anything beyond
the ordinary adjuncts of a traditional old woman's dress; but when, in
the second scene, the bonnet went on,--an ancient marvel of exasperated
front and crown, pitched over the forehead like an enormous helmet, and
decorated, upon the side next the audience, with black and white eagle
plumes springing straight up from the fastening of an American shield;
above all, when the dog himself appeared, "dressed in his clothes" (a
cane, an all-round white collar and a natty little tie, a pair of
three-dollar tasseled kid gloves dangling from his left paw, and a small
monitor hat with a big spread--eagle stuck above the brim,--the
remaining details of costume being of no consequence),--when he stood
"reading the news" from a huge bulletin,--"LATEST BY CABLE FROM
EUROPE,"--nobody could mistake the personification of Old and Young
America.

It had cost much pains and many dainty morsels to drill Sir Charles,
with all the aid of his excellent fundamental education; and the great
fear had been that he might fail them at the last. But the scenes were
rapid, in consideration of canine infirmity. If the cupboard was empty,
Mother Hubbard's basket behind was not; he got his morsels duly; and the
audience was "requested to refrain from applause until the end." Refrain
from laughter they could not, as the idea dawned upon them and
developed; but Sir Charles was used to that in the execution of his
ordinary tricks; he could hardly have done without it better than any
other old actor. A dog knows when he is having his day, to say nothing
of doing his duty; and these things are as sustaining to him as to
anybody. This state of his mind, manifest in his air, helped also to
complete the Young America expression. Mother Hubbard's mingled
consternation and pride at each successive achievement of her
astonishing puppy were inimitable. Each separate illustration made its
point. Patriotism, especially, came in when the undertaker, bearing the
pall with red-lettered border,--Rebellion,--finds the dog, with
upturned, knowing eye, and parted jaws, suggestive as much of a good
grip as of laughter, half risen upon fore-paws, as far from "dead" as
ever, mounting guard over the old bone "Constitution."

The curtain fell at last amid peals of applause and calls for the
actors.

Dakie Thayne had accompanied with the reading of the ballad, slightly
transposed and adapted. As Leslie led Sir Charles before the curtain,
in response to the continued demand, he added the concluding stanza,--

     "The dame made a courtesy,
       The dog made a bow;
     The dame said, 'Your servant,'
       The dog said, 'Bow-wow.'"

Which, with a suppressed "Speak, sir!" from Frank Scherman, was brought
properly to pass. Done with cleverness and quickness from beginning to
end, and taking the audience utterly by surprise, Leslie's little
combination of wit and sagacity had been throughout a signal success.
The actors crowded round her. "We'd no idea of it!" "Capital!" "A great
hit!" they exclaimed. "Mother Hubbard is the star of the evening," said
Leonard Brookhouse. "No, indeed," returned Leslie, patting Sir Charles's
head,--"this is the dog-star." "Rather a Sirius reflection upon the rest
of us," rejoined Brookhouse, shrugging his shoulders, as he walked off
to take his place in the "Oath," and Leslie disappeared to make ready
for "Barbara Frietchie."

Several persons, before and behind the curtain, were making up their
minds, just now, to a fresh opinion. There was nothing so very slow or
tame, after all, about Leslie Goldthwaite. Several others had known that
long ago.

"Taking the Oath" was piquant and spirited. The touch of restive scorn
that could come out on Martha Josselyn's face just suited her part; and
Leonard Brookhouse was very cool and courteous, and handsome and
gentlemanly-triumphant as the Union officer.

"Barbara Frietchie" was grand. Grahame Lowe played Stonewall Jackson.
They had improvised a pretty bit of scenery at the back, with a few
sticks, some paint, brown carpet-paper, and a couple of mosquito bars; a
Dutch gable with a lattice window, vines trained up over it, and bushes
below. It was a moving tableau, enacted to the reading of Whittier's
glorious ballad. "Only an old woman in a cap and kerchief, putting her
head out at a garret window,"--that was all; but the fire was in the
young eyes under the painted wrinkles and the snowy hair; the arm
stretched itself out quick and bravely at the very instant of the
pistol-shot that startled timid ears; one skillful movement detached and
seized the staff in its apparent fall, and the liberty-colors flashed
full in Rebel faces, as the broken lower fragment went clattering to the
stage. All depended on the one instant action and expression. These were
perfect. The very spirit of Barbara stirred her representative. The
curtain began to descend slowly, and the applause broke forth before the
reading ended. But a hand, held up, hushed it till the concluding lines
were given in thrilling tones, as the tableau was covered from sight.

     "Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
     And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

     "Honor to her! and let a tear
     Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.

     "Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
     Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

     "Peace and order and beauty draw
     Round thy symbol of light and law;

     "And ever the stars above look down
     On thy stars below in Frederick town!"

Then one great cheer broke forth, and was prolonged to three.

"Not be Barbara Frietchie!" Leslie would not have missed that thrill for
the finest beauty-part of all. For the applause--that was for the flag,
of course, as Ginevra Thoresby said.

The benches were slid out at a window upon a lower roof, the curtain was
looped up, and the footlights carried away; the "music" came up, and
took possession of the stage; and the audience hall resolved itself into
a ball-room. Under the chandelier, in the middle, a tableau not set
forth in the programme was rehearsed and added a few minutes after.

Mrs. Thoresby, of course, had been introduced to the General; Mrs.
Thoresby, with her bright, full, gray curls and her handsome figure,
stood holding him in conversation between introductions, graciously
waiving her privilege as new comers claimed their modest word. Mrs.
Thoresby took possession; had praised the tableaux, as "quite
creditable, really, considering the resources we had," and was following
a slight lead into a long talk, of information and advice on her part,
about Dixville Notch. The General thought he should go there, after a
day or two at Outledge.

Just here came up Dakie Thayne. The actors, in costume, were gradually
mingling among the audience, and Barbara Frietchie, in white hair, from
which there was not time to remove the powder, plain cap and kerchief,
and brown woolen gown, with her silken flag yet in her hand, came with
him. This boy, who "was always everywhere," made no hesitation, but
walked straight up to the central group, taking Leslie by the hand.
Close to the General, he waited courteously for a long sentence of Mrs.
Thoresby's to be ended, and then said, simply, "Uncle James, this is my
friend Miss Leslie Goldthwaite. My brother, Dr. Ingleside--why, where is
Noll?"

Dr. Oliver Ingleside had stepped out of the circle in the last half of
the long sentence. The Sister of Mercy--no longer in costume,
however--had come down the little flight of steps that led from the
stage to the floor. At their foot the young army surgeon was shaking
hands with Susan Josselyn. These two had had the chess-practice
together--and other practice--down there among the Southern hospitals.

Mrs. Thoresby's face was very like some fabric subjected to chemical
experiment, from which one color and aspect has been suddenly and
utterly discharged to make room for something different and new. Between
the first and last there waits a blank. With this blank full upon her,
she stood there for one brief, unprecedented instant in her life, a
figure without presence or effect. I have seen a daguerreotype in which
were cap, hair, and collar, quite correct,--what should have been a face
rubbed out. Mrs. Thoresby rubbed herself out, and so performed her
involuntary tableau.

"Of course I might have guessed. I wonder it never occurred to me," Mrs.
Linceford was replying presently, to her vacuous inquiry. "The name
seemed familiar, too; only he called himself 'Dakie.' I remember
perfectly now. Old Jacob Thayne, the Chicago millionaire. He married
pretty little Mrs. Ingleside, the Illinois Representative's widow, that
first winter I was in Washington. Why, Dakie must be a dollar prince!"

He was just Dakie Thayne, though, for all that. He and Leslie and
Cousin Delight, the Josselyns and the Inglesides, dear Miss Craydocke
hurrying up to congratulate, Marmaduke Wharne looking on without a shade
of cynicism in the gladness of his face, and Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman flitting up in the pauses of dance and promenade,--well, after
all, these were the central group that night. The pivot of the little
solar system was changed; but the chief planets made but slight account
of that; they just felt that it had grown very warm and bright.

"Oh, Chicken Little!" Mrs. Linceford cried to Leslie Goldthwaite, giving
her a small shake with her good-night kiss at her door. "How did you
know the sky was going to fall? And how have you led us all this chase
to cheat Fox Lox at last?"

But that wasn't the way Chicken Little looked at it. She didn't care
much for the bit of dramatic _dénouement_ that had come about by
accident,--like a story, Elinor said,--or the touch of poetic justice
that tickled Mrs. Linceford's world-instructed sense of fun. Dakie
Thayne wasn't a sum that needed proving. It was very nice that this
famous general should be his uncle,--but not at all strange: they were
just the sort of people he _must_ belong to. And it was nicest of
all that Dr. Ingleside and Susan Josselyn should have known each
other,--"in the glory of their lives," she phrased it to herself, with
a little flash of girl enthusiasm and a vague suggestion of romance.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Mrs. Linceford said to Dakie Thayne next
morning. "Everybody would have"--She stopped. She could not tell this
boy to his frank face that everybody would have thought more and made
more of him because his uncle had got brave stars on his shoulders, and
his father had died leaving two millions or so of dollars.

"I know they would have," said Dakie Thayne. "That was just it. What is
the use of telling things? I'll wait till I've done something that tells
itself."



CHAPTER XVII.


LEAF-GLORY.

There was a pretty general break-up at Outledge during the week
following. The tableaux were the _finale_ of the season's gayety,--of
this particular little episode, at least, which grew out of the
association together of these personages of our story. There might come
a later set, and later doings; but this last week of August sent the
mere summer-birds fluttering. Madam Routh must be back in New York, to
prepare for the reopening of her school; Mrs. Linceford had letters from
her husband, proposing to meet her by the first, in N----, and so the
Haddens would be off; the Thoresbys had stayed as long as they cared to
in any one place where there seemed no special inducement; General
Ingleside was going through the mountains to Dixville Notch. Rose
Ingleside,--bright and charming as her name; just a fit flower to put
beside our Ladies' Delight, finding out at once, as all girls and women
did, her sweetness, and leaning more and more to the rare and delicate
sphere of her quiet attraction,--Oliver and Dakie Thayne,--these were
his family party; but there came to be question about Leslie and
Delight. Would not they make six? And since Mrs. Linceford and her
sisters must go, it seemed so exactly the thing for them to fall into;
otherwise Miss Goldthwaite's journey hither would hardly seem to have
been worth while. Early September was so lovely among the hills;
opportunities for a party to Dixville Notch would not come every day; in
short, Dakie had set his heart upon it, Rose begged, the General was as
pressing as true politeness would allow, and it was settled.

"Only," Sin Saxon said suddenly, on being told, "I should like if you
would tell me, General Ingleside, the precise military expression
synonymous with 'taking the wind out of one's sails.' Because that's
just what you've done for me."

"My dear Miss Saxon! In what way?"

"Invited my party,--some of them,--and taken my road. That's all. I
spoke first, though I didn't speak out loud. See here!" And she produced
a letter from her mother, received that morning. "Observe the date, if
you please,--August 24. 'Your letter reached me yesterday.' And it had
traveled round, as usual, two days in papa's pocket, beside. I always
allow for that. 'I quite approve your plan; provided, as you say, the
party be properly matronized. I'--H'm--h'm! that refers to little
explanations of my own. Well, all is, I was going to do this very
thing,--with enlargements. And now Miss Craydocke and I may collapse."

"Why, when with you and your enlargements we might make the most
admirable combination? At least, the Dixville road is open to all."

"Very kind of you to say so,--the first part, I mean,--if you could
possibly have helped it. But there are insurmountable obstacles on that
Dixville road--to us. There's a lion in the way. Don't you see we should
be like the little ragged boys running after the soldier-company? We
couldn't think of putting ourselves in that 'bony light,' especially
before the eyes of Mrs.--Grundy." This last, as Mrs. Thoresby swept
impressively along the piazza in full dinner costume.

"Unless you go first, and we run after you," suggested the General.

"All the same. You talked Dixville to her the very first evening, you
know. No, nobody can have an original Dixville idea any more. And I've
been asking them,--the Josselyns, and Mr. Wharne and all, and was just
coming to the Goldthwaites; and now I've got them on my hands, and I
don't know where in the world to take them. That comes of keeping an
inspiration to ripen. Well, it's a lesson of wisdom! Only, as Effie says
about her housekeeping, the two dearest things in living are butter and
experience!"

Amidst laughter and banter and repartee, they came to it, of course; the
most delightful combination and joint arrangement. Two wagons, the
General's and Dr. Ingleside's two saddle-horses, Frank Scherman's little
mountain mare, that climbed like a cat, and was sure-footed as a
chamois,--these, with a side-saddle for the use of a lady sometimes upon
the last, made up the general equipment of the expedition. All Mrs.
Grundy knew was that they were wonderfully merry and excited together,
until this plan came out as the upshot.

The Josselyns had not quite consented at once, though their faces were
bright with a most thankful appreciation of the kindness that offered
them such a pleasure; nay, that entreated their companionship as a thing
so genuinely coveted to make its own pleasure complete. Somehow, when
the whole plan developed, there was a little sudden shrinking on Sue's
part, perhaps on similar grounds to Sin Saxon's perception of
insurmountable obstacles; but she was shyer than Sin of putting forth
her objections, and the general zeal and delight, and Martha's longing
look, unconscious of cause why not, carried the day.

There had never been a blither setting off from the Giant's Cairn. All
the remaining guests were gathered to see them go. There was not a mote
in the blue air between Outledge and the crest of Washington. All the
subtile strength of the hills--ores and sweet waters and resinous
perfumes and breath of healing leaf and root distilled to absolute
purity in the clear ether that sweeps only from such bare,
thunder-scoured summits--made up the exhilarant draught in which they
drank the mountain joy and received afar off its baptism of delight.

It was beautiful to see the Josselyns so girlish and gay; it was lovely
to look at old Miss Craydocke, with her little tremors of pleasure, and
the sudden glistenings in her eyes; Sin Saxon's pretty face was clear
and noble, with its pure impulse of kindliness, and her fun was like a
sparkle upon deep waters. Dakie Thayne rushed about in a sort of general
satisfaction which would not let him be quiet anywhere. Outsiders looked
with a kind of new, half-jealous respect on these privileged few who had
so suddenly become the "General's party." Sin Saxon whispered to Leslie
Goldthwaite: "It's neither his nor mine, honeysuckle; it's
yours,--Henny-penny and all the rest of it, as Mrs. Linceford said."
Leslie was glad with the crowning gladness of her bright summer.

"That girl has played her cards well," Mrs. Thoresby said of her, a
little below her voice, as she saw the General himself making her
especially comfortable with Cousin Delight in a back seat.

"Particularly, my dear madam," said Marmaduke Wharne, coming close and
speaking with clear emphasis, "as she could not possibly have known that
she had a trump in her hand!"

       *       *       *       *       *

To tell of all that week's journeying, and of Dixville Notch; the
adventure, the brightness, the beauty, and the glory; the sympathy of
abounding enjoyment, the waking of new life that it was to some of them;
the interchange of thought, the cementing of friendships,--would be to
begin another story, possibly a yet longer one. Leslie's summer,
according to the calendar, is already ended. Much in this world must
pause unfinished, or come to abrupt conclusion. People "die suddenly at
last," after the most tedious illnesses. "Married and lived happy ever
after," is the inclusive summary that winds up many an old tale whose
time of action only runs through hours. If in this summer-time with
Leslie Goldthwaite your thoughts have broadened somewhat with hers, some
questions for you have been partly answered; if it has appeared to you
how a life enriches itself by drawing toward and going forth into the
life of others through seeing how this began with her, it is no
unfinished tale that I leave with you.

A little picture I will give you, farther on, a hint of something
farther yet, and say good-by.

Some of them came back to Outledge, and stayed far into the still, rich
September. Delight and Leslie sat before the Green Cottage one morning,
in the heart of a golden haze and a gorgeous bloom.

All around the feet of the great hills lay the garlands of early-ripened
autumn. You see nothing like it in the lowlands,--nothing like the fire
of the maples, the carbuncle-splendor of the oaks, the flash of scarlet
sumachs and creepers, the illumination of every kind of little leaf in
its own way, upon which the frost touch comes down from those tremendous
heights that stand rimy in each morning's sun, trying on white caps that
by and by they shall pull down heavily over their brows, till they cloak
all their shoulders also in the like sculptured folds, to stand and
wait, blind, awful chrysalides, through the long winter of their death
and silence.

Delight and Leslie had got letters from the Josselyns and Dakie Thayne.
There was news in them such as thrills always the half-comprehending
sympathies of girlhood. Leslie's vague suggestion of romance had become
fulfillment. Dakie Thayne was wild with rejoicing that dear old Noll was
to marry Sue. "She had always made him think of Noll, and his ways and
likings, ever since that day of the game of chess that by his means
came to grief. It was awful slang, but he could not help it: it was just
the very jolliest go!"

Susan Josselyn's quiet letter said,--"That kindness which kept us on and
made it beautiful for us, strangers, at Outledge, has brought to me, by
God's providence, this great happiness of my life."

After a long pause of trying to take it in, Leslie looked up. "What a
summer this has been! So full; so much has happened! I feel as if I had
been living such a great deal!"

"You have been living in others' lives. You have had a great deal to do
with what has happened."

"Oh, Cousin Delight! I have only been _among_ it! I could not
_do_--except such a very little."

"There is a working from us beyond our own. But if our working runs with
that?--You have done more than you will ever know, little one." Delight
Goldthwaite spoke very tenderly. Her own life, somehow, had been closely
touched, through that which had grown and gathered about Leslie. "It
depends on that abiding. 'In me, and I in you; so shall ye bear much
fruit.'"

She stopped. She would not say more. Leslie thought her talking rather
wide of the first suggestion; but this child would never know, as
Delight had said, what a centre, in her simple, loving way, she had
been for the working of a purpose beyond her thought.

Sin Saxon came across the lawn, crowned with gold and scarlet, trailing
creepers twined about her shoulders, and flames of beauty in her full
hands. "Miss Craydocke says she praised God with every leaf she took.
I'm afraid I forgot to, for the little ones. But I was so greedy and so
busy, getting them all for her. Come, Miss Craydocke; we've got no end
of pressing to do, to save half of them!"

"She can't do enough for her. Oh, Cousin Delight, the leaves _are_
glorified, after all! Asenath never was so charming; and she is more
beautiful than ever!"

Delight's glance took in also another face than Asenath's, grown into
something in these months that no training or taking thought could have
done for it. "Yes," she said, in the same still way in which she had
spoken before, "that comes too,--as God wills. All things shall be
added."

       *       *       *       *       *

My hint is of a Western home, just outside the leaping growth and
ceaseless stir of a great Western city; a large, low, cosy mansion, with
a certain Old World mellowness and rest in its aspect,--looking forth,
even, as it does on one side, upon the illimitable sunset-ward sweep of
the magnificent promise of the New; on the other, it catches a glimpse,
beyond and beside the town, of the calm blue of a fresh-water ocean.

The place is "Ingleside;" the General will call it by no other than the
family name,--the sweet Scottish synonym for Home-corner. And here,
while I have been writing and you reading these pages, he has had them
all with him; Oliver and Susan, on their bridal journey, which waited
for summer-time to come again, though they have been six months married;
Rose, of course, and Dakie Thayne, home in vacation from a great school
where he is studying hard, hoping for West Point by and by; Leslie
Goldthwaite, who is Dakie's inspiration still; and our Flower, our
Pansy, our Delight,--golden-eyed Lady of innumerable sweet names.

The sweetest and truest of all, says the brave soldier and high-souled
gentleman, is that which he has persuaded her to wear for life,--Delight
Ingleside.





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+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
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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