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Title: Roland Graeme: Knight - A Novel of Our Time
Author: Machar, Agnes Maule, 1837-1927
Language: English
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ROLAND GRAEME:
KNIGHT

A Novel of Our Time

by

AGNES MAULE MACHAR

Author of "Stories of New France," "Marjorie's Canadian Winter," etc.


    "_To Ride Abroad, Redressing Human Wrongs_"



Montreal
Wm. Drysdale & Company

Entered according to Act of Parliament, in the year of Our Lord, One
Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Two, by W. Drysdale
& Co., in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture at
Ottawa.



TO
Lyman Abbott, D.D.,
ONE OF THE FIRST VOICES IN AMERICA TO ENFORCE THE RELATION OF
CHRISTIANITY TO THE LABOR PROBLEM, THESE PAGES ARE
RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.


     "The highest truth the wise man sees he will fearlessly utter;
     knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his
     right part in the world; knowing that, if he can effect the
     change he aims at--well: if not--well also; though not so
     well."

     HERBERT SPENCER.



CONTENTS.


        I. ROLAND'S THREE VISITS

       II. A TWILIGHT REVERIE

      III. AN UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTION

       IV. A CONSULTATION

        V. A FAMILY PARTY

       VI. LOOKING BACKWARD

      VII. A MIDNIGHT MEETING

     VIII. NORA'S DREAM

       IX. IN THE HOSPITAL

        X. A FIRESIDE TALK

       XI. THORNS AND ROSES

      XII. TABLE-TALK

     XIII. PIPPA PASSES

      XIV. A REPORTER AT CHURCH

       XV. HELPING HANDS

      XVI. A LUNCHEON-PARTY

     XVII. A CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT

    XVIII. AFTERNOON VISITORS

      XIX. "MODERN MIRACLES"

       XX. BREAKERS AHEAD

      XXI. WORK AND WAGES

     XXII. NORA'S STRATEGY

    XXIII. UNEXPECTED DENOUEMENTS

     XXIV. A REVELATION

      XXV. BEWILDERMENT

     XXVI. AN EMPTY PLACE

    XXVII. A THUNDER-BOLT

   XXVIII. CONSCIENCE STRICKEN

     XXIX. RECONCILIATION

      XXX. AN EASTER MORNING

     XXXI. AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSAL

    XXXII. A NARROW ESCAPE

   XXXIII. IN ARCADY

    XXXIV. LOOKING FORWARD



ROLAND GRAEME, KNIGHT.



CHAPTER I.

ROLAND'S THREE VISITS.


The Reverend Cecil Chillingworth sat in his quiet study, absorbed in the
preparation of his next Sunday evening's discourse. It was to be one of
those powerful pulpit "efforts"--so comprehensive in its grasp, so
catholic in its spirit, so suggestive in its teachings--for which Mr.
Chillingworth, to quote the Minton _Minerva_, "was deservedly famous."
In fact, this "fame" of his sat already like "black care" on his
shoulders; or, as the Minton _Minerva_ might have said, had it only
known the secret, like a jockey determined on all occasions to whip and
spur him up to his own record. The strongest forces are often those of
which the subject of them is least conscious, and, though Mr.
Chillingworth would not have admitted it to himself, he stood in mortal
dread of "falling off" in his reputation as a preacher. Should that
happen, he would feel--or so he would have put it to himself--that his
"usefulness was gone," a reason that would have justified to him every
possible effort to avert the calamity.

He was now hard at work, with the critical presence of the reporter of
the _Minerva_ painfully before his mind, as he racked his brain for new
and original thoughts, fresh illustrations, apt and terse expressions,
with an eager anxiety that often threatened to put too great a strain on
even his fine and well-balanced _physique_. There were indeed already,
in his inward experience, some unwelcome tokens of overstrain in a
growing nervous irritability, and a miserable day, now and then, in
which all the brightness of life, and faith, and hope seemed to
disappear before the deadly touch of nervous prostration.

It was not wonderful, then, if on the days which he set apart more
especially for preparation for the pulpit, Mr. Chillingworth was
peculiarly impatient of interruption. It was not consistent with his
principles absolutely to deny himself, on these days, to all who sought
him; but he always yielded under protest, with the impatient sense of
injury which is often caused by the inconvenient pressure of our ideals
on our preferences. The subject of the particular sermon on which he was
at this time engaged was, the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice
demanded by the religion of Christ. He was in the full flow of clear and
elevated thought, and was just elaborating what he thought a specially
apt illustration, with the enthusiasm of an artist.

A knock at his study door suddenly awoke him from his preoccupation; his
brow involuntarily contracted, as, without looking up, he uttered a
reluctant "Come in!"

A trim maid-servant entered and handed him a card. On it was inscribed,
in clear and decided, though small characters, the name, _Roland
Graeme_.

"Roland Graeme!" he mentally re-echoed. "I don't know the name--and yet
it seems familiar." Then a ready misgiving crossed his mind, and,
turning to the waiting maid, he asked, "Does he seem to be a
book-canvasser?"

"No, sir, I don't just think he is," she replied, somewhat doubtfully;
then in a tone of more satisfied decision she added, "any way, he hain't
got any books with him _now_, as far as I can see."

"Well, say I'll be down presently," said the clergyman, with a sigh of
forced resignation, dipping his pen into the ink to finish the
interrupted sentence, in which he spent some minutes, with a
half-conscious determination to have at least the satisfaction of
keeping the unwelcome visitor waiting. The plan did not work well, so
far as he was concerned. He wrote a few words, read them over, thought
them tame and feeble, drew his pen through them, and then, as the dull
winter day was fast fading, he thought he might as well go down at once;
first putting some fresh coal on his grate, so that, when he returned,
he might find the bright glowing fire which his soul loved, for its
suggestiveness as well as its comfort, in a twilight meditation. It is
curious on what trivial things great issues do often depend. That little
delay of five minutes, as it turned out, was the means of changing the
whole course of Mr. Chillingworth's life, as well as that of some other
persons with whom this story is concerned.

Down-stairs, in the handsomely furnished parlor, whose somewhat prim
arrangement betokened the absence of any feminine occupancy, the
clergyman found his visitor, a young man of more than middle height and
noticeable figure, with a broad fair brow and wavy chestnut hair, candid
blue-gray eyes, somewhat dreamy in expression, yet full of earnestness
and hope, and lighted with a smile of peculiar sweetness as he rose at
Mr. Chillingworth's entrance. That gentleman's manner, however, retained
an expression of protest, and he remained standing, without any
invitation to his visitor to resume his seat. If he did not say--"To
what am I indebted for the honor of this visit?"--it was so clearly
written on every line of his face, that the young man was constrained to
begin in a tone of apology:

"I trust, sir, you will pardon the seeming intrusion of a stranger on
your valuable time. May I ask you to grant me the favor of a brief
conference on an important subject?" inquired the visitor, with a gentle
courtesy of manner that impressed Mr. Chillingworth in spite of himself.
"As a Christian minister, you----"

"As a Christian minister, sir, my time is much engaged. I must ask you
to state the object of your visit as briefly as possible. Just at
present, I am specially occupied with important work."

"I shall be as brief as possible," the young man replied. "I think you
will recognize my object also as important. May I ask you to be kind
enough to look at this prospectus?"

Mr. Chillingworth's high, arched forehead assumed a more and more
clouded aspect. He made an impatient gesture as he said:

"I am afraid you really must excuse me! I cannot undertake to examine a
long prospectus. Time is precious, and my own work is too exacting in
its claims."

"That is what brings me here," the young man replied, still with a
cheerful, undaunted look. "It is, I think, in line with your work, the
importance of which I fully recognize. This is the prospectus of a paper
which I propose to issue in the interest of our common humanity. It is
designed to promote the brotherhood of man, to secure a better feeling
between class and class, employer and employed,--a fairer scale of wages
and hours for the operative, fuller coöperation between employer and
_employés_ and mutual consideration for each other's interests; in
short, to propagate that spirit of Christian socialism which the
minister of Christ----"

But here the clergyman's ill-controlled impatience broke its bounds.
Preoccupied as he was, he had caught little more than the last words.

"I can have nothing to do with any socialistic schemes," he exclaimed.
"There is far too much mischievous nonsense afloat!--simply producing
discontent with existing conditions, and with the differences which, in
Providence, have always existed. I must really decline any further
conversation on this subject," and, with unmistakable suggestiveness,
Mr. Chillingworth placed his hand on the half-open door.

A faintly perceptible shade of vexation seemed just to flit across the
bright serenity of the young man's frank, open face. He saw very well
that persistence would do no good, and yielded to the force of
circumstances with the best grace he could muster.

"Good afternoon, then, sir," he said, in a tone that, if not quite so
cheery, was as amiable as ever. "I am sorry I cannot enlist your
sympathy in our undertaking, as I should like to have all Christian
ministers with us. I shall send you a specimen copy of the paper, and
hope you will kindly read it."

"Good afternoon," the minister reiterated curtly, showing his visitor to
the door with very scant courtesy.

Just as the door was about to close behind him, an unexpected
interruption occurred, in the shape of an apparition of a character very
unusual at Mr. Chillingworth's door. It was a little girl, who looked
about eight or nine years old, but might have been older, quaintly
wrapped in a shawl that had once been handsome, while a little
fur-trimmed hood that was quite too small for her framed a mass of dark
tangled curls, out of which large, lustrous gray eyes, strikingly
beautiful in form and color, looked up from under their long dark
eyelashes, with a soft, grave, appealing gaze. Her shabby, old-fashioned
garb gave her, at first sight, the appearance of an ordinary vagrant
child; but there was nothing sordid about the little creature. Her
childish beauty, indeed, caught Roland Graeme, whose heart was always
open to such spells, with an irresistible fascination.

The little girl looked eagerly up at the two men; then, seeming to
divine which was the object of her quest, she said timidly, yet with a
refinement of tone and accent somewhat out of keeping with her
poverty-stricken aspect:

"Please, minister, my mother is very ill, and she wants----"

"I never give anything to begging children," interrupted Mr.
Chillingworth, more sternly than he was himself aware of; for his
irritation with his previous visitor preoccupied him so much that he
heard and saw the child vaguely, without taking in the sense of her
words, or according her any more consideration, than, to his mind, was
ordinarily deserved by the nuisances he indiscriminately classed as
"juvenile mendicants." "If your mother wants anything, she can come
herself," he added, from behind the resolutely closing door. He was not
an unfeeling man, but he never knew what to do with children, and had
grown hardened by the sight of misery that he could not prevent;--the
words he used being a well-worn formula, the crystallized result of many
vexatious impositions. He had only, to "save his precious time,"
delivered himself over to a set of rules, and in so far, cramped and
limited the flow of human sympathy.

Roland, left on the door-steps with the little morsel of womanhood,
looked down at her, while she looked up at him with the keenly
scrutinizing glance, which, in some children as in animals, seems to
have been developed by force of circumstances. In the mutual glance,
brief and inquiring as it was, a certain sympathy seemed to establish
itself between the young man and the child. He noted, with an eye always
minutely observant of human faces, the grieved, discouraged look which
the child's flexible mouth had assumed at the unexpected rebuff. But she
only said, in an explanatory tone, as if answering an unspoken inquiry,

"Mother's too sick to come; she's _awful_ sick!"

"What's your name, my child, and where do you live?" asked Roland
Graeme, who could no more divest himself of the quick sympathy that was
always catching hold of other people's lives, than he could of the
winning candor of his blue-gray eyes.

"Miss Travers!"--was the unexpected reply to his first question, given
with a certain quaint dignity that touched Roland's sense of humor. "We
live way up there," pointing in the direction of a long street that ran
from the neighboring corner toward the outskirts of the city.

"And what ails your mother, and why did she send you here?" he
continued.

"She said I was to come to this house," pointing to the number above the
door, "and to say that she wanted to see _him_ very particularly," said
the child, evidently repeating her message, word for word, "and she's
very sick and can't eat bread, and there's nothing else in the house!"
she added, in a tone in which perplexity and resignation were strangely
mingled.

The young man sighed heavily. Here was another atom, added to that pile
of human misery which had begun to weigh upon his spirit like a
nightmare. But he replied in the same cheery tone he had used to the
minister:

"Well, I'm going that way, and if you'll wait a minute or two for me at
a house I have to stop at, I'll go with you to see your mother, and
perhaps I can help her a little." And, taking the little one's hand, the
two passed on in the fast gathering dusk. The child, who had acquiesced
with a look of real satisfaction, trotted on beside him, occasionally
looking up, to study the face of her new friend and to return his smile,
while doing her best to keep up with the unconsciously rapid pace which
had grown habitual with him.

He drew up suddenly before a modest abode, the door-plate of which bore
the inscription, "Rev. John Alden." The door was opened by a bright
fair-haired boy, to whom Roland's heart went out at once--for he loved
boys, as much as some people detest them, and that is saying a good
deal. This boy was evidently accustomed to all sorts of visitors, and
did not even look surprised at Roland's odd little companion. Yes, his
father was at home. Would they walk in? He seemed to know just what to
do with the little girl, whom he carefully lifted to a chair in the
hall, while he courteously ushered the young man into a parlor whose
comfortable confusion and open piano, littered with music and books,
indicated as much life and occupancy as the precise and frigid order of
Mr. Chillingworth's reception-room betokened the reverse. A merry tumult
of children's voices and laughter came through open doors, seriously
diverting Roland's attention from the business part of his mission.

A quick decided step soon sounded in the hall, and, with a kindly word
to the child as he passed, Mr. Alden entered. He was a man of rather
less than medium height, and rather more than middle-age, strongly
built, alert, with a large head, broad forehead and bright gray eyes, in
which kindliness and humor often seemed to contend for the mastery. His
cordial greeting led Roland to feel him a friend at once, while his keen
observant glance took in every point of his visitor's appearance, and
read his character with a correctness that would have amazed him, could
he have known it.

"Sit down, sir, sit down! No intrusion in the world. I am always glad to
see young men, and to do anything I can to serve them."

It may be remarked in passing that Mr. Alden's congregation usually
contained more young men than any other in Minton. Perhaps this remark
partly explained it.

Roland had soon unfolded his errand, less systematically and more
discursively than he had done to Mr. Chillingworth. Mr. Alden listened
attentively, read the prospectus with his head bent toward his visitor,
and one arm resting on the back of his chair; then folded it up, and
handed it back to him, with a twinkle of both sympathy and fun in his
kindly eyes.

"Well, my dear fellow, I heartily sympathize with your object. I don't
know that I can give you much help other than sympathy; but whatever I
can do to promote your aims, I shall do with pleasure. Anything that can
promote the true brotherhood of man must always enlist the sympathy of a
minister of Christ."

"I wish all ministers felt as you do, sir," replied Roland, thinking of
his last visit.

"Well, you see, I fear some of us have to be converted yet--to that
doctrine, anyhow. As for me, I've had special advantages. My mother was
a Scotch lassie, and used to rock my cradle to Burns' grand song,"--and
the minister hummed the chorus:--

    "For a' that and a' that,
      It's comin' yet, for a' that
    That man to man, the warld o'er,
      Shall brithers be, for a' that!"

"My parents were both Scotch," said Roland, with quick pleasure. "But I
suppose you guessed that from my name."

"Yes, a good old Border name it is! I dip into Sir Walter and the Border
ballads now and then, and I think we've made some progress toward Burns'
idea since those days! Well, I believe that time is coming, but it won't
be in your day or mine; and only one thing will bring it about--the
growth of the _brother-love_. I preach, that in my way, and I bid you
God-speed if you preach it in yours. Send along your paper! We've got
enough and to spare already, but I couldn't shut my door against one
started on that platform. And if I conscientiously can, I will recommend
it to others, and give you any other help you may need. Only, my dear
fellow, don't be disappointed if you don't accomplish all you hope for.
Many of us are apt to think at twenty-five, that if 'the world is out of
joint,' we, in particular, were 'born to set it right.' I know I did,
and though I have not done a hundredth part of what I hoped to do, I
probably shouldn't have done that percentage, if I had not started with
great expectations. Only don't be discouraged, if they are not all
realized! Now--is this little girl with you?" he added, glancing out
into the hall where another girl, somewhat older than the boy who had
opened the door, was filling the child's hands with cake and fruit.

Roland, suddenly recollecting the child, told all he knew about her,
while Mr. Alden listened with evident sympathy and interest.

"Ah! Another of the sad cases of hidden misery that one is constantly
stumbling on," he said, his voice and eye grown soft with compassion.
"That child doesn't look like one accustomed to beg. If the poor woman
wants a minister, why shouldn't I go with you? I am at your service."

"If it's quite convenient," said Roland, "it would be very kind if you
would."

"Oh, as for that, ministers and doctors mustn't stand too much on
convenience. I've learned a good many lessons from my medical friend
Blanchard. We both own the same Master, and I've no more right to be
careful of my convenience than he has. Well, my dear, come away!"

For, as he talked in his rapid energetic manner, he had been as rapidly
donning overcoat and gloves, and, hat in one hand, now extended the
other to the little girl.

"That's right, Gracie, wrap her well up! Tell Mother that I'll be back
as soon as I can, but you needn't keep tea waiting for me, if you are
all too hungry. Now then, you can shut the door."

Roland courteously raised his hat to the young girl, as she stood
looking after them with a smile very like her father's, while her long,
wavy, golden hair was rippled by the cold December wind. He felt a
wistful regret at leaving the warm, homelike atmosphere behind, when the
door at last closed upon them.

Mr. Alden drew a few more particulars from the child as they hastened
on. Her mother had been ill a good many days, she couldn't tell how
many. No, there had not been any doctor to see her. Mother said she
hadn't money enough. They had bread, but no tea, and mother could take
nothing but tea!

Mr. Alden darted into a little grocery and came out carrying two small
brown parcels. Frequent practice had made him equal to all such
emergencies. They had gone a good way past the better class of houses,
into a region of unpromising and dingy tenements--a region long ago
deserted by all who could afford to leave it. At last the child stopped
at an entry door.

"It's here--up-stairs," she said, looking up at her companions. They
went up a rickety stair, black with years of unwashed footmarks, and
followed the child into the room. She entered; but they stood still on
the threshold, while Roland's brow contracted as if with a sharp
sensation of physical pain.

It was a wretched little room, bare beyond anything Roland had ever seen
in Minton. There was no table, only one dilapidated chair and a low
wooden stool. On a shake-down on the floor lay the slender form of a
young woman, nearly covered by an old shawl which did not quite conceal
her poor and shabby attire. There was scarcely any fire in the rusty
little stove. On an old trunk near the window were an evidently
much-used box of water-colors, a few brushes, and a card or two, with
flower designs painted sketchily, yet with some spirit;--objects so much
out of keeping with the rest of the apartment that they at once
attracted the eye. The young woman, who eagerly pushed the shawl aside
and looked up the moment the door opened, was evidently very ill indeed.
Her face was slightly flushed, though the room was far from warm, and
her labored breathing told Mr. Alden's experienced ear that it was a
severe case of bronchitis.

The little girl ran up to her mother at once, throwing her arms around
her neck with a passionate clasp. Then in answer to the eager inquiring
eyes that met hers, she explained:

"Here's a minister, Mammy! _That_ one wouldn't come--but _he_ did! So
now you'll be better--won't you?"

As the mother remained for a moment in the child's close embrace,
Roland, absorbed as he was in the distressing scene, could not help
thinking that it was very evident whence the latter had derived her
unusual type of beauty. The mother had the same dark rings of clustering
curls--tangled now with the restless tossing of illness; the same large
liquid eyes of dark gray, under long, dark lashes; the same exquisite
curves of mouth and chin, even though suffering--physical and
mental--had dimmed a beauty that must once have been bewitching. But the
eyes had a restless, pining look; and now, all at once, the fevered
flush ebbed away, leaving her deadly pale, while she seemed to struggle
for breath, unable to speak.

Mr. Alden rushed to her assistance, and raised her a little, with
difficulty detaching the clinging arms of the child; then, glancing
around the room, his quick eye fell on a small flask that stood in a
corner cupboard, otherwise empty enough. He motioned to Roland, who
followed his glance, and brought him the flask. Mr. Alden seized a cup
that stood near containing a little water, and, pouring into it some of
the spirits that the flask contained, put it to her lips. She drank it
down eagerly, and then lay back on the pillow, in a sort of exhausted
stupor.

"She must have medical attendance at once," said Mr. Alden. "She is
dying from neglect and exhaustion. I suppose you don't know any doctor
near?"

"No," said Roland, "I am a stranger here as yet."

"Then I must go for my friend, Blanchard. Or stay--it won't do to leave
this poor woman alone with that child! She might have died just now. And
you'll make better time than I should. I'm sure you won't think it too
much trouble to take a note to Doctor Blanchard, and to pilot him here."

Roland willingly assented. Mr. Alden tore a leaf out of his note-book,
on which he hastily wrote a few lines, addressed it to his friend, and
handed it to Roland, who hurried off at his customary "railroad pace,"
leaving Mr. Alden in charge of the scarcely conscious patient and the
frightened child.



CHAPTER II.

A TWILIGHT REVERIE.


After his unceremonious dismissal of his unwelcome visitors, Mr.
Chillingworth betook himself once more to the quiet sanctum into which
no profane foot ever intruded. The fire was blazing brightly now,
lighting up, with its warm glow, the stately ordered rows of books that
lined the walls, and the two or three fine engravings which Mr.
Chillingworth's fastidious taste had selected to relieve their monotony.
A charming etching of Holman Hunt's picture, "The Hireling Shepherd,"
opposite the fireplace, came out distinct in the warm light that just
touched another of the "Light of the World," by the same painter, above
the mantel. Mr. Chillingworth threw himself luxuriously into his
easy-chair by the fire, to enjoy this twilight hour of meditation, when,
the dull winter day shut out, his thoughts could roam freely in that
realm of religious speculation which was most congenial to his mind. He
wanted to complete the particular train of thought which had been
flowing so successfully when he had been interrupted by Roland Graeme.
He took the unfinished page that he had been writing, and held it in the
glow of the firelight, so that he might read again the last completed
sentences, and so recall the thoughts with which he had intended to
follow them. The subject of the sermon was, the opposition of the
religion of Christ to the easy-going, selfish materialism of the age.
And the last sentences he had written ran thus:--

     "Men often labor under the delusion that Christianity is an
     easy religion. Its Founder taught another lesson. The palm is
     to be won, only in the blood and dust of the battle; the battle
     with sin, with the world, aye, hardest of all, with _self_! The
     warp and woof of the 'white raiment' are the incarnadined hues
     of self-denial and self-sacrifice, which, collected and fused
     by the prismatic power of love, blend in the dazzling purity of
     light itself."

Mr. Chillingworth did not feel quite satisfied with this illustration,
though he had been delighted with it while in the glow of composition.
Now it seemed to him a trifle confused, and he tried to think it
out--for of all things he disliked mere vague and glittering rhetoric in
pulpit oratory. But, somehow, his mind refused to stick to the point,
and insisted in slipping off perpetually into the reverie which the
dreamy influences of twilight and firelight are so apt to foster. There
was nothing uncomfortable or self-reproachful in his reflection. No
thought of the earnest young man he had repulsed, or of the child to
whom he had refused to listen, troubled him in the least. Mr.
Chillingworth was a conscientious man, and he had not done anything
contrary to his own sense of right. He was simply protecting himself
from the profitless invasion of time dedicated to important work, by
matters that lay outside of his sphere. This, at least, is how he would
have put it, had any one ventured to argue the point with the dignified
Mr. Chillingworth.

But his mind this evening seemed caught by some hidden link of
association, operating sub-consciously as such things often do, and was
thereby carried off to scenes and events long left behind. Mr.
Chillingworth did not often indulge in retrospection. When one gives
one's self up to its influence, one cannot select at will. Pleasant
recollections are interwoven with painful ones, which have a way of
pouncing unawares on the unwary dreamer. And men whose lives are filled
to overflowing with present engrossing interests, do not usually give
much play to the power of painful memories. Still, whatever it might be
that had stirred the vision, he was haunted to-night by a picture that
stood, as real as the engravings opposite him, before that "inward eye"
which is not always

    "... the _bliss_ of solitude."

The picture was one of an old-fashioned English garden, sweet with pinks
and lavender, bright with early roses and laburnum, framed in by walls
clustered over with masses of glossy ivy, by stately old cedars, and,
beyond these, by blue, wooded hills, soft-tinted in the dreamy hue of an
English June. And the centre of the vision he saw might have served as
an illustration for Tennyson's "Gardener's Daughter":

    "But the full day dwelt on her brows and sunned
    Her violet eyes, and all her Hebe-bloom,
    And doubled his own warmth against her lips,
    And on the bounteous wave of such a breast
    As never pencil drew. Half light, half shade,
    She stood, a sight to make an old man young."

For a few minutes, Mr. Chillingworth closed his eyes and yielded himself
without stint to the overpowering reminiscences of days that could never
be entirely effaced, not even by the remembrance of succeeding
bitterness. Sweet voice, sweet eyes, sweet lips! how sweet you were! And
why, ah why, should all that sweetness have been swallowed up in a
horror of great darkness? Cruel fate! No, he did not believe in fate.
Was it then one of those mysterious providences which seemed so often to
mar human lives, or had he, himself, been to blame? He supposed he had.
The temptation of a mere outward beauty had been too strong for him, who
should have been proof against it. Well, that old folly was all past,
long ago! All trace of it seemed to have vanished from his life. Old
wounds were healed. Why should he let them smart again? Fruitless
regrets for the past were contrary to his principles. So, to fight off
the troublesome recollection, he rose and went to an open parlor-organ
that stood near his study-table, his one special recreation and delight.
And, taking up a score of the "Messiah" that lay open upon it, he struck
a few opening chords, and, in a fine tenor voice, began the recitative
"Comfort ye, Comfort ye my People."

But the music could not soothe him to-night as it usually did. The
restless mood was too strong, and presently he rose abruptly, as a
sudden thought occurred to him. He had promised to drop in, very soon,
at Dr. Blanchard's, to talk with Miss Blanchard about the proposed
rendering of this oratorio for the benefit of his projected new church,
in which he wished to enlist her coöperation as a vocalist. This was the
hour at which he was most likely to find her at home, the hour at which
Mrs. Blanchard usually dispensed afternoon tea, a ceremony of which he
thoroughly approved. The pleasant cosy drawing-room, with Miss
Blanchard's graceful figure as a centre-piece, seemed, just then,
infinitely more attractive than even the tranquil study with its glowing
fire and the prospect of a summons, erelong, to a solitary tea-table.
For Mr. Chillingworth was a comparatively young man still, and,
notwithstanding a certain fastidious exclusiveness, his social instincts
were by no means weak. He gave himself a little inward pinch as he
thought of some sentences of Thomas à Kempis that he had read that
morning; but, as he said to himself, he had a good reason for breaking
through his ordinary rule of shutting himself up on the last days of the
week, and he was no ascetic, nor meant to be! So, after telling the trim
maid that she need not bring up his evening meal till his return, he
took what had of late been his frequent way to Dr. Blanchard's
hospitable home.

In the bright, daintily furnished drawing-room he sought, there were at
that moment assembled three or four persons who were, as it happened,
discussing him, and perhaps, like "superior" people in general, he would
have been a little surprised at the freedom of some of their remarks.
These people were: Mrs. Blanchard, arrayed in one of the first
"tea-gowns" that had ever been seen in Minton, whose delicate green set
off the warm tints of her hair and complexion; Miss Blanchard, whose
quiet afternoon dress, soft and close fitting, contrasted with the more
pretentious attire of her sister-in-law, and showed a fine figure to
perfection; and two afternoon visitors, who were evidently very much at
home. One of these was a young lady, with fair fluffy hair and very
fashionable dress, of a peculiarly fresh and delicate prettiness, and a
manner that every one called very "taking." The other was a slender,
undersized young man, fairly good-looking, with regular features, dark
hair and eyes, and an expression of nothing in particular save
satisfaction with himself, his surroundings, and his carefully faultless
attire. Two children completed the party; a tiny girl in a mass of white
embroidery, playing with a pet terrier on the hearth-rug, and a small
boy with an aureole of reddish curls, who sat on Miss Blanchard's knee,
thoughtfully gazing into the fire.

"Oh!" exclaimed the fair young lady, as she handed her empty cup to the
young man who was waiting for it. "_Did_ you hear, Nora, about my
cousin, Janie Spencer?"

"What about her, Kitty? Is _she_ engaged, too?"

"Oh, dear no! nothing, so common! Something _you'll_ say is a great deal
better! In fact, I call it grand, heroic! Don't you know she's actually
made up her mind to be a nurse, and she's gone to the Saint Barnabas
hospital for training!"

"Has she, really?" exclaimed Miss Blanchard, with great interest, her
cheek flushing a little, and her dark-blue eyes lighting up. "Well,
that's good!"

"I knew you would say that," said Kitty, complacently, rejoicing in the
effect of her bit of news. "And, do you know, she tells me it was all
through Mr. Chillingworth's lovely sermons about self-sacrifice,
and--giving up, don't you know. They made her feel so selfish, and as if
she had no object in life but enjoying herself, and so, she said, she
couldn't rest in her mind till she set to work to do something for other
people. And then, she said, they had girls enough at home without her,
and she was tired of doing nothing in particular, and she always did
have a fancy for nursing. Now, you must be sure and tell Mr.
Chillingworth all about it, the first time you see him."

"Why not tell him yourself, Kitty?" was the laughing reply. "You see him
oftener than I do."

"Oh, I never can talk to him about such serious things! He looks as if
he didn't expect it, or as if it was a sort of liberty; and then he
seems to think I'm making fun of him, and I never feel sure that _he_
isn't making fun of _me_."

"Well, I shouldn't say that Mr. Chillingworth was overburdened with
'fun,'" said the young man, smiling at Kitty. "He wouldn't make his
fortune as a humorist; his views of life are too serious, and it seems
he is making other people's views serious, too."

"A good thing, too, if he were to do a little for you in that way," she
replied.

"Yes, I'm sadly aware that I am far behind you in that respect, Miss
Farrell," he retorted, with mock gravity.

"Don't be impertinent, Mr. Pomeroy!" replied the young lady.

Here a diversion was made by the curly-haired Eddie, from his post on
Miss Blanchard's lap. His long and serious contemplation of the fire
ended with a sigh, and the subject of it came out in the remark:

"I like the Crusaders a great deal better than the Giant-killers,
Auntie! Don't you think they were the best?"

"I don't know, Eddie," replied Miss Blanchard, truthfully. "I never
thought about it, I am afraid."

"Well, think! Auntie, _think_!" persisted the child, hugging her neck
very tightly, while the others laughed.

"I think some of the Crusaders _were_ Giant-killers, Eddie," said the
young man, not sorry to air his historical knowledge. "Saladin gets the
credit of being a pretty fairish giant, doesn't he, Miss Blanchard? or
so I think my school-books used to say. By the way, wouldn't
Chillingworth have made a first-class Crusader, a Crusader _chaplain_,
you know?"

"Why, it was only the other Sunday he was telling us what mistaken views
the Crusaders had, and how they often left real duties for visionary
enterprises. See how well I have remembered _that_!" exclaimed Kitty.

"I doubt if _he_ would have seen it, _then_," replied Mr. Pomeroy,
chuckling over a happy thought.

"Oh, Nora, are you going to help in the oratorio, the 'Messiah,' you
know? Mr. Chillingworth is taking such an interest in it! All we girls
in the choir are to sing in the choruses. Hasn't he asked you?"

"Yes," said Nora, quietly.

"Why, he's been here three times within the last fort-night," said Mrs.
Blanchard; "he's just set on getting Nora to sing; and she's got some
sort of idea in her head about it, I don't know what. There's another
ring, Nora; look if there's any tea left, there's a dear!"



CHAPTER III.

AN UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTION.


As Nora rose, and set down Eddie, a leisurely masculine tread sounded in
the hall. When the door opened and revealed Mr. Chillingworth's tall
figure, young Pomeroy turned to Miss Farrell, theatrically whispering:

"Speak of angels and you hear the rustle of their wings!"

"Good evening, Mr. Chillingworth," said Mrs. Blanchard, effusively;
"here are these young people all talking about you."

"I hope they haven't found anything very bad to say," said Mr.
Chillingworth, smiling graciously, as he greeted the party, yet unable
to conceal altogether the sensitiveness to being "talked about," natural
to most reserved and dignified people.

"No! I should hope not!" replied his hostess. "Do you think they would
dare to say anything bad of you here? On the contrary, Miss Farrell has
just been telling us how her cousin, Janie Spencer, has been led, by
your preaching, to make up her mind to be a hospital nurse. I think it's
splendid of her!"

"Yes, it's very fine," replied Mr. Chillingworth. "I am glad she has
decided so. Her mother spoke to me of it some time ago, and I begged her
to say nothing to dissuade her, but to leave her to follow, unbiased,
her own convictions of duty. She has set a noble example."

"Well, I should think you would feel yourself rewarded," Mrs. Blanchard
said, as she poured out a cup of tea, and handed it to her dignified
guest; while Miss Farrell exclaimed:

"I hope you don't expect us all to follow it, Mr. Chillingworth, and go
to be hospital nurses right away!"

"Not in the least," he replied, his dark eyes glancing up at the young
lady from under his strongly marked eyebrows. "I don't think that is
likely to be your vocation, Miss Kitty, at any rate. But there are other
ways of doing good. Life is, indeed, full of opportunities. The pity is,
we let so many of them slip," he added, rather sententiously.

"It would be a pity to let this one slip," remarked Mr. Pomeroy, handing
the clergyman a plate of macaroons, and helping himself at the same
time. "Miss Blanchard, I believe you made these macaroons. They are
first-class."

The young man rather resented the clergyman's intrusion, as he
considered it. He preferred to have both young ladies to himself, just
then.

"The macaroons are excellent," said Mr. Chillingworth, "but I want you
to do something better than that for me. I hope you have been trying
over those choruses, and the air I wanted you to take as a solo."

Miss Blanchard's bright look clouded a little, and her broad white brow
contracted slightly with an expression of perplexity.

"I have tried them," she said; "but I haven't quite made up my mind
about the choruses. I don't altogether like the idea of it yet! And I am
quite sure that my voice isn't equal to a solo of that kind, in such
circumstances."

"Well, you will try it for me, _now_, at least?" he said.

Nora Blanchard was not given to affectations of any kind, so she rose
and complied, quite simply, at once. The clergyman could not but feel
that she was right after all, in her estimate of her voice. Her
rendering of the air "He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd," was very
rich and sweet, for a drawing-room, but lacked the power and compass
sufficient to fill a concert hall. At his request, she went on with one
or two of the choruses, in which he and Miss Farrell joined her; the
three voices blending very harmoniously in the grand music. Mr.
Chillingworth noticed a new arrangement of the hymn, "Lead, Kindly
Light," on the piano, and asked Miss Blanchard to sing that to him,
which she did with great feeling and expression. As the closing lines
came out in solemn hopefulness--

    "And, with the morn, those angel-faces smile
    Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile--"

the clergyman's gaze, as the observant Mr. Pomeroy noticed, grew
strangely dreamy, as if he were absorbed by the influences of the song.
He seemed to be seeing some inward vision, with pain in it as well as
pleasure; and on the cessation of the music, he started as if awakened
from a spell. Just then, the door opened, and a maid looked in to know
if Mrs. Blanchard could tell when the doctor would be home.

"No, I'm sure I don't know," was the reply. "I thought he was back in
the surgery by this time. Is it any one in a hurry?"

"Yes, it's a young gentleman wid a note, as wants him right off," said
the girl, a new servant, unaccustomed as yet to the exigencies of a
doctor's household.

"Oh," said Miss Blanchard, rising hastily from the piano, "I suppose
it's some one from Mr. Easton's, for the medicine that Will told me
about. I was to see him and give him a particular message. Excuse me,
Mr. Chillingworth, I won't be long."

The clergyman seemed still preoccupied, and did not join in the talk of
the others while she was gone. In a few minutes she returned, her cheek
glowing and her eye bright with some new interest.

"What's the matter, Nora?" said Mrs. Blanchard, looking at her with some
surprise.

"Oh," she replied, hurriedly, "it's a messenger from Mr. Alden, wanting
Will at once, for a very sad case--a poor young woman who seems dying of
bronchitis and exhaustion. And she has no one with her but a child. I
think I must go myself, for I know quite well what to do. I didn't nurse
Auntie through bronchitis last winter for nothing! I can take some
fluid-beef and make her a little beef-tea, at any rate. And I know where
there is some of the medicine Will prescribed for Auntie."

"Oh, dear! I _wish_ you weren't _quite_ so philanthropic. I don't like
to let you go, but--I suppose you must, now you've taken up the idea.
And if Mr. Alden knows about it, it must be all right. Will can go as
soon as he's had dinner, and bring you back. I'll keep some dinner for
you. I hope it isn't far, though."

"Oh, no, not very," replied Miss Blanchard. "I'm sorry to seem rude in
leaving you all," she added, smiling, "but you see, if one doesn't go
out to be a nurse, one must not let slip the opportunities Mr.
Chillingworth was talking of just now."

"Certainly! It is most praiseworthy," said that gentleman, "and if
you'll allow me, I shall be most happy to be your escort."

Mr. Pomeroy had come forward at the same moment with a similar request.
But Miss Blanchard courteously declined both, saying that Mr. Alden's
messenger would be escort enough.

"And I shall leave the address, as well as I can, on the surgery-slate,"
she added, "and Will can drive down when he's ready. I've no doubt the
poor thing needs nourishment more than medicine. Of course I'll take
some spirits with me, too," she added. "I believe it was that saved
Auntie, little as she likes to admit it."

"Well, don't go taking bronchitis yourself," said her sister-in-law.
"Mind you wrap up well, for it's raw and cold, as Mr. Pomeroy says."

"Oh, yes, don't be afraid!" said Nora brightly, as, with many regrets on
the part of her friends, she left the pleasant, luxurious apartment.

"I believe," said Mrs. Blanchard, as the door closed after her and
Eddie, who went to see her off, "that Nora wouldn't feel at home here,
without some sick people to visit and look after. You see she always
goes about everywhere with Aunt Margaret, in Rockland. Aunt Margaret's a
regular Sister of Mercy, without a uniform, and Nora has always taken to
going with her quite naturally. You know, Rockland's such a quiet little
place, that there's hardly anything else to do in winter. That's one
reason why I wanted Nora to spend the winter with us, for once, and see
something different. She has been with Aunt Margaret so long that she
has taken up all her ideas and ways."

"Then, Aunt Margaret must be a darling," said the enthusiastic Kitty,
"for I am sure Nora is, if there ever was one! She and Janie Spencer are
the best girls I know."

"It's nice to be one of Miss Farrell's friends," said Mr. Pomeroy. "I
hope you do as well by me when I'm not there."

"_You_, indeed!" laughed Kitty, though she colored a little, or so
thought Mr. Chillingworth, whose critical eye rested admiringly on the
charming _piquante_ face with its delicate bloom, and the very fair
hair, "thrown up" by an artistic Gainsborough hat of dark-blue velvet,
with a long drooping feather. He was rather disconcerted by Miss
Blanchard's sudden departure;--still there was no denying that Miss
Kitty Farrell made a very charming picture, and, as Mr. Chillingworth
was fond of saying to himself, "beauty has its uses."

"Well, they're gone!" announced Eddie, coming in presently.

"_They_--who?" asked his mother.

"Why, Aunt Nora, and the--man," said Eddie, slowly. He was going to say
"the gentleman," but as he always heard his father talk of "men," he was
trying to imitate him.

"Oh! the man Mr. Alden sent, I suppose. I hope he's all right," she
added, a little uneasily. "But, of course he came for Doctor Blanchard
himself," she continued, reassured.

"Oh, he's a real nice man!" said Eddie. "_I_ like him. He talked to me
while Auntie was getting the things ready. I hope he'll come here
again!"

"Eddie is always taking such funny fancies!" said Mrs. Blanchard. "I'll
have to ask Nora about this unknown cavalier."

Mr. Chillingworth's brow contracted--he scarcely knew why. He was sorry,
now, that he had not more strongly pressed his escort on Miss Blanchard.
He did not like the idea of her traversing the streets after dark,
attended by an unknown "man" who had made himself so agreeable to Eddie.
But it couldn't be helped now.

It was strange, after all, how much of the life and charm seemed to have
gone out of the little party with Nora's departure--for she was not a
great talker herself. Meantime she was on her way to her unknown
patient, while her guide carried her basket, and, so far as he could,
answered her questions about the poor woman in whom her interest had
been so suddenly awakened.



CHAPTER IV.

A CONSULTATION.


When Roland Graeme's inquiry regarding the time of the doctor's return
was answered by the entrance of a tall and graceful young lady, he
naturally supposed her to be the doctor's wife. He met her with his
usual frank and ready courtesy, addressing her as "Mrs. Blanchard, I
presume?"--apologizing for the trouble he had given her, and describing
briefly, but graphically, the condition of the patient on whose behalf
he had come, as Mr. Alden's messenger.

Miss Blanchard, on her side, was surprised at encountering, in Roland
Graeme's unusual type of face and expression, with the clear, candid,
gray-blue eyes, so different an individual from the one she had expected
to find waiting in the surgery. She expressed no surprise, however, but
quietly corrected his mistake in addressing her, and, after listening
attentively to his statement, added, after a moment or two of thought:

"As we don't know just when my brother will be in, I think I had better
go with you myself, in the meantime; not that I pretend to any medical
skill, but I have nursed a relative through an attack of bronchitis, and
could take some things with me that I know would do her good."

Roland thanked her warmly, regarding her more attentively than he had
done while absorbed in stating his errand. He could not help noticing
the earnest and sympathetic expression of the dark-blue eyes, the fair
forehead with its natural curve of dark-brown hair, untortured by
"crimps," and the sweetness of the smile that seemed just to hover about
the flexible mouth, as she--half-apologetically--made the unexpected
offer. She was gone in a moment, and then his attention was monopolized
by Eddie, who, with childish curiosity had followed his "Auntie," and
with whom he had a delightful talk while awaiting the return of the
doctor's volunteered substitute. For, to Roland Graeme, children were
always delightful, doubtless because of the childlike element in his own
nature.

But Miss Blanchard soon returned, ready for her expedition, with a small
basket on her arm, of which Roland speedily relieved her, as they passed
on through the now lighted streets, full of work-people returning from
their daily toil. Roland, with the old-fashioned courtesy in which he
had been trained, offered the young lady his arm--an offer which she
courteously declined, with a touch of somewhat stately dignity. It was
clear, indeed, that the firm elastic step needed no support. They walked
on rapidly, Miss Blanchard asking more questions about their patient
than Roland could answer, only explaining briefly that he and Mr. Alden
had found her out, accidentally, through the child's appeal.

"Is it not sad," she said, taking a long breath, "how many such cases
there must be around us that we never know? It puzzles me often to
understand how such things can be."

"It's positively maddening, sometimes!" said Roland, irrepressibly
breaking into the subject that was generally nearest his heart;
"especially when one sees the cool, selfish indifference, with which so
many people actually shut their eyes to these things; how they even
help, so far as they are able, to crush their fellows down and to keep
them down!"

"Why, how?--who would do that?" she asked.

"Employers are doing it all the time, and the rich employers are the
worst. I suppose that is one reason why they _are_ rich! But if they did
not generally keep their rates of payment down to the minimum they can
get men and women to take, there could not be such hard, grinding
poverty. The truth is, a large proportion of our laboring classes are
always living next door to starvation, and if sickness or want of work
comes, it is next door no longer!"

"That seems very strange to me," said Miss Blanchard, thoughtfully. "I
have lived all my life in Rockland, a quiet little place among the
hills;--where everybody knows everybody else, and where our one or two
employers think it their duty to know all the circumstances of all their
workers, and are always ready to help them on, and to tide them over a
difficulty."

"Yes, that's beautiful!" said Roland. "I know there are such noble
exceptions--and they are especially likely to occur in small places,
where the fierce tide of competition for wealth and luxury isn't so
irresistible, and people seem to have some humanity left! Here, in
Minton, where I haven't been so very long, I know numbers of cases where
people are living on what I call starvation wages--especially women. You
see, operatives are so apt to leave everything to selfish managers,
whose main object is to please the firm, and these managers are often
guilty of positive inhumanity. There now," he said, as they passed a
large building gleaming with long rows of lighted windows, from whose
entrance a stream of young women was pouring forth; "there's a place
where too many things are done, contrary to all sound principles of
justice and humanity. The operatives are made simply working-machines,
obliged to work more hours than any young woman should be allowed to do;
miserably paid, and exposed to petty tyrannies enough to take out of
their life any little comfort they might have in it."

"Whose place is it?" she asked.

"Pomeroy & Company's silk and woolen mills."

"Why, I know young Mr. Pomeroy very well!" exclaimed Miss Blanchard;
"and his mother, Mrs. Pomeroy, is a very good woman! I'm sure they can't
know about such things!"

"They probably then don't try to know," he replied. "That's the great
trouble. The heads of such places are so fully occupied with the
business part of their concerns, that they have no time to think of the
people by whom the business is made."

As they passed the building, they came up with two of the girls who were
standing engrossed in earnest conversation.

"Don't go, Nelly!" they heard one say to the other. "It won't come to no
good, any way, and Jim would be that vexed, if he knew!"

"Oh, I guess he'd live to get over it," laughed the other. "Don't _you_
bother about it, Liz!" And she turned toward them, as they passed, a
pretty, pert face, beneath a mass of elaborately frizzed hair, and a
very tawdry hat.

"Those poor girls!" Miss Blanchard remarked, as soon as they were out of
hearing. "How little real interest or pleasure there must be in their
lives! How it makes one wish that we, who have so many pleasant things
in ours, could do something to brighten theirs!"

"Yes, indeed," replied Roland. "I've often thought about that, and
people do try more than they did--in that way. But so long as the work
hours are so protracted and so exhausting, you can't make life much
brighter for them, do what you will. It's one of my ambitions to do
something toward securing shorter hours all round. I believe every one
would gain by it in the end."

"Yes, I suppose it is pretty hard to have such a long day of steady work
at one thing--especially for girls. I am afraid I shouldn't like to have
to do it," said Miss Blanchard, with a sigh.

"But, then, it doesn't do to judge altogether by the outside," rejoined
her companion, in a more cheery tone. "I suppose, after all, 'Ilka blade
o' grass has its ain drap o' dew.' The greater wickedness is," he added,
"when heartless fools try to squeeze the one 'drap o' dew' out of it!
But here's our destination."

They found Mr. Alden seated on the one broken chair, near the miserable
pallet. The child lay curled up beside her mother, fast asleep. The
invalid seemed somewhat revived, and able to talk a little. She fixed
her eyes on Miss Blanchard, as she entered, with a strange, wild, almost
hunted expression, which rather startled her visitor. Miss Blanchard's
gentle, kindly greeting, with Mr. Alden's introduction, seemed to
reassure her a little, however, and she swallowed a portion of the
soothing medicine that Miss Blanchard had brought for relieving her
harassing cough. Then the young lady produced a tiny spirit-lamp from
her basket, and soon had prepared a little cup of hot beef-tea, doing it
all with a quick and ready lightness that showed her to be quite at home
in work of this kind. Mr. Alden and Roland felt themselves to be
supernumeraries at once. The latter, indeed, after offering the young
lady some scarcely needed assistance in her arrangements, began to think
that it was time for him to retire, when a step was heard on the stairs,
and a young girl entered, carrying a cup of tea. She hesitated a moment
in surprise at the unexpected sight of the strangers, dimly seen by the
light of the one poor lamp. Miss Blanchard thought she recognized the
pale, eager face of the girl who had begged "Nelly" "not to go," as they
had passed the two standing under the lamp-post. She was sure of it,
when the girl approached the invalid, scarcely looking at the visitors,
and said, in the same deaf penetrating tone:

"Well, Mrs. Travers, how do you feel yourself to-night?"

"A little better now, thank you, Lizzie, but I have been so ill to-day!
I thought I was dying a while ago, and Cissy went out and brought back
this gentleman, and he has been so kind!"

She spoke in a soft musical English voice, decidedly the voice of a
lady, Mr. Alden thought. Then turning to him, she said, with some
energy:

"This is my best friend! She has been so good to me--sat up with me at
night after working all day! I'd have been dead before now, if it hadn't
been for her."

Miss Blanchard, as she bent over the patient, with a cup of beef-tea
which she was administering by teaspoonfuls, looked up at the new-comer,
with a light of softened admiration in her expressive eyes, which
recalled to Roland Graeme, as he chanced to catch it, the memory of his
enjoyment of the Sistine Madonna, at Dresden, on a brief visit he had
made to Europe. He had not thought of calling Miss Blanchard beautiful,
nor did he now; still there was something, either in feature, or
expression, or both, that reminded him of the most beautiful and
spiritual of Raffaelle's Madonnas. He looked at the poor working-girl,
however, with scarcely less of admiration in his honest eyes--little as
there was of beauty in the pale, thin face, without any advantage of
dress to make up for the defects of contour and coloring.

The invalid, with the wilfulness of illness, insisted on putting aside
the broth for the cup of tea that Lizzie had brought her.

"You see, she's used to it," Lizzie said, apologetically. "I always
bring her a cup of tea and a bit of toast before I take my own supper,
and she likes it."

"Well," said Mr. Alden, "I ought to be going home, if I can't do
anything more here; but I don't like leaving you alone till your brother
comes, Miss Blanchard. Perhaps this good friend of Mrs. Travers wouldn't
mind coming back when she has had her supper, and staying with you till
your brother comes, or I return, which I shall do, in any case."

"I am going to stay here all night, Mr. Alden," said Miss Blanchard,
decidedly.--"I shall be only too glad to relieve you," she said to
Lizzie, who was looking at her in surprise. "It's too much for you, when
you can't rest in the daytime, as I can easily do; and I don't mind
being alone, Mr. Alden! However, if you will be more satisfied----"

"Indeed, miss," Lizzie eagerly interposed, "I'll be back in ten minutes,
and stay with you as long as you like. It's so good of you to say you'll
stay all night! I don't mind it generally, but to-night I am dead
tired."

And she looked it.

Mr. Alden insisted on Roland's going home with him to tea, as he was so
far from his own quarters; and, as soon as Lizzie had returned, they
took their departure. Miss Blanchard begged that Mr. Alden would not
return that evening, as her brother would soon be there to give her all
necessary directions, and Mr. Alden could see him later as to what it
would be best to do for the patient. She bade Roland, also, a cordial
good-night, which he as cordially returned; thinking, with some regret,
how little likely it was that he should have any opportunity of
improving an acquaintance which, brief as it had been, had already
strongly interested him.

"Miss Blanchard is one of my special admirations," said Mr. Alden,
smiling, as they walked on together. "She's an uncommon type, and has
been brought up in a very different atmosphere from Minton society. A
quiet, refined country home, time and training for thought and study,
good literature to grow up among, a wide-minded, philosophical father of
the old school, and an aunt with the soul of a saint and the active
benevolence of a Sister of Charity; it is no wonder that Nora Blanchard
is a sort of _rara avis_ among girls."

"You believe in heredity then, sir, and in environment?" said Roland.

The clergyman looked at him keenly, but with a genial smile.
"Certainly," he said; "I believe in both, but I believe also in
something else, that is not either; and in this lies the difference
between my philosophy and that of the people who are so bent on making
_automata_ of us all. They always seem to me to give, in their own
persons, a most apt illustration of the lines,

    "'Unless above himself he can
    Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!'"

"Yes," replied Roland, "I believe we were meant to aspire. '_Excelsior_'
seems the motto of the universe."

"And a good motto, too! But here we are." And stopping at his own door,
he admitted Roland and himself with his latch-key.



CHAPTER V.

A FAMILY PARTY.


The light and warmth of Mr. Alden's hospitable home, with the rippling
laughter of children's merry voices, seemed to Roland in delightful
contrast with the raw, cold December evening without, as well as with
the depressing influence of the miserable apartment they had just left.
The father's return was greeted with joyous shouts from the little ones,
and Roland was speedily included in the warm welcome. A bounteously
spread tea-table, with its pretty pot of ferns in the centre, was
awaiting Mr. Alden's arrival, and looked inviting enough to a young man
who had been out in the chill air during most of the afternoon. The
happy children's faces, the delicate and sweet-looking little mother,
the freedom and unaffected gladness of the family life, strongly
impressed Roland, and vividly recalled the associations of his own
childhood. Grace, the helpful, eldest daughter, had, Roland thought, the
sweetest, purest, sunniest face he had ever seen. The clear, frank eyes,
with the light of a happy heart sparkling through their peaceful blue,
the smile so sweet and sincere, the sunny, golden hair, and silvery,
gleeful laugh, so childlike in its ring, fascinated him like a spell. No
wonder, he thought, that the shadows cleared from Mr. Alden's thoughtful
brow as soon as he crossed his own threshold. Yet, much of the family
sunshine there was a reflection from Mr. Alden's own spirit. And,
however the shadows of the world without might sometimes weigh on his
own heart, he never allowed them to sadden his children, if he could
help it. He was fond of exhorting his people to keep their children's
childhood as happy as they could, without letting them grow selfish and
heartless. And he would often quote Victor Hugo's expressive lines:

    "Grief is a fruit God will not let grow
    On boughs too feeble to sustain its weight."

"Cultivate sympathy in your children," he would say, "but not so as to
burden them prematurely"; and what he preached he practised. Meal-times
were, for the children's sake, always bright and cheerful. Mr. Alden had
the precious gift of humor, and it served him in good stead to balance a
nature acutely sensitive to the pain, the ills and the discords of human
life. He seldom failed to catch and bring home some little quaint or
amusing experience, which, told as he could tell it, would provoke the
good-natured laughter in which he believed, as one of the safety-valves
of our nature. Frank, his eldest boy, Roland's first acquaintance in the
family, inherited his father's tendency to see the humorous side of
things, without, as yet, his counterbalancing depth of feeling; and so
it often happened that the father and son together would set the little
ones in a small uproar of laughter, which Mrs. Alden's love of propriety
would often constrain her to try to keep in some sort of check. But it
was no wonder that these children enjoyed their father's presence at
meals, and missed it when he was absent.

After tea, the whole party adjourned to the parlor, which was purposely
kept not too fine for the frequent incursions of the children. The
younger ones rapidly improved their acquaintance with Roland, gathering
close about him, reciting to him some of their pet rhymes, and examining
him as to his acquaintance with their favorite stories. Fortunately he
had read Grimm and Hans Andersen, and knew most of the stories that they
had heard, over and over, from their father and Grace, who had caught up
his knack of telling a story so as to be an acceptable substitute when
"father" was too busy. Roland and they were _en rapport_ at once on the
strength of his familiar acquaintance with "The Little Match Girl," "The
Snow Maiden," "The Ugly Duckling," and "Prudent Elsie."

"Grace may be sorry they ever heard that," declared Frank, "for now she
hears nothing but 'Prudent Elsie!' whenever she calls them back to put
on their mufflers or overshoes."

"Oh, I don't mind!" said Grace, laughing. "I think "Prudent Elsie" a
very nice name, isn't it, father, dear?"

Her father drew her close to him as she sat on the arm of his chair,
with one hand resting caressingly on his shoulder.

"'Simple Susan' would suit you better, my dear; but 'what's in a name?'"
he said, looking smilingly up into her bright face. "'A rose by any
other name would smell as sweet!'"

"Come now, John," interposed Mrs. Alden, looking up from the little sock
she was busily knitting; "I can't have you passing on to your daughter
any of your old fine speeches to me."

"Infringing on your copyright, little mother?" he playfully returned,
glancing fondly at the wife, who, Roland thought, must at Grace's age
have looked a good deal like what _she_ did, now.

Half an hour passed so quickly that Roland scarcely realized it. He was
just beginning to fear that he might be inflicting his presence too long
on the family circle, when Mr. Alden said:

"Now, Gracie, go to the piano! and you, youngsters, get your hymn-books.
Mr. Graeme will excuse us, I know, if we go on with our little evening
service." Then turning to Roland, he added: "We always have it at this
hour, before the children grow sleepy."

Grace sat down at the piano, and in a clear young voice led the little
choir, who had clustered around her, each eager to take part in the
singing. Mr. Alden followed the hymn with a brief reading, and very
simple prayer; and then the younger portion of the family said
"Good-night," in due form. Roland, to whom these simple vespers had
brought back vivid recollections from his own childhood, now thought it
was time for him, also, to say "good-night" and take his departure.

"I will walk part of your way with you," said Mr. Alden. "I want to see
Blanchard about what it is best to do for that poor young woman. He will
be back by this time, I think. I hope he will advise her going to the
hospital, where she will have proper care. She seems to have no one
belonging to her but that poor child."

They walked together to Dr. Blanchard's, which was not very far from
Roland's own quarters. Before they parted, Mr. Alden took down the young
man's address. Then, holding his hand kindly, he said, "I should be glad
to have you for a member of a certain little society for social reform,
that I have lately started on a broadly Christian basis."

Roland hesitated a little. "I mustn't allow you to misconceive my
position," he said. "I am not what _you_ would call a Christian; that
is, I cannot at present see my way to accept what is called orthodox
Christianity."

"Never mind that just now," said Mr. Alden. "And don't suppose that I
can't appreciate honest difficulties of belief. But this society of mine
is purposely made wider than Church lines. It is meant to include any
one who loves the Christian ideal, and is willing to promote the
practical influence of the Christian spirit in this selfish world. From
what I have seen of you, I think you are one of that number."

The tone was kind, sympathetic, appreciative--something between that of
a father and of an elder brother. Roland's responsive heart was touched.

"If you will take me in on that understanding, you can count on my
willing service!" he said.

And with a cordial leave taking, they parted, Mr Alden taking his way to
Dr Blanchard's house, Roland walking off to his lodging at his usual
rapid pace. He had hours of work before him, and must be at it. When he
reached the house in which he boarded, he let himself in with his
latch-key, and bounded lightly up the stairs to his own apartment. It
was not a large room, and certainly not luxurious, and its confusion of
books and papers would have been the despair of any tidy housekeeper.
Books, pamphlets, newspapers, were piled on shelves, tables and chairs,
in a manner that to any eye but Roland's would have seemed hopeless
confusion. Volumes of philosophy and poetry, ancient and modern, were
scattered among piles of blue-books and reports of all kinds. On his
writing-table, amidst loose sheets of manuscript and newspaper
clippings, lay a well worn Bible, Thoreau's "Walden," Carlyle's "Sartor
Resartus," Whittier's and Browning's poems, Emerson's Essays, and Henry
George's "Progress and Poverty." Evidently the occupant of the room had
somewhat varied tastes. And, while Roland is industriously looking over
his clippings, sorting his manuscripts, and making a fair copy of his
rough draft of a leader for the first number of _The Brotherhood_, let
us take a retrospective glance over the history of the young man
himself.



CHAPTER VI.

LOOKING BACKWARD.


Roland Graeme was, by birth, a Canadian. His father had been a Scottish
clergyman who had emigrated to Canada in early life; a man of poetical
and dreamy temperament, of large and loving nature, which yet, by force
of education and habit, had been somehow forced into the compress of an
intricate and somewhat narrow creed; or at least had been led, like many
others, by an intense veneration for ancient authority, to submit
without chafing even to some articles against which his heart and moral
intelligence would have strongly protested had he allowed them any voice
in the matter. As it was, he worked on tranquilly, scorning worldly
delights and living laborious days, troubling himself little about
formal theology, and seeking to inspire his flock to love and practice
the Christian graces, "against which there is no law." In temporal
matters, he was as unpractical as he was unworldly, and, but for his
wife's calm, judicious judgment and practical common-sense, would have
been in perpetual financial straits. She, poor woman, had found it,
indeed, no easy task to steer the family bark clear of the rocks on
which the good minister's easy-going benevolence and trustful generosity
were continually on the verge of wrecking it.

Roland was this good man's only son, and on him his father had
concentrated all the ideality of his nature. Living in a remote country
place, where no good grammar school was easily accessible, he had
himself prepared his boy for college. Roland had absorbed eagerly all
that his father had to teach him, of classic lore, of poetry, of nature,
as well as the rudimentary, informal theology, that was, so to speak,
filtered through the spectroscope of a mind which unconsciously rejected
all that was harsh and narrow, allowing free passage only to what was
akin to his own loving spirit. Under such paternal influences,
intensified by his mother's strong religious nature, Roland had grown up
with his whole being inspired and colored by the great principles of
Christianity. The teachings of Christ himself, household words from his
earliest infancy, had taken a firm hold of his plastic young soul.
Principles of action seemed to him matters of course, which, as he too
often afterward found, were, to the average Christian people with whom
he came in contact, as an unknown tongue. Till he left his home, the boy
supposed all the nominal Christian world to be only an extension of the
little circle in his childhood's abode, and his fervid nature looked
forward to something like a repetition of his father's life under new
circumstances, possibly, with wider scope and under more congenial and
hopeful surroundings.

But, when he went to college, his sanguine nature was painfully
disenchanted by his first dip into the cold, commonplace reality. Many
of his comrades seemed to him little better than baptized heathen. He
saw things done, heard things said every day, by people who would have
been indignant had any one denied them the name of Christian, that
seemed to him in direct opposition to the spirit and teachings of the
Master they professed to own. Many, even of the religious students he
met, repelled him. Their religion for the most part seemed so shallow
and conventional, their creed so hard and narrow, their ideals so
worldly, that their conversation jarred and revolted him. He sought some
refuge from his perplexities in writing to his mother, who sensibly
reminded him that as he had had special privileges, he must not expect
the same degree of religious culture from lads brought up under very
different influences; that his own duty was, to hold fast by the truth
he knew, and, in so far as he could by his example and influence, help
others to see it, too. So the boy staunchly adhered to his principles,
and was thought "an odd sort of fellow," but "with no harm in him," who
could always be depended upon for a good turn, though a sort of "crank"
on certain points, especially as regarded poetry and religion. He found
no difficulty, with his natural talent and thorough preparation, in
taking a high place in his classes, though his love of literature and
general knowledge, combined with a natural dreaminess, kept him from
taking the highest honors of his course. This was, perhaps, a slight
disappointment to the good father, who cherished for his bright,
enthusiastic boy, ambitions he had never entertained for himself. But,
just at the close of Roland's undergraduate course, when he was already
looking forward to beginning his theological studies, his father
suddenly died.

It was a terrible blow to the lad, in more ways than one. His father had
been so much to him, a centre of such passionate love and reverence,
that life did not seem the same to him now that his father was no longer
there to guide and advise his still immature mind, and to sympathize
with his enthusiasms and aspirations. Moreover, this sad event seriously
affected his own prospects. He could no longer, for the present at
least, continue his professional studies. He must "buckle to" the task
of providing for his mother and two younger sisters, whom it was
necessary for him, in great measure, to support and educate. Teaching
was the work readiest to hand, and he soon secured a fairly remunerative
position, entailing, however, work which absorbed the greater portion of
his time and strength. He toiled on, steadily, faithfully; finding, as
time passed, much satisfaction in knowing that he was so well fulfilling
the responsibilities bequeathed to him by his father. He still read
omnivorously, seizing eagerly every fresh vein of thought, or view of
life and nature that came in his way. Of course, modern science threw
over him the glamour of its fascination, and he rapidly assimilated its
leading facts and theories, with an avidity characteristic of his active
and unresting mind, while, after the manner of young men, he did not
always stop to discriminate between fact and theory. Nor did he always
discern just whither the theory was leading him.

As he had by no means given up the hope of eventually prosecuting his
theological studies, he began, as he could spare the time from his daily
duties and the more secular reading that so fascinated him, to take up
some of the old text-books which had been in his father's library. One
of these was the intricate and elaborate compendium of doctrine which
formed the standard creed of the ministry of his Church--an able
synopsis of a certain rigid, scholastic, one-sided theology, having, for
most thoughtful minds nowadays, the great fault that it attempts to
compress into a series of logical propositions, mysteries far
transcending human thought, and never thrown into this dogmatic form by
the original teachers of Christianity. He found there, not only
statements that seemed to conflict with the teachings of science, but
also declarations concerning the deepest mysteries of Divine purpose,
against which his heart and his sense of justice alike rose in
passionate revolt, and which he could never have dreamed it possible to
conjure out of the love-lighted pages of his New Testament. Was this, he
thought, what his father had believed? Looking back on all he had ever
heard from that father, he could not think so. At all events, he knew
that _he_ could never believe it or profess to do so. His mother could
give him little help in his perplexities. She had never troubled herself
about abstruse theological questions. Her Bible was enough for her, and
she did not think his father had felt himself bound to believe
everything the theologians taught. Yet there was confronting him, this
long series of definite propositions, subscription to which was the only
entrance-gate to the ministry of the Church which was so dear to his
imagination through a thousand traditions and tender associations. He
felt that, for him, that gate was firmly barred.

But this was by no means all. The questioning and disintegrating
process, once begun, did not stop here. The mystery of life and being
seemed to have opened an abyss before him which he now seemed unable to
bridge by the old simple faith that had hitherto been enough for him.
Sceptical friends, by plausible arguments, increased this difficulty,
and the attacks on the Divine origin of Christianity, which were
constantly coming in his way, found a ready entrance into his perplexed
mind, unarmed to repel them. A "horror of great darkness" seemed to have
swallowed up the very foundations of his faith. Life and death--the
present and the future--seemed shrouded in the cloud of unfathomable
mystery which his baffled vision vainly strove to penetrate. Much
thought about it became too heavy a burden to bear; and he practically
gave up the struggle for light, making up his mind, for the present, to
follow the one compass in his possession--the Christian ideal and
conscience that had been developed and educated with his own growth,
till it had become an inseparable part of his moral being. He was at
least happy in having his life founded on this rock, even though his
eyes might be for a time blinded as to the true source of his strength.

Some busy years had passed, lighted at least by the consciousness of
practical duty honestly followed and of being the trusted prop and
consolation of his mother's life; while for his sisters he did his best
to secure as careful an education as had been bestowed on him. The
interest that he had felt compelled to withdraw from speculative
thought, he had thrown, all the more strongly, into some of the great
practical questions of the day, unconscious that much of his early faith
still survived in the enthusiasm with which he caught at every new plan
or measure for lightening the load of the more burdened portion of
humanity. Altruistic by inherited temperament, the "enthusiasm of
humanity" gradually possessed him like a passion. It seemed as if the
wrongs and woe of oppressed multitudes lay like an actual weight on his
heart. He devoured the works of Henry George, as they came out, till
these "Problems" absorbed his own mind, and the remedies proposed by
George and others seemed to bring up the vision of a fair Utopia which
might become the noble aim of a modern crusade. To devote himself and
his life in some way to such an object, seemed to him the aim most
worthy to set before himself. But, of course, his first duty was to
provide for his mother and sisters.

An unexpected event, however, set him free from this obligation in a
very agreeable way. The elder of his two sisters had been gradually and
imperceptibly developing into a very charming and attractive young
woman; and, much to Roland's surprise, he one day discovered in a
wealthy young friend of his own a prospective brother-in-law, who was
generously ready to provide a home for the mother of the bride he was
eager to claim. And as his younger sister was almost ready for her own
chosen vocation of teaching, Roland could now begin to think of a career
for himself.

One of his most promising and congenial classmates at college, with whom
he had always kept up a steady correspondence, had, some years before,
gone to the United States, to engage in journalistic work, and had
become the editor of the Minton _Minerva_. He had frequently urged
Roland to join him there, setting before him the inducements of a wider
sphere and a more active and busy life. Roland had always had strong
republican sentiments and sympathies, and humanitarian instincts were
still stronger in him than were local or traditional attachments and
associations. There was the attraction, too, of possibly helping on a
great "movement" in which he thoroughly believed, and then there was the
fascination of new scenes and surroundings to one whose life for years
had been so monotonous. He stuck to his post, however, till he had saved
enough to supply his own simple needs for a year or two, and then set
off on a rapid trip to those portions of the Old World which, from his
childhood, he had most longed to see.

There, besides the old quaint cities and ruins, around which a thousand
literary and historical associations clustered like the ivy which
clothed them, and the glorious mountain scenery of which as a boy he had
so often dreamed, he had found in his wanderings another subject of deep
interest. This was the condition of those "forgotten millions," of which
he had read so much of late. Here, as in other cases, he found all his
conceptions fall far short of what he actually beheld--men, women and
children, pent up in rank and wretched slums, fighting with gaunt famine
for a miserable existence. He saw them, at early morning, searching
heaps of rubbish for a few crusts, only too eagerly devoured. He saw
young girls, forced to still more revolting means of procuring daily
bread--means that dragged them rapidly down to worse than physical
death. He saw young children, with haggard unchildlike faces, and most
unchildlike sharpness and callous greed, born of the premature "struggle
for existence" that was written on their pinched young features. He saw
human beings who had not, literally, "where to lay their heads," glad to
throw themselves down on the damp grass of city parks, yet driven from
thence, and from every other resting-place, by the relentless order to
"move on!" He knew that, of these multitudes, fighting hand to hand with
starvation, many could not, by any effort, secure remunerative work. For
these, there seemed nothing but despair and death, on an earth which
could no longer make good for them the promise--"In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread." For them there was neither work nor bread.
The sights he then saw burned themselves into his heart and brain
forever. And, side by side with all this misery, he saw gorgeous
displays of wealth and luxury, such as he had scarcely thought possible,
outside of the "Arabian Nights;" evidences of idle _abandon_ to
voluptuous pleasure--of unblushing and reckless extravagance--until he
wondered how it could be that a just and over-ruling Providence should
not interfere; how it was that the earth did not open to swallow up
these selfish cumberers of the ground. It was the old problem which
perplexed the righteous soul of Job in the dawn of history--which has
perplexed many a moralist and driven to despair many a bewildered
enthusiast in all the ages. But if anything had been needed to intensify
in him the "enthusiasm of humanity," the passion for reform; to grave on
his heart the resolve to "open his mouth for the dumb, in the cause of
all such as are left desolate," it was what he then saw of that
hopeless, inarticulate hardship and misery, which rarely finds
expression in speeches or pamphlets, but sometimes does find it, at
last, in strikes and catastrophes! A little, too, he saw, of _that_
underlying social dynamite, and felt to his heart's core the gravity of
the situation.

It was, therefore, with no room in his mind for trifling, and little for
selfish aims, that Roland Graeme returned from abroad to take up the
work of his life. He first, of course, paid a brief visit to his mother
and sisters, to satisfy himself as to their happiness and comfort; and
then, with his few belongings--chiefly books--he betook himself to his
friend at Minton. Dick Burnett received him cordially, and at once gave
him some light work, in the way of reporting and editorial writing,
which would at least keep his purse moderately supplied, while he was
also studying law in a lawyer's office, with the view of eventually
entering that profession. To him, among other things, fell the work of
reporting sermons for the _Minerva_, a task for which, of course, he was
well fitted by his early training; and this was the reason why, for some
months past, Mr. Chillingworth had wondered at the skill and accuracy
with which his sermons had been synopsized for the benefit of the
readers of the _Minerva_. In fact, he sometimes could not help admitting
to himself, that, in clearness of thought and felicitous condensation,
the abstract was almost an improvement on the sermon. Had he been aware
that Roland Graeme was his unknown reporter, he would doubtless have
been more affable in his greeting on the occasion of the young man's
visit.

Minton was largely a manufacturing town, and Roland soon found that
there were many wrongs around him calling for redress. His
investigations speedily brought him into contact with leaders of the
"Knights of Labor," and sympathy with their aims very soon led him to
enroll himself in their ranks. He could not, indeed, remain a member
after he should become a legal practitioner, as the rules of the order
do not admit lawyers; but he could and would work with heart and soul
for its objects, both in the ranks and outside them. He found the
leaders cordially grateful for his aid and counsel, and in the sympathy
and coöperation of some of the more intelligent workingmen he found much
of the pleasure and stimulus of his new life. Of course, his efforts on
their behalf sometimes evoked, from the "party of the other part,"
sentiments of a very different character; but Roland was happily so
constituted as to care little for that; and, so long as he could carry a
point for the benefit of his friends, the _employés_, he could bear hard
names with great equanimity. So absorbed was he, indeed, in his ideals
and enthusiasms, that the "personal equation" had become very
insignificant.

He found, however, that, in order to rouse the public mind on certain
points, he wanted an opportunity for stronger expression than he could
venture to use in his editorials in the _Minerva_, which, of course
would not risk irretrievably offending its wealthy patrons. The editor,
who was in part proprietor, was by no means uninterested in the "labor
question," and was quite willing to go as far as he thought "safe" in
its interests. But Roland wanted more liberty of speech for the burning
thoughts that filled his breast; and the idea gradually took shape, in
the course of their discussions in the _sanctum_, of issuing a small
weekly journal to be devoted entirely to the object nearest to Roland's
heart, his friend the editor being willing to afford all the facilities
of the printing-office to the new journal, and even to bear part of the
expense, which was also to be shared by an eccentric old Scotchman who
boarded in the same house with Roland, and with whom he had struck up an
odd sort of friendship.

Roland was determined to call his paper _The Brotherhood_, so that it
would bear in its very title the imprint of the truth which his
Christian training had interwoven with every fibre of his being, and
which, he also expressed in the motto, "_All ye are brethren_." In the
simplicity of his heart, Roland imagined that every Christian minister
must be as profoundly impressed with this great truth as he himself was,
and that he could count on the warm sympathy which they, at least, would
accord to his paper--intended, as the prospectus stated, "to bring this
fundamental principle and its corollary, the Golden Rule, to bear on all
social questions," including business arrangements and the relations of
employer and employed. So obvious an application of practical
Christianity must, he thought, enlist the cordial coöperation of those
whose vocation was to teach it.

As we have seen, however, he sometimes found himself disappointed in
this very natural expectation.



CHAPTER VII.

A MIDNIGHT MEETING.


Roland was writing busily on, scarcely conscious of the lateness of the
hour, absorbed in the pleasant task of pouring out on paper without
restraint the passionate pleas and arguments with which his mind was
filled, when he was roused by a rather peremptory knock at his door,
immediately followed by the apparition of a rugged old face with gray
shaggy locks and beard, surmounted by a picturesque red _toque_.

"Weel, lad, hard at work? Have ye got yer firebrands all ready for the
wee foxes' tails, that ye're gaun to send in amang the Philistines'
corn? There's a bit o' yer' 'modern interpretation' for ye!" The voice
was deep and guttural, and the accent a broad Doric.

"I hope you don't mean to compare me with that grim practical joker!"
said Roland, pleasantly. "I'm sure I don't want to do anything
destructive. My line is all _con_structive."

"Aye, that's weel enough! But sometimes the t'ane can't be done without
the t'ither. And ye'll soon be gettin' credit for that 'ither, or my
name's no' Sandy Dunlop!"

"Sandy Dunlop," as he called himself, and as his friends called him, did
not always indulge in broad Scotch; that, in his own estimation, would
have been "throwing pearls before swine." He reserved it for his moments
of expansion, for the seasons of unrestrained talk with the few in whose
company he did expand; especially when, like Roland, they were of
Scottish lineage, and could appreciate the beloved old Doric, his
affection for which was one of the soft spots in a somewhat hard and
caustic nature. Doubtless this point of sympathy was one of the
attractions that drew him to Roland. But "Sandy Dunlop" was a shrewd
judge of character.

Roland willingly threw down his pen, and settled himself back in his
chair, for one of the rambling talks which offered a little recreation
to his rather high-strung temperament.

"D'ye ken?" pursued the old man, "yon was a grand, simple kind o' way
they used to have o' settlin' their disputes! nane o' yer vile newspaper
calumniations or underhan' plottin's, but just a good honest tussle, and
done wi' it."

"But you don't suppose I'm going to calumniate anybody, I hope!" said
Roland, opening his eyes.

"_You_, laddie, deed na'! Weel I ken that," replied the old man, with a
sort of chuckling grunt. "It's just some o' thae poleetical articles
I've been readin', till I'm sick o' it all! When will ye get yer
_Brotherhood_ ideas into party politics? Tell me that, lad, if ye can!"

Roland smiled and sighed.

"Aye, aye! the warld'll tak' a wheen o' makin' over yet, an' it'll no be
you nor me that'll do it. However, ye might read me some o' yer
screeds," he added, looking at the young man with much the same air of
grim patronage with which a sagacious old mastiff might regard a
well-meaning but rash young terrier, attempting impossibilities.

As he spoke, the door below closed with a bang, and a snatch of an
operatic air, hummed _sotto voce_, was borne to their ears, as rapid
footsteps sounded lightly on the stairs.

"Here's that harum-scarum callant," said Mr. Dunlop, looking somewhat
glum. A light tap at the door was scarcely answered by Roland's "Come
in," when it was followed by the entrance of a young man of blonde
complexion and rather slight figure, dressed much more fashionably than
Roland. His blue eyes, fair hair, and Teutonic accent plainly bespoke
his origin, and his greeting showed him to be on the most unceremonious
terms with Roland, as he jauntily entered, nodding familiarly to the old
Scot.

"A midnight meeting in the interests of the _Brotherhood_!" he
exclaimed, theatrically, glancing at the sheets of manuscripts on
Roland's desk, and at the expectant attitude of the old Scotchman. "I
may come in for the rehearsal, too, _nicht wahr_?"

"Yes, if you will be quiet, and listen, and not interrupt too much,"
returned Roland.

"Quiet? Ah yes!--I will listen to the words of wisdom." And, throwing
down his hat, he seated himself on one corner of Roland's writing-table,
looking down at him with smiling expectancy. Mr. Dunlop, with both hands
resting on the table before him, listened with head bent forward, and
keen attention in his shrewd, observant eyes.

Roland read with rapid utterance, but feeling intonation, one sheet
after another; first the leading article, setting forth the scope and
objects of the paper, then one or two minor ones, touching on matters of
detail. Mr. Dunlop occasionally interposed a criticism or a suggestion,
which Roland noted for consideration, while the fair-haired young Teuton
fired off a stray shot, now and then, at Roland's sometimes too florid
periods, which the latter took good-humoredly--sensible that there was
some ground for the strictures.

"He lets himself be run away with sometimes," said this critic, turning
to Dunlop. "Keep cool, _mein lieber_, keep cool! Keep thy head and
bridle-hand!"

"All very fine, Waldberg," said Roland. "See you practice what you
preach. Of course, these last are only rough drafts. The first article I
went over carefully with Burnett, and he thinks it will do well enough
now, though I think that little modification of yours, Mr. Dunlop, is a
decided improvement."

"Aye, lad--ye maun be canny! Nae guid in runnin' yer heid against stone
walls, for _they_ tak' nae ill frae it, an' yer heid does. Now,
guid-night to ye baith, an' remember it's time ye were in yer beds."

Waldberg threw himself into the chair the old man had left.

"Well, how did you find your parsons?" he asked. "Did they hail you as a
brother, and promise to read and support the _Brotherhood_?"

Roland smiled somewhat grimly. "One of them did, at any rate--at least
he promised to read it; and some of the others promised to give the
subject their best consideration."

"Well, you did better than I expected," the young man replied, "but this
one who promised to read it--this wonderful man--he wasn't the Reverend
Cecil Chillingworth? I'd bet my head against that!"

"Why, what do _you_ know about it?" asked Roland, in surprise.

"Oh, I've been having a sort of musical evening with him!" returned
Waldberg, smiling. "I went in to make some arrangements about the
practice for his oratorio--he's going to have the "Messiah" given for
the benefit of his church, you know, and I'm to be accompanist, of
course. So he got me to go over some of the tenor airs with him on his
parlor-organ, while he sang them. He has really a good voice, and he is
enthusiastic in music, if he is not in social reform."

"But how do you know about that last?" inquired Roland, who found it
difficult to imagine Mr. Chillingworth talking freely to Waldberg. And
what had become of the "important work" that prevented his having a few
minutes to bestow on _him_, and on these grave questions?

"Oh, very easily, indeed. He began to talk about some of the passages we
were going over, for my benefit, of course. And we were discussing the
question of a soprano for the air 'Come Unto Him, All Ye That Labor And
Are Heavy-laden,' for which he said he specially wanted an effective
rendering. He grew quite eloquent; I think he must have been rehearsing
a bit of his Sunday sermon. He said the world was 'laboring and
heavy-laden,' (thought I, '_That's_ true enough') and 'that it was
because men would not take upon them the right yoke. There was no end of
nostrums, nowadays,' he said, (and I felt quite sure he was thinking of
you and the _Brotherhood_,) 'but the only radical cure was the
self-surrender of each individual heart to the yoke which is easy and
the burden which is light.' There, you see how well I've got my lesson
off by heart! You are welcome to that, for your report of his next
sermon, in advance. It'll be there, sure enough!"

Roland could not help smiling at Waldberg's close imitation of Mr.
Chillingworth's measured and impressive manner. But he sighed the next
moment, a little impatient sigh, as he broke forth:

"That's the stereotyped way they all talk. But, how much
'self-surrender' does he get from his own 'prominent man,' Mr. Pomeroy,
for instance? _He_ could make a good many people's yoke easier and their
burdens lighter if he chose! When men like that show the cure, we'll
begin to believe in it. Yet he listens to Mr. Chillingworth, Sunday
after Sunday, and I don't suppose he ever hears a word to wake him up to
the fact that he's actually a murderer, in 'wearing out human creatures'
lives.' But, in the name of all that's honest, Waldberg, how can you go
through such a thing as the 'Messiah' with a man like Mr. Chillingworth,
when you know you don't believe either in the theme or the treatment of
it."

"Ah, but then, you don't understand Art, _mein Roland_; dramatically,
you see, I can feel the very spirit of the music; as for the words, what
matters? I rather suspect Mr. Chillingworth has a pretty good idea that
I don't believe very much, and no doubt he thinks he is doing a good
work in giving me some light, as we go along."

"Well, of course, you don't sing, only accompany," said Roland,
meditatively.

"Oh, that's nothing," said Waldberg, coolly. "Professionals simply go in
for art in all these things. I know one of the soloists, at any rate,
that I am getting for him, believes even less than I do--an atheist out
and out."

"Well, I know _I_ could not stand up and sing parts of that oratorio,
knowing how other people believe it," said Roland, "and I'm no atheist."

"No," said the other, "that's just where your scruple comes in. If you
an were atheist, you wouldn't think it mattered much what you sang, so
long as the music was good. As for the girls who sing the choruses, I
don't think they know half the time what they're singing."

Roland thought of his father's old-fashioned veneration for the sacred
words, and wondered how he would have borne what seemed to his own
fastidious taste a profanation of them, even while he maintained his own
negative position.

"There will be some pretty good voices in the choruses," continued
Waldberg, critically. "Miss Farrell's is sweet and clear like a bell,
though it is not very strong--wants compass. And another young lady I
had the honor of accompanying at Miss Farrell's last _soirée
musi-cale_--Miss Blanchard--has a very good voice too, plenty of feeling
and expression, as far as she goes, and wonderfully distinct
enunciation."

Roland had begun to listen with more interest. It was curious, as he had
noticed before, that you no sooner met persons for the first time, than
you were almost sure to hear of them very soon again.

Waldberg went on, not expecting a reply, simply talking because he liked
it.

"Mr. Chillingworth hopes to get her into the choruses. He was quite set
on putting her in for a solo, but she declined, and I think she's right.
She could never fill a hall, but Chillingworth, _entre nous_, seems to
admire her immensely."

"I have seen her," said Roland, carelessly. "She has a fine face,
whatever her voice may be." And the Madonna-like vision rose again
before him.

"Yes, she has a noble air, 'presence,' as you say, but she can't compare
with Miss Farrell for looks. _She_ is an exquisite creature, _herrlich
schöne_ she looked that evening."

"Take care of yourself, Waldberg," said Roland, looking up with a smile,
at his animated face. "She is not fair for _you_."

"Oh, I am not selfish, like that!" retorted the other, but with a
heightened color. "I can admire, where I can do no more; and Miss
Farrell likes me to find her fair, if I mistake not."

"Oh, I suppose she can flirt!" replied Graeme. "Most of the young ladies
here seem to be able to do that. Only 'beware,' she may be 'fooling
thee.'"

"Thou art growing cynical, _mein Roland_! Thou thinkest too much! I
shall bid thee good-night. _Schlafe wohl!_"

"_Du auch!_" returned Roland, who liked to keep up with Waldberg the
German colloquialisms he had learned abroad. "Poor fellow," he said to
himself, as he listened to the retreating footsteps, "I am afraid she
_is_ 'fooling' him." He had heard a great deal, of late, about Miss
Farrell, who was one of "Herr Waldberg's" most promising pupils as a
pianist, and from whom Roland believed that the young man was taking
lessons of a more dangerous kind. However, after all, it was no business
of his, and Waldberg ought to be able to take care of himself.

But he pondered a little over what seemed to him the strangeness of Mr.
Chillingworth's finding it so easy to spend an hour or two enjoyably,
talking music with a completely irreligious young man like Waldberg,
while he could not spare _him_ a few minutes for the discussion of
matters which affected the well-being, higher and lower, of so many
thousands, and which concerned the practical diffusion of principles of
action which he had supposed must be at least as dear to the clergyman
as they were to himself. Roland did not yet know how easily some men can
absorb themselves in beautiful ideals and vague generalities, till the
practical side of life, with its tiresome details and rude collisions,
becomes for them almost non-existent.

And so Mr. Chillingworth "admired Miss Blanchard immensely"! Roland felt
interest enough in the young lady to wish her a better fate than a man
whom he had begun mentally to sum up as "an egoistic iceberg." However,
his business in life was not to settle the destinies of either Mr.
Chillingworth or Miss Blanchard, or even of Miss Farrell and Hermann
Waldberg. So he presently forgot them all in finishing the article in
which he had been interrupted, and then went to bed to sleep that sleep
of the laborer, which is "sweet" only when neither brain nor muscles
have been overstrained to exhaustion.



CHAPTER VIII.

NORA'S DREAM.


Mr. Alden found that Dr. Blanchard quite agreed with him as to the
importance of getting their patient removed to the hospital. The doctor
thought that her case was by no means hopeless, provided she could be
supplied with the constant care and nourishment she so urgently needed,
and this could scarcely be secured for her except in the hospital. Dr.
Blanchard, who had all the ready, practical kindness which usually marks
members of the medical profession, added to that of a naturally kind
heart, willingly undertook to make the arrangements for the invalid's
removal.

Miss Blanchard returned next morning with an encouraging report. The
care and nourishing food given frequently during the night had produced
a decided improvement; and though the disease was deeply seated, and the
patient was reduced to extreme weakness, she had youth and strong
vitality on her side, notwithstanding all the privations and misery she
had evidently endured. From Lizzie Mason, who had sat with her for an
hour or two of her vigil, Nora had heard, while the patient lay
unconscious in a heavy slumber, some details about her past life which
had gone to her heart, and had made her realize, with a sickening
sensation, something of that struggle for life which a poor friendless
woman, cast adrift in a busy world, must often endure.

Miss Blanchard felt herself strongly drawn toward the pale, wistful
young girl, who had been so ready to sacrifice her own sorely-needed
rest in order to care for the invalid, and had drawn from her many
particulars of her hard-working life. It was a simple story, told in a
very matter-of-fact, uncomplaining way; but involuntary tears of
indignant sympathy started to the listener's thoughtful eyes at the
unconscious revelation of hard, unremitting, monotonous toil for eleven,
twelve, and sometimes thirteen hours a day, as the pressure of work
required, and that under conditions unhealthy enough to depress the most
vigorous young life.

"But cannot you find something better than that?" Nora asked; "some
healthier as well as pleasanter work? Would it not be better to take to
domestic service? Every one says it is so difficult to find girls
qualified to do it faithfully and well, and I am sure you would do both.
You know there is nothing in serving others to lower any right
self-respect," she added, quietly; "and who it was who said that He came
not to be ministered to but to minister."

"Yes," said Lizzie, "I heard Mr. Alden preach beautifully about that! I
often go to his church, Sunday evenings, for it's the nearest, and he
speaks so plain-like, I do admire to hear him. But it's not _that_
indeed, miss! I'd love, myself, to be in a good, quiet house, where one
could sit down when one was tired, and not have to go out in the dark,
all sorts of mornings, and have to be on the go all day! But, you see,
if I live at home I can give mother my board, an' that's such a help to
her. An' if I was in a place, I'd have to wear good clothes, an' that
would eat up all my earnin's, an' mother needs all I can do to help her
and the children. An' then my brother Jim's a little wild, and if I'm at
home, I can look after him a bit."

Nora, interested in getting for herself a definite idea of this girl's
daily life, drew her out a little more about this brother, the eldest of
the family. He worked in the mill, too, and would be a great help to the
family if it were not for his unsteadiness, which had run away with a
good deal of his earnings, and he had once or twice been on the point of
being discharged.

"He has never been the same boy," Lizzie said, sadly, "since he has
taken up with Nelly Grove."

"That was the girl you were talking to this evening when I passed you,
was it not?" asked Miss Blanchard.

"Yes, that was Nelly. She's not a bad-hearted little thing, but she's
awful flighty and fond of pleasure. She's an orphan, too, an' her
friends live in the country, so she hasn't any one to look after her
here. I think she'd be good enough to Jim, if she was let alone, but
there's a gentleman"--and Lizzie lowered her voice still further--"as
turns her head with compliments an' attentions, an' it makes Jim so
jealous that he just goes off on a tear, whenever he finds out about it,
unless I can manage to coax him and stop him."

"I see," said Miss Blanchard, thoughtfully; "but what a shame it is!"
And so, by force of cruel fate, as it seemed, this girl was as truly
chained by invisible fetters to her daily toil among those relentless
wheels and pulleys, as if she were a galley-slave. The plantation
slaves, on the whole, were not so badly off. They had their regular
hours of toil, but their hours of relaxation were free from care, and
full of fun and frolic, and--which was another great relief--they had
frequent change of labor. Roland Graeme's words occurred to her mind
with a new force and significance. But how was it? Did not the Heavenly
Father in whom she had been taught to believe, care for the sparrows,
and did He not much more care for helpless girls? Was His care not for
Lizzie as well as for her, in her pleasant, protected life? It was too
deep a problem, and she remembered a saying of Goethe, which she had
lately read that "Man is not born to solve the problem of the universe,
but to find out what he has to do, and then to do that." And if she
could hereafter do anything to help her less favored sisters, she then
and there registered an unspoken vow that she would do what she could.

The following being as mild a day as was likely to occur that season,
Dr. Blanchard recommended that Mrs. Travers should be at once removed to
the St. Barnabas Hospital. But it was a task of some difficulty to gain
her consent. She seemed to cling tenaciously to the privacy of her
wretched little room, and to shrink nervously from the idea of a common
hospital ward. She so clearly bore the impress of refinement and
culture, that Nora felt as if it were inflicting an indignity on her to
ask her to endure the trial; and she offered to bear, herself, the
expense of a private room for a month, if the patient would consent to
the removal. But what then was to be done with the little girl? She
could not go to the hospital, and there seemed to be no room for her in
Lizzie's overcrowded home.

"I'll take her in," said Mr. Alden, with his good-humored smile, as they
were consulting over the difficulties in the way. But Nora demurred. He
had enough of his own, and she did not want to put one more care on Mrs.
Alden or Gracie. She took her sister-in-law aside for consultation, and
presently returned triumphant. "Sophy says I may have her here," she
said to her brother. "She's such a dear little grave creature, I don't
think she'll give any trouble, and she will help to amuse Eddie and
Daisy. They are almost too much for nurse, now baby's growing so
lively."

"Trust Nora for finding the bright side of everything," said Dr.
Blanchard, laughing. "She's a born optimist."

"Indeed, I thought I was growing pessimistic last night," said Nora.
"It's horrible to find out, really, how so many people have to live!"
she added, looking at Mr. Alden, with a perplexed look in her eyes, and
a shadow over her usually bright face.

"And you've had no rest yet!" interposed her brother. "You must go and
lie down at once. I'll see the poor woman transferred to her new
quarters as safely as may be, and bring the child here; and you can go
to see the mother another time."

Nora went to her dainty, quiet room--such a contrast to the one in which
she had spent the night!--and, lying down on the soft luxurious bed, she
tried to close her tired eyes in sleep; but it was rather a failure. A
healthy young _physique_, accustomed to sleep only at regular hours,
does not readily adapt itself to irregular rest; and heart and brain
were still too much excited to encourage sleep. The aspect of the
miserable little room seemed photographed on her inner sight; the
oppressed breathing of the invalid, the sad glimpses into other people's
lives, haunted her whenever she closed her eyes. As she lay there on her
soft couch in the daintily-appointed room, with the pretty things about
her with which girls like to surround themselves, and the light softly
shaded to make an artificial twilight, visions rose before her of
droning wheels and flashing shuttles, of long arrays of frames, such as
she had seen in the factory some time before; and the thought of the
girls with feelings and nerves like her own, tending, through so many
weary hours, these senseless and relentless machines, oppressed her
quick sensibilities like a nightmare. Then, when at last she fell into a
brief, troubled slumber, she dreamed that she was following some one
through mile after mile of endless corridors, all lined with that
inexorable, never-ceasing machinery, tended by armies of pale, slender
girls, many of them children. And whenever she desired to sit down to
rest, her conductor kept beckoning her onward, and she seemed compelled
to follow, on--on--would it never end! And as her companion looked round
impatiently to urge her advance, she saw for the first time that it was
the young man who had been her guide and escort the preceding evening.
And, just then, Eddie, stealing on tip-toe into the room to see if
"Auntie were awake yet," dispersed the illusion, and she awoke to a glad
consciousness of liberty and restfulness, yet with a strange sense of
latent pain behind it.

Nora lay still a little longer, thinking with some interest of the
curious way in which the sights and sounds of waking hours interweave
themselves into new and absurd combinations, when the guiding will is
for the time off duty. She was naturally introspective, and had a
special turn for psychological studies, in which her brother's line of
thought harmonized with her own. But suddenly she was startled by sounds
that stole into the quietude--sounds of a child's unrestrained, sobbing
grief, intermingled with unsuccessful attempts at consolation.



CHAPTER IX.

IN THE HOSPITAL.


"Why, Eddie, is that Daisy crying? What is the matter?" she asked,
starting up.

"Oh, it's the new little girl that's come," replied Eddie, with cheerful
unconcern. "And she won't stop crying. I've showed her Tatters and my
Noah's Ark and the gray kitten; and 'tisn't any use--she's such a
silly!"

"Oh! dear!" exclaimed Nora. "I must go down at once." And, hurriedly
re-arranging her hair and dress, she ran down-stairs, followed by Eddie.

On the rug outside the drawing-room door crouched the little girl,
shaken by a storm of passionate sobs. She had borne the separation from
her weak and passive mother, with a quiet resignation mainly produced by
the doctor's assurance that if she were good and did not worry her
mother, who was going where she would be made better, she should soon
see her again. The grave quietude which the child had maintained with a
great effort had not given way, until Dr. Blanchard, in haste to reach
an urgent "case," had put her inside his own door in charge of a
servant. Then, the strangeness of everything about her, and the blank
loneliness of the situation, from _her_ point of view, had apparently so
oppressed her, that the unnatural composure gave way before a tornado of
passionate abandonment. Mrs. Blanchard was out, but the nurse had tried
her best to console and divert her, and so had Eddie and Daisy; but so
far without avail. Nora could hardly help smiling, as she remembered her
programme for the children's relation to each other, and saw how it had
been reversed.

The plump little Daisy stood over her, looking concerned, but holding
out her gray kitten as if it were the olive-branch of peace, while the
neglected inhabitants of Noah's Ark lay in picturesque confusion in the
background.

When Miss Blanchard appeared, however, matters changed a little, as she
bent over the sobbing child with loving words and gestures, pushed aside
the old hood and shawl, and smoothed the tangled mass of dark, curly
hair, till the sobs grew fainter and the child allowed herself to be
raised from the floor. Under the uncouth disguise of her outer raiment,
now removed, she wore a neatly-made, though faded, print frock; which,
though evidently outgrown, was whole and clean; and, for the first time,
Miss Blanchard realized her unusual beauty of face and form, with the
pleasure of one keenly sensitive to beauty of all kinds.

She had heard from Lizzie that "Cissy" was passionately fond of music,
and the happy thought occurred to her of taking her into the
drawing-room, and playing to her some sweet and simple melodies that
were favorites of her own. The experiment succeeded beyond her hopes.
The child listened like one entranced. Her large, soft, lustrous eyes
dilated, and her whole face seemed lighted with a new expression, as she
followed with evident appreciation every change of the music. It was as
if the delight of listening absorbed her whole being. Then, as Nora
began to sing to her, her delight seemed to increase. A dawning smile
relaxed the sad curves of her lips, a dewy moisture suffused the lovely
dark-gray eyes. It was clear, Miss Blanchard thought, that she had
discovered here a musical soul.

"Does your mother sing to you sometimes?" she asked.

"Not much," said the child. "She likes _me_ to sing to her, best."

"Sing to me now, then," replied Nora.

But the child was too shy. That evening, however, when she was alone
with the other children in the nursery, Nora heard her trying to hum
over the airs of the songs she had sung to her, with wonderful accuracy
and sweetness of tone. This discovery set her castle-building at once.
There was no knowing what musical talent this little one might develop!
And if she could aid her to develop it, she would thus help one girl, at
least, out of the weary monotony of poorly paid and unremitting toil.

The following day was Sunday, and Nora had a headache, as was hardly
surprising, after her unusual fatigue and excitement, so that it was
only on the day following, that she and the little Cecilia, for whom
some garments had meantime been remodelled out of old ones of Mrs.
Blanchard's, were set down by the doctor at the door of the hospital.

It was a new experience for her, and she walked with some nervous dread
along the whitewashed corridors, oppressed by the feeling that behind
those white walls were being fought, unseen, many battles between
disease and death on the one hand, and medical care and skill on the
other. As she passed on, guided by the porter, she could catch glimpses,
through partially open doors, of wards filled with "heavy cases"--every
bed, apparently, tenanted; of others where convalescents were sitting
among neat beds with snowy coverlets--pictures and plants giving an air
of comfort to the place. At the end of a long passage, she found herself
in a cheerful little room, with an open fire burning brightly in the
grate, and her old acquaintance, Miss Spencer, Kitty Farrell's cousin,
in her pretty nurse's uniform, sitting beside the bed on which lay the
invalid she had come to see. The latter looked pale and weak, indeed,
but seemed so different in her new surroundings and fresh white
draperies, that Miss Blanchard would scarcely have recognized her. The
little Cecilia threw herself upon her mother in a close, clinging
embrace, which the nurse presently loosened gently, lifting her to a
seat on the bed, where she could look at her mother without tiring her.
The latter was evidently very weak, and scarcely cared to talk; but she
looked gratefully, if shyly, at Miss Blanchard, and then lay with her
beautiful dark-gray eyes, so like the child's, and half-screened by the
long dark lashes, fixed on the little one beside her. The dusky hair
that lay in a mass about her pale face, on the white pillow, seemed to
make it paler by comparison, but also made her look even younger than
Miss Blanchard had supposed her. The latter purposely made her visit
very brief, but suggested that she and Miss Spencer should leave the
mother and child alone, with the almost unnecessary caution "not to
talk," to which neither seemed disposed. Miss Spencer led the way to the
little sitting-room used by the nurses, which was then empty.

"How nice and neat it all is!" said Nora, as they sat down, her eyes
coming back from their survey to rest admiringly on the serene, happy
face of the young nurse. Janet or "Janie" Spencer, as her friends called
her, had interested her very much in their occasional meetings. There
was something about her, not easy to define, which attracted most
people. She was a rather large, well-developed young woman, with her
cousin Kitty's fairness of coloring, but not Kitty's exquisite delicacy
of complexion and moulding. An expression of kindly good sense and
good-humored benevolence seemed to shine in her clear eyes and to hover
about the curves of her red lips; her calm, even manner was soothing in
itself, and in her fresh picturesque uniform, Nora thought she looked
like an impersonation of the divine art of healing.

"Well, how do you like your work?" asked Nora, eagerly.

"'_Like_' isn't the word!" was the reply. "It's intensely interesting.
You get so absorbed in the interest of it that you never take time to
think whether you like it or not! Of course, there are things you can't
like in themselves, but you forget that, when you know that you are
doing what is of real consequence. And then I think I always was cut out
for a nurse. Ever since I was a child, I liked nothing so well as caring
for sick people."

"We all thought it was very lovely of you to make up your mind to do it,
though."

"Well, I simply couldn't go on as I was. You know there were some things
I could never forget----"

Nora touched caressingly the soft hand that looked so strong and
helpful, with all its softness. She had heard of the young lover whose
sudden death had altered Janie Spencer's life. Presently she went on:

"That ordinary, humdrum, easy existence--so many of us girls at home,
and no interests but calls and parties and novels and fancy-work--it
seemed just trifling away life; and I thought if ever I could save any
one who was ill as _he_ was, how sweet it would be!--almost as if I did
it for him!"

"Then it wasn't Mr. Chillingworth's preaching, after all," said Nora,
vaguely disappointed.

"Oh, I think that did decide me," she said. "It was one of his strongest
sermons, I think, and it came just when I was feeling so sick of doing
nothing in particular. He was speaking, you know, of the beauty of the
Christian ideal of living for the good of others; and he gave as an
example, the life of a hospital nurse, and how happy she might always be
in realizing the truth of the words, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it to one
or the least of these, ye have done it unto Me.' I think it was _that_
that decided me."

"But now," said Miss Spencer, after a short silence, "I suppose you
don't know much about this poor young woman?"

"No," said Nora; "but I'm sure she has a history."

"So am I! One or two things she said made me suspect a romance of some
kind. I notice that her wedding ring is very massive, and she has a
habit of fingering it in a caressing sort of way."

"Poor thing! I suppose she's a widow."

"She wouldn't say, and I couldn't press her. It seemed to pain her to
talk about it. My impression is that she is _not_; but of course that is
merely an impression."

"The child is passionately fond of music," said Nora. "I shouldn't
wonder if she turned out to be a musical genius."

"Possibly, then, her father may have been one of those professionals who
seem so lax in their matrimonial ideas, and desert their wives so
easily.--At least, I've heard of such cases," she added. "I suppose the
'artistic temperament' as they call it, has a tendency to forsake
ordinary lines."

"It's queer," said Nora, thoughtfully. "One would think music should
always be an elevating influence."

"I'm sure it is, at its best," said Janet. "But it has another side,
like most things."

"Oh dear!" said Nora, "this is a very puzzling world. Well, it's nice to
be you, and to have found out just the work you are fitted for, and how
you can best help other people."

And this thought clung to her as she walked home with the still silent
Cecilia, through the damp, foggy December afternoon, the child bravely
keeping down her strong inclination to cry, lest she should forfeit the
privilege of going again. The world seemed, to Nora's imagination, to
have taken the dull, cheerless aspect of the day, seen from the under
side, from which she had lately been looking at it. And it seemed to her
that they alone could be counted happy who knew how to lighten a little
the cheerlessness and gloom. If she only knew _how_!



CHAPTER X.

A FIRESIDE TALK.


The fog and moisture had turned to snow, and the cold grayness of the
early winter dusk emphasized the cheeriness that lighted up Mrs.
Blanchard's drawing-room with its warm glow. Nora was practising,
perseveringly, the choruses that were to be sung that evening at the
first general practice for the oratorio, whither Mr. Chillingworth was
to escort her, after dinner, to which he had been invited. Mrs.
Blanchard reclined luxuriously in an easy-chair in front of the fire,
half-lulled to sleep by the combined influence of the heat and the
music, undisturbed by the prattle of the children, who, in the absence
of visitors, were in full possession. Cecilia held "Tatters," the pet
terrier, cuddled close to her with one hand, while with the other she
helped Eddie and Daisy to set up the animals from their Noah's Ark, in a
"'nagery percession" between two lines of stiff, conical trees taken
from Eddie's "village," and supposed to represent an "avenue," with
occasional little painted wooden houses behind it. As several of the
animals had lost some of their legs, the setting up was a task of some
difficulty, and presented some curious situations, the maimed wolf
having to lean for support against his neighbor the lamb, while a hen
that had lost one of her stout pedestals had to be similarly propped up
against a fox of equal size. The long procession having been finally
completed, Nora was called to come and admire.

"See, Auntie, it isn't a Noah's Ark percession," said Eddie, "it's a
'nagery percession. And those ar'n't Noah and his sons either. They're
Barnum and the keepers."

"Oh, young America!" said Nora, laughing, in a semi-soliloquy. "You must
remodel everything, even Noah's Ark."

"Well, Noah's Ark was a sort of 'nagery," replied Eddie, answering the
tone rather than the words, "and I guess Noah was about as clever as Mr.
Barnum."

Nora walked back to the piano, concealing an irresistible laugh. After
all, she thought, children had to interpret those old stories of the
past through present-day experiences--but her own childish conceptions
had never been quite so realistic.

Cecilia followed her to the piano, and stood by her in her usual
attitude of absorbed attention, while Miss Blanchard went through the
passage, "He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd." Neither heard the
doorbell ring, and Mr. Chillingworth had quietly opened the door some
time before his presence was noticed.

"Thank you," he said, advancing, with a smile, "I wanted to hear that to
the end before you knew you had an audience of even one--though I should
say _two_," he added, glancing at the child, whom in her altered dress
and surroundings, he did not in the least recognize.

"_I_ was listening, too," said Mrs. Blanchard, rousing herself to greet
him, and continuing to her sister-in-law: "Oh, you needn't laugh, Nora,
I could hear the music quite well, if my eyes were shut. There's nothing
that soothes one so."

"Yes, I know you find it soothing, Sophy, dear," replied Nora, demurely,
while Mr. Chillingworth discreetly held his peace. Meantime Cecilia had
stolen away, back to the other children, whom the nurse had come to
summon to tea. She recognized the clergyman at once, and she
instinctively shrank from another encounter with him.

"You have a visitor there, I see," remarked Mr. Chillingworth, as the
children disappeared. "What a pretty child she is! She has such lovely
eyes. Who is she? Somehow her face seems familiar to me, or else she is
like some one I know."

"Oh, I don't think you can have seen her before," said Nora. "She's the
child of a poor young woman Will sent to the hospital--the young woman
he was sent for to go to see that evening, you know."

"Oh, the one to whom you went to act the Good Samaritan? I meant to ask
you how you found her."

"She was very ill indeed," replied Miss Blanchard, gravely; then turning
fully round, she looked up at him and exclaimed: "Oh, Mr. Chillingworth,
I never could have imagined any one living in such a wretched place!
Scarcely any furniture, and the poor thing lying on such a miserable bed
on the floor! And she seemed so refined and pretty! It is horrible to
think that such things can be!"

Mr. Chillingworth half closed his eyes for a moment, as if to shut out
the picture she conjured up. Such scenes always jarred terribly on his
æsthetic sense, and on principle, he avoided them as much as possible.
They always upset him so, and he could do so little to help!

"Yes, my dear Miss Blanchard, this fleeting life of ours has many
mysteries about it, sad and strange enough, but we should only be making
ourselves perpetually miserable, if we were always looking at them and
trying to solve them. And then you must remember that things often look
worse, when we see them from the outside. Human nature has a wonderful
way of adapting itself to circumstances, and this life is only a
fleeting one, you know. The great thing is--to lead the sufferers to
look beyond!"

"Yes, I know," said Nora, somewhat impatiently. "But then, I do think it
would be better, for _us_ as well as for them, if we were to try to make
it better for them now! That was what the Good Samaritan did--you spoke
of just now, wasn't it, when the priest and the Levite passed by on the
other side?"

"Undoubtedly, as you say, that _is_ best for us, as it is for them," he
replied. "Yes, the life for others is the true life.

    "'The quality of mercy is not strained,
    It blesses him that gives and him that takes.'"

Mr. Chillingworth always rendered the quotation so as to convey the
impression that the "giver" was a good deal more to be considered than
the "taker."

"Well, Nora did her duty as a Good Samaritan," interposed Mrs.
Blanchard, tired of being left out of the conversation. "She stayed in
that wretched room all night, and sat up with the poor woman. I only
wonder she didn't catch something dreadful, herself."

"Is it possible!" the clergyman exclaimed. "But that seems too great a
sacrifice on your part. Was there no one else at hand?"

"Yes," said Nora, with a touch of satire in her tone. "There was a poor
girl, a mill hand, who had been working all day, and sitting up at night
with this poor sick woman. I thought that _was_ too great a sacrifice!"

Mr. Chillingworth's dark eyes lighted up. "Ah," he said, "such scenes
transfigure the dark places of life, do they not?"

Nora sighed--a little impatient sigh. She could not, it seemed, convey
to the mind of any one else the intolerance she felt of a social state
in which such hard conditions of life could prevail, for any portion of
humanity. Every one about her seemed to acquiesce resignedly in the
inevitable.

"And so you have added to your kindness, that of taking in the poor
woman's child?" he continued.

"Yes," again interposed Mrs. Blanchard. "There seemed to be no one else
to take care of her, so Nora begged to be allowed to take her in, and
you know we are all her abject slaves!"

Nora laughed. "I'd like to see you an abject slave to any one," she
said.

"Indeed, I feel abject enough just now," she replied, yawning slightly.
"Mr. Chillingworth, how many visits do you think Nora and I paid this
afternoon?"

"I shouldn't venture to guess," he said, smiling.

"Fifteen! not one less. Haven't I a right to feel tired after such a
day's work? Just think of all the talking I've done."

"But then several of the people weren't at home, so we only had to leave
the cards and come away," explained the severely truthful Nora.

"Well, eight visits, with all the talking that means, is a very good
afternoon's work."

And having successfully diverted the conversation from such unpleasant
topics, Mrs. Blanchard kept up a little skirmishing small-talk till
dinner was announced.

Kitty Farrell came in to join them after dinner, as had been arranged.
She was looking particularly bright and pretty in her soft white wraps.
She had brought her father's neat little brougham, in which they drove
down to the hall, where the practice would be held.

"I suppose you're both going to Mrs. Pomeroy's dinner-party, on Saturday
evening?" said Mr. Chillingworth, on the way.

"I am," Nora replied, "and it is scarcely necessary to ask if Miss
Farrell is."

"Indeed, I don't see any reason for taking it for granted," said Kitty,
coquettishly; "but if you really want to know, I believe we're all
going. It will be quite large for a dinner-party; so, Nora, mind you are
to look your best!"

Just as they got out of the brougham, and stood full in the light of the
lamp at the entrance, a young man, passing hurriedly, looked up and took
a rapid survey of the trio. Nora caught the glance, and recognized the
young man who had walked with her through the lamp-lighted streets a few
evenings before. She was sorry that she had not had time to show that
she recognized him, for he had interested her almost as much as the new
trains of thought he had started.

The practice went on very much as all practices do. The choruses had to
be gone over again and again, till the time and harmony were, in the
conductor's estimation at least, approximately correct. Nora could not
help wishing that some other words could have been used for the
practice, than those carrying such sacred meanings and associations. She
began to see why her Aunt Margaret did not care for oratorios, when she
noticed some of the girls tittering over mistakes in the rendering of
some of the most solemn and touching passages. Mr. Chillingworth watched
it all carefully from the artistic point of view--which, for the time at
least, he seemed to have disassociated from the religious. At last it
was over, for that evening, and Kitty and Nora were resuming their
wraps, while Mr. Chillingworth was holding an animated talk with the
conductor and the accompanist, Herr Waldberg, on points connected with
the rendering of some of the passages. Waldberg, his handsome face
lighted up with the glow and sparkle of musical enthusiasm, came up with
Mr. Chillingworth, and, courteously bowing to the young ladies,
exchanged a few words with Kitty in an undertone. She lingered a moment,
as Nora waited for her at the entrance.

"I needn't take you and Mr. Chillingworth out of your way to walk round
with me," she said. "You know I didn't order the carriage to come back,
as I didn't know just when it would be over, and father does not like to
have the horses standing at night. But Mr. Waldberg has kindly offered
to see me home, so you won't have to come all that way round, and it's
snowing quite fast, isn't it?"

Nora felt vaguely dissatisfied, she hardly knew why, at the proposed
arrangement. But of course she could offer no objection, and Mr.
Chillingworth was by no means sorry to be permitted to walk home with
Miss Blanchard, _tête-à-tête_. They were both enthusiasts in music, and
could talk about it, the oratorio and its rendering, with more freedom
from distraction than when Kitty, with her butterfly nature was at hand,
ready at any moment to strike off on some other tack. And again, as they
walked on, Nora observed that her unknown friend passed them at a rapid
pace, but this time he was going the same way, and she did not know
whether he observed her or not.



CHAPTER XI.

THORNS AND ROSES.


"What are you going to wear to-night, Nora?" asked Mrs. Blanchard, as
the two still lingered in company over the breakfast-table, which the
busy doctor had, as usual, quitted before them. This was always the most
important question in Mrs. Blanchard's mind, when they were going to any
entertainment.

"I suppose my black velvet will do, won't it?" said Nora, looking up
from the newspaper in which she was, at the moment, reading a paragraph
describing the miseries of poor sewing-women, and the pittance for which
they are often compelled to give their long hours of toil.

"Well, I suppose so," said her sister-in-law, discontentedly, "though
that black velvet certainly does seem too old for you. Why not wear that
pretty _écru_ and black lace costume?"

"But then," objected Nora, "I wore it at Mrs. Farrell's musical-party,
and I don't want to wear it quite so soon again. Besides, this won't be
a very big party."

"Not big, certainly, but awfully swell. Mrs. Pomeroy's dinner-parties
always are. Just wait till you see! However, your black velvet does look
quite elegant, and that old lace of Aunt Margaret's and her pearl cross
look just lovely with it! They suit you, somehow; so perhaps you
couldn't do better. But I wish you would get a new dress;
crushed-strawberry satin would be so becoming, and you'll want it, for
you will be going out a good deal this winter."

"No," said Nora, "I couldn't think of getting anything more now; I have
all I really need, and it seems horrible to think of getting more than
one needs, when some people have to live like this!" and she read aloud
the paragraph that had caught her eye.

"Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Blanchard, "I wish you weren't always seeing such
things. There always was and there always will be misery in the world,
but what good does it do any one to make yourself miserable about it?
And if you get a new dress made, doesn't that help somebody?"

Nora was always perplexed when other people's notions of political
economy were arrayed on the side of selfish expenditure. Was the world
built up on _selfishness_ after all? If so, where was the place of
self-sacrifice? But it did not seem as if it "helped people" very much
"to wear out their lives" in return for the barest subsistence.

That afternoon, she took little Cecilia on a second visit to her mother.
It was very cold, and the snow lay white on the hard, frozen streets;
but Nora, well wrapped in her furs, felt the cold, keen air as
exhilarating as a tonic, as they walked briskly on to the hospital, the
child also wrapped warmly in the mufflings that Nora's care had
provided. She had begun to be a little more communicative, but was
evidently a fitful, uncertain child; in general reserved and quiet,
though subject to fits of extreme excitability, in which it seemed as if
nothing but music could soothe her. Both Dr. Blanchard and Nora had been
studying her with much interest, the doctor declaring that under-feeding
and a life of unnatural confinement and solitude must be responsible for
many of her peculiarities. At the hospital, Miss Blanchard found Mrs.
Travers getting on favorably. She showed more pleasure at seeing her
child than on the previous occasion, and, in reply to Nora's inquiries,
expressed herself as very comfortable there. "It would be strange if I
were not," she added, "every one is so kind, Miss Spencer especially.
She couldn't be kinder, if I were her sister."

And again Miss Blanchard was struck with her unusual refinement of tone
and manner as well as of language. But she seemed rather shy and ill at
ease, Nora thought, and she was about to turn aside to look up at Miss
Spencer, when a gentle knock sounded, and Lizzie Mason entered. The
invalid was evidently genuinely glad to see her, and held her hand, as
if she could not let it go. Nora, as she watched them for a few moments,
was pained to see that Lizzie looked as if she had been crying, and
seemed particularly sad and depressed.

"I did not think of seeing you here," said Nora; "I thought you were
engaged at this hour."

"It's Saturday, you know, miss. There's always a sort of a half-holiday
on Saturday."

"Well, you look as if you needed a little fresh air," replied Nora,
gently. "I'm afraid you have had some trouble."

Her kind voice and gentle words seemed too much for poor Lizzie. She
bent down her head, as she sat by the bed, holding the invalid's hand,
and sobbed quietly.

By degrees, Nora drew from her the cause of her grief. "Jim" had been
going on badly, had been off on another "tear," incited thereto by
jealousy of Nelly's flightiness, and of her mysterious admirer. He had
been "run in" for drinking and disorderly conduct, and Lizzie had had to
take most of the money she had been saving up for warm winter clothing,
in order to pay his fine.

"Oh, Lizzie, why did you do that?" asked Miss Blanchard.

"Indeed, miss, how could I let Jim go to jail, and have mother fretting
to break her heart? I'd rather starve!"

And Nora knew, in her heart, that the girl could not have done
otherwise.

But that was not all. The manager had threatened to dismiss "Jim" unless
he should behave better, and meantime had put him at lower work for
lower wages.

"Perhaps I might ask young Mr. Pomeroy to speak a good word for him,"
Nora said. "I know him very well."

"Oh, no, miss, don't!" cried Lizzie, nervously; "it wouldn't do no good!
The manager does as he thinks best, and they never interfere with him.
Why, he cut down nearly all the girls' wages lately, and they knew they
durstn't say a word! He'd discharge the first one that did! An' all that
makes it so much harder now to get on."

Nora did all she could to console the poor girl, talked of "trust" and
"patience," till the words, coming from one in her position, to one in
Lizzie's, seemed almost to die on her tongue, and she wondered they were
not thrown back in her face.

But Lizzie had learned her lesson of "patience" better, and when Mrs.
Travers said, rather bitterly, "Ah, yes, it's a poor world for us poor
women," Lizzie only said, wiping away her tears:

"Oh, well, we must make the best of it! Tain't no good frettin'!"

Nora offered, rather hesitatingly, to go to see Lizzie next afternoon,
if she liked, and the offer was gratefully accepted.

"And maybe you could say a good word to Jim; he'll be at home then, and
though I never can get Jim to go to church, I guess he would listen to
you!--and p'raps Nelly might be there, too. I do wish you could get to
know Nelly! She'd mind what you would say, a sight better than anything
I can tell her."

Nora walked silently homeward, with a new sorrowful image before her. As
she dressed for the dinner-party, the pale tear-stained face seemed
still before her, and she was calculating how much it would cost to buy
a good warm winter jacket for the half-clad girl.

Little Cecilia had begged to be allowed to help her to dress, and
eagerly did all she was permitted to do, admiring with silent intentness
the rich soft folds of the velvet that showed to such advantage the
straight, graceful, rounded figure, and the white neck and arms that
gleamed out of the fine old lace; and, what seemed to the child the most
beautiful of all, the cross of pure, translucent pearls which so fitly
adorned the white throat above the square-cut corsage. This old pearl
cross, Aunt Margaret's parting gift, and a prized relic of her long-past
girlhood, was Nora's favorite ornament. Its form was symbolical of a
thousand tender, sacred associations, and the purity of the pearls
seemed emblematic of a higher purity, divine and human. She liked to
wear it as a reminder to herself of many things that she desired never
to forget, even in the gladdest and most festive moment. And to-night it
seemed connected in her thoughts with Lizzie's pale pathetic face, and
her life of perpetual self-sacrifice.

"Well, you look very nice!" said Mrs. Blanchard, approvingly, as she
came in to make an inspection--"only you're pale--you want some roses."

And as she spoke, she produced a lovely cluster of pink and blush roses,
which she fastened on the creamy lace of Nora's corsage; while deftly
twisting an opening bud among her silky coils of hair, to Cecilia's
manifest delight.

"There," she said, "that lights it up a good deal!" and she walked back,
casting critical glances at the general effect. "The severe style does
suit you--that can't be denied!" she added.

"Oh, what lovely roses!" exclaimed Nora, bending her graceful head, to
inhale their delicate fragrance. "It was so good of you to get them for
me!"

"Well, I didn't get them, to tell the truth! I meant to get some,
though; but this morning I got a little box from Mr. Chillingworth, with
a note, begging that you and I would oblige him by wearing the contents.
See, here are mine," pointing to a cluster of tea-roses on her own blue
satin. "So you see I kept them for a surprise, sort of _coup de grâce_;
now, I think that was quite a clever idea."

"But ought I really to wear them?" asked Nora, doubtfully. The "roses"
had come to her face, now, as well as her dress, giving just the one
touch which her sister-in-law had thought she lacked.

"Why, of course you can," replied Mrs. Blanchard, quickly. "Just as well
as I can wear mine! It was so nice of the dear man to think of us
_both_!"

"It was _very_ kind, and there's nothing I like so well as roses," said
Nora, again breathing in their fragrance; "and these made me think so
much of summer and Rockland."

But it is doubtful whether it would have given her so much pleasure to
wear them, in her present mood, had she known just what they cost!



CHAPTER XII.

TABLE-TALK.


When the little party reached Mrs. Pomeroy's sumptuous drawing-room--a
blaze of light and color--most of the guests had already arrived. Mr.
Pomeroy, a large, important looking man, who seemed to be on excellent
terms with himself and with the world in general, greeted them with a
rather pompous cordiality, and then retired to the background to
continue his conversation with an old gentleman of somewhat grim and
shaggy aspect, whose old-fashioned frock-coat contrasted somewhat oddly
with his host's expansive shirt-front and irreproachable dress-suit.
Mrs. Pomeroy was a rather small, dark-eyed woman, with a good deal of
character and energy in her face, and a dress of sober richness, almost
suggestive of Quakerism in its hue. Miss Pomeroy, rather tall, and dark,
and good-looking, though with a slight hardness and discontent about the
curves of her face, was engaged in an animated conversation with Mr.
Chillingworth. Kitty Farrell--looking exquisite and radiant in some
diaphanous, pink, silky texture, was appropriated, of course, by young
Pomeroy. Her father, with a thin careworn face, quick and restless in
his movements, was talking with Mr. Pomeroy and the old gentleman, while
Mrs. Farrell, fair, languid, and most tastefully attired, reclined on a
sofa beside Mrs. Pomeroy. There were some other people, including a
banker and his wife--a Mr. and Mrs. Cheever, accompanied by a Miss
Harley, an English lady with an English complexion and roundness of
figure, who was paying them a visit, and on whose account, mainly, the
party was given. Nora was speedily introduced to a young man who arrived
almost simultaneously with themselves--fresh and good-looking, with
dark-brown hair and full moustache, which parted in a frequent smile
over very white teeth. He was introduced as "Mr. Archer," and Nora was
trying to make up her mind whether she liked his face or not, when
dinner was announced, and her new acquaintance offered his arm.

The dinner-table seemed like a miniature garden of exquisite flowers,
amid which gleamed the silver, crystal, and costly Haviland china--a
recent acquisition. Mr. Pomeroy was a man who always liked to be sure
that he had "the best" of everything, and who regarded it as a duty to
gratify his desire to the utmost. As Nora sat down and involuntarily
took in the impression of beauty, brilliancy and costliness afforded by
the whole, her thoughts went back once more to poor Lizzie's struggling
life, with its sordid surroundings, and the winter jacket she couldn't
buy. But Mr. Archer's amusing flow of talk, and the interest of finding
out the ideas and tastes of a new acquaintance, soon diverted her
thoughts. Mr. Chillingworth, who had taken in his hostess, was seated on
her other side, and claimed a large share of her attention. A certain
Mr. Wharton, of literary proclivities, and the old gentleman aforesaid,
were nearly opposite.

"So good of you to come this evening," said Mrs. Pomeroy. "We shouldn't
have fixed on Saturday, but it seemed the only evening we could have
Miss Harley, who will be here only for a few days. But we thought you
wouldn't mind, for once."

"Oh, I happened to be pretty well up with my work this week; so I could
allow myself the pleasure, with a clear conscience," replied the
clergyman.

The talk drifted about in the usual inconsequential manner of
dinner-parties. The courses, _entrées, et cætera_, were many and
elaborate, and were evidently thoroughly appreciated, by the gentlemen,
at least. Mr. Archer smilingly noticed that Miss Blanchard declined
wine, as indeed did the hostess, also, who had pronounced views on the
subject of total abstinence, it appeared, although yielding to her
husband's wish to have wine at his table. Mrs Pomeroy was indeed a
"prominent worker," as the _Minerva_ would have put it, on various
philanthropic and mission boards So she hastened to reinforce Miss
Blanchard in a playful skirmish as to the merits of total abstinence
societies and of Prohibition, of which she was a strenuous advocate. Mr
Pomeroy presently, however, shut off the discussion by telling his
friends that they had better enjoy their champagne while they could, as
Mrs Pomeroy was determined to take it from them altogether, and there
was no knowing how soon she might succeed. And then he struck at once
into a fresh subject.

"By the way, Wharton, that was a capital letter of yours in the
_Minerva_ the other day, on that last book of Henry George's."

"Glad you thought so," replied Mr Wharton, complacently. "I thought the
_Minerva_ was growing quite too enthusiastic over it, so I just touched
them up a little on the subject."

"And you did to some purpose," said his host. "That was a good point you
made, anyway--when you showed up the fallacy of that absurd assertion
that the poor are growing poorer. I haven't read the book myself, but if
that's how he talks, I should say it's great stuff!"

"Oh, that point's the thing!" rejoined Mr Wharton, pleased to dilate a
little on a favorite subject. "If you grant him that, you have to grant
him a great deal more. But of course it's absurd."

"Well," said Mr. Archer, his moustache parting over his white teeth,
with his cynical smile--"I suppose we don't any of us live just as our
ancestors did in Queen Elizabeth's time. I doubt if her majesty ever saw
such a charmingly arranged dinner-table in her life!" Here he bowed
toward the hostess. "But I happened to see something of the tenements of
New York lately, in connection with a case which involved the
proprietorship of some of them. I really think I'd rather have the
Elizabethan style, so far as the laborer is concerned. But of course,
all laborers don't live in rooms that would hardly be fit for a
dog-kennel."

Nora's thoughts went off to the wretched apartment in which she had so
lately spent the night, but she was too shy to join in a general
conversation. Her brother, however, remarked tersely, that he saw some
wretched enough kennels, even in Minton, and that, "if some quarters of
the city were not soon looked after, they would be hearing of an
outbreak of typhoid fever or diphtheria, the first thing."

"Oh, Doctor!" exclaimed Mrs. Farrell, in alarm. "You don't say so. I do
hope it _will_ be looked after soon!"

Mrs. Pomeroy, however, remarked that, for her part, she thought the poor
people seemed very happy and comfortable, so far as she came in contact
with them, in connection with the Clothing Club.

Mr. Archer smiled again. "By the way, Mr. Pomeroy," he remarked, "have
you seen the new paper?"

"What new paper?" inquired the host.

"_The Brotherhood_, the new champion of the oppressed and down-trodden
workmen! I tell you, you manufacturers will have to look out. You'll be
brought to book for all your iniquities."

"Yes, I believe I did see a wretched little sheet of that name
somewhere, started by some crank. But of course, I haven't time to look
at such things."

"Ah," said Mr. Chillingworth, "I suppose that is the paper a young man
came to canvass me for! I don't know whether he wanted me to take it or
to write for it. But I see he has sent it to me."

"Oh, _both_, Mr. Chillingworth!" retorted Mr. Archer, smiling with mock
persuasiveness. "The editor of it, Mr. Roland Graeme, is well known to
me; in fact, I have the honor of having him at present in my office, and
I can answer for him that he would be delighted to accept any
contributions from your pen."

"Or from mine, say," remarked Mr. Wharton.

"I'm not so sure about _you_! You are too much on the philosophical
tack! You wouldn't have enough sympathy. _The Brotherhood_, you know, is
founded on the idea of Christian fellow-feeling."

"Thanks, very much, for your good opinion!" retorted the other.

"I've heard a good deal about that fellow, Roland Graeme," remarked Mr.
Pomeroy, in his tone of bland patronage. "I should say he hadn't enough
to do! He's been aiding and abetting the 'Knights of Labor,' in every
way he can; in fact, they say he's one, himself: and they're troublesome
enough, without having better educated people, who ought to know better,
putting their oars in!"

"'Knights,' indeed!" echoed Mrs. Pomeroy, sarcastically, "Precious
_knights_!"

"Why, they actually had the cheek to come and interview _me_, lately,"
said Mr. Pomeroy. "They had a whole list of grievances that they wanted
remedied. Willett wouldn't have anything to say to them, so they came on
to me. And I believe this Roland Graeme was at the bottom of it."

"Well, he isn't half a bad fellow," said Mr. Archer, "but he's awfully
soft in some ways. A child could get round him, quicker indeed than a
grown-up person," he added, half to himself. "But what did you do? Did
you grant their requests?"

"Not I! There were far too many. They wanted shorter hours, and bigger
pay, and half-holidays, and all the rest of it. Oh, by the way, there
_was_ one thing, Willett had been negligent about, some shafting that
had been left uncovered; I had that inquired into and put right."

"Then the interview wasn't absolutely without results," remarked the
elderly gentleman in the frock-coat, joining in the discussion for the
first time, and speaking in a deep, guttural, Scotch voice and accent.

"Oh, I've no doubt we'd have put that all right in due time, without
their interference," said the host, somewhat superciliously.

"Aye! After an accident, and an inquest, and a suit for damages,"
returned the Scotchman, with a dry smile and twinkle of the eye.

"Come! come! Mr. Dunlop, you have a rather bad opinion of us, I know;
but for our own sakes, you know, we want to have everything right about
the mills. And as for all these other things--why, if we went to
pampering and coddling those people to that extent, they would think so
much of themselves, that by and by they wouldn't want to work at all.
Why now, if we were to do as they ask, increase their pay and shorten
their hours, how could we compete with firms that went in the old way?
The thing is preposterous. As it is, those people who get their pay
regularly and have no care, are better off, this minute, if they only
knew it, than we who have all the care and responsibility, that they
know nothing about. Let me help you to a bit of partridge; you'll find
it just right, I think."

"And would you be caring to exchange with one of them?" persisted Mr.
Dunlop, as he accepted the slice of partridge.

"Why, no, of course, it wouldn't suit me any more than my work would
suit them."

"That's a very fallacious test of yours, Mr. Dunlop," interposed the
sagacious Mr. Wharton. "As Mr. Pomeroy says, what would suit one
wouldn't suit another. And then, the environment we are accustomed to
counts for something. Our friend here, accustomed to his charming
surroundings, as a matter of course, could not lose them without real
deprivation. But a man unused to them would find them only a burden.
Depend upon it, things in this world find their own level after all."

"Of course they do," rejoined Mr. Pomeroy; "as for all this talk about
'Fraternity and Equality,' the stuff such people as this Graeme are so
fond of spouting--poisonous trash!--it's simply making people
discontented with the inevitable conditions of life, and doing them no
possible good. It's so much rank poison, morally speaking, is it not,
Mr. Chillingworth?"

The clergyman had been listening silently, but he now readily responded.
"Oh, there is no doubt in my mind that all the evils complained of--and
no doubt there are some hardships--can be remedied in only one way, in
the spread of the Christian spirit of love and service which must
eventually prevail over selfish and partial views."

"And that would probably have been your verdict, in the last generation,
as against abolitionists like Garrison and Phillips and Whittier, would
it not?" remarked Mr. Archer, in his even, cool, slightly satirical
tones. "Slavery would die out gradually, as the Christian spirit spread
among the planters. But then, the question would have been, again, Who
should _begin_? Slave-holder number one wouldn't want to begin till
slave-holder number two did; so it would be difficult to see how the
reformation would get started."

"Come now, Philip!" said Mrs. Pomeroy. The young man was a distant
relation of hers, and took liberties accordingly. "You don't mean to put
us all on a level with slave-holders, surely! This is a free country, I
should hope; and no one is called on to do more for his _employés_ than
he conveniently can."

"Ah, now, my dear cousin, that's a delightful sort of philosophy! Do you
know, I've sometimes found it inconvenient to pay my clerks, when I had
been going in heavily for opera-tickets--I'm glad to think I'm not
called on to do more than I conveniently can."

Philip Archer could always turn the most serious argument into a joke
when he pleased--and he always pleased at a certain point--but Mr.
Wharton was not going to let him off so easily.

"Of course you were not serious in that analogy of yours," he said.
"There can be no parallel between a distinct wrong to humanity, and
purely relative matters like wages and hours."

"And are ye sure ye have a clear comprehension of what _are_ the
_rights_ of humanity?" struck in the deep Scotch voice. Mr. Dunlop had
finished his partridge, and, having laid down his knife and fork, seemed
ready to begin hostilities in earnest.

"I tell ye what it is," he went on, without waiting for a reply, "it
would pay all you capitalists and employers just to take a look into
things a little, to see what your men are doing and thinking--what the
'Knights' and 'Unions' are after--and consider if ye couldn't arrive at
some rational understanding. There's nothing would propitiate them
quicker than that. This thing's going to grow! It's young yet, and only
totters on its feet; but by and by it will be as we say in Scotland,
'neither to haud nor to bind!' Awhile ago, ye were speaking of
'Fraternity and Equality,' Mr. Pomeroy. There was a third thing that
went wi' them in the old days, that ye didna' mention! We're supposed to
have got _Liberty_, and it's bound to work out its own salvation. I tell
ye there's a big, silent army, marshalling without fife or drum, and if
ye persist in ignoring it, as the grandees of France did before _their_
Revolution, _ye'll_ maybe have a revolution, too. What if the men were
growing nae poorer? They see you all growing richer, the style of living
rising on all hands. Can they be o' the same stock with you, and no want
to rise too? And then wi' your 'protection' an' your 'combines,' ye're
loading them down wi' a greater weight o' taxation than it took to make
your ancestors rise and fight, shoulder to shoulder, for their
independence! But ye won't see it! It's been aye the way, 'Whom the gods
would destroy they first make mad'!"

"Why, Mr. Dunlop, I had no idea you were such a pessimist! You must have
been taking an extra dose of Carlyle!" said Mr. Pomeroy, evidently
trying to smooth out a frown, and retain his usual bland exterior.

"Aye! I've read my 'French Revolution' to some purpose, an' human
nature's the same in all places and ages," was the grim reply.

"And what would you have us poor blinded creatures do?" inquired his
host; "take all our men into partnership? A nice muddle they'd soon make
of it!"

Miss Harley had been listening with deep interest to the little
skirmish, her cheek flushing slightly, and her clear eyes shining with
some vivid emotion. Now she spoke, with a soft clearness of tone that
seemed to give every word additional weight.

"I think," she said, "that we, in England, have got so much accustomed
now to the word _coöperation_, that it begins to sound quite natural to
us. Mr. Ruskin, of course, did a great deal to drive it into us, and a
good many others have caught it up. And I can tell you something of the
success of one experiment. My father had extensive works in Wiltshire.
He had been reading Ruskin's _Fors Clavigera_, mainly on social matters,
you know, and, being a Quaker, and having strict ideas as to duty, he
began to think he wasn't using his men quite fairly. He knew, too, that
there were some socialists among them, trying to breed mischief, and he
thought he would try an experiment. So he invited a large number of the
more intelligent of the men to meet him and hear his report of the state
of the business. He laid it all before them, in the most precise and
business-like way, explained the assets and debts--cost of working,
annual proceeds, and all. He tried to give them an idea of the risks
run, the capital needed, the fluctuations of trade, and so on, and then
he told them that he would give to each man who proved his steadiness,
and who chose to accept it, instead of wages, a certain share in the
profits, graduated according to the value of his work. Of course it was
only the picked men who accepted. The more shiftless and less
intelligent preferred to take their ordinary wage, which was always a
generous one, thinking 'a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush'.
But the others made, my father used to say, 'capital partners'--they
took such an interest in the business, were constantly suggesting little
improvements and ways of saving waste, and were always on the lookout
for all carelessness or 'scamped work' among the other men. And when a
tight time came, they were able to convince the others that if they were
kept on at all, it must be at a reduction. 'You see _we_ can't afford
more,' I've heard one man say to another, going home from work. And when
there were 'strikes' and failures all around, his business continued to
live on, like an organic creature, as he used to say, drawing itself in
or letting itself out according to circumstances. And sometimes the
generosity of the men in a slack time used to bring tears to his eyes,
as he would tell us about it with pleasure and pride."

Every one had listened with interest to the pleasant little episode. Mr.
Chillingworth's dark eyes had lighted up with enthusiasm.

"Ah, that was beautiful, indeed!" he said, with a warmer spontaneity
than usual. "Thank you, indeed, Miss Harley, for telling us about it.
That is how things should stand between master and men. We have some
noble men in the old land yet!"

"Now, Mr. Chillingworth," broke in his hostess, "you're not going to go
back on _us_, surely!"

"By no means! but you must pardon an Englishman his pride in the old
stock."

"I should quite imagine," remarked Mr. Pomeroy, "that in such an old
country as England, so conservative in all social matters, and so
tenacious of vested rights, such a plan of coöperation would answer very
well. But it would be quite a different thing, in a more democratic
community, to let workmen get in any degree a hand on the reins.
Business is too complex here--financiering too delicate. It would be
like letting a bull into a china shop."

A lady has one great advantage in an argument, that she cannot be
abruptly choked off, especially by her host, no matter how distasteful
her arguments may be. Perhaps Miss Harley was conscious of this
advantage, for she forthwith proceeded to describe, at some length, a
most successful profit-sharing enterprise which her father had taken her
to see, at Guise, in French Flanders; a great foundry which owed its
prosperity, mainly, to the zeal, and enterprise of Monsieur Godin, a
disciple of Fourrier's, who had consecrated his life to elevate the
condition of workingmen. The capital, she said, was gradually being
transferred to the workmen, who already owned more than half a million
dollars worth of stock; and the success, so far, was most encouraging.
She then described enthusiastically the great _Familistère_, or
residence establishment, begun by Godin about 1859--the large
quadrangular buildings with courts covered in with glass, the
coöperative shops and schools, the arrangements even for coöperative
char-women, till it seemed as if she were quoting from some dreamer's
Utopian fable. Mr. Archer took a mischievous delight in drawing her out
on the subject, as Mr. Pomeroy subsided into silent endurance till, at
length, to the host's evident relief, the ladies rose to leave the
table, when he quickly switched the conversation off on a political
track.



CHAPTER XIII.

PIPPA PASSES.


When the ladies adjourned to the drawing-room, which was so littered
with costly knick-knacks that, as Nora afterwards averred, "it looked
like a bazaar," that young lady gravitated by a natural attraction to
Miss Harley's side, eager to ask her more questions about matters which
had begun to interest her deeply. From Flanders, their talk soon drifted
onwards to Germany and Italy. Nora, strange to say, had never yet been
abroad, and cherished a most fresh and unsophisticated interest about
those far countries which she had as yet seen only in books, pictures
and dreams. Then they went on to talk of art; and, as a book of
illustrations of Italian art lay conveniently at hand, they looked over
a number of the engravings of old pictures together. They were lingering
over the tragic face of Beatrice Cenci, with the mystic sorrow-laden
eyes, which so attract and haunt the beholder; and Miss Harley was
giving Nora an outline of her story, as you hear it in Rome, when the
door opened, and Mr. Chillingworth entered, speedily finding his way to
Miss Blanchard's side.

"I got tired of the politics in there," he said, smiling slightly, "so I
thought I would set a good example. Ah! you're looking at the Cenci.
What a tragedy lies sealed up in those dark eyes! What a type of the
thousand tragedies that lie sealed up in many a ruin of those terrible
old days!"

"And do you think we have no tragedies about us now?" asked Miss Harley,
looking up at the tall figure above her.

"Oh yes, undoubtedly! But not so many, or so grim, I hope! And then, you
know, we don't see present things quite so effectively, or in such good
perspective as we do the past! We need a little distance, you see, in
order to take things in as a whole."

"I suppose you are right, artistically speaking," replied Miss Harley,
doubtfully. "But for myself, I must say, the sorrows of the real people
about me always interest me more than the most romantic stories of the
past."

"Now, don't try to persuade me that you are quite such a realist, Miss
Harley, when you have shown what an idealist you are on social topics.
What a noble man that father of yours must have been! I should like to
know more of him. But come, Miss Blanchard, I see you are trying to make
up your mind whether you're on Miss Harley's side or mine, and I don't
want you to give judgment against me! Suppose you give us a little
music, you and Miss Farrell. Can't we have a few airs from the
_Messiah_, now? It would be such a good finish to the week's work--just
what I need to put me in tune for to-morrow's duty!"

Nora colored a little at his thought-reading, but at once rose to comply
with the request, which Miss Harley warmly endorsed. She had heard of
Miss Blanchard's singing, and would be charmed to hear it for herself.
There was a parlor-organ in a corner of the large room, in addition to
the piano, and as they all agreed that this accompaniment would be much
the more suitable for the music, Mr. Chillingworth gave his services as
accompanist, playing with great taste and feeling. Nora sang the air,
"He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd," and the other "He Was
Despised and Rejected," with clear sweetness and pathetic expression,
while a subdued stillness gradually stole over the little group of
talkers at the other end of the room. Then, to check the little buzz of
admiring comment, she insisted on Kitty's following at once with the
air, "Come Unto Him All Ye That Are Weary and Heavy Laden:" Mr.
Chillingworth took his turn in rendering, "Every Valley Shall Be
Exalted," playing the beautiful undulating accompaniment for himself.
Miss Pomeroy wanted to hear some of the choruses they had been
practising, and they were just trying the angel's song, "Peace on Earth
and Good Will to Men," when the other gentlemen entered the room.

The old gentleman, whose appearance and words had interested Nora a good
deal, did not appear with the others, and she presently asked Mr.
Archer, who came up to join her at the piano, what had become of him,
and who and what he was.

"Oh, Dunlop always likes to slip away early," he said. "He's a queer old
party! He's made a good deal of money in one way or other, so he's
considered worth cultivating, and he knows it. He lives very quietly,
they say; he's been a widower for years. He goes across the sea now and
then, but always comes back 'to look after things.' He's got some ideas
of his own, too, and he seems to take a great interest in this new paper
of Graeme's--that 'crank' they were talking about. Now, I hope, since I
have so amiably gratified your curiosity, you will gratify me by a song.
I could catch distant echoes, tantalizingly remote, and now I want to
hear the reality."

But Nora would sing only in the chorus they were just about to begin.
She would not sing songs after the oratorio music.

When the chorus was over, Mrs. Pomeroy suggested that Mr. Chillingworth
should give them a short poetical reading before the party broke up. "I
know," she said, "that you'll give us something very nice, to dream on.
Suppose you give us something from Browning. I just love to hear you
read him! Clara, dear, won't you bring Mr. Chillingworth a volume of
Browning?"

Miss Pomeroy, who belonged to a "Browning Club," speedily produced a
volume which she knew contained a favorite reading of Mr.
Chillingworth's. That gentleman seated himself where the soft light of a
silver reading-lamp could fall most pleasantly on the book, while the
rest of the company disposed themselves in various attitudes of
luxurious repose, as people are apt to do after a sumptuous repast.
Young Pomeroy threw himself on a sofa beside Kitty, where he could make
whispered comments _ad libitum_. Nora found a place near Miss Harley,
while Mr. Wharton lay back in an easy-chair with an expression of
complaisant and critical expectancy.

It was the beautiful opening of the poem "Pippa Passes," that Mr.
Chillingworth read, in a voice of musical quality and with a finished
elocution, for he had paid special attention to that art. Perhaps it
might have been objected that the reading suggested too much of the
artist, and too little of the man. But Nora listened with keen and
absorbed pleasure, as, through the music of the poet's lines and the
reader's voice, one scene after another rose before her "inward eye."
The glorious Italian morning just breaking over a sleeping country; the
sunrise reddening, flickering, then "pure gold overflowing the world";
the little mill girl springing up, eager to lose not one minute of the
long, lovely day, appealing to it, with its "long, blue solemn hours,
serenely flowing" to "treat her well," and not spoil her one precious
holiday by such gloom or showers as would not mar the pleasure of people
richer in holidays and joys--the haughty beauty, the happy bride and
groom, the boy and his mother, or Monsignore, in his dead brother's
palace, the grandees of her little world:

    "But Pippa--just one such mischance would spoil
    Her day that lightens the next twelve months' toil
    At wearisome silk-winding, coil on coil!"

Nora's thoughts went back with a bound to poor Lizzie Mason, her sad,
tired face and shabby dress, and wondered if such thoughts and fancies
ever flitted vaguely through her brain on a holiday. But the little girl
is dreaming now of what or whom she shall please to be to-day:

    "To-morrow I must be Pippa who winds silk,
    The whole year round, to earn just bread and milk:
    But, this one day, I have leave to go,
    And to play out my fancy's fullest games."

Ah, poor Lizzie! far too heavily weighed down by serious and pressing
cares, to have any wish to "play out fancy's games!" She glanced at Mrs.
Pomeroy, who sat with clasped hands and attitude all attent, and at Miss
Pomeroy, reclining with her cheek resting on her hand and an unusually
softened expression in the lines of the somewhat hard face. She wondered
if it occurred to them, how many _real_ dramas might be going on about
them, as worthy of their sympathy as this one, idealized by the power of
the poet. She began to think how it would be, if she were, there and
then, to go to Mr. Pomeroy with a petition to restore to his toiling
maidens their full measure of wages. Strange that people should feel so
much more for a girl in a book, than for the real flesh-and-blood ones,
in daily life! But Mr. Pomeroy had apparently gone to sleep, and his son
was whispering to Kitty, instead of listening. Ah, what was that? Was
not this Kitty--to the life!

                      "For are not such
    Used to be tended, flower-like, every feature,
    As if one's breath would fray the lily of a creature?
    A soft and easy life these ladies lead:
    Whiteness in us were wonderful indeed."

Was that how their protected happy life looked to those who saw them _de
bas en haut_? Was it any wonder that girls like Nelly were pert and
discontented? With such thoughts drifting through her mind, she
listened, swayed by the magic power of poetry over the souls that are
open to its charm, to Pippa's pathetic yearning for the love which,
after all, is the blessing of blessings--the warm, cherishing love of
the brooding bird, the love of the mother for the child, ending in the
cry,

                            "If I only knew
    What was my mother's face--my father's, too!"

But what are these lines that follow? Nora listens with caught breath to
the passage which closes the reading, given in Mr. Chillingworth's most
impressive manner.

    "Nay, if you come to that, best love of all
    Is God's; then why not have God's love befall
    Myself as, in the palace by the Dome,
    Monsignor?--who to-night will bless the home
    Of his dead brother; and God bless in turn
    That heart which beats, those eyes which mildly burn
    With love for all men! I, to-night at least,
    Would be that holy and beloved priest.

    "Now wait!--even I already seem to share
    In God's love; what does New-year's hymn declare?
    What other meaning do these verses bear?

    "All service ranks the same with God:
    If now, as formerly he trod
    Paradise, his presence fills
    Our earth, each only as God wills
    Can work--God's puppets, best and worst,
    Are we; there is no last nor first.

    "Say not 'a small event.' Why 'small'?
    Costs it more pain that this, ye call
    A 'great event,' should come to pass,
    Than that? Untwine me from the mass
    Of deeds which make up life, one deed
    Power shall fall short in or exceed!"

And so poor Pippa passes on, consoled for the wearisome silk-winding,
the scant food, scant raiment, scant human love.

                                    "Oh yes--
    I will pass each, and see their happiness,
    And envy none--being just as great, no doubt,
    _Useful to men, and dear to God, as they!_"

Yes, that was the best thing after all. Surely poor self-denying Lizzie
had this best blessing of loving service. Nora scarcely heard the
finishing lines of the passage, so engrossed was she with that thought.
Mr. Chillingworth closed the volume, and a chorus of thanks and
admiration followed.

It was Nora's first introduction to Pippa. She was familiar with most of
the poets of the century--Tennyson, Whittier, Wordsworth, Longfellow;
but with Browning she had scarcely got beyond the outer husk which
repels so many, and really knew only one or two of his minor Lyrics. But
the new, strenuous, heart-searching note took her captive. And often as
she afterwards read the poem, she never did so without seeming to see
the pathetic picture of Lizzie Mason, side by side with the little
dreaming Italian silk-winder.

After the guests took leave, Kitty asked her if she would not come to
church with her on the following evening, to hear Mr. Chillingworth
preach, as she was occasionally in the habit of doing--Mr. Alden's
church being the one her brother regularly attended. Nora willingly
promised, and a little meaning smile passed between Kitty and her
_fiancé_, as well-informed people now considered Harold Pomeroy to be.



CHAPTER XIV.

A REPORTER AT CHURCH.


The Blanchards were an old Puritan family, and Dr. Blanchard, who
inherited a good deal of the Puritan steadiness of temperament, held
staunchly by the old ways, notwithstanding the fact of his having
married an Episcopalian wife. Mrs. Blanchard's family were parishioners
of Mr. Chillingworth, she herself having married shortly after he had
entered on his present charge, and he had always been treated as a
friend and welcome guest. But Mr. Alden had been Dr. Blanchard's
minister since he had first come to Minton. He had owed much, as a young
physician, to Mr. Alden's kind brotherly counsels and warm Christian
influence; and his preaching just suited men like the doctor, to whom
plain, downright, unpretentious, practical teaching was most acceptable.

Nobody ever heard Mr. Alden dealing with any abstract "plans" or
"systems," or with purely commercial considerations of future "rewards
and punishments"; or with a so-called "salvation," uncomprehended as to
its real nature, to be procured by a certain vague assent to an equally
uncomprehended formula. He gave his people, not scholastic theology, but
_religion_, as he found it in the Bible, warm, concrete, throbbing with
the human heart. He showed them the Infinite as he saw Him in every page
of his Bible, but especially in the Man of Nazareth; not as the cold,
stern Law-giver, ready to make His creatures suffer for even
intellectual shortcomings and mistakes, but as the infinitely
loving--infinitely righteous Father, seeking to raise all His children
to their highest possibilities; while, at the same time, he laid down
the irreversible laws of spiritual and moral life and health, with the
faithful candor of a true physician. And he was perpetually seeking,
first to call out in the hearts of his people a grateful and loving
response to that Infinite Love, so divine yet so human; and, next, to
show how the truth of that response lay in real turning from sin, a
willing and faithful obedience to the voice of God in duty, in every
relation of life, and that duty nothing less than that of "loving our
neighbor as ourselves." No one ever left his church without feeling more
strongly impressed with some point of his duty to his brother
man--without having had another lesson in the truth that "love is the
fulfilling of the law." Some critics, especially clerical ones, who
missed a certain familiar terminology, and a well-worn conventional way
of putting things, shook their heads over what seemed to them
"superficial" and "latitudinarian," but Mr. Alden only smiled quietly to
himself. He knew that he was not superficial; that what he taught people
went to the very root of the matter; that, if he sought to be "broad as
God's love," he sought also to show, in its divine distinctness, the
sharp line of demarcation between good and evil, love and selfishness.
And he knew that, in the real and quickened life of many, his ministry
was not without its fruit.

But Roland Graeme, with the best will in the world, could not find much
material for a striking "report," as he sat next morning, note-book in
hand, anxious to do Mr. Alden some justice in the _Minerva_. There were
no high imaginative flights, like those in which Mr. Chillingworth
indulged; though now and then there would be a burst of real eloquence,
struck out of the tense emotion of a tender heart, yet almost impossible
to summarize in a sentence. All Roland could do was to give the outline
of the clear, practical teaching addressed to the heart and conscience,
the appeals to do battle with the demon of selfishness, the close
analysis of the base substratum of so many current usages and maxims,
and the condemnation of them by a simple comparison of them with the
teachings and example of Christ.

Miss Blanchard's quick eye soon noticed the young man, though he sat at
some distance on the opposite side of the church. She recognized, at
once, the slightly upward poise of the head, the clear candid eyes, the
earnest, kindling look, as the preacher warmed to his subject. She
observed, also, his pencil and note-book, and wondered if he were taking
notes for his own benefit. For no one ever thought of "reporters" in Mr.
Alden's church. Once Roland's eye caught the graceful figure and
_spirituelle_ face that he had by no means forgotten, and saw by its
expression, that he too was recognized. Nora fancied that his glance
wandered frequently, from the preacher to the sweet childlike face of
Grace Alden, sitting with a troop of little ones in the minister's pew
near the pulpit. She did not wonder at it, for she, herself, loved to
look at Gracie, of whom she had grown very fond. There was in her fair
face, such a heavenly purity, combined with a sunny brightness, of which
the golden wavy hair seemed the natural outward expression, that she
attracted Nora's eyes as if by a magnetic influence. And Nora knew, too,
that the outward beauty was only a symbol of the genuine goodness and
sweetness of a nature of rare gentleness and purity. Kitty was as fair
in all external points--more exquisite and finished indeed; but her face
could never "hold" Nora as did that of this child of sixteen.

As Miss Blanchard passed out, Grace pressed up to her as she usually
did, for the affectionate greeting they always exchanged.

"Father wants you to come, to-morrow evening, to a private meeting of
the 'Helping Hands,'" she said. "He's going to make arrangements for a
Christmas festival. He wants you on the programme for a song or two, and
you are to come to tea, of course, he says."

"You can depend on my coming, then," was Nora's ready reply. Few people
lingered when Mr. Alden said "Come!"

That afternoon, Nora prepared for a visit to Lizzie Mason, with a little
nervous trepidation. She had been accustomed from childhood to visiting
among her poor friends in Rockland, and loved to do it. But, much as she
was interested in Lizzie, she felt shy about going in among a set of
strange faces, and into such a home as she could but dimly picture, with
the formidable figure of "Jim" in it, too, as a subject for her
exhortations. However, the thing must be done, and she braced herself to
do it, accordingly.

It was not so hard, after all as she found when she reached the poor
street, with the dingy unattractive houses, and stopped at the door to
which Roland Graeme had guided her. Lizzie was on the lookout for her,
and showed her into a little family sitting-room, where everything was
poor and shabby enough, but yet clean and tidy. No one was there but
"Jim," a rather good-looking young fellow, with a somewhat sullen brow
and weak mouth and chin, who sat reading a newspaper, quite unconscious
of the various little wiles whereby Lizzie had managed to detain him
indoors till her expected visitor should arrive. He rose and saluted
Miss Blanchard awkwardly, with evident surprise at her appearance, and
then retreated into the background, where he could look at her at
leisure without being observed. The children were out at Sunday-school,
Lizzie explained, "and mother had gone in to see a neighbor." She
herself looked rather better and much brighter than she had done the day
before.

"After you were gone, yesterday afternoon," she said, "the nurse came
in, and thought I wanted a tonic, so she went and got me one from the
dispensary, and I declare I feel quite set up by it already; and she
talked a good deal to us, too. My! it was just beautiful! it brightened
me up ever so much to see her and you!"

Of course, thought Nora, the poor girl needed a tonic; she wondered she
had not thought of it. Certainly Janie Spencer _was_ cut out for a
nurse. But it was not the tonic alone which had done Lizzie good; the
kind sympathy and cheering talk had been quite as effectual.

Nora tried to draw "Jim" out a little, but it was hard work. He replied
by monosyllables, chiefly negatives. He didn't care for reading; he
didn't go to church, he didn't think it would do him any good if he did.
As for approaching the special subject of Lizzie's dread, it would, of
course, have been impossible without something to lead up to it. Nora
was rather relieved when the door opened, and Nelly stepped in, very
much "got up" for a Sunday walk, and looking prettier and more pert than
ever. She was really a good deal taken aback at seeing Miss Blanchard
seated there, but she nodded familiarly, and answered in a tone meant to
assert the dignity and independence of one who felt herself "as good as
anybody."

Nora did her best to try to get at the girl's real self--talked to her
patiently and gently, overlooking the pertness that offended her
fastidious sense of the fitness of things. At last she asked her if she
ever went to church with her friend Lizzie.

"No," said Nelly, "I guess I've got enough of big stuffy rooms full of
people, all the week! I want some gayer kind of a picnic than that!"

Jim laughed, and even Lizzie smiled a little. They evidently thought
this a clever speech of Nelly's. Nora made no reply, indeed she was at a
loss what to say; and presently Nelly rose, remarking that she must go
on for her walk, as the afternoon was nearly over. Jim, of course,
accompanied her. Nora could not help thinking of the tender-hearted,
dreamy Pippa of the poem; and wondered what could be done with such a
hard and frivolous specimen as this. Yet, had she only known it, her
grace and gentleness and culture had had their effect on this girl,
under all her _insouciance_; had set her vaguely longing for something
that as yet she only dimly felt, something better and nobler than
anything she yet knew. We are not, as a rule, ready to show outwardly
when our self-satisfaction has been upset, and more than half of the
elevating influences of life arise out of mere contact of the higher
with the lower; far more out of what we _are_, than out of what we say.

Nora remained a little longer with Lizzie, gently trying to raise her
mind to the ideal that had so cheered herself in thinking about the poor
overweighted life. The girl did, evidently, lay hold of it to some
extent. She had that in her already, which prepared her for it, even if
she could not yet comprehend the words in which the poet had put the
truth, that:

    "All service ranks the same with God."

But the anxious, loving little heart could at least grasp and hold
something of the "best love of all."

After waiting to see and greet the mother--a tired-looking woman,
prematurely broken down by ceaseless toil, Nora bade Lizzie good-by,
putting into her hand Ruskin's touching little "Story of Ida," of which
she herself was very fond, and which she thought Lizzie might be able to
appreciate. Later, she was thankful that she had followed the impulse to
do it--one of those instincts that are quicker and often truer than
reason.

Mr. Chillingworth's evening sermon was the one on which he was wont to
"lay himself out." Strangers often came to hear it, and it was
frequently reported. Roland Graeme was there as usual, as reporter; and
Miss Blanchard again, from her seat in the gallery, caught a glimpse of
the young man scribbling away in his note-book. It was odd, she thought,
how often he had seemed to cross her path since their accidental
meeting. The sermon was one of Mr. Chillingworth's most eloquent ones,
full of grand ideals, with no lack of fine and forcible expressions;
here and there, Roland thought, somewhat too rhetorical for a thoroughly
cultivated taste. There were touches in which Nora could recognize
traces of the Browning reading, the evening before, for Mr.
Chillingworth could hardly refrain from bringing into his sermons
anything which had strongly impressed him. But, however fine Mr.
Chillingworth's ideals might be, there was always a gap between these
and the realities of common life, which he seemed unable to fill up.
Their uplifting influence did not, in general, last longer than the
concluding words, except in the case of the few who could supply what he
failed to give them. In that of most of his audience, there was a period
of transient exaltation, followed by a collapse of the artificial wings,
and a sudden descent to the commonplace flats of average life and
feeling. Neither did his hearers, in general, connect these ideals with
the humble details of daily life; especially as his presentation of good
and evil was often drawn with such melodramatic intensity of light and
shade, that his hearers failed utterly to connect either with
themselves. It never occurred to Mr. Pomeroy, for instance, that the
"self-surrender" so glowingly advocated implied that he should devote
time, thought and sacrifice to the interests of his work-people. To Mrs.
Pomeroy the idea meant only increased devotion and generosity to her
favorite "missionary enterprise." It never occurred to her that it might
mean, also, a loving, motherly interest in the many comparatively
friendless girls, whose toil was helping to gather in for her the wealth
she had to bestow, but for which _she_ "neither toiled nor spun." As for
young Pomeroy, he never once even thought of any reason why he should
ever put himself out for anybody. Miss Pomeroy was perhaps beginning to
think a little, though she was naturally neither responsive nor
expansive; but it was not Mr. Chillingworth who had made her begin.

_As_ the seat occupied by the Pomeroy family was not far from that
occupied by the Farrells, Harold Pomeroy joined Nora and Kitty _as_ they
moved out. When they reached the foot of the stair, they encountered, in
the full light of the vestibule, Roland Graeme, coming from the opposite
side. Not being of the order of girls who can carelessly pass, without
sign of recognition, a person with whom they have conversed, because
they may not have been formally introduced, or because he or she may not
be in "their set," Nora was glad of the opportunity of giving him a
courteous salutation, and a pleasant "Good-evening," which was as
courteously returned.

"Why, how on earth did you come to know that fellow?" exclaimed young
Pomeroy in surprise, after Roland had passed on.

"Why should there be anything surprising in it?" returned Nora, rather
stiffly. She cordially detested Mr. Pomeroy's "airs."

"Only I shouldn't have supposed you were likely to have met Graeme," he
said, in a somewhat apologetic tone.

"Is that Roland Graeme!" she exclaimed, too much surprised to think of
anything else for a moment. Kitty laughed heartily.

"So Nora, you didn't even know who it was that you were bowing to? That
_is_ funny!"

"No, I didn't know his name, certainly, but I know _him_. That was the
young man who escorted me to see the sick woman I went to help that
evening, don't you remember? I had a good deal of talk with him on the
way, and I liked him very much. So that is the Roland Graeme they were
talking about last night. Well, I don't think he's a 'crank' in the
least."

"Oh, even a crank can be sensible sometimes, you know," said young
Pomeroy. "But I hope he isn't going to make a disciple of you."

"I shall certainly read _The Brotherhood_ now," replied Nora,
maliciously. "I believe there's a copy in my brother's surgery."

"And I certainly shall _not_" returned the young man, as he and Kitty
bade her good-night at Dr. Blanchard's door.



CHAPTER XV.

HELPING HANDS.


When Miss Blanchard reached Mr. Alden's house the next evening, she met
with the usual warm welcome from the whole family,--Grace as usual
constituting herself her special attendant, and claiming a song from her
friend before tea.

"For we shan't have any time, you know, after, on account of the
meeting," she said, coaxingly.

But just as they were looking over the music, and deciding what song it
should be, the door opened to admit Mr. Alden's cheery presence. And
with him came in, to Nora's amused surprise, Mr. Roland Graeme.

"I met Mr. Graeme down town," Mr. Alden explained, "and we got so
interested in the things we were talking about, that he walked nearly
all the way up with me before we knew it, so I wouldn't let him go back.
I told him he must come in and have tea with us, as I want him to come
to our meeting. So now, my dear Miss Blanchard, please go on. I'm glad I
came just in time. You know my favorites--give me one of them, please."

And he threw himself back in his easy chair, his face lighted up with
its most genial smile. Miss Blanchard thought for a minute or two; then,
with a significant smile, both at him and at Roland Graeme, she took a
well-worn song that lay at hand, and sang with great spirit, "A Man's a
Man for a' That." Mr. Alden listened with evident delight, his deep bass
occasionally breaking into the chorus, till, when the last verse was
reached, he turned to Roland:

"Come Mr. Graeme, I know you can join in that song. Gracie, let us all
give that last verse in a ringing chorus." And they did--the four voices
blending in very pleasant unison in the words:

    "For a' that and a' that;
    It's coming, yet, for a' that;
    That man to man, the warld o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that!"

"Now, Miss Blanchard, I presume you gave us that as a delicate
compliment to my likings and to my young friend's new venture--_The
Brotherhood_!" Nora smiled and bowed. "But of course that song doesn't
do your singing justice, for any tyro like me can sing it, in a way, if
he only has the heart. Now, I want you to give us my favorite love-song,
"Robin Adair," my mother's old-time lullaby. _That_ does bring out her
voice," he added, turning to Roland.

"It's a song I'm very fond of," Roland replied.

Nora sang the old, tender, Scotch love-song with a simple pathos that
suited it as well as did her fine contralto. Roland, who like most
emotional people, was exceedingly sensitive to the power of music, felt
it float through his whole being--soothing the nervous system which had
been on the strain all day, and taking him, for a moment, into that
world of romance among whose bowery walks it is so pleasant, for even
the most practical-minded, occasionally to wander. But the dream of
romance was abruptly ended by the summons to tea. And Nora could not
help noticing, all through that meal, how Roland's eyes followed every
motion of Grace Alden with a quite unconscious devotion. It recalled to
her Tennyson's line:

    "And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung."

But Grace, she was sure, would never be the "shallow-hearted cousin Amy"
in any event. Was she too much of a child, still, to be touched by this
unspoken, though evident admiration on the part of a young man so
attractive as Roland Graeme? Nora could not, at any rate, detect, in the
frank ingenuous face, any trace of consciousness. And the father and
mother seemed equally unconscious; which was scarcely to be wondered at,
for they regarded Grace, at sixteen, as only a child still. Fathers and
mothers are often the last to see that the nestlings are fledged.

Nora, as most people will have discerned, was a rather romantic young
woman, and it did not take many minutes for this little possible romance
to flash through her brain. Roland sat near her at tea, and his first
remark was, naturally, an interested inquiry for the poor invalid to
whom he had guided her.

"And how is the little girl getting on?" asked Mr. Alden, when Nora had
given her report of the mother.

"Oh, she seems tolerably contented, now," was the reply. "But she is a
strange child--rather; very variable in her moods, though very
concentrated and self-contained. Under all her quietness, she seems
nervous and excitable, with a passionate and self-willed nature--I can
see very well--though her very shyness seems to keep it down."

"I have no doubt her mother must have a history," said Mr. Alden,
thoughtfully. "I wish we could know what it is."

"Cecilia has a wonderfully good ear," Nora went on, "and a perfect
passion for music. I shouldn't wonder if she were to turn out a
_prima-donna_ yet."

"And so you have taken charge of the child, yourself," said Roland, his
eye lighting up with ready sympathy. "That was truly kind!"

The words were said with so much feeling, that Nora felt slightly
embarrassed, but turned the matter off by declaring that,
notwithstanding her peculiarities, she was a very interesting child, and
they were all growing quite fond of her. She would be sorry when her
mother could claim her again.

"Gracie must go and bring her here, some day soon. It would do her good
to be with these noisy youngsters for a while," said Mr. Alden.

"She's a remarkably refined child," said Nora. "Her mother must have
kept her very much to herself."

"Well, we mustn't lose sight of her. There's no knowing what may be made
of her yet." And then Mr. Alden turned to Roland, and they resumed the
discussion they had begun before. It was on some rather abstruse
questions as to the relations of capital and labor; but Nora--with her
intelligence on such matters quickened by the argument she had so
recently heard--listened with attention enough to grasp, at least, the
general position involved. Mr. Alden had taken a great interest in the
enthusiastic and generous young reformer, and was genuinely anxious to
keep him, if he could, from rushing into extreme or ill-considered
views, however plausible they might at first sight appear. And though he
had not the advantage of Roland's special reading on these subjects, his
sound, common-sense experience and insight into human nature gave him a
quick perception of the fallacy of any extreme position, such as Roland,
in his inexperienced enthusiasm, was often too ready to embrace.

"The 'Knights' want me to give them a lecture by and by. I'm thinking of
taking up the subject of 'Modern Miracles,'" said Roland, with a smile.

"Meaning, I suppose, the wonders science is perpetually astonishing us
with?"

"Yes, especially as an agency at work in consolidating the human race
into one organism; having common interests and common dangers, so that a
famine in one quarter of the globe means scarcity in another. I don't
want to take up the labor question directly, just now; I should get the
name of an 'incendiary' or an 'agitator' at once, and I don't want to
make the men any more discontented than they are. It's the employers we
want to get at. But such a subject as the 'Miracles of Science' would
afford plenty of opportunity for pointing out the benefits of
coöperation, as being necessary for guiding these tremendous new forces
for the good, not the ill, of humanity."

"Will any one besides 'Knights of Labor' be allowed to go?" asked Nora.

Mr. Alden looked at her with one of his broad, genial smiles. "Are _you_
taking an interest in such matters, then?" he asked.

"I have been, lately," Nora said. "The subject seems to be 'in the air.'
Everything I've heard or read lately seems to bring it up. And I know so
little about it, really, that I want to learn."

"--The best possible frame of mind for getting wisdom," replied Mr.
Alden. "I wish my people would only come to church in it! Well, I hope
Mr. Graeme is not going to shut the public out; and then you and I can
go together to hear him."

Roland's face had again lighted up with pleasure. "I believe it's to be
an open meeting," he said. "Of course there's no reason for excluding
the public, and I think they want to make a little by it. I'll ask
'Brother' Dunning, and let you know."

"You all call each other 'Brother,' in the order, do you?" asked Mr.
Alden.

"Yes, 'Brother' or 'Sister,' as the case may be," he replied smiling.
"It seems to be quite a matter of course, when you get used to it."

"Mr. Graeme," said Nora, as they walked together to the place of
meeting, "would you mind telling me just why you became a 'Knight of
Labor'?"

"Not in the least," he said. "It is very simple. I felt, as I think no
entirely unprejudiced person can help feeling nowadays, that our
working-classes do not get fair play in the great struggle going on
about us; that here the 'battle' is emphatically 'to the strong,' and
that the weaker are being, perforce, driven to the wall,--crushed
beneath the great iron wheels of Progress, Capital, Combination, and
Protection. And I always had an instinctive sympathy with the 'under dog
in the fight.' Ever since, as a boy, I read Spenser's 'Faërie Queen,' it
seemed to me the noblest task a man could devote himself to,--the
fighting the battles of the weak against selfish tyrants,

    'To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,'

or whatever corresponds to that in our prosaic age."

"Yes," said Nora, warmly, "but why, for that end, did you need to become
a 'Knight' of that description?"

"For two reasons," he replied. "First, because the only way to
thoroughly understand their position seemed to me to become one of them,
as it were; to comprehend their feelings, aspirations, aims. And,
secondly, because I think they need, above all things, some intelligent
help and guidance from within. They are so apt to grow wrong-headed and
unjust, simply from the perpetual pressure of the hardships of their
position. Although I can honestly say, too, that I have often been
deeply impressed by the patience and moderation that they show in very
trying circumstances. I seldom attend one of their mass-meetings without
feeling deeply touched by the vague, wistful sense of the possibilities
toward which they are groping, burdened with a sense of tremendous
difficulties in the way, and of their own inability to cope with them.
And I often wish I could only inspire a whole army of intelligent,
energetic, educated young men to take up their cross and help them to
win the day. It would be the salvation, it seems to me, not only of this
country, but, in a great measure, of the human race!"

Roland spoke with all the warmth of his intensely altruistic nature, and
his voice thrilled with irrepressible feeling. Nora felt her own pulse
quicken with the contagion of his enthusiasm. Mr. Alden, who overheard
the last words, turned back to add:--

"Yes, Graeme, I believe it will be all that; _if_ only you can, at the
same time, raise this great mass of toiling humanity in the moral and
spiritual scale, as well as in the material and intellectual one.
However, do all you can for both!"

They had, by this time, arrived at the place where the "Helping Hands
Society" usually held its meetings. The place had a history of its own.
It had originally been a much frequented saloon, which had stood like a
dragon in the way of Mr. Alden's mission work, in a very unpromising
portion of his field of labor. It was the place, also, where many days'
wages were sunk in ruinous indulgence, instead of being spent in
comforts for hungry families. There men lured each other to destructive
excesses that besotted them till there was apparently nothing of their
better nature left to which to appeal. Mr. Alden conceived the idea of
out-flanking the dragon, and carried out his design, with the aid of a
few generous members of his congregation. At a time when the place was
about to change hands, through the necessities of an owner, ruined by
his own merchandise, the building was secured for a comparatively low
price, and forthwith turned into a mission-centre of a peculiar kind.
Mr. Alden had too much shrewdness to turn the old "Good-fellows' Hall"
into anything like a church or mission-hall--the idea of some of his
zealous helpers. He knew that this would only frighten away the old
_habitués_, and that a successor to the extinct saloon would speedily
spring up. So the "Good-fellows' Hall," it remained, with the same
external attractions as before, apparently changed in only one
respect--that coffee, lemonade, and other temperance beverages were the
only things sold there. A respectable temperance man was installed as
keeper, and conducted this part of it on his own responsibility. Men
might come there and smoke, talk, or read the papers. They were not even
prohibited from bringing their own ale with them, so long as they used
it in moderation. But, as a matter of fact, they hardly ever chose to do
so, feeling an unwritten law; and if they did bring it, the slightest
tendency to excess was sternly repressed. But in all else they were free
to do as they pleased. Care was, of course, taken that all the papers
and other reading matter on the table should be of the best and most
elevating character adapted to their taste and calibre. So most of the
old _habitués_ continued to frequent it; and if they grumbled at first,
at the loss of the wonted dram, they gradually forgot to miss it, and
met, and smoked, and told old yarns as readily as ever.

But behind this expurgated saloon--and divided from it by double
doors--were two large rooms devoted to very different purposes. One was
a reading-room, with shelves tolerably well filled with interesting
books, history, travels, tales, and modern books relating to various
industrial occupations. This room was furnished with comfortable chairs,
and any one might enter and read to his heart's content, provided he
would leave his pipe outside. The other was fitted with seats, and
served as a lecture-room or a preaching hall. Here a Sunday-school was
held weekly, and here Mr. Alden or some one of his helpers frequently
held simple, short services which were generally well attended by the
people of the neighborhood. Here it was, that the Christmas festival was
to be given by the "Helping Hands Society," and a small committee-room
adjoining was the place of the present meeting.

Its components were rather a heterogeneous group. There were two or
three young business men, a shop-keeper and his wife, two or three
mechanics and artisans who were "Knights" and acquaintances of Roland,
and several girls in different occupations, two of them teachers, and
almost all self-supporting. The festival was, of course, to be held for
the benefit of the poor people of the neighborhood, who were not
included in any other Christmas-keeping arrangements. Some of those
present were representative of the people to be entertained, and to
these Mr. Alden, as chairman, gave considerable heed in the preparation
of the programme; but all could, in some way, assist in carrying it out.
Finally it was arranged as follows:--

First, of course, there was to be a "Tree," laden with little gifts for
the children; after that, Christmas music, including a violin solo from
one of the young men; then a magic-lantern exhibition of Oriental views,
followed by one of Mr. Alden's common-sense "Talks"; and last, but not
least, a reading from Dickens' "Christmas Carol," by Roland Graeme.

The latter undertook to escort Miss Blanchard home, after the meeting
was over. As they walked together under the clear, cold, winter
starlight, Nora told the young man something of poor Lizzie Mason's
story, and her anxiety for the brother, about whom she had also spoken
to Mr. Alden.

"I'll look him up," said Roland, heartily, "and see if anything can be
done with him. As for the girls whose wages have been 'cut,' that matter
has been up before the 'Knights' and a deputation is to interview the
manager."

"Oh, do you think it will do any good?" she exclaimed.

"That I can't say," he replied. "We can only try."

"Do you know, Mr. Graeme, if I were a man, I think I should be a
'Knight' too!"

He laughed. "But you know our modern 'Knights' are not always _men_!" he
replied.



CHAPTER XVI.

A LUNCHEON-PARTY.


It need scarcely be said that, after this, Miss Blanchard always looked
out for _The Brotherhood_, and scanned its contents with much interest.
She was pleased--even a little surprised--by the temperate and moderate
tone in which it set forth existing wrongs and grievances, and appealed
to the sense of justice and humanity of those with whom it lay to remedy
them. She was not, of course, a very critical reader, and was happily
ignorant of the practical difficulties that lie in the way of great
reforms; and it seemed to her that such a cause, so advocated, must be
sure to win the day. In particular, trained as she had been to look upon
Christian practice as an essential part of Christianity, she could not
believe that any professing Christian could withhold sympathy from
pleadings which carried her own, as a matter of course. She had, from
her childhood, been given to wondering how it was, that the very poor
could bear the hardships of their lot as contentedly as they did; and
now that, from the statistics and details which Roland Graeme
industriously collected for his paper, she realized how much greater
these hardships were, for many, than she had ever before imagined, she
thought, in her simplicity, that every one who knew of them must desire
to do something to lighten them. Her imagination was fired, too, by the
idea, now presented to her for the first time, that hard, grinding
poverty need not always prevail on the scale on which it now exists;
that it is within the right and the duty of man to remove much of it.
Such a hope, she thought, might well inspire to a new Crusade, far more
truly Christian in its aims and methods than were those half-heathen
wars of old, which took that sacred name.

But, except from her brother, whose experiences as a medical man had
prepared him to agree with her on most of these questions, Nora found
that she could secure little sympathy, or even toleration, for such
"new-fangled notions." Most people would agree that, of course, there
were many hard cases, just as there was misery of all kinds in the
world, which could not be helped; but they would shake their heads
discouragingly over each proposed remedy, which "was sure" to involve
new evils greater than the disease, till she wondered if there must
always be "a lion in the way" of every undertaking for the good of
humanity.

She found she had not even Mr. Chillingworth on her side, when she
somewhat timidly ventured to express herself to him on the subject of
_The Brotherhood_, at a grand luncheon-party at Mrs. Farrell's, a few
days after the dinner at Mr. Pomeroy's. It was chiefly a "ladies'
luncheon," also given in honor of Miss Harley; but two or three
gentlemen were especially privileged, including Mr. Chillingworth and
Mr. Wharton, who were not supposed to be engaged at that early hour.

Mr. Chillingworth was a good deal surprised when he found that Miss
Blanchard actually claimed Mr. Graeme as an acquaintance; and,
furthermore, that she entered with so much sympathy into his views of
social questions. Somehow, Mr. Chillingworth did not find it easy to
reconcile his sense of her grace, refinement and culture, with a
"movement" that he vaguely associated with vulgar "strikes," violence,
and other democratic developments, from which his æsthetic sensitiveness
shrank with utter repugnance.

"Undoubtedly, my dear Miss Blanchard," he said, "there are many
directions in which reform is needed. The poverty about us is but one,
and reform cannot come by any sudden or artificial means; the only cure
for this, as for all evils, is the radical cure from within--the spirit
of Christ acting on individual hearts. Much of the poverty, also, arises
from the faults of the poor themselves. Many of them would be miserable
in any case. And, you know, even our divine Master said, 'The poor ye
have always with you.'"

"But He could never have meant that other people were to _keep_ them
poor," replied Nora, her cheek flushing. "And you know He told the young
man 'to sell all his goods and give to the poor.'"

"Ah, but that was only in one case! He wanted to try him,--test whether
he really loved his neighbor as himself, as he thought he did."

"And don't you think there are many people who need the same test, now?"
Nora could not help replying.

"Oh, certainly, certainly;" he replied, dreamily; "but it seems to me
you are forgetting to enjoy your luncheon. Let me help you to some of
this delicious cream."

Nora could see very well that the subject they had been discussing only
bored the clergyman, so she dropped it; listening, however, as well as
she could, through intervening droppings of talk, to a discussion that
Mr. Wharton and Miss Harley were carrying on, as to the differences of
aspect presented by the labor question in England and in America. And
she could not help wondering again and again, as she surveyed the
luncheon-table, profusely supplied with expensive delicacies, whether
that same Lord who had bidden the rich young man "sell all that he had
and give to the poor," might not have had something to say to people who
"had fared sumptuously every day," while Lazarus starved at their gates.
And then, with a fastidious sense of honor, she checked a thought that
seemed like ungenerous treachery to her hospitable entertainers.
Only,--if poor Lizzie Mason could have had a share of the superfluous
luxury, how good it would have been for _her_!

Mr. Chillingworth, too, both puzzled and disappointed her. His eloquent
altruistic appeals--his exaltation of the high Christian ideal--so
stirred her enthusiastic nature that she felt herself irresistibly drawn
toward the man who could so well express the idealism of Christianity.
But, out of the pulpit--when it came to the practical application of his
own principles--he often brought her up short in wonder at what she felt
to be the inconsistency of his remarks about the details of ordinary
life. There seemed to her a strange gap between the glowing enthusiasm
on the one side, and a chilling narrowness and lack of sympathy on the
other. Like an electrical influence under different conditions, he
sometimes attracted and sometimes repelled her. When she compared him
with Mr. Alden, she felt the great difference, though she could not
analyze it. Briefly put, however, the main differences were these: it
was not that Mr. Chillingworth was insincere; he was as sincere, in his
own way, as Mr. Alden. But to his conception, religion consisted mainly
in emotion--in a high-strung ideality, and in adoration of the supreme,
Infinite Love. To Mr. Alden on the other hand, religion, though winged
by emotion, must have its solid basis in obedience--_righteousness_--the
service of God manifesting itself in the service of _man_. To Mr.
Chillingworth--a natural egoist--a clergyman was primarily a "ruler" of
the flock, though its shepherd as well. To Mr. Alden, long sitting at
his Master's feet had taught the lesson that the minister must be--if
the leader--also the "servant of all." Mr. Chillingworth could
sympathize only with what harmonized with his own ideals and opinions.
Mr. Alden, though himself a man of strong convictions, could adopt the
heathen poet's declaration, that nothing that concerned humanity was
alien to him. In a word, Mr. Chillingworth was an ecclesiastic; Mr.
Alden was, or sought to be, in all things, a simple follower of Christ.
Which view was the more in accordance with the New Testament ideal, each
must decide for himself.

Nora was feeling these differences dimly in her own mind, with a vague
sense of pain and disappointment that she scarcely cared to admit, when
Mr. Chillingworth turned to her with his most persuasive air, saying
that he had a great favor to ask. "But I know your generosity," he
added, "so I don't think you will refuse!" Nora, smiling, waited to hear
what it was.

"One of the members of our quartette has been laid up with a severe
cold, and I fear it is out of the question that she can take her part at
our Christmas evening Service of Song. I don't very well see how we are
to replace her, unless--a certain kind friend of mine will come to my
help!"

His voice was soft and low, as he could make it when he chose, and his
eyes sought Miss Blanchard's with even more persuasive earnestness than
the occasion seemed to call for. She colored, turned her eyes away, and
replied, in a tone as low as his, that she was very sorry--but it was
impossible. She had promised to sing at Mr. Alden's "Helping Hands"
entertainment, on Christmas evening.

Mr. Chillingworth looked more annoyed than she had ever seen him look
before.

"I really think," He said, "that Mr. Alden might spare you to us for
that evening. It can't make much difference to those people what sort of
singing they have. They can't appreciate anything very good, so you will
be quite thrown away on them. And your voice is just what we want. I
think you might beg off, for our sake!"

"I have promised," replied Nora gently, and with real regret in her
tone.

"Ah, you hold to the good old Puritan rules, I see. Well, it does seem
too bad! We shall have to put up with some very inferior voice that
could have pleased that sort of audience just as well. Alden's very good
and zealous, I know, and I quite understand his desire to give people
like that some rational enjoyment, to keep them out of mischief; still,
I think he would do better to keep to old-established ways. And that
'Helping Hands Society' of his is a curious _omnium gatherum_ affair. I
am told he's got all sorts and conditions of people in it, Unitarians,
Socialists, Knights of Labor, Agnostics!"

"I don't think-it's quite so bad as _that_!" Nora exclaimed, in amaze.

"Well, I'm told that this agitator, this Roland Graeme, actually belongs
to it, and I believe he's a rank agnostic, if not an atheist."

"Oh, I am sure he can't be an atheist!" said Nora.

"An agnostic then, at any rate! Archer told me so. After all, there
isn't much to choose between them. The atheist will tell you there's no
God--the agnostic, that he doesn't know of one. Practically, there's no
difference."

Nora was a good deal shocked. To her, as to the large majority of
earnest, reverent Christians, the position of an "agnostic" implied
something very terrible--a wilful throwing away of truth and walking in
darkness. To think of the gentle, generous, enthusiastic Roland as such
a one, seemed to her impossible. Presently she said, rather timidly:

"Mr. Graeme seems to me to have a large share of the Christian spirit."

"Oh, no doubt--no doubt," said Mr Chillingworth, impatiently, "thanks to
his Christian education! 'Train up a child in the way he should go'--you
know. But there is no class so dangerous as these half Christian
agnostics, regular wolves in sheep's clothing! They go about, putting
people off their guard by plausible talk, and then ensnare them
unawares. I consider that young man's influence most dangerous to this
community I beg you to listen to him as little as possible!"

Nora had a tolerably quick sense of humor, and, notwithstanding the
shock it gave her to hear such things of Mr. Graeme, she could hardly
resist a smile at what seemed to her the curiously inappropriate epithet
of "a wolf in sheep's clothing," applied to the altruistic young
reformer. It occurred to her that the metaphor might, in his case, be
reversed--that "a sheep in wolf's clothing" would surely be more
appropriate.

"What are you two looking so serious about?" asked Kitty, teasingly, as
they all rose to adjourn into the drawing room. Then, as she linked her
arm into Nora's, and drew her away into a quiet corner, she added, "I've
been watching you both for some time, and I really thought Mr
Chillingworth must be proposing! He was talking in such a low voice, and
looking so irresistible. Only I suppose people don't usually propose at
luncheons."

"Kitty!" exclaimed Nora, with reproachful severity.

"Well, you know very well he likes you, one always does!" she added,
somewhat obscurely.

"I should be sorry to think he _dis_liked me," replied Nora. "But he was
only proposing--that I should sing in the quartette, at his Service of
Song on Christmas evening, in some one else's place."

"Which, of course, you promised to do, like a dear."

"Which I can't possibly do, as I have promised to be elsewhere."

"Oh, poor Mr. Chillingworth! No wonder he looked so sad and serious! Oh,
don't you know, I've always thought his eyes had a sort of melancholy
look, as if he had had some great sorrow in his life? Well, Miss Harley
says she is almost sure that she once heard him preach in England, and
that she heard some tragic story about him, she couldn't remember
exactly what, only she knew it was very sad!"

"Really!" exclaimed Nora, looking much interested.

"Yes, and do you know, I've always had an idea--a sort of instinct you
know--that he may be a widower. He has that sort of look, some way!"

"_What_ sort of look? I didn't know you could tell widowers by looking
at them."

"Well, I can't exactly describe it, but I know it when I see it. And you
know he might easily have been married in England, and _we_ shouldn't
know it. Lots of men have been--like _that_ you know--and they don't
think it necessary to talk about it."

Nora disliked the idea, she scarcely knew why, but set it down as one of
Kitty's fancies. There might be many kinds of tragedy in a man's life.
If Mr. Chillingworth had suffered, it seemed to give him a stronger
claim on her sympathy.

But Kitty wanted to know where she was going on Christmas evening.

"Oh, I've heard about that," she said, when Nora had told her. "Mr.
Waldberg told me about it. He says that Mr. Graeme--you know--was to
read at it; he lives in the same house with him, and they are great
friends. Hermann says he's the best fellow he ever knew."

Nora had no very high estimate of Waldberg's judgment; still, after Mr.
Chillingworth's condemnation, even this tribute was pleasant to hear.
But she caught up Kitty at once.

"I didn't know you had got on quite so far as to call Mr. Waldberg,
_Hermann_." she remarked.

"Well, you see the poor fellow is away from home and everybody belonging
to him, so he likes to have some one to call him by his old home name.
You know Germans have such nice romantic ideas!"

"Kitty, Kitty! You ought really to take care! You don't know what
mischief you may do!"

"Oh, he knows all about _that_!" she said, laughing and coloring, but
holding out her finger, on which flashed and sparkled a _solitaire_
diamond. "And look here," she added, holding out, for Nora's inspection,
a new acquisition, a ring set with sapphire and pearls. "Isn't this
lovely? It was a birthday gift from Harold this morning."

Nora looked "serious," as Kitty called it. She had been afraid about
Kitty of late, and still more afraid for young Waldberg. "Well, be sure
you know your own mind, and stick to it," she said, gravely. "Remember,
Kitty dear, it really isn't worth while to be a Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
even if you could; and flirting is a dangerous amusement!"

"Never fear," laughed Kitty, "I'm not going to hurt anybody, that I know
of. But do look at Mr. Wharton and Miss Harley--at it still! I declare
it looks as if there was going to be----"

"'An International Episode'!" suggested Nora, smiling.



CHAPTER XVII.

A CHRISTMAS ENTERTAINMENT.


The weather was growing colder and more wintry, as Christmas drew near.
The usual bustle of Christmas preparations had begun, and the shop
windows were gayer and more tempting than ever to people who had any
money to spend, as well as--alas!--to those who had none. Nora had not
forgotten Lizzie Mason and her needs, though the jacket was supplied in
an unexpected way. Mrs. Blanchard, easy-going as she was, was really
kind-hearted when her sympathy was awakened. So, when Nora told her the
sad little story, she dived into her limbo of slightly old-fashioned
wearing-apparel, and produced a jacket, which with a little remodelling
and a good deal of contraction, to which Nora's expert band was quite
equal, turned out just the thing Lizzie needed. It was gratefully
accepted, and Nora was gratified by seeing her at church in it on the
next Sunday evening, and, to her surprise, Nelly too. The interest Miss
Blanchard had already aroused in the girl's untrained mind had called
forth a vague curiosity to see the inside of the church she attended.

Grace Alden had come and carried off little Cecilia for a day, and the
latter had at once become her devoted worshipper. Her sunny face and
voice, as well as her beauty, seemed to attract the child like a magnet.
She shyly begged Grace to take her that day to see her mother, who
seemed as much captivated by her visitor as Cecilia had been. Grace sang
hymns to her, in her joyous, bird like voice, Cecilia now and then
joining in, till the invalid, turning her head away, buried her face in
the pillow and burst into tears.

"I suppose it reminded her too strongly of old times," said Janet
Spencer, as she told Nora about it. "She says, perhaps she will tell me
her story by and by, when she is stronger. I'm sure it's a sad one. But
I was glad when Grace asked her if she wouldn't like to see her father
again, and she said 'Yes!' for, when I wanted her to let me ask Mr
Chillingworth to come and see her, she wouldn't hear of it. The very
idea of seeing a clergyman seemed to upset her."

"But you think she is really gaining, don't you?" asked Nora.

"Oh yes! I think she will get round, though it will be a good while
before she is strong again. But I wish she could get on without the
brandy."

"Oh, do you think--" Nora asked, and she stopped.

"Yes, I am almost sure that that's been at the root of all her troubles.
I shouldn't wonder if it were a case of dipsomania. I've seen such a
case here, already. Some times she seems to have a nervous dread of
it--to shrink from taking it--and then again she will take it so
greedily that I have to be very careful not to leave it about, lest she
might help herself when I am not looking."

"Oh dear, how dreadful!" Nora exclaimed.

"Yes, it is dreadful! God help such poor creatures, for _man_ can do
little! Still, good care and nourishment will do something for her.
She's safe in here, for the present."

But the thought haunted Nora, and she watched little Cecilia more
closely than ever. Dr. Blanchard told her that this malady was
hereditary, and she found herself often wondering whether this child
could have been born to such a fatal inheritance. Meantime she was
teaching her at home, finding her a very apt pupil, and she also gave
her a short music lesson daily, and was much pleased with her progress.
There was no doubt as to _this_ inheritance, at any rate, and Nora could
only hope that, in the worst event, the higher passion might overpower
the lower.

Christmas-day came, as it always does, before people are quite ready for
it. Nora had planned several little Christmas surprises and pleasures
for the people in whom she was most interested--such as a new dress for
Lizzie Mason, to "go with" the jacket she did not need to buy. Then
there was a pretty and comfortable invalid's wrapper lying on Mrs.
Travers' bed, when she awoke from a tranquil sleep on Christmas morning,
ready to be put on as soon as the doctor should pronounce her able to
try sitting up. It was long since the poor woman had had anything pretty
to wear--longer still since she had had anything supplied by tender and
thoughtful care--and the tears that rose to her eyes at the sight, were
tears that seemed to refresh and moisten a parched life and a thirsting
heart.

There were appropriate little gifts, too, ready for Mrs. Alden and
Grace, as well as for the home-circle; and not least for the children,
who were jubilant over the usual Christmas offertory of toys,
picture-books and pictures, that were scattered about the nursery in the
confusion they delighted in. Cecilia, of course, had not been forgotten.
For her, Nora had provided a little accordion, on which she could play,
to her heart's content, all the tunes she had already picked up;
accompanying them with her voice whenever she thought herself unnoticed.
Instigated by Eddie's eager persuasions, the three children organized a
little "minstrel band," he and Daisy accompanying the accordion with
drum and bugle, and producing an amount of noise which vastly delighted
themselves, if not other people. As Nora, unseen, caught a glimpse of
them, marching along the passages, she thought Cecilia, with her
graceful poise of head and figure, and absorbed, serious eyes, would
make a picturesque study for a painter who wanted a model for a little
strolling musician. Every step and motion seemed to express the child's
strong artistic instinct and impulse. Nora had her own private
pleasures, too, besides the great one of contributing to the happiness
of other people. She had her own Christmas letters from Rockland, from
her father and Aunt Margaret, sympathizing with her interests and
pleasures, and rejoicing that so large a portion of the time of her
absence was now over. And, among her own gifts--each one expressive of
the love she prized for itself--there was a small box, most neatly put
up, and addressed in Mr. Chillingworth's characteristic handwriting,
which, on being opened, disclosed a charmingly arranged bouquet of
mingled roses and lilies. It brought the color to her cheek, and made
her feel almost remorseful for the disappointment she had been obliged
to give him, about his Christmas evening music. She had, however, taken
the edge off the disappointment, by volunteering to assist in the
morning music, when she and Kitty took their share in the Christmas
anthem assigned to the quartette. Roland Graeme was present in his
capacity of reporter, and his rendering of the sermon gratified Mr.
Chillingworth so much, when he saw it next day, that he ordered a number
of copies of the paper to send to his English friends. Waldberg was in
his place as organist, a post to which he had been recently appointed
through the influence of Mr. Chillingworth, who did not seem particular
about religious qualifications in the matter of musicians, at any rate.
Nora noticed that the young man was waiting at the door of the church,
to exchange a Christmas greeting with Kitty, who was unattended, her
_fiancé_ not having "put in an appearance," as he himself would have
expressed it And she saw, too, with some uneasiness, that as soon as
Kitty had disengaged herself from a lively group of saluting friends,
the two strolled off together in a leisurely, _insouciant_ fashion.
Roland Graeme, taking his solitary way homeward, noticed the same thing
with much the same feeling. And yet, he thought, in the dreamy poetic
vein into which he often relapsed, when not spurred on by his dominant
philanthropic impulse, if Kitty had only been some simple rustic
Phyllis, and Hermann a corresponding Corydon, what a charming bright
pair of Arcadian lovers they would have made to figure in a pretty
poetic idyl. What a pity, he thought, that we cannot always live in
Arcadia!

The lecture-room of the "Good-fellows' Hall" that evening was anything
but an Arcadian scene. The bare whitewashed walls, relieved only by the
ubiquitous portraits of Washington and Lincoln, Jefferson and Garfield,
the flaring gas-jets, the straight-backed rows of benches filled with
what Kitty would have relentlessly styled "very common-looking people,"
in the "common looking" finery which many of them affected, did not seem
a particularly inspiring assemblage. Nevertheless, Nora scanned the
benches eagerly, till she espied Lizzie and Nellie and Jim, and then the
gathering was interesting to _her_, at least. As for Roland, wherever
men and women with human hearts were gathered, there was interest for
him, and to Mr. Alden each meeting here was part of an intensely
interesting experiment, freighted, in his mind, with wider, more weighty
issues than were present to the minds of any one else present--even of
his own Grace, who, with her instinctive divination, could, in her
simple way, sympathize with him more fully than any one else there.

The programme seemed to be fully appreciated by almost all the audience,
though here and there a hard-looking "tough" would occasionally grow
tired of sitting still, and would accordingly retire, with scant
ceremony and carelessness as to making a somewhat noisy exit, that would
have set all Mr. Chillingworth's nerves on edge. But Mr. Alden took no
notice. It was understood that no compulsion of any kind was exercised;
and, generally speaking, the absentees would return after a while;
having, in the meantime, had a smoke, which restored them to better
humor. There were one or two comic recitations, in the earlier part of
the entertainment, by young workingmen like Jim, given with great spirit
and some dramatic effect. Nora's music, and the magic-lantern slides led
up gradually to Mr. Alden's simple colloquial address, setting before
the audience, as vividly as possible, the great event which _made_
Christmas, and some of its chief bearings on human life. And then
bringing his talk to a close, before any one had had time to grow tired
of it, he introduced the reading of "My friend, Mr. Roland Graeme."

Roland took his place on the platform, with the quick, energetic motion
habitual with him, yet with the dreamy remoteness of eye of a man
absorbed in the pictures he is going to present. His fine,
well-proportioned _physique_, and his candid, open face, enlisted the
sympathy of the audience in the reading, in the preparation of which he
had taken as much pains as if it were to be given before the most select
and fashionable audience in Minton. He had taken the "Christmas Carol"
of Dickens, and arranged it for a reading which should bring out the
episodes and scenes most likely to carry the sympathy of his readers,
bridging the gaps by a slender thread of narrative. He kept the audience
alternately amused and touched by the mingled humor and pathos of the
earlier scenes. He introduced them to the lonely boy at school, in whom
early neglect was sowing the seeds of future churlishness; then to the
youth, in whom the canker of worldliness was already beginning to work;
then carried them on to the home of the Cratchits, their famous
Christmas dinner, and the pathetic picture of "Tiny Tim." He kept the
younger portion of his audience, at least, convulsed over his spirited
rendering of the anxiety of the Cratchits as to the success of their
Christmas goose and Christmas pudding, and the final satisfaction of
everybody, even the "ubiquitous young Cratchits," at the result. Then he
put all the tense feeling of his own nature into the satirical reply of
the "Spirit" to the miser's agonized inquiry whether Tiny Tim would
live:--

"'What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the
surplus population!'"

Roland ought, in the exercise of a judicious discretion, to have stopped
here; but he was a young man with a young man's heat of impulse, and he
let himself be carried on into the words that follow, giving them with a
stirring emphasis that vibrated through every chord in Nora's sensitive
heart.

"'Man,' said the ghost, 'if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear
that wicked cant till you have discovered what that surplus is, and
where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It
may be, that, in the sight of Heaven you are more worthless and less fit
to live than millions like this poor man's child! O God! to hear the
insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry
brothers in the dust!'"

Nora could not help glancing about her, to see whether such words might
not have too much effect on that particular audience. She was reassured,
however, by the discovery that it did not seem to produce much effect of
any kind. The audience was not reflective enough to take in the satire.
A little farther on, Roland introduced the lean, gaunt, wretched boy and
girl who appear at the edge of the robe of the Spirit of Christmas
Presents, "yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish, but prostrate,
too, in their humility. Where graceful Youth should have filled their
features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and
shrivelled hand, like that of Age, had pinched and twisted them, and
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils
lurked and jibed out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion
of humanity in any guise, through all the mysteries of wonderful
creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread!"

"'Spirit, are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more. 'They are
_man's_,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them, 'and they cling to
me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is
Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree; but, most of all
beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,
unless the writing be erased. Deny it!' cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand to the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your
factious purposes and make it worse! and bide the end!'"

There was no mistaking the genuine emotion in Roland's voice as these
words rang out in tones of indignant warning. Just such children had he
seen, and the very fact of their existence seemed to him a wrong, not to
man only, but to the God who gave their grand possibilities, abased,
stunted and thwarted by man's sin and neglect. Something of this he
stopped to say, in a few strenuous, burning words, ending with a strong
appeal to the fathers and mothers, "by all the holy memories of the
day," to guard their children from evil, and ignorance, and do for them
at least the best they could!

"It is clear, then, he can't be an agnostic!" thought Nora to herself,
unaware of how indefinite is the term, and how indefinite too--as well
as inconsistent--a position can be which has no basis but "_I don't
know_." She looked around her again to see what the effect might have
been, but again she saw that it counted for very little. The
high-wrought, poetical description and the invective had gone over the
heads of most of the listeners. One pale-faced, slender man, with dark,
deep-set eyes riveted in breathless attention on the speaker, caught her
eye and her interest. But in general, little more than the stirring
tones and dramatic gestures had been taken in by ears unaccustomed to
intelligent listening, and chiefly on the watch for something "funny."

Roland, knowing something of the taste of his hearers, passed lightly
and rapidly over the sadder scenes of the last part of the story,
touching them a little, however, by the fate of "Tiny Tim," in whom he
centred the interest of the story. Then, after a glance at the gloomy
churchyard, where the remorseful miser beholds his own grave, he
hastened to the cheerful reality of Christmas Present, of the delight of
Scrooge as he sees himself once more possessed of the possibilities of
life, and of the heart to generously use them. And then, after depicting
the altered fortunes of the Cratchit family, under the auspices of a
regenerated master, he threw all his heart into bringing out the meaning
of the closing sentences:

"'Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them
laugh, and little heeded them, for he was wise enough to know that
nothing ever happened in this globe, for good, at which some people did
not have their fill of laughter at the outset; and knowing that such as
these would be blind any way, he thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less
attractive form. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for
him.

"'He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total
Abstinence principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him
that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the
knowledge. May that be truly said of us and all of us! And so, as Tiny
Tim observed, God bless us, every one!'"

There was a great deal of applause, as the reader concluded, made his
bow and left the platform, and there was more, again, when Mr. Alden in
due form put a vote of thanks to Mr. Graeme for the pleasure he had
given them, adding a few words on true Christmas-keeping, in his own
terse and characteristic way.

Nora found her particular trio as the assemblage broke up. "Oh, wasn't
it splendid!" was Lizzie's enthusiastic verdict, as Miss Blanchard asked
how they had enjoyed it. "My! doesn't Mr. Graeme read beautiful! It was
just like as if we could see it all!"

And Lizzie's eyes were glistening still, with the pleasure caused by the
new mental pictures called up by the reading that had carried her, for a
brief space, out of the ruts and grooves of her monotonous life. Nelly,
too, looked as if she had, for once, been interested in something
outside of herself, and even Jim admitted, in a sort of reluctant,
awkward way, that the entertainment was "first-class."

"Yes, indeed, miss," added Lizzie, who thought Jim was hardly effusive
enough in his appreciation, "Jim was real tickled at that Christmas
dinner Mr. Graeme read about--and all the rest of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I was afraid you were giving us a little too much of what was intended
for a different class of readers," said Mr. Alden to Roland, as they all
walked home together, while Grace, arm in arm with Nora, was artlessly
expressing her enjoyment of Mr. Graeme's reading.

"I suppose it mightn't have been a good thing if we had had a more
thoughtful audience; as it was, it didn't hurt them, and it pleased me
to do it!" replied Roland, laughing. "But, anyhow, if we can't wake up
the rich, why mayn't we wake up the poor?"

"Let the horrors of the French Revolution answer that question, once for
all!" returned Mr. Alden. "'That boy Ignorance,' you know, can be a real
devil when he is roused, and though a thunder-storm may sometimes have
to come, we don't want to play tricks to bring it down. There is enough
to wake up the poor to, in regard to their own shortcomings. Let us try
to wake each class up as to what lies in its own power to reform!"

Roland again undertook to escort Miss Blanchard from Mr. Alden's house
to her own door.

"I've been trying to get hold of your friend Jim," he remarked, "but he
isn't a very promising specimen, unless it be of 'that boy, Ignorance'!
He's never had any education to speak of, been at work ever since he was
old enough to make a few cents a day, has got into a bad set of
companions, and, besides, seems to have a rather sulky disposition.
However, I'm going to try to get him into the 'Knights of Labor'; that
will wake him up a little bit, besides keeping him in order, for he's
rather of the turbulent kind."

Nora laughed a little. "One is generally led to suppose that 'The
Knights of Labor' are generally disposed to encourage turbulence, rather
than to repress it!" she said.

"A complete mistake!" exclaimed Roland, eagerly. "It is one of the
principles of the Order to do everything 'decently and in order'! Its
aims are to remedy wrong by peaceful means, if possible. Every method of
doing so is tried, before such an extreme measure as a strike--say--is
resorted to. Why, there is no counting the number of strikes that have
been prevented through its agency."

"It's too bad people don't know that," Nora replied.

"They don't want to know it," he said. "Mr. Pomeroy for instance should
know, that but for the amicable negotiations of the 'Knights,' he might
have had a strike before now. And I am not at all sure that he may not
have it yet! Such surly, dissatisfied young fellows as Jim are just the
stuff to make mischief. However, if he joins us, we may do something
with him. One of our fundamental positions is the dignity of all honest
labor. This teaches the men to respect themselves, and that is one step
toward respecting others. And then, too, the Assembly meetings afford a
place where all grievances can be ventilated--a sort of safety-valve, so
to speak, where a good deal of gas can be got off, at any rate."

"I see," said Nora. "How often do they meet?"

"Once a week. By the way, I'm sorry that we haven't succeeded in getting
redress for the girls. Mr. Pomeroy wouldn't interfere with his
manager;--did not dare, perhaps, for fear he should leave: and Willett
is hopeless!"

"Oh, I am sorry!" exclaimed Nora.

"I'm not going to give it up, though," he added, cheerfully. "Of course
we'll keep driving away at the matter in _The Brotherhood_. And how is
my little friend, 'Miss Travers,' and her mother?"

"Oh, Cecilia promises to live up to her _name_! I've been trying to
teach her to read, at which she was very awkward, but she takes much
more readily to music," Miss Blanchard replied. "She's trying very hard
to play a little on the piano, with her small fingers, and you should
see her using a little accordion I gave her. It is quite a picture!"

"Yes, she's a beautiful child! She seemed to me like a disguised
princess in a fairy-tale, that day I saw her first. And is the mother
getting on well?"

"Yes, she's getting better fast," said Nora, somewhat doubtfully. "But,
poor thing, what will she do when she is well?"

"Oh, something must be done for her," Roland replied. "And surely she
must have friends somewhere!"

"Miss Spencer, the nurse who attends her, is going to try to find out,
if she can only get her to tell her," replied Miss Blanchard.

"Will you permit me to come some day to see the child?" asked Roland. "I
should like to see her again."

"Oh, come whenever you like," Nora responded cordially, as she bade him
good-night, "come and see her--and me!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

AFTERNOON VISITORS.


The days seem to go on faster after the winter solstice is turned, and
so, too, often do the life and work of men. Roland Graeme, at all
events, found the days fly past with an increasing rapidity. He had,
indeed, no idle time on his hands. His law-studies and office-work
absorbed the best part of his day. His reporting and journalizing filled
in all the intervals, and several evenings. The meetings of the "Knights
of Labor" always occupied one evening in the week, and sometimes more;
for besides his regular attendance at the Assembly to which he belonged,
his intelligence and ability were frequently called into requisition,
either in getting new assemblies into working order, or in helping to
settle difficult matters that came up for consideration. Roland's
influence had already made itself felt among the men, with whom a
combination of honest enthusiasm, energy and ability like his, speedily
becomes a power. Dunning, the head of the Minton organization, himself a
shrewd, intelligent man, had soon recognized Graeme's value, and
frequently sought his counsel. And with the men generally, his ready
sympathy, genial address, and persuasive eloquence had gained an
influence that often surprised him, almost as much as did the fair and
moderate views and temperate and sensible speeches that he often heard
from them. He would laughingly remark to Mr. Alden, that, if the
masters, generally, were only as fair and reasonable in their attitude
as were most of the men, there need never be a "strike" or a "lock-out."
To which Mr. Alden would reply, that, as it had been from the beginning,
so it was still, most difficult for "a rich man to enter the Kingdom of
Heaven."

Then, in addition to all his other work, Roland had his editorials for
_The Brotherhood_ to write, as well as all the rest of its editorial
management on his hands; and though it was only a small weekly sheet,
this work often kept his lamp burning till far into the night. With all
these things on his mind, it is no wonder if he began sometimes to feel
the pressure--if his color was somewhat less fresh and his face more
lined and worn than on his first arrival in Minton. Both Sandy Dunlop
and his friend Dick Burnet sometimes warned him that he was "burning the
candle at both ends," but his own enthusiasm was like a spirited steed
that will carry its rider on, at full gallop, almost in spite of
himself.

As for _The Brotherhood_, it could not be called a very brilliant
success, financially at least. This, however, had not been expected by
any one concerned, and was a matter of least concern to Sandy Dunlop,
who supplied most of the funds, with a grim satisfaction in feeling that
he was thereby doing a little toward "the keeping in order" of bland
autocrats like Mr. Pomeroy, for whom the rugged Scotchman had little
love. Dick Burnet helped his friend materially, by printing the paper as
economically as possible, at the office of the _Minerva_; though this
was, for obvious reasons, kept very quiet. The new paper found, of
course, its largest circulation among the workingmen, being a sort of
recognized "Organ" in their interests; and a good many business men, who
wanted their patronage, used it as an advertising medium, its principal
source of profit. But, of the people Roland most desired to reach, few
read it, or cared to do so. Burnet, however, went as far as he thought
he safely could, in reprinting portions of Roland's best articles on
general subjects, as well as some of his selections; and the very fact
of the existence of such a paper with such a title and such principles,
was not without its effect in the community. Managers became somewhat
more pliant; concessions were somewhat more readily gained; negligence
of precautions was less common, now that the employers knew, at least,
that there was "a chiel amang them, takin' notes," though it need
scarcely be said that the "note-taking" individual was not particularly
agreeable to the subjects of his notes. For this, however, Roland cared
little. His own affairs and the estimation in which he was held, did
not, happily, weigh heavily on his mind. He had too many other people to
think about, and, as yet, he had no engrossing personal interests;
moreover, he could now always find a haven of rest and refreshment in
Mr. Alden's pleasant home. The sight of Grace, indeed, always refreshed
him, in itself, as did a fine poem or picture. He was content simply to
sit and watch her acting "little mother" to the other children, while he
talked with Mr. Alden, and his boyish friend, Frank. Mr. Alden smiled a
little to himself, as he began to notice the magnetic attraction that
drew Roland's eyes constantly in the direction of Grace's girlish
figure. It reminded him of his own young days; and he knew that Roland
was as romantic as any young troubadour. He, however, had too much real
faith to be a fussy or fidgety man, and he could see that Grace was as
unconscious of Roland's silent devotion as any prudent father could
desire. He knew that, in some things, she was even younger than her
years, owing, in part, to her quiet and healthy up-bringing; and he was
not afraid of a premature love affair. Nor, indeed, was Roland's the
kind of devotion that easily finds expression in "love-making"--though
among his papers there were scattered various fragments of verse which
sometimes came to him, even in his busy life, and which owed their
inspiration to Grace Alden. He would have felt it a desecration of the
reverent emotion with which he regarded her, to say a word which would
have broken or disturbed the childlike unconsciousness, the calm, even
current of her life. Grace was used to having people love her. She could
not have fancied what it would be to live without what was to her the
very breath of life, but it never occurred to her to think of it, or
about herself in connection with it.

So Mr. Alden reassured the slight uneasiness of his wife, and took no
notice; but continued to give Roland the benefit of his kindly sympathy
and friendly counsel. He was, indeed, with the exception of Sandy
Dunlop, the only man Roland knew in Minton to whom he could talk with
perfect freedom and confidence in his honest impartiality. And, though
Mr. Alden never forced on his young friend his own strong religious
convictions, the latter often _felt_ them; and, without his knowing it,
they helped him to keep up heart and hope even in his discouragements,
by the recognition of the "Divinity that shapes the ends" of men to
other issues than they themselves have designed. Roland's faith in this
respect had never quite given way; and the influence of Mr. Alden's
strong and happy realization of it very much helped his own.

Roland was not likely, however, to forget his promise of calling to see
Miss Blanchard and the little girl whom he had first befriended. Early
in the new year, he called, late one snowy afternoon, when he thought he
would be pretty sure of finding Miss Blanchard at home. She was alone in
the drawing-room, reading by the window. She expressed great pleasure at
seeing him again, and sent at once for the three children; having
noticed Roland's predilection for the society of the little Aldens.
Eddie, who had by no means forgotten him, rushed at him with a familiar
"Hallo!" which rather shocked Nora's ideas of propriety. But Roland
responded in the same fashion, and Eddie and he were soon in a merry
flow of talk, while Daisy, on his knee, was trying to introduce
"Tatters" and give a catalogue of his accomplishments. Cecilia, shy and
grave as usual, recognized Roland with evident pleasure, and soon seemed
so much at home with him, that she willingly went, at his suggestion, to
get her accordion and play him a tune on it.

"She is really quite useful, now," said Miss Blanchard, in Cecilia's
absence. "She has great influence over these two, who think her the most
wonderful musician that ever was."

"The little Aldens seemed greatly taken with her, too," said Roland,
laughing. "Mrs. Alden says she has made quite a conquest of Frank."

"Well, Grace has certainly made a conquest of her," replied Nora; "the
child has taken the greatest fancy to her, and I don't wonder. She is
such a lovely girl, isn't she, Mr. Graeme?" and as she spoke she looked
up, a half mischievous smile hovering about her lips and in her eyes.

"She is, indeed!" replied Roland, with straightforward warmth. He never
had any self-conscious impulse to conceal his admiration for Grace. But
Cecilia had returned with her accordion, and surprised him a good deal
by her correct rendering of a number of airs which she had picked up
entirely by ear.

"Why, you are going to be a modern St. Cecilia!" he said. "Do you know
who she was?" he added.

"Yes," said the child, smiling, and looking up at Miss Blanchard
comprehendingly.

"She says her mother told her she was named after her father," remarked
Nora; "of course his name must have been Cecil."

"Does she speak as if he were dead?" he asked, in a low tone, as the
child began playing another air.

"She doesn't seem to know anything about him," she replied, in the same
tone. "Miss Spencer has an idea her mother may be a deserted wife," she
added.

"Poor thing!" said Roland; then turning to another subject, one of the
objects of his visit: "I am going to give that lecture of mine that I
was talking of, on 'Modern Miracles,' next week," he said, smilingly.
"You said you would like to hear it, so I've brought you two or three
tickets for yourself and any friends of yours who might do me the honor
of coming. The price of admission is a merely nominal one," he added,
disclaiming thanks, "simply to keep out 'roughs,' as the lecture is
designed mainly for the men themselves. There will be a few seats
reserved, for admission to which these tickets are intended; but I don't
know that they will have many occupants. Mr. Alden and Miss Grace are
going, so in any case you will have them for company, if you care to
come."

"Oh, indeed, I want very much to go," replied Nora, eagerly, "and I
think my brother will go, too, if he possibly can. He reads your paper
regularly, and is much interested in your work."

"I am glad to hear it," he said. "I wish he could influence Mr. Pomeroy
a little to be reasonable in meeting the reasonable requests of the men.
I am afraid there may be trouble if he does not. We have been doing our
best to stave off a strike, but it may have to come. By the way, that
young fellow, Mason, seems to have a desperate grudge against young
Pomeroy. One of our men says that there's a girl in the case,--that it's
jealousy that makes him so set on mischief."

"Oh, impossible!" exclaimed Nora. "Mr. Harold Pomeroy is engaged to Miss
Farrell, an intimate friend of mine."

"So I've heard," said he. "But that hardly proves the contrary. Young
men do all sorts of silly and wicked things for a little amusement, I'm
sorry to say," he continued, gravely. "And sometimes young ladies do so,
too! However, there may be nothing in it. I only give it as I heard it."

Nora's mind had been going back to the things that Lizzie Mason had told
her, in the beginning of their acquaintance. Was it possible that Harold
Pomeroy could be the unknown "gentleman" who "turned Nelly's head with
compliments and attention",--who had so upset Jim and poisoned poor
Lizzie's piece of mind? The thought made her cheek burn with intense
indignation. This would be worse than anything else.

Meantime Roland's thoughts had been taking a different direction; and he
presently remarked:

"Waldberg's going to relieve the dryness of the lecture with a little
music. He offered, and I thought it a good idea."

"Mr. Waldberg is a friend of yours, isn't he?" remarked Nora.

"Yes, Waldberg and I started a friendship when I first met him, along
with a party of jolly students, while I was taking a walking-tour in
Germany. He and I spent some happy days, roaming about the Black Forest
together; and as I found that he was just about to start for the New
World to seek his fortune, I gave him a note to my friend Burnet, the
editor of the _Minerva_, you know. So when I arrived here, I found he
had cast anchor in Minton; and we have kept together ever since. He and
I recall to each other a good many pleasant associations, as we often
talk over the 'Fatherland;' and I keep my German a little in practice.
He likes to talk it now and then, of course, though he speaks English so
well. He and I and my old friend, Mr. Dunlop, get on very comfortably
together. Dunlop has rather a fancy for Waldberg, though he thinks him a
little reckless. I sometimes wish he had a little more of Dunlop's sound
Scotch principle."

"Oh, I suppose that Mr. Dunlop is the old gentleman I took such a fancy
to," said Nora.

"Where did you meet him?" he asked.

"At Mr. Pomeroy's; there happened a discussion there about these labor
questions, and he spoke out so strongly!"

"Oh, yes, Dunlop's sound enough on that head, and he's by no means
afraid of saying what he thinks. You see, he's rich enough to be able to
take liberties, though he likes to live quietly in his own old-fashioned
way. He has plenty of time on his hands, and it has been a great
interest to him to read this thing up. I should not have been able to
start _The Brotherhood_ without his help, and he's as much interested in
this lecture of mine as I am."

"Is he all alone in the world, then?" asked Nora.

"Yes--he seems so. His wife and only child died long ago, and he doesn't
care to live by himself. He has his own two comfortable rooms, and he
sometimes has Waldberg and me in to dine with him. He has taken up some
idea that I must be a distant relation of his, a Scotch cousin of some
remote degree, because my mother's name was Dunlop. He has been writing
to her about it, to see if he can establish some link of relationship."

Evidently Mr. Graeme must be a great favorite of this old gentleman,
Nora thought.

Presently she took up another subject that had been occupying her mind.
"Do you know, Mr. Graeme, an idea has come to me about something we might
do for some of these poor girls. I was asking Mr. Alden if we couldn't
start some sort of club for them, such as I've read about--a place where
they could spend the evenings when they chose, where they could have
books or music, or anything else they liked. Don't you think that would
brighten up their lives a little?"

"Yes, if you could get them to use it," he replied.

"Mr. Alden thinks we might manage it," she said. "And he said he would
let us have that committee-room where the 'Helping Hands' meet, and they
could use it always, except when there are meetings. So I am going to
get it nicely fitted up by some of the young ladies I know here. Miss
Farrell's going to help, and I think Miss Pomeroy will, too, if I ask
her."

"It would be a capital thing, if you could only bring these young ladies
into direct contact with the working-girls, so that they might know
something of their lives, and realize their circumstances. That's what
people really need, most of all."

"Well, I'm going to _try_," said Nora, decidedly.

Roland rose as if he thought it time for him to go. He took up the
volume of Lowell's poems that Miss Blanchard had laid down on his
entrance, and opened it where she had laid a geranium leaf to keep her
place.

"Ah, I see, you are reading 'The Vision of Sir Launfal'! That is one of
my favorites," he said.

"Yes, I think it is a lovely poem," she said.

He glanced at the open page, then out of the window, where, as the
daylight was fading, the soft falling snow, clinging to the trees, was
conjuring up a ghostly, spectral white forest without.

"We might alter these lines just a little," he said, "to describe that
fairy scene:

    "'Down through a frost-leaved forest crypt,
        Long gleaming aisles of snow-clad trees,
        Bending to simulate a breeze.'"

They were still talking over the poem, when the door opened, and Mrs.
Blanchard entered, fresh from an afternoon _siesta_, in her pale-green
"tea-gown." Nora introduced "Mr. Graeme," whom Mrs. Blanchard expressed
herself as much pleased to meet, having heard so much about him of late.

"But why haven't you lights?" she asked. "You're almost in the dark!"

"That's what I like, you know, at this hour, and it seemed a pity to
shut out that white world!" said Nora.

"That dreary world!" said Mrs. Blanchard, turning up the gas, while
Roland courteously lighted it for her. He declined the offered cup of
tea, and was just about to take leave, when the door opened again,
admitting Mr. Chillingworth. The clergyman looked surprised at seeing
Roland there, though not by any means discomposed by his recollection of
the previous meeting. He only remarked, as Mrs. Blanchard was about to
introduce him, "I have met Mr. Graeme before," greeting him with
something of his former stiffness, as Roland, bidding the ladies a
courteous good-evening, took his leave.

"I wish he wouldn't have gone quite so soon," said Mrs. Blanchard. "I'd
really have liked to hear him talk a little. He seems quite a mild young
man, doesn't he now, Mr. Chillingworth?"

"What did you expect, Sophy?" said Nora, laughing.

"Oh, I expected a beard, at least, and he has only a moustache, and
doesn't look a bit fierce or revolutionary! And what has he been talking
to you about, all this time, Nora, for Eddie told me he had been here a
good while?"

"He kindly brought us some tickets for a lecture he's going to give next
week. Will you have one, Mr. Chillingworth?" she asked, audaciously. "If
you'll go, I'll give you one."

"Thanks very much, Mrs. Blanchard," said the clergyman, taking the
offered cup of tea. "I'm afraid I must decline the pleasure," he said,
returning the ticket. "I see he calls his lecture 'Modern Miracles.'
Very possibly it is just a pretext for bringing out some of his
sceptical views."

"Oh no!" replied Nora. "It's nothing of that kind. I heard him talking
to Mr. Alden about it. He only means to give a sketch of the scientific
wonders of the age, and show how human ingenuity has almost annihilated
space and time. It is chiefly for workingmen, but I had said I should
like to go."

"Ah well, you never can tell," Mr. Chillingworth replied, doubtfully.
"People bring in their attacks on Christianity under cover of all sorts
of things."

"Well, we'll go to the lecture, and give you a full report," said Mrs.
Blanchard, lightly.

"By the way," said Mr. Chillingworth, glad to get away from the subject
of Mr. Graeme and his lecture, "you'll be happy to hear that Mr. Pomeroy
sent me, the other day, a cheque for five thousand dollars, for our new
church."

"Oh, isn't that splendid!" said Mrs. Blanchard. "It was very handsome of
him! And I've no doubt he'll give more, by and by."

Nora said nothing, but thought of poor Lizzie Mason, and her overworked,
starved life, and wondered whether, after all, it had been his _own_
money that Mr. Pomeroy had bestowed.

"Now Nora, let us have some music," said Mrs. Blanchard. "I know that's
what Mr. Chillingworth wants."

"You always comprehend my wishes, Mrs. Blanchard," he replied, moving at
once toward the piano.

"Oh, Cecilia," said Mrs. Blanchard, "it's time to take the children away
for their tea."

The little girl proceeded to comply, rather reluctantly, for she wanted
to stay for the music. Mr. Chillingworth had never happened to hear her
name before; since, mindful of her first encounter with him, she had
generally kept out of his way. He looked round at her now, and said,
smiling graciously, as he held out his hand:

"So your name is Cecilia! Why, you are almost a namesake of mine!"

The little girl did not seem to find this a very interesting
circumstance, however, and only seemed glad to escape further notice by
a speedy retreat, while Mr. Chillingworth luxuriously resigned himself
to the enjoyment of the softly flowing "Songs without Words" which Miss
Blanchard played so well. By and by, he asked her to sing for him a song
with words, naming one of his favorites, "My Queen." And, as he listened
to her rich, clear voice, and watched, with æsthetic pleasure, the
graceful poise of her head and figure, he thought that she seemed no
inapt illustration of "that sweet calm" which was just his own ideal.



CHAPTER XIX.

"MODERN MIRACLES."


Nora found that she and her brother and sister would have several of
their friends for companions at Roland Graeme's lecture. Kitty Farrell
was bent on going, though Nora, of course, suspected that it was much
more for the sake of Waldberg's part in it, than of Roland's. Mr.
Archer, despite his somewhat cynical indifference, had some curiosity to
see how Roland would acquit himself as a lecturer, and had actually
proposed that Miss Pomeroy should accompany him. She, moreover, had very
willingly assented. She was a girl of some mind and character, who had
grown heartily sick of the inane and monotonously luxurious life she
lived, and did not feel much interest in the meetings her mother was
perpetually attending. She was glad, therefore, of any new sensation
that seemed to offer a little unusual excitement. And the more she heard
her father's irritated remarks on Roland's "dangerous doctrines," the
more her curiosity was aroused to hear these "dangerous doctrines" for
herself. And Mr. Wharton--who had been led, by his discussions with Miss
Harley, to reconsider the labor question in some of its aspects--wished
to hear all that Roland had to say, as a contribution to the material he
was collecting for a contemplated magazine article on the character and
prospects of the "movement." Mr. Wharton and Mr. Archer had offered
their services to escort Miss Pomeroy and Miss Farrell; as young
Pomeroy, who did not care for "any such stuff," had some more attractive
engagement for that evening. The party stopped at Dr. Blanchard's, _en
route_ for the lecture-hall, and took up the two ladies, leaving the
busy doctor to look in when he could. It was a glorious moonlight night,
the silvery radiance reflected back from the pure, white snow, making
the night as clear as the day, while the pure, exhilarating air made it
a delight to be out.

"What a perfect night!" exclaimed Mr. Archer. "Really it seems a shame
to go to sit in a stuffy hall, instead of enjoying it out of doors."

"Well, we don't think of that, you know, when we go to a party," laughed
Kitty, who was walking with Nora and Mr. Archer.

"There are some other folks out on a tramp," said Mr. Archer, as a
little procession of men and women, singing a rousing hymn, filed along
a street not far off. "There goes the Salvation Army, trying to improve
the world in its way, as Graeme is trying in his. But what does it all
amount to?"

"To something, I should hope!" exclaimed Nora. "And in any case, it's
something to _try_! Surely you are not so faithless as to progress, Mr.
Archer?"

"Well, so far as I can see, it seems very like rolling a stone up hill,
just to have it roll down again. Things seem to go on, as a rule, much
the same, whatever you do," he answered.

"But what might it be if people were _not_ doing something all the
time?" she asked. "Don't you think it would be a good deal worse?"

"Oh, well, if people like to slave away on that principle--" he said,
with a shrug and smile which Nora had learned to detest. "You see I'm
not fond of slaving. Perhaps because I have enough of it in my office."

"But then, willing service _isn't_ slaving. It's the greatest pleasure."

"So I've heard," he answered, drily. "But then, one must have the will.
You see I haven't."

"Stuff and nonsense!" exclaimed Kitty. "You're not half so bad as you
pretend to be, Mr. Archer. If you were, you wouldn't be taking us to
this lecture."

"_I_--taking _you_!" he exclaimed. "I thought it was you who were taking
me! Well, anyhow, we've got here. And it looks as if there was to be a
fair audience, of men, at any rate. I expect you'll be the only ladies."

This expectation, however, was not realized, as there were a few others,
some drawn by curiosity, some by genuine interest. There were evidently,
some few wives of mechanics who had come with their husbands, and who
looked really interested in the lecture as it proceeded. Some, Nora
thought, must be young working-girls. There was a large gathering of
men, evidently workingmen, who nearly filled the body of the hall. In
the side seats, to which Mr. Archer led his party, were already seated
Mr. Alden and Grace, with Mr. Dunlop, and two or three friends of his
whom he had brought to hear his young friend's _début_ as an orator.

At the precise hour appointed, Roland Graeme, and his friend Mr. Burnet,
a slender, fair-haired, energetic looking man with spectacles, walked
quickly up the platform, and the latter briefly introduced the lecturer.
As it was Roland's first attempt of the kind, and as he spoke
extemporaneously, from brief notes, he naturally felt somewhat nervous;
not, however, so much on his own account, as lest he might not be able
to do justice to his subject, and carry the interest of his auditors.
Nora watched with sympathetic anxiety the evident effort, in the
beginning of his lecture, to keep down his own nervousness, and fix the
attention of his hearers on the points which he desired to make, in
giving a brief survey of the marvellous achievements of science since
the present century began. But soon she saw, with pleasure, that it was
no longer an effort; that, as he warmed up to his subject, thought and
expression seemed to flow more freely; till, when he reached the second
part of his lecture, it seemed to carry him on, like a rapid stream,
without conscious exertion. He had lost all thought, it seemed, of
himself; and was conscious only of the enthusiasm of his subject. At the
end of this first division of the lecture, he sat down for a brief rest
to himself and the audience, while Waldberg, who had come in late,
played a pretty _fantasia_, introducing a number of characteristic
national airs, which greatly pleased the audience, and helped Roland to
a little inspiration for the rest of the lecture.

The second part of the lecture was devoted to pointing out the reality
of that great truth of the Brotherhood of Man, which underlies all human
history. This principle, he said, was but another name for the
inter-dependence, coöperation, mutual trust, which had been the root of
all real human progress--without which human beings must have remained a
race of selfish and warring savages, little better than beasts of prey.
He showed how it had originated and bound together the community; how it
had been the basis of commerce; how it had led up to all the discoveries
and inventions which had, in turn, supplied it with the means of wider
development; how it had practically transformed the whole globe into one
great market--glut or famine in one quarter of it meaning low or high
prices in another. The market was not yet as open as would be for the
true interests of mankind, but he believed the day was not far distant,
when protection-fences and custom-houses, with all their expensive
machinery, would be things of the past.

Then he traced the working of the same great principle in the field of
labor, in the long line of progress,--from the first rude work of the
solitary artisan, making even his own tools, through the gradual
evolution of machinery and division of labor, through the immense
impulse given to this by the application of steam, and, latterly, of
electricity; then through the massing of joint-stock capital for the use
of this new power on a far grander scale; and, finally, to those
gigantic profit-sharing combinations, or so-called "Trusts," which
to-day seriously threaten the public interest, but which are only the
abuse, by the few, in favor of monopoly, of the great and true principle
of brotherly trust and coöperation.

For the abuse, he went on to say, there was only one radical remedy, and
that was a fuller extension and wider use of the principle of brotherly
trust or coöperation. It must govern all through. It must be extended to
the laborer, as well as to the capitalist. The main secret of the
success of the latter was his use of this principle. The laborer must
learn the lesson, as well as the capitalist. Even at the beginning of
the present century, the rich returns awaiting coöperation had been
easily seen. How was it that men, generally, had largely failed to enter
into coöperative labor? Was it not evident that moral as well as
material progress was needed? that the mass of men must more and more
learn the value and enter into the spirit of Brotherhood, of brotherly
trust?

Having, by means of careful simplifying and appropriate illustration,
endeavored to make this position clear to the minds of his audience,
Roland went on to the practical application of his text.

Their organization, as Knights of Labor, was, he said, founded on this
principle of brotherly trust and coöperation, in order to protect their
rights and interests from the encroachments of selfish organizations. He
thought they _had_ rights to protect, but their success in protecting
them would be mainly dependent on the spirit in which they should defend
them. They had a right to insist on the shorter hours of work, which
their own welfare, under the increased pressure of working to unresting
machinery, imperatively demanded. They had a right, too, he thought, to
insist that productive labor should receive a larger share of the wealth
it produced. But, to make good their claims, they must act, not in a
factious, selfish spirit, but in that of brotherly fairness and generous
trust. They must be true to themselves, true to their employers, true
also to the great outside body of unorganized labor. If they acted
selfishly toward these, they would show themselves unworthy of the
benefits of coöperation. One of their motives in seeking shorter hours
should be the greater chances for employment which would thereby open up
to the great army of the unemployed. They must cultivate a spirit of
brotherly faithfulness to all men, and of regard for each other's
interest. They must teach this to their children, for whom they must
secure the best education within their power. They must think not only
of rights, but of _duty_, of helping others as well as themselves. With
thrift, steadiness, mutual confidence and the franchise, the workingmen
of America could be masters of the position. If they would refuse to
sell their votes to partisan politicians, their intelligence to
liquor-sellers, their children to those who would set them to premature
drudgery;--if they would be true to the interests of coöperative labor
generally, true to the grand ideal of human brotherhood and faith in its
realization, they need despair of nothing they could reasonably desire.
For this life of ours was not ruled by mere chance, or blind
force--whatever some may say. It was under the guidance of a Power of
which one of their own poets had said

    "Who counts his brother's welfare
      As sacred as his own;--
    Who loves, forgives, and pities;--
      He serveth Me alone."

But he would give them the picture of what might yet be, when classes
and churches had ceased to waste their strength in war, and men had
truly learned to help each other,--in the stirring words of Henry
George, words that he could not improve upon:

"It is not the Almighty, but we, who are responsible for the vice and
misery that fester amid our civilization. The Creator showers upon us
His gifts--more than enough for all. But like swine scrambling for food,
we tread them in the mire--tread them in the mire, while we tear and
rend each other!

"The fiat has gone forth! With steam and electricity, and the new powers
born of progress, forces have entered the world that will either compel
us to a higher plane or overwhelm us, as nation after nation, as
civilization after civilization, have been overwhelmed before. It is the
delusion which precedes destruction, that sees in the popular unrest
with which the civilized world is feverishly pulsing, only the passing
effect of ephemeral causes. Even now, in old bottles, the new wine
begins to ferment, and elemental forces gather for the strife!

"But if, while there is yet time, we turn to Justice and obey Her, if we
trust Liberty and follow Her, the changes that now threaten must
disappear, the forces that now menace will turn to agencies of
elevation. Think of the powers now wasted; of the infinite fields of
knowledge yet to be explored; of the possibilities of which the
wonderful inventions of this century give us but a hint. With want
destroyed, with greed changed to a noble passion, with the fraternity
that is born of equality taking the place of jealousy and fear that now
array men against each other, with mental power loosed by conditions
that give to the humblest comfort and leisure--who shall measure the
heights to which our civilization may soar? Words fail the thought! It
is the Golden Age of which poets have sung, and high-raised seers have
told in metaphor! It is the glorious vision which has always haunted man
with gleams of fitful splendor. It is the reign of the Prince of Peace!"

As Roland ended his concluding quotation with all the enthusiasm that it
stirred in himself, a burst of applause rose from the audience, which
had followed his lecture with riveted attention--only two or three men
having gone out during its earlier portion. He had arranged with
Waldberg to follow the close of the lecture with another "piano
recital," and the young musician immediately broke in with a spirited
rendering of the "_Marseillaise_," followed by the "_Wacht am Rhein_."

Nora could not help being secretly amused at the choice with which
Waldberg, in his desire to make his music cosmopolitan, had followed the
peaceful peroration; but of course few of the audience recognized what
the airs were, and Roland was far too much absorbed by his interest in
his subject, even to notice what his friend was playing. Mr. Archer,
evidently, however, was, like herself, amused by the little
inappropriateness, as she could see by the slight curl of his moustache.

Roland's good intention of shutting off conventional votes of thanks
was, however, baffled by his friend, Mr. Alden, who rose at once to
express the thanks of the audience to Mr. Graeme for his clear and
forcible lecture. People might and did differ as to the practical
solution of the great problems of the day, but there could be no doubt
that the spirit of brotherhood advocated by the lecturer was the only
one in which they could ever be solved, the only line in which real
progress, material, moral or spiritual, could ever be made. He hoped
that every one of the audience would carry away with him the inference
of the lecturer's plea for the spirit of brotherhood and would try to
work it out in the details of daily life.

Mr. Archer listened to Mr. Alden with evident interest, and, with a
scarcely perceptible hesitation, was just rising to his feet to second
the vote of thanks, when he was forestalled by the slender, pale-faced
man with the earnest eyes, whom Nora had observed at the Christmas
festival. He, briefly, but in well-chosen words, seconded the vote of
thanks, expressing, on behalf of the Knights of Labor, much gratitude to
Mr. Graeme for the present lecture, and for his many other services in
their behalf. The motion was briefly put by Mr. Burnet, and of course
carried with another burst of applause.

As the party in the reserved seats waited for the crowd to pass out,
Roland Graeme was warmly congratulated on his forcible address. Mr.
Alden shook his hand heartily, and Mr. Archer exclaimed:

"Well, Graeme, I think you'd better take to lecturing, instead of law.
You'd make your fortune quicker. But who would have thought that a
lecture on 'Modern Miracles' was going to turn out a plea for
coöperation! You ought to throw that lecture into the form of an article
for the _Forum_. Mr. Wharton here will give you a wrinkle."

"Thanks," said Roland, "for your good opinion; but my lecture wasn't
meant for such an enlightened public. Mr. Jeffrey is going to lecture
here soon, however, on 'Capital and Labor.' That, I have no doubt, will
be fit for any audience. I hope it will draw a good one."

Mr. Wharton looked surprised. Mr. Jeffrey was a well-known writer on the
labor question, and he had no idea that Roland Graeme could have been in
correspondence with him. As a matter of fact, the correspondence had
originated through some articles of Roland's in _The Brotherhood_, which
Mr. Jeffrey had seen, and which led to the arrangements for this
lecture.

Mr. Dunlop had turned to Miss Blanchard, whom he recognized as having
been his _vis-à-vis_ at the dinner-party. He had been much taken with
her appearance, and seemed pleased to meet her again; and Nora, on her
part, was glad to exchange a few words with the honest old Scot. He
asked her how she liked his friend Graeme's "new-fangled notions," and
nodded approvingly at her warm commendation of the lecture.

"Ay! ay!" he said, "he's going to be a credit to us yet! I believe he's
a sort o' Scotch cousin o' mine. Come, Roland, give me your arm home."

Roland had been exchanging a few words with Grace Alden, who was looking
charming, Nora thought; but he turned at once to assist the old man. As
he bade Miss Blanchard good-night, she exclaimed--"Thank you so much for
showing us that the world isn't built upon selfishness, after all!"

Waldberg managed to take Kitty in charge, and Nora and Miss Pomeroy
walked on together with Mr. Archer. Miss Pomeroy had been one of the
most attentive listeners to the lecture, which had suggested many new
ideas to a mind that was craving some new and strong interest. Miss
Pomeroy was decidedly clever--had had every advantage of education that
wealth could supply--had been abroad, "everywhere," and could talk
French and German, as well as Browning. But she wanted _purpose_ in her
life, and was discontented, and a little _blasée_ for lack of it.
"Self-culture," for no definite end, had palled upon her, as generally
happens. But this lecture had set her thinking, and Nora found a ready
response to her proposal to fit up the room she wanted to furnish for a
cosy meeting-place for working-girls, especially for those of her
father's works.

"Indeed, I'll do all I can to help!" she said, emphatically, when Nora
had unfolded her plans. "I'm just _sick_ of having nothing useful to do!
I don't care for the meetings mother likes. There seems too much _talk_
for all they _do_. But if I could do something to make any _one_ person
a little better or happier, I really should be glad to do it."

"Well," said Nora, "let you and Kitty and any other girls you like to
bring, come over to-morrow morning, and we'll talk it over and see what
is to be done. Or perhaps we'd better go to the room itself--the day
after to-morrow. I'll see Mr. Alden and arrange with him just when we
can go and make our plans."

And so it was settled, Mr. Archer declaring that they could call on him
for any services they needed in the way of picture-hanging or putting up
curtains, these things having been already discussed during the homeward
walk.

"Only I'm afraid you're going to be quite too æsthetic for your
constituency," he said, laughing, to Miss Pomeroy, as he listened to her
suggestions for the little library they were going to include among the
furnishings.

"If you'll only get any sort of piano," he said, "and sing them songs,
Miss Blanchard, they'll like that better than anything else!"



CHAPTER XX.

BREAKERS AHEAD.


The proposed meeting speedily took place. Miss Pomeroy mustered six or
seven other young ladies who had not very much to do, and were glad to
hit on some new occupation; and, after much animated discussion, the
furnishing of the room went on in earnest. A pretty rug for the floor, a
few bright pictures on the walls, some cosy easy-chairs and a wide sofa,
bright curtains for the windows, a neat bookcase filled, for the most
part, with story-books for which their former owners had no further use,
were contributed by the young ladies, and soon transformed the bare
little apartment into a comfortable and pleasant sitting-room. A little
parlor-organ, to complete its outfit, was contributed by an unexpected
donor, Mr. Archer.

"There, now," said Kitty, triumphantly, when this gift arrived, "I told
you he wasn't half as bad as he makes himself out!"

And Miss Pomeroy, who had, by natural selection, taken the place of head
of their little committee, was deputed to write a note of cordial thanks
for the gift.

It was proposed to inaugurate the new use of the room by a little
tea-party, given to as many of the mill-girls as should care to
accompany Lizzie and Nellie, who were to be asked to act as envoys. Nora
went to see Lizzie on the following Sunday, and explained the plan. She
listened without brightening very perceptibly.

"It's very kind indeed, Miss Blanchard," said Lizzie, "and I'm sure
we'll be glad to come. But I'm afraid you'll be disappointed if you
expect the girls to go there a great deal. You see, we're so tired out,
often, we don't care to go anywheres, and them as do, likes to go to
something lively. But maybe they'll get into the way of going, after a
while."

"Oh well, we're going to have it there, so they can use it if they like.
We only want to make sure of their having one pleasant, quiet place
where they _can_ go, when they please."

"And have you been to see Mrs. Travers lately?" asked Lizzie, before
Miss Blanchard took leave.

"Not very lately," she replied, "I suppose she's continuing to grow
stronger."

"She didn't seem very well, yesterday, miss. I think it would be a good
thing for you to see her soon."

Lizzie spoke as if more was meant than met the ear, and Miss Blanchard
at once said she would go next day.

The invalid had been recovering very slowly. The month that she was to
remain in the hospital had been extended to two, partly owing to her
weakness, partly to the impossibility of her having care or comfort if
she left it. When Nora went next day, she met Miss Spencer at the door
of the room.

"Come with me," she said. "Mrs. Travers is asleep, and we can talk
better in the sitting-room."

They went into the little sitting-room, and sat down. "I am sorry to
say," said Miss Spencer, in a voice of grave concern, "that Mrs. Travers
got at some brandy one day when I was asleep, and another nurse was on
duty. She had just gone out for a few minutes, leaving it, meantime, in
an adjoining room, and Mrs. Travers must have seized the moment to
satisfy her craving. She was quite overcome by it, when Lizzie Mason
came to see her. But Lizzie did not seem at all surprised at it. And the
poor thing has been in a restless fit ever since."

"Oh," said Nora, "there was something in Lizzie's manner that made me so
uneasy when she spoke to me yesterday, that I felt anxious to come at
once. But what a dreadful thing it is!"

"It makes it so much harder to know what to do for her," said Miss
Spencer. "Of course we must keep her here as long as we can. I think she
is one of the cases that really are uncontrollable by the sufferers
themselves,--their will-power being almost gone. For such unfortunates
an inebriate asylum is the only hope. I see she is very nervous and
excitable. Of course she will be treated here as much as possible for
_this_, now that we know it."

When Nora related the circumstances to her brother, he was not at all
surprised. He had known other cases of the kind, and regarded the
pathological state of such people as a kind of semi-lunacy produced by
physical causes, and curable only by constant watchfulness and
unremitting medical treatment.

"Half the world doesn't understand it, and the other half doesn't
realize it, or there would be more sympathy for such unhappy sufferers.
We're in a great measure brutal, still, in our treatment of them."

Nora was somewhat consoled by this view of the subject, and tried to
make pity for the misfortune overcome her repugnance to the results.
More than ever, she felt what a terrible thing it was for the poor
child, whose peculiarities she could so much better understand. Dr.
Blanchard, too, looked very grave over poor little Cecilia.

The tea-party at the new "Girls' Club," as its founders styled it, took
place in due time, and was a fair success. The room was filled with as
many young girls as it could comfortably accommodate. There was tea,
cake and fruit in abundance, to which full justice was done. Nora and
Kitty each sang some simple songs; Miss Pomeroy, who was something of an
elocutionist, read "The May Queen;" some others played and read; and one
or two of the guests, on being invited to do so, gave recitations of
their own, learned at school, in the usual school-elocution style. On
the whole, notwithstanding a little awkwardness in the attempts of
entertainers and entertained to be friendly and sociable, the evening
passed off very pleasantly; even Nelly, for once, seeming a little
subdued, but evidently very well entertained. At the close, Miss
Pomeroy, to whom this task had been assigned, told the girls they were
cordially welcome to use the room whenever they pleased. It would be
open on several evenings each week, and they could read, write or talk
as they liked.

"And may we use the organ?" eagerly asked one, as they were leaving.

"Certainly, if you will use it carefully," Nora replied at once, an
answer that evidently gave general satisfaction.

Miss Pomeroy was rather discouraged, when Nora repeated to her what
Lizzie had said during her visit of invitation. The difficulty she had
expressed was one that had never occurred to a young lady so differently
situated, and she was genuinely surprised, when she at last realized
their long hours of steady, monotonous work. She had never before
thought about it, or inquired into such matters. And her own life had
always been such an easy, self-indulgent one, that this unremitting toil
seemed the more formidable to her, in comparison.

"Dear, dear!" she said. "I don't know what papa can be thinking of to
permit it! I know he lets Willett do just as he likes. He's so valuable,
papa says. Perhaps he doesn't know about it. Why, mamma and he are
forever fidgetting about me--so afraid of my over-walking myself or
over-exerting myself in any way! And I'm sure _I'm_ strong enough. I
must talk to him about it."

Mr. Pomeroy was rather surprised when his daughter challenged him on the
subject. He had never, so to speak, thought of his daughter and his
_employés_, "on the same day." He laughed a little at her earnestness,
told her somewhat irrelevantly that she was growing fanciful, that she
didn't understand these matters, or comprehend differing conditions of
life. However, seeing that this matter was a real trouble to her, he
promised her that he would see what he could do about it. And it was not
very long before Nora heard from Lizzie, with great pleasure, that half
an hour had been taken off their time, without any further reduction in
their pay. So now, she said, she did not mind the lower wages so much,
"that one half-hour did make such a difference!"

Nora was full of this news when Roland called to bring her tickets for
Mr. Jeffrey's lecture.

"I'm delighted to hear it," he said. "I believe the young women of
America could do more in this matter than any other agency, if they were
only thoroughly waked up about it. But," he added, gravely, "I wish Mr.
Pomeroy would do something for his men as well as for his girls, and
save us the worry and odium of a 'strike' there! I don't want to see one
started, if we can possibly help it."

"Oh, I hope it won't come to that," said Nora; "especially when Mr.
Pomeroy has done this for the girls!"

"If he would only go a little farther, it would be all right. The
mistake is in half-measures. Oh, well, we needn't borrow trouble. It may
not come; only--I am somewhat afraid!"



CHAPTER XXI.

WORK AND WAGES.


The lecture Mr. Jeffrey was to deliver was well advertised, and excited
a great deal of interest in Minton. The name and character of the
lecturer were so well known that people were anxious to hear him, on the
score of his personality, apart from the special interest of his
lecture. That, however, was interesting in different ways to many, and
those who took the side of Capital, as well as those who took the side
of Labor, were, from their different points of view, equally desirous of
hearing what a man regarded as an authority on the subject would say
about it. And a still greater interest was excited when it was announced
in the _Minerva_ that Mr. Jeffrey, in the course of his lecture, would
discuss and meet some opinions which Mr. Wharton had lately expressed in
that paper, in opposition to positions Roland Graeme had advanced in
_The Brotherhood_. Now that so redoubtable a champion had entered the
lists, the contest appeared a more respectable one. Even Mr. Pomeroy
would scarcely have ventured to call Mr. Jeffrey a "crank," and Mr.
Wharton went to the lecture, expecting some intellectual pleasure, at
least, despite the promised criticism of his own views.

The Pomeroy family was, this time, represented by two members. Harold
Pomeroy had actually braced himself to the exertion of sitting through
it, which, with Kitty for company, "would not be so bad after all." His
father would not go, but wished that his son should, for decency's sake.
Miss Pomeroy was naturally eager to hear more of a subject that had
begun to interest her very strongly. The Blanchards were there, of
course, and so was Philip Archer. And Mr. Chillingworth, on this
occasion departing from his usual indifferent attitude, condescended to
show some interest in one of the most important questions of the day.
The hall was crowded, for the most part, with a very different audience
from that which had been collected to hear Roland's lecture; but a part
of it had, by Roland's care, been specially reserved for the workingmen,
of the more intelligent of whom there was a good representation; so that
"Capital" and "Labor" might have been said pretty fairly to divide the
audience between them. Mr. Jeffrey was a tall, spare man, of striking
and manly presence, with a slight stoop. His fine broad forehead was
shaded by waves of iron-gray hair. His dark eyes and firm mouth carried
out an impression of earnestness and decision. He entered the hall,
accompanied by Roland Graeme, who briefly introduced him, and listened
to his lecture with the combined earnestness of a reporter and a
sympathetic auditor.

The lecturer began by expressing the pleasure it had given him to come
to Minton, to reinforce the good work begun by his esteemed friend, Mr.
Roland Graeme; the pleasure of whose acquaintance he owed to their
common interest in the grand movement, in favor of which he had the
honor to speak to-night.

This prologue caused a distinct sensation in some quarters. Harold
Pomeroy opened his eyes, and glanced at Mr. Archer, whose moustache
curled as usual, though with what expression, it would have been hard to
define. Nora gave a slightly triumphant look at both, and Kitty stole a
mischievous glance at Mr. Chillingworth's somewhat contracted brow. As
for Roland himself, however, though naturally gratified by the
recognition, which he did not report, he was quite unconscious of any
implied compliment; regarding it quite as a matter of course, that
community of interest in any great movement should draw together those
who were engaged in it. Mr. Jeffrey, in entering on his subject,
remarked that he could not possibly prevent his subject from appearing
somewhat dry; but that, notwithstanding its dryness, it was fraught with
the deepest interest and importance to human welfare. He began by
referring to the unquestionable fact, that "the laboring classes of all
civilized nations have been and still are, as a body, _poor_," while
another fact, "that nearly all wealth is the production of labor," would
seem to make it natural that all should have possessed some of it, had
not something intervened to prevent this result. What that was--that
"something," that cause or causes--and whether this seemingly unnatural
result could be changed, or modified, he now proposed to inquire.

He then explained the nature of property, as being almost entirely in
some way the product of labor. As this, then, was the means of procuring
property, and in a healthy state of society the only means of doing so,
it followed that "to obtain labor without rendering a fair equivalent,
is a violation of the rights of property." No one could deny this. The
only difference of opinion would be as to what was a fair equivalent. Do
the workingmen of America, for instance, receive for their labor a fair
proportion of the wealth they produce?

Following somewhat in the line of Roland's lecture, Mr. Jeffrey then
traced the causes that led to more and more unequal distribution of
wealth, the great discoveries that have made expensive machinery,
division of labor and production on a large scale, essential features of
our complex civilization. He sketched the processes by which large
concerns have gradually swallowed small ones, by which small mechanics
and traders have been gradually driven from the field; while "the
master-workmen and journeymen of a hundred years ago are to be found at
the bench or lathe of the mammoth workshops of the day, not as
independent workmen but as mere _automata_, to pull the levers which
release the cranks, gears and pulleys of the machinery that performs the
former labor of their hands."

This state of things, however, was an inevitable accompaniment of
scientific and material progress. If it had this unquestionable
disadvantage, we have to take the evil with the good. We could not enjoy
our railways and telegraphs, our cheap papers and books, and a thousand
other comforts and luxuries of life, without such drawbacks. And while
there was truth in the contention of Mr. Ruskin that the minute
subdivision of labor tended to destroy the artistic feeling of pride and
pleasure in finished work, still this might be more than counterbalanced
by the growth of the spirit of coöperation, of brotherhood, in labor.
Men might learn to take pride in combined work as well as in individual
work, as the soldiers of a regiment take pride in gallant achievements
of the whole body. The artistic spirit in work might be called forth,
and men might cease to work as _automata_, if they felt that they were
sharers in an enterprise, not mere "_hands_." But the increasing
inequality of the distribution of wealth utterly prevented this feeling
of proprietorship in work, and placed employer and employed in a
position of selfish antagonism. How could this be remedied? At this
point the lecturer took up a clipping from the _Minerva_, containing one
of Mr. Wharton's articles. That gentleman moved uneasily, and settled
himself into an attitude of critical attention.

"Look at Wharton!" whispered Mr. Archer to Miss Blanchard. "He knows
he's going to catch it, now!"

It was maintained, he said, by the writer of this article--published in
one of their leading journals--that the poor were _not_ growing poorer,
that the average laborer of to-day was not more poorly but better paid
than the average laborer of the past. The able writer of this article
had submitted a formidable array of statistics to prove his position.
Well, he was not going to question the accuracy of the statistics. But
there is much force in the saying, notwithstanding all that we hear of
"mathematical truth," that "nothing lies like figures," that is, when
they are called in to prove more than _sums_. Aside from the great
difference in the value of money, which was somewhat set off by the
greater cheapness of many articles to-day, there were many other
considerations that must not be left out of sight in determining whether
the laborer was even _as well_ paid now, as, for instance, in England,
two or three hundred years ago. For it must be remembered that comfort,
after all, was largely a relative term, depending on our ideas and
requirements. A savage would find comfort in a life which to a civilized
man would be intolerable. Our growing complex civilization had developed
many artificial needs, many of them an integral part of progress, the
non-gratification of which involved real privation. He would ask them to
hear the description of the interior of an English manor-house, about
the time of Queen Elizabeth. They had all heard about the old English
manor-houses, with the mention of which they were always ready to
associate the most refined and graceful life of the day--the
manor-houses of Trollope, for instance, through whom most of us know
them. Well, this is what they were like in those days; he quoted from
Thorold Rogers:--

"As might be expected, the furniture of the manor-house was scanty.
Glass, though by no means excessively dear, appears to have been rarely
used. A table, put on tressels, and laid aside when out of use; a few
forms and stools, a long bench stuffed with straw or wool covered with a
straw cushion worked like a bee-hive, with one or two chairs of wood or
straw, and a chest or two for linen, formed the hall furniture. A brass
pot or two for boiling, and two or three brass dishes; a few wooden
platters and trenchers, or, more rarely, of pewter; an iron or latten
candlestick, a kitchen knife or two, a box or barrel for salt, a brass
ewer and basin, formed the movables of the ordinary house. The walls
were garnished with mattocks, scythes, reaping-hooks, buckets,
corn-measures and empty sacks. The dormitory contained a rude bed, and
but rarely sheets or blankets; for the gown of the day was generally the
coverlet at night."

"Now, then," he said, [1]"compare this 'interior,' with what we see
to-day in the home of the average manufacturer, the beauty and luxury,
the thousand costly superfluities;--and would any one say that the
condition of the laborer had improved in anything like the same ratio?
It might even be gravely questioned, in many cases, whether it had
improved absolutely. For, although there were many additional comforts
within the reach of all but the poorest, still, the unhealthy conditions
of life resulting from massing families together, in close and
unwholesome houses, more than neutralized the advantages. But if any one
wanted to know more of the actual state of things in this free and
independent America, let him read in Henry George's 'Social Problems,'
certain statements by commissioners of labor statistics. Let him read of
the intelligent workingmen of Illinois, that 'the one half are not even
able to earn enough for their daily bread, and have to depend upon the
labor of women and children to eke out their miserable existence.' Let
him read that, in cultured Massachusetts, the earnings of adult
laborers are generally less than the cost of living; that--in the
majority of cases--workingmen do not support their families on their
individual earnings alone, and that fathers are forced to depend
upon their children for from one-quarter to one-third of the family
earnings--children under fifteen supplying from one-eighth to one-sixth
of the whole earnings. Was it any wonder if such children died
prematurely, worn out by unnatural labor?" and here he quoted, with
telling effect, Carlyle's famous description of the sad fate of the
murdered little Dauphin of France, ending with the strong, touching
words--"as only poor factory children, and the like, are wont to perish,
_and not be lamented_!" And, to quote Henry George again, let them think
of "the thousands who swelter all summer in swarming tenement houses and
dirty streets teeming with squalid life! Draggled women will be striving
to soothe pining babies, sobbing and wailing away their little lives for
the want of wholesome nourishment and fresh air; and degradation and
misery that hide through the winter will be seen on every hand." It was
pictures like these, he said, that brought home the facts of the case,
whether the position of the workers was better or worse. Even Minton, he
doubted not, could supply them with some such scenes.

[Footnote 1: For several passages in quotation marks in this chapter,
the author is indebted to Henry George's works, to "Labor and Capital"
by Edward Kellogg, and to articles in the "_Popular Science Monthly_,"
by George Iles, and Benjamin Reece.]

At this point Mr. Wharton took his note-book and pencilled an entry.

"Wharton's getting ready for a reply!" whispered Mr. Archer. "He thinks
he's got a point for his answer." But Nora scarcely heard him, so
riveted was she in painful interest on the lecturer's words. He went on
to another point.

"He knew," he said, "that the laborer was said to be extravagant.
Doubtless neither laborers nor their wives were always economical,
judged by the standard of the New England housewife. But that required
special training--ages of training--and what chance had they to acquire
it? But, after all, what opportunity had the laborer to be extravagant,
when the price of the day's work would hardly pay the day's board and
lodging in a comfortable house in our cities? Do the factory operatives
in most countries live extravagantly, or the seamstresses in London or
New York? Yet they earn three, four or five times more products than
they actually consume, and these go into the possession of the class of
persons who live comfortably or luxuriously, without performing much, if
any, productive labor, or advancing the moral and intellectual
well-being of society. Might not the laborer, on his side, in such
circumstances, say that his earnings are swallowed up by the
extravagance of employers?"

He next touched the question of "over-production." "There were periods,"
he said, "when one house is filled with families, one to each room, from
cellar to garret, and the adjoining house stands empty for want of
tenants able to pay the rent. Goods are piled up in store without sale,
while great numbers of the laboring community are ragged, and are
begging from door to door for old clothes to shield themselves and their
families from the piercing cold; and for the crumbs that fall from the
tables of the rich, to keep them from starving! Was such a state of
things really the result of over-production? If this be indeed the case,
public measures should be taken to avert such disasters by preventing
the excess of labor. Is it not strange that, at the time when the amount
of surplus production is the subject of national lamentation, the people
who produce by their labor the very things which they need for their own
use and comfort, are the ones that are often destitute of them, while a
few capitalists who do little or nothing toward the production or
distribution, are supplied with all the comforts and luxuries of life,
at half or less than half their usual price? But a surplus of cotton has
never remained because no one needed it! The evil," he went on to say,
"does not arise from over-production, but from _under-consumption_ by
the great masses, the natural result of the unequal, and, I would add,
frequently unjust distribution of wealth, keeping, from the toiling
multitudes, what they needed for health and comfort, while the wealthy
minority could not possibly use their surplus for their own needs. And
so the underpayment of Labor reacted on the profits of Capital." He
would not, he said, dwell on the other causes that aggravated the
discomforts of the workingman's lot--the unduly long hours of toil that
wore him out prematurely, and made him almost a stranger to his
children, the long and close confinement of the week; what wonder if,
exhausted and weary, he kept out of their churches on the one day of
rest! Would not most of his hearers, in similar circumstances, do the
same?

Mr. Chillingworth, who had been listening attentively, began to pull his
long dark beard thoughtfully, a habit of his, when thinking about a
perplexing subject.

"But now," the lecturer said, "having explained the evils, I am going to
turn to a possible remedy. Would it not add, _should_ it not add to the
happiness of every one," he asked, "if we could secure the removal of
the grinding poverty and wretchedness, that was not caused by pure
misfortune or misconduct? The residuum would be very easily grappled
with. If," as he fully believed, "the produce of labor constitutes the
natural recompense of labor, why then do not laborers get all they are
justly entitled to receive? The laboring classes make their own bargains
with capitalists, and one another, and all are equally protected in the
property which they lawfully acquire. Undoubtedly, both parties are
governed by their own interests, in making their agreements; but the
circumstances under which contracts are made often render them very
unjust toward laborers. Suppose one of the contracting parties to be in
deep water, where he must drown, unless he receive assistance from the
other party who is on the land. Although the drowning man might be well
aware that his friend on the shore was practising a very grievous
extortion, yet, under the circumstances, he would be glad to make any
possible agreement to be rescued."

Now, as governments are established to protect the just rights of the
governed, he believed that legislation was needed to regulate both the
minimum of wages and the maximum of hours. He had faith enough to
believe in the ultimate triumph of righteous principles of action, and
in the future general fulfilment of the command to every man to "love
his neighbor as himself." But, in the meantime, we need legislation in
many ways, to protect society from the injustice of those who love their
neighbor not at all; and he believed such legislation was needed in this
direction, otherwise the selfish and unscrupulous employer would
frequently crowd out the humane and just one. Railway companies and
joint-stock companies especially require regulation, since corporations,
as we all know, have no souls! He thought that joint-stock companies
should be prohibited from contracting liabilities beyond their actual
capital, since the power of doing so immensely exaggerated their already
too great advantages. He believed that the government should, by all
possible precautions, preserve unappropriated land for the use of the
community, as opposed to selfish schemes of individual aggrandizement.
And he was glad that the Knights of Labor took the attitude of
opposition to all further grants of land for speculative purposes.

In conclusion, the lecturer hoped that the Knights of Labor would be
true to the principles laid down by their public spirited founder. He
trusted that they would maintain an unselfish policy. They were
committed by their constitution to demand for women equal wages for
equal work, and that was well. But they must be generous to unorganized
labor also. Their cause must be the cause of labor as a whole. If they
were to discriminate selfishly between the organized men and the
unorganized, to try to crowd out the tramp or even the criminal who
needs the remedial influences of work, they would simply be repeating
and perpetuating the injustice against which they desired to protect
themselves. Mercy, as well as justice, must be their watchword. For,
"there is no justice without mercy, _it is just to be merciful_!". In
such a combination they would find their true policy, their true
success. The lecture closed with a peroration similar to Roland's
quotation, describing the ideal possibilities of a state of society in
which justice and mercy should prevail, and, in the words of the old
Hebrew poet, "Righteousness and Peace should kiss each other."

The charm of the lecturer's voice and manner, combined with his clear
presentation of his subject, had held the close attention of almost the
whole audience, with a few such exceptions as Kitty Farrell chiefly
occupied in watching her friend Waldberg, who as usual came in late, and
whose services were not, this time, called into requisition. Neither did
he approach Kitty after the lecture, leaving her to the sole attendance
of Harold Pomeroy.

It was Dr. Blanchard who moved the vote of thanks to the lecturer,
saying, that in opposition to the interests of his profession, he was,
nevertheless, moved, by the spirit of the lecture, to thank Mr. Jeffrey
for his clear exposition of evils which included in their result the
production of more disease than any other cause. Mr. Archer, this time,
was equal to the occasion, and gracefully seconded the motion. While Dr.
Blanchard, Mr. Alden, Mr. Chillingworth and Mr. Wharton were engaged in
conversation with Mr. Jeffrey after the conclusion of the lecture,
Roland Graeme accosted Nora, with an expression of half-amused concern.

"I am sorry to say," he said, in a low tone, "that strike we have been
dreading seems inevitable, after all! and, the worst of it is, they will
be crediting this lecture with it, though it really had nothing to do
with it. Turner, that man over there," he explained, pointing out the
man who had seconded the vote of thanks at his own lecture, "tells me
the men have determined to interview Mr. Pomeroy to-morrow, and if he
won't make the concessions they want, to strike at once. I suspect your
friend, Jim Mason, has had a good deal to do with it. He's very bitter
and obstinate. I only hope it will be all quietly done and that the
rough element won't be guilty of any violence."

"Oh," said Nora, in dismay, "what a pity! A strike is such a dreadful
sort of thing, isn't it?"

"Well, there are strikes and strikes," said Roland, smiling a little. "I
rather think this won't last long. And you know there's nothing in a
strike contrary to the laws of God or man, however inconvenient it may
sometimes be for an employer. A workman has just the same right to
demand a just price for his labor, that a merchant has for his goods;
and what he has the right to do singly, he has the right to do in
combination with others. When there is combination to oppress, there
must sometimes be combination to resist oppression. And I think the men
ask only what is right."

"I suppose so," said Nora, thoughtfully. "But I do hope there won't be
any trouble, if it's only for Lizzie's sake."

"I trust so too," replied Roland, as he bade her good-night.



CHAPTER XXII.

NORA'S STRATEGY.


Roland Graeme's full report of Mr. Jeffrey's lecture appeared the
following evening in the _Minerva_. It was not strange, all things
considered, that Mr. Pomeroy threw down the paper with disgust,
declaring that if such stuff was scattered broadcast among the men, it
was no wonder that he had so much trouble.

"What's the matter?" asked his daughter, looking up anxiously.

He did not answer at once, and her brother, who was examining the
contents of his gold-mounted cigar-case, replied nonchalantly:

"Oh, only what might have been expected, after last night! The men have
been making another row about higher pay, and when father told them that
he proposed to run his works himself, they had the impudence to tell him
that he could run them by himself. So I suppose that means that they
won't put in an appearance to-morrow; and just when there's a lot of
work on hand to finish, too!"

"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Pomeroy, "how disgraceful! And after what you did
for them a little while ago!"

"That wasn't for the men, mamma!" said Miss Pomeroy.

"Oh, I knew no good would come of doing anything to please them!" said
the young man. "I consider you're responsible for it, Clara, for coaxing
father into it."

"Well," said Miss Pomeroy, "I wonder, Harold, after all you heard last
night, you can talk like that! Why should we have so much _more_ than we
need, and all these people so much less?"

Young Pomeroy whistled. "Well, I declare!" he exclaimed. "Do you hear
that, father! Here's Clara out on the 'Rights of Labor'! The reason we
have so much more, is because father had so much more to begin
with,--the money to buy the machinery, and the head to use it!"

"But that's no reason why the men who help him to use it mightn't be
better paid! _You_ like a good salary for what you do to help, and I
don't suppose that's worth a great deal!" she retorted, coolly.

"Much you know about it! But if all these people get only a little more
every week, it would make a big difference to father, don't you see?
And, you know, even Mr. Jeffrey said that single firms couldn't afford
to raise the wages, or they'd be crowded out. And you like as well as
anybody to have your trips to Europe and Newport, and all the rest of
it."

"I am sick of Newport," she replied. "And I'd rather never see Europe
again, than think I was going at the expense of keeping other people
drudging for a pittance! But you know very well father can afford a good
deal of extra pay, end never feel it. You know you can--papa?"

Mr. Pomeroy had been listening to the discussion in silence. It rather
amused him that his daughter should come out in such distinct opposition
to her own interests; and, as she was decidedly his favorite, he did not
care to take sides with Harold against her. Moreover, it always
gratified his purse-pride to have his wealth put at a high estimate. So
he only stretched himself out in his easy-chair, remarking, drily:

"It's well you haven't the business to manage, my dear. However, I am
going to have a long talk with Willett to-morrow, and if it seems to me
that the concern can stand it, I don't mind a little extra pay. Only
don't complain if you can't get quite so many new dresses."

"I don't care for that," she said. "I've always had more than I could
wear, and lots of people have to go without enough to keep them warm. It
makes one feel mean, just to think of it."

Mrs. Pomeroy looked annoyed. She always wore grave colors, having some
vague idea that these were more "consistent" than bright ones, but she
loved rich and handsome materials, and as she "took an interest" in the
Clothing Club, she did not see any reason for "feeling mean." And was
she not at that moment embroidering an expensive cushion for a
charitable bazaar--intended to coax a few dollars out of some one who
had no idea of "_giving_, hoping for nothing again"?

"I wish you wouldn't take up these socialistic ideas, Clara," she said.
"I do hope you haven't been talking to that young Graeme that Philip
talks about! Why, Harold tells me Nora Blanchard actually bows to him,
and that he's been at the house. I think it's very queer! I told Philip
he mustn't think of bringing him _here_."

"Oh, you needn't be alarmed, mamma," the young lady replied. "I haven't
the honor of even a bowing acquaintance with Mr. Graeme, and I don't
suppose he's in the least anxious to visit here!"

Miss Pomeroy knew very well, from Roland's lecture, that he was better
bred, better read, more thoughtful, and better worth knowing than half
the people who did visit them; but where would be the use of trying to
convey this impression to her mother, in whose eyes Roland was little
better than a "communist" and therefore "worse than an infidel"?

"If you're going out, Harold," said Miss Pomeroy, "will you call a cab
for me?"

"Where are you going to-night, then?" asked her mother.

"Oh, only to the Girls' Club," she replied, carelessly. "We're having a
little informal sort of concert for them to-night, and I promised to
go."

"Well," said Mrs. Pomeroy, "I wonder what we shall have next. When I was
young, girls thought tract distribution and collecting for missions good
enough for them. Now, they must have all sorts of new-fangled ideas!
Where's the use of taking these girls out of their homes at night, when
they've been out all day?"

"If you saw some of their homes!" Miss Pomeroy replied. "And some of
them have _none_!"

"I say, Clara," said her brother, lingering a little, "suppose you take
me with you to help! I don't mind sacrificing myself to that extent.
I'll read them the "Bad Little Boy," or anything else you like."

"Thank you for nothing! We don't have _any_ boys there," she replied,
severely.

"Well, that's gratitude, I must say. But still, I'll come for you if you
like. What time? Ten? or half-past nine?"

"Half-past nine will do," she replied. "Really, Harold is in a
wonderfully obliging mood, to-night!" she remarked, as she left the room
to get ready.

"You don't half do your brother justice," said the fond mother.

At the concert, the girls were whispering among themselves about the
rumored strike, but of course nothing reached Miss Pomeroy's ears.
Neither did she observe a little stolen talk between her brother, as he
waited for her at the door, and Nellie Grove, as she went out alone,
avoiding Lizzie, who looked very sad and downcast.

"May I come to see you to-morrow, Miss Blanchard?" said Lizzie, watching
her opportunity. "You know there isn't going to be any work at the mill,
and there's something I want to speak to you about."

"Why, are _you_ all going to strike too?" asked Nora, who had heard that
the crisis was imminent.

"Oh no, miss! but there's no use our going when there's no one to work
the machinery. So we'll have a whole holiday, and that is splendid!"

"Oh, I see," said Nora. "Well, come whenever you like. I shall be in all
the morning."

The next day was one of those exquisite winter days that are most apt to
come in February, when the sun rises softly through a light haze that
idealizes the commonest objects. Even Pomeroy & Company's mill looked
almost poetical in the early morning sunshine; but it stood still and
silent, no whirr of machinery breaking the morning stillness, no troops
of workers hastening toward it from their hurried breakfast.

A few girls who had not heard of the strike arrived; but turned away
again, as they knew, by the unwonted stillness, that there was no work
going on. Willett, the manager, himself once a workingman, now turned
into a petty tyrant, very willing to mete to others the measure he had
himself received, walked about grumbling, or scolding the little
message-boys, who lingered about the place. He read the letters that
came in, and then grumbled again, because some of them contained large
orders for a particular kind of mixed silk and woolen goods, of which a
large quantity was wanted immediately. Finally, on receipt of a note
from Mr. Pomeroy, he settled down with a frown to a series of elaborate
calculations, made from the pages of the great folios of accounts that
lay on the office table. Meantime, the men at their homes enjoyed their
unusual holiday, slept in, or lounged about aimlessly, discussing the
prospects of speedy success, while they wondered wistfully, at times,
how long this unproductive idleness was likely to last.

Lizzie, however, did not arrive till pretty late in the afternoon; just
as Nora, despairing of her coming, was going out for a long walk, to
enjoy the unusual beauty of the exquisite winter day.

"I'm so sorry, miss," she said, "that I couldn't come sooner. But I've
been awful worried all day--about Jim! He's been out drinkin' with some
roughs; an' they've been puttin' him up to all sorts of mischief. An'
he's been hearin' about Nelly bein' out walkin' the other night--with
young Mr. Pomeroy--and it's just set him crazy; he's vowin' he'll do him
a mischief _sure_!"

"Was it Mr. Pomeroy, then, that you told me about before?" asked Nora,
dismayed at this proof of what she had hoped was mere talk.

"Yes. But indeed I wouldn't have told you now, only I'm dreadful 'fraid
there'll be a row! My little brother's an errand-boy in the mill, an' he
happened to tell Jim that young Mr. Pomeroy was in the office, goin'
over accounts with Mr. Willett; an' now Jim has got a plan in his head
of goin' with two or three of his comrades, to wait for him, when he
goes home at dusk, and give him an awful thrashin', you know there's one
place that's pretty lonely on the road. An' there's no knowin' what Jim
will do when his blood's up--an' the drink in his head! I seen him,
lately, foolin' with a revolver, though where he got it, I don't know."

"And why can't you go and warn the police to look out?" asked Nora,
hastily, too much shocked at this unexpected turn of things to consider
it calmly.

"Oh, Miss Blanchard! how could I do that, an' have Jim 'run in' again
the first thing? If he knew I came an' told _you_, even, he'd half kill
me, the way he's in now! I've been thinkin' an' thinkin', an' there's
only one way I can see to stop mischief, and that is, if you could only
manage to walk home with Mr. Pomeroy this evenin'."

"I?" asked Nora, much startled at such a proposition.

"Yes, miss, if you were there, I _know_ Jim wouldn't lay a hand on him.
He thinks an awful lot of you mostly for the notice you've took of
Nelly--for all he's so mad at her just now. If you were walkin' with Mr.
Pomeroy he'd never think of makin' any row. You could keep talkin' with
him all the way, so they'd know you were there. And then no one need
ever know anything about it. And when Jim's sober to-morrow, you might
come and talk to him a bit. But if you could only get Mr. Pomeroy to
stop hangin' round Nelly, it would be best of all. That was what I
wanted to ask you, any way. For I do think he would, if you spoke to
him."

Nora had been rapidly thinking the matter over, as Lizzie spoke. At
least, she thought, she could _try_. And the crisis, such as it was,
appealed to a natural, chivalrous love of adventure, that she doubtless
inherited from her brave pioneer ancestors.

"Well, Lizzie," she said, "I'll do what you ask, and I only hope it will
prove effectual."

And then she stopped Lizzie's torrent of warm gratitude by making some
inquiries about Mrs. Travers. Lizzie was evidently unwilling to say
anything about her friend's weakness, but Nora drew from her enough to
show that the poor young woman was subject to fits of restless
excitability, when it seemed as if she _must_ have the stimulus she
craved.

"She's told me she could jump over a ten-barred gate to get it, at such
times," Lizzie said, sorrowfully. "And then she'd be down in the depths
of misery afterwards. An' the poor little thing would look so scared,
when her mother took these turns! She wouldn't know what to make of it,
though she did get kind of used to it, too."

Nora had not, just then, much time to think of Mrs. Travers, however. As
soon as Lizzie left her, she began to arrange her plan of operation. She
would have to do something that would surprise Mr. Harold Pomeroy a
little, but that could not be helped. Had her brother been there, she
would have solved the problem by asking _him_ to call for Mr. Pomeroy
and drive him home, giving him a hint of her reason; but he was out on
his rounds, and there was no knowing how long he might be away. And Nora
knew that it would not do to risk anything; for, independently of the
consequences to those chiefly concerned, any lawless act of violence of
this kind would seriously complicate matters, and, moreover, bring
additional odium on Mr. Graeme and on the cause in which she had become
so strongly interested.

She took a long walk alone, in the dreamy slanting sunshine of the mild
winter afternoon, the genial balmy air, and the soft purplish haze
seeming like a presage of the coming spring. The calm beauty of the
approaching evening, the rose and amber tints of the western sky as the
sun set red through the haze, soothed the slight nervous excitement that
her errand naturally produced. She walked a long way past the Pomeroy
mill, noting, in her walk, how many wretched-looking houses there were,
just like Lizzie's, in its close vicinity; and thinking that these were,
doubtless, the places where her brother apprehended an outbreak of some
epidemic, as soon as the warm weather of spring should have set in.

She took good care, however, to be back at the mill, before Harold
Pomeroy should be likely to think of returning. It was getting near
dusk, and the office windows alone were lighted, the rest of the
building looming up, dark and blank--a contrast to its usual effect at
this hour. Nora walked up, unhesitatingly, and knocked at the office
door.

"I should like to speak to Mr. Harold Pomeroy, if he is here," she said
to the manager, who opened the door and looked much surprised at seeing
his visitor.

"Miss Blanchard!" exclaimed young Pomeroy, as he recognized her? "Why,
what----"

Nora did not give him time to go on. "I've been taking a long walk," she
said, "and am rather late in getting home. I was told you were here, and
thought I would ask for your escort back."

"I shall be only too happy," he said, though not without some natural
surprise at the direction she had chosen for her walk. But Miss
Blanchard was evidently a young lady of peculiar fancies, and, no doubt,
she had been looking up some of her queer acquaintances.

"We'll do the rest of these to-morrow, Willett, and I'll report
progress, so far," he said, with an air of satisfaction. "Now, Miss
Blanchard, I'm at your service. Will you take my arm?"

Nora accepted it, a thing she had never done before, and they walked on
together through the still, clear twilight, while bells were chiming and
lights gleaming out through the winter dusk.

"What a lovely evening, and how it makes one begin to think of spring!"
said Miss Blanchard, as they came out.

And then she went on talking in a somewhat louder tone than usual, about
everything she could think of, making young Pomeroy wonder no less at
her very unusual loquacity, than he had done at her unexpected
appearance. He never knew the reason of either, nor did he notice the
strained attention of his companion during the whole walk; how she
scrutinized every corner and archway they passed, till she began to be
afraid lest her companion should notice her anxiety and hear the loud
beating of her heart. They had come about a third of the way, when
Nora's quick eye caught sight of some dark figures hovering in the
shadow of a line of warehouses with open gateways, and her strained ear
caught something like a muttered consultation. She talked on in a still
louder tone, not allowing her companion time to put in a word, lest he
might, by any chance, say something that might aggravate or enrage the
men. As they drew near, she saw that they seemed to move back a little,
then edged off to a corner near; and, as Nora and her companion reached
it, they saw them clattering heavily away, growling out oaths, all but
_one_, who stood still in the shadow, and whom Nora's quick ear could
hear, as he hissed out, between his teeth:

"You ---- white-livered coward! You must get a woman to take care of
you!"

"There go some of Graeme's amiable 'Knights'!" sneered Harold Pomeroy,
who had not caught the words, but knew that something abusive had been
said. "That's what comes of strikes. The men loaf about and get drunk
and then they get into rows and riots! That's making things better, I
suppose!"

Nora had suddenly collapsed into silence in the middle of a sentence.
The nervous strain had been too much for her, and she could not think of
anything more to say, just at that moment.

She only replied to her companion's remark, in a dreamy way--"Yes, it's
a pity when such things have to be."

Harold Pomeroy went on talking, but she scarcely listened to him. She
was bracing herself for the latter part of her task, not less difficult
than the first. If her companion was puzzled by her sudden change of
manner, he was still more surprised at her next speech.

"Mr. Pomeroy," she began, in a voice low, and somewhat tremulous, from
the effort it cost her to speak at all; "do you remember an old Bible
story about a rich man who had great flocks and herds, yet sent and took
away a poor man's lamb that he prized very much; and what was said about
him?"

"Yes, I believe I have some such vague recollection," he replied.

"Well, then," she continued, "suppose that you were a poor young man who
had to work at some steady, monotonous, uninteresting labor from early
morning till late at night. And suppose Kitty were a poor girl slaving
away for so many long hours a day----"

"What a horrible supposition!" he broke in; but she went on without
noticing the interruption.

"And, suppose that some rich young man, like _you_, for instance, who
was engaged to a rich and beautiful young lady, were to try to come
between you and Kitty, and flatter her into thinking she was too good
for you----"

"Perhaps she'd be about right!" he muttered.

"And break up, perhaps, her and your happiness for life. How do you
think you'd like it?"

"Oh, I see what you're hinting at," he replied, having by this time got
over his momentary discomposure. "I see some one's been gossiping,
making much ado about nothing! What harm is there in a little fun and
nonsense with a pretty girl, even if she _is_ silly?"

"Mr. Pomeroy," exclaimed Nora, in a voice unsteady with indignation,
"did you ever read the fable of the boys and the frogs?"

"Miss Blanchard," he replied, now in a tone half apologetic, "you
high-strung young ladies are always making mistakes, when you try to
judge about other people who don't feel like you. That girl hasn't any
heart at all; all she cares about is to have a good time; so what amuses
me doesn't hurt her; and if it did set her against marrying a lout like
that surly young Mason, so much the better for her, and for him, too!
She can do better for herself if she likes, and if she ever marries him
she'll lead him a dance, I can tell you!"

"Mr. Pomeroy," said Nora, severely, "you know in your heart better than
that. I want you to promise me to have nothing more to do with Nelly
Grove."

He began to whistle, then checked himself. "And what if I don't?" he
asked.

"Then I shall have to tell Kitty," she said, decidedly.

"And if I do promise, you'll promise to say nothing about it, will you?
I suppose _some_ women can keep a secret!"

"Yes, I am quite willing to promise that," she said.

"Well then--honor bright--I hereby promise to renounce Nelly and all her
works; will that satisfy you?"

"Yes," said Nora, shortly.

"And Kitty is never to hear a word about it! I don't want to give her a
good excuse, or what she might think a good excuse, for her flirtation
with Waldberg. You might reverse your story on my behalf; for it seems
to me that a poor young man is trying to poach on my preserves. You'd
better give him and Kitty a little of the admonition you've been good
enough to bestow on me!"

Through Nora's mind there had been running, since Lizzie's visit, that
afternoon, some lines she had long ago learned by heart, in one of
Macaulay's Lays. They were from "Virginia," and she just remembered
snatches of them.

    "Our very hearts that were so high sank down beneath your will;
    Riches, and lands and power and state--ye have them;--keep them still;
    But leave the poor Plebeian his single tie to life--
    The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife.
    Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
    That turns the coward's heart to steel--the sluggard's blood to flame
    Lest, when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair,
    And learn by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched dare!"

But her cheek burned a little as she felt that it would be "casting
pearls before swine" to appeal further to Harold Pomeroy's
sensibilities, hardened--almost atrophied--as these were, by a life of
unrestrained self-indulgence. A young man, who had never learned to
consider the feelings of an animal, but regarded it merely as an
instrument for his own amusement, who "went in" for pigeon-matches when
he had the chance, and docked his horse's tail, and tortured him with a
cruel check rein, without an atom of compunction for the creature's
suffering, was not likely to be over-particular when he came to deal
with human beings whom he also looked upon as an inferior order of
beings at that. To Nora, he was a puzzle, and she gave him up in
despair.

Yet the young man was, after all, a little impressed by her earnest
appeal. "She really does seem to take an awful lot of trouble about
other people!" he thought, wonderingly, as he walked homeward, after
leaving Miss Blanchard at her brother's door. "I really believe she
walked out all that way to-night, just to have the chance of giving me
that lecture. Too bad I can't tell Kitty about it!" and he laughed a
little over the adventure.

He never knew the real meaning of Miss Blanchard's unusual procedure. It
had the effect, however, of preventing an act of violence which would
have seriously imperilled the success of the strike and even of the
labor movement in Minton, as well as what Mr. Harold Pomeroy would have
thought of much more consequence,--his own preservation of a whole skin.



CHAPTER XXIII.

UNEXPECTED DENOUEMENTS.


That night, it happened that Roland Graeme, harassed by a natural
anxiety as to the results of the strike, with which he well knew public
opinion would be sure to connect his efforts after reform, felt
unusually wakeful, and, fearing a sleepless night unless he took some
means to quiet his nervous excitement, set out for a long walk after his
evening's work had been completed. This was a favorite expedient of his
for securing sleep when wakeful, and sometimes it succeeded.

By a natural sort of fascination, he involuntarily took the direction of
Mr. Pomeroy's mill, which at present occupied so much of his thoughts,
and walked some distance past it, into the open country, till he felt as
if the physical exercise had sufficiently quieted his nerves, and turned
to retrace his steps under the light of a late, waning moon, which
seemed, as such moons are apt to do, to give a sombre and ghostly aspect
to the familiar features of the scene. As he approached the mill, in
doing which he had to pass a long alley that led to a rear entrance
close to a small canal, he heard the thick voices of men, evidently
intoxicated, who seemed engaged in a noisy altercation. He was almost
sure, even in the distance, that one of the voices was Jim Mason's,
which he had often noticed as somewhat peculiar.

"I suppose they have been making a night of it at 'The Haven,' and are
going home 'full,' as they call it," he thought to himself in disgust.

"The Haven" was a drinking saloon, close to the alley which ran to the
rear of the works, and was also a part of Mr. Pomeroy's property; and,
at a distance, he could not be sure whether they had come out of the
saloon, or out of the alley. Just as he reached the alley, however, he
stopped short, as the penetrating odor of burning wood made itself
distinctly perceptible. With a flash, a possibility that had often
occurred to him rushed to his mind, and he turned down the alley in
order to find out its cause. As he proceeded, it grew more and more
distinct. He came at last to a gate leading into the courtyard, and
found that it yielded at once to his strong push, but whether this was
due to its having been previously forced open, or to the unconscious
force he had himself exerted, he did not stop to think, and could never
afterwards be sure. But, once inside, he saw what made his heart stand
still with dismay. An already strong jet of flame was licking its greedy
way along the base of an out-building used for the deposit of rubbish
from the mill, and, as he could see, evidently full of inflammable
material. Just beyond it was a storehouse, which he felt sure must in
all probability contain oil and other combustibles used in the works.
There was not a moment to be lost, and he, single-handed, could do
nothing. He rushed up the alley at full speed--shouting "_Fire!_" as he
ran; smashed in the office windows, till he had fully roused the sleepy
watchman, and sent him off to give the alarm, and then made his way,
breathless, to a street in the near vicinity, in which lived his friend
Turner and many more of the operatives. In less time than he could have
believed possible, he was making his way back, at the head of a
half-clad band of men who flocked after him, more from the irresistible
impulse which draws men to a scene of excitement and danger, than from
any definite purpose of saving Mr. Pomeroy's mill. There must still
intervene some minutes, at least, before the fire-engines could reach
the spot; and they were fateful minutes, for the fire was making rapid
headway, and its lurid glare now overpowered the pallid moonlight.

"Now, Turner, you know all the ropes. Tell us what's best to do," said
Roland.

"That storehouse is full of oil-barrels," said the man, gasping with
breathless excitement. "If the boys would turn to and get them out into
the water,--and there are axes here to tear up the roof and other
connections!"

"Come on, boys!" Roland shouted, tearing off his coat. "Let's get at it
at once! Some of you go and help Turner with the barrels, and I'll help
with the chopping!"

But the men sullenly held back; and Roland, looking round, saw, in the
bright glare of the leaping flames, that Jim and his friends, who must
have heard the alarm and hurried back, were already there, and were
evidently rousing the worst passions of their comrades, by their oaths
and invectives against the owners of the mill. Roland fairly rushed at
the surly, irresolute group of men who stood divided between the
instinctive impulse to save their workshops, and the grudge they had so
long silently nourished against the proprietor, and the "boss." Why
should they toil to save a place in which they might never do another
day's work? For there had been already floating rumors, spread by the
manager, that Mr. Pomeroy intended to send away for non-union men.

But Roland felt the gravity of the crisis, and felt that he _must_ get
them to work, for he could easily see the disastrous consequences that
would result, if it should be represented and believed--as it would
certainly be--that the strike had resulted in an incendiary fire. For
the next few moments, it seemed to him rather as if he were listening to
some one else, than speaking in his own proper person,--that the strong,
burning words, the voice of stern authority, came from some other
personality, so little seemed his conscious volition to be concerned in
it. In ringing tones he commanded them to follow. Were they going to
sacrifice their very livelihood to a childish impulse of vindictive
malice? Had they no concern for the valuable machines they had tended so
long? Would they let the mill become a mass of ruin, ruin to
_themselves_, not to the owner, who, of course, would have his
insurance, and could easily bear any trifling loss?

His tone even more than his words had a prompt effect, and the reference
to the machinery touched a chord of feeling of which they had been
previously unconscious. Roland's words called up a picture of the
wrecked and twisted bars and coils which they had seen, some months
before, in the ruins of a burned mill. Should the familiar machinery,
which had so long been like a part of their daily life, be wrecked like
that? No! they must try to save it! And so the scale turned. That
incalculable element, on which the action of a crowd depends, was swayed
round to Roland's side, as he shouldered his axe, calling the men again
to follow either Turner or himself. And presently, he had the
satisfaction of seeing at work a sufficient force to hack and tear away
the roof of the burning building, so as to prevent the fire from
spreading to the main part of the factory on the one side or to the
store house on the other. "Don't go at it so hard," he heard one and
another exclaim, "you'll hurt yourself, Mr. Graeme!" as he wielded his
axe with the unnatural force of a white-heat of excitement. And, though
he could feel the hot breath of the flames as they rolled up their red
tongues, amid the dense clouds of smoke that now began to rise from the
oil-soaked ruins below that fed the conflagration, Roland felt himself
thrilled with a keener, more passionate sense of delight than he
remembered ever feeling in his whole life before, in the sensation of
encounter with some deadly monster, calling forth all the reserve force
of his being into a hand-to-hand struggle with the fiery foe.

Meantime Turner, with his following, was equally hard at work, rolling
out the oil-barrels, till they were all safely turned over, out of
harm's way, into the little canal in the rear, where Roland could see
them bobbing about, as he came down from the roof with his improvised
body of sappers, to give place to the play of the fire-engine, which had
by this time arrived. Scarcely a moment had been lost from the time when
the fire had been discovered, and, thanks to the preventive efforts of
Roland and the men, the fire was confined to the building in which it
had begun, and was speedily under control. As Roland stood, at length,
relieved from his self-imposed task, and, panting with unaccustomed
toil, watched the hissing stream of water which seemed to meet in mortal
combat the cruel flames that turned, under its charge, into white clouds
of harmless steam, he felt a fierce exultation that surprised himself,
as if in watching the death-throes of some ruthless destroyer. He could,
ever after, better understand the fascination which draws the brave
firemen to their arduous task, or even--what it had previously been
difficult for him to take in--the fierce joy of victory in battle.

"It's well you went for them as you did, Mr. Graeme," said the voice of
Turner, startling him out of his absorption. "If they hadn't set to work
to fight the fire, it would have been all over town by morning that the
strikers had started it!"

"Of course, Turner, I felt that!" replied Roland, who did not feel at
all sure himself, however, that some of them had _not_ done it. "Did you
see Jim Mason helping at all?"

"Oh, yes," he rejoined, "he took a hand at the barrels, in his surly
way, muttering oaths all the time. But he couldn't keep still, if he
wanted to, when there's anything going on--for all his sulkiness."

Roland said nothing more, but thought a good deal, as at last, tired,
and smoked and grimy, he made his way homeward, after all further danger
was over. He could not divest himself of the idea that Jim, in his
present vindictive temper, had had a hand in the business. Still he had
no positive evidence, and it would be most unjust to associate the young
man's name with a grave crime, without any proof. He was heartily glad
that he had none, and that his conscience relieved him of the burden of
what, had he felt it a duty, he would have done so reluctantly. He
talked the matter over with Miss Blanchard, one day when he met her at
Mr. Alden's and walked home with her, after receiving warm
congratulations on his action at the fire. He knew that she could be
trusted to keep as rigid a silence as himself; and it was some relief to
himself to unburden his mind of suspicions, though he carefully pointed
out that they were no more.

"But how do you suppose the fire could have originated, if it was not an
incendiary one?" asked Nora, anxiously.

"Oh, that is not difficult to imagine," he replied. "It might easily
have started from spontaneous combustion. Turner tells me it is by no
means uncommon for fire to originate spontaneously from rubbish of that
kind, soaked with oil and dust, especially when the sun begins to have
more power. He says that there had been gross carelessness on Willett's
part, in not having had that accumulation disposed of long ago."

"Well, I'm glad to know it can be accounted for without Jim's
intervention!" she said. "So, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt."

"Certainly," said Roland; but in his own mind he could not get over the
painful impression, nor, to say truth, could Nora herself.

Of course there was a rumor that the fire had had an incendiary
origin;--favored by Willett, to cover his own carelessness. But there
was no shadow of proof, and the fact that the men had worked so well to
save the property had great weight in preventing the rumor from gaining
any general credence.

Mr. Pomeroy had tranquilly slept through that night, knowing nothing of
the fire till next morning; for Willett, who had not arrived on the
scene till the fire was almost subdued, did not think it worth while to
disturb him about what seemed so trifling an affair, particularly as
even the small damage sustained was covered by insurance. And as the
firemen gave full publicity to the prompt turn-out of _employés_, and
their successful efforts, with Roland at their head, to arrest the
spread of the fire, Mr. Pomeroy could not avoid a certain grudging
recognition of the fact that he owed to their promptness, in all
probability, the prevention of a great deal more inconvenience than any
that the strike itself could have caused. This consideration had, of
course, its effect in bringing the contest to a speedy termination. It
turned out, after all, that the examination of the books, and a
consultation thereupon, satisfied Mr. Pomeroy that the firm could,
without any real inconvenience, afford to pay its operatives at a higher
rate. No doubt his daughter's remarks, taken in connection with Mr.
Jeffrey's lecture, had their effect in bringing him to act on this
knowledge. And another very weighty consideration, of course, had been
the reception of the large orders, already referred to, and the
difficulty and inconvenience of having, on short notice, to import a
sufficient number of skilled workmen from a distance. And thus it came
about that, two or three days after the fire, the leader of the strike
received notice that, if the men would return to work at once, they
should receive both the increase of wages and the Saturday half-holiday
they had asked for. The girls, also, through Miss Pomeroy's urgent
intercession, received a small increase of pay. And the fact that the
firm could well afford to do this, without embarrassment, proved that
the strike had justice on its side.

But, for all that, "public opinion," that is, the opinion of the upper
stratum of Minton intelligence, was decidedly "down" on Roland Graeme
and his troublesome organ. He was generally considered as the
arch-conspirator against the peace and profits of the wealthy
manufacturer, against the "good old ways," in which things had run so
long without any of this tiresome fuss and friction, that over-zealous
champions, false friends of the laborer, were so busy in creating.

The Minton _Eagle_, the most formidable rival of the _Minerva_, began to
see a chance of making capital out of the evident sympathy of the latter
paper with many of the views ascribed to Roland Graeme; and Dick Burnet
soon received strong hints from the other joint-proprietors of the
_Minerva_, that he had better take in sail in that direction, and steer
a safer course, for, naturally, to the proprietors, it was a _sine quâ
non_ that the paper should _pay_.

Dick Burnet had much more of the professional journalist than of the
pure philanthropist in his composition, and though interested in
labor-reform, he was by no means prepared to become a martyr in its
cause. He told Roland, therefore, with regret, that he must not only
discontinue the noticing and reprinting of articles from _The
Brotherhood_, but that he feared it would be necessary to make
arrangements for having it printed elsewhere, as the reputed connection
was considered damaging to the _Minerva's_ interests. This was, of
course, a cause of no little worry and anxiety to Roland, as he had
enough on his hands, without the charge of the mechanical arrangements;
but it was a still greater pain to him to see his friend Burnet, as it
seemed to him, deserting the cause of principle for that of expediency.
However, his genial spirit of charity made allowances for his friend
that he would not have made for himself, could such a descent on his own
part have been conceivable. He talked the matter over with Mr. Dunlop,
and the old Scotchman's practical shrewdness as well as his purse came
to Roland's aid, in devising new arrangements.

This was not, however, the only matter pressing on Roland's mind, as
February passed into March, and the first mild spring-like days came
with their physically relaxing influence. He was sharing the fate of
every idealist in reform, meeting with unlooked for discouragements and
perplexities, pained by frequently encountering precisely the same
spirit of selfishness in the employed that had so disgusted him in the
employers; and when, occasionally, his friends, the "Knights," had a
social entertainment of their own, his taste was jarred by the tone of
the comic songs and recitations which seemed most to tickle the
audience. The material enjoyed by audiences of greater pretension to
"culture" might not, in general, be much more elevated, but at least the
humor was not quite so broad, the wit not quite so coarse; and yet,
while Roland felt jarred and dissatisfied, he admitted that he was
unreasonable, that it was useless to expect fine fruit from ungrafted
trees, and that the low tone of taste which he regretted was a natural
result of lack of opportunity for true cultivation. It only intensified
his desire for a better state of things; but, at the same time, these
experiences often tended to depress and dishearten him. And the long
strain of high pressure was telling on him, also.

He was uneasy, too, about Waldberg, who had of late developed a feverish
anxiety to "make a fortune," quite alien to his former happy,
easy-going, romantic disposition. Roland rightly guessed that a growing
attachment to Miss Farrell was at the root of it, combined with the too
evident fact that she greatly preferred him to her much less interesting
_fiancé_; and that, if he only had money enough, he might easily carry
the day, yet. Mr. Farrell was a broker, who had made his large fortune
mainly by speculation; and young Waldberg had heard from him stories of
"lucky ventures," till he had been inspired with a strong desire to try
the experiment himself. This desire was encouraged and promoted by one
of Mr. Farrell's clerks, and with him for counselor, Waldberg had begun
to gamble in stocks and "margins" to such small extent as he was able,
notwithstanding Roland's strong disapproval and remonstrances.

Roland would, however, seek some respite from these various subjects of
disquietude by a visit to Mr. Alden's house, or by a long walk, in the
bright, lengthening afternoons. One charming and unusually mild
afternoon, the day before the public performance of the oratorio which
had been in preparation so long, he had prolonged his walk by the river,
past even the suburbs of the city, and was returning about sunset. He
had reached the gateway leading to Mr. Pomeroy's handsome residence,
which stood at a little distance from the street, when he noticed, just
inside it, a sight that always made him sick at heart, and seemed like a
dark blot on the brightness of the day. It was the sight of a woman,
apparently young, who had been seated on the ground in the shelter of a
cluster of trees, and whom two policemen were endeavoring to raise to
her feet. Mr. Pomeroy, returning home a few minutes before, had
discovered her sitting there, evidently in a state of intoxication, and,
in his usual bland manner, had handed her over to the first policeman he
espied. As she came out, assisted by the policemen, Roland got a glimpse
of her face, and heard a word or two, in a soft English voice. He was
horrified, as the conviction flashed on him that it was the woman he had
gone to succor, on the December evening when we first made his
acquaintance,--Miss Blanchard's _protégée_, Mrs. Travers.

He hastened up to the policemen, and begged them to let him call a cab
and take her to the hospital. But the men only looked at him sneeringly,
as they remarked:

"Oh, yes, no doubt you'd like to get her off! Expect she's an old
friend. But she's got to go with _us_, now."

Roland drew back, disgusted and shocked, seeing the futility of further
interference. But how could he tell Miss Blanchard of such a
catastrophe!

As he stood watching their departure, something bright on the ground,
glittering in the yellow, slanting sunlight, caught his eye. He picked
it up. It was a small locket, apparently gold, though worn and dim, with
a monogram on one side. It must, he thought, have been dropped by the
poor woman as she came out. He put it into his pocket, to keep it safe
for her, and went home to dinner, considering, as he walked on slowly,
for once, which it would be better to do, to tell Miss Blanchard or to
send word to the hospital. At any rate he would go to the police-station
next day, and endeavor to procure her release.

But, after dinner, as he sat in his room, still undecided, he chanced to
think again of the locket, and, taking it out, examined it more closely.
It opened easily, disclosing two miniature photographs, and a lock of
dark hair enclosed with one of them. He saw that one of the portraits
was that of a lovely girl in whom he easily recognized "Mrs. Travers."
But when he looked at the other he nearly dropped the locket in his
amazement. For, despite the changes that ten years will make in a man's
appearance, he could not doubt that the original of the portrait
was--_Mr. Chillingworth_!



CHAPTER XXIV.

A REVELATION.


Nora had been, that afternoon, practising industriously, with a view to
having her part in the coming oratorio as perfect as possible; when she
was interrupted by a very unexpected visitor, Miss Spencer.

"I'm so glad to see you," she said, warmly. "So you've actually come to
see me at last!"

"I _had_ to come, unfortunately;" said Miss Spencer, her usually serene
face looking anxious and distressed. "I am sorry to say, I have some bad
news for you."

"About Mrs. Travers?" asked Nora, with prompt divination.

"Yes. She has had one of her restless fits lately. You know I've been
giving her some light work to do about the wards, just to keep her
employed, and I hoped the fit would wear off. But to-day, she slipped
out, and has never come back. We've sent in various directions, but have
got no news of her. Lizzie Mason's people have seen nothing of her. I
knew she didn't know your address, but still I thought it was just
possible she might have found her way here."

"No," replied Nora. "But what can have happened to her?"

"I suppose it's the old story," said Miss Spencer, with a sigh; then,
lowering her voice, she said:

"I know a good deal about her now, and I think I ought to tell you her
story, as she told it to me a few days ago. I meant to tell you about
it, the first time I had a good opportunity. But it is rather private.
She wanted me to promise not to tell any one, but, I didn't promise,
absolutely.

"There's no one else in," said Nora. "Sophy's out, and Will's away
attending some medical convention, and Cecilia's gone out for a walk
with the other children."

"Then, I'll try to tell it to you, as she told it to _me_--by snatches.
Part of it, of course, I had to guess at, putting things together as I
best could."

"Yes, I understand," replied Nora.

"Well, as you know already, she's English, and only came out a few years
ago, under very distressing circumstances. It's a very long story, but
I'll tell it as briefly as I can.

"It seems that her father died from the effects of drinking;--probably
_he_ was a 'dipsomaniac,' too; and--her own mother having died during
her infancy--she had to live with a step-mother who was by no means kind
to her. She got a situation when only sixteen, as a nursery-governess
with a lady who pitied her, and treated her most kindly. About a year
after she went there, a young clergyman came to stay at the house. She
must have been a most lovely girl, and he seems at once to have fallen
desperately in love. She was, evidently, easily won. She says he was
very handsome, and, I suppose, otherwise attractive. The lady she was
with, must, I think, have promoted the match. I suppose she thought it
was an excellent thing for her. So, after a very short engagement, they
were married from the house of this lady, who wouldn't let her go back
to her step-mother. She had only one aunt, the wife of her father's
brother, a good and kind woman; who, however, was in straitened
circumstances, and lived in a distant village. And I suppose her husband
didn't care to have much to do with her relations.

"His curacy--for he was only a curate--was in a small town not far from
London. At first she seems to have been very happy, but, by and by she
began to feel lonely. I fancy her husband began to find that she wasn't
much of a companion for him, for she hadn't had the chance of much
education, though she has quite a taste for painting flowers. So, I
suppose, when his affection began to cool down a little, he began to
tire a little of her constant society and of the quiet life they led. He
was passionately fond of music, and used to go up to London frequently,
for concerts and lectures, leaving her often alone for a day or two at a
time. She must always have been excitable, and she began to have fits of
crying when she was alone, and by and by she was attacked by neuralgia,
to which she had previously been subject. The doctor unhappily
recommended stimulants, and her hereditary taste for them rapidly
developed. The habit grew stronger and stronger, and at last her husband
discovered that she was sometimes not quite herself. She seems to have
had false friends, too, who tempted her. He, of course, was terribly
shocked and angry when he found it out. Probably it broke the spell that
her beauty had exerted to hold his affection. He declared that if she
continued the practice, he would not keep her with him. But when the fit
came upon her, she seemed to have no power to resist it, so she passed
some miserable weeks, trying to keep from it, and, when she could not
resist, in terror lest he should find it out.

"At last the crisis came. One warm day she went to visit one of these
'friends'--drank to excess--tried to get home--but, between the heat and
the effect of the stimulant, sank down, unable to walk, and was brought
home in that condition, insensible. Her husband left the house half
frantic, I suppose, leaving a note for her to read when she came to
herself, in which he told her they must part, at least until she was
thoroughly reformed; that he could not risk the consequences to his
usefulness in his profession, of having such a scandal in his house, and
that he would pay for her maintenance in her aunt's house, if she would
receive her; but, for the present, he would see her no more."

"Oh, how cruel!" exclaimed Nora, who had listened in silent dismay to
the tragic tale.

"Well, I'm afraid nine out of ten men of his temperament would have done
the same," replied Miss Spencer. "But, the poor thing was stunned when
she realized it all. She had no choice, however, except to do what he
directed. She went to live with her aunt in the country village, while
her husband, too miserable, probably, to go on with his work, got leave
of absence and came for a trip to America.

"A few months later, her child was born; but she was so terrified lest
the husband should take the little one from her, that she would not let
him be told of its existence. He did not write to her, directly, only
sending the remittances to her aunt. And he did not return from America,
but resigned his charge in England, and accepted one out here, glad,
doubtless, not to be exposed to meet the curious or pitying looks of old
acquaintances.

"When her child was a few months old, her aunt died, and her only
cousin, a woman some years older than herself, received an invitation to
come out here, to take a sort of housekeeper's place with a friend of
hers who had settled on a Western farm, and was in bad health. This poor
girl, who still loved her husband devotedly, was seized with a great
desire to come out with her, thinking that she too, could get a
situation, and then she would no longer need his money, which it hurt
her to receive, thinking that he could regard her only as a burden. She
of the sea, she would see him sometimes, and she would be near him in
case he were ill. Unhappily she could not subdue the fatal craving, and
she had no hope of her husband's taking her back; indeed, she seems to
have believed that his affection for her was utterly dead.

"So she set out, with her cousin and her child, for New York. They had
nearly reached land, when a collision occurred at night, and their
steamer was so injured that it speedily sank. In the hurry and
confusion, Mrs. Travers and her cousin were put into different boats,
and the one the cousin was in, was lost. She and her baby were saved,
but she lay in a half-unconscious condition for days afterwards, from
the fright and exposure. It happened that her cousin and she had
accidentally exchanged handkerchiefs, and hers, marked with her name,
was found on the body, when it was picked up, next day. And so, in the
newspaper accounts of the accident, her name was given in the list of
the lost. Her cousin's name was Travers, which had been her own maiden
name. When she recovered and saw her own name in the list of the lost
passengers, a strange idea took hold of her. She would leave it so, she
thought, and if her husband should see the name, he would cease to think
of her as a burden, and perhaps come to think more kindly of her, as we
generally do of the dead. And she felt that, with a different name, she
could make a new beginning in the new land. She went on to the
destination for which they were bound, and, having explained the death
of her cousin, she was accepted in her place, notwithstanding the
drawback of her child. As her cousin's name was Travers, _she_ was
naturally called Mrs. Travers, and she encouraged the mistake.

"What was her real name?" asked Nora, very quietly. A strange idea had
occurred to her, which she would not entertain, yet could not quite
reject.

"I don't know, I can only guess," replied Janet. "Well," she continued,
"she seems to have been tolerably comfortable there for three or four
years. Her cousin's friend knew her weakness, and was most careful not
to let her be exposed to temptation; and when, at times, she did,
notwithstanding, go wrong--it was overlooked, partly for her own sake
and partly for that of her dead cousin, and also of the little child,
whom every one was fond of.

"At last, this good friend died, and then she had to look for a new
home, the husband's mother coming to take charge. She kept track of her
husband's movements, and, as he had left his first parish for a large
city charge, she thought she would try to get a situation somewhere near
him, so that she might see him occasionally, taking care to do so
unobserved by him. Her old enemy still kept its hold on her; and again
and again deprived her of a home. She had been very much embittered
against religion, through her husband's throwing her off, for she
thought that had something to do with it; and had absolutely nothing to
hold by except her affection for her child, for whose sake she would
have kept straight, if she could. When she couldn't get a place, she
tried to maintain herself by taking in sewing, or by selling her little
paintings of flowers on cards, which I suppose people bought more out of
charity than anything else, in these days of chromos. She says she
doesn't know what she would have done, for some time past, but for poor
Lizzie Mason, who was always ready to share with her what little she
had."

"And all this time her husband thought her dead! Is he still alive?"
asked Nora, in a scarcely audible tone. She had grown very pale.

"Yes, he is alive, and he still thinks her dead."

"And suppose he were to have married again?"

"I think she never thought of that, till lately. If that had been
likely, I suppose she would have spoken. She did try to send for him,
when she thought herself dying, on the child's account; but the attempt
failed."

Both were silent for a few minutes. Nora, with a throbbing heart, and
bewildered mind, was going back in thought to the story, trying to piece
things together; remembering, with a pang, Miss Harley's remarks, and
trying to fight down a conviction that was too strong to resist. Miss
Spencer, who had divined the truth without being actually told by "Mrs.
Travers," sat full of silent sympathy for the shock she feared it would
be to Miss Blanchard,--yet not venturing to say a word. She had
purposely left the conclusion of her story somewhat vague, so as not to
let the disclosure come too suddenly.

"Well," said Nora, after a short silence, in the same low tone, "you
suspect something--what is it?"

"Everything points to one conclusion only--I am afraid," she replied.

"Yes, but it seems incredible. If one could only _know_, for sure!"

They heard the children coming and the sound of their merry
voices--Cecilia's lower tones mingling with the others. Nora rang the
bell, and told the maid not to let them come to the drawing-room, and to
bring some tea there for Miss Spencer and herself.

"Sophy is not coming back till late," she said, "and I had dinner with
the children, so I don't want anything but a cup of tea; and you will
stay, won't you? There are so many things I want to ask, yet. But I
couldn't talk to poor little Cecilia, just after hearing all this!"

They sat together in low-toned consultation, with long silences between;
till the evening light had faded out, and only the firelight shed its
fitful gleams about them. At last, however, Miss Spencer declared she
must go, as her turn for duty would come on before long.

"And they may have heard some news of her by this time," she said.

Just then there was a ring at the door. Nora started up with nervous
dread lest the visitor might, by any chance, prove to be one whom, just
then, she felt she could hardly bear to meet. As she listened to catch
the voice at the door, she heard Roland Graeme's clear, low tones,
asking whether Miss Blanchard were at home, as he wished particularly to
see her. Instantly it flashed upon her mind that he brought some news of
the lost one, for it must be something very special that brought him at
this unusual hour.

As he entered, Nora saw that he looked much agitated, and, as she
introduced him to Miss Spencer, she said:

"I believe, Mr. Graeme, you have come to tell us where Mrs. Travers is!"

He looked surprised at her guess; then, recollecting that Miss Spencer
had been the poor woman's nurse, he replied:

"You know, then, that she is out of the hospital?"

Nora assented, and Miss Spencer explained the anxiety her departure had
caused; and then Roland, as briefly and gently as possible, told what he
had seen. The two girls listened in silence, inexpressibly shocked;
tears of pain and pity starting to Nora's eyes, as she fixed them on the
firelight and called up the mental image of the poor young woman,
dragged away, and locked into a police-cell. Miss Spencer, with her
nurse's practical instinct, was thinking what could be done next.

"We must try to get her out as soon as possible, Mr. Graeme," she said.

"Yes," he said, "I will go round in the morning and do what I can. I
suppose they'll let her off with a fine--at worst."

"Oh, I should hope so!" exclaimed Nora. "Only do get her out and send
her back to the hospital! We must keep her there, till something
definite can be done for her."

"There's something else," he said, with an effort. "I found _this_ lying
on the road after she was gone, and I think it must be hers. Will you
take charge of it, Miss Spencer?"

He hoped she would not think of examining it then, but both girls looked
at it with eager scrutiny.

"Oh, I've often noticed it!" said Miss Spencer. "She always wore it
round her neck, and seemed afraid of any one's touching it."

As they examined it, they noticed the peculiar monogram, three "C's"
intertwined together on one side, and the word, "_Celia_," engraved on
the other. Nora took it and pressed the spring. One look at the two
portraits was enough to settle the question they had been discussing,
beyond a doubt.

No one spoke Mr. Chillingworth's name, but all felt that they knew his
sad secret; and knew, too, that of which he himself had not the
slightest idea.



CHAPTER XXV.

BEWILDERMENT.


When her visitors were gone, Nora sat for a long time gazing into the
flickering firelight, thankful that she could be alone and undisturbed.
She wanted to try to think quietly; to calm, if possible, the tumult of
conflicting feelings that contended for the mastery, intense pity for
the poor woman, in whose lot she had been led to feel so strong an
interest; bitter disappointment and indignation with the man of whom she
had thought so highly, who had so heartlessly thrown aside the duties he
owed, as a man and a minister of Christ, to the woman whom he had taken
"for better or worse," in her weakness and misery; and yet, also,
mingled with a sorrowful sense of "the pity of it" all, and with
something of that divine quality of compassionate charity, which is
always ready to believe that, "_Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner_."

To Nora, indeed, with her own simple directness, staunch loyalty, and
passionate impulse to help and sympathize, it was almost impossible to
understand the workings of a self-centred, coldly fastidious nature like
Mr. Chillingworth's. Yet she dimly felt that he, too, must have
suffered, and must suffer much more; and suffering always, to some
extent, enlisted her sympathy. But he had shattered her ideal, and that
was indeed hard to get over and forgive. His eloquent expositions and
high standard of moral duty, his glowing appeals to live the nobler
life, had so captivated her imagination, as to attract her irresistibly
to the _man_, whom she in her inexperience identified with the ideals he
preached. If he himself had so failed, how could he teach others? And
bitter tears rose to her eyes as she thought of the contrast between the
mental image she had cherished and the poor and pitiable reality. And
as, moreover, there rose before her the picture of Mr. Pomeroy, a man
Mr. Chillingworth treated with special consideration, handing over this
poor woman to the police with bland unconcern, she could not refrain
from one of those sweeping conclusions in which an enthusiastic nature
is so apt to indulge, in a moment of bitter disappointment. Was it all
mere talk, then? Did no one try to live out the spirit of the Master
they all professed to honor? Was there no one who aimed at being really
Christ-like, at "loving his neighbor as himself"? Was there _no one_?
But almost at once--with a sharp pang of self-reproach--came the
recollection of Mr. Alden's earnest life of love and labor, of Grace's
sweet loving nature, of her own brother, never talking about grand
ideals, but living and working from hour to hour; of Miss Spencer's
happy and tender ministry in the laborious service of suffering
humanity; of poor Lizzie Mason's life of humble self-sacrifice; and,
last but not least, of Roland Graeme, with his self-forgetful enthusiasm
and his passion for helping and raising the down-trodden and oppressed.
Yes, she was glad to think of such examples. And yet, as far as she
knew, Lizzie Mason was not a "professing Christian;" and Roland
Graeme--did they not call him an "unbeliever"? It was a bewildering
puzzle to her, with her _a priori_ conceptions. Might it then be true
that, while some people--so-called believers--only "_believed_ they
believed," others, so-called unbelievers, only believed that they did
_not_ believe? And she remembered the Master's own grieved
expostulation:--

     "Why call ye me Lord! Lord! and do not the things which I say?"

But, beneath all the heart-sickness produced by this miserable story,
she was dimly conscious of an involuntary relief from a conflict which
had been going on in her mind, for some time, between what she wished to
think about Mr. Chillingworth, and the disappointing conviction that was
being forced in upon that underlying consciousness which will not be
hoodwinked even by strong inclination. Of whatever kind had been the
attraction that had biassed her in Mr. Chillingworth's favor, it was
broken now, forever; and her present temptation was, perhaps, in her
youthful intolerance, to think too hardly of him, to forget what most
people would call the "extenuating circumstances," and his blindness and
limitations. But, in a nature like Nora's, a long-cherished ideal dies
hard. And at last, retreating to the seclusion of her own room, she
threw herself on her knees--the natural instinct of an oppressed
heart--the pain soon finding expression in irresistible tears, which at
least brought some relief.

Next morning, Roland was in attendance at the police court, and
succeeded in procuring the release of the so-called "Mrs. Travers," by
the payment of a fine, thereby saving the poor victim of a hereditary
craving from a period of humiliating confinement in gaol, among
criminals of the lowest class. His interference called forth sneering
and ill-natured comments from some of the low bystanders, of a type
whose natural tendency is to put the worst possible construction on
every action. But for this he cared little, putting the unhappy young
woman into a cab, and sending her to the hospital, while he himself
hurried back to his office-work, satisfied with having rescued one
sufferer from further degradation.

Miss Spencer was ready to receive her without a reference to this
miserable episode. But when, exhausted and miserable, her beauty quite
obscured by the effects of the intoxication and of her wretched night,
the poor girl, as she still seemed, was led back into the peaceful
retreat she had so insanely left, she threw one look around her, and
then cast herself at the nurse's feet in a passion of tears and sobs.
And in the same spirit in which the Man of Sorrows had comforted and
encouraged the repentant Magdalen, did the tender-hearted Christian
nurse comfort and encourage this poor penitent. This, at least, was the
thought that passed through the mind of Nora, who, having come early to
the hospital to inquire whether the wanderer had returned, was an
unnoticed but deeply interested spectator of the scene.

Nora never knew how she got through the performance of the oratorio that
evening. The brilliancy of the scene, the dress-display, the crowded
audience, distasteful as they were in her present mood, were powerless
to banish oppressive thoughts, and that scene in the hospital, which
stood before her, as the touching chorus rose in all the tender beauty
of the music:--

     "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; He
     was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our
     iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and
     with His stripes we are healed."

As she stood singing these words with her heart in her voice, and that
sad scene before her, she caught Roland's earnest absorbed eyes, lighted
with a softened emotion that made her for the moment wonder whether he,
too, had the same thought in his mind. But she carefully avoided looking
at Mr. Chillingworth, who, with an unusually bright and animated
expression, was enjoying to the full both the music and the "success"
which every one declared the oratorio to be. The soloists were admirable
both in voice and manner, the choruses had been carefully practised and
were remarkably well rendered, the "Halellujah Chorus" in particular,
bursting forth with great effect, and, as the Minton _Minerva_ expressed
it, "taking the house by storm." It seemed to thrill through every nerve
of Roland Graeme, as he caught the grand old words:

     "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord
     and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever!"

In his own sense he could profoundly sympathize with the glorious hope.

Mr. Chillingworth sang in this and some other choruses, though he
preferred to be a listener and spectator through the greater part of it.
He naturally sought Miss Blanchard at the close, to exchange
congratulations on the result of the long preparation. But her response
was not the natural, enthusiastic one he expected, and he noticed her
unusual paleness, attributing it to over-fatigue, a plea she was very
ready to adopt, as an excuse for getting off to her cab, with her
sister-in-law, as soon as possible.

It often happens, when we are thinking with dread and anxiety how some
particular crisis is to be passed, that the "logic of events" settles it
for us in a totally unexpected manner. While Nora was perplexing herself
as to what was to be done with this secret, of which Mr. Chillingworth
ought to be told, circumstances arose that gave her thoughts a new
direction, and took matters for the present entirely out of her hands.



CHAPTER XXVI.

AN EMPTY PLACE.


Nora did not feel inclined to tell, even to her brother, had he been at
home, the sad story she had heard; yet she felt she must take some one
into her confidence, as to what ought to be done. Mr. Alden seemed to be
her only resource. So, after much thought, she went to his house on the
morning after the oratorio, intending to see him alone, and tell him the
whole story. But, as often happens, she found her intentions completely
and unexpectedly thwarted. Mr. Alden had been called away from home, on
some ministerial duty, and Mrs. Alden and Grace were nursing two sick
children through what seemed to be feverish colds.

"I wish Doctor Blanchard were at home again," said Mrs. Alden, who
looked much exhausted. "I should like very much to have him come to see
these children!"

Nora saw how much both she and Grace needed rest, and, with her usual
impulse to help, she volunteered to stay all night and relieve them as
far as possible. It was just what she wanted, too, to take her mind off
more painful thoughts. And if it had been more of a sacrifice than it
was, she would have been more than rewarded by the gratitude with which
her offer was accepted, and by the soothing influence of Grace's society
and innocent childlike talk about matters completely dissociated from
the things which had been oppressing her like a nightmare.

Dr. Blanchard returned next day; and, apprised by Nora's message, of the
illness of the children, came, as soon as possible, to see them. But he
looked very grave, as he scrutinized them with his keen professional
eye. He called Nora aside, and told her that they were undoubtedly
sickening with scarlet fever. Nora was startled, but immediately
replied:

"Well, you know I've had that, so I'm pretty safe; and I think the best
thing I can do is to stay to help to nurse them."

Dr. Blanchard felt that it was the only thing to be done, under the
circumstances. It would scarcely do for Nora to return to his own house,
as, even if there were no real danger of infection just then, his wife
could scarcely have been persuaded of this, on the children's account.

"I knew we should have an unhealthy spring," he said, "if people
_wouldn't_ take precautions to have the sources of disease removed. It's
disgraceful for men like Mr. Pomeroy to own such hovels as that in which
you found Mrs. Travers. I hear there's one case of diphtheria in that
region already, and there are sure to be more. If it spreads to their
own houses, perhaps they'll wake up."

"Mr. Pomeroy's! Are those _his_ houses?" asked Nora, and then she
thought of his own luxurious mansion, his magnificent dinner, and the
five-thousand-dollar-subscription--all in one rapid flash. Next moment,
her mind was recalled to present considerations, as her brother
observed, very seriously:

"I wish you could manage to keep Grace, as well as the other children,
as much as possible out of the sick-room. Hers isn't a constitution to
stand an attack of fever, and she would have it more severely than
they."

Nora's heart sank. She was depressed at any rate, and she remembered the
old, too true proverb that "misfortunes never come single."

Mr. Alden returned that day, to her great relief; and he at once
undertook a large share of the nursing, which the strong, tender-hearted
man could so well perform. Anxious as he naturally was, as to the result
of this inroad of dangerous disease among his happy little flock, his
faith would not allow him to indulge in useless worry; and the influence
of his cheerful spirit cheered not only the little patients, in the
natural fretfulness of sick children, but also the nurses themselves.
The other children were sent away to the house of a relative, but Grace
would not be persuaded to leave her post as eldest daughter, though
kept, as the doctor had directed, as much as possible out of the
sick-room. The little patients' cases proved light, and it was not long
before Dr. Blanchard pronounced them out of danger. But, just as they
seemed fairly convalescent, Grace was prostrated by the same disease, in
a much severer form.

Dr. Blanchard's fears were only too soon verified. The fever ran its
course very rapidly--exhausting her small strength in a few days. There
was a short period of delirium in which all her talk was of fair and
pleasant things,--woodland wanderings,--spring flowers,--intermingled
with snatches of childish fairy-tales, and Christian hymns. Nora could
always soothe the delirium a little, by singing Grace's favorite, "He
Leadeth Me," or her own, "Lead Kindly Light." But when the delirium
passed away, it was evident that the quiet which followed was the quiet
of approaching death; and, before they could realize the impending
calamity, the _real_ Grace was gone. Only the fair form that had
enshrined her happy spirit lay there, cold and inanimate as a beautiful
statue.

The blow was to them all a stunning one. Nora could scarcely bring
herself to believe that their bright little Grace was really _dead_! She
had hoped to the last, doing everything that love and anxiety could
suggest. Even when she stood by the still and rigid form in the "white
raiment" that loving hands had covered with flowers, she could not get
rid of the feeling that the living Grace was somewhere at hand, or cease
expecting every moment to hear her familiar voice. It was almost the
first time that death had come very near to her, and opened its
unfathomable mystery at her feet. And, apart from her deep sorrow for
her little friend, the new experience stirred in her heart the haunting
questionings that come to us all, at such times of irretrievable loss.

Mrs. Alden was, very naturally, prostrated with grief and watching, and
Mr. Alden had been shut up, either with his wife, or alone in his study,
most of the time since Grace had quietly drawn her last breath; so that
Nora had much to do and to think of, though one or two other friends
came in to help. To her, however, was assigned the sad duty of taking in
the two or three old friends who, notwithstanding the circumstances,
desired to take a last look at the fair unconscious face.

Nora meantime had comparatively little time to think of the subject that
had been so engrossing a few days before. It did recur to her again and
again, in intervals of quiet;--but of course she had never ventured to
intrude the matter on Mr. Alden at such a time. And she had been
thinking, now, of Roland Graeme, with profound sympathy. She could
easily divine the sorrow that the death of Grace must have brought to
him. And she was not surprised, when, on the eve of the funeral, he
appeared, looking sad and haggard, with the request that he might look
on the sweet face once more.

"Are you sure it's safe for you?" she asked.

"I've had the disease," he replied, "but if I had not, I should still
want to do this."

Nora took him to the door of the room, and, with true respect for his
sorrow, left him to enter it alone. He stood by the coffin, silently,
controlling his emotion, so that he might fix in his memory forever the
fair angel-face with its aureole of golden hair, and the happy smile
that the last sleep had brought. He could not think it _death_. After a
time, the door opened, and Mr. Alden, looking ten years older, came
softly in. He grasped Roland's hand in silence, then stood, like him,
looking tenderly down on the marble face. At last he spoke in a broken
voice:

"She is not dead, but sleepeth." There was another silence, till both
turned to go. Then the father spoke again in a low, half-audible tone:

"My lamb--my own sweet, gentle lamb! If I did not know you were safe
with the good Shepherd, how could I bear it!"

Roland Graeme left the house without a word; but Nora, who caught a
passing glimpse of him--his usually happy eyes filled with tears--felt a
stronger personal interest in him than she had ever done before.
Somehow, he had always seemed to have so little personal stake in life,
to live so completely for others and for the cause he had at heart, that
he almost conveyed the idea of a transparency,--of a personality without
much color of its own. After all, it is perhaps the faults and
weaknesses of others that excite most interest in us; and Roland had
seemed almost "faultily faultless." But this personal sorrow of his
seemed to have emphasized his personality at last; and Nora, for the
first time, began to think of him as an individuality, rather than as
simply the champion of a worthy cause.

Of course Roland attended the funeral, walking behind Mr. Alden and
Frank, with one of the younger boys. It was a warm and lovely day at the
end of March, when the first robin's liquid notes were promising the
coming spring, and the swelling buds were just beginning to diffuse a
subtle fragrance. The grass in the cemetery was growing green, and
nature herself seemed to breathe a soothing balm over the sorrowful
hearts. After all was over, Mr. Alden remained a while behind the rest;
and Roland, sharing his feeling, lingered too, not far off, unwilling to
leave him--unwilling too, in his heart, to leave _her_!

At last, the stricken father raised his head, and, after a gesture that
looked like a benediction over the new-made grave, turned slowly and
reluctantly away. Roland silently approached him and the two set out on
their homeward walk.

"'_I am the resurrection and the life_,'" said Mr. Alden; "if I did not
remember that, I think my heart would break, to go and leave her there.
But she's not _there_!" And then, as he looked back at the cemetery,
lying peaceful in the sunset light, he murmured, half to himself, those
beautiful lines of Whittier's, that have expressed the feeling of so
many sorrowing hearts:--

    "Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
    (Since He who knows our need is just,)
    That somehow, somewhere--meet we must;
      Alas for him who never sees
      The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
    Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
    Nor looks to see the breaking day,
    Across the mournful marbles play!
    Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
      The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
    That Life is ever Lord of Death,
      And Love can never lose its own!"

Roland was silent for a while. He did not share Mr. Alden's firm faith;
yet, just then, he could not bear to think otherwise. At last, he
ventured to say, in his gentlest tone:

"I like the way in which it has been put by a country-man of my own--a
young Canadian poet, who has since gone to verify his 'faith':

    "'I have a faith--that life and death are one;
      That each depends upon the self-same thread;
    And that the seen and unseen rivers run
      To one calm sea, from one dear fountain-head.'"[2]

[Footnote 2: George Cameron.]

"Yes," said Mr. Alden, his sad eye lighting up; "I like that thought.
Life _is_ continuous, I'm sure. It is sweet to think of my little
Gracie's purified life going on, under fairer, purer conditions. There
seems to me a touch of truth in the old Greek saying, that 'whom the
Gods love die young.' She was a little Christian from her infancy; but I
used sometimes to fear for her happiness in this rude life of ours. She
had such a tender and gentle spirit; with the moral sensitiveness of
generations of Puritans so exquisitely keen in her, that a comparatively
small wrong would give her great pain. We always tried to keep the
knowledge of evil as far from her as possible. When she was a very
little child, she would cry if she fancied that her mother and I had
even a trifling disagreement. She was always our little peacemaker. But
what she was, she was by the grace of God."

"Would you mind," said Roland, presently,--partly to give Mr. Alden's
mind a little diversion, partly to satisfy a wish he had felt for some
time,--"would you mind telling me what you think about some things that
seem to me to stand in the way of my ever being what most people mean by
a 'believer'?"

"Certainly, not!" said Mr. Alden, looking interested at once.

"Well, then," said Roland, "I never could believe that 'God is love,'
and that he could create millions of people to be lost forever because
they lived and died where they could never hear the story of Christ's
life and death, never hear what people call the 'gospel,' or even
because they could not receive it as literal truth. So I have felt as if
I would rather trust to a vague, indefinite love, of which my own heart
tells me, than to any such narrow gospel as that."

"Certainly, my dear fellow, I think you are perfectly right. I couldn't
believe any such narrow gospel. It would be no 'good news' to me."

"Then you don't--" began the young man, with a puzzled air. "But I'm
sure I've heard you, sir, in the pulpit, emphasize the Scripture
declaration, that 'there is no other name given whereby man can be
saved'!"

"Certainly! I could emphasize that truth everywhere--die for it, I
trust, if need were. To me it is as precious as the love and Fatherhood
of God."

"Then if there _is_ 'no other name,' what becomes of those who never
heard of it, but who are doing all they can--living up to the light they
have? What can man do more?"

"I'm afraid most of us do a great deal less!" said Mr. Alden. "But I
wish people would only read their Bibles with the intelligent
common-sense with which they read other books;--history, for example. We
Americans are always talking of our Declaration of Independence, just as
Englishmen do of their Magna Charta. It affects the position, the
freedom of every man, woman and child in this great country. We talk of
George Washington as the deliverer of his country, of his heroism as
affecting the destinies of every one in it, even the infant in arms! So
we may speak of Lincoln's proclamation as freeing the black race in
America. But does any one suppose that no one can benefit by these,
except those who know the whole story of these deliverances, of the pain
and struggle that led up to them, or of their complex relation with our
whole social life and Constitutional history?"

"But then it seems to be presupposed that people are saved _through_
hearing and believing the gospel, and you know Paul says that 'Faith
cometh by hearing.'"

"Yes, but we are not told that it comes by the mere hearing of the ear!
St. Paul was pleading with people whose business and duty it was to tell
others what they knew. He was not talking didactic philosophy. And have
we no sense of hearing but the outward one? How did Abraham know that he
was to go out from the land he knew, to one of which he knew nothing?
Just as you and I know that we are bound to help our suffering brothers!
Don't we _hear_ the voice, in the plea of misery! And don't you suppose
that Abraham, of whom we have no reason to believe that he knew anything
definite as to the great Redeemer of the world, was just as much saved
by Him as Paul was? People don't let themselves think enough to put two
and two together here, as they do in any other matter whatsoever!"

"Then what is your theory of the Atonement?" he asked.

"My dear fellow, I don't attempt a theory. A theory, to my mind, is an
attempt to force into a rigid mould of human formulæ, mysteries which,
because they belong to the workings of infinite Wisdom and Love, are
quite beyond the compass of human thought. Every theory I know fails
miserably somewhere. The central doctrine of Christianity is far greater
than any human theory, or all of them together;--one proof to me that it
never was of human origin! I hold that its essence is greater, even,
than the story of Christ's life and death and human character, great as
these were, and all-powerful as they are to uplift and strengthen. For
it is as old as life itself. _In the beginning_ was the 'Word'--the
expression of the divine Will to man! 'That was the true light, that
lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' The Christ-light and the
Christ-life have, I believe, always brooded over poor humanity, to raise
it out of the abyss of sin and death. But for that end there had to be,
I can only faintly imagine _why_, Divine suffering. 'I believe in the
forgiveness of sins'--believe in it as much for my sweet Grace, as for
the poor despised outcast. For all that we are learning to-day in the
direction of heredity, tends to make us realize the immense natural
differences of original constitution. But what is our best, compared
with Infinite Purity, Infinite Love, which _is_ Goodness?--

    'As this poor taper's earthly spark
    To yonder argent round'!

And Divine Purity could not pass by moral evil lightly. I feel, as James
Hinton said, that 'when I am most a Christian, I am the best man,' but I
also feel that when I am the best man, I am most a Christian!"

"But then, the historical and literary arguments! Don't you find any
difficulties there?"

"I have never had too much time to think of them," he replied. "I was
thoroughly satisfied, on other grounds, before they came much in my way,
and I've had my own work to do. I think, however, from what I have read
on the subject, that they have been met, in a manner satisfactory to
_me_, at least. But to my mind, religion is not a literary or historical
question. Neither is it to be founded, as some tell us, on the witness
of the intellect, which has neither compass nor rudder on that sea; nor,
as others tell us, on emotion, which is variable and evanescent as these
sunset hues."

"On what, then?" asked Roland, as he instinctively followed the
direction of his eye.

"On something deeper than either; on the sense of _righteousness_, the
deepest, truest consciousness of humanity. Speaking for myself, _I want
God_--want the Divine Perfection, which is the same thing. I look for
Him in Nature, but I cannot find Him there, except in hints and
hieroglyphs. Nor can I find in Humanity the perfection I long for. I see
imperfection and limitation in all, even the best! But what I want, I
find in Jesus of Nazareth; nothing else satisfies me; _that does_. If I
cannot see God there, I can see Him nowhere. I find in Him, as I see Him
in the gospels, a moral beauty such as I could never of myself have
imagined, but which, the more I know of men--even the best--the more I
must appreciate and adore! It sometimes seems to me, that this age of
ours is saying, like Pilate, and very much in his spirit, 'BEHOLD THE
MAN!' Well, the more it learns to truly behold the _Man_, the more it
will be compelled to recognize that Manhood as Divine. I should have to
become a different moral being, before I could cease to worship in Him
the Christ, the only manifestation of the Divine that we are able to
comprehend and grasp."

Mr. Alden had grown deeply moved as he continued to speak. When he
ended, there was a thoughtful silence. After a little time he added:

"It is here I find my only rest in all perplexity, in all trouble--even
in this one. But it is only he who is in deep and humble earnest for the
right, who can understand. Only he 'who will do His will' can know this
doctrine. But that is a 'salvation' each must work out _for himself_."

There was little more said during the rest of the walk. Mr. Alden's
thoughts had gone back to his own sorrow. As they reached the familiar
door, a thousand tender memories and associations rushed over him, and,
for the first time in his life, he leaned heavily on his cane, as the
father's heart found utterance in the scarcely audible exclamation--"Oh,
my gentle child! my tender, loving little Grace!"



CHAPTER XXVII.

A THUNDER-BOLT.


Miss Blanchard felt she must remain with Mr. and Mrs. Alden till the two
younger children were quite recovered, and the house had been
disinfected. Then, after due precautions, she returned to her brother's
house, the children, including Cecilia, being sent away, for a day or
two, to one of Mrs. Blanchard's relatives. Nora had seized a favorable
opportunity to tell Mr. Alden, in confidence, the painful story that was
burdening her mind. He was, of course, deeply interested, the more so
that he knew, as Nora did not, the story of the child's rejected appeal.

He was, though surprised, not so much shocked as Nora had been; for he
had formed, from his own observation, a tolerably correct appreciation
of Mr. Chillingworth's limitations. He thought, most decidedly, that the
man chiefly concerned should know the circumstances, as soon as
possible, but he felt that the task of telling him was one which he
himself was not the best person to undertake.

"Then who could?" Nora anxiously inquired.

"I think, my dear girl," he said, "that no one can do it so well as
yourself!"

"Oh! but I _couldn't_!" she exclaimed.

"I think you could. I am sure you could if you made up your mind to do
it. And, if it is right, you will make up your mind."

"But how? I could never begin!"

"Wait for your opportunity," he said. "You will surely get it, and I
believe you will find the way, too, when the opportunity comes. There's
no fear of _your_ doing it cruelly."

Nora did not feel so sure. She feared that the very effort would make
the disclosure come out harshly, whatever she might desire. But she
accepted Mr. Alden's counsel, without further opposition.

One of her first cares was a visit to the hospital, where she found that
"Mrs. Travers" had been in a very quiet and subdued mood, ever since the
painful scene of her return. Miss Spencer expressed relief and approval
when Nora told her of her determination.

"Only," she said, "unless he means to acknowledge her, it will be best
that she should never know that he knows."

Nora assented. But how, she thought, would it ever be possible for
_him_, of all men, to "acknowledge" a wife in such circumstances? She
was very sad and thoughtful as she walked home.

That evening, it so happened that Mr. Chillingworth called at his usual
hour--Mrs. Blanchard being out at a large afternoon reception, to which
Nora naturally did not care to accompany her. Possibly Mr. Chillingworth
had guessed as much, and hoped to find her alone. It was the first time
he had been able to see her since the evening of the oratorio, and he
was more effusive in his greeting, more genuinely sympathetic, than she
had ever seen him. She found it almost impossible to command her
thoughts, so as to keep up conversation. She could not keep them from
darting off to the task that lay before her, and, all the time she was
trying to reply to him, she was wondering when the "opportunity" would
come, and whether she could be equal to it.

They talked of many indifferent things, of the financial success of the
oratorio, of the beauty of the spring evenings, of the hyacinths and
violets that were filling the room with fragrance, delighting Mr.
Chillingworth's sensitive organization. He himself was in an unusually
genial and happy mood, utterly unconscious, of course, of the abyss that
was yawning at his feet. He had of late been indulging much in a
day-dream that was ever taking more tangible shape. He was growing very
tired of his solitary life, and he had been dreaming of the sweet
companionship of a graceful and cultivated woman, which should refresh
and rejuvenate his heart and life. The dream was uppermost in his heart,
and very near his lips.

By and by, in spite of Nora's best efforts, the conversation flagged
perceptibly. Mr. Chillingworth himself seemed indisposed to talk much.
After a short pause he began, however, in a tone that was low, and more
tenderly modulated than usual.

"It is curious how this spring weather seems to wake up all sorts of
associations and longings in us; just as it wakes the stirring life in
the flowers! Years ago, a blight--the result of a great trouble--seemed
to come over my life. But it has gradually worn off, and of late I have
been cherishing a hope that my life might yet blossom anew."

Nora's heart beat fast with affright. Her instinct warned her of what
was coming. It must not come! _That_ would be too horrible! She had no
time to delay, so she rushed into the subject without daring to pause to
think.

"Do you know," she said, surprising him by what seemed the utter
irrelevancy of her remark,--"we have always been much interested in the
history of little Cecilia's mother. And now it turns out that she is the
wife of a man who still supposes her to have been lost at sea!"

The pallor of her face, the suppressed agitation of her manner in
forcing in this interruption, must of themselves have explained much
more than her words. Well--she had dealt the blow, she hardly knew how;
but she would not look to see its effect. She was conscious of a deadly
stillness in the room. The faint ticking of the marble clock on the
mantel, the occasional fall of a cinder from the fire in the grate, the
distant note of a robin, were the only sounds, unless the beating of her
heart were audible, as she fancied it must be. The only other sensation
she was conscious of was the floating fragrance of the hyacinths, which
she ever afterwards associated with this scene.

He spoke at last--but it was only to ask, in a scarcely audible tone:

"What was her name?"

"Her maiden name was--_Celia Travers_," she replied, in a tone as low as
his own.

It seemed a long time--it could not have been many minutes--before Mr.
Chillingworth rose, and in a hoarse, low tone that he vainly tried to
steady, said 'he must go now, as he had many things to think of.' She
gave him her hand timidly, without raising her eyes to his face. He held
it for a moment, with a pressure that hurt it,--raised it for a moment
to his lips--and was gone. She knew it was a silent farewell.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN.


For two or three days after that startling revelation, Mr. Chillingworth
remained almost entirely shut up in his own study. He had truly, as he
said, "many things to think of"--past, present and future. Miss
Blanchard's few and simple words had been enough to reveal to him, with
a lightning flash, the whole situation. The child's name, the likeness
that had always vaguely troubled him, the associations and memories it
suggested, her uncommon delight in music, all pointed too distinctly in
one direction. Yet he had never even heard that he had a child! And he
had been so sure that the "Celia Chillingworth," whose name he had
himself seen among the "lost" in that great steamship disaster which had
caused such a widespread sensation, must have been his unfortunate wife,
that he had had no more doubt on the subject than if he had seen her
laid in her coffin. He had written to his English agent, and had
ascertained through his inquiries, that she had taken passage with her
cousin, in the ill-fated steamer. What further certainty could he need?

Undoubtedly the intelligence of her death had been, in some sense, a
relief to him. Yet another curious result had followed. This tragic
event seemed to have obliterated the impatient disgust which had led to
his harsh decision. For Mr. Chillingworth's character possessed none of
the passionate impulse to _save_--the tender sympathy with the
wrong-doer--the infinite patience and compassion that mark the human
saviour of his fellows, as they do the Divine One, and that are most
frequently found in the feminine nature; though Mr. Alden was a
conspicuous proof that they are by no means exclusively found there. But
death seemed to have passed a softening and idealizing touch over the
harsh lines of the past, and his early romance, by degrees, lost its
painful aspect, and retained only the romantic one. He had not been
conscious of being harsh, and the sorrow he felt was only the natural
ruth that any mind of sensibility must feel at the tragic severance of a
life, the premature fate that had overtaken one so young and so
beautiful. And he had gradually begun to think only of his
"bereavement," not of what had gone before. He had never thought of
remarriage till he had met Nora Blanchard.

But now, in the light of the peculiar Nemesis that had overtaken him, he
could not feel so sure that he had done right! His own moral
perceptions, at least, had grown within the last ten years. Originally,
they had been very limited. He had been brought up, a much indulged only
child, by a widowed mother, who plumed herself on her "evangelical
views" and attached infinite importance to what she called the "saving
of the soul," meaning by that much abused term, however, little more
than a claim to a fair prospect of safety and happiness in another life.
She was especially strong on the "deadliness of doing," the
worthlessness of "good works." Accordingly, Cecil Chillingworth, though
brought up, of course, to avoid open transgression and hate vice, had
never in those early days that do so much to mould a man's mind, taken
in the idea of the gospel as a great moral cure and spiritual power, the
very essence of which must be love to God and man. He bad never been
taught that salvation meant becoming Christ-like, and that to follow
Christ was to care for others, to deny himself for his brother's good.
He had no gross impulses to resist, and, having a natural devotional
tendency, he had drifted on in a refined self-indulgence, of which he
was quite unconscious. Notwithstanding his evident musical talent, his
mother discouraged his becoming a professional musician, from a vague
idea that it was "worldly"--a reason quite sufficient to deter himself.
The clerical profession was the next most congenial, and he went through
his preparation for it in due course, being, however, much more deeply
interested in music than in theology, and never having passed through
any crisis that could wake him up to spiritual reality. Soon after his
taking orders and settling down in a curacy, he had met Celia Travers,
and had fallen passionately in love. His mother had died two or three
years before, and, as he had only himself to please, and as Miss
Travers' employer encouraged a speedy marriage, it had taken place while
the spell of her beauty still blinded him to all other considerations.
After a time came disillusion to a great extent, a sense of lack of
congenial companionship, and then the shock of the last discovery, the
shame, and dread, and final separation, which he justified to himself as
the "cutting off of the right hand;" although the consequences it was to
avert were temporal, not spiritual.

After he came to America, a gradual change and widening of intellectual
and spiritual horizon grew with maturing years. He at least learned to
_see_ Christianity differently. He caught up the current note of
self-sacrifice, self-surrender. He was fascinated with an ideal
spiritual beauty which called forth all his natural eloquence, and made
him a popular preacher. But he had lived so completely in his ideals,
that he had learned to worship _these_, instead of the realities that
inspired them. And his own failure to grasp the practical side of
Christianity reacted on his teaching. The beauty of the Christian
religion, as he saw it, enchanted his idealistic nature, much as the
glory of a distant mountain-top might fascinate the wayfarer, who as yet
had but little conception of the long and toilsome journey that lies
between. He could, therefore, discourse glowingly on the divine ideal of
Christian love, without saying one word which could penetrate the
conscience of the most consistently selfish hearer--who will stand
calmly a vast amount of generalities, provided, only, that you do not
"condescend upon particulars." Moreover, Mr. Chillingworth had lived so
completely in a world of his own, so apart from the ordinary human life
about him, that he himself did not know the needs of his own people, the
points at which their selfishness was strongest, the absolute blank that
lay between what they professed to believe and its natural development
in the practice of daily life,--a gap, that, as we have seen, unhappily
existed in his own life.

In these days of solitary self-communing, conscience, however, began to
assert its claims. The fact that other hands had cared for and tended
the woman whose chief claim was on _him_, and the knowledge, from all he
had seen of Miss Blanchard, in what light the whole affair and his
action in it must appear to her who of late had been so much in his
thoughts and hopes--all tended to open his eyes. In looking over some
old sermons, in order to select a substitute for the one he could not
write, he happened to come upon the one he had been writing on the day
when Roland Graeme first made his acquaintance, and his eye chanced to
fall on the paragraph in which he had been interrupted. Conscience,
newly awakened, drove the shaft home. That "battle" he spoke of--how had
he fought it? He could see, though dimly as yet, that the "battle with
self" had never been fought at all--and, if so, what of the others?
Heartsick and depressed, he felt, for the first time in his life, that
he was a moral failure. The consciousness almost drowned the other
pang--of a cherished hope shattered forever!

What he should do, he could not yet see. The future seemed all dark
before him. To do anything, and to do nothing, seemed to him equally
impossible. He could not even bring himself to ask questions, to put
into tangible shape the nightmare that haunted him. While still in this
miserable state of indecision, a stronger hand solved the question for
him.

On the evening on which he heard the startling tidings, his trim maid,
when she brought in his tea, asked if she might go to spend the night at
her own home, on account of the illness of one of her little brothers.
He assented,--mechanically--and she did not think it necessary to tell
him that it was a case of diphtheria. Two or three days later, he felt
sufficiently indisposed to send for Dr. Blanchard; when he found, to his
surprise, that what he had thought an ordinary though severe sore throat
was an incipient attack of that dreaded malady.

Dr. Blanchard urgently recommended the hospital, as the only place where
he could be properly and safely treated; and he passively assented.
Nothing seemed to matter much to him, just then. A cab was called, and
the move was made without delay. And so, without any prearrangement, the
husband and wife, so long and strangely separated, were once more
brought together beneath the same roof.



CHAPTER XXIX.

RECONCILIATION.


A few days before Mr. Chillingworth's removal to the hospital, a very
different patient had been taken thither, also sent in by Dr. Blanchard.
This was poor Lizzie Mason, who had been taken ill during Nora's
absence, and of whose illness Nora first heard from Miss Pomeroy, who
had been specially active in looking after the "Girls' Club" while Miss
Blanchard was on duty elsewhere. The story of Lizzie's illness was a sad
one. The needs of the family had made her very anxious to earn a little
more, if possible, and she had undertaken a kind of work that commanded
higher wages on account of its inconvenience. It was that of spinning
silk which had to be kept constantly wet by a spray of water, which, of
course, kept the garments of the spinner more or less wet also. The
obvious precaution of providing a water-proof suit, for this work, had
not been deemed necessary by Mr. Willett; and Lizzie could not think of
affording the outlay. So she worked on all day in damp clothes, running
home afterwards, as quickly as she could, to exchange them. While the
mild spring weather continued, no great harm resulted; but, as often
happens in spring, it had suddenly become extremely raw and cold.
Lizzie, leaving the overheated room in her damp clothing, had taken a
chill, which in her weakened constitution had brought on a attack of
pneumonia. Miss Pomeroy had been told of her illness, had gone to see
her, and, by dint of cross-examination, had ascertained its origin. She
went home in a white-heat of indignation, and told her mother the whole
story, which, at first, Mrs. Pomeroy refused to believe. Yet when she
was compelled to realize it, she suddenly burst into tears, for she was,
after all, a good and well-meaning woman; and intermingled
self-reproaches and self-defence in a most incoherent manner.

She wouldn't have believed Willett would have permitted such a
thing--but how could she know anything about it? Only to think that such
things should happen at her own door! She had been pitying the poor
women on the other side of the globe, and here were girls in their own
mill sacrificed like this! If she had only thought of looking into
things a little more! Well, such a thing would never happen again, if
she could help it!

"And, in the meantime, Clara," she said, "you will go to Doctor
Blanchard, and ask him, for me, to see this poor girl at once, and to do
the very best he can for her. And she must get everything she needs, or
fancies, to set her up again."

The result of which was, that Lizzie, after much persuasion, consented
to go to the hospital for care and treatment, one inducement being the
promise that she should be placed in the room of her friend, Mrs.
Travers, who had been doing her best to assist the tired nurses in the
busy time that the great increase of sickness had brought upon them. It
need scarcely be said that she at once became Lizzie's devoted
attendant--scarcely relaxing her watch for a moment, till Lizzie was
pronounced somewhat better, with a tolerable possibility of recovery.

It was well that she had improved before Mr. Chillingworth's arrival.
When Miss Spencer had learned that his case was pronounced an extremely
severe and dangerous one, she thought it only right to tell his wife,
who, from that moment, seemed to have no thought but for him. Indeed,
she begged so hard to be allowed to take a share in the constant
attendance he required, that Miss Spencer arranged for her doing so, on
the express condition that she should keep well out of his sight, till
the issue of the attack should be determined. Mr. Chillingworth, indeed,
was not likely to notice any one just then. He was very ill, indeed, and
lay most of the time with closed eyes, in a state of great suffering and
prostration. His wife's whole being seemed absorbed in watching him with
intense anxiety, doing everything for him that it was possible for her
to do without being observed by him, and evidently availing herself
greedily of the opportunity of once more gazing on his face--so changed,
in some respects, yet so familiar, and still to her so dear.

"That poor thing is a heroine in her way," said Dr. Blanchard, on his
return from one of his visits. "I never knew greater devotion, and after
such an experience!"

He was of the three or four people who had heard the sad story, and Nora
had to depend on him for all her information about the invalids; for
Mrs. Blanchard, nervously afraid of infection, would not hear of her
going near the hospital, even to see Lizzie Mason.

"Poor thing," exclaimed Mrs. Blanchard, sympathetically; "well, she has
her turn now! How oddly things seem to come round!"

"She took me by surprise to-day," Dr. Blanchard continued, "when I found
him so ill that I thought there was no hope for him but in the last
resort--trying to suck out the membraneous stuff with an instrument."

"Oh, Will," exclaimed his wife, "I can't bear to have you do such
things! You have no right to risk your life in that way--and all our
lives!"

"If I had done it, I should not have told you now. I've done it before.
Don't you know, we doctors are all under orders to risk life when it's
necessary? We couldn't do much, if we weren't ready for that. And I
should be a degenerate descendant of the brave Blanchards who fought for
freedom, if I couldn't face death as readily to save life, as they did
to destroy it. However, I haven't told you yet what surprised me. Just
as I was going to do it, this poor woman pressed forward,
whispering--"Oh, let _me_! It's _my_ place!"--in such an agonized way,
that I had not the heart to refuse her. I saw it was a real comfort to
her. I hardly know whether I was right or not, but I let her do it."

"Of course you were right!" Mrs. Blanchard said, much relieved. "It
_was_ her place, as she said. I should have felt just so!"

Nora said nothing; but as she silently listened, the tears started to
her eyes, at the thought of the words, "_Her sins, which are many, are
forgiven; for she loved much!_"

Whether or not it was this "last resort" that saved the clergyman's
life, he began from that time slightly to improve. The violence of the
attack abated, leaving it possible for him to secure the soothing and
strengthening rest he so much needed. And, at last, Miss Spencer, who
had been watching with deep interest the course of events, told the poor
shy watcher that she need not continue to practise such caution in
avoiding recognition. It would not hurt him, now, she thought, and it
might as well come soon as late. But it happened, after all, in a way
entirely accidental and unpremeditated.

With the first light of morning, Mr. Chillingworth awoke, at length,
from a long, restful sleep. He had no idea that his wife was in the
hospital, for he had not, of course, felt sufficiently interested in
Miss Blanchard's _protégée_, to keep track of her history. And, since
the disclosure, he had not yet dared to ask any questions.

But very probably, some chance token of a once familiar presence may
have stolen into his mind, even through the prostration of disease. It
is curious, what slight touches will start the springs of old
associations. Mr. Chillingworth, at any rate, had been dreaming a long
pleasant dream of the old happy days of his youthful love and marriage,
of wanderings in English lanes and saunterings in leafy garden-walks,
always with one fair face and graceful figure by his side, that had then
seemed to hold the whole charm of life for him. As he awoke, he had
been, in his dream, looking down at the familiar upturned face, with its
gaze of happy, trustful love.

It seemed to him, when he opened his eyes in the bare hospital room,
that he must be dreaming still. For, in a low chair beside the bed, sat,
with her head resting on it, in a quiet sleep that had stolen
irresistibly over her--the very original of his dreams. In the soft
light that penetrated through the drawn blinds, the traces left by years
and suffering on the still lovely face were almost unperceived; the soft
rings of dark hair curled low on the forehead just as he so well
remembered them--lovely even in their slight disorder. And, even as he
looked, the long lashes were raised, and the beautiful gray eyes were
opened, in a shy, half-frightened, but fascinated gaze.

Mr. Chillingworth was just in that weak and helpless state, when--if
ever in his life--a man yearns for the tender ministrations of a loving
woman. Suffering and prostration had broken down the hard coldness of
his nature, and it seemed as if he had become like a dependent child.
The old love of the former days, stirred up by his vivid dream, seemed
to thrill once more through his whole being, sweeping away all the
barriers that years and circumstances had interposed. He feebly
stretched out his arms, and by the irresistible impulse--strange
influence that love can exert over the hardest will!--the long severed
husband and wife were reunited in a close, instinctive, passionate
embrace.



CHAPTER XXX.

AN EASTER MORNING.


If life is to be measured by happiness, the days that followed should
have been reckoned by years for the poor young woman, so long defrauded
of the rightful love of her life. To Mr. Chillingworth, they were days
of strangely mingled happiness and pain. As, little by little, he
learned most of her story, in the long, quiet days when husband and wife
were left alone together, he felt, with deep humiliation, how great a
wrong his impatient harshness bad done to her, and to himself. When she,
poor thing, timidly spoke of "forgiveness," he passionately responded
that it was _he_, not she, who needed to be forgiven. But, as yet, he
could not, weak and prostrate as he still was, face the problem of the
future.

That problem, too, was solved for him in a way he had little dreamed of.
As he rapidly recovered, his devoted nurse could no longer conceal the
fact that the dangerous malady had attacked herself. This was not, of
course, surprising, since, she was as yet by no means strong, and had
been so constantly shut up in the infected atmosphere. It did not take
long for the disease to work its fatal way in her enfeebled
constitution. Indeed, it seemed as if she had not the vitality left for
any resistance. She had, evidently, but little desire for life, and she
had learned to think of death without fear, much as a tired child thinks
of its evening rest. As she lay, prostrated by weakness, scarcely
speaking, but watching her husband's face and movements, the expression
of the pale but satisfied and peaceful countenance seemed to say, "Now,
let me depart in peace."

Mr. Chillingworth tried to speak to her of the hope that it is the
minister's privilege to set before dying eyes, but his attempts seemed
to himself weak and impotent. He had lived so long in a world of ideals
and abstractions, that he had, in a great measure, lost the realizing
sense of the simple gospel truths, so familiar to him from infancy.
Reality seemed to have gone out of the things he had so long believed,
and he sometimes wondered whether he had believed at all--whether he
were not himself drifting into the position of an agnostic. He
remembered a sermon he had once preached, about the rich young man who
had come to the Master, but who, tried by too severe a test, had shrunk
back from the required sacrifice, and had "gone away sorrowful." So, he
thought, had he shrunk back from the cross laid on him, and, what right
had he to call himself a follower of the Master? But, what was
impossible to him, had been long ago done by others. Other guidance than
his had led the poor wanderer to the Divine and forgiving Helper, in
whom alone rests the hope of the true penitent; and she, who had "loved
much," felt herself forgiven.

The end came very soon. Her constitution made so little resistance that
the suffering seemed the less severe. As the fair spring morning of
Easter Sunday dawned, it was clear to the solitary watcher that all was
nearly over. He tenderly held his wife supported by his encircling arm,
watching her as she looked at him wistfully, with a faint smile of
recognition, scarcely able to speak.

"It--is--far--the best thing,--Cecil!" she said, in words disjointed and
scarcely audible; "you'll take care of Cecilia--she'll be a comfort to
you--by and by!"

Then the eyelids drooped, and her husband, bending low, could only catch
faintly the words, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we----"

He repeated the words with her, and finished the sentence. As he did so,
he found that he was alone with the dead.

Gently he laid back the lifeless form, kissed the cold brow, and sat for
a little while, reluctant to break the spell of the solemn stillness,
and absorbed in the thought of the remote past which had now swallowed
up the present, and of that unseen future which he vainly tried to
grasp, and which seemed to him so shadowy. But, as he knelt in prayer,
he registered a silent, passionate vow, that, henceforward, his life
should be lived, to the utmost of his power, in the spirit of that
unselfish love which he had preached so long and practised so little.
The sharpest conflicts are often those which take place in silence and
solitude, without any outward sign; and human lives are shaped and
moulded to higher uses as silently as were the Temple stones of old.

As he slowly turned at last, to leave the room, the golden light of the
new day broke in upon him from without, and he heard the silvery chimes
of the Easter bells ushering in the morning that commemorates the
Resurrection.



CHAPTER XXXI.

AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSAL.


Nora Blanchard had remained in Minton longer than she had originally
intended, delayed partly by her interest in the events that had been
taking place, partly because she would not go till she had made some
arrangements for the future of little Cecilia. Of course, it had been
impossible that the child could see her mother in those last days, and
the task of breaking to her the truth that she should see that mother no
more had been to Nora a terribly trying one. She soothed the child's
passionate grief, as she best could; but she could not venture, as yet,
to intrude upon it what she felt would be the unwelcome intelligence of
her relationship to Mr. Chillingworth. When the latter, by Dr.
Blanchard's advice, went away for a time to recruit at a noted
health-resort, he gladly accepted Miss Blanchard's offer to take Cecilia
with her to her home at Rockland for the summer, until he should be able
to make up his mind as to his future arrangements. The secret of his sad
story was known to very few, and those few were not likely to make it
more generally known.

Meantime Lizzie Mason had made a tolerably satisfactory recovery, and
had been sent back to her home, but she still had a cough which neither
Nora nor Dr. Blanchard liked to hear. Miss Blanchard had formed one of
her impulsive plans for transplanting the whole family to Rockland. If
she could get employment for Lizzie and Jim under Mr. Foster, the
benevolent mill-owner there, they would all be so much better off in the
healthy, pleasant country place, and Jim would be away from his bad
companions, and, by and by, he and Nelly might settle down. Lizzie's
eyes sparkled with pleasure as Miss Blanchard unfolded this project.

"Oh, if it could only all happen, Miss Blanchard, it would be just
lovely!" she said.

And Nora made up her mind to try to accomplish it. She was, herself,
thinking longingly of the green fields and budding woods of Rockland in
these early days of May; and she was growing impatient for the sight of
the wild flowers that she knew were blooming fresh and fair in her
favorite woodland nooks. And yet, she felt very unwilling to leave her
friends in Minton, her little nephews and nieces, the "Girls' Club," and
all the other interests that had engaged her thoughts daring the winter.
But as the married sister, who had been staying with her family in the
old homestead at Rockland was soon to take her departure, Nora's return
could not be long delayed.

She bad seen a good deal of Roland Graeme of late. He had called
repeatedly to bear the latest report of the progress of the invalids, in
whom they were both so deeply interested. His own saddened expression,
so different from the bright, eager look natural to him, and what Nora
had said about his attachment to Grace, had enlisted Mrs. Blanchard's
kindly feeling, and she hospitably urged the young man to come to see
them often. With Nora he had always many common objects of interest, but
the chief bond of sympathy, now, was the sweet memory of Grace, about
whom Roland liked to talk freely when alone with Miss Blanchard, sure of
her full comprehension. And he, in turn, felt for her more sympathy than
was perhaps needed, on the score of the disappointment he thought she
had experienced in Mr. Chillingworth. She, happily, was thoroughly cured
of the incipient fancy, which had not been strong enough to seriously
affect her happiness, though the moral shock could not but leave its
mark--a mark which, but for the solemn experiences she had passed
through, immediately after, would have been much deeper.

Roland had need of all the comfort and sympathy she could give him, for
he had various troubles just then. The people who delight in inventing
or propagating malicious gossip had been making such mischief as they
could. Nora's indignation had been roused more than once, lately, by
hearing the incident of his appearance at the police-court on behalf of
their unfortunate _protégée_, distorted into a story discreditable to
Roland on the score of such an acquaintance. And, as she could not
possibly give the true history of the affair, her indignant defence was
received with somewhat incredulous and significant smiles, excessively
annoying to her chivalrous nature. Many people, indeed, were only too
glad to catch at a substantial reason for looking askance at Roland
Graeme.

But personal annoyances did not, after all, trouble him so much as did
his growing anxiety about Waldberg, which also, to some extent, he
confided to Miss Blanchard. The "boy" had got fairly into the vortex of
speculation, so far as his very limited means would permit. Some fatal
successes had greatly intensified his ambition. He was dreaming wild
dreams of "making his pile," and carrying off Kitty in triumph; for he
had no doubt that "Old Farrell" would "come round" if he could only
satisfy him financially. And he knew, too well, that Kitty was
thoroughly tired of her engagement, and that, but for her father's
strong opposition, it would have been broken long ago. The truth was,
Mr. Farrell had lost heavily of late through various causes, and his own
affairs were not in nearly such a flourishing condition as was generally
supposed.

Mr. Archer had also become a frequent visitor at Dr. Blanchard's, and
had been, as Mrs. Blanchard observed, "very polite and attentive." He
was fond of riding in the fine spring afternoons, and, as Miss Blanchard
was a good horsewoman, he had urged that, since she was looking rather
pale and languid, she should have a ride or two with him, Miss Pomeroy's
horse and habit being readily placed at her disposal. Her brother warmly
seconded the proposal. It was, he said, just the sort of tonic she
needed, after all she had been through. Accordingly, they had two
delightful rides into the country, during which Mr. Archer exerted
himself to be more agreeable than she had ever known him, for he knew by
this time what Nora liked, and he could throw off his half-assumed tone
of cynicism when it pleased him. He led the way to the prettiest spots
in the neighborhood, where they alighted to pick wild flowers. As they
were returning from the last of these excursions--Miss Blanchard with a
knot of hepaticas on her breast--they met Roland Graeme, who had been
giving himself the refreshment of a country walk. He looked somewhat
wistfully at the two riders. He was, himself, very fond of the exercise,
and Miss Blanchard was looking remarkably well, the rapid exercise
having brought the color to her cheek and the sparkle to her eyes. He
could not help feeling a pang of envy--a wish, that just then he could
be in the place of the prosperous-looking, well-appointed Philip Archer.

"Graeme's looking fagged out, these days!" remarked Mr. Archer. "His
philanthropy seems to be too much for him."

Nora made no reply; for she could not talk over Roland's troubles with
Mr. Archer, who always patronized "Graeme."

"It's too bad of you, Miss Blanchard," he continued, "to go off and
leave all your friends here, just when they've got to depend on you. The
Girls' Club will be left desolate. Miss Pomeroy and Miss Farrell will
never be able to keep it up without you."

"I think they will do very well," she said, laughing.

"And Mr. Graeme will miss one of his warmest sympathizers," he added,
looking at her scrutinizingly. He saw no trace of any consciousness and
went on, lightly: "And what will you do with yourself in Rockland? By
your account there are no wrongs to right in that happy Arcadia."

"Rest, and be thankful," she retorted, in the same tone.

When he spoke again, there was an undercurrent of real feeling
struggling through the lightness of his tone.

"Now, Miss Blanchard, you know philanthropy is decidedly your vocation;
you ought to have a subject always at hand. Couldn't you now--" he
hesitated, and she looked at him inquiringly, "couldn't you now--take a
fellow like _me_ in hand, and try what you could do with him? I assure
you--you wouldn't find me a bad subject!"

His tone made her begin to comprehend his meaning, but she was too much
surprised to have words ready. He spoke again, more pleadingly, "Won't
you try, Miss Blanchard? I do think you could make something of me, if
you cared enough to try?"

His manner had forced Nora to understand him at last. She was divided
between surprise at the unexpected proposal, and involuntary annoyance
that it should have been made without the slightest reason to suppose
that it would be accepted. However, she managed, she hardly knew how, to
convey to him, in a few rather curt words, the fact that such a thing
was utterly impossible, that she was sorry he should have thought of it.
She regretted, afterwards, that she had been so abrupt in her refusal.
But she had no need to trouble herself. Mr. Archer's self-satisfaction
was not likely to be permanently disturbed by any such experience; and
it is even possible that, on cooler reflection, he did not altogether
regret that his rather impulsive offer had been declined; for it would
have been, he felt, rather a strain for him to try, for any length of
time, to "live up to" such a girl as Nora Blanchard!

In order to break the somewhat awkward silence that followed during the
last part of their ride, Mr. Archer remarked that he was afraid "Old
Farrell" would be in financial trouble, now.

"Why?" asked Nora, interested on her friend's account, and glad of a
diversion from the former subject.

"Oh, I suspect he's been playing high, lately, in stocks. There's been a
rapid rise for some days, in B. & B., and I believe he stood fair to
make a big score. Every one thought a further rise was sure. But I
believe they've come down with a run to-day, and I'm afraid he and a lot
of the smaller fry that follow his lead, will get pretty well caught."

"Oh, I hope not--for Kitty's sake!"

"Oh, Miss Kitty's all right, you know! I imagine the old fellow was very
glad to get Pomeroy secured for her; for I rather think he's been
feeling a little shaky of late."

Nora was very silent during the short remainder of her ride. She was
thinking, not only of Kitty, but of Waldberg and Roland Graeme.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A NARROW ESCAPE.


When Roland sat down to dinner that evening with Mr. Dunlop, who
generally preferred to dine with the two young men, Waldberg did not
make his appearance as usual. After dinner, Roland went up to his room,
ostensibly to write. But he did not write much; he was too much
concerned about his friend. Mr. Dunlop, who kept himself well informed
as to financial matters, had told him of the rumored collapse in certain
stocks, the rapid rise of which had been exciting great general
interest. Roland knew that Waldberg had been watching them with a
feverish; though sanguine eagerness, which it pained him to see. And now
he feared for a crushing disappointment.

Two or three hours had passed, and still no Waldberg appeared. Roland
was just thinking that he must go out to look for him, little as he knew
where to look, when he heard the door below open and close much more
softly than usual, and what he recognized as Waldberg's familiar
step--though it was strangely soft and slow--mounting the stair, and
passing into his own room. Then all was silence for a time. Roland
listened,--more anxious than ever, since Waldberg did not, as usual,
come in to tell him his news. After a time, he heard him moving about in
his room, opening drawers, as if searching for something. Unable any
longer to resist the strong impulse of anxiety, he rose, walked softly
to Waldberg's room, and entered without knocking. His misgivings were
only too well justified. The young German was standing in front of the
mirror, with something in his up-lifted hand. Roland made a dash at his
hand, not a moment too soon. The next instant, he was conscious of a
strange sensation in his own shoulder, which made him stagger back,
caught by the bewildered Waldberg.

"Roland! Mein Roland! Why did you that? Now I am done for!"

Roland sat down, feeling somewhat faint, as he tried to pull off his
coat, exclaiming, as he did so, "Waldberg! how could you think of such a
senseless, cowardly thing?"

"Ah, you know nothing! I am in despair! But first I must see about this.
Did the thing go through?"

An examination showed that the bullet had but grazed his shoulder,
leaving a somewhat severe flesh-wound which Roland declared a mere
trifle. Waldberg, who had had some experience in German students' duels,
had set to work to bandage it, when a step in the passage without made
Roland rouse himself and go out to see who it was. It turned out to be
Mr. Dunlop, who had been awakened by the report, and had come, in some
alarm, to discover what was the matter. Roland told him that an accident
had happened, which had given him a mere scratch; and he went back to
bed, growling a little and only half-satisfied. When he had gone down,
Roland was glad to sink down in an easy-chair, while Waldberg completed
a temporary dressing, that would serve till morning, as Roland insisted
that there must be no fuss made about it that night. When it was done,
he insisted on knowing what had tempted Waldberg to such a mad and
reckless step, adding:

"I'm only too glad the lead went across my shoulder instead of into your
brain!"

"Oh, well, you see, mein Roland, I was desperate! It was mad, I know,
but indeed I knew not what to do! However, you shall know all, if you
must."

He told the story in German, partly for the sake of privacy, partly
because when agitated he generally relapsed into his mother tongue. It
was a sad and too common tale. He had been desperately anxious to make
all he could, in the venture to which he had been encouraged by the
opinion of such an "expert" as Mr.

Farrell and one of his clerks--that it was a "sure thing." He had
embarked in it all his own little resources, only regretting that these
were not greater, as he had the expectation of at least a ten-fold
return.

"Pity you couldn't put in another five hundred!" his adviser had said;
"couldn't you borrow it?"

"No," Waldberg had said. He couldn't ask Graeme, and Mr. Dunlop would
never lend his money for speculation. "Get him to sign a note--you
needn't say what for," said his tempter; "you'll be able to pay twice
over before a month's past."

Just when he was most anxious for this additional stake, chance threw a
temptation in his way. He found, in a book of Mr. Dunlop's an envelope
on which he had written his own name, "Alexander C. Dunlop," with
"_Minton_" below, evidently intended to be enclosed in a letter to some
stranger, for the purpose of containing a reply. The sight of this put
into his mind the idea of writing, above the signature, a joint note
with his own signature above Mr. Dunlop's, the word, "Minton" coming in
for the date. He cherished the thought, till it proved irresistible. It
would only, he thought, be borrowing Mr. Dunlop's endorsement for a loan
he would soon be able to repay. Without letting himself realize the
wrong of it, the thing was done. And he had been counting on making an
additional five thousand out of the five hundred he was now borrowing.

But now, contrary to the most confident expectations, the tide had
suddenly turned--quotations had come down with a rush, and Waldberg,
with many others, had lost his whole venture. And how was he, thus left
penniless for the present, to face Mr. Dunlop when the note should fall
due? He had drunk enough to "prime himself," and had come home to seek a
rash release from his troubles.

Roland was terribly shocked. He could not understand how Waldberg could
have done such a thing as this. But he saw that he was utterly wretched,
and he would not add a straw, by reproach, to the burden he bore. "I
shall be disgraced for ever," he said, "and it's all up now, about
Kitty!"

"You shall not be disgraced, Hermann!" he said. "I know you will never
do such a thing again. I think I can manage it so that no one will know,
not even Mr. Dunlop; and _he_ wouldn't be hard on you if he did; he's
really fond of you!"

"But how, then?" asked Waldberg, bewildered in his turn.

"I can let you have a hundred dollars now, or when the note falls due.
And I shall ask Mr. Dunlop to lend me the other four hundred for a time
on my own note and yours. He'll do it if I ask him. And you can make it
up by degrees."

"Oh, Roland, you're the best friend any fellow ever had! Indeed, you may
be sure I'll never try such a thing again! My heart's been like lead,
ever since I did it. But _you're_ hurt now--and I know it's all up with
Kitty!" he groaned.

"And, Hermann, whatever happens, never again try that cowardly plan of
shirking the consequences of your own actions. It was only making bad
ten times worse. Think of the stain it would have left on your name; and
how your friends would have felt!"

Happily no one else slept near, and no one but Mr. Dunlop had been
alarmed by the noise. Roland quietly retired to his own apartment, where
Waldberg would not leave him, until he had seen him settled for the
night as comfortably as possible; and then went to try to sleep off his
own excitement: while Roland, now suffering a good deal, lay
awake--satisfied, however, with having, in a double sense, saved the
life of his friend. He got up and dressed next morning, though unable to
move his arm, and, in reply to all inquiries, would vouchsafe no further
explanation than that he had given to Mr. Dunlop. And, somehow, the
story got about that he had discovered a burglar who was intending to
rob the rich old Scotchman, had wrested his pistol from his grasp and
frightened him away. Mr. Dunlop, whose shrewdness suspected more than he
knew, said nothing, and asked no questions, even when the loan was asked
for without explanation. He had learned to trust Roland, absolutely, and
he at once granted his request. But he insisted that Roland should have
medical treatment for his shoulder, which was now giving him a good deal
of trouble, and himself sent for Dr. Blanchard.

"I don't much care whether ye pay me or not, lad," he said, as he handed
Roland his cheque for the sum asked for. "I don't expect to need this
world's goods very long. I've always thought I should go off suddenly,
like the snuff of a candle; or what's happened to Farrell may happen to
me, too."

For, on the evening of the "crash," Mr. Farrell had had a paralytic,
stroke, evidently the result of his anxiety and disappointment. It did
not, however, seem likely to be fatal; but he was completely
helpless, and no hope was given of his ever being less so. His losses had
been, very heavy, and, as his business would now have to be wound up, he
would be left with only a small proportion of the fortune he had been
supposed to possess.

Nora, before she left town, paid a visit of condolence to Kitty, whom,
to her surprise, she found by no means overwhelmed by the sudden reverse
of fortune. Except for her natural sorrow for her father's helpless
condition, indeed, Nora would have thought her rather brighter than when
she had last seen her. And, by and by, she learned the secret.

"It's all over between Harold Pomeroy and me, Nora. I think he was very
glad to get out of it, when I told him he could have his freedom and his
rings back. Hermann can't give me a _diamond_ ring," she said, holding
up her finger, "but this is a signet ring his mother gave him, and I'm
to keep it till he can give me a plain gold one."

"Why, Kitty!" exclaimed Nora. "Is that how it is?"

"Yes," said Kitty, "when Hermann heard of papa's misfortune he came to
sympathize. And, of course, we've known we've loved each other this long
time, only I didn't know how I could break with Harold; it would vex
father so, though I knew _he_ didn't care very much. But since poor
papa's been ill, he doesn't seem to mind about anything.--And so it's
all settled. Hermann and I are to be married just as soon as he's able
to take a little cottage by the river, and papa and mamma are to live
with us. And I'm to sweep and dust, and make my own dresses, and be as
happy as the day is long. I'm sick of doing nothing!"

Nora could not help laughing outright at the idea of the petted Kitty,
whose forefinger had hardly ever been pricked by a needle, making her
own dresses, and finding it delightful. However, she kissed her, and
said she hoped she would be as happy as she expected;--forgetting
altogether the slighted affections of Mr. Harold Pomeroy.

"And mind," said Kitty, "you're to come to the wedding, whenever it is!
I want you for my bridesmaid, and Roland Graeme is to be groomsman."

"Very well!" said Nora, laughing, and so they parted. Roland Graeme,
chafing under the temporary imprisonment enforced by his wound and its
effects, which had been both painful and tedious, regretted very much,
when he heard of Miss Blanchard's approaching departure, that he should
not be able to see her before she went. Something of this regret he had
expressed to Dr. Blanchard, who still visited him occasionally. He was
sitting by his open window, one warm May morning, thinking longingly of
woods just bursting into leaf, and all the country sights and sounds to
which he had been accustomed, long ago, when a note was brought to him.
He knew that the handwriting was Miss Blanchard's and opened it eagerly.
It did not take long to read the few cordial lines:

     "DEAR MR. GRAEME,

     "I am so sorry I cannot see you before I go, to say Good-bye,
     and wish you God-speed. I was very sorry, too, to hear of your
     accident, but I trust you will soon be quite restored. I hope
     you will come by and by, to visit us at Rockland, which is
     always lovely in _June_. The change of air will do you so much
     good, my brother says, and my father bids me say that he will
     be delighted to make your acquaintance, and I shall be happy to
     show you all our sights, including Mr. Foster's model mills.

     "Meantime, with kindest regards, believe me

     "Your sincere friend,

     "NORA BLANCHARD."

Roland read this note several times over, before he folded it up and put
it carefully away. And the somewhat languid and wistful expression that
his face had worn before, was brightened, now, with the pleasure caused
by the kindly words and the still more pleasant vista it called up
before him. The enforced _rôle_ of an invalid had been to him a new and
unwelcome experience, and the temporary prostration left by the injury,
at a time when his naturally vigorous _physique_ had been a good deal
run down by overwork, was particularly trying to his energetic spirit.
But the mental picture that the note had conjured up, of June and woods
and flowers, added to the grateful sense of Miss Blanchard's kind
consideration, appealed to the underlying, inextinguishable poetry of
his nature, and sent his thoughts off on a refreshing day-dream, far
away from the smoky factories, the feverish competitions, the
exasperating wrongs, and all the tangles and worries of life in Minton.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

IN ARCADY.

    "And what is so rare as a day in June?
      Then, if ever, come perfect days;
    Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
      And over it softly her warm ear lays."


The familiar lines rose to Roland's lips, as he came out of the quiet
little country inn at Rockland, on a charming Sunday morning in that
fairest of months. He had arrived late the evening before; and had put
up, in the first instance, at the little hotel. As he took a stroll that
morning about the outskirts of the pretty village, nestling under the
shelter of wooded hills, beside a placid little inland lake reflecting
in its liquid mirror the weeds and hills in their first summer verdure,
he thought of Thoreau's "Walden," and wished that he could set up a
little hermitage of his own, somewhere amid these green recesses. But a
hermitage would never have contented Roland Graeme. He was, first and
essentially, a lover of man. Even now, his eye rested with strongest
interest on the large group of buildings, surrounded by neat white
cottages, which he knew by instinct was Mr. Foster's "model mills."

But, this morning, as be whiled away an hour or two before church-time,
in leisurely lingering through the "vernal wood," the balmy odors and
the birds carolling among the trees seemed of themselves to breathe a
refreshing influence--smoothing out, as if by magic, the creases of the
winter's toil and worry, and inspiring with new life his somewhat jaded
spirits and overtaxed nervous system. And a stranger thing than this
happened to him. With the new, marvellous beauty of the summer
landscape, that burst on his gladdened eyes like a revelation, there
seemed interfused a higher, more subtle influence. How, he knew
not--such things pass our knowing--and doubtless many things led up to
it; but there and then, it seemed to him that the chilling mists of
doubt had almost passed away from his soul He felt that once more the
beliefs of his childhood were realities to him, though in an infinitely
grander and more spiritual conception of them. He felt the divine Father
and Saviour, the brooding Spirit of love and strength, closer and more
real than the lovely vision around him. And he felt that he should never
lose them more.

After that moment of exaltation, it was pleasant to go into the pretty
little church, and sit there, in a remote corner, while the people
passed in silently, in little groups. He soon saw Miss Blanchard and
Cecilia, the latter, in a pretty white dress and broad straw hat, grown
much taller than when he had first seen her, and showing now; he
thought, traces of resemblance to her father, as well as to her mother.
With them, he easily recognized the tall, portly, white-haired old
gentleman to be "Squire Blanchard," as the people called him; and the
lady with the silver curls clustered on a broad forehead, and the calm,
loving, earnest eyes, as the "Aunt Margaret" of whom Nora had so often
spoken. Only Cecilia, however, looking about her as children do, espied
him, with a grave look of recognition, but without drawing the attention
of any one else to his presence. It was pleasant too, after the service,
and the simple, earnest sermon, to wait at the church door for Nora's
bright, glad look of recognition, as she warmly greeted him and
introduced him to her father and aunt. Mr. Blanchard pressed him to
return with them at once, but he declined this, promising to come over
in the afternoon and take up his quarters for a few days in the
hospitable old-fashioned house, which could always accommodate half a
dozen guests, if need were.

Accordingly, after the early dinner at the hotel, Roland made
arrangements to have his traps sent to Mr. Blanchard's next morning, and
set out with his satchel for the large white house which had been
pointed out to him, on a gentle slope beside the lake. He passed the
little rapid, stream that rushed into the lake at the outskirts of the
village, affording water-power to the busy mills, and, after a pleasant
walk by the lake shore, reached the large old house with its pillared
portico and side piazza, standing at some distance from the road, and
approached by a pretty drive, winding through a clump of pines and
varied shrubbery. As he approached the house, he saw a graceful,
white-robed figure, with a white-trimmed garden hat, rise from a shady
corner of the lawn and come toward him, book in hand.

"This is our out-door drawing-room," Nora said, as she conducted him to
a wide-spreading beech, under whose shade stood some garden-seats, where
were seated her father and aunt. Cecilia, hovering about in the distance
with a fine mastiff, came up and met his kindly greeting with evident
pleasure. Mr. Blanchard, who thoroughly justified Mr. Alden's
description, as "a worthy representative of an old Puritan family,"
entered at once into a conversation with Roland on his favorite
subjects, in which the elder Miss Blanchard joined, with a clear insight
and breadth of thought that surprised and impressed the guest, who
speedily felt thoroughly at home. The lovely June afternoon passed only
too quickly under the beech, till they were called in to the hospitable
tea-table, tempting in its dainty simplicity, in the large dining-room,
where the fragrant evening air came in through open windows which framed
charming pictures of the lawn without, and the trees waving in the
slanting sunlight.

"You, who have this all the time, can scarcely appreciate the beauty of
it," remarked Roland, enthusiastically. "It takes eyes tired of the
sights and sounds of a busy city, to enjoy these pictures as they
deserve."

"Yes," said Mr. Blanchard; "I suspect contrast is an element that enters
into all our enjoyment at present. Yet, I suppose the contrast need not
always be between the fair and the ugly, but may be between different
kinds of beauty."

"I hope so!" said Nora, eagerly. "I don't want contrasts like those
wretched houses of Mr. Pomeroy's to help me to enjoy this. By the way,
Mr. Graeme, I must show you to-morrow the cottage I hope to get in a
week or two for the Masons. And Mr. Foster will take Jim in, if he will
come. Lizzie of course can't work now."

"I think Jim will be glad to come, now," replied Roland. "One of the men
told me that Nelly had thrown him over altogether. And I fancy he'll be
glad to get out of Minton."

"Well, perhaps it's the best thing for _him_!" said Nora. "But what of
Nelly?"

"That I don't know," replied Roland, while Aunt Margaret asked Nora if
she couldn't get hold of this poor girl, too; for she had already heard
the history of all of Nora's friends.

"You will be glad to hear," said Roland, "that Willett has parted
company with the mill. He gave warning because he said he couldn't keep
things straight, if Mrs. and Miss Pomeroy _would_ come about
interfering. And Mr. Pomeroy had the good sense to accept his warning.
So, now, my friend Turner has the place. And a very good manager he will
make."

"Oh, I am glad of that!" said Nora. "And so Mrs. Pomeroy really does
take an interest in the girls generally?"

"Oh, yes! she has quite waked up about it, I hear through Mr. Archer.
She has begun to take quite a motherly charge of them. She is very
anxious that Lizzie Mason should recover; indeed she feels most unhappy
about it."

"Poor Lizzie!" said Nora, with a sigh. "And how is Mr. Farrell?"

"Much the same, I believe. He is very much like a child, and seems to
take no interest in money matters now. The smallest things are
sufficient to amuse him. Mr. Dunlop goes to see him sometimes. He's got
an idea that he may have a similar experience, and he says it's a lesson
on the vanity of human things to see Farrell now, after his long
struggle for riches which would be nothing to him now if he had them."

"Ah," exclaimed Aunt Margaret, "how true it is, that, as a quaint old
poet says, 'We dig in dross, with mattocks made of gold'!"

"And how is Kitty?" asked Nora.

"Oh, I am always hearing her praises sung," said Roland, smiling.
"According to Waldberg, there never was such a girl. She is so bright,
so contented, so helpful, such a support to her poor, weak mother, in
the necessary retrenchments, the going to a small house, and all that!
But I am sure that her own real happiness has a good deal to do with
it."

"Dear little Kitty!" said Nora. "I am glad she has come out so well. She
is a good-hearted little thing, though she used to seem to me a little
frivolous."

"She would have been, I'm afraid," Roland remarked, "if adversity hadn't
come in time to save her."

"Ah, I see that you're something of a philosopher," remarked Mr.
Blanchard. "You believe that 'Sweet are the uses of adversity.'"

"I've found them so, myself," he replied, simply; "if it were only in
enabling me to sympathize more with the troubles of others."

Nora amply fulfilled her promise of showing Roland everything that she
thought would interest him about Rockland. He went, with much interest,
over Mr. Foster's well-managed establishment, saw with pleasure its
well-ventilated work-rooms, its well-stocked reading-rooms, the neat
cottages of the _employés_, each with its little garden, and all the
arrangements by which economy and convenience were combined. He had some
long talks with the public-spirited proprietor, and found that that
gentleman fully agreed with him, in all his ideas about hours,
remuneration, etc., and put them in practice as far as it was possible
to do under the present system.

"But, of course," he said, "there must be either concerted or
legislative action, before they can be fully carried out."

Then there were pleasant country expeditions with Miss Blanchard and
Cecilia; walks and drives, or rides, and some delightful rows on the
beautiful little lake, exploring its rocky shores and picturesque
woodland nooks. And in these happy loiterings, the dreamy and poetical
side of Roland's nature came out more prominently than Nora had ever
seen it, kept down, as it had been, by his philanthropic cares. He was
full of little poetical fancies, and many a favorite quotation rose
readily to his lips, as they slowly rowed or walked home in the sunset
light. Nor did he enjoy less their musical evenings, when Nora sang to
him the songs he asked for, and little Cecilia was delighted to exhibit
her own attainments, which were certainly very remarkable, considering
her age, and the short period of training she had enjoyed.

The days passed all too swiftly for Roland; perhaps for Nora, too. They
stood out through the hot busy weeks that followed, like Arcadian days,
or rather like an interlude of inexpressible happiness, or flowing
streams in a thirsty land. Such similes, at least, Roland's fancy easily
found for them in abundance.

One evening, shortly before the too early close of Roland's visit, Mrs.
Blanchard arrived with the children, for a lengthened stay. She was
expected, but she brought with her an unexpected visitor--Mr.
Chillingworth. Both Roland and Nora felt as if the unalloyed pleasure of
the preceding days was somewhat shadowed now, but they were sincerely
sorry for the pale and altered man. Cecilia, too, shrank shyly away from
his awkward efforts to be affectionate to her.

"Mr. Graeme," said Mrs. Blanchard, "my husband wants you to take Mr.
Chillingworth in hand, while you're here--to take him out to walk or
fish, or anything you can get him to do. He's sunk into such a state of
nervous depression, the doctor's quite afraid for him."

And Roland did his best, though at the cost of some self-sacrifice, for
this, of course, put an end to the pleasant wanderings with Nora.

The evening before Roland was obliged regretfully to take his departure
for Minton, as they all sat enjoying the pleasant summer twilight
without--just passing into a glorious moonlight, Mr. Chillingworth was
asked to give them a poetical reading, and, at Nora's request, made
choice of Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal." He read it with heartfelt
expression, especially in the stanzas that described the experiences of
the returned and awakened Sir Launfal:

    "Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,
    For another heir in his earldom sate;

    An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
    He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
    Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
    No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
    But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
    The badge of the suffering and the poor.

           *       *       *       *       *

    The leper no longer crouched at his side,
    But stood before him glorified,
    Shining and tall and fair and straight
    As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,--
    Himself the Gate, whereby men can
    Enter the temple of God in Man

           *       *       *       *       *

    And the voice that was calmer than silence said,
    'Lo, it is I, be not afraid
    In many climes, without avail,
    Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
    Behold it is here,--this cup which thou
    Didst fill at the streamlet for Me but now;
    This crust is my body, broken for thee,
    This water His blood that died on the tree;
    The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
    In whatso we share with another's need,
    Not what we give, but what we share,--
    For the gift without the giver is bare;
    Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,--
    Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me'

    Sir Launfal woke as from a swound--
    'The Grail in my castle here is found!
    Hang my idle armor up on the wall,
    Let it be the spider's banquet hall;
    He must be fenced with stronger mail
    Who would seek and find the Holy Grail.'"

As he ended, he closed the book, and went silently out to stroll in the
moonlight that was flecking the lawn with silvery lights and soft
shadows from the spreading trees, while Nora and Roland also stepped out
on the piazza, to enjoy the beauty of the night.

"I think Chillingworth has found out _that last_ truth for himself,"
said Roland. "And I know I've found, too, that I needed stronger mail
than I once supposed. I too have been seeking for a 'Grail'--a panacea
which is to be found only where I had stopped looking for it! But I
think, if all Christian teachers were like Mr. Alden, I should have
found it sooner."

Nora looked up with an eager look of pleasure. And then she turned away
her eyes, glistening with a happy light and a glad emotion she could not
quite conceal.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

LOOKING FORWARD.

    "Fetters and warder for the Graeme!"
                            SCOTT. _Lady of the Lake._


The two months that followed passed very quickly for Nora, more quickly
than they did for Roland, in the hot, dusty town. She had her visitors
from Minton,--Mr. Alden, who, came down, an ever-welcome guest, for a
fortnight's rest, and told her of Roland's unwearied labors and his
growing influence in Minton; and Miss Spencer, who came for a few days
of refreshing change from her hospital wards. Lizzie Mason and her
family were now settled in the cottage that Nora had secured for them.
And Lizzie was intensely happy in the possession of a tiny
flower-garden; though it was only too evident that she was in a settled
decline, and would not, probably, see another summer. But, though quite
aware of this, she was full of a serene peace that often recalled to
Nora the "Story of Ida," which she had lent to Lizzie, in the days of
their first acquaintance, and which had not been without results in a
nature so fitted to receive its teaching.

One warm evening, late in August, Nora was slowly returning from a visit
to Lizzie, when she heard a rapid step behind her, and, looking back,
saw to her surprise, the very person she was at that moment thinking
about--Roland Graeme.

"Why," she exclaimed, with astonishment, "I had no idea _you_ were so
near!"

"I only came down by this evening's train," he said, in a grave tone, as
he shook hands, looking earnestly at her with an expression that brought
the color to her cheek; "and I was just coming to report myself. There
were some things I wanted to be the first to tell you."

They walked on, very slowly, up the drive, and turned aside to the seats
under the beech-tree, Roland saying little till then. Both, indeed,
seemed to have very little to say.

"I suppose," he began, "you have heard of Mr. Dunlop's sudden death."

"Yes,--Will wrote to us about it," she replied. "I knew it would be a
great sorrow to you. You would miss him so much."

"I do,--more than I could have believed," he said, warmly. "He was so
honest, so true, so practical, so kind-hearted, under all the seeming
roughness. He has been the kindest of friends to me."

And he was silent for a little. Nora was silent, too. The whippoorwill
in a neighboring thicket, indefatigably piping away at his interminable
refrain, had it all to himself for awhile.

Then Roland spoke with an effort: "I almost hate to say it," he said,
"for it seems heartless to speak of such things now; but Mr. Dunlop
always said he would rather die suddenly, like that. And--I must say it
some time--he has left the bulk of his property to _me_. Why, I cannot
tell."

"Oh," exclaimed Nora, "I am so glad!"

"It is," he said, "in some measure, a _trust_. He left it to me, he
said, in his will, because he knew that I should use it as he should
wish it used, and could trust me fully. And in this light I mean to
regard it. I have made my plans already. But there's one thing that it
makes possible for me, that was not possible before,--to ask you for
something that would be better than all this world's treasure to me.
Can't you guess what it is,--dear?"

The last words were scarcely audible, as he bent to meet her sweet
upward glance. Again the whippoorwill had it all to himself, and piped
away more cheerily and industriously than ever, as if inspired, in his
own love-making, by a human example. What he may have afterwards
heard--is not to be repeated here. Philanthropists and reformers are not
much wiser than other people, in such circumstances, and it would not be
fair to "report" them. Besides, it might get into the "_Minerva_"--a
thing, which of course, would be most distasteful to both.

They sat, for a long time, planning for the future, and trying to
realize the present. It all seemed so natural, _now_. Their lives had
been running so long in the same current of views, feeling, hopes,
aspirations, that it seemed inevitable that the two streams should
become one. Roland was not afraid, however, to speak of Grace, whose
sweet memory, he said, he could never cease to cherish. His life would
be the better always, for his reverential affection for her and for the
uplifting effect of her death.

"And so," he said, after a long talk, "I shall keep up _The
Brotherhood_, of course. By and by it may have a real influence in the
country. I shall not go on with law, though I am glad to have learned
what I know; it will be so useful to me, hereafter. And a few of us are
planning starting a factory in Minton, on the coöperative plan, as an
experiment in that direction. I expect to be able to give a lecture, now
and then, and I hope, also to do something by writing, outside of _The
Brotherhood_. I have had an article accepted already by the _American
Review_.

"Oh, have you!" exclaimed Nora, delighted.

It was like Roland not to have said this till now.

"And I am to help Mr. Alden in his 'Good-fellows' Hall'--give them a
Sunday afternoon address, sometimes. Perhaps--I don't _know_--but, some
time, I might be even 'a preacher,' of Mr. Alden's sort. You would like
that, dear, I know." Nora did not speak, but the expression of her glad
eyes was enough.

"And how are Kitty and Mr. Waldberg?" asked Nora, by and by, with
natural fellow-feeling.

"Oh, as happy as turtle-doves!" said Roland. For lovers can always see
something amusing in the devotion of another pair of lovers, serious as
is their own. "Waldberg is already looking out for the cottage of the
future. He has steadied down, and forsworn speculation forever. Mr.
Dunlop left _him_ a legacy, too."

"And what of Harold Pomeroy? Has he found consolation yet?"

"I don't imagine he needed any. I don't know much of him. I met that
poor Nelly, the other day, very much overdressed. I don't think she
works in the mill, now."

"I wonder if he kept his promise to me," said Nora thoughtfully.

"Oh, some men's promises are poor things!" he replied. "By the way, I
haven't told you of Miss Pomeroy's engagement to Mr. Archer. It's just
been announced. I asked him if I might congratulate him, and he said, in
his usual way, he supposed I might if I liked,--it wouldn't do any
harm."

Nora laughed outright. But not then, nor for long after, did Roland know
all the reason for her amusement.

"And Wharton's gone for a trip to Europe," he continued. "People say
he's gone to look up Miss Harley; _he_ says it's to inquire into the
labor question over there. Whether she or Mr. Jeffrey converted him, I
don't know; but he has certainly changed his position very much."

"And have you seen Mr. Chillingworth lately?" asked Nora.

"Yes," he replied, "I see him, now and then. His manner is always
wonderfully kind, though I'm sure he can't have the pleasantest
associations with me."

"Oh," said Nora, "I think you are wrong, there! He told Aunt Margaret
that you had been of the greatest use to him, in helping him to realize,
once more, truths that seemed to be drifting from his grasp."

"I'm sure I don't know how!" said Roland, simply, "but I'm glad if it is
so. I hope poor little Cecilia will be happy with him. She will be a
wonderful comfort and interest to him, by and by."

"I think," said Nora, "that she really is getting to be a little fond of
him. She was a great deal with him, while he was here, and he is making
all sorts of plans for her education. Oh, I _hope_----"

Roland understood the thought which she did not express.

"I think," he said, quietly, "that she has enough of her father's
self-contained nature to help to keep other things in check. We must
hope for the best. But Mr. Chillingworth is certainly a greatly changed
man. I heard him preach lately, and there was such a new note in him,
less 'eloquence,' but much more of human sympathy! Well, we've all our
limitations; and I've learned to see that 'The mills of God grind
slowly, but they grind exceeding small!' I can see that I've been too
much in a hurry for results that _must_ take time to bring about."

"Yes; that's a mistake that we are all apt to make, in some way," said
Nora, with a sigh. "But some lines of Browning that I read, the other
day, were quite a comfort to me, in thinking of our mistakes. Let me
give them to you.

    "'God's gift was that man should conceive of truth,
    And yearn to gain it, catching at mistake,
    As midway help till he reach fact indeed.'"

"If we ever do!" replied Roland, sighing, in his turn. "But, even if it
be only a 'midway help,' I can't help still hoping to see some reforms,
like the 'eight-hours movement' and some other restrictive measures,
carried out in my lifetime. The abolition of slavery looked much more
hopeless, a generation or two ago!"

"But even these won't bring perfection and happiness, alone," said Nora,
thoughtfully. "There must also be a higher moral ideal, and a higher
strength in which to attain it."

"Oh, yes, I've learned that lesson," he replied, quickly. "I know that
Law is not Love, nor the knowledge of right, alone, the power to reach
it. I know, too, that, as Mr. Alden so often says, there's only one
thing that can set this poor world really right, and that is, the growth
of the _brother-love_! And that must come from the Source of Love. Yet,
we must all help on, as far as we can. I take comfort in a thought I
found in my Thoreau--'The universe constantly and obediently answers to
our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for
us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving them. The poet or the artist
never yet had so fair and noble a design, but some of his posterity at
least could accomplish it.'"

"'_And still it moves!_'" quoted Nora, softly; and there was a long
silence, once more. And, in the quiet dusk of the August evening, the
whippoorwill piped on untiring; as the world, after all, is always
singing its old songs over again, if only our ears are not too dull or
too tired to hear them.


THE END.



RECENT CANADIAN LITERATURE


"THE YOUNG SEIGNEUR"

BY WILFRID CHATEAUCLAIR.

     "'THE YOUNG SEIGNEUR' is more than clever--it is bold,
     tantalizing, often witty, always original, and not without very
     happy characterization.... It promises us a Canadian writer of
     indisputable genius."--_Toronto Globe._


SONGS OF THE DOMINION

A VOL. OF REPRESENTATIVE CANADIAN POEMS.

Selected and Edited By W. D. LIGHTHALL.



_POCKET ATLAS AND GAZETTEER OF CANADA_.

Prepared By DR. JAS. HARPER.


     Thoroughly accurate and arranged in convenient form for handy
     reference.





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