Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Dr. Sevier
Author: Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dr. Sevier" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



 Transcriber's Notes:
 SO_3HO = 3 is subscripted
 [=u] = macron above "u"


       *       *       *       *       *



 GEORGE W. CABLE'S WRITINGS


 BONAVENTURE. A Prose Pastoral of Arcadian Louisiana. 12mo, $1.25.
 DR. SEVIER. 12mo, $1.25.
 THE GRANDISSIMES. A Story of Creole Life. 12mo, $1.25.
 OLD CREOLE DAYS. 12mo, $1.25.
 STRANGE TRUE STORIES OF LOUISIANA. Illustrated. 12mo, $2.00.
 *** _New Uniform Edition of the above five volumes, cloth, in a box,
      $6.00._

        *       *       *

 JOHN MARCH, SOUTHERNER, 12mo, $1.50.
 OLD CREOLE DAYS. Cameo Edition with Etching, $1.25.
 OLD CREOLE DAYS. 2 vols. 16mo, paper, each 30 cts.
 MADAME DELPHINE. 75 cts.
 THE CREOLES OF LOUISIANA. Illus. Small 4to, $2.50.
 THE SILENT SOUTH. 12mo, $1.00.



 DR. SEVIER


 BY
 GEORGE W. CABLE

 AUTHOR OF "OLD CREOLE DAYS," "THE GRANDISSIMES,"
 "MADAME DELPHINE," ETC.


 NEW YORK
 CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
 1897



 Copyright, 1883 and 1884
 BY GEORGE W. CABLE

 _All rights reserved_


 TROW'S
 PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY,
 NEW YORK.



 TO MY FRIEND
 MARION A. BAKER



 CONTENTS.


  Chapter                                    Page
       I.--The Doctor                           5
      II.--A Young Stranger                    10
     III.--His Wife                            17
      IV.--Convalescence and Acquaintance      22
       V.--Hard Questions                      29
      VI.--Nesting                             34
     VII.--Disappearance                       45
    VIII.--A Question of Book-keeping          52
      IX.--When the Wind Blows                 61
       X.--Gentles and Commons                 66
      XI.--A Pantomime                         73
     XII.--"She's all the World"               81
    XIII.--The Bough Breaks                    87
     XIV.--Hard Speeches and High Temper       94
      XV.--The Cradle Falls                    99
     XVI.--Many Waters                        107
    XVII.--Raphael Ristofalo                  118
   XVIII.--How He Did It                      127
     XIX.--Another Patient                    134
      XX.--Alice                              138
     XXI.--The Sun at Midnight                142
    XXII.--Borrower Turned Lender             160
   XXIII.--Wear and Tear                      169
    XXIV.--Brought to Bay                     177
     XXV.--The Doctor Dines Out               184
    XXVI.--The Trough of the Sea              194
   XXVII.--Out of the Frying-Pan              207
  XXVIII.--"Oh, where is my Love?"            215
    XXIX.--Release.--Narcisse                 224
     XXX.--Lighting Ship                      233
    XXXI.--At Last                            243
   XXXII.--A Rising Star                      248
  XXXIII.--Bees, Wasps, and Butterflies       258
   XXXIV.--Toward the Zenith                  262
    XXXV.--To Sigh, yet Feel no Pain          268
   XXXVI.--What Name?                         275
  XXXVII.--Pestilence                         280
 XXXVIII.--"I must be Cruel only to be Kind"  286
   XXXIX.--"Pettent Prate"                    294
      XL.--Sweet Bells Jangled                300
     XLI.--Mirage                             310
    XLII.--Ristofalo and the Rector           317
   XLIII.--Shall she Come or Stay?            324
    XLIV.--What would you Do?                 329
     XLV.--Narcisse with News                 335
    XLVI.--A Prison Memento                   340
   XLVII.--Now I Lay Me--                     345
  XLVIII.--Rise up, my Love, my Fair One!     351
    XLIX.--A Bundle of Hopes                  357
       L.--Fall In!                           366
      LI.--Blue Bonnets over the Border       372
     LII.--A Pass through the Lines           378
    LIII.--Try Again                          384
     LIV.--"Who Goes There?"                  394
      LV.--Dixie                              412
     LVI.--Fire and Sword                     425
    LVII.--Almost in Sight                    435
   LVIII.--A Golden Sunset                    445
     LIX.--Afterglow                          454
      LX.--"Yet shall he live"                465
     LXI.--Peace                              470



DR. SEVIER.


CHAPTER I.

THE DOCTOR.


The main road to wealth in New Orleans has long been Carondelet
street. There you see the most alert faces; noses--it seems to
one--with more and sharper edge, and eyes smaller and brighter
and with less distance between them than one notices in other
streets. It is there that the stock and bond brokers hurry to and
fro and run together promiscuously--the cunning and the simple,
the headlong and the wary--at the four clanging strokes of the
Stock Exchange gong. There rises the tall façade of the Cotton
Exchange. Looking in from the sidewalk as you pass, you see its
main hall, thronged but decorous, the quiet engine-room of the
surrounding city's most far-reaching occupation, and at the hall's
farther end you descry the "Future Room," and hear the unearthly
ramping and bellowing of the bulls and bears. Up and down the
street, on either hand, are the ship-brokers and insurers, and in
the upper stories foreign consuls among a multitude of lawyers and
notaries.

In 1856 this street was just assuming its present character. The cotton
merchants were making it their favorite place of commercial domicile.
The open thoroughfare served in lieu of the present exchanges; men made
fortunes standing on the curb-stone, and during bank hours the sidewalks
were perpetually crowded with cotton factors, buyers, brokers, weighers,
reweighers, classers, pickers, pressers, and samplers, and the air was
laden with cotton quotations and prognostications.

Number 3-1/2, second floor, front, was the office of Dr. Sevier. This
office was convenient to everything. Immediately under its windows lay
the sidewalks where congregated the men who, of all in New Orleans,
could best afford to pay for being sick, and least desired to die. Canal
street, the city's leading artery, was just below, at the near left-hand
corner. Beyond it lay the older town, not yet impoverished in those
days,--the French quarter. A single square and a half off at the right,
and in plain view from the front windows, shone the dazzling white walls
of the St. Charles Hotel, where the nabobs of the river plantations
came and dwelt with their fair-handed wives in seasons of peculiar
anticipation, when it is well to be near the highest medical skill. In
the opposite direction a three minutes' quick drive around the upper
corner and down Common street carried the Doctor to his ward in the
great Charity Hospital, and to the school of medicine, where he filled
the chair set apart to the holy ailments of maternity. Thus, as it were,
he laid his left hand on the rich and his right on the poor; and he was
not left-handed.

Not that his usual attitude was one of benediction. He stood straight up
in his austere pure-mindedness, tall, slender, pale, sharp of voice,
keen of glance, stern in judgment, aggressive in debate, and fixedly
untender everywhere, except--but always except--in the sick chamber.
His inner heart was all of flesh; but his demands for the rectitude of
mankind pointed out like the muzzles of cannon through the embrasures of
his virtues. To demolish evil!--that seemed the finest of aims; and even
as a physician, that was, most likely, his motive until later years and
a better self-knowledge had taught him that to do good was still finer
and better. He waged war--against malady. To fight; to stifle; to cut
down; to uproot; to overwhelm;--these were his springs of action. That
their results were good proved that his sentiment of benevolence was
strong and high; but it was well-nigh shut out of sight by that
impatience of evil which is very fine and knightly in youngest manhood,
but which we like to see give way to kindlier moods as the earlier heat
of the blood begins to pass.

He changed in later years; this was in 1856. To "resist not evil" seemed
to him then only a rather feeble sort of knavery. To face it in its
nakedness, and to inveigh against it in high places and low, seemed the
consummation of all manliness; and manliness was the key-note of his
creed. There was no other necessity in this life.

"But a man must live," said one of his kindred, to whom, truth to tell,
he had refused assistance.

"No, sir; that is just what he can't do. A man must die! So, while he
lives, let him be a man!"

How inharmonious a setting, then, for Dr. Sevier, was 3-1/2 Carondelet
street! As he drove, each morning, down to that point, he had to pass
through long, irregular files of fellow-beings thronging either
sidewalk,--a sadly unchivalric grouping of men whose daily and yearly
life was subordinated only and entirely to the getting of wealth, and
whose every eager motion was a repetition of the sinister old maxim that
"Time is money."

"It's a great deal more, sir; it's life!" the Doctor always retorted.

Among these groups, moreover, were many who were all too well famed
for illegitimate fortune. Many occupations connected with the handling
of cotton yielded big harvests in perquisites. At every jog of the
Doctor's horse, men came to view whose riches were the outcome of
semi-respectable larceny. It was a day of reckless operation; much of
the commerce that came to New Orleans was simply, as one might say,
beached in Carondelet street. The sight used to keep the long, thin,
keen-eyed doctor in perpetual indignation.

"Look at the wreckers!" he would say.

It was breakfast at eight, indignation at nine, dyspepsia at ten.

So his setting was not merely inharmonious; it was damaging. He grew
sore on the whole matter of money-getting.

"Yes, I have money. But I don't go after it. It comes to me, because I
seek and render service for the service's sake. It will come to anybody
else the same way; and why should it come any other way?"

He not only had a low regard for the motives of most seekers of wealth;
he went further, and fell into much disbelief of poor men's needs. For
instance, he looked upon a man's inability to find employment, or upon
a poor fellow's run of bad luck, as upon the placarded woes of a
hurdy-gurdy beggar.

"If he wants work he will find it. As for begging, it ought to be easier
for any true man to starve than to beg."

The sentiment was ungentle, but it came from the bottom of his belief
concerning himself, and a longing for moral greatness in all men.

"However," he would add, thrusting his hand into his pocket and bringing
out his purse, "I'll help any man to make himself useful. And the
sick--well, the sick, as a matter of course. Only I must know what I'm
doing."

Have some of us known Want? To have known her--though to love her
was impossible--is "a liberal education." The Doctor was learned;
but this acquaintanceship, this education, he had never got. Hence his
untenderness. Shall we condemn the fault? Yes. And the man? We have not
the face. To be _just_, which he never knowingly failed to be, and at
the same time to feel tenderly for the unworthy, to deal kindly with the
erring,--it is a double grace that hangs not always in easy reach even
of the tallest. The Doctor attained to it--but in later years; meantime,
this story--which, I believe, had he ever been poor would never have
been written.



CHAPTER II.

A YOUNG STRANGER.


In 1856 New Orleans was in the midst of the darkest ten years of her
history. Yet she was full of new-comers from all parts of the commercial
world,--strangers seeking livelihood. The ravages of cholera and
yellow-fever, far from keeping them away, seemed actually to draw them.
In the three years 1853, '54, and '55, the cemeteries had received over
thirty-five thousand dead; yet here, in 1856, besides shiploads of
European immigrants, came hundreds of unacclimated youths, from all
parts of the United States, to fill the wide gaps which they imagined
had been made in the ranks of the great exporting city's clerking force.

Upon these pilgrims Dr. Sevier cast an eye full of interest, and often
of compassion hidden under outward impatience. "Who wants to see," he
would demand, "men--_and women_--increasing the risks of this uncertain
life?" But he was also full of respect for them. There was a certain
nobility rightly attributable to emigration itself in the abstract.
It was the cutting loose from friends and aid,--those sweet-named
temptations,--and the going forth into self-appointed exile and into
dangers known and unknown, trusting to the help of one's own right hand
to exchange honest toil for honest bread and raiment. His eyes kindled
to see the goodly, broad, red-cheeked fellows. Sometimes, though, he
saw women, and sometimes tender women, by their side; and that sight
touched the pathetic chord of his heart with a rude twangle that vexed
him.

It was on a certain bright, cool morning early in October that, as he
drove down Carondelet street toward his office, and one of those little
white omnibuses of the old Apollo-street line, crowding in before his
carriage, had compelled his driver to draw close in by the curb-stone
and slacken speed to a walk, his attention chanced to fall upon a young
man of attractive appearance, glancing stranger-wise and eagerly at
signs and entrances while he moved down the street. Twice, in the moment
of the Doctor's enforced delay, he noticed the young stranger make
inquiry of the street's more accustomed frequenters, and that in each
case he was directed farther on. But, the way opened, the Doctor's horse
switched his tail and was off, the stranger was left behind, and the
next moment the Doctor stepped across the sidewalk and went up the
stairs of Number 3-1/2 to his office. Something told him--we are apt to
fall into thought on a stair-way--that the stranger was looking for a
physician.

He had barely disposed of the three or four waiting messengers that
arose from their chairs against the corridor wall, and was still reading
the anxious lines left in various handwritings on his slate, when the
young man entered. He was of fair height, slenderly built, with soft
auburn hair, a little untrimmed, neat dress, and a diffident, yet
expectant and courageous, face.

"Dr. Sevier?"

"Yes, sir."

"Doctor, my wife is very ill; can I get you to come at once and see
her?"

"Who is her physician?"

"I have not called any; but we must have one now."

"I don't know about going at once. This is my hour for being in the
office. How far is it, and what's the trouble?"

"We are only three squares away, just here in Custom-house street."
The speaker began to add a faltering enumeration of some very grave
symptoms. The Doctor noticed that he was slightly deaf; he uttered his
words as though he did not hear them.

"Yes," interrupted Dr. Sevier, speaking half to himself as he turned
around to a standing case of cruel-looking silver-plated things on
shelves; "that's a small part of the penalty women pay for the doubtful
honor of being our mothers. I'll go. What is your number? But you had
better drive back with me if you can." He drew back from the glass case,
shut the door, and took his hat.

"Narcisse!"

On the side of the office nearest the corridor a door let into a
hall-room that afforded merely good space for the furniture needed by a
single accountant. The Doctor had other interests besides those of his
profession, and, taking them altogether, found it necessary, or at least
convenient, to employ continuously the services of a person to keep his
accounts and collect his bills. Through the open door the book-keeper
could be seen sitting on a high stool at a still higher desk,--a young
man of handsome profile and well-knit form. At the call of his name he
unwound his legs from the rounds of the stool and leaped into the
Doctor's presence with a superlatively high-bred bow.

"I shall be back in fifteen minutes," said the Doctor. "Come,
Mr. ----," and went out with the stranger.

Narcisse had intended to speak. He stood a moment, then lifted the
last half inch of a cigarette to his lips, took a long, meditative
inhalation, turned half round on his heel, dashed the remnant with
fierce emphasis into a spittoon, ejected two long streams of smoke from
his nostrils, and extending his fist toward the door by which the Doctor
had gone out, said:--

"All right, ole hoss!" No, not that way. It is hard to give his
pronunciation by letter. In the word "right" he substituted an a for the
r, sounding it almost in the same instant with the i, yet distinct from
it: "All a-ight, ole hoss!"

Then he walked slowly back to his desk, with that feeling of relief
which some men find in the renewal of a promissory note, twined his legs
again among those of the stool, and, adding not a word, resumed his pen.

The Doctor's carriage was hurrying across Canal street.

"Dr. Sevier," said the physician's companion, "I don't know what your
charges are"--

"The highest," said the Doctor, whose dyspepsia was gnawing him just
then with fine energy. The curt reply struck fire upon the young man.

"I don't propose to drive a bargain, Dr. Sevier!" He flushed angrily
after he had spoken, breathed with compressed lips, and winked savagely,
with the sort of indignation that school-boys show to a harsh master.

The physician answered with better self-control.

"What do you propose?"

"I was going to propose--being a stranger to you, sir--to pay in
advance." The announcement was made with a tremulous, but triumphant,
_hauteur_, as though it must cover the physician with mortification. The
speaker stretched out a rather long leg, and, drawing a pocket-book,
produced a twenty-dollar piece.

The Doctor looked full in his face with impatient surprise, then turned
his eyes away again as if he restrained himself, and said, in a subdued
tone:--

"I would rather you had haggled about the price."

"I don't hear"--said the other, turning his ear.

The Doctor waved his hand:--

"Put that up, if you please."

The young stranger was disconcerted. He remained silent for a moment,
wearing a look of impatient embarrassment. He still extended the piece,
turning it over and over with his thumb-nail as it lay on his fingers.

"You don't know me, Doctor," he said. He got another cruel answer.

"We're getting acquainted," replied the physician.

The victim of the sarcasm bit his lip, and protested, by an unconscious,
sidewise jerk of the chin:--

"I wish you'd"--and he turned the coin again.

The physician dropped an eagle's stare on the gold.

"I don't practise medicine on those principles."

"But, Doctor," insisted the other, appeasingly, "you can make an
exception if you will. Reasons are better than rules, my old professor
used to say. I am here without friends, or letters, or credentials of
any sort; this is the only recommendation I can offer."

"Don't recommend you at all; anybody can do that."

The stranger breathed a sigh of overtasked patience, smiled with a
baffled air, seemed once or twice about to speak, but doubtful what to
say, and let his hand sink.

"Well, Doctor,"--he rested his elbow on his knee, gave the piece one
more turn over, and tried to draw the physician's eye by a look of
boyish pleasantness,--"I'll not ask you to take pay in advance, but I
will ask you to take care of this money for me. Suppose I should lose
it, or have it stolen from me, or--Doctor, it would be a real comfort to
me if you would."

"I can't help that. I shall treat your wife, and then send in my bill."
The Doctor folded arms and appeared to give attention to his driver.
But at the same time he asked:--

"Not subject to epilepsy, eh?"

"No, sir!" The indignant shortness of the retort drew no sign of
attention from the Doctor; he was silently asking himself what this
nonsense meant. Was it drink, or gambling, or a confidence game? Or
was it only vanity, or a mistake of inexperience? He turned his head
unexpectedly, and gave the stranger's facial lines a quick, thorough
examination. It startled them from a look of troubled meditation. The
physician as quickly turned away again.

"Doctor," began the other, but added no more.

The physician was silent. He turned the matter over once more in his
mind. The proposal was absurdly unbusiness-like. That his part in it
might look ungenerous was nothing; so his actions were right, he rather
liked them to bear a hideous aspect: that was his war-paint. There was
that in the stranger's attitude that agreed fairly with his own theories
of living. A fear of debt, for instance, if that was genuine it was
good; and, beyond and better than that, a fear of money. He began to be
more favorably impressed.

"Give it to me," he said, frowning; "mark you, this is your way,"--he
dropped the gold into his vest-pocket,--"it isn't mine."

The young man laughed with visible relief, and rubbed his knee with his
somewhat too delicate hand. The Doctor examined him again with a milder
glance.

"I suppose you think you've got the principles of life all right, don't
you?"

"Yes, I do," replied the other, taking his turn at folding arms.

"H-m-m! I dare say you do. What you lack is the practice." The Doctor
sealed his utterance with a nod.

The young man showed amusement; more, it may be, than he felt, and
presently pointed out his lodging-place.

"Here, on this side; Number 40;" and they alighted.



CHAPTER III.

HIS WIFE.


In former times the presence in New Orleans, during the cooler half of
the year, of large numbers of mercantile men from all parts of the
world, who did not accept the fever-plagued city as their permanent
residence, made much business for the renters of furnished apartments.
At the same time there was a class of persons whose residence was
permanent, and to whom this letting of rooms fell by an easy and natural
gravitation; and the most respectable and comfortable rented rooms of
which the city could boast were those _chambres garnies_ in Custom-house
and Bienville streets, kept by worthy free or freed mulatto or quadroon
women.

In 1856 the gala days of this half-caste people were quite over.
Difference was made between virtue and vice, and the famous quadroon
balls were shunned by those who aspired to respectability, whether their
whiteness was nature or only toilet powder. Generations of domestic
service under ladies of Gallic blood had brought many of them to a
supreme pitch of excellence as housekeepers. In many cases money had
been inherited; in other cases it had been saved up. That Latin feminine
ability to hold an awkward position with impregnable serenity, and, like
the yellow Mississippi, to give back no reflection from the overhanging
sky, emphasized this superior fitness. That bright, womanly business
ability that comes of the same blood added again to their excellence.
Not to be home itself, nothing could be more like it than were the
apartments let by Madame Cécile, or Madame Sophie, or Madame Athalie,
or Madame Polyxène, or whatever the name might be.

It was in one of these houses, that presented its dull brick front
directly upon the sidewalk of Custom-house street, with the unfailing
little square sign of _Chambres à louer_ (Rooms to let), dangling by a
string from the overhanging balcony and twirling in the breeze, that
the sick wife lay. A waiting slave-girl opened the door as the two men
approached it, and both of them went directly upstairs and into a large,
airy room. On a high, finely carved, and heavily hung mahogany bed,
to which the remaining furniture corresponded in ancient style and
massiveness, was stretched the form of a pale, sweet-faced little woman.

The proprietress of the house was sitting beside the bed,--a quadroon of
good, kind face, forty-five years old or so, tall and broad. She rose
and responded to the Doctor's silent bow with that pretty dignity of
greeting which goes with all French blood, and remained standing. The
invalid stirred.

The physician came forward to the bedside. The patient could not have
been much over nineteen years of age. Her face was very pleasing; a
trifle slender in outline; the brows somewhat square, not wide; the
mouth small. She would not have been called beautiful, even in health,
by those who lay stress on correctness of outlines. But she had one
thing that to some is better. Whether it was in the dark blue eyes that
were lifted to the Doctor's with a look which changed rapidly from
inquiry to confidence, or in the fine, scarcely perceptible strands of
pale-brown hair that played about her temples, he did not make out; but,
for one cause or another, her face was of that kind which almost any
one has seen once or twice, and no one has seen often,--that seems to
give out a soft, but veritable, light.

She was very weak. Her eyes quickly dropped away from his, and turned
wearily, but peacefully, to those of her husband.

The Doctor spoke to her. His greeting and gentle inquiry were full of a
soothing quality that was new to the young man. His long fingers moved
twice or thrice softly across her brow, pushing back the thin, waving
strands, and then he sat down in a chair, continuing his kind, direct
questions. The answers were all bad.

He turned his glance to the quadroon; she understood it; the patient was
seriously ill. The nurse responded with a quiet look of comprehension.
At the same time the Doctor disguised from the young strangers this
interchange of meanings by an audible question to the quadroon.

"Have I ever met you before?"

"No, seh."

"What is your name?"

"Zénobie."

"Madame Zénobie," softly whispered the invalid, turning her eyes, with
a glimmer of feeble pleasantry, first to the quadroon and then to her
husband.

The physician smiled at her an instant, and then gave a few concise
directions to the quadroon. "Get me"--thus and so.

The woman went and came. She was a superior nurse, like so many of her
race. So obvious, indeed, was this, that when she gently pressed the
young husband an inch or two aside, and murmured that "de doctah" wanted
him to "go h-out," he left the room, although he knew the physician had
not so indicated.

By-and-by he returned, but only at her beckon, and remained at the
bedside while Madame Zénobie led the Doctor into another room to write
his prescription.

"Who are these people?" asked the physician, in an undertone, looking up
at the quadroon, and pausing with the prescription half torn off.

She shrugged her large shoulders and smiled perplexedly.

"Mizzez--Reechin?" The tone was one of query rather than assertion. "Dey
sesso," she added.

She might nurse the lady like a mother, but she was not going to be
responsible for the genuineness of a stranger's name.

"Where are they from?"

"I dunno?--Some pless?--I nevva yeh dat nem biffo?"

She made a timid attempt at some word ending in "walk," and smiled,
ready to accept possible ridicule.

"Milwaukee?" asked the Doctor.

She lifted her palm, smiled brightly, pushed him gently with the tip of
one finger, and nodded. He had hit the nail on the head.

"What business is he in?"

The questioner arose.

She cast a sidelong glance at him with a slight enlargement of her eyes,
and, compressing her lips, gave her head a little, decided shake. The
young man was not employed.

"And has no money either, I suppose," said the physician, as they
started again toward the sick-room.

She shrugged again and smiled; but it came to her mind that the Doctor
might be considering his own interests, and she added, in a whisper:--

"Dey pay me."

She changed places with the husband, and the physician and he passed
down the stairs together in silence.

"Well, Doctor?" said the young man, as he stood, prescription in hand,
before the carriage-door.

"Well," responded the physician, "you should have called me sooner."

The look of agony that came into the stranger's face caused the Doctor
instantly to repent his hard speech.

"You don't mean"--exclaimed the husband.

"No, no; I don't think it's too late. Get that prescription filled and
give it to Mrs. ----"

"Richling," said the young man.

"Let her have perfect quiet," continued the Doctor. "I shall be back
this evening."

And when he returned she had improved.

She was better again the next day, and the next; but on the fourth she
was in a very critical state. She lay quite silent during the Doctor's
visit, until he, thinking he read in her eyes a wish to say something to
him alone, sent her husband and the quadroon out of the room on separate
errands at the same moment. And immediately she exclaimed:--

"Doctor, save my life! You mustn't let me die! Save me, for my husband's
sake! To lose all he's lost for me, and then to lose me too--save me,
Doctor! save me!"

"I'm going to do it!" said he. "You shall get well!"

And what with his skill and her endurance it turned out so.



CHAPTER IV.

CONVALESCENCE AND ACQUAINTANCE.


A man's clothing is his defence; but with a woman all dress is
adornment. Nature decrees it; adornment is her instinctive delight. And,
above all, the adorning of a bride; it brings out so charmingly the
meaning of the thing. Therein centres the gay consent of all mankind and
womankind to an innocent, sweet apostasy from the ranks of both. The
value of living--which is loving; the sacredest wonders of life; all
that is fairest and of best delight in thought, in feeling, yea, in
substance,--all are apprehended under the floral crown and hymeneal
veil. So, when at length one day Mrs. Richling said, "Madame Zénobie,
don't you think I might sit up?" it would have been absurd to doubt the
quadroon's willingness to assist her in dressing. True, here was neither
wreath nor veil, but here was very young wifehood, and its re-attiring
would be like a proclamation of victory over the malady that had striven
to put two hearts asunder. Her willingness could hardly be doubted,
though she smiled irresponsibly, and said:--

"If you thing"-- She spread her eyes and elbows suddenly in the manner
of a crab, with palms turned upward and thumbs outstretched--"Well!"--and
so dropped them.

"You don't want wait till de doctah comin'?" she asked.

"I don't think he's coming; it's after his time."

"Yass?"

The woman was silent a moment, and then threw up one hand again, with
the forefinger lifted alertly forward.

"I make a lill fi' biffo."

She made a fire. Then she helped the convalescent to put on a few loose
drapings. She made no concealment of the enjoyment it gave her, though
her words were few, and generally were answers to questions; and when
at length she brought from the wardrobe, pretending not to notice her
mistake, a loose and much too ample robe of woollen and silken stuffs to
go over all, she moved as though she trod on holy ground, and distinctly
felt, herself, the thrill with which the convalescent, her young eyes
beaming their assent, let her arms into the big sleeves, and drew about
her small form the soft folds of her husband's morning-gown.

"He goin' to fine that droll," said the quadroon.

The wife's face confessed her pleasure.

"It's as much mine as his," she said.

"Is you mek dat?" asked the nurse, as she drew its silken cord about the
convalescent's waist.

"Yes. Don't draw it tight; leave it loose--so; but you can tie the knot
tight. That will do; there!" She smiled broadly. "Don't tie me in as if
you were tying me in forever."

Madame Zénobie understood perfectly, and, smiling in response, did tie
it as if she were tying her in forever.

Half an hour or so later the quadroon, being--it may have been by
chance--at the street door, ushered in a person who simply bowed in
silence.

But as he put one foot on the stair he paused, and, bending a severe
gaze upon her, asked:--

"Why do you smile?"

She folded her hands limply on her bosom, and drawing a cheek and
shoulder toward each other, replied:--

"Nuttin'"--

The questioner's severity darkened.

"Why do you smile at nothing?"

She laid the tips of her fingers upon her lips to compose them.

"You din come in you' carridge. She goin' to thing 'tis Miché Reechin."
The smile forced its way through her fingers. The visitor turned in
quiet disdain and went upstairs, she following.

At the top he let her pass. She led the way and, softly pushing open the
chamber-door, entered noiselessly, turned, and, as the other stepped
across the threshold, nestled her hands one on the other at her waist,
shrank inward with a sweet smile, and waved one palm toward the huge,
blue-hung mahogany four-poster,--empty.

The visitor gave a slight double nod and moved on across the carpet.
Before a small coal fire, in a grate too wide for it, stood a broad,
cushioned rocking-chair, with the corner of a pillow showing over its
top. The visitor went on around it. The girlish form lay in it, with
eyes closed, very still; but his professional glance quickly detected
the false pretence of slumber. A slippered foot was still slightly
reached out beyond the bright colors of the long gown, and toward the
brazen edge of the hearth-pan, as though the owner had been touching her
tiptoe against it to keep the chair in gentle motion. One cheek was on
the pillow; down the other curled a few light strands of hair that had
escaped from her brow.

Thus for an instant. Then a smile began to wreath about the corner of
her lips; she faintly stirred, opened her eyes--and lo! Dr. Sevier,
motionless, tranquil, and grave.

"O Doctor!" The blood surged into her face and down upon her neck.
She put her hands over her eyes, and her face into the pillow. "O
Doctor!"--rising to a sitting posture,--"I thought, of course, it
was my husband."

The Doctor replied while she was speaking:--

"My carriage broke down." He drew a chair toward the fireplace, and
asked, with his face toward the dying fire:--

"How are you feeling to-day, madam,--stronger?"

"Yes; I can almost say I'm well." The blush was still on her face
as he turned to receive her answer, but she smiled with a bright
courageousness that secretly amused and pleased him. "I thank you,
Doctor, for my recovery; I certainly should thank you." Her face lighted
up with that soft radiance which was its best quality, and her smile
became half introspective as her eyes dropped from his, and followed her
outstretched hand as it rearranged the farther edges of the
dressing-gown one upon another.

"If you will take better care of yourself hereafter, madam," responded
the Doctor, thumping and brushing from his knee some specks of mud that
he may have got when his carriage broke down, "I will thank you.
But"--brush--brush--"I--doubt it."

"Do you think you should?" she asked, leaning forward from the back of
the great chair and letting her wrists drop over the front of its broad
arms.

"I do," said the Doctor, kindly. "Why shouldn't I? This present attack
was by your own fault." While he spoke he was looking into her eyes,
contracted at their corners by her slight smile. The face was one of
those that show not merely that the world is all unknown to them, but
that it always will be so. It beamed with inquisitive intelligence, and
yet had the innocence almost of infancy. The Doctor made a discovery;
that it was this that made her beautiful. "She _is_ beautiful," he
insisted to himself when his critical faculty dissented.

"You needn't doubt me, Doctor. I'll try my best to take care. Why, of
course I will,--for John's sake." She looked up into his face from the
tassel she was twisting around her finger, touching the floor with her
slippers' toe and faintly rocking.

"Yes, there's a chance there," replied the grave man, seemingly not
overmuch pleased; "I dare say everything you do or leave undone is for
his sake."

The little wife betrayed for a moment a pained perplexity, and then
exclaimed:--

"Well, of course!" and waited his answer with bright eyes.

"I have known women to think of their own sakes," was the response.

She laughed, and with unprecedented sparkle replied:--

"Why, whatever's his sake is my sake. I don't see the difference. Yes, I
see, of course, how there might be a difference; but I don't see how a
woman"-- She ceased, still smiling, and, dropping her eyes to her hands,
slowly stroked one wrist and palm with the tassel of her husband's robe.

The Doctor rose, turned his back to the mantel-piece, and looked down
upon her. He thought of the great, wide world: its thorny ways, its
deserts, its bitter waters, its unrighteousness, its self-seeking
greeds, its weaknesses, its under and over reaching, its unfaithfulness;
and then again of this--child, thrust all at once a thousand miles into
it, with never--so far as he could see--an implement, a weapon, a sense
of danger, or a refuge; well pleased with herself, as it seemed, lifted
up into the bliss of self-obliterating wifehood, and resting in her
husband with such an assurance of safety and happiness as a saint might
pray for grace to show to Heaven itself. He stood silent, feeling too
grim to speak, and presently Mrs. Richling looked up with a sudden
liveliness of eye and a smile that was half apology and half
persistence.

"Yes, Doctor, I'm going to take care of myself."

"Mrs. Richling, is your father a man of fortune?"

"My father is not living," said she, gravely. "He died two years ago. He
was the pastor of a small church. No, sir; he had nothing but his small
salary, except that for some years he taught a few scholars. He taught
me." She brightened up again. "I never had any other teacher."

The Doctor folded his hands behind him and gazed abstractedly through
the upper sash of the large French windows. The street-door was heard to
open.

"There's John," said the convalescent, quickly, and the next moment
her husband entered. A tired look vanished from his face as he saw the
Doctor. He hurried to grasp his hand, then turned and kissed his wife.
The physician took up his hat.

"Doctor," said the wife, holding the hand he gave her, and looking up
playfully, with her cheek against the chair-back, "you surely didn't
suspect me of being a rich girl, did you?"

"Not at all, madam." His emphasis was so pronounced that the husband
laughed.

"There's one comfort in the opposite condition, Doctor," said the young
man.

"Yes?"

"Why, yes; you see, it requires no explanation."

"Yes, it does," said the physician; "it is just as binding on people
to show good cause why they are poor as it is to show good cause why
they're rich. Good-day, madam." The two men went out together. His word
would have been good-by, but for the fear of fresh acknowledgments.



CHAPTER V.

HARD QUESTIONS.


Dr. Sevier had a simple abhorrence of the expression of personal
sentiment in words. Nothing else seemed to him so utterly hollow as
the attempt to indicate by speech a regard or affection which was not
already demonstrated in behavior. So far did he keep himself aloof from
insincerity that he had barely room enough left to be candid.

"I need not see your wife any more," he said, as he went down the stairs
with the young husband at his elbow; and the young man had learned him
well enough not to oppress him with formal thanks, whatever might have
been said or omitted upstairs.

Madame Zénobie contrived to be near enough, as they reached the lower
floor, to come in for a share of the meagre adieu. She gave her hand
with a dainty grace and a bow that might have been imported from Paris.

Dr. Sevier paused on the front step, half turned toward the open door
where the husband still tarried. That was not speech; it was scarcely
action; but the young man understood it and was silent. In truth, the
Doctor himself felt a pang in this sort of farewell. A physician's way
through the world is paved, I have heard one say, with these broken
bits of other's lives, of all colors and all degrees of beauty. In
his reminiscences, when he can do no better, he gathers them up,
and, turning them over and over in the darkened chamber of his
retrospection, sees patterns of delight lit up by the softened rays of
bygone time. But even this renews the pain of separation, and Dr. Sevier
felt, right here at this door-step, that, if this was to be the last of
the Richlings, he would feel the twinge of parting every time they came
up again in his memory.

He looked at the house opposite,--where there was really nothing to look
at,--and at a woman who happened to be passing, and who was only like a
thousand others with whom he had nothing to do.

"Richling," he said, "what brings you to New Orleans, any way?"

Richling leaned his cheek against the door-post.

"Simply seeking my fortune, Doctor."

"Do you think it is here?"

"I'm pretty sure it is; the world owes me a living."

The Doctor looked up.

"When did you get the world in your debt?"

Richling lifted his head pleasantly, and let one foot down a step.

"It owes me a chance to earn a living, doesn't it?"

"I dare say," replied the other; "that's what it generally owes."

"That's all I ask of it," said Richling; "if it will let us alone we'll
let it alone."

"You've no right to allow either," said the physician. "No, sir; no," he
insisted, as the young man looked incredulous. There was a pause. "Have
you any capital?" asked the Doctor.

"Capital! No,"--with a low laugh.

"But surely you have something to"--

"Oh, yes,--a little!"

The Doctor marked the southern "Oh." There is no "O" in Milwaukee.

"You don't find as many vacancies as you expected to see, I
suppose--h-m-m?"

There was an under-glow of feeling in the young man's tone as he
replied:--

"I was misinformed."

"Well," said the Doctor, staring down-street, "you'll find something.
What can you do?"

"Do? Oh, I'm willing to do anything!"

Dr. Sevier turned his gaze slowly, with a shade of disappointment in it.
Richling rallied to his defences.

"I think I could make a good book-keeper, or correspondent, or cashier,
or any such"--

The Doctor interrupted, with the back of his head toward his listener,
looking this time up the street, riverward:--

"Yes;--or a shoe,--or a barrel,--h-m-m?"

Richling bent forward with the frown of defective hearing, and the
physician raised his voice:--

"Or a cart-wheel--or a coat?"

"I can make a living," rejoined the other, with a needlessly
resentful-heroic manner, that was lost, or seemed to be, on the
physician.

"Richling,"--the Doctor suddenly faced around and fixed a kindly severe
glance on him,--"why didn't you bring letters?"

"Why,"--the young man stopped, looked at his feet, and distinctly
blushed. "I think," he stammered--"it seems to me"--he looked up with a
faltering eye--"don't you think--I think a man ought to be able to
recommend _himself_."

The Doctor's gaze remained so fixed that the self-recommended man could
not endure it silently.

"_I_ think so," he said, looking down again and swinging his foot.
Suddenly he brightened. "Doctor, isn't this your carriage coming?"

"Yes; I told the boy to drive by here when it was mended, and he might
find me." The vehicle drew up and stopped. "Still, Richling," the
physician continued, as he stepped toward it, "you had better get a
letter or two, yet; you might need them."

The door of the carriage clapped to. There seemed a touch of vexation in
the sound. Richling, too, closed his door, but in the soft way of one in
troubled meditation. Was this a proper farewell? The thought came to
both men.

"Stop a minute!" said Dr. Sevier to his driver. He leaned out a little
at the side of the carriage and looked back. "Never mind; he has gone
in."

The young husband went upstairs slowly and heavily, more slowly and
heavily than might be explained by his all-day unsuccessful tramp after
employment. His wife still rested in the rocking-chair. He stood against
it, and she took his hand and stroked it.

"Tired?" she asked, looking up at him. He gazed into the languishing
fire.

"Yes."

"You're not discouraged, are you?"

"Discouraged? N-no. And yet," he said, slowly shaking his head, "I can't
see why I don't find something to do."

"It's because you don't hunt for it," said the wife.

He turned upon her with flashing countenance only to meet her laugh, and
to have his head pulled down to her lips. He dropped into the seat left
by the physician, laid his head back in his knit hands, and crossed his
feet under the chair.

"John, I do _like_ Dr. Sevier."

"Why?" The questioner looked at the ceiling.

"Why, don't you like him?" asked the wife, and, as John smiled, she
added, "You know you like him."

The husband grasped the poker in both hands, dropped his elbows upon his
knees, and began touching the fire, saying slowly:--

"I believe the Doctor thinks I'm a fool."

"That's nothing," said the little wife; "that's only because you married
me."

The poker stopped rattling between the grate-bars; the husband looked at
the wife. Her eyes, though turned partly away, betrayed their mischief.
There was a deadly pause; then a rush to the assault, a shower of
Cupid's arrows, a quick surrender.

But we refrain. Since ever the world began it is Love's real, not his
sham, battles that are worth the telling.



CHAPTER VI.

NESTING.


A fortnight passed. What with calls on his private skill, and appeals
to his public zeal, Dr. Sevier was always loaded like a dromedary.
Just now he was much occupied with the affairs of the great American
people. For all he was the furthest remove from a mere party contestant
or spoilsman, neither his righteous pugnacity nor his human sympathy
would allow him to "let politics alone." Often across this preoccupation
there flitted a thought of the Richlings.

At length one day he saw them. He had been called by a patient, lodging
near Madame Zénobie's house. The proximity of the young couple occurred
to him at once, but he instantly realized the extreme poverty of the
chance that he should see them. To increase the improbability, the short
afternoon was near its close,--an hour when people generally were
sitting at dinner.

But what a coquette is that same chance! As he was driving up at the
sidewalk's edge before his patient's door, the Richlings came out of
theirs, the husband talking with animation, and the wife, all sunshine,
skipping up to his side, and taking his arm with both hands, and
attending eagerly to his words.

"Heels!" muttered the Doctor to himself, for the sound of Mrs.
Richling's gaiters betrayed that fact. Heels were an innovation still
new enough to rouse the resentment of masculine conservatism. But for
them she would have pleased his sight entirely. Bonnets, for years
microscopic, had again become visible, and her girlish face was prettily
set in one whose flowers and ribbon, just joyous and no more, were
reflected again in the double-skirted silk _barége_; while the dark
mantilla that drooped away from the broad lace collar, shading, without
hiding, her "Parodi" waist, seemed made for that very street of
heavy-grated archways, iron-railed balconies, and high lattices. The
Doctor even accepted patiently the free northern step, which is commonly
so repugnant to the southern eye.

A heightened gladness flashed into the faces of the two young people as
they descried the physician.

"Good-afternoon," they said, advancing.

"Good-evening," responded the Doctor, and shook hands with each. The
meeting was an emphatic pleasure to him. He quite forgot the young man's
lack of credentials.

"Out taking the air?" he asked.

"Looking about," said the husband.

"Looking up new quarters," said the wife, knitting her fingers about her
husband's elbow and drawing closer to it.

"Were you not comfortable?"

"Yes; but the rooms are larger than we need."

"Ah!" said the Doctor; and there the conversation sank. There was no
topic suited to so fleeting a moment, and when they had smiled all round
again Dr. Sevier lifted his hat. Ah, yes, there was one thing.

"Have you found work?" asked the Doctor of Richling.

The wife glanced up for an instant into her husband's face, and then
down again.

"No," said Richling, "not yet. If you should hear of anything,
Doctor"--He remembered the Doctor's word about letters, stopped
suddenly, and seemed as if he might even withdraw the request; but the
Doctor said:--

"I will; I will let you know." He gave his hand to Richling. It was on
his lips to add: "And should you need," etc.; but there was the wife at
the husband's side. So he said no more. The pair bowed their cheerful
thanks; but beside the cheer, or behind it, in the husband's face, was
there not the look of one who feels the odds against him? And yet, while
the two men's hands still held each other, the look vanished, and the
young man's light grasp had such firmness in it that, for this cause
also, the Doctor withheld his patronizing utterance. He believed he
would himself have resented it had he been in Richling's place.

The young pair passed on, and that night, as Dr. Sevier sat at his
fireside, an uncompanioned widower, he saw again the young wife look
quickly up into her husband's face, and across that face flit and
disappear its look of weary dismay, followed by the air of fresh courage
with which the young couple had said good-by.

"I wish I had spoken," he thought to himself; "I wish I had made the
offer."

And again:--

"I hope he didn't tell her what I said about the letters. Not but I was
right, but it'll only wound her."

But Richling had told her; he always "told her everything;" she could
not possibly have magnified wifehood more, in her way, than he did in
his. May be both ways were faulty; but they were extravagantly,
youthfully confident that they were not.

        *       *       *

Unknown to Dr. Sevier, the Richlings had returned from their search
unsuccessful. Finding prices too much alike in Custom-house street they
turned into Burgundy. From Burgundy they passed into Du Maine. As they
went, notwithstanding disappointments, their mood grew gay and gayer.
Everything that met the eye was quaint and droll to them: men, women,
things, places,--all were more or less outlandish. The grotesqueness of
the African, and especially the French-tongued African, was to Mrs.
Richling particularly irresistible. Multiplying upon each and all of
these things was the ludicrousness of the pecuniary strait that brought
themselves and these things into contact. Everything turned to fun.

Mrs. Richling's mirthful mood prompted her by and by to begin letting
into her inquiries and comments covert double meanings, intended for her
husband's private understanding. Thus they crossed Bourbon street.

About there their mirth reached a climax; it was in a small house, a
sad, single-story thing, cowering between two high buildings, its eaves,
four or five feet deep, overshadowing its one street door and window.

"Looks like a shade for weak eyes," said the wife.

They had debated whether they should enter it or not. He thought no, she
thought yes; but he would not insist and she would not insist; she
wished him to do as he thought best, and he wished her to do as she
thought best, and they had made two or three false starts and retreats
before they got inside. But they were in there at length, and busily
engaged inquiring into the availability of a small, lace-curtained,
front room, when Richling took his wife so completely off her guard by
addressing her as "Madam," in the tone and manner of Dr. Sevier, that
she laughed in the face of the householder, who had been trying to talk
English with a French accent and a hare-lip, and they fled with haste
to the sidewalk and around the corner, where they could smile and smile
without being villains.

"We must stop this," said the wife, blushing. "We _must_ stop it. We're
attracting attention."

And this was true at least as to one ragamuffin, who stood on a
neighboring corner staring at them. Yet there is no telling to what
higher pitch their humor might have carried them if Mrs. Richling had
not been weighted down by the constant necessity of correcting her
husband's statement of their wants. This she could do, because his
exactions were all in the direction of her comfort.

"But, John," she would say each time as they returned to the street and
resumed their quest, "those things cost; you can't afford them, can
you?"

"Why, you can't be comfortable without them," he would answer.

"But that's not the question, John. We _must_ take cheaper lodgings,
mustn't we?"

Then John would be silent, and by littles their gayety would rise again.

One landlady was so good-looking, so manifestly and entirely Caucasian,
so melodious of voice, and so modest in her account of the rooms she
showed, that Mrs. Richling was captivated. The back room on the second
floor, overlooking the inner court and numerous low roofs beyond, was
suitable and cheap.

"Yes," said the sweet proprietress, turning to Richling, who hung in
doubt whether it was quite good enough, "yesseh, I think you be pretty
well in that room yeh.[1] Yesseh, I'm shoe you be _verrie_ well;
yesseh."

 [1] "Yeh"--_ye_, as in _yearn_.

"Can we get them at once?"

"Yes? At once? Yes? Oh, yes?"

No downward inflections from her.

"Well,"--the wife looked at the husband; he nodded,--"well, we'll take
it."

"Yes?" responded the landlady; "well?" leaning against a bedpost and
smiling with infantile diffidence, "you dunt want no ref'ence?"

"No," said John, generously, "oh, no; we can trust each other that far,
eh?"

"Oh, yes?" replied the sweet creature; then suddenly changing
countenance, as though she remembered something. "But daz de troub'--de
room not goin' be vacate for t'ree mont'."

She stretched forth her open palms and smiled, with one arm still around
the bedpost.

"Why," exclaimed Mrs. Richling, the very statue of astonishment, "you
said just now we could have it at once!"

"Dis room? _Oh_, no; nod _dis_ room."

"I don't see how I could have misunderstood you."

The landlady lifted her shoulders, smiled, and clasped her hands across
each other under her throat. Then throwing them apart she said
brightly:--

"No, I say at Madame La Rose. Me, my room is all fill'. At Madame La
Rose, I say, I think you be pritty well. I'm shoe you be verrie well
at Madame La Rose. I'm sorry. But you kin paz yondeh--'tiz juz ad the
cawneh? And I am shoe I think you be pritty well at Madame La Rose."

She kept up the repetition, though Mrs. Richling, incensed, had turned
her back, and Richling was saying good-day.

"She did say the room was vacant!" exclaimed the little wife, as they
reached the sidewalk. But the next moment there came a quick twinkle
from her eye, and, waving her husband to go on without her, she said,
"You kin paz yondeh; at Madame La Rose I am shoe you be pritty sick."
Thereupon she took his arm,--making everybody stare and smile to see a
lady and gentleman arm in arm by daylight,--and they went merrily on
their way.

The last place they stopped at was in Royal street. The entrance
was bad. It was narrow even for those two. The walls were stained by
dampness, and the smell of a totally undrained soil came up through the
floor. The stairs ascended a few steps, came too near a low ceiling, and
shot forward into cavernous gloom to find a second rising place
farther on. But the rooms, when reached, were a tolerably pleasant
disappointment, and the proprietress a person of reassuring amiability.

She bestirred herself in an obliging way that was the most charming
thing yet encountered. She gratified the young people every moment
afresh with her readiness to understand or guess their English queries
and remarks, hung her head archly when she had to explain away little
objections, delivered her No sirs with gravity and her Yes sirs with
bright eagerness, shook her head slowly with each negative announcement,
and accompanied her affirmations with a gracious bow and a smile full of
rice powder.

She rendered everything so agreeable, indeed, that it almost seemed
impolite to inquire narrowly into matters, and when the question of
price had to come up it was really difficult to bring it forward, and
Richling quite lost sight of the economic rules to which he had silently
acceded in the _Rue Du Maine_.

"And you will carpet the floor?" he asked, hovering off of the main
issue.

"Put coppit? Ah! cettainlee!" she replied, with a lovely bow and a wave
of the hand toward Mrs. Richling, whom she had already given the same
assurance.

"Yes," responded the little wife, with a captivated smile, and nodded to
her husband.

"We want to get the decentest thing that is cheap," he said, as the
three stood close together in the middle of the room.

The landlady flushed.

"No, no, John," said the wife, quickly, "don't you know what we said?"
Then, turning to the proprietress, she hurried to add, "We want the
cheapest thing that is decent."

But the landlady had not waited for the correction.

"_Dis_sent! You want somesin _dis_sent!" She moved a step backward on
the floor, scoured and smeared with brick-dust, her ire rising visibly
at every heart-throb, and pointing her outward-turned open hand
energetically downward, added:--

"'Tis yeh!" She breathed hard. "_Mais_, no; you don't _want_ somesin
dissent. No!" She leaned forward interrogatively: "You want somesin
tchip?" She threw both elbows to the one side, cast her spread hands
off in the same direction, drew the cheek on that side down into the
collar-bone, raised her eyebrows, and pushed her upper lip with her
lower, scornfully.

At that moment her ear caught the words of the wife's apologetic
amendment. They gave her fresh wrath and new opportunity. For her new
foe was a woman, and a woman trying to speak in defence of the husband
against whose arm she clung.

"Ah-h-h!" Her chin went up; her eyes shot lightning; she folded her arms
fiercely, and drew herself to her best height; and, as Richling's eyes
shot back in rising indignation, cried:--

"Ziss pless? 'Tis not ze pless! Zis pless--is diss'nt pless! I am
diss'nt woman, me! Fo w'at you come in yeh?"

"My dear madam! My husband"--

"Dass you' uzban'?" pointing at him.

"Yes!" cried the two Richlings at once.

The woman folded her arms again, turned half-aside, and, lifting her
eyes to the ceiling, simply remarked, with an ecstatic smile:--

"Humph!" and left the pair, red with exasperation, to find the street
again through the darkening cave of the stair-way.

        *       *       *

It was still early the next morning, when Richling entered his wife's
apartment with an air of brisk occupation. She was pinning her brooch at
the bureau glass.

"Mary," he exclaimed, "put something on and come see what I've
found! The queerest, most romantic old thing in the city; the most
comfortable--and the cheapest! Here, is this the wardrobe key? To save
time I'll get your bonnet."

"No, no, no!" cried the laughing wife, confronting him with sparkling
eyes, and throwing herself before the wardrobe; "I can't let you touch
my bonnet!"

There is a limit, it seems, even to a wife's subserviency.

However, in a very short time afterward, by the feminine measure, they
were out in the street, and people were again smiling at the pretty pair
to see her arm in his, and she actually _keeping step_. 'Twas very
funny.

As they went John described his discovery: A pair of huge, solid green
gates immediately on the sidewalk, in the dull façade of a tall, red
brick building with old carved vinework on its window and door frames.
Hinges a yard long on the gates; over the gates a semi-circular grating
of iron bars an inch in diameter; in one of these gates a wicket, and
on the wicket a heavy, battered, highly burnished brass knocker. A
short-legged, big-bodied, and very black slave to usher one through the
wicket into a large, wide, paved corridor, where from the middle joist
overhead hung a great iron lantern. Big double doors at the far end,
standing open, flanked with diamond-paned side-lights of colored glass,
and with an arch at the same, fan-shaped, above. Beyond these doors and
showing through them, a flagged court, bordered all around by a narrow,
raised parterre under pomegranate and fruit-laden orange, and
over-towered by vine-covered and latticed walls, from whose ragged
eaves vagabond weeds laughed down upon the flowers of the parterre below,
robbed of late and early suns. Stairs old fashioned, broad; rooms, their
choice of two; one looking down into the court, the other into the
street; furniture faded, capacious; ceilings high; windows, each opening
upon its own separate small balcony, where, instead of balustrades, was
graceful iron scroll-work, centered by some long-dead owner's monogram
two feet in length; and on the balcony next the division wall, close to
another on the adjoining property, a quarter circle of iron-work set
like a blind-bridle, and armed with hideous prongs for house-breakers to
get impaled on.

"Why, in there," said Richling, softly, as they hurried in, "we'll be
hid from the whole world, and the whole world from us."

The wife's answer was only the upward glance of her blue eyes into his,
and a faint smile.

The place was all it had been described to be, and more,--except in one
particular.

"And my husband tells me"--The owner of said husband stood beside him,
one foot a little in advance of the other, her folded parasol hanging
down the front of her skirt from her gloved hands, her eyes just
returning to the landlady's from an excursion around the ceiling, and
her whole appearance as fresh as the pink flowers that nestled between
her brow and the rim of its precious covering. She smiled as she began
her speech, but not enough to spoil what she honestly believed to be a
very business-like air and manner. John had quietly dropped out of the
negotiations, and she felt herself put upon her mettle as his agent.
"And my husband tells me the price of this front room is ten dollars a
month."

"Munse?"

The respondent was a very white, corpulent woman, who constantly panted
for breath, and was everywhere sinking down into chairs, with her limp,
unfortified skirt dropping between her knees, and her hands pressed on
them exhaustedly.

"Munse?" She turned from husband to wife, and back again, a glance of
alarmed inquiry.

Mary tried her hand at French.

"Yes; _oui, madame_. Ten dollah the month--_le mois_."

Intelligence suddenly returned. Madame made a beautiful, silent O with
her mouth and two others with her eyes.

"Ah _non_! By munse? No, madame. Ah-h! impossybl'! By _wick_, yes; ten
dollah de wick! Ah!"

She touched her bosom with the wide-spread fingers of one hand and threw
them toward her hearers.

The room-hunters got away, yet not so quickly but they heard behind and
above them her scornful laugh, addressed to the walls of the empty room.

A day or two later they secured an apartment, cheap,
and--morally--decent; but otherwise--ah!



CHAPTER VII.

DISAPPEARANCE.


It was the year of a presidential campaign. The party that afterward
rose to overwhelming power was, for the first time, able to put its
candidate fairly abreast of his competitors. The South was all afire.
Rising up or sitting down, coming or going, week-day or Sabbath-day,
eating or drinking, marrying or burying, the talk was all of slavery,
abolition, and a disrupted country.

Dr. Sevier became totally absorbed in the issue. He was too
unconventional a thinker ever to find himself in harmony with all the
declarations of any party, and yet it was a necessity of his nature to
be in the _mêlée_. He had his own array of facts, his own peculiar
deductions; his own special charges of iniquity against this party and
of criminal forbearance against that; his own startling political
economy; his own theory of rights; his own interpretations of the
Constitution; his own threats and warnings; his own exhortations, and
his own prophecies, of which one cannot say all have come true. But he
poured them forth from the mighty heart of one who loved his country,
and sat down with a sense of duty fulfilled and wiped his pale forehead
while the band played a polka.

It hardly need be added that he proposed to dispense with politicians,
or that, when "the boys" presently counted him into their party team for
campaign haranguing, he let them clap the harness upon him and splashed
along in the mud with an intention as pure as snow.

"Hurrah for"--

Whom it is no matter now. It was not Fremont. Buchanan won the race. Out
went the lights, down came the platforms, rockets ceased to burst; it
was of no use longer to "Wait for the wagon"; "Old Dan Tucker" got "out
of the way," small boys were no longer fellow-citizens, dissolution was
postponed, and men began to have an eye single to the getting of money.

A mercantile friend of Dr. Sevier had a vacant clerkship which it was
necessary to fill. A bright recollection flashed across the Doctor's
memory.

"Narcisse!"

"Yesseh!"

"Go to Number 40 Custom-house street and inquire for Mr. Fledgeling; or,
if he isn't in, for Mrs. Fledge--humph! Richling, I mean; I"--

Narcisse laughed aloud.

"Ha-ha-ha! daz de way, sometime'! My hant she got a honcl'--he says,
once 'pon a time"--

"Never mind! Go at once!"

"All a-ight, seh!"

"Give him this card"--

"Yesseh!"

"These people"--

"Yesseh!"

"Well, wait till you get your errand, can't you? These"--

"Yesseh!"

"These people want to see him."

"All a-ight, seh!"

Narcisse threw open and jerked off a worsted jacket, took his coat down
from a peg, transferred a snowy handkerchief from the breast-pocket of
the jacket to that of the coat, felt in his pantaloons to be sure that
he had his match-case and cigarettes, changed his shoes, got his hat
from a high nail by a little leap, and put it on a head as handsome as
Apollo's.

"Doctah Seveeah," he said, "in fact, I fine that a ve'y gen'lemany young
man, that Mistoo Itchlin, weely, Doctah."

The Doctor murmured to himself from the letter he was writing.

"Well, _au 'evoi'_, Doctah; I'm goin'."

Out in the corridor he turned and jerked his chin up and curled his lip,
brought a match and cigarette together in the lee of his hollowed hand,
took one first, fond draw, and went down the stairs as if they were on
fire.

At Canal street he fell in with two noble fellows of his own circle, and
the three went around by way of Exchange alley to get a glass of soda at
McCloskey's old down-town stand. His two friends were out of employment
at the moment,--making him, consequently, the interesting figure in the
trio as he inveighed against his master.

"Ah, phooh!" he said, indicating the end of his speech by dropping the
stump of his cigarette into the sand on the floor and softly spitting
upon it,--"_le_ Shylock _de la rue_ Carondelet!"--and then in English,
not to lose the admiration of the Irish waiter:--

"He don't want to haugment me! I din hass 'im, because the 'lection. But
you juz wait till dat firce of Jannawerry!"

The waiter swathed the zinc counter, and inquired why Narcisse did not
make his demands at the present moment.

"W'y I don't hass 'im now? Because w'en I hass 'im he know' he's got to
_do_ it! You thing I'm goin' to kill myseff workin'?"

Nobody said yes, and by and by he found himself alive in the house of
Madame Zénobie. The furniture was being sold at auction, and the house
was crowded with all sorts and colors of men and women. A huge sideboard
was up for sale as he entered, and the crier was crying:--

"Faw-ty-fi' dollah! faw-ty-fi' dollah, ladies an' gentymen! On'y
faw-ty-fi' dollah fo' thad magniffyzan sidebode! _Quarante-cinque
piastres, seulement, messieurs! Les_ knobs _vaut bien cette prix_!
Gentymen, de knobs is worse de money! Ladies, if you don' stop dat
talkin', I will not sell one thing mo'! _Et quarante cinque
piastres_--faw-ty-fi' dollah"--

"Fifty!" cried Narcisse, who had not owned that much at one time since
his father was a constable; realizing which fact, he slipped away
upstairs and found Madame Zénobie half crazed at the slaughter of her
assets.

She sat in a chair against the wall of the room the Richlings had
occupied, a spectacle of agitated dejection. Here and there about the
apartment, either motionless in chairs, or moving noiselessly about,
and pulling and pushing softly this piece of furniture and that, were
numerous vulture-like persons of either sex, waiting the up-coming of
the auctioneer. Narcisse approached her briskly.

"Well, Madame Zénobie!"--he spoke in French--"is it you who lives here?
Don't you remember me? What! No? You don't remember how I used to steal
figs from you?"

The vultures slowly turned their heads. Madame Zénobie looked at him in
a dazed way.

No, she did not remember. So many had robbed her--all her life.

"But you don't look at me, Madame Zénobie. Don't you remember, for
example, once pulling a little boy--as little as _that_--out of your
fig-tree, and taking the half of a shingle, split lengthwise, in your
hand, and his head under your arm,--swearing you would do it if you died
for it,--and bending him across your knee,"--he began a vigorous but
graceful movement of the right arm, which few members of our fallen race
could fail to recognize,--"and you don't remember me, my old friend?"

She looked up into the handsome face with a faint smile of affirmation.
He laughed with delight.

"The shingle was _that_ wide. Ah! Madame Zénobie, you did it well!" He
softly smote the memorable spot, first with one hand and then with the
other, shrinking forward spasmodically with each contact, and throwing
utter woe into his countenance. The general company smiled. He suddenly
put on great seriousness.

"Madame Zénobie, I hope your furniture is selling well?" He still spoke
in French.

She cast her eyes upward pleadingly, caught her breath, threw the back
of her hand against her temple, and dashed it again to her lap, shaking
her head.

Narcisse was sorry.

"I have been doing what I could for you, downstairs,--running up the
prices of things. I wish I could stay to do more, for the sake of old
times. I came to see Mr. Richling, Madame Zénobie; is he in? Dr. Sevier
wants him."

Richling? Why, the Richlings did not live there! The Doctor must know
it. Why should she be made responsible for this mistake? It was his
oversight. They had moved long ago. Dr. Sevier had seen them looking for
apartments. Where did they live now? Ah, me! _she_ could not tell. Did
Mr. Richling owe the Doctor something?

"Owe? Certainly not. The Doctor--on the contrary"--

Ah! well, indeed, she didn't know where they lived, it is true; but the
fact was, Mr. Richling happened to be there just then!--_à-ç't'eure_! He
had come to get a few trifles left by his madame.

Narcisse made instant search. Richling was not on the upper floor. He
stepped to the landing and looked down. There he went!

"Mistoo 'Itchlin!"

Richling failed to hear. Sharper ears might have served him better. He
passed out by the street door. Narcisse stopped the auction by the noise
he made coming downstairs after him. He had some trouble with the front
door,--lost time there, but got out.

Richling was turning a corner. Narcisse ran there and looked; looked
up--looked down--looked into every store and shop on either side of the
way clear back to Canal street; crossed it, went back to the Doctor's
office, and reported. If he omitted such details as having seen and then
lost sight of the man he sought, it may have been in part from the
Doctor's indisposition to give him speaking license. The conclusion was
simple: the Richlings could not be found.

        *       *       *

The months of winter passed. No sign of them.

"They've gone back home," the Doctor often said to himself. How
much better that was than to stay where they had made a mistake in
venturing, and become the nurslings of patronizing strangers! He gave his
admiration free play, now that they were quite gone. True courage that
Richling had--courage to retreat when retreat is best! And his wife--ah!
what a reminder of--hush, memory!

"Yes, they must have gone home!" The Doctor spoke very positively,
because, after all, he was haunted by doubt.

One spring morning he uttered a soft exclamation as he glanced at his
office-slate. The first notice on it read:--

     Please call as soon as you can at number 292 St. Mary street,
     corner of Prytania. Lower corner--opposite the asylum.
                                                    JOHN RICHLING.

The place was far up in the newer part of the American quarter. The
signature had the appearance as if the writer had begun to write some
other name, and had changed it to Richling.



CHAPTER VIII.

A QUESTION OF BOOK-KEEPING.


A day or two after Narcisse had gone looking for Richling at the house
of Madame Zénobie, he might have found him, had he known where to
search, in Tchoupitoulas street.

Whoever remembers that thoroughfare as it was in those days, when the
commodious "cotton-float" had not quite yet come into use, and Poydras
and other streets did not so vie with Tchoupitoulas in importance as
they do now, will recall a scene of commercial hurly-burly that inspired
much pardonable vanity in the breast of the utilitarian citizen. Drays,
drays, drays! Not the light New York things; but big, heavy, solid
affairs, many of them drawn by two tall mules harnessed tandem. Drays
by threes and by dozens, drays in opposing phalanxes, drays in long
processions, drays with all imaginable kinds of burden; cotton in bales,
piled as high as the omnibuses; leaf tobacco in huge hogsheads; cases of
linens and silks; stacks of raw-hides; crates of cabbages; bales of
prints and of hay; interlocked heaps of blue and red ploughs; bags of
coffee, and spices, and corn; bales of bagging; barrels, casks, and
tierces; whisky, pork, onions, oats, bacon, garlic, molasses, and other
delicacies; rice, sugar,--what was there not? Wines of France and Spain
in pipes, in baskets, in hampers, in octaves; queensware from England;
cheeses, like cart-wheels, from Switzerland; almonds, lemons, raisins,
olives, boxes of citron, casks of chains; specie from Vera Cruz; cries
of drivers, cracking of whips, rumble of wheels, tremble of earth,
frequent gorge and stoppage. It seemed an idle tale to say that any one
could be lacking bread and raiment. "We are a great city," said the
patient foot-passengers, waiting long on street corners for opportunity
to cross the way.

On one of these corners paused Richling. He had not found employment,
but you could not read that in his face; as well as he knew himself, he
had come forward into the world prepared amiably and patiently to be, to
do, to suffer anything, provided it was not wrong or ignominious. He did
not see that even this is not enough in this rough world; nothing had
yet taught him that one must often gently suffer rudeness and wrong. As
to what constitutes ignominy he had a very young man's--and, shall we
add? a very American--idea. He could not have believed, had he been
told, how many establishments he had passed by, omitting to apply in
them for employment. He little dreamed he had been too select. He had
entered not into any house of the Samaritans, to use a figure; much
less, to speak literally, had he gone to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel. Mary, hiding away in uncomfortable quarters a short stone's
throw from Madame Zénobie's, little imagined that, in her broad irony
about his not hunting for employment, there was really a tiny seed of
truth. She felt sure that two or three persons who had seemed about to
employ him had failed to do so because they detected the defect in his
hearing, and in one or two cases she was right.

Other persons paused on the same corner where Richling stood, under the
same momentary embarrassment. One man, especially busy-looking, drew
very near him. And then and there occurred this simple accident,--that
at last he came in contact with the man who had work to give him. This
person good-humoredly offered an impatient comment on their enforced
delay. Richling answered in sympathetic spirit, and the first speaker
responded with a question:--

"Stranger in the city?"

"Yes."

"Buying goods for up-country?"

It was a pleasant feature of New Orleans life that sociability to
strangers on the street was not the exclusive prerogative of gamblers'
decoys.

"No; I'm looking for employment."

"Aha!" said the man, and moved away a little. But in a moment Richling,
becoming aware that his questioner was glancing all over him with
critical scrutiny, turned, and the man spoke.

"D'you keep books?"

Just then a way opened among the vehicles; and the man, young and
muscular, darted into it, and Richling followed.

"I _can_ keep books," he said, as they reached the farther curb-stone.

The man seized him by the arm.

"D'you see that pile of codfish and herring where that tall man is at
work yonder with a marking-pot and brush? Well, just beyond there is a
boarding-house, and then a hardware store; you can hear them throwing
down sheets of iron. Here; you can see the sign. See? Well, the next is
my store. Go in there--upstairs into the office--and wait till I come."

Richling bowed and went. In the office he sat down and waited what
seemed a very long time. Could he have misunderstood? For the man did
not come. There was a person sitting at a desk on the farther side of
the office, writing, who had not lifted his head from first to last,
Richling said:--

"Can you tell me when the proprietor will be in?"

The writer's eyes rose, and dropped again upon his writing.

"What do you want with him?"

"He asked me to wait here for him."

"Better wait, then."

Just then in came the merchant. Richling rose, and he uttered a rude
exclamation:--

"_I_ forgot you completely! Where did you say you kept books at, last?"

"I've not kept anybody's books yet, but I can do it."

The merchant's response was cold and prompt. He did not look at
Richling, but took a sample vial of molasses from a dirty mantel-piece
and lifted it between his eyes and the light, saying:--

"You can't do any such thing. I don't want you."

"Sir," said Richling, so sharply that the merchant looked round, "if you
don't want me I don't want you; but you mustn't attempt to tell me that
what I say is not true!" He had stepped forward as he began to speak,
but he stopped before half his words were uttered, and saw his folly.
Even while his voice still trembled with passion and his head was up, he
colored with mortification. That feeling grew no less when his offender
simply looked at him, and the man at the desk did not raise his eyes. It
rather increased when he noticed that both of them were young--as young
as he.

"I don't doubt your truthfulness," said the merchant, marking the effect
of his forbearance; "but you ought to know you can't come in and take
charge of a large set of books in the midst of a busy season, when
you've never kept books before."

"I don't know it at all."

"Well, I do," said the merchant, still more coldly than before. "There
are my books," he added, warming, and pointed to three great canvassed
and black-initialled volumes standing in a low iron safe, "left only
yesterday in such a snarl, by a fellow who had 'never kept books, but
knew how,' that I shall have to open another set! After this I shall
have a book-keeper who has kept books."

He turned away.

Some weeks afterward Richling recalled vividly a thought that had struck
him only faintly at this time: that, beneath much superficial severity
and energy, there was in this establishment a certain looseness of
management. It may have been this half-recognized thought that gave him
courage, now, to say, advancing another step:--

"One word, if you please."

"It's no use, my friend."

"It may be."

"How?"

"Get an experienced book-keeper for your new set of books"--

"You can bet your bottom dollar!" said the merchant, turning again and
running his hands down into his lower pockets. "And even he'll have as
much as he can do"--

"That is just what I wanted you to say," interrupted Richling, trying
hard to smile; "then you can let me straighten up the old set."

"Give a new hand the work of an expert!"

The merchant almost laughed out. He shook his head and was about to say
more, when Richling persisted:--

"If I don't do the work to your satisfaction don't pay me a cent."

"I never make that sort of an arrangement; no, sir!"

Unfortunately it had not been Richling's habit to show this pertinacity,
else life might have been easier to him as a problem; but these two
young men, his equals in age, were casting amused doubts upon his
ability to make good his professions. The case was peculiar. He reached
a hand out toward the books.

"Let me look over them for one day; if I don't convince you the next
morning in five minutes that I can straighten them I'll leave them
without a word."

The merchant looked down an instant, and then turned to the man at the
desk.

"What do you think of that, Sam?"

Sam set his elbows upon the desk, took the small end of his pen-holder
in his hands and teeth, and, looking up, said:--

"I don't know; you might--try him."

"What did you say your name was?" asked the other, again facing
Richling. "Ah, yes! Who are your references, Mr. Richmond?"

"Sir?" Richling leaned slightly forward and turned his ear.

"I say, who knows you?"

"Nobody."

"Nobody! Where are you from?"

"Milwaukee."

The merchant tossed out his arm impatiently.

"Oh, I can't do that kind o' business."

He turned abruptly, went to his desk, and, sitting down half-hidden by
it, took up an open letter.

"I bought that coffee, Sam," he said, rising again and moving farther
away.

"Um-hum," said Sam; and all was still.

Richling stood expecting every instant to turn on the next and go. Yet
he went not. Under the dusty front windows of the counting-room the
street was roaring below. Just beyond a glass partition at his back a
great windlass far up under the roof was rumbling with the descent of
goods from a hatchway at the end of its tense rope. Salesmen were
calling, trucks were trundling, shipping clerks and porters were
replying. One brawny fellow he saw, through the glass, take a herring
from a broken box, and stop to feed it to a sleek, brindled mouser. Even
the cat was valued; but he--he stood there absolutely zero. He saw it.
He saw it as he never had seen it before in his life. This truth smote
him like a javelin: that all this world wants is a man's permission to
do without him. Right then it was that he thought he swallowed all his
pride; whereas he only tasted its bitter brine as like a wave it took
him up and lifted him forward bodily. He strode up to the desk beyond
which stood the merchant, with the letter still in his hand, and said:--

"I've not gone yet! I may have to be turned off by you, but not in this
manner!"

The merchant looked around at him with a smile of surprise, mixed with
amusement and commendation, but said nothing. Richling held out his open
hand.

"I don't ask you to trust me. Don't trust me. Try me!"

He looked distressed. He was not begging, but he seemed to feel as
though he were.

The merchant dropped his eyes again upon the letter, and in that
attitude asked:--

"What do you say, Sam?"

"He can't hurt anything," said Sam.

The merchant looked suddenly at Richling.

"You're not from Milwaukee. You're a Southern man."

Richling changed color.

"I said Milwaukee."

"Well," said the merchant, "I hardly know. Come and see me further about
it to-morrow morning. I haven't time to talk now."

        *       *       *

"Take a seat," he said, the next morning, and drew up a chair sociably
before the returned applicant. "Now, suppose I was to give you those
books, all in confusion as they are, what would you do first of all?"

Mary fortunately had asked the same question the night before, and her
husband was entirely ready with an answer which they had studied out in
bed.

"I should send your deposit-book to bank to be balanced, and, without
waiting for it, I should begin to take a trial-balance off the books. If
I didn't get one pretty soon, I'd drop that for the time being, and turn
in and render the accounts of everybody on the books, asking them to
examine and report."

"All right," said the merchant, carelessly; "we'll try you."

"Sir?" Richling bent his ear.

"_All right; we'll try you!_ I don't care much about recommendations. I
generally most always make up my opinion about a man from looking at
him. I'm that sort of a man."

He smiled with inordinate complacency.

So, week by week, as has been said already, the winter passed,--Richling
on one side of the town, hidden away in his work, and Dr. Sevier on the
other, very positive that the "young pair" must have returned to
Milwaukee.

At length the big books were readjusted in all their hundreds of pages,
were balanced, and closed. Much satisfaction was expressed; but another
man had meantime taken charge of the new books,--one who influenced
business, and Richling had nothing to do but put on his hat.

However, the house cheerfully recommended him to a neighboring firm,
which also had disordered books to be righted; and so more weeks passed.
Happy weeks! Happy days! Ah, the joy of them! John bringing home money,
and Mary saving it!

"But, John, it seems such a pity not to have stayed with A, B, & Co.;
doesn't it?"

"I don't think so. I don't think they'll last much longer."

And when he brought word that A, B, & Co. had gone into a thousand
pieces Mary was convinced that she had a very far-seeing husband.

By and by, at Richling's earnest and restless desire, they moved their
lodgings again. And thus we return by a circuit to the morning when Dr.
Sevier, taking up his slate, read the summons that bade him call at the
corner of St. Mary and Prytania streets.



CHAPTER IX.

WHEN THE WIND BLOWS.


The house stands there to-day. A small, pinched, frame,
ground-floor-and-attic, double tenement, with its roof sloping toward
St. Mary street and overhanging its two door-steps that jut out on the
sidewalk. There the Doctor's carriage stopped, and in its front room he
found Mary in bed again, as ill as ever. A humble German woman, living
in the adjoining half of the house, was attending to the invalid's
wants, and had kept her daughter from the public school to send her to
the apothecary with the Doctor's prescription.

"It is the poor who help the poor," thought the physician.

"Is this your home?" he asked the woman softly, as he sat down by the
patient's pillow. He looked about upon the small, cheaply furnished
room, full of the neat makeshifts of cramped housewifery.

"It's mine," whispered Mary. Even as she lay there in peril of her life,
and flattened out as though Juggernaut had rolled over her, her eyes
shone with happiness and scintillated as the Doctor exclaimed in
undertone:--

"Yours!" He laid his hand upon her forehead. "Where is Mr. Richling?"

"At the office." Her eyes danced with delight. She would have begun,
then and there, to tell him all that had happened,--"had taken care of
herself all along," she said, "until they began to move. In moving, had
been _obliged_ to overwork--hardly _fixed_ yet"--

But the Doctor gently checked her and bade her be quiet.

"I will," was the faint reply; "I will; but--just one thing, Doctor,
please let me say."

"Well?"

"John"--

"Yes, yes; I know; he'd be here, only you wouldn't let him stay away
from his work."

She smiled assent, and he smiled in return.

"'Business is business,'" he said.

She turned a quick, sparkling glance of affirmation, as if she had
lately had some trouble to maintain that ancient truism. She was going
to speak again, but the Doctor waved his hand downward soothingly toward
the restless form and uplifted eyes.

"All right," she whispered, and closed them.

The next day she was worse. The physician found himself, to use his
words, "only the tardy attendant of offended nature." When he dropped
his finger-ends gently upon her temple she tremblingly grasped his hand.

"You'll save me?" she whispered.

"Yes," he replied; "we'll do that--the Lord helping us."

A glad light shone from her face as he uttered the latter clause.
Whereat he made haste to add:--

"I don't pray, but I'm sure you do."

She silently pressed the hand she still held.

On Sunday he found Richling at the bedside. Mary had improved
considerably in two or three days. She lay quite still as they talked,
only shifting her glance softly from one to the other as one and then
the other spoke. The Doctor heard with interest Richling's full account
of all that had occurred since he had met them last together. Mary's
eyes filled with merriment when John told the droller part of their
experiences in the hard quarters from which they had only lately
removed. But the Doctor did not so much as smile. Richling finished,
and the physician was silent.

"Oh, we're getting along," said Richling, stroking the small, weak hand
that lay near him on the coverlet. But still the Doctor kept silence.

"Of course," said Richling, very quietly, looking at his wife, "we
mustn't be surprised at a backset now and then. But we're getting on."

Mary turned her eyes toward the Doctor. Was he not going to assent at
all? She seemed about to speak. He bent his ear, and she said, with a
quiet smile:--

"'When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.'"

The physician gave only a heavy-eyed "Humph!" and a faint look of
amusement.

"What did she say?" said Richling; the words had escaped his ear. The
Doctor repeated it, and Richling, too, smiled.

Yet it was a good speech,--why not? But the patient also smiled, and
turned her eyes toward the wall with a disconcerted look, as if the
smile might end in tears. For herein lay the very difficulty that always
brought the Doctor's carriage to the door,--the cradle would not rock.

For a few days more that carriage continued to appear, and then ceased.
Richling dropped in one morning at Number 3-1/2 Carondelet, and settled
his bill with Narcisse.

The young Creole was much pleased to be at length brought into actual
contact with a man of his own years, who, without visible effort, had
made an impression on Dr. Sevier.

Until the money had been paid and the bill receipted nothing more than
a formal business phrase or two passed between them. But as Narcisse
delivered the receipted bill, with an elaborate gesture of courtesy, and
Richling began to fold it for his pocket, the Creole remarked:--

"I 'ope you will excuse the 'an'-a-'iting."

Richling reopened the paper; the penmanship was beautiful.

"Do you ever write better than this?" he asked. "Why, I wish I could
write half as well!"

"No; I do not fine that well a-'itten. I cannot see 'ow that is,--I
nevva 'ite to the satizfagtion of my abil'ty soon in the mawnin's. I am
dest'oying my chi'og'aphy at that desk yeh."

"Indeed?" said Richling; "why, I should think"--

"Yesseh, 'tis the tooth. But consunning the chi'og'aphy, Mistoo Itchlin,
I 'ave descovvud one thing to a maul cettainty, and that is, if I 'ave
something to 'ite to a young lady, I always dizguise my chi'og'aphy.
Ha-ah! I 'ave learn that! You will be aztonizh' to see in 'ow many
diffe'n' fawm' I can make my 'an'-a-'iting to appeah. That paz thoo my
fam'ly, in fact, Mistoo Itchlin. My hant, she's got a honcle w'at use'
to be cluck in a bank, w'at could make the si'natu'e of the pwesiden',
as well as of the cashieh, with that so absolute puffegtion, that they
tu'n 'im out of the bank! Yesseh. In fact, I thing you ought to know 'ow
to 'ite a ve'y fine 'an', Mistoo Itchlin."

"N-not very," said Richling; "my hand is large and legible, but not well
adapted for--book-keeping; it's too heavy."

"You 'ave the 'ight physio'nomie, I am shu'. You will pe'haps believe me
with difficulty, Mistoo Itchlin, but I assu' you I can tell if a man 'as
a fine chi'og'aphy aw no, by juz lookin' upon his liniment. Do you know
that Benjamin Fwanklin 'ote a v'ey fine chi'og'aphy, in fact? Also,
Voltaire. Yesseh. An' Napoleon Bonaparte. Lawd By'on muz 'ave 'ad a
beaucheouz chi'og'aphy. 'Tis impossible not to be, with that face. He is
my favo'ite poet, that Lawd By'on. Moze people pwefeh 'im to Shakspere,
in fact. Well, you muz go? I am ve'y 'appy to meck yo' acquaintanze,
Mistoo Itchlin, seh. I am so'y Doctah Seveeah is not theh pwesently. The
negs time you call, Mistoo Itchlin, you muz not be too much aztonizh to
fine me gone from yeh. Yesseh. He's got to haugment me ad the en' of
that month, an' we 'ave to-day the fifteenth Mawch. Do you smoke, Mistoo
Itchlin?" He extended a package of cigarettes. Richling accepted one. "I
smoke lawgely in that weatheh," striking a match on his thigh. "I feel
ve'y sultwy to-day. Well,"--he seized the visitor's hand,--"_au' evoi'_,
Mistoo Itchlin." And Narcisse returned to his desk happy in the
conviction that Richling had gone away dazzled.



CHAPTER X.

GENTLES AND COMMONS.


Dr. Sevier sat in the great easy-chair under the drop-light of his
library table trying to read a book. But his thought was not on the
page. He expired a long breath of annoyance, and lifted his glance
backward from the bottom of the page to its top.

Why must his mind keep going back to that little cottage in St. Mary
street? What good reason was there? Would they thank him for his
solicitude? Indeed! He almost smiled his contempt of the supposition.
Why, when on one or two occasions he had betrayed a least little bit of
kindly interest,--what? Up had gone their youthful vivacity like an
umbrella. Oh, yes!--like all young folks--_their_ affairs were intensely
private. Once or twice he had shaken his head at the scantiness of all
their provisions for life. Well? They simply and unconsciously stole a
hold upon one another's hand or arm, as much as to say, "To love is
enough." When, gentlemen of the jury, it isn't enough!

"Pshaw!" The word escaped him audibly. He drew partly up from his half
recline, and turned back a leaf of the book to try once more to make out
the sense of it.

But there was Mary, and there was her husband. Especially Mary. Her
image came distinctly between his eyes and the page. There she was, just
as on his last visit,--a superfluous one--no charge,--sitting and plying
her needle, unaware of his approach, gently moving her rocking-chair,
and softly singing, "Flow on, thou shining river,"--the song his own
wife used to sing. "O child, child! do you think it's always going to be
'shining'?" They shouldn't be so contented. Was pride under that cloak?
Oh, no, no! But even if the content was genuine, it wasn't good. Why,
they oughtn't to be _able_ to be happy so completely out of their true
sphere. It showed insensibility. But, there again,--Richling wasn't
insensible, much less Mary.

The Doctor let his book sink, face downward, upon his knee.

"They're too big to be playing in the sand." He took up the book again.
"'Tisn't my business to tell them so." But before he got the volume
fairly before his eyes his professional bell rang, and he tossed the
book upon the table.

"Well, why don't you bring him in?" he asked, in a tone of reproof, of a
servant who presented a card; and in a moment the visitor entered.

He was a person of some fifty years of age, with a patrician face, in
which it was impossible to tell where benevolence ended and pride began.
His dress was of fine cloth, a little antique in cut, and fitting rather
loosely on a form something above the medium height, of good width, but
bent in the shoulders, and with arms that had been stronger. Years, it
might be, or possibly some unflinching struggle with troublesome facts,
had given many lines of his face a downward slant. He apologized for the
hour of his call, and accepted with thanks the chair offered him.

"You are not a resident of the city?" asked Dr. Sevier.

"I am from Kentucky." The voice was rich, and the stranger's general
air one of rather conscious social eminence.

"Yes?" said the Doctor, not specially pleased, and looked at him closer.
He wore a black satin neck-stock, and dark-blue buttoned gaiters. His
hair was dyed brown. A slender frill adorned his shirt-front.

"Mrs."--the visitor began to say, not giving the name, but waving his
index-finger toward his card, which Dr. Sevier had laid upon the table,
just under the lamp,--"my wife, Doctor, seems to be in a very feeble
condition. Her physicians have advised her to try the effects of a
change of scene, and I have brought her down to your busy city, sir."

The Doctor assented. The stranger resumed:--

"Its hurry and energy are a great contrast to the plantation life, sir."

"They're very unlike," the physician admitted.

"This chafing of thousands of competitive designs," said the visitor,
"this great fretwork of cross purposes, is a decided change from the
quiet order of our rural life. Hmm! There everything is under the
administration of one undisputed will, and is executed by the
unquestioning obedience of our happy and contented slave peasantry. I
prefer the country. But I thought this was just the change that would
arouse and electrify an invalid who has really no tangible complaint."

"Has the result been unsatisfactory?"

"Entirely so. I am unexpectedly disappointed." The speaker's thought
seemed to be that the climate of New Orleans had not responded with
that hospitable alacrity which was due so opulent, reasonable, and
universally obeyed a guest.

There was a pause here, and Dr. Sevier looked around at the book which
lay at his elbow. But the visitor did not resume, and the Doctor
presently asked:--

"Do you wish me to see your wife?"

"I called to see you alone first," said the other, "because there might
be questions to be asked which were better answered in her absence."

"Then you think you know the secret of her illness, do you?"

"I do. I think, indeed I may say I know, it is--bereavement."

The Doctor compressed his lips and bowed.

The stranger drooped his head somewhat, and, resting his elbows on the
arms of his chair, laid the tips of his thumbs and fingers softly
together.

"The truth is, sir, she cannot recover from the loss of our son."

"An infant?" asked the Doctor. His bell rang again as he put the
question.

"No, sir; a young man,--one whom I had thought a person of great
promise; just about to enter life."

"When did he die?"

"He has been dead nearly a year. I"-- The speaker ceased as the
mulatto waiting-man appeared at the open door, with a large, simple,
German face looking easily over his head from behind.

"Toctor," said the owner of this face, lifting an immense open hand,
"Toctor, uf you bleace, Toctor, you vill bleace ugscooce me."

The Doctor frowned at the servant for permitting the interruption. But
the gentleman beside him said:--

"Let him come in, sir; he seems to be in haste, sir, and I am not,--I am
not, at all."

"Come in," said the physician.

The new-comer stepped into the room. He was about six feet three inches
in height, three feet six in breadth, and the same in thickness. Two
kindly blue eyes shone softly in an expanse of face that had been
clean-shaven every Saturday night for many years, and that ended in a
retreating chin and a dewlap. The limp, white shirt-collar just below
was without a necktie, and the waist of his pantaloons, which seemed
intended to supply this deficiency, did not quite, but only almost
reached up to the unoccupied blank. He removed from his respectful head
a soft gray hat, whitened here and there with flour.

"Yentlemen," he said, slowly, "you vill ugscooce me to interruptet
you,--yentlemen."

"Do you wish to see me?" asked Dr. Sevier.

The German made an odd gesture of deferential assent, lifting one open
hand a little in front of him to the level of his face, with the wrist
bent forward and the fingers pointing down.

"Uf you bleace, Toctor, I toose; undt tat's te fust time I effer _tit_
vanted a toctor. Undt you mus' ugscooce me, Toctor, to callin' on you,
ovver I vish you come undt see mine"--

To the surprise of all, tears gushed from his eyes.

"Mine poor vife, Toctor!" He turned to one side, pointed his broad hand
toward the floor, and smote his forehead.

"I yoost come in fun mine paykery undt comin' into mine howse, fen--I
see someting"--he waved his hand downward again--"someting--layin' on
te--floor--face pleck ans a nigger's; undt fen I look to see who udt
iss,--_udt is Mississ Reisen_! Toctor, I vish you come right off! I
couldn't shtayndt udt you toandt come right avay!"

"I'll come," said the Doctor, without rising; "just write your name and
address on that little white slate yonder."

"Toctor," said the German, extending and dipping his hat, "I'm ferra
much a-velcome to you, Toctor; undt tat's yoost fot te pottekerra by
mine corner sayt you vould too. He sayss, 'Reisen,' he sayss, 'you yoost
co to Toctor Tsewier.'" He bent his great body over the farther end of
the table and slowly worked out his name, street, and number. "Dtere udt
iss, Toctor; I put udt town on teh schlate; ovver, I hope you ugscooce
te hayndtwriding."

"Very well. That's right. That's all."

The German lingered. The Doctor gave a bow of dismission.

"That's all, I say. I'll be there in a moment. That's all. Dan, order my
carriage!"

"Yentlemen, you vill ugscooce me?"

The German withdrew, returning each gentleman's bow with a faint wave of
the hat.

During this interview the more polished stranger had sat with bowed
head, motionless and silent, lifting it only once and for a moment at
the German's emotional outburst. Then the upward and backward turned
face was marked with a commiseration partly artificial, but also partly
natural. He now looked up at the Doctor.

"I shall have to leave you," said the Doctor.

"Certainly, sir," replied the other; "by all means!" The willingness
was slightly overdone and the benevolence of tone was mixed with
complacency. "By all means," he said again; "this is one of those cases
where it is only a proper grace in the higher to yield place to the
lower." He waited for a response, but the Doctor merely frowned into
space and called for his boots. The visitor resumed:--

"I have a good deal of feeling, sir, for the unlettered and the vulgar.
They have their station, but they have also--though doubtless in smaller
capacity than we--their pleasures and pains."

Seeing the Doctor ready to go, he began to rise.

"I may not be gone long," said the physician, rather coldly; "if you
choose to wait"--

"I thank you; n-no-o"--The visitor stopped between a sitting and a
rising posture.

"Here are books," said the Doctor, "and the evening papers,--'Picayune,'
'Delta,' 'True Delta.'" It seemed for a moment as though the gentleman
might sink into his seat again. "And there's the 'New York Herald.'"

"No, sir!" said the visitor quickly, rising and smoothing himself out;
"nothing from that quarter, if you please." Yet he smiled. The Doctor
did not notice that, while so smiling, he took his card from the table.
There was something familiar in the stranger's face which the Doctor was
trying to make out. They left the house together. Outside the street
door the physician made apologetic allusion to their interrupted
interview.

"Shall I see you at my office to-morrow? I would be happy"--

The stranger had raised his hat. He smiled again, as pleasantly as he
could, which was not delightful, and said, after a moment's
hesitation:--

"--Possibly."



CHAPTER XI.

A PANTOMIME.


It chanced one evening about this time--the vernal equinox had just
passed--that from some small cause Richling, who was generally detained
at the desk until a late hour, was home early. The air was soft and
warm, and he stood out a little beyond his small front door-step,
lifting his head to inhale the universal fragrance, and looking in
every moment, through the unlighted front room, toward a part of the
diminutive house where a mild rattle of domestic movements could be
heard, and whence he had, a little before, been adroitly requested to
absent himself. He moved restlessly on his feet, blowing a soft tune.

Presently he placed a foot on the step and a hand on the door-post, and
gave a low, urgent call.

A distant response indicated that his term of suspense was nearly over.
He turned about again once or twice, and a moment later Mary appeared in
the door, came down upon the sidewalk, looked up into the moonlit sky
and down the empty, silent street, then turned and sat down, throwing
her wrists across each other in her lap, and lifting her eyes to her
husband's with a smile that confessed her fatigue.

The moon was regal. It cast its deep contrasts of clear-cut light and
shadow among the thin, wooden, unarchitectural forms and weed-grown
vacancies of the half-settled neighborhood, investing the matter-of-fact
with mystery, and giving an unexpected charm to the unpicturesque. It
was--as Richling said, taking his place beside his wife--midspring in
March. As he spoke he noticed she had brought with her the odor of
flowers. They were pinned at her throat.

"Where did you get them?" he asked, touching them with his fingers.

Her face lighted up.

"Guess."

How could he guess? As far as he knew neither she nor he had made an
acquaintance in the neighborhood. He shook his head, and she replied:--

"The butcher."

"You're a queer girl," he said, when they had laughed.

"Why?"

"You let these common people take to you so."

She smiled, with a faint air of concern.

"You don't dislike it, do you?" she asked.

"Oh, no," he said, indifferently, and spoke of other things.

And thus they sat, like so many thousands and thousands of young pairs
in this wide, free America, offering the least possible interest to
the great human army round about them, but sharing, or believing they
shared, in the fruitful possibilities of this land of limitless bounty,
fondling their hopes and recounting the petty minutiæ of their daily
experiences. Their converse was mainly in the form of questions from
Mary and answers from John.

"And did he say that he would?" etc. "And didn't you insist that he
should?" etc. "I don't understand how he could require you to," etc.,
etc. Looking at everything from John's side, as if there never could be
any other, until at last John himself laughed softly when she asked why
he couldn't take part of some outdoor man's work, and give him part of
his own desk-work in exchange, and why he couldn't say plainly that his
work was too sedentary.

Then she proposed a walk in the moonlight, and insisted she was not
tired; she wanted it on her own account. And so, when Richling had gone
into the house and returned with some white worsted gauze for her head
and neck and locked the door, they were ready to start.

They were tarrying a moment to arrange this wrapping when they found it
necessary to move aside from where they stood in order to let two
persons pass on the sidewalk.

These were a man and woman, who had at least reached middle age. The
woman wore a neatly fitting calico gown; the man, a short pilot-coat.
His pantaloons were very tight and pale. A new soft hat was pushed
forward from the left rear corner of his closely cropped head, with
the front of the brim turned down over his right eye. At each step he
settled down with a little jerk alternately on this hip and that, at the
same time faintly dropping the corresponding shoulder. They passed. John
and Mary looked at each other with a nod of mirthful approval. Why?
Because the strangers walked silently hand-in-hand.

It was a magical night. Even the part of town where they were, so devoid
of character by day, had become all at once romantic with phantasmal
lights and glooms, echoes and silences. Along the edge of a wide
chimney-top on one blank, new hulk of a house, that nothing else could
have made poetical, a mocking-bird hopped and ran back and forth,
singing as if he must sing or die. The mere names of the streets they
traversed suddenly became sweet food for the fancy. Down at the first
corner below they turned into one that had been an old country road,
and was still named Felicity.

Richling called attention to the word painted on a board. He merely
pointed to it in playful silence, and then let his hand sink and rest
on hers as it lay in his elbow. They were walking under the low boughs
of a line of fig-trees that overhung a high garden wall. Then some gay
thought took him; but when his downward glance met the eyes uplifted to
meet his they were grave, and there came an instantaneous tenderness
into the exchange of looks that would have been worse than uninteresting
to you or me. But the next moment she brightened up, pressed herself
close to him, and caught step. They had not owned each other long enough
to have settled into sedate possession, though they sometimes thought
they had done so. There was still a tingling ecstasy in one another's
touch and glance that prevented them from quite behaving themselves when
under the moon.

For instance, now, they began, though in cautious undertone, to sing.
Some person approached them, and they hushed. When the stranger had
passed, Mary began again another song, alone:--

    "Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?"

"Hush!" said John, softly.

She looked up with an air of mirthful inquiry, and he added:--

"That was the name of Dr. Sevier's wife."

"But he doesn't hear me singing."

"No; but it seems as if he did."

And they sang no more.

They entered a broad, open avenue, with a treeless, grassy way in the
middle, up which came a very large and lumbering street-car, with
smokers' benches on the roof, and drawn by tandem horses.

"Here we turn down," said Richling, "into the way of the Naiads." (That
was the street's name.) "They're not trying to get me away."

He looked down playfully. She was clinging to him with more energy than
she knew.

"I'd better hold you tight," she answered. Both laughed. The nonsense of
those we love is better than the finest wit on earth. They walked on in
their bliss. Shall we follow? Fie!

They passed down across three or four of a group of parallel streets
named for the nine muses. At Thalia they took the left, went one square,
and turned up by another street toward home.

Their conversation had flagged. Silence was enough. The great earth was
beneath their feet, firm and solid; the illimitable distances of the
heavens stretched above their heads and before their eyes. Here was Mary
at John's side, and John at hers; John her property and she his, and
time flowing softly, shiningly on. Yea, even more. If one might believe
the names of the streets, there were Naiads on the left and Dryads on
the right; a little farther on, Hercules; yonder corner the dark
trysting-place of Bacchus and Melpomene; and here, just in advance,
the corner where Terpsichore crossed the path of Apollo.

They came now along a high, open fence that ran the entire length
of a square. Above it a dense rank of bitter orange-trees overhung the
sidewalk, their dark mass of foliage glittering in the moonlight. Within
lay a deep, old-fashioned garden. Its white shell-walks gleamed in many
directions. A sweet breath came from its parterres of mingled hyacinths
and jonquils that hid themselves every moment in black shadows of
lagustrums and laurestines. Here, in severe order, a pair of palms, prim
as mediæval queens, stood over against each other; and in the midst of
the garden, rising high against the sky, appeared the pillared veranda
and immense, four-sided roof of an old French colonial villa, as it
stands unchanged to-day.

The two loiterers slackened their pace to admire the scene. There was
much light shining from the house. Mary could hear voices, and, in a
moment, words. The host was speeding his parting guests.

"The omnibus will put you out only one block from the hotel," some one
said.

        *       *       *

Dr. Sevier, returning home from a visit to a friend in Polymnia street,
had scarcely got well seated in the omnibus before he witnessed from its
window a singular dumb show. He had handed his money up to the driver as
they crossed Euterpe street, had received the change and deposited his
fare as they passed Terpsichore, and was just sitting down when the only
other passenger in the vehicle said, half-rising:--

"Hello! there's going to be a shooting scrape!"

A rather elderly man and woman on the sidewalk, both of them extremely
well dressed, and seemingly on the eve of hailing the omnibus, suddenly
transferred their attention to a younger couple a few steps from them,
who appeared to have met them entirely by accident. The elderly lady
threw out her arms toward the younger man with an expression on her face
of intensest mental suffering. She seemed to cry out; but the deafening
rattle of the omnibus, as it approached them, intercepted the sound.
All four of the persons seemed, in various ways, to experience the most
violent feelings. The young man more than once moved as if about to
start forward, yet did not advance; his companion, a small, very shapely
woman, clung to him excitedly and pleadingly. The older man shook a
stout cane at the younger, talking furiously as he did so. He held the
elderly lady to him with his arm thrown about her, while she now cast
her hands upward, now covered her face with them, now wrung them,
clasped them, or extended one of them in seeming accusation against the
younger person of her own sex. In a moment the omnibus was opposite the
group. The Doctor laid his hand on his fellow-passenger's arm.

"Don't get out. There will be no shooting."

The young man on the sidewalk suddenly started forward, with his
companion still on his farther arm, and with his eyes steadily fixed on
those of the elder and taller man, a clenched fist lifted defensively,
and with a tense, defiant air walked hurriedly and silently by within
easy sweep of the uplifted staff. At the moment when the slight distance
between the two men began to increase, the cane rose higher, but stopped
short in its descent and pointed after the receding figure.

"I command you to leave this town, sir!"

Dr. Sevier looked. He looked with all his might, drawing his knee under
him on the cushion and leaning out. The young man had passed. He still
moved on, turning back as he went a face full of the fear that men show
when they are afraid of their own violence; and, as the omnibus
clattered away, he crossed the street at the upper corner and
disappeared in the shadows.

"That's a very strange thing," said the other passenger to Dr. Sevier,
as they resumed the corner seats by the door.

"It certainly is!" replied the Doctor, and averted his face. For when
the group and he were nearest together and the moon shone brightly
upon the four, he saw, beyond all question, that the older man was his
visitor of a few evenings before and that the younger pair were John and
Mary Richling.



CHAPTER XII.

"SHE'S ALL THE WORLD."


Excellent neighborhood, St. Mary street, and Prytania was even better.
Everybody was very retired though, it seemed. Almost every house
standing in the midst of its shady garden,--sunny gardens are a newer
fashion of the town,--a bell-knob on the gate-post, and the gate locked.
But the Richlings cared nothing for this; not even what they should have
cared. Nor was there any unpleasantness in another fact.

"Do you let this window stand wide this way when you are at work here,
all day?" asked the husband. The opening alluded to was on Prytania
street, and looked across the way to where the asylumed widows of "St
Anna's" could glance down into it over their poor little window-gardens.

"Why, yes, dear!" Mary looked up from her little cane rocker with that
thoughtful contraction at the outer corners of her eyes and that
illuminated smile that between them made half her beauty. And then,
somewhat more gravely and persuasively: "Don't you suppose they like it?
They must like it. I think we can do that much for them. Would you
rather I'd shut it?"

For answer John laid his hand on her head and gazed into her eyes.

"Take care," she whispered; "they'll see you."

He let his arm drop in amused despair.

"Why, what's the window open for? And, anyhow, they're all abed and
asleep these two hours."

They did like it, those aged widows. It fed their hearts' hunger to
see the pretty unknown passing and repassing that open window in the
performance of her morning duties, or sitting down near it with her
needle, still crooning her soft morning song,--poor, almost as poor as
they, in this world's glitter; but rich in hope and courage, and rich
beyond all count in the content of one who finds herself queen of ever
so little a house, where love is.

"Love is enough!" said the widows.

And certainly she made it seem so. The open window brought, now and
then, a moisture to the aged eyes, yet they liked it open.

But, without warning one day, there was a change. It was the day after
Dr. Sevier had noticed that queer street quarrel. The window was not
closed, but it sent out no more light. The song was not heard, and many
small, faint signs gave indication that anxiety had come to be a guest
in the little house. At evening the wife was seen in her front door and
about its steps, watching in a new, restless way for her husband's
coming; and when he came it could be seen, all the way from those upper
windows, where one or two faces appeared now and then, that he was
troubled and care-worn. There were two more days like this one; but at
the end of the fourth the wife read good tidings in her husband's
countenance. He handed her a newspaper, and pointed to a list of
departing passengers.

"They're gone!" she exclaimed.

He nodded, and laid off his hat. She cast her arms about his neck, and
buried her head in his bosom. You could almost have seen Anxiety flying
out at the window. By morning the widows knew of a certainty that the
cloud had melted away.

In the counting-room one evening, as Richling said good-night with
noticeable alacrity, one of his employers, sitting with his legs crossed
over the top of a desk, said to his partner:--

"Richling works for his wages."

"That's all," replied the other; "he don't see his interests in ours any
more than a tinsmith would, who comes to mend the roof."

The first one took a meditative puff or two from his cigar, tipped off
its ashes, and responded:--

"Common fault. He completely overlooks his immense indebtedness to the
world at large, and his dependence on it. He's a good fellow, and
bright; but he actually thinks that he and the world are starting even."

"His wife's his world," said the other, and opened the Bills Payable
book. Who will say it is not well to sail in an ocean of love? But the
Richlings were becalmed in theirs, and, not knowing it, were satisfied.

Day in, day out, the little wife sat at her window, and drove her
needle. Omnibuses rumbled by; an occasional wagon or cart set the dust
a-flying; the street venders passed, crying the praises of their goods
and wares; the blue sky grew more and more intense as weeks piled up
upon weeks; but the empty repetitions, and the isolation, and, worst of
all, the escape of time,--she smiled at all, and sewed on and crooned
on, in the sufficient thought that John would come, each time, when only
hours enough had passed away forever.

Once she saw Dr. Sevier's carriage. She bowed brightly, but he--what
could it mean?--he lifted his hat with such austere gravity. Dr. Sevier
was angry. He had no definite charge to make, but that did not lessen
his displeasure. After long, unpleasant wondering, and long trusting to
see Richling some day on the street, he had at length driven by this
way purposely to see if they had indeed left town, as they had been so
imperiously commanded to do.

This incident, trivial as it was, roused Mary to thought; and all the
rest of the day the thought worked with energy to dislodge the frame of
mind that she had acquired from her husband.

When John came home that night and pressed her to his bosom she was
silent. And when he held her off a little and looked into her eyes, and
she tried to better her smile, those eyes stood full to the lashes and
she looked down.

"What's the matter?" asked he, quickly.

"Nothing!" She looked up again, with a little laugh.

He took a chair and drew her down upon his lap.

"What's the matter with my girl?"

"I don't know."

"How,--you don't know?"

"Why, I simply don't. I can't make out what it is. If I could I'd tell
you; but I don't know at all." After they had sat silent a few
moments:--

"I wonder"--she began.

"You wonder what?" asked he, in a rallying tone.

"I wonder if there's such a thing as being too contented."

Richling began to hum, with a playful manner:--

    "'And she's all the world to me.'

Is that being too"--

"Stop!" said Mary. "That's it." She laid her hand upon his shoulder.
"You've said it. That's what I ought not to be!"

"Why, Mary, what on earth"-- His face flamed up "John, I'm willing to
be _more_ than all the rest of the world to you. I always must be
that. I'm going to be that forever. And you"--she kissed him
passionately--"you're all the world to me! But I've no right to be _all_
the world to _you_. And you mustn't allow it. It's making it too small!"

"Mary, what are you saying?"

"Don't, John. Don't speak that way. I'm not saying anything. I'm only
trying to say something, I don't know what."

"Neither do I," was the mock-rueful answer.

"I only know," replied Mary, the vision of Dr. Sevier's carriage
passing before her abstracted eyes, and of the Doctor's pale face bowing
austerely within it, "that if you don't take any part or interest in the
outside world it'll take none in you; do you think it will?"

"And who cares if it doesn't?" cried John, clasping her to his bosom.

"I do," she replied. "Yes, I do. I've no right to steal you from the
rest of the world, or from the place in it that you ought to fill.
John"--

"That's my name."

"Why can't I do something to help you?"

John lifted his head unnecessarily.

"No!"

"Well, then, let's think of something we can do, without just waiting
for the wind to blow us along,--I mean," she added appeasingly, "I mean
without waiting to be employed by others."

"Oh, yes; but that takes capital!"

"Yes, I know; but why don't you think up something,--some new enterprise
or something,--and get somebody with capital to go in with you?"

He shook his head.

"You're out of your depth. And that wouldn't make so much difference,
but you're out of mine. It isn't enough to think of something; you must
know how to do it. And what do I know how to do? Nothing! Nothing that's
worth doing!"

"I know one thing you could do."

"What's that?"

"You could be a professor in a college."

John smiled bitterly.

"Without antecedents?" he asked.

Their eyes met; hers dropped, and both voices were silent. Mary drew a
soft sigh. She thought their talk had been unprofitable. But it had not.
John laid hold of work from that day on in a better and wiser spirit.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE BOUGH BREAKS.


By some trivial chance, she hardly knew what, Mary found herself one day
conversing at her own door with the woman whom she and her husband had
once smiled at for walking the moonlit street with her hand in willing
and undisguised captivity. She was a large and strong, but extremely
neat, well-spoken, and good-looking Irish woman, who might have seemed
at ease but for a faintly betrayed ambition.

She praised with rather ornate English the good appearance and
convenient smallness of Mary's house; said her own was the same size.
That person with whom she sometimes passed "of a Sundeh"--yes, and
moonlight evenings--that was her husband. He was "ferst ingineeur" on a
steam-boat. There was a little, just discernible waggle in her head as
she stated things. It gave her decided character.

"Ah! engineer," said Mary.

"_Ferst_ ingineeur," repeated the woman; "you know there bees ferst
ingineeurs, an' secon' ingineeurs, an' therd ingineeurs. Yes." She
unconsciously fanned herself with a dust-pan that she had just bought
from a tin peddler.

She lived only some two or three hundred yards away, around the corner,
in a tidy little cottage snuggled in among larger houses in Coliseum
street. She had had children, but she had lost them; and Mary's
sympathy when she told her of them--the girl and two boys--won the
woman as much as the little lady's pretty manners had dazed her. It was
not long before she began to drop in upon Mary in the hour of twilight,
and sit through it without speaking often, or making herself especially
interesting in any way, but finding it pleasant, notwithstanding.

"John," said Mary,--her husband had come in unexpectedly,--"our
neighbor, Mrs. Riley."

John's bow was rather formal, and Mrs. Riley soon rose and said
good-evening.

"John," said the wife again, laying her hands on his shoulders as she
tiptoed to kiss him, "what troubles you?" Then she attempted a rallying
manner: "Don't my friends suit you?"

He hesitated only an instant, and said:--

"Oh, yes, that's all right!"

"Well, then, I don't see why you look so."

"I've finished the task I was to do."

"What! you haven't"--

"I'm out of employment."

They went and sat down on the little hair-cloth sofa that Mrs. Riley had
just left.

"I thought they said they would have other work for you."

"They said they might have; but it seems they haven't."

"And it's just in the opening of summer, too," said Mary; "why, what
right"--

"Oh!"--a despairing gesture and averted gaze--"they've a perfect right
if they think best. I asked them that myself at first--not too politely,
either; but I soon saw I was wrong."

They sat without speaking until it had grown quite dark. Then John said,
with a long breath, as he rose:--

"It passes my comprehension."

"What passes it?" asked Mary, detaining him by one hand.

"The reason why we are so pursued by misfortunes."

"But, John," she said, still holding him, "_is_ it misfortune? When I
know so well that you deserve to succeed, I think maybe it's good
fortune in disguise, after all. Don't you think it's possible? You
remember how it was last time, when A., B., & Co. failed. Maybe the best
of all is to come now!" She beamed with courage. "Why, John, it seems to
me I'd just go in the very best of spirits, the first thing to-morrow,
and tell Dr. Sevier you are looking for work. Don't you think it
might"--

"I've been there."

"Have you? What did he say?"

"He wasn't in."

        *       *       *

There was another neighbor, with whom John and Mary did not get
acquainted. Not that it was more his fault than theirs; it may have been
less. Unfortunately for the Richlings there was in their dwelling no
toddling, self-appointed child commissioner to find his way in unwatched
moments to the play-ground of some other toddler, and so plant the good
seed of neighbor acquaintanceship.

This neighbor passed four times a day. A man of fortune, aged a hale
sixty or so, who came and stood on the corner, and sometimes even rested
a foot on Mary's door-step, waiting for the Prytania omnibus, and who,
on his returns, got down from the omnibus step a little gingerly, went
by Mary's house, and presently shut himself inside a very ornamental
iron gate, a short way up St. Mary street. A child would have made him
acquainted. Even as it was, they did not escape his silent notice. It
was pleasant for him, from whose life the early dew had been dried away
by a well-risen sun, to recall its former freshness by glimpses of this
pair of young beginners. It was like having a bird's nest under his
window.

John, stepping backward from his door one day, saying a last word to his
wife, who stood on the threshold, pushed against this neighbor as he was
moving with somewhat cumbersome haste to catch the stage, turned
quickly, and raised his hat.

"Pardon!"

The other uncovered his bald head and circlet of white, silken locks,
and hurried on to the conveyance.

"President of one of the banks down-town," whispered John.

That is the nearest they ever came to being acquainted. And even this
accident might not have occurred had not the man of snowy locks been
glancing at Mary as he passed instead of at his omnibus.

As he sat at home that evening he remarked:--

"Very pretty little woman that, my dear, that lives in the little house
at the corner; who is she?"

The lady responded, without lifting her eyes from the newspaper in which
she was interested; she did not know. The husband mused and twirled his
penknife between a finger and thumb.

"They seem to be starting at the bottom," he observed.

"Yes?"

"Yes; much the same as we did."

"I haven't noticed them particularly."

"They're worth noticing," said the banker.

He threw one fat knee over the other, and laid his head on the back of
his easy-chair.

The lady's eyes were still on her paper, but she asked:--

"Would you like me to go and see them?"

"No, no--unless you wish."

She dropped the paper into her lap with a smile and a sigh.

"Don't propose it. I have so much going to do"-- She paused, removed her
glasses, and fell to straightening the fringe of the lamp-mat. "Of
course, if you think they're in need of a friend; but from your
description"--

"No," he answered, quickly, "not at all. They've friends, no doubt.
Everything about them has a neat, happy look. That's what attracted my
notice. They've got friends, you may depend." He ceased, took up a
pamphlet, and adjusted his glasses. "I think I saw a sofa going in there
to-day as I came to dinner. A little expansion, I suppose."

"It was going out," said the only son, looking up from a story-book.

But the banker was reading. He heard nothing, and the word was not
repeated. He did not divine that a little becalmed and befogged bark,
with only two lovers in her, too proud to cry "Help!" had drifted just
yonder upon the rocks, and, spar by spar and plank by plank, was
dropping into the smooth, unmerciful sea.

Before the sofa went there had gone, little by little, some smaller
valuables.

"You see," said Mary to her husband, with the bright hurry of a wife
bent upon something high-handed, "we both have to have furniture; we
must have it; and I don't have to have jewelry. Don't you see?"

"No, I"--

"Now, John!" There could be but one end to the debate; she had
determined that. The first piece was a bracelet. "No, I wouldn't pawn
it," she said. "Better sell it outright at once."

But Richling could not but cling to hope and to the adornments that had
so often clasped her wrists and throat or pinned the folds upon her
bosom. Piece by piece he pawned them, always looking out ahead with
strained vision for the improbable, the incredible, to rise to his
relief.

"Is _nothing_ going to happen, Mary?"

Yes; nothing happened--except in the pawn-shop.

So, all the sooner, the sofa had to go.

"It's no use talking about borrowing," they both said. Then the bureau
went. Then the table. Then, one by one, the chairs. Very slyly it was
all done, too. Neighbors mustn't know. "Who lives there?" is a question
not asked concerning houses as small as theirs; and a young man, in a
well-fitting suit of only too heavy goods, removing his winter hat to
wipe the standing drops from his forehead; and a little blush-rose
woman at his side, in a mist of cool muslin and the cunningest of
millinery,--these, who always paused a moment, with a lost look, in
the vestibule of the sepulchral-looking little church on the corner of
Prytania and Josephine streets, till the sexton ushered them in, and who
as often contrived, with no end of ingenuity, despite the little woman's
fresh beauty, to get away after service unaccosted by the elders,--who
could imagine that _these_ were from so deep a nook in poverty's vale?

There was one person who guessed it: Mrs. Riley, who was not asked to
walk in any more when she called at the twilight hour. She partly saw
and partly guessed the truth, and offered what each one of the pair had
been secretly hoping somebody, anybody, would offer--a loan. But when
it actually confronted them it was sweetly declined.

"Wasn't it kind?" said Mary; and John said emphatically, "Yes." Very
soon it was their turn to be kind to Mrs. Riley. They attended her
husband's funeral. He had been killed by an explosion. Mrs. Riley beat
upon the bier with her fists, and wailed in a far-reaching voice:--

"O Mike, Mike! Me jew'l, me jew'l! Why didn't ye wait to see the babe
that's unborn?"

And Mary wept. And when she and John reëntered their denuded house she
fell upon his neck with fresh tears, and kissed him again and again, and
could utter no word, but knew he understood. Poverty was so much better
than sorrow! She held him fast, and he her, while he tenderly hushed
her, lest a grief, the very opposite of Mrs. Riley's, should overtake
her.



CHAPTER XIV.

HARD SPEECHES AND HIGH TEMPER.


Dr. Sevier found occasion, one morning, to speak at some length, and
very harshly, to his book-keeper. He had hardly ceased when John
Richling came briskly in.

"Doctor," he said, with great buoyancy, "how do you do?"

The physician slightly frowned.

"Good-morning, Mr. Richling."

Richling was tamed in an instant; but, to avoid too great a contrast
of manner, he retained a semblance of sprightliness, as he said:--

"This is the first time I have had this pleasure since you were last
at our house, Doctor."

"Did you not see me one evening, some time ago, in the omnibus?" asked
Dr. Sevier.

"Why, no," replied the other, with returning pleasure; "was I in the
same omnibus?"

"You were on the sidewalk."

"No-o," said Richling, pondering. "I've seen you in your carriage
several times, but you"--

"I didn't see you."

Richling was stung. The conversation failed. He recommenced it in a tone
pitched intentionally too low for the alert ear of Narcisse.

"Doctor, I've simply called to say to you that I'm out of work and
looking for employment again."

"Um--hum," said the Doctor, with a cold fulness of voice that hurt
Richling afresh. "You'll find it hard to get anything this time of
year," he continued, with no attempt at undertone; "it's very hard for
anybody to get anything these days, even when well recommended."

Richling smiled an instant. The Doctor did not, but turned partly away
to his desk, and added, as if the smile had displeased him:--

"Well, maybe you'll not find it so."

Richling turned fiery red.

"Whether I do or not," he said, rising, "my affairs sha'n't trouble
anybody. Good-morning!"

He started out.

"How's Mrs. Richling?" asked the Doctor.

"She's well," responded Richling, putting on his hat and disappearing in
the corridor. Each footstep could be heard as he went down the stairs.

"He's a fool!" muttered the physician.

He looked up angrily, for Narcisse stood before him.

"Well, Doctah," said the Creole, hurriedly arranging his coat-collar,
and drawing his handkerchief, "I'm goin' ad the poss-office."

"See here, sir!" exclaimed the Doctor, bringing his fist down upon the
arm of his chair, "every time you've gone out of this office for the
last six months you've told me you were going to the post-office; now
don't you ever tell me that again!"

The young man bowed with injured dignity and responded:--

"All a-ight, seh."

He overtook Richling just outside the street entrance. Richling had
halted there, bereft of intention, almost of outward sense, and
choking with bitterness. It seemed to him as if in an instant all his
misfortunes, disappointments, and humiliations, that never before had
seemed so many or so great, had been gathered up into the knowledge of
that hard man upstairs, and, with one unmerciful downward wrench, had
received his seal of approval. Indignation, wrath, self-hatred, dismay,
in undefined confusion, usurped the faculties of sight and hearing and
motion.

"Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, "I 'ope you fine you'seff O.K., seh, if
you'll egscuse the slang expwession."

Richling started to move away, but checked himself.

"I'm well, sir, thank you, sir; yes, sir, I'm very well."

"I billieve you, seh. You ah lookin' well."

Narcisse thrust his hands into his pockets, and turned upon the outer
sides of his feet, the embodiment of sweet temper. Richling found him a
wonderful relief at the moment. He quit gnawing his lip and winking into
vacancy, and felt a malicious good-humor run into all his veins.

"I dunno 'ow 'tis, Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, "but I muz tell you
the tooth; you always 'ave to me the appe'ance ligue the chile of
p'ospe'ity."

"Eh?" said Richling, hollowing his hand at his ear,--"child of"--

"P'ospe'ity?"

"Yes--yes," replied the deaf man vaguely, "I--have a relative of that
name."

"Oh!" exclaimed the Creole, "thass good faw luck! Mistoo Itchlin, look'
like you a lil mo' hawd to yeh--but egscuse me. I s'pose you muz be
advancing in business, Mistoo Itchlin. I say I s'pose you muz be gittin'
along!"

"I? Yes; yes, I must."

He started.

"I'm 'appy to yeh it!" said Narcisse.

His innocent kindness was a rebuke. Richling began to offer a cordial
parting salutation, but Narcisse said:--

"You goin' that way? Well, I kin go that way."

They went.

"I was goin' ad the poss-office, but"--he waved his hand and curled his
lip. "Mistoo Itchlin, in fact, if you yeh of something suitable to me I
would like to yeh it. I am not satisfied with that pless yondeh with
Doctah Seveeah. I was compel this mawnin', biffo you came in, to 'epoove
'im faw 'is 'oodness. He called me a jackass, in fact. I woon allow
that. I 'ad to 'epoove 'im. 'Doctah Seveeah,' says I, 'don't you call me
a jackass ag'in!' An' 'e din call it me ag'in. No, seh. But 'e din like
to 'ush up. Thass the rizz'n 'e was a lil miscutteous to you. Me, I am
always polite. As they say, 'A nod is juz as good as a kick f'om a bline
hoss.' You are fon' of maxim, Mistoo Itchlin? Me, I'm ve'y fon' of them.
But they's got one maxim what you may 'ave 'eard--I do not fine that
maxim always come t'ue. 'Ave you evva yeah that maxim, 'A fool faw
luck'? That don't always come t'ue. I 'ave discove'd that."

"No," responded Richling, with a parting smile, "that doesn't always
come true."

Dr. Sevier denounced the world at large, and the American nation in
particular, for two days. Within himself, for twenty-four hours, he
grumly blamed Richling for their rupture; then for twenty-four hours
reproached himself, and, on the morning of the third day knocked at the
door, corner of St. Mary and Prytania.

No one answered. He knocked again. A woman in bare feet showed herself
at the corresponding door-way in the farther half of the house.

"Nobody don't live there no more, sir," she said.

"Where have they gone?"

"Well, reely, I couldn't tell you, sir. Because, reely, I don't know
nothing about it. I haint but jest lately moved in here myself, and I
don't know nothing about nobody around here scarcely at all."

The Doctor shut himself again in his carriage and let himself be whisked
away, in great vacuity of mind.

"They can't blame anybody but themselves," was, by-and-by, his rallying
thought. "Still"--he said to himself after another vacant interval, and
said no more. The thought that whether _they_ could blame others or not
did not cover all the ground, rested heavily on him.



CHAPTER XV.

THE CRADLE FALLS.


In the rear of the great commercial centre of New Orleans, on that part
of Common street where it suddenly widens out, broad, unpaved, and
dusty, rises the huge dull-brown structure of brick, famed, well-nigh
as far as the city is known, as the Charity Hospital.

Twenty-five years ago, when the emigrant ships used to unload their
swarms of homeless and friendless strangers into the streets of New
Orleans to fall a prey to yellow-fever or cholera, that solemn pile
sheltered thousands on thousands of desolate and plague-stricken Irish
and Germans, receiving them unquestioned, until at times the very floors
were covered with the sick and dying, and the sawing and hammering in
the coffin-shop across the inner court ceased not day or night. Sombre
monument at once of charity and sin! For, while its comfort and succor
cost the houseless wanderer nothing, it lived and grew, and lives and
grows still, upon the licensed vices of the people,--drinking, harlotry,
and gambling.

The Charity Hospital of St. Charles--such is its true name--is, however,
no mere plague-house. Whether it ought to be, let doctors decide. How
good or necessary such modern innovations as "ridge ventilation,"
"movable bases," the "pavilion plan," "trained nurses," etc., may be,
let the Auxiliary Sanitary Association say. There it stands as of old,
innocent of all sins that may be involved in any of these changes,
rising story over story, up and up: here a ward for poisonous fevers,
and there a ward for acute surgical cases; here a story full of simple
ailments, and there a ward specially set aside for women.

In 1857 this last was Dr. Sevier's ward. Here, at his stated hour one
summer morning in that year, he tarried a moment, yonder by that window,
just where you enter the ward and before you come to the beds. He had
fallen into discourse with some of the more inquiring minds among the
train of students that accompanied him, and waited there to finish and
cool down to a physician's proper temperature. The question was public
sanitation.

He was telling a tall Arkansan, with high-combed hair, self-conscious
gloves, and very broad, clean-shaven lower jaw, how the peculiar
formation of delta lands, by which they drain away from the larger
watercourses, instead of into them, had made the swamp there in the rear
of the town, for more than a century, "the common dumping-ground and
cesspool of the city, sir!"

Some of the students nodded convincedly to the speaker; some looked
askance at the Arkansan, who put one forearm meditatively under his
coat-tail; some looked through the window over the regions alluded to,
and some only changed their pose and looked around for a mirror.

The Doctor spoke on. Several of his hearers were really interested in
the then unusual subject, and listened intelligently as he pointed
across the low plain at hundreds of acres of land that were nothing but
a morass, partly filled in with the foulest refuse of a semi-tropical
city, and beyond it where still lay the swamp, half cleared of its
forest and festering in the sun--"every drop of its waters, and every
inch of its mire," said the Doctor, "saturated with the poisonous
drainage of the town!"

"I happen," interjected a young city student; but the others bent their
ear to the Doctor, who continued:--

"Why, sir, were these regions compactly built on, like similar areas in
cities confined to narrow sites, the mortality, with the climate we
have, would be frightful."

"I happen to know," essayed the city student; but the Arkansan had made
an interrogatory answer to the Doctor, that led him to add:--

"Why, yes; you see the houses here on these lands are little, flimsy,
single ground-story affairs, loosely thrown together, and freely exposed
to sun and air."

"I hap--," said the city student.

"And yet," exclaimed the Doctor, "Malaria is king!"

He paused an instant for his hearers to take in the figure.

"Doctor, I happen to"--

Some one's fist from behind caused the speaker to turn angrily, and the
Doctor resumed:--

"Go into any of those streets off yonder,--Trémé, Prieur, Marais. Why,
there are often ponds under the houses! The floors of bedrooms are
within a foot or two of these ponds! The bricks of the surrounding
pavements are often covered with a fine, dark moss! Water seeps up
through the sidewalks! That's his realm, sir! Here and there among the
residents--every here and there--you'll see his sallow, quaking subjects
dragging about their work or into and out of their beds, until a fear
of a fatal ending drives them in here. Congestion? Yes, sometimes
congestion pulls them under suddenly, and they're gone before they know
it. Sometimes their vitality wanes slowly, until Malaria beckons in
Consumption."

"Why, Doctor," said the city student, ruffling with pride of his town,
"there are plenty of cities as bad as this. I happen to know, for
instance"--

Dr. Sevier turned away in quiet contempt.

"It will not improve our town to dirty others, or to clean them,
either."

He moved down the ward, while two or three members among the moving
train, who never happened to know anything, nudged each other joyfully.

The group stretched out and came along, the Doctor first and the
young men after, some of one sort, some of another,--the dull, the
frivolous, the earnest, the kind, the cold,--following slowly, pausing,
questioning, discoursing, advancing, moving from each clean, slender bed
to the next, on this side and on that, down and up the long sanded
aisles, among the poor, sick women.

Among these, too, there was variety. Some were stupid and ungracious,
hardened and dulled with long penury as some in this world are hardened
and dulled with long riches. Some were as fat as beggars; some were old
and shrivelled; some were shrivelled and young; some were bold; some
were frightened; and here and there was one almost fair.

Down at the far end of one aisle was a bed whose occupant lay watching
the distant, slowly approaching group with eyes of unspeakable dread.
There was not a word or motion, only the steadfast gaze. Gradually the
throng drew near. The faces of the students could be distinguished.
This one was coarse; that one was gentle; another was sleepy; another
trivial and silly; another heavy and sour; another tender and gracious.
Presently the tones of the Doctor's voice could be heard, soft, clear,
and without that trumpet quality that it had beyond the sick-room. How
slowly, yet how surely, they came! The patient's eyes turned away toward
the ceiling; they could not bear the slowness of the encounter. They
closed; the lips moved in prayer. The group came to the bed that was
only the fourth away; then to the third; then to the second. There
they pause some minutes. Now the Doctor approaches the very next bed.
Suddenly he notices this patient. She is a small woman, young, fair to
see, and, with closed eyes and motionless form, is suffering an agony of
consternation. One startled look, a suppressed exclamation, two steps
forward,--the patient's eyes slowly open. Ah, me! It is Mary Richling.

"Good-morning, madam," said the physician, with a cold and distant bow;
and to the students, "We'll pass right along to the other side," and
they moved into the next aisle.

"I am a little pressed for time this morning," he presently remarked, as
the students showed some unwillingness to be hurried. As soon as he
could he parted with them and returned to the ward alone.

As he moved again down among the sick, straight along this time, turning
neither to right nor left, one of the Sisters of Charity--the hospital
and its so-called nurses are under their oversight--touched his arm. He
stopped impatiently.

"Well, Sister"--(bowing his ear).

"I--I--the--the"--His frown had scared away her power of speech.

"Well, what is it, Sister?"

"The--the last patient down on this side"--

He was further displeased. "_I'll_ attend to the patients, Sister," he
said; and then, more kindly, "I'm going there now. No, you stay here, if
you please." And he left her behind.

He came and stood by the bed. The patient gazed on him.

"Mrs. Richling," he softly began, and had to cease.

She did not speak or move; she tried to smile, but her eyes filled, her
lips quivered.

"My dear madam," exclaimed the physician, in a low voice, "what brought
you here?"

The answer was inarticulate, but he saw it on the moving lips.

"Want," said Mary.

"But your husband?" He stooped to catch the husky answer.

"Home."

"Home?" He could not understand. "Not gone to--back--up the river?"

She slowly shook her head: "No, home. In Prieur street."

Still her words were riddles. He could not see how she had come to this.
He stood silent, not knowing how to utter his thought. At length he
opened his lips to speak, hesitated an instant, and then asked:--

"Mrs. Richling, tell me plainly, has your husband gone wrong?"

Her eyes looked up a moment, upon him, big and staring, and suddenly she
spoke:--

"O Doctor! My husband go wrong? John go wrong?" The eyelids closed down,
the head rocked slowly from side to side on the flat hospital pillow,
and the first two tears he had ever seen her shed welled from the long
lashes and slipped down her cheeks.

"My poor child!" said the Doctor, taking her hand in his. "No, no! God
forgive me! He hasn't gone wrong; he's not going wrong. You'll tell me
all about it when you're stronger."

The Doctor had her removed to one of the private rooms of the pay-ward,
and charged the Sisters to take special care of her. "Above all things,"
he murmured, with a beetling frown, "tell that thick-headed nurse not to
let her know that this is at anybody's expense. Ah, yes; and when her
husband comes, tell him to see me at my office as soon as he possibly
can."

As he was leaving the hospital gate he had an afterthought. "I might
have left a note." He paused, with his foot on the carriage-step. "I
suppose they'll tell him,"--and so he got in and drove off, looking at
his watch.

On his second visit, although he came in with a quietly inspiring
manner, he had also, secretly, the feeling of a culprit. But, midway of
the room, when the young head on the pillow turned its face toward him,
his heart rose. For the patient smiled. As he drew nearer she slid out
her feeble hand. "I'm glad I came here," she murmured.

"Yes," he replied; "this room is much better than the open ward."

"I didn't mean this room," she said. "I meant the whole hospital."

"The whole hospital!" He raised his eyebrows, as to a child.

"Ah! Doctor," she responded, her eyes kindling, though moist.

"What, my child?"

She smiled upward to his bent face.

"The poor--mustn't be ashamed of the poor, must they?"

The Doctor only stroked her brow, and presently turned and addressed his
professional inquiries to the nurse. He went away. Just outside the door
he asked the nurse:--

"Hasn't her husband been here?"

"Yes," was the reply, "but she was asleep, and he only stood there at
the door and looked in a bit. He trembled," the unintelligent woman
added, for the Doctor seemed waiting to hear more,--"he trembled all
over; and that's all he did, excepting his saying her name over to
himself like, over and over, and wiping of his eyes."

"And nobody told him anything?"

"Oh, not a word, sir!" came the eager answer.

"You didn't tell him to come and see me?"

The woman gave a start, looked dismayed, and began:--

"N-no, sir; you didn't tell"--

"Um--hum," growled the Doctor. He took out a card and wrote on it. "Now
see if you can remember to give him that."



CHAPTER XVI.

MANY WATERS.


As the day faded away it began to rain. The next morning the water was
coming down in torrents. Richling, looking out from a door in Prieur
street, found scant room for one foot on the inner edge of the sidewalk;
all the rest was under water. By noon the sidewalks were completely
covered in miles of streets. By two in the afternoon the flood was
coming into many of the houses. By three it was up at the door-sill on
which he stood. There it stopped.

He could do nothing but stand and look. Skiffs, canoes, hastily
improvised rafts, were moving in every direction, carrying the unsightly
chattels of the poor out of their overflowed cottages to higher ground.
Barrels, boxes, planks, hen-coops, bridge lumber, piles of straw that
waltzed solemnly as they went, cord-wood, old shingles, door-steps,
floated here and there in melancholy confusion; and down upon all still
drizzled the slackening rain. At length it ceased.

Richling still stood in the door-way, the picture of mute helplessness.
Yes, there was one other thing he could do; he could laugh. It would
have been hard to avoid it sometimes, there were such ludicrous
sights,--such slips and sprawls into the water; so there he stood in
that peculiar isolation that deaf people content themselves with, now
looking the picture of anxious waiting, now indulging a low, deaf man's
chuckle when something made the rowdies and slatterns of the street
roar.

Presently he noticed, at a distance up the way, a young man in a canoe,
passing, much to their good-natured chagrin, a party of three in a
skiff, who had engaged him in a trial of speed. From both boats a shower
of hilarious French was issuing. At the nearest corner the skiff party
turned into another street and disappeared, throwing their lingual
fireworks to the last. The canoe came straight on with the speed of a
fish. Its dexterous occupant was no other than Narcisse.

There was a grace in his movement that kept Richling's eyes on him, when
he would rather have withdrawn into the house. Down went the paddle
always on the same side, noiselessly, in front; on darted the canoe;
backward stretched the submerged paddle and came out of the water
edgewise at full reach behind, with an almost imperceptible swerving
motion that kept the slender craft true to its course. No rocking; no
rush of water before or behind; only the one constant glassy ripple
gliding on either side as silently as a beam of light. Suddenly, without
any apparent change of movement in the sinewy wrists, the narrow shell
swept around in a quarter circle, and Narcisse sat face to face with
Richling.

Each smiled brightly at the other. The handsome Creole's face was aglow
with the pure delight of existence.

"Well, Mistoo Itchlin, 'ow you enjoyin' that watah? As fah as myseff am
concerned, 'I am afloat, I am afloat on the fee-us 'olling tide.' I
don't think you fine that stweet pwetty dusty to-day, Mistoo Itchlin?"

Richling laughed.

"It don't inflame my eyes to-day," he said.

"You muz egscuse my i'ony, Mistoo Itchlin; I can't 'ep that sometime'.
It come natu'al to me, in fact. I was on'y speaking i'oniously juz now
in calling allusion to that dust; because, of co'se, theh is no dust
to-day, because the g'ound is all covvud with watah, in fact. Some
people don't understand that figgah of i'ony."

"I don't understand as much about it myself as I'd like to," said
Richling.

"Me, I'm ve'y fon' of it," responded the Creole. "I was making seve'al
i'onies ad those fwen' of mine juz now. We was 'unning a 'ace. An' thass
anotheh thing I am fon' of. I would 'ather 'un a 'ace than to wuck faw a
livin'. Ha! ha! ha! I should thing so! Anybody would, in fact. But thass
the way with me--always making some i'onies." He stopped with a sudden
change of countenance, and resumed gravely: "Mistoo Itchlin, looks to me
like you' lookin' ve'y salad." He fanned himself with his hat. "I dunno
'ow 'tis with you, Mistoo Itchlin, but I fine myseff ve'y oppwessive
thiz evening."

"I don't find you so," said Richling, smiling broadly.

And he did not. The young Creole's burning face and resplendent wit were
a sunset glow in the darkness of this day of overpowering adversity. His
presence even supplied, for a moment, what seemed a gleam of hope. Why
wasn't there here an opportunity to visit the hospital? He need not tell
Narcisse the object of his visit.

"Do you think," asked Richling, persuasively, crouching down upon one of
his heels, "that I could sit in that thing without turning it over?"

"In that pee-ogue?" Narcisse smiled the smile of the proficient as he
waved his paddle across the canoe. "Mistoo Itchlin,"--the smile passed
off,--"I dunno if you'll billiv me, but at the same time I muz tell you
the tooth?"--

He paused inquiringly.

"Certainly," said Richling, with evident disappointment.

"Well, it's juz a poss'bil'ty that you'll wefwain fum spillin' out
fum yeh till the negs cawneh. Thass the manneh of those who ah not
acquainted with the pee-ogue. 'Lost to sight, to memo'y deah'--if you'll
egscuse the maxim. Thass Chawles Dickens mague use of that egspwession."

Richling answered with a gay shake of the head. "I'll keep out of it."
If Narcisse detected his mortified chagrin, he did not seem to. It was
hard; the day's last hope was blown out like a candle in the wind.
Richling dared not risk the wetting of his suit of clothes; they were
his sole letter of recommendation and capital in trade.

"Well, _au 'evoi'_, Mistoo Itchlin." He turned and moved off--dip,
glide, and away.

        *       *       *

Dr. Sevier stamped his wet feet on the pavement of the hospital porch.
It was afternoon of the day following that of the rain. The water still
covering the streets about the hospital had not prevented his carriage
from splashing through it on his double daily round. A narrow and
unsteady plank spanned the immersed sidewalk. Three times, going and
coming, he had crossed it safely, and this fourth time he had made half
the distance well enough; but, hearing distant cheers and laughter, he
looked up street; when--splatter!--and the cheers were redoubled.

"Pretty thing to laugh at!" he muttered. Two or three bystanders,
leaning on their umbrellas in the lodge at the gate and in the porch,
where he stood stamping, turned their backs and smoothed their mouths.

"Hah!" said the tall Doctor, stamping harder. Stamp!--stamp! He shook
his leg.--"Bah!" He stamped the other long, slender, wet foot and looked
down at it, turning one side and then the other.--"F-fah!"--The first
one again.--"Pshaw!"--The other.--Stamp!--stamp!--"_Right_--_into_
it!--up to my _ankles!_" He looked around with a slight scowl at one
man, who seemed taken with a sudden softening of the spine and knees,
and who turned his back quickly and fell against another, who, also with
his back turned, was leaning tremulously against a pillar.

But the object of mirth did not tarry. He went as he was to Mary's room,
and found her much better--as, indeed, he had done at every visit. He
sat by her bed and listened to her story.

"Why, Doctor, you see, we did nicely for a while. John went on getting
the same kind of work, and pleasing everybody, of course, and all he
lacked was finding something permanent. Still, we passed through one
month after another, and we really began to think the sun was coming
out, so to speak."

"Well, I thought so, too," put in the Doctor. "I thought if it didn't
you'd let me know."

"Why, no, Doctor, we couldn't do that; you couldn't be taking care of
well people."

"Well," said the Doctor, dropping that point, "I suppose as the busy
season began to wane that mode of livelihood, of course, disappeared."

"Yes,"--a little one-sided smile,--"and so did our money. And then, of
course,"--she slightly lifted and waved her hand.

"You had to live," said Dr. Sevier, sincerely.

She smiled again, with abstracted eyes. "We thought we'd like to," she
said. "I didn't mind the loss of the things so much,--except the little
table we ate from. You remember that little round table, don't you?"

The visitor had not the heart to say no. He nodded.

"When that went there was but one thing left that could go."

"Not your bed?"

"The bedstead; yes."

"You didn't sell your bed, Mrs. Richling?"

The tears gushed from her eyes. She made a sign of assent.

"But then," she resumed, "we made an excellent arrangement with a good
woman who had just lost her husband, and wanted to live cheaply, too."

"What amuses you, madam?"

"Nothing great. But I wish you knew her. She's funny. Well, so we moved
down-town again. Didn't cost much to move."

She would smile a little in spite of him.

"And then?" said he, stirring impatiently and leaning forward. "What
then?"

"Why, then I worked a little harder than I thought,--pulling trunks
around and so on,--and I had this third attack."

The Doctor straightened himself up, folded his arms, and muttered:--

"Oh!--oh! _Why_ wasn't I instantly sent for?"

The tears were in her eyes again, but--

"Doctor," she answered, with her odd little argumentative smile, "how
could we? We had nothing to pay with. It wouldn't have been just."

"Just!" exclaimed the physician, angrily.

"Doctor," said the invalid, and looked at him.

"Oh--all right!"

She made no answer but to look at him still more pleadingly.

"Wouldn't it have been just as fair to let me be generous, madam?" His
faint smile was bitter. "For once? Simply for once?"

"We couldn't make that proposition, could we, Doctor?"

He was checkmated.

"Mrs. Richling," he said suddenly, clasping the back of his chair as if
about to rise, "tell me,--did you or your husband act this way for
anything I've ever said or done?"

"No, Doctor! no, no; never! But"--

"But kindness should seek--not be sought," said the physician, starting
up.

"No, Doctor, we didn't look on it so. Of course we didn't. If there's
any fault it's all mine. For it was my own proposition to John, that as
we _had_ to seek charity we should just be honest and open about it. I
said, 'John, as I need the best attention, and as that can be offered
free only in the hospital, why, to the hospital I ought to go.'"

She lay still, and the Doctor pondered. Presently he said:--

"And Mr. Richling--I suppose he looks for work all the time?"

"From daylight to dark!"

"Well, the water is passing off. He'll be along by and by to see you, no
doubt. Tell him to call, first thing to-morrow morning, at my office."
And with that the Doctor went off in his wet boots, committed a series
of indiscretions, reached home, and fell ill.

In the wanderings of fever he talked of the Richlings, and in lucid
moments inquired for them.

"Yes, yes," answered the sick Doctor's physician, "they're attended to.
Yes, all their wants are supplied. Just dismiss them from your mind." In
the eyes of this physician the Doctor's life was invaluable, and these
patients, or pensioners, an unknown and, most likely, an inconsiderable
quantity; two sparrows, as it were, worth a farthing. But the sick man
lay thinking. He frowned.

"I wish they would go home."

"I have sent them."

"You have? Home to Milwaukee?"

"Yes."

"Thank God!"

He soon began to mend. Yet it was weeks before he could leave the house.
When one day he reëntered the hospital, still pale and faint, he was
prompt to express to the Mother-Superior the comfort he had felt in his
sickness to know that his brother physician had sent those Richlings to
their kindred.

The Sister shook her head. He saw the deception in an instant. As best
his strength would allow, he hurried to the keeper of the rolls. There
was the truth. Home? Yes,--to Prieur street,--discharged only one week
before. He drove quickly to his office.

"Narcisse, you will find that young Mr. Richling living in Prieur
street, somewhere between Conti and St. Louis. I don't know the house;
you'll have to find it. Tell him I'm in my office again, and to come and
see me."

Narcisse was no such fool as to say he knew the house. He would get the
praise of finding it quickly.

"I'll do my mose awduous, seh," he said, took down his coat, hung up his
jacket, put on his hat, and went straight to the house and knocked. Got
no answer. Knocked again, and a third time; but in vain. Went next door
and inquired of a pretty girl, who fell in love with him at a glance.

"Yes, but they had moved. She wasn't _jess ezac'ly_ sure where they
_had_ moved to, _unless-n_ it was in that little house yondeh between
St. Louis and Toulouse; and if they wasn't there she didn't know _where_
they was. People ought to leave words where they's movin' at, but they
don't. You're very welcome," she added, as he expressed his thanks; and
he would have been welcome had he questioned her for an hour. His
parting bow and smile stuck in her heart a six-months.

He went to the spot pointed out. As a Creole he was used to seeing very
respectable people living in very small and plain houses. This one was
not too plain even for his ideas of Richling, though it was but a little
one-street-door-and-window affair, with an alley on the left running
back into the small yard behind. He knocked. Again no one answered. He
looked down the alley and saw, moving about the yard, a large woman,
who, he felt certain, could not be Mrs. Richling.

Two little short-skirted, bare-legged girls were playing near him. He
spoke to them in French. Did they know where Monsieu' Itchlin lived? The
two children repeated the name, looking inquiringly at each other.

"_Non, miché._"--"No, sir, they didn't know."

"_Qui reste ici?_" he asked. "Who lives here?"

"_Ici? Madame qui reste là c'est Mizziz Ri-i-i-ly!_" said one.

"Yass," said the other, breaking into English and rubbing a musquito off
of her well-tanned shank with the sole of her foot, "tis Mizziz
Ri-i-i-ly what live there. She jess move een. She's got a lill
baby.--Oh! you means dat lady what was in de Chatty Hawspill!"

"No, no! A real, nice _lady_. She nevva saw that Cha'ity Hospi'l."

The little girls shook their heads. They couldn't imagine a person who
had never seen the Charity Hospital.

"Was there nobody else who had moved into any of these houses about here
lately?" He spoke again in French. They shook their heads. Two boys came
forward and verified the testimony. Narcisse went back with his report:
"Moved,--not found."

"I fine that ve'y d'oll, Doctah Seveeah," concluded the unaugmented,
hanging up his hat; "some peop' always 'ard to fine. I h-even notiz that
sem thing w'en I go to colic' some bill. I dunno 'ow' tis, Doctah, but I
assu' you I kin tell that by a man's physio'nomie. Nobody teach me that.
'Tis my own in_geen_u'ty 'as made me to discoveh that, in fact."

The Doctor was silent. Presently he drew a piece of paper toward him
and, dipping his pen into the ink, began to write:--

"Information wanted of the whereabouts of John Richling"--

"Narcisse," he called, still writing, "I want you to take an
advertisement to the 'Picayune' office."

"With the gweatez of pleazheh, seh." The clerk began his usual shifting
of costume. "Yesseh! I assu' you, Doctah, that is a p'oposition moze
enti'ly to my satizfagtion; faw I am suffe'ing faw a smoke, and
deztitute of a ciga'ette! I am aztonizh' 'ow I did that, to egshauz them
unconsciouzly, in fact." He received the advertisement in an envelope,
whipped his shoes a little with his handkerchief, and went out. One
would think to hear him thundering down the stairs, that it was
twenty-five cents' worth of ice.

"Hold o--" The Doctor started from his seat, then turned and paced
feebly up and down. Who, besides Richling, might see that notice? What
might be its unexpected results? Who was John Richling? A man with a
secret at the best; and a secret, in Dr. Sevier's eyes, was detestable.
Might not Richling be a man who had fled from something? "No! no!" The
Doctor spoke aloud. He had promised to think nothing ill of him. Let the
poor children have their silly secret. He spoke again: "They'll find out
the folly of it by and by." He let the advertisement go; and it went.



CHAPTER XVII.

RAPHAEL RISTOFALO.


Richling had a dollar in his pocket. A man touched him on the shoulder.

But let us see. On the day that John and Mary had sold their only
bedstead, Mrs. Riley, watching them, had proposed the joint home. The
offer had been accepted with an eagerness that showed itself in nervous
laughter. Mrs. Riley then took quarters in Prieur street, where John and
Mary, for a due consideration, were given a single neatly furnished back
room. The bedstead had brought seven dollars. Richling, on the day after
the removal, was in the commercial quarter, looking, as usual, for
employment.

The young man whom Dr. Sevier had first seen, in the previous October,
moving with a springing step and alert, inquiring glances from number to
number in Carondelet street was slightly changed. His step was firm, but
something less elastic, and not quite so hurried. His face was more
thoughtful, and his glance wanting in a certain dancing freshness that
had been extremely pleasant. He was walking in Poydras street toward the
river.

As he came near to a certain man who sat in the entrance of a store with
the freshly whittled corner of a chair between his knees, his look and
bow were grave, but amiable, quietly hearty, deferential, and also
self-respectful--and uncommercial: so palpably uncommercial that the
sitter did not rise or even shut his knife.

He slightly stared. Richling, in a low, private tone, was asking him for
employment.

"What?" turning his ear up and frowning downward.

The application was repeated, the first words with a slightly resentful
ring, but the rest more quietly.

The store-keeper stared again, and shook his head slowly.

"No, sir," he said, in a barely audible tone. Richling moved on, not
stopping at the next place, or the next, or the next; for he felt the
man's stare all over his back until he turned the corner and found
himself in Tchoupitoulas street. Nor did he stop at the first place
around the corner. It smelt of deteriorating potatoes and up-river
cabbages, and there were open barrels of onions set ornamentally aslant
at the entrance. He had a fatal conviction that his services would not
be wanted in malodorous places.

"Now, isn't that a shame?" asked the chair-whittler, as Richling passed
out of sight. "Such a gentleman as that, to be beggin' for work from
door to door!"

"He's not beggin' f'om do' to do'," said a second, with a Creole accent
on his tongue, and a match stuck behind his ear like a pen. "Beside,
he's too _much_ of a gennlemun."

"That's where you and him differs," said the first. He frowned upon the
victim of his delicate repartee with make-believe defiance. Number Two
drew from an outside coat-pocket a wad of common brown wrapping-paper,
tore from it a small, neat parallelogram, dove into an opposite pocket
for some loose smoking-tobacco, laid a pinch of it in the paper, and,
with a single dexterous turn of the fingers, thumbs above, the rest
beneath,--it looks simple, but 'tis an amazing art,--made a cigarette.
Then he took down his match, struck it under his short coat-skirt,
lighted his cigarette, drew an inhalation through it that consumed a
third of its length, and sat there, with his eyes half-closed, and all
that smoke somewhere inside of him.

"That young man," remarked a third, wiping a toothpick on his thigh and
putting it in his vest-pocket, as he stepped to the front, "don't know
how to _look_ fur work. There's one way fur a day-laborer to look fur
work, and there's another way fur a gentleman to look fur work, and
there's another way fur a--a--a man with money to look fur somethin'
to put his money into. _It's just like fishing!_" He threw both hands
outward and downward, and made way for a porter's truck with a load of
green meat. The smoke began to fall from Number Two's nostrils in two
slender blue streams. Number Three continued:--

"You've got to know what kind o' hooks you want, and what kind o' bait
you want, and then, after _that_, you've"--

Numbers One and Two did not let him finish.

"--Got to know how to fish," they said; "that's so!" The smoke continued
to leak slowly from Number Two's nostrils and teeth, though he had not
lifted his cigarette the second time.

"Yes, you've got to know how to fish," reaffirmed the third. "If you
don't know how to fish, it's as like as not that nobody can tell you
what's the matter; an' yet, all the same, you aint goin' to ketch no
fish."

"Well, now," said the first man, with an unconvinced swing of his chin,
"_spunk_ 'll sometimes pull a man through; and you can't say he aint
spunky." Number Three admitted the corollary. Number Two looked up: his
chance had come.

"He'd a w'ipped you faw a dime," said he to Number One, took a
comforting draw from his cigarette, and felt a great peace.

"I take notice he's a little deaf," said Number Three, still alluding to
Richling.

"That'd spoil him for me," said Number One.

Number Three asked why.

"Oh, I just wouldn't have him about me. Didn't you ever notice that a
deaf man always seems like a sort o' stranger? I can't bear 'em."

Richling meanwhile moved on. His critics were right. He was not wanting
in courage; but no man from the moon could have been more an alien on
those sidewalks. He was naturally diligent, active, quick-witted, and
of good, though maybe a little too scholarly address; quick of temper,
it is true, and uniting his quickness of temper with a certain
bashfulness,--an unlucky combination, since, as a consequence, nobody
had to get out of its way; but he was generous in fact and in speech,
and never held malice a moment. But, besides the heavy odds which his
small secret seemed to be against him, stopping him from accepting such
valuable friendships as might otherwise have come to him, and besides
his slight deafness, he was by nature a recluse, or, at least, a
dreamer. Every day that he set foot on Tchoupitoulas, or Carondelet, or
Magazine, or Fulton, or Poydras street he came from a realm of thought,
seeking service in an empire of matter.

There is a street in New Orleans called Triton _Walk_. That is what all
the ways of commerce and finance and daily bread-getting were to
Richling. He was a merman--ashore. It was the feeling rather than the
knowledge of this that prompted him to this daily, aimless trudging
after mere employment. He had a proper pride; once in a while a little
too much; nor did he clearly see his deficiencies; and yet the
unrecognized consciousness that he had not the commercial instinct made
him willing--as Number Three would have said--to "cut bait" for any
fisherman who would let him do it.

He turned without any distinct motive and, retracing his steps to the
corner, passed up across Poydras street. A little way above it he paused
to look at some machinery in motion. He liked machinery,--for itself
rather than for its results. He would have gone in and examined the
workings of this apparatus had it not been for the sign above his head,
"No Admittance." Those words always seemed painted for him. A slight
modification in Richling's character might have made him an inventor.
Some other faint difference, and he might have been a writer, a
historian, an essayist, or even--there is no telling--a well-fed poet.
With the question of food, raiment, and shelter permanently settled,
he might have become one of those resplendent flash lights that at
intervals dart their beams across the dark waters of the world's
ignorance, hardly from new continents, but from the observatory, the
study, the laboratory. But he was none of these. There had been a crime
committed somewhere in his bringing up, and as a result he stood in the
thick of life's battle, weaponless. He gazed upon machinery with
childlike wonder; but when he looked around and saw on every hand
men,--good fellows who ate in their shirt-sleeves at restaurants, told
broad jokes, spread their mouths and smote their sides when they
laughed, and whose best wit was to bombard one another with bread-crusts
and hide behind the sugar-bowl; men whom he could have taught in every
kind of knowledge that they were capable of grasping, except the
knowledge of how to get money,--when he saw these men, as it seemed to
him, grow rich daily by simply flipping beans into each other's faces,
or slapping each other on the back, the wonder of machinery was
eclipsed. Do as they did? He? He could no more reach a conviction as to
what the price of corn would be to-morrow than he could remember what
the price of sugar was yesterday.

He called himself an accountant, gulping down his secret pride with an
amiable glow that commanded, instantly, an amused esteem. And, to judge
by his evident familiarity with Tonti's beautiful scheme of mercantile
records, he certainly--those guessed whose books he had extricated
from confusion--had handled money and money values in days before his
unexplained coming to New Orleans. Yet a close observer would have
noticed that he grasped these tasks only as problems, treated them in
their mathematical and enigmatical aspect, and solved them without any
appreciation of their concrete values. When they were done he felt less
personal interest in them than in the architectural beauty of the
store-front, whose window-shutters he had never helped to close without
a little heart-leap of pleasure.

But, standing thus, and looking in at the machinery, a man touched him
on the shoulder.

"Good-morning," said the man. He wore a pleasant air. It seemed to say,
"I'm nothing much, but you'll recognize me in a moment; I'll wait." He
was short, square, solid, beardless; in years, twenty-five or six. His
skin was dark, his hair almost black, his eyebrows strong. In his mild
black eyes you could see the whole Mediterranean. His dress was coarse,
but clean; his linen soft and badly laundered. But under all the rough
garb and careless, laughing manner was visibly written again and again
the name of the race that once held the world under its feet.

"You don't remember me?" he added, after a moment.

"No," said Richling, pleasantly, but with embarrassment. The man waited
another moment, and suddenly Richling recalled their earlier meeting.
The man, representing a wholesale confectioner in one of the smaller
cities up the river, had bought some cordials and syrups of the house
whose books Richling had last put in order.

"Why, yes I do, too!" said Richling. "You left your pocket-book in my
care for two or three days; your own private money, you said."

"Yes." The man laughed softly. "Lost that money. Sent it to the boss.
Boss died--store seized--everything gone." His English was well
pronounced, but did not escape a pretty Italian accent, too delicate for
the printer's art.

"Oh! that was too bad!" Richling laid his hand upon an awning-post and
twined an arm and leg around it as though he were a vine. "I--I forget
your name."

"Ristofalo. Raphael Ristofalo. Yours is Richling. Yes, knocked me flat.
Not got cent in world." The Italian's low, mellow laugh claimed
Richling's admiration.

"Why, when did that happen?" he asked.

"Yes'day," replied the other, still laughing.

"And how are you going to provide for the future?" Richling asked,
smiling down into the face of the shorter man. The Italian tossed the
future away with the back of his hand.

"I got nothin' do with that." His words were low, but very distinct.

Thereupon Richling laughed, leaning his cheek against the post.

"Must provide for the present," said Raphael Ristofalo. Richling dropped
his eyes in thought. The present! He had never been able to see that it
was the present which must be provided against, until, while he was
training his guns upon the future, the most primitive wants of the
present burst upon him right and left like whooping savages.

"Can you lend me dollar?" asked the Italian. "Give you back dollar an'
quarter to-morrow."

Richling gave a start and let go the post. "Why, Mr. Risto--falo,
I--I--, the fact is, I"--he shook his head--"I haven't much money."

"Dollar will start me," said the Italian, whose feet had not moved an
inch since he touched Richling's shoulder. "Be aw righ' to-morrow."

"You can't invest one dollar by itself," said the incredulous Richling.

"Yes. Return her to-morrow."

Richling swung his head from side to side as an expression of disrelish.
"I haven't been employed for some time."

"I goin' t'employ myself," said Ristofalo.

Richling laughed again. There was a faint betrayal of distress in his
voice as it fell upon the cunning ear of the Italian; but he laughed
too, very gently and innocently, and stood in his tracks.

"I wouldn't like to refuse a dollar to a man who needs it," said
Richling. He took his hat off and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I've seen the time when it was much easier to lend than it is just
now." He thrust his hand down into his pocket and stood gazing at the
sidewalk.

The Italian glanced at Richling askance, and with one sweep of the eye
from the softened crown of his hat to the slender, white bursted slit in
the outer side of either well-polished shoe, took in the beauty of his
face and a full understanding of his condition. His hair, somewhat dry,
had fallen upon his forehead. His fine, smooth skin was darkened by the
exposure of his daily wanderings. His cheek-bones, a trifle high,
asserted their place above the softly concave cheeks. His mouth was
closed and the lips were slightly compressed; the chin small, gracefully
turned, not weak,--not strong. His eyes were abstracted, deep, pensive.
His dress told much. The fine plaits of his shirt had sprung apart and
been neatly sewed together again. His coat was a little faulty in the
set of the collar, as if the person who had taken the garment apart and
turned the goods had not put it together again with practised skill. It
was without spot and the buttons were new. The edges of his shirt-cuffs
had been trimmed with the scissors. Face and vesture alike revealed to
the sharp eye of the Italian the woe underneath. "He has a wife,"
thought Ristofalo.

Richling looked up with a smile. "How can you be so sure you will make,
and not lose?"

"I never fail." There was not the least shade of boasting in the man's
manner. Richling handed out his dollar. It was given without patronage
and taken with simple thanks.

"Where goin' to meet to-morrow morning?" asked Ristofalo. "Here?"

"Oh! I forgot," said Richling. "Yes, I suppose so; and then you'll tell
me how you invested it, will you?"

"Yes, but you couldn't do it."

"Why not?"

Raphael Ristofalo laughed. "Oh! fifty reason'."



CHAPTER XVIII.

HOW HE DID IT.


Ristofalo and Richling had hardly separated, when it occurred to the
latter that the Italian had first touched him from behind. Had Ristofalo
recognized him with his back turned, or had he seen him earlier and
followed him? The facts were these: about an hour before the time when
Richling omitted to apply for employment in the ill-smelling store in
Tchoupitoulas street, Mr. Raphael Ristofalo halted in front of the same
place,--which appeared small and slovenly among its more pretentious
neighbors,--and stepped just inside the door to where stood a single
barrel of apples,--a fruit only the earliest varieties of which were
beginning to appear in market. These were very small, round, and smooth,
and with a rather wan blush confessed to more than one of the senses
that they had seen better days. He began to pick them up and throw them
down--one, two, three, four, seven, ten; about half of them were
entirely sound.

"How many barrel' like this?"

"No got-a no more; dass all," said the dealer. He was a Sicilian. "Lame
duck," he added. "Oäl de rest gone."

"How much?" asked Ristofalo, still handling the fruit.

The Sicilian came to the barrel, looked in, and said, with a gesture of
indifference:--

"'M--doll' an' 'alf."

Ristofalo offered to take them at a dollar if he might wash and sort
them under the dealer's hydrant, which could be heard running in the
back yard. The offer would have been rejected with rude scorn but for
one thing: it was spoken in Italian. The man looked at him with pleased
surprise, and made the concession. The porter of the store, in a red
worsted cap, had drawn near. Ristofalo bade him roll the barrel on its
chine to the rear and stand it by the hydrant.

"I will come back pretty soon," he said, in Italian, and went away.

By and by he returned, bringing with him two swarthy, heavy-set, little
Sicilian lads, each with his inevitable basket and some clean rags. A
smile and gesture to the store-keeper, a word to the boys, and in a
moment the barrel was upturned, and the pair were washing, wiping, and
sorting the sound and unsound apples at the hydrant.

Ristofalo stood a moment in the entrance of the store. The question now
was where to get a dollar. Richling passed, looked in, seemed to
hesitate, went on, turned, and passed again, the other way. Ristofalo
saw him all the time and recognized him at once, but appeared not to
observe him.

"He will do," thought the Italian. "Be back few minute'," he said,
glancing behind him.

"Or-r righ'," said the store-keeper, with a hand-wave of good-natured
confidence. He recognized Mr. Raphael Ristofalo's species.

The Italian walked up across Poydras street, saw Richling stop and look
at the machinery, approached, and touched him on the shoulder.

On parting with him he did not return to the store where he had left the
apples. He walked up Tchoupitoulas street about a mile, and where St.
Thomas street branches acutely from it, in a squalid district full of
the poorest Irish, stopped at a dirty fruit-stand and spoke in Spanish
to its Catalan proprietor. Half an hour later twenty-five cents had
changed hands, the Catalan's fruit shelves were bright with small
pyramids--sound side foremost--of Ristofalo's second grade of apples,
the Sicilian had Richling's dollar, and the Italian was gone with his
boys and his better grade of fruit. Also, a grocer had sold some sugar,
and a druggist a little paper of some harmless confectioner's dye.

Down behind the French market, in a short, obscure street that runs from
Ursulines to Barracks street, and is named in honor of Albert Gallatin,
are some old buildings of three or four stories' height, rented, in John
Richling's day, to a class of persons who got their livelihood by
sub-letting the rooms, and parts of rooms, to the wretchedest poor of
New Orleans,--organ-grinders, chimney-sweeps, professional beggars,
street musicians, lemon-peddlers, rag-pickers, with all the yet dirtier
herd that live by hook and crook in the streets or under the wharves; a
room with a bed and stove, a room without, a half-room with or without
ditto, a quarter-room with or without a blanket or quilt, and with only
a chalk-mark on the floor instead of a partition. Into one of these went
Mr. Raphael Ristofalo, the two boys, and the apples. Whose assistance or
indulgence, if any, he secured in there is not recorded; but when, late
in the afternoon, the Italian issued thence--the boys, meanwhile,
had been coming and going--an unusual luxury had been offered the
roustabouts and idlers of the steam-boat landings, and many had
bought and eaten freely of the very small, round, shiny, sugary, and
artificially crimson roasted apples, with neatly whittled white-pine
stems to poise them on as they were lifted to the consumer's watering
teeth. When, the next morning Richling laughed at the story, the Italian
drew out two dollars and a half, and began to take from it a dollar.

"But you have last night's lodging and so forth yet to pay for."

"No. Made friends with Sicilian luggerman. Slept in his lugger." He
showed his brow and cheeks speckled with mosquito-bites. "Ate little
hard-tack and coffee with him this morning. Don't want much." He offered
the dollar with a quarter added. Richling declined the bonus.

"But why not?"

"Oh, I just couldn't do it," laughed Richling; "that's all."

"Well," said the Italian, "lend me that dollar one day more, I return
you dollar and half in its place to-morrow."

The lender had to laugh again. "You can't find an odd barrel of damaged
apples every day."

"No. No apples to-day. But there's regiment soldiers at lower landing;
whole steam-boat load; going to sail this evenin' to Florida. They'll
eat whole barrel hard-boil' eggs."--And they did. When they sailed, the
Italian's pocket was stuffed with small silver.

Richling received his dollar and fifty cents. As he did so, "I would
give, if I had it, a hundred dollars for half your art," he said,
laughing unevenly. He was beaten, surpassed, humbled. Still he said,
"Come, don't you want this again? You needn't pay me for the use of it."

But the Italian refused. He had outgrown his patron. A week afterward
Richling saw him at the Picayune Tier, superintending the unloading of a
small schooner-load of bananas. He had bought the cargo, and was
reselling to small fruiterers.

"Make fifty dolla' to-day," said the Italian, marking his tally-board
with a piece of chalk.

Richling clapped him joyfully on the shoulder, but turned around with
inward distress and hurried away. He had not found work.

Events followed of which we have already taken knowledge. Mary, we have
seen, fell sick and was taken to the hospital.

"I shall go mad!" Richling would moan, with his dishevelled brows
between his hands, and then start to his feet, exclaiming, "I must not!
I must not! I must keep my senses!" And so to the commercial regions or
to the hospital.

Dr. Sevier, as we know, left word that Richling should call and see him;
but when he called, a servant--very curtly, it seemed to him--said the
Doctor was not well and didn't want to see anybody. This was enough for
a young man who _hadn't_ his senses. The more he needed a helping hand
the more unreasonably shy he became of those who might help him.

"Will nobody come and find us?" Yet he would not cry "Whoop!" and how,
then, was anybody to come?

Mary returned to the house again (ah! what joys there are in the vale of
tribulation!), and grew strong,--stronger, she averred, than ever she
had been.

"And now you'll _not_ be cast down, _will_ you?" she said, sliding into
her husband's lap. She was in an uncommonly playful mood.

"Not a bit of it," said John. "Every dog has his day. I'll come to the
top. You'll see."

"Don't I know that?" she responded, "Look here, now," she exclaimed,
starting to her feet and facing him, "_I'll_ recommend you to anybody.
_I've_ got confidence in you!" Richling thought she had never looked
quite so pretty as at that moment. He leaped from his chair with a
laughing ejaculation, caught and swung her an instant from her feet, and
landed her again before she could cry out. If, in retort, she smote him
so sturdily that she had to retreat backward to rearrange her shaken
coil of hair, it need not go down on the record; such things will
happen. The scuffle and suppressed laughter were detected even in Mrs.
Riley's room.

"Ah!" sighed the widow to herself, "wasn't it Kate Riley that used to
get the sweet, haird knocks!" Her grief was mellowing.

Richling went out on the old search, which the advancing summer made
more nearly futile each day than the day before.

Stop. What sound was that?

"Richling! Richling!"

Richling, walking in a commercial street, turned. A member of the firm
that had last employed him beckoned him to halt.

"What are you doing now, Richling? Still acting deputy assistant city
surveyor _pro tem._?"

"Yes."

"Well, see here! Why haven't you been in the store to see us lately? Did
I seem a little preoccupied the last time you called?"

"I"--Richling dropped his eyes with an embarrassed smile--"_I was_
afraid I was in the way--or should be."

"Well and suppose you were? A man that's looking for work must put
himself in the way. But come with me. I think I may be able to give you
a lift."

"How's that?" asked Richling, as they started off abreast.

"There's a house around the corner here that will give you some
work,--temporary anyhow, and may be permanent."

So Richling was at work again, hidden away from Dr. Sevier between
journal and ledger. His employers asked for references. Richling looked
dismayed for a moment, then said, "I'll bring somebody to recommend me,"
went away, and came back with Mary.

"All the recommendation I've got," said he, with timid elation. There
was a laugh all round.

"Well, madam, if you say he's all right, we don't doubt he is!"



CHAPTER XIX.

ANOTHER PATIENT.


"Doctah Seveeah," said Narcisse, suddenly, as he finished sticking with
great fervor the postage-stamps on some letters the Doctor had written,
and having studied with much care the phraseology of what he had to say,
and screwed up his courage to the pitch of utterance, "I saw yo' notiz
on the noozpapeh this mornin'."

The unresponding Doctor closed his eyes in unutterable weariness of the
innocent young gentleman's prepared speeches.

"Yesseh. 'Tis a beaucheouz notiz. I fine that w'itten with the gweatez
ac_cu_'acy of diction, in fact. I made a twanslation of that faw my
hant. Thaz a thing I am fon' of, twanslation. I dunno 'ow 'tis, Doctah,"
he continued, preparing to go out,--"I dunno 'ow 'tis, but I thing, you
goin' to fine that Mistoo Itchlin ad the en'. I dunno 'ow 'tis. Well,
I'm goin' ad the"--

The Doctor looked up fiercely.

"Bank," said Narcisse, getting near the door.

"All right!" grumbled the Doctor, more politely.

"Yesseh--befo' I go ad the poss-office."

A great many other persons had seen the advertisement. There were many
among them who wondered if Mr. John Richling could be such a fool as to
fall into that trap. There were others--some of them women, alas!--who
wondered how it was that nobody advertised for information concerning
them, and who wished, yes, "wished to God," that such a one, or such a
one, who had had his money-bags locked up long enough, would die, and
then you'd see who'd be advertised for. Some idlers looked in vain into
the city directory to see if Mr. John Richling were mentioned there.
But Richling himself did not see the paper. His employers, or some
fellow-clerk, might have pointed it out to him, but--we shall see in a
moment.

Time passed. It always does. At length, one morning, as Dr. Sevier lay
on his office lounge, fatigued after his attentions to callers, and much
enervated by the prolonged summer heat, there entered a small female
form, closely veiled. He rose to a sitting posture.

"Good-morning, Doctor," said a voice, hurriedly, behind the veil.
"Doctor," it continued, choking,--"Doctor"--

"Why, Mrs. Richling!"

He sprang and gave her a chair. She sank into it.

"Doctor,--O Doctor! John is in the Charity Hospital!"

She buried her face in her handkerchief and sobbed aloud. The Doctor was
silent a moment, and then asked:--

"What's the matter with him?"

"Chills."

It seemed as though she must break down again, but the Doctor stopped
her savagely.

"Well, my dear madam, don't cry! Come, now, you're making too much of a
small matter. Why, what are chills? We'll break them in forty-eight
hours. He'll have the best of care. You needn't cry! Certainly this
isn't as bad as when you were there."

She was still, but shook her head. She couldn't agree to that.

"Doctor, will you attend him?"

"Mine is a female ward."

"I know; but"--

"Oh--if you wish it--certainly; of course I will. But now, where have
you moved, Mrs. Richling? I sent"-- He looked up over his desk toward
that of Narcisse.

The Creole had been neither deaf nor idle. Hospital? Then those children
in Prieur street had told him right. He softly changed his coat and
shoes. As the physician looked over the top of the desk Narcisse's
silent form, just here at the left, but out of the range of vision,
passed through the door and went downstairs with the noiselessness of a
moonbeam.

Mary explained the location and arrangement of her residence.

"Yes," she said, "that's the way your clerk must have overlooked us. We
live behind--down the alleyway."

"Well, at any rate, madam," said the Doctor, "you are here now, and
before you go I want to"-- He drew out his pocket-book.

There was a quick gesture of remonstrance and a look of pleading.

"No, no, Doctor, please don't! please don't! Give my poor husband one
more chance; don't make me take that. I don't refuse it for pride's
sake!"

"I don't know about that," he replied; "why do you do it?"

"For his sake, Doctor. I know just as well what he'd say--we've no right
to take it anyhow. We don't know when we could pay it back." Her head
sank. She wiped a tear from her hand.

"Why, I don't care if you never pay it back!" The Doctor reddened
angrily.

Mary raised her veil.

"Doctor,"--a smile played on her lips,--"I want to say one thing." She
was a little care-worn and grief-worn; and yet, Narcisse, you should
have seen her; you would not have slipped out.

"Say on, madam," responded the Doctor.

"If we have to ask anybody, Doctor, it will be you. John had another
situation, but lost it by his chills. He'll get another. I'm sure he
will." A long, broken sigh caught her unawares. Dr. Sevier thrust his
pocket-book back into its place, compressing his lips and giving his
head an unpersuaded jerk. And yet, was she not right, according to all
his preaching? He asked himself that. "Why didn't your husband come to
see me, as I requested him to do, Mrs. Richling?"

She explained John's being turned away from the door during the Doctor's
illness. "But anyhow, Doctor, John has always been a little afraid of
you."

The Doctor's face did not respond to her smile.

"Why, you are not," he said.

"No." Her eyes sparkled, but their softer light quickly returned. She
smiled and said:--

"I will ask a favor of you now, Doctor."

They had risen, and she stood leaning sidewise against his low desk and
looking up into his face.

"Can you get me some sewing? John says I may take some."

The Doctor was about to order two dozen shirts instanter, but common
sense checked him, and he only said:--

"I will. I will find you some. And I shall see your husband within an
hour. Good-by." She reached the door. "God bless you!" he added.

"What, sir?" she asked, looking back.

But the Doctor was reading.



CHAPTER XX.

ALICE.


A little medicine skilfully prescribed, the proper nourishment, two or
three days' confinement in bed, and the Doctor said, as he sat on the
edge of Richling's couch:--

"No, you'd better stay where you are to-day; but to-morrow, if the
weather is good, you may sit up."

Then Richling, with the unreasonableness of a convalescent, wanted to
know why he couldn't just as well go home. But the Doctor said again,
no.

"Don't be impatient; you'll have to go anyhow before I would prefer to
send you. It would be invaluable to you to pass your entire
convalescence here, and go home only when you are completely recovered.
But I can't arrange it very well. The Charity Hospital is for sick
people."

"And where is the place for convalescents?"

"There is none," replied the physician.

"I shouldn't want to go to it, myself," said Richling, lolling
pleasantly on his pillow; "all I should ask is strength to get home,
and I'd be off."

The Doctor looked another way.

"The sick are not the wise," he said, abstractedly. "However, in your
case, I should let you go to your wife as soon as you safely could." At
that he fell into so long a reverie that Richling studied every line of
his face again and again.

A very pleasant thought was in the convalescent's mind the while. The
last three days had made it plain to him that the Doctor was not only
his friend, but was willing that Richling should be his.

At length the physician spoke:--

"Mary is wonderfully like Alice, Richling."

"Yes?" responded Richling, rather timidly. And the Doctor continued:--

"The same age, the same stature, the same features. Alice was a shade
paler in her style of beauty, just a shade. Her hair was darker; but
otherwise her whole effect was a trifle quieter, even, than Mary's. She
was beautiful,--outside and in. Like Mary, she had a certain richness of
character--but of a different sort. I suppose I would not notice the
difference if they were not so much alike. She didn't stay with me
long."

"Did you lose her--here?" asked Richling, hardly knowing how to break
the silence that fell, and yet lead the speaker on.

"No. In Virginia." The Doctor was quiet a moment, and then resumed:--

"I looked at your wife when she was last in my office, Richling; she
had a little timid, beseeching light in her eyes that is not usual with
her--and a moisture, too; and--it seemed to me as though Alice had come
back. For my wife lived by my moods. Her spirits rose or fell just as my
whim, conscious or unconscious, gave out light or took on shadow." The
Doctor was still again, and Richling only indicated his wish to hear
more by shifting himself on his elbow.

"Do you remember, Richling, when the girl you had been bowing down to
and worshipping, all at once, in a single wedding day, was transformed
into your adorer?"

"Yes, indeed," responded the convalescent, with beaming face. "Wasn't
it wonderful? I couldn't credit my senses. But how did you--was it the
same"--

"It's the same, Richling, with every man who has really secured a
woman's heart with her hand. It was very strange and sweet to me. Alice
would have been a spoiled child if her parents could have spoiled her;
and when I was courting her she was the veriest little empress that ever
walked over a man."

"I can hardly imagine," said Richling, with subdued amusement, looking
at the long, slender form before him. The Doctor smiled very sweetly.

"Yes." Then, after another meditative pause: "But from the moment I
became her husband she lived in continual trepidation. She so magnified
me in her timid fancy that she was always looking tremulously to me to
see what should be her feeling. She even couldn't help being afraid of
me. I hate for any one to be afraid of me."

"Do you, Doctor?" said Richling, with surprise and evident
introspection.

"Yes."

Richling felt his own fear changing to love.

"When I married," continued Dr. Sevier, "I had thought Alice was one
that would go with me hand in hand through life, dividing its cares and
doubling its joys, as they say; I guiding her and she guiding me. But if
I had let her, she would have fallen into me as a planet might fall into
the sun. I didn't want to be the sun to her. I didn't want her to shine
only when I shone on her, and be dark when I was dark. No man ought to
want such a thing. Yet she made life a delight to me; only she wanted
that development which a better training, or even a harder training,
might have given her; that subserving of the emotions to the"--he waved
his hand--"I can't philosophize about her. We loved one another with
our might, and she's in heaven."

Richling felt an inward start. The Doctor interrupted his intended
speech.

"Our short experience together, Richling, is the one great light place
in my life; and to me, to-day, sere as I am, the sweet--the sweetest
sound--on God's green earth"--the corners of his mouth quivered--"is the
name of Alice. Take care of Mary, Richling; she's a priceless treasure.
Don't leave the making and sustaining of the home sunshine all to her,
any more than you'd like her to leave it all to you."

"I'll not, Doctor; I'll not." Richling pressed the Doctor's hand
fervently; but the Doctor drew it away with a certain energy, and rose,
saying:--

"Yes, you can sit up to-morrow."

The day that Richling went back to his malarious home in Prieur street
Dr. Sevier happened to meet him just beyond the hospital gate. Richling
waved his hand. He looked weak and tremulous. "Homeward bound," he said,
gayly.

The physician reached forward in his carriage and bade his driver stop.
"Well, be careful of yourself; I'm coming to see you in a day or two."



CHAPTER XXI.

THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT.


Dr. Sevier was daily overtasked. His campaigns against the evils of our
disordered flesh had even kept him from what his fellow-citizens thought
was only his share of attention to public affairs.

"Why," he cried to a committee that came soliciting his coöperation,
"here's one little unprofessional call that I've been trying every day
for two weeks to make--and ought to have made--and must make; and I
haven't got a step toward it yet. Oh, no, gentlemen!" He waved their
request away.

He was very tired. The afternoon was growing late. He dismissed his
jaded horse toward home, walked down to Canal street, and took that
yellow Bayou-Road omnibus whose big blue star painted on its corpulent
side showed that quadroons, etc., were allowed a share of its
accommodation, and went rumbling and tumbling over the cobble-stones
of the French quarter.

By and by he got out, walked a little way southward in the hot, luminous
shade of low-roofed tenement cottages that closed their window-shutters
noiselessly, in sensitive-plant fashion, at his slow, meditative
approach, and slightly and as noiselessly reopened them behind him,
showing a pair of wary eyes within. Presently he recognized just ahead
of him, standing out on the sidewalk, the little house that had been
described to him by Mary.

In a door-way that opened upon two low wooden sidewalk steps stood Mrs.
Riley, clad in a crisp black and white calico, a heavy, fat babe poised
easily in one arm. The Doctor turned directly toward the narrow alley,
merely touching his hat to her as he pushed its small green door inward,
and disappeared, while she lifted her chin at the silent liberty and
dropped her eyelids.

Dr. Sevier went down the cramped, ill-paved passage very slowly and
softly. Regarding himself objectively, he would have said the deep shade
of his thoughts was due partly, at least, to his fatigue. But that would
hardly have accounted for a certain faint glow of indignation that came
into them. In truth, he began distinctly to resent this state of affairs
in the life of John and Mary Richling. An ill-defined anger beat about
in his brain in search of some tangible shortcoming of theirs upon which
to thrust the blame of their helplessness. "Criminal helplessness," he
called it, mutteringly. He tried to define the idea--or the idea tried
to define itself--that they had somehow been recreant to their social
caste, by getting down into the condition and estate of what one may
call the alien poor. Carondelet street had in some way specially vexed
him to-day, and now here was this. It was bad enough, he thought, for
men to slip into riches through dark back windows; but here was a brace
of youngsters who had glided into poverty, and taken a place to which
they had no right to stoop. Treachery,--that was the name for it. And
now he must be expected,--the Doctor quite forgot that nobody had asked
him to do it,--he must be expected to come fishing them out of their
hole, like a rag-picker at a trash barrel.

--"Bringing me into this wretched alley!" he silently thought. His foot
slipped on a mossy brick. Oh, no doubt they thought they were punishing
some negligent friend or friends by letting themselves down into this
sort of thing. Never mind! He recalled the tender, confiding, friendly
way in which he had talked to John, sitting on the edge of his hospital
bed. He wished, now, he had every word back he had uttered. They might
hide away to the full content of their poverty-pride. Poverty-pride: he
had invented the term; it was the opposite pole to purse-pride--and just
as mean,--no, meaner. There! Must he yet slip down? He muttered an angry
word. Well, well, this was making himself a little the cheapest he had
ever let himself be made. And probably this was what they wanted!
Misery's revenge. Umhum! They sit down in sour darkness, eh! and make
relief seek them. It wouldn't be the first time he had caught the poor
taking savage comfort in the blush which their poverty was supposed to
bring to the cheek of better-kept kinsfolk. True, he didn't know this
was the case with the Richlings. But wasn't it? Wasn't it? And have they
a dog, that will presently hurl himself down this alley at one's legs?
He hopes so. He would so like to kick him clean over the twelve-foot
close plank fence that crowded his right shoulder. Never mind! His anger
became solemn.

The alley opened into a small, narrow yard, paved with ashes from the
gas-works. At the bottom of the yard a rough shed spanned its breadth,
and a woman was there, busily bending over a row of wash-tubs.

The Doctor knocked on a door near at hand, then waited a moment, and,
getting no response, turned away toward the shed and the deep, wet,
burring sound of a wash-board. The woman bending over it did not hear
his footfall. Presently he stopped. She had just straightened up,
lifting a piece of the washing to the height of her head, and letting it
down with a swash and slap upon the board. It was a woman's garment,
but certainly not hers. For she was small and slight. Her hair was
hidden under a towel. Her skirts were shortened to a pair of dainty
ankles by an extra under-fold at the neat, round waist. Her feet were
thrust into a pair of sabots. She paused a moment in her work, and,
lifting with both smoothly rounded arms, bared nearly to the shoulder, a
large apron from her waist, wiped the perspiration from her forehead. It
was Mary.

The red blood came up into the Doctor's pale, thin face. This was too
outrageous. This was insult! He stirred as if to move forward. He would
confront her. Yes, just as she was. He would speak. He would speak
bluntly. He would chide sternly. He had the right. The only friend in
the world from whom she had not escaped beyond reach,--he would speak
the friendly, angry word that would stop this shocking--

But, truly, deeply incensed as he was, and felt it his right to be,
hurt, wrung, exasperated, he did not advance. She had reached down and
taken from the wash-bench the lump of yellow soap that lay there, and
was soaping the garment on the board before her, turning it this way and
that. As she did this she began, all to herself and for her own ear,
softly, with unconscious richness and tenderness of voice, to sing. And
what was her song?

    "Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?"

Down drooped the listener's head. Remember? Ah, memory!--The old,
heart-rending memory! Sweet Alice!

    "Sweet Alice, whose hair was so brown?"

Yes, yes; so brown!--so brown!

    "She wept with delight when you gave her a smile,
     And trembled with fear at your frown."

Ah! but the frown is gone! There is a look of supplication now. Sing no
more! Oh, sing no more! Yes, surely, she will stop there!

No. The voice rises gently--just a little--into the higher key, soft and
clear as the note of a distant bird, and all unaware of a listener. Oh!
in mercy's name--

    "In the old church-yard in the valley, Ben Bolt,
       In a corner obscure and alone,
     They have fitted a slab of granite so gray,
       And sweet Alice lies under the stone."

The little toiling figure bent once more across the wash-board and began
to rub. He turned, the first dew of many a long year welling from each
eye, and stole away, out of the little yard and down the dark, slippery
alley, to the street.

Mrs. Riley still stood on the door-sill, holding the child.

"Good-evening, madam!"

"Sur, to you." She bowed with dignity.

"Is Mrs. Richling in?"

There was a shadow of triumph in her faint smile.

"She is."

"I should like to see her."

Mrs. Riley hoisted her chin. "I dunno if she's a-seein' comp'ny to-day."
The voice was amiably important. "Wont ye walk in? Take a seat and sit
down, sur, and I'll go and infarm the laydie."

"Thank you," said the Doctor, but continued to stand.

Mrs. Riley started and stopped again.

"Ye forgot to give me yer kyaird, sur." She drew her chin in again
austerely.

"Just say Dr. Sevier."

"Certainly, sur; yes, that'll be sufficiend. And dispinse with the
kyaird." She went majestically.

The Doctor, left alone, cast his uninterested glance around the smart
little bare-floored parlor, upon its new, jig-sawed, gray hair-cloth
furniture, and up upon a picture of the Pope. When Mrs. Riley, in a
moment, returned he stood looking out the door.

"Mrs. Richling consints to see ye, sur. She'll be in turreckly. Take a
seat and sit down." She readjusted the infant on her arm and lifted and
swung a hair-cloth arm-chair toward him without visible exertion.
"There's no use o' having chayers if ye don't sit on um," she added
affably.

The Doctor sat down, and Mrs. Riley occupied the exact centre of the
small, wide-eared, brittle-looking sofa, where she filled in the silent
moments that followed by pulling down the skirts of the infant's
apparel, oppressed with the necessity of keeping up a conversation and
with the want of subject-matter. The child stared at the Doctor, and
suddenly plunged toward him with a loud and very watery coo.

"Ah-h!" said Mrs. Riley, in ostentatious rebuke. "Mike!" she cried,
laughingly, as the action was repeated. "Ye rowdy, air ye go-un to fight
the gintleman?"

She laughed sincerely, and the Doctor could but notice how neat and
good-looking she was. He condescended to crook his finger at the babe.
This seemed to exasperate the so-called rowdy. He planted his pink feet
on his mother's thigh and gave a mighty lunge and whoop.

"He's go-un to be a wicked bruiser," said proud Mrs. Riley. "He"--the
pronoun stood, this time, for her husband--"he never sah the child. He
was kilt with an explosion before the child was barn."

She held the infant on her strong arm as he struggled to throw himself,
with wide-stretched jaws, upon her bosom; and might have been devoured
by the wicked bruiser had not his attention been diverted by the
entrance of Mary, who came in at last, all in fragrant white, with
apologies for keeping the Doctor waiting.

He looked down into her uplifted eyes. What a riddle is woman! Had he
not just seen this one in sabots? Did she not certainly know, through
Mrs. Riley, that he must have seen her so? Were not her skirts but just
now hitched up with an under-tuck, and fastened with a string? Had she
not just laid off, in hot haste, a suds-bespattered apron and the
garments of toil beneath it? Had not a towel been but now unbound from
the hair shining here under his glance in luxuriant brown coils? This
brightness of eye, that seemed all exhilaration, was it not trepidation
instead? And this rosiness, so like redundant vigor, was it not the
flush of her hot task? He fancied he saw--in truth he may have seen--a
defiance in the eyes as he glanced upon, and tardily dropped, the little
water-soaked hand with a bow.

Mary turned to present Mrs. Riley, who bowed and said, trying to hold
herself with majesty while Mike drew her head into his mouth: "Sur,"
then turned with great ceremony to Mary, and adding, "I'll withdrah,"
withdrew with the head and step of a duchess.

"How is your husband, madam?"

"John?--is not well at all, Doctor; though he would say he was if he
were here. He doesn't shake off his chills. He is out, though, looking
for work. He'd go as long as he could stand."

She smiled; she almost laughed; but half an eye could see it was only to
avoid the other thing.

"Where does he go?"

"Everywhere!" She laughed this time audibly.

"If he went everywhere I should see him," said Dr. Sevier.

"Ah! naturally," responded Mary, playfully. "But he does go wherever he
thinks there's work to be found. He doesn't wander clear out among the
plantations, of course, where everybody has slaves, and there's no work
but slaves' work. And he says it's useless to think of a clerkship this
time of year. It must be, isn't it?"

The Doctor made no answer.

There was a footstep in the alley.

"He's coming now," said Mary,--"that's he. He must have got work to-day.
He has an acquaintance, an Italian, who promised to have something for
him to do very soon. Doctor,"--she began to put together the split
fractions of a palm-leaf fan, smiling diffidently at it the while,--"I
can't see how it is any discredit to a man not to have a _knack_ for
making money?"

She lifted her peculiar look of radiant inquiry.

"It is not, madam."

Mary laughed for joy. The light of her face seemed to spread clear into
her locks.

"Well, I knew you'd say so! John blames himself; he can make money, you
know, Doctor, but he blames himself because he hasn't that natural gift
for it that Mr. Ristofalo has. Why, Mr. Ristofalo is simply wonderful!"
She smiled upon her fan in amused reminiscence. "John is always wishing
he had his gift."

"My dear madam, don't covet it! At least don't exchange it for anything
else."

The Doctor was still in this mood of disapprobation when John entered.
The radiancy of the young husband's greeting hid for a moment, but only
so long, the marks of illness and adversity. Mary followed him with her
smiling eyes as the two men shook hands, and John drew a chair near to
her and sat down with a sigh of mingled pleasure and fatigue.

She told him of whom she and their visitor had just been speaking.

"Raphael Ristofalo!" said John, kindling afresh. "Yes; I've been with
him all day. It humiliates me to think of him."

Dr. Sevier responded quietly:--

"You've no right to let it humiliate you, sir."

Mary turned to John with dancing eyes, but he passed the utterance as a
mere compliment, and said, through his smiles:--

"Just see how it is to-day. I have been overseeing the unloading of a
little schooner from Ruatan island loaded with bananas, cocoanuts, and
pine-apples. I've made two dollars; he has made a hundred."

Richling went on eagerly to tell about the plain, lustreless man whose
one homely gift had fascinated him. The Doctor was entertained. The
narrator sparkled and glowed as he told of Ristofalo's appearance, and
reproduced his speeches and manner.

"Tell about the apples and eggs," said the delighted Mary.

He did so, sitting on the front edge of his chair-seat, and sprawling
his legs now in front and now behind him as he swung now around to his
wife and now to the Doctor. Mary laughed softly at every period, and
watched the Doctor, to see his slight smile at each detail of the story.
Richling enjoyed telling it; he had worked; his earnings were in his
pocket; gladness was easy.

"Why, I'm learning more from Raphael Ristofalo than I ever learned from
my school-masters: I'm learning the art of livelihood."

He ran on from Ristofalo to the men among whom he had been mingling all
day. He mimicked the strange, long swing of their Sicilian speech; told
of their swarthy faces and black beards, their rich instinct for color
in costume; their fierce conversation and violent gestures; the energy
of their movements when they worked, and the profoundness of their
repose when they rested; the picturesqueness and grotesqueness of the
negroes, too; the huge, flat, round baskets of fruit which the black men
carried on their heads, and which the Sicilians bore on their shoulders
or the nape of the neck. The "captain" of the schooner was a central
figure.

"Doctor," asked Richling, suddenly, "do you know anything about the
island of Cozumel?"

"Aha!" thought Mary. So there was something besides the day's earning
that elated him.

She had suspected it. She looked at her husband with an expression of
the most alert pleasure. The Doctor noticed it.

"No," he said, in reply to Richling's question.

"It stands out in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Yucatan," began
Richling.

"Yes, I know that."

"Well, Mary, I've almost promised the schooner captain that we'll go
there. He wants to get up a colony."

Mary started.

"Why, John!" She betrayed a look of dismay, glanced at their visitor,
tried to say "Have you?" approvingly, and blushed.

The Doctor made no kind of response.

"Now, don't conclude," said John to Mary, coloring too, but smiling. He
turned to the physician. "It's a wonderful spot, Doctor."

But the Doctor was still silent, and Richling turned.

"Just to think, Mary, of a place where you can raise all the products of
two zones; where health is almost perfect; where the yellow fever has
never been; and where there is such beauty as can be only in the tropics
and a tropical sea. Why, Doctor, I can't understand why Europeans or
Americans haven't settled it long ago."

"I suppose we can find out before we go, can't we?" said Mary, looking
timorously back and forth between John and the Doctor.

"The reason is," replied John, "it's so little known. Just one island
away out by itself. Three crops of fruit a year. One acre planted in
bananas feeds fifty men. All the capital a man need have is an axe to
cut down the finest cabinet and dye-woods in the world. The thermometer
never goes above ninety nor below forty. You can hire all the labor you
want at a few cents a day."

Mary's diligent eye detected a cloud on the Doctor's face. But John,
though nettled, pushed on the more rapidly.

"A man can make--easily!--a thousand dollars the first year, and live on
two hundred and fifty. It's the place for a poor man."

He looked a little defiant.

"Of course," said Mary, "I know you wouldn't come to an opinion"--she
smiled with the same restless glance--"until you had made all the
inquiries necessary. It mu--must--be a delightful place. Doctor?"

Her eyes shone blue as the sky.

"I wouldn't send a convict to such a place," said Dr. Sevier.

Richling flamed up.

"Don't you think," he began to say with visible restraint and a faint,
ugly twist of the head,--"don't you think it's a better place for a poor
man than a great, heartless town?"

"This isn't a heartless town," said the Doctor.

"He doesn't mean it as you do, Doctor," interposed Mary, with alarm.
"John, you ought to explain."

"Than a great town," said Richling, "where a man of honest intentions
and real desire to live and be useful and independent; who wants to earn
his daily bread at any honorable cost, and who can't do it because the
town doesn't want his services, and will not have them--can
go"-- He ceased, with his sentence all tangled.

"No!" the Doctor was saying meanwhile. "No! No! No!"

"Here I go, day after day," persisted Richling, extending his arm and
pointing indefinitely through the window.

"No, no, you don't, John," cried Mary, with an effort at gayety; "you
don't go by the window, John; you go by the door." She pulled his arm
down tenderly.

"I go by the alley," said John. Silence followed. The young pair
contrived to force a little laugh, and John made an apologetic move.

"Doctor," he exclaimed, with an air of pleasantry, "the whole town's
asleep!--sound asleep, like a negro in the sunshine! There isn't work
for one man in fifty!" He ended tremulously. Mary looked at him with
dropped face but lifted eyes, handling the fan, whose rent she had made
worse.

"Richling, my friend,"--the Doctor had never used that term
before,--"what does your Italian money-maker say to the idea?"

Richling gave an Italian shrug and his own pained laugh.

"Exactly! Why, Mr. Richling, you're on an island now,--an island in
mid-ocean. Both of you!" He waved his hands toward the two without
lifting his head from the back of the easy-chair, where he had dropped
it.

"What do you mean, Doctor?"

"Mean? Isn't my meaning plain enough? I mean you're too independent.
You know very well, Richling, that you've started out in life with some
fanciful feud against the 'world.' What it is I don't know, but I'm sure
it's not the sort that religion requires. You've told this world--you
remember you said it to me once--that if it will go one road you'll
go another. You've forgotten that, mean and stupid and bad as your
fellow-creatures are, they're your brothers and sisters, and that
they have claims on you as such, and that you have claims on them as
such.--Cozumel! You're there now! Has a friend no rights? I don't know
your immediate relatives, and I say nothing about them"--

John gave a slight start, and Mary looked at him suddenly.

"But here am I," continued the speaker. "Is it just to me for you to
hide away here in want that forces you and your wife--I beg your pardon,
madam--into mortifying occupations, when one word to me--a trivial
obligation, not worthy to be called an obligation, contracted with
me--would remove that necessity, and tide you over the emergency of the
hour?"

Richling was already answering, not by words only, but by his confident
smile:--

"Yes, sir; yes, it is just: ask Mary."

"Yes, Doctor," interposed the wife. "We went over"--

"We went over it together," said John. "We weighed it well. It _is_
just,--not to ask aid as long as there's hope without it."

The Doctor responded with the quiet air of one who is sure of his
position:--

"Yes, I see. But, of course--I know without asking--you left the
question of health out of your reckoning. Now, Richling, put the whole
world, if you choose, in a selfish attitude"--

"No, no," said Richling and his wife. "Ah, no!" But the Doctor
persisted.

"--a purely selfish attitude. Wouldn't it, nevertheless, rather help a
well man or woman than a sick one? Wouldn't it pay better?"

"Yes, but"--

"Yes," said the Doctor. "But you're taking the most desperate risks
against health and life." He leaned forward in his chair, jerked in his
legs, and threw out his long white hands. "You're committing slow
suicide."

"Doctor," began Mary; but her husband had the floor.

"Doctor," he said, "can you put yourself in our place? Wouldn't you
rather die than beg? _Wouldn't_ you?"

The Doctor rose to his feet as straight as a lance.

"It isn't what you'd rather, sir! You haven't your choice! You haven't
your choice at all, sir! When God gets ready for you to die he'll let
you know, sir! And you've no right to trifle with his mercy in the
meanwhile. I'm not a man to teach men to whine after each other for aid;
but every principle has its limitations, Mr. Richling. You say you went
over the whole subject. Yes; well, didn't you strike the fact that
suicide is an affront to civilization and humanity?"

"Why, Doctor!" cried the other two, rising also. "We're not going to
commit suicide."

"No," retorted he, "you're not. That's what I came here to tell you. I'm
here to prevent it."

"Doctor," exclaimed Mary, the big tears standing in her eyes, and the
Doctor melting before them like wax, "it's not so bad as it looks. I
wash--some--because it pays so much better than sewing. I find I'm
stronger than any one would believe. I'm stronger than I ever was before
in my life. I am, indeed. I _don't_ wash _much_. And it's only for the
present. We'll all be laughing at this, some time, together." She began
a small part of the laugh then and there.

"You'll do it no more," the Doctor replied. He drew out his pocket-book.
"Mr. Richling, will you please send me through the mail, or bring me,
your note for fifty dollars,--at your leisure, you know,--payable on
demand?" He rummaged an instant in the pocket-book, and extended his
hand with a folded bank-note between his thumb and finger. But Richling
compressed his lips and shook his head, and the two men stood silently
confronting each other. Mary laid her hand upon her husband's shoulder
and leaned against him, with her eyes on the Doctor's face.

"Come, Richling,"--the Doctor smiled,--"your friend Ristofalo did not
treat you in this way."

"I never treated Ristofalo so," replied Richling, with a smile tinged
with bitterness. It was against himself that he felt bitter; but the
Doctor took it differently, and Richling, seeing this, hurried to
correct the impression.

"I mean I lent him no such amount as that."

"It was just one-fiftieth of that," said Mary.

"But you gave liberally, without upbraiding," said the Doctor.

"Oh, no, Doctor! no!" exclaimed she, lifting the hand that lay on her
husband's near shoulder and reaching it over to the farther one. "Oh! a
thousand times no! John never meant that. Did you, John?"

"How could I?" said John. "No!" Yet there was confession in his look. He
had not meant it, but he had felt it.

Dr. Sevier sat down, motioned them into their seats, drew the arm-chair
close to theirs. Then he spoke. He spoke long, and as he had not spoken
anywhere but at the bedside scarce ever in his life before. The young
husband and wife forgot that he had ever said a grating word. A soft
love-warmth began to fill them through and through. They seemed to
listen to the gentle voice of an older and wiser brother. A hand of Mary
sank unconsciously upon a hand of John. They smiled and assented, and
smiled, and assented, and Mary's eyes brimmed up with tears, and John
could hardly keep his down. The Doctor made the whole case so plain and
his propositions so irresistibly logical that the pair looked from his
eyes to each other's and laughed. "Cozumel!" They did not utter the
name; they only thought of it both at one moment. It never passed their
lips again. Their visitor brought them to an arrangement. The fifty
dollars were to be placed to John's credit on the books kept by
Narcisse, as a deposit from Richling, and to be drawn against by him in
such littles as necessity might demand. It was to be "secured"--they all
three smiled at that word--by Richling's note payable on demand. The
Doctor left a prescription for the refractory chills.

As he crossed Canal street, walking in slow meditation homeward at the
hour of dusk, a tall man standing against a wall, tin cup in hand,--a
full-fledged mendicant of the steam-boiler explosion, tin-proclamation
type,--asked his alms. He passed by, but faltered, stopped, let his hand
down into his pocket, and looked around to see if his pernicious example
was observed. None saw him. He felt--he saw himself--a drivelling
sentimentalist. But weak, and dazed, sore wounded of the archers, he
turned and dropped a dime into the beggar's cup.

Richling was too restless with the joy of relief to sit or stand. He
trumped up an errand around the corner, and hardly got back before he
contrived another. He went out to the bakery for some crackers--fresh
baked--for Mary; listened to a long story across the baker's counter,
and when he got back to his door found he had left the crackers at the
bakery. He went back for them and returned, the blood about his heart
still running and leaping and praising God.

"The sun at midnight!" he exclaimed, knitting Mary's hands in his.
"You're very tired. Go to bed. Me? I can't yet. I'm too restless."

He spent more than an hour chatting with Mrs. Riley, and had never found
her so "nice" a person before; so easy comes human fellowship when we
have had a stroke of fortune. When he went again to his room there was
Mary kneeling by the bedside, with her head slipped under the snowy
mosquito net, all in fine linen, white as the moonlight, frilled and
broidered, a remnant of her wedding glory gleaming through the long,
heavy wefts of her unbound hair.

"Why, Mary"--

There was no answer.

"Mary?" he said again, laying his hand upon her head.

The head was slowly lifted. She smiled an infant's smile, and dropped
her cheek again upon the bedside. She had fallen asleep at the foot of
the Throne.

At that same hour, in an upper chamber of a large, distant house, there
knelt another form, with bared, bowed head, but in the garb in which it
had come in from the street. Praying? This white thing overtaken by
sleep here was not more silent. Yet--yes, praying. But, all the while,
the prayer kept running to a little tune, and the words repeating
themselves again and again; "Oh, don't you remember sweet Alice--with
hair so brown--so brown--so brown? Sweet Alice, with hair so brown?" And
God bent his ear and listened.



CHAPTER XXII.

BORROWER TURNED LENDER.


It was only a day or two later that the Richlings, one afternoon, having
been out for a sunset walk, were just reaching Mrs. Riley's door-step
again, when they were aware of a young man approaching from the opposite
direction with the intention of accosting them. They brought their
conversation to a murmurous close.

For it was not what a mere acquaintance could have joined them in,
albeit its subject was the old one of meat and raiment. Their talk had
been light enough on their starting out, notwithstanding John had earned
nothing that day. But it had toned down, or, we might say up, to a
sober, though not a sombre, quality. John had in some way evolved the
assertion that even the life of the body alone is much more than food
and clothing and shelter; so much more, that only a divine provision can
sustain it; so much more, that the fact is, when it fails, it generally
fails with meat and raiment within easy reach.

Mary devoured his words. His spiritual vision had been a little clouded
of late, and now, to see it clear-- She closed her eyes for bliss.

"Why, John," she said, "you make it plainer than any preacher I ever
heard."

This, very naturally, silenced John. And Mary, hoping to start him
again, said:--

"Heaven provides. And yet I'm sure you're right in seeking our food and
raiment?" She looked up inquiringly.

"Yes; like the fowls, the provision is made _for_ us through us. The
mistake is in making those things the _end_ of our search."

"Why, certainly!" exclaimed Mary, softly. She took fresh hold in her
husband's arm; the young man was drawing near.

"It's Narcisse!" murmured John. The Creole pressed suddenly forward with
a joyous smile, seized Richling's hand, and, lifting his hat to Mary as
John presented him, brought his heels together and bowed from the hips.

"I wuz juz coming at yo' 'ouse, Mistoo Itchlin. Yesseh. I wuz juz
sitting in my 'oom afteh dinneh, envelop' in my _'obe de chambre_, when
all at once I says to myseff, 'Faw distwaction I will go and see Mistoo
Itchlin!'"

"Will you walk in?" said the pair.

Mrs. Riley, standing in the door of her parlor, made way by descending
to the sidewalk. Her calico was white, with a small purple figure, and
was highly starched and beautifully ironed. Purple ribbons were at her
waist and throat. As she reached the ground Mary introduced Narcisse.
She smiled winningly, and when she said, with a courtesy: "Proud to know
ye, sur," Narcisse was struck with the sweetness of her tone. But she
swept away with a dramatic tread.

"Will you walk in?" Mary repeated; and Narcisse responded:--

"If you will pummit me yo' attention a few moment'." He bowed again and
made way for Mary to precede him.

"Mistoo Itchlin," he continued, going in, "in fact you don't give Misses
Witchlin my last name with absolute co'ectness."

"Did I not? Why, I hope you'll pardon"--

"Oh, I'm glad of it. I don' feel lak a pusson is my fwen' whilst they
don't call me Nahcisse." He directed his remark particularly to Mary.

"Indeed?" responded she. "But, at the same time, Mr. Richling would
have"-- She had turned to John, who sat waiting to catch her eye with
such intense amusement betrayed in his own that she saved herself
from laughter and disgrace only by instant silence.

"Yesseh," said Narcisse to Richling, "'tis the tooth."

He cast his eye around upon the prevailing hair-cloth and varnish.

"Misses Witchlin, I muz tell you I like yo' tas'e in that pawlah."

"It's Mrs. Riley's taste," said Mary.

"'Tis a beaucheouz tas'e," insisted the Creole, contemplatively, gazing
at the Pope's vestments tricked out with blue, scarlet, and gilt
spangles. "Well, Mistoo Itchlin, since some time I've been stipulating
me to do myseff that honoh, seh, to come at yo' 'ouse; well, ad the end
I am yeh. I think you fine yoseff not ve'y well those days. Is that nod
the case, Mistoo Itchlin?"

"Oh, I'm well enough!" Richling ended with a laugh, somewhat
explosively. Mary looked at him with forced gravity as he suppressed it.
He had to draw his nose slowly through his thumb and two fingers before
he could quite command himself. Mary relieved him by responding:--

"No, Mr. Richling hasn't been well for some time."

Narcisse responded triumphantly:--

"It stwuck me--so soon I pe'ceive you--that you 'ave the ai' of a
valedictudina'y. Thass a ve'y fawtunate that you ah 'esiding in a
'ealthsome pawt of the city, in fact."

Both John and Mary laughed and demurred.

"You don't think?" asked the smiling visitor. "Me, I dunno,--I fine one
thing. If a man don't die fum one thing, yet, still, he'll die fum
something. I 'ave study that out, Mistoo Itchlin. 'To be, aw to not be,
thaz the queztion,' in fact. I don't ca'e if you live one place aw if
you live anotheh place, 'tis all the same,--you've got to pay to live!"

The Richlings laughed again, and would have been glad to laugh more; but
each, without knowing it of the other, was reflecting with some
mortification upon the fact that, had they been talking French, Narcisse
would have bitten his tongue off before any of his laughter should have
been at their expense.

"Indeed you have got to pay to live," said John, stepping to the window
and drawing up its painted paper shade. "Yes, and"--

"Ah!" exclaimed Mary, with gentle disapprobation. She met her husband's
eye with a smile of protest. "John," she said, "Mr. ----" she couldn't
think of the name.

"Nahcisse," said the Creole.

"Will think," she continued, her amusement climbing into her eyes in
spite of her, "you're in earnest."

"Well, I am, partly. Narcisse knows, as well as we do that there are two
sides to the question." He resumed his seat. "I reckon"--

"Yes," said Narcisse, "and what you muz look out faw, 'tis to git on the
soff side."

They all laughed.

"I was going to say," said Richling, "the world takes us as we come,
'sight-unseen.' Some of us pay expenses, some don't."

"Ah!" rejoined Narcisse, looking up at the whitewashed ceiling,
"those egspenze'!" He raised his hand and dropped it. "I _fine_ it so
_diffycul'_ to defeat those egspenze'! In fact, Mistoo Itchlin, such ah
the state of my financial emba'assment that I do not go out at all. I
stay in, in fact. I stay at my 'ouse--to light' those egspenze'!"

They were all agreed that expenses could be lightened thus.

"And by making believe you don't want things," said Mary.

"Ah!" exclaimed Narcisse, "I nevvah kin do that!" and Richling gave a
laugh that was not without sympathy. "But I muz tell you, Mistoo
Itchlin, I am aztonizh at _you_."

An instant apprehension seized John and Mary. They _knew_ their
ill-concealed amusement would betray them, and now they were to be
called to account. But no.

"Yesseh," continued Narcisse, "you 'ave the gweatez o'casion to be the
subjec' of congwatulation, Mistoo Itchlin, to 'ave the poweh to
_ac_cum'late money in those hawd time' like the pwesen'!"

The Richlings cried out with relief and amused surprise.

"Why, you couldn't make a greater mistake!"

"Mistaken! Hah! W'en I ged that memo'andum f'om Dr. Seveeah to paz that
fifty dollah at yo' cwedit, it burz f'om me, that egs_clam_ation!
'Acchilly! 'ow that Mistoo Itchlin deserve the 'espect to save a lill
quantity of money like that!"

The laughter of John and Mary did not impede his rhapsody, nor their
protestations shake his convictions.

"Why," said Richling, lolling back, "the Doctor has simply omitted to
have you make the entry of"--

But he had no right to interfere with the Doctor's accounts. However,
Narcisse was not listening.

"You' compel' to be witch some day, Mistoo Itchlin, ad that wate of
p'ogwess; I am convince of that. I can deteg that indis_pu_tably in yo'
physio'nomie. Me--I _can't_ save a cent! Mistoo Itchlin, you would be
aztonizh to know 'ow bad I want some money, in fact; exceb that I am
_too_ pwoud to dizclose you that state of my condition!"

He paused and looked from John to Mary, and from Mary to John again.

"Why, I'll declare," said Richling, sincerely, dropping forward with his
chin on his hand, "I'm sorry to hear"--

But Narcisse interrupted.

"Diffyculty with me--I am not willing to baw'."

Mary drew a long breath and glanced at her husband. He changed his
attitude and, looking upon the floor, said, "Yes, yes." He slowly marked
the bare floor with the edge of his shoe-sole. "And yet there are times
when duty actually"--

"I believe you, Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, quickly forestalling
Mary's attempt to speak. "Ah, Mistoo Itchlin! _if_ I had baw'd money
ligue the huncle of my hant!" He waved his hand to the ceiling and
looked up through that obstruction, as it were, to the witnessing sky.
"But I _hade_ that--to baw'! I tell you 'ow 'tis with me, Mistoo
Itchlin; I nevvah would consen' to baw' money on'y if I pay a big
inte'es' on it. An' I'm compel' to tell you one thing, Mistoo Itchlin,
in fact: I nevvah would leave money with Doctah Seveeah to invez faw
me--no!"

Richling gave a little start, and cast his eyes an instant toward his
wife. She spoke.

"We'd rather you wouldn't say that to us, Mister ----" There was a
commanding smile at one corner of her lips. "You don't know what a
friend"--

Narcisse had already apologized by two or three gestures to each of his
hearers.

"Misses Itchlin--Mistoo Itchlin,"--he shook his head and smiled
skeptically,--"you think you kin admiah Doctah Seveeah mo' than me? 'Tis
uzeless to attempt. 'With all 'is fault I love 'im still.'"

Richling and his wife both spoke at once.

"But John and I," exclaimed Mary, electrically, "love him, faults and
all!"

She looked from husband to visitor, and from visitor to husband, and
laughed and laughed, pushing her small feet back and forth alternately
and softly clapping her hands. Narcisse felt her in the centre of his
heart. He laughed. John laughed.

"What I mean, Mistoo Itchlin," resumed Narcisse, preferring to avoid
Mary's aroused eye,--"what I mean--Doctah Seveeah don't un'stan' that
kine of business co'ectly. Still, ad the same time, if I was you I know
I would 'ate faw my money not to be makin' me some inte'es'. I tell you
what I would do with you, Mistoo Itchlin, in fact: I kin baw' that fifty
dollah f'om you myseff."

Richling repressed a smile. "Thank you! But I don't care to invest it."

"Pay you ten pe' cent. a month."

"But we can't spare it," said Richling, smiling toward Mary. "We may
need part of it ourselves."

"I tell you, 'eally, Mistoo Itchlin, I nevveh baw' money; but it juz
'appen I kin use that juz at the pwesent."

"Why, John," said Mary, "I think you might as well say plainly that the
money is borrowed money."

"That's what it is," responded Richling, and rose to spread the
street-door wider open, for the daylight was fading.

"Well, I 'ope you'll egscuse that libbetty," said Narcisse, rising a
little more tardily, and slower. "I muz baw' fawty dollah--some place.
Give you good secu'ty--give you my note, Mistoo Itchlin, in fact; muz
baw fawty--aw thutty-five."

"Why, I'm very sorry," responded Richling, really ashamed that he could
not hold his face straight. "I hope you understand"--

"Mistoo Itchlin, 'tis baw'd money. If you had a necessity faw it you
would use it. If a fwend 'ave a necessity--'tis anotheh thing--you don't
feel that libbetty--you ah 'ight--I honoh you"--

"I _don't_ feel the same liberty."

"Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, with noble generosity, throwing himself
a half step forward, "if it was yoze you'd baw' it to me in a minnit!"
He smiled with benign delight. "Well, madame,--I bid you good evening,
Misses Itchlin. The bes' of fwen's muz pawt, you know." He turned again
to Richling with a face all beauty and a form all grace. "I was juz
sitting--mistfully--all at once I says to myseff, 'Faw distwaction
I'll go an' see Mistoo Itchlin.' I don't _know_ 'ow I juz
'appen'!-- Well, _au 'evo'_, Mistoo Itchlin."

Richling followed him out upon the door-step. There Narcisse intimated
that even twenty dollars for a few days would supply a stern want. And
when Richling was compelled again to refuse, Narcisse solicited his
company as far as the next corner. There the Creole covered him with
shame by forcing him to refuse the loan of ten dollars, and then of
five.

It was a full hour before Richling rejoined his wife. Mrs. Riley had
stepped off to some neighbor's door with Mike on her arm. Mary was on
the sidewalk.

"John," she said, in a low voice, and with a long anxious look.

"What?"

"He _didn't_ take the only dollar of your own in the world?"

"Mary, what could I do? It seemed a crime to give, and a crime not to
give. He cried like a child; said it was all a sham about his dinner and
his _robe de chambre_. An aunt, two little cousins, an aged uncle at
home--and not a cent in the house! What could I do? He says he'll return
it in three days."

"And"--Mary laughed distressfully--"you believed him?" She looked at him
with an air of tender, painful admiration, half way between a laugh and
a cry.

"Come, sit down," he said, sinking upon the little wooden buttress at
one side of the door-step.

Tears sprang into her eyes. She shook her head.

"Let's go inside." And in there she told him sincerely, "No, no, no; she
didn't think he had done wrong"--when he knew he had.



CHAPTER XXIII.

WEAR AND TEAR.


The arrangement for Dr. Sevier to place the loan of fifty dollars on his
own books at Richling's credit naturally brought Narcisse into relation
with it.

It was a case of love at first sight. From the moment the record of
Richling's "little quantity" slid from the pen to the page, Narcisse had
felt himself betrothed to it by destiny, and hourly supplicated the
awful fates to frown not upon the amorous hopes of him unaugmented.
Richling descended upon him once or twice and tore away from his embrace
small fractions of the coveted treasure, choosing, through a diffidence
which he mistook for a sort of virtue, the time of day when he would not
see Dr. Sevier; and at the third visitation took the entire golden
fleece away with him rather than encounter again the always more or less
successful courtship of the scorner of loans.

A faithful suitor, however, was not thus easily shaken off. Narcisse
became a frequent visitor at the Richlings', where he never mentioned
money; that part was left to moments of accidental meeting with Richling
in the street, which suddenly began to occur at singularly short
intervals.

Mary labored honestly and arduously to dislike him--to hold a repellent
attitude toward him. But he was too much for her. It was easy enough
when he was absent; but one look at his handsome face, so rife with
animal innocence, and despite herself she was ready to reward his
displays of sentiment and erudition with laughter that, mean what it
might, always pleased and flattered him.

"Can you help liking him?" she would ask John. "I can't, to save my
life!"

Had the treasure been earnings, Richling said--and believed--he could
firmly have repelled Narcisse's importunities. But coldly to withhold an
occasional modest heave-offering of that which was the free bounty of
another to him was more than he could do.

"But," said Mary, straightening his cravat, "you intend to pay up, and
he--you don't think I'm uncharitable, do you?"

"I'd rather give my last cent than think you so," replied John.
"Still,"--laying the matter before her with both open hands,--"if you
say plainly not to give him another cent I'll do as you say. The money's
no more mine than yours."

"Well, you can have all my share," said Mary, pleasantly.

So the weeks passed and the hoard dwindled.

"What has it got down to, now?" asked John, frowningly, on more than one
morning as he was preparing to go out. And Mary, who had been made
treasurer, could count it at a glance without taking it out of her
purse.

One evening, when Narcisse called, he found no one at home but Mrs.
Riley. The infant Mike had been stuffed with rice and milk and laid away
to slumber. The Richlings would hardly be back in less than an hour.

"I'm so'y," said Narcisse, with a baffled frown, as he sat down and Mrs.
Riley took her seat opposite. "I came to 'epay 'em some moneys which he
made me the loan--juz in a fwenly way. And I came to 'epay 'im. The
sum-total, in fact--I suppose he nevva mentioned you about that, eh?"

"No, sir; but, still, if"--

"No, and so I can't pay it to you. I'm so'y. Because I know he woon like
it, I know, if he fine that you know he's been bawing money to me. Well,
Misses Wiley, in fact, thass a _ve'y_ fine gen'leman and lady--that
Mistoo and Misses Itchlin, in fact?"

"Well, now, Mr. Narcisse, ye'r about right? She's just too good to
live--and he's not much better--ha! ha!" She checked her jesting mood.
"Yes, sur, they're very peaceable, quiet people. They're just simply
ferst tlass."

"'Tis t'ue," rejoined the Creole, fanning himself with his straw hat and
looking at the Pope. "And they handsome and genial, as the lite'ati say
on the noozpapeh. Seem like they almoze wedded to each otheh."

"Well, now, sir, that's the trooth!" She threw her open hand down with
emphasis.

"And isn't that as man and wife should be?"

"Yo' mighty co'ect, Misses Wiley!" Narcisse gave his pretty head a
little shake from side to side as he spoke.

"Ah! Mr. Narcisse,"--she pointed at herself,--"haven't I been a wife?
The husband and wife--they'd aht to jist be each other's guairdjian
angels! Hairt to hairt sur; sperit to sperit. All the rist is nawthing,
Mister Narcisse." She waved her hands. "Min is different from women,
sur." She looked about on the ceiling. Her foot noiselessly patted the
floor.

"Yes," said Narcisse, "and thass the cause that they dwess them dif'ent.
To show the dif'ence, you know."

"Ah! no. It's not the mortial frame, sur; it's the sperit. The sperit of
man is not the sperit of woman. The sperit of woman is not the sperit of
man. Each one needs the other, sur. They needs each other, sur, to
purify and strinthen and enlairge each other's speritu'l life. Ah, sur!
Doo not I feel those things, sur?" She touched her heart with one
backward-pointed finger, "_I_ doo. It isn't good for min to be
alone--much liss for women. Do not misunderstand me, sur; I speak as a
widder, sur--and who always will be--ah! yes, I will--ha! ha! ha!" She
hushed her laugh as if this were going too far, tossed her head, and
continued smiling.

So they talked on. Narcisse did not stay an hour, but there was
little of the hour left when he rose to go. They had passed a pleasant
time. The Creole, it is true, tried and failed to take the helm of
conversation. Mrs. Riley held it. But she steered well. She was still
expatiating on the "strinthenin'" spiritual value of the marriage
relation when she, too, stood up.

"And that's what Mr. and Madam Richlin's a-doin' all the time. And they
do ut to perfiction, sur--jist to perfiction!"

"I doubt it not, Misses Wiley. Well, Misses Wiley, I bid you _au
'evoi'_. I dunno if you'll pummit me, but I am compel to tell you,
Misses Wiley, I nevva yeh anybody in my life with such a educated and
talented conve'sation like yo'seff. Misses Wiley, at what univussity did
you gwaduate?"

"Well, reely, Mister--eh"--she fanned herself with broad sweeps of her
purple bordered palm-leaf--"reely, sur, if I don't furgit the name
I--I--I'll be switched! Ha! ha! ha!"

Narcisse joined in the laugh.

"Thaz the way, sometime," he said, and then with sudden gravity: "And,
by-the-by, Misses Wiley, speakin' of Mistoo Itchlin,--if you could baw'
me two dollahs an' a 'alf juz till tomaw mawnin--till I kin sen' it you
fum the office-- Because that money I've got faw Mistoo Itchlin is
in the shape of a check, and anyhow I'm c'owding me a little to pay that
whole sum-total to Mistoo Itchlin. I kin sen' it you firs' thing my bank
open tomaw mawnin."

Do you think he didn't get it?

        *       *       *

"What has it got down to now?" John asked again, a few mornings after
Narcisse's last visit. Mary told him. He stepped a little way aside,
averting his face, dropped his forehead into his hand, and returned.

"I don't see--I don't see, Mary--I"--

"Darling," she replied, reaching and capturing both his hands, "who does
see? The rich _think_ they see; but do they, John? Now, _do_ they?"

The frown did not go quite off his face, but he took her head between
his hands and kissed her temple.

"You're always trying to lift me," he said.

"Don't you lift me?" she replied, looking up between his hands and
smiling.

"Do I?"

"You know you do. Don't you remember the day we took that walk, and you
said that after all it never is we who provide?" She looked at the
button of his coat, which she twirled in her fingers. "That word lifted
me."

"But suppose I can't practice the trust I preach?" he said.

"You do trust, though. You have trusted."

"Past tense," said John. He lifted her hands slowly away from him, and
moved toward the door of their chamber. He could not help looking back
at the eyes that followed him, and then he could not bear their look.
"I--I suppose a man mustn't trust too much," he said.

"Can he?" asked Mary, leaning against a table.

"Oh, yes, he can," replied John; but his tone lacked conviction.

"If it's the right kind?"

Her eyes were full of tears.

"I'm afraid mine's not the right kind, then," said John, and passed out
into and down the street.

But what a mind he took with him--what torture of questions! Was he
being lifted or pulled down? His tastes,--were they rising or sinking?
Were little negligences of dress and bearing and in-door attitude
creeping into his habits? Was he losing his discriminative sense of
quantity, time, distance? Did he talk of small achievements, small
gains, and small truths, as though they were great? Had he learned to
carp at the rich, and to make honesty the excuse for all penury? Had he
these various poverty-marks? He looked at himself outside and inside,
and feared to answer. One thing he knew,--that he was having great
wrestlings.

He turned his thoughts to Ristofalo. This was a common habit with him.
Not only in thought, but in person, he hovered with a positive
infatuation about this man of perpetual success.

Lately the Italian had gone out of town, into the country of La
Fourche, to buy standing crops of oranges. Richling fed his hope on the
possibilities that might follow Ristofalo's return. His friend would
want him to superintend the gathering and shipment of those crops--when
they should be ripe--away yonder in November. Frantic thought! A man and
his wife could starve to death twenty times before then.

Mrs. Riley's high esteem for John and Mary had risen from the date of
the Doctor's visit, and the good woman thought it but right somewhat to
increase the figures of their room-rent to others more in keeping with
such high gentility. How fast the little hoard melted away!

And the summer continued on,--the long, beautiful, glaring, implacable
summer; its heat quaking on the low roofs; its fig-trees dropping their
shrivelled and blackened leaves and writhing their weird, bare branches
under the scorching sun; the long-drawn, frying note of its cicada
throbbing through the mid-day heat from the depths of the becalmed oak;
its universal pall of dust on the myriad red, sleep-heavy blossoms of
the oleander and the white tulips of the lofty magnolia; its twinkling
pomegranates hanging their apples of scarlet and gold over the garden
wall; its little chameleons darting along the hot fence-tops; its
far-stretching, empty streets; its wide hush of idleness; its solitary
vultures sailing in the upper blue; its grateful clouds; its hot north
winds, its cool south winds; its gasping twilight calms; its gorgeous
nights,--the long, long summer lingered on into September.

One evening, as the sun was sinking below the broad, flat land, its
burning disk reddened by a low golden haze of suspended dust, Richling
passed slowly toward his home, coming from a lower part of the town by
way of the quadroon quarter. He was paying little notice, or none, to
his whereabouts, wending his way mechanically, in the dejected reverie
of weary disappointment, and with voiceless inward screamings and
groanings under the weight of those thoughts which had lately taken up
their stay in his dismayed mind. But all at once his attention was
challenged by a strange, offensive odor. He looked up and around, saw
nothing, turned a corner, and found himself at the intersection of Trémé
and St. Anne streets, just behind the great central prison of New
Orleans.

The "Parish Prison" was then only about twenty-five years old; but it
had made haste to become offensive to every sense and sentiment of
reasonable man. It had been built in the Spanish style,--a massive,
dark, grim, huge, four-sided block, the fissure-like windows of its
cells looking down into the four public streets which ran immediately
under its walls. Dilapidation had followed hard behind ill-building
contractors. Down its frowning masonry ran grimy streaks of leakage over
peeling stucco and mould-covered brick. Weeds bloomed high aloft in the
broken gutters under the scant and ragged eaves. Here and there the
pale, debauched face of a prisoner peered shamelessly down through
shattered glass or rusted grating; and everywhere in the still
atmosphere floated the stifling smell of the unseen loathsomeness
within.

Richling paused. As he looked up he noticed a bat dart out from a long
crevice under the eaves. Two others followed. Then three--a dozen--a
hundred--a thousand--millions. All along the two sides of the prison in
view they poured forth in a horrid black torrent,--myriads upon myriads.
They filled the air. They came and came. Richling stood and gazed; and
still they streamed out in gibbering waves, until the wonder was that
anything but a witch's dream could contain them.

The approach of another passer roused him, and he started on. The step
gained upon him--closed up with him; and at the moment when he expected
to see the person go by, a hand was laid gently on his shoulder.

"Mistoo Itchlin, I 'ope you well, seh!"



CHAPTER XXIV.

BROUGHT TO BAY.


One may take his choice between the two, but there is no escaping both
in this life: the creditor--the borrower. Either, but never neither.
Narcisse caught step with Richling, and they walked side by side.

"How I learned to mawch, I billong with a fiah comp'ny," said the
Creole. "We mawch eve'y yeah on the fou'th of Mawch." He laughed
heartily. "Thass a 'ime!--Mawch on the fou'th of Mawch! Thass poetwy, in
fact, as you may _say_ in a jesting _way_--ha! ha! ha!"

"Yes, and it's truth, besides," responded the drearier man.

"Yes!" exclaimed Narcisse, delighted at the unusual coincidence, "at the
same time 'tis the tooth! In fact, why should I tell a lie about such a
thing like _that_? 'Twould be useless. Pe'haps you may 'ave notiz,
Mistoo Itchlin, thad the noozpapehs opine us fiahmen to be the gau'dians
of the city."

"Yes," responded Richling. "I think Dr. Sevier calls you the Mamelukes,
doesn't he? But that's much the same, I suppose."

"Same thing," replied the Creole. "We combad the fiah fiend. You fine
that building ve'y pitto'esque, Mistoo Itchlin?" He jerked his thumb
toward the prison, that was still pouring forth its clouds of impish
wings. "Yes? 'Tis the same with me. But I tell you one thing, Mistoo
Itchlin, I assu' you, and you will believe me, I would 'atheh be lock'
_out_side of that building than to be lock' _in_side of the same.
'Cause--you know why? 'Tis ve'y 'umid in that building. An thass a thing
w'at I believe, Mistoo Itchlin; I believe w'en a building is v'ey 'umid
it is not ve'y 'ealthsome. What is yo' opinion consunning that, Mistoo
Itchlin?"

"My opinion?" said Richling, with a smile. "My opinion is that the
Parish Prison would not be a good place to raise a family."

Narcisse laughed.

"I thing yo' _o_pinion is co'ect," he said, flatteringly; then growing
instantly serious, he added, "Yesseh, I think you' about a-'ight, Mistoo
Itchlin; faw even if 'twas not too 'umid, 'twould be too confining, in
fact,--speshly faw child'en. I dunno; but thass my opinion. If you ah
p'oceeding at yo' residence, Mistoo Itchlin, I'll juz _con_tinue my
p'omenade in yo' society--if not intooding"--

Richling smiled candidly. "Your company's worth all it costs, Narcisse.
Excuse me; I always forget your last name--and your first is so
appropriate." It _was_ worth all it cost, though Richling could ill
afford the purchase. The young Latin's sweet, abysmal ignorance, his
infantile amiability, his artless ambition, and heathenish innocence
started the natural gladness of Richling's blood to effervescing anew
every time they met, and, through the sheer impossibility of confiding
any of his troubles to the Creole, made him think them smaller and
lighter than they had just before appeared. The very light of Narcisse's
countenance and beauty of his form--his smooth, low forehead, his thick,
abundant locks, his faintly up-tipped nose and expanded nostrils, his
sweet, weak mouth with its impending smile, his beautiful chin and
bird's throat, his almond eyes, his full, round arm, and strong
thigh--had their emphatic value.

So now, Richling, a moment earlier borne down by the dreadful shadow of
the Parish Prison, left it behind him as he walked and laughed and
chatted with his borrower. He felt very free with Narcisse, for the
reason that would have made a wiser person constrained,--lack of respect
for him.

"Mistoo Itchlin, you know," said the Creole, "I like you to call me
Nahcisse. But at the same time my las' name is Savillot." He pronounced
it Sav-_veel_-yo. "Thass a somewot Spanish name. That double l got a
twist in it."

"Oh, call it Papilio!" laughed Richling.

"Papillon!" exclaimed Narcisse, with delight. "The buttehfly! All
a-'ight; you kin juz style me that! 'Cause thass my natu'e, Mistoo
Itchlin; I gatheh honey eve'y day fum eve'y opening floweh, as the bahd
of A-von wemawk."

So they went on.

_Ad infinitum?_ Ah, no! The end was just as plainly in view to both from
the beginning as it was when, at length, the two stepping across the
street gutter at the last corner between Richling and home, Narcisse
laid his open hand in his companion's elbow, and stopped, saying, as
Richling turned and halted with a sudden frown of unwillingness:--

"I tell you 'ow 'tis with me, Mistoo Itchlin, I've p'oject that manneh
myseff; in weading a book--w'en I see a beaucheouz idee, I juz take a
pencil"--he drew one from his pocket--"check! I check it. So w'en I wead
the same book again, then I take notiz I've check that idee and I look
to see what I check it faw. 'Ow you like that invention, eh?"

"Very simple," said Richling, with an unpleasant look of expectancy.

"Mistoo Itchlin," resumed the other, "do you not fine me impooving in my
p'onouncement of yo' lang-widge? I fine I don't use such bad land-widge
like biffo. I am shue you muz' 'ave notiz since some time I always soun'
that awer in yo' name. Mistoo Itchlin, will you 'ave that kin'ness to
baw me two-an-a-'alf till the lass of that month?"

Richling looked at him a moment in silence, and then broke into a short,
grim laugh.

"It's all gone. There's no more honey in this flower." He set his jaw as
he ceased speaking. There was a warm red place on either cheek.

"Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, with sudden, quavering fervor, "you kin
len' me two dollahs! I gi'e you my honah the moze sacwed of a gen'leman,
Mistoo Itchlin, I nevvah hass you ag'in so long I live!" He extended a
pacifying hand. "One moment, Mistoo Itchlin,--one moment,--I implo' you,
seh! I assu' you, Mistoo Itchlin, I pay you eve'y cent in the worl' on
the laz of that month? Mistoo Itchlin, I am in indignan' circumstan's.
Mistoo Itchlin, if you know the distwess--Mistoo Itchlin, if you
know--'ow bad I 'ate to baw!" The tears stood in his eyes. "It nea'ly
_kill_ me to b--" Utterance failed him.

"My friend," began Richling.

"Mistoo Itchlin," exclaimed Narcisse, dashing away the tears and
striking his hand on his heart, "I _am_ yo' fwend, seh!"

Richling smiled scornfully. "Well, my good friend, if you had ever kept
a single promise made to me I need not have gone since yesterday without
a morsel of food."

Narcisse tried to respond.

"Hush!" said Richling, and Narcisse bowed while Richling spoke on. "I
haven't a cent to buy bread with to carry home. And whose fault is it?
Is it my fault--or is it yours?"

"Mistoo Itchlin, seh"--

"Hush!" cried Richling, again; "if you try to speak before I finish I'll
thrash you right here in the street!"

Narcisse folded his arms. Richling flushed and flashed with the
mortifying knowledge that his companion's behavior was better than his
own.

"If you want to borrow more money of me find me a chance to earn it!" He
glanced so suddenly at two or three street lads, who were the only
on-lookers, that they shrank back a step.

"Mistoo Itchlin," began Narcisse, once more, in a tone of polite dismay,
"you aztonizh me. I assu' you, Mistoo Itchlin"--

Richling lifted his finger and shook it. "Don't you tell me that, sir! I
will not be an object of astonishment to you! Not to you, sir! Not to
you!" He paused, trembling, his anger and his shame rising together.

Narcisse stood for a moment, silent, undaunted, the picture of amazed
friendship and injured dignity, then raised his hat with the solemnity
of affronted patience and said:--

"Mistoo Itchlin, seein' as 'tis you, a puffic gen'leman, 'oo is not
goin' to 'efuse that satisfagtion w'at a gen'leman, always a-'eady to
give a gen'leman,--I bid you--faw the pwesen'--good-evenin', seh!" He
walked away.

Richling stood in his tracks dumfounded, crushed. His eyes followed the
receding form of the borrower until it disappeared around a distant
corner, while the eye of his mind looked in upon himself and beheld,
with a shame that overwhelmed anger, the folly and the puerility of his
outburst. The nervous strain of twenty-four hours' fast, without which
he might not have slipped at all, only sharpened his self-condemnation.
He turned and walked to his house, and all the misery that had oppressed
him before he had seen the prison, and all that had come with that
sight, and all this new shame, sank down upon his heart at once. "I am
not a man! I am not a whole man!" he suddenly moaned to himself.
"Something is wanting--oh! what is it?"--he lifted his eyes to the
sky,--"what is it?"--when in truth, there was little wanting just then
besides food.

He passed in at the narrow gate and up the slippery alley. Nearly at its
end was the one window of the room he called home. Just under it--it was
somewhat above his head--he stopped and listened. A step within was
moving busily here and there, now fainter and now plainer; and a voice,
the sweetest on earth to him, was singing to itself in its soft,
habitual way.

He started round to the door with a firmer tread. It stood open. He
halted on the threshold. There was a small table in the middle of the
room, and there was food on it. A petty reward of his wife's labor had
brought it there.

"Mary," he said, holding her off a little, "don't kiss me yet."

She looked at him with consternation. He sat down, drew her upon his
lap, and told her, in plain, quiet voice, the whole matter.

"Don't look so, Mary."

"How?" she asked, in a husky voice and with flashing eye.

"Don't breathe so short and set your lips. I never saw you look so,
Mary, darling!"

She tried to smile, but her eyes filled.

"If you had been with me," said John, musingly, "it wouldn't have
happened."

"If--if"-- Mary sat up as straight as a dart, the corners of her
mouth twitching so that she could scarcely shape a word,--"if--if I'd
been there, I'd have made you _whip_ him!" She flouted her handkerchief
out of her pocket, buried her face in his neck, and sobbed like a child.

"Oh!" exclaimed the tearful John, holding her away by both shoulders,
tossing back his hair and laughing as she laughed,--"Oh! you women!
You're all of a sort! You want us men to carry your hymn-books and your
iniquities, too!"

She laughed again.

"Well, of course!"

And they rose and drew up to the board.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE DOCTOR DINES OUT.


On the third day after these incidents, again at the sunset hour, but in
a very different part of the town, Dr. Sevier sat down, a guest, at
dinner. There were flowers; there was painted and monogrammed china;
there was Bohemian glass; there was silver of cunning work with linings
of gold, and damasked linen, and oak of fantastic carving. There were
ladies in summer silks and elaborate coiffures; the hostess, small,
slender, gentle, alert; another, dark, flashing, Roman, tall; another,
ripe but not drooping, who had been beautiful, now, for thirty years;
and one or two others. There were jewels; there were sweet odors. And
there were, also, some good masculine heads: Dr. Sevier's, for instance;
and the chief guest's,--an iron-gray, with hard lines in the face, and a
scar on the near cheek,--a colonel of the regular army passing through
from Florida; and one crown, bald, pink, and shining, encircled by a
silken fringe of very white hair: it was the banker who lived in St.
Mary street. His wife was opposite. And there was much high-bred grace.
There were tall windows thrown wide to make the blaze of gas bearable,
and two tall mulattoes in the middle distance bringing in and bearing
out viands too sumptuous for any but a French nomenclature.

It was what you would call a quiet affair; quite out of season, and
difficult to furnish with even this little handful of guests; but it was
a proper and necessary attention to the colonel; conversation not too
dull, nor yet too bright for ease, but passing gracefully from one
agreeable topic to another without earnestness, a restless virtue, or
frivolity, which also goes against serenity. Now it touched upon the
prospects of young A. B. in the demise of his uncle; now upon the
probable seriousness of C. D. in his attentions to E. F.; now upon G.'s
amusing mishaps during a late tour in Switzerland, which had--"how
unfortunately!"--got into the papers. Now it was concerning the
admirable pulpit manners and easily pardoned vocal defects of a certain
new rector. Now it turned upon Stephen A. Douglas's last speech; passed
to the questionable merits of a new-fangled punch; and now, assuming a
slightly explanatory form from the gentlemen to the ladies, showed why
there was no need whatever to fear a financial crisis--which came soon
afterward.

The colonel inquired after an old gentleman whom he had known in earlier
days in Kentucky.

"It's many a year since I met him," he said. "The proudest man I ever
saw. I understand he was down here last season."

"He was," replied the host, in a voice of native kindness, and with a
smile on his high-fed face. "He was; but only for a short time. He went
back to his estate. That is his world. He's there now."

"It used to be considered one of the finest places in the State," said
the colonel.

"It is still," rejoined the host. "Doctor, you know him?"

"I think not," said Dr. Sevier; but somehow he recalled the old
gentleman in button gaiters, who had called on him one evening to
consult him about his sick wife.

"A good man," said the colonel, looking amused; "and a superb
gentleman. Is he as great a partisan of the church as he used to be?"

"Greater! Favors an established church of America."

The ladies were much amused. The host's son, a young fellow with
sprouting side-whiskers, said he thought he could be quite happy with
one of the finest plantations in Kentucky, and let the church go its own
gait.

"Humph!" said the father; "I doubt if there's ever a happy breath drawn
on the place."

"Why, how is that?" asked the colonel, in a cautious tone.

"Hadn't he heard?" The host was surprised, but spoke low. "Hadn't he
heard about the trouble with their only son? Why, he went abroad and
never came back!"

Every one listened.

"It's a terrible thing," said the hostess to the ladies nearest her; "no
one ever dares ask the family what the trouble is,--they have such odd,
exclusive ideas about their matters being nobody's business. All that
can be known is that they look upon him as worse than dead and gone
forever."

"And who will get the estate?" asked the banker.

"The two girls. They're both married."

"They're very much like their father," said the hostess, smiling with
gentle significance.

"Very much," echoed the host, with less delicacy. "Their mother is one
of those women who stand in terror of their husband's will. Now, if he
were to die and leave her with a will of her own she would hardly know
what to do with it--I mean with her will--or the property either."

The hostess protested softly against so harsh a speech, and the son,
after one or two failures, got in his remark:--

"Maybe the prodigal would come back and be taken in."

But nobody gave this conjecture much attention. The host was still
talking of the lady without a will.

"Isn't she an invalid?" Dr. Sevier had asked.

"Yes; the trip down here last season was on her account,--for change of
scene. Her health is wretched."

"I'm distressed that I didn't call on her," said the hostess; "but they
went away suddenly. My dear, I wonder if they really did encounter the
young man here?"

"Pshaw!" said the husband, softly, smiling and shaking his head, and
turned the conversation.

In time it settled down with something like earnestness for a few
minutes upon a subject which the rich find it easy to discuss without
the least risk of undue warmth. It was about the time when one of the
graciously murmuring mulattoes was replenishing the glasses, that remark
in some way found utterance to this effect,--that the company present
could congratulate themselves on living in a community where there was
no poor class.

"Poverty, of course, we see; but there is no misery, or nearly none,"
said the ambitious son of the host.

Dr. Sevier differed with him. That was one of the Doctor's blemishes as
a table guest: he would differ with people.

"There is misery," he said; "maybe not the gaunt squalor and starvation
of London or Paris or New York; the climate does not tolerate
that,--stamps it out before it can assume dimensions; but there is at
least misery of that sort that needs recognition and aid from the
well-fed."

The lady who had been beautiful so many years had somewhat to say; the
physician gave attention, and she spoke:--

"If sister Jane were here, she would be perfectly triumphant to hear you
speak so, Doctor." She turned to the hostess, and continued: "Jane is
quite an enthusiast, you know; a sort of Dorcas, as husband says,
modified and readapted. Yes, she is for helping everybody."

"Whether help is good for them or not," said the lady's husband, a very
straight and wiry man with a garrote collar.

"It's all one," laughed the lady. "Our new rector told her plainly, the
other day, that she was making a great mistake; that she ought to
consider whether assistance assists. It was really amusing. Out of the
pulpit and off his guard, you know, he lisps a little; and he said she
ought to consider whether 'aththithtanth aththithtth.'"

There was a gay laugh at this, and the lady was called a perfect and
cruel mimic.

"'Aththithtanth aththithtth!'" said two or three to their neighbors, and
laughed again.

"What did your sister say to that?" asked the banker, bending forward
his white, tonsured head, and smiling down the board.

"She said she didn't care; that it kept her own heart tender, anyhow.
'My dear madam,' said he, 'your heart wants strengthening more than
softening.' He told her a pound of inner resource was more true help to
any poor person than a ton of assistance."

The banker commended the rector. The hostess, very sweetly, offered her
guarantee that Jane took the rebuke in good part.

"She did," replied the time-honored beauty; "she tried to profit by it.
But husband, here, has offered her a wager of a bonnet against a hat
that the rector will upset her new schemes. Her idea now is to make work
for those whom nobody will employ."

"Jane," said the kind-faced host, "really wants to do good for its own
sake."

"I think she's even a little Romish in her notions," said Jane's wiry
brother-in-law. "I talked to her as plainly as the rector. I told her,
'Jane, my dear, all this making of work for the helpless poor is not
worth one-fiftieth part of the same amount of effort spent in teaching
and training those same poor to make their labor intrinsically
marketable.'"

"Yes," said the hostess; "but while we are philosophizing and offering
advice so wisely, Jane is at work--doing the best she knows how. We
can't claim the honor even of making her mistakes."

"'Tisn't a question of honors to us, madam," said Dr. Sevier; "it's a
question of results to the poor."

The brother-in-law had not finished. He turned to the Doctor.

"Poverty, Doctor, is an inner condition"--

"Sometimes," interposed the Doctor.

"Yes, generally," continued the brother-in-law, with some emphasis. "And
to give help you must, first of all, 'inquire within'--within your
beneficiary."

"Not always, sir," replied the Doctor; "not if they're sick, for
instance." The ladies bowed briskly and applauded with their eyes. "And
not always if they're well," he added. His last words softened off
almost into soliloquy.

The banker spoke forcibly:--

"Yes, there are two quite distinct kinds of poverty. One is an accident
of the moment; the other is an inner condition of the individual"--

"Of course it is," said sister Jane's brother-in-law, who felt it a
little to have been contradicted on the side of kindness by the
hard-spoken Doctor. "Certainly! it's a deficiency of inner resources
or character, and what to do with it is no simple question."

"That's what I was about to say," resumed the banker; "at least, when
the poverty is of that sort. And what discourages kind people is that
that's the sort we commonly see. It's a relief to meet the other,
Doctor, just as it's a relief to a physician to encounter a case of
simple surgery."

"And--and," said the brother-in-law, "what is your rule about plain
almsgiving to the difficult sort?"

"My rule," replied the banker, "is, don't do it. Debt is slavery, and
there is an ugly kink in human nature that disposes it to be content
with slavery. No, sir; gift-making and gift-taking are twins of a bad
blood." The speaker turned to Dr. Sevier for approval; but, though the
Doctor could not gainsay the fraction of a point, he was silent. A lady
near the hostess stirred softly both under and above the board. In her
private chamber she would have yawned. Yet the banker spoke again:--

"Help the old, I say. You are pretty safe there. Help the sick. But as
for the young and strong,--now, no man could be any poorer than I was at
twenty-one,--I say be cautious how you smooth that hard road which is
the finest discipline the young can possibly get."

"If it isn't _too_ hard," chirped the son of the host.

"Too hard? Well, yes, if it isn't too hard. Still I say, hands off; you
needn't turn your back, however." Here the speaker again singled out Dr.
Sevier. "Watch the young man out of one corner of your eye; but make him
swim!"

"Ah-h!" said the ladies.

"No, no," continued the banker; "I don't say let him drown; but I take
it, Doctor, that your alms, for instance, are no alms if they put the
poor fellow into your debt and at your back."

"To whom do you refer?" asked Dr. Sevier. Whereat there was a burst of
laughter, which was renewed when the banker charged the physician with
helping so many persons, "on the sly," that he couldn't tell which one
was alluded to unless the name were given.

"Doctor," said the hostess, seeing it was high time the conversation
should take a new direction, "they tell me you have closed your house
and taken rooms at the St. Charles."

"For the summer," said the physician.

As, later, he walked toward that hotel, he went resolving to look up the
Richlings again without delay. The banker's words rang in his ears like
an overdose of quinine: "Watch the young man out of one corner of your
eye. Make him swim. I don't say let him drown."

"Well, I do watch him," thought the Doctor. "I've only lost sight of him
once in a while." But the thought seemed to find an echo against his
conscience, and when it floated back it was: "I've only _caught_ sight
of him once in a while." The banker's words came up again: "Don't put
the poor fellow into your debt and at your back." "Just what you've
done," said conscience. "How do you know he isn't drowned?" He would see
to it.

While he was still on his way to the hotel he fell in with an
acquaintance, a Judge Somebody or other, lately from Washington City.
He, also, lodged at the St. Charles. They went together. As they
approached the majestic porch of the edifice they noticed some confusion
at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the rotunda; cabmen and boys
were running to a common point, where, in the midst of a small, compact
crowd, two or three pairs of arms were being alternately thrown aloft
and brought down. Presently the mass took a rapid movement up St.
Charles street.

The judge gave his conjecture: "Some poor devil resisting arrest."

Before he and the Doctor parted for the night they went to the clerk's
counter.

"No letters for you, Judge; mail failed. Here is a card for you,
Doctor."

The Doctor received it. It had been furnished, blank, by the clerk to
its writer.

 [Illustration: JOHN RICHLING.]

At the door of his own room, with one hand on the unturned knob and one
holding the card, the Doctor stopped and reflected. The card gave no
indication of urgency. Did it? It was hard to tell. He didn't want to
look foolish; morning would be time enough; he would go early next
morning.

But at daybreak he was summoned post-haste to the bedside of a lady who
had stayed all summer in New Orleans so as not to be out of this good
doctor's reach at this juncture. She counted him a dear friend, and in
similar trials had always required close and continual attention. It was
the same now.

Dr. Sevier scrawled and sent to the Richlings a line, saying that, if
either of them was sick, he would come at their call. When the messenger
returned with word from Mrs. Riley that both of them were out, the
Doctor's mind was much relieved. So a day and a night passed in which he
did not close his eyes.

The next morning, as he stood in his office, hat in hand, and a finger
pointing to a prescription on his desk, which he was directing Narcisse
to give to some one who would call for it, there came a sudden hurried
pounding of feminine feet on the stairs, a whiff of robes in the
corridor, and Mary Richling rushed into his presence all tears and
cries.

"O Doctor!--O Doctor! O God, my husband! my husband! O Doctor, my
husband is in the Parish Prison!" She sank to the floor.

The Doctor raised her up. Narcisse hurried forward with his hands full
of restoratives.

"Take away those things," said the Doctor, resentfully. "Here!--Mrs.
Richling, take Narcisse's arm and go down and get into my carriage. I
must write a short note, excusing myself from an appointment, and then I
will join you."

Mary stood alone, turned, and passed out of the office beside the young
Creole, but without taking his proffered arm. Did she suspect him of
having something to do with this dreadful affair?

"Missez Witchlin," said he, as soon as they were out in the corridor,
"I dunno if you goin' to billiv me, but I boun' to tell you that
nodwithstanning that yo' 'uzban' is displease' with me, an'
nodwithstanning 'e's in that calaboose, I h'always fine 'im a puffic
gen'leman--that Mistoo Itchlin,--an' I'll sweah 'e _is_ a gen'leman!"

She lifted her anguished eyes and looked into his beautiful face. Could
she trust him? His little forehead was as hard as a goat's, but his eyes
were brimming with tears, and his chin quivered. As they reached the
head of the stairs he again offered his arm, and she took it, moaning
softly, as they descended:--

"O John! O John! O my husband, my husband!"



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE TROUGH OF THE SEA.


Narcisse, on receiving his scolding from Richling, had gone to his home
in Casa Calvo street, a much greater sufferer than he had appeared to
be. While he was confronting his abaser there had been a momentary
comfort in the contrast between Richling's ill-behavior and his own
self-control. It had stayed his spirit and turned the edge of Richling's
sharp denunciations. But, as he moved off the field, he found himself,
at every step, more deeply wounded than even he had supposed. He began
to suffocate with chagrin, and hurried his steps in sheer distress. He
did not experience that dull, vacant acceptance of universal scorn which
an unresentful coward feels. His pangs were all the more poignant
because he knew his own courage.

In his home he went so straight up to the withered little old lady, in
the dingiest of flimsy black, who was his aunt, and kissed her so
passionately, that she asked at once what was the matter. He recounted
the facts, shedding tears of mortification. Her feeling, by the time
he had finished the account, was a more unmixed wrath than his, and,
harmless as she was, and wrapped up in her dear, pretty nephew as she
was, she yet demanded to know why such a man shouldn't be called out
upon the field of honor.

"Ah!" cried Narcisse, shrinkingly. She had touched the core of the
tumor. One gets a public tongue-lashing from a man concerning money
borrowed; well, how is one going to challenge him without first handing
back the borrowed money? It was a scalding thought! The rotten joists
beneath the bare scrubbed-to-death floor quaked under Narcisse's
to-and-fro stride.

"--And then, anyhow!"--he stopped and extended both hands, speaking, of
course, in French,--"anyhow, he is the favored friend of Dr. Sevier. If
I hurt him--I lose my situation! If he hurts me--I lose my situation!"

He dried his eyes. His aunt saw the insurmountability of the difficulty,
and they drowned feeling in an affectionate glass of green-orangeade.

"But never mind!" Narcisse set his glass down and drew out his tobacco.
He laughed spasmodically as he rolled his cigarette. "You shall see. The
game is not finished yet."

Yet Richling passed the next day and night without assassination, and
on the second morning afterward, as on the first, went out in quest of
employment. He and Mary had eaten bread, and it had gone into their life
without a remainder either in larder or purse. Richling was all aimless.

"I do wish I had the _art_ of finding work," said he. He smiled. "I'll
get it," he added, breaking their last crust in two. "I have the science
already. Why, look you, Mary, the quiet, amiable, imperturbable,
dignified, diurnal, inexorable haunting of men of influence will get you
whatever you want."

"Well, why don't you do it, dear? Is there any harm in it? I don't see
any harm in it. Why don't you do that very thing?"

"I'm telling you the truth," answered he, ignoring her question.
"Nothing else short of overtowering merit will get you what you want
half so surely."

"Well, why not do it? Why not?" A fresh, glad courage sparkled in the
wife's eyes.

"Why, Mary," said John, "I never in my life tried so hard to do anything
else as I've tried to do that! It sounds easy; but try it! You can't
conceive how hard it is till you try it. I can't _do_ it! I _can't_ do
it!"

"_I'd_ do it!" cried Mary. Her face shone. "_I'd_ do it! You'd see if I
didn't! Why, John"--

"All right!" exclaimed he; "you sha'n't talk that way to me for nothing.
I'll try it again! I'll begin to-day!"

"Good-by," he said. He reached an arm over one of her shoulders and
around under the other and drew her up on tiptoe. She threw both hers
about his neck. A long kiss--then a short one.

"John, something tells me we're near the end of our troubles."

John laughed grimly. "Ristofalo was to get back to the city to-day:
maybe he's going to put us out of our misery. There are two ways for
troubles to end." He walked away as he spoke. As he passed under the
window in the alley, its sash was thrown up and Mary leaned out on her
elbows.

"John!"

"Well?"

They looked into each other's eyes with the quiet pleasure of tried
lovers, and were silent a moment. She leaned a little farther down, and
said, softly:--

"You mustn't mind what I said just now."

"Why, what did you say?"

"That if it were I, I'd do it. I know you can do anything I can do, and
a hundred better things besides."

He lifted his hand to her cheek. "We'll see," he whispered. She drew in,
and he moved on.

Morning passed. Noon came. From horizon to horizon the sky was one
unbroken blue. The sun spread its bright, hot rays down upon the town
and far beyond, ripening the distant, countless fields of the great
delta, which by and by were to empty their abundance into the city's lap
for the employment, the nourishing, the clothing of thousands. But in
the dusty streets, along the ill-kept fences and shadowless walls of the
quiet districts, and on the glaring façades and heated pavements of the
commercial quarters, it seemed only as though the slowly retreating
summer struck with the fury of a wounded Amazon. Richling was soon
dust-covered and weary. He had gone his round. There were not many men
whom he could even propose to haunt. He had been to all of them. Dr.
Sevier was not one. "Not to-day," said Richling.

"It all depends on the way it's done," he said to himself; "it needn't
degrade a man if it's done the right way." It was only by such
philosophy he had done it at all. Ristofalo he could have haunted
without effort; but Ristofalo was not to be found. Richling tramped in
vain. It may be that all plans were of equal merit just then. The
summers of New Orleans in those times were, as to commerce, an utter
torpor, and the autumn reawakening was very tardy. It was still too
early for the stirrings of general mercantile life. The movement of the
cotton crop was just beginning to be perceptible; but otherwise almost
the only sounds were from the hammers of craftsmen making the town
larger and preparing it for the activities of days to come.

The afternoon wore along. Not a cent yet to carry home! Men began to
shut their idle shops and go to meet their wives and children about
their comfortable dinner-tables. The sun dipped low. Hammers and saws
were dropped into tool-boxes, and painters pulled themselves out of
their overalls. The mechanic's rank, hot supper began to smoke on its
bare board; but there was one board that was still altogether bare and
to which no one hastened. Another day and another chance of life were
gone.

Some men at a warehouse door, the only opening in the building left
unclosed, were hurrying in a few bags of shelled corn. Night was
falling. At an earlier hour Richling had offered the labor of his hands
at this very door and had been rejected. Now, as they rolled in the last
truck-load, they began to ask for rest with all the gladness he would
have felt to be offered toil, singing,--

    "To blow, to blow, some time for to blow."

They swung the great leaves of the door together as they finished their
chorus, stood grouped outside a moment while the warehouseman turned the
resounding lock, and then went away. Richling, who had moved on, watched
them over his shoulder, and as they left turned back. He was about to do
what he had never done before. He went back to the door where the bags
of grain had stood. A drunken sailor came swinging along. He stood still
and let him pass; there must be no witnesses. The sailor turned the next
corner. Neither up nor down nor across the street, nor at dust-begrimed,
cobwebbed window, was there any sound or motion. Richling dropped
quickly on one knee and gathered hastily into his pocket a little pile
of shelled corn that had leaked from one of the bags.

That was all. No harm to a living soul; no theft; no wrong; but ah! as
he rose he felt a sudden inward lesion. Something broke. It was like a
ship, in a dream, noiselessly striking a rock where no rock is. It
seemed as though the very next thing was to begin going to pieces. He
walked off in the dark shadow of the warehouse, half lifted from his
feet by a vague, wide dismay. And yet he felt no greatness of emotion,
but rather a painful want of it, as if he were here and emotion were
yonder, down-street, or up-street, or around the corner. The ground
seemed slipping from under him. He appeared to have all at once melted
away to nothing. He stopped. He even turned to go back. He felt that if
he should go and put that corn down where he had found it he should feel
himself once more a living thing of substance and emotions. Then it
occurred to him--no, he would keep it, he would take it to Mary; but
himself--he would not touch it; and so he went home.

Mary parched the corn, ground it fine in the coffee-mill and salted and
served it close beside the candle. "It's good white corn," she said,
laughing. "Many a time when I was a child I used to eat this in my
playhouse and thought it delicious. Didn't you? What! not going to eat?"

Richling had told her how he got the corn. Now he told his sensations.
"You eat it, Mary," he said at the end; "you needn't feel so about it;
but if I should eat it I should feel myself a vagabond. It may be
foolish, but I wouldn't touch it for a hundred dollars." A hundred
dollars had come to be his synonyme for infinity.

Mary gazed at him a moment tearfully, and rose, with the dish in her
hand, saying, with a smile, "I'd look pretty, wouldn't I!"

She set it aside, and came and kissed his forehead. By and by she
asked:--

"And so you saw no work, anywhere?"

"Oh, yes!" he replied, in a tone almost free from dejection. "I saw any
amount of work--preparations for a big season. I think I certainly
shall pick up something to-morrow--enough, anyhow, to buy something to
eat with. If we can only hold out a little longer--just a little--I am
sure there'll be plenty to do--for everybody." Then he began to show
distress again. "I could have got work to-day if I had been a carpenter,
or if I'd been a joiner, or a slater, or a bricklayer, or a plasterer,
or a painter, or a hod-carrier. Didn't I try that, and was refused?"

"I'm glad of it," said Mary.

"'Show me your hands,' said the man to me. I showed them. 'You won't
do,' said he."

"I'm glad of it!" said Mary, again.

"No," continued Richling; "or if I'd been a glazier, or a whitewasher,
or a wood-sawyer, or"--he began to smile in a hard, unpleasant way,--"or
if I'd been anything but an American gentleman. But I wasn't, and I
didn't get the work!"

Mary sank into his lap, with her very best smile.

"John, if you hadn't been an American gentleman"--

"We should never have met," said John. "That's true; that's true." They
looked at each other, rejoicing in mutual ownership.

"But," said John, "I needn't have been the typical American
gentleman,--completely unfitted for prosperity and totally unequipped
for adversity."

"That's not your fault," said Mary.

"No, not entirely; but it's your calamity, Mary. O Mary! I little
thought"--

She put her hand quickly upon his mouth. His eye flashed and he frowned.

"Don't do so!" he exclaimed, putting the hand away; then blushed for
shame, and kissed her.

They went to bed. Bread would have put them to sleep. But after a long
time--

"John," said one voice in the darkness, "do you remember what Dr. Sevier
told us?"

"Yes, he said we had no right to commit suicide by starvation."

"If you don't get work to-morrow, are you going to see him?"

"I am."

In the morning they rose early.

During these hard days Mary was now and then conscious of one feeling
which she never expressed, and was always a little more ashamed of than
probably she need have been, but which, stifle it as she would, kept
recurring in moments of stress. Mrs. Riley--such was the thought--need
not be quite so blind. It came to her as John once more took his
good-by, the long kiss and the short one, and went breakfastless away.
But was Mrs. Riley as blind as she seemed? She had vision enough to
observe that the Richlings had bought no bread the day before, though
she did overlook the fact that emptiness would set them astir before
their usual hour of rising. She knocked at Mary's inner door. As it
opened a quick glance showed the little table that occupied the centre
of the room standing clean and idle.

"Why, Mrs. Riley!" cried Mary; for on one of Mrs. Riley's large hands
there rested a blue-edged soup-plate, heaping full of the food that goes
nearest to the Creole heart--_jambolaya_. There it was, steaming and
smelling,--a delicious confusion of rice and red pepper, chicken legs,
ham, and tomatoes. Mike, on her opposite arm, was struggling to lave his
socks in it.

"Ah!" said Mrs. Riley, with a disappointed lift of the head, "ye're
after eating breakfast already! And the plates all tleared off. Well, ye
air smairt! I knowed Mr. Richlin's taste for jumbalie"--

Mary smote her hands together. "And he's just this instant gone! John!
John! Why, he's hardly"-- She vanished through the door, glided down
the alley, leaned out the gate, looking this way and that, tripped
down to this corner and looked--"Oh! oh!"--no John there--back and up to
the other corner--"Oh! which way did John go?" There was none to answer.

Hours passed; the shadows shortened and shrunk under their objects,
crawled around stealthily behind them as the sun swung through the
south, and presently began to steal away eastward, long and slender.
This was the day that Dr. Sevier dined out, as hereinbefore set forth.

The sun set. Carondelet street was deserted. You could hear your own
footstep on its flags. In St. Charles street the drinking-saloons and
gamblers' drawing-rooms, and the barber-shops, and the show-cases full
of shirt-bosoms and walking-canes, were lighted up. The smell of lemons
and mint grew finer than ever. Wide Canal street, out under the darkling
crimson sky, was resplendent with countless many-colored lamps. From the
river the air came softly, cool and sweet. The telescope man set up his
skyward-pointing cylinder hard by the dark statue of Henry Clay; the
confectioneries were ablaze and full of beautiful life, and every little
while a great, empty cotton-dray or two went thundering homeward over
the stony pavements until the earth shook, and speech for the moment was
drowned. The St. Charles, such a glittering mass in winter nights, stood
out high and dark under the summer stars, with no glow except just in
its midst, in the rotunda; and even the rotunda was well-nigh deserted
The clerk at his counter saw a young man enter the great door opposite,
and quietly marked him as he drew near.

Let us not draw the stranger's portrait. If that were a pleasant task
the clerk would not have watched him. What caught and kept that
functionary's eye was that, whatever else might be revealed by the
stranger's aspect,--weariness, sickness, hardship, pain,--the confession
was written all over him, on his face, on his garb, from his hat's crown
to his shoe's sole, Penniless! Penniless! Only when he had come quite up
to the counter the clerk did not see him at all.

"Is Dr. Sevier in?"

"Gone out to dine," said the clerk, looking over the inquirer's head as
if occupied with all the world's affairs except the subject in hand.

"Do you know when he will be back?"

"Ten o'clock."

The visitor repeated the hour murmurously and looked something dismayed.
He tarried.

"Hem!--I will leave my card, if you please."

The clerk shoved a little box of cards toward him, from which a pencil
dangled by a string. The penniless wrote his name and handed it in. Then
he moved away, went down the tortuous granite stair, and waited in the
obscurity of the dimly lighted porch below. The card was to meet the
contingency of the Doctor's coming in by some other entrance. He would
watch for him here.

By and by--he was very weary--he sat down on the stairs. But a porter,
with a huge trunk on his back, told him very distinctly that he was in
the way there, and he rose and stood aside. Soon he looked for another
resting-place. He must get off of his feet somewhere, if only for a few
moments. He moved back into the deep gloom of the stair-way shadow, and
sank down upon the pavement. In a moment he was fast asleep.

He dreamed that he, too, was dining out. Laughter and merry-making were
on every side. The dishes of steaming viands were grotesque in bulk.
There were mountains of fruit and torrents of wine. Strange people of no
identity spoke in senseless vaporings that passed for side-splitting
wit, and friends whom he had not seen since childhood appeared in
ludicrously altered forms and announced impossible events. Every one ate
like a Cossack. One of the party, champing like a boar, pushed him
angrily, and when he, eating like the rest, would have turned fiercely
on the aggressor, he awoke.

A man standing over him struck him smartly with his foot.

"Get up out o' this! Get up! get up!"

The sleeper bounded to his feet. The man who had waked him grasped him
by the lapel of his coat.

"What do you mean?" exclaimed the awakened man, throwing the other off
violently.

"I'll show you!" replied the other, returning with a rush; but he was
thrown off again, this time with a blow of the fist.

"You scoundrel!" cried the penniless man, in a rage; "if you touch me
again I'll kill you!"

They leaped together. The one who had proposed to show what he meant was
knocked flat upon the stones. The crowd that had run into the porch made
room for him to fall. A leather helmet rolled from his head, and the
silver crescent of the police flashed on his breast. The police were not
uniformed in those days.

But he is up in an instant and his adversary is down--backward, on his
elbows. Then the penniless man is up again; they close and struggle,
the night-watchman's club falls across his enemy's head blow upon blow,
while the sufferer grasps him desperately, with both hands, by the
throat. They tug, they snuffle, they reel to and fro in the yielding
crowd; the blows grow fainter, fainter; the grip is terrible; when
suddenly there is a violent rupture of the crowd, it closes again, and
then there are two against one, and up sparkling St. Charles street, the
street of all streets for flagrant, unmolested, well-dressed crime,
moves a sight so exhilarating that a score of street lads follow behind
and a dozen trip along in front with frequent backward glances: two
officers of justice walking in grim silence abreast, and between them
a limp, torn, hatless, bloody figure, partly walking, partly lifted,
partly dragged, past the theatres, past the lawyers' rookeries of
Commercial place, the tenpin alleys, the chop-houses, the bunko shows,
and shooting-galleries, on, across Poydras street into the dim openness
beyond, where glimmer the lamps of Lafayette square and the white marble
of the municipal hall, and just on the farther side of this, with a
sudden wheel to the right into Hevia street, a few strides there, a turn
to the left, stumbling across a stone step and wooden sill into a
narrow, lighted hall, and turning and entering an apartment here again
at the right. The door is shut; the name is written down; the charge is
made: Vagrancy, assaulting an officer, resisting arrest. An inner door
is opened.

"What have you got in number nine?" asks the captain in charge.

"Chuck full," replies the turnkey.

"Well, number seven?" These were the numbers of cells.

"The rats'll eat him up in number seven."

"How about number ten?"

"Two drunk-and-disorderlies, one petty larceny, and one embezzlement and
breach of trust."

"Put him in there."

        *       *       *

And this explains what the watchman in Marais street could not
understand,--why Mary Richling's window shone all night long.



CHAPTER XXVII.

OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN.


Round goes the wheel forever. Another sun rose up, not a moment hurried
or belated by the myriads of life-and-death issues that cover the earth
and wait in ecstasies of hope or dread the passage of time. Punctually
at ten Justice-in-the-rough takes its seat in the Recorder's Court,
and a moment of silent preparation at the desks follows the loud
announcement that its session has begun. The perky clerks and smirking
pettifoggers move apart on tiptoe, those to their respective stations,
these to their privileged seats facing the high dais. The lounging
police slip down from their reclining attitudes on the heel-scraped and
whittled window-sills. The hum of voices among the forlorn humanity that
half fills the gradually rising, greasy benches behind, allotted to
witnesses and prisoners' friends, is hushed. In a little square, railed
space, here at the left, the reporters tip their chairs against the
hair-greased wall, and sharpen their pencils. A few tardy visitors,
familiar with the place, tiptoe in through the grimy doors, ducking
and winking, and softly lifting and placing their chairs, with a
mock-timorous upward glance toward the long, ungainly personage who,
under a faded and tattered crimson canopy, fills the august bench of
magistracy with its high oaken back. On the right, behind a rude wooden
paling that rises from the floor to the smoke-stained ceiling, are the
peering, bloated faces of the night's prisoners.

The recorder utters a name. The clerk down in front of him calls it
aloud. A door in the palings opens, and one of the captives comes
forth and stands before the rail. The arresting officer mounts to the
witness-stand and confronts him. The oath is rattled and turned out like
dice from a box, and the accusing testimony is heard. It may be that
counsel rises and cross-examines, if there are witnesses for the
defence. Strange and far-fetched questions, from beginners at the law
or from old blunderers, provoke now laughter, and now the peremptory
protestations of the court against the waste of time. Yet, in general,
a few minutes suffices for the whole trial of a case.

"You are sure she picked the handsaw up by the handle, are you?" says
the questioner, frowning with the importance of the point.

"Yes."

"And that she coughed as she did so?"

"Well, you see, she kind o'"--

"Yes, or no!"

"No."

"That's all." He waves the prisoner down with an air of mighty
triumph, turns to the recorder, "trusts it is not necessary to,"
etc., and the accused passes this way or that, according to the fate
decreed,--discharged, sentenced to fine and imprisonment, or committed
for trial before the courts of the State.

"Order in court!" There is too much talking. Another comes and stands
before the rail, and goes his way. Another, and another; now a ragged
boy, now a half-sobered crone, now a battered ruffian, and now a painted
girl of the street, and at length one who starts when his name is
called, as though something had exploded.

"John Richling!"

He came.

"Stand there!"

Some one is in the witness-stand, speaking. The prisoner partly hears,
but does not see. He stands and holds the rail, with his eyes fixed
vacantly on the clerk, who bends over his desk under the seat of
justice, writing. The lawyers notice him. His dress has been laboriously
genteel, but is torn and soiled. A detective, with small eyes set close
together, and a nose like a yacht's rudder, whisperingly calls the
notice of one of these spectators who can see the prisoner's face to the
fact that, for all its thinness and bruises, it is not a bad one. All
can see that the man's hair is fine and waving where it is not matted
with blood.

The testifying officer had moved as if to leave the witness-stand, when
the recorder restrained him by a gesture, and, leaning forward and
looking down upon the prisoner, asked:--

"Have you anything to say to this?"

The prisoner lifted his eyes, bowed affirmatively, and spoke in a low,
timid tone. "May I say a few words to you privately?"

"No."

He dropped his eyes, fumbled with the rail, and, looking up suddenly,
said in a stronger voice, "I want somebody to go to my wife--in Prieur
street. She is starving. This is the third day"--

"We're not talking about that," said the recorder. "Have you anything to
say against this witness's statement?"

The prisoner looked upon the floor and slowly shook his head. "I never
meant to break the law. I never expected to stand here. It's like an
awful dream. Yesterday, at this time, I had no more idea of this--I
didn't think I was so near it. It's like getting caught in machinery."
He looked up at the recorder again. "I'm so confused"--he frowned and
drew his hand slowly across his brow--"I can hardly--put my words
together. I was hunting for work. There is no man in this city who
wants to earn an honest living more than I do."

"What's your trade?"

"I have none."

"I supposed not. But you profess to have some occupation, I dare say.
What's your occupation?"

"Accountant."

"Hum! you're all accountants. How long have you been out of employment?"

"Six months."

"Why did you go to sleep under those steps?"

"I didn't intend to go to sleep. I was waiting for a friend to come in
who boards at the St. Charles."

A sudden laugh ran through the room. "Silence in court!" cried a deputy.

"Who is your friend?" asked the recorder.

The prisoner was silent.

"What is your friend's name?"

Still the prisoner did not reply. One of the group of pettifoggers
sitting behind him leaned forward, touched him on the shoulder, and
murmured: "You'd better tell his name. It won't hurt him, and it may
help you." The prisoner looked back at the man and shook his head.

"Did you strike this officer?" asked the recorder, touching the witness,
who was resting on both elbows in the light arm-chair on the right.

The prisoner made a low response.

"I don't hear you," said the recorder.

"I struck him," replied the prisoner; "I knocked him down." The court
officers below the dais smiled. "I woke and found him spurning me with
his foot, and I resented it. I never expected to be a law-breaker.
I"-- He pressed his temples between his hands and was silent. The
men of the law at his back exchanged glances of approval. The case was,
to some extent, interesting.

"May it please the court," said the man who had before addressed the
prisoner over his shoulder, stepping out on the right and speaking very
softly and graciously, "I ask that this man be discharged. His fault
seems so much more to be accident than intention, and his suffering so
much more than his fault"--

The recorder interrupted by a wave of the hand and a preconceived smile:
"Why, according to the evidence, the prisoner was noisy and troublesome
in his cell all night."

"O sir," exclaimed the prisoner, "I was thrown in with thieves and
drunkards! It was unbearable in that hole. We were right on the damp
and slimy bricks. The smell was dreadful. A woman in the cell opposite
screamed the whole night. One of the men in the cell tried to take my
coat from me, and I beat him!"

"It seems to me, your honor," said the volunteer advocate, "the prisoner
is still more sinned against than sinning. This is evidently his first
offence, and"--

"Do you know even that?" asked the recorder.

"I do not believe his name can be found on any criminal record. I"--

The recorder interrupted once more. He leaned toward the prisoner.

"Did you ever go by any other name?"

The prisoner was dumb.

"Isn't John Richling the only name you have ever gone by?" said his new
friend: but the prisoner silently blushed to the roots of his hair and
remained motionless.

"I think I shall have to send you to prison," said the recorder,
preparing to write. A low groan was the prisoner's only response.

"May it please your honor," began the lawyer, taking a step forward; but
the recorder waved his pen impatiently.

"Why, the more is said the worse his case gets; he's guilty of the
offence charged, by his own confession."

"I am guilty and not guilty," said the prisoner slowly. "I never
intended to be a criminal. I intended to be a good and useful member of
society; but I've somehow got under its wheels. I've missed the whole
secret of living." He dropped his face into his hands. "O Mary, Mary!
why are you my wife?" He beckoned to his counsel. "Come here; come
here." His manner was wild and nervous. "I want you--I want you to go
to Prieur street, to my wife. You know--you know the place, don't you?
Prieur street. Ask for Mrs. Riley"--

"Richling," said the lawyer.

"No, no! you ask for Mrs. Riley? Ask her--ask her--oh! where are my
senses gone? Ask"--

"May it please the court," said the lawyer, turning once more to the
magistrate and drawing a limp handkerchief from the skirt of his dingy
alpaca, with a reviving confidence, "I ask that the accused be
discharged; he's evidently insane."

The prisoner looked rapidly from counsel to magistrate, and back again,
saying, in a low voice, "Oh, no! not that! Oh, no! not that! not that!"

The recorder dropped his eyes upon a paper on the desk before him, and,
beginning to write, said without looking up:--

"Parish Prison--to be examined for insanity."

A cry of remonstrance broke so sharply from the prisoner that even the
reporters in their corner checked their energetic streams of lead-pencil
rhetoric and looked up.

"You cannot do that!" he exclaimed. "I am not insane! I'm not even
confused now! It was only for a minute! I'm not even confused!"

An officer of the court laid his hand quickly and sternly upon his arm;
but the recorder leaned forward and motioned him off. The prisoner
darted a single flash of anger at the officer, and then met the eye of
the justice.

"If I am a vagrant commit me for vagrancy! I expect no mercy here! I
expect no justice! You punish me first, and try me afterward, and now
you can punish me again; but you can't do that!"

"Order in court! Sit down in those benches!" cried the deputies. The
lawyers nodded darkly or blandly, each to each. The one who had
volunteered his counsel wiped his bald Gothic brow. On the recorder's
lips an austere satire played as he said to the panting prisoner:--

"You are showing not only your sanity, but your contempt of court also."

The prisoner's eyes shot back a fierce light as he retorted:--

"I have no object in concealing either."

The recorder answered with a quick, angry look; but, instantly
restraining himself, dropped his glance upon his desk as before, began
again to write, and said, with his eyes following his pen:--

"Parish Prison, for thirty days."

The officer grasped the prisoner again and pointed him to the door in
the palings whence he had come, and whither he now returned, without a
word or note of distress.

Half an hour later the dark omnibus without windows, that went by the
facetious name of the "Black Maria" received the convicted ones from the
same street door by which they had been brought in out of the world the
night before. The waifs and vagabonds of the town gleefully formed a
line across the sidewalk from the station-house to the van, and counted
with zest the abundant number of passengers that were ushered into it
one by one. Heigh ho! In they went: all ages and sorts; both sexes;
tried and untried, drunk and sober, new faces and old acquaintances; a
man who had been counterfeiting, his wife who had been helping him, and
their little girl of twelve, who had done nothing. Ho, ho! Bridget Fury!
Ha, ha! Howling Lou! In they go: the passive, the violent, all kinds;
filling the two benches against the sides, and then the standing room;
crowding and packing, until the officer can shut the door only by
throwing his weight against it.

"Officer," said one, whose volunteer counsel had persuaded the reporters
not to mention him by name in their thrilling account,--"officer," said
this one, trying to pause an instant before the door of the vehicle, "is
there no other possible way to"--

"Get in! get in!"

Two hands spread against his back did the rest; the door clapped to like
the lid of a bursting trunk, the padlock rattled: away they went!



CHAPTER XXVIII.

"OH, WHERE IS MY LOVE?"


At the prison the scene is repeated in reverse, and the Black Maria
presently rumbles away empty. In that building, whose exterior Narcisse
found so picturesque, the vagrant at length finds food. In that question
of food, by the way, another question arose, not as to any degree of
criminality past or present, nor as to age, or sex, or race, or station;
but as to the having or lacking fifty cents. "Four bits" a day was the
open sesame to a department where one could have bedstead and ragged
bedding and dirty mosquito-bar, a cell whose window looked down into the
front street, food in variety, and a seat at table with the officers of
the prison. But those who could not pay were conducted past all these
delights, along one of several dark galleries, the turnkeys of which
were themselves convicts, who, by a process of reasoning best understood
among the harvesters of perquisites, were assumed to be undergoing
sentence.

The vagrant stood at length before a grated iron gate while its bolts
were thrown back and it growled on its hinges. What he saw within needs
no minute description; it may be seen there still, any day: a large,
flagged court, surrounded on three sides by two stories of cells with
heavy, black, square doors all a-row and mostly open; about a hundred
men sitting, lying, or lounging about in scanty rags,--some gaunt and
feeble, some burly and alert, some scarred and maimed, some sallow, some
red, some grizzled, some mere lads, some old and bowed,--the sentenced,
the untried, men there for the first time, men who were oftener in than
out,--burglars, smugglers, house-burners, highwaymen, wife-beaters,
wharf-rats, common "drunks," pickpockets, shop-lifters, stealers of
bread, garroters, murderers,--in common equality and fraternity. In this
resting and refreshing place for vice, this caucus for the projection of
future crime, this ghastly burlesque of justice and the protection of
society, there was a man who had been convicted of a dreadful murder a
year or two before, and sentenced to twenty-one years' labor in the
State penitentiary. He had got his sentence commuted to confinement in
this prison for twenty-one years of idleness. The captain of the prison
had made him "captain of the yard." Strength, ferocity, and a terrific
record were the qualifications for this honorary office.

The gate opened. A howl of welcome came from those within, and the new
batch, the vagrant among them, entered the yard. He passed, in his turn,
to a tank of muddy water in this yard, washed away the soil and blood of
the night, and so to the cell assigned him. He was lying face downward
on its pavement, when a man with a cudgel ordered him to rise. The
vagrant sprang to his feet and confronted the captain of the yard, a
giant in breadth and stature, with no clothing but a ragged undershirt
and pantaloons.

"Get a bucket and rag and scrub out this cell!"

He flourished his cudgel. The vagrant cast a quick glance at him, and
answered quietly, but with burning face:--

"I'll die first."

A blow with the cudgel, a cry of rage, a clash together, a push, a
sledge-hammer fist in the side, another on the head, a fall out into
the yard, and the vagrant lay senseless on the flags.

When he opened his eyes again, and struggled to his feet, a gentle grasp
was on his arm. Somebody was steadying him. He turned his eyes. Ah! who
is this? A short, heavy, close-shaven man, with a woollen jacket thrown
over one shoulder and its sleeves tied together in a knot under the
other. He speaks in a low, kind tone:--

"Steady, Mr. Richling!"

Richling supported himself by a hand on the man's arm, gazed in
bewilderment at the gentle eyes that met his, and with a slow gesture of
astonishment murmured, "Ristofalo!" and dropped his head.

The Italian had just entered the prison from another station-house. With
his hand still on Richling's shoulder, and Richling's on his, he caught
the eye of the captain of the yard, who was striding quietly up and down
near by, and gave him a nod to indicate that he would soon adjust
everything to that autocrat's satisfaction. Richling, dazed and
trembling, kept his eyes still on the ground, while Ristofalo moved with
him slowly away from the squalid group that gazed after them. They went
toward the Italian's cell.

"Why are you in prison?" asked the vagrant, feebly.

"Oh, nothin' much--witness in shootin' scrape--talk 'bout aft' while."

"O Ristofalo," groaned Richling, as they entered, "my wife! my wife!
Send some bread to my wife!"

"Lie down," said the Italian, pressing softly on his shoulders; but
Richling as quietly resisted.

"She is near here, Ristofalo. You can send with the greatest ease! You
can do anything, Ristofalo,--if you only choose!"

"Lay down," said the Italian again, and pressed more heavily. The
vagrant sank limply to the pavement, his companion quickly untying the
jacket sleeves from under his own arms and wadding the garment under
Richling's head.

"Do you know what I'm in here for, Ristofalo?" moaned Richling.

"Don't know, don't care. Yo' wife know you here?" Richling shook his
head on the jacket. The Italian asked her address, and Richling gave it.

"Goin' tell her come and see you," said the Italian. "Now, you lay still
little while; I be back t'rectly." He went out into the yard again,
pushing the heavy door after him till it stood only slightly ajar,
sauntered easily around till he caught sight of the captain of the yard,
and was presently standing before him in the same immovable way in which
he had stood before Richling in Tchoupitoulas street, on the day he had
borrowed the dollar. Those who idly drew around could not hear his
words, but the "captain's" answers were intentionally audible. He
shook his head in rejection of a proposal. "No, nobody but the prisoner
himself should scrub out the cell. No, the Italian should not do it for
him. The prisoner's refusal and resistance had settled that question.
No, the knocking down had not balanced accounts at all. There was more
scrubbing to be done. It was scrubbing day. Others might scrub the yard
and the galleries, but he should scrub out the tank. And there were
other things, and worse,--menial services of the lowest kind. He should
do them when the time came, and the Italian would have to help him too.
Never mind about the law or the terms of his sentence. Those counted for
nothing there." Such was the sense of the decrees; the words were such
as may be guessed or left unguessed. The scrubbing of the cell must
commence at once. The vagrant must make up his mind to suffer. "He had
served on jury!" said the man in the undershirt, with a final flourish
of his stick. "He's got to pay dear for it."

When Ristofalo returned to his cell, its inmate, after many upstartings
from terrible dreams, that seemed to guard the threshold of slumber, had
fallen asleep. The Italian touched him gently, but he roused with a wild
start and stare.

"Ristofalo," he said, and fell a-staring again.

"You had some sleep," said the Italian.

"It's worse than being awake," said Richling. He passed his hands across
his face. "Has my wife been here?"

"No. Haven't sent yet. Must watch good chance. Git captain yard in
good-humor first, or else do on sly." The cunning Italian saw that
anything looking like early extrication would bring new fury upon
Richling. He knew _all_ the values of time. "Come," he added, "must
scrub out cell now." He ignored the heat that kindled in Richling's
eyes, and added, smiling, "You don't do it, I got to do it."

With a little more of the like kindly guile, and some wise and simple
reasoning, the Italian prevailed. Together, without objection from the
captain of the yard, with many unavailing protests from Richling, who
would now do it alone, and with Ristofalo smiling like a Chinaman at the
obscene ribaldry of the spectators in the yard, they scrubbed the cell.
Then came the tank. They had to stand in it with the water up to their
knees, and rub its sides with brickbats. Richling fell down twice in the
water, to the uproarious delight of the yard; but his companion helped
him up, and they both agreed it was the sliminess of the tank's bottom
that was to blame.

"Soon we get through we goin' to buy drink o' whisky from jailer," said
Ristofalo; "he keep it for sale. Then, after that, kin hire somebody to
go to your house; captain yard think we gittin' mo' whisky."

"Hire?" said Richling. "I haven't a cent in the world."

"I got a little--few dimes," rejoined the other.

"Then why are you here? Why are you in this part of the prison?"

"Oh, 'fraid to spend it. On'y got few dimes. Broke ag'in."

Richling stopped still with astonishment, brickbat in hand. The Italian
met his gaze with an illuminated smile. "Yes," he said, "took all I had
with me to bayou La Fourche. Coming back, slept with some men in boat.
One git up in night-time and steal everything. Then was a big fight.
Think that what fight was about--about dividing the money. Don't know
sure. One man git killed. Rest run into the swamp and prairie. Officer
arrest me for witness. Couldn't trust me to stay in the city."

"Do you think the one who was killed was the thief?"

"Don't know sure," said the Italian, with the same sweet face, and
falling to again with his brickbat,--"hope so!"

"Strange place to confine a witness!" said Richling, holding his hand to
his bruised side and slowly straightening his back.

"Oh, yes, good place," replied the other, scrubbing away; "git him, in
short time, so he swear to anything."

It was far on in the afternoon before the wary Ristofalo ventured to
offer all he had in his pocket to a hanger-on of the prison office, to
go first to Richling's house, and then to an acquaintance of his own,
with messages looking to the procuring of their release. The messenger
chose to go first to Ristofalo's friend, and afterward to Mrs. Riley's.
It was growing dark when he reached the latter place. Mary was out in
the city somewhere, wandering about, aimless and distracted, in search
of Richling. The messenger left word with Mrs. Riley. Richling had all
along hoped that that good friend, doubtless acquainted with the most
approved methods of finding a missing man, would direct Mary to the
police station at the earliest practicable hour. But time had shown
that she had not done so. No, indeed! Mrs. Riley counted herself too
benevolently shrewd for that. While she had made Mary's suspense of
the night less frightful than it might have been, by surmises that
Mr. Richling had found some form of night-work,--watching some pile
of freight or some unfinished building,--she had come, secretly, to a
different conviction, predicated on her own married experiences; and if
Mr. Richling had, in a moment of gloom, tipped the bowl a little too
high, as her dear lost husband, the best man that ever walked, had often
done, and had been locked up at night to be let out in the morning, why,
give him a chance! Let him invent his own little fault-hiding romance
and come home with it. Mary was frantic. She could not be kept in; but
Mrs. Riley, by prolonged effort, convinced her it was best not to call
upon Dr. Sevier until she could be sure some disaster had actually
occurred, and sent her among the fruiterers and oystermen in vain search
for Raphael Ristofalo. Thus it was that the Doctor's morning messenger
to the Richlings, bearing word that if any one were sick he would call
without delay, was met by Mrs. Riley only, and by the reassuring
statement that both of them were out. The later messenger, from the two
men in prison, brought back word of Mary's absence from the house, of
her physical welfare, and Mrs. Riley's promise that Mary should visit
the prison at the earliest hour possible. This would not be till the
next morning.

While Mrs. Riley was sending this message, Mary, a great distance away,
was emerging from the darkening and silent streets of the river front
and moving with timid haste across the broad levee toward the edge of
the water at the steam-boat landing. In this season of depleted streams
and idle waiting, only an occasional boat lifted its lofty, black,
double funnels against the sky here and there, leaving wide stretches of
unoccupied wharf-front between. Mary hurried on, clear out to the great
wharf's edge, and looked forth upon the broad, softly moving harbor. The
low waters spread out and away, to and around the opposite point, in
wide surfaces of glassy purples and wrinkled bronze. Beauty, that joy
forever, is sometimes a terror. Was the end of her search somewhere
underneath that fearful glory? She clasped her hands, bent down with
dry, staring eyes, then turned again and fled homeward. She swerved once
toward Dr. Sevier's quarters, but soon decided to see first if there
were any tidings with Mrs. Riley, and so resumed her course. Night
overtook her in streets where every footstep before or behind her made
her tremble; but at length she crossed the threshold of Mrs. Riley's
little parlor. Mrs. Riley was standing in the door, and retreated a step
or two backward as Mary entered with a look of wild inquiry.

"Not come?" cried the wife.

"Mrs. Richlin'," said the widow, hurriedly, "yer husband's alive and
found."

Mary seized her frantically by the shoulders, crying with high-pitched
voice:--

"Where is he?--where is he?"

"Ya can't see um till marning, Mrs. Richlin'."

"Where is he?" cried Mary, louder than before.

"Me dear," said Mrs. Riley, "ye kin easy git him out in the marning."

"Mrs. Riley," said Mary, holding her with her eye, "is my husband in
prison?--O Lord God! O God! my God!"

Mrs. Riley wept. She clasped the moaning, sobbing wife to her bosom, and
with streaming eyes said:--

"Mrs. Richlin', me dear, Mrs. Richlin', me dear, what wad I give to have
my husband this night where your husband is!"



CHAPTER XXIX.

RELEASE.--NARCISSE.


As some children were playing in the street before the Parish Prison
next morning, they suddenly started and scampered toward the prison's
black entrance. A physician's carriage had driven briskly up to it,
ground its wheels against the curb-stone, and halted. If any fresh
crumbs of horror were about to be dropped, the children must be there to
feast on them. Dr. Sevier stepped out, gave Mary his hand and then his
arm, and went in with her. A question or two in the prison office, a
reference to the rolls, and a turnkey led the way through a dark gallery
lighted with dimly burning gas. The stench was suffocating. They stopped
at the inner gate.

"Why didn't you bring him to us?" asked the Doctor, scowling resentfully
at the facetious drawings and legends on the walls, where the dampness
glistened in the sickly light.

The keeper made a low reply as he shot the bolts.

"What?" quickly asked Mary.

"He's not well," said Dr. Sevier.

The gate swung open. They stepped into the yard and across it. The
prisoners paused in a game of ball. Others, who were playing cards,
merely glanced up and went on. The jailer pointed with his bunch of keys
to a cell before him. Mary glided away from the Doctor and darted in.
There was a cry and a wail.

The Doctor followed quickly. Ristofalo passed out as he entered.
Richling lay on a rough gray blanket spread on the pavement with the
Italian's jacket under his head. Mary had thrown herself down beside him
upon her knees, and their arms were around each other's neck.

"Let me see, Mrs. Richling," said the physician, touching her on the
shoulder. She drew back. Richling lifted a hand in welcome. The Doctor
pressed it.

"Mrs. Richling," he said, as they faced each other, he on one knee, she
on both. He gave her a few laconic directions for the sick man's better
comfort. "You must stay here, madam," he said at length; "this man
Ristofalo will be ample protection for you; and I will go at once and
get your husband's discharge." He went out.

In the office he asked for a seat at a desk. As he finished using it he
turned to the keeper and asked, with severe face:--

"What do you do with sick prisoners here, anyway?"

The keeper smiled.

"Why, if they gits right sick, the hospital wagon comes and takes 'em to
the Charity Hospital."

"Umhum!" replied the Doctor, unpleasantly,--"in the same wagon they use
for a case of scarlet fever or small-pox, eh?"

The keeper, with a little resentment in his laugh, stated that he would
be eternally lost if he knew.

"_I_ know," remarked the Doctor. "But when a man is only a little
sick,--according to your judgment,--like that one in there now, he is
treated here, eh?"

The keeper swelled with a little official pride. His tone was boastful.

"We has a complete dispenisary in the prison," he said.

"Yes? Who's your druggist?" Dr. Sevier was in his worst inquisitorial
mood.

"One of the prisoners," said the keeper.

The Doctor looked at him steadily. The man, in the blackness of his
ignorance, was visibly proud of this bit of economy and convenience.

"How long has he held this position?" asked the physician.

"Oh, a right smart while. He was sentenced for murder, but he's waiting
for a new trial."

"And he has full charge of all the drugs?" asked the Doctor, with a
cheerful smile.

"Yes, sir." The keeper was flattered.

"Poisons and all, I suppose, eh?" pursued the Doctor.

"Everything."

The Doctor looked steadily and silently upon the officer, and tore and
folded and tore again into small bits the prescription he had written. A
moment later the door of his carriage shut with a smart clap and its
wheels rattled away. There was a general laugh in the office, heavily
spiced with maledictions.

"I say, Cap', what d'you reckon he'd 'a' said if he'd 'a' seen the
women's department?"

        *       *       *

In those days recorders had the power to release prisoners sentenced by
them when in their judgment new information justified such action. Yet
Dr. Sevier had a hard day's work to procure Richling's liberty. The sun
was declining once more when a hack drove up to Mrs. Riley's door with
John and Mary in it, and Mrs. Riley was restrained from laughing and
crying only by the presence of the great Dr. Sevier and a romantic
Italian stranger by the captivating name of Ristofalo. Richling, with
repeated avowals of his ability to walk alone, was helped into the house
between these two illustrious visitors, Mary hurrying in ahead, and Mrs.
Riley shutting the street door with some resentment of manner toward
the staring children who gathered without. Was there anything surprising
in the fact that eminent persons should call at her house?

When there was time for greetings she gave her hand to Dr. Sevier and
asked him how he found himself. To Ristofalo she bowed majestically. She
noticed that he was handsome and muscular.

At different hours the next day the same two visitors called. Also the
second day after. And the third. And frequently afterward.

        *       *       *

Ristofalo regained his financial feet almost, as one might say, at a
single hand-spring. He amused Mary and John and Mrs. Riley almost beyond
limit with his simple story of how he did it.

"Ye'd better hurry and be getting up out o' that sick bed, Mr.
Richlin'," said the widow, in Ristofalo's absence, "or that I-talian
rascal'll be making himself entirely too agree'ble to yer lady here. Ha!
ha! It's _she_ that he's a-comin' here to see."

Mrs. Riley laughed again, and pointed at Mary and tossed her head, not
knowing that Mary went through it all over again as soon as Mrs. Riley
was out of the room, to the immense delight of John.

"And now, madam," said Dr. Sevier to Mary, by and by, "let it be
understood once more that even independence may be carried to a vicious
extreme, and that"--he turned to Richling, by whose bed he stood--"you
and your wife will not do it again. You've had a narrow escape. Is it
understood?"

"We'll try to be moderate," replied the invalid, playfully.

"I don't believe you," said the Doctor.

And his scepticism was wise. He continued to watch them, and at length
enjoyed the sight of John up and out again with color in his cheeks and
the old courage--nay, a new and a better courage--in his eyes.

Said the Doctor on his last visit, "Take good care of your husband, my
child." He held the little wife's hand a moment, and gazed out of Mrs.
Riley's front door upon the western sky. Then he transferred his gaze to
John, who stood, with his knee in a chair, just behind her. He looked at
the convalescent with solemn steadfastness. The husband smiled broadly.

"I know what you mean. I'll try to deserve her."

The Doctor looked again into the west.

"Good-by."

Mary tried playfully to retort, but John restrained her, and when she
contrived to utter something absurdly complimentary of her husband he
was her only hearer.

They went back into the house, talking of other matters. Something
turned the conversation upon Mrs. Riley, and from that subject it seemed
to pass naturally to Ristofalo. Mary, laughing and talking softly as
they entered their room, called to John's recollection the Italian's
account of how he had once bought a tarpaulin hat and a cottonade shirt
of the pattern called a "jumper," and had worked as a deck-hand in
loading and unloading steam-boats. It was so amusingly sensible to put
on the proper badge for the kind of work sought. Richling mused. Many a
dollar he might have earned the past summer, had he been as ingeniously
wise, he thought.

"Ristofalo is coming here this evening," said he, taking a seat in the
alley window.

Mary looked at him with sidelong merriment. The Italian was coming to
see Mrs. Riley.

"Why, John," whispered Mary, standing beside him, "she's nearly ten
years older than he is!"

But John quoted the old saying about a man's age being what he feels,
and a woman's what she looks.

"Why,--but--dear, it is scarcely a fortnight since she declared nothing
could ever induce"--

"Let her alone," said John, indulgently. "Hasn't she said half-a-dozen
times that it isn't good for woman to be alone? A widow's a woman--and
you never disputed it."

"O John," laughed Mary, "for shame! You know I didn't mean that. You
know I never could mean that."

And when John would have maintained his ground she besought him not to
jest in that direction, with eyes so ready for tears that he desisted.

"I only meant to be generous to Mrs. Riley," he said.

"I know it," said Mary, caressingly; "you're always on the generous side
of everything."

She rested her hand fondly on his arm, and he took it into his own.

One evening the pair were out for that sunset walk which their young
blood so relished, and which often led them, as it did this time, across
the wide, open commons behind the town, where the unsettled streets were
turf-grown, and toppling wooden lamp-posts threatened to fall into the
wide, cattle-trodden ditches.

"Fall is coming," said Mary.

"Let it come!" exclaimed John; "it's hung back long enough."

He looked about with pleasure. On every hand the advancing season was
giving promise of heightened activity. The dark, plumy foliage of the
china trees was getting a golden edge. The burnished green of the great
magnolias was spotted brilliantly with hundreds of bursting cones, red
with their pendent seeds. Here and there, as the sauntering pair came
again into the region of brick sidewalks, a falling cone would now and
then scatter its polished coral over the pavement, to be gathered by
little girls for necklaces, or bruised under foot, staining the walk
with its fragrant oil. The ligustrums bent low under the dragging weight
of their small clustered berries. The oranges were turning. In the wet,
choked ditches along the interruptions of pavement, where John followed
Mary on narrow plank footways, bloomed thousands of little unrenowned
asteroid flowers, blue and yellow, and the small, pink spikes of the
water pepper. It wasn't the fashionable habit in those days, but Mary
had John gather big bunches of this pretty floral mob, and filled her
room with them--not Mrs. Riley's parlor--whoop, no! Weeds? Not if Mrs.
Riley knew herself.

So ran time apace. The morning skies were gray monotones, and the
evening gorgeous reds. The birds had finished their summer singing.
Sometimes the alert chirp of the cardinal suddenly smote the ear from
some neighboring tree; but he would pass, a flash of crimson, from one
garden to the next, and with another chirp or two be gone for days. The
nervy, unmusical waking cry of the mocking-bird was often the first
daybreak sound. At times a myriad downy seed floated everywhere, now
softly upward, now gently downward, and the mellow rays of sunset turned
it into a warm, golden snow-fall. By night a soft glow from distant
burning prairies showed the hunters were afield; the call of unseen wild
fowl was heard overhead, and--finer to the waiting poor man's ear than
all other sounds--came at regular intervals, now from this quarter and
now from that, the heavy, rushing blast of the cotton compress, telling
that the flood tide of commerce was setting in.

Narcisse surprised the Richlings one evening with a call. They tried
very hard to be reserved, but they were too young for that task to be
easy. The Creole had evidently come with his mind made up to take
unresentfully and override all the unfriendliness they might choose to
show. His conversation never ceased, but flitted from subject to subject
with the swift waywardness of a humming-bird. It was remarked by Mary,
leaning back in one end of Mrs. Riley's little sofa, that "summer
dresses were disappearing, but that the girls looked just as sweet in
their darker colors as they had appeared in midsummer white. Had
Narcisse noticed? Probably he didn't care for"--

"Ho! I notiz them an' they notiz me! An' thass one thing I 'ave notiz
about young ladies: they ah juz like those bird'; in summeh lookin'
cool, in winteh waum. I 'ave notiz that. An' I've notiz anotheh thing
which make them juz like those bird'. They halways know if a man is
lookin', an' they halways make like they don't see 'im! I would like to
'ite an i'ony about that--a lill i'ony--in the he'oic measuh. You like
that he'oic measuh, Mizzez Witchlin'?"

As he rose to go he rolled a cigarette, and folded the end in with the
long nail of his little finger.

"Mizzez Witchlin', if you will allow me to light my ciga'ette fum yo'
lamp--I can't use my sun-glass at night, because the sun is nod theh.
But, the sun shining, I use it. I 'ave adop' that method since lately."

"You borrow the sun's rays," said Mary, with wicked sweetness.

"Yes; 'tis cheapeh than matches in the longue 'un."

"You have discovered that, I suppose," remarked John.

"Me? The sun-glass? No. I believe Ahchimides invend that, in fact. An'
yet, out of ten thousan' who use the sun-glass only a few can account
'ow tis done. 'Ow did you think that that's my invention, Mistoo
Itchlin? Did you know that I am something of a chimist? I can tu'n
litmus papeh 'ed by juz dipping it in SO_3HO. Yesseh."

"Yes," said Richling, "that's one thing that I have noticed, that you're
very fertile in devices."

"Yes," echoed Mary, "I noticed that, the first time you ever came to see
us. I only wish Mr. Richling was half as much so."

She beamed upon her husband. Narcisse laughed with pure pleasure.

"Well, I am compel' to say you ah co'ect. I am continually makin' some
discove'ies. 'Necessity's the motheh of inventions.' Now thass anotheh
thing I 'ave notiz--about that month of Octobeh: it always come befo'
you think it's comin'. I 'ave notiz that about eve'y month. Now, to-day
we ah the twennieth Octobeh! Is it not so?" He lighted his cigarette.
"You ah compel' to co'obo'ate me."



CHAPTER XXX.

LIGHTING SHIP.


Yes, the tide was coming in. The Richlings' bark was still on the sands,
but every now and then a wave of promise glided under her. She might
float, now, any day. Meantime, as has no doubt been guessed, she was
held on an even keel by loans from the Doctor.

"Why you don't advertise in papers?" asked Ristofalo.

"Advertise? Oh, I didn't think it would be of any use. I advertised a
whole week, last summer."

"You put advertisement in wrong time and keep it out wrong time," said
the Italian.

"I have a place in prospect, now, without advertising," said Richling,
with an elated look.

It was just here that a new mistake of Richling's emerged. He had come
into contact with two or three men of that wretched sort that indulge
the strange vanity of keeping others waiting upon them by promises of
employment. He believed them, liked them heartily because they said
nothing about references, and gratefully distended himself with their
husks, until Ristofalo opened his eyes by saying, when one of these men
had disappointed Richling the third time:--

"Business man don't promise but once."

"You lookin' for book-keeper's place?" asked the Italian at another
time. "Why don't dress like a book-keeper?"

"On borrowed money?" asked Richling, evidently looking upon that
question as a poser.

"Yes."

"Oh, no," said Richling, with a smile of superiority; but the other one
smiled too, and shook his head.

"Borrow mo', if you don't."

Richling's heart flinched at the word. He had thought he was giving his
true reason; but he was not. A foolish notion had floated, like a grain
of dust, into the over-delicate wheels of his thought,--that men would
employ him the more readily if he looked needy. His hat was unbrushed,
his shoes unpolished; he had let his beard come out, thin and untrimmed;
his necktie was faded. He looked battered. When the Italian's gentle
warning showed him this additional mistake on top of all his others he
was dismayed at himself; and when he sat down in his room and counted
the cost of an accountant's uniform, so to speak, the remains of Dr.
Sevier's last loan to him was too small for it. Thereupon he committed
one error more,--but it was the last. He sunk his standard, and began
again to look for service among industries that could offer employment
only to manual labor. He crossed the river and stirred about among the
dry-docks and ship-carpenters' yards of the suburb Algiers. But he could
neither hew spars, nor paint, nor splice ropes. He watched a man half a
day calking a boat; then he offered himself for the same work, did it
fairly, and earned half a day's wages. But then the boat was done, and
there was no other calking at the moment along the whole harbor front,
except some that was being done on a ship by her own sailors.

"John," said Mary, dropping into her lap the sewing that hardly paid for
her candle, "isn't it hard to realize that it isn't twelve months since
your hardships commenced? They _can't_ last much longer, darling."

"I know that," said John. "And I know I'll find a place presently, and
then we'll wake up to the fact that this was actually less than a year
of trouble in a lifetime of love."

"Yes," rejoined Mary, "I know your patience will be rewarded."

"But what I want is work now, Mary. The bread of idleness is getting
_too_ bitter. But never mind; I'm going to work to-morrow;--never mind
where. It's all right. You'll see."

She smiled, and looked into his eyes again with a confession of
unreserved trust. The next day he reached the--what shall we say?--big
end of his last mistake. What it was came out a few mornings after, when
he called at Number 5 Carondelet street.

"The Doctah is not in pwesently," said Narcisse. "He ve'y hawdly comes
in so soon as that. He's living home again, once mo', now. He's ve'y
un'estless. I tole 'im yistiddy, 'Doctah, I know juz 'ow you feel, seh;
'tis the same way with myseff. You ought to git ma'ied!'"

"Did he say he would?" asked Richling.

"Well, you know, Mistoo Itchlin, so the povvub says, 'Silent give
consense.' He juz look at me--nevvah said a word--ha! he couldn'! You
not lookin' ve'y well, Mistoo Itchlin. I suppose 'tis that waum
weatheh."

"I suppose it is; at least, partly," said Richling, and added nothing
more, but looked along and across the ceiling, and down at a skeleton in
a corner, that was offering to shake hands with him. He was at a loss
how to talk to Narcisse. Both Mary and he had grown a little ashamed of
their covert sarcasms, and yet to leave them out was bread without
yeast, meat without salt, as far as their own powers of speech were
concerned.

"I thought, the other day," he began again, with an effort, "when it
blew up cool, that the warm weather was over."

"It seem to be finishin' ad the end, I think," responded the Creole. "I
think, like you, that we 'ave 'ad too waum weatheh. Me, I like that
weatheh to be cole, me. I halways weigh the mose in cole weatheh. I gain
flesh, in fact. But so soon 'tis summeh somethin' become of it. I dunno
if 'tis the fault of my close, but I reduct in summeh. Speakin' of
close, Mistoo Itchlin,--egscuse me if 'tis a fair question,--w'at was
yo' objec' in buyin' that tawpaulin hat an' jacket lass week ad that
sto' on the levee? You din know I saw you, but I juz 'appen to see you,
in fact." (The color rose in Richling's face, and Narcisse pressed on
without allowing an answer.) "Well, thass none o' my biziness, of
co'se, but I think you lookin' ve'y bad, Mistoo Itchlin"-- He stopped
very short and stepped with dignified alacrity to his desk, for Dr.
Sevier's step was on the stair.

The Doctor shook hands with Richling and sank into the chair at his
desk. "Anything turned up yet, Richling?"

"Doctor," began Richling, drawing his chair near and speaking low.

"Good-mawnin', Doctah," said Narcisse, showing himself with a graceful
flourish.

The Doctor nodded, then turned again to Richling. "You were saying"--

"I 'ope you well, seh," insisted the Creole, and as the Doctor glanced
toward him impatiently, repeated the sentiment, "'Ope you well, seh."

The Doctor said he was, and turned once more to Richling. Narcisse
bowed away backward and went to his desk, filled to the eyes with fierce
satisfaction. He had made himself felt. Richling drew his chair nearer
and spoke low:--

"If I don't get work within a day or two I shall have to come to you for
money."

"That's all right, Richling." The Doctor spoke aloud; Richling answered
low.

"Oh, no, Doctor, it's all wrong! Indeed, I can't do it any more unless
you will let me earn the money."

"My dear sir, I would most gladly do it; but I have nothing that you
can do."

"Yes, you have, Doctor."

"What is it?"

"Why, it's this: you have a slave boy driving your carriage."

"Well?"

"Give him some other work, and let me do that."

Dr. Sevier started in his seat. "Richling, I can't do that. I should
ruin you. If you drive my carriage"--

"Just for a time, Doctor, till I find something else."

"No! no! If you drive my carriage in New Orleans you'll never do
anything else."

"Why, Doctor, there are men standing in the front ranks to-day, who"--

"Yes, yes," replied the Doctor, impatiently, "I know,--who began with
menial labor; but--I can't explain it to you, Richling, but you're not
of the same sort; that's all. I say it without praise or blame; you must
have work adapted to your abilities."

"My abilities!" softly echoed Richling. Tears sprang to his eyes. He
held out his open palms,--"Doctor, look there." They were lacerated. He
started to rise, but the Doctor prevented him.

"Let me go," said Richling, pleadingly, and with averted face. "Let me
go. I'm sorry I showed them. It was mean and foolish and weak. Let me
go."

But Dr. Sevier kept a hand on him, and he did not resist. The Doctor
took one of the hands and examined it. "Why, Richling, you've been
handling freight!"

"There was nothing else."

"Oh, bah!"

"Let me go," whispered Richling. But the Doctor held him.

"You didn't do this on the steam-boat landing, did you, Richling?"

The young man nodded. The Doctor dropped the hand and looked upon its
owner with set lips and steady severity. When he spoke he said:--

"Among the negro and green Irish deck-hands, and under the oaths and
blows of steam-boat mates! Why, Richling!" He turned half away in his
rotary chair with an air of patience worn out.

"You thought I had more sense," said Richling.

The Doctor put his elbows upon his desk and slowly drew his face upward
through his hands. "Mr. Richling, what is the matter with you?" They
gazed at each other a long moment, and then Dr. Sevier continued: "Your
trouble isn't want of sense. I know that very well, Richling." His voice
was low and became kind. "But you don't get the use of the sense you
have. It isn't available." He bent forward: "Some men, Richling, carry
their folly on the surface and their good sense at the bottom,"--he
jerked his thumb backward toward the distant Narcisse, and added, with a
stealthy frown,--"like that little fool in yonder. He's got plenty of
sense, but he doesn't load any of it on deck. Some men carry their sense
on top and their folly down below"--

Richling smiled broadly through his dejection, and touched his own
chest. "Like this big fool here," he said.

"Exactly," said Dr. Sevier. "Now you've developed a defect of the
memory. Your few merchantable qualities have been so long out of the
market, and you've suffered such humiliation under the pressure of
adversity, that you've--you've done a very bad thing."

"Say a dozen," responded Richling, with bitter humor. But the Doctor
swung his head in resentment of the levity.

"One's enough. You've allowed yourself to forget your true value."

"I'm worth whatever I'll bring."

The Doctor tossed his head in impatient disdain.

"Pshaw! You'll never bring what you're worth any more than some men are
worth what they bring. You don't know how. You never will know."

"Well, Doctor, I do know that I'm worth more than I ever was before.
I've learned a thousand things in the last twelvemonth. If I can only
get a chance to prove it!" Richling turned red and struck his knee with
his fist.

"Oh, yes," said Dr. Sevier; "that's your sense, on top. And then you
go--in a fit of the merest impatience, as I do suspect--and offer
yourself as a deck-hand and as a carriage-driver. That's your folly, at
the bottom. What ought to be done to such a man?" He gave a low, harsh
laugh. Richling dropped his eyes. A silence followed.

"You say all you want is a chance," resumed the Doctor.

"Yes," quickly answered Richling, looking up.

"I'm going to give it to you." They looked into each other's eyes. The
Doctor nodded. "Yes, sir." He nodded again.

"Where did you come from, Richling,--when you came to New Orleans,--you
and your wife? Milwaukee?"

"Yes."

"Do your relatives know of your present condition?"

"No."

"Is your wife's mother comfortably situated?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll tell you what you must do."

"The only thing I can't do," said Richling.

"Yes, you can. You must. You must send Mrs. Richling back to her
mother."

Richling shook his head.

"Well," said the Doctor, warmly, "I say you must. I will lend you the
passage-money."

Richling's eye kindled an instant at the Doctor's compulsory tone, but
he said, gently:--

"Why, Doctor, Mary will never consent to leave me."

"Of course she will not. But you must make her do it! That's what
you must do. And when that's done then you must start out and go
systematically from door to door,--of business houses, I mean,--offering
yourself for work befitting your station--ahem!--station, I say--and
qualifications. I will lend you money to live on until you find
permanent employment. Now, now, don't get alarmed! I'm not going to help
you any more than I absolutely must!"

"But, Doctor, how can you expect"-- But the Doctor interrupted.

"Come, now, none of that! You and your wife are brave; I must say that
for you. She has the courage of a gladiator. You can do this if you
will."

"Doctor," said Richling, "you are the best of friends; but, you know,
the fact is, Mary and I--well, we're still lovers."

"Oh!" The Doctor turned away his head with fresh impatience. Richling
bit his lip, but went on:--

"We can bear anything on earth together; but we have sworn to stay
together through better and worse"--

"Oh, pf-f-f-f!" said the doctor, closing his eyes and swinging his head
away again.

"--And we're going to do it," concluded Richling.

"But you can't do it!" cried the Doctor, so loudly that Narcisse stood
up on the rungs of his stool and peered.

"We can't separate."

Dr. Sevier smote the desk and sprang to his feet:--

"Sir, you've got to do it! If you continue in this way, you'll die.
You'll die, Mr. Richling--both of you! You'll die! Are you going to let
Mary die just because she's brave enough to do it?" He sat down again
and busied himself, nervously placing pens on the pen-rack, the stopper
in the inkstand, and the like.

Many thoughts ran through Richling's mind in the ensuing silence.
His eyes were on the floor. Visions of parting; of the great
emptiness that would be left behind; the pangs and yearnings that
must follow,--crowded one upon another. One torturing realization
kept ever in the front,--that the Doctor had a well-earned right to
advise, and that, if his advice was to be rejected, one must show good
and sufficient cause for rejecting it, both in present resources and
in expectations. The truth leaped upon him and bore him down as it never
had done before,--the truth which he had heard this very Dr. Sevier
proclaim,--that debt is bondage. For a moment he rebelled against it;
but shame soon displaced mutiny, and he accepted this part, also, of
his lot. At length he rose.

"Well?" said Dr. Sevier.

"May I ask Mary?"

"You will do what you please, Mr. Richling." And then, in a kinder
voice, the Doctor added, "Yes; ask her."

They moved together to the office door. The Doctor opened it, and they
said good-by, Richling trying to drop a word of gratitude, and the
Doctor hurriedly ignoring it.

The next half hour or more was spent by the physician in receiving,
hearing, and dismissing patients and their messengers. By and by no
others came. The only audible sound was that of the Doctor's paper-knife
as it parted the leaves of a pamphlet. He was thinking over the late
interview with Richling, and knew that, if this silence were not soon
interrupted from without, he would have to encounter his book-keeper,
who had not spoken since Richling had left. Presently the issue came.

"Dr. Seveeah,"--Narcisse came forward, hat in hand,--"I dunno 'ow 'tis,
but Mistoo Itchlin always wemine me of that povvub, 'Ully to bed, ully
to 'ise, make a pusson to be 'ealthy an' wealthy an' wise.'"

"I don't know how it is, either," grumbled the Doctor.

"I believe thass not the povvub I was thinking. I am acquainting myseff
with those povvubs; but I'm somewhat gween in that light, in fact. Well,
Doctah, I'm goin' ad the--shoemakeh. I burs' my shoe yistiddy. I was
juz"--

"Very well, go."

"Yesseh; and from the shoemakeh I'll go"--

The Doctor glanced darkly over the top of the pamphlet.

"--Ad the bank; yesseh," said Narcisse, and went.



CHAPTER XXXI.

AT LAST.


Mary, cooking supper, uttered a soft exclamation of pleasure and relief
as she heard John's step under the alley window and then at the door.
She turned, with an iron spoon in one hand and a candlestick in the
other, from the little old stove with two pot-holes, where she had been
stirring some mess in a tin pan.

"Why, you're"--she reached for a kiss--"real late!"

"I could not come any sooner." He dropped into a chair at the table.

"Busy?"

"No; no work to-day."

Mary lifted the pan from the stove, whisked it to the table, and blew
her fingers.

"Same subject continued," she said laughingly, pointing with her spoon
to the warmed-over food.

Richling smiled and nodded, and then flattened his elbows out on the
table and hid his face in them.

This was the first time he had ever lingered away from his wife when he
need not have done so. It was the Doctor's proposition that had kept him
back. All day long it had filled his thoughts. He felt its wisdom. Its
sheer practical value had pierced remorselessly into the deepest
convictions of his mind. But his heart could not receive it.

"Well," said Mary, brightly, as she sat down at the table, "maybe
you'll have better luck to-morrow. Don't you think you may?"

"I don't know," said John, straightening up and tossing back his hair.
He pushed a plate up to the pan, supplied and passed it. Then he helped
himself and fell to eating.

"Have you seen Dr. Sevier to-day?" asked Mary, cautiously, seeing her
husband pause and fall into distraction.

He pushed his plate away and rose. She met him in the middle of the
room. He extended both hands, took hers, and gazed upon her. How could
he tell? Would she cry and lament, and spurn the proposition, and fall
upon him with a hundred kisses? Ah, if she would! But he saw that Doctor
Sevier, at least, was confident she would not; that she would have,
instead, what the wife so often has in such cases, the strongest love,
it may be, but also the strongest wisdom for that particular sort of
issue. Which would she do? Would she go, or would she not?

He tried to withdraw his hands, but she looked beseechingly into his
eyes and knit her fingers into his. The question stuck upon his lips and
would not be uttered. And why should it be? Was it not cowardice to
leave the decision to her? Should not he decide? Oh! if she would only
rebel! But would she? Would not her utmost be to give good reasons in
her gentle, inquiring way why he should not require her to leave him?
And were there any such? No! no! He had racked his brain to find so much
as one, all day long.

"John," said Mary, "Dr. Sevier's been talking to you?"

"Yes."

"And he wants you to send me back home for a while?"

"How do you know?" asked John, with a start.

"I can read it in your face." She loosed one hand and laid it upon his
brow.

"What--what do you think about it, Mary?"

Mary, looking into his eyes with the face of one who pleads for mercy,
whispered, "He's right," then buried her face in his bosom and wept like
a babe.

"I felt it six months ago," she said later, sitting on her husband's
knee and holding his folded hands tightly in hers.

"Why didn't you say so?" asked John.

"I was too selfish," was her reply.

When, on the second day afterward, they entered the Doctor's office
Richling was bright with that new hope which always rises up beside a
new experiment, and Mary looked well and happy. The Doctor wrote them a
letter of introduction to the steam-boat agent.

"You're taking a very sensible course," he said, smoothing the
blotting-paper heavily over the letter. "Of course, you think it's hard.
It is hard. But distance needn't separate you."

"It can't," said Richling.

"Time," continued the Doctor,--"maybe a few months,--will bring you
together again, prepared for a long life of secure union; and then, when
you look back upon this, you'll be proud of your courage and good sense.
And you'll be"-- He enclosed the note, directed the envelope, and,
pausing with it still in his hand, turned toward the pair. They rose up.
His rare, sick-room smile hovered about his mouth, and he said:--

"You'll be all the happier--all three of you."

The husband smiled. Mary colored down to the throat and looked up on the
wall, where Harvey was explaining to his king the circulation of the
blood. There was quite a pause, neither side caring to utter the first
adieu.

"If a physician could call any hour his own," presently said the Doctor,
"I should say I would come down to the boat and see you off. But I might
fail in that. Good-by!"

"Good-by, Doctor!"--a little tremor in the voice,--"take care of John."

The tall man looked down into the upturned blue eyes.

"Good-by!" He stooped toward her forehead, but she lifted her lips and
he kissed them. So they parted.

The farewell with Mrs. Riley was mainly characterized by a generous and
sincere exchange of compliments and promises of remembrance. Some tears
rose up; a few ran over.

At the steam-boat wharf there were only the pair themselves to cling one
moment to each other and then wave that mute farewell that looks through
watery eyes and sticks in the choking throat. Who ever knows what
good-by means?

        *       *       *

"Doctor," said Richling, when he came to accept those terms in the
Doctor's proposition which applied more exclusively to himself,--"no,
Doctor, not that way, please." He put aside the money proffered him.
"This is what I want to do: I will come to your house every morning and
get enough to eat to sustain me through the day, and will continue to do
so till I find work."

"Very well," said the Doctor.

The arrangement went into effect. They never met at dinner; but almost
every morning the Doctor, going into the breakfast-room, met Richling
just risen from his earlier and hastier meal.

"Well? Anything yet?"

"Nothing yet."

And, unless there was some word from Mary, nothing more would be said.
So went the month of November.

But at length, one day toward the close of the Doctor's office hours, he
noticed the sound of an agile foot springing up his stairs three steps
at a stride, and Richling entered, panting and radiant.

"Doctor, at last! At last!"

"At last, what?"

"I've found employment! I have, indeed! One line from you, and the place
is mine! A good place, Doctor, and one that I can fill. The very thing
for me! Adapted to my abilities!" He laughed so that he coughed, was
still, and laughed again. "Just a line, if you please, Doctor."



CHAPTER XXXII.

A RISING STAR.


It had been many a day since Dr. Sevier had felt such pleasure as
thrilled him when Richling, half beside himself with delight, ran in
upon him with the news that he had found employment. Narcisse, too, was
glad. He slipped down from his stool and came near enough to contribute
his congratulatory smiles, though he did not venture to speak. Richling
nodded him a happy how-d'ye-do, and the Creole replied by a wave of the
hand.

In the Doctor's manner, on the other hand, there was a decided lack of
response that made Richling check his spirits and resume more slowly,--

"Do you know a man named Reisen?"

"No," said the Doctor.

"Why, he says he knows you."

"That may be."

"He says you treated his wife one night when she was very ill"--

"What name?"

"Reisen."

The Doctor reflected a moment.

"I believe I recollect him. Is he away up on Benjamin street, close to
the river, among the cotton-presses?"

"Yes. Thalia street they call it now. He says"--

"Does he keep a large bakery?" interrupted the Doctor.

"The 'Star Bakery,'" said Richling, brightening again. "He says
he knows you, and that, if you will give me just one line of
recommendation, he will put me in charge of his accounts and give me a
trial. And a trial's all I want, Doctor. I'm not the least fearful of
the result."

"Richling," said Dr. Sevier, slowly picking up his paper-folder and
shaking it argumentatively, "where are the letters I advised you to send
for?"

Richling sat perfectly still, taking a long, slow breath through his
nostrils, his eyes fixed emptily on his questioner. He was thinking,
away down at the bottom of his heart,--and the Doctor knew it,--that
this was the unkindest question, and the most cold-blooded, that he had
ever heard. The Doctor shook his paper-folder again.

"You see, now, as to the bare fact, I don't know you."

Richling's jaw dropped with astonishment. His eye lighted up
resentfully. But the speaker went on:--

"I esteem you highly. I believe in you. I would trust you,
Richling,"--his listener remembered how the speaker _had_ trusted him,
and was melted,--"but as to recommending you, why, that is like going
upon the witness-stand, as it were, and I cannot say that I know
anything."

Richling's face suddenly flashed full of light. He touched the Doctor's
hand.

"That's it! That's the very thing, sir! Write that!"

The Doctor hesitated. Richling sat gazing at him, afraid to move an eye
lest he should lose an advantage. The Doctor turned to his desk and
wrote.

        *       *       *

On the next morning Richling did not come for his breakfast; and, not
many days after, Dr. Sevier received through the mail the following
letter:--

                                  NEW ORLEANS, December 2, 1857.

     DEAR DOCTOR,--I've got the place. I'm Reisen's book-keeper. I'm
     earning my living. And I like the work. Bread, the word bread,
     that has so long been terrible to me, is now the sweetest word
     in the language. For eighteen months it was a prayer; now it's
     a proclamation.

     I've not only got the place, but I'm going to keep it. I find I
     have new powers; and the first and best of them is the power to
     throw myself into my work and make it _me_. It's not a task;
     it's a mission. Its being bread, I suppose, makes it easier to
     seem so; but it should be so if it was pork and garlic, or rags
     and raw-hides.

     My maxim a year ago, though I didn't know it then, was to do
     what I liked. Now it's to like what I do. I understand it now.
     And I understand now, too, that a man who expects to retain
     employment must yield a profit. He must be worth more than he
     costs. I thank God for the discipline of the last year and a
     half. I thank him that I did not fall where, in my cowardice, I
     so often prayed to fall, into the hands of foolish benefactors.
     You wouldn't believe this of me, I know; but it's true. I have
     been taught what life is; I never would have learned it any
     other way.

     And still another thing: I have been taught to know what the
     poor suffer. I know their feelings, their temptations, their
     hardships, their sad mistakes, and the frightful mistakes and
     oversights the rich make concerning them, and the ways to give
     them true and helpful help. And now, if God ever gives me
     competency, whether he gives me abundance or not, I know what
     he intends me to do. I was once, in fact and in sentiment, a
     brother to the rich; but I know that now he has trained me to
     be a brother to the poor. Don't think I am going to be foolish.
     I remember that I'm brother to the rich too; but I'll be the
     other as well. How wisely has God--what am I saying? Poor fools
     that we humans are! We can hardly venture to praise God's
     wisdom to-day when we think we see it, lest it turn out to be
     only our own folly to-morrow.

     But I find I'm only writing to myself, Doctor, not to you; so I
     stop. Mary is well, and sends you much love.

                                            Yours faithfully,
                                                      JOHN RICHLING.

"Very little about Mary," murmured Dr. Sevier. Yet he was rather pleased
than otherwise with the letter. He thrust it into his breast-pocket. In
the evening, at his fireside, he drew it out again and re-read it.

"Talks as if he had got into an impregnable castle," thought the Doctor,
as he gazed into the fire. "Book-keeper to a baker," he muttered, slowly
folding the sheet again. It somehow vexed him to see Richling so happy
in so low a station. But--"It's the joy of what he has escaped _from_,
not _to_," he presently remembered.

A fortnight or more elapsed. A distant relative of Dr. Sevier, a man of
his own years and profession, was his guest for two nights and a day as
he passed through the city, eastward, from an all-summer's study of
fevers in Mexico. They were sitting at evening on opposite sides of the
library fire, conversing in the leisurely ease of those to whom life is
not a novelty.

"And so you think of having Laura and Bess come out from Charleston, and
keep house for you this winter? Their mother wrote me to that effect."

"Yes," said Dr. Sevier. "Society here will be a great delight to them.
They will shine. And time will be less monotonous for me. It may suit
me, or it may not."

"I dare say it may," responded the kinsman, whereas in truth he was very
doubtful about it.

He added something, a moment later, about retiring for the night,
and his host had just said, "Eh?" when a slave, in a five-year-old
dress-coat, brought in the card of a person whose name was as well known
in New Orleans in those days as St. Patrick's steeple or the statue of
Jackson in the old Place d'Armes. Dr. Sevier turned it over and looked
for a moment ponderingly upon the domestic.

The relative rose.

"You needn't go," said Dr. Sevier; but he said "he had intended," etc.,
and went to his chamber.

The visitor entered. He was a dark, slender, iron gray man, of finely
cut, regular features, and seeming to be much more deeply wrinkled than
on scrutiny he proved to be. One quickly saw that he was full of
reposing energy. He gave the feeling of your being very near some
weapon, of dreadful efficiency, ready for instant use whenever needed.
His clothing fitted him neatly; his long, gray mustache was the only
thing that hung loosely about him; his boots were fine. If he had told a
child that all his muscles and sinews were wrapped with fine steel wire
the child would have believed him, and continued to sit on his knee all
the same. It is said, by those who still survive him, that in dreadful
places and moments the flash of his fist was as quick, as irresistible,
and as all-sufficient, as lightning, yet that years would sometimes pass
without its ever being lifted.

Dr. Sevier lifted his slender length out of his easy-chair, and bowed
with severe gravity.

"Good-evening, sir," he said, and silently thought, "Now, what can Smith
Izard possibly want with me?"

It may have been perfectly natural that this man's presence shed off all
idea of medical consultation; but why should it instantly bring to the
Doctor's mind, as an answer to his question, another man as different
from this one as water from fire?

The detective returned the Doctor's salutation, and they became seated.
Then the visitor craved permission to ask a confidential question or two
for information which he was seeking in his official capacity. His
manners were a little old-fashioned, but perfect of their kind. The
Doctor consented. The man put his hand into his breast-pocket, and drew
out a daguerreotype case, touched its spring, and as it opened in
his palm extended it to the Doctor. The Doctor took it with evident
reluctance. It contained the picture of a youth who was just reaching
manhood. The detective spoke:--

"They say he ought to look older than that now."

"He does," said Dr. Sevier.

"Do you know his name?" inquired the detective.

"No."

"What name do you know him by?"

"John Richling."

"Wasn't he sent down by Recorder Munroe, last summer, for assault,
etc.?"

"Yes. I got him out the next day. He never should have been put in."

To the Doctor's surprise the detective rose to go.

"I'm much obliged to you, Doctor."

"Is that all you wanted to ask me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Izard, who is this young man? What has he done?"

"I don't know, sir. I have a letter from a lawyer in Kentucky who says
he represents this young man's two sisters living there,--half-sisters,
rather,--stating that his father and mother are both dead,--died within
three days of each other."

"What name?"

"He didn't give the name. He sent this daguerreotype, with instructions
to trace up the young man, if possible. He said there was reason to
believe he was in New Orleans. He said, if I found him, just to see him
privately, tell him the news, and invite him to come back home. But he
said if the young fellow had got into any kind of trouble that might
somehow reflect on the family, you know, like getting arrested for
something or other, you know, or some such thing, then I was just to
drop the thing quietly, and say nothing about it to him or anybody
else."

"And doesn't that seem a strange way to manage a matter like that,--to
put it into the hands of a detective?"

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. Izard. "We're used to strange things, and
this isn't so very strange. No, it's very common. I suppose he knew that
if he gave it to me it would be attended to in a quiet and innocent sort
o' way. Some people hate mighty bad to get talked about. Nobody's seen
that picture but you and one 'aid,' and just as soon as he saw it he
said, 'Why, that's the chap that Dr. Sevier took out of the Parish
Prison last September.' And there won't anybody else see it."

"Don't you intend to see Richling?" asked the Doctor, following the
detective toward the door.

"I don't see as it would be any use," said the detective, "seeing he's
been sent down, and so on. I'll write to the lawyer and state the facts,
and wait for orders."

"But do you know how slight the blame was that got him into trouble
here?"

"Yes. The 'aid' who saw the picture told me all about that. It was a
shame. I'll say so. I'll give all the particulars. But I tell you, I
just guess--they'll drop him."

"I dare say," said Dr. Sevier.

"Well, Doctor," said Mr. Izard, "hope I haven't annoyed you."

"No," replied the Doctor.

But he had; and the annoyance had not ceased to be felt when, a few
mornings afterward, Narcisse suddenly doubled--trebled it by saying:--

"Doctah Seveeah,"--it was a cold day and the young Creole stood a
moment with his back to the office fire, to which he had just given an
energetic and prolonged poking,--"a man was yeh, to see you, name'
Bison. 'F want' to see you about Mistoo Itchlin."

The Doctor looked up with a start, and Narcisse continued:--

"Mistoo Itchlin is wuckin' in 'is employment. I think 'e's please' with
'im."

"Then why does he come to see me about him?" asked the Doctor, so
sharply that Narcisse shrugged as he replied:--

"Reely, I cann' tell you; but thass one thing, Doctah, I dunno if you
'ave notiz: the worl' halways take a gweat deal of welfa'e in a man w'en
'e's 'ising. I do that myseff. Some'ow I cann' 'e'p it." This bold
speech was too much for him. He looked down at his symmetrical legs and
went back to his desk.

The Doctor was far from reassured. After a silence he called out:--

"Did he say he would come back?" A knock at the door arrested the
answer, and a huge, wide, broad-faced German entered diffidently. The
Doctor recognized Reisen. The visitor took off his flour-dusted hat and
bowed with great deference.

"Toc-tor," he softly drawled, "I yoost taught I trop in on you to say a
verte to you apowt teh chung yentleman vot you hef rickomendet to me."

"I didn't recommend him to you, sir. I wrote you distinctly that I did
not feel at liberty to recommend him."

"Tat iss teh troot, Toctor Tseweer; tat iss teh ectsectly troot.
Shtill I taught I'll yoost trop in on you to say a verte to
you,--Toctor,--apowt Mister"-- He hung his large head at one side
to remember.

"Richling," said the Doctor, impatiently.

"Yes, sir. Apowt Mister Richlun. I heff a tifficuldy to rigolict naymps.
I yoost taught I voot trop in und trop a verte to you apowt Mr. Richlun,
vot maypy you titn't herr udt before, yet."

"Yes," said the Doctor, with ill-concealed contempt. "Well, speak it
out, Mr. Reisen; time is precious."

The German smiled and made a silly gesture of assent.

"Yes, udt is brecious. Shtill I taught I voot take enough time to
yoost trop in undt say to you tat I heffent het Mr. Richlun in my
etsteplitchmendt a veek undtil I finte owdt someting apowt him, tot, uf
you het a-knowdt ud, voot hef mate your letter maypy a little tifferendt
written, yet."

Now, at length, Dr. Sevier's annoyance was turned to dismay. He waited
in silence for Reisen to unfold his enigma, but already his resentment
against Richling was gathering itself for a spring. To the baker,
however, he betrayed only a cold hostility.

"I kept a copy of my letter to you, Mr. Reisen, and there isn't a word
in it which need have misled you, sir."

The baker waved his hand amicably.

"Sure, Tocter Tseweer, I toandt hef nutting to gomblain akinst teh
vertes of tat letter. You voss mighty puttickly. Ovver, shtill, I hef
sumpting to tell you vot ef you het a-knowdt udt pefore you writed tose
vertes, alreatty, t'ey voot a little tifferendt pin."

"Well, sir, why don't you tell it?"

Reisen smiled. "Tat iss teh ectsectly vot I am coing to too. I yoost
taught I'll trop in undt tell you, Toctor, tat I heffent het Mr. Richlun
in my etsteplitchmendt a veek undtil I findte owdt tat he's
a--berfect--tressure."

Doctor Sevier started half up from his chair, dropped into it again,
wheeled half away, and back again with the blood surging into his face
and exclaimed:--

"Why, what do you mean by such drivelling nonsense, sir? You've given me
a positive fright!" He frowned the blacker as the baker smiled from ear
to ear.

"Vy, Toctor, I hope you ugscooce me! I yoost taught you voot like to
herr udt. Undt Missis Reisen sayce, 'Reisen, you yoost co undt tell um.'
I taught udt voot pe blessant to you to know tatt you hett sendt me teh
fynust pissness mayn I effer het apowdt me. Undt uff he iss onnust he
iss a berfect tressure, undt uff he aint a berfect tressure,"--he smiled
anew and tendered his capacious hat to his listener,--"you yoost kin
take tiss, Toctor, undt kip udt undt vare udt! Toctor, I vish you a
merrah Chris'mus!"



CHAPTER XXXIII.

BEES, WASPS, AND BUTTERFLIES.


The merry day went by. The new year, 1858, set in. Everything gathered
momentum. There was a panic and a crash. The brother-in-law of sister
Jane--he whom Dr. Sevier met at that quiet dinner-party--struck an
impediment, stumbled, staggered, fell under the feet of the racers, and
crawled away minus not money and credit only, but all his philosophy
about helping the poor, maimed in spirit, his pride swollen with
bruises, his heart and his speech soured beyond all sweetening.

Many were the wrecks. But over their débris, Mercury and Venus--the busy
season and the gay season--ran lightly, hand in hand. Men getting money
and women squandering it. Whole nights in the ball-room. Gold pouring in
at the hopper and out at the spout,--Carondelet street emptying like a
yellow river into Canal street. Thousands for vanity; thousands for
pride; thousands for influence and for station; thousands for hidden
sins; a slender fraction for the wants of the body; a slenderer for the
cravings of the soul. Lazarus paid to stay away from the gate. John the
Baptist, in raiment of broadcloth, a circlet of white linen about his
neck, and his meat strawberries and ice-cream. The lower classes
mentioned mincingly; awkward silences or visible wincings at allusions
to death, and converse on eternal things banished as if it were the
smell of cabbage. So looked the gay world, at least, to Dr. Sevier.

He saw more of it than had been his wont for many seasons. The two
young-lady cousins whom he had brought and installed in his home
thirsted for that gorgeous, nocturnal moth life in which no thirst is
truly slaked, and dragged him with them into the iridescent, gas-lighted
spider-web of society.

"Now, you know you like it!" they said.

"A little of it, yes. But I don't see how you can like it, who virtually
live in it and upon it. Why, I would as soon try to live upon cake and
candy!"

"Well, we can live very nicely upon cake and candy," retorted they.

"Why, girls, it's no more life than spice is food. What lofty
motive--what earnest, worthy object"--

But they drowned his homily in a carol, and ran away arm in arm to dress
for another ball. One of them stopped in the door with an air of mock
bravado:--

"What do we care for lofty motives or worthy objects?"

A smile escaped from him as she vanished. His condemnation was flavored
with charity. "It's their mating season," he silently thought, and, not
knowing he did it, sighed.

"There come Dr. Sevier and his two pretty cousins," was the ball-room
whisper. "Beautiful girls--rich widower without children--great catch!
_Passé_, how? Well, maybe so; not as much as he makes himself out,
though." "_Passé_, yes," said a merciless belle to a blade of her own
years; "a man of strong sense is _passé_ at any age." Sister Jane's name
was mentioned in the same connection, but that illusion quickly passed.
The cousins denied indignantly that he had any matrimonial intention.
Somebody dissipated the rumor by a syllogism: "A man hunting a second
wife always looks like a fool; the Doctor doesn't look a bit like a
fool, ergo"--

He grew very weary of the giddy rout, standing in it like a rock in a
whirlpool. He did rejoice in the Carnival, but only because it was the
end.

"Pretty? yes, as pretty as a bonfire," he said. "I can't enjoy much
fiddling while Rome is burning."

"But Rome isn't always burning," said the cousins.

"Yes, it is! Yes, it is!"

The wickeder of the two cousins breathed a penitential sigh, dropped her
bare, jewelled arms out of her cloak, and said:--

"Now tell us once more about Mary Richling." He had bored them to death
with Mary.

Lent was a relief to all three. One day, as the Doctor was walking along
the street, a large hand grasped his elbow and gently arrested his
steps. He turned.

"Well, Reisen, is that you?"

The baker answered with his wide smile. "Yes, Toctor, tat iss me, sure.
You titn't tink udt iss Mr. Richlun, tit you?"

"No. How is Richling?"

"Vell, Mr. Richlun kitten along so-o-o-so-o-o. He iss not ferra shtrong;
ovver he vurks like a shteam-inchyine."

"I haven't seen him for many a day," said Dr. Sevier.

The baker distended his eyes, bent his enormous digestive apparatus
forward, raised his eyebrows, and hung his arms free from his sides. "He
toandt kit a minudt to shpare in teh tswendy-four hourss. Sumptimes he
sayss, 'Mr. Reisen, I can't shtop to talk mit you.' Sindts Mr. Richlun
pin py my etsteplitchmendt, I tell you teh troot, Toctor Tseweer, I am
yoost meckin' monneh haynd ofer fist!" He swung his chest forward again,
drew in his lower regions, revolved his fists around each other for a
moment, and then let them fall open at his sides, with the added
assurance, "Now you kott teh ectsectly troot."

The Doctor started away, but the baker detained him by a touch:--

"You toandt kott enna verte to sendt to Mr. Richlun, Toctor!"

"Yes. Tell him to come and pass an hour with me some evening in my
library."

The German lifted his hand in delight.

"Vy, tot's yoost teh dting! Mr. Richlun alvayss pin sayin', 'I vish he
aysk me come undt see um;' undt I sayss, 'You holdt shtill, yet, Mr.
Richlun; teh next time I see um I make um aysk you.' Vell, now, titn't I
tunned udt?" He was happy.

"Well, ask him," said the Doctor, and got away.

"No fool is an utter fool," pondered the Doctor, as he went. Two friends
had been kept long apart by the fear of each, lest he should seem to be
setting up claims based on the past. It required a simpleton to bring
them together.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

TOWARD THE ZENITH.


"Richling, I am glad to see you!"

Dr. Sevier had risen from his luxurious chair beside a table, the soft
downward beams of whose lamp partly showed, and partly hid, the rich
appointments of his library. He grasped Richling's hand, and with an
extensive stride drew forward another chair on its smooth-running
casters.

Then inquiries were exchanged as to the health of one and the other. The
Doctor, with his professional eye, noticed, as the light fell full upon
his visitor's buoyant face, how thin and pale he had grown. He rose
again, and stepping beyond Richling with a remark, in part complimentary
and in part critical, upon the balmy April evening, let down the sash of
a window where the smell of honeysuckles was floating in.

"Have you heard from your wife lately?" he asked, as he resumed his
seat.

"Yesterday," said Richling. "Yes, she's very well, been well ever since
she left us. She always sends love to you."

"Hum," responded the physician. He fixed his eyes on the mantel and
asked abstractedly, "How do you bear the separation?"

"Oh!" Richling laughed, "not very heroically. It's a great strain on a
man's philosophy."

"Work is the only antidote," said the Doctor, not moving his eyes.

"Yes, so I find it," answered the other. "It's bearable enough while one
is working like mad; but sooner or later one must sit down to meals, or
lie down to rest, you know"--

"Then it hurts," said the Doctor.

"It's a lively discipline," mused Richling.

"Do you think you learn anything by it?" asked the other, turning his
eyes slowly upon him. "That's what it means, you notice."

"Yes, I do," replied Richling, smiling; "I learn the very thing I
suppose you're thinking of,--that separation isn't disruption, and that
no pair of true lovers are quite fitted out for marriage until they can
bear separation if they must."

"Yes," responded the physician; "if they can muster the good sense to
see that they'll not be so apt to marry prematurely. I needn't tell you
I believe in marrying for love; but these needs-must marriages are so
ineffably silly. You 'must' and you 'will' marry, and 'nobody shall
hinder you!' And you do it! And in three or four or six months"--he drew
in his long legs energetically from the hearth-pan--"_death_ separates
you!--death, sometimes, resulting directly from the turn your haste has
given to events! Now, where is your 'must' and 'will'?" He stretched his
legs out again, and laid his head on his cushioned chair-back.

"I have made a narrow escape," said Richling.

"I wasn't so fortunate," responded the Doctor, turning solemnly toward
his young friend. "Richling, just seven months after I married Alice I
buried her. I'm not going into particulars--of course; but the sickness
that carried her off was distinctly connected with the haste of our
marriage. Your Bible, Richling, that you lay such store by, is right; we
should want things as if we didn't want them. That isn't the quotation,
exactly, but it's the idea. I swore I couldn't and wouldn't live without
her; but, you see, this is the fifteenth year that I have had to do it."

"I should think it would have unmanned you for life," said Richling.

"It made a man of me! I've never felt young a day since, and yet I've
never seemed to grow a day older. It brought me all at once to my full
manhood. I have never consciously disputed God's arrangements since. The
man who does is only a wayward child."

"It's true," said Richling, with an air of confession, "it's true;" and
they fell into silence.

Presently Richling looked around the room. His eyes brightened rapidly
as he beheld the ranks and tiers of good books. He breathed an audible
delight. The multitude of volumes rose in the old-fashioned way, in
ornate cases of dark wood from floor to ceiling, on this hand, on that,
before him, behind; some in gay covers,--green, blue, crimson,--with
gilding and embossing; some in the sumptuous leathers of France, Russia,
Morocco, Turkey; others in worn attire, battered and venerable, dingy
but precious,--the gray heads of the council.

The two men rose and moved about among those silent wits and
philosophers, and, from the very embarrassment of the inner riches, fell
to talking of letter-press and bindings, with maybe some effort on the
part of each to seem the better acquainted with Caxton, the Elzevirs,
and other like immortals. They easily passed to a competitive
enumeration of the rare books they had seen or not seen here and there
in other towns and countries. Richling admitted he had travelled, and
the conversation turned upon noted buildings and famous old nooks in
distant cities where both had been. So they moved slowly back to their
chairs, and stood by them, still contemplating the books. But as they
sank again into their seats the one thought which had fastened itself in
the minds of both found fresh expression.

Richling began, smilingly, as if the subject had not been dropped at
all,--"I oughtn't to speak as if I didn't realize my good fortune, for I
do."

"I believe you do," said the Doctor, reaching toward the fire-irons.

"Yes. Still, I lose patience with myself to find myself taking Mary's
absence so hard."

"All hardships are comparative," said the Doctor.

"Certainly they are," replied Richling. "I lie sometimes and think of
men who have been political prisoners, shut away from wife and children,
with war raging outside and no news coming in."

"Think of the common poor," exclaimed Dr. Sevier,--"the thousands of
sailors' wives and soldiers' wives. Where does that thought carry you?"

"It carries me," responded the other, with a low laugh, "to where I'm
always a little ashamed of myself."

"I didn't mean it to do that," said the Doctor; "I can imagine how you
miss your wife. I miss her myself."

"Oh! but she's here on this earth. She's alive and well. Any burden is
light when I think of that--pardon me, Doctor!"

"Go on, go on. Anything you please about her, Richling." The Doctor half
sat, half lay in his chair, his eyes partly closed. "Go on," he
repeated.

"I was only going to say that long before Mary went away, many a time
when she and I were fighting starvation at close quarters, I have
looked at her and said to myself, 'What if I were in Dr. Sevier's
place?' and it gave me strength to rise up and go on."

"You were right."

"I know I was. I often wake now at night and turn and find the place by
my side empty, and I can hardly keep from calling her aloud. It wrenches
me, but before long I think she's no such great distance away, since
we're both on the same earth together, and by and by she'll be here at
my side; and so it becomes easy to me once more." Richling, in the
self-occupation of a lover, forgot what pains he might be inflicting.
But the Doctor did not wince.

"Yes," said the physician, "of course you wouldn't want the separation
to be painless; and it promises a reward, you know."

"Ah!" exclaimed Richling, with an exultant smile and motion of the head,
and then dropped his eyes in meditation. The Doctor looked at him
steadily.

"Richling, you've gathered some terribly hard experiences. But hard
experiences are often the foundation-stones of a successful life. You
can make them all profitable. You can make them draw you along, so to
speak. But you must hold them well in hand, as you would a dangerous
team, you know,--coolly and alertly, firmly and patiently,--and never
let the reins slack till you've driven through the last gate."

Richling replied, with a pleasant nod, "I believe I shall do it. Did you
notice what I wrote you in my letter? I have got the notion strongly
that the troubles we have gone through--Mary and I--were only our
necessary preparation--not so necessary for her as for me"--

"No," said Dr. Sevier, and Richling continued, with a smile:--

"To fit us for a long and useful life, and especially a life that will
be full of kind and valuable services to the poor. If that isn't what
they were sent for"--he dropped into a tone of reflection--"then I don't
understand them."

"And suppose you don't understand," said the Doctor, with his cold, grim
look.

"Oh!" rejoined Richling, in amiable protest; "but a man would like to
understand."

"Like to--yes," replied the Doctor; "but be careful. The spirit that
_must_ understand is the spirit that can't trust." He paused. Presently
he said, "Richling!"

Richling answered by an inquiring glance.

"Take better care of your health," said the physician.

Richling smiled--a young man's answer--and rose to say good-night.



CHAPTER XXXV.

TO SIGH, YET FEEL NO PAIN.


Mrs. Riley missed the Richlings, she said, more than tongue could tell.
She had easily rented the rooms they left vacant; that was not the
trouble. The new tenant was a sallow, gaunt, wind-dried seamstress of
sixty, who paid her rent punctually, but who was--

"Mighty poor comp'ny to thim as's been used to the upper tin, Mr.
Ristofalo."

Still she was a protection. Mrs. Riley had not regarded this as a
necessity in former days, but now, somehow, matters seemed different.
This seamstress had, moreover, a son of eighteen years, principally
skin and bone, who was hoping to be appointed assistant hostler at the
fire-engine house of "Volunteer One," and who meantime hung about Mrs.
Riley's dwelling and loved to relieve her of the care of little Mike.
This also was something to be appreciated. Still there was a void.

"Well, Mr. Richlin'!" cried Mrs. Riley, as she opened her parlor door in
response to a knock. "Well, I'll be switched! ha! ha! I didn't think it
was you at all. Take a seat and sit down!"

It was good to see how she enjoyed the visit. Whenever she listened to
Richling's words she rocked in her rocking-chair vigorously, and when
she spoke stopped its motion and rested her elbows on its arms.

"And how _is_ Mrs. Richlin'? And so she sent her love to me, did she,
now? The blessed angel! Now, ye're not just a-makin' that up? No, I
know ye wouldn't do sich a thing as that, Mr. Richlin'. Well, you must
give her mine back again. I've nobody else on e'rth to give ud to, and
never will have." She lifted her nose with amiable stateliness, as if to
imply that Richling might not believe this, but that it was true,
nevertheless.

"You may change your mind, Mrs. Riley, some day," returned Richling, a
little archly.

"Ha! ha!" She tossed her head and laughed with good-natured scorn.
"Nivver a fear o' that, Mr. Richlin'!" Her brogue was apt to broaden
when pleasure pulled down her dignity. "And, if I did, it wuddent be for
the likes of no I-talian Dago, if id's him ye're a-dthrivin' at,--not
intinding anny disrespect to your friend, Mr. Richlin', and indeed I
don't deny he's a perfect gintleman,--but, indeed, Mr. Richlin', I'm
just after thinkin' that you and yer lady wouldn't have no self-respect
for Kate Riley if she should be changing her name."

"Still you were thinking about it," said Richling, with a twinkle.

"Ah! ha! ha! Indeed I wasn', an' ye needn' be t'rowin' anny o' yer
slyness on me. Ye know ye'd have no self-respect fur me. No; now ye know
ye wuddent,--wud ye?"

"Why, Mrs. Riley, of course we would. Why--why not?" He stood in the
door-way, about to take his leave. "You may be sure we'll always be glad
of anything that will make you the happier." Mrs. Riley looked so grave
that he checked his humor.

"But in the nixt life, Mr. Richlin', how about that?"

"There? I suppose we shall simply each love all in absolute perfection.
We'll"--

"We'll never know the differ," interposed Mrs. Riley.

"That's it," said Richling, smiling again. "And so I say,--and I've
always said,--if a person _feels_ like marrying again, let him do it."

"Have ye, now? Well, ye're just that good, Mr. Richlin'."

"Yes," he responded, trying to be grave, "that's about my measure."

"Would _you_ do ut?"

"No, I wouldn't. I couldn't. But I should like--in good earnest, Mrs.
Riley, I should like, now, the comfort of knowing that you were not to
pass all the rest of your days in widowhood."

"Ah! ged out, Mr. Richlin'!" She failed in her effort to laugh. "Ah!
ye're sly!" She changed her attitude and drew a breath.

"No," said Richling, "no, honestly. I should feel that you deserved
better at this world's hands than that, and that the world deserved
better of you. I find two people don't make a world, Mrs. Riley, though
often they think they do. They certainly don't when one is gone."

"Mr. Richlin'," exclaimed Mrs. Riley, drawing back and waving her hand
sweetly, "stop yer flattery! Stop ud! Ah! ye're a-feeling yer oats, Mr.
Richlin'. An' ye're a-showin' em too, ye air. Why, I hered ye was
lookin' terrible, and here ye're lookin' just splendud!"

"Who told you that?" asked Richling.

"Never mind! Never mind who he was--ha, ha, ha!" She checked herself
suddenly. "Ah, me! It's a shame for the likes o' me to be behavin' that
foolish!" She put on additional dignity. "I will always be the Widow
Riley." Then relaxing again into sweetness: "Marridge is a lottery, Mr.
Richlin'; indeed an' it is; and ye know mighty well that he ye're after
joking me about is no more nor a fri'nd." She looked sweet enough for
somebody to kiss.

"I don't know so certainly about that," said her visitor, stepping down
upon the sidewalk and putting on his hat. "If I may judge by"-- He
paused and glanced at the window.

"Ah, now, Mr. Richlin', na-na-now, Mr. Richlin', ye daurn't say ud! Ye
daurn't!" She smiled and blushed and arched her neck and rose and sank
upon herself with sweet delight.

"I say if I may judge by what he has said to me," insisted Richling.

Mrs. Riley glided down across the door-step, and, with all the
insinuation of her sex and nation, demanded:--

"What'd he tell ye? Ah! he didn't tell ye nawthing! Ha, ha! there wasn'
nawthing to tell!" But Richling slipped away.

Mrs. Riley shook her finger: "Ah, ye're a wicket joker, Mr. Richlin'. I
didn't think that o' the likes of a gintleman like you, anyhow!" She
shook her finger again as she withdrew into the house, smiling broadly
all the way in to the cradle, where she kissed and kissed again her
ruddy, chubby, sleeping boy.

        *       *       *

Ristofalo came often. He was a man of simple words, and of few thoughts
of the kind that were available in conversation; but his personal
adventures had begun almost with infancy, and followed one another in
close and strange succession over lands and seas ever since. He could
therefore talk best about himself, though he talked modestly. "These
things to hear would Desdemona seriously incline," and there came times
when even a tear was not wanting to gem the poetry of the situation.

"And ye might have saved yerself from all that," was sometimes her note
of sympathy. But when he asked how she silently dried her eyes.

Sometimes his experiences had been intensely ludicrous, and Mrs. Riley
would laugh until in pure self-oblivion she smote her thigh with her
palm, or laid her hand so smartly against his shoulder as to tip him
half off his seat.

"Ye didn't!"

"Yes."

"Ah! Get out wid ye, Raphael Ristofalo,--to be telling me that for the
trooth!"

At one such time she was about to give him a second push, but he took
the hand in his, and quietly kept it to the end of his story.

He lingered late that evening, but at length took his hat from under his
chair, rose, and extended his hand.

"Man alive!" she cried, "that's my _hand_, sur, I'd have ye to know.
Begahn wid ye! Lookut heere! What's the reason ye make it so long atween
yer visits, eh? Tell me that. Ah--ah--ye've no need fur to tell me, Mr.
Ristofalo! Ah--now don't tell a lie!"

"Too busy. Come all time--wasn't too busy."

"Ha, ha! Yes, yes; ye're too busy. Of coorse ye're too busy. Oh, yes! ye
_air_ too busy--a-courtin' thim I-talian froot gerls around the Frinch
Mairket. Ah! I'll bet two bits ye're a bouncer! Ah, don't tell me. I
know ye, ye villain! Some o' thim's a-waitin' fur ye now, ha, ha! Go!
And don't ye nivver come back heere anny more. D'ye mind?"

"Aw righ'." The Italian took her hand for the third time and held it,
standing in his simple square way before her and wearing his gentle
smile as he looked her in the eye. "Good-by, Kate."

Her eye quailed. Her hand pulled a little helplessly and in a meek voice
she said:--

"That's not right for you to do me that a-way, Mr. Ristofalo. I've got a
handle to my name, sur."

She threw some gentle rebuke into her glance, and turned it upon him. He
met it with that same amiable absence of emotion that was always in his
look.

"Kate too short by itself?" he asked. "Aw righ'; make it Kate
Ristofalo."

"No," said Mrs. Riley, averting and drooping her face.

"Take good care of you," said the Italian; "you and Mike. Always be
kind. Good care."

Mrs. Riley turned with sudden fervor.

"Good cayre!--Mr. Ristofalo," she exclaimed, lifting her free hand and
touching her bosom with the points of her fingers, "ye don't know the
hairt of a woman, surr! No-o-o, surr! It's _love_ we wants! 'The hairt
as has trooly loved nivver furgits, but as trooly loves ahn to the
tlose!'"

"Yes," said the Italian; "yes," nodding and ever smiling, "dass aw
righ'."

But she:--

"Ah! it's no use fur you to be a-talkin' an' a-pallaverin' to Kate Riley
when ye don't be lovin' her, Mr. Ristofalo, an' ye know ye don't."

A tear glistened in her eye.

"Yes, love you," said the Italian; "course, love you."

He did not move a foot or change the expression of a feature.

"H-yes!" said the widow. "H-yes!" she panted. "H-yes, a little! A
little, Mr. Ristofalo! But I want"--she pressed her hand hard upon her
bosom, and raised her eyes aloft--"I want to be--h--h--h-adaured above
all the e'rth!"

"Aw righ'," said Ristofalo; "das aw righ'; yes--door above all you
worth."

"Raphael Ristofalo," she said, "ye're a-deceivin' me! Ye came heere whin
nobody axed ye,--an' that ye know is a fact, surr,--an' made yerself
agree'ble to a poor, unsuspectin' widdah, an' [_tears_] rabbed me o' mie
hairt, ye did; whin I nivver intinded to git married ag'in."

"Don't cry, Kate--Kate Ristofalo," quietly observed the Italian, getting
an arm around her waist, and laying a hand on the farther cheek. "Kate
Ristofalo."

"Shut!" she exclaimed, turning with playful fierceness, and proudly
drawing back her head; "shut! Hah! It's Kate Ristofalo, is it? Ah, ye
think so? Hah-h! It'll be ad least two weeks yet before the priest will
be after giving you the right to call me that!"

And, in fact, an entire fortnight did pass before they were married.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

WHAT NAME?


Richling in Dr. Sevier's library, one evening in early May, gave him
great amusement by an account of the Ristofalo-Riley wedding. He had
attended it only the night before. The Doctor had received an
invitation, but had pleaded previous engagements.

"But I am glad you went," he said to Richling; "however, go on with your
account."

"Oh! I was glad to go. And I'm certainly glad I went."

Richling proceeded with the recital. The Doctor smiled. It was very
droll,--the description of persons and costumes. Richling was quite
another than his usual restrained self this evening. Oddly enough, too,
for this was but his second visit; the confinement of his work was
almost like an imprisonment, it was so constant. The Doctor had never
seen him in just such a glow. He even mimicked the brogue of two or
three Irish gentlemen, and the soft, outlandish swing in the English of
one or two Sicilians. He did it all so well that, when he gave an
instance of some of the broad Hibernian repartee he had heard, the
Doctor actually laughed audibly. One of his young-lady cousins on some
pretext opened a door, and stole a glance within to see what could have
produced a thing so extraordinary.

"Come in, Laura; come in! Tell Bess to come in."

The Doctor introduced Richling with due ceremony Richling could not, of
course, after this accession of numbers, go on being funny. The mistake
was trivial, but all saw it. Still the meeting was pleasant. The girls
were very intelligent and vivacious. Richling found a certain
refreshment in their graceful manners, like what we sometimes feel in
catching the scent of some long-forgotten perfume. They had not been
told all his history, but had heard enough to make them curious to see
and speak to him. They were evidently pleased with him, and Dr. Sevier,
observing this, betrayed an air that was much like triumph. But after a
while they went as they had come.

"Doctor," said Richling, smiling until Dr. Sevier wondered silently what
possessed the fellow, "excuse me for bringing this here. But I find it
so impossible to get to your office"-- He moved nearer the Doctor's table
and put his hand into his bosom.

"What's that?" asked the Doctor, frowning heavily. Richling smiled still
broader than before.

"This is a statement," he said.

"Of what?"

"Of the various loans you have made me, with interest to date."

"Yes?" said the Doctor, frigidly.

"And here," persisted the happy man, straightening out a leg as he had
done the first time they ever met, and drawing a roll of notes from his
pocket, "is the total amount."

"Yes?" The Doctor regarded them with cold contempt. "That's all very
pleasant for you, I suppose, Richling,--shows you're the right kind of
man, I suppose, and so on. I know that already, however. Now just put
all that back into your pocket; the sight of it isn't pleasant. You
certainly don't imagine I'm going to take it, do you?"

"You promised to take it when you lent it."

"Humph! Well, I didn't say when."

"As soon as I could pay it," said Richling.

"I don't remember," replied the Doctor, picking up a newspaper. "I
release myself from that promise."

"I don't release you," persisted Richling; "neither does Mary."

The Doctor was quiet awhile before he answered. He crossed his knees, a
moment after folded his arms, and presently said:--

"Foolish pride, Richling."

"We know that," replied Richling; "we don't deny that that feeling
creeps in. But we'd never do anything that's right if we waited for an
unmixed motive, would we?"

"Then you think my motive--in refusing it--is mixed, probably."

"Ho-o-oh!" laughed Richling. The gladness within him would break
through. "Why, Doctor, nothing could be more different. It doesn't seem
to me as though you ever had a mixed motive."

The Doctor did not answer. He seemed to think the same thing.

"We know very well, Doctor, that if we should accept this kindness we
might do it in a spirit of proper and commendable--a--humble-mindedness.
But it isn't mere pride that makes us insist."

"No?" asked the Doctor, cruelly. "What is it else?"

"Why, I hardly know what to call it, except that it's a conviction
that--well, that to pay is best; that it's the nearest to justice we can
get, and that"--he spoke faster--"that it's simply duty to choose
justice when we can and mercy when we must. There, I've hit it out!" He
laughed again. "Don't you see, Doctor? Justice when we may--mercy when
we must! It's your own principles!"

The Doctor looked straight at the mantel-piece as he asked:--

"Where did you get that idea?"

"I don't know; partly from nowhere, and"--

"Partly from Mary," interrupted the Doctor. He put out his long white
palm. "It's all right. Give me the money." Richling counted it into his
hand. He rolled it up and stuffed it into his portemonnaie.

"You like to part with your hard earnings, do you, Richling?"

"Earnings can't be hard," was the reply; "it's borrowings that are
hard."

The Doctor assented.

"And, of course," said Richling, "I enjoy paying old debts." He stood
and leaned his head in his hand with his elbow on the mantel. "But, even
aside from that, I'm happy."

"I see you are!" remarked the physician, emphatically, catching the arms
of his chair and drawing his feet closer in. "You've been smiling worse
than a boy with a love-letter."

"I've been hoping you'd ask me what's the matter."

"Well, then, Richling, what is the matter?"

"Mary has a daughter."

"What!" cried the Doctor, springing up with a radiant face, and grasping
Richling's hand in both his own.

Richling laughed aloud, nodded, laughed again, and gave either eye a
quick, energetic wipe with all his fingers.

"Doctor," he said, as the physician sank back into his chair, "we want
to name"--he hesitated, stood on one foot and leaned again against the
shelf--"we want to call her by the name of--if we may"--

The Doctor looked up as if with alarm, and John said, timidly,--"Alice!"

Dr. Sevier's eyes--what was the matter? His mouth quivered. He nodded
and whispered huskily:--

"All right."

After a long pause Richling expressed the opinion that he had better be
going, and the Doctor did not indicate any difference of conviction. At
the door the Doctor asked:--

"If the fever should break out this summer, Richling, will you go away?"

"No."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

PESTILENCE.


On the twentieth of June, 1858, an incident occurred in New Orleans
which challenged special attention from the medical profession. Before
the month closed there was a second, similar to the first. The press
did not give such matters to the public in those days; it would only
make the public--the advertising public--angry. Times have changed
since--faced clear about: but at that period Dr. Sevier, who hated a
secret only less than a falsehood, was right in speaking as he did.

"Now you'll see," he said, pointing downward aslant, "the whole
community stick its head in the sand!" He sent for Richling.

"I give you fair warning," he said. "It's coming."

"Don't cases occur sometimes in an isolated way without--anything
further?" asked Richling, with a promptness which showed he had already
been considering the matter.

"Yes."

"And might not this"--

"Richling, I give you fair warning."

"Have you sent your cousins away, Doctor?"

"They go to-morrow." After a silence the Doctor added: "I tell you now,
because this is the time to decide what you will do. If you are not
prepared to take all the risks and stay them through, you had better go
at once."

"What proportion of those who are taken sick of it die?" asked Richling.

"The proportion varies in different seasons; say about one in seven or
eight. But your chances would be hardly so good, for you're not strong,
Richling, nor well either."

Richling stood and swung his hat against his knee.

"I really don't see, Doctor, that I have any choice at all. I couldn't
go to Mary--when she has but just come through a mother's pains and
dangers--and say, 'I've thrown away seven good chances of life to run
away from one bad one.' Why, to say nothing else, Reisen can't spare
me." He smiled with boyish vanity.

"O Richling, that's silly!"

"I--I know it," exclaimed the other, quickly; "I see it is. If he could
spare me, of course he wouldn't be paying me a salary." But the Doctor
silenced him by a gesture.

"The question is not whether he can spare you, at all. It's simply, can
you spare him?"

"Without violating any pledge, you mean," added Richling.

"Of course," assented the physician.

"Well, I can't spare him, Doctor. He has given me a hold on life, and no
one chance in seven, or six, or five is going to shake me loose. Why, I
tell you I couldn't look Mary in the face!"

"Have your own way," responded the Doctor. "There are some things in
your favor. You frail fellows often pull through easier than the big,
full-blooded ones."

"Oh, it's Mary's way too, I feel certain!" retorted Richling, gayly,
"and I venture to say"--he coughed and smiled again--"it's yours."

"I didn't say it wasn't," replied the unsmiling Doctor, reaching for a
pen and writing a prescription. "Here; get that and take it according to
direction. It's for that cold."

"If I should take the fever," said Richling, coming out of a revery,
"Mary will want to come to me."

"Well, she mustn't come a step!" exclaimed the Doctor.

"You'll forbid it, will you not, Doctor? Pledge me!"

"I do better, sir; I pledge myself."

So the July suns rose up and moved across the beautiful blue sky; the
moon went through all her majestic changes; on thirty-one successive
midnights the Star Bakery sent abroad its grateful odors of bread, and
as the last night passed into the first twinkling hour of morning the
month chronicled one hundred and thirty-one deaths from yellow fever.
The city shuddered because it knew, and because it did not know, what
was in store. People began to fly by hundreds, and then by thousands.
Many were overtaken and stricken down as they fled. Still men plied
their vocations, children played in the streets, and the days came and
went, fair, blue tremulous with sunshine, or cool and gray and sweet
with summer rain. How strange it was for nature to be so beautiful and
so unmoved! By and by one could not look down a street, on this hand or
on that, but he saw a funeral. Doctors' gigs began to be hailed on the
streets and to refuse to stop, and houses were pointed out that had just
become the scenes of strange and harrowing episodes.

"Do you see that bakery,--the 'Star Bakery'? Five funerals from that
place--and another goes this afternoon."

Before this was said August had completed its record of eleven hundred
deaths, and September had begun the long list that was to add
twenty-two hundred more. Reisen had been the first one ill in the
establishment. He had been losing friends,--one every few days; and he
thought it only plain duty, let fear or prudence say what they might,
to visit them at their bedsides and follow them to their tombs. It
was not only the outer man of Reisen, but the heart as well, that was
elephantine. He had at length come home from one of these funerals with
pains in his back and limbs, and the various familiar accompaniments.

"I feel right clumsy," he said, as he lifted his great feet and lowered
them into the mustard foot-bath.

"Doctor Sevier," said Richling, as he and the physician paused half way
between the sick-chambers of Reisen and his wife, "I hope you'll not
think it foolhardy for me to expose myself by nursing these people"--

"No," replied the veteran, in a tone of indifference, and passed on; the
tincture of self-approval that had "mixed" with Richling's motives went
away to nothing.

Both Reisen and his wife recovered. But an apple-cheeked brother of the
baker, still in a green cap and coat that he had come in from Germany,
was struck from the first with that mortal terror which is so often an
evil symptom of the disease, and died, on the fifth day after his
attack, in raging delirium. Ten of the workmen, bakers and others,
followed him. Richling alone, of all in the establishment, while the
sick lay scattered through the town on uncounted thousands of beds, and
the month of October passed by, bringing death to eleven hundred more,
escaped untouched of the scourge.

"I can't understand it," he said.

"Demand an immediate explanation," said Dr. Sevier, with sombre irony.

How did others fare? Ristofalo had, time and again, sailed with the
fever, nursed it, slept with it. It passed him by again. Little Mike
took it, lay two or three days very still in his mother's strong arms,
and recovered. Madame Ristofalo had had it in "fifty-three." She became
a heroic nurse to many, and saved life after life among the poor.

The trials of those days enriched John Richling in the acquaintanceship
and esteem of Sister Jane's little lisping rector. And, by the way, none
of those with whom Dr. Sevier dined on that darkest night of Richling's
life became victims. The rector had never encountered the disease
before, but when Sister Jane and the banker, and the banker's family and
friends, and thousands of others, fled, he ran toward it, David-like,
swordless and armorless. He and Richling were nearly of equal age. Three
times, four times, and again, they met at dying-beds. They became fond
of each other.

Another brave nurse was Narcisse. Dr. Sevier, it is true, could not get
rid of the conviction for years afterward that one victim would have
lived had not Narcisse talked him to death. But in general, where
there was some one near to prevent his telling all his discoveries and
inventions, he did good service, and accompanied it with very chivalric
emotions.

"Yesseh," he said, with a strutting attitude that somehow retained a
sort of modesty, "I 'ad the gweatess success. Hah! a nuss is a nuss
those time'. Only some time' 'e's not. 'Tis accawding to the
povvub,--what is that povvub, now, ag'in?" The proverb did not answer
his call, and he waved it away. "Yesseh, eve'ybody wanting me at
once--couldn' supply the deman'."

Richling listened to him with new pleasure and rising esteem.

"You make me envy you," he exclaimed, honestly.

"Well, I s'pose you may say so, Mistoo Itchlin, faw I nevva nuss
a sing-le one w'at din paid me ten dollahs a night. Of co'se!
'Consistency, thou awt a jew'l.' It's juz as the povvub says, 'All
work an' no pay keep Jack a small boy.' An' yet," he hurriedly added,
remembering his indebtedness to his auditor, "'tis aztonizhin' 'ow 'tis
expensive to live. I haven' got a picayune of that money pwesently! I'm
aztonizh' myseff!"



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

"I MUST BE CRUEL ONLY TO BE KIND."


The plague grew sated and feeble. One morning frost sent a flight of icy
arrows into the town, and it vanished. The swarthy girls and lads that
sauntered homeward behind their mothers' cows across the wide suburban
stretches of marshy commons heard again the deep, unbroken, cataract
roar of the reawakened city.

We call the sea cruel, seeing its waters dimple and smile where
yesterday they dashed in pieces the ship that was black with men, women,
and children. But what shall we say of those billows of human life, of
which we are ourselves a part, that surge over the graves of its own
dead with dances and laughter and many a coquetry, with panting chase
for gain and preference, and pious regrets and tender condolences for
the thousands that died yesterday--and need not have died?

Such were the questions Dr. Sevier asked himself as he laid down the
newspaper full of congratulations upon the return of trade's and
fashion's boisterous flow, and praises of the deeds of benevolence and
mercy that had abounded throughout the days of anguish.

Certain currents in these human rapids had driven Richling and the
Doctor wide apart. But at last, one day, Richling entered the office
with a cheerfulness of countenance something overdone, and indicative to
the Doctor's eye of inward trepidation.

"Doctor," he said hurriedly, "preparing to leave the office? It was the
only moment I could command"--

"Good-morning, Richling."

"I've been trying every day for a week to get down here," said Richling,
drawing out a paper. "Doctor"--with his eyes on the paper, which he had
begun to unfold.

"Richling"-- It was the Doctor's hardest voice. Richling looked up
at him as a child looks at a thundercloud. The Doctor pointed to the
document:--

"Is that a subscription paper?"

"Yes."

"You needn't unfold it, Richling." The Doctor made a little pushing
motion at it with his open hand. "From whom does it come?"

Richling gave a name. He had not changed color when the Doctor looked
black, but now he did; for Dr. Sevier smiled. It was terrible.

"Not the little preacher that lisps?" asked the physician.

"He lisps sometimes," said Richling, with resentful subsidence of tone
and with dropped eyes, preparing to return the paper to his pocket.

"Wait," said the Doctor, more gravely, arresting the movement with his
index finger. "What is it for?"

"It's for the aid of an asylum overcrowded with orphans in consequence
of the late epidemic." There was still a tightness in Richling's throat,
a faint bitterness in his tone, a spark of indignation in his eye. But
these the Doctor ignored. He reached out his hand, took the folded paper
gently from Richling, crossed his knees, and, resting his elbows on them
and shaking the paper in a prefatory way, spoke:--

"Richling, in old times we used to go into monasteries; now we subscribe
to orphan asylums. Nine months ago I warned this community that if it
didn't take the necessary precautions against the foul contagion that
has since swept over us it would pay for its wicked folly in the lives
of thousands and the increase of fatherless and helpless children. I
didn't know it would come this year, but I knew it might come any year.
Richling, we deserved it!"

Richling had never seen his friend in so forbidding an aspect. He had
come to him boyishly elated with the fancied excellence and goodness and
beauty of the task he had assumed, and a perfect confidence that his
noble benefactor would look upon him with pride and upon the scheme with
generous favor. When he had offered to present the paper to Dr. Sevier
he had not understood the little rector's marked alacrity in accepting
his service. Now it was plain enough. He was well-nigh dumfounded. The
responses that came from him came mechanically, and in the manner of one
who wards off unmerited buffetings from one whose unkindness may not be
resented.

"You can't think that only those died who were to blame?" he asked,
helplessly; and the Doctor's answer came back instantly:--

"Ho, no! look at the hundreds of little graves! No, sir. If only those
who were to blame had been stricken, I should think the Judgment wasn't
far off. Talk of God's mercy in times of health! There's no greater
evidence of it than to see him, in these awful visitations, refusing
still to discriminate between the innocent and the guilty! Richling,
only Infinite Mercy joined to Infinite Power, with infinite command of
the future, could so forbear!"

Richling could not answer. The Doctor unfolded the paper and began to
read: "'God, in his mysterious providence'--O sir!"

"What!" demanded Richling.

"O sir, what a foul, false charge! There's nothing mysterious about it.
We've trampled the book of Nature's laws in the mire of our streets, and
dragged her penalties down upon our heads! Why, Richling,"--he shifted
his attitude, and laid the edge of one hand upon the paper that lay in
the other, with the air of commencing a demonstration,--"you're a Bible
man, eh? Well, yes, I think you are; but I want you never to forget that
the book of Nature has its commandments, too; and the man who sins
against _them_ is a sinner. There's no dispensation of mercy in that
Scripture to Jew or Gentile, though the God of Mercy wrote it with his
own finger. A community has got to know those laws and keep them, or
take the consequences--and take them here and now--on this
globe--_presently_!"

"You mean, then," said Richling, extending his hand for the return of
the paper, "that those whose negligence filled the asylums should be the
ones to subscribe."

"Yes," replied the Doctor, "yes!" drew back his hand with the paper
still in it, turned to his desk, opened the list, and wrote. Richling's
eyes followed the pen; his heart came slowly up into his throat.

"Why, Doc--Doctor, that's more than any one else has"--

"They have probably made some mistake," said Dr. Sevier, rubbing the
blotting-paper with his finger. "Richling, do you think it's your
mission to be a philanthropist?"

"Isn't it everybody's mission?" replied Richling.

"That's not what I asked you."

"But you ask a question," said Richling, smiling down upon the
subscription-paper as he folded it, "that nobody would like to answer."

"Very well, then, you needn't answer. But, Richling,"--he pointed
his long finger to the pocket of Richling's coat, where the
subscription-list had disappeared,--"this sort of work--whether you
distinctly propose to be a philanthropist or not--is right, of course.
It's good. But it's the mere alphabet of beneficence. Richling, whenever
philanthropy takes the _guise_ of philanthropy, look out. Confine your
philanthropy--you can't do it entirely, but as much as you can--confine
your philanthropy to the _motive_. It's the temptation of
philanthropists to set aside the natural constitution of society
wherever it seems out of order, and substitute some philanthropic
machinery in its place. It's all wrong, Richling. Do as a good doctor
would. Help nature."

Richling looked down askance, pushed his fingers through his hair
perplexedly, drew a deep breath, lifted his eyes to the Doctor's again,
smiled incredulously, and rubbed his brow.

"You don't see it?" asked the physician, in a tone of surprise.

"O Doctor,"--throwing up a despairing hand,--"we're miles apart. I don't
see how any work could be nobler. It looks to me"-- But Dr. Sevier
interrupted.

"--From an emotional stand-point, Richling. Richling,"--he changed his
attitude again,--"if you _want_ to be a philanthropist, be
cold-blooded."

Richling laughed outright, but not heartily.

"Well!" said his friend, with a shrug, as if he dismissed the whole
matter. But when Richling moved, as if to rise, he restrained him.
"Stop! I know you're in a hurry, but you may tell Reisen to blame me."

"It's not Reisen so much as it's the work," replied Richling, but
settled down again in his seat.

"Richling, human benevolence--public benevolence--in its beginning was
a mere nun on the battle-field, binding up wounds and wiping the damp
from dying brows. But since then it has had time and opportunity to
become strong, bold, masculine, potential. Once it had only the
knowledge and power to alleviate evil consequences; now it has both the
knowledge and the power to deal with evil causes. Now, I say to you,
leave this emotional A B C of human charity to nuns and mite societies.
It's a good work; let them do it. Give them money, if you can."

"I see what you mean--I think," said Richling, slowly, and with a
pondering eye.

"I'm glad if you do," rejoined the Doctor, visibly relieved.

"But that only throws a heavier responsibility upon strong men, if I
understand it," said Richling, half interrogatively.

"Certainly! Upon strong spirits, male or female. Upon spirits that can
drive the axe low down into the causes of things, again and again and
again, steadily, patiently, until at last some great evil towering above
them totters and falls crashing to the earth, to be cut to pieces and
burned in the fire. Richling, gather fagots for pastime if you like,
though it's poor fun; but don't think that's your mission! _Don't_ be a
fagot-gatherer! What are you smiling at?"

"Your good opinion of me," answered Richling. "Doctor, I don't believe
I'm fit for anything but a fagot-gatherer. But I'm willing to try."

"Oh, bah!" The Doctor admired such humility as little as it deserved.
"Richling, reduce the number of helpless orphans! Dig out the old roots
of calamity! A spoon is not what you want; you want a _mattock_. Reduce
crime and vice! Reduce squalor! Reduce the poor man's death-rate!
Improve his tenements! Improve his hospitals! Carry sanitation into his
workshops! Teach the trades! Prepare the poor for possible riches, and
the rich for possible poverty! Ah--ah--Richling, I preach well enough, I
think, but in practice I have missed it myself! Don't repeat my error!"

"Oh, but you haven't missed it!" cried Richling.

"Yes, but I have," said the Doctor. "Here I am, telling you to let your
philanthropy be cold-blooded; why, I've always been hot-blooded."

"I like the hot best," said Richling, quickly.

"You ought to hate it," replied his friend. "It's been the root of all
your troubles. Richling, God Almighty is unimpassioned. If he wasn't
he'd be weak. You remember Young's line: 'A God all mercy is a God
unjust.' The time has come when beneficence, to be real, must operate
scientifically, not emotionally. Emotion is good; but it must follow,
not guide. Here! I'll give you a single instance. Emotion never sells
where it can give: that is an old-fashioned, effete benevolence. The
new, the cold-blooded, is incomparably better: it never--to individual
or to community--gives where it can sell. Your instincts have applied
the rule to yourself; apply it to your fellow-man."

"Ah!" said Richling, promptly, "that's another thing. It's not my
business to apply it to them."

"It _is_ your business to apply it to them. You have no right to do
less."

"And what will men say of me? At least--not that, but"--

The Doctor pointed upward. "They will say, 'I know thee, that thou art
an hard man.'" His voice trembled. "But, Richling," he resumed with
fresh firmness, "if you want to lead a long and useful life,--you say
you do,--you must take my advice; you must deny yourself for a while;
you must shelve these fine notions for a time. I tell you once more, you
must endeavor to reëstablish your health as it was before--before they
locked you up, you know. When that is done you can commence right there
if you choose; I wish you would. Give the public--sell would be better,
but it will hardly buy--a prison system less atrocious, less destructive
of justice, and less promotive of crime and vice, than the one it has.
By-the-by, I suppose you know that Raphael Ristofalo went to prison last
night again?"

Richling sprang to his feet. "For what? He hasn't"--

"Yes, sir; he has discovered the man who robbed him, and has killed
him."

Richling started away, but halted as the Doctor spoke again, rising from
his seat and shaking out his legs.

"He's not suffering any hardship. He's shrewd, you know,--has made
arrangements with the keeper by which he secures very comfortable
quarters. The star-chamber, I think they call the room he is in. He'll
suffer very little restraint. Good-day!"

He turned, as Richling left, to get his own hat and gloves. "Yes," he
thought, as he passed slowly downstairs to his carriage, "I have erred."
He was not only teaching, he was learning. To fight evil was not enough.
People who wanted help for orphans did not come to him--they sent. They
drew back from him as a child shrinks from a soldier. Even Alice, his
buried Alice, had wept with delight when he gave her a smile, and
trembled with fear at his frown. To fight evil is not enough. Everybody
seemed to feel as though that were a war against himself. Oh for some
one always to understand--never to fear--the frowning good intention of
the lonely man!



CHAPTER XXXIX.

"PETTENT PRATE."


It was about the time, in January, when clerks and correspondents were
beginning to write '59 without first getting it '58, that Dr. Sevier, as
one morning he approached his office, noticed with some grim amusement,
standing among the brokers and speculators of Carondelet street, the
baker, Reisen. He was earnestly conversing with and bending over a
small, alert fellow, in a rakish beaver and very smart coat, with the
blue flowers of modesty bunched saucily in one button-hole.

Almost at the same moment Reisen saw the Doctor. He called his name
aloud, and for all his ungainly bulk would have run directly to the
carriage in the middle of the street, only that the Doctor made believe
not to see, and in a moment was out of reach. But when, two or three
hours later, the same vehicle came, tipping somewhat sidewise against
the sidewalk at the Charity Hospital gate, and the Doctor stepped from
it, there stood Reisen in waiting.

"Toctor," he said, approaching and touching his hat, "I like to see you
a minudt, uff you bleace, shtrict prifut."

They moved slowly down the unfrequented sidewalk, along the garden wall.

"Before you begin, Reisen, I want to ask you a question. I've noticed
for a month past that Mr. Richling rides in your bread-carts alongside
the drivers on their rounds. Don't you know you ought not to require
such a thing as that from a person like Mr. Richling? Mr. Richling's a
gentleman, Reisen, and you make him mount up in those bread-carts, and
jump out every few minutes to deliver bread!"

The Doctor's blood was not cold.

"Vell, now!" drawled the baker, as the corners of his mouth retreated
toward the back of his neck, "end't tat teh funn'est ting, ennahow! Vhy,
tat iss yoost teh ferra ting fot I comin' to shpeak mit you apowdt udt!"
He halted and looked at the Doctor to see how this coincidence struck
him; but the Doctor merely moved on. "_I_ toant make him too udt," he
continued, starting again; "he cumps to me sindts apowdt two-o-o mundts
aco--ven I shtill feelin' a liddle veak, yet, fun teh yalla-feewa--undt
yoost paygs me to let um too udt. 'Mr. Richlun,' sayss I to him, 'I
toandt kin untershtayndt for vot you vawndts to too sich a ritickliss,
Mr. Richlun!' Ovver he sayss, 'Mr. Reisen,'--he alvays callss me
'Mister,' undt tat iss one dting in puttickly vot I alvays tit li-i-iked
apowdt Mr. Richlun,--'Mr. Reisen,' he sayss, 'toandt you aysk me te
reason, ovver yoost let me co abate undt too udt!' Undt I voss a coin'
to kiff udt up, alretty; ovver ten cumps in _Missess_ Reisen,--who iss a
heap shmarter mayn as fot Reisen iss, I yoost tell you te ectsectly
troot,--and she sayss, 'Reisen, you yoost tell Mr. Richlun, Mr. Richlun,
you toadnt coin' to too sich a ritickliss!'"

The speaker paused for effect.

"Undt ten Mr. Richlun, he talks!--Schweedt?--Oh yendlemuns, toandt say
nutting!" The baker lifted up his palm and swung it down against his
thigh with a blow that sent the flour out in a little cloud. "I tell
you, Toctor Tseweer, ven tat mayn vawndts to too udt, he kin yoost talk
te mo-ust like a Christun fun enna mayn I neffa he-ut in mine li-i-fe!
'Missess Reisen,' he sayss, 'I vawndts to too udt pecause I vawndts to
too udt.' Vell, how you coin' to arg-y ennating eagval mit Mr. Richlun?
So teh upshodt iss he coes owdt in teh prate-cawts tistripputin' te
prate!" Reisen threw his arms far behind him, and bowed low to his
listener.

Dr. Sevier had learned him well enough to beware of interrupting him,
lest when he resumed it would be at the beginning again. He made no
answer, and Reisen went on:--

"Bressently"-- He stopped his slow walk, brought forward both
palms, shrugged, dropped them, bowed, clasped them behind him, brought
the left one forward, dropped it, then the right one, dropped it also,
frowned, smiled, and said:--

"Bressently"--then a long silence--"effrapotty in my
etsteplitchmendt"--another long pause--"hef yoost teh same ettechmendt
to Mr. Richlun,"--another interval,--"tey hef yoost tso much effection
fur _him_"--another silence--"ass tey hef"--another, with a smile this
time--"fur--te teffle himpselluf!" An oven opened in the baker's face,
and emitted a softly rattling expiration like that of a bursted bellows.
The Doctor neither smiled nor spoke. Reisen resumed:--

"I seen udt. I seen udt. Ovver I toandt coult untershtayndt udt. Ovver
one tay cumps in mine little poy in to me fen te pakers voss all
ashleep, 'Pap-a, Mr. Richlun sayss you shouldt come into teh offuss.' I
kumpt in. Mr. Richlun voss tare, shtayndting yoost so--yoost so--py teh
shtofe; undt, Toctor Tseweer, I yoost tell you te ectsectly troot, he
toaldt in fife minudts--six minudts--seven minudts, udt may pe--undt
shoadt me how effrapotty, high undt low, little undt pick, Tom, Tick,
undt Harra, pin ropping me sindts more ass fife years!"

The longest pause of all followed this disclosure. The baker had
gradually backed the Doctor up against the wall, spreading out the whole
matter with his great palms turned now upward and now downward, the
bulky contents of his high-waisted, barn-door trowsers now bulged
out and now withdrawn, to be protruded yet more a moment later. He
recommenced by holding out his down-turned hand some distance above
the ground.

"I yoompt tot hoigh!" He blew his cheeks out, and rose a half-inch off
his heels in recollection of the mighty leap. "Ovver Mr. Richlun
sayss,--he sayss, 'Kip shtill, Mr. Reisen;' undt I kibt shtill."

The baker's auditor was gradually drawing him back toward the hospital
gate; but he continued speaking:--

"Py undt py, vun tay, I kot someting to say to Mr. _Richlun_, yet. Undt
I sendts vert to Mr. _Richlun_ tat _he_ shouldt come into teh offuss. He
cumps in. 'Mr. Richlun,' I sayss, sayss I to him, 'Mr. Richlun, I kot
udt!'" The baker shook his finger in Dr. Sevier's face. "'I kot udt, udt
layst, Mr. Richlun! I yoost het a _suspish'n_ sindts teh first tay fot I
employedt you, ovver now I _know_ I kot udt!' Vell, sir, he yoost turnun
so rate ass a flennen shirt!--'Mr. Reisen,' sayss he to me, 'fot iss udt
fot you kot?' Undt sayss I to him, 'Mr. Richlun, udt iss you! Udt is
_you_ fot I kot!'"

Dr. Sevier stood sphinx-like, and once more Reisen went on.

"'Yes, Mr. Richlun,'" still addressing the Doctor as though he were his
book-keeper, "'I yoost layin, on my pett effra nighdt--effra nighdt,
vi-i-ite ava-a-ake! undt in apowdt a veek I make udt owdt ut layst tot
you, Mr. Richlun,'--I lookt um shtraight in te eye, undt he lookt me
shtraight te same,--'tot, Mr. Richlun, _you_,' sayss I, 'not dtose
fellehs fot pin py mo sindts more ass fife yearss, put _you_, Mr.
Richlun, iss teh mayn!--teh mayn fot I--kin _trust_!'" The baker's
middle parts bent out and his arms were drawn akimbo. Thus for ten
seconds.

"'Undt now, Mr. Richlun, do you kot teh shtrengdt for to shtart a noo
pissness?'--Pecause, Toctor, udt pin seem to me Mr. Richlun kitten more
undt more shecklun, undt toandt take tot meticine fot you kif um (ovver
he sayss he toos). So ten he sayss to me, 'Mister Reisen, I am yoost so
sollut undt shtrong like a pilly-coat! Fot is teh noo pissness?'--'Mr.
Richlun,' sayss I, 've goin' to make pettent prate!'"

"What?" asked the Doctor, frowning with impatience and venturing to
interrupt at last.

"_Pet-tent prate!_"

The listener frowned heavier and shook his head.

"_Pettent prate!_"

"Oh! patent bread; yes. Well?"

"Yes," said Reisen, "prate mate mit a mutcheen; mit copponic-essut kass
into udt ploat pefore udt is paked. I pought teh pettent tiss mawning
fun a yendleman in Garontelet shtreedt, alretty, naympt Kknox."

"And what have I to do with all this?" asked the Doctor, consulting his
watch, as he had already done twice before.

"Vell," said Reisen, spreading his arms abroad, "I yoost taught you like
to herr udt."

"But what do you want to see me for? What have you kept me all this time
to tell me--or ask me?"

"Toctor,--you ugscooce me--ovver"--the baker held the Doctor by the
elbow as he began to turn away--"Toctor Tseweer,"--the great face
lighted up with a smile, the large body doubled partly together, and the
broad left hand was held ready to smite the thigh,--"you shouldt see Mr.
Richlun ven he fowndt owdt udt is goin' to lower teh price of prate! I
taught he iss goin' to kiss Mississ Reisen!"



CHAPTER XL.

SWEET BELLS JANGLED.


Those who knew New Orleans just before the civil war, even though they
saw it only along its riverfront from the deck of some steam-boat, may
easily recall a large sign painted high up on the side of the old
"Triangle Building," which came to view through the dark web of masts
and cordage as one drew near St. Mary's Market. "Steam Bakery" it read.
And such as were New Orleans householders, or by any other chance
enjoyed the experience of making their way in the early morning among
the hundreds of baskets that on hundreds of elbows moved up and down
along and across the quaint gas-lit arcades of any of the market-houses,
must remember how, about this time or a little earlier, there began
to appear on one of the tidiest of bread-stalls in each of these
market-houses a new kind of bread. It was a small, densely compacted
loaf of the size and shape of a badly distorted brick. When broken,
it divided into layers, each of which showed--"teh bprindt of teh
kkneading-mutcheen," said Reisen to Narcisse; "yoost like a tsoda
crecker!"

These two persons had met by chance at a coffee-stand one beautiful
summer dawn in one of the markets,--the Tréiné, most likely,--where,
perched on high stools at a zinc-covered counter, with the smell of
fresh blood on the right and of stale fish on the left, they had
finished half their cup of _café au lait_ before they awoke to the
exhilarating knowledge of each other's presence.

"Yesseh," said Narcisse, "now since you 'ave wemawk the mention of it, I
think I have saw that va'iety of bwead."

"Oh, surely you poundt to a-seedt udt. A uckly little prown dting"--

"But cook well," said Narcisse.

"Yayss," drawled the baker. It was a fact that he had to admit.

"An' good flou'," persisted the Creole.

"Yayss," said the smiling manufacturer. He could not deny that either.

"An' honness weight!" said Narcisse, planting his empty cup in his
saucer, with the energy of his asservation; "an', Mr. Bison, thass a
ve'y seldom thing."

"Yayss," assented Reisen, "ovver tat prate is mighdy dtry, undt
shtickin' in ten dtroat."

"No, seh!" said the flatterer, with a generous smile. "Egscuse me--I
diffeh fum you. 'Tis a beaucheouz bwead. Yesseh. And eve'y loaf got the
name beaucheouzly pwint on the top, with 'Patent'--sich an' sich a time.
'Tis the tooth, Mr. Bison, I'm boun' to congwatu_late_ you on that
bwead."

"O-o-oh! tat iss not _mine_ prate," exclaimed the baker. "Tat iss not
fun mine etsteplitchmendt. Oh, no! Tatt iss te prate--I'm yoost dtellin'
you--tat iss te prate fun tat fellah py teh Sunk-Mary's Morrikit-house!
Tat's teh 'shteam prate'. I to-undt know for vot effrapotty puys tat
prate annahow! Ovver you yoost vait dtill you see _mine_ prate!"

"Mr. Bison," said Narcisse, "Mr. Bison,"--he had been trying to stop
him and get in a word of his own, but could not,--"I don't know if
you--Mr.--Mr. Bison, in fact, you din unde'stood me. Can that be
poss'ble that you din notiz that I was speaking in my i'ony about that
bwead? Why, of co'se! Thass juz my i'onious cuztom, Mr. Bison. Thass one
thing I dunno if you 'ave notiz about that 'steam bwead,' Mr. Bison, but
with me that bwead always stick in my th'oat; an' yet I kin swallow mose
anything, in fact. No, Mr. Bison, yo' bwead is deztyned to be the bwead;
and I tell you how 'tis with me, I juz gladly eat yo' bwead eve'y time I
kin git it! Mr. Bison, in fact you don't know me ve'y in_tim_itly, but
you will oblige me ve'y much indeed to baw me five dollahs till
tomaw--save me fum d'awing a check!"

The German thrust his hand slowly and deeply into his pocket. "I alvayss
like to oplyche a yendleman,"--he smiled benignly, drew out a toothpick,
and added,--"ovver I nivveh bporrah or lend to ennabodda."

"An' then," said Narcisse, promptly, "'tis imposs'ble faw anybody to be
offended. Thass the bess way, Mr. Bison."

"Yayss," said the baker, "I tink udt iss." As they were parting, he
added: "Ovver you vait dtill you see _mine_ prate!"

"I'll do it, seh!-- And, Mr. Bison, you muzn't think anything
about that, my not bawing that five dollars fum you, Mr. Bison, because
that don't make a bit o' dif'ence; an' thass one thing I like about you,
Mr. Bison, you don't baw yo' money to eve'y Dick, Tom, an' Hawwy, do
you?"

"No, I dtoandt. Ovver, you yoost vait"--

And certainly, after many vexations, difficulties, and delays, that
took many a pound of flesh from Reisen's form, the pretty, pale-brown,
fragrant white loaves of "aërated bread" that issued from the Star
Bakery in Benjamin street were something pleasant to see, though they
did not lower the price.

Richling's old liking for mechanical apparatus came into play. He only,
in the establishment, thoroughly understood the new process, and could
be certain of daily, or rather nightly, uniform results. He even made
one or two slight improvements in it, which he contemplated with
ecstatic pride, and long accounts of which he wrote to Mary.

In a generous and innocent way Reisen grew a little jealous of his
accountant, and threw himself into his business as he had not done
before since he was young, and in the ardor of his emulation ignored
utterly a state of health that was no better because of his great length
and breadth.

"Toctor Tseweer!" he said, as the physician appeared one day in his
office. "Vell, now, I yoost pet finfty tawllars tat iss Mississ Reisen
sendts for you tat I'm sick! Ven udt iss not such a dting!" He laughed
immoderately. "Ovver I'm gladt you come, Toctor, ennahow, for you pin
yoost in time to see ever'ting runnin'. I vish you yoost come undt see
udt!" He grinned in his old, broad way; but his face was anxious, and
his bared arms were lean. He laid his hand on the Doctor's arm, and then
jerked it away, and tried to blow off the floury print of his fingers.
"Come!" He beckoned. "Come; I show you somedting putiful. Toctor, I
_vizh_ you come!"

The Doctor yielded. Richling had to be called upon at last to explain
the hidden parts and processes.

"It's yoost like putt'n' te shpirudt into teh potty," said the laughing
German. "Now, tat prate kot life in udt yoost teh same like your own
selluf, Toctor. Tot prate kot yoost so much sense ass Reisen kot.
Ovver, Toctor--Toctor"--the Doctor was giving his attention to
Richling, who was explaining something--"Toctor, toandt you come here
uxpectin' to see nopoty sick, less-n udt iss Mr. Richlun." He caught
Richling's face roughly between his hands, and then gave his back a
caressing thwack. "Toctor, vot you dtink? Ve goin' teh run prate-cawts
mit copponic-essut kass. Tispense mit hawses!" He laughed long but
softly, and smote Richling again as the three walked across the bakery
yard abreast.

"Well?" said Dr. Sevier to Richling, in a low tone, "always working
toward the one happy end."

Richling had only time to answer with his eyes, when the baker, always
clinging close to them, said, "Yes; if I toandt look oudt yet, he pe
rich pefore Reisen."

The Doctor looked steadily at Richling, stood still, and said, "Don't
hurry."

But Richling swung playfully half around on his heel, dropped his
glance, and jerked his head sidewise, as one who neither resented the
advice nor took it. A minute later he drew from his breast-pocket a
small, thick letter stripped of its envelope, and handed it to the
Doctor, who put it into his pocket, neither of them speaking. The action
showed practice. Reisen winked one eye laboriously at the Doctor and
chuckled.

"See here, Reisen," said the Doctor, "I want you to pack your trunk,
take the late boat, and go to Biloxi or Pascagoula, and spend a month
fishing and sailing."

The baker pushed his fingers up under his hat, scratched his head,
smiled widely, and pointed at Richling.

"Sendt him."

The Doctor went and sat down with Reisen, and used every form of
inducement that could be brought to bear; but the German had but one
answer: Richling, Richling, not he. The Doctor left a prescription,
which the baker took until he found it was making him sleep while
Richling was at work, whereupon he amiably threw it out of his window.

It was no surprise to Dr. Sevier that Richling came to him a few days
later with a face all trouble.

"How are you, Richling? How's Reisen?"

"Doctor," said Richling, "I'm afraid Mr. Reisen is"--Their eyes met.

"Insane," said the Doctor.

"Yes."

"Does his wife know whether he has ever had such symptoms before--in his
life?"

"She says he hasn't."

"I suppose you know his pecuniary condition perfectly; has he money?"

"Plenty."

"He'll not consent to go away anywhere, I suppose, will he?"

"Not an inch."

"There's but one sensible and proper course, Richling; he must be taken
at once, by force if necessary, to a first-class insane hospital."

"Why, Doctor, why? Can't we treat him better at home?"

The Doctor gave his head its well-known swing of impatience. "If you
want to be _criminally_ in error try that!"

"I don't want to be in error at all," retorted Richling.

"Then don't lose twelve hours that you can save, but send him off as
soon as process of court will let you."

"Will you come at once and see him?" asked Richling, rising up.

"Yes, I'll be there nearly as soon as you will. Stop; you had better
ride with me; I have something special to say." As the carriage started
off, the Doctor leaned back in its cushions, folded his arms, and took a
long, meditative breath. Richling glanced at him and said:--

"We're both thinking of the same person."

"Yes," replied the Doctor; "and the same day, too, I suppose: the first
day I ever saw her; the only other time that we ever got into this
carriage together. Hmm! hmm! With what a fearful speed time flies!"

"Sometimes," said the yearning husband, and apologized by a laugh. The
Doctor grunted, looked out of the carriage window, and, suddenly
turning, asked:--

"Do you know that Reisen instructed his wife about six months ago, in
the event of his death or disability, to place all her interests in your
hands, and to be guided by your advice in everything?"

"Oh!" exclaimed Richling, "he can't do that! He should have asked my
consent."

"I suppose he knew he wouldn't get it. He's a cunning simpleton."

"But, Doctor, if you knew this"--Richling ceased.

"Six months ago. Why didn't I tell you?" said the physician. "I thought
I would, Richling, though Reisen bade me not, when he told me; I made no
promise. But time, that you think goes slow, was too fast for me."

"I shall refuse to serve," said Richling, soliloquizing aloud. "Don't
you see, Doctor, the delicacy of the position?"

"Yes, I do; but you don't. Don't you see it would be just as delicate a
matter for you to refuse?"

Richling pondered, and presently said, quite slowly:--

"It will look like coming down out of the tree to catch the apples as
they fall," he said. "Why," he added with impatience, "it lays me wide
open to suspicion and slander."

"Does it?" asked the Doctor, heartlessly. "There's nothing remarkable in
that. Did any one ever occupy a responsible position without those
conditions?"

"But, you know, I have made some unscrupulous enemies by defending
Reisen's interests."

"Um-hmm; what did you defend them for?"

Richling was about to make a reply; but the Doctor wanted none.
"Richling," he said, "the most of men have burrows. They never let
anything decoy them so far from those burrows but they can pop into them
at a moment's notice. Do you take my meaning?"

"Oh, yes!" said Richling, pleasantly; "no trouble to understand you this
time. I'll not run into any burrow just now. I'll face my duty and think
of Mary."

He laughed.

"Excellent pastime," responded Dr. Sevier.

They rode on in silence.

"As to"--began Richling again,--"as to such matters as these, once a man
confronts the question candidly, there is really no room, that I can
see, for a man to choose: a man, at least, who is always guided by
conscience."

"If there were such a man," responded the Doctor.

"True," said John.

"But for common stuff, such as you and I are made of, it must sometimes
be terrible."

"I dare say," said Richling. "It sometimes requires cold blood to choose
aright."

"As cold as granite," replied the other.

They arrived at the bakery.

"O Doctor," said Mrs. Reisen, proffering her hand as he entered the
house, "my poor hussband iss crazy!" She dropped into a chair and burst
into tears. She was a large woman, with a round, red face and triple
chin, but with a more intelligent look and a better command of English
than Reisen. "Doctor, I want you to cure him ass quick ass possible."

"Well, madam, of course; but will you do what I say?"

"I will, certain shure. I do it yust like you tellin' me."

The Doctor gave her such good advice as became a courageous physician.

A look of dismay came upon her. Her mouth dropped open. "Oh, no,
Doctor!" She began to shake her head. "I'll never do tha-at; oh, no;
I'll never send my poor hussband to the crazy-house! Oh, no, sir; I'll
do not such a thing!" There was some resentment in her emotion. Her
nether lip went up like a crying babe's, and she breathed through her
nostrils audibly.

"Oh, yes, I know!" said the poor creature, turning her face away from
the Doctor's kind attempts to explain, and lifting it incredulously as
she talked to the wall,--"I know all about it. I'm not a-goin' to put no
sich a disgrace on my poor hussband; no, indeed!" She faced around
suddenly and threw out her hand to Richling, who leaned against a door
twisting a bit of string between his thumbs. "Why, he wouldn't go,
nohow, even if I gave my consents. You caynt coax him out of his room
yet. Oh, no, Doctor! It's my duty to keep him wid me an' try to cure him
first a little while here at home. That aint no trouble to me; I don't
never mind no trouble if I can be any help to my hussband." She
addressed the wall again.

"Well, madam," replied the physician, with unusual tenderness of tone,
and looking at Richling while he spoke, "of course you'll do as you
think best."

"Oh! my poor Reisen!" exclaimed the wife, wringing her hands.

"Yes," said the physician, rising and looking out of the window, "I am
afraid it will be ruin to Reisen."

"No, it won't be such a thing," said Mrs. Reisen, turning this way and
that in her chair as the physician moved from place to place. "Mr.
Richlin',"--turning to him,--"Mr. Richlin' and me kin run the business
yust so good as Reisen." She shifted her distressed gaze back and forth
from Richling to the Doctor. The latter turned to Richling:--

"I'll have to leave this matter to you."

Richling nodded.

"Where is Reisen?" asked the Doctor. "In his own room, upstairs?" The
three passed through an inner door.



CHAPTER XLI.

MIRAGE.


"This spoils some of your arrangements, doesn't it?" asked Dr. Sevier of
Richling, stepping again into his carriage. He had already said the kind
things, concerning Reisen, that physicians commonly say when they have
little hope. "Were you not counting on an early visit to Milwaukee?"

Richling laughed.

"That illusion has been just a little beyond reach for months." He
helped the Doctor shut his carriage-door.

"But now, of course--" said the physician.

"Of course it's out of the question," replied Richling; and the Doctor
drove away, with the young man's face in his mind bearing an expression
of simple emphasis that pleased him much.

Late at night Richling, in his dingy little office, unlocked a
drawer, drew out a plump package of letters, and began to read their
pages,--transcripts of his wife's heart, pages upon pages, hundreds of
precious lines, dates crowding closely one upon another. Often he smiled
as his eyes ran to and fro, or drew a soft sigh as he turned the page,
and looked behind to see if any one had stolen in and was reading over
his shoulder. Sometimes his smile broadened; he lifted his glance from
the sheet and fixed it in pleasant revery on the blank wall before
him. Often the lines were entirely taken up with mere utterances of
affection. Now and then they were all about little Alice, who had
fretted all the night before, her gums being swollen and tender on the
upper left side near the front; or who had fallen violently in love with
the house-dog, by whom, in turn, the sentiment was reciprocated; or
whose eyes were really getting bluer and bluer, and her cheeks fatter
and fatter, and who seemed to fear nothing that had existence. And the
reader of the lines would rest one elbow on the desk, shut his eyes in
one hand, and see the fair young head of the mother drooping tenderly
over that smaller head in her bosom. Sometimes the tone of the lines
was hopefully grave, discussing in the old tentative, interrogative
key the future and its possibilities. Some pages were given to
reminiscences,--recollections of all the droll things and all the good
and glad things of the rugged past. Every here and there, but especially
where the lines drew toward the signature, the words of longing
multiplied, but always full of sunshine; and just at the end of each
letter love spurned its restraints, and rose and overflowed with sweet
confessions.

Sometimes these re-read letters did Richling good; not always. Maybe he
read them too often. It was only the very next time that the Doctor's
carriage stood before the bakery that the departing physician turned
before he reëntered the vehicle, and--whatever Richling had been saying
to him--said abruptly:--

"Richling, are you falling out of love with your work?"

"Why do you ask me that?" asked the young man, coloring.

"Because I no longer see that joy of deliverance with which you entered
upon this humble calling. It seems to have passed like a lost perfume,
Richling. Have you let your toil become a task once more?"

Richling dropped his eyes and pushed the ground with the toe of his
boot.

"I didn't want you to find that out, Doctor."

"I was afraid, from the first, it would be so," said the physician.

"I don't see why you were."

"Well, I saw that the zeal with which you first laid hold of your work
was not entirely natural. It was good, but it was partly
artificial,--the more credit to you on that account. But I saw that by
and by you would have to keep it up mainly by your sense of necessity
and duty. 'That'll be the pinch,' I said; and now I see it's come. For a
long time you idealized the work; but at last its real dulness has begun
to overcome you, and you're discontented--and with a discontentment that
you can't justify, can you?"

"But I feel myself growing smaller again."

"No wonder. Why, Richling, it's the discontent makes that."

"Oh, no! The discontent makes me long to expand. I never had so much
ambition before. But what can I do here? Why, Doctor, I ought to be--I
might be"--

The physician laid a hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Stop, Richling. Drop those phrases and give us a healthy 'I am,' and 'I
must,' and 'I will.' Don't--_don't_ be like so many! You're not of the
many. Richling, in the first illness in which I ever attended your wife,
she watched her chance and asked me privately--implored me--not to let
her die, for your sake. I don't suppose that tortures could have wrung
from her, even if she realized it,--which I doubt,--the true reason. But
don't you feel it? It was because your moral nature needs her so badly.
Stop--let me finish. You need Mary back here now to hold you square to
your course by the tremendous power of her timid little 'Don't you
think?' and 'Doesn't it seem?'"

"Doctor," replied Richling, with a smile of expostulation, "you touch
one's pride."

"Certainly I do. You're willing enough to say that you love her and long
for her, but not that your moral manhood needs her. And yet isn't it
true?"

"It sha'n't be true," said Richling, swinging a playful fist.
"'Forewarned is forearmed;' I'll not allow it. I'm man enough for that."
He laughed, with a touch of pique.

"Richling,"--the Doctor laid a finger against his companion's shoulder,
preparing at the same time to leave him,--"don't be misled. A man who
doesn't need a wife isn't fit to have one."

"Why, Doctor," replied Richling, with sincere amiability, "you're the
man of all men I should have picked out to prove the contrary."

"No, Richling, no. I wasn't fit, and God took her."

In accordance with Dr. Sevier's request Richling essayed to lift the
mind of the baker's wife, in the matter of her husband's affliction, to
that plane of conviction where facts, and not feelings, should become
her motive; and when he had talked until his head reeled, as though
he had been blowing a fire, and she would not blaze for all his
blowing--would be governed only by a stupid sentimentality; and when
at length she suddenly flashed up in silly anger and accused him of
interested motives; and when he had demanded instant retraction or
release from her employment; and when she humbly and affectionately
apologized, and was still as deep as ever in hopeless, clinging
sentimentalisms, repeating the dictums of her simple and ignorant German
neighbors and intimates, and calling them in to argue with him, the
feeling that the Doctor's exhortation had for the moment driven away
came back with more force than ever, and he could only turn again to
his ovens and account-books with a feeling of annihilation.

"Where am I? What am I?" Silence was the only answer. The separation
that had once been so sharp a pain had ceased to cut, and was bearing
down upon him now with that dull, grinding weight that does the damage
in us.

Presently came another development: the lack of money, that did no harm
while it was merely kept in the mind, settled down upon the heart.

"It may be a bad thing to love, but it's a good thing to have," he said,
one day, to the little rector, as this friend stood by him at a corner
of the high desk where Richling was posting his ledger.

"But not to seek," said the rector.

Richling posted an item and shook his head doubtingly.

"That depends, I should say, on how much one seeks it, and how much of
it he seeks."

"No," insisted the clergyman. Richling bent a look of inquiry upon him,
and he added:--

"The principle is bad, and you know it, Richling. 'Seek ye first'--you
know the text, and the assurance that follows with it--'all these things
shall be added'"--

"Oh, yes; but still"--

"'But still!'" exclaimed the little preacher; "why must everybody say
'but still'? Don't you see that that 'but still' is the refusal of
Christians to practise Christianity?"

Richling looked, but said nothing; and his friend hoped the word had
taken effect. But Richling was too deeply bitten to be cured by one or
two good sayings. After a moment he said:--

"I used to wonder to see nearly everybody struggling to be rich, but I
don't now. I don't justify it, but I understand it. It's flight from
oblivion. It's the natural longing to be seen and felt."

"Why isn't it enough to be felt?" asked the other. "Here, you make bread
and sell it. A thousand people eat it from your hand every day. Isn't
that something?"

"Yes; but it's all the bread. The bread's everything; I'm nothing. I'm
not asked to do or to be. I may exist or not; there will be bread all
the same. I see my remark pains you, but I can't help it. You've never
tried the thing. You've never encountered the mild contempt that people
in ease pay to those who pursue the 'industries.' You've never suffered
the condescension of rank to the ranks. You don't know the smart of
being only an arithmetical quantity in a world of achievements and
possessions."

"No," said the preacher, "maybe I haven't. But I should say you are just
the sort of man that ought to come through all that unsoured and unhurt.
Richling,"--he put on a lighter mood,--"you've got a moral indigestion.
You've accustomed yourself to the highest motives, and now these new
notions are not the highest, and you know and feel it. They don't
nourish you. They don't make you happy. Where are your old sentiments?
What's become of them?"

"Ah!" said Richling, "I got them from my wife. And the supply's nearly
run out."

"Get it renewed!" said the little man, quickly, putting on his hat and
extending a farewell hand. "Excuse me for saying so. I didn't intend it;
I dropped in to ask you again the name of that Italian whom you visit at
the prison,--the man I promised you I'd go and talk to. Yes--Ristofalo;
that's it. Good-by."

That night Richling wrote to his wife. What he wrote goes not down here;
but he felt as he wrote that his mood was not the right one, and when
Mary got the letter she answered by first mail:--

     "Will you not let me come to you? Is it not surely best? Say
     but the word, and I'll come. It will be the steamer to Chicago,
     railroad to Cairo, and a St. Louis boat to New Orleans. Alice
     will be both company and protection, and no burden at all. O my
     beloved husband! I am just ungracious enough to think, some
     days, that these times of separation are the hardest of all.
     When we were suffering sickness and hunger together--well, we
     were _together_. Darling, if you'll just say come, I'll come in
     an _instant_. Oh, how gladly! Surely, with what you tell me
     you've saved, and with your place so secure to you, can't we
     venture to begin again? Alice and I can live with you in the
     bakery. O my husband! if you but say the word, a little time--a
     few days will bring us into your arms. And yet, do not yield to
     my impatience; I trust your wisdom, and know that what you
     decide will be best. Mother has been very feeble lately, as I
     have told you; but she seems to be improving, and now I see
     what I've half suspected for a long time, and ought to have
     seen sooner, that my husband--my dear, dear husband--needs me
     most; and I'm coming--I'm _coming_, John, if you'll only say
     come.

                                  Your loving
                                         MARY."



CHAPTER XLII.

RISTOFALO AND THE RECTOR.


Be Richling's feelings what they might, the Star Bakery shone in the
retail firmament of the commercial heavens with new and growing
brilliancy. There was scarcely time to talk even with the tough little
rector who hovers on the borders of this history, and he might have
become quite an alien had not Richling's earnest request made him one
day a visitor, as we have seen him express his intention of being, in
the foul corridors of the parish prison, and presently the occupant of a
broken chair in the apartment apportioned to Raphael Ristofalo and two
other prisoners. "Easy little tasks you cut out for your friends," said
the rector to Richling when next they met. "I got preached _to_--not to
say edified. I'll share my edification with you!" He told his
experience.

It was a sinister place, the prison apartment. The hand of Kate
Ristofalo had removed some of its unsightly conditions and disguised
others; but the bounds of the room, walls, ceiling, windows, floor,
still displayed, with official unconcern, the grime and decay that is
commonly thought good enough for men charged, rightly or wrongly, with
crime.

The clergyman's chair was in the centre of the floor. Ristofalo sat
facing him a little way off on the right. A youth of nineteen sat tipped
against the wall on the left, and a long-limbed, big-boned, red-shirted
young Irishman occupied a poplar table, hanging one of his legs across
a corner of it and letting the other down to the floor. Ristofalo
remarked, in the form of polite acknowledgment, that the rector had
preached to the assembled inmates of the prison on the Sunday previous.

"Did I say anything that you thought was true?" asked the minister.

The Italian smiled in the gentle manner that never failed him.

"Didn't listen much," he said. He drew from a pocket of his black
velveteen pantaloons a small crumpled tract. It may have been a favorite
one with the clergyman, for the youth against the wall produced its
counterpart, and the man on the edge of the table lay back on his elbow,
and, with an indolent stretch of the opposite arm and both legs, drew a
third one from a tin cup that rested on a greasy shelf behind him. The
Irishman held his between his fingers and smirked a little toward the
floor. Ristofalo extended his toward the visitor, and touched the
caption with one finger: "Mercy offered."

"Well," asked the rector, pleasantly, "what's the matter with that?"

"Is no use yeh. Wrong place--this prison."

"Um-hm," said the tract-distributor, glancing down at the leaf and
smoothing it on his knee while he took time to think. "Well, why
shouldn't mercy be offered here?"

"No," replied Ristofalo, still smiling; "ought offer justice first."

"Mr. Preacher," asked the young Irishman, bringing both legs to the
front, and swinging them under the table, "d'ye vote?"

"Yes; I vote."

"D'ye call yerself a cidizen--with a cidizen's rights an' djuties?"

"I do."

"That's right." There was a deep sea of insolence in the smooth-faced,
red-eyed smile that accompanied the commendation. "And how manny times
have ye bean in this prison?"

"I don't know; eight or ten times. That rather beats you, doesn't it?"

Ristofalo smiled, the youth uttered a high rasping cackle, and the
Irishman laughed the heartiest of all.

"A little," he said; "a little. But nivver mind. Ye say ye've bin here
eight or tin times; yes. Well, now, will I tell ye what I'd do afore and
iver I'd kim back here ag'in,--if I was you now? Will I tell ye?"

"Well, yes," replied the visitor, amiably; "I'd like to know."

"Well, surr, I'd go to the mair of this city and to the judge of
the criminal coort, and to the gov'ner of the Sta-ate, and to the
ligislatur, if needs be, and I'd say, 'Gintlemin, I can't go back to
that prison! There is more crimes a-being committed by the people
outside ag'in the fellies in theyre than--than--than the--the fellies in
theyre has committed ag'in the people! I'm ashamed to preach theyre! I'm
afeered to do ud!'" The speaker slipped off the table, upon his feet.
"'There's murrder a-goun' on in theyre! There's more murrder a-bein'
done in theyre nor there is outside! Justice is a-bein' murdered theyre
ivery hour of day and night!'"

He brandished his fist with the last words, but dropped it at a glance
from Ristofalo, and began to pace the floor along his side of the room,
looking with a heavy-browed smile back and forth from one fellow-captive
to the other. He waited till the visitor was about to speak, and then
interrupted, pointing at him suddenly:--

"Ye're a Prodez'n preacher! I'll bet ye fifty dollars ye have a rich
cherch! Full of leadin' cidizens!"

"You're correct."

"Well, I'd go an'--an'--an' I'd say, 'Dawn't ye nivver ax me to go into
that place ag'in a-pallaverin' about mercy, until ye gid ud chaynged
from the hell on earth it is to a house of justice, wheyre min gits the
sintences that the coorts decrees!' _I_ don't complain in here. _He_
don't complain," pointing to Ristofalo; "ye'll nivver hear a complaint
from him. But go look in that yaird!" He threw up both hands with a
grimace of disgust--"Aw!"--and ceased again, but continued his walk,
looked at his fellows, and resumed:--

"_I_ listened to yer sermon. I heerd ye talkin' about the souls of uz.
Do ye think ye kin make anny of thim min believe ye cayre for the souls
of us whin ye do nahthing for the _bodies_ that's before yer eyes
tlothed in rrags and stairved, and made to sleep on beds of brick and
stone, and to receive a hundred abuses a day that was nivver intended to
be a pairt of _anny_body's sintince--and manny of'm not tried yit, an'
nivver a-goun' to have annythin' proved ag'in 'm? How _can_ ye come
offerin' uz merrcy? For ye don't come out o' the tloister, like a poor
Cat'lic priest or Sister. Ye come rright out o' the hairt o' the
community that's a-committin' more crimes ag'in uz in here than all of
us together has iver committed outside. Aw!--Bring us a better airticle
of yer own justice ferst--I doan't cayre how _crool_ it is, so ut's
_justice_--an' _thin_ preach about God's mercy. I'll listen to ye."

Ristofalo had kept his eyes for the most of the time on the floor,
smiling sometimes more and sometimes less. Now, however, he raised them
and nodded to the clergyman. He approved all that had been said. The
Irishman went and sat again on the table and swung his legs. The
visitor was not allowed to answer before, and must answer now. He would
have been more comfortable at the rectory.

"My friend," he began, "suppose, now, I should say that you are pretty
nearly correct in everything you've said?"

The prisoner, who, with hands grasping the table's edge on either side
of him, was looking down at his swinging brogans, simply lifted his
lurid eyes without raising his head, and nodded. "It would be right," he
seemed to intimate, "but nothing great."

"And suppose I should say that I'm glad I've heard it, and that I even
intend to make good use of it?"

His hearer lifted his head, better pleased, but not without some
betrayal of the distrust which a lower nature feels toward the
condescensions of a higher. The preacher went on:--

"Would you try to believe what I have to add to that?"

"Yes, I'd try," replied the Irishman, looking facetiously from the youth
to Ristofalo. But this time the Italian was grave, and turned his glance
expectantly upon the minister, who presently replied:--

"Well, neither my church nor the community has sent me here at all."

The Irishman broke into a laugh.

"Did God send ye?" He looked again to his comrades, with an expanded
grin. The youth giggled. The clergyman met the attack with serenity,
waited a moment and then responded:--

"Well, in one sense, I don't mind saying--yes."

"Well," said the Irishman, still full of mirth, and swinging his legs
with fresh vigor, "he'd aht to 'a' sint ye to the ligislatur."

"I'm in hopes he will," said the little rector; "but"--checking the
Irishman's renewed laughter--"tell me why should other men's injustice
in here stop me from preaching God's mercy?"

"Because it's pairt _your_ injustice! Ye _do_ come from yer cherch, an'
ye _do_ come from the community, an' ye can't deny ud, an' ye'd ahtn't
to be comin' in here with yer sweet tahk and yer eyes tight shut to the
crimes that's bein' committed ag'in uz for want of an outcry against 'em
by you preachers an' prayers an' thract-disthributors." The speaker
ceased and nodded fiercely. Then a new thought occurred to him, and he
began again abruptly:--

"Look ut here! Ye said in yer serrmon that as to Him"--he pointed
through the broken ceiling--"we're all criminals alike, didn't ye?"

"I did," responded the preacher, in a low tone.

"Yes," said Ristofalo; and the boy echoed the same word.

"Well, thin, what rights has some to be out an' some to be in?"

"Only one right that I know of," responded the little man; "still that
is a good one."

"And that is--?" prompted the Irishman.

"Society's right to protect itself."

"Yes," said the prisoner, "to protect itself. Thin what right has it to
keep a prison like this, where every man an' woman as goes out of ud
goes out a blacker devil, and cunninger devil, and a more dangerous
devil, nor when he came in? Is that anny protection? Why shouldn't such
a prison tumble down upon the heads of thim as built it? Say."

"I expect you'll have to ask somebody else," said the rector. He rose.

"Ye're not a-goun'!" exclaimed the Irishman, in broad affectation of
surprise.

"Yes."

"Ah! come, now! Ye're not goun' to be beat that a-way by a wild Mick o'
the woods?" He held himself ready for a laugh.

"No, I'm coming back," said the smiling clergyman, and the laugh came.

"That's right! But"--as if the thought was a sudden one--"I'll be dead
by thin, willn't I? Of coorse I will."

"Yes?" rejoined the clergyman. "How's that?"

The Irishman turned to the Italian.

"Mr. Ristofalo, we're a-goin to the pinitintiary, aint we?"

Ristofalo nodded.

"Of coorse we air! Ah! Mr. Preechur, that's the place!"

"Worse than this?"

"Worse? Oh, no! It's better. This is slow death, but that's quick and
short--and sure. If it don't git ye in five year', ye're an allygatur.
This place? It's heaven to ud!"



CHAPTER XLIII.

SHALL SHE COME OR STAY?


Richling read Mary's letter through three times without a smile. The
feeling that he had prompted the missive--that it was partly his--stood
between him and a tumult of gladness. And yet when he closed his eyes he
could see Mary, all buoyancy and laughter, spurning his claim to each
and every stroke of the pen. It was all hers, all!

As he was slowly folding the sheet Mrs. Reisen came in upon him. It was
one of those excessively warm spring evenings that sometimes make New
Orleans fear it will have no May. The baker's wife stood with her
immense red hands thrust into the pockets of an expansive pinafore, and
her three double chins glistening with perspiration. She bade her
manager a pleasant good-evening.

Richling inquired how she had left her husband.

"Kviet, Mr. Richlin', kviet. Mr. Richlin', I pelief Reisen kittin
petter. If he don't gittin' better, how come he'ss every day a little
more kvieter, and sit' still and don't say nutting to nobody?"

"Mrs. Reisen, my wife is asking me to send for her"--Richling gave the
folded letter a little shake as he held it by one corner--"to come down
here and live again."

"Now, Mr. Richlin'?"

"Yes."

"Well, I will shwear!" She dropped into a seat. "Right in de bekinning
o' summer time! Vell, vell, vell! And you told me Mrs. Richling is a
sentsible voman! Vell, I don't belief dat I efer see a young voman w'at
aint de pickest kind o' fool apowt her hussbandt. Vell, vell!--And she
comin' down heah 'n' choost kittin' all your money shpent, 'n' den her
mudter kittin' vorse 'n' she got 'o go pack akin!"

"Why, Mrs. Reisen," exclaimed Richling, warmly. "you speak as if you
didn't want her to come." He contrived to smile as he finished.

"Vell,--of--course! _You_ don't vant her to come, do you?"

Richling forced a laugh.

"Seems to me 'twould be natural if I did, Mrs. Reisen. Didn't the
preacher say, when we were married, 'Let no man put asunder'?"

"Oh, now, Mr. Richlin', dere aindt nopotty a-koin' to put you
under!--'less-n it's your vife. Vot she want to come down for? Don't I
takin' koot care you?" There was a tear in her eye as she went out.

An hour or so later the little rector dropped in.

"Richling, I came to see if I did any damage the last time I was here.
My own words worried me."

"You were afraid," responded Richling, "that I would understand you to
recommend me to send for my wife."

"Yes."

"I didn't understand you so."

"Well, my mind's relieved."

"Mine isn't," said Richling. He laid down his pen and gathered his
fingers around one knee. "Why shouldn't I send for her?"

"You will, some day."

"But I mean now."

The clergyman shook his head pleasantly.

"I don't think that's what you mean."

"Well, let that pass. I know what I do mean. I mean to get out of this
business. I've lived long enough with these savages." A wave of his hand
indicated the whole _personnel_ of the bread business.

"I would try not to mind their savageness, Richling," said the little
preacher, slowly. "The best of us are only savages hid under a harness.
If we're not, we've somehow made a loss." Richling looked at him with
amused astonishment, but he persisted. "I'm in earnest! We've had
something refined out of us that we shouldn't have parted with. Now,
there's Mrs. Reisen. I like her. She's a good woman. If the savage can
stand you, why can't you stand the savage?"

"Yes, true enough. Yet--well, I must get out of this, anyway."

The little man clapped him on the shoulder.

"_Climb_ out. See here, you Milwaukee man,"--he pushed Richling
playfully,--"what are _you_ doing with these Southern notions of ours
about the 'yoke of menial service,' anyhow?"

"I was not born in Milwaukee," said Richling.

"And you'll not die with these notions, either," retorted the other.
"Look here, I am going. Good-by. You've got to get rid of them, you
know, before your wife comes. I'm glad you are not going to send for her
now."

"I didn't say I wasn't."

"I wouldn't."

"Oh, you don't know what you'd do," said Richling.

The little preacher eyed him steadily for a moment, and then slowly
returned to where he still sat holding his knee.

They had a long talk in very quiet tones. At the end the rector
asked:--

"Didn't you once meet Dr. Sevier's two nieces--at his house?"

"Yes," said Richling.

"Do you remember the one named Laura?--the dark, flashing one?"

"Yes."

"Well,--oh, pshaw! I could tell you something funny, but I don't care to
do it."

What he did not care to tell was, that she had promised him five years
before to be his wife any day when he should say the word. In all that
time, and this very night, one letter, one line almost, and he could
have ended his waiting; but he was not seeking his own happiness.

They smiled together. "Well, good-by again. Don't think I'm always going
to persecute you with my solicitude."

"I'm not worth it," said Richling, slipping slowly down from his high
stool and letting the little man out into the street.

A little way down the street some one coming out of a dark alley just in
time to confront the clergyman extended a hand in salutation.

"Good-evenin', Mr. Blank."

He took the hand. It belonged to a girl of eighteen, bareheaded and
barefooted, holding in the other hand a small oil-can. Her eyes looked
steadily into his.

"You don't know me," she said, pleasantly.

"Why, yes, now I remember you. You're Maggie."

"Yes," replied the girl. "Don't you recollect--in the mission-school?
Don't you recollect you married me and Larry? That's two years ago." She
almost laughed out with pleasure.

"And where's Larry?"

"Why, don't you recollect? He's on the sloop-o'-war _Preble_." Then she
added more gravely: "I aint seen him in twenty months. But I know he's
all right. I aint a-scared about _that_--only if he's alive and well;
yes, sir. Well, good-evenin', sir. Yes, sir; I think I'll come to the
mission nex' Sunday--and I'll bring the baby, will I? All right, sir.
Well, so long, sir. Take care of yourself, sir."

What a word that was! It echoed in his ear all the way home: "Take care
of _yourself_." What boast is there for the civilization that refines
away the unconscious heroism of the unfriended poor?

He was glad he had not told Richling all his little secret. But Richling
found it out later from Dr. Sevier.



CHAPTER XLIV.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?


Three days Mary's letter lay unanswered. About dusk of the third, as
Richling was hurrying across the yard of the bakery on some errand
connected with the establishment, a light touch was laid upon his
shoulder; a peculiar touch, which he recognized in an instant. He turned
in the gloom and exclaimed, in a whisper:--

"Why, Ristofalo!"

"Howdy?" said Raphael, in his usual voice.

"Why, how did you get out?" asked Richling. "Have you escaped?"

"No. Just come out for little air. Captain of the prison and me. Not
captain, exactly; one of the keepers. Goin' back some time to-night." He
stood there in his old-fashioned way, gently smiling, and looking as
immovable as a piece of granite. "Have you heard from wife lately?"

"Yes," said Richling. "But--why--I don't understand. You and the jailer
out together?"

"Yes, takin' a little stroll 'round. He's out there in the street. You
can see him on door-step 'cross yonder. Pretty drunk, eh?" The Italian's
smile broadened for a moment, then came back to its usual self again. "I
jus' lef' Kate at home. Thought I'd come see you a little while."

"Return calls?" suggested Richling.

"Yes, return call. Your wife well?"

"Yes. But--why, this is the drollest"-- He stopped short, for the
Italian's gravity indicated his opinion that there had been enough
amusement shown. "Yes, she's well, thank you. By-the-by, what do you
think of my letting her come out here now and begin life over again?
Doesn't it seem to you it's high time, if we're ever going to do it at
all?"

"What you think?" asked Ristofalo.

"Well, now, you answer my question first."

"No, you answer me first."

"I can't. I haven't decided. I've been three days thinking about it. It
may seem like a small matter to hesitate so long over"--Richling paused
for his hearer to dissent.

"Yes," said Ristofalo, "pretty small." His smile remained the same. "She
ask you? Reckon you put her up to it, eh?"

"I don't see why you should reckon that," said Richling, with resentful
coldness.

"I dunno," said the Italian; "thought so--that's the way fellows do
sometimes." There was a pause. Then he resumed: "I wouldn't let her come
yet. Wait."

"For what?"

"See which way the cat goin' to jump."

Richling laughed unpleasantly.

"What do you mean by that?" he inquired.

"We goin' to have war," said Raphael Ristofalo.

"Ho! ho! ho! Why, Ristofalo, you were never more mistaken in your life!"

"I dunno," replied the Italian, sticking in his tracks, "think it pretty
certain. I read all the papers every day; nothin' else to do in parish
prison. Think we see war nex' winter."

"Ristofalo, a man of your sort can hardly conceive the amount of
bluster this country can stand without coming to blows. We Americans are
not like you Italians."

"No," responded Ristofalo, "not much like." His smile changed
peculiarly. "Wasn't for Kate, I go to Italia now."

"Kate and the parish prison," said Richling.

"Oh!"--the old smile returned,--"I get out that place any time I want."

"And you'd join Garibaldi, I suppose?" The news had just come of
Garibaldi in Sicily.

"Yes," responded the Italian. There was a twinkle deep in his eyes as he
added: "I know Garibaldi."

"Indeed!"

"Yes. Sailed under him when he was ship-cap'n. He knows me."

"And I dare say he'd remember you," said Richling, with enthusiasm.

"He remember me," said the quieter man. "Well,--must go. Good-e'nin'.
Better tell yo' wife wait a while."

"I--don't know. I'll see. Ristofalo"--

"What?"

"I want to quit this business."

"Better not quit. Stick to one thing."

"But you never did that. You never did one thing twice in succession."

"There's heap o' diff'ence."

"I don't see it. What is it?"

But the Italian only smiled and shrugged, and began to move away. In a
moment he said:--

"You see, Mr. Richlin', you sen' for yo' wife, you can't risk change o'
business. You change business, you can't risk sen' for yo' wife. Well,
good-night."

Richling was left to his thoughts. Naturally they were of the man whom
he still saw, in his imagination, picking his jailer up off the
door-step and going back to prison. Who could say that this man might
not any day make just such a lion's leap into the world's arena as
Garibaldi had made, and startle the nations as Garibaldi had done? What
was that red-shirted scourge of tyrants that this man might not be?
Sailor, soldier, hero, patriot, prisoner! See Garibaldi: despising the
restraints of law; careless of the simplest conventionalities that go to
make up an honest gentleman; doing both right and wrong--like a lion;
everything in him leonine. All this was in Ristofalo's reach. It was all
beyond Richling's. Which was best, the capability or the incapability?
It was a question he would have liked to ask Mary.

Well, at any rate, he had strength now for one thing--"one pretty small
thing." He would answer her letter. He answered it, and wrote: "Don't
come; wait a little while." He put aside all those sweet lovers'
pictures that had been floating before his eyes by night and day, and
bade her stay until the summer, with its risks to health, should have
passed, and she could leave her mother well and strong.

It was only a day or two afterward that he fell sick. It was provoking
to have such a cold and not know how he caught it, and to have it in
such fine weather. He was in bed some days, and was robbed of much sleep
by a cough. Mrs. Reisen found occasion to tell Dr. Sevier of Mary's
desire, as communicated to her by "Mr. Richlin'," and of the advice she
had given him.

"And he didn't send for her, I suppose."

"No, sir."

"Well, Mrs. Reisen, I wish you had kept your advice to yourself." The
Doctor went to Richling's bedside.

"Richling, why don't you send for your wife?"

The patient floundered in the bed and drew himself up on his pillow.

"O Doctor, just listen!" He smiled incredulously. "Bring that little
woman and her baby down here just as the hot season is beginning?" He
thought a moment, and then continued: "I'm afraid, Doctor, you're
prescribing for homesickness. Pray don't tell me that's my ailment."

"No, it's not. You have a bad cough, that you must take care of; but
still, the other is one of the counts in your case, and you know how
quickly Mary and--the little girl would cure it."

Richling smiled again.

"I can't do that, Doctor; when I go to Mary, or send for her, on account
of homesickness, it must be hers, not mine."

"Well, Mrs. Reisen," said the Doctor, outside the street door, "I hope
you'll remember my request."

"I'll tdo udt, Dtoctor," was the reply, so humbly spoken that he
repented half his harshness.

"I suppose you've often heard that 'you can't make a silk purse of a
sow's ear,' haven't you?" he asked.

"Yes; I pin right often heeard udt." She spoke as though she was not
wedded to any inflexible opinion concerning the proposition.

"Well, Mrs. Reisen, as a man once said to me, 'neither can you make a
sow's ear out of a silk purse.'"

"Vell, to be cettaintly!" said the poor woman, drawing not the shadow of
an inference; "how kin you?"

"Mr. Richling tells me he will write to Mrs. Richling to prepare to come
down in the fall."

"Vell," exclaimed the delighted Mrs. Reisen, in her husband's best
manner, "t'at's te etsectly I atwised him!" And, as the Doctor drove
away, she rubbed her mighty hands around each other in restored
complacency. Two or three days later she had the additional pleasure of
seeing Richling up and about his work again. It was upon her motherly
urging that he indulged himself, one calm, warm afternoon, in a walk in
the upper part of the city.



CHAPTER XLV.

NARCISSE WITH NEWS.


It was very beautiful to see the summer set in. Trees everywhere. You
looked down a street, and, unless it were one of the two broad avenues
where the only street-cars ran, it was pretty sure to be so overarched
with boughs that, down in the distance, there was left but a narrow
streak of vivid blue sky in the middle. Well-nigh every house had its
garden, as every garden its countless flowers. The dark orange began to
show its growing weight of fruitfulness, and was hiding in its thorny
interior the nestlings of yonder mocking-bird, silently foraging down in
the sunny grass. The yielding branches of the privet were bowed down
with their plumy panicles, and swayed heavily from side to side, drunk
with gladness and plenty. Here the peach was beginning to droop over a
wall. There, and yonder again, beyond, ranks of fig-trees, that had so
muffled themselves in their foliage that not the nakedness of a twig
showed through, had yet more figs than leaves. The crisp, cool masses of
the pomegranate were dotted with scarlet flowers. The cape jasmine wore
hundreds of her own white favors, whose fragrance forerun the sight.
Every breath of air was a new perfume. Roses, an innumerable host, ran a
fairy riot about all grounds, and clambered from the lowest door-step to
the highest roof. The oleander, wrapped in one great garment of red
blossoms, nodded in the sun, and stirred and winked in the faint
stirrings of the air The pale banana slowly fanned herself with her own
broad leaf. High up against the intense sky, its hard, burnished foliage
glittering in the sunlight, the magnolia spread its dark boughs, adorned
with their queenly white flowers. Not a bird nor an insect seemed
unmated. The little wren stood and sung to his sitting wife his loud,
ecstatic song, made all of her own name,--Matilda, Urilda, Lucinda,
Belinda, Adaline, Madaline, Caroline, or Melinda, as the case might
be,--singing as though every bone of his tiny body were a golden flute.
The hummingbirds hung on invisible wings, and twittered with delight as
they feasted on woodbine and honeysuckle. The pigeon on the roof-tree
cooed and wheeled about his mate, and swelled his throat, and
tremulously bowed and walked with a smiting step, and arched his
purpling neck, and wheeled and bowed and wheeled again. Pairs of
butterflies rose in straight upward flight, fluttered about each other
in amorous strife, and drifted away in the upper air. And out of every
garden came the voices of little children at play,--the blessedest sound
on earth.

"O Mary, Mary! why should two lovers live apart on this beautiful earth?
Autumn is no time for mating. Who can tell what autumn will bring?"

The revery was interrupted.

"Mistoo Itchlin, 'ow you enjoyin' yo' 'ealth in that beaucheouz weatheh
juz at the pwesent? Me, I'm well. Yes, I'm always well, in fact. At the
same time nevvatheless, I fine myseff slightly sad. I s'pose 'tis
natu'al--a man what love the 'itings of Lawd By'on as much as me. You
know, of co'se, the melancholic intelligens?"

"No," said Richling; "has any one"--

"Lady By'on, seh. Yesseh. 'In the mids' of life'--you know where we ah,
Mistoo Itchlin, I su-pose?"

"Is Lady Byron dead?"

"Yesseh." Narcisse bowed solemnly. "Gone, Mistoo Itchlin. Since the
seventeenth of last; yesseh. 'Kig the bucket,' as the povvub say." He
showed an extra band of black drawn neatly around his new straw hat. "I
thought it but p'opeh to put some moaning--as a species of twibute." He
restored the hat to his head. "You like the tas'e of that, Mistoo
Itchlin?"

Richling could but confess the whole thing was delicious.

"Yo humble servan', seh," responded the smiling Creole, with a flattered
bow. Then, assuming a gravity becoming the historian, he said:--

"In fact, 'tis a gweat mistake, that statement that Lawd By'on evva
qua'led with his lady, Mistoo Itchlin. But I s'pose you know 'tis but a
slandeh of the pwess. Yesseh. As, faw instance, thass anotheh slandeh of
the pwess that the delegates qua'led ad the Chawleston convention.
They only pwetend to qua'l; so, by that way, to mizguide those
A_bol_ish-nists. Mistoo Itchlin, I am p'ojecting to 'ite some obitua'
'emawks about that Lady By'on, but I scass know w'etheh to 'ite them in
the poetic style aw in the p'osaic. Which would you conclude, Mistoo
Itchlin?"

Richling reflected with downcast eyes.

"It seems to me," he said, when he had passed his hand across his mouth
in apparent meditation and looked up,--"seems to me I'd conclude both,
without delay."

"Yes? But accawding to what fawmule, Mistoo Itchlin? 'Ay, 'tis theh is
the 'ub,' in fact, as Lawd By'on say. Is it to migs the two style' that
you advise?"

"That's the favorite method," replied Richling.

"Well, I dunno 'ow 'tis, Mistoo Itchlin, but I fine the moze facil'ty in
the poetic. 'Tis t'ue, in the poetic you got to look out concehning the
_'ime_. You got to keep the eye skin' faw it, in fact. But in the
p'osaic, on the cont'a-ay, 'tis juz the opposite; you got to keep
the eye skin' faw the _sense_. Yesseh. Now, if you migs the two
style'--well--'ow's that, Mistoo Itchlin, if you migs them? Seem' to
me I dunno."

"Why, don't you see?" asked Richling. "If you mix them, you avoid both
necessities. You sail triumphantly between Scylla and Charybdis without
so much as skinning your eye."

Narcisse looked at him a moment with a slightly searching glance,
dropped his eyes upon his own beautiful feet, and said, in a meditative
tone:--

"I believe you co'ect." But his smile was gone, and Richling saw he had
ventured too far.

"I wish my wife were here," said Richling; "she might give you better
advice than I."

"Yes," replied Narcisse, "I believe you co'ect ag'in, Mistoo Itchlin.
'Tis but since yeste'd'y that I jus appen to hea' Dr. Seveeah d'op a
saying 'esembling to that. Yesseh, she's a v'ey 'emawkable, Mistoo
Itchlin."

"Is that what Dr. Sevier said?" Richling began to fear an ambush.

"No, seh. What the Doctah say--'twas me'ly to 'emawk in his jocose
way--you know the Doctah's lill callous, jocose way, Mistoo Itchlin."

He waved either hand outward gladsomely.

"Yes," said Richling, "I've seen specimens of it."

"Yesseh. He was ve'y complimenta'y, in fact, the Doctah. 'Tis the
trooth. He says, 'She'll make a man of Witchlin if anythin' can.' Juz in
his jocose way, you know."

The Creole's smile had returned in concentrated sweetness. He stood
silent, his face beaming with what seemed his confidence that Richling
would be delighted. Richling recalled the physician's saying concerning
this very same little tale-bearer,--that he carried his nonsense on top
and his good sense underneath.

"Dr. Sevier said that, did he?" asked Richling, after a time.

"'Tis the vehbatim, seh. Convussing to yo' 'eve'end fwend. You can ask
him; he will co'obo'ate me in fact. Well, Mistoo Itchlin, it supp'ise me
you not tickle at that. Me, I may say, I wish _I_ had a wife to make a
man out of _me_."

"I wish you had," said Richling. But Narcisse smiled on.

"Well, _au 'evoi'_." He paused an instant with an earnest face.
"Pehchance I'll meet you this evening, Mistoo Itchlin? Faw doubtless,
like myseff, you will assist at the gweat a-ally faw the Union, the
Const'ution, and the enfo'cemen' of the law. Dr. Seveeah will addwess."

"I don't know that I care to hear him," replied Richling.

"Goin' to be a gwan' out-po'-ing, Mistoo Itchlin. Citizens of Noo 'Leans
without the leas' 'espec' faw fawmeh polly-tickle diff'ence. Also
fiah-works. 'Come one, come all,' as says the gweat Scott--includin'
yo'seff, Mistoo Itchlin. No? Well, _au 'evoi'_, Mistoo Itchlin."



CHAPTER XLVI.

A PRISON MEMENTO.


The political pot began to seethe. Many yet will remember how its smoke
went up. The summer--summer of 1860--grew fervent. Its breath became hot
and dry. All observation--all thought--turned upon the fierce campaign.
Discussion dropped as to whether Heenan would ever get that champion's
belt, which even the little rector believed he had fairly won in the
international prize-ring. The news brought by each succeeding European
steamer of Garibaldi's splendid triumphs in the cause of a new Italy,
the fierce rattle of partisan warfare in Mexico, that seemed almost
within hearing, so nearly was New Orleans concerned in some of its
movements,--all things became secondary and trivial beside the
developments of a political canvass in which the long-foreseen,
long-dreaded issues between two parts of the nation were at length to be
made final. The conventions had met, the nominations were complete, and
the clans of four parties and fractions of parties were "meeting," and
"rallying," and "uprising," and "outpouring."

All life was strung to one high pitch. This contest was
everything,--nay, everybody,--men, women, and children. They were all
for the Constitution; they were all for the Union; and each, even
Richling, for the enforcement of--his own ideas. On every bosom, "no
matteh the sex," and no matter the age, hung one of those little round,
ribbanded medals, with a presidential candidate on one side and his
vice-presidential man Friday on the other. Needless to say that
Ristofalo's Kate, instructed by her husband, imported the earliest and
many a later invoice of them, and distributing her peddlers at choice
thronging-places, "everlastin'ly," as she laughingly and confidentially
informed Dr. Sevier, "raked in the sponjewlicks." They were exposed for
sale on little stalls on populous sidewalks and places of much entry and
exit.

The post-office in those days was still on Royal street, in the old
Merchants' Exchange. The small hand-holes of the box-delivery were in
the wide tessellated passage that still runs through the building from
Royal street to Exchange alley. A keeper of one of these little stalls
established himself against a pillar just where men turned into and out
of Royal street, out of or into this passage. One day, in this place,
just as Richling turned from a delivery window to tear the envelope of a
letter bearing the Milwaukee stamp, his attention was arrested by a man
running by him toward Exchange alley, pale as death, and followed by a
crowd that suddenly broke into a cry, a howl, a roar: "Hang him! Hang
him!"

"Come!" said a small, strong man, seizing Richling's arm and turning him
in the common direction. If the word was lost on Richling's defective
hearing, not so the touch; for the speaker was Ristofalo. The two
friends ran with all their speed through the passage and out into the
alley. A few rods away the chased wretch had been overtaken, and was
made to face his pursuers. When Richling and Ristofalo reached him there
was already a rope about his neck.

The Italian's leap, as he closed in upon the group around the victim,
was like a tiger's. The men he touched did not fall; they were rather
hurled, driving backward those whom they were hurled against. A man
levelled a revolver at him; Richling struck it a blow that sent it over
twenty men's heads. A long knife flashed in Ristofalo's right hand. He
stood holding the rope in his left, stooping slightly forward, and
darting his eyes about as if selecting a victim for his weapon. A
stranger touched Richling from behind, spoke a hurried word in Italian,
and handed him a huge dirk. But in that same moment the affair was over.
There stood Ristofalo, gentle, self-contained, with just a perceptible
smile turned upon the crowd, no knife in his hand, and beside him the
slender, sinewy, form, and keen gray eye of Smith Izard.

The detective was addressing the crowd. While he was speaking, half a
score of police came from as many directions. When he had finished, he
waved his slender hand at the mass of heads.

"Stand back. Go about your business." And they began to go. He laid a
hand upon the rescued stranger and addressed the police.

"Take this rope off. Take this man to the station and keep him until
it's safe to let him go."

The explanation by which he had so quickly pacified the mob was a simple
one. The rescued man was a seller of campaign medals. That morning, in
opening a fresh supply of his little stock, he had failed to perceive
that, among a lot of "Breckenridge and Lane" medals, there had crept
in one of Lincoln. That was the sum of his offence. The mistake had
occurred in the Northern factory. Of course, if he did not intend to
sell Lincoln medals, there was no crime.

"Don't I tell you?" said the Italian to Richling, as they were walking
away together. "Bound to have war; is already begin-n."

"It began with me the day I got married," said Richling.

Ristofalo waited some time, and then asked:--

"How?"

"I shouldn't have said so," replied Richling; "I can't explain."

"Thass all right," said the other. And, a little later: "Smith Izard
call' you by name. How he know yo' name?"

"I can't imagine!"

The Italian waved his hand.

"Thass all right, too; nothin' to me." Then, after another pause: "Think
you saved my life to-day."

"The honors are easy," said Richling.

He went to bed again for two or three days. He liked it little when Dr.
Sevier attributed the illness to a few moments' violent exertion and
excitement.

"It was bravely done, at any rate, Richling," said the Doctor.

"_That_ it was!" said Kate Ristofalo, who had happened to call to see
the sick man at the same hour. "Doctor, ye'r mighty right! Ha!"

Mrs. Reisen expressed a like opinion, and the two kind women met the two
men's obvious wish by leaving the room.

"Doctor," said Richling at once, "the last time you said it was
love-sickness; this time you say it's excitement; at the bottom it isn't
either. Will you please tell me what it really is? What is this thing
that puts me here on my back this way?"

"Richling," replied the Doctor, slowly, "if I tell you the honest truth,
it began in that prison."

The patient knit his hands under his head and lay motionless and
silent.

"Yes," he said, after a time. And by and by again: "Yes; I feared as
much. And can it be that my _physical_ manhood is going to fail me at
such a time as this?" He drew a long breath and turned restively in the
bed.

"We'll try to keep it from doing that," replied the physician. "I've
told you this, Richling, old fellow to impress upon you the necessity of
keeping out of all this hubbub,--this night-marching and mass-meeting
and exciting nonsense."

"And am I always--always to be blown back--blown back this way?" said
Richling, half to himself, half to his friend.

"There, now," responded the Doctor, "just stop talking entirely. No, no;
not always blown back. A sick man always thinks the present moment is
the whole boundless future. Get well. And to that end possess your soul
in patience. No newspapers. Read your Bible. It will calm you. I've been
trying it myself." His tone was full of cheer, but it was also so
motherly and the touch so gentle with which he put back the sick man's
locks--as if they had been a lad's--that Richling turned away his face
with chagrin.

"Come!" said the Doctor, more sturdily, laying his hand on the patient's
shoulder. "You'll not lie here more than a day or two. Before you know
it summer will be gone, and you'll be sending for Mary."

Richling turned again, put out a parting hand, and smiled with new
courage.



CHAPTER XLVII.

NOW I LAY ME--


Time may drag slowly, but it never drags backward. So the summer wore
on, Richling following his physician's directions; keeping to his work
only--out of public excitements and all overstrain; and to every day, as
he bade it good-by, his eager heart, lightened each time by that much,
said, "When you come around again, next year, Mary and I will meet you
hand in hand." This was _his_ excitement, and he seemed to flourish on
it.

But day by day, week by week, the excitements of the times rose. Dr.
Sevier was deeply stirred, and ever on the alert, looking out upon every
quarter of the political sky, listening to the rising thunder, watching
the gathering storm. There could hardly have been any one more
completely engrossed by it. If there was, it was his book-keeper. It
wasn't so much the Constitution that enlisted Narcisse's concern; nor
yet the Union, which seemed to him safe enough; much less did the desire
to see the enforcement of the laws consume him. Nor was it altogether
the "'oman candles" and the "'ockets"; but the rhetoric.

Ah, the "'eto'ic"! He bathed, he paddled, dove, splashed, in a surf of
it.

"Doctah,"--shaking his finely turned shoulders into his coat and lifting
his hat toward his head,--"I had the honah, and at the same time the
pleasu', to yeh you make a shawt speech lass evening. I was p'oud to
yeh yo' bunning eloquence, Doctah,--if you'll allow. Yesseh. Eve'ybody
said 'twas the moze bilious effo't of the o'-casion."

Dr. Sevier actually looked up and smiled, and thanked the happy young
man for the compliment.

"Yesseh," continued his admirer, "I nevveh flatteh. I give me'-it where
the me'-it lies. Well, seh, we juz make the welkin 'ing faw joy when you
finally stop' at the en'. Pehchance you heard my voice among that sea of
head'? But I doubt--in 'such a vas' up'ising--so many imposing pageant',
in fact,--and those 'ocket' exploding in the staw-y heaven', as they
say. I think I like that exp'ession I saw on the noozpapeh, wheh it
says: 'Long biffo the appointed owwa, thousan' of flashing tawches and
tas'eful t'anspa'encies with divuz devices whose blazing effulgence
turn' day into night.' Thass a ve'y talented style, in fact. Well, _au
'evoi'_, Doctah. I'm going ad the--an' thass anotheh thing I like--'tis
faw the ladies to 'ing bells that way on the balconies. Because Mr. Bell
and Eve'et is name _bell_, and so is the _bells_ name' juz the same way,
and so they 'ing the _bells_ to signify. I had to elucidate that to my
hant. Well, _au 'evoi'_, Doctah."

The Doctor raised his eyes from his letter-writing. The young man had
turned, and was actually going out without another word. What perversity
moved the physician no one will ever know; but he sternly called:--

"Narcisse?"

The Creole wheeled about on the threshold.

"Yesseh?"

The Doctor held him with a firm, grave eye, and slowly said:--

"I suppose before you return you will go to the post office." He said
nothing more,--only that, just in his jocose way,--and dropped his eyes
again upon his pen. Narcisse gave him one long black look, and silently
went out.

But a sweet complacency could not stay long away from the young man's
breast. The world was too beautiful; the white, hot sky above was in
such fine harmony with his puffed lawn shirt-bosom and his white linen
pantaloons, bulging at the thighs and tapering at the ankles, and at the
corner of Canal and Royal streets he met so many members of the Yancey
Guards and Southern Guards and Chalmette Guards and Union Guards and
Lane Dragoons and Breckenridge Guards and Douglas Rangers and Everett
Knights, and had the pleasant trouble of stepping aside and yielding the
pavement to the far-spreading crinoline. Oh, life was one scintillating
cluster breast-pin of ecstasies! And there was another thing,--General
William Walker's filibusters! Royal street, St. Charles, the rotunda of
the St. Charles Hotel, were full of them.

It made Dr. Sevier both sad and fierce to see what hold their lawless
enterprise took upon the youth of the city. Not that any great number
were drawn into the movement, least of all Narcisse; but it captivated
their interest and sympathy, and heightened the general unrest, when
calmness was what every thoughtful man saw to be the country's greatest
need.

An incident to illustrate the Doctor's state of mind.

It occurred one evening in the St. Charles rotunda. He saw some
citizens of high standing preparing to drink at the bar with a group of
broad-hatted men, whose bronzed foreheads and general out-of-door mien
hinted rather ostentatiously of Honduras and Ruatan Island. As he passed
close to them one of the citizens faced him blandly, and unexpectedly
took his hand, but quickly let it go again. The rest only glanced at
the Doctor, and drew nearer to the bar.

"I trust you're not unwell, Doctor," said the sociable one, with
something of a smile, and something of a frown, at the tall physician's
gloomy brow.

"I am well, sir."

"I--didn't know," said the man again, throwing an aggressive resentment
into his tone; "you seemed preoccupied."

"I was," replied the Doctor, returning his glance with so keen an eye
that the man smiled again, appeasingly. "I was thinking how barely
skin-deep civilization is."

The man ha-ha'd artificially, stepping backward as he said, "That's so!"
He looked after the departing Doctor an instant and then joined his
companions.

Richling had a touch of this contagion. He looked from Garibaldi to
Walker and back again, and could not see any enormous difference between
them. He said as much to one of the bakery's customers, a restaurateur
with a well-oiled tongue, who had praised him for his intrepidity in the
rescue of the medal-peddler, which, it seems, he had witnessed. With
this praise still upon his lips the caterer walked with Richling to the
restaurant door, and detained him there to enlarge upon the subject of
Spanish-American misrule, and the golden rewards that must naturally
fall to those who should supplant it with stable government. Richling
listened and replied and replied again and listened; and presently the
restaurateur startled him with an offer to secure him a captain's
commission under Walker. He laughed incredulously; but the restaurateur,
very much in earnest, talked on; and by littles, but rapidly, Richling
admitted the value of the various considerations urged. Two or three
months of rapid adventure; complete physical renovation--of
course--natural sequence; the plaudits of a grateful people; maybe
fortune also, but at least a certainty of finding the road to it,--all
this to meet Mary with next fall.

"I'm in a great hurry just now," said Richling; "but I'll talk about
this thing with you again to-morrow or next day," and so left.

The restaurateur turned to his head-waiter, stuck his tongue in his
cheek, and pulled down the lower lid of an eye with his forefinger. He
meant to say he had been lying for the pure fun of it.

When Dr. Sevier came that afternoon to see Reisen--of whom there was now
but little left, and that little unable to leave the bed--Richling took
occasion to raise the subject that had entangled his fancy. He was
careful to say nothing of himself or the restaurateur, or anything,
indeed, but a timid generality or two. But the Doctor responded with a
clear, sudden energy that, when he was gone, left Richling feeling
painfully blank, and yet unable to find anything to resent except the
Doctor's superfluous--as he thought, quite superfluous--mention of the
island of Cozumel.

However, and after all, that which for the most part kept the public
mind heated was, as we have said, the political campaign. Popular
feeling grew tremulous with it as the landscape did under the burning
sun. It was a very hot summer. Not a good one for feeble folk; and one
early dawn poor Reisen suddenly felt all his reason come back to him,
opened his eyes, and lo! he had crossed the river in the night, and was
on the other side.

Dr. Sevier's experienced horse halted of his own will to let a
procession pass. In the carriage at its head the physician saw the
little rector, sitting beside a man of German ecclesiastical appearance.
Behind it followed a majestic hearse, drawn by black-plumed and
caparisoned horses,--four of them. Then came a long line of red-shirted
firemen; for he in the hearse had been an "exempt." Then a further line
of big-handed, white-gloved men in beavers and regalias; for he had
been also a Freemason and an Odd-fellow. Then another column, of
emotionless-visaged German women, all in bunchy black gowns, walking out
of time to the solemn roll and pulse of the muffled drums, and the
brazen peals of the funeral march. A few carriages closed the long
line. In the first of them the waiting Doctor marked, with a sudden
understanding of all, the pale face of John Richling, and by his side
the widow who had been forty years a wife,--weary and red with weeping.
The Doctor took off his hat.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

RISE UP, MY LOVE, MY FAIR ONE.


The summer at length was past, and the burning heat was over and gone.
The days were refreshed with the balm of a waning October. There had
been no fever. True, the nights were still aglare with torches, and the
street echoes kept awake by trumpet notes and huzzas, by the tramp of
feet and the delicate hint of the bell-ringing; and men on the stump and
off it; in the "wigwams;" along the sidewalks, as they came forth,
wiping their mouths, from the free-lunch counters, and on the
curb-stones and "flags" of Carondelet street, were saying things to make
a patriot's heart ache. But contrariwise, in that same Carondelet
street, and hence in all the streets of the big, scattered town, the
most prosperous commercial year--they measure from September to
September--that had ever risen upon New Orleans had closed its distended
record, and no one knew or dreamed that, for nearly a quarter of a
century to come, the proud city would never see the equal of that golden
year just gone. And so, away yonder among the great lakes on the
northern border of the anxious but hopeful country, Mary was calling,
calling, like an unseen bird piping across the fields for its mate, to
know if she and the one little nestling might not come to hers.

And at length, after two or three unexpected contingencies had caused
delays of one week after another, all in a silent tremor of joy, John
wrote the word--"Come!"

He was on his way to put it into the post-office, in Royal street. At
the newspaper offices, in Camp street, he had to go out into the middle
of the way to get around the crowd that surrounded the bulletin-boards,
and that scuffled for copies of the latest issue. The day of days was
passing; the returns of election were coming in. In front of the
"Picayune" office he ran square against a small man, who had just pulled
himself and the most of his clothing out of the press with the last news
crumpled in the hand that he still held above his head.

"Hello, Richling, this is pretty exciting, isn't it?" It was the little
clergyman. "Come on, I'll go your way; let's get out of this."

He took Richling's arm, and they went on down the street, the rector
reading aloud as they walked, and shopkeepers and salesmen at their
doors catching what they could of his words as the two passed.

"It's dreadful! dreadful!" said the little man, thrusting the paper into
his pocket in a wad.

"Hi! Mistoo Itchlin," quoth Narcisse, passing them like an arrow, on his
way to the paper offices.

"He's happy," said Richling.

"Well, then, he's the only happy man I know of in New Orleans to-day,"
said the little rector, jerking his head and drawing a sigh through his
teeth.

"No," said Richling, "I'm another. You see this letter." He showed it
with the direction turned down. "I'm going now to mail it. When my wife
gets it she starts."

The preacher glanced quickly into his face. Richling met his gaze with
eyes that danced with suppressed joy. The two friends attracted no
attention from those whom they passed or who passed them; the newsboys
were scampering here and there, everybody buying from them, and the
walls of Common street ringing with their shouted proffers of the "full
account" of the election.

"Richling, don't do it."

"Why not?" Richling showed only amusement.

"For several reasons," replied the other. "In the first place, look at
your business!"

"Never so good as to-day."

"True. And it entirely absorbs you. What time would you have at your
fireside, or even at your family table? None. It's--well you know what
it is--it's a bakery, you know. You couldn't expect to lodge _your_ wife
and little girl in a bakery in Benjamin street; you know you couldn't.
Now, _you_--you don't mind it--or, I mean, you can stand it. Those
things never need damage a gentleman. But with your wife it would be
different. You smile, but--why, you know she couldn't go there. And if
you put her anywhere where a lady ought to be, in New Orleans, she would
be--well, don't you see she would be about as far away as if she were in
Milwaukee? Richling, I don't know how it looks to you for me to be so
meddlesome, and I believe you think I'm making a very poor argument; but
you see this is only one point and the smallest. Now"--

Richling raised his thin hand, and said pleasantly:--

"It's no use. You can't understand; it wouldn't be possible to explain;
for you simply don't know Mary."

"But there are some things I do know. Just think; she's with her mother
where she is. Imagine her falling ill here,--as you've told me she used
to do,--and you with that bakery on your hands."

Richling looked grave.

"Oh no," continued the little man. "You've been so brave and patient,
you and your wife, both,--do be so a little bit longer! Live close; save
your money; go on rising in value in your business; and after a little
you'll rise clear out of the sphere you're now in. You'll command your
own time; you'll build your own little home; and life and happiness and
usefulness will be fairly and broadly open before you." Richling gave
heed with a troubled face, and let his companion draw him into the
shadow of that "St. Charles" from the foot of whose stair-way he had
once been dragged away as a vagrant.

"See, Richling! Every few weeks you may read in some paper of how a
man on some ferry-boat jumps for the wharf before the boat has touched
it, falls into the water, and-- Make sure! Be brave a little
longer--only a little longer! Wait till you're sure!"

"I'm sure enough!"

"Oh, no, you're not! Wait till this political broil is over. They say
Lincoln is elected. If so, the South is not going to submit to it.
Nobody can tell what the consequences are to be. Suppose we should have
war? I don't think we shall, but suppose we should? There would be a
general upheaval, commercial stagnation, industrial collapse, shrinkage
everywhere! Wait till it's over. It may not be two weeks hence; it can
hardly be more than ninety days at the outside. If it should the North
would be ruined, and you may be sure they are not going to allow _that_.
Then, when all starts fair again, bring your wife and baby. I'll tell
you what to do, Richling!"

"Will you?" responded the listener, with an amiable laugh that the
little man tried to echo.

"Yes. Ask Dr. Sevier! He's right here in the next street. He was on
your side last time; maybe he'll be so now."

"Done!" said Richling. They went. The rector said he would do an errand
in Canal street, while Richling should go up and see the physician.

Dr. Sevier was in.

"Why, Richling!" He rose to receive him. "How are you?" He cast his eye
over his visitor with professional scrutiny. "What brings _you_ here?"

"To tell you that I've written for Mary," said Richling, sinking wearily
into a chair.

"Have you mailed the letter?"

"I'm taking it to the post-office now."

The Doctor threw one leg energetically over the other, and picked up the
same paper-knife that he had handled when, two years and a half before,
he had sat thus, talking to Mary and John on the eve of their
separation.

"Richling, I'll tell you. I've been thinking about this thing for some
time, and I've decided to make you a proposal. I look at you and at Mary
and at the times--the condition of the country--the probable
future--everything. I know you, physically and mentally, better than
anybody else does. I can say the same of Mary. So, of course, I don't
make this proposal impulsively, and I don't want it rejected.

"Richling, I'll lend you two thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars,
payable at your convenience, if you will just go to your room, pack up,
go home, and take from six to twelve months' holiday with your wife and
child."

The listener opened his mouth in blank astonishment.

"Why, Doctor, you're jesting! You can't suppose"--

"I don't suppose anything. I simply want you to do it."

"Well, I simply can't!"

"Did you ever regret taking my advice, Richling?"

"No, never. But this--why, it's utterly impossible! Me leave the results
of four years' struggle to go holidaying? I can't understand you,
Doctor."

"'Twould take weeks to explain."

"It's idle to think of it," said Richling, half to himself.

"Go home and think of it twenty-four hours," said the Doctor.

"It is useless, Doctor."

"Very good, then; send for Mary. Mail your letter."

"You don't mean it!" said Richling.

"Yes, I do. Send for Mary; and tell her I advised it." He turned quickly
away to his desk, for Richling's eyes had filled with tears; but turned
again and rose as Richling rose. They joined hands.

"Yes, Richling, send for her. It's the right thing to do--if you will
not do the other. You know I want you to be happy."

"Doctor, one word. In your opinion is there going to be war?"

"I don't know. But if there is it's time for husband and wife and child
to draw close together. Good-day."

And so the letter went.



CHAPTER XLIX.

A BUNDLE OF HOPES.


Richling insisted, in the face of much scepticism on the part of the
baker's widow, that he felt better, was better, and would go on getting
better, now that the weather was cool once more.

"Well, I hope you vill, Mr. Richlin', dtat's a fect. 'Specially ven yo'
vife comin'. Dough _I_ could a-tooken care ye choost tso koot as vot she
couldt."

"But maybe you couldn't take care of her as well as I can," said the
happy Richling.

"Oh, tdat's a tdifferendt. A voman kin tek care herself."

Visiting the French market on one of these glad mornings, as his
business often required him to do, he fell in with Narcisse, just
withdrawing from the celebrated coffee-stand of Rose Nicaud. Richling
stopped in the moving crowd and exchanged salutations very willingly;
for here was one more chance to hear himself tell the fact of Mary's
expected coming.

"So'y, Mistoo Itchlin," said Narcisse, whipping away the pastry crumbs
from his lap with a handkerchief and wiping his mouth, "not to encounteh
you a lill biffo', to join in pahtaking the cup what cheeahs at the same
time whilce it invigo'ates; to-wit, the coffee-cup--as the maxim say. I
dunno by what fawmule she makes that coffee, but 'tis astonishin' how
'tis good, in fact. I dunno if you'll billieve me, but I feel almost I
could pahtake anotheh cup--? 'Tis the tooth." He gave Richling time to
make any handsome offer that might spontaneously suggest itself, but
seeing that the response was only an over-gay expression of face, he
added, "But I conclude no. In fact, Mistoo Itchlin, thass a thing I have
discovud,--that too much coffee millytates ag'inst the chi'og'aphy; and
thus I abstain. Well, seh, ole Abe is elected."

"Yes," rejoined Richling, "and there's no telling what the result will
be."

"You co'ect, Mistoo Itchlin." Narcisse tried to look troubled.

"I've got a bit of private news that I don't think you've heard," said
Richling. And the Creole rejoined promptly:--

"Well, I _thought_ I saw something on yo' thoughts--if you'll excuse my
tautology. Thass a ve'y diffycult to p'event sometime'. But, Mistoo
Itchlin, I trus' 'tis not you 'ave allowed somebody to swin'le
you?--confiding them too indiscweetly, in fact?" He took a pretty
attitude, his eyes reposing in Richling's.

Richling laughed outright.

"No, nothing of that kind. No, I"--

"Well, I'm ve'y glad," interrupted Narcisse.

"Oh, no, 'tisn't trouble at all! I've sent for Mrs. Richling. We're
going to resume housekeeping."

Narcisse gave a glad start, took his hat off, passed it to his left
hand, extended his right, bowed from the middle with princely grace,
and, with joy breaking all over his face, said:--

"Mistoo Itchlin, in fact,--shake!"

They shook.

"Yesseh--an' many 'appy 'eturn! I dunno if you kin billieve that, Mistoo
Itchlin; but I was juz about to 'ead that in yo' physio'nomie! Yesseh.
But, Mistoo Itchlin, when shall the happy o'casion take effect?"

"Pretty soon. Not as soon as I thought, for I got a despatch yesterday,
saying her mother is very ill, and of course I telegraphed her to stay
till her mother is at least convalescent. But I think that will be soon.
Her mother has had these attacks before. I have good hopes that before
long Mrs. Richling will actually be here."

Richling began to move away down the crowded market-house, but Narcisse
said:--

"Thass yo' di'ection? 'Tis the same, mine. We may accompany togetheh--if
you'll allow yo' 'umble suvvant?"

"Come along! You do me honor!" Richling laid his hand on Narcisse's
shoulder and they went at a gait quickened by the happy husband's
elation. Narcisse was very proud of the touch, and, as they began to
traverse the vegetable market, took the most populous arcade.

"Mistoo Itchlin," he began again, "I muz congwatu_late_ you! You know I
always admiah yo' lady to excess. But appopo of that news, I might
infawm you some intelligens consunning myseff."

"Good!" exclaimed Richling. "For it's good news, isn't it?"

"Yesseh,--as you may say,--yes. Faw in fact, Mistoo Itchlin, I 'ave ass
Dr. Seveeah to haugment me."

"Hurrah!" cried Richling. He coughed and laughed and moved aside to a
pillar and coughed, until people looked at him, and lifted his eyes,
tired but smiling, and, paying his compliments to the paroxysm in one or
two ill-wishes, wiped his eyes at last, and said:--

"And the Doctor augmented you?"

"Well, no, I can't say that--not p'ecisely."

"Why, what did he do?"

"Well, he 'efuse' me, in fact."

"Why--but that isn't good news, then."

Narcisse gave his head a bright, argumentative twitch.

"Yesseh. 'Tis t'ue he 'efuse'; but ad the same time--I dunno--I thing he
wasn' so mad about it as he make out. An' you know thass one thing,
Mistoo Itchlin, whilce they got life they got hope; and hence I
ente'tain the same."

They had reached that flagged area without covering or inclosure, before
the third of the three old market-houses, where those dealers in the
entire miscellanies of a housewife's equipment, excepting only stoves
and furniture, spread their wares and fabrics in the open weather before
the Bazar market rose to give them refuge. He grew suddenly fierce.

"But any'ow I don't care! I had the spunk to ass 'im, an' he din 'ave
the spunk to dischawge me! All he can do; 'tis to shake the fis' of
impatience." He was looking into his companion's face, as they walked,
with an eye distended with defiance.

"Look out!" exclaimed Richling, reaching a hurried hand to draw him
aside. Narcisse swerved just in time to avoid stepping into a pile of
crockery, but in so doing went full into the arms of a stately female
figure dressed in the crispest French calico and embarrassed with
numerous small packages of dry goods. The bundles flew hither and yon.
Narcisse tried to catch the largest as he saw it going, but only sent it
farther than it would have gone, and as it struck the ground it burst
like a pomegranate. But the contents were white: little thin,
square-folded fractions of barred jaconet and white flannel; rolls of
slender white lutestring ribbon; very narrow papers of tiny white pearl
buttons, minute white worsted socks, spools of white floss, cards of
safety-pins, pieces of white castile soap, etc.

"_Mille pardons, madame!_" exclaimed Narcisse; "I make you a thousan'
poddons, madam!"

He was ill-prepared for the majestic wrath that flashed from the eyes
and radiated from the whole dilating, and subsiding, and reëxpanding,
and rising, and stiffening form of Kate Ristofalo!

"Officerr," she panted,--for instantly there was a crowd, and a man with
the silver-crescent badge was switching the assemblage on the legs with
his cane to make room,--"Officerr," she gasped, levelling her tremulous
finger at Narcisse, "arrist that man!"

"Mrs. Ristofalo!" exclaimed Richling, "don't do that! It was all an
accident! Why, don't you see it's Narcisse,--my friend?"

"Yer frind rised his hand to sthrike me, sur, he did! Yer frind rised
his hand to sthrike me, he did!" And up she went and down she went,
shortening and lengthening, swelling and decreasing. "Yes, yes, I
know yer frind; indeed I do! I paid two dollars and a half fur his
acquaintans nigh upon three years agone, sur. Yer frind!" And still she
went up and down, enlarging, diminishing, heaving her breath and waving
her chin around, and saying, in broken utterances,--while a hackman on
her right held his whip in her auditor's face, crying, "Carriage, sir?
Carriage, sir?"--

"Why didn'--he rin agin--a man, sur! I--I--oh! I wish Mr. Ristofalah war
heer!--to teach um how--to walk!--Yer frind, sur--ixposing me!" She
pointed to Narcisse and the policeman gathering up the scattered lot of
tiny things. Her eyes filled with tears, but still shot lightning. "If
he's hurrted me, he's got 'o suffer fur ud, Mr. Richlin'!" And she
expanded again.

"Carriage, sir, carriage?" continued the man with the whip.

"Yes!" said Richling and Mrs. Ristofalo in a breath. She took his arm,
the hackman seized the bundles from the policeman, threw open his hack
door, laid the bundles on the front seat, and let down the folding
steps. The crowd dwindled away to a few urchins.

"Officerr," said Mrs. Ristofalo, her foot on the step and composure once
more in her voice, "ye needn't arrist um. I could of done ud, sur," she
added to Narcisse himself, "but I'm too much of a laydy, sur!" And she
sank together and stretched herself up once more, entered the vehicle,
and sat with a perpendicular back, her arms folded on her still heaving
bosom, and her head high.

As to her ability to have that arrest made, Kate Ristofalo was in error.
Narcisse smiled to himself; for he was conscious of one advantage that
overtopped all the sacredness of female helplessness, public right, or
any other thing whatsoever. It lay in the simple fact that he was
acquainted with the policeman. He bowed blandly to the officer, stepped
backward, touching his hat, and walked away, the policeman imitating
each movement with the promptness and faithfulness of a mirror.

"Aren't ye goin' to get in, Mr. Richlin'?" asked Mrs. Ristofalo. She
smiled first and then looked alarmed.

"I--I can't very well--if you'll excuse me, ma'am."

"Ah, Mr. Richlin'!"--she pouted girlishly. "Gettin' proud!" She gave her
head a series of movements, as to say she might be angry if she would,
but she wouldn't. "Ye won't know uz when Mrs. Richlin' comes."

Richling laughed, but she gave a smiling toss to indicate that it was a
serious matter.

"Come," she insisted, patting the seat beside her with honeyed
persuasiveness, "come and tell me all about ud. Mr. Ristofalah nivver
goes into peticklers, an' so I har'ly know anny more than jist she's
a-comin'. Come, git in an' tell me about Mrs. Richlin'--that is, if ye
like the subject--and I don't believe ye do." She lifted her finger,
shook it roguishly close to her own face, and looked at him sidewise.
"Ah, nivver mind, sur! that's rright! Furgit yer old frinds--maybe ye
wudden't do ud if ye knewn everythin'. But that's rright; that's the way
with min." She suddenly changed to subdued earnestness, turned the catch
of the door, and, as the door swung open, said: "Come, if ud's only fur
a bit o' the way--if ud's only fur a ming-ute. I've got somethin' to
tell ye."

"I must get out at Washington Market," said Richling, as he got in. The
hack hurried down Old Levee street.

"And now," said she, merriment dancing in her eyes, her folded arms
tightening upon her bosom, and her lips struggling against their own
smile, "I'm just a good mind not to tell ye at ahll!"

Her humor was contagious and Richling was ready to catch it. His own eye
twinkled.

"Well, Mrs. Ristofalo, of course, if you feel any embarrassment"--

"Ye villain!" she cried, with delighted indignation, "I didn't mean
nawthing about _that_, an' ye knew ud! Here, git out o' this carridge!"
But she made no effort to eject him.

"Mary and I are interested in all your hopes," said Richling, smiling
softly upon the damaged bundle which he was making into a tight package
again on his knee. "You'll tell me your good news if it's only that I
may tell her, will you not?"

"_I_ will. And it's joost this,--Mr. Richlin',--that if there be's a war
Mr. Ristofalah's to be lit out o' prison."

"I'm very glad!" cried Richling, but stopped short, for Mrs.
Ristofalo's growing dignity indicated that there was more to be told.

"I'm sure ye air, Mr. Richlin'; and I'm sure ye'll be glad--a heap
gladder nor I am--that in that case he's to be Captain Ristofalah."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, sur." The wife laid her palm against her floating ribs and
breathed a sigh. "I don't like ud, Mr. Richlin'. No, sur. I don't like
tytles." She got her fan from under her handkerchief and set it a-going.
"I nivver liked the idee of bein' a tytled man's wife. No, sur." She
shook her head, elevating it as she shook it. "It creates too much
invy, Mr. Richlin'. Well, good-by." The carriage was stopping at the
Washington Market. "Now, don't ye mintion it to a livin' soul, Mr.
Richlin'!"

Richling said "No."

"No, sur; fur there be's manny a slip 'tuxt the cup an' the lip,
ye know; an' there may be no war, after all, and we may all be
disapp'inted. But he's bound to be tleared if he's tried, and don't ye
see--I--I don't want um to be a captain, anyhow, don't ye see?"

Richling saw, and they parted.

        *       *       *

Thus everybody hoped. Dr. Sevier, wifeless, childless, had his hopes
too, nevertheless. Hopes for the hospital and his many patients in it
and out of it; hopes for his town and his State; hopes for Richling
and Mary; and hopes with fears, and fears with hopes, for the great
sisterhood of States. Richling had one hope more. After some weeks had
passed Dr. Sevier ventured once more to say:--

"Richling, go home. Go to your wife. I must tell you you're no ordinary
sick man. Your life is in danger."

"Will I be out of danger if I go home?" asked Richling.

Dr. Sevier made no answer.

"Do you still think we may have war?" asked Richling again.

"I know we shall."

"And will the soldiers come back," asked the young man, smilingly, "when
they find their lives in danger?"

"Now, Richling, that's another thing entirely; that's the battle-field."

"Isn't it all the _same_ thing, Doctor? Isn't it all a battle-field?"

The Doctor turned impatiently, disdaining to reply. But in a moment he
retorted:--

"We take wounded men off the field."

"They don't take themselves off," said Richling, smiling.

"Well," rejoined the Doctor, rising and striding toward a window, "a
good general may order a retreat."

"Yes, but--maybe I oughtn't to say what I was thinking"--

"Oh, say it."

"Well, then, he don't let his surgeon order it. Doctor," continued
Richling, smiling apologetically as his friend confronted him, "you
know, as you say, better than any one else, all that Mary and I have
gone through--nearly all--and how we've gone through it. Now, if my life
should end here shortly, what would the whole thing mean? It would mean
nothing. Doctor; it would be meaningless. No, sir; this isn't the end.
Mary and I"--his voice trembled an instant and then was firm again--"are
designed for a long life. I argue from the simple fitness of
things,--this is not the end."

Dr. Sevier turned his face quickly toward the window, and so remained.



CHAPTER L.

FALL IN!


There came a sound of drums. Twice on such a day, once the day
before, thrice the next day, till by and by it was the common thing.
High-stepping childhood, with laths and broom-handles at shoulder, was
not fated, as in the insipid days of peace, to find, on running to the
corner, its high hopes mocked by a wagon of empty barrels rumbling over
the cobble-stones. No; it was the Washington Artillery, or the Crescent
Rifles, or the Orleans Battalion, or, best of all, the blue-jacketed,
white-leggined, red-breeched, and red-fezzed Zouaves; or, better than
the best, it was all of them together, their captains stepping backward,
sword in both hands, calling "_Gauche! gauche!_" ("Left! left!") "Guide
right!"--"_Portez armes!_" and facing around again, throwing their
shining blades stiffly to belt and epaulette, and glancing askance from
under their abundant plumes to the crowded balconies above. Yea, and the
drum-majors before, and the brilliant-petticoated _vivandières_ behind!

What pomp! what giddy rounds! Pennons, cock-feathers, clattering steeds,
pealing salvos, banners, columns, ladies' favors, balls, concerts,
toasts, the Free Gift Lottery--don't you recollect?--and this uniform
and that uniform, brother a captain, father a colonel, uncle a major,
the little rector a chaplain, Captain Ristofalo of the Tiger Rifles; the
levee covered with munitions of war, steam-boats unloading troops,
troops, troops, from Opelousas, Attakapas, Texas; and a supper to this
company, a flag to that battalion, farewell sermon to the Washington
Artillery, tears and a kiss to a spurred and sashed lover, hurried
weddings,--no end of them,--a sword to such a one, addresses by such and
such, serenades to Miss and to Mademoiselle.

Soon it will have been a quarter of a century ago!

And yet--do you not hear them now, coming down the broad, granite-paved,
moonlit street, the light that was made for lovers glancing on bayonet
and sword soon to be red with brothers' blood, their brave young hearts
already lifted up with the triumph of battles to come, and the trumpets
waking the midnight stillness with the gay notes of the Cracovienne?--

    "Again, again, the pealing drum,
     The clashing horn, they come, they come,
     And lofty deeds and daring high
     Blend with their notes of victory."

Ah! the laughter; the music; the bravado; the dancing; the songs!
"_Voilà l'Zouzou!_" "Dixie!" "_Aux armes, vos citoyens!_" "The Bonnie
Blue Flag!"--it wasn't bonnie very long. Later the maidens at home
learned to sing a little song,--it is among the missing now,--a part of
it ran:--

    "Sleeping on grassy couches;
       Pillowed on hillocks damp;
     Of martial fame how little we know
       Till brothers are in the camp."

By and by they began to depart. How many they were! How many, many! We
had too lightly let them go. And when all were gone, and they of
Carondelet street and its tributaries, massed in that old gray,
brittle-shanked regiment, the Confederate Guards, were having their
daily dress parade in Coliseum place, and only they and the Foreign
Legion remained; when sister Jane made lint, and flour was high, and
the sounds of commerce were quite hushed, and in the custom-house
gun-carriages were a-making, and in the foundries big guns were being
cast, and the cotton gun-boats and the rams were building, and at the
rotting wharves the masts of a few empty ships stood like dead trees in
a blasted wilderness, and poor soldiers' wives crowded around the "Free
Market," and grass began to spring up in the streets,--they were many
still, while far away; but some marched no more, and others marched on
bleeding feet, in rags; and it was very, very hard for some of us to
hold the voice steady and sing on through the chorus of the little
song:--

    "Brave boys are they!
       Gone at their country's call.
     And yet--and yet--we cannot forget
       That many brave boys must fall."

Oh! Shiloh, Shiloh!

But before the gloom had settled down upon us it was a gay dream.

"Mistoo Itchlin, in fact 'ow you ligue my uniefawm? You think it suit my
style? They got about two poun' of gole lace on that uniefawm. Yesseh.
Me, the h-only thing--I don' ligue those epaulette'. So soon ev'ybody
see that on me, 'tis 'Lieut'nan'!' in thiz place, an' 'Lieut'nan'!' in
that place. My de'seh, you'd thing I'm a majo'-gen'l, in fact. Well, of
co'se, I don' ligue that."

"And so you're a lieutenant?"

"Third! Of the Chasseurs-á-Pied! Coon he'p 't, in fact; the fellehs
elected me. Goin' at Pensacola tomaw. Dr. Seveeah _con_tinue my sala'y
whilce I'm gone. no matteh the len'th. Me, I don' care, so long the
sala'y _con_tinue, if that waugh las' ten yeah! You ah pe'haps goin' ad
the ball to-nighd, Mistoo Itchlin? I dunno 'ow 'tis--I suppose you'll be
aztonizh' w'en I infawm you--that ball wemine me of that battle of
Wattaloo! Did you evva yeh those line' of Lawd By'on,--

    'Theh was a soun' of wibalwy by night,
     W'en--'Ush-'ark!--A deep saun' stwike'--?

Thaz by Lawd By'on. Yesseh. Well"--

The Creole lifted his right hand energetically, laid its inner edge
against the brass buttons of his _képi_, and then waved it gracefully
abroad:--

"_Au 'evoi'_, Mistoo Itchlin. I leave you to defen' the city."

"To-morrow," in those days of unreadiness and disconnection, glided just
beyond reach continually. When at times its realization was at length
grasped, it was away over on the far side of a fortnight or farther.
However, the to-morrow for Narcisse came at last.

A quiet order for attention runs down the column. Attention it is.
Another order follows, higher-keyed, longer drawn out, and with one
sharp "clack!" the sword-bayoneted rifles go to the shoulders of as fine
a battalion as any in the land of Dixie.

"_En avant!_"--Narcisse's heart stands still for joy--"_Marche!_"

The bugle rings, the drums beat; "tramp, tramp," in quick succession, go
the short-stepping, nimble Creole feet, and the old walls of the Rue
Chartres ring again with the pealing huzza, as they rang in the days of
Villeré and Lafrénière, and in the days of the young Galvez, and in the
days of Jackson.

The old Ponchartrain cars move off, packed. Down at the "Old Lake End"
the steamer for Mobile receives the burden. The gong clangs in her
engine-room, the walking-beam silently stirs, there is a hiss of water
underneath, the gang-plank is in, the wet hawser-ends whip through the
hawse-holes,--she moves; clang goes the gong again--she glides--or is it
the crowded wharf that is gliding?--No.--Snatch the kisses! snatch them!
Adieu! Adieu! She's off, huzza--she's off!

Now she stands away. See the mass of gay colors--red, gold, blue,
yellow, with glitter of steel and flutter of flags, a black veil of
smoke sweeping over. Wave, mothers and daughters, wives, sisters,
sweethearts--wave, wave; you little know the future!

And now she is a little thing, her white wake following her afar across
the green waters, the call of the bugle floating softly back. And now
she is a speck. And now a little smoky stain against the eastern blue is
all,--and now she is gone. Gone! Gone!

Farewell, soldier boys! Light-hearted, little-forecasting, brave,
merry boys! God accept you, our offering of first fruits! See that
mother--that wife--take them away; it is too much. Comfort them, father,
brother; tell them their tears may be for naught.

    "And yet--and yet--we cannot forget
       That many brave boys must fall."

Never so glad a day had risen upon the head of Narcisse. For the first
time in his life he moved beyond the corporate limits of his native
town.

"'Ezcape fum the aunt, thou sluggud!'" "_Au 'evoi'_" to his aunt and the
uncle of his aunt. "_Au 'evoi'!_ _Au 'evoi'!_"--desk, pen, book--work,
care, thought, restraint--all sinking, sinking beneath the receding
horizon of Lake Ponchartrain, and the wide world and a soldier's life
before him.

Farewell, Byronic youth! You are not of so frail a stuff as you have
seemed. You shall thirst by day and hunger by night. You shall keep
vigil on the sands of the Gulf and on the banks of the Potomac. You
shall grow brown, but prettier. You shall shiver in loathsome tatters,
yet keep your grace, your courtesy, your joyousness. You shall ditch and
lie down in ditches, and shall sing your saucy songs of defiance in the
face of the foe, so blackened with powder and dust and smoke that your
mother in heaven would not know her child. And you shall borrow to your
heart's content chickens, hogs, rails, milk, buttermilk, sweet potatoes,
what not; and shall learn the American songs, and by the camp-fire of
Shenandoah valley sing "The years creep slowly by, Lorena" to messmates
with shaded eyes, and "Her bright smile haunts me still." Ah, boy!
there's an old woman still living in the Rue Casa Calvo--your bright
smile haunts her still. And there shall be blood on your sword, and
blood--twice--thrice--on your brow. Your captain shall die in your arms;
and you shall lead charge after charge, and shall step up from rank to
rank; and all at once, one day, just in the final onset, with the cheer
on your lips, and your red sword waving high, with but one lightning
stroke of agony, down, down you shall go in the death of your dearest
choice.



CHAPTER LI.

BLUE BONNETS OVER THE BORDER.


One morning, about the 1st of June, 1861, in the city of New York, two
men of the mercantile class came from a cross street into Broadway, near
what was then the upper region of its wholesale stores. They paused on
the corner, near the edge of the sidewalk.

"Even when the States were seceding," said one of them, "I couldn't make
up my mind that they really meant to break up the Union."

He had rosy cheeks, a retreating chin, and amiable, inquiring eyes. The
other had a narrower face, alert eyes, thin nostrils, and a generally
aggressive look. He did not reply at once, but, after a quick glance
down the great thoroughfare and another one up it, said, while his eyes
still ran here and there:--

"Wonderful street, this Broadway!"

He straightened up to his fullest height and looked again, now down the
way, now up, his eye kindling with the electric contagion of the scene.
His senses were all awake. They took in, with a spirit of welcome, all
the vast movement: the uproar, the feeling of unbounded multitude, the
commercial splendor, the miles of towering buildings; the long,
writhing, grinding mass of coming and going vehicles, the rush of
innumerable feet, and the countless forms and faces hurrying, dancing,
gliding by, as though all the world's mankind, and womankind, and
childhood must pass that way before night.

"How many people, do you suppose, go by this corner in a single hour?"
asked the man with the retreating chin. But again he got no answer. He
might as well not have yielded the topic of conversation as he had done;
so he resumed it. "No, I didn't believe it," he said. "Why, look at the
Southern vote of last November--look at New Orleans. The way it went
there, I shouldn't have supposed twenty-five per cent. of the people
would be in favor of secession. Would you?"

But his companion, instead of looking at New Orleans, took note of two
women who had come to a halt within a yard of them and seemed to be
waiting, as he and his companion were, for an opportunity to cross the
street. The two new-comers were very different in appearance, the one
from the other. The older and larger was much beyond middle life, red,
fat, and dressed in black stuff, good as to fabric, but uncommonly bad
as to fit. The other was young and pretty, refined, tastefully dressed,
and only the more interesting for the look of permanent anxiety that
asserted itself with distinctness about the corners of her eyes and
mouth. She held by the hand a rosy, chubby little child, that seemed
about three years old, and might be a girl or might be a boy, so far as
could be discerned by masculine eyes. The man did not see this fifth
member of their group until the elder woman caught it under the arms in
her large hands, and, lifting it above her shoulder, said, looking far
up the street:--

"O paypy, paypy, choost look de fla-ags! One, two, dtree,--a tuzzent, a
hundut, a dtowsant fla-ags!"

Evidently the child did not know her well. The little face remained
without a smile, the lips sealed, the shoulders drawn up, and the legs
pointing straight to the spot whence they had been lifted. She set it
down again.

"We're not going to get by here," said the less talkative man. "They
must be expecting some troops to pass here. Don't you see the windows
full of women and children?"

"Let's wait and look at them," responded the other, and his companion
did not dissent.

"Well, sir," said the more communicative one, after a moment's
contemplation, "I never expected to see this!" He indicated by a gesture
the stupendous life of Broadway beginning slowly to roll back upon
itself like an obstructed river. It was obviously gathering in a general
pause to concentrate its attention upon something of leading interest
about to appear to view. "We're in earnest at last, and we can see, now,
that the South was in the deadest kind of earnest from the word go."

"They can't be any more in earnest than we are, now," said the more
decided speaker.

"I had great hopes of the peace convention," said the rosier man.

"I never had a bit," responded the other.

"The suspense was awful--waiting to know what Lincoln would do when he
came in," said he of the poor chin. "My wife was in the South visiting
her relatives; and we kept putting off her return, hoping for a quieter
state of affairs--hoping and putting off--till first thing you knew the
lines closed down and she had the hardest kind of a job to get through."

"I never had a doubt as to what Lincoln would do," said the man with
sharp eyes; but while he spoke he covertly rubbed his companion's elbow
with his own, and by his glance toward the younger of the two women gave
him to understand that, though her face was partly turned away, the very
pretty ear, with no ear-ring in the hole pierced for it, was listening.
And the readier speaker rejoined in a suppressed voice:--

"That's the little lady I travelled in the same car with all the way
from Chicago."

"No times for ladies to be travelling alone," muttered the other.

"She hoped to take a steam-ship for New Orleans, to join her husband
there."

"Some rebel fellow, I suppose."

"No, a Union man, she says."

"Oh, of course!" said the sharp-eyed one, sceptically. "Well, she's
missed it. The last steamer's gone and may get back or may not." He
looked at her again, narrowly, from behind his companion's shoulder. She
was stooping slightly toward the child, rearranging some tie under its
lifted chin and answering its questions in what seemed a chastened
voice. He murmured to his fellow, "How do you know she isn't a spy?"

The other one turned upon him a look of pure amusement, but, seeing the
set lips and earnest eye of his companion, said softly, with a faint,
scouting hiss and smile:--

"She's a perfect lady--a perfect one."

"Her friend isn't," said the aggressive man.

"Here they come," observed the other aloud, looking up the street. There
was a general turning of attention and concentration of the street's
population toward the edge of either sidewalk. A force of police was
clearing back into the by-streets a dense tangle of drays, wagons,
carriages, and white-topped omnibuses, and far up the way could be seen
the fluttering and tossing of handkerchiefs, and in the midst a solid
mass of blue with a sheen of bayonets above, and every now and then a
brazen reflection from in front, where the martial band marched before.
It was not playing. The ear caught distantly, instead of its notes, the
warlike thunder of the drum corps.

The sharper man nudged his companion mysteriously.

"Listen," he whispered. Neither they nor the other pair had materially
changed their relative positions. The older woman was speaking.

"'Twas te fun'est dting! You pe lookin' for te Noo 'Leants shteamer,
undt me lookin' for te Hambourg shteamer, undt coompt right so togeder
undt never vouldn't 'a' knowedt udt yet, ovver te mayne exdt me, 'Misses
Reisen, vot iss your name?' undt you headt udt. Undt te minudt you
shpeak, udt choost come to me like a flash o' lightenin'--'Udt iss
Misses Richlin'!'" The speaker's companion gave her such attention as
one may give in a crowd to words that have been heard two or three times
already within the hour.

"Yes, Alice," she said, once or twice to the little one, who pulled
softly at her skirt asking confidential questions. But the baker's widow
went on with her story, enjoying it for its own sake.

"You know, Mr. Richlin' he told me finfty dtimes, 'Misses Reisen, doant
kif up te pissness!' Ovver I see te mutcheenery proke undt te foundtries
all makin' guns undt kennons, undt I choost says, 'I kot plenteh
moneh--I tdtink I kfit undt go home.' Ovver I sayss to de Doctor, 'Dte
oneh dting--vot Mr. Richlin' ko-in to tdo?' Undt Dr. Tseweer he sayss,
'How menneh pa'ls flour you kot shtowed away?' Undt I sayss, 'Tsoo
hundut finfty.' Undt he sayss, 'Misses Reisen, Mr. Richlin' done made
you rich; you choost kif um dtat flour; udt be wort' tweny-fife tollahs
te pa'l, yet.' Undt sayss I, 'Doctor, you' right, undt I dtank you for
te goodt idea; I kif Mr. Richlin' innahow one pa'l.' Undt I done-d it.
Ovver I sayss, 'Doctor, dtat's not like a rigler sellery, yet.' Undt
dten he sayss, 'You know, _mine_ pookkeeper he gone to te vor, undt I
need'"--

A crash of brazen music burst upon the ear and drowned the voice. The
throng of the sidewalk pushed hard upon its edge.

"Let me hold the little girl up," ventured the milder man, and set her
gently upon his shoulder, as amidst a confusion of outcries and flutter
of hats and handkerchiefs the broad, dense column came on with
measured tread, its stars and stripes waving in the breeze and its
backward-slanting thicket of bayoneted arms glittering in the morning
sun. All at once there arose from the great column, in harmony with the
pealing music, the hoarse roar of the soldiers' own voices singing in
time to the rhythm of their tread. And a thrill runs through the people,
and they answer with mad huzzas and frantic wavings and smiles, half of
wild ardor and half of wild pain; and the keen-eyed man here by Mary
lets the tears roll down his cheeks unhindered as he swings his hat and
cries "Hurrah! hurrah!" while on tramps the mighty column, singing from
its thousand thirsty throats the song of John Brown's Body.

Yea, so, soldiers of the Union,--though that little mother there
weeps but does not wave, as the sharp-eyed man notes well through his
tears,--yet even so, yea, all the more, go--"go marching on," saviors of
the Union; your cause is just. Lo, now, since nigh twenty-five years
have passed, we of the South can say it!

    "And yet--and yet, we cannot forget"--

and we would not.



CHAPTER LII.

A PASS THROUGH THE LINES.


About the middle of September following the date of the foregoing
incident, there occurred in a farmhouse head-quarters on the Indiana
shore of the Ohio river the following conversation:--

"You say you wish me to give you a pass through the lines, ma'am. Why do
you wish to go through?"

"I want to join my husband in New Orleans."

"Why, ma'am, you'd much better let New Orleans come through the lines.
We shall have possession of it, most likely, within a month." The
speaker smiled very pleasantly, for very pleasant and sweet was the
young face before him, despite its lines of mental distress, and very
soft and melodious the voice that proceeded from it.

"Do you think so?" replied the applicant, with an unhopeful smile. "My
friends have been keeping me at home for months on that idea, but the
fact seems as far off now as ever. I should go straight through without
stopping, if I had a pass."

"Ho!" exclaimed the man, softly, with pitying amusement. "Certainly, I
understand you would try to do so. But, my dear madam, you would find
yourself very much mistaken. Suppose, now, we should let you through our
lines. You'd be between two fires. You'd still have to get into the
rebel lines. You don't know what you're undertaking."

She smiled wistfully.

"I'm undertaking to get to my husband."

"Yes, yes," said the officer, pulling his handkerchief from between two
brass buttons of his double-breasted coat and wiping his brow. She did
not notice that he made this motion purely as a cover for the searching
glance which he suddenly gave her from head to foot. "Yes," he
continued, "but you don't know what it is, ma'am. After you get through
the _other_ lines, what are you going to do _then_? There's a perfect
reign of terror over there. I wouldn't let a lady relative of mine take
such risks for thousands of dollars. I don't think your husband ought to
thank me for giving you a pass. You say he's a Union man; why don't he
come to you?"

Tears leaped into the applicant's eyes.

"He's become too sick to travel," she said.

"Lately?"

"Yes, sir."

"I thought you said you hadn't heard from him for months." The officer
looked at her with narrowed eyes.

"I said I hadn't had a letter from him." The speaker blushed to find her
veracity on trial. She bit her lip, and added, with perceptible tremor:
"I got one lately from his physician."

"How did you get it?"

"What, sir?"

"Now, madam, you know what I asked you, don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Yes. Well, I'd like you to answer."

"I found it, three mornings ago, under the front door of the house where
I live with my mother and my little girl."

"Who put it there?"

"I do not know."

The officer looked her steadily in the eyes. They were blue. His own
dropped.

"You ought to have brought that letter with you, ma'am," he said,
looking up again; "don't you see how valuable it would be to you?"

"I did bring it," she replied, with alacrity, rummaged a moment in a
skirt-pocket, and brought it out. The officer received it and read the
superscription audibly.

"'Mrs. John H----.' Are you Mrs. John H----?"

"That is not the envelope it was in," she replied. "It was not directed
at all. I put it into that envelope merely to preserve it. That's the
envelope of a different letter,--a letter from my mother."

"Are you Mrs. John H----?" asked her questioner again. She had turned
partly aside and was looking across the apartment and out through a
window. He spoke once more. "Is this your name?"

"What, sir?"

He smiled cynically.

"Please don't do that again, madam."

She blushed down into the collar of her dress.

"That is my name, sir."

The man put the missive to his nose, snuffed it softly, and looked
amused, yet displeased.

"Mrs. H----, did you notice just a faint smell of--garlic--about
this--?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I have no less than three or four others with the very same
odor." He smiled on. "And so, no doubt, we are both of the same private
opinion that the bearer of this letter was--who, Mrs. H----?"

Mrs. H---- frequently by turns raised her eyes honestly to her
questioner's and dropped them to where, in her lap, the fingers of one
hand fumbled with a lone wedding-ring on the other, while she said:--

"Do you think, sir, if you were in my place you would like to give the
name of the person you thought had risked his life to bring you word
that your husband--your wife--was very ill, and needed your presence?
Would you like to do it?"

The officer looked severe.

"Don't you know perfectly well that wasn't his principal errand inside
our lines?"

"No."

"No!" echoed the man; "and you don't know perfectly well, I suppose,
that he's been shot at along this line times enough to have turned his
hair white? Or that he crossed the river for the third time last night,
loaded down with musket-caps for the rebels?"

"No."

"But you must admit you know a certain person, wherever he may be, or
whatever he may be doing, named Raphael Ristofalo?"

"I do not."

The officer smiled again.

"Yes, I see. That is to say, you don't _admit_ it. And you don't deny
it."

The reply came more slowly:--

"I do not."

"Well, now, Mrs. H----, I've given you a pretty long audience. I'll tell
you what I'll do. But do you please tell me, first, you affirm on your
word of honor that your name is really Mrs. H----; that you are no spy,
and have had no voluntary communication with any, and that you are a
true and sincere Union woman."

"I affirm it all."

"Well, then, come in to-morrow at this hour, and if I am going to give
you a pass at all I'll give it to you then. Here, here's your letter."

As she received the missive she lifted her eyes, suffused, but full of
hope, to his, and said:--

"God grant you the heart to do it, sir, and bless you."

The man laughed. Her eyes fell, she blushed, and, saying not a word,
turned toward the door and had reached the threshold when the officer
called, with a certain ringing energy:--

"Mrs. Richling!"

She wheeled as if he had struck her, and answered:--

"What, sir!" Then, turning as red as a rose, she said, "O sir, that was
cruel!" covered her face with her hands, and sobbed aloud. It was only
as she was in the midst of these last words that she recognized in the
officer before her the sharper-visaged of those two men who had stood by
her in Broadway.

"Step back here, Mrs. Richling."

She came.

"Well, madam! I should like to know what we are coming to, when a lady
like you--a palpable, undoubted lady--can stoop to such deceptions!"

"Sir," said Mary, looking at him steadfastly and then shaking her head
in solemn asseveration, "all that I have said to you is the truth."

"Then will you explain how it is that you go by one name in one part of
the country, and by another in another part?"

"No," she said. It was very hard to speak. The twitching of her mouth
would hardly let her form a word. "No--no--I can't--tell you."

"Very well, ma'am. If you don't start back to Milwaukee by the next
train, and stay there, I shall"--

"Oh, don't say that, sir! I must go to my husband! Indeed, sir, it's
nothing but a foolish mistake, made years ago, that's never harmed any
one but us. I'll take all the blame of it if you'll only give me a
pass!"

The officer motioned her to be silent.

"You'll have to do as I tell you, ma'am. If not, I shall know it; you
will be arrested, and I shall give you a sort of pass that you'd be a
long time asking for." He looked at the face mutely confronting him and
felt himself relenting. "I dare say this does sound very cruel to you,
ma'am; but remember, this is a cruel war. I don't judge you. If I did,
and could harden my heart as I ought to, I'd have you arrested now. But,
I say, you'd better take my advice. Good-morning! _No, ma'am, I can't
hear you!_ So, now, that's enough! Good-morning, madam!"



CHAPTER LIII.

TRY AGAIN.


One afternoon in the month of February, 1862, a locomotive engine and a
single weather-beaten passenger-coach, moving southward at a very
moderate speed through the middle of Kentucky, stopped in response to a
handkerchief signal at the southern end of a deep, rocky valley, and, in
a patch of gray, snow-flecked woods, took on board Mary Richling,
dressed in deep mourning, and her little Alice. The three or four
passengers already in the coach saw no sign of human life through the
closed panes save the roof of one small cabin that sent up its slender
thread of blue smoke at one corner of a little badly cleared field a
quarter of a mile away on a huge hill-side. As the scant train crawled
off again into a deep, ice-hung defile, it passed the silent figure of a
man in butternut homespun, spattered with dry mud, standing close beside
the track on a heap of cross-tie cinders and fire-bent railroad iron, a
gray goat-beard under his chin, and a quilted homespun hat on his head.
From beneath the limp brim of this covering, as the train moved by him,
a tender, silly smile beamed upward toward one hastily raised window,
whence the smile of Mary and the grave, unemotional gaze of the child
met it for a moment before the train swung round a curve in the narrow
way, and quickened speed on down grade.

The conductor came and collected her fare. He smelt of tobacco above the
smell of the coach in general.

"Do you charge anything for the little girl?"

The purse in which the inquirer's finger and thumb tarried was limber
and flat.

"No, ma'am."

It was not the customary official negative; a tawdry benevolence of face
went with it, as if to say he did not charge because he would not; and
when Mary returned a faint beam of appreciation he went out upon the
rear platform and wiped the plenteous dust from his shoulders and cap.
Then he returned to his seat at the stove and renewed his conversation
with a lieutenant in hard-used blue, who said "the rebel lines ought
never to have been allowed to fall back to Nashville," and who knew "how
Grant could have taken Fort Donelson a week ago if he had had any
sense."

There were but few persons, as we have said, in the car. A rough man in
one corner had a little captive, a tiny, dappled fawn, tied by a short,
rough bit of rope to the foot of the car-seat. When the conductor by and
by lifted the little Alice up from the cushion, where she sat with her
bootees straight in front of her at its edge, and carried her,
speechless and drawn together like a kitten, and stood her beside the
captive orphan, she simply turned about and pattered back to her
mother's side.

"I don't believe she even saw it," said the conductor, standing again by
Mary.

"Yes, she did," replied Mary, smiling upon the child's head as she
smoothed its golden curls; "she'll talk about it to-morrow."

The conductor lingered a moment, wanting to put his own hand there, but
did not venture, perhaps because of the person sitting on the next seat
behind, who looked at him rather steadily until he began to move away.

This was a man of slender, commanding figure and advanced years. Beside
him, next the window, sat a decidedly aristocratic woman, evidently his
wife. She, too, was of fine stature, and so, without leaning forward
from the back of her seat, or unfolding her arms, she could make kind
eyes to Alice, as the child with growing frequency stole glances, at
first over her own little shoulder, and later over her mother's, facing
backward and kneeling on the cushion. At length a cooky passed between
them in dead silence, and the child turned and gazed mutely in her
mother's face, with the cooky just in sight.

"It can't hurt her," said the lady, in a sweet voice, to Mary, leaning
forward with her hands in her lap. By the time the sun began to set in
a cool, golden haze across some wide stretches of rolling fallow, a
conversation had sprung up, and the child was in the lady's lap, her
little hand against the silken bosom, playing with a costly watch.

The talk began about the care of Alice, passed to the diet, and then
to the government, of children, all in a light way, a similarity of
convictions pleasing the two ladies more and more as they found it run
further and further. Both talked, but the strange lady sustained the
conversation, although it was plainly both a pastime and a comfort to
Mary. Whenever it threatened to flag the handsome stranger persisted in
reviving it.

Her husband only listened and smiled, and with one finger made every now
and then a soft, slow pass at Alice, who each time shrank as slowly and
softly back into his wife's fine arm. Presently, however, Mary raised
her eyebrows a little and smiled, to see her sitting quietly in the
gentleman's lap; and as she turned away and rested her elbow on the
window-sill and her cheek on her hand in a manner that betrayed
weariness, and looked out upon the ever-turning landscape, he murmured
to his wife, "I haven't a doubt in my mind," and nodded significantly at
the preoccupied little shape in his arms. His manner with the child was
imperceptibly adroit, and very soon her prattle began to be heard. Mary
was just turning to offer a gentle check to this rising volubility, when
up jumped the little one to a standing posture on the gentleman's knee,
and, all unsolicited and with silent clapping of hands, plumped out her
full name:--

"Alice Sevier Witchlin'!"

The husband threw a quick glance toward his wife; but she avoided it
and called Mary's attention to the sunset as seen through the opposite
windows. Mary looked and responded with expressions of admiration, but
was visibly disquieted, and the next moment called her child to her.

"My little girl mustn't talk so loud and fast in the cars," she said,
with tender pleasantness, standing her upon the seat and brushing back
the stray golden waves from the baby's temples, and the brown ones, so
like them, from her own. She turned a look of amused apology to the
gentleman, and added, "She gets almost boisterous sometimes," then gave
her regard once more to her offspring, seating the little one beside her
as in the beginning, and answering her musical small questions with
composing yeas and nays.

"I suppose," she said, after a pause and a look out through the
window,--"I suppose we ought soon to be reaching M---- station,
now, should we not?"

"What, in Tennessee? Oh! no," replied the gentleman. "In ordinary times
we should; but at this slow rate we cannot nearly do it. We're on a
road, you see, that was destroyed by the retreating army and made over
by the Union forces. Besides, there are three trains of troops ahead of
us, that must stop and unload between here and there, and keep you
waiting, there's no telling how long."

"Then I'll get there in the night!" exclaimed Mary.

"Yes, probably after midnight."

"Oh, I shouldn't have _thought_ of coming before to-morrow if I had
known that!" In the extremity of her dismay she rose half from her seat
and looked around with alarm.

"Have you no friends expecting to receive you there?" asked the lady.

"Not a soul! And the conductor says there's no lodging-place nearer than
three miles"--

"And that's gone now," said the gentleman.

"You'll have to get out at the same station with us," said the lady, her
manner kindness itself and at the same time absolute.

"I think you have claims on us, anyhow, that we'd like to pay."

"Oh! impossible," said Mary. "You're certainly mistaking me."

"I think you have," insisted the lady; "that is, if your name is
Richling."

Mary blushed.

"I don't think you know my husband," she said; "he lives a long way from
here."

"In New Orleans?" asked the gentleman.

"Yes, sir," said Mary, boldly. She couldn't fear such good faces.

"His first name is John, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. Do you really know John, sir?" The lines of pleasure and
distress mingled strangely in Mary's face. The gentleman smiled. He
tapped little Alice's head with the tips of his fingers.

"I used to hold him on my knee when he was no bigger than this little
image of him here."

The tears leaped into Mary's eyes.

"Mr. Thornton," she whispered, huskily, and could say no more.

"You must come home with us," said the lady, touching her tenderly on
the shoulder. "It's a wonder of good fortune that we've met. Mr.
Thornton has something to say to you,--a matter of business. He's the
family's lawyer, you know."

"I must get to my husband without delay," said Mary.

"Get to your husband?" asked the lawyer, in astonishment.

"Yes, sir."

"Through the lines?"

"Yes, sir."

"I told him so," said the lady.

"I don't know how to credit it," said he. "Why, my child, I don't think
you can possibly know what you are attempting. Your friends ought never
to have allowed you to conceive such a thing. You must let us dissuade
you. It will not be taking too much liberty, will it? Has your husband
never told you what good friends we were?"

Mary nodded and tried to speak.

"Often," said Mrs. Thornton to her husband, interpreting the
half-articulated reply.

They sat and talked in low tones, under the dismal lamp of the railroad
coach, for two or three hours. Mr. Thornton came around and took the
seat in front of Mary, and sat with one leg under him, facing back
toward her. Mrs. Thornton sat beside her, and Alice slumbered on the
seat behind, vacated by the lawyer and his wife.

"You needn't tell me John's story," said the gentleman; "I know it. What
I didn't know before, I got from a man with whom I corresponded in New
Orleans."

"Dr. Sevier?"

"No, a man who got it from the Doctor."

So they had Mary tell her own story.

"I thought I should start just as soon as my mother's health would
permit. John wouldn't have me start before that, and, after all, I don't
see how I could have done it--rightly. But by the time she was well--or
partly well--every one was in the greatest anxiety and doubt everywhere.
You know how it was."

"Yes," said Mrs. Thornton.

"And everybody thinking everything would soon be settled," continued
Mary.

"Yes," said the sympathetic lady, and her husband touched her quietly,
meaning for her not to interrupt.

"We didn't think the Union _could_ be broken so easily," pursued Mary.
"And then all at once it was unsafe and improper to travel alone. Still
I went to New York, to take steamer around by sea. But the last steamer
had sailed, and I had to go back home; for--the fact is,"--she
smiled,--"my money was all gone. It was September before I could raise
enough to start again; but one morning I got a letter from New Orleans,
telling me that John was very ill, and enclosing money for me to travel
with."

She went on to tell the story of her efforts to get a pass on the bank
of the Ohio river, and how she had gone home once more, knowing she was
watched, not daring for a long time to stir abroad, and feeding on the
frequent hope that New Orleans was soon to be taken by one or another of
the many naval expeditions that from time to time were, or were said to
be, sailing.

"And then suddenly--my mother died."

Mrs. Thornton gave a deep sigh.

"And then," said Mary, with a sudden brightening, but in a low voice, "I
determined to make one last effort. I sold everything in the world I had
and took Alice and started. I've come very slowly, a little way at a
time, feeling along, for I was resolved not to be turned back. I've been
weeks getting this far, and the lines keep moving south ahead of me. But
I haven't been turned back," she went on to say, with a smile, "and
everybody, white and black, everywhere, has been just as kind as kind
can be." Tears stopped her again.

"Well, never mind, Mrs. Richling," said Mrs. Thornton; then turned to
her husband, and asked, "May I tell her?"

"Yes."

"Well, Mrs. Richling,--but do you wish to be called Mrs. Richling?"

"Yes," said Mary, and "Certainly," said Mr. Thornton.

"Well, Mrs. Richling, Mr. Thornton has some money for your husband. Not
a great deal, but still--some. The younger of the two sisters died a few
weeks ago. She was married, but she was rich in her own right. She left
almost everything to her sister; but Mr. Thornton persuaded her to leave
some money--well, two thousand--'tisn't much, but it's something, you
know--to--ah to Mr. Richling. Husband has it now at home and will give
it to you,--at the breakfast-table to-morrow morning; can't you, dear?"

"Yes."

"Yes, and we'll not try to persuade you to give up your idea of going to
New Orleans. I know we couldn't do it. We'll watch our chance,--eh,
husband?--and put you through the lines; and not only that, but give
you letters to--why, dear," said the lady, turning to her partner in
good works, "you can give Mrs. Richling a letter to Governor Blank; and
another to General Um-hm, can't you? and--yes, and one to Judge Youknow.
Oh, they will take you anywhere! But first you'll stop with us till you
get well rested--a week or two, or as much longer as you will."

Mary pressed the speaker's hand.

"I can't stay."

"Oh, you know you needn't have the least fear of seeing any of John's
relatives. They don't live in this part of the State at all; and, even
if they did, husband has no business with them just now, and being a
Union man, you know"--

"I want to see my husband," said Mary, not waiting to hear what Union
sympathies had to do with the matter.

"Yes," said the lady, in a suddenly subdued tone. "Well, we'll get you
through just as quickly as we can." And soon they all began to put on
wraps and gather their luggage. Mary went with them to their home, laid
her tired head beside her child's in sleep, and late next morning rose
to hear that Fort Donelson was taken, and the Southern forces were
falling back. A day or two later came word that Columbus, on the
Mississippi, had been evacuated. It was idle for a woman to try just
then to perform the task she had set for herself. The Federal lines!

"Why, my dear child, they're trying to find the Confederate lines and
strike them. You can't lose anything--you may gain much--by remaining
quiet here awhile. The Mississippi, I don't doubt, will soon be open
from end to end."

A fortnight seemed scarcely more than a day when it was past, and
presently two of them had gone. One day comes Mr. Thornton, saying:--

"My dear child, I cannot tell you how I have the news, but you may
depend upon its correctness. New Orleans is to be attacked by the most
powerful naval expedition that ever sailed under the United States flag.
If the place is not in our hands by the first of April I will put you
through both lines, if I have to go with you myself." When Mary made no
answer, he added, "Your delays have all been unavoidable, my child!"

"Oh, I don't know; I don't know!" exclaimed Mary, with sudden
distraction; "it seems to me I _must_ be to blame, or I'd have been
through long ago. I ought to have _run through_ the lines. I ought to
have 'run the blockade.'"

"My child," said the lawyer, "you're mad."

"You'll see," replied Mary, almost in soliloquy.



CHAPTER LIV.

"WHO GOES THERE?"


The scene and incident now to be described are without date. As Mary
recalled them, years afterward, they hung out against the memory a bold,
clear picture, cast upon it as the magic lantern casts its tableaux upon
the darkened canvas. She had lost the day of the month, the day of the
week, all sense of location, and the points of the compass. The most
that she knew was that she was somewhere near the meeting of the
boundaries of three States. Either she was just within the southern
bound of Tennessee, or the extreme north-eastern corner of Mississippi,
or else the north-western corner of Alabama. She was aware, too, that
she had crossed the Tennessee river; that the sun had risen on her left
and had set on her right, and that by and by this beautiful day would
fade and pass from this unknown land, and the fire-light and lamp-light
draw around them the home-groups under the roof-trees, here where she
was a homeless stranger, the same as in the home-lands where she had
once loved and been beloved.

She was seated in a small, light buggy drawn by one good horse. Beside
her the reins were held by a rather tall man, of middle age, gray, dark,
round-shouldered, and dressed in the loose blue flannel so much worn by
followers of the Federal camp. Under the stiff brim of his soft-crowned
black hat a pair of clear eyes gave a continuous playful twinkle.
Between this person and Mary protruded, at the edge of the buggy-seat,
two small bootees that have already had mention, and from his elbow to
hers, and back to his, continually swayed drowsily the little golden
head to which the bootees bore a certain close relation. The dust of the
highway was on the buggy and the blue flannel and the bootees. It showed
with special boldness on a black sun-bonnet that covered Mary's head,
and that somehow lost all its homeliness whenever it rose sufficiently
in front to show the face within. But the highway itself was not there;
it had been left behind some hours earlier. The buggy was moving at a
quiet jog along a "neighborhood road," with unploughed fields on the
right and a darkling woods pasture on the left. By the feathery softness
and paleness of the sweet-smelling foliage you might have guessed it was
not far from the middle of April, one way or another; and, by certain
allusions to Pittsburg Landing as a place of conspicuous note, you might
have known that Shiloh had been fought. There was that feeling of
desolation in the land that remains after armies have passed over, let
them tread never so lightly.

"D'you know what them rails is put that way fur?" asked the man. He
pointed down with his buggy-whip just off the roadside, first on one
hand and then on the other.

"No," said Mary, turning the sun-bonnet's limp front toward the
questioner and then to the disjointed fence on her nearer side; "that's
what I've been wondering for days. They've been ordinary worm fences,
haven't they?"

"Jess so," responded the man, with his accustomed twinkle. "But I think
I see you oncet or twicet lookin' at 'em and sort o' tryin' to make out
how come they got into that shape." The long-reiterated W's of the
rail-fence had been pulled apart into separate V's, and the two sides
of each of these had been drawn narrowly together, so that what had been
two parallel lines of fence, with the lane between, was now a long
double row of wedge-shaped piles of rails, all pointing into the woods
on the left.

"How did it happen?" asked Mary, with a smile of curiosity.

"Didn't happen at all, 'twas jess _done_ by live men, and in a powerful
few minutes at that. Sort o' shows what we're approachin' unto, as it
were, eh? Not but they's plenty behind us done the same way, all the way
back into Kentuck', as you already done see; but this's been done sence
the last rain, and it rained night afore last."

"Still I'm not sure what it means," said Mary; "has there been fighting
here?"

"Go up head," said the man, with a facetious gesture. "See? The fight
came through these here woods, here. 'Taint been much over twenty-four
hours, I reckon, since every one o' them-ah sort o' shut-up-fan-shape
sort o' fish-traps had a gray-jacket in it layin' flat down an' firin'
through the rails, sort o' random-like, only not much so." His manner of
speech seemed a sort of harlequin patchwork from the bad English of many
sections, the outcome of a humorous and eclectic fondness for verbal
deformities. But his lightness received a sudden check.

"Heigh-h-h!" he gravely and softly exclaimed, gathering the reins
closer, as the horse swerved and dashed ahead. Two or three buzzards
started up from the roadside, with their horrid flapping and whiff of
quills, and circled low overhead. "Heigh-h-h!" he continued soothingly.
"Ho-o-o-o! somebody lost a good nag there,--a six-pound shot right
through his head and neck. Whoever made that shot killed two birds with
one stone, sho!" He was half risen from his seat, looking back. As he
turned again, and sat down, the drooping black sun-bonnet quite
concealed the face within. He looked at it a moment. "If you think you
don't like the risks we can still turn back."

"No," said the voice from out the sun-bonnet; "go on."

"If we don't turn back now we can't turn back at all."

"Go on," said Mary; "I can't turn back."

"You're a good soldier," said the man, playfully again. "You're a better
one than me, I reckon; I kin turn back frequently, as it were. I've done
it 'many a time and oft,' as the felleh says."

Mary looked up with feminine surprise. He made a pretence of silent
laughter, that showed a hundred crows' feet in his twinkling eyes.

"Oh, don't you fret; I'm not goin' to run the wrong way with you in
charge. Didn't you hear me promise Mr. Thornton? Well, you see, I've got
a sort o' bad memory, that kind o' won't let me forgit when I make a
promise;--bothers me that way a heap sometimes." He smirked in a
self-deprecating way, and pulled his hat-brim down in front. Presently
he spoke again, looking straight ahead over the horse's ears:--

"Now, that's the mischief about comin' with me--got to run both
blockades at oncet. Now, if you'd been a good Secesh and could somehow
or 'nother of got a pass through the Union lines you'd of been all gay.
But bein' Union, the fu'ther you git along the wuss off you air, 'less-n
I kin take you and carry you 'way 'long yonder to where you kin jess
jump onto a south-bound Rebel railroad and light down amongst folks
that'll never think o' you havin' run through the lines."

"But you can't do that," said Mary, not in the form of a request. "You
know you agreed with Mr. Thornton that you would simply"--

"Put you down in a safe place," said the man, jocosely; "that's what it
meant, and don't you get nervous"-- His face suddenly changed; he
raised his whip and held it up for attention and silence, looking at
Mary, and smiling while he listened. "Do you hear anything?"

"Yes," said Mary, in a hushed tone. There were some old fields on the
right-hand now, and a wood on the left. Just within the wood a
turtle-dove was cooing.

"I don't mean that," said the man, softly.

"No," said Mary, "you mean this, away over here." She pointed across the
fields, almost straight away in front.

"'Taint so scandalous far 'awa-a-ay' as you talk like," murmured the
man, jestingly; and just then a fresh breath of the evening breeze
brought plainer and nearer the soft boom of a bass-drum.

"Are they coming this way?" asked Mary.

"No; they're sort o' dress-paradin' in camp, I reckon." He began to draw
rein. "We turn off here, anyway," he said, and drove slowly, but point
blank into the forest.

"I don't see any road," said Mary. It was so dark in the wood that even
her child, muffled in a shawl and asleep in her arms, was a dim shape.

"Yes," was the reply; "we have to sort o' smell out the way here; but my
smellers is good, at times, and pretty soon we'll strike a little sort
o' somepnuther like a road, about a quarter from here."

Pretty soon they did so. It started suddenly from the edge of an old
field in the forest, and ran gradually down, winding among the trees,
into a densely wooded bottom, where even Mary's short form often had to
bend low to avoid the boughs of beech-trees and festoons of grape-vine.
Under one beech the buggy stood still a moment. The man drew and opened
a large clasp-knife and cut one of the long, tough withes. He handed it
to Mary, as they started on again.

"With compliments," he said, "and hoping you won't find no use for it."

"What is it for?"

"Why, you see, later on we'll be in the saddle; and if such a thing
should jess accidentally happen to happen, which I hope it won't, to be
sho', that I should happen to sort o' absent-mindedly yell out 'Go!'
like as if a hornet had stabbed me, you jess come down with that switch,
and make the critter under you run like a scared dog, as it were."

"Must I?"

"No, I don't say you _must_, but you'd better, I bet you. You needn't if
you don't want to."

Presently the dim path led them into a clear, rippling creek, and seemed
to Mary to end; but when the buggy wheels had crunched softly along down
stream over some fifty or sixty yards of gravelly shallow, the road
showed itself faintly again on the other bank, and the horse, with a
plunge or two and a scramble, jerked them safely over the top, and moved
forward in the direction of the rising moon. They skirted a small field
full of ghostly dead trees, where corn was beginning to make a show,
turned its angle, and saw the path under their feet plain to view,
smooth and hard.

"See that?" said the man, in a tone of playful triumph, as the animal
started off at a brisk trot, lifted his head and neighed. "'My day's
work's done,' sezee; 'I done hoed my row.'" A responsive neigh came out
of the darkness ahead. "That's the trick!" said the man. "Thanks, as the
felleh says." He looked to Mary for her appreciation of his humor.

"I suppose that means a good deal; does it?" asked she, with a smile.

"Jess so! It means, first of all, fresh hosses. And then it means a
house what aint been burnt by jayhawkers yit, and a man and woman
a-waitin' in it, and some bacon and cornpone, and maybe a little coffee;
and milk, anyhow, till you can't rest, and buttermilk to fare-you-well.
Now, have you ever learned the trick o' jess sort o' qui'lin'[2] up,
cloze an' all, dry so, and puttin' half a night's rest into an hour's
sleep? 'Caze why, in one hour we must be in the saddle. No mo' buggy,
and powerful few roads. Comes as nigh coonin' it as I reckon you ever
'lowed you'd like to do, don't it?"

 [2] Coiling.

He smiled, pretending to hold back much laughter, and Mary smiled too.
At mention of a woman she had removed her bonnet and was smoothing her
hair with her hand.

"I don't care," she said, "if only you'll bring us through."

The man made a ludicrous gesture of self-abasement.

"Not knowin', can't say, as the felleh says; but what I can tell you--I
always start out to make a spoon or spoil a horn, and which one I'll do
I seldom ever promise till it's done. But I have a sneakin' notion, as
it were, that I'm the clean sand, and no discount, as Mr. Lincoln says,
and I do my best. Angels can do no more, as the felleh says."

He drew rein. "Whoa!" Mary saw a small log cabin, and a fire-light
shining under the bottom of the door.

"The woods seem to be on fire just over there in three or four places,
are they not?" she asked, as she passed the sleeping Alice down to the
man, who had got out of the buggy.

"Them's the camps," said another man, who had come out of the house and
was letting the horse out of the shafts.

"If we was on the rise o' the hill yonder we could see the Confedick
camps, couldn't we, Isaiah?" asked Mary's guide.

"Easy," said that prophet. "I heer 'em to-day two, three times, plain,
cheerin' at somethin'."

        *       *       *

About the middle of that night Mary Richling was sitting very still and
upright on a large dark horse that stood champing his Mexican bit in the
black shadow of a great oak. Alice rested before her, fast asleep
against her bosom. Mary held by the bridle another horse, whose naked
saddle-tree was empty. A few steps in front of her the light of the full
moon shone almost straight down upon a narrow road that just there
emerged from the shadow of woods on either side, and divided into a main
right fork and a much smaller one that curved around to Mary's left. Off
in the direction of the main fork the sky was all aglow with camp-fires.
Only just here on the left there was a cool and grateful darkness.

She lifted her head alertly. A twig crackled under a tread, and the next
moment a man came out of the bushes at the left, and without a word took
the bridle of the led horse from her fingers and vaulted into the
saddle. The hand that rested a moment on the cantle as he rose grasped a
"navy-six." He was dressed in dull homespun but he was the same who had
been dressed in blue. He turned his horse and led the way down the
lesser road.

"If we'd of gone three hundred yards further," he whispered, falling
back and smiling broadly, "we'd 'a' run into the pickets. I went nigh
enough to see the videttes settin' on their hosses in the main road.
This here aint no road; it just goes up to a nigger quarters. I've got
one o' the niggers to show us the way."

"Where is he?" whispered Mary; but, before her companion could answer, a
tattered form moved from behind a bush a little in advance and started
ahead in the path, walking and beckoning. Presently they turned into a
clear, open forest and followed the long, rapid, swinging stride of the
negro for nearly an hour. Then they halted on the bank of a deep, narrow
stream. The negro made a motion for them to keep well to the right when
they should enter the water. The white man softly lifted Alice to his
arms, directed and assisted Mary to kneel in her saddle, with her skirts
gathered carefully under her, and so they went down into the cold
stream, the negro first, with arms outstretched above the flood; then
Mary, and then the white man,--or, let us say plainly the spy,--with the
unawakened child on his breast. And so they rose out of it on the
farther side without a shoe or garment wet save the rags of their dark
guide.

Again they followed him, along a line of stake-and-rider fence, with the
woods on one side and the bright moonlight flooding a field of young
cotton on the other. Now they heard the distant baying of house-dogs,
now the doleful call of the chuck-will's-widow; and once Mary's blood
turned, for an instant, to ice, at the unearthly shriek of the hoot-owl
just above her head. At length they found themselves in a dim, narrow
road, and the negro stopped.

"Dess keep dish yeh road fo' 'bout half mile an' you strak 'pon the
broad, main road. Tek de right, an' you go whah yo' fancy tek you."

"Good-by," whispered Mary.

"Good-by, miss," said the negro, in the same low voice; "good-by, boss;
don't you fo'git you promise tek me thoo to de Yankee' when you come
back. I 'feered you gwine fo'git it, boss."

The spy said he would not, and they left him. The half-mile was soon
passed, though it turned out to be a mile and a half, and at length
Mary's companion looked back, as they rode single file, with Mary in the
rear, and said softly, "There's the road," pointing at its broad, pale
line with his six-shooter.

As they entered it and turned to the right, Mary, with Alice again
in her arms, moved somewhat ahead of her companion, her indifferent
horsemanship having compelled him to drop back to avoid a prickly bush.
His horse was just quickening his pace to regain the lost position when
a man sprang up from the ground on the farther side of the highway,
snatched a carbine from the earth and cried, "Halt!"

The dark, recumbent forms of six or eight others could be seen,
enveloped in their blankets, lying about a few red coals. Mary turned a
frightened look backward and met the eyes of her companion.

"Move a little faster," said he, in a low, clear voice. As she promptly
did so she heard him answer the challenge. His horse trotted softly
after hers.

"Don't stop us, my friend; we're taking a sick child to the doctor."

"Halt, you hound!" the cry rang out; and as Mary glanced back three
or four men were just leaping into the road. But she saw, also, her
companion, his face suffused with an earnestness that was almost an
agony, rise in his stirrups, with the stoop of his shoulders all gone,
and wildly cry:--

"Go!"

She smote the horse and flew. Alice awoke and screamed.

"Hush, my darling!" said the mother, laying on the withe; "mamma's here.
Hush, darling!--mamma's here. Don't be frightened, darling baby! O God,
spare my child!" and away she sped.

The report of a carbine rang out and went rolling away in a thousand
echoes through the wood. Two others followed in sharp succession, and
there went close by Mary's ear the waspish whine of a minie-ball. At the
same moment she recognized, once,--twice,--thrice,--just at her back
where the hoofs of her companion's horse were clattering,--the tart
rejoinders of his navy-six.

"Go!" he cried again. "Lay low! lay low! cover the child!" But his words
were needless. With head bowed forward and form crouched over the
crying, clinging child, with slackened rein and fluttering dress, and
sun-bonnet and loosened hair blown back upon her shoulders, with lips
compressed and silent prayers, Mary was riding for life and liberty and
her husband's bedside.

"O mamma! mamma!" wailed the terrified little one.

"Go on! Go on!" cried the voice behind; "they're saddling--up! Go! go!
We're goin' to make it. We're goin' to _make_ it! Go-o-o!"

Half an hour later they were again riding abreast, at a moderate gallop.
Alice's cries had been quieted, but she still clung to her mother in a
great tremor. Mary and her companion conversed earnestly in the subdued
tone that had become their habit.

"No, I don't think they followed us fur," said the spy. "Seem like
they's jess some scouts, most likely a-comin' in to report, feelin'
pooty safe and sort o' takin' it easy and careless; 'dreamin' the happy
hours away,' as the felleh says. I reckon they sort o' believed my
story, too, the little gal yelled so sort o' skilful. We kin slack up
some more now; we want to get our critters lookin' cool and quiet ag'in
as quick as we kin, befo' we meet up with somebody." They reined into a
gentle trot. He drew his revolver, whose emptied chambers he had already
refilled. "D'd you hear this little felleh sing, 'Listen to the
mockin'-bird'?"

"Yes," said Mary; "but I hope it didn't hit any of them."

He made no reply.

"Don't you?" she asked.

He grinned.

"D'you want a felleh to wish he was a bad shot?"

"Yes," said Mary, smiling.

"Well, seein' as you're along, I do. For they wouldn't give us up so
easy if I'd a hit one. Oh,--mine was only sort o' complimentary
shots,--much as to say, 'Same to you, gents,' as the felleh says."

Mary gave him a pleasant glance by way of courtesy, but was busy calming
the child. The man let his weapon into its holster under his homespun
coat and lapsed into silence. He looked long and steadily at the small
feminine figure of his companion. His eyes passed slowly from the knee
thrown over the saddle's horn to the gentle forehead slightly bowed, as
her face sank to meet the uplifted kisses of the trembling child, then
over the crown and down the heavy, loosened tresses that hid the
sun-bonnet hanging back from her throat by its strings and flowed on
down to the saddle-bow. His admiring eyes, grave for once, had made the
journey twice before he noticed that the child was trying to comfort the
mother, and that the light of the sinking moon was glistening back from
Mary's falling tears.

"Better let me have the little one," he said, "and you sort o' fix up a
little, befo' we happen to meet up with somebody, as I said. It's lucky
we haven't done it already."

A little coaxing prevailed with Alice, and the transfer was made. Mary
turned away her wet eyes, smiling for shame of them, and began to coil
her hair, her companion's eye following.

"Oh, you aint got no business to be ashamed of a few tears. I knowed you
was a good soldier, befo' ever we started; I see' it in yo' eye. Not as
I want to be complimentin' of you jess now. 'I come not here to talk,'
as they used to say in school. D'd you ever hear that piece?"

"Yes," said Mary.

"That's taken from Romans, aint it?"

"No," said Mary again, with a broad smile.

"I didn't know," said the man; "I aint no brag Bible scholar." He put on
a look of droll modesty. "I used to could say the ten commandments of
the decalogue, oncet, and I still tries to keep 'em, in ginerally.
There's another burnt house. That's the third one we done passed inside
a mile. Raiders was along here about two weeks back. Hear that rooster
crowin'? When we pass the plantation whar he is and rise the next hill,
we'll be in sight o' the little town whar we stop for refresh_ments_, as
the railroad man says. You must begin to feel jess about everlastin'ly
wore out, don't you?"

"No," said Mary; but he made a movement of the head to indicate that he
had his belief to the contrary.

At an abrupt angle of the road Mary's heart leaped into her throat to
find herself and her companion suddenly face to face with two horsemen
in gray, journeying leisurely toward them on particularly good horses.
One wore a slouched hat, the other a Federal officer's cap. They were
the first Confederates she had ever seen eye to eye.

"Ride on a little piece and stop," murmured the spy. The strangers
lifted their hats respectfully as she passed them.

"Gents," said the spy, "good-morning!" He threw a leg over the pommel of
his saddle and the three men halted in a group. One of them copied the
spy's attitude. They returned the greeting in kind.

"What command do you belong to?" asked the lone stranger.

"Simmons's battery," said one. "Whoa!"--to his horse.

"Mississippi?" asked Mary's guardian.

"Rackensack," said the man in the blue cap.

"Arkansas," said the other in the same breath. "What is your command?"

"Signal service," replied the spy. "Reckon I look mighty like a citizen
jess about now, don't I?" He gave them his little laugh of
self-depreciation and looked toward Mary, where she had halted and was
letting her horse nip the new grass of the roadside.

"See any troops along the way you come?" asked the man in the hat.

"No; on'y a squad o' fellehs back yonder who was all unsaddled and fast
asleep, and jumped up worse scared'n a drove o' wile hogs. We both sort
o' got a little mad and jess swapped a few shots, you know, kind o' tit
for tat, as it were. Enemy's loss unknown." He stooped more than ever in
the shoulders, and laughed. The men were amused. "If you see 'em, I'd
like you to mention me"-- He paused to exchange smiles again. "And
tell 'em the next time they see a man hurryin' along with a lady and
sick child to see the doctor, they better hold their fire till they sho
he's on'y a citizen." He let his foot down into the stirrup again and
they all smiled broadly. "Good-morning!" The two parties went their
ways.

"Jess as leave not of met up with them two buttermilk rangers," said the
spy, once more at Mary's side; "but seein' as thah we was the oniest
thing was to put on all the brass I had."

From the top of the next hill the travellers descended into a village
lying fast asleep, with the morning star blazing over it, the cocks
calling to each other from their roosts, and here and there a light
twinkling from a kitchen window, or a lazy axe-stroke smiting the
logs at a wood-pile. In the middle of the village one lone old man,
half-dressed, was lazily opening the little wooden "store" that
monopolized its commerce. The travellers responded to his silent bow,
rode on through the place, passed over and down another hill, met an
aged negro, who passed on the roadside, lifting his forlorn hat and
bowing low; and, as soon as they could be sure they had gone beyond his
sight and hearing, turned abruptly into a dark wood on the left. Twice
again they turned to the left, going very warily through the deep
shadows of the forest, and so returned half around the village, seeing
no one. Then they stopped and dismounted at a stable-door, on the
outskirts of the place. The spy opened it with a key from his own
pocket, went in and came out again with a great armful of hay, which he
spread for the horses' feet to muffle their tread, led them into the
stable, removed the hay again, and closed and locked the door.

"Make yourself small," he whispered, "and walk fast." They passed by a
garden path up to the back porch and door of a small unpainted cottage.
He knocked, three soft, measured taps.

"Day's breakin'," he whispered again, as he stood with Alice asleep in
his arms, while somebody was heard stirring within.

"Sam?" said a low, wary voice just within the unopened door.

"Sister," softly responded the spy, and the door swung inward, and
revealed a tall woman, with an austere but good face, that could just be
made out by the dim light of a tallow candle shining from the next room.
The travellers entered and the door was shut.

"Well," said the spy, standing and smiling foolishly, and bending
playfully in the shoulders, "well, Mrs. Richlin',"--he gave his hand a
limp wave abroad and smirked,--"'In Dixie's land you take yo' stand.'
This is it. You're in it!--Mrs. Richlin', my sister; sister, Mrs.
Richlin'."

"Pleased to know ye," said the woman, without the faintest ray of
emotion. "Take a seat and sit down." She produced a chair bottomed with
raw-hide.

"Thank you," was all Mary could think of to reply as she accepted the
seat, and "Thank you" again when the woman brought a glass of water. The
spy laid Alice on a bed in sight of Mary in another chamber. He came
back on tiptoe.

"Now, the next thing is to git you furder south. Wust of it is that,
seein' as you got sich a weakness fur tellin' the truth, we'll jess have
to sort o' slide you along fum one Union man to another; sort o' hole
fass what I give ye, as you used to say yourself, I reckon. But you've
got one strong holt." His eye went to his sister's, and he started away
without a word, and was presently heard making a fire, while the woman
went about spreading a small table with cold meats and corn-bread, milk
and butter. Her brother came back once more.

"Yes," he said to Mary, "you've got one mighty good card, and that's it
in yonder on the bed. 'Humph!' folks'll say; 'didn't come fur with that
there baby, sho!'"

"I wouldn't go far without her," said Mary, brightly.

"_I_ say," responded the hostess, with her back turned, and said no
more.

"Sister," said the spy, "we'll want the buggy."

"All right," responded the sister.

"I'll go feed the hosses," said he, and went out. In a few minutes he
returned. "Joe must give 'em a good rubbin' when he comes, sister," he
said.

"All right," replied the woman, and then turning to Mary, "Come."

"What, ma'm?"

"Eat." She touched the back of a chair. "Sam, bring the baby." She stood
and waited on the table.

Mary was still eating, when suddenly she rose up, saying:--

"Why, where is Mr. ----, your brother?"

"He's gone to take a sleep outside," said his sister. "It's too resky
for him to sleep in a house."

She faintly smiled, for the first time, at the end of this long speech.

"But," said Mary, "oh, I haven't uttered a word of thanks. What will he
think of me?"

She sank into her chair again with an elbow on the table, and looked up
at the tall standing figure on the other side, with a little laugh of
mortification.

"You kin thank God," replied the figure. "_He_ aint gone." Another ghost
of a smile was seen for a moment on the grave face. "Sam aint thinkin'
about that. You hurry and finish and lay down and sleep, and when you
wake up he'll be back here ready, to take you along furder. That's a
healthy little one. She wants some more buttermilk. Give it to her. If
she don't drink it the pigs'll git it, as the ole woman says.... Now you
better lay down on the bed in yonder and go to sleep. Jess sort o'
loosen yo' cloze; don't take off noth'n' but dress and shoes. You
needn't be afeard to sleep sound; I'm goin' to keep a lookout."



CHAPTER LV.

DIXIE.


In her sleep Mary dreamed over again the late rencontre. Again she heard
the challenging outcry, and again was lashing her horse to his utmost
speed; but this time her enemy seemed too fleet for her. He overtook--he
laid his hand upon her. A scream was just at her lips, when she awoke
with a wild start, to find the tall woman standing over her, and bidding
her in a whisper rise with all stealth and dress with all speed.

"Where's Alice?" asked Mary. "Where's my little girl?"

"She's there. Never mind her yit, till you're dressed. Here; not them
cloze; these here homespun things. Make haste, but don't get excited."

"How long have I slept?" asked Mary, hurriedly obeying.

"You couldn't 'a' more'n got to sleep. Sam oughtn't to have shot back at
'em. They're after 'im, hot; four of 'em jess now passed through on the
road, right here past my front gate."

"What kept them back so long?" asked Mary, tremblingly attempting to
button her dress in the back.

"Let me do that," said the woman. "They couldn't come very fast; had to
kind o' beat the bushes every hundred yards or so. If they'd of been
more of 'em they'd a-come faster, 'cause they'd a-left one or two behind
at each turn-out, and come along with the rest. There; now that there
hat, there, on the table." As Mary took the hat the speaker stepped to a
window and peeped into the early day. A suppressed exclamation escaped
her. "O you poor boy!" she murmured. Mary sprang toward her, but the
stronger woman hurried her away from the spot.

"Come; take up the little one 'thout wakin' her. Three more of 'em's
a-passin'. The little young feller in the middle reelin' and swayin' in
his saddle, and t'others givin' him water from his canteen."

"Wounded?" asked Mary, with a terrified look, bringing the sleeping
child.

"Yes, the last wound he'll ever git, I reckon. Jess take the baby, so.
Sam's already took her cloze. He's waitin' out in the woods here behind
the house. He's got the critters down in the hollow. Now, here! This
here bundle's a ridin'-skirt. It's not mournin', but you mustn't mind.
It's mighty green and cottony-lookin', but--anyhow, you jess put it on
when you git into the woods. Now it's good sun-up outside. The way you
must do--you jess keep on the lef' side o' me, close, so as when I jess
santer out e-easy todes the back gate you'll be hid from all the other
houses. Then when we git to the back gate I'll kind o' stand like I was
lookin' into the pig-pen, and you jess slide away on a line with me into
the woods, and there'll be Sam. No, no; take your hat off and sort o'
hide it. Now; you ready?"

Mary threw her arms around the woman's neck and kissed her passionately.

"Oh, don't stop for that!" said the woman, smiling with an awkward
diffidence. "Come!"

        *       *       *

"What is the day of the month?" asked Mary of the spy.

They had been riding briskly along a mere cattle-path in the woods for
half an hour, and had just struck into an old, unused road that promised
to lead them presently into and through some fields of cotton. Alice,
slumbering heavily, had been, little by little, dressed, and was now in
the man's arms. As Mary spoke they slackened pace to a quiet trot, and
crossed a broad highway nearly at right angles.

"That would 'a' been our road with the buggy," said the man, "if we
could of took things easy." They were riding almost straight away from
the sun. His dress had been changed again, and in a suit of new, dark
brown homespun wool, over a pink calico shirt and white cuffs and
collar, he presented the best possible picture of spruce gentility that
the times would justify. "'What day of the month,' did you ask? _I_'ll
never tell you, but I know it's Friday."

"Then it's the eighteenth," said Mary.

They met an old negro driving three yoke of oxen attached to a single
empty cart.

"Uncle," said the spy, "I don't reckon the boss will mind our sort o'
ridin' straight thoo his grove, will he?"

"Not 'tall, boss; on'y dess be so kyine an' shet de gates behine you,
sah."

They passed those gates and many another, shutting them faithfully, and
journeying on through miles of fragrant lane and fields of young cotton
and corn, and stretches of wood where the squirrel scampered before them
and reaches of fallow grounds still wet with dew, and patches of sedge,
and old fields grown up with thickets of young trees; now pushing their
horses to a rapid gallop, where they were confident of escaping notice,
and now ambling leisurely, where the eyes of men afield, or of women at
home, followed them with rustic scrutiny; or some straggling
Confederate soldier on foot or in the saddle met them in the way.

"How far must we go before we can stop?" asked Mary.

"Jess as far's the critters'll take us without showin' distress."

"South is out that way, isn't it?" she asked again, pointing off to the
left.

"Look here," said the spy, with a look that was humorous, but not only
humorous.

"What?"

"Two or three times last night, and now ag'in, you gimme a sort o'
sneakin' notion you don't trust me," said he.

"Oh!" exclaimed she, "I do! Only I'm so anxious to be going south."

"Jess so," said the man. "Well, we're goin' sort o' due west right now.
You see we dassent take this railroad anywheres about here,"--they were
even then crossing the track of the Mobile and Ohio Railway--"because
that's jess where they _sho_ to be on the lookout fur us. And I can't
take you straight south on the dirt roads, because I don't know the
country down that way. But this way I know it like your hand knows the
way to your mouth, as the felleh says. Learned it most all sence the war
broke out, too. And so the whole thing is we got to jess keep straight
across the country here till we strike the Mississippi Central."

"What time will that be?"

"Time! You don't mean time o' day, do you?" he asked.

"Yes," said Mary, smiling.

"Why, we'll be lucky to make it in two whole days. Won't we, Alice!" The
child had waked, and was staring into her mother's face. Mary caressed
her. The spy looked at them silently. The mother looked up, as if to
speak, but was silent.

"Hello!" said the man, softly; for a tear shone through her smile.
Whereat she laughed.

"I ought to be ashamed to be so unreasonable," she said.

"Well, now, I'd like to contradict you for once," responds the spy; "but
the fact is, how kin I, when Noo Orleens is jest about south-west frum
here, anyhow?"

"Yes," said Mary, pleasantly, "it's between south and south-west."

The spy made a gesture of mock amazement.

"Well, you air partickly what you say. I never hear o' but one party
that was more partickly than you. I reckon you never hear' tell o' him,
did you?"

"Who was he?" asked Mary.

"Well, I never got his name, nor his habitation, as the felleh says; but
he was so conscientious that when a highwayman attackted him onct, he
wouldn't holla murder nor he wouldn't holla thief, 'cause he wasn't
certain whether the highwayman wanted to kill him or rob him. He was
something like George Washington, who couldn't tell a lie. Did you ever
hear that story about George Washington?"

"About his chopping the cherry-tree with his hatchet?" asked Mary.

"Oh, I see you done heard the story!" said the spy, and left it untold;
but whether he was making game of his auditor or not she did not know,
and never found out. But on they went, by many a home; through miles of
growing crops, and now through miles of lofty pine forests, and by
log-cabins and unpainted cottages, from within whose open doors came
often the loud feline growl of the spinning-wheel. So on and on,
Mary spending the first night in a lone forest cabin of pine poles,
whose master, a Confederate deserter, fed his ague-shaken wife and
cotton-headed children oftener with the spoils of his rifle than with
the products of the field. The spy and the deserter lay down together,
and together rose again with the dawn, in a deep thicket, a few hundred
yards away.

The travellers had almost reached the end of this toilsome horseback
journey, when rains set in, and, for forty-eight hours more, swollen
floods and broken bridges held them back, though within hearing of the
locomotive's whistle.

But at length, one morning, Mary stepped aboard the train that had not
long before started south from the town of Holly Springs, Mississippi,
assisted with decorous alacrity by the conductor, and followed by the
station-agent with Alice in his arms, and by the telegraph-operator
with a home-made satchel or two of luggage and luncheon. It was
disgusting,--to two thin, tough-necked women, who climbed aboard,
unassisted, at the other end of the same coach.

"You kin just bet she's a widder, and them fellers knows it," said one
to the other, taking a seat and spitting expertly through the window.

"If she aint," responded the other, putting a peeled snuff-stick into
her cheek, "then her husband's got the brass buttons, and they knows
that. Look at 'er a-smi-i-ilin'!"

"What you reckon makes her look so wore out?" asked the first. And the
other replied promptly, with unbounded loathing, "Dayncin'," and sent
her emphasis out of the window in liquid form without disturbing her
intervening companion.

During the delay caused by the rain Mary had found time to refit her
borrowed costume. Her dress was a stout, close-fitting homespun of mixed
cotton and wool, woven in a neat plaid of walnut-brown, oak-red, and the
pale olive dye of the hickory. Her hat was a simple round thing of woven
pine straw, with a slightly drooping brim, its native brown gloss
undisturbed, and the low crown wrapped about with a wreath of wild
grasses plaited together with a bit of yellow cord. Alice wore a
much-washed pink calico frock and a hood of the same stuff.

"Some officer's wife," said two very sweet and lady-like persons, of
unequal age and equal good taste in dress, as their eyes took an
inventory of her apparel. They wore bonnets that were quite handsome,
and had real false flowers and silk ribbons on them.

"Yes, she's been to camp somewhere to see him."

"Beautiful child she's got," said one, as Alice began softly to smite
her mother's shoulder for private attention, and to whisper gravely as
Mary bent down.

Two or three soldiers took their feet off the seats, and one of them, at
the amiably murmured request of the conductor, put his shoes on.

"The car in front is your car," said the conductor to another man, in
especially dirty gray uniform.

"You kin hev it," said the soldier, throwing his palm open with an air
of happy extravagance, and a group of gray-headed "citizens," just
behind, exploded a loud country laugh.

"D' I onderstaynd you to lafe at me, saw?" drawled the soldier, turning
back with a pretence of heavy gloom on his uncombed brow.

"Laughin' at yo' friend yondeh," said one of the citizens, grinning and
waving his hand after the departing conductor.

"'Caze if you lafe at me again, saw,"--the frown deepened,--"I'll thess
go 'ight straight out iss caw."[3]

 [3] Out of this car.

The laugh that followed this dreadful threat was loud and general, the
victims laughing loudest of all, and the soldier smiling about benignly,
and slowly scratching his elbows. Even the two ladies smiled. Alice's
face remained impassive. She looked twice into her mother's to see if
there was no smile there. But the mother smiled at her, took off her
hood and smoothed back the fine gold, then put the hood on again, and
tied its strings under the upstretched chin.

Presently Alice pulled softly at the hollow of her mother's elbow.

"Mamma--mamma!" she whispered. Mary bowed her ear. The child gazed
solemnly across the car at another stranger, then pulled the mother's
arm again, "That man over there--winked at me."

And thereupon another man, sitting sidewise on the seat in front, and
looking back at Alice, tittered softly, and said to Mary, with a raw
drawl:--

"She's a-beginnin' young."

"She means some one on the other side," said Mary, quite pleasantly, and
the man had sense enough to hush.

The jest and the laugh ran to and fro everywhere. It seemed very strange
to Mary to find it so. There were two or three convalescent wounded men
in the car, going home on leave, and they appeared never to weary of the
threadbare joke of calling their wounds "furloughs." There was one
little slip of a fellow--he could hardly have been seventeen--wounded in
the hand, whom they kept teazed to the point of exasperation by urging
him to confess that he had shot himself for a furlough, and of whom
they said, later, when he had got off at a flag station, that he was the
bravest soldier in his company. No one on the train seemed to feel that
he had got all that was coming to him until the conductor had exchanged
a jest with him. The land laughed. On the right hand and on the left it
dimpled and wrinkled in gentle depressions and ridges, and rolled away
in fields of young corn and cotton. The train skipped and clattered
along at a happy-go-lucky, twelve-miles-an-hour gait, over trestles
and stock-pits, through flowery cuts and along slender, rain-washed
embankments where dewberries were ripening, and whence cattle ran down
and galloped off across the meadows on this side and that, tails up and
heads down, throwing their horns about, making light of the screaming
destruction, in their dumb way, as the people made light of the war. At
stations where the train stopped--and it stopped on the faintest
excuse--a long line of heads and gray shoulders was thrust out of the
windows of the soldiers' car, in front, with all manner of masculine
head-coverings, even bloody handkerchiefs; and woe to the negro or
negress or "citizen" who, by any conspicuous demerit or excellence of
dress, form, stature, speech, or bearing, drew the fire of that line! No
human power of face or tongue could stand the incessant volley of stale
quips and mouldy jokes, affirmative, interrogative, and exclamatory,
that fell about their victim.

At one spot, in a lovely natural grove, where the air was spiced with
the gentle pungency of the young hickory foliage, the train paused a
moment to let off a man in fine gray cloth, whose yellow stripes and one
golden star on the coat-collar indicated a major of cavalry. It seemed
as though pandemonium had opened. Mules braying, negroes yodling, axes
ringing, teamsters singing, men shouting and howling, and all at
nothing; mess-fires smoking all about in the same hap-hazard, but
roomy, disorder in which the trees of the grove had grown; the railroad
side lined with a motley crowd of jolly fellows in spurs, and the
atmosphere between them and the line of heads in the car-windows murky
with the interchange of compliments that flew back and forth from the
"web-foots"[4] to the "critter company," and from the "critter company"
to the "web-foots." As the train moved off, "I say, boys," drawled a
lank, coatless giant on the roadside, with but one suspender and one
spur, "tha-at's right! Gen'l Beerygyard told you to strike fo' yo'
homes, an' I see you' a-doin' it ez fass as you kin git thah." And the
"citizens" in the rear car-windows giggled even at that; while the
"web-foots" he-hawed their derision, and the train went on, as one might
say, with its hands in its pockets, whooping and whistling over the
fields--after the cows; for the day was declining.

 [4] Infantry.

Mary was awed. As she had been forewarned to do, she tried not to seem
unaccustomed to, or out of harmony with, all this exuberance. But there
was something so brave in it, coming from a people who were playing a
losing game with their lives and fortunes for their stakes; something so
gallant in it, laughing and gibing in the sight of blood, and smell of
fire, and shortness of food and raiment, that she feared she had
betrayed a stranger's wonder and admiration every time the train
stopped, and the idlers of the station platform lingered about her
window and silently paid their ungraceful but complimentary tribute of
simulated casual glances.

For, with all this jest, it was very plain there was but little joy. It
was not gladness; it was bravery. It was the humor of an invincible
spirit--the gayety of defiance. She could easily see the grim
earnestness beneath the jocund temper, and beneath the unrepining smile
the privation and the apprehension. What joy there was, was a martial
joy. The people were confident of victory at last,--a victorious end,
whatever might lie between, and of even what lay between they would
confess no fear. Richmond was safe, Memphis safer, New Orleans safest.
Yea, notwithstanding Porter and Farragut were pelting away at Forts
Jackson and St. Philip. Indeed, if the rumor be true, if Farragut's
ships had passed those forts, leaving Porter behind, then the Yankee
sea-serpent was cut in two, and there was an end of him in that
direction. Ha! ha!

"Is to-day the twenty-sixth?" asked Mary, at last, of one of the ladies
in real ribbons, leaning over toward her.

"Yes, ma'am."

It was the younger one who replied. As she did so she came over and sat
by Mary.

"I judge, from what I heard your little girl asking you, that you are
going beyond Jackson."

"I'm going to New Orleans."

"Do you live there?" The lady's interest seemed genuine and kind.

"Yes. I am going to join my husband there."

Mary saw by the reflection in the lady's face that a sudden gladness
must have overspread her own.

"He'll be mighty glad, I'm sure," said the pleasant stranger, patting
Alice's cheek, and looking, with a pretty fellow-feeling, first into the
child's face and then into Mary's.

"Yes, he will," said Mary, looking down upon the curling locks at her
elbow with a mother's happiness.

"Is he in the army?" asked the lady.

Mary's face fell.

"His health is bad," she replied.

"I know some nice people down in New Orleans," said the lady again.

"We haven't many acquaintances," rejoined Mary, with a timidity that was
almost trepidation. Her eyes dropped, and she began softly to smooth
Alice's collar and hair.

"I didn't know," said the lady, "but you might know some of them. For
instance, there's Dr. Sevier."

Mary gave a start and smiled.

"Why, is he your friend too?" she asked. She looked up into the lady's
quiet, brown eyes and down again into her own lap, where her hands had
suddenly knit together, and then again into the lady's face. "We have no
friend like Dr. Sevier."

"Mother," called the lady softly, and beckoned. The senior lady leaned
toward her. "Mother, this lady is from New Orleans and is an intimate
friend of Dr. Sevier."

The mother was pleased.

"What might one call your name?" she asked, taking a seat behind Mary
and continuing to show her pleasure.

"Richling."

The mother and daughter looked at each other. They had never heard the
name before.

Yet only a little while later the mother was saying to Mary,--they were
expecting at any moment to hear the whistle for the terminus of the
route, the central Mississippi town of Canton:--

"My dear child, no! I couldn't sleep to-night if I thought you was all
alone in one o' them old hotels in Canton. No, you must come home with
us. We're barely two mile' from town, and we'll have the carriage ready
for you bright and early in the morning, and our coachman will put you
on the cars just as nice--Trouble?" She laughed at the idea. "No; I tell
you what would trouble me,--that is, if we'd allow it; that'd be for you
to stop in one o' them hotels all alone, child, and like' as not some
careless servant not wake you in time for the cars to-morrow." At this
word she saw capitulation in Mary's eyes. "Come, now, my child, we're
not going to take no for an answer."

Nor did they.

But what was the result? The next morning, when Mary and Alice stood
ready for the carriage, and it was high time they were gone, the
carriage was not ready; the horses had got astray in the night. And
while the black coachman was on one horse, which he had found and
caught, and was scouring the neighboring fields and lanes and meadows
in search of the other, there came out from townward upon the still,
country air the long whistle of the departing train; and then the
distant rattle and roar of its far southern journey began, and then
its warning notes to the scattering colts and cattle.

"Look away!"--it seemed to sing--"Look away!"--the notes fading,
failing, on the ear,--"away--away--away down south in Dixie,"--the last
train that left for New Orleans until the war was over.



CHAPTER LVI.

FIRE AND SWORD.


The year the war began dates also, for New Orleans, the advent of two
better things: street-cars and the fire-alarm telegraph. The frantic
incoherence of the old alarum gave way to the few solemn, numbered
strokes that called to duty in the face of hot danger, like the electric
voice of a calm commander. The same new system also silenced, once for
all, the old nine-o'clock gun. For there were not only taps to signify
each new fire-district,--one for the first, two for the second, three,
four, five, six seven, eight, and nine,--but there was also one lone
toll at mid-day for the hungry mechanic, and nine at the evening hour
when the tired workman called his children in from the street and turned
to his couch, and the slave must show cause in a master's handwriting
why he or she was not under that master's roof.

And then there was one signal more. Fire is a dreadful thing, and all
the alarm signals were for fire except this one. Yet the profoundest
wish of every good man and tender women in New Orleans, when this
pleasing novelty of electro-magnetic warnings was first published for
the common edification, was that mid-day or midnight, midsummer or
midwinter, let come what might of danger or loss or distress, that one
particular signal might not sound. Twelve taps. Anything but that.

Dr. Sevier and Richling had that wish together. They had many wishes
that were greatly at variance the one's from the other's. The Doctor
had struggled for the Union until the very smoke of war began to rise
into the sky; but then he "went with the South." He was the only one in
New Orleans who knew--whatever some others may have suspected--that
Richling's heart was on the other side. Had Richling's bodily strength
remained, so that he could have been a possible factor, however small,
in the strife, it is hard to say whether they could have been together
day by day and night by night, as they came to be when the Doctor took
the failing man into his own home, and have lived in amity, as they did.
But there is this to be counted; they were both, though from different
directions, for peace, and their gentle forbearance toward each other
taught them a moderation of sentiment concerning the whole great issue.
And, as I say, they both together held the one longing hope that,
whatever war should bring of final gladness or lamentation, the steeples
of New Orleans might never toll--twelve.

But one bright Thursday April morning, as Richling was sitting, half
dressed, by an open window of his room in Dr. Sevier's house, leaning on
the arm of his soft chair and looking out at the passers on the street,
among whom he had begun to notice some singular evidences of excitement,
there came from a slender Gothic church-spire that was highest of all in
the city, just beyond a few roofs in front of him, the clear, sudden,
brazen peal of its one great bell.

"Fire," thought Richling; and yet, he knew not why, wondered where Dr.
Sevier might be. He had not seen him that morning. A high official had
sent for him at sunrise and he had not returned.

"Clang," went the bell again, and the softer ding--dang--dong of others,
struck at the same instant, came floating in from various distances.
And then it clanged again--and again--and again--the loud one near,
the soft ones, one by one, after it--six, seven, eight, nine--ah!
stop there! stop there! But still the alarm pealed on; ten--alas!
alas!--eleven--oh, oh, the women and children!--twelve! And then the
fainter, final asseverations of the more distant bells--twelve! twelve!
twelve!--and a hundred and seventy thousand souls knew by that sign that
the foe had passed the forts. New Orleans had fallen.

Richling dressed himself hurriedly and went out. Everywhere drums were
beating to arms. Couriers and aides-de-camp were galloping here and
there. Men in uniform were hurrying on foot to this and that rendezvous.
Crowds of the idle and poor were streaming out toward the levee.
Carriages and cabs rattled frantically from place to place; men ran
out-of-doors and leaped into them and leaped out of them and sprang up
stair-ways; hundreds of all manner of vehicles, fit and unfit to carry
passengers and goods, crowded toward the railroad depots and steam-boat
landings; women ran into the streets wringing their hands and holding
their brows; and children stood in the door-ways and gate-ways and
trembled and called and cried.

Richling took the new Dauphine street-car. Far down in the Third
district, where there was a silence like that of a village lane, he
approached a little cottage painted with Venetian red, setting in its
garden of oranges, pomegranates, and bananas, and marigolds, and
coxcombs behind its white paling fence and green gate.

The gate was open. In it stood a tall, strong woman, good-looking, rosy,
and neatly dressed. That she was tall you could prove by the gate, and
that she was strong, by the graceful muscularity with which she held
two infants,--pretty, swarthy little fellows, with joyous black eyes,
and evidently of one age and parentage,--each in the hollow of a fine,
round arm. There was just a hint of emotional disorder in her shining
hair and a trace of tears about her eyes. As the visitor drew near, a
fresh show of distressed exaltation was visible in the slight play of
her form.

"Ah! Mr. Richlin'," she cried, the moment he came within hearing, "'the
dispot's heels is on our shores!'" Tears filled her eyes again. Mike,
the bruiser, in his sixth year, who had been leaning backward against
her knees and covering his legs with her skirts, ran forward and clasped
the visitor's lower limbs with the nerve and intention of a wrestler.
Kate followed with the cherubs. They were Raphael's.

"Yes, it's terrible," said Richling.

"Ah! no, Mr. Richlin'," replied Kate, lifting her head proudly as she
returned with him toward the gate, "it's outrageouz; but it's not
terrible. At least it's not for me, Mr. Richlin'. I'm only Mrs. Captain
Ristofalah; and whin I see the collonels' and gin'r'ls' ladies
a-prancin' around in their carridges I feel my _humility_; but it's my
djuty to be _brave_, sur! An' I'll help to _fight_ thim, sur, if the min
can't do ud. Mr. Richlin', my husband is the intimit frind of Gin'r'l
Garrybaldy, sur! I'll help to burrin the cittee, sur!--rather nor give
ud up to thim vandjals! Come in, Mr. Richlin'; come in." She led the way
up the narrow shell-walk. "Come 'n, sur, it may be the last time ye' do
ud before the flames is leppin' from the roof! Ah! I knowed ye'd come. I
was a-lookin' for ye. I knowed _ye'd_ prove yerself that frind in need
that he's the frind indeed! Take a seat an' sit down." She faced about
on the vine-covered porch, and dropped into a rocking-chair, her eyes
still at the point of overflow. "But ah! Mr. Richlin', where's all thim
flatterers that fawned around uz in the days of tytled prosperity?"

Richling said nothing; he had not seen any throngs of that sort.

"Gone, sur! and it's a relief; it's a relief, Mr. Richlin'!" She
marshalled the twins on her lap, Carlo commanding the right, Francisco
the left.

"You mustn't expect too much of them," said Richling, drawing Mike
between his knees, "in such a time of alarm and confusion as this." And
Kate responded generously:--

"Well, I suppose you're right, sur."

"I've come down," resumed the visitor, letting Mike count off "Rich man,
poor man, beggar man, thief," on the buttons of his coat, "to give you
any help I can in getting ready to leave town. For you mustn't think of
staying. It isn't possible to be anything short of dreadful to stay in a
city occupied by hostile troops. It's almost certain the Confederates
will try to hold the city, and there may be a bombardment. The city may
be taken and retaken half-a-dozen times before the war is over."

"Mr. Richlin'," said Kate, with a majestic lifting of the hand, "I'll
nivver rin away from the Yanks."

"No, but you must _go_ away from them. You mustn't put yourself in such
a position that you can't go to your husband if he needs you, Mrs.
Ristofalo; don't get separated from him."

"Ah! Mr. Richlin', it's you as has the right to say so; and I'll do as
you say. Mr. Richlin', my husband"--her voice trembled--"may be wounded
this hour. I'll go, sur, indeed I will; but, sur, if Captain Raphael
Ristofalah wor _here_, sur, he'd be ad the _front_, sur, and Kate
Ristofalah would be at his galliant side!"

"Well, then, I'm glad he's not here," rejoined Richling, "for I'd have
to take care of the children."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Kate. "No, sur! I'd take the lion's whelps with
me, sur! Why, that little Mike theyre can han'le the dthrum-sticks to
beat the felley in the big hat!" And she laughed again.

They made arrangements for her and the three children to go "out
into the confederacy" within two or three days at furthest; as soon
as she and her feeble helper could hurry a few matters of business to
completion at and about the Picayune Tier. Richling did not get back to
the Doctor's house until night had fallen and the sky was set aglare by
seven miles' length of tortuous harbor front covered with millions'
worth of burning merchandise. The city was being evacuated.

Dr. Sevier and he had but few words. Richling was dejected from
weariness, and his friend weary with dejections.

"Where have you been all day?" asked the Doctor, with a touch of
irritation.

"Getting Kate Ristofalo ready to leave the city."

"You shouldn't have left the house; but it's no use to tell you
anything. Has she gone?"

"No."

"Well, in the name of common-sense, then, when is she going?"

"In two or three days," replied Richling, almost in retort.

The Doctor laughed with impatience.

"If you feel responsible for her going get her off by to-morrow
afternoon at the furthest." He dropped his tired head against the back
of his chair.

"Why," said Richling, "I don't suppose the fleet can fight its way
through all opposition and get here short of a week."

The Doctor laid his long fingers upon his brow and rolled his head from
side to side. Then, slowly raising it:--

"Well, Richling!" he said, "there must have been some mistake made when
you was put upon the earth."

Richling's thin cheek flushed. The Doctor's face confessed the bitterest
resentment.

"Why, the fleet is only eighteen miles from here now." He ceased, and
then added, with sudden kindness of tone, "I want you to do something
for me, will you?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, go to bed; I'm going. You'll need every grain of strength
you've got for to-morrow. I'm afraid then it will not be enough. This is
an awful business, Richling."

They went upstairs together. As they were parting at its top Richling
said:--

"You told me a few days ago that if the city should fall, which we
didn't expect"--

"That I'd not leave," said the Doctor. "No; I shall stay. I haven't the
stamina to take the field, and I can't be a runaway. Anyhow, I couldn't
take you along. You couldn't bear the travel, and I wouldn't go and
leave you here, Richling--old fellow!"

He laid his hand gently on the sick man's shoulder, who made no
response, so afraid was he that another word would mar the perfection of
the last.

When Richling went out the next morning the whole city was in an ecstasy
of rage and terror. Thousands had gathered what they could in their
hands, and were flying by every avenue of escape. Thousands ran hither
and thither, not knowing where or how to fly. He saw the wife and son
of the silver-haired banker rattling and bouncing away toward one of the
railway depots in a butcher's cart. A messenger from Kate by good chance
met him with word that she would be ready for the afternoon train of the
Jackson Railroad, and asking anew his earliest attention to her
interests about the lugger landing.

He hastened to the levee. The huge, writhing river, risen up above the
town, was full to the levee's top, and, as though the enemy's fleet was
that much more than it could bear, was silently running over by a
hundred rills into the streets of the stricken city.

As far as the eye could reach, black smoke, white smoke, brown smoke,
and red flames rolled and spread, and licked and leaped, from unnumbered
piles of cotton bales, and wooden wharves, and ships cut adrift, and
steam-boats that blazed like shavings, floating down the harbor as they
blazed. He stood for a moment to see a little revenue cutter,--a pretty
topsail schooner,--lying at the foot of Canal street, sink before his
eyes into the turbid yellow depths of the river, scuttled. Then he
hurried on. Huge mobs ran to and fro in the fire and smoke, howling,
breaking, and stealing. Women and children hurried back and forth like
swarms of giant ants, with buckets and baskets, and dippers and bags,
and bonnets, hats, petticoats, anything,--now empty, and now full of
rice and sugar and meal and corn and syrup,--and robbed each other, and
cursed and fought, and slipped down in pools of molasses, and threw live
pigs and coops of chickens into the river, and with one voiceless rush
left the broad levee a smoking, crackling desert, when some shells
exploded on a burning gunboat, and presently were back again like a
flock of evil birds.

It began to rain, but Richling sought no shelter. The men he was in
search of were not to be found. But the victorious ships, with bare
black arms stretched wide, boarding nettings up, and the dark muzzles of
their guns bristling from their sides, came, silently as a nightmare,
slowly around the bend at Slaughterhouse Point and moved up the middle
of the harbor. At the French market he found himself, without
forewarning, witness of a sudden skirmish between some Gascon and
Sicilian market-men, who had waved a welcome to the fleet, and some
Texan soldiers who resented the treason. The report of a musket rang
out, a second and third reëchoed it, a pistol cracked, and another,
and another; there was a rush for cover; another shot, and another,
resounded in the market-house, and presently in the street beyond. Then,
in a moment, all was silence and emptiness, into which there ventured
but a single stooping, peeping Sicilian, glancing this way and that,
with his finger on trigger, eager to kill, gliding from cover to cover,
and presently gone again from view, leaving no human life visible nearer
than the swarming mob that Richling, by mounting a pile of ship's
ballast, could see still on the steam-boat landing, pillaging in the
drenching rain, and the long fleet casting anchor before the town in
line of battle.

Late that afternoon Richling, still wet to the skin, amid pushing and
yelling and the piping calls of distracted women and children, and
scuffling and cramming in, got Kate Ristofalo, trunks, baskets, and
babes, safely off on the cars. And when, one week from that day, the
sound of drums, that had been hushed for a while, fell upon his ear
again,--no longer the jaunty rataplan of Dixie's drums, but the heavy,
monotonous roar of the conqueror's at the head of his dark-blue
columns,--Richling could not leave his bed.

Dr. Sevier sat by him and bore the sound in silence. As it died away and
ceased, Richling said:--

"May I write to Mary?"

Then the Doctor had a hard task.

"I wrote for her yesterday," he said. "But, Richling, I--don't think
she'll get the letter."

"Do you think she has already started?" asked the sick man, with glad
eagerness.

"Richling, I did the best I knew how"--

"Whatever you did was all right, Doctor."

"I wrote to her months ago, by the hand of Ristofalo. He knows she got
the letter. I'm afraid she's somewhere in the Confederacy, trying to get
through. I meant it for the best, my dear boy."

"It's all right, Doctor," said the invalid; but the physician could see
the cruel fact slowly grind him.

"Doctor, may I ask one favor?"

"One or a hundred, Richling."

"I want you to let Madame Zénobie come and nurse me."

"Why, Richling, can't I nurse you well enough?"

The Doctor was jealous.

"Yes," answered the sick man. "But I'll need a good deal of attention.
She wants to do it. She was here yesterday, you knew. She wanted to ask
you, but was afraid."

His wish was granted.



CHAPTER LVII.

ALMOST IN SIGHT.


In St. Tammany Parish, on the northern border of Lake Ponchartrain,
about thirty miles from New Orleans, in a straight line across the
waters of the lake, stood in time of the war, and may stand yet, an old
house, of the Creole colonial fashion, all of cypress from sills to
shingles, standing on brick pillars ten feet from the ground, a wide
veranda in front, and a double flight of front steps running up to it
sidewise and meeting in a balustraded landing at its edge. Scarcely
anything short of a steamer's roof or a light-house window could have
offered a finer stand-point from which to sweep a glass round the
southern semi-circle of water and sky than did this stair-landing; and
here, a long ship's-glass in her hands, and the accustomed look of care
on her face, faintly frowning against the glare of noonday, stood Mary
Richling. She still had on the pine-straw hat, and the skirt--stirring
softly in a breeze that had to come around from the north side of the
house before it reached her--was the brown and olive homespun.

"No use," said an old, fat, and sun-tanned man from his willow chair on
the veranda behind her. There was a slight palsied oscillation in his
head. He leaned forward somewhat on a staff, and as he spoke his entire
shapeless and nearly helpless form quaked with the effort. But Mary, for
all his advice, raised the glass and swung it slowly from east to west.

The house was near the edge of a slightly rising ground, close to the
margin of a bayou that glided around toward the left from the woods at
its back, and ran, deep and silent, under the shadows of a few huge,
wide-spreading, moss-hung live-oaks that stood along its hither shore,
laving their roots in its waters, and throwing their vast green images
upon its glassy surface. As the dark stream slipped away from these it
flashed a little while in the bright open space of a marsh, and, just
entering the shade of a spectral cypress wood, turned as if to avoid it,
swung more than half about, and shone sky-blue, silver, and green as it
swept out into the unbroken sunshine of the prairie.

It was over this flowery savanna, broadening out on either hand, and
spreading far away until its bright green margin joined, with the
perfection of a mosaic, the distant blue of the lake, that Mary,
dallying a moment with hope, passed her long glass. She spoke with it
still raised and her gaze bent through it:--

"There's a big alligator crossing the bayou down in the bend."

"Yes," said the aged man, moving his flat, carpet-slippered feet a
laborious inch; "alligator. Alligator not goin' take you 'cross lake. No
use lookin'. 'Ow Peter goin' come when win' dead ahead? Can't do it."

Yet Mary lifted the glass a little higher, beyond the green, beyond the
crimpling wavelets of the nearer distance that seemed drawn by the
magical lens almost into her hand, out to the fine, straight line that
cut the cool blue below from the boundless blue above. Round swung the
glass, slowly, waveringly, in her unpractised hand, from the low cypress
forests of Manchac on the west, to the skies that glittered over the
unseen marshes of the Rigolets on the farthest east.

"You see sail yondeh?" came the slow inquiry from behind.

"No," said Mary, letting the instrument down, and resting it on the
balustrade.

"Humph! No! Dawn't I tell you is no use look?"

"He was to have got here three days ago," said Mary, shutting the glass
and gazing in anxious abstraction across the prairie.

The Spanish Creole grunted.

"When win' change, he goin' start. He dawn't start till win' change.
Win' keep ligue dat, he dawn't start 't all." He moved his orange-wood
staff an inch, to suit the previous movement of his feet, and Mary came
and laid the glass on its brackets in the veranda, near the open door of
a hall that ran through the dwelling to another veranda in the rear.

In the middle of the hall a small woman, as dry as the peppers that hung
in strings on the wall behind her, sat in a rush-bottomed rocking-chair
plaiting a palmetto hat, and with her elbow swinging a tattered manilla
hammock, in whose bulging middle lay Alice, taking her compulsory
noonday nap. Mary came, expressed her thanks in sprightly whispers,
lifted the child out, and carried her to a room. How had Mary got here?

The morning after that on which she had missed the cars at Canton she
had taken a south-bound train for Camp Moore, the camp of the forces
that had evacuated New Orleans, situated near the railway station of
Tangipahoa, some eighty miles north of the captured city. Thence, after
a day or two of unavoidable delay, and of careful effort to know the
wisest step, she had taken stage,--a crazy ambulance,--with some others,
two women, three children, and an old man, and for two days had
travelled through a beautiful country of red and yellow clays and
sands below and murmuring pines above,--vast colonnades of towering,
branchless brown columns holding high their green, translucent roof, and
opening up their wide, bright, sunshot vistas of gentle, grassy hills
that undulated far away under the balsamic forest, and melted at length
into luminous green unity and deer-haunted solitudes. Now she went down
into richer bottom-lands, where the cotton and corn were growing tall
and pretty to look upon, like suddenly grown girls, and the sun was
beginning to shine hot. Now she passed over rustic bridges, under posted
warnings to drive slow or pay a fine, or through sandy fords across
purling streams, hearing the monotone of some unseen mill-dam, or
scaring the tall gray crane from his fishing, or the otter from his
pranks. Again she went up into leagues of clear pine forest, with stems
as straight as lances; meeting now a farmer, and now a school-girl or
two, and once a squad of scouts, ill-mounted, worse clad, and yet more
sorrily armed; bivouacking with the jolly, tattered fellows, Mary and
one of the other women singing for them, and the "boys" singing for
Mary, and each applauding each about the pine-knot fire, and the women
and children by and by lying down to slumber, in soldier fashion, with
their feet to the brands, under the pines and the stars, while the
gray-coats stood guard in the wavering fire-light; but Mary lying broad
awake staring at the great constellation of the Scorpion, and thinking
now of him she sought, and now remorsefully of that other scout, that
poor boy whom the spy had shot far away yonder to the north and
eastward. Now she rose and journeyed again. Rare hours were those for
Alice. They came at length into a low, barren land, of dwarfed and
scrawny pines, with here and there a marshy flat; thence through a
narrow strip of hickories, oaks, cypresses, and dwarf palmetto, and so
on into beds of white sand and oyster-shells, and then into one of the
villages on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Her many little adventures by the way, the sayings and doings and
seeings of Alice, and all those little adroitnesses by which Mary from
time to time succeeded in avoiding or turning aside the suspicions
that hovered about her, and the hundred times in which Alice was her
strongest and most perfect protection, we cannot pause to tell. But we
give a few lines to one matter.

Mary had not yet descended from the ambulance at her journey's end;
she and Alice only were in it; its tired mules were dragging it slowly
through the sandy street of the village, and the driver was praising
the milk, eggs, chickens, and genteel seclusion of Mrs. ----'s
"hotel," at that end of the village toward which he was driving, when a
man on horseback met them, and, in passing, raised his hat to Mary. The
act was only the usual courtesy of the highway; yet Mary was startled,
disconcerted, and had to ask the unobservant, loquacious driver to
repeat what he had said. Two days afterward Mary was walking at the
twilight hour, in a narrow, sandy road, that ran from the village out
into the country to the eastward. Alice walked beside her, plying her
with questions. At a turn of the path, without warning, she confronted
this horseman again. He reined up and lifted his hat. An elated look
brightened his face.

"It's all fixed," he said. But Mary looked distressed, even alarmed.

"You shouldn't have done this," she replied.

The man waved his hand downward repressively, but with a countenance
full of humor.

"Hold on. It's _still_ my deal. This is the last time, and then I'm
done. Make a spoon or spoil a horn, you know. When you commence to do a
thing, do it. Them's the words that's inscribed on my banner, as the
felleh says; only I, Sam, aint got much banner. And if I sort o' use
about this low country a little while for my health, as it were, and
nibble around sort o' _pro bono p[=u]blico_ takin' notes, why you aint
a-carin', is you? For wherefore shouldest thou?" He put on a yet more
ludicrous look, and spread his hand off at one side, working his
outstretched fingers.

"Yes," responded Mary, with severe gravity; "I must care. You did finish
at Holly Springs. I was to find the rest of the way as best I could.
That was the understanding. Go away!" She made a commanding gesture,
though she wore a pleading look. He looked grave; but his habitual
grimace stole through his gravity and invited her smile. But she
remained fixed. He gathered the rein and straightened up in the saddle.

"Yes," she insisted, answering his inquiring attitude; "go! I shall be
grateful to you as long as I live. It wasn't because I mistrusted you that
I refused your aid at Camp Moore or at----that other place on this side. I
don't mistrust you. But don't you see--you must see--it's your duty to
see--that this staying and--and--foll--following--is--is--wrong." She
stood, holding her skirt in one hand, and Alice's hand in the other, not
upright, but in a slightly shrinking attitude, and as she added once more,
"Go! I implore you--go!" her eyes filled.

"I will; I'll go," said the man, with a soft chuckle intended for
self-abasement. "I go, thou goest, he goes. 'I'll skedaddle,' as the
felleh says. And yit it do seem to me sorter like,--if my moral sense is
worthy of any consideration, which is doubtful, may be,--seems to me
like it's sort o' jumpin' the bounty for you to go and go back on an
arrangement that's been all fixed up nice and tight, and when it's on'y
jess to sort o' 'jump into the wagon' that's to call for you to-morrow,
sun-up, drove by a nigger boy, and ride a few mile' to a house on the
bayou, and wait there till a man comes with a nice little schooner, and
take you on bode and sail off, and 'good-by, Sally,' and me never in
sight from fust to last, 'and no questions axed.'"

"I don't reject the arrangement," replied Mary, with tearful
pleasantness. "If you'll do as I say, I'll do as you say; and that will
be final proof to you that I believe you're"--she fell back a step,
laughingly--"'the clean sand!'" She thought the man would have
perpetrated some small antic; but he did not. He did not even smile, but
lifted the rein a little till the horse stepped forward, and, putting
out his hand, said:--

"Good-by. You don't need no directions. Jess tell the lady where you'
boardin' that you've sort o' consented to spend a day or two with old
Adrien Sanchez, and get into the wagon when it comes for you." He let go
her hand. "Good-by, Alice." The child looked up in silence and pressed
herself against her mother. "Good-by," said he once more.

"Good-by," replied Mary.

His eyes lingered as she dropped her own.

"Come, Alice," she said, resisting the little one's effort to stoop and
pick a wild-pea blossom, and the mother and child started slowly back
the way they had come. The spy turned his horse, and moved still more
slowly in the opposite direction. But before he had gone many rods he
turned the animal's head again, rode as slowly back, and, beside the
spot where Mary had stood, got down, and from the small imprint of her
shoe in the damp sand took the pea-blossom, which, in turning to
depart, she had unawares trodden under foot. He looked at the small,
crushed thing for a moment, and then thrust it into his bosom; but in a
moment, as if by a counter impulse, drew it forth again, let it flutter
to the ground, following it with his eyes, shook his head with an amused
air, half of defiance and half of discomfiture, turned, drew himself
into the saddle, and with one hand laid upon another on the saddle-bow
and his eyes resting on them in meditation, passed finally out of sight.

        *       *       *

Here, then, in this lone old Creole cottage, Mary was tarrying, prisoner
of hope, coming out all hours of the day, and scanning the wide view,
first, only her hand to shade her brow, and then with the old
ship's-glass, Alice often standing by and looking up at this
extraordinary toy with unspoken wonder. All that Mary could tell her of
things seeable through it could never persuade the child to risk her own
eye at either end of it. So Mary would look again and see, out in the
prairie, in the morning, the reed birds, the marsh hen, the blackbirds,
the sparrows, the starlings, with their red and yellow epaulets, rising
and fluttering and sinking again among the lilies and mallows, and the
white crane, paler than a ghost, wading in the grassy shallows. She saw
the ravening garfish leap from the bayou, and the mullet in shining
hundreds spatter away to left and right; and the fisherman and the
shrimp-catcher in their canoes come gliding up the glassy stream, riding
down the water-lilies, that rose again behind and shook the drops from
their crowns, like water-sprites. Here and there, farther out, she saw
the little cat-boats of the neighboring village crawling along the edge
of the lake, taking their timid morning cruises. And far away she saw
the titanic clouds; but on the horizon, no sail.

In the evening she would see mocking-birds coming out of the savanna and
flying into the live-oaks. A summer duck might dart from the cypresses,
speed across the wide green level, and become a swerving, vanishing
speck on the sky. The heron might come round the bayou's bend, and
suddenly take fright and fly back again. The rattling kingfisher might
come up the stream, and the blue crane sail silently through the purple
haze that hung between the swamp and the bayou. She would see the gulls,
gray and white, on the margin of the lake, the sun setting beyond its
western end, and the sky and water turning all beautiful tints; and
every now and then, low down along the cool, wrinkling waters, passed
across the round eye of the glass the broad, downward-curved wing of the
pelican. But when she ventured to lift the glass to the horizon, she
swept it from east to west in vain. No sail.

"Dawn't I tell you no use look? Peter dawn't comin' in day-time, nohow."

But on the fifth morning Mary had hardly made her appearance on the
veranda, and had not ventured near the spy-glass yet, when the old man
said:--

"She rain back in swamp las' night; can smell."

"How do you feel this morning?" asked Mary, facing around from her first
glance across the waters. He did not heed.

"See dat win'?" he asked, lifting one hand a little from the top of his
staff.

"Yes," responded Mary, eagerly; "why, it's--hasn't it--changed?"

"Yes, change' las' night 'fo' went to bed."

The old man's manner betrayed his contempt for one who could be
interested in such a change, and yet not know when it took place.

"Why, then," began Mary, and started as if to take down the glass.

"What you doin'?" demanded its owner. "Better let glass 'lone; fool' wid
him enough."

Mary flushed, and, with a smile of resentful apology, was about to
reply, when he continued:--

"What you want glass for? Dare Peter' schooner--right dare in bayou.
What want glass for? Can't see schooner hundred yard' off 'dout glass?"
And he turned away his poor wabbling head in disgust.

Mary looked an instant at two bare, rakish, yellow poles showing out
against the clump of cypresses, and the trim little white hull and
apple-green deck from which they sprang, then clasped her hands and ran
into the house.



CHAPTER LVIII.

A GOLDEN SUNSET.


Dr. Sevier came to Richling's room one afternoon, and handed him a
sealed letter. The postmark was blurred, but it was easy still to read
the abbreviation of the State's name,--Kentucky. It had come by way of
New York and the sea. The sick man reached out for it with avidity from
the large bed in which he sat bolstered up. He tore it open with
unsteady fingers, and sought the signature.

"It's from a lawyer."

"An old acquaintance?" asked the doctor.

"Yes," responded Richling, his eyes glancing eagerly along the lines.
"Mary's in the Confederate lines!--Mary and Alice!" The hand that held
the letter dropped to his lap. "It doesn't say a word about how she got
through!"

"But _where_ did she get through?" asked the physician. "Whereabouts is
she now?"

"She got through away up to the eastward of Corinth, Mississippi.
Doctor, she may be within fifty miles of us this very minute! Do you
think they'll give her a pass to come in?"

"They may, Richling; I hope they will."

"I think I'd get well if she'd come," said the invalid. But his friend
made no answer.

A day or two afterward--it was drawing to the close of a beautiful
afternoon in early May--Dr. Sevier came into the room and stood at a
window looking out. Madame Zénobie sat by the bedside softly fanning the
patient. Richling, with his eyes, motioned her to retire. She smiled and
nodded approvingly, as if to say that that was just what she was about
to propose, and went out, shutting the door with just sound enough to
announce her departure to Dr. Sevier.

He came from the window to the bedside and sat down. The sick man looked
at him, with a feeble eye, and said, in little more than a whisper:--

"Mary and Alice"--

"Yes," said the Doctor.

"If they don't come to-night they'll be too late."

"God knows, my dear boy!"

"Doctor"--

"What, Richling?"

"Did you ever try to guess"--

"Guess what, Richling?"

"_His_ use of my life."

"Why, yes, my poor boy, I have tried. But I only make out its use to
me."

The sick man's eye brightened.

"Has it been?"

The Doctor nodded. He reached out and took the wasted hand in his. It
tried to answer his pressure. The invalid spoke.

"I'm glad you told me that before--before it was too late."

"Are you, my dear boy? Shall I tell you more?"

"Yes," the sick man huskily replied; "oh, yes."

"Well, Richling,--you know we're great cowards about saying such things;
it's a part of our poor human weakness and distrust of each other, and
the emptiness of words,--but--lately--only just here, very lately, I've
learned to call the meekest, lovingest One that ever trod our earth,
Master; and it's been your life, my dear fellow, that has taught me." He
pressed the sick man's hand slowly and tremulously, then let it go, but
continued to caress it in a tender, absent way, looking on the floor as
he spoke on.

"Richling, Nature herself appoints some men to poverty and some to
riches. God throws the poor upon our charge--in mercy to _us_. Couldn't
he take care of them without us if he wished? Are they not his? It's
easy for the poor to feel, when they are helped by us, that the rich are
a godsend to them; but they don't see, and many of their helpers don't
see, that the poor are a godsend to the rich. They're set over against
each other to keep pity and mercy and charity in the human heart. If
every one were entirely able to take care of himself we'd turn to
stone." The speaker ceased.

"Go on," whispered the listener.

"That will never be," continued the Doctor. "God Almighty will never let
us find a way to quite abolish poverty. Riches don't always bless the
man they come to, but they bless the world. And so with poverty; and
it's no contemptible commission, Richling, to be appointed by God to
bear that blessing to mankind which keeps its brotherhood universal.
See, now,"--he looked up with a gentle smile,--"from what a distance he
brought our two hearts together. Why, Richling, the man that can make
the rich and poor love each other will make the world happier than it
has ever been since man fell!"

"Go on," whispered Richling.

"No," said the Doctor.

"Well, now, Doctor--_I_ want to say--something." The invalid spoke with
a weak and broken utterance, with many breaks and starts that we may set
aside.

"For a long time," he said, beginning as if half in soliloquy, "I
couldn't believe I was coming to this early end, simply because I
didn't see why I should. I know that was foolish. I thought my
hardships"-- He ceased entirely, and, when his strength would
allow, resumed:--

"I thought they were sent in order that when I should come to fortune I
might take part in correcting some evils that are strangely overlooked."

The Doctor nodded, and, after a moment of rest, Richling said again:--

"But now I see--that is not my work. May be it is Mary's. May be it's my
little girl's."

"Or mine," murmured the Doctor.

"Yes, Doctor, I've been lying here to-day thinking of something I never
thought of before, though I dare say you have, often. There could be no
art of healing till the earth was full of graves. It is by shipwreck
that we learn to build ships. All our safety--all our betterment--is
secured by our knowledge of others' disasters that need not have
happened had they only _known_. Will you--finish my mission?" The sick
man's hand softly grasped the hand that lay upon it. And the Doctor
responded:--

"How shall I do that, Richling?"

"Tell my story."

"But I don't know it all, Richling."

"I'll tell you all that's behind. You know I'm a native of Kentucky.
My name is not Richling. I belong to one of the proudest, most
distinguished families in that State or in all the land. Until I married
I never knew an ungratified wish. I think my bringing-up, not to be
wicked, was as bad as could be. It was based upon the idea that I was
always to be master, and never servant. I was to go through life with
soft hands. I was educated to know, but not to do. When I left school
my parents let me travel. They would have let me do anything except
work. In the West--in Milwaukee--I met Mary. It was by mere chance. She
was poor, but cultivated and refined; trained--you know--for knowing,
not doing. I loved her and courted her, and she encouraged my suit,
under the idea, you know, again,"--he smiled faintly and sadly,--"that
it was nobody's business but ours. I offered my hand and was accepted.
But, when I came to announce our engagement to my family, they warned me
that if I married her they would disinherit and disown me."

"What was their reason, Richling?"

"Nothing."

"But, Richling, they had a reason of some sort."

"Nothing in the world but that Mary was a Northern girl. Simple
sectional prejudice. I didn't tell Mary. I didn't think they would do
it; but I knew Mary would refuse to put me to the risk. We married, and
they carried out their threat."

The Doctor uttered a low exclamation, and both were silent.

"Doctor," began the sick man once more.

"Yes, Richling."

"I suppose you never looked into the case of a man who needed help, but
you were sure to find that some one thing was the key to all his
troubles; did you?"

The Doctor was silent again.

"I'll give you the key to mine, Doctor: I took up the gage thrown down
by my family as though it were thrown down by society at large. I said I
would match pride with pride. I said I would go among strangers, take a
new name, and make it as honorable as the old. I saw Mary didn't think
it wise; but she believed whatever I did was best, and"--he smiled and
whispered--"I thought so too. I suppose my troubles have more than one
key; but that's the outside one. Let me rest a little.

"Doctor, I die nameless. I had a name, a good name, and only too proud a
one. It's mine still. I've never tarnished it--not even in prison. I
will not stain it now by disclosing it. I carry it with me to God's
throne."

The whisperer ceased, exhausted. The Doctor rested an elbow on a knee
and laid his face in his hand. Presently Richling moved, and he raised a
look of sad inquiry.

"Bury me here in New Orleans, Doctor, will you?"

"Why, Richling?"

"Well--this has been--my--battle-ground. I'd like to be buried on the
field,--like the other soldiers. Not that I've been a good one; but--I
want to lie where you can point to me as you tell my story. If it could
be so, I should like to lie in sight--of that old prison."

The Doctor brushed his eyes with his handkerchief and wiped his brow.

"Doctor," said the invalid again, "will you read me just four verses in
the Bible?"

"Why, yes, my boy, as many as you wish to hear."

"No, only four." His free hand moved for the book that lay on the bed,
and presently the Doctor read:--

     "'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers
     temptations;

     "'Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

     "'But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be
     perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

     "'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to
     all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given
     him.'"

"There," whispered the sick man, and rested with a peaceful look in all
his face. "It--doesn't mean wisdom in general, Doctor,--such as Solomon
asked for."

"Doesn't it?" said the other, meekly.

"No. It means the wisdom necessary to let--patience--have her
perf-- I was a long time--getting any where near that.

"Doctor--do you remember how fond--Mary was of singing--all kinds
of--little old songs?"

"Of course I do, my dear boy."

"Did you ever sing--Doctor?"

"O my dear fellow! I never did really sing, and I haven't uttered a note
since--for twenty years."

"Can't you sing--ever so softly--just a verse--of--'I'm a Pilgrim'?"

"I--I--it's impossible, Richling, old fellow. I don't know either the
words or the tune. I never sing." He smiled at himself through his
tears.

"Well, all right," whispered Richling. He lay with closed eyes for a
moment, and then, as he opened them, breathed faintly through his parted
lips the words, spoken, not sung, while his hand feebly beat the
imagined cadence:--

    "'The sun shines bright in my old Kentucky home;
       'Tis summer, the darkies are gay;
     The corn-tops are ripe, and the meadows are in bloom,
       And the birds make music all the day.'"

The Doctor hid his face in his hands, and all was still.

By and by there came a whisper again. The Doctor raised his head.

"Doctor, there's one thing"--

"Yes, I know there is, Richling."

"Doctor,--I've been a poor stick of a husband."

"I never knew a good one, Richling."

"Doctor, you'll be a friend to Mary?"

The Doctor nodded; his eyes were full.

The sick man drew from his breast a small ambrotype, pressed it to his
lips, and poised it in his trembling fingers. It was the likeness of the
little Alice. He turned his eyes to his friend.

"I didn't need Mary's. But this is all I've ever seen of my little girl.
To-morrow, at daybreak,--it will be just at daybreak,--when you see that
I've passed, I want you to lay this here on my breast. Then fold my
hands upon it"--

His speech was arrested. He seemed to hearken an instant.

"Doctor," he said, with excitement in his eye and sudden strength of
voice, "what is that I hear?"

"I don't know," replied his friend; "one of the servants probably down
in the hall." But he, too, seemed to have been startled. He lifted his
head. There was a sound of some one coming up the stairs in haste.

"Doctor." The Doctor was rising from his chair.

"Lie still, Richling."

But the sick man suddenly sat erect.

"Doctor--it's--O Doctor, I"--

The door flew open; there was a low outcry from the threshold, a moan of
joy from the sick man, a throwing wide of arms, and a rush to the
bedside, and John and Mary Richling--and the little Alice, too--

Come, Doctor Sevier; come out and close the door.

        *       *       *

"Strangest thing on earth!" I once heard a physician say,--"the
mysterious power that the dying so often have to fix the very hour of
their approaching end!" It was so in John Richling's case. It was as he
said. Had Mary and Alice not come when they did, they would have been
too late. He "tarried but a night;" and at the dawn Mary uttered the
bitter cry of the widow, and Doctor Sevier closed the eyes of the one
who had committed no fault,--against this world, at least,--save that he
had been by nature a pilgrim and a stranger in it.



CHAPTER LIX.

AFTERGLOW.


Mary, with Alice holding one hand, flowers in the other, was walking one
day down the central avenue of the old Girod Cemetery, breaking the
silence of the place only by the soft grinding of her footsteps on the
shell-walk, and was just entering a transverse alley, when she stopped.

Just at hand a large, broad woman, very plainly dressed, was drawing
back a single step from the front of a tomb, and dropping her hands from
a coarse vase of flowers that she had that moment placed on the narrow
stone shelf under the tablet. The blossoms touched, without hiding, the
newly cut name. She had hung a little plaster crucifix against it from
above. She must have heard the footfall so near by, and marked its
stoppage; but, with the oblivion common to the practisers of her
religion, she took no outward notice. She crossed herself, sank upon her
knees, and with her eyes upon the shrine she had made remained thus. The
tears ran down Mary's face. It was Madame Zénobie. They went and lived
together.

The name of the street where their house stood has slipped me, as has
that of the clean, unfrequented, round-stoned way up which one looked
from the small cottage's veranda, and which, running down to their old
arched gate, came there to an end, as if that were a pretty place to
stop at in the shade until evening. Grass grows now, as it did then,
between the round stones; and in the towering sycamores of the reddened
brick sidewalk the long, quavering note of the cicada parts the wide
summer noonday silence. The stillness yields to little else, save now
and then the tinkle of a mule-bell, where in the distance the softly
rumbling street-car invites one to the centre of the town's activities,
or the voice of some fowl that, having laid an egg, is asserting her
right to the credit of it. Some forty feet back, within a mossy brick
wall that stands waist-high, surmounted by a white, open fence, the
green wooden balls on top of whose posts are full eight feet above the
sidewalk, the cottage stands high up among a sweet confusion of pale
purple and pink crape myrtles, oleanders white and red, and the
bristling leaves and plumes of white bells of the Spanish bayonet,
all in the shade of lofty magnolias, and one great pecan.

"And this is little Alice," said Doctor Sevier with gentle gravity, as,
on his first visit to the place, he shook hands with Mary at the top of
the veranda stairs, and laid his fingers upon the child's forehead. He
smiled into her uplifted face as her eyes examined his, and stroked the
little crown as she turned her glance silently upon her mother, as if to
inquire if this were a trustworthy person. Mary led the way to chairs
at the veranda's end where the south breeze fanned them, and Alice
retreated to her mother's side until her silent question should be
settled.

It was still May. They spoke the praises of the day whose sun was
just setting. And Mary commended the house, the convenience of its
construction, its salubrity; and also, and especially, the excellence
and goodness of Madame Zénobie. What a complete and satisfactory
arrangement! Was it not? Did not the Doctor think so?

But the Doctor's affirmative responses were unfrequent, and quite
without enthusiasm; and Mary's face, wearing more cheer than was felt
within, betrayed, moreover, the feeling of one who, having done the best
she knew, falls short of commendation.

She was once more in deep black. Her face was pale, and some of its
lines had yielded up a part of their excellence. The outward curves of
the rose had given place to the inward curves of the lily--nay, hardly
all that; for as she had never had the full red queenliness of the one,
neither had she now the severe sanctitude of the other; that soft glow
of inquiry, at once so blithe and so self-contained, so modest and so
courageous, humble, yet free, still played about her saddened eyes and
in her tones. Through the glistening sadness of those eyes smiled
resignation; and although the Doctor plainly read care about them and
about the mouth, it was a care that was forbearing to feed upon itself,
or to take its seat on her brow. The brow was the old one; that is, the
young. The joy of life's morning was gone from it forever; but a
chastened hope was there, and one could see peace hovering just above
it, as though it might in time alight. Such were the things that divided
her austere friend's attention as she sat before him, seeking, with
timid smiles and interrogative argument, for this new beginning of life
some heartiness of approval from him.

"Doctor," she plucked up courage to say at last, with a geniality that
scantily hid the inner distress, "you don't seem pleased."

"I can't say I am, Mary. You've provided for things in sight; but I see
no provision for unseen contingencies. They're sure to come, you know.
How are you going to meet them?"

"Well," said Mary, with slow, smiling caution, "there's my two thousand
dollars that you've put at interest for me."

"Why, no; you've already counted the interest on that as part of your
necessary income."

"Doctor, 'the Lord will provide,' will he not?"

"No."

"Why, Doctor!"--

"No, Mary; you've got to provide. He's not going to set aside the laws
of nature to cover our improvidence. That would be to break faith with
all creation for the sake of one or two creatures."

"No; but still, Doctor, without breaking the laws of nature, he will
provide. It's in his word."

"Yes, and it ought to be in his word--not in ours. It's for him to say
to us, not for us to say to him. But there's another thing, Mary."

"Yes, sir."

"It's this. But first I'll say plainly you've passed through the fires
of poverty, and they haven't hurt you. You have one of those
imperishable natures that fire can't stain or warp."

"O Doctor, how absurd!" said Mary, with bright genuineness, and a tear
in either eye. She drew Alice closer.

"Well, then, I do see two ill effects," replied the Doctor. "In the
first place, as I've just tried to show you, you have caught a little of
the _recklessness_ of the poor."

"I was born with it," exclaimed Mary, with amusement.

"Maybe so," replied her friend; "at any rate you show it." He was
silent.

"But what is the other?" asked Mary.

"Why, as to that, I may mistake; but--you seem inclined to settle down
and be satisfied with poverty."

"Having food and raiment," said Mary, smiling with some archness, "to be
therewith content."

"Yes, but"--the physician shook his head--"that doesn't mean to be
satisfied. It's one thing to be content with God's providence, and it's
another to be satisfied with poverty. There's not one in a thousand that
I'd venture to say it to. He wouldn't understand the fine difference.
But you will. I'm sure you do."

"Yes, I do."

"I know you do. You know poverty has its temptations, and warping
influences, and debasing effects, just as truly as riches have. See how
it narrows our usefulness. Not always, it is true. Sometimes our best
usefulness keeps us poor. That's poverty with a good excuse. But that's
not poverty satisfying, Mary"--

"No, of course not," said Mary, exhibiting a degree of distress that the
Doctor somehow overlooked.

"It's merely," said he, half-extending his open palm,--"it's merely
poverty accepted, as a good soldier accepts the dust and smut that are a
necessary part of the battle. Now, here's this little girl."--As his
open white hand pointed toward Alice she shrank back; but the Doctor
seemed blind this afternoon and drove on.--"In a few years--it will not
seem like any time at all--she'll be half grown up; she'll have wants
that ought to be supplied."

"Oh! don't," exclaimed Mary, and burst into a flood of tears; and the
Doctor, while she hid them from her child, sat silently loathing his own
stupidity.

"Please, don't mind it," said Mary, stanching the flow. "You were not so
badly mistaken. I wasn't satisfied, but I was about to surrender." She
smiled at herself and her warlike figure of speech.

He looked away, passed his hand across his forehead and must have
muttered audibly his self-reproach: for Mary looked up again with a
faint gleam of the old radiance in her face, saying:--

"I'm glad you didn't let me do it. I'll not do it. I'll take up the
struggle again. Indeed, I had already thought of one thing I could do,
but I--I--in fact, Doctor, I thought you might not like it."

"What was it?"

"It was teaching in the public schools. They're in the hands of the
military government, I am told. Are they not?"

"Yes."

"Still," said Mary, speaking rapidly, "I say I'll keep up the"--

But the Doctor lifted his hand.

"No, no. There's to be no more struggle."

"No?" Mary tried to look pleasantly incredulous.

"No; and you're not going to be put upon anybody's bounty, either. No.
What I was going to say about this little girl here was this,--her name
is Alice, is it?"

"Yes."

The mother dropped an arm around the child, and both she and Alice
looked timidly at the questioner.

"Well, by that name, Mary, I claim the care of her."

The color mounted to Mary's brows, but the Doctor raised a finger.

"I mean, of course, Mary, only in so far as such care can go without
molesting your perfect motherhood, and all its offices and pleasures."

Her eyes filled again, and her lips parted; but the Doctor was not going
to let her reply.

"Don't try to debate it, Mary. You must see you have no case. Nobody's
going to take her from you, nor do any other of the foolish things, I
hope, that are so often done in such cases. But you've called her
Alice, and Alice she must be. I don't propose to take care of her for
you"--

"Oh, no; of course not," interjected Mary.

"No," said the Doctor; "you'll take care of her for me. I intended it
from the first. And that brings up another point. You mustn't teach
school. No. I have something else--something better--to suggest. Mary,
you and John have been a kind of blessing to me"--

She would have interrupted with expressions of astonishment and dissent,
but he would not hear them.

"I think I ought to know best about that," he said. "Your husband taught
me a great deal, I think. I want to put some of it into practice. We had
a--an understanding, you might say--one day toward the--end--that I
should do for him some of the things he had so longed and hoped to
do--for the poor and the unfortunate."

"I know," said Mary, the tears dropping down her face.

"He told you?" asked the Doctor.

She nodded.

"Well," resumed the Doctor, "those may not be his words precisely, but
it's what they meant to me. And I said I'd do it. But I shall need
assistance. I'm a medical practitioner. I attend the sick. But I see a
great deal of other sorts of sufferers; and I can't stop for them."

"Certainly not," said Mary, softly.

"No," said he; "I can't make the inquiries and investigations about them
and study them, and all that kind of thing, as one should if one's help
is going to be help. I can't turn aside for all that. A man must have
one direction, you know. But you could look after those things"--

"I?"

"Certainly. You could do it just as I--just as John--would wish to see
it done. You're just the kind of person to do it right."

"O Doctor, don't say so! I'm not fitted for it at all."

"I'm sure you are, Mary. You're fitted by character and outward
disposition, and by experience. You're full of cheer"--

She tearfully shook her head. But he insisted.

"You will be--for _his_ sake, as you once said to me. Don't you
remember?"

She remembered. She recalled all he wished her to: the prayer she had
made that, whenever death should part her husband and her, he might not
be the one left behind. Yes, she remembered; and the Doctor spoke
again:--

"Now, I invite you to make this your principal business. I'll pay you
for it, regularly and well, what I think it's worth; and it's worth no
trifle. There's not one in a thousand that I'd trust to do it, woman
or man; but I know you will do it all, and do it well, without any
nonsense. And if you want to look at it so, Mary, you can just consider
that it's John doing it, all the time; for, in fact, that's just what it
is. It beats sewing, Mary, or teaching school, or making preserves, I
think."

"Yes," said Mary, looking down on Alice, and stroking her head.

"You can stay right here where you are, with Madame Zénobie, as you had
planned; but you'll give yourself to this better work. I'll give you a
_carte blanche_. Only one mistake I charge you not to make; don't go and
come from day to day on the assumption that only the poor are poor, and
need counsel and attention."

"I know that would be a mistake," said Mary.

"But I mean more than that," continued the Doctor. "You must keep a
hold on the rich and comfortable and happy. You want to be a medium
between the two, identified with both as completely as possible. It's a
hard task, Mary. It will take all your cunning."

"And more, too," replied she, half-musing.

"You know," said the Doctor, "I'm not to appear in the matter, of
course; I'm not to be mentioned: that must be one of the conditions."

Mary smiled at him through her welling eyes.

"I'm not fit to do it," she said, folding the wet spots of her
handkerchief under. "But still, I'd rather not refuse. If I might try
it, I'd like to do so. If I could do it well, it would be a finer
monument--to _him_"--

"Than brass or marble," said Dr. Sevier. "Yes, more to his liking."

"Well," said Mary again, "if you think I can do it I'll try it."

"Very well. There's one place you can go to, to begin with, to-morrow
morning, if you choose. I'll give you the number. It's just across here
in Casa Calvo street."

"Narcisse's aunt?" asked Mary, with a soft gleam of amusement.

"Yes. Have you been there already?"

She had; but she only said:--

"There's one thing that I'm afraid will go against me, Doctor, almost
everywhere." She lifted a timid look.

The Doctor looked at her inquiringly, and in his private thought said
that it was certainly not her face or voice.

"Ah!" he said, as he suddenly recollected. "Yes; I had forgotten. You
mean your being a Union woman."

"Yes. It seems to me they'll be sure to find it out. Don't you think it
will interfere?"

The Doctor mused.

"I forgot that," he repeated and mused again. "You can't blame us, Mary;
we're at white heat"--

"Indeed I don't!" said Mary, with eager earnestness.

He reflected yet again.

"But--I don't know, either. It may be not as great a drawback as you
think. Here's Madame Zénobie, for instance"--

Madame Zénobie was just coming up the front steps from the garden,
pulling herself up upon the veranda wearily by the balustrade. She came
forward, and, with graceful acknowledgment, accepted the physician's
outstretched hand and courtesied.

"Here's Madame Zénobie, I say; you seem to get along with her."

Mary smiled again, looked up at the standing quadroon, and replied in a
low voice:--

"Madame Zénobie is for the Union herself."

"Ah! no-o-o!" exclaimed the good woman, with an alarmed face. She lifted
her shoulders and extended what Narcisse would have called the han' of
rep-u-diation; then turned away her face, lifted up her underlip with
disrelish, and asked the surrounding atmosphere,--"What I got to do wid
Union? Nuttin' do wid Union--nuttin' do wid Confédéracie!" She moved
away, addressing the garden and the house by turns. "Ah! no!" She went
in by the front door, talking Creole French, until she was beyond
hearing.

Dr. Sevier reached out toward the child at Mary's knee. Here was one who
was neither for nor against, nor yet a fear-constrained neutral. Mary
pushed her persuasively toward the Doctor, and Alice let herself be
lifted to his lap.

"I used to be for it myself," he said, little dreaming he would one day
be for it again. As the child sank back into his arm, he noticed a
miniature of her father hanging from her neck. He took it into his
fingers, and all were silent while he looked long upon the face.

By and by he asked Mary for an account of her wanderings. She gave it.
Many of the experiences, that had been hard and dangerous enough when
she was passing through them, were full of drollery when they came to be
told, and there was much quiet amusement over them. The sunlight faded
out, the cicadas hushed their long-drawn, ear-splitting strains, and the
moon had begun to shine in the shadowy garden when Dr. Sevier at length
let Alice down and rose to take his lonely homeward way, leaving Mary to
Alice's prattle, and, when that was hushed in slumber, to gentle tears
and whispered thanksgivings above the little head.



CHAPTER LX.

"YET SHALL HE LIVE."


We need not follow Mary through her ministrations. Her office was no
sinecure. It took not only much labor, but, as the Doctor had expected,
it took all her cunning. True, nature and experience had equipped her
for such work; but for all that there was an art to be learned, and time
and again there were cases of mental and moral decrepitude or deformity
that baffled all her skill until her skill grew up to them, which in
some cases it never did. The greatest tax of all was to seem, and to be,
unprofessional; to avoid regarding her work in quantity, and to be
simply, merely, in every case, a personal friend; not to become known as
a benevolent itinerary, but only a kind and thoughtful neighbor. Blessed
word! not benefactor--neighbor!

She had no schemes for helping the unfortunate by multitude. Possibly on
that account her usefulness was less than it might have been. But I am
not sure; for they say her actual words and deeds were but the seed of
ultimate harvests; and that others, moreover, seeing her light shine so
brightly along this seemingly narrow path, and moved to imitate her,
took that other and broader way, and so both fields were reaped.

But, I say, we need not follow her steps. They would lead deviously
through ill-smelling military hospitals, and into buildings that had
once been the counting-rooms of Carondelet-street cotton merchants, but
were now become the prisons of soldiers in gray. One of these places,
restored after the war as a cotton factor's counting-room again, had,
until a few years ago, a queer, clumsy patch in the plastering of one
wall, near the base-board. Some one had made a rough inscription on it
with a cotton sampler's marking-brush. It commemorates an incident. Mary
by some means became aware beforehand that this incident was going to
occur; and one of the most trying struggles of conscience she ever had
in her life was that in which she debated with herself one whole night
whether she ought to give her knowledge to others or keep it to herself.
She kept it. In fact, she said nothing until the war was all over and
done, and she never was quite sure whether her silence was right or
wrong. And when she asked Dr. Sevier if he thought she had done wrong,
he asked:--

"You knew it was going to take place, and kept silence?"

"Yes," said Mary.

"And you want to know whether you did right?"

"Yes. I'd like to know what you think."

He sat very straight, and said not a word, nor changed a line of his
face. She got no answer at all.

The inscription was as follows; I used to see it every work-day of the
week for years--it may be there yet--190 Common street, first flight,
back office:

 [Illustration:
     Oct 14 1864
     17 Confederate
     Prisoners escaped
     Through this hole]

But we move too fast. Let us go back into the war for a moment longer.
Mary pursued her calling. The most of it she succeeded in doing in a
very sunshiny way. She carried with her, and left behind her, cheer,
courage, hope. Yet she had a widow's heart, and whenever she took a
widow's hand in hers, and oftentimes, alone or against her sleeping
child's bedside, she had a widow's tears. But this work, or these
works,--she made each particular ministration seem as if it were the
only one,--these works, that she might never have had the opportunity to
perform had her nest-mate never been taken from her, seemed to keep John
near. Almost, sometimes, he seemed to walk at her side in her errands of
mercy, or to spread above her the arms of benediction. And so even the
bitter was sweet, and she came to believe that never before had widow
such blessed commutation.

One day, a short, slight Confederate prisoner, newly brought in, and
hobbling about the place where he was confined, with a vile bullet-hole
in his foot, came up to her and said:--

"Allow me, madam,--did that man call you by your right name, just now?"

Mary looked at him. She had never seen him before.

"Yes, sir," she said.

She could see the gentleman, under much rags and dirt.

"Are you Mrs. John Richling?"

A look of dismay came into his face as he asked the grave question.

"Yes, sir," replied Mary.

His voice dropped, and he asked, with subdued haste:--

"Ith it pothible you're in mourning for him?"

She nodded.

It was the little rector. He had somehow got it into his head that
preachers ought to fight, and this was one of the results. Mary went
away quickly, and told Dr. Sevier. The Doctor went to the commanding
general. It was a great humiliation to do so, he thought. There was none
worse, those days, in the eyes of the people. He craved and got the
little man's release on parole. A fortnight later, as Dr. Sevier was
sitting at the breakfast table, with the little rector at its opposite
end, he all at once rose to his full attenuated height, with a frown and
then a smile, and, tumbling the chair backward behind him, exclaimed:--

"Why, Laura!"--for it was that one of his two gay young nieces who stood
in the door-way. The banker's wife followed in just behind, and was
presently saying, with the prettiest heartiness, that Dr. Sevier looked
no older than the day they met the Florida general at dinner years
before. She had just come in from the Confederacy, smuggling her son of
eighteen back to the city, to save him from the conscript officers, and
Laura had come with her. And when the clergyman got his crutches into
his armpits and stood on one foot, and he and Laura both blushed as they
shook hands, the Doctor knew that she had come to nurse her wounded
lover. That she might do this without embarrassment, they got married,
and were thereupon as vexed with themselves as they could be under the
circumstances that they had not done it four or five years before. Of
course there was no parade; but Dr. Sevier gave a neat little dinner.
Mary and Laura were its designers; Madame Zénobie was the master-builder
and made the gumbo. One word about the war, whose smoke was over all the
land, would have spoiled the broth. But no such word was spoken.

It happened that the company was almost the same as that which had sat
down in brighter days to that other dinner, which the banker's wife
recalled with so much pleasure. She and her husband and son were guests;
also that Sister Jane, of whom they had talked, a woman of real goodness
and rather unrelieved sweetness; also her sister and bankrupted
brother-in-law. The brother-in-law mentioned several persons who, he
said, once used to be very cordial to him and his wife, but now did not
remember them; and his wife chid him, with the air of a fellow-martyr;
but they could not spoil the tender gladness of the occasion.

"Well, Doctor," said the banker's wife, looking quite the old lady now,
"I suppose your lonely days are over, now that Laura and her husband are
to keep house for you."

"Yes," said the Doctor.

But the very thought of it made him more lonely than ever.

"It's a very pleasant and sensible arrangement," said the lady, looking
very practical and confidential; "Laura has told me all about it. It's
just the thing for them and for you."

"I think so, ma'am," replied Dr. Sevier, and tried to make his statement
good.

"I'm sure of it," said the lady, very sweetly and gayly, and made a
faint time-to-go beckon with a fan to her husband, to whom, in the
farther drawing-room, Laura and Mary stood talking, each with an arm
about the other's waist.



CHAPTER LXI

PEACE.


It came with tears. But, ah! it lifted such an awful load from the
hearts even of those who loved the lost cause. Husbands snatched
their wives once more to their bosoms, and the dear, brave, swarthy,
rough-bearded, gray-jacketed boys were caught again in the wild arms
of mothers and sisters. Everywhere there was glad, tearful kissing.
Everywhere? Alas for the silent lips that remained unkissed, and the
arms that remained empty! And alas for those to whom peace came too
suddenly and too soon! Poor Narcisse!

His salary still continues. So does his aunt.

The Ristofalos came back all together. How delighted Mrs. Colonel
Ristofalo--I say Mrs. _Colonel_ Ristofalo--was to see Mary! And how
impossible it was, when they sat down together for a long talk, to avoid
every moment coming back to the one subject of "him."

"Yes, ye see, there bees thim as is _called_ col-o-nels, whin in fact
they bees only _liftinent_ col-o-nels. Yes. But it's not so wid him. And
he's no different from the plain Raphael Ristofalah of eight year
ago--the same perfict gintleman that he was when he sold b'iled eggs!"

And the colonel's "lady" smiled a gay triumph that gave Mary a new
affection for her.

Sister Jane bowed to the rod of an inscrutable Providence. She could not
understand how the Confederacy could fail, and justice still be justice;
so, without understanding, she left it all to Heaven, and clung to
her faith. Her brother-in-law never recovered his fortunes nor his
sweetness. He could not bend his neck to the conqueror's yoke; he went
in search of liberty to Brazil--or was it Honduras? Little matter which,
now, for he died there, both he and his wife, just as their faces were
turning again homeward, and it was dawning upon them once more that
there is no land like Dixie in all the wide world over.

The little rector--thanks, he says, to the skill of Dr.
Sevier!--recovered perfectly the use of his mangled foot, so that he
even loves long walks. I was out walking with him one sunset hour in the
autumn of--if I remember aright--1870, when whom should we spy but our
good Kate Ristofalo, out driving in her family carriage? The cherubs
were beside her,--strong, handsome boys. Mike held the reins; he was but
thirteen, but he looked full three years better than that, and had
evidently employed the best tailor in St. Charles street to fit his
rather noticeable clothes. His mother had changed her mind about his
being a bruiser, though there isn't a doubt he had a Derringer in one or
another of his pockets. No, she was proposing to make him a doctor--"a
surgeon," she said; "and thin, if there bees another war"-- She was
for making every edge cut.

She did us the honor to stop the carriage, and drive up to the
curb-stone for a little chat. Her spirits were up, for Colonel Ristofalo
had just been made a city councilman by a rousing majority.

We expressed our regret not to see Raphael himself in the family group
enjoying the exquisite air.

"Ha, ha! He ride out for pleasure?"--And then, with sudden
gravity,--"Aw, naw, sur! He's too busy. Much use ut is to be married to
a public man! Ah! surs, I'm mighty tired of ut, now I tell ye!" Yet she
laughed again, without betraying much fatigue. "And how's Dr. Sevier?"

"He's well," said the clergyman.

"And Mrs. Richling?"

"She's well, too."

Kate looked at the little rector out of the corners of her roguish Irish
eyes, a killing look, and said:--

"Ye're sure the both o' thim bees well?"

"Yes, quite well," replied he, ignoring the inane effort at jest. She
nodded a blithe good-day, and rolled on toward the lake, happy as the
harvest weather, and with a kind heart for all the world. We walked on,
and after the walk I dined with the rector. Dr. Sevier's place was
vacant, and we talked of him. The prettiest piece of furniture in the
dining-room was an extremely handsome child's high chair that remained,
unused, against the wall. It was Alice's, and Alice was an almost daily
visitor. It had come in almost simultaneously with Laura's marriage, and
more and more frequently, as time had passed, the waiter had set it up
to the table, at the Doctor's right hand, and lifted Goldenhair into it,
until by and by she had totally outgrown it. But she had not grown out
of the place of favor at the table. In these later days she had become
quite a school-girl, and the Doctor, in his place at the table, would
often sit with a faint, continuous smile on his face that no one could
bring there but her, to hear her prattle about Madame Locquet, and the
various girls at Madame Locquet's school.

        *       *       *

"It's actually pathetic," said Laura, as we sat sipping our coffee after
the meal, "to see how he idolizes that child." Alice had just left the
room.

"Why don't he idolize the child's"--began her husband, in undertone,
and did not have to finish to make us understand.

"He does," murmured the smiling wife.

"Then why shouldn't he tell her so?"

"My dear!" objected the wife, very softly and prettily.

"I don't mean to speak lightly," responded the husband, "but--they love
each other; they suit each other; they complete each other; they don't
feel their disparity of years; they're both so linked to Alice that it
would break either heart over again to be separated from her. I don't
see why"--

Laura shook her head, smiling in the gentle way that only the happy
wives of good men have.

"It will never be."

        *       *       *

What changes!

    "The years creep slowly by"--

We seem to hear the old song yet. What changes! Laura has put two more
leaves into her dining-table. Children fill three seats. Alice has
another. It is she, now, not her chair, that is tall--and fair. Mary,
too, has a seat at the same board. This is their home now. Her hair is
turning all to silver. So early? Yes; but she is--she never was--so
beautiful! They all see it--feel it; Dr. Sevier--the gentle, kind,
straight old Doctor--most of all. And oh! when they two, who have never
joined hands on this earth, go to meet John and Alice,--which God grant
may be at one and the same time,--what weeping there will be among God's
poor!


THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dr. Sevier" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home