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: The Actress' Daughter - A Novel
Author: Fleming, May Agnes, 1840-1880
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 "The Actress' Daughter - A Novel" ***

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



book was produced from scanned images of public domain
material from the Google Book Search project.)



                           POPULAR NOVELS.

                        BY MAY AGNES FLEMING.


                       1.--GUY EARLSCOURT'S WIFE.
                       2.--A WONDERFUL WOMAN.
                       3.--A TERRIBLE SECRET.
                       4.--NORINE'S REVENGE.
                       5.--A MAD MARRIAGE.
                       6.--ONE NIGHT'S MYSTERY.
                       7.--KATE DANTON.
                       8.--SILENT AND TRUE.
                       9.--HEIR OF CHARLTON.
                      10.--CARRIED BY STORM.
                      11.--LOST FOR A WOMAN.
                      12.--A WIFE'S TRAGEDY.
                      13.--A CHANGED HEART.
                      14.--PRIDE AND PASSION.
                      15.--SHARING HER CRIME.
                      16.--A WRONGED WIFE.
                      17.--MAUDE PERCY'S SECRET.
                      18.--THE ACTRESS' DAUGHTER (_New_).


       "Mrs. Fleming's stories are growing more and more popular every
       day. Their delineations of character, life-like conversations,
       flashes of wit, constantly varying scenes, and deeply interesting
       plots, combine to place their author in the very first rank of
       Modern Novelists."

  All published uniform with this volume. Price, $1.50 each, and sent
  _free_ by mail on receipt of price,

  BY

  G. W. CARLETON & CO., Publishers,
  New York.



  THE
  ACTRESS' DAUGHTER.

  A Novel.

  BY
  MAY AGNES FLEMING.

  AUTHOR OF

  "GUY EARLSCOURT'S WIFE," "A WONDERFUL WOMAN,"
  "A TERRIBLE SECRET," "SILENT AND TRUE,"
  "A MAD MARRIAGE" "LOST FOR A WOMAN,"
  "ONE NIGHT'S MYSTERY," ETC., ETC.

  "Who that had seen her form so light,
    For swiftness only turned,
  Would e'er have thought in a thing so slight,
    Such a fiery spirit burned?"


  NEW YORK:
  COPYRIGHT, 1885, BY
  _G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers._
  LONDON: S. LOW, SON & CO.
  MDCCCLXXXVI.



  Stereotyped by               HENRY M. TOBITT,

  SAMUEL STODDER,                  PRINTER,

  42 DEY STREET, N. Y.       42 DEY STREET, N. Y.



                               CONTENTS.


  Chapter                                              Page

     I. Christmas Eve                                     7

    II. The Actress--Little Georgia                      22

   III. A Young Tornado                                  36

    IV. Georgia makes some new Acquaintances             53

     V. "Lady Macbeth."                                  67

    VI. Taming an Eaglet                                 83

   VII. Georgia's Dream                                  99

  VIII. "Coming Events Cast their Shadows Before."      114

    IX. Old Friends Meet                                129

     X. Dreaming                                        144

    XI. Something New                                   158

   XII. Richmond House gets a Mistress                  171

  XIII. Awakening                                       184

   XIV. A Dream Coming True                             200

    XV. Sowing the Wind                                 215

    XVI. Reaping the Whirlwind                          233

   XVII. Gone                                           250

  XVIII. The Dawn of Another Day                        267

    XIX. Desolation                                     283

     XX. Found and Lost                                 298

    XXI. Charley's Crime                                314

   XXII. The Sun Rises                                  330

  XXIII. Over the World                                 340

   XXIV. At Last                                        354

    XXV. "After Tears and Weeping,
            He Poureth in Joyfulness."                  369

   XXVI. "Last Scene of All."                           382



THE ACTRESS' DAUGHTER.



CHAPTER I.

CHRISTMAS EVE.

    "Heap on more wood! the wind is chill;
    But let it whistle as it will,
    We'll keep our Christmas merry still."--SCOTT.


"Lor! Lor! what a night it is any way. Since I was first born, and
that's thirty-five--no, forty-five years come next June, I never heern
sich win' as that there, fit to tear the roof off! Well, this is
Christmas Eve, and we ginerally do hev a spell o' weather 'bout this
time. Here you Fly! Fly! you little black imp you! if you don't stop
that falling asleep over the fire, and stir your lazy stumps, I'll tie
you up and give you such a switchin' as you never had in all your born
days. Ar-r-r-r! there I vow to Sam if that derned old tabby cat hain't
got her nose stuck into the apple sass! Scat! you hussy! Fly-y-y! you
ugly little black ace-o'-spades! _will_ you wake up afore I twist your
neck for you?"

And the speaker of this spirited address--a tall, thin, pasteboard
female, as erect as a ramrod and as flat as a shingle, with a hard,
uncompromising face, and a hawk-like gray eye, caught hold of the drowsy
little darkey nodding in the chimney-corner, and shook her as if she had
been a flourishing little fruit tree in harvest time.

"P-please, Miss Jerry, 'scuse me--I didn't go for to do it," stammered
Fly, with a very wide-awake and startled face. "I wasn't asleep, old
Mist--"

"Oh! you wasn't asleep, old Mist--wasn't you," sneered Miss Jerusha
Glory Ann Skamp, the sonorous and high-sounding title claimed by the
antiquated maiden lady as her rightful property; "you wasn't asleep
wasn't you? Oh, no! in course you wasn't! _You_ never sleep at all, do
you? Betsey Periwinkle never runs off with the meat, and the cold
vittals, or drinks the milk, or pokes her nose into the apple sass, or
punkin slap-jack, while you're a snoozin' in the corner, does she? Ain't
you 'shamed o' yourself, you nasty little black image, to stand up there
and talk to one as has been a mother to you year in and year out, like
that? Ar Lor'! there ain't nothin' but ungratytood in this 'ere world.
Betsey Periwinkle, you ugly brute! I see you a lookin' at the apple
sass, but just let me ketch you at it agin, that's all! Oh, my stars and
thingumbobs! the way I'm afflicted with that lazy little nigger and that
thievin' cat, and me a poor lone woman too! If it ain't enough to make a
body go and do something to themselves I should admire to know what is.
Here, you Fly! jump up and fry the pancakes for supper, and put the tea
to draw, and set that johnny-cake in the oven, and then set the table,
and don't be lazin' around like a singed cat all the time."

And having delivered herself of these commands all in a breath, with
the air of a Napoleon in petticoats, Miss Jerusha marched, with the
tramp of a grenadier, out of the kitchen into the "best room," drew
several yards of stocking from an apparently bottomless pocket,
deposited herself gingerly in the embraces of a cushioned rocking-chair,
the only sort of embrace Miss Jerusha had any faith in, and began
knitting away as if the fate of nations depended on it.

And while she sits there, straight, rigid, and erect as a church
steeple, let me describe her and the house itself more minutely.

A New England "best room!" Who does not know what it looks like? The
shining, yellow-painted floor, whereon no sacrilegious speck of dust
ever rests; the six stiff-backed, cane-seated chairs, standing around
like grim sentinels on duty, in the exact position to an inch wherein
they have stood ever since they were chairs; the huge black chest of
drawers that looms up dark and ominous between the two front windows,
those windows themselves glittering, shining, flashing, perfect jewels
of cleanliness, protected from flies and other "noxious insects" by
stiff, rustling green paper blinds; the table opposite the fireplace,
whereon lies, in solemn, solitary grandeur, a large family Bible, Fox's
Book of Martyrs, the Pilgrim's Progress, and Robinson Crusoe.

Miss Jerusha, being frightfully sensible, as ladies of a certain age
always are, looked upon all works of fiction with a steady contempt too
intense for words; and therefore Robinson Crusoe had remained as
unmolested on the table as he had in his sea-girt island from the day a
deluded friend had presented it to her until the present hour. In fact,
Miss Jerusha Skamp did not affect literature of any kind much, and
looked upon reading as a downright waste of time and patience. On
Sundays, it is true, she considered it a religious duty to spell through
a chapter in the Bible, beginning at the first of Genesis, and marching
right through, in spite of all obstacles, to the end of Revelations--a
feat she had once performed in her life, and was now half way through
again. The hard words and proper names in the Old Testament were a
serious trial to Miss Jerusha, and, combined with the laziness of her
little negro maid Fly, and the dishonest propensities of her cat
Periwinkle, were the chief troubles and tribulations of her life. Miss
Jerusha's opinion was that it would have been just as easy for the
children of Israel to have been born John Smith or Peter Jones as
Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego, and a _great_ deal easier for posterity.
Next to the Bible, Fox's "Book of Martyrs" was a work wherein Miss
Jerusha's soul delighted, and wonderful was her appreciation and
approval of the ghastly pictures which embellished that saintly volume.
"The Pilgrim's Progress" she passed over with silent contempt as a book
"nobody could see the pint of."

Besides the best room, Miss Jerusha's cottage contained a kitchen about
the size of a well grown bandbox, and overhead there were two sleeping
apartments, one occupied by that ancient vestal herself, and the other
used as a store-room and lumber-room generally.

Fly and Betsey Periwinkle sought their repose and shakedown before the
kitchen fire, being enjoined each night before she left them by Miss
Jerusha to "keep an eye on the house and things;" but as Fly generally
snored from the moment the last flutter of Miss Jerusha's dress
disappeared until a sound shaking from that lady awoke her next
morning, and Betsey Periwinkle, after indulging in a series of short
naps, amused herself with reconnoitering the premises and feloniously
purloining everything she could lay her paws on that seemed to be good
and eatable, it is to be supposed the admonitions were not very rigidly
attended to. There was not much danger of robbers, however, for the
cottage was situated nearly two miles from any other habitation, on the
very outskirts of the flourishing township of Burnfield, a spot lonely
and isolated enough to suit even the hermit-like taste of Miss Jerusha.

The back windows of the cottage commanded a view of the sea, spreading
away and away until lost in the horizon beyond. From the front was seen
the forest path lonely and silent, with the dark pine woods bounding the
vision and extending away for miles. In the rear of the house was a
small garden, filled in summer with vegetables of all sorts, and the
product of this garden formed the principal source of Miss Jerusha's
income. The old maid was not rich by any means, but with the vegetables
and poultry she raised herself, the stockings she knit, the cloth she
wove, the wool she dyed, the candy she made and sold to the Burnfield
grocers, and the sewing she "took in" she managed to live comfortably
enough and "lay up something," as she said herself, "for a rainy day"--a
figure of speech which was popularly supposed to refer to times of
adversity and old age.

A strong-minded, clear-headed, sharp-tongued, wide-awake, uncompromising
specimen of femaledom "away down east" was Miss Jerusha. Never since the
time she had first donned pantalettes, and had "swopped" her rag doll
for Mary Ann Brown's china mug, could that respectable individual, the
oldest inhabitant, recollect any occasion wherein Miss Jerusha had not
got the best of the bargain, whatever that bargain might be. Though
never remarkable at any time for her personal beauty, yet tradition
averred that her thriftiness and smartness had on one or two occasions
so far captivated certain Jonathans of her district, that they had
gallantly tendered their heart, hand and brand new swallow-tails. But
looking upon mankind as an inferior race of animals, made more for
ornament than use, Miss Jerusha had contemptuously refused them, and had
marched on with grim determination through the vale of years in her
single blessedness up to her present mature age of five-and-forty.

The personal appearance of the lady could hardly be called prepossessing
at first sight, or at second sight either, for that matter. Unusually
tall, and unusually thin, Miss Jerusha looked not unlike a female
hop-pole, and her figure was not to say improved by her dress, which
never could be persuaded to approach her ankles, and was so narrow that
a long step seemed rather a hazardous experiment. Her hair, which was of
a neutral tint between red and orange, a vague hue commonly known as
"carroty," was disfigured by no cap or other sort of headgear, but
tethered into a tight knot behind, and then forcibly secured. Her face
looked not unlike that of a yellow parchment image as she there sat
knitting in the red firelight, rocking herself back and forward in a
rheumatic old chair that kept up a horrible crechy-crawchy as she
squeaked back and forth.

The night was Christmas Eve, and unusually wild and stormy, even for
that season. The wind blew in terrible gusts, shrieking wildly through
the bare arms of the pines, drifting the snow into great hills, and
driving the piercing sleet clamorously against the windows. Miss
Jerusha drew closer to the fire, with a shiver, and paused for a moment
to listen to the wild winter storm.

"My gracious! what a blast o' win' that there was. Ef the old Satin
ain't been let loose to-night my name's not Jerusha Skamp. Go out and
bring in some more wood, Fly, and don't let Betsey Periwinkle eat the
tea things while you're gone. My-y-y conscience! how it blows--getting
worse and worse every minute too. If there's any ships on the river
to-night the first land they make will be the bottom, or I'm no judge.
And I oughter be, I _think_," said Miss Jerusha, administering a kick to
Betsey Periwinkle, as that amiable quadruped began some friendly
advances toward her ball of stocking yarn, "seein' I've lived here since
I was born, and that's forty-five years come next June. I should not
wonder now if some shiftless, good-for-nothing vagabones was to 'low
themselves for to get ketched in the storm and come to me to let 'em in
and keep 'em all night. Well, Miss Jerusha, don't you think you see
yourself a-doing of it though! People seems to think I was made
specially by Providence to 'tend onto 'em and make yarb tea for them to
swaller as is sick, and look arter them as is well, whenever they get
ketched in a storm, or a nightmare, or anything. Humph! I guess nobody
never seen any small sand, commonly called mite stones, in _my_ eyes,
and never will if I can help it. What on airth keeps that there little
black viper now, I wonder. _You_, Fly!"

"Yes, old Mist, here I is," answered Fly, coming blustering in like a
sable goddess of the wind, loaded down with wood. "An' oh, Miss Jerry,
all de ghosts as eber was is ober in dat ar inferally ole house 'long
the road."

"Ghosts! ugh!" said Miss Jerusha, with a contemptuous snarl, for the
worthy spinster despised "spirits from the vasty deep" as profoundly as
she did mankind. "Don't make a greater fool o' yourself, you
misfortunate little nat'ral you, than the Lord himself made you. Put
some wood on the fire, and be off and hurry up supper."

"Miss Jerry, I 'clear I seed it own bressed self," protested Fly, with
horror-stricken eyes. "I jes _did_, as plain as I see you now, an' if as
how you doesn't believe me, Miss Jerry, go and look for yourself."

"Lord bless the child! what is she talking about?" said Miss Jerusha,
turning around so sharply that little Fly jumped back in alarm.

"Ghosts, Miss Jerry," whimpered the poor little darkey.

"Ghosts! Fly, look here! You want me to switch you within an inch o'
your life," said Miss Jerusha, laying down her knitting and compressing
her lips.

"Miss Jerry, I can't help it; I jes can't. Ef you're to kill me, I _did_
see 'em, too, and you can see 'em yerself ef you'll only look out ob de
winder," sobbed Fly, digging her knuckles into her eyes.

Miss Jerusha, with sternly shut-up lips, glared upon the unhappy little
negress for a moment in ominous silence, and then getting up, went to
the window and looked out.

But the window was thickly covered with frost, and nothing was to be
seen from it.

"Ef you'd only come to de door, Miss Jerry," wept Fly, taking her
knuckles out of one eye, where they had been firmly imbedded.

With the tramp of an iron-shod dragon, Miss Jerusha walked to the
kitchen door, opened it, and looked out.

A blinding drift of snow, a piercing blast of wind, a cutting shower of
sleet, met her in the face, and for one moment forced her back.

Only for a moment, for Miss Jerusha was not one to yield to trifles, and
then, shading her eyes with her hands, she strove to pierce the darkness
made white by the falling snow. No ghost met her gaze, however, but
something that startled her quite as much--a long line of red light
streaming along the lonesome, deserted road. There was no one living
save herself all along the way for two miles, and no house of any kind
save the ruins of an old cottage, long since deserted, and popularly
supposed to be haunted.

"Great Jemima!" exclaimed Miss Jerusha, as, after her first start of
astonishment, she came in, closed and locked the door, "who can be in
the old house? Somebody's bin caught in the storm, and went in there for
shelter. Well, lors! I hope they won't come bothering me. If they do,
I'll pack them off agin with a flea in their ear. You, Fly! ain't them
pancakes fried yet? Oh, you lazy, shif'less, idle, good-for-nothing
little reptyle! Ef you don't ketch particler fits afore ever you sleep
this night! And I 'clare to man the kittle ain't even biled, much less
the tea adrawin'! _You, Fly!_"

Fly came rushing frantically out, and dodged Miss Jerusha's uplifted
hand, which came down with a stunning force on the table. With a
suppressed howl of pain, the enraged spinster shook her tingling
fingers, and was about to pounce bodily upon her unlucky little
servitor, when, in a lull of the storm, a knock at the door arrested the
descending blow.

Both mistress and maid paused and held their breath to listen.

The wind and sleet came driving in fierce gusts against the house,
shaking the doors and rattling the windows; then came a lull, and then
the knock was repeated, this time more loudly.

"Oh, Miss Jerry, it's a ghos'! Oh, Miss Jerry, it's a ghos'! an' 'deed
a' 'deed I don't want for to go!" shrieked the terrified Fly, clinging
wildly to Miss Jerusha's dress.

With a vigorous shake the spinster shook off the clinging hands of poor
little Fly, and laid her sprawling on the floor. Then approaching the
door, she called, loudly and threateningly:

"Who's there?"

Another knock, but no reply.

"Who's there?" repeated Miss Jerusha, sharply.

"It's only _me_--please let me in," answered a faint voice.

To Miss Jerusha it sounded like the voice of a child, but still
suspicious of her visitor, she only called:

"What do you want?"

"Oh, please open the door--I'm _so_ cold!" was the answer, in a faint,
shivering voice that was drowned in another shriek of the storm.

Miss Jerusha was no coward; so, first arming herself with a pair of
tongs, having some vague idea she might find them useful, she pulled
open the door, admitting a wild drift of wind, and snow, and sleet, and,
blown in with it, the small, slight figure of a child--no one else.

Miss Jerusha closed the door, folded her arms, and looked at her
unexpected visitor. Little Fly, too, so far recovered from her terror as
to lift her woolly head and favor the new-comer with an open mouth and
eyes astare.

It was a boy of some thirteen or fourteen years of age, wretchedly clad,
but so white with the drifting snow that it was impossible to tell what
he wore. His face was thin, pinched, and purple with the cold, his
fingers red and benumbed, his teeth chattering either with fear or cold.

As Miss Jerusha continued to stare at him in severest silence, he lifted
a pair of large, dark, melancholy eyes wistfully, pleadingly, to her
hard, grim face.

"Well," said the spinster, at last, drawing a deep breath, and surveying
him from head to foot--"well, young man, what do _you_ want, if a body
may ask?"

"Please ma'am, I want you to come and see mother--she's sick," said the
child, dropping his eyes under the stern gaze bent upon him.

"Oh, you do? I hain't the least doubt of it!" said Miss Jerusha,
sarcastically. "Should hev bin 'sprised if you _hadn't_. I was jest a
sayin' I 'spected to see somebody comin' for me to see their mother or
something. Nobody could die, of course, unless I trudged through the
snow and storm to see 'em off. Of course, it wouldn't do to let a
particerlerly stormy night come without bringing _me_ out through it,
giving me the rheumatiz in all my bones and a misery in the rest o' my
limbs. Oh, no, in course it wouldn't. And who may your mother happen to
be, young man?" concluded Miss Jerusha, changing with startling
abruptness from the intensely ironical to the most searching severity.

"Why, she's _mother_," said the boy, simply, lifting his dark, earnest
eyes again to that set, rigid face; "she is in that old house over
there, and she--is going to die."

His lip quivered, his eyes filled and saddened, and he drew a long,
shivering breath, and swallowed very fast to keep back his tears. Brave
little heart! hiding his own grief lest it might offend that
sour-looking gorgon and keep her from visiting "mother."

Miss Jerusha's face did not relax a muscle as she kept her steely eyes
fixed unwinkingly on that sad, downcast young face. It was a handsome
face, too, in spite of its pinched, famished look; and Miss Jerusha, to
use her own expression, "couldn't abide" handsome people.

"And what brings your mother to that old house that ain't fit for a
well-brought-up dog to die in, let alone, a 'sponsible member o'
society?" asked Miss Jerusha, sharply.

"Please, ma'am, we hadn't any place else to go."

"Oh, you hadn't! I _thought_ all along that was the sort of folks you
was!" sneered the old lady; "there allers is tramps about, dropping down
and dying in the most unheard-of places. There, be off with you now! I
make a pint o' never encouraging beggars or shif'less char-_ak_-ters. I
hain't got nothin' for your mother, and I ain't a public nuss, though
people seems for to think I'm paid by the corporation for seein' sick
folks out of the world. There! go!"

"Oh! _please_ come and see mother! indeed, _indeed_ we ain't beggars,
but mother was so tired and sick she could not go any farther, and now
she is dying there all alone with only sis. Oh, _please_ do come," and
the childish voice grew sharp and wild in its pleading agony.

The heart beating within Miss Jerusha's vestal corset was touched for a
moment, and then arose thoughts of vagrants, impostors, and "shif'less"
characters generally, and the heart was stilled again; the voice that
answered his pleading cry was high and angry.

"I won't, you little limb! Be off! It's my opinion your mother ain't no
better than she ought to be, or she wouldn't come a dying round
promiscuously in such a way. There! March!"

With an angry jerk, the door was pulled open, and the long, lean finger
of the spinster pointed out.

Without a word he turned to go, but as he passed from the inhospitable
threshold the large dark, solemn eyes were lifted to hers with a long
look of unutterable reproach; then the door was closed after him with a
sharp bang, and securely bolted.

"Shif'less vagabones," muttered Miss Jerusha; "ought to be whipped as
long as they can stand! Well, he's gone, and he didn't get much out of
me anyway."

Yes, Miss Jerusha, he has gone, but when will the haunting memory of
that last look of unspeakable reproach go too? It rose like a remorseful
ghost before her as she stood moodily gazing on the red spot that glowed
like an eye of flame on the top of the hot little kitchen stove--that
furnished sorrowful childish face--those dark, sad, pitiful eyes--that
silent reproach, far keener than any words.

Miss Jerusha strove to still the rebellious voice of conscience and
persuade herself she had done exactly right, but never in all her life
had she felt so dissatisfied with her own conduct before. As usual, when
people are irritated with themselves, she felt doubly irritated with
everybody else; so, by way of relieving her mind, she boxed Fly's ears,
and kicked Betsey Periwinkle, who came purring affectionately around her,
to the other end of the room. And then, with her temper no way sweetened
by those little marks of endearment, she tramped back to the best room,
and dropped sullenly into a comfortable seat by the fire.

But owing to some cause or another, the seat was comfortable no longer.
Miss Jerusha turned and twisted, and jerked herself round into every
possible position, and "pooh'd" and "pshaw'd," and listened to Fly, who,
out in the kitchen, had lifted up her voice and wept, and ordered her
fiercely to bring in tea and hold her tongue. And poor little ill-used
Fly brought it in, dropping tears into the sugar-bowl, and cream-jug,
and "apple sass," and snuffling in great mental and bodily distress. And
then Miss Jerusha sat down to supper, and great and mighty was the
eating thereof; but still the canker within grew sorer and sorer, and
would not be forgotten. Do what she would, turn which way she might,
that sorrowful, childish face would rise before her like a waking
nightmare. Conscience, that "still, small voice," would persist in
making itself heard, until at last Miss Jerusha turned ferociously round
and told conscience to mind his own business, that "she wasn't going to
be fooled by no baby-faced little vagabones." And then, resuming her
work, she sat down with grim determination, and knit and knit, and still
the steam within got up to a high pressure, until Miss Jerusha got into
a state of mind, between remorse and conscience and the heat of the
fire, threatening spontaneous combustion.

Woe to the man, woman, or child who would have presumed to cross Miss
Jerusha in her present mood! Safer would it have been to

    "Beard the lion in his den,
    The Douglas in his hall,"

than the young tornado pent up within the hermetically sealed lips of
Miss Jerusha Glory Ann Skamp at that moment.

But all would not do. Louder and louder that clamorous voice arose,
until the aged spinster bounded up in a rage, flung her knitting across
the room, and, striding across to the hall, returned with an immense
gray woolen mantle, a thick black silk quilted hood, a red woolen
comforter, and a pair of men's strong calf-skin boots. Flinging herself
into a seat, Miss Jerusha, with two or three savage pulls, jerked these
on, and having by this means got rid of some of the superfluous steam,
burst out into the following complimentary strain to herself:

"Jerusha Glory Ann Skamp, it's my opinion you're a nat'ral born fool,
and nothin' shorter! Ain't you ashamed of yourself in your 'spectable
old age o' life to go trampin' and vanderblowsin' through the streets at
sich onchristian hours of the night to look arter wagrets as ought for
to look arter theirselves? I'm 'shamed of you, Jerusha Skamp, and you
ought to be 'shamed o' _yourself_, going on with sich reg'lar downright,
ondecent conduct. Don't tell me bout that there little fellar's looks!
He's an impostor like the rest, and has done you brown beautifully, Miss
Jerusha, as you'll soon find out. 'A fool o' forty 'll never be wise!'
To think that Jerusha Skamp should be took in by a boy's looks at your
age o' life! His looks! fudge! stuff! nonsense! You're nothing but a old
simpleton--that there's what you are, Miss Jerusha! Here you, Fly! you
derned little black monkey you!"

Thus pathetically adjured, Fly, in a very limp state of mind and body,
caused probably by the showers of tears so lately shed, appeared in the
door-way, her eyes full of tears and her mouth full of corn-cake.

"Here, you Fly, I'm going out, and you and Betsey Periwinkle has got for
to sit up for me. Give Betsey her supper, and see that you don't fall
asleep and set the house afire."

"Yes'm," said Fly, in a nearly inaudible voice, as she returned to her
supper.

Then Miss Jerusha, putting a small flask of currant wine in her pocket,
wrapped her thick, warm mantle around her, and her hood closely over her
face, and resolutely stepped out into the wild, angry storm.



CHAPTER II.

THE ACTRESS--LITTLE GEORGIA.

      "Death is the crown of life."
    "She was a strange and willful sprite
    As ever startled human sight."


The road to the old house was as familiar to Miss Jerusha as a road
could well be to any one, yet she found it extremely difficult to make
her way to it to-night. The piercing sleet dashed into her very eyes,
blinding her, as she floundered on, and the raw, cutting wind penetrated
even the warm folds of her thick woolen mantle. Now and then she would
have to stop and catch hold of a tree, to brace her body against the
fierce, cutting blasts, and then, with bent head and closed eyes, plunge
on through the huge snow-heaps and thick drifts.

She had not fully realized the violence of the storm until now, and she
thought, with a sharp pang of remorse, of the slight, delicate child she
had turned from her door to brave its pitiless fury.

"Poor little feller! _poor_ little feller!" thought Miss Jerusha,
piteously. "Lor', what a nasty old dragon I am, to be sure! Should
admire to know where I'll go to, if I keep on like this. Yar-r! you
thought you did it, didn't you? Just see what it is to be mistaken."

This last apostrophe was addressed to a sudden blast of wind that nearly
overset her; but, by grasping the trunk of a tree, she saved herself,
and now, with a contemptuous snarl at its foiled power, she plunged and
sank, and rose and floundered on through the wild December storm, until
she approached the old ruined cottage, from the window of which streamed
the light.

The window was still sound, and Miss Jerusha, cautiously approaching it,
began prudently to reconnoiter before going any farther.

Desolate indeed was the scene that met her eye. The room was totally
without furniture, the plastering had in many places fallen off and lay
in drifts all along the floor. A great heap of brush was piled up in the
chimney-corner, and close by it crouched a small, dark figure feeding
the slender flame that burned on the hearth. Opposite lay extended the
thin, emaciated form of a woman, wrapped in a shawl, almost her only
covering. As the firelight fell on her face, Miss Jerusha started to see
how frightfully ghastly it was, with such hollow cheeks, sunken eyes,
and projecting bones. So absorbed was she in gazing on that skeleton
face, that she did not observe the little figure crouching over the fire
start up, gaze on her a moment, and then approach the window, until,
suddenly turning round, she beheld a small, dark, elfish face, with
wild, glittering eyes, gleaming through masses of uncombed elf locks,
pressed close to the window, with its goblin gaze fixed full upon her.

Miss Jerusha was not nervous nor superstitious, but at the sudden vision
of that face from elf-land she uttered a shriek that might have awakened
the dead, and shrank back in dismay from the window.

While she still stood, horror-struck, the door opened, and a high,
shrill voice called:

"Now, then, whoever you are, come in if you want to!"

It was the voice of a mortal child, and Miss Jerusha was re-assured.
Thoroughly ashamed of herself, and provoked at having betrayed so much
fear, she approached the open door, passed in, and it was closed after
her.

"So I scared you, did I? Well, it serves you right, you know, for
staring in people's windows," said the shrill little voice; and Miss
Jerusha, looking down, saw the same small, thin, dark face, with its
great, wild, glittering black eyes, long, tangled masses of coal-black
hair, high, broad brow, and a slight lithe figure.

It was a strange, unique face for a child, full of slumbering power,
pride, passion, strength, and invincible daring; but Miss Jerusha did
not see this, and looking down only beheld an odd-looking, rather ugly
child, of twelve or thirteen, or so, with what she regarded as an
impudent, precocious gaze, disagreeable and unnatural in one so young.

"Little gal, don't be sassy," said Miss Jerusha, sharply: "you ought to
hev more respect for your elders, and not stand there and give them
such empidence. Pretty broughten you must hev got, I know--a sassy
little limb."

The latter part of this address was delivered in a muttered soliloquy,
as she pushed the hood back from her face and shook the snow off her
cloak. The "little limb," totally unheeding the reprimand, still stood
peering up in her face, scanning its iron lineaments with an amusing
mixture of curiosity and impudence.

As Miss Jerusha again turned round and encountered the piercing stare of
those great, dark, bright eyes fixed so unwinkingly on her face, she
felt, for the first time in her life, perhaps, restless and uneasy under
the infliction.

"My conscience! little gal, don't stare so! I 'clare to gracious I never
see sich a child! I don't know what she looks like," said Miss Jerusha.

The latter sentence was not intended for the child's ears, but it
reached those sharp little organs nevertheless, and, still keeping her
needle-like gaze fixed on the wrinkled face of the spinster, she said:

"Well, if you don't, I know what _you_ look like, anyway--I do!"

"And what do I look like?" said Miss Jerusha, in rising anger, having a
presentiment something impudent was coming.

"Why just exactly like one of the witches in Macbeth."

Now, our worthy maiden lady had never heard of the "Noble Thane," but
she had a pretty strong idea of what witches riding on broomsticks were
like, and here this little black goblin girl had the audacity to compare
her to one of them. For one awful moment Miss Jerusha glared upon the
daring little sinner in impotent rage, while her fingers fairly ached to
seize her and pound her within an inch of her life. Her face must have
expressed her amiable desire, for the elf sprang back, and throwing
herself into a stage attitude, uttered some words in a tragic voice,
quite overpowering, coming from so small a body.

The noise awoke the sleeper near the fire. She turned restlessly, opened
her eyes, and called:

"Georgia!"

"Here, mamma; here I am," said the elf, springing up and bending over
her. "Do you want anything?"

"No, dear. I thought I heard you talking. Hasn't Warren come yet?"

"No, mamma."

"Then who were you talking to a moment ago? Is there any one here?"

"Yes, mamma, the funniest looking old woman--here, _you_!" said the elf,
beckoning to Miss Jerusha.

Mechanically that lady obeyed the peremptory summons, too completely
stunned and shocked by this unheard-of effrontery to fully realize for a
moment that her ears had not deceived her.

She approached and bent over the sufferer. Two hollow eyes were raised
to her face, and feeling herself in the awful presence of death, all
Miss Jerusha's indignation faded away, and she said, in a softened
voice:

"I am sorry to see you in this wretched place. Can I do anything for
you?"

"Who are you?" said the woman, transfixing her with a gaze quite as
uncompromising as her little daughter's had been.

"My name is Jerusha Skamp. I saw a light in this here cottage, and came
over to see who was here. What can I do for you?"

"Nothing for me--I am dying," said the woman, in a husky, hollow voice.
"Nothing for me; nothing for me."

"Oh, mamma! oh, mamma!" screamed the child, passionately. "Oh, not
dying! Oh, mamma!"

"Oh, Georgia, hush!" said the woman, turning restlessly. "Don't shriek
so, child; I cannot bear it."

But Georgia, who seemed to have no sort of self-control, or any other
sort of control, still continued to scream her wild, passionate cry,
"Oh, not dying! oh, mamma!" until Miss Jerusha, losing all patience,
caught her arm in a vise-like grip, and, giving her a furious shake,
said, in a deep, stern whisper:

"You little limb! Do you want to kill your mother? Hold your tongue,
afore I shake the life out of you!"

The words had the effect of stilling the little tempest before her, who
crouched into the corner and buried her face in her hands.

"Poor Georgia! poor little thing! what will become of her when I am
gone?" said the sufferer, while a spasm of intense pain shot across her
haggard face.

"The Lord will provide," said Miss Jerusha, rolling up the whites, or,
more properly speaking, the yellows of her eyes. "Don't take on about
that. Tell me how you came to be here! But first let me give you a
drink. You look as if you needed something to keep life in you. Wait a
minute."

Miss Jerusha's hawk-like eye went roving round the room until it
alighted on a little tin cup. Seizing this, she filled it with the
currant wine she had brought, and held it to the sick woman's lips.

Eagerly she drank, and then Miss Jerusha folded the shawl more closely
around her, and, sitting down on the floor, drew her head upon her lap,
and, with a touch that was almost tender, smoothed back the heavy locks
of her dark hair.

"Now, then," she said, "tell me all about it."

"You are very kind," said the sick woman, looking up gratefully. "I
feared I should die all alone here. I sent my little boy to the nearest
house in search of help, but he has not yet returned."

"Ah! you're a widder, I suppose?" said Miss Jerusha, trying to keep down
a pang of remorse and dread, as she thought of the child she had so
cruelly turned out into the bitter storm.

"Yes, I have been a widow for the last seven years. My name is Alice
Randall Darrell."

"And hain't you got no friends nor nothin', Mrs. Darrell, when you come
to this old place, not fit for pigs, let alone human Christians?"

"No; no friends--not one friend in all this wide world," said the dying
woman, in a tone so utterly despairing that Miss Jerusha's hand fell
soothingly and pityingly on her forehead.

"Sho, now, sho! I want ter know," said Miss Jerusha, quite unconscious
that she was making rhyme, a species of literature she had the
profoundest contempt for. "That's _too_ bad, 'clare if it ain't! Are
they all dead?"

"I do not know--they are all dead to me."

"Why, what on airth hed you done to them?" said Miss Jerusha, in
surprise.

"I married against my father's consent."

"Ah! that _was_ bad; but then he needn't hev made a fuss. He didn't ask
_your_ consent when he got married, I s'pose. Didn't like the young man
you kept company with, eh?"

"No; he hated him. My father was rich, and I ran off with a poor actor."

"A play-acter! Why, you must hev bin crazy!"

"Oh, I was--I was! I was a child, and did not know what I was doing. I
thought my life with him would have been all light, and music, and
glitter, and dazzle, such as I saw on the stage; but I soon found out
the difference."

"'Spect you did. Law, law! what fools there is in this 'ere world!" said
Miss Jerusha, in a moralizing tone.

"My father disowned me." ("And sarved you right, too!" put in Miss
Jerusha _sotto voce_.) "My family cast me off. I joined the company to
which my husband belonged, and did the tragedy business with him; and so
for eight years we wandered about from city to city, from town to town,
always poor and needy, for Arthur drank and gambled, and as fast as we
earned money it was spent."

"And _you're_ a play-acter, too!" cried Miss Jerusha recoiling in
horror.

Miss Jerusha, trained in the land of "steady habits," had, from her
earliest infancy, been taught to look upon theaters as only a little
less horribly wicked than the place unmentionable to ears polite, and
upon all "play-actors" as the immediate children and agents of the
father of evil himself. She had never until now had the misfortune to
come in contact with one personally, having only heard of them as we
hear of goblins, warlocks, demons, and other "children of night." What
wonder, then, that at this sudden, awful revelation she started back and
almost hurled the frail form from her in loathing and horror. But a
fierce clutch was laid on her shoulder--she almost fancied for an
instant it was Satan himself come for his child--until, looking up, she
saw the fiercely blazing eyes and witch-like face of little Georgia
gleaming upon it.

"You ugly, wicked old woman!" she passionately burst out with, "if you
dare to hurt my mamma, I'll--I'll _kill_ you!"

And so dark, and fierce, and elfish did she look at that moment, that
Miss Jerusha fairly quailed before the small, unearthly looking sprite.

"I'm not a-going to tetch your ma. Get out o' this, and leave me go!"
said Miss Jerusha, shaking off with some difficulty the human burr who
clung to her with the tenacity of a crab, and glared upon her with her
shining black eyes.

"Georgia, love, go and sit down. Oh, you wild, stormy, savage child,
what _ever_ will become of you when I am gone? Do, pray, excuse her,"
said the woman, faintly, lifting her eyes pleadingly to Miss Jerusha's
angry face; "she has had no one to control her, or subdue her wild,
willful temper, and has grown up a crazy, mad-headed, half-tamed thing.
If you have children of your own, you will know how to make allowance
for her."

"I have no children of my own, and I thank goodness that I haven't!"
said Miss Jerusha, shortly; "a set of plagues, the whole of 'em! Ef that
there little gal was mine, I'd spank her while I could stand, and see ef
_that_ wouldn't take some of the nonsense out of her."

The last words did not reach the invalid's ear, and the little
tempest-in-a-teapot retreated again to her corner, scowling darkly on
Miss Jerusha, whom she evidently suspected of some sinister designs on
her mother, which it was her duty to frustrate.

"Is she a play-acter, too?" said Miss Jerusha, after a sullen pause.

"Who? Georgia? Oh, yes; she plays juvenile parts, and dances and sings,
and was a great favorite with the public. She has a splendid voice, and
dances beautifully, and whenever she appeared she used to receive
thunders of applause. Georgia will make a star actress if she ever goes
on the stage again," said the woman, with more animation than she had
yet shown.

"And do you want your darter to grow up a wicked good-for-nothing hussy
of a play-acter?" said Miss Jerusha, sternly. "Mrs. Darrell, you ought
for to be ashamed of yourself. Ef she was mine, I would sooner see her
starve decently first."

The dying woman turned away with a groan.

"She won't starve here, though," said Miss Jerusha, feeling called upon
to administer a little consolation; "there's trustees and selectmen, and
one thing and another to look arter poor folks and orphans. She'll be
took care of. And now, how did it happen you came here?"

"I came with the company to which I belong, and we stopped at a town
about fifty miles from here. Georgia, as you can see, has a dreadful
temper--poor little fiery, passionate thing--and the manager of the
theater, being an insolent, overbearing man, was always finding fault
with her, and scolding about something, whereupon Georgia would fly into
one of her fits of passion, and a dreadful scene would ensue. I strove
to keep them apart as much as I could, but they often met, as a matter
of course, and never parted without a furious quarrel. He did not wish
to part with her, for I--and it is with little vanity, alas! I say
it--was his best actress, and Georgia's name in the bills never failed
to draw a crowded house. I used to talk to Georgia, and implore her to
restrain her fierce temper, and she would promise; but when next she
would meet him, poor child, and listen to his insulting words, all would
be forgotten, and Georgia would stamp and scold, and call him all manner
of names, and sometimes go so far as to refuse appearing at all, and
_that_ last act of disobedience never failed to put him fairly beside
himself with rage. I foresaw how it would end, but I could do nothing
with her. Poor little thing! Nature cursed her with that fierce,
passionate temper, and she could not help it."

"Humph!" muttered Miss Jerusha; "couldn't help it! That's all very fine;
but I know one thing, ef _I_ had anything to do with her, I'd take the
fierceness out of her, or know for why--a ugly tempered, savage little
limb!"

"One night," continued the sick woman, "Georgia had been dancing, and
when she left the stage the whole house shook with the thunders of
applause. They shouted and shouted for her to reappear, but I was sick
that night, and Georgia was in a hurry to get home, and would not go.
The manager ordered her in no very gentle tone to go back, and Georgia
flatly and peremptorily refused. Then a dreadful scene ensued. He caught
her by the arms, and dragged her to her feet, as if he would force her
out, and when she resisted he struck her a blow that sent her reeling
across the room.

"Aha! that was good for you, my lady!" said Miss Jerusha, with a grim
chuckle, as she glanced at the little dancing girl.

"It was the first time any one had ever struck her," said Mrs. Darrell,
in a sinking voice, "and a very fury seemed to seize her. A large black
bottle lay on a shelf near, and with a perfect _shriek_ of passion she
seized it and hurled it with all her strength at his head."

"My gracious!" ejaculated the horrified Miss Jerusha.

"It struck him on the forehead, and laid it open with a frightful gash.
He attempted to spring upon her, but some of the men interposed, and
Georgia was forced off by the rest. Her brother Warren was there, and,
almost terrified to death, he brought her home with him, and that very
night we were told our services were no longer needed, and, what was
more, Mr. B., the manager, refused to pay us what he owed us, and even
threatened to begin an action against us for assault and battery, and I
don't know what besides. I knew him to be an unprincipled, vindictive
man, and the threat terrified me nearly to death, terrified me so much
that, with my two children, I fled the next morning from the town where
we were stopping, fled away with only one idea--that of escaping from
his power. I had a little money remaining, but it was soon spent, and I
was so weak and ill that but for my poor children I felt at times as if
I could gladly have lain down and died.

"Coming from Burnfield to-night, we were overtaken by this storm, and
must have perished had not Warren discovered this old hut. The exposure
of this furious storm completed what sorrow and suffering had long ago
begun, and I felt I was dying. It was terrible to think of leaving poor
little Warren and Georgia all alone without one single friend in the
world, and at last I sent Warren out to the nearest house in the hope
that some hospitable person might come who would procure some sort of
employment for them that would keep them at least from starving. _You_
came, thank Heaven! but my poor Warren has not returned. Oh! I fear, I
_fear_ he has perished in this storm," cried the dying woman, wringing
her pale fingers.

"Oh, I guess not," said Miss Jerusha, more startled than she chose to
appear; "most likely he's gone some place else and stayed there to get
warm; but you, _you_, what are we to do for you? It doesn't seem
Christian like nor proper no ways to leave you to die here in this
miserable old shed."

"Dear, kind friend, never mind me," said the invalid, gratefully; "my
short span of life is nearly run, and oh! what does it matter whether
for the few brief moments yet remaining where they are spent. But my
children, my poor, poor children! Oh, madam, you have a kind heart, I
know you have,"--(Miss Jerusha gave a skeptical "humph!")--"do, _do_,
for Heaven's sake, try if some charitable person will not take them and
give them their food and clothing. Not so much for Warren do I fear, for
he is quiet and sensible, very wise indeed for his age; but for the
wild, stormy Georgia. Oh, madam, do something for her, and my dying
thanks will be yours!"

"Well, there, don't take on! I'll see what can be done," said Miss
Jerusha, fidgeting, and glancing askance at the wild eyed, tempestuous
little spirit, "and though you don't seem to mind it much, still it
don't seem right nor decent for you to die here like I don't know what,"
(Miss Jerusha's favorite simile), "so I'll jest step over to Deacon
Brown's and get him to look arter you, and maybe he will hev an eye to
the children, too."

"But you will be exposed to the storm," feebly remonstrated the dying
woman.

"Bah! who keers for the storm?" said Miss Jerusha, glancing out of the
window with a look of grim defiance. "Besides, its clarin' off, and
Deacon Brown's ain't more than two miles from here. There, keep up your
sperrits, and I'll be back in an hour or two with the deacon."

So saying, Miss Jerusha, who once she considered it her _duty_ to do
anything, would have gone through fire and flood to do it, stepped
resolutely out to brave once more the cold, wintry blast.

The storm had abated considerably, but it was still piercingly cold, and
Miss Jerusha's fingers and toes tingled as she walked rapidly over the
hard, frosty ground. It had ceased snowing, and a pale, watery moon,
appearing at intervals from behind a cloud, cast a faint, sickly light
over the way. The high, leafless trees sent long black, ominous shadows
across the road, and Miss Jerusha cast apprehensive glances on either
side as she walked.

Not the fear of ghosts, nor the fear of robbers troubled the
stout-hearted spinster; but the dread of seeing a slight, boyish form,
stark and frozen, across her path. In mingled dread and remorse, she
thought of what she had done and only the hope of finding him in the old
cottage on her return could dispel for an instant her haunting fear.

Deacon Brown's was reached at last, and great was the surprise of that
orthodox pillar of the church at beholding his un-looked-for visitor. In
very few words Miss Jerusha gave him to understand the object of her
visit, and, rather ruefully, the good man rose to harness up his old
gray mare and start with Miss Jerusha on this charitable errand.

A quick run over the hard, frozen ground brought them to the cottage,
and, fastening his mare to a tree, the deacon followed Miss Jerusha into
the old house.

And there a pitiful sight met his eyes. The fire had gone out, and the
room was scarcely warmer than the freezing atmosphere without. Mother
and child lay clasped in each other's arms, still and motionless. With a
stifled ejaculation, Miss Jerusha approached and bent over them. The
child was asleep, and the mother was _dead_!



CHAPTER III.

A YOUNG TORNADO.

    "She is active, stirring, all fire;
    Cannot rest, cannot tire;
    To a stone she had given life."


It was a bright, breezy May morning, just cool enough to render a fire
pleasant and a brisk walk delightful. The sunshine came streaming down
through the green, spreading boughs of the odorous pine trees, gilding
their glistening leaves, and tinting with hues of gold the sparkling
windows of Miss Jerusha's little cottage.

It was yet early morning, and the sun had just arisen, yet Miss Jerusha,
brisk, resolute, and energetic, marched through the house, "up stairs,
and down stairs, and in my lady's chamber," sweeping, dusting, scouring,
scrubbing and scolding, all in a breath: for, reader, this was Monday,
and that good lady was just commencing her spring "house-cleaning."

And Miss Jerusha's house-cleaning was something which required to be
seen to be appreciated. Not that there was the slightest necessity for
that frantic and distracting process which all good housekeepers
consider it a matter of conscience to make their household suffer once
or twice a year, for never since Miss Jerusha had come to the years of
discretion had a single speck of dirt been visible to the naked eye
inside of those spotless walls. But it was with Miss Jerusha the
eleventh commandment and the fortieth article of the Episcopal creed, to
go through a vigorous and uncompromising scouring down and scrubbing up
every spring and fall, to the great mental agony and bodily torture of
the unhappy little handmaiden, Fly, and her venerable cat, Betsey
Periwinkle. Since the middle of April Miss Jerusha had shown signs of
the coming epidemic, which on this eventful morning broke out in full
force.

Any stranger, on looking in at that usually immaculate cottage, might
have fancied a hurricane had passed through it in the night, or that the
chairs, and tables, and pots, and pans, being of a facetious
disposition, had taken it into their heads to get on a spree the night
before, and pitch themselves in all sorts of frantic attitudes through
the house. For the principal rule in Miss Jerusha's "house-cleaning" was
first, with a great deal of pains and trouble, to fling chairs, and
stools, and pails, and brooms in a miscellaneous heap through each room,
to disembowel closets whose contents for the last six months had been a
sealed mystery to human eyes, to take down and violently tear asunder
unoffending bedsteads, and with a stout stick inflict a severe and
apparently unmerited castigation on harmless mattresses and feather
beds. This done, Miss Jerusha, who had immense faith in the hot water
system, commenced with a steaming tub of that liquid at the topmost
rafter of the cottage, and never drew breath until every crevice and
cranny down to the lowest plank on the cellar floor had undergone a
severe application of first wetting and then drying.

Awful beyond measure was Miss Jerusha on these occasions--enough to
strike terror into the heart of every shiftless mortal on this
terrestrial globe, could he only have seen her. With her sleeves rolled
up over her elbows, her mouth shut up, _screwed_ up with grim
determination of conquering or dying in the attempt, with an eye like a
hawk for every invisible speck of dust, and the firm, determined tramp
of the leader of a forlorn hope, Miss Jerusha marched through that
blessed little cottage, a broom in one hand and a scrubbing-brush in the
other, a sight to see, not to hear of.

And then, having brushed, and scrubbed, and scoured, and polished
everything, from the "best room" down to the fur coat of Betsey
Periwinkle, until it fairly shone, all that could offend the sight was
poked back into the mysterious closets again, another revolution swept
through every room, returning things to their places, and the whole
household was triumphantly restored to its former state of distressing
cleanliness. And thus ended Miss Jerusha's house-cleaning.

"Them there three beds shill all hev to come down this morning," said
Miss Jerusha, folding her arms, and regarding them grimly, "and every
one of them blessed bedposts hev got to be scalded right out. You, Fly!
is that there fire a-burning?"

"Yes, miss," answered Fly, who was tearing distractedly in and out after
wood and water, and as nearly fulfilling the impossibility of being in
two places at once as it was possible for a mere mortal to do.

"And is that biler of hot water a-bilin'?"

"Yes, miss."

"And did you tell Georgey to go down to Bunfield for some yaller soap?"

"Please, Miss Jerry, I couldn't find her."

"Couldn't find her, hey? What's the reason you couldn't find her?" said
Miss Jerusha, in a high key.

"'Case she'd been and gone away some whars. Please, ole miss, dar ain't
nebber no sayin' whar anybody can find dat ar young gal," replied Fly,
beginning to whimper in anticipation of getting her ears boxed for not
performing an impossibility.

"Gone away! arter being told to stay at home and help with the
house-cleaning! Oh, the little shif'less villain. I 'clare ef I hadn't a
good mind to give her the best switchin' ever she got next time I ketch
holt of her. Told me this morning she wasn't going to be a dish-washing
old maid like me! a sassy, impident little monster! Old, indeed! I vow
to gracious only for she dodged I'd hev twisted her neck for her! Old!
hump! a pretty thing to be called at my time o' life! Old, indeed! A
nasty, ungrateful little imp!"

While she spoke, the outer gate was slammed violently to; a slight
little figure ran swiftly up the walk, and burst like a whirlwind into
the sacred precincts of the best room--a small, light, airy figure,
dressed in black, with crimson cheeks, and dancing, sparkling, flashing
black eyes, fairly blazing with life and health, and freedom, and high
spirits--a swift, blinding, dark, bright vision, so quick and impetuous
in every motion as to startle you--a "thing all life and light," a
little tropical butterfly, with the hidden sting of a wasp, impressing
the beholder with the idea of a barrel of gunpowder, a pop-gun, a
firecracker, or anything else, very harmless and quiet-looking, but
ready to explode and go off with a bang at any moment.

It was Georgia--our little Georgia; and how she came to be an inmate of
Miss Jerusha's cottage it requires us to go back a little to tell.

On that very Christmas Eve, when with Deacon Brown she discovered the
sleeping child and the ruined cottage, she was for a moment at a loss
what to do. She knew the girl had fallen asleep, unconscious of the
dread presence, and she had seen enough of her to be aware of the
frantic and passionate scene that must ensue when she awoke and
discovered her loss. She bent over her, and finding her sleeping
heavily, she lifted her gently in her arms, and in a few whispered words
desired the deacon not to remove the corpse, but to drive her home first
with the orphan.

Wrapping the half-frozen child in her warm cloak, she had taken her
seat, and was driven to the cottage without arousing her from her heavy
slumber, and safely deposited her in Fly's little bed, to the great
astonishment, not to say indignation, of that small, black individual,
at finding her couch thus taken summary possession of.

It was late next morning when the little dancing girl awoke, and then
she sprang up and gazed around her with an air of complete bewilderment.
Her first glance fell on Miss Jerusha, who was bustling around, helping
Fly to get breakfast, and the sight of that yellow, rigid frontispiece
seemed to recall her to a realization of what had passed the preceding
night.

She sprang up, shook back her thick, disordered black hair, and
exclaimed:

"Who brought me here?"

"I did, honey," said Miss Jerusha, speaking as gently as _she_ knew how,
which is not saying much.

"Where is mamma?"

"Oh, she's--how did you sleep last night?" said Miss Jerusha, actually
quailing inwardly in anticipation of the coming scene; for, with her
strong nerves and plain, practical view of things in general, the good
old lady had a masculine horror of scenes.

"Where is my mamma?" said the child, sharply, fixing her piercing black
eyes on Miss Jerusha's face.

"Oh, she's--well, she ain't here."

"Where is she, then? You ugly old thing, what have you done to my
mamma?"

"Ugly old thing! Oh, dear bless me! _there's_ a way to speak to her
elders!" said the deeply shocked Miss Jerusha.

"_Where's my mamma?_" exclaimed the child, with a fierce stamp of the
foot.

"Little gal, look here! that ain't no way to talk to--"

"WHERE'S MY MAMMA?" fairly shrieked the little girl, as she sprang
forward and clutched Miss Jerusha's arm so fiercely as to extort from
her a cry of pain.

"Ah-a-a-a-a-a! Oh-h-h-h! you little crab-fish, if you ain't pinched my
arm black and blue! Your mamma's dead, and it's a pity you ain't along
with her," said Miss Jerusha, in her anger and pain, giving the girl a
push that sent her reeling against the wall.

"Dead!"

The word fell like a blow on the child, stunning her into quiet. Her
mamma dead! She could not realize--she could not comprehend it.

She stood as if frozen, her hand uplifted as it had been when she heard
it, her lips apart, her eyes wide open and staring. Dead! She stood
still, stunned, bewildered.

Miss Jerusha was absolutely terrified. She had expected tears, cries,
passionate grief, but not this ominous stillness. That fixed, rigid,
unnatural look chilled her blood. She went over and shook the child in
her alarm.

"Little girl! Georgey! don't look so--_don't_! It ain't right, you
know!"

She turned her eyes slowly to Miss Jerusha's face, her lips parted, and
one word slowly dropped out:

"Mamma!"

"Honey, your ma's dead, and gone to heaven--I _hope_," said Miss
Jerusha, who felt that common politeness required her to say so,
although she had her doubts on the subject. "You mustn't take on about
it, you--Oh, gracious! the child's gone stark, staring mad!"

Her words had broken the spell. Little Georgia realized it all at last.
With a shriek,--a wild, terrific shriek, that Miss Jerusha never
forgot--she threw up her arms and fell prostrate on the ground.

And there she lay and _shrieked_. She did not faint. Miss Jerusha, with
her hands clasped over her bruised and wounded ear-drums, wished from
the bottom of her heart she _would_; but Georgia was of too sanguine a
temperament to faint. Shriek after shriek, sharp, prolonged, and shrill,
broke from her lips as she lay on her face on the floor, her hands
clasped over her head.

Miss Jerusha and Fly, nearly frantic with the ear-splitting torture,
strove to raise her up, but the little fury seemed endowed with
supernatural strength, and screamed and struggled, and _bit_ at them
like a mad thing, until they were glad enough to go off and leave her
alone. And there she lay and screamed for a full hour, until even _her_
lungs of brass gave way, and shrieks absolutely refused to come.

Then a new spirit seemed to enter the child. She leaped to her feet as
if those members were furnished with steel springs, and made for the
door. Fortunately, Miss Jerusha had locked it, somehow anticipating some
such movement, and in that quarter she was foiled. She seized the lock
and shook the door furiously, stamping with impotent passion at finding
it resist all her efforts.

"Open the door!" she screamed, with a stamp, turning upon Miss Jerusha a
pair of eyes that glowed like those of a young tigress.

The old lady actually shrank under the burning light of that dark,
passionate glance, but composedly sat still and knit away.

"OPEN THE DOOR!" shrieked the mad child, shaking it so fiercely that
Miss Jerusha fairly expected to see the lock come off before her eyes.

But the lock resisted her efforts. Delirious with her frantic rage, the
wild girl dashed her head against it with a shriek of foiled
passion--dashed it against it again and again, until it was all cut and
bleeding; and then she flew at the horrified Miss Jerusha like a very
fury, sinking her long nails in her face and tearing off the skin, like
a maniac as she was.

That at last aroused all Miss Jerusha's wiry strength, and, grasping the
child's wrists in a vise-like grip, she held her fast while she
struggled to free herself in vain, for the fictitious strength given her
by her storm of passion had exhausted itself by its very violence, and
every effort now to free herself grew fainter and fainter, until at last
she swayed to and fro, tottered, and would have fallen had not Miss
Jerusha held her fast.

Lifting her in her arms, Miss Jerusha bore her upstairs and laid her in
her own bed. And then over-charged nature gave way, and, burying her
face in the pillow, Georgia burst into a passionate flood of tears,
sobbing convulsively. Long she wept, until the fountains of her tears
were dry, and then, worn out by her own violence, she fell into a
dreamless sleep.

"Well, my sakes alive!" said Miss Jerusha, drawing a long breath and
getting up, "of all the children ever I seen I never saw any like that
there little limb. 'Clare to gracious! there's something bad inside that
young gal--that's my opinion. Sich eyes, like blazin' coals of fire! My
conscience! I really don't feel safe with her in the house."

But Georgia awoke calm and utterly exhausted, and thus passed away the
first violence of her grief, which like a blaze of straw, burned up
fiercely for a moment and then went out in black ashes. Still grave and
unsmiling the little girl went about, with no life in her face save what
burned in her great wild eyes.

Her mother was buried, and so Miss Jerusha with some inward fear and
trembling ventured to tell her at last; but the child heard it quietly
enough. She need not have feared, for it was morally and physically
impossible for the little girl to ever get up another passion-gust like
the last.

One source of secret and serious anxiety to Miss Jerusha was the fate of
the little boy, Warren Darrell. Since that night when she had turned him
from the door, nothing had ever been heard of him; no one had seen him,
no traces of him could be found, and one and all came to the conclusion
that he must have perished in the storm that night. Miss Jerusha too,
had to adopt the same belief at last, and in that moment she felt as
though she had been guilty of a murder. No one knew he had come to the
cottage, and she had her own reason for keeping it a secret, and for
politely informing Fly she would twist her neck for her if she ever
mentioned it; and in dread of that disagreeable operation, Fly consented
to hold her tongue.

Feeling as if she ought to do something to atone for the guilt of which
her conscience, so often referred to by herself, accused her, Miss
Jerusha resolved, by way of the severest penance she could think of, to
adopt Georgia. Several of the "selectmen" offered to take the child and
send her to the workhouse, but Miss Jerusha curtly refused in terms much
shorter than sweet, and snappishly requested them to go and mind their
own affairs and she would mind little Georgia Darrell.

And so, from that day the little dancer became an inmate of the lonely
sea-side cot. For the first few weeks she was preternaturally grave and
still--"in the dumps" Miss Jerusha called it; then this passed
away--like all the grief of childhood, ever light and short-lived--and
_then_ Miss Jerusha began to realize the trouble and tribulations in
store for her, and the life of worry and vexation of spirit the restless
elf would lead her.

In the first place, Miss Georgia emphatically and decidedly "put her
foot down," and gave her _guardianess_ (if such a word is admissible) to
understand, in the plainest possible English, that she had not the
remotest or faintest idea of doing one single hand's turn of work.

"I never had to work," said the young lady, drawing herself up, "and I
ain't a-going to begin now for anybody. I don't believe in work at all,
and I don't think it proper, no way."

In vain Miss Jerusha expostulated; her little ladyship heard her with
the most provoking indifference. Then the old lady began to scold,
whereupon Georgia flew into one of her "tantrums," as Miss Jerusha
called them, and, springing to her feet, exclaimed:

"I _won't_, then, not if I die for it! I've always done just whatever I
liked, and I'm going to keep on doing it--I just _am_! And I ain't going
to be an old pot-wiper for anybody--I just _ain't_, old taffy candy!"

And then the sprite bounced out, banging the door after her until the
house shook, leaving Miss Jerusha to stand transfixed with horror and
indignation at this last "most unkindest cut of all," which referred to
the candy Miss Jerusha was in the habit of making and selling in
Burnfield.

And thus the wild, fearless child kept the old lady in a constant series
of tremors and palpitations by the dangers she ran into headlong. Not a
tree in the forest she would not climb like a squirrel, and often the
dry frozen branches breaking with her, she would find it impossible to
get down again, and have to remain there until Miss Jerusha would get a
ladder and take her down. And on these occasions, while the old lady
scolded and ranted down below, the young lady up in her lofty perch
would be in convulsions of laughter at her look of terror and dismay.
Not a rock on the beach, slippery and icy as they were, she had not
clambered innumerable times, to the manifest danger of breaking her
neck.

It was well for her she could climb and cling to them like a cat, or she
would most assuredly have been killed; as it was, she tumbled off two or
three times, thereby raising more bumps on her head than Nature ever
placed there. Then she made a point of visiting Burnfield every day, and
making herself acquainted generally with the inhabitants of that little
"one-horse town," astonishing the natives to such a degree by the
facility with which she stood on her head, or made a hoop of herself by
catching her feet in her hands and rolling over and over, that some of
them had serious doubts whether she was real, or only an optical
delusion. And then her dancing! The first time Miss Jerusha saw her she
came nearer fainting than she had ever done before in her life.

"Oh, my gracious!" said Miss Jerusha, in tones of horror, when afterward
relating the occurrence, "I never see sich onchristian actions before in
all my born days. There she was a-flinging of her legs about as if they
belonged to somebody else, and a-twistin' of her arms about over her
head, and a-jigging back and forward, and a-standin' onto one blessed
toe and spinnin' round like a top, with the other leg a stickin'
straight out like a toastin'-fork. I 'clare it gave me sich a turn as I
hain't got over yit, and never expects to. Oh, my conscience! It was
railly orful to look at the onnatural shapes that there little limb
could twist herself into. And to think of her, when she got done,
a-kneelin' down on one knee as if she was sayin' of her prayers, as she
ought for to do, and then take and blow me up for not applaudin', as she
called it. A sassy little wiper!"

Georgia's daily visits to Burnfield were a serious annoyance to Miss
Jerusha; for there were some who delighted in her wild antics, just as
they would in the mischievous pranks of a monkey, encouraged her in her
willfulness, and exhorted her to defy the "Old Dragon," as Miss Jerusha
was incorrectly styled. And such a hold did these counsels take on the
mind of the young girl, that she really began to look upon Miss Jerusha
in the light of a domestic tyrant--a sort of female Bluebeard, whom it
would not only be right and just to defy and put down, but morally wrong
_not_ to do it. But though this was Georgia's inward belief, yet, to her
credit be it spoken, a sort of chivalrous feeling led her always to
defend Miss Jerusha on these occasions; and if any one went too far in
sneering at her, Georgia's little brown fist was doubled up, and the
offender, unless warned by some prudent friend to "look out for
squalls," stood in considerable danger.

Then, too, the chief delight of the Burnfieldians was in watching her
dance; and Georgia, nothing loth, would mount an extempore platform, and
whirl, and pirouette, and flash hither and thither, amid thunders of
applause from the astonished and delighted audience. Her singing,
too--for Georgia had really a beautiful voice, and knew every song that
ever was heard of, from Casta Diva to Jim Crow--was a source of
never-failing delight to the townfolks, who were troubled with very few
amusements in winter; and Georgia was never really in her element save
when dancing, or singing, or showing off before an audience.

And so the little explosive grenade became a well known character in
Burnfield, and Miss Jerusha's injunctions to stay from it went the way
of all good advice--that is, in one ear and out of the other. No sort of
weather could keep the sprite in the house. The fiercer the wind blew,
Georgia's high spirit only rose the higher; the keener the cold, the
more piercing the blast, it only flashed a deeper crimson to her glowing
cheeks and lips, and kindled a clearer light in her bright black eyes,
and she bounded like a young antelope over the frozen ground, shouting
with irrepressible life. Out amid the wildest winter storms you might
see that small dark figure flying along with streaming hair, bending and
dipping to the shrieking blast that could have whirled her light form
away like a feather, flying over the icy ground that her feet hardly
seemed to touch.

Georgia, wild, fervid child, vowed she _loved_ the storms; and on
tempestuous nights, when the wind howled, and raved, and shook the
cottage, and roared through the pines, she would clap her hands in glee,
and run down through it all toward the high rocks near the shore, and
bend over them to feel the salt spray from the white-crested waves dash
in her face. Then, coming back, she would scandalize Miss Jerusha, and
terrify Fly nearly into fits, by protesting that the white caps of the
waves were the bleached faces of drowned men holding a revel with the
demons of the storm, and that whenever _she_ died, she was determined to
be buried in the sand, for that no grave or coffin could ever hold her,
and she knew she would have splendid times with the mermaids, and
mermen, and old Father Neptune, and Mrs. Amphitrite, and the rest of
them, in their coral grottoes down below.

Now, Miss Jerusha was by no means strait-laced in spiritual matters
herself, but such an ungodly belief as this would shock even her, and,
with a deeply horrified look, she would lay down her knitting and begin:

"Oh, my stars and garters! sich talk! Don't you know, you wicked child,
that there ain't no sich place as that under the sun? There's nothing
but mud, and fish-bones, and nasty sharks like what swallered Joner down
there. No, you misfortunate little limb, folks allers goes to heaven or
t'other place when they die, and it's my belief you'll take a trip
downward, and sarve you right, too, you wicked little heathen you!"

"See here, Miss Jerusha," said Georgia, curiously, "Emily Murray says
there's another place--sort of half-way house, you know, with a hard
name; let's see--pug--pug--no, _purgatory_, that's it--where people that
ain't been horrid bad nor yet horrid good goes to, and after being
scorched for awhile to take the badness out of them, they go up to
heaven and settle down there for good. Is that so, Miss Jerusha?"

"There!" said Miss Jerusha, dropping her knitting in consternation, "I
allers said no good would come of her going to Burnfield and taking up
with unbelievers and other wagrants. Oh, you wicked, drefful little gal!
_No_; there ain't no sich place; in course there ain't. If you had read
that pretty chapter I gave you in the Bible last Sunday instead of tying
Betsey Periwinkle's tail to her hind leg and nearly setting of her crazy,
you wouldn't be such a benighted little heathen as you are."

"Well, I didn't like it--there! All about two ugly great bears eating a
lot of children for calling somebody names. I don't like things like
that. There ain't no fun in reading about them, and I'd a heap sooner
read Robinson Crusoe; _he_ was a nice old man, I know he was. And when I
grow up to be a big woman, I'm going to find out his island and live
there myself--you see if I don't."

Miss Jerusha gave a contemptuous snort.

"_You_ grow up, indeed! As if the Lord would let a wicked little wretch
like you, that believes in gods and goddesses and purgatory and such
abominations grow up. No; if you ain't carried off in a flash of fire
and brimstone, like King Solomon or some of them, you may think yourself
safe, my lady."

"Well, I don't care if I am," said Georgia. "I _do_ believe in mermaids,
because I've seen them often and often, and I know they live in
beautiful coral grottoes under the sea, because I've read all about it.
And I know there are witches, and ghosts and fairies, because I've read
all about _them_ in the 'Legends of the Hartz Mountains,' the nicest
book that ever was, and some Hallow Eve I'm going to try some
tricks--you see if I don't."

The little girl's eyes were sparkling, and she was gesticulating with
eager earnestness. Miss Jerusha held up her hands in horror.

"My-y conscience! only hear her! Oh, what _ever_ will become of that
there young gal? Why, you wicked child, where do you expect to go when
you die?"

"To heaven," said Georgia, decidedly.

"Humph!" said Miss Jerusha, contemptuously. "A nice angel _you'd_ make,
wouldn't you? More likely the other place. I shill hev to speak to Mr.
Barebones to take you into his Bible class, for I believe in my soul it
ain't safe to sleep in the house with such an unbeliever."

"Well, you may speak to him as fast as you like, but I sha'n't go. A
sour, black old ogre, all skin and bones, like a consumptive red
herring! I'm going with Emily Murray to that nice church where they have
all the pretty pictures, and that nice old man, Em's uncle, with no hair
on his head, and all dressed up so beautifully. And old Father Murray is
just the dearest old man ever was, and hasn't got a long, solemn face
like Mr. Barebones. Come, Bets, let you and I have a waltz."

And seizing Betsey Periwinkle by the two fore-paws, she went whirling
with her round the room, to the great astonishment, not to say
indignation, of that amiable animal, who decidedly disapproved of
waltzing in her own proper person, and began to expostulate in sundry
indignant mews quite unheeded by her partner, until Miss Jerusha angrily
snatched her away, and would have favored Georgia with a box on the ear,
only the recollection of the theatre manager returned to her memory, and
her uplifted hand dropped. And Georgia, laughing her shrill, peculiar
laugh, danced out of the room, singing a snatch from some elegant ditty.

"Was there ever such a aggravating young 'un?" exclaimed Miss Jerusha,
relapsing into her chair. "I sartinly _shill_ hev to speak to Mr.
Barebones about her. Gracious! what a thing it is to be afflicted with
children!"

True to her word, Miss Jerusha did speak to Mr. Barebones, and that
zealous Christian promised to take Georgia in hand; but the young lady
not only flatly refused to listen to a word, but told him her views of
matters and things in general, and of himself in particular, so plainly
and decidedly, that, in high dudgeon, the minister got up, put on his
hat, and took himself off.

And so Miss Georgia was left to her own devices, and stood in a fair way
of becoming a veritable savage, when an event occurred that gave a new
spring to her energies, and turned the current of her existence in
another direction.



CHAPTER IV.

GEORGIA MAKES SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES.

    "His boyish form was middle size,
    For feat of strength or exercise
      Shaped in proportion fair;
    And hazel was his eagle eye,
    And auburn of the darkest dye
      His short and curling hair.
    Light was his footstep in the dance,
      And firm his stirrup in the lists--
    And, oh, he had that merry glance
      That seldom lady's heart resists."--SCOTT.


Miss Jerusha's memorable "house-cleaning" was over, and the cottage
having been polished till it shone, and everything inside and outside
reduced to the frightfully clean state that characterized everything
belonging to that worthy lady, she was prepared to sit down and enjoy
the reward of her labors, and the pleasure of an approving conscience.
Fly and Betsey Periwinkle, who had been in an excessively damp and
limber state for the last few days, and whom Miss Jerusha had kept
tearing in and out and up and down like a couple of comets, were at last
permitted to dry out, and might now safely venture to call their souls
their own again.

Georgia, who rather liked a fuss than otherwise, quite enjoyed the
house-cleaning, and spent an unusually large portion of her valuable
time at the cottage while that domestic revolution was in full blast;
now that it was over, she began to resume her slightly vagabondish
habit of roaming round the country, always up to her eyes in business,
yet never bringing about any particular result excepting that of
mischief. When Georgia wished to enjoy the pleasures of solitude, which
was not often, she strolled off to the beach, where, perched on top of a
high rock, she meditated on the affairs of the State, or whatever other
subject happened to weigh on her mind at the moment.

One morning she started off for her favorite seat in order to have a
quite read, having inveigled Miss Jerusha out of the "Pilgrim's
Progress" for that purpose, in lieu of something more entertaining. Now
this beach being so far removed from Burnfield, its solitude was rarely,
if ever, disturbed; therefore, great was Georgia's surprise upon
reaching it, to find a shady spot under her own favorite rock already
occupied.

Miss Georgia came to a sudden halt, and, standing on tiptoe, gravely
surveyed the new-comer, herself unseen.

Under the shadow of the overhanging rock, on the warm sands, lay a tall,
slight, fashionably dressed youth, of sixteen or thereabouts, with
handsome, regular features, a complexion of feminine fairness, a
profusion of brown, curling hair, a high forehead, and unusually and
aristocratically small hands and feet, the former as white as a lady's.
The predominating expression of his face was a mixture of indolence and
drollery; and as he lay there, with his half closed eyes, he looked the
very picture of the _dolce far niente_.

"Well, now," thought Georgia, "I wonder who _you_ are, and where you
came from. I'll just go and ask him, though I do believe he's asleep.
If he is, I reckon I'll wake him in double-quick time."

And Georgia, not being in the slightest degree troubled with that
disease incident to youth, previous to the days of Young America, yclept
bashfulness, marched up to the intruder, and planting herself before
him, put her arms akimbo, and assuming a look of stern investigation,
began:

"Ahem! See here, _you_, where did you come from?"

The young gentleman thus addressed leisurely opened a pair of large,
dark eyes, and quietly surveyed his interrogator from head to foot,
without disturbing himself in the slightest degree, or betraying the
smallest intention of moving.

Very properly provoked at this aggravating conduct, Georgia's voice rose
an octave higher, as she said, authoritatively:

"Can't you speak? Haven't you a tongue? I suppose it's the last
improvement in politeness not to answer when you're spoken to."

This speech seemed to bring the young gentleman to a proper sense of his
errors. Getting up on his elbow, he took off his hat and began:

"My dear young lady, I beg ten thousand pardons, but really at the
moment you spoke I was just debating within myself whether you were a
veritable fact or only an optical illusion. Having now satisfied myself
on that head, I beg you will repeat your questions, which,
unfortunately, in the excitement of the moment, I did not pay proper
attention to, and any information regarding myself personally and
privately, or concerning the world at large, that it lies in my power to
offer you, I shall be only too happy to communicate."

And with this speech the young gentleman bowed once more, without
rising, however, replaced his hat, and getting himself into a
comfortable position, lay back on the sands, and supporting his head on
his hands, composedly waited to be cross-examined.

"Humph!" said Georgia, regarding him doubtfully. "What is your name?"

"My name is Norval; on the Grampian hills--that is, it might have been
Norval, only it happened to be Wildair--Charley Wildair, at your
service, noted for nothing in particular but good-nature and idleness.
And now, having satisfied your natural and laudable curiosity on that
point, may I humbly venture to ask the name of the fascinating young
lady who at this particular moment honors me with her presence?"

"Well, you may. My name's Georgia Darrell, and I live up there in that
little cottage. Now, where do _you_ live?"

"Miss Darrell, allow me to observe that it affords me the most dreadful
and excruciating happiness to make the acquaintance of so charming and
accomplished a young lady as yourself, and also to observe, that in all
my wanderings through this nether world, it has never been my good
fortune before to behold so perfectly fascinating a cottage as that to
which you refer. Regarding my own place of residence, I cannot inform
you positively, being a--'in point of fact,' as my cousin Feenix has
it--a wanderer and vagabond on the face of the earth, with no fixed
place of abode. My maternal ancestor resides in a place called Brooklyn,
a younger sister of New York city, and when not doing up my education in
the aforesaid city, I honor that venerable roof-tree with my presence.
At present, if you observe, I am vegetating in the flourishing and
intensely slow town of Burnfield over yonder, with my respected and
deeply venerated uncle, Mr. Robert Richmond, a gentleman chiefly
remarkable for the length of his purse and the shortness of his temper."

"Squire Richmond's nephews! I heard they had come. Are you them?"
inquired Georgia, stepping back a pace, and speaking in a slightly awed
tone.

"Exactly, Miss Darrell. With your usual penetration and good genius, you
have hit the right thing exactly in the middle; only, if you will allow
me, I must insinuate that I am not his nephews--not being an editor, I
have not the good fortune to be a plural individual; but with my Brother
Richard we do, I am happy to inform you, constitute the dutiful nephews
of your Burnfield magnate, Squire Richmond."

"Hum-m-m!" said Georgia, looking at him with a puzzled expression, and
not exactly liking his indolent look and intensely ceremonious tone.
"You ain't laughing at me, are you?"

"Laughing at you! Miss Darrell, if you'll just be kind enough to cast an
eye on my countenance you'll observe it's considerably more serious than
an undertaker's, or that of a man with a sick wife when told she is
likely to recover. Allow me to observe, Miss Darrell, that I suffered
through the 'principles of politeness' when I was an innocent and
guileless little shaver, in checked pinafores, and I hope I know the
proprieties better than to laugh at a lady. A fellow that would laugh at
a young woman, Miss Darrell, deserves to be--to be--a--a mark for the
finger of scorn to poke fun at! Yes, Miss Darrell, I repeat it, he
deserves to be a--I don't know what he doesn't deserve to be!" said Mr.
Wildair, firmly.

"Well," said Georgia, rather mollified, "and what did you come up here
for, anyway, eh?"

"Why, you see, Miss Darrell, the fact was, I was what you call
expelled,--which being translated from the original Greek into plain
slang, the chosen language of young America,--means I was politely
requested to vamose."

"Oh," said Georgia, puckering up her lips as though she were going to
whistle, "you mean they turned you out?"

"Pre-cisely! exactly! They couldn't properly appreciate me, you know.
Genius never is appreciated, if you observe, but is always neglected,
and snubbed, and put upon, in this world. Look at Shakespeare, and
Oliver Goldsmith, and all those other old fellows that got up works of
fiction, and see the hard times and tribulations they had of it."

"And how long are you going to stay here?" asked Georgia.

"That depends upon as long as I behave nicely, and don't endeavor to
corrupt the minds of the rising generation of Burnfield, I suppose. I've
been a perfect angel since I came, and would be at all times if they
didn't aggravate me. My mother was very disagreeable."

"My mother was not--mamma never was disagreeable," said Georgia.

"Indeed! Wonderful old lady she must have been then! Is she living?"

"No: she's dead," said Georgia, looking down with filling eyes.

"Ah! excuse me. I didn't know," said the boy, hastily. "And your
father?"

"Dead, too."

"Possible! With whom do you live?"

"Miss Jerusha."

"Miss Jerusha--who?"

"Skamp. She lives up in that cottage."

"Skamp! There's a pretty name to talk about! Old-lady, is she?"

"Yes; old and ugly."

"Ah! I guess I sha'n't mind an introduction, then. And what brings you
down here, Miss Darrell? It's my time to ask questions now."

"Why, I came down here to read; and now, look here, I wish you wouldn't
keep on calling me Miss Darrell; it sounds as if you were laughing at
me. Say Georgia."

"With all my heart. Georgia be it--on one condition."

"Well, what is it?"

"That you call me Charley."

"Of course I'll call you Charley," said Georgia, decidedly; "I intended
to all along. You didn't expect I'd say mister, did you?"

"Of course I didn't; I never indulge in absurd expectations. And may I
ask the name of the book so fortunate as to find favor in your eyes,
Miss Georgia?"

"Well, it's the 'Pilgrim's Progress.' I don't think much of it
either--all about a man going on a journey, and getting into all sorts
of scrapes. I don't believe it ever happened at all, for my part. And
now, as you seem to like taking things easy, I guess I will too; so here
we go!" said Georgia, as, shoving the book into her pocket, she made a
spring forward, and by some mysterious sleight of hand, only understood
by cats, monkeys, sailors, and depraved youths given to mischief, she
clambered up the steep side of the high, smooth rock, and perched
herself in triumph on the top, like a female Apollo on the apex of
Mount Parnassus.

The young gentleman on the sands lifted himself on his elbow and stared
at the little girl in a sort of indolent wonder at this energetic
proceeding.

"Eh, what? you're up there, are you? May I ask, Miss Georgia, if it is
your custom to perch yourself up there, like Patience on a monument,
whenever you wish to appreciate the beauties of literature? Oh! the
amount of unnecessary trouble people put themselves to in this world!
Now why--I simply ask as a matter of courtesy--what possible object can
you have in risking your neck in order to be slightly elevated above
your fellow-mortals, eh?"

"Just for fun," said Georgia, as standing on one toe she cut a
pigeon-wing, at the imminent danger of tumbling off and breaking her
neck.

"For fun! Well, it's singular what perverted notions of amusement some
people have. Now I--I'm about as fond of that sort of a thing, I may
safely say, as any other youth; yet you'll excuse me when I say I really
cannot see the point of that joke at all."

"_You_ couldn't do it," said Georgia, exultingly; "bet you any thing you
could not."

"Well, now, I don't know about that," said the youth, surveying the rock
slowly with his large, indolent eyes; "of course, it's not polite or
proper to contradict a lady, or else I should beg leave to differ from
you in that opinion. There are precious few things, Miss Georgia, that I
ever attempted and failed to execute, though I say it. I'm what you may
call a universal genius, you know, equal to a steep rock, or any other
emergency, up to anything, ancient or modern, or, to use another
favorite and expressive phrase of Young America, a class to which I am
proud to belong--I am, in every sense of the word, 'up to snuff.'"

"Bother!" exclaimed Georgia, to whom this homily, like all the lad's
speeches, was Greek, or thereabouts. "It's all very fine to lie there
like a lazy old porpoise, and talk such stuff, but you can't climb this
rock, say what you like--now then."

"Can't I though!" exclaimed Master Charley, flinging away his cigar and
springing up with more energy than might have been expected from his
previous indolence, which, however, was more than half affected. "By
Jove! then, here goes to try. Miss Georgia, if in my efforts in your
service I turn out to be a case of 'Accidentally killed,' you'll see
that the coroner's inquest is held properly, and that all my goods and
chattels, consisting of a cigar-case, a clean shirt, and a jackknife,
are promptly forwarded to my bereaved relative. Now then, here goes!
'_Dieu et mon droit!_'"

So saying, the lad, with a great deal more skill and agility than
Georgia had given him credit for, began climbing up the high rock. It
was no easy task, however, for the sides were quite perpendicular and
almost perfectly smooth, only suited to sailors and other aquatic
monsters used to climbing impossible places.

Georgia clapped her hands and laughed her shrill elfish laugh at his
desperate efforts, and, taunted by this, the boy made a sudden spring at
the top, missed his footing, and tumbled off backward on the sands
below.

With a sharp exclamation of alarm, Georgia, with one flying leap, sprang
clear off the beetling rock, and alighted, cat-like, on her feet by his
side. The lad lay perfectly still, and Georgia, terrified beyond
measure, bent over and tried to raise him, and not succeeding in this,
suddenly bethought herself of Miss Jerusha's infallible plan for all
distresses, mental and bodily, and, catching him by the shoulder, gave
him a sound shaking.

This vigorous proceeding had the effect of completely restoring Master
Charley, who had been for the moment stunned by the force of the fall,
and, opening his eyes, he slowly raised himself and looked with a
slightly bewildered glance around.

"Well, I knew you couldn't do it," cried Georgia, who, now observing
that he was not killed, recovered all her aggravating love of teasing.

"Ugh! you tantalizing little pepper-pod! that's the sort of remorse you
feel after nearly depriving the world of one of its brightest ornaments.
'Pon my word, I never was so nearly extinguished in all my life. Ain't
you ashamed of yourself, Miss Georgia, now that you've been and gone and
done and made me put my foot in it so beautifully? And speaking of feet
reminds me that I have given my ankle a twist, and must see whether it
is to be relied upon or not for the journey home, two miles being no
joke, even at the best times."

So saying, Mr. Wildair got on his feet and attempted to walk, an
experiment which resulted in his making a very wry face--and uttering
something like a subdued howl, and finally sinking back in his former
position.

"Well, here's a precious go, and no mistake!" was the exclamation jerked
out of him by the exigency of the case; "here's my ankle has thought
proper to go and sprain itself, and now I'll leave it to society in
general if I'm not in just the tallest sort of a fix. Yes, you may stare
and look blank, Miss Georgia, but I'll repeat it, you've used me
shamefully, Miss Georgia, yes, abominably, Miss Georgia, and if you keep
on like this, you stand a fair chance of sharing my own elevated
destiny. You perceive I'm a fixture here, and may as well take up my
quarters where I am for life, for out of this I can't go."

"Whatever will you do?" exclaimed Georgia, in dismay.

"Why, come to anchor here, of course; walking's out of the question. If
you would be so obliging as to hunt me up a soft rock to sleep on, and
where I could compose myself decently for death, it would be more
agreeable to my feelings than to scorch here in the sand. Attempt to
walk I positively can't and won't, traveling on one foot not being the
pleasantest or speediest mode of locomotion in the world."

"Now, I declare, if it ain't too bad. I'm real sorry," said Georgia,
whose sympathies were all aroused by the good-humor with which Master
Charley bore his painful accident.

"Well, I wouldn't take it too much to heart if I were you, Miss Georgia;
it might have been worse, you know--my neck, for instance."

"I'll tell you what," said Georgia, "I've got an idea."

"Pshaw! you're only joking," said Charley, incredulously.

"No, I ain't; I'll go for Miss Jerusha, and make her come here and help
you up. You wait."

"Really," began Charley, but without waiting to hear him, Georgia
bounded off, and clambering up the bank with two or three flying leaps
reached the high road, and rushed impetuously along toward the cottage.

"There's an original for you," said the proprietor of the sprained
ankle, looking after Georgia. "Well, this sprained ankle is mighty
pleasant, I must say. If the old lady comes down she'll have to carry me
on her back, for walk I won't."

Georgia, meanwhile, on charitable thoughts intent, rushed along where
she was going, and the consequence was that she ran with stunning force
against some person or persons unknown advancing from the opposite
direction.

"Heads up!" said a pleasant voice; and Georgia, who betrayed symptoms of
an insane desire to pitch head over heels, was restored to her center of
gravity. "Rather an energetic mode of doing business this, I must say."

Georgia looked up, and jerked herself from the grasp of the stranger, a
young man, dressed in a student's plain suit of black, who stood looking
at her with a smile.

"What did you run against me for?" said Georgia, with one of her scowls,
instantly taking the offensive.

"Run against _you_! Why, you are reversing cases, madam. Allow me to
insinuate that you ran against _me_."

"I didn't, either! I mean I shouldn't if you hadn't poked yourself right
in my way." Then, as a sudden idea struck her, she breathlessly resumed:
"Oh, yes; you'll do better than Miss Jerusha! Come along with me to the
beach, and help him up!" said Georgia, gesticulating with much
earnestness.

"Help who up, my impetuous little lady?" said the young man, with a
smile.

"Why, _him_, you know! He tumbled off--I knew he would all along--and
went and sprained his ankle, and now he can't get up. It hurts him, I
know, though he don't make a fuss or nothing, but talks and looks
droll--nice fellow, I know he is! Help him up to our house, and Miss
Jerusha'll fix him off, she will! Come! come along, can't you?"

All this time Georgia had stood, with sparkling eyes, gesticulating
eagerly, as was her habit when excited; and now she caught him by the
arm and pulled him vigorously along.

The stranger, with a laugh, allowed himself to be borne on by this
breathless little whirlwind; and in less than ten minutes after she had
left him, Georgia stood beside Charley Wildair on the beach.

Charley looked up as they approached, and glancing at her companion,
exclaimed:

"Hallo, Rich! Well, here's a slice of good luck, anyway. How in the
world did you scare _him_ up, Miss Georgia?"

"Why he ran against me," said Georgia, "and nearly knocked my brains
out. Do you know him?"

"I should think I did--rather!" said Charley, emphatically. "Here, Rich,
come and help me up, there's a good fellow!"

"What have you been at now?" said Rich, as he obeyed. "Some piece of
nonsense, I'll be bound."

"No, sir, I haven't been at nonsense. I was attempting to treat myself
to a rise in the world by climbing up that rock, and, losing my
equilibrium, the first thing I knew I was gracefully extended at full
length on the sands, with one limb slightly dislocated, as completely
floored an individual as you ever clapped your eyes on. For further
particulars, apply to Miss Georgia here. And that reminds me, you
haven't been duly presented to that young woman. Allow me to repair that
error before proceeding to business. Miss Darrell, let me have the
pleasure of presenting to your distinguished notice, my brother, Mr.
Richmond Wildair, a young man chiefly remarkable for a rash and
inordinate attachment for musty old books, and--having his own way. Mr.
Wildair, Miss Georgia Darrell, a young lady whose many estimable
qualities and aggravating will of her own require to be seen to be
appreciated. Ahem."

And having, with great _empressment_ and pomposity, delivered himself of
this "neat and appropriate" speech, Mr. Charles Wildair drew himself up
with dignity--which, as he was obliged to stand on one foot, with the
other elevated in the air, hardly made the impression it was intended to
make.

Mr. Richmond Wildair held out his hand to Georgia with a smile, and,
after looking at it for a moment, in evident doubt as to the propriety
of shaking hands with him, she at last consented to do so with a grave
solemnity quite irresistible.

And thus Richmond Wildair and Georgia Darrell met for the first time.
And little did either dream of what the future had in store for them, as
they stood side by side on the sands in the golden light of that breezy,
sunshiny May morning.



CHAPTER V.

"LADY MACBETH."

    "Who that had seen her form so light,
      For swiftness only turned,
    Would e'er have thought in a thing so slight,
      Such a fiery spirit burned."


"And now what am I expected to do next?" said Richmond, looking at his
two companions. "I am entirely at your service, monsieur and
mademoiselle."

"Why, you must help him up to our house," said Georgia, in her
peremptory tone, "and let Miss Jerusha do something for his lame ankle."

"And after that you must transport yourself over to Burnfield with all
possible dispatch, and procure a cart, car, gig, wagon, carriage,
wheelbarrow, or any other vehicle wherein my remains can be hauled to
that thriving town, for walking, you perceive, is a moral and physical
impossibility."

"All right!" said Richmond. "Here, take my arm. How will you manage to
get up this steep bank? Do you think you can walk it?"

"Nothing like trying," said Charley, as leaning on his brother's arm he
limped along, while Georgia went before to show them the way. "Ah, that
was a twinge. The gout must be a nice thing to have if it is at all like
this. I never properly felt for those troubled with that fashionable and
aristocratic disease before, but the amount of sympathy I shall do for
the future will be something terrifying. Here we are; now then, up we
go."

But Master Charley found that "up we go" was easier said than done. He
attempted to mount the bank, but at the first effort he recoiled, while
a flush of pain overspread his pale features.

"No go, trying to do that; get up there I can't if they were to make me
Khan of Tartary for doing it. Ah--h--h! there's another twinge, as if a
red-hot poker had been plunged into it. The way that ankle can go into
the aching business requires to be felt to be appreciated."

Though he spoke lightly, yet two scarlet spots, forced there by the
intense pain, burned on either cheek.

Richmond looked at him anxiously, for he loved his wild, harum-scarum,
handsome young brother with a strong love.

"Oh, he can't walk; I know it hurts him; what _will_ we do?" said
Georgia, in a tone of such intense motherly solicitude that, in spite of
his painful ankle, Charley smiled faintly.

"I know what _I_ shall do," said Richmond, abruptly. "I shall carry
him."

And suiting the action to the word, the elder brother--older only by two
or three years, but much stronger and more compactly built than the
somewhat delicate Charley--lifted him in his arms and proceeded to bear
him up the rocks.

"Why, Richmond, old fellow," remonstrated Charley, "you'll kill
yourself--rupture an artery, and all that sort of thing, you know; and
then there'll be a pretty to do about it. Let go, and I'll walk it, in
spite of the ankle. I can hold out as long as it can, I should hope."

"Never mind, Charley; I'm pretty strong, and you're not a killing
weight, being all skin and bone, and nonsense pretty much. Keep still,
and I will have you up in a twinkling."

"Be it so, then, most obliging youth. Really, it's not such a bad
notion, this being carried--rather comfortable than otherwise."

"Now, don't keep on so, Charley," said Georgia, in a voice of motherly
rebuke. "How is your ankle? Does it hurt you much now?"

"Well, after mature deliberation on the subject, I think I may safely
say it _does_. It's aching just at this present writing as if for a
wager," replied Charley, with a grimace.

Georgia glanced at Richmond, and seeing great drops of perspiration
standing on his brow as he toiled up, said, in all sincerity:

"See here, you look tired to death. _Do_ let me help you. I'm strong,
and he ain't very heavy looking, and I guess I can carry him the rest of
the way."

Richmond turned and looked at her in surprise, but seeing she was
perfectly serious in her offer, he repressed his amusement and gravely
declined; while Charley, less delicate, set up an indecorous laugh.

"Carry me up the hill! Oh, that's good! What would Curtis, and Dorset,
and all the fellows say if they heard that, Rich? 'Pon honor, that's the
best joke of the season! A little girl I could lift with one hand
offering to carry me up hill?"

And Master Charley lay back and laughed till the tears stood in his
eyes.

His laughter was brought to a sudden end by an unexpected sight. Little
Georgia faced round, with flashing eyes and glowing cheeks, and, with a
passionate stamp of her foot, exclaimed:

"How _dare_ you laugh at me, you hateful, ill-mannered fellow? Don't you
ever dare to do it again, or it won't be good for you! If you weren't
hurt now, and not able to take your own part, I'd _tear your eyes
out_!--I just would! Don't you DARE to laugh at me, sir!"

And with another fierce stamp of her foot, and wild flash of her eyes,
she turned away and walked in the direction of the cottage.

For a moment the brothers were confounded by this unexpected and
startling outburst--this new revelation of the unique child before them.
There was in it something so different from the customary pouting anger
of a child--something so nearly appalling in her fierce eyes and
passionate gestures, that they looked at each other a moment in
astounded silence before attempting to reply.

"Really, Georgia, I did not mean to offend," said Charley, at last, as
they by this time reached the high-road, and the exhausted Richmond
deposited him on his feet. "I am very sorry I have angered you, but I'm
such a fellow to laugh, you know, that the least thing sets me off. Why
I'd laugh at an empress, if she did or said anything droll. Come,
forgive me, like a good girl!" and Charley, looking deeply penitent,
held out his hand.

But Georgia was proud, and was not one to readily forgive what she
considered an insult, so she drew herself back and up, and only replied
by a dangerous flash of her great black eyes.

"Come, Georgia, don't be angry; let's make up friends again. Where's the
good of keeping spite, especially when a fellow's sorry for his fault?
One thing I know, and that is, if you don't forgive me pretty soon, I'll
go and heave myself away into an untimely grave, in the flower of my
youth, and then just think of the remorse of conscience you'll suffer.
Come, Georgia, shake hands and be friends."

But Georgia faced round, with a curling lip, and turning to Richmond,
who all this time had stood quietly by, with folded arms, surveying her
with an inexplicable smile, which faded away the moment he met her eye,
she said, shortly:

"You had better come along. I'll go on ahead and tell Miss Jerusha
you're coming." And then, without waiting for a reply, she walked on in
proud silence.

She reached the cottage in a few minutes, and, throwing open the door
with her accustomed explosive bang, went up to where Miss Jerusha sat
sewing diligently, and facing that lady, began:

"Miss Jerusha, look here!"

Miss Jerusha lifted her head, and, seeing Miss Georgia's flushed cheeks
and sparkling eyes, the evidence of one of her "tantrums," said:

"Well who hev you bin a-fightin' with _now_, marm?"

"I haven't been fighting with any one," said Georgia, impatiently, for a
slight skirmish like this was nothing to pitched battle she called
fighting; "but there's a boy that has sprained his ankle down on the
beach, and his brother's bringing him here for you to fix it."

Now, Miss Jerusha, though not noted for her hospitality at any time,
would not, perhaps, on an ordinary occasion make any objection to this
beyond a few grumbles, but on this particular morning everything had
gone wrong, and she was in an (even for her) unusually surly mood, so
she turned round and sharply exclaimed:

"And do you suppose, you little good-for-nothing whipper-snapper, I keep
an 'ospital for every shif'less scamp in the neighborhood? If you do,
you are very much mistaken, that's all. If he's sprained his ankle, let
him go sommer's else, for I vow to Sam he sha'n't come here!"

"He _shall_ come here!" exclaimed Georgia, with one of her passionate
stamps: "you see if he sha'n't. I told him he could come here, and he
shall, too, in spite of you!"

"Why, you little impident hussy you!" said Miss Jerusha, flinging down
her work and rising to her feet, "how dare you have the imperance to
stand up and talk to me like that? We'll see whether he'll come here or
not. _You_ invited him here, indeed! And pray what right have you to
invite anybody here, I want to know? You, a lazy, idle little vagabone,
not worth your salt! Come here, indeed! I wish he may; if he doesn't go
out faster than he came in it won't be my fault!"

"Just you try to turn him out, you cross, ugly old thing! If you do
I'll--I'll _kill_ you; I'll set fire to this hateful old hut, and burn
it down! You see if I don't. There!"

The savage gleam of her eyes at that moment, her face white with
concentrated passion, was something horrible and unnatural in one of her
years. Miss Jerusha drew back a step, and interposed a chair between
them in salutary dread of the little vixen's claw-like nails.

At that moment the form of Richmond Wildair appeared in the door-way.
Both youths had arrived in time to witness the fierce altercation
between the mistress of the house and her half-savage little ward, and
Richmond now interposed.

Taking off his hat, he bowed to Miss Jerusha saying in his calm,
gentlemanly tones:

"I beg your pardon, madam, for this intrusion, but my brother being
really unable to walk, I beg you will have the kindness to allow him to
remain here until I can return from Burnfield with a carriage. You will
not be troubled with him more than an hour."

Inhospitable as she was, Miss Jerusha could not really refuse this, so
she growled out a churlish assent; and Richmond, secretly amused at the
whole thing, helped in Charley, while Georgia set the rocking-chair for
him, and placed a stool under his wounded foot, without, however,
favoring him with a single smile, or word, or glance. She was in no mood
just then either to forget or forgive.

"And now I'm off," said Richmond, after seeing Charley safely disposed
of. "I will be back in as short a time as I possibly can; and meantime,
Miss Georgia," he added, turning to her with a smile as he left the
room, "I place my brother under your care until I come back."

But Georgia, with her back to them both, was looking sullenly out of the
window, and neither moved nor spoke until Richmond had gone, and then
she followed him out, and stood looking irresolutely after him as he
walked down the road.

He turned round, and seeing her there, stopped as though expecting she
would speak; but she only played nervously with the hop-vines crowning
the walls, without lifting her voice.

"Well, Georgia?" he said inquiringly.

"I--I don't want to stay here. I'll go with you to Burnfield, if you
like. Miss Jerusha's cross," she said, looking up half shyly, half
defiantly in his face.

A strange expression flitted for an instant over the grave, thoughtful
face of Richmond Wildair, passing away as quickly as it came. Without a
word he went up to where Georgia stood, with that same light in her
eyes, half shy, half fierce, that one sees in the eyes of a half-tamed
and dangerous animal when under the influence of a master-eye.

"Georgia, look at me," he said, laying one hand lightly on her shoulder.

She stepped back, shook off the hand, and looked defiantly up in his
face. It was not exactly a handsome face, yet it was full of power--full
of calm, deep, invincible power--with keen, intense, piercing eyes,
whose steady gaze few could calmly stand. Child as she was, the hitherto
unconquered Georgia felt that she stood in the presence of a strong
will, that surmounted and overtopped her own by its very depth,
intensity and calmness. She strove to brave out his gaze, but her own
eyes wavered and fell.

"Well?" she said, in a subdued tone.

"Georgia, will you do me a favor?"

"Well?" she said, compressing her lips hard, as though determined to do
battle to the death.

"My brother is alone, he is in pain, he did not mean to offend you, he
is under _your_ roof. Georgia, I want you to stay with him till I come
back."

"He laughed at me--he made fun of me. I _won't_! I hate him!" she said,
with a passionate flush.

"He is sorry for that. When people are sorry for their faults, a
magnanimous enemy always forgives."

"I don't care. I _won't_ forgive him. I was doing everything I could for
him. I would have helped him up hill if I could, and he _laughed at me_!
I won't stay with him!" she exclaimed, tearing the hop branches off and
flinging them to the ground in her excitement.

He caught the destructive little hands in his and held them fast.

"Georgia, you _will_!"

"I _won't_! not if I die for it!" she flashed.

"Georgia!"

"Let me go!" she cried out, trying to wrench her hands from his grasp.
"I never will! Let me go!"

"Georgia, do you know what hospitality means?"

"Yes."

"Well, he is your guest now. Have you ever read about the Arabs of the
desert, my proud little lady?"

"Yes."

"Well, you know once their most deadly enemy entered their house, they
treated him as though he were the dearest friend they had in the world.
Now, Georgia, you will be a lady some day, I think, and----"

"I will stay with your brother till you come back," she said, proudly;
"but I _won't_ be his friend--never again! I liked him then, and I
wanted to do everything I could for him. I would have had _my_ ankle
sprained if it would have made his well. I was so sorry,
and--he--laughed at me!"

In spite of all her evident efforts her lips quivered, and turning
abruptly, she walked away and entered the house.

Richmond Wildair stood for an instant in the same spot, looking after
her, and again that nameless, inexplicable smile flitted over his face.

"_Conquered_!" he said, with a sort of exultation in his voice; "and for
the first time in her life, I believe. Strange, wild child that she is.
I see the germs of a fine but distorted character there."

He walked down the road, whistling "My love is but a lassie yet," while
Georgia re-entered the house, and with a dark cloud still on her face,
walked to the window and looked sullenly after the retreating figure of
Richmond.

Master Charley, who had a taste for strange animals, had been devoting
his time to drawing out Miss Jerusha, practicing all his fascinations on
her with a zeal and determination worthy of a better cause, and at last
succeeded in wheedling that deluded lady into a recital of her many and
peculiar troubles, to all of which he listened with the most
sympathizing, not to say painful attention, and with a look so intensely
dismal that it quite won the old lady's heart. But when he praised
Betsey Periwinkle, and stroked her down, and spoke in terms of
enthusiastic admiration of a pair of moleskin pantaloons Miss Jerusha
was making, bespeaking another pair exactly like them for himself, his
conquest was complete, and he took a firm hold of Miss Jerusha's
unappropriated affections, which from that day he never lost. And on the
strength of this new and rash attack of "love at first sight," Miss
Jerusha produced from some mysterious corner a glass of currant wine and
a plate of sliced gingerbread, which she offered to her guest--a piece
of reckless extravagance she had never been guilty of before, and which
surprised Fly to such a degree that she would have there and then taken
out a writ of lunacy against her mistress, had she known anything
whatever about such a proceeding. Master Charley, being blessed with an
excellent appetite of his own, which his accident had in no way
diminished, graciously condescended to partake of the offered dainties,
and launched out into such enthusiastic praises of both, that the
English language actually foundered and gave out, in his transports.

And all this time Georgia had stood by the window, silent and sullen,
with a cloud on her brow, and a bright, angry light in her eyes, that
warned both Miss Jerusha and Charley Wildair that it was safer to let
her alone than speak to her just then. For though the girl's combustible
nature was something like a blaze of tow, burning fiercely for a moment
and then going out, she did not readily forgive injuries, slights, or
affronts, or what she considered such. No, she brooded over them until
they sank deep among the many other rank things that had been allowed to
take root in her heart, and which only the spirit of true religion could
now ever eradicate.

The child had grown up from infancy neglected, her high spirit
unchecked, her fierce outbursts of temper unrebuked, allowed to have her
own way in all things, ignorant of all religious training whatsoever.
She had heard the words, God, heaven and hell--but they were _only_
words to her, striking the ear, but conveying no meaning, and she had
_never_ bent her childish knee in prayer.

What wonder then that she grew up as we find her, proud, passionate,
sullen, obstinate, and vindictive? The germs of a really fine nature had
been born with her, but they had been neglected and allowed to run to
waste, while every evil passion had been fostered and nurtured.

Generous, frank, and truthful she was still, scorning a lie, _not_
because she thought it a sin, but because it seemed _mean_ and cowardly;
high-spirited, too, she would have gone through fire and flood to serve
any one she loved; _but_, had that one offended her, she would have
hurled her back into the fire and flood without remorse.

Ingratitude was not one of her vices either, though from her conduct to
Miss Jerusha it would appear so; but Georgia could not love the sharp,
snappish, though not bad-hearted old maid, and so she believed she owed
her nothing, a belief more than one in Burnfield took care to foster.

Not a vice that child possessed that a careful hand could not have
changed into a real virtue, for in her sinning there was at least
nothing mean and underhand; treachery and deception she would have
scorned and stigmatized as _cowardly_, for courage, daring, bravery, was
in the eyes of Georgia the highest virtue in earth or heaven.

Richmond Wildair understood her, because he possessed an astute and
powerful intellect, and mastered her, because he had a _will_ equal to
her own, and a mind, by education and cultivation, infinitely superior.

Georgia, almost unknown to herself, had a profound admiration and
respect for _strength_, whether bodily or mental; and the moment
Richmond Wildair let her see he could conquer her, that moment he
achieved a command over the wild girl he never lost.

Yet it galled her, this first link in the chain that was one day to bind
her hand and foot; and, like an unbroken colt on whom the bridle and
curb are put for the first time, she grew restive and angry under the
intolerable yoke.

"What right has he to make me stay?" she thought, with a still darkening
brow. "What business has he to order me to do this or that? Telling me
to stay with his brother, as if he was my master and I was his servant!
I don't see why I did it; he had no _business_ to tell me so. I have a
good mind to run away yet, and when he comes he'll find me gone--but no,
I promised to stay, and I will. I wouldn't have stayed for anybody
else, and I don't see why I did for him. I won't do it again--I never
will; the very next thing he asks me to do I'll say no, and I'll _stick_
to it. I won't be ordered about by anybody!"

And Georgia raised her head proudly, and her eye flashed, and her cheek
kindled, and her little brown hand clenched, as her whole untamed nature
rose in revolt against the idea of servitude. Some wild Indian or gipsy
blood must have been in Georgia's veins, for never did a lord of forest
rock or river resolve to do battle to maintain his freedom with more
fierce determination than did she at that moment.

Her resolution was soon put to the test. Ere another hour had passed
Richmond Wildair returned with a light gig, and entered the house.

Georgia saw him enter, but would not turn round, and Charley, getting
up, bade Miss Jerusha a gay good-by, promising to come and see her again
the first thing after his ankle got well. Then, going over to Georgia,
he held out his hand, saying:

"Come, Georgia, I am going away. _Do_ bid me good-by."

It was hardly in human nature to resist that coaxing tone; so a curt
"good-by" dropped out from between Georgia's closed teeth; but she would
neither look at him nor notice his extended hand.

And with this leave-taking Charley was forced to be content; and,
leaning on Richmond, he went out and took his place in the gig.

Then Richmond returned, and bowing his farewell and his thanks to Miss
Jerusha, slightly surprised at the mollifying metamorphosis that
ancient lady had undergone, he went up to Georgia, saying, in a low
tone:

"Come with me to the door, Georgia; I have something to say to you."

"Say it here."

He hesitated, but Georgia looked as immovable as a rock.

"Well, then, Georgia, I want you to forgive my brother before he goes."

Georgia planted her feet firmly together, compressed her lips, and,
without lifting her eyes to his face, said, in a low, resolute tone:

"Richmond Wildair, I won't!"

"But, Georgia, he is sorry for his fault; he has apologized; you _ought_
to forgive him."

"I won't!"

"Georgia, it is wrong, it is unnatural in a little girl to be wicked and
vindictive like this. If you were a good child, you would shake hands
and be friends."

"I won't!"

"Georgia, for _my_ sake--"

"_I won't!_"

"Obstinate, flinty little thing! Do you like me, Georgia?"

"No!"

"You don't? Why, Georgia, what a shame! You don't like me?"

"No, I don't! I hate you both! You have no business to tease me this
way! I won't forgive him--I never will! I'll _never_ do anything for you
again!"

And, with a fierce flash of the eyes that reminded him of a panther he
had once shot, she broke from his retaining grasp and fled out of the
house.

He was foiled. He turned away with a slight smile, yet there was a
scarcely perceptible shade of annoyance on his high, serene brow, as he
took his place beside his brother and drove off.

"What took you back, Rich?" asked Charley.

"I wanted to bid good-by to that unique little specimen of girlhood in
there, and get her to pardon you."

"And she would not?"

"No."

"Whew! resisted _your_ all-powerful will! The gods be praised that you
have found your match at last!"

Richmond's brow slightly contracted, and he gave the horse a quick cut
with the whip that sent him flying on.

"And yet I will make her do it," he said, with his calm, peculiar,
inexplicable smile.

"Eh?--you will? And how, may I ask?"

"Never you mind--she shall do it! I have conquered her once already, and
I shall do it again, although she _has_ refused this time. I did not
expect her to yield without a struggle."

"By Jove! there's some wild blood in that one. There was mischief in her
eyes as she turned on me there on the hill. I shall take care to give
her a wide berth, and let her severely alone for the future."

"Yes, she is an original--all steel springs--a fine nature if properly
trained," said Richmond, musingly.

"A fine fiddlestick!" said Charley, contemptuously; "she's as sharp as a
persimmon, and as sour as an unripe crab-apple, and as full of stings as
a whole forest of nettle-trees."

"Do you know, Charles, I fancy Lady Macbeth might have been just such a
child?"

"Shouldn't wonder. The little black-eyed gipsy is fierce enough in all
conscience to make a whole batch of Lady Macbeths. May all the powers
that be generously grant I may not be the Duncan she is to send to the
other world."

"If she is allowed to grow up as she is now, she will certainly be some
day capable of even Lady Macbeth's crime. Pity she has no one better
qualified to look after her than that disagreeable old woman."

"Better mind how you talk about the old lady," said Charley; "she and I
are as thick as pickpockets. I flattered her beautifully, I flatter
myself, and she believes in me to an immense extent. As to the young
lady, what do you say to adopting her yourself? You'd be a sweet mentor
for youth, wouldn't you?"

"You may laugh, but I really feel a deep interest in that child," said
Richmond.

"Well, for my part," said Charley, "I don't believe in vixens, young or
old, but you--_you_ always had a taste for monsters."

"Not exactly," said Richmond, untying a knot in his whip; "but she is
something new; she suits me; I like her."



CHAPTER VI.

TAMING AN EAGLET.

                  "In her heart
    Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war;
    Occasion needs but fan them and they blaze."

                                        COWPER.

        "Mind's command o'er mind,
    Spirits o'er spirit, is the clear effect
    And natural action of an inward gift
    Given by God."


All that day little Georgia went wandering aimlessly, restlessly,
through the woods, possessed by some walking spirit that would not let
her sit still for an instant. She had kept her vow; she had resisted the
power of a master mind; she had maintained her free will, and refused to
do as he commanded her. Yes, she felt it as a command. She had thrown
off the yoke he would have laid on her, and she ought to have exulted in
her triumph--in her victory. But, strange to say, it surprised even
herself that she had _not_; she felt angry, sullen and dissatisfied. The
consciousness that she was wrong and he was right--that she ought to
have done as he told her--would force itself upon her in spite of her
efforts. How mean and narrow her own conduct did look now that she came
to think it over, and the fever of passion had passed away; had she been
brave and generous she felt she would have forgiven him when he so often
apologized; it was galling to be laughed at, it was true, but when he
was sorry for his fault she knew she ought to have pardoned him. How
they both must despise her; what a wicked, ugly, disagreeable little
girl they must think her. How she wished she had been better, and had
made up friends, and not let them go away thinking her so cross and
sullen and obstinate.

"Miss Jerusha says I'm ugly and good for nothing and bad-tempered, and
so does every body else. Nobody loves me or cares for me, and every body
says I've got the worst temper they ever knew. People don't do anything
but laugh at me and make fun of me and call me names. Mamma and Warren
liked me, but they're dead, and I wish I was dead and buried, too--I do
so! I'll never dance again; I'll never sing for anyone; I'll go away
somewhere, and never come back. I wish I was pretty and good-tempered
and pleasant, like Em Murray: every body loved her; but I ain't, and
never will be. I'm black and ugly and bad-tempered, and every one hates
me. Let them hate me, then--I don't care! I hate them just as much; and
I'll be just as cross and ugly as ever I like. I was made so, and I
can't help it, and I don't care for any body. I'll do just as I like, I
will so! I can hate people as much as they can hate me, and I will do
it, too. I don't see what I was ever born for; Miss Jerusha says it was
to torment people: but I couldn't help it, and it ain't my fault, and
they have no business to blame me for it. Emily Murray says God makes
people die, and I don't see why he didn't let me die, too, when mamma
did. Mamma was good, and I expect she's in heaven, but I'm so bad
they'll never let me there I know! I don't care for that either. I was
made bad, and if they send me to the bad place for it, they may. Em
Murray'll go to Heaven, because she's good and pretty, and Miss Jerusha
says _she'll_ go, but I don't believe it. If she does, _I_ sha'n't go
even if they ask me to, for I know she'll scold all the time up there
just as she does down here. If they do let her in, I guess they'll be
pretty sorry for it after, and wish they hadn't. I 'pose them two young
gentlemen from New York will go, too, and I know that Charley fellow
will laugh when he sees me turned off, just as he did this morning. I
don't believe I ought to have made up with him, after all. I won't
either, if his brother says I _must_. If he lets me alone I may, but
I'll never offer to do anything for him again as long as I live. Oh,
dear! I don't see what I ever was born for at all, and I do wish I never
had been, or that I had died with mamma and Warren."

And so, with bitterness in her heart, the child wandered on and on
restlessly, as if to escape from herself, with a sense of wrong, and
neglect, and injustice forcing itself upon her childish uncultivated
mind. She thought of all the hard names and opprobrious epithets Miss
Jerusha called her, and "unjust! unjust!" was the cry of her heart as
she wandered on. She felt that in all the world there was not such a
wicked, unloved child as she, and the untutored heart resolved in its
bitterness to repay scorn with scorn, and hate with hate.

It was dark when she came home. She had had no dinner, but with the
conflict going on within she had felt no hunger. Miss Jerusha's supper
was over and long since cleared away, and, as might be expected, she was
in no very sweet frame of mind at the long absence of her _protegee_.

"Well, you've got home at last, have you?" she began sharply, and with
her voice pitched in a most aggravating key. "Pretty time o' night this,
I must say, to come home, after trampin' round like a vagabone on the
face o' the airth all the whole blessed day. You desarve to be switched
as long as you can stand, you worthless, lazy, idle young varmint you!
Be off to the kitchen, and see if Fly can't get you some supper, though
you oughtn't to get a morsel if you were rightly sarved. Other folks has
to toil for what they eat, but you live on other folks' vittals, and do
nothing, you indolent little tramper you!"

Miss Jerusha paused for want of breath, expecting the angry retort this
style of address never failed to extort from the excitable little
bomb-shell before her, but to her surprise none came. The child stood
with compressed lips, dark and gloomy, gazing into the fading fire.

"Well, why don't you go?" said Miss Jerusha angrily. "You ought to take
your betters' leavin's and be thankful, though there's no such thing as
thankfulness in you, I do believe. Go!"

"I don't want your supper; you may keep it," said Georgia, with proud
sullenness.

"Oh, you don't! Of course not! it's not good enough for your ladyship,
by no manner of means," said Miss Jerusha, with withering sarcasm.
"Hadn't I better order some cake and wine for your worship? Dear, dear!
what ladies we are, to be sure! Is there anything particularly nice I
could get for you, marm, eh? P'raps Fly'd better run to Burnfield for
some plum puddin' or suthin', hey? Oh, dear me, ain't we dainty,
though."

Georgia actually gnashed her teeth, and turned livid with passion as she
listened, and, with a spring, she stood before the startled Miss
Jerusha, her eyes glaring in the partial darkness like those of a
wild-cat. Miss Jerusha, in alarm, lifted a chair as a weapon of defense
against the expected attack; but the attack was not made.

Clasping her hands over her head with a sort of irrepressible cry, she
fled from the room, up the stairs into her own little chamber, fastened
the door, and then sank down, white and quivering, on the floor of the
room.

How long she lay there she could not tell; gusts of passion swept
through her soul. Wild, fierce, and maddening raged the conflict
within--one of those delirious storms of the heart--known and felt only
by those whose fiery, tropical veins seem to run fire instead of blood.

She heard Miss Jerusha's step on the stairs, heard her approach her door
and listen for a moment, and then go to her own chamber and securely
lock the door.

In that moment the half crazed child hated her; hated all the world;
feeling as though she could have killed her were it in her power. Then
this unnatural mood passed away--it was too unnatural to last--and she
rose from the floor, looking like a spirit, with her streaming hair,
wild eyes, and white face. She went to the window and opened it, for her
head throbbed and ached, and leaning her forehead against the cool
glass, she looked out.

How still and serene everything was! The river lay bright and beautiful
in the dark bright starlight. The pine trees waved dreamily in the soft
spring breeze, and the odor of their fragrant leaves came borne to where
she sat. The silence of the grave reigned around, the lonesome forest
seemed lonelier than ever to-night, and so deep was the stillness that
the plaintive cry of the whip-poor-will, as it rose at intervals,
sounded startlingly loud and shrill. She lifted her eyes to the high,
bright, solemn stars that seemed looking down pityingly upon the poor
little orphan child, and all her wickedness and passion passed away, and
a mysterious awe, deep and holy, entered that tempest-tossed young
heart. The soft, cool breeze lifted her dark elf locks, and lingered and
cooled her hot brow like a friend's kiss. Georgia had often looked at
the stars before, but they never seemed to have such high and holy
beauty as they possessed to-night.

"God made the stars," thought Georgia; "I wonder what He made them for?
Perhaps they are the eyes of the people that die and go to heaven. I
wonder if mamma and Warren are up there, and know how bad I am, and how
wicked and miserable I feel? I guess they would be sorry for me if they
did, for there is nobody in the world to like me now. Some people pray;
Emily Murray does, for I've seen her; but I don't know how, and I don't
think God would listen to me if I did, I'm so dreadful bad. She taught
me a pretty hymn to sing; it sounds like a prayer; but I've forgot it
all but the first verse. I'll say that anyway. Let's see--oh, yes! I
know two."

And, for the first time in her life, she knelt down and clasped her
hands, and in the light of the beautiful solemn stars, she softly
whispered her first prayer.

    "Oh, Mary, my mother, most lovely, most mild,
    Look down upon me, your poor, weak, lonely child;
    From the land of my exile, I call upon thee,
    Then Mary, my mother, look kindly on me.
    In sorrow and darkness, be still at my side,
    My light and my refuge, my guard and my guide.
    Though snares should surround me, yet why should I fear?
    I know I am weak, but my mother is near.
    Then Mary, my mother, look down upon me,
    'Tis the voice of thy child that is calling to thee."

Georgia's voice died away, yet with her hands still clasped and her dark
mystic eyes now upturned to the far-off stars, her thoughts went
wandering on the sweet words she had said.

"'Mary, my mother!' I wonder who that means. My mamma's name was not
Mary, and one can't have two mothers, I should think. How good it
sounds, too! I must ask Emily what it means; she knows. Oh, I wish--I do
wish I was up there where all the beautiful stars are!"

Poor little Georgia! untaught, passionate child! how many years will
come and go, what a fiery furnace thou art destined to pass through
before that "peace which passeth all understanding" will enter your
anguished, world-weary heart!

When breakfast was over next morning, Georgia took her sun-bonnet and
set off for Burnfield. She hardly knew herself what was her object in
passing so quickly through the village, without stopping at any of her
favorite haunts, until she stood before the large, handsome mansion
occupied and owned by the one great man of Burnfield, Squire Richmond.

The house was an imposing structure of brown stone, with arched
porticoes, and vine-wreathed balconies. The grounds were extensive, and
beautifully laid out; and Georgia, with the other children, had often
peeped longingly over the high fence encircling the front garden, at the
beautiful flowers within.

Georgia, skilled in climbing, could easily have got over and reached
them, but her innate sense of honor would not permit her to steal. There
was something mean in the idea of being a thief or a liar, and meanness
was the blackest crime in her "table of sins." Perhaps another reason
was, Georgia did not care much for flowers; she liked well enough to see
them growing, but as for culling a bouquet for any pleasure it could
afford her, she would never have thought of doing it. While she stood
gazing wistfully at the forbidden garden of Eden, a sweet silvery voice
close behind her arrested her attention with the exclamation:

"Why, Georgia, is this really you?"

Georgia turned round and saw a little girl about her own age, but, to a
superficial eye, a hundred times prettier and more interesting. Her form
was plump and rounded, her complexion snowy white, with the brightest of
rosy blooms on her cheek and lip; her eyes were large, bright and blue,
and her pale golden hair clustered in natural curls on her ivory neck. A
sweet face it was--a happy, innocent, child-like face--with nothing
remarkable about it save its prettiness and goodness.

"Oh, Em! I'm glad you've come," said Georgia, her dark eyes lighting up
with pleasure. "I was just wishing you would. Here, stand up here beside
me."

"Well, I can't stay long," said the little one, getting up beside
Georgia. "Mother sent me with some things to that poor Mrs. White, whose
husband got killed, you know. Oh, Georgia! she's got just the dearest
little baby you ever saw, with such tiny bits of fingers and toes, and
the funniest little blinking eyes! The greatest little darling ever was!
Do come down with me to see it; it's splendid!" exclaimed Emily, her
pretty little face all aglow with enthusiasm.

"No; I don't care about going," said Georgia, coolly. "I don't like
babies."

"Don't like babies!--the dearest little things in the world! Oh,
Georgia!" cried Emily, reproachfully.

"Well, I don't, then! I don't see anything nice about them, for my part.
Ugly little things, with thin faces all wrinkled up, like Miss
Jerusha's hands on wash-day, crying and making a time. I don't like
them; and I don't see how you can be bothered nursing them the way you
do."

"Oh, I love them! and I'm going to save all the money I get to spend, to
buy Mrs. White's little baby a dress. Mother says I may. Ain't these
flowers lovely in there? I wish we had a garden."

"Why?"

"Oh, because it's so nice to have flowers. I wonder Squire Richmond
never pulls any of his; he always leaves them there till they drop off."

"Well, what would he pull them for?"

"Why, to put on the table, of course. Don't you ever gather flowers for
your room?"

"No."

"You don't! Why, Georgia! don't you love flowers?"

"No, I don't love them; I like to see them well enough."

"Why, Georgia! Oh, Georgia, what a funny girl you are! Not love flowers!
What _do_ you love, then?"

"I love the stars--the beautiful stars, so high, and bright, and
splendid!"

"Oh, so do I; but then they're so far off, you know, I love flowers
better, because they're nearer."

"Well, that's the reason I _don't_ like them--I mean not so much. I
don't care for things I can get so easy--that everybody else can get.
Anything I like I want to have all to myself. I don't want anybody else
in the world to have it. The bright, beautiful stars are away
off--nobody can have them. I call them mine, and nobody can take them
from me. I like stars better than flowers."

"Oh, Georgia! you are queer. Why, don't you know that's selfish? Now,
if I have any pleasure, I don't enjoy it at all unless I have somebody
to enjoy it with. I shouldn't like to keep all to myself; it doesn't
seem right. What else do you like, Georgia?"

"Well, I like the sea--the great, grand, dreadful sea! I like it when
the waves rise and dash their heads against the high rocks, and roar,
and shriek, and rage as if something had made them wild with anger. Oh!
I _love_ to watch it then, when the great white waves break so fiercely
over the high rocks, and dash up the spray in my face. I know it feels
then as I do sometimes, just as if it should go mad and dash its brains
out on the rocks. Oh, I do love the great, stormy, angry sea!"

And the eyes of the wild girl blazed up, and her whole dark face
lighted, kindled, grew radiant as she spoke.

The sweet, innocent little face of Emily was lifted in wonder and a sort
of dismay.

"Oh, Georgia, how you talk!" she exclaimed: "love the sea in a storm!
What a taste you have! Now I like it, too, but only on a sunny, calm
morning like this, when it is smooth and shining. I am dreadfully afraid
of it on a stormy day, when the great waves make such a horrid noise.
What queer things you like! Now I suppose you had rather have a wet day
like last Sunday than one like this?"

"No," said Georgia, "I didn't like last Sunday; it kept on a miserable
drizzle, drizzle all day, and wouldn't be fine nor rain right down
_good_ and have done with it. But I like a storm, a fierce, high storm,
when the wind blows fit to tear the trees up, and dashes the rain like
mad against the windows. I go away up to the garret then and listen. And
I like it when it thunders and lightens, and frightens everybody into
fits. Oh, it's splendid then! I feel as if I would like to fly away and
away all over the world, as if I should go wild being caged up in one
place, as if--oh, I can't tell you how I feel!" said the hare-brained
girl, drawing a long breath and keeping her shining eyes fixed as if on
some far-off vision.

"Well, if you ain't the queerest, wildest thing! And you don't like fine
days at all?"

"Oh, yes, I do--of course I do; not so much days like this, cold, and
clear, and calm, but blazing hot, scorching August noondays, when the
whole world looks like one great flood of golden fire--_that's_ the sort
I like! Or freezing, wild, frosty winter days, when the great blasts
make one fly along as if they had wings--_they're_ splendid, too!"

"Well, I don't know, I don't think so. I like cool, pleasant days like
this better, because I have no taste for roasting or freezing," said
Emily, laughing. "Oh, I must tell mother about the droll things you
like! Let me see what else. Like music?"

"Some sorts. I like the band. Don't care much for any other kind."

"And I like songs and hymns better. And now, which do you prefer--men or
women?"

"Men," said Georgia, decidedly.

"You do! Why?"

"Oh, well--because they're stronger and more powerful, and braver and
bolder; women are such cowards. Do you know the sort of a man I should
like to be?"

"No; what sort?"

"Well, like Napoleon Bonaparte, or Alexander the Great. I should like to
conquer the whole world and make every one _in_ the world do just as I
told them. Oh, I wish I was a boy!"

"I don't, then," said Emily, stoutly. "I don't like boys, they're so
rude and rough. And these two conquerors weren't good men either. I've
read about them. Washington was good. I like _him_."

"So do I. But if I had been him I would have made myself King of
America. I wouldn't have done as he did at all. Now, where are you going
in such a hurry?"

"Oh, I shall have to go to Mrs. White's. I've been here a good while
already. I wish you would come along."

"No," said Georgia decidedly, "I sha'n't go. Good-by."

Emily nodded and smiled a good-by, and tripped off down the road.
Georgia stood for a moment longer, looking at the stately mansion, and
then was about to go away when a hand was laid on her and arrested her
steps.

Close to the wall some benches ran, hidden under a profusion of
flowering vines, and Richmond Wildair had been lying on one of these,
studying a deeply exciting volume, when the voices of the children fell
upon his ear. Very intently did he listen to their conversation, only
revealing himself when he found Georgia was about to leave.

"Good-morning, Miss Georgia," he said, smilingly; "I am very glad to see
you. Come, jump over the fence and come in; you can do it, I know."

Now, Georgia was neither timid nor bashful, but while he spoke she
recollected her not very courteous behavior the previous day, and, for
the first time in her life, she hung her head and blushed.

He appeared to have forgotten, or at least forgiven it, but this only
made her feel it all the more keenly.

"Come," he said, catching her hands, without appearing to notice her
confusion; "one, two, three--jump!"

Georgia laughed, disengaged her hands, and with the old mischievous
spirit twinkling in her eyes, with one flying leap vaulted clear over
his head far out into the garden.

"Bravo!" cried Richmond; "excellently done! I see you understand
gymnastics. Now I would offer you some flowers only I heard you say you
did not care for them, and as for the stars I regret they are beyond
even my reach."

Georgia looked up with a flush that reminded him of yesterday. "You were
listening," she said disdainfully; "that is mean!"

"I beg your pardon, Miss Georgia, I was not listening intentionally; I
am not an eavesdropper, allow me to insinuate. I was lying there
studying before you came, and did not choose to put myself to the
inconvenience of getting up and going away to oblige a couple of small
young ladies, more particularly when I found their conversation so
intensely interesting. Very odd tastes and fancies you have, my little
Lady Georgia."

Georgia was silent--she had scarcely heard him--she was thinking of
something else. She wanted to ask about Charley, but--she did not like
to.

"Well," he said, with a smile, reading her thoughts like an open book,
"and what is little Georgia thinking of so intently?"

"I--I--of _nothing_," she was going to say, and then she checked
herself. It would be a falsehood, and Georgia as proud of never having
told a lie in her life.

"And what does 'I--I' mean?"

"I was thinking of your brother Charley," she said, looking up with one
of her bright, defiant flashes.

"Yes," he said, quietly, "and what of him?"

"I should like to know how he is."

"He is ill--seriously ill. Charles is delicate, and his ankle is even
worse hurt than we supposed. Last night he was feverish and sleepless,
and this morning he was not able to get up."

A hot flush passed over Georgia's face, retreating instantaneously, and
leaving her very pale, with a wild, uneasy, glitter in her large dark
eyes. Oh! If he should die, she thought. It was through her fault he had
hurt himself first, and then she had been obstinate, and would not
forgive him. Perhaps he would die, she would never be able to tell him
how sorry she was for what she had done. She laid her hand on Richmond's
arm, and, looking up earnestly in his face, said, in a voice that
trembled a little in spite of herself: "Do--do you think he will die?"

"No," he said, gravely, "I hope--I think not; but poor Charley is really
ill, and very lonely, up there alone."

"I--I should like to see him."

It was just what Richmond expected; just what he had uttered the last
words to hear her say. _Her_ eyes were downcast, and she did not see the
almost imperceptible smile that dawned around his mouth. When she looked
up he was grave and serious.

"I think he will be able to sit up this afternoon. If you will come up
after dinner you shall see him. Meantime, shall I show you through the
grounds? Perhaps you have never been here before."

He changed the subject quickly, for he knew it would not do to
particularly notice her request. Georgia had often before wished to
wander through the long walks and beautiful gardens around, but now her
little dark face was downcast and troubled, and she said, gravely:

"No--thank you!" The last words after a pause, for politeness was not in
the little lady's line. "I will go home now, and come back by-and-by.
You needn't open the gate; I can jump over the fence. There! don't mind
helping me. Good-by!"

She sprang lightly over the wall, and was gone, and pulling her
sun-bonnet far over her face, set out for home.

Miss Jerusha wondered that day, in confidence to Fly and Betsey
Periwinkle, what had "come to Georgey," she was so still and silent all
dinner-time, and sat with such a moody look of dark gravity in her face,
all unusual with the sparkling, restless elf. Well, they did not know
that the free young forest eaglet had got its wings clipped for the
first time, that day, and that Georgia could exult no more in the
thought that she was wholly unconquered and free.

Richmond Wildair was at his post immediately after dinner, awaiting the
coming of Georgia. He knew she would come, and she did. He saw the
small, dark figure approaching, and held the gate open for her to enter.

"Ah! you've come, Georgia!" he said. "That is right. Come along; Charley
is here."

"Does he know I am coming?" asked Georgia, soberly.

"Yes, I told him. He expects you. Here--this way. There you are!"

He opened the door, and ushered Georgia into a sort of summer-house in
the garden, where, seated in state, in an arm-chair, was Master Charley,
looking rather paler than when she saw him last, but with the same half
droll, half indolent, languid air about him that seemed to be his chief
characteristic.

"My dear Miss Georgia," he began, with the greatest _empressement_, the
moment he saw her, "you make me proud by honoring so unworthy an
individual as I am with your gracious presence. You'll excuse my not
getting up, I hope; but the fact is, this unfortunate continuation of
mine being resolved to have its own way about the matter, can be induced
by no amount of persuasion and liniment to behave prettily, and utterly
scouts the idea of being used as a means of support. Pray take a seat,
Miss Georgia Darrell, and make yourself as miserable as circumstances
will allow."

To this speech, uttered with the utmost _verve_, and with the blandest
and most insinuating tones, Georgia listened with a countenance of
immovable gravity, and at its close, instead of sitting down, she walked
up, stood before him, and said:

"Yesterday you laughed at me, and I was angry. You said you were sorry,
and I--I came to-day to tell you I was willing to make up friends again.
There!"

She held out one little brown hand in token of amity. With the utmost
difficulty Charley maintained his countenance sufficiently to shake
hands with her, which he did with due decorum, and then, without another
word, Georgia turned and walked away.

No sooner was she gone than Charley leaned back and laughed until the
tears stood in his eyes. While he was yet in a paroxysm Richmond
entered.

"Has she gone?" asked Charley, finding voice.

"Yes, looking as sober as Minerva and her owl."

"Oh! that girl will be the death of me, that's certain. By George! it
was good as a play. There she stood with a face as long as a coffin, and
as dark and solemn as a hearse," and Charley went off into another fit
of laughter at the recollection.

"She condescended to forgive you at last, you see."

"Yes, Miss Georgia and I have, figuratively speaking, smoked the pipe of
peace. Touching sight it must have been to a third person. It was a
tight fit, though, to get her to do it."

"I think I could manage that proud little lady, if she were a sister of
mine. I shall conquer her more thoroughly yet before I have done with
her. I have a plan in my head, the result of which you will see pretty
soon. I expect she will struggle against it to the last gasp, but she
shall obey me," said Richmond.



CHAPTER VII.

GEORGIA'S DREAM.

    "The wild sparkle of her eye seemed caught
    From high, and lighted with electric thought,
    And pleased not her the sports which please her age."


Two weeks passed. Charley was quite well again, and had left no effort
untried to reinstate himself in the good graces of Georgia. As that
young gentleman, in the profundity of his humility, had once told her he
seldom failed in anything he undertook, and with his seeming genial good
humor and handsome boyish face, he never found it a difficult task to
make people like him, and Georgia was no more able to resist his
influence than the rest of the world. And so they became good friends
again--"brothers in arms" Charley said.

At first Georgia tried to resist his advances, and felt indignant at
herself for allowing him to talk her into good humor and make her laugh;
but it was all of no use, and at last the struggle was given up, and she
condescended to patronize Master Wildair with a grave superiority that
disturbed the good youth's gravity most seriously at times.

Richmond had not lost his interest in the unique child, and his
influence over her increased every day. But still he was the only one
who had any command over her; to the rest of the world she was the same
hot, peppery, fiery little snap-dragon, defying all wills and commands
that clashed with her own. And even _his_ wishes, when _very_ repugnant
to her, she openly and fiercely braved; but, as a general thing, she
began to be anxious to please her young judge, whose grave glance of
stern disapproval could trouble her fearless little heart as that of no
other in the world ever could. And, though she was too proud to openly
let him see she cared for his approval or disapproval, still he _did_
see it, and exulted therein.

Georgia had made her new friends acquainted with the pretty little Emily
Murray, whom Charley unhesitatingly pronounced at first sight a "regular
stunner," and these four soon became inseparable friends. At first Emily
was shy and silent, which Charley perceiving, he also assumed a look of
extreme timidity, not to say distressing bashfulness, which so imposed
upon simple little Emily, that, pitying his evident embarrassment, she
would timidly try to help him out by opening a conversation.

"Is it nice to live in New York?" Emily would say, hesitatingly.

"Yes'm," would be Charley's reply, in a tone of painful timidity.

"Nicer than here?"

"Yes'm--I--I think so."

"Won't your ma miss you a good deal?" Emily would insinuate, getting
courage.

"No'm--I mean yes'm."

"Ain't Georgia nice?"

"Splendiferous!"

This long word being a puzzle to Emily she would have to stop a moment
to reflect on its probable meaning before going on.

"So is your brother."

"Yes, but he's not near so nice as I am."

Again there would be a pause, during which Emily would look deeply
shocked by this display of vanity--and then:

"It ain't nice to praise one's self," Emily would observe, seriously.

"Well, but it's _true_," Charley would begin, in an argumentative tone.
"Now I ask yourself--don't you think I'm nicer than he is?"

Now, it was Miss Emily's private conviction that he decidedly _was_, she
could not say no, and not wishing to commit herself by saying yes, she
would look grave, and remain silent. But Charley, whose shyness
generally passed away at this point, was not to be put off, and would
insist:

"Now, Emily, just tell the truth, as every well-brought-up little girl
should, and say, don't you like me twice as well as you do Rich?"

"Well, ye-es," Emily would reply, hesitatingly, "but I guess he knows
more than you do; he looks awfully wise, anyway, and then Georgia minds
him, and she don't mind you."

"That's because she isn't capable of appreciating solid wit and hidden
genius--or, to use language more fitted for your uncultivated intellect,
my young friend--she doesn't know on which side the bread's buttered.
Any person with his senses about him would see at a glance I am worth a
dozen of Richmond."

"No, you're not," would be Emily's decided answer; "you only think so
yourself. I heard Uncle Edward saying your brother was wise for his age,
and knew more than any young man he ever met, and he only laughed about
you, and said you were a 'curled darling of nature,' whatever that
means. So, then, I guess Uncle Edward knows better than _you_."

"Now, Miss Emily, I can't stand this; I positively can't you know. It's
outrageous to expect me to lie up here and be abused in this shameful
fashion, and told anybody's Uncle Edward knows more about me than I do
myself. I've an immense respect for Father Murray, but still I won't
permit him or anybody else to insinuate that they know more about Mr.
Charles Wildair than I do. I've been acquainted with that promising
youth ever since he was the size of a well-grown doughnut, and I am
prepared to say, without mental reservation of any kind, that he is a
perfect encyclopedia of all sorts of learning--a moving, living
Webster's Dictionary, neatly bound in cloth. I've undergone grammar,
declined verbs and other vicious parts of speech. I have suffered a
severe course of geography, and can tell to an iota where Ireland,
Kamtschatka, and lots of other aggravating places are situated; I have
fought my way through French, and German, and Latin, and other dead
languages; and when I go back to New York, I'm bound to have at them
again, and have every single one of them, dead or alive, at my fingers
ends. I have a taste for poetry and the fine arts, as I evinced in early
life by a diligent perusal of that work of thrilling interest known as
'Mother Goose's Melodies', and by becoming a proficient on the
Jew's-harp. I have a soul above the common, Miss Nancy, and can discover
beauties in a tallow candle, and sublimity in a mug of milk and water.
And now, if after this brief and inadequate exposition you don't
acknowledge that my thing-um-bob-sentiments do me honor, then your
intellect, like small beer in thunder, is something to be looked upon
with pity and contempt!"

As Mr. Wildair, Jr., usually promulgated his sentiments to an admiring
world in an exceedingly slow and leisurely manner, it took him some time
to get to the end of this speech, and when he was done he found that
Emily, overcome by the heat and his monotonous tone, was dropping
asleep. Making a grimace, he was about to lounge back into his former
lazy position, when Georgia, who had left them a moment before in full
chase after a butterfly, accompanied by Richmond, returned, looking so
woebegone and disconsolate that Charley, after a stare of surprise, felt
called upon by the claims of common humanity to offer her consolation.

"May I ask, Miss Georgia, what awful mystery of iniquity has come to
light, to make you look as if your last friend had been hung for
sheep-stealing? You look about as intensely dismal now as a whole grove
of weeping willows."

"Oh! it's my butterfly! my poor butterfly!" said Georgia, sorrowfully,
holding up the dead insect, its bright colors all faded and gone.

"Oh, I see--as the blind man said--the insect has departed this life,
leaving, no doubt, a large and bereaved circle of friends to mourn its
untimely end. Funeral this evening, when friends and relatives are
respectfully invited to attend--that's the newspaper style, eh? May I
venture to inquire, Georgia, if the butterfly in question was a personal
acquaintance of yours, that you look so afflicted at its death? Because
if it was, I shall feel called upon to shed a few tears myself, out of
regard for you."

"Oh, it was killed; and it was so pretty. Wasn't it pretty?" said
Georgia, looking in real grief, amusing to witness, at the poor little
crushed insect.

"Strangely beautiful," said Charley. "I remarked it at the time; every
feature was perfect. Roman nose, intellectual forehead, well-formed
head, with the bump of benevolence largely developed, blue hair, and
curly teeth. And so it was killed, was it? Georgia, my friend, in the
name of common humanity, in the name of the law, I ask you who was the
cold-blooded assassin?"

"Poor little thing! Richmond killed it," said Georgia, too deeply
troubled about the loss of the bright-hued insect to notice Charley's
highfalutin tones.

"Blood-thirsty monster! let him beware! the day of retribution is at
hand!" exclaimed Charley, in tones so tragic that it would have made his
fortune on the stage. "Yes, the day is at hand when the oppressed and
downtrodden race of butterflies will rise in arms against such tyrants
as he, and Mr. Richmond Wildair will probably find himself knocked into
a cocked hat. But how did it happen? Explain the horrid deed. I have
steeled my soul, and nothing can move me more."

And Master Charley struck his forehead with his fist, and assumed an
expression so frightfully despairing that an artist wishing to paint a
patriot beholding the ruin of his country would have given all the spare
change he might have for a glimpse of that agonized face.

"Why," said Georgia, "I couldn't catch it, and Richmond was determined
to do it. So he struck his hat down over it, and when he took it off it
was dead, and all its beautiful colors faded and gone; poor little
thing!"

"Oh, my wretched country!" exclaimed Charley, raising his hands and
eyes, "and it is under the shadow of thy laws such barbarous atrocities
are committed; in the face of open day crimes such as these, that make
the blood run down one's back like a pail of cold water, are
perpetrated! And man--black-hearted man--is the author of these deeds!
What other animal would perpetrate such a crime? Would a horse, or a
cow, or even a donkey, now, with malice aforethought, malice at which we
shudder as if we had taken a dose of castor oil, take off its hat and
smash all to pieces an upright member of society--like that dilapidated
butterfly, who at the time was probably thinking of his happy wife and
children at home--that is, supposing it wasn't an old bachelor? I ask
you again what other--but perhaps we have hardly time to do the subject
justice at present," said Charley, changing his tone with startling
abruptness, from one of the deepest anguish to the indifferent one of
every-day life. "Where's Rich, Georgia?"

"Here, _mon frere_," replied Richmond himself, as he came up and threw
himself carelessly on the grass. "Come, Georgia, throw away that dead
insect, and don't stand looking so pitiously at it. There are plenty
more butterflies where that came from. Why, Emily, you're not falling
asleep, are you?"

Emily started up, blushing deeply at being caught in the act, and put on
a wide-awake look indeed, as if to utterly repudiate the idea of such a
thing.

"I hope your dreams were pleasant--eh, Em?" asked Charley.

"I didn't dream," said Emily, blushing.

"_I_ dreamed last night," said Georgia, soberly.

"About me, wasn't it?" said Charley, briskly.

"About _you_" said Georgia, contemptuously. "No; I ain't such a goose!
It was a dreadful dream--ugh!" and Georgia shuddered.

"Oh, Georgia, tell us--what was it about?" exclaimed Emily, eagerly.

"Do, Georgia, and I'll be the Joseph who will interpret it," said
Charley.

Georgia looked grave and dark, and was silent.

"Come, Georgia, tell us," said Richmond. "I should like to hear this
dream of yours."

"Oh, it was awful!" said Georgia, speaking in a hushed tone of awe. "I
thought I was walking on and on through a dark, gloomy place, following
some one who made me come on. The ground was full of sharp stones and
hurt my feet, and they bled dreadfully; but he wouldn't let me stop, but
pulled me on and on, till the ground where I walked was all covered with
blood."

"Hard-hearted monster!" said Charley; "should admire to be punching that
fellow's head for him!"

"As we went on," continued Georgia, looking straight before her with a
dark kind of earnestness, and speaking in the tone of one describing
events then passing, "the ground grew sharper and sharper, and the blood
flowed so fast that at last I screamed out for him to let me go, that I
couldn't walk any farther. But he only laughed at me, and pulled me on."

"The scoundrel!" broke in Charley. "If I had been there, I would have
made him laugh on the other side of his mouth."

"Then, all of a sudden, we came to a great, red-hot blazing fire, that
looked like burning serpents with tongues of flame. All was fire, fire,
fire, on every side, red-hot blazing flames, that crackled and roared,
and made everything as red as blood. I screamed out and tried to break
away, but he held me fast and pushed me into the fire. I felt burning,
scorching, roasting. I screamed out, and fell all burned and blazing on
the ground; and then I woke, and I was sitting up in bed screaming out,
and Miss Jerusha was standing over me holding me down."

Georgia paused, and there was something in her blanched face,
horror-dilated eyes, and deep, awe-struck tones that for a moment sent a
superstitious thrill to every heart. It was for a moment, and then
Charley carelessly remarked:

"Nightmares _are_ pleasant quadrupeds I know; I made the acquaintance of
one after eating half a mince pie and three pigs' feet one night before
going to bed; but for constant exercise I must say I should decidedly
prefer riding Miss Jerusha's Shanghai rooster to trying the experiment
again."

"Did you recognize the man who was with you?" asked Richmond.

"Yes," said Georgia, in a low voice.

"You did, eh?" said Charley; "who was it?"

"I sha'n't tell you."

"Oh, now, you wouldn't be so cruel. Come, out with it."

"I won't," said Georgia, with one of her sharp flashes; "but it's
true--every word of it."

"You mean it will come true?" said Richmond.

"Yes."

"Why, Georgia, do you believe in dreams?" said Emily. "Oh, that's
wicked; mother says so."

"Wicked! it's no such thing. What do people dream for if they're not to
come true?"

"So you believe you are destined to be burned up?" said Richmond.

"Yes," said Georgia, unhesitatingly.

"Oh, I haven't the slightest doubt of it," said Charley; "if you miss it
in this world, you'll----"

"Now, Charley, be quiet," said Richmond, soothingly; "you have no
experience in different sorts of worlds, so you are not capable of
judging. Georgia, you are the most silly-wise child I ever met in all my
life."

"What!" said Georgia, with a scowl.

"You are so unnaturally precocious in some ways, and so childishly
simple in others. You know the most unexpected things, and are ignorant
of the commonest facts that any infant almost comprehends. You are
morbid and superstitious--but I knew that before. A little learning is a
dangerous thing. Georgia, you ought to go to school."

Now, school was Georgia's pet abomination. Miss Jerusha, partly to be
rid of her and partly for the propriety of the thing, had often wished
to send her; but the idea of being cooped up a prisoner within the walls
of a school-room, and obliged to obey every command, was abhorrent to
the free, unfettered, untamed child. Go to school, indeed! Not she! She
laughed at the notion. Richmond had never spoken of it before to her,
and now, conscious of his power over her, and trembling for her
threatened liberty, all the old spirit of daring and fierce defiance
flashed up in her bold black eyes, and, springing to her feet, she
confronted him.

"I _won't_! I'll never go to school! I hate it!"

Georgia never said "I can't" or "I don't like to," but her dauntless,
defiant "I _will_" and "I _won't_," bespoke her nature. Emily said the
former; Georgia, never.

Richmond expected exactly this answer, therefore he only smiled
slightly, and carelessly asked,

"Why?"

"Because I won't be shut up in a nasty old school-house, and not be able
to speak or move without asking leave. I'll not go for _any one_!" she
said, flashing a threatening glance at him.

"Every one else does it, Georgia."

"I don't care for every one else."

"_I_ did it, Georgia."

"Well, I don't care for you!"

"Whew!" whistled Charley. "Sharp shooting, this."

"Then you prefer to grow up a--"

"What?"

"A dunce, and be laughed at."

"Let them laugh at me! let them dare do it!" cried Georgia, fiercely.

"And dare do it they will. Pooh, Georgia, have sense. You can't roll up
your sleeves and go to fisticuffs with the whole world. What else can
you expect but to be laughed at when you are a woman if you know nothing
but what you do now? Wait till you see the wise little woman Emily here
is going to be. Why, your friends will be ashamed of you, Georgia, by
and by, if you don't learn something."

"Let them, then! I don't care for them!"

"Oh, don't you? I thought that as they cared so much for you, you might
care a little for them. I am sorry it is not so, Georgia; I am very
sorry my little friend is selfish and ungrateful."

"I am _not_ ungrateful," said Georgia, passionately, but her lips
quivered.

"Then prove it by doing something to please your friends. Think how they
have tried to please you, and just ask yourself what you have done in
return to please them. Come, Georgia, be reasonable. You will think
better of this when you come to reflect on it."

"That's right, Rich," cried Charley; "go in and win! I always knew you
had a native talent for teaching young ideas how to shoot. Splendid
parson you'd make."

"I _have_ tried to please them! I have tried to please _you_!"

"Well, did I ever ask you to do any thing but what was your _duty_ to
do? I am afraid you have not a good idea of what that word means. I am
your friend, you know, Georgia, am I _not_?" he said gently.

"I don't know," she said, with a trembling lip.

"But I am your true friend. What difference can it make to me whether
you grow up learned and accomplished, or as ignorant as your little
servant, Fly?"

"A great deal, if she know but all," muttered Charley.

"But I hate school! I should _die_ if I was kept in," said Georgia with
a sort of cry.

"Nonsense! You would do no such thing! Do you remember the bird I caught
for you and put in a cage? Yes! well, it struggled to get out, and beat
its wings against the bars of the cage until you thought it would have
beat itself to death, yet now it is a willing captive."

"Yes, it is like a wooden bird, without life; it lies in the bottom of
the cage and hardly ever sings or moves; it isn't worth having now,"
said Georgia, her lip curling with a sort of scorn.

"Well, it will be different with you; you are ambitious, Georgia, and in
trying to pass your schoolmates you will feel a delight and pride you
never experienced before. A new world will be opened to you; you will
like it. _Do_ go, Georgia; if I were not your friend, if I did not like
you very much, I should not ask you."

Charley, with his head bent down whistling "Yankee Doodle," was shaking
with inward laughter.

"Oh, Georgia, do come," pleaded Emily.

Georgia, with her lips compressed, her glittering black eyes burning
into the ground, stood silent, motionless, turned to iron.

"Well, Georgia?"

No reply.

"_Georgia!_" Richmond cried, anxiously.

She lifted her eyes.

"Well?"

"Georgia, will you go--I want you to--you don't know how deeply grieved
I shall be if you refuse; so deeply grieved that we shall be friends no
longer. Georgia, I am going away from here soon--I may never come
back--never see you again, and I should be sorry we should part bad
friends. Georgia, will you go?"

"Yes."

It was a hard-wrung assent. The word dropped from her lips as though it
burned them.

Charley's whistle at that moment spoke volumes. Emily looked delighted,
and the face of Richmond Wildair lit up with triumph and exultation.
Once that "yes" had been uttered he knew her word would be sacredly
kept. How he exulted that moment in his power.

"Thank you, Georgia," he cried, springing to his feet, and holding out
his hand, "we are fast friends forever now."

Georgia shook hands, but the fingers she gave him were little rigid bars
of steel--no life--no warmth there.

"When will you go?" said Richmond, following up his advantage, on the
principle of striking while the iron was hot.

"On Monday."

"Oh, Georgia, I'm so glad! Oh, Georgia that's so nice!" exclaimed Emily,
dancing round delightedly, and clasping her hands.

Georgia's face was a blank--cold and meaningless.

"That is right! Georgia, you are a good girl!"

"If I had refused to do as you told me I would have been a selfish,
ungrateful thing--I understand!" said Georgia, turning away with a
curling lip.

Richmond started. There was the look of a woman in her childish face at
that moment. It was one of her precocious turns.

"Now, don't be cross, Georgia; it's real nice to go to school after you
get used to it," said Emily, in her pretty, coaxing way, putting her
arms round her waist.

"I must go home--Miss Jerusha will want me," said Georgia, by way of
reply, as she resolutely, almost rudely, unclasped Emily's clinging
arms.

"Shall I go with you?" said Richmond, making a step forward.

"_No!_" exclaimed Georgia, with one of her peculiar sharp, bright
flashes, as she turned away in the direction of the cottage.

Richmond and Emily sauntered back to Burnfield together, chatting gayly.
As Richmond entered the grounds of his uncle's stately residence he saw
his brother standing in the threshold humming a classical ditty.

"Bravo, Richmond, old boy!" cried Charley, giving him a sounding slap on
the shoulder; "you deserve a leather medal! Do you think any of the
blood of your namesake of evil memory has descended to you?"

"Pshaw, Charley! don't be a fool!" said Richmond, impatiently.

"I don't intend to, my dear brother," said Charley, dryly; "but the
scales fell from my eyes to-day. What a world we live in!"

"Tush! will you never learn to talk sense, Charles?" said Richmond,
biting his lips to maintain his gravity, as he shook off his hand and
passed into the house.



CHAPTER VIII.

"COMING EVENTS CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEFORE."

        "A look of pride, an eye of flame,
      A full drawn lip that upward curled,
    An eye that seemed to scorn the world."


The little town of Burnfield contained but one school, within the old
brown walls and moss-grown eaves of which the "fathers of the hamlet"
for many a generation had sat at the feet of some worthy pedagogue, or
pedagoguess, as the case might be, to catch the wisdom that fell from
their lips. In summer woman held her sway there, but in winter man
reigned supreme on the throne of learning, and "boarded round," a custom
not yet obsolete.

Once every year came the great anniversary of the school, the last day
of April, when the "master's" term expired, and he left the town to the
dominion of the new school-marm. Then took place the great public
examination, in which lanky youths, weighed down with the consciousness
of their responsibility and first tail-coats, and cherry-cheeked girls,
bursting out of their hooks and eyes, showed off before the admiring
Burnfieldians, and received their rewards of merit, more highly prized
by them than the Cross of the Legion of Honor would be by some old
French veteran. A new innovation had lately been introduced by one of
the teachers--that of speaking dialogues at these distributions, and
wonderful was the delight young Burnfield took in these displays. The
more strait-laced of the parents at first objected to this, as smacking
too much of "play acting," but young Burnfield had a decided will of its
own, and looked contemptuously on the "slow" ideas of old Burnfield, and
finally, in triumph, carried the day.

The great day arrived, and the anxious parents who had young ideas at
school, were crowding rapidly toward the large old-fashioned
school-house under the hill. Among them, in grim, unbending majesty,
stalked Miss Jerusha Skamp, resplendent in what she was pleased to term
her new "kaliker gound," a garment which partook of the nature of its
forerunners in being exceedingly short and exceedingly skimpy, and the
gorgeous patterns of which can be likened to nothing save a highly
exaggerated rainbow. But Miss Jerusha, happy in the belief that nothing
like it had appeared in modern times, walked majestically in, upsetting
some loose benches, half a dozen small boys, and other trifles that lay
in her way, and took her seat on one of the front benches. The boys,
gorgeous in blue and gray homespun coats, with brass buttons of alarming
size and brightness, were ranged on one side, and the girls, arrayed in
all the hues of a flower-garden, on the other. Miss Jerusha's eyes
wandered to the side where the girls sat, and rested with a look of
evident pride and self-complaisance on one--a look that said as plainly
as words, "There! look at that! there's _my_ handiwork for you."

And certainly, amid the many handsome, blooming girls there, not one was
more worth looking at than she on whom Miss Jerusha's eyes rested. The
tall, slight, but well-portioned form had none of the awkwardness common
to girls in their transition stages. The queenly little head was poised
superbly on the sloping neck; the clear olive skin, with its glowing
crimson lips and cheeks, was the very ideal of dark, rich, southern
beauty; the jet-black shining hair, swept off the broad forehead in
smooth silken braids, became well the scarlet ribbons that bound it, as
did also the close-fitting crimson dress she wore.

Georgia (for of course every reader above the unsuspecting age of three
years knows who it is), without being at all aware of it, always fell
into the style of dress that best suited her and harmonized with her
warm, tropical complexion--dark, rich colors, such as black, purple,
crimson, or, in summer, white. The two years that have passed since we
saw her last have changed her wonderfully; but the full, proud,
passionate, flashing eyes are the same in their dark splendor; the
short, curling upper lip and curved nostril tell a tale of pride, and
passion, and daring, and scornful power--tell that time may have
softened, but has not eradicated, the temper of our stormy little
essence of wild-fire.

Yes, she sits there, leaning listlessly back in her seat, her little
restless brown hands folded quietly enough in her lap, her long black
lashes vailing her darkly glancing eyes, cast down by a sort of proud
indolence; but it is the calm that precedes the tempest, the dangerous
spirit of the drowsy and beautiful leopard, the deep, treacherous
stillness that heralds the bursting sheets of fire from the volcano's
bosom, the white ashes that overlie consuming flames hidden beneath
them, but ready at any moment to burst forth. And there she sat, known
only to those present as the "smart little girl," the star scholar of
the school, good-looking, bright, generous, and warm-hearted, too, but
"ugly tempered."

The dark, bright, handsome eyes of the girl of fifteen had already
carried unexampled desolation into more than one susceptible breast,
and some of the unhappy youths were so badly stricken as to be guilty of
the atrocity of perpetrating soul-harrowing "pote"-ry to those same
dangerous optics. But these were only the worst cases, and even they
never tried it but in the first delirium of the attack, and, like all
delirious fevers, it soon passed away, died out like a hot little fire
under (to use a homely simile) the wet blanket of her cool, utter
indifference, and they returned to their buckwheat cakes, and pork, and
molasses with just as good an appetite as ever.

One by one the people came in until the school-house was filled, and
then the exercises commenced. The premiums were arranged on a table, and
on a desk beside it stood the master, who rose and called out:

"First prize for general excellence awarded to Miss Georgia Darrell."

There was a moment's profound silence, while every eye turned upon
Georgia, and then, as if by general impulse, there was an enthusiastic
round of applause, for her warm, ardent nature, and many generous
impulses, made her schoolmates like her in spite of her ebullitions of
temper. And in the midst of this Georgia rose, with a flashing eye and
kindling cheek, and, advancing to where the teacher stood, received the
first prize from his hand, courtesied, and, with head proudly erect, and
cheeks hot with the excitement of triumph, walked back to her seat.

Then came the other premiums, for grammar, for geography, history, and
astronomy; the first prize was still awarded to "Miss Georgia Darrell,"
until the good folks of Burnfield began to knit their brows in anger and
jealousy, and accused the master of being swayed, like the rest, by a
handsome face, and unjustly depriving their offspring for the sake of
this "stuck-up Georgia Darrell," who--as Deacon Brown remarked, in a
scandalized tone--seemed to despise the very "airth she walked on."

The distribution was over at last, and then came the dialogues. And here
Georgia's star was in the ascendant again. She, and the teacher,
perhaps, knew what acting was--not one of the rest had the remotest
idea--and they held their very breath to listen, as losing her own
identity her eyes blazed and her cheeks burned, and she strode up and
down, declaiming with such vehement gestures, that they looked at one
another in a sort of terror, wonder, and admiration. And once, when she
and another were repeating a selection from Tamerlane, where she took
the character of Bajazet, and Tamerlane, in a sort of wonder and
admiration, says:

    "The world! 'twould be too little for thy pride!
      Thou wouldst scale heaven!"

Georgia's eyes of lightning blazed, and raising her hand with a
passionate gesture, she strode over and fiercely thundered:

    "I WOULD! Away! my soul
      Disdains thy conference!"

The Tamerlane of the moment recoiled in terror, and there was an instant
of death-like silence, while every heart thrilled with the knowledge
that the dark, wild girl was not "acting," but speaking the truth.

It was all over at last, and, with a few words from the teacher, the
assembly was dismissed. As Georgia gathered up her armful of prizes and
put on her bonnet, the teacher came over, and, to the jealousy of the
other pupils, held out his hand to her, who had from the first been his
favorite.

"Good-by, Bajazet," he said, smiling; "you electrified the good people
of Burnfield to-day."

Georgia laughed.

"Do you know you were not acting just now, Georgia? Do you know you are
ambitious enough to scale heaven? Do you know that you have within you
what hurled Lucifer from heaven?"

"Yes, sir," she said, lifting her eyes boldly; "I know it."

"And do you not fear?"

"No, sir."

"Do you know you are composed of elements that will make you either an
angel or a--_demon_?"

"Miss Jerusha says I'm the latter _now_, sir," she said, with a light
laugh.

He looked at her with a smile half fond, half sad.

"Georgia, take care."

"Of what, sir?"

"Of _yourself_--your worst enemy."

"Father Murray says everyone is his own worst enemy."

"You are not like everyone. You are a little two-edged sword in a
remarkably thin sheath, my little sprite. Take care."

"Well, I know I'm thin," said Georgia, who was in one of her unserious
moods; "but that is my misfortune, Mr. Coleman, not my fault. Wait a
little while, and you'll see I'll turn out to be a female pocket edition
of Daniel Lambert."

"Georgia!"

"Well, sir."

"Promise me one thing."

"What is it, first?"

"That you will study very hard till I come back next winter?"

"Of course I will, sir. I made that promise once before."

"Indeed? To whom? Miss Jerusha?"

"Miss Jerusha!" said Georgia, laughing. "I guess not! To a friend of
mine--a young gentleman."

And the girl of fifteen glanced up from under her long lashes at the
dignified man of forty.

"Pooh, Georgia! stick to your books, and never mind the _genus homo_.
You're a pretty subject to be advised by young gentlemen. It was good
advice, though, and I indorse it."

"Very well, sir; but why am I to attend to my studies more than any of
the rest of your pupils--Mary Ann Jones, for instance?"

"Humph! there is a wide difference. Mary Ann Jones will go home and help
her mother to knit stockings, scrub the floor, make pumpkin pies, and
eat them, too, without even a thought of mischief, while you would be
breaking your neck or somebody else's, setting the iron on fire, or
bottling thunderbolts to blow up the community generally. As there is
more truth than poetry in that couplet of the solemn and prosy Dr.
Watts, wherein he assures us--

    "'Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do,'

on that principle you need to be kept busy. Between you and Mary Ann
Jones there is about as much difference as there is between that useful
domestic fowl, a barnyard goose, and that dangerous, sharp-clawed,
good-for-nothing thing, a tameless mountain eaglet; and you may consider
the comparison anything but complimentary to you. Mary Ann is going to
be a merry, contented, capital housekeeper, and you--what are _you_
going to be?"

"A vagabones on the face of the airth," said Georgia, imitating Miss
Jerusha's nasal twang so well that it nearly overset the good teacher's
gravity.

"Ah, Georgia! I see you are in one of your wild moods to-day, and will
not listen to reason. Well, good-by--be a good girl till I come back."

"Good-by, sir. I don't think I will ever be a good girl, but I will be
as good as I can. Good-by, and thank you, sir."

There was something so darkly earnest in her face, that Mr. Coleman
looked after her, more puzzled than he had ever before been by a pupil.
She had always been an enigma to him--she was to most people--and to-day
she was more unreadable than ever.

"I declare to skreech, Georgy!" said Miss Jerusha, as they walked home
together, "you like to skeered the life out o' me to-day, the way you
talked and shouted. Clare to gracious! ef it wasn't parfectly orful, not
to say downright wicked. Talk about scalin' heaven! there's sense for
you now! And it's not only sinful, as Deacon Brown remarked, but reglir
onpossible. Where could a ladder, now, or even a fire escape be got,
long enough to do it? Pah! it's disgustin', such nonsense! I wonder a
man like that there Mr. Coleman would 'low of sich talk in his school
hus, it's rale disgraceful--that's what it is!"

Georgia laughed. Georgia was more patient with Miss Jerusha than she
used to be, and had her hot temper more under control. This was in a
great measure owing to the instructions and gentle exhortations of good
Mrs. Murray, little Emily's mother, who had taught her that instead of
conferring a favor on the old maid by living with her, she owed her a
debt of gratitude she would find it difficult to repay. And Georgia,
whose faults were more of the head than of the heart, saw Mrs. Murray
was right, and consented to try and "behave herself" for the future.
Georgia found _self_-control a _very_ difficult lesson to practice; and
the impulses of her nature very often rose and mastered her good
resolutions yet. Still it was something for her even to try, and it had
such an effect on Miss Jerusha, that the vinegar in that sour spinster's
composition became perceptibly less acid, and the ward and "dragon" got
along much better than formerly. So true it is that every effort to do
good is rewarded even here.

When Georgia got home she found her friend Emily Murray awaiting her.
Despite the wide difference in their dispositions Emily and Georgia were
still fast friends. Emily did not go to the public school, but was
taught at home by her mother. But they saw each other every day, and
Emily's sunny disposition helped not a little to soften down our savage
little wild-cat into her present state of comparative civilization.
Still the same rounded little lady was Emily, perhaps an inch or two
higher than when thirteen years old, but still nothing to speak of, with
the same smiling, rosy, sunshiny little face peeping out from its wealth
of tangled yellow curls--for Emily's hair would persist in curling in
spite of all attempts to comb it straight and respectable looking, and
persisted in having its own way, and openly rebelling against all
established authority.

"Oh, Georgia! I'm so glad!" exclaimed Emily, throwing her arms around
Georgia's neck, and administering a dozen or two short, sharp little
kisses that went off like the corks out of so many ginger-beer bottles.
"I'm _ever_ so glad that you got all the prizes! I knew you would; I
said it all along. I knew you were dreadfully clever, if you only liked.
And now I want you to come right over to our house and spend the evening
with us. Mother told me to come for you. Oh, Georgia! we'll have a good
time!"

"Well, there, Em, you needn't strangle me about it," said Georgia,
laughingly releasing herself. "If Miss Jerusha doesn't want me
particularly, I'll go."

Two years previously Georgia would no more have thought of asking Miss
Jerusha's leave about any thing than she would of flying; but since she
had come to a sense of her duty things were different. But as the
leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiope his skin, so neither
could she entirely change her nature, and there was an involuntary
defiant light in her eye and haughtiness in her tone when asking a
favor, and a fierce bright flash and passionate gesture when refused.

Miss Jerusha looked undecided, and was beginning a dubious "Wal, raily,
now--" when Emily's impulsive arms were around _her_ neck, and her
pretty face upturned.

"Ah, now, Miss Jerusha, please do; that's a dear! Do just let her come
over this once. I want her so dreadfully! P-p-please now."

No heart, unless made of double-refined cast iron, could resist that
sweet little face and pleading "please now;" so Miss Jerusha, who liked
little Emily (as indeed nobody could help doing), accordingly "pleased,"
and Emily, giving her a kiss--of which commodity that small individual
had a large stock in trade, that like the widow's cruse of old, never
diminished--put on Georgia's hat, and, nodding a smiling good-by to Miss
Jerusha, marched her off in triumph.

"I am so glad, Georgia, you got so many prizes. Oh! I knew all along you
were real clever. I should like to be clever, but I'm not one bit; but
you, I guess you're going to be a genius, Georgia," said Emily, soberly.

"Nonsense, Em! A genius! I hope I shall never be anything half so
dreadful."

"Dreadful! Why, Georgia!"

"Why, Emily!" said Georgia, mimicking her, "geniuses are a nuisance, I
repeat--just as comets, or meteors, or eclipses, or anything out of the
ordinary course are. People make a fuss about them and blacken their
noses looking through smoked glass at them, and then they are gone in a
twinkling, and not worth all the time that was wasted looking at them. I
know it is sacrilege and high treason to say so, but that doesn't alter
my opinion on the subject, and so don't trouble that small, anxious head
of yours, my dear little snow-flake, about my being a genius again."

"I know who thinks so as well as I do," said Emily.

"Who?"

"Why, Richmond Wildair. Do you recollect the day, long ago, he first
told you to go to school?"

"Yes."

"Coming home that day he said he knew you were a little genius and
should not hide your light under a bushel, but set it on the hill-top. I
remember his words, because they sounded so funny then that they made me
laugh."

"Pooh! what does he know about it? What a little simpleton I must have
been to do everything he used to tell me to! Still, that was good advice
about going to school, and I don't know but what, on the whole, I feel
grateful to him for it. That was two years ago--wasn't it, Em? Why, it
seems like yesterday."

"And that funny brother of his," said Emily, laughing at some
recollections of her own, "he used to say things in such a droll way. I
wonder if they'll ever come back."

"Why, what would bring them back, now that their uncle is gone away for
his health? I wonder if traveling really _does_ make sick people well?"

"Don't know, I'm sure. Isn't it a pity to have such a nice house as that
shut up and so lonely and deserted looking?"

"I wish that house was mine," said Georgia. "I should like to live in a
large, handsome place like that. I hate little old cramped places like
our cottage--they're horrid."

"Why, that's coveting your neighbor's goods," said Emily. "Look out,
Georgia."

"Well, then, I should like one as good as that. I wish I owned one just
like it. I _shall_, too, some day," said Georgia, decidedly.

"Do tell," said Emily, "where are you going to get it? Are you going to
rob a peddler?"

"No. I intend to be rich."

"You do? _How?_"

"I don't know yet; but I _shall_! I'm determined to be rich. I am quite
sure I will be," said Georgia, in a tone of quiet decision.

"Well, really! But it's better to be poor than rich. 'It's easier for a
camel--' You know what the Testament says."

"I'd risk it. Why, Emily, it's riches moves the world; the whole earth
is seeking it. Poverty is the greatest social crime in the whole
category, and wealth covereth a multitude of sins. Don't tell me! I know
all about it, and I am determined to be rich--_I don't care by what
means_!"

Her wild eyes were blazing with that insufferable light that always
illuminated them when she was excited, and the stern determination her
set face expressed as she looked resolutely before her startled timid
little Emily.

"Oh, Georgia, I don't think it's right to talk so!" she said, in a
subdued tone; "I'm sure it's not. I don't think riches make people
happy; do you?"

"No," said Georgia, quietly.

"Oh, Georgia, then why do you wish for it? Why do you crave so for
wealth?"

"Because wealth brings power!"

"But neither does power bring happiness."

"To _me_ it would. Power is the life of my life. Knowledge is
power--therefore I studied; but it is only a means to an end. Wealth
will attain that end, therefore wealth I must and _will_ have."

The look of resolute determination deepened. She looked at that moment
like one resolved to conquer even fate, and to tread remorselessly under
foot all that stood between her and the goal of her daring ambition.

"What would you do if you were rich?"

"I would travel, for one thing--I should like to see the world. I would
visit England, and France, and Germany, and Italy--dear, beautiful
Italy! that I love as if it were my fatherland. I would visit the
Alps--Oh, Em! how I love great sublime mountains rearing their heads up
to heaven. I would sail down the Rhine, the bright flowing Rhine! I
would visit the demons of the Black Forest, and see if I happen to be
related to them, in any way. I would cultivate the acquaintance of the
Black Horseman of the Hartz Mountains--and finally I should settle down
and marry a prince. Yes, I rather think I _shall_ marry some prince,
Em!"

"Oh, Georgia! you're a case!" said Emily, breaking into one of her
silvery peals of laughter; "marry a prince! what an idea!"

"Well, I am good enough for any prince or emperor that ever wore a
crown," said Georgia, with a flash of her black eyes, and a proud lift
of her haughty little head, "and I should consider that the honor was
conferred upon him, and not me, if I did marry one--now then!"

"Oh, what a bump of self-esteem you have, Georgia!" said Emily, still
laughing; "what a notion to talk about getting married, any way! whoever
heard of such a thing."

"Well, it's nothing strange! you didn't suppose I was going to be an old
maid like Miss Jerusha, did you? _Of course_ I'll get married! I always
intended to!" said Georgia, decidedly, "and so will you, Emily."

"To another prince," said Emily, shyly.

"No, to--Charley Wildair!"

"I guess not! But here we are at home, and what would mother say if she
heard us talking like this? It all comes of your reading so many novels,
Georgia. Here, mother; here she is. I've got her," cried Emily, flying
into the pretty little parlor, where Mrs. Murray, a pleasant little
lady, a faded copy of her bright little daughter, sat sewing. Mrs.
Murray kissed Georgia, and congratulated her on her success, and then
went out to see about tea.

Later in the evening Father Murray, a benign-looking old man, with
silver-white hair, and a look so patriarchal that it had suggested
Charley Wildair's graphic description of his being like one of those
"blessed old what's-their-names in the Bible," came in, and the
conversation turned upon Georgia's success.

"I suppose you felt quite elated, Georgia, at carrying off the highest
honors to-day?" he said, smiling.

"A little, only," said Georgia. "It wasn't much to be proud of."

"What! To vanquish all competitors not much to be proud of! Why,
Georgia?"

"Well, neither it is, sir--_such_ competitors," said Georgia,
scornfully. "I should like a greater conquest than that."

"Georgia's ambition takes a bolder flight; she looks down on the common
people of this world," said Mrs. Murray, with a peculiar smile.

Georgia colored at the implied rebuke, but her disdainful look remained.
Father Murray looked at her half pityingly, half sorrowfully.

"It will not do, Georgia," he said kindly: "you will have to stop. The
Mountain of High-and-Mighty-dom is a very dazzling eminence to be sure,
but the sun shines brighter in the valley below."

At that moment Fly entered for her young mistress, and Georgia arose to
go.

"Good-by, Mrs. Murray; good-by, Em; good-night, Father Murray."

"Good-night, Georgia," he said, laying his hand on her shining, haughty
young head, "and Heaven bless you, my child!"

She folded her hands almost meekly to receive his benediction, and
feeling as though that blessing were sorely needed, she passed out and
was gone.

Gone! As for you and me, reader, the _child_ Georgia has gone forever.
Let the curtain drop on the first act in her drama of life, to rise when
the child shall be a woman.



CHAPTER IX.

OLD FRIENDS MEET.

        "It was not thus in other days we met;
    Hath time and absence taught thee to forget?"


And three years passed away.

Elsewhere these three years might have wrought strange changes, but they
made few in good old Burnfield. The old, never-ending, but ever new
routine of births, and deaths, and marriages went on; children were
growing up to be men and women--there were no young _ladies_ and
_gentlemen_ in Burnfield--and other children were taking their place.
The only marked change was the introduction of a railway, that brought
city people to the quiet sea-coast town every summer, and gave a sort of
impetus to the stagnating business of the place. Very dazzling and
bewildering to the eyes of the sober-going Burnfieldians were those
dashing city folks, who condescended to patronize them with a lofty
superiority quite overwhelming.

One other change these three years had wrought--the girl Georgia was a
woman in looks and stature, the handsome, haughty, capricious belle of
Burnfield. Time had passed unmarked by any incident worth mentioning.
Life was rather monotonous in that little sea-shore cottage, and Georgia
might have stagnated with the rest but for the fiery life in her heart
that would never be at rest long enough to suffer her to fall into a
lethargy.

Georgia's physical and mental education had been rapidly progressing
during these three years. She could manage a boat with the best oarsman
in Burnfield; and often, when the winds were highest and the sea
roughest, her light skiff--a gift from an admirer--might be seen dancing
on the waters like a sea-gull, with the tall, slight form of a young
girl guiding it through the foam, her wild black eyes lit up with the
excitement of the moment, looking like some ocean goddess, or the queen
of the storm riding the tempest she had herself raised.

Georgia braved all dangers because they brought her excitement, and she
would have lived in a constant fever if she could; danger sent the hot
blood bounding through her veins like quicksilver, and fear was a
feeling unknown to her high and daring temperament. So when the typhus
fever once, a year previously, raged through the town, carrying off
hundreds, and every one fled in terror, she braved it all, entered every
house where it appeared in its most malignant form, braved storm, and
night, and danger to nurse the pest-stricken, and became the
guardian-angel of the town. And this--not, reader, from any high and
holy motive, not from that heavenly charity, that inspires the heroic
Sister of Charity to do likewise--but simply because there was
excitement in it, because she was fearless for herself and exulted in
her power at that moment, and perhaps, to do Georgia justice, she was
urged by a humane feeling of pity for the neglected sufferers. She
watched by the dead and dying, she boldly entered lazar houses where no
one else would tread, and she did not take the disease. Her high,
perfect bodily health, her fine organization and utter fearlessness,
were her safeguards. Georgia had already obtained a sort of mastery over
the townfolks; that deference was paid to her that simple minds always
pay to lofty ones; but now her power was complete. She reigned among
them a crowned queen; the dark-eyed, handsome girl had obtained a
mastery over them she could never lose; she had only to raise her finger
to have them come at her beck; she was beginning to realize her childish
dream of power, and she triumphed in it. And so, free, wild, glad, and
untamed, the young conqueress reigned, queen of the forest and river,
and a thousand human hearts; looked up to, as comets are--something to
admire and wonder at, at a respectful distance.

Under the auspices of Father Murray her education had progressed
rapidly. As his congregation was not very numerous, his labors were not
very arduous, and he found a good deal of spare time for himself. Being
a profound scholar, he determined to devote himself to the education of
his little niece Emily, and at her solicitation Georgia also became his
pupil. Poor, simple, happy little Emily was speedily outstripped and
left far behind by her gifted companion, who mastered every science with
a rapidity and ease really wonderful. By nature she was a decided
linguist, and learned French, and German, and Latin with a quickness
that delighted the heart of good Father Murray. All the religious
training the wild girl had ever received in her life was imbibed now,
but even yet it was only superficial; it just touched the surface of her
sparkling nature, nothing sunk in. She professed no particular faith;
she believed in no formal creed; she worshiped the Lord of the mighty
sea and the beautiful earth, the ruler of the storm and king of the
universe, in a wild, strange, exultant way of her own, but she looked
upon all professed creeds as so many trammels that no one with an
independent will could ever submit to. Ah! it was Georgia's hour of
highest earthly happiness then; she did not know how the heart of all
atheists, infidels, and heretics cry out involuntarily to that merciful
All Father in their hour of sorrow. Georgia was as one who "having eyes
saw not, having ears heard not." In the summer time of youth, and
health, and happiness she _would not_ believe, and it was only like many
others when the fierce wintry tempest beat on her unsheltered head, when
the dark night of utter anguish closed around her, she fell at the feet
of Him who "doeth all things well," offering not a fresh, unworldly
heart, but one crushed, and rent, and consumed to calcined ashes in the
red heat of her own fiery passions.

Georgia rarely went to church; her place of worship was the dark solemn,
old primeval forest, where, lying under the trees, listening to the
drowsy twittering of the birds for her choir, she would dream her wild,
rainbow-tinted visions of a future more glorious than this earth ever
realized. Ah! the dreams of eighteen!

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a wild, blusterous afternoon in early spring, a dark, dry, windy
day. Miss Jerusha, the same old cast-iron vestal as of yore, sat in the
best room, knitting away, just as you and I, reader, first saw her on
Christmas Eve five years ago, just looking as if five minutes instead of
years had passed since then, so little change is there in her own proper
person or in that awe-inspiring apartment, the best room. The asthmatic
rocking-chair seems to have been attacked with rheumatism since, for its
limbs are decidedly of a shaky character, and its consumptive wheeze, as
it saws back or forward, betokens that its end is approaching. Curled up
at her feet lies that intelligent quadruped, Betsey Periwinkle, gazing
with blinking eyes in the fire, and deeply absorbed in her own
reflections. A facetious little gray-and-white kitten (Betsey's
youngest), is amusing itself running round and round in a frantic effort
to catch its own little shaving-brush of a tail, varying the recreation
by making desperate dives at Miss Jerusha's ball of stocking yarn, and
invariably receives a kick in return that sends it flying across the
room, but which doesn't seem to disturb its equanimity much. Out in the
kitchen that small "cullud pusson," Fly, is making biscuits for supper,
and diffusing around her a most delightful odor of good things. Miss
Jerusha sits silently knitting for a long time with pursed-up lips, only
glancing up now and then when an unusually high blast makes the little
homestead shake, but at last the spirit moves her, and she speaks:

"It's abominable! it's disgraceful! the neglect of parents nowadays!
letting their young 'uns run into all sorts of danger, and without no
insurance on 'em neither. If that there little chap was mine, I'd switch
him within an inch of his life afore I'd let him carry on with such
capers. He'll be drowned just as sure as shootin', and sarve him right,
too, a venturesome, fool-hardy little limb! You, Fly!"

Miss Jerusha's voice has lost none of its shrillness and sharpness under
the mollifying influence of Old Father Time.

"Yes, Mist," sings out Fly, in a shrill treble.

"Ken you see that little viper yet, or has he got drownded?"

"He's a-driftin' out'n de riber, ole Mist; shill I run and tell his
folks when I puts der biscuits in de oben?" says Fly, straining her eyes
looking out of the kitchen window.

"No, you sha'n't do no sich thing! if his folks don't think he's worth
a-lookin' arter thimselves, I ain't a-goin' to put myself out noways
'bout it. _Let_ him drown, ef he's a mind to, and perhaps they'll look
closer arter the rest. A young 'un more or less ain't no great loss.
Don't let them ere biscuits burn, you Fly! or it'll be wuss for you! I
wish Georgia was here; it's time she was to hum."

"_Quand un parle du diable on en voit le vue!_" says a clear, musical
voice, and the present Georgia, a tall, superbly formed girl, with the
shining eyes, and glossy hair of her childhood, but with a higher bloom
and brighter smile than that tempestuous childhood ever knew, enters and
stands before her, her dark hair blown out by the wind that has sent a
deeper glow to her dark crimson cheeks, and a more vivid light to her
splendid eyes.

"Oh, you've come, hev you?" says Miss Jerusha, rather crossly, "and a
talkin' of Hebrew and Greek, and sich other ungodly lingo, again. It's
suthin' bad, I know, or you wouldn't be a sayin' of it in thim
onchristian langergers. I allurs said nothin' good would come of your
heavin' away of your time and larning thim. I know it ain't right; don't
sound as if it war. I feel it in my bones that it ain't. Where hev you
bin?"

"Over to Emily's," Georgia said, laughingly, as she snatched up Betsey
Periwinkle, junior, and stroked her soft fur. "What did you want me for
when I came in?"

"Oh," said Miss Jerusha, "it's all along of that little imp, Johnny
Smith, as has been and gone and went out in a boat, and I expect is
upsot and gone to the bottom afore this."

Georgia sprang to her feet in consternation.

"What! gone out in a boat! to-day! that child! Miss Jerusha, what do you
mean?"

"Why, just what I say," said Miss Jerusha, testily; "that there little
cuss has a taste for drowndin', for he's never out of a boat when he can
get into one, and I do b'lieve it's more'n half your fault, too,
abringing of him out with you every day in your derned little egg-shell
of a skiff. Ef he hain't got to the bottom before this it's a wonder."

"Oh, that child! that child! he will be drowned! Good Heaven, Miss
Jerusha, why did you not send and tell his parents?"

"Well, 'taint my place to look arter other folks' young 'uns, is it?"
said Miss Jerusha, shifting uneasily under the stern, indignant gaze
bent upon her. "Let every tub stand on its own bottom, _I_ say."

"Oh, Miss Georgia! Miss Georgia!" cried Fly, excitedly, "dar he is! run
right into dat ar rock out'n de riber, an' now he can't get off, an' de
tide is a risin' so fast he'll be swep' off pooty soon."

Georgia sprang to the window and looked out. The river, swollen and
turbid by the spring freshets, and lashed into fury by the high winds,
was one sheet of white foam, like the land in a December snow-storm. The
boat had struck a high rock, or rather small island, out in the river,
and there stood a lad of about ten years old with outstretched arms,
evidently shrieking for help; but his cries were drowned in the uproar
of the winds and waves. In ten minutes it was evident the sea would
sweep over the rock, and then----

Georgia with a wild, frenzied gesture, turned and fled from the house,
seized two light oars that lay outside the door, threw them over her
shoulder, and sped with the lightness and fleetness of a mountain deer
down the rocks to the beach.

"Oh, Miss Jerry! Miss Jerry! she's a-goin' arter him," shrieked Fly.
"Oh, laudy! dey'll bof be drowned _dead_! Oh! Oh! Oh!" And shrieking,
Fly rushed out and darted off toward the nearest house to tell the news.

New settlers had lately come to Burnfield, and Miss Jerusha's nearest
neighbors, the parents of the venturesome little Smith, lived within a
quarter of a mile of her. Mercury himself was not a fleeter messenger
than Fly, and soon the Smiths and other people around were alarmed and
hurrying in crowds to the beach. As Fly, still screaming out the news,
was darting hither and thither, a hand was laid on her arm, and looking
up, she saw a gentleman, young and handsome, muffled in a Spanish cloak,
and with his hat pulled down over his eyes.

"What's all this uproar about, my good girl? Where are all these people
hurrying to?" he asked, arresting her.

"Oh, to der beach! Miss Georgia will be drowned," cried Fly, breaking
from him, and darting off among the crowd.

The stranger hurried on with the rest, and a very few minutes brought
him to the beach, already thronged with the alarmed neighbors. On a high
rock stood Miss Jerusha, wringing her hands and gesticulating wildly,
and more wildly urging the men to go to Georgia's assistance, going
through all the phrases of the potential mood, "exhorting, commanding,
entreating," in something after the following fashion:

"Oh, she'll be drownded! she'll be drownded! I know she will, and sarve
her right, too--a ventursome, undutiful young hussy! Oh, my gracious!
what are you all a-standing here for, a-doing nothing, and Georgey
drownding? Go right off this minit and git a boat and go after her.
There! there! she's down now! No, she's up again, but she's sartin to be
drownded, the infernally young fool! Oh, Pete Jinking! you derned lazy
old coward! get out your boat and go arter her! Oh, Pete! you're a nice
old man! do go arter her! There! now she's upsot! No, she's right end up
agin, but the next time she sure to go! Oh, my conscience! won't none en
ye go arter her, you miserable set of sneakin' cowards you! Oh, my stars
and garters! what a life I lead long o' that there derned young gal!"

"There's no boat to be had," said "Pete Jinking," "and if there was,
Miss Georgia's skiff would live where a larger one would go down. If
_she_ can't manage it, no one can."

"Oh, yes! talk, talk, talk! git it off your own shoulders, you cowardly
old porpoise, you! afraid to venture where a delikay young gal does. Oh,
Georgey, you blamed young pepper-pod, wait till I catch hold of you!"
said Miss Jerusha, wringing her hands in the extremity of her distress.

"She has reached him! she has reached him! There, she has him in the
boat!" cried the stranger, excitedly.

"And she has got him! she has got him! Hurra! hurra! hurra!" shouted the
crowd on the shore, as they breathlessly shaded their eyes to gaze
across the foaming waters.

Steering her light craft with a master hand, Georgia reached the rock
barely in time, for scarcely had the lad leaped into the boat when a
huge wave swept over the rocks, and not one there but shuddered at the
death he had so narrowly escaped.

But the occupants of the skiff were far from safe, and a dead silence
fell on all as they hushed the very beating of their hearts to watch.
She had turned its head towards the shore, and bending her slight form
to the oars, she pulled vigorously against the dashing waves. Now poised
and quivering on the topmost crest of some large wave, now sinking down,
down, far down out of sight until they feared it would never rise, yet,
still re-appearing, she toiled bravely. Her long, wild, black hair,
unbound by the wind, streamed in the breeze, drenched and dripping with
sea-brine. On and on toiled the brave girl, nearer and nearer to the
shore she came, until at last, with a mighty shout, that burst
involuntarily from their relieved hearts, a dozen strong hands were
extended, caught the boat, and pulled it far up on the shore. And then
"Hurrah! hurrah! Hurrah for Georgia! hurrah for Georgia Darrell!" burst
from every lip, and hats were waved, and the cheer arose again and
again, until the welkin rang, and the crowd pressed around her, shaking
hands, and congratulating her, and hemming her in, until, half laughing,
half impatient, she broke from them, exclaiming:

"There, there, good folks, that will do--please let me pass. Mrs. Smith,
here is your naughty little boy; you will have to take better care of
him for the future. Uncle Pete, will you just look after my skiff, and
bring those oars up to the house? My clothes are so heavy with the wet
that they are as much as I can carry. Now, Miss Jerusha, don't begin to
scold; I am not drowned, you see, so it will be all a waste of
ammunition. Come along; I want to get out of this crowd."

Fatigued with her exertions, pale and wet, she toiled wearily up the
bank, very unlike herself. The stranger, muffled in his black
brigandish-looking cloak and slouched hat, stood motionless watching
her, and Georgia glanced carelessly at him and passed on. Strangers were
not much of a novelty in Burnfield now, so this young, distinguished
looking gentleman awoke no surprise until she saw him advance toward her
with outstretched hand. And Georgia stepped back and glanced at him in
haughty amaze.

"Miss Darrell, you are a second Grace Darling. Allow me to congratulate
you on what you have done to-day."

"Sir!"

"You will not shake hands, Miss Darrell? And yet we are not strangers."

"You labor under a mistake, sir! I do not know you! Will you allow me to
pass?"

He stood straight before her, a smile curling his mustached lip at her
regal hauteur.

"And has five years, five short years, completely obliterated even the
memory of Richmond Wildair?"

"Richmond Wildair! _Who was he?_" she said, lifting her eyes with cool
indolence, and looking up straight into the bronzed, manly face, from
which the hat was now raised. "Oh, I recollect! How do you do, sir?
Come, Miss Jerusha; let me help you up the bank."

He stood for a moment transfixed. Had he expected to meet the impulsive
little girl he had left? Had he expected this scornful young empress,
with her chilling "_who was he?_"

She did not notice his extended hand--_that_ reminded him of the child
Georgia--but, taking Miss Jerusha's arm, walked with her up the path,
the proud head erect, but the springing step slow and labored.

He watched her a moment, and smiled. That smile would have reminded
Georgia of other days had she seen it--a smile that said as plainly as
words could speak, "You shall pay for this, my lady! You shall find my
power has not passed away."

It was a surprise to Georgia, this meeting, and not a pleasant one. She
recollected how he had mastered and commanded her in her masterless
childhood--a recollection that filled her with angry indignation; a
recollection that made her compress her lips, set her foot down hard,
and involuntarily clinch the small hand; a recollection that sent a
bright, angry light to her black, flashing eyes, and a hot, irritated
spot burning on either cheek; and the dark brows knit as he had often
seen them do before as he came resolutely up and stood on the other side
of Miss Jerusha.

"And will _you_, too, disown me, Miss Jerusha?" he said, with a look of
reproach. "Is Richmond Wildair totally forgotten by all his old friends
in Burnfield?"

Miss Jerusha, who had not overheard his conversation with Georgia, faced
abruptly round, and looked at him in the utmost surprise.

"Why, bless my heart if it ain't! Wall, railly now! Why, I never!
Georgey, don't you remember the young gent as you used to be so thick
'long of? Wal, now! how do you do? Why, I'm rail glad to see you. I
railly am, now!" And Miss Jerusha shook his hand with an _empressement_
quite unusual with her in her surprise.

"Thank you, Miss Jerusha. I am glad _all_ my friends have not forgotten
me," said Richmond.

Georgia's lip curled slightly, and facing round, she said:

"Miss Jerusha, if you'll excuse me, I'll go on. I want to change this
wet dress;" and without waiting for a reply, Georgia hurried on.

"What brings him here?" she said to herself, as she walked quickly
toward the cottage. "I suppose he thinks he is to be my lord and master
as of yore, that I am still a slave to come at his beck, and because he
is rich and I am poor he can command me as much as he pleases. He shall
not do it! he shall _not_! I will _never_ forgive him for conquering
me," flashed Georgia, clenching her hand involuntarily as she walked.

"And so you've come back! Wall, now, who'd a thought it? Is the square
got well and come back, too?"

"My uncle is dead," said the young man, gravely.

"Do tell! Dead, is he? Wall, we've all got to go, some time or another,
so there's no good making a fuss. What's going to come of the old place
up there?"

"I am going to have it fitted up and improved, and use it for a
country-seat."

"Oh--I see! it's your'n, is it? Nice place it is, and worth a good many
thousands, I'll be bound! S'pose you'll be getting married shortly, and
bringing a wife there to oversee the sarvints, and poultry, and things,
eh?" and Miss Jerusha peered at him sharply with her small eyes.

"Really, Miss Jerusha, I don't know," he said, laughingly, taking off
his hat and running his fingers through his waving dark hair. "If I
could get any one to have me, I might. Do you think I could succeed in
that sort of speculation here in Burnfield? The young ladies here know
more about looking after poultry than they do in the city."

"Ah! they ain't properly brought up there," said Miss Jerusha, shaking
her head; "it's nothin' but boardin' schools, and beaus, and theaters,
and other wickednesses there; 'tain't ekil to the country noways. You'll
get a wife though, easy enough; young men with lots of money don't find
much trouble doing that, either in town or country. How's that nice
brother o' your'n?" said Miss Jerusha, suddenly recollecting the youth
who had by force possessed himself of so large a share of her
affections.

"He is very well, or was when I heard from him last. He has gone abroad
to make the grand tour."

"Oh--has he?" said Miss Jerusha, rather mystified, and not quite certain
what new patent invention the grand tour was. "Why couldn't he make it
at home?" Then, without waiting for an answer, "Won't you come in? do
come in; tea's just ready, and you hain't had a chance to speak to
Georgey yet, hey? You're most happy. Very well, walk right in and take a
cheer. You, Fly!"

"Yes'm, here I is," cried Fly, rushing in breathlessly, and diving
frantically at the oven.

"Where's your young mistress?"

"Up stairs."

"Well, you hurry up and get tea; fly round now, will you? Oh, here comes
Georgey. Why, Georgey! don't you know who this is?"

Georgia gave a start of surprise, and her face darkened as she entered
and saw him sitting there so much at home.

Passing him with a distant courtesy she said, with marked coldness:

"I have that pleasure. Fly, attend to your baking; I'll set the table."

Miss Jerusha was too well accustomed to the varying moods of her ward
to be much surprised at this capricious conduct; so she entered into
conversation with Richmond, or rather began a racking cross examination
as to what he had been doing, where he had been, what he was going to
do, and how the last five years had been spent generally.

To all her questions Mr. Wildair replied with the utmost politeness,
but--he told her just as much as he chose and no more. From this she
learned that he had been studying for the bar, and had been admitted,
that his career hitherto had been eminently successful, that his uncle's
death had rendered him independent of his profession, but that having a
passion for that pursuit he was still determined to continue it; that
his brother's health remaining delicate, change of scene had been
recommended, and that therefore he had gone abroad and was not expected
home for a year yet; that a desire to fit up and refurnish the "House,"
as it was called, _par excellence_, in Burnfield, was the sole cause of
his leaving Washington--where for the past five years he had mostly
resided--and finally, that his stay in this flourishing township
"depended on circumstances."

It was late that evening when he went away. Georgia had listened, and,
except to Fly, had not spoken half a dozen words, still wrapped in her
mantel of proud reserve. She stood at the window when he was gone,
looking out at the dark, flowing waves.

"Nice young man," said Miss Jerusha, approvingly, referring to her
guest.

There was no answer.

"Good-lookin', too," pursued Miss Jerusha, looking reflectively at
Betsey Periwinkle, "and rich. Hem! I say, Georgia--you're fond of
money--wouldn't it be pleasant if you was to be mistress bime-by of the
big house--hey?"

She looked up for an answer, but Georgia was gone.



CHAPTER X.

DREAMING.

    "And underneath that face, like summer's ocean,
      Its lips as moveless and its cheek as clear,
    Slumbers a whirlpool of the heart's emotions--
      Love, hatred, pride, hope, sorrow, all save fear."

                                                 HALLECK.


"Well, this _is_ pleasant," said Richmond, throwing himself carelessly
on the grass, and sending pebbles skimming over the surface of the
river; "this _is_ pleasant," he repeated, looking up at his companion,
as she sat drawing under the shadow of an old elm down near the shore.

Three months had passed since his return, and the glowing golden
midsummer days had come. All this time he had been a frequent visitor at
the cottage--to see _Miss Jerusha_, of course; and very gracious,
indeed, was that lady's reception of the young lord of the manor.
Georgia was freezing at first, most decidedly below zero, and enough to
strike terror into the heart of any less courageous knight than the one
in question. But Mr. Richmond Wildair was not easily intimidated, and
took all her chilling hauteur coolly enough, quite confident of
triumphing in the end. It was a drawn battle between them, but he knew
he was the better general of the two, so he was perfectly easy as to
the issue. In fact, he rather liked it than otherwise, on the principle
of the "greater the trial, the greater the triumph," and, accustomed to
be flattered and caressed, this novel mode of treatment was something
new and decidedly pleasant. So he kept on "never minding," and visited
the cottage often, and talked gayly with Miss Jerusha, and was
respectful and quiet with Miss Georgia, until, as constant dropping will
wear a stone, so Georgia's unnatural stiffness began to give way, and
she learned to laugh and grow genial again, but remained still on the
alert to resist any attempt at command. No such attempt was made, and at
last Georgia and Richmond grew to be very good friends.

Georgia had a talent for drawing, and Richmond, who was quite an artist,
undertook to teach her, and those lessons did more than anything else to
put them on a sociable footing. Richmond liked to give his lessons out
under the trees, where his pupil might sketch from nature, and Georgia
rather liked it herself, too. It was very pleasant, those lessons;
Georgia liked to hear about great cities, about this rush, and roar, and
turmoil, and constant flow of busy life, and Richmond had the power of
description in a high degree, and used to watch, with a sly, repressed
smile, pencil and crayon drop from her fingers, and her eyes fix
themselves in eager, unconscious interest on his face, as she grew
absorbed in his narrative.

Dangerous work it was, with a pupil and master young and handsome, the
romantic sea-shore and murmuring old trees for their school-room, and
talking not forbidden either. How Miss Jerusha chuckled over it in
confidence to Betsey Periwinkle--she didn't dare to trust Fly--and
indulged in sundry wild visions of a brand-new brown silk dress and
straw bonnet suitable for the giving away a bride in.

Little did Georgia dream of these extravagant peeps into futurity, or
the lessons would have ended then and there, this new-fledged intimacy
been unceremoniously nipped in the bud, and Miss Jerusha's castles in
Spain tumbled to the ground with a crash! But Georgia was in a dream and
said nothing. Richmond _did_, and laughed quietly over it in the shadow
of the old ancestral mansion.

"Yes, this is pleasant," said Richmond, one morning, as he lay idly on
the grass, and Georgia sat on the trunk of a fallen tree near, taking
her drawing lesson.

She lifted her head and laughed.

"What is pleasant?" she said.

"This--this feeling of rest, of peace, of indolence, of idleness. I
never sympathized with Charley's love for the _dolce far niente_ before,
but I begin to appreciate it now. One tires of this hurrying, bustling,
jostling, uproarious life in the city, and then laziness in the country
is considered the greatest of earthly boons. All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy, you know."

"And do you really like the country better than the city?" asked
Georgia.

"I like it--yes--in slices. I shouldn't fancy being buried in the woods
among catamounts, and panthers, and settlers hardly less savage. I
shouldn't fancy sleeping in wigwams and huts, and living on bear's flesh
and Johnny-cake; but I like _this_. I like to lie under the trees, away
out of sight and hearing of the city, yet knowing three or four hours in
the cars will bring me to it whenever I feel like going back. I like the
feeling of languid repose these still, voiceless, midsummer noondays
inspire; I like to have nothing to do; and plenty of time to do it in."

"What an epicure you are," said Georgia, smiling; "now it seems to me
after witnessing the ever-changing, ever-restless life in Washington and
New York, and all those other great cities, you would find our sober
little humdrum Burnfield insupportably dull. I know I should; I would
like above all things to live in a great city, life seems to be so fully
waked up, so earnest there. I _shall_, too, some day," she said, in her
calm, decided way, as she took up another pencil and went on quietly
drawing.

"Indeed!" he said, slowly, watching the pebbles he sent skimming over
the water as intently as if his whole life depended on them. "Indeed!
how is that?"

"Oh! I shall go to seek my fortune," she said, laughingly, yet in
earnest, too. "Do you know I am to be rich and great? 'Once upon a time
there was a king and queen with three sons, and the youngest was called
Jack.' I am Jack, and you know how well he always came out at the end of
the story."

"Georgia, you are a--dreamer."

"I shall be a worker one of these days. My hour has not yet come." And
Georgia hummed:

    "I am asleep and don't waken me."

"What will you do when you awake, Georgia?"

"What Heaven and my own genius pleases; found a colony, find a
continent, make war on Canada, run for President, teach a school, set
fire to Cuba, learn dressmaking, or set up a menagerie, with Betsey
Periwinkle for my stock in trade," she said, with one of her malicious,
quizzical laughs.

"Georgia, talk sense."

"Mr. Wildair, I flatter myself I am doing that now."

"Miss Darrell, shall I tell you your future?"

"I defy you to do it, sir."

"Don't be too sure. Now listen. In the first place, you will get
married."

"No, _sir-r_!" exclaimed Georgia, with emphasis: "I scorn the
insinuation! I am going to be an old maid, like Miss Jerusha."

"Don't interrupt, Miss Darrel; it's not polite. You will marry some
sweet youth with nice curling whiskers, and his hair parted in the
middle, and you will mend his old coats, and read him the newspaper, and
trudge with him to market, and administer curtain lectures, and raise
Shanghai roosters, and take a prize every year for the best butter and
the nicest quilts in the county; and finally you will die, and go up to
heaven, where you will belong, and have a wooden tombstone erected to
your memory, with your virtues inscribed on it in letters five inches
long."

"Shall I, indeed! that's all you know about it," said Georgia, half
inclined to be provoked at this picture; "no, sir; I am bound to
astonish the world some of these days--_how_, I haven't quite decided,
but I know I shall do it. As for your delightful picture of conjugal
felicity, _you_ may be a Darby some day, but I will never be a Joan."

"You might be worse."

"And will be, doubtless. I never expect to be anything very good. Emily
Murray will do enough of that for both of us."

"Emily is a good girl. Do you know what she reminds one of?"

"A fragrant little spring rose, I imagine."

"Yes, of that, too; but she is more like the river just now as it flows
on smooth, serene, untroubled and shining, smiling in the sunshine,
unruffled and calm."

"And I am like that same river lashed to a fury in a December storm,"
said Georgia, with a darkening brow.

"Exactly--pre-cisely! though you are quiet enough now; but as those
still waters _must_ be lashed into tempests, just so certain will you--"

"Mr. Wildair, I don't relish your personalities," said Georgia, with a
flushing cheek and kindling eye.

"I beg your pardon--it was an ungallant speech--but I did not know you
cared for compliments. What shall I say you look like?--some gorgeous
tropical flower?"

"No, sir! you shall compare me to nothing! Georgia Darrell looks like
herself alone! There! how do you like my drawing?"

He took it and looked long and earnestly. It was rather a strange one.
It represented a wintry sea and coast, with the dark, sluggish waves
tossing like a strong heart in strong agony, and only lit by the fitful,
watery, glimmer of a pale wintry moon breaking through the dark,
lowering clouds above. Down on the shore knelt a young girl, her long
hair and thin garments streaming behind her in the wind, her hands
clasped, her face blanched, her eyes strained in horror far over the
troubled face of the sea on a drowning form. Far out a female face rose
above the devouring waves--_such_ a face, so full of a terrible,
nameless horror, despair and utter woe as no fancy less vivid than that
of Georgia could ever have conceived. One arm was thrown up far over her
head in the death struggle, and the eyes in that strange face were
appalling to look on.

Richmond Wildair held his breath as he gazed, and looked up in Georgia's
dark face in a sort of fear.

"Georgia! Georgia!" he said, "what in Mercy's name were you thinking of
when you drew that?"

She laughed.

"Don't you like it, Mr. Wildair?" she said.

"Like it! You're a goblin! a kelpie! a witch! an unearthly changeling!
or you would never have conjured up that blood-chilling face. Why, you
have been painting portraits! Did you know it?"

"I did not when I commenced--I found I had when they were done."

"And life-like portraits they are, too. That kneeling girl is Emily
Murray, though her sweet face never wore that look of wild horror you
have pictured there. And that other ghastly, agonized countenance, that
seems rent by a thousand fiends, is--"

"Myself."

"Oh, Georgia! what spirit possessed you to paint that awful face?"

"How do I know? The spirit of prophecy, perhaps," she said, in a tone of
dark gloom.

"Georgia Darrell, do you know what you deserve?"

"No, sir."

"Then I shall tell you. You ought to be locked in an attic, and fed on
bread and water for a month, to cool the fever in your blood."

"Thank you; I would rather be excused. And now I come to think of it, it
_couldn't_ have been the spirit of prophecy either that inspired me, for
your brother Charles once told me that I would never be drowned."

"No? How did he know it?"

"He said a more elevated destiny awaited me--hanging."

"What if he turns out a true prophet?"

"I shall not be surprised."

"You will not?"

"Most certainly not. They hang people for murder, don't they?"

"Well?"

"Well!" she repeated, mimicking his tone, "I expect to be the death of
somebody one of these days."

He knew she spoke lightly, yet suddenly there rushed to his mind the
recollection of the conversation he had once held with his brother, in
which he compared her to Lady Macbeth, and declared his belief in her
capability of committing that far-famed lady's crime. Strange that it
should come back to him so vividly and painfully then.

"Well, signor," said the clear, musical voice of Georgia, breaking in
upon his reverie, "of what is your serene highness thinking so intently?
Do you fear you are to be the future victim?"

"Georgia!"

"I listen, mynheer."

"Suppose you loved somebody very much--"

"A mighty absurd supposition to begin with. I never intend to do any
such thing."

"Now, Georgia, be serious. Suppose you loved some one with all your
heart, if you possess such an article, you flinty female anaconda, and
they professed to love you, and afterward deceived you, what would you
do?"

"Do!" her face darkened, her eyes blazed, her lips sprung quivering
apart, her hands clenched; "do! I should BLAST them with my vengeance; I
would live for revenge, I would _die_ for revenge! I would track them
over the world like a sleuth-hound. I would defy even death by the power
of my own will until I had wreaked this doom on their devoted head.
Deceive me! Safer would it be to tamper with the lightning's chain than
with the heart that beats here."

She struck her breast and rose to her feet _transformed_! The terrific
look that had started him in the pictured face, flamed up in her living
one now, and she stood like a young Medusa, ready to blight all on whom
her dark, scorching glance might rest.

He stood appalled before her. Was she acting, or was this storm of
passion real? It was a relief to him to see one of his own servants
approaching at that moment with a letter in his hand. The presence of a
third person restored Georgia to herself, and, leaning against a tree,
she looked darkly over the smiling, shining waters.

"From Charley!" was Richmond's joyful exclamation, as he glanced at the
superscription of the letter and dismissed the man who brought it. "It
is nearly six months since he wrote last, and we were all getting
seriously uneasy about him. Will you excuse me while I read it,
Georgia?"

Georgia bent her head in token of acquiescence, and taking up another
piece of paper, began carelessly drawing a scaffold, with herself
hanging, to horrify her companion. So absorbed did she become in her
task, that she did not observe the long silence of her companion, until
suddenly lifting her eyes, she beheld a startling sight.

With the letter clutched with a death-grip in his hand, his face livid,
his brow corrugated, his eyes fixed, his whole form rigid and
motionless, he sat with his eyes riveted on that fatal letter.

In all her life Georgia had never seen the calm, self-sustained Richmond
Wildair moved, and now--oh, this was awful! She sprang to his side and
caught his arm, crying out:

"Richmond! Richmond! oh, Richmond! what is the matter?"

He lifted his eyes with a hollow groan.

"Oh, Georgia!"

"Richmond! oh, Richmond! is Charley dead?"

"Dead? No! Would he were!" he said, with passionate bitterness.

"Oh, Richmond, this is terrible! What has your brother--"

"Brother! it is false!" he exclaimed, fiercely, springing to his feet;
"he is no brother of mine!"

"Good gracious! Richmond, what has he done?"

"Done!" he repeated, furiously: "he has disgraced himself, disgraced us
all--done what I will never forgive."

It was the first time Georgia had ever heard him utter such language. As
a gentleman, he was not in the habit of staining his lips with
expletives, and now even _her_ strong nature shrank, and she shuddered.

"Oh, what has Charley done? What _can_ he have done? He so frank, so
kind, so warm-hearted? Oh he cannot have committed a crime! It is
impossible," cried Georgia, vehemently.

"It is _not_ impossible!--lost, fallen, degraded wretch! Oh, mercy! that
I should have lived to see this day! Oh, who--who shall tell my mother
this?"

"Richmond, be calm--I implore you. Tell me what he has done?"

"What you shall never know--what I shall never tell you!" he cried,
passionately.

The color retreated from Georgia's very lips, leaving her white as
marble.

"If it is murder--"

"Murder! _That_ might be forgiven! A man may kill another in the heat of
passion and be forgiven. Murder, robbery, arson, _all_ might be
forgiven; but this! Oh, Georgia, ask me not! I feel as if I should go
mad."

What had he done, what awful crime was this that had no name, before
which, in Richmond's eyes, even murder sank into insignificance?

Georgia stood appalled, while Richmond, with the fatal letter crushed in
his hand, strode up and down as if he were indeed mad. Then, as his eye
fell on the familiar hand-writing, his mood changed, and he passionately
exclaimed:

"Oh, Charles! Oh, my brother! Would you had died ere you had come to
this! Oh, Georgia! I loved him so! every one loved him so! and now--and
_now_!"

He turned away and shaded his eyes with his hands, while his strong
chest heaved with irrepressible emotion.

Every tender, womanly feeling in Georgia's heart was stirred, and she
went over and took his hand in hers, and said, gently:

"Mr. Wildair, things may not be so bad as you suppose. I am sure they
are not. I could stake my soul on the innocence of Charles Wildair. Oh,
it is impossible, absurd, he can be guilty of any crime. The Charley
Wildair I once knew can never have fallen so low. Oh, Richmond, I feel
he is innocent. I _know_ he is."

"Georgia, I thank you for your sympathy; it is my best consolation now;
but I am not deceived; _he is guilty_; he has confessed all. And now,
Georgia, I never want to hear his name mentioned again; never speak of
him to me more. I must go home now: I must be alone, for this shock has
quite unmanned me. Do not speak of this to any one. Farewell!"

He pressed her hand, pulled his hat down over his eyes, and started off
in the direction of Burnfield.

Lost in amaze, Georgia stood watching him until he was out of sight, and
then resumed her seat on the grass, to think over this strange scene,
and wonder what possible crime Charley Wildair had committed. It was
hard to associate with _any_ crime the memory of the handsome, happy,
generous boy she remembered; but it must be so. He confessed it himself;
his brother, who passionately loved him, branded him with it; therefore
it must be so. While she sat thinking, two soft hands were placed over
her eyes, and a silky curl touched her cheek.

"Emily," said Georgia, quietly, without moving.

"Yes, that same small individual," said a sweet voice; and our fair
Emily came from behind her, and threw herself down on the grass by her
side.

"Where did you drop from?" asked Georgia, not exactly delighted at the
interruption.

"Not from the clouds, Lady Georgia. I went to the cottage, and learned
from Miss Jerusha that teacher and pupil had gone off sky-gazing and
'makin' pictures. At the risk of being _de trop_, I followed, and here I
am. Where's Monsieur le Tutor?"

"Gone home," said Georgia, listlessly.

"And left you here all by yourself! How shockingly ungallant! Now, I
thought better things of the lord of Richmond Hall. What do you think of
him, Georgia?"

"Of whom?"

"Of whom! You know well enough. Of Mr. Wildair."

"I have formed no opinion on the subject."

"Well, that's odd. _I_ have, and I think him a splendid fellow--so
gentlemanly, and all that. I wonder what he thinks of us?"

"He thinks you are a good girl, and I am a dreamer."

"A good girl! Well, that's very moderate praise, blank and cool, but
just as much as I want. And you are a dreamer--I knew _that_ before.
Will you ever awaken, Georgia?"

"I shall have to; I never wish it, though."

"Then the awakening will not be pleasant?"

"No; I feel a presentiment that it will not. Oh, Emily! I am tired of my
present stagnant life; and yet, sometimes I wish I might never be
anything but a 'dreamer of dreams,' without even realizing how _real_
life is. I wish I were now like you, my little Princess Frostina."

"You and I can never be alike--never, Georgia; every element in our
nature is as essentially different as our looks. You are a blaze of red
sky-rockets, and I am a little insignificant whiff of down."

"No indeed; you are a good, lovable girl, with a warm heart, a clear
head, and a cool temper, who will lead a happy life, and die a happy
death. But I--oh, Emily, Emily! what is to be my fate?"

She spoke with a sort of cry, and Emily started and gazed on her with a
troubled, anxious face.

"Oh, Georgia, what is the matter? _Dear_ Georgia! what is the matter?
You look so dark, and strange, and troubled."

"I am out of spirits--a bad fit of the blues, Em," said Georgia, trying
to smile. "I am a sort of monomaniac, I think; I do not know what is the
matter with me. I wish I were away from here; I grow fairly wild at
times. Emily, I shall _die_ if I stay here much longer."

All that day something lay on her heart like lead. Perhaps it was the
memory of that mysterious letter, and Charley's guilt, and his brother's
anguish, that weighed it down. Miss Jerusha had long ago given up
wondering at anything her eccentric _protegee_ might see fit to do; but
when all day long she saw her sit, dark and silent, with folded hands,
at the window, gazing at the ever-restless, flowing river, she _did_
wonder what strange thoughts were passing through her young heart, or,
to use her own expression, what had "come to her." Fly gave it as her
opinion, it was only a "new streak," in the already sufficiently
"streaked" character of her young mistress. And Betsey Periwinkle,
wondering too, but maintaining a discreet silence on the subject, came
purring round her, while her more demonstrative offspring leaped into
her lap and held up her head for her customary caress.

Unheeding them all, Georgia went early to her room, and leaning her head
on her hand, gazed languidly out. The soft evening breeze lifted the
damp, shining braids of her dark hair, and kissed softly her grave,
beautiful face, and the evening star rose up in solemn beauty, and shone
down into the dark eyes fixed so earnestly on the far-off horizon that
seemed her prison wall. And Georgia looked up, and felt a holy calm
steal into her heart, and forgot all her somber fancies, and her high
heart-beating grew still in gazing on the trembling beauty of that
solitary star.



CHAPTER XI.

SOMETHING NEW.

    The faltering speech, and look estranged,
    Voice, step, and life, and beauty changed;
    She might have marked all this and known
    Such change is wrought by love alone.--MOORE.


There were great doings going on up at the "house." All Burnfield was in
a state of unprecedented excitement about it. The last Presidential
election, the debut of the new school-marm, or even the first arrival of
the locomotive at the Burnfield Railway depot, had not created half such
a sensation. Marvelous tales ran like wild-fire through the town, of
carpets, of fine velvets, as Mrs. Tolduso, the gossip-in-chief, called
it; of mirrors reaching from floor to ceiling in dazzling gilt frames;
of sofas, and couches, and lounging-chairs, and marble-topped tables,
and no end of pictures, and statues, and upholstery, and "heaps, and
heaps of other things--oh! most splendid," said Mrs. Tolduso; "sich as
must have cost an awful sight of money."

Then workmen came from the city, and the stately old mansion underwent a
course of painting and varnishing, until it fairly glittered; and the
grounds were altered, and fountains erected, and statues of Hebes, and
Waterbearers, and Venuses rising from the sea-foam, and lions, with
fountains spouting from their mouths and nostrils, and lots of other
devices scattered everywhere. And then a prim little matron of a
housekeeper, and an accomplished cook, and an aristocratic butler, and
coquettish chambermaids in shaking gold ear-drops and pink bows, and a
dignified coachman, and two fascinating young footmen, and a delightful
old gardener, with beautiful white hair and whiskers, made his
appearance, electrifying the neighborhood, and looking down with
contempt on their open-mouthed, homespun neighbors.

The people stood a great deal more in awe of the aristocratic butler,
and footman, and the rest of them, than they did of their young master,
who was never stiff and pompous, but was given to pat the children on
the head as he passed and throw them coppers, and touch his hat to the
blooming, blushing, smiling country belles, and nod with careless
condescension to their fathers and brothers. And then wild, mysterious
rumors began to fly about that the young "squire" was going to marry
some great city heiress, and bring her here to live, and those who were
so fortunate as to be graciously noticed by any of the aristocratic
flunkeys aforesaid, endeavored to "pump" them, but knowing nothing
themselves they could only shake their heads and look mysterious
unspeakable things, that said as plainly as words: "Of course we know
all, but we have too great an esteem for the young gentleman in whose
house we reside to betray his confidence;" so Mrs. Tolduso, and the rest
of her set, had to coin their own news, and were still left to their own
surmises.

Miss Jerusha, albeit not given to gossiping, could not help hearing
these rumors, and the worthy spinster began to grow alarmed. She had
never realized until now the immense distance between the rich young
gentleman, Mr. Wildair, and the poor daughter of the poor actress,
Georgia Darrell, who wore her poverty as a duchess might her coronet.
Why, the very servants of the house, in their arrogance, would look down
on the village girl; the fascinating young footmen would have considered
her honored by a smile; and the chambermaids would lift their rustling
silken robes and sweep past her mouseline de laine in lofty disdain.
Georgia, the cottage girl, mistress of the great house and all those
awe-inspiring young ladies and gentlemen who did Mr. Wildair's work for
a "consideration!" Oh, Miss Jerusha, no wonder your chin drops as you
think of it, and a sigh comes whistling through your pursed-up lips like
a sough of wind in a mainsail.

Then there is that rumor of that haughty young city heiress he is to
marry. Miss Jerusha groans in spirit when she thinks of it, and wishes
Georgia was not so careless about it, for the only time that young lady
had been "short" with Miss Jerusha, for ever so long, was on the
occasion of asking her opinion about the same heiress, when Georgia told
her curtly "she neither knew nor cared--Mr. Wildair and his heiresses
were nothing to her." Yes, Miss Jerusha's brilliant visions of a brown
silk dress and new straw bonnet were fast going the way of many another
brilliant vision, and she sighed again over the evanishment of human
hopes, and then consoled herself with her everlasting stocking and the
society of the Betsey Periwinkles, mother and daughter. It was true Mr.
Wildair was a daily visitor still at the cottage, but his walks with
Georgia were altogether discontinued, and the drawing lessons completely
given up.

Miss Jerusha did not know that this was by the cold, peremptory command
of Georgia herself, and much to the dissatisfaction of the young
gentleman; but she _did_ know that the vivid crimson was paling in
Georgia's cheek, the light dying out of her brilliant eyes, and the
quick, elastic spring leaving her slow footsteps; knew it and marveled
thereat. She saw, too, with suppressed indignation (for it doesn't pay
to be angry with rich people) that Richmond saw it too, and seemed
rather pleased than otherwise thereat, while Georgia was relapsing into
her first mood, and invariably froze into a living iceberg the moment
his light, firm step sounded on the threshold.

All this was very puzzling to Miss Jerusha, who soon after had the
pleasure of hearing he was going to be married to somebody else--a
report which he never even contradicted. And so matters were getting
into a "pretty mess," as Miss Jerusha said; and things generally were in
a very unsatisfactory state indeed, when one day Mr. Richmond Wildair
transfixed Miss Jerusha by the polite request that she would do him the
honor of coming and looking at his house. It was all finished now, he
said, and he wanted her opinion of it.

"Lor', Mr. Wildair? what do you 'spose I know 'bout your fine houses,
and your fol-de-rols and gimcracks that you've got into it. There ain't
no good in my going," said Miss Jerusha knitting away, and looking as
grim as old Father Time in the primer.

"Still, my dear Miss Jerusha, I should like your opinion of it, and you
will really very much oblige me by coming," said Mr. Wildair, in tones
of suave and stately courtesy. "If you will confer this pleasure on me,
I will send my carriage for you any day you will be pleased to name."

"Oh, gracious, no!" ejaculated Miss Jerusha, in alarm, as the
remembrance of the dignified coachman came over her; "not for the world.
Still I _should_ admire to see it, but--Georgey, what do _you_ say? Do I
look fit to go?"

"You may please yourself, Miss Jerusha," she said in a voice so cold and
constrained, that Miss Jerusha looked at her and shifted uneasily in her
seat.

"Let me answer for Miss Darrell," broke in Richmond. "You _do_ look fit
to go, and I shall consider it a direct personal hint that you do not
want to see me here any more if you refuse. If you will not visit me, I
will not visit you."

"Perhaps it would have been better if you _never_ had," thought Emily
Murray, who chanced to be present.

"Oh, well, I s'pose I'd better," said Miss Jerusha, shifting uneasily in
her seat again; "but the fact is, Mr. Wildair, them there servants o'
yourn, are a stuck-up set, and I--"

"Have no fear on that score, my dear madam," said Mr. Wildair; "my
servants will keep their proper places, and treat my guests with
becoming deference. And now, when am I to expect you?"

"Well, to-morrow mornin', I guess," said Miss Jerusha, who perhaps would
not have gone but for the opportunity of humbling and snubbing the
servants, one or two of whom had sneered at her in Burnfield, by letting
them see she was the honored friend of their master.

"If Miss Murray and Miss Darrell would honor me likewise by accompanying
you," he said hesitatingly.

Georgia started as if she had received a galvanic shock, and a flash
like sheet-lightning leaped from her fierce eyes; but Emily touched her
hand softly, and replied, quickly, before she could speak:

"Thank you, Mr. Wildair; you will excuse us. Georgia, you promised to
show me that French book you were reading. Come with me now and get it."

Both arose, and, passing Mr. Wildair with a slight courtesy, swept from
the room, leaving him in undisturbed possession of Miss Jerusha, but
whether to his gratification or annoyance it would have taken a profound
observer to tell, for his face wore its usual calm, unruffled
expression. But his visit was shorter than usual that day, and in half
an hour Miss Jerusha was alone.

Next morning, resplendent in her still new and gorgeous "kaliker gownd,"
Miss Jerusha set off for the "house." Opening the outer gate, she passed
up a magnificent shaded avenue, where her eyes were greeted and
electrified by glimpses of floral beauty hitherto unknown. Arriving at
the hall-door, Miss Jerusha plucked up spirit and gave a thundering
knock; for though there was a bell, the ancient lady knew nothing of any
such modern innovations.

The unusual sound brought the two fascinating footmen and spruce
chambermaids (who up to the present had had very little to do) to the
door; and when it swung back and displayed the tall, lank form of Miss
Jerusha in her astonishing dress, a universal titter ran from lip to
lip.

"Well, old lady, what can we do for you to-day?" insinuated one of the
footmen, thinking Miss Jerusha an appropriate subject to poke fun at.

"Where's your master?" said Miss Jerusha, sharply.

"Here, marm, this is him," said the fellow, pointing to his brother
flunkey, who stood grinning, with his hands in his pockets.

"Yes, marm, I'm the high cockalorum; we hev'n't got anything for you
to-day, though."

"Gess you mistook the door, old lady, didn't you?" said the first, with
an insolent leer.

The man's words and looks so enraged Miss Jerusha that, lifting her
hand, she gave him a slap in the face that sent him reeling half way
across the hall.

"Why, you old tramp," exclaimed the other, making a spring at the
undaunted Miss Jerusha, when an iron grasp was laid on his collar, and
he was hurled to the other side of the long hall, and his master's voice
exclaimed:

"You insolent puppy! if I ever hear you address any one in this style
again, I'll not leave a whole bone in your body. Miss Jerusha, I beg ten
thousand pardons for having exposed you to the insolence of these
rascals, but I will take care it never happens again. Here, you
fellows," said Richmond, turning round; but the hall was deserted, and
he and Miss Jerusha were alone.

"Never mind, Mr. Wildair," said Miss Jerusha, delighted at their
discomfiture, "it ain't no matter; I guess they got as good as they
brought, sir! What a big house this is, to be sure."

But when Miss Jerusha was led through it, and all its wonders and
hitherto undreamed-of grandeur were revealed to her amazed eyes, speech
failed her, and she stood astounded, transfixed, and awe-struck. Never
in all her wildest visions, had she conjured up any thing like this, and
she held her breath, and trod on tiptoe, and spoke in a stilled whisper,
and wondered if she were not in an enchanted land, instead of simply in
the sumptuous drawing rooms, boudoirs, and saloons of the "house."

Richmond watched her with an amused smile, and when she had been
"upstairs, and downstairs, and in my lady's chamber," he insisted on her
taking off her bonnet and shawl, and staying for dinner. So he rang the
bell, and ordered the servant to serve dinner an hour earlier than
usual, and send up Mrs. Hamm, the housekeeper. And in a few minutes,
Mrs. Hamm, a very grand little woman indeed, in a black satin dress, and
gold watch, and dainty little black lace cap, swept in, and was
introduced to Miss Skamp, who felt rather fluttered by the ceremony, and
would have given a good deal to have been back in her cottage just then,
scolding Fly and kicking Betsey Periwinkle. But Mrs. Hamm was a discreet
little lady, and had heard the episode of the two footmen, and was
intensely gracious and polite--so much so, indeed, that it seriously
discomposed Miss Jerusha, who made a thousand blunders during dinner,
and did not breathe freely until she was fairly on her way home again,
in the carriage, too, for Mr. Wildair would not hear of her walking
back.

That was a triumph for Miss Jerusha Glory Ann Skamp! Here was an
eminence she had never dreamed of attaining! Driving through her native
town, amid the wondering eyes of all the inhabitants crowding to every
door and window, in the magnificent carriage, with silk velvet cushions,
drawn by two beautiful horses in silver-mounted harness, and driven by a
gentleman looking like a lord bishop at the very least.

Oh! it was too much happiness! She the descendant of many Skamps, to be
thus honored! What would her ancient "parients" say, could they look out
of their graves and behold this glorious sight? Wouldn't she be looked
up to in Burnfield for the future, and wouldn't she carry her head high
though! Why, not one in all Burnfield but Mr. Barebones, the parson, had
been invited to dine with the "Squire," and neither Mrs. nor Miss
Barebones had ever seen, much less riden in, his carriage. That was the
red-letter day in all Miss Jerusha's life. She was sorry, _very_ sorry,
when the carriage drew up before her own door, and the dignified
coachman, touching his gold-banded hat to her, drove off, and left her
with a heart swelling high with pride and exultation, to enter her
dwelling.

She found Georgia sitting in her favorite seat by the window commanding
a view of the river, a book lying listlessly between her fingers, her
eyes on the floor, her thoughts far away--far away. Miss Jerusha
entered, dropped into a seat, and then began a glowing harangue on the
glories and splendor of Richmond House.

Georgia moved her chair, turned her head aside, and listened like one
deaf and dumb. Long and eloquently did the old lady expatiate on its
beauties and pomp, but Georgia answered never a word.

"Ah! that heiress, or whatever gets him, will have good times of it,"
said Miss Jerusha, shaking her head by way of a wind-up. "What do you
think, Georgia, but I asked him if he was really a-goin' to be married."

There was no reply; but Miss Jerusha was too full of her subject to mind
this, and went on:

"Says, I, 'I hear you're a-goin' to be married, Mr. Wildair,' and he
larfs. 'Is it true?' says I, and he nods and begins eatin' peaches, and
larfs again. 'To a heiress?' says I. 'Yes, to an heiress--'mensely
rich,' says he. 'That's what I am a-goin' to marry her for.' 'Marry her
for her money!' says I; 'oh, Mr. Wildair, ain't you ashamed?' 'No,' says
he, larfing all the time, and giving me one of those queer looks out of
them handsome eyes of his'n. 'Well, you ought for to be,' says I, rail
mad. 'Is she good-looking?' says I. 'Beautiful,' says he; 'the
handsomest gal you ever seen.' 'I don't believe it! I don't believe it!'
says I. 'She _couldn't_ be handsomer than my Georgie, no how; it's clean
onpossible,' says I."

As if she had received a spear-thrust, Georgia sprang to her feet and
turned upon Miss Jerusha such a white face and such fiercely blazing
eyes that the good lady recoiled in terror, and the word died on her
lips.

"_Did you dare?_" she exclaimed, hoarsely.

"Dare what? Oh, my dear! What hev I done, Georgia?" cried out Miss
Jerusha, in dismay.

But Georgia did not reply. Fixing her eyes on Miss Jerusha's face with a
look she never forgot, she turned and left the room.

"Awful sarpints! what _hev_ I done?" said the dismayed Miss Jerusha.
"I'm always a doing something to make Georgey mad without knowing it.
Can't be helped. Gracious! if I only had a house like that!"

All through Burnfield spread the news of the visit extraordinary, and
before night it was currently known to every gossip from one end of it
to the other that young Squire Wildair, forgetting the ancient dignity
of his house, was going to be immediately married to Georgia Darrell,
and before long this rumor reached the ears of Miss Jerusha and Mr.
Wildair himself. From the latter personage it provoked a peculiar smile,
full of quiet meaning, but Miss Jerusha hardly knew whether to be
pleased or otherwise.

For her own part, she would have considered the rumor an honor; but
Georgia was so "_queer_," Miss Jerusha would not for all the world she
should hear it. Other girls might not mind such things; but she was not
like other girls, and the old maid had a vague, uneasy idea that
something terrible would be the consequence if she heard it. But
Georgia did _not_ hear it. There was a quiet, conscious dignity about
her of late years that made people keep their distance and mind to whom
they were talking; and not even that most inveterate of gossips, Mrs.
Tolduso, would have been hardy enough to put the question to the haughty
reserved girl. Therefore, though Emily, and Richmond, and Miss Jerusha,
and every one over the innocent age of three years old in Burnfield,
knew all about the current report, Georgia, the most deeply interested
of all, never dreamed of its existence.

And so matters were getting most delightfully complicated, and Miss
Jerusha's dreams were growing "small by degrees and beautifully less,"
when, one evening, about a fortnight after her visit, Georgia, who had
been out for a walk--a very unusual thing for her of late days--came
suddenly in, so changed, so transfigured, that Miss Jerusha dropped her
knitting and opened her mouth and eyes to an alarming wideness in her
surprise. Her face was radiant, lighted, brilliant; her eyes like stars,
her cheeks glowing; she seemed to have found the fabled elixir of youth,
and life, and hope, and happiness.

"Why, Georgia! _My-y-y_ conscience!" exclaimed Miss Jerusha, with a
perfect shake on the pronoun in her surprise.

But Georgia laughed. Miss Jerusha could not remember when she had heard
her laugh before, and the rosy color lighted up beautifully her beaming
face.

"What on airth has come to you, Georgey?" exclaimed Miss Jerusha, more
completely bewildered than she had ever been before in the whole course
of her life. "Why, one would think you was enchanted or something."

Again Georgia laughed. It was perfect music to hear her, and fairly
gladdened Miss Jerusha's old heart. She did not say what had "come to
her," but it was evidently something pleasant, for no face had changed
so in one hour as hers had.

"Never mind, Miss Jerusha; shall I set the table for tea? Here, Betsey,
get out of the way. Come, Fly, make haste; Miss Jerusha wants her tea, I
know."

"Well, gracious!" was Miss Jerusha's ejaculation, as she watched the
graceful form flitting airily hither and thither, like an embodied
sunbeam, "if that gal ain't got as many streaks as a tulip! What will be
the next, I wonder?"

All tea-time Georgia was another being; and when it was over, instead of
going straight to her room, as was her fashion, she took some
needle-work that Miss Jerusha could not sew on after candle-light, and
sat down to work and talk, while Miss Jerusha sat at her work, still
digesting her astonishment, and not quite certain whether she had not
gone out of her mind.

The clock struck nine. Miss Jerusha, who, from time immemorial, had made
it a point of conscience never to sit up a moment later, began folding
up her work. Georgia, who was standing with her elbow resting on the
mantelpiece, her forehead dropped upon it, and her luminous eyes filled
with a deep joy too intense for smiles, fixed on the green boughs on the
hearth, now came over, and, to the great surprise of the venerable
spinster, knelt down before her, and put her arms caressingly around her
waist.

"Miss Jerusha," she said, softly, lifting her dark, beautiful eyes to
her wrinkled face.

"Well, Georgey," said Miss Jerusha, in a subdued tone of wonder.

"It is nearly six years since you first took me here to live, is it
not?" she asked.

"Nearly six yes," said Miss Jerusha.

"And since then I have been a very wild, wayward, disobedient girl;
repaying all your kindness with ingratitude, have I not?"

"Why, Georgey!"

"I have been passionate, stubborn, and willful; saucy, impertinent, and
ungrateful; I know I have, I feel it now. You were very good to take the
poor little orphan girl, who might have starved but for you, and this
was your reward. Oh, Miss Jerusha! dear, best friend that ever was in
this world, can you ever forgive me?"

"Oh, Georgey!" said Miss Jerusha, fairly sobbing.

"I am sorry for what I have done; say you forgive me, Miss Jerusha,"
said Georgey, sweetly.

"Oh, Georgey! my dear little Georgey, I _do_ forgive you," and, quite
melted, Miss Jerusha sobbed outright.

"Dear Miss Jerusha, how I thank you. Lay your hand on my head and say
'Heaven bless you!' I have no mother nor father to bless me now."

"May the Lord in Heaven bless thee, Georgey!" and Miss Jerusha's hand,
trembling with unwonted emotion, fell on the young head bent so meekly
now, and two bright drops fell shining there, too.

Georgia's beautiful arms encircled her neck, and her lips touched those
of her old friend for the _first time_, and then she was gone. And Miss
Jerusha found that there was something new under the sun.

But Miss Jerusha discovered, when the morning dawned, that still another
surprise awaited her.



CHAPTER XII.

RICHMOND HOUSE GETS A MISTRESS.

    "Bride, upon thy wedding day
    Did the fluttering of thy breath
    Speak of joy or woe beneath?
    And the hue that went and came
    On thy cheek, like lines of flame,
    Flowed its crimson from the unrest
    Or the gladness of thy breast?"


Breakfast was over. Georgia, blushing and smiling beneath Miss Jerusha's
curious scrutiny, had gone back to her room, and Miss Jerusha, sitting
in her low rocking-chair, was left alone with the bright morning
sunshine that lay in broad patches on the floor to the special
delectation of Mrs. and Miss Betsey Periwinkle.

Miss Jerusha was thinking of a good many things in general, but
Georgia's unaccountable freaks in particular, when a well-known step
sounded on the threshold, and the tall, stately form of Richmond Wildair
stood before her.

Miss Jerusha was always pleased to have the rich young squire visit her,
because it added to her importance in the eyes of the villagers; so she
got up with a brisk, delighted "how d'ye do," and placed a chair for her
visitor.

"All alone, Miss Jerusha?" said Mr. Wildair, taking up Betsey Periwinkle
the second, who came purring politely around him, and stroking her
mottled coat.

"Wall, not exactly," said Miss Jerusha. "Georgia's up stairs, for a
wonder. I'll call her down, if you like."

"No--never mind," said Mr. Wildair. "Miss Georgia doesn't always seem so
glad to see me that she should be disturbed now on my account."

"Wall, Mr. Wildair, Georgey's _queer_; there's never no tellin' what
she'll do; if you 'spect her to do one thing you may be pretty certain
she'll do 'xactly t'other. Now, yesterday afternoon she went out as glum
as a porkypine"--Miss Jerusha's ideas of porcupines were rather
vague--"and, bless my stars! if she didn't come in a smilin' like a
basket of chips. My 'pinion is," said Miss Jerusha, firmly, "that
something's come to her; you needn't believe it if you don't like too,
but _I_ do."

A smile full of curious meaning broke over Mr. Wildair's face.

"On the contrary, my dear madam, I _do_ believe it most firmly. Not only
do I _think_ something came to her yesterday, but I _know_ it from
positive observation."

"Hey?" said Miss Jerusha, looking up sharply.

Mr. Wildair put down little Betsey Periwinkle, got up, and leaning his
arm on the mantel, with that same strange smile on his face, stood
looking down on Miss Jerusha.

"What is it?" asked the old lady, with a puzzled look answering that
smile, as if he had spoken.

"My dear Miss Jerusha, I have a favor to ask of you this morning, a
_great_ favor, a _very_ great favor, indeed," he said, with a light she
had never seen before in his handsome eyes.

"Wall," said Miss Jerusha, looking most delightfully perplexed, "what is
it?"

"I want you to give me something."

"You do! Why, my gracious! I ain't got nothing to give you."

"Yes, you have; a treasure beyond all price."

"Good gracious! where?" said Miss Jerusha, gazing round with a
bewildered look.

"I mean--_Georgia_."

"Hey!"

Richmond laughed. Miss Jerusha had jumped as if she had suddenly sat
down on an upturned tack.

"Miss Jerusha, Richmond House wants a mistress, and _I_ want Miss
Georgia Darrell to be that mistress."

"Oh, my gracious!" cried the overwhelmed Miss Jerusha, sinking back in
her chair.

"You have no objections, I hope, my dear madam."

"Oh, my gracious! _did_ you ever?" exclaimed Miss Jerusha, appealing to
society at large. "Marry my Georgey! My-y-y conscience alive!"

Richmond stood smilingly before her, running his fingers through his
glossy dark hair, waiting for her astonishment to evaporate.

"You ain't in airnest, now," said Miss Jerusba, resting her chin on her
hand and peering up in his face with a look of mingled incredulity and
delight, as the faded vision of the brown silk, and the new straw bonnet
began again to loom up in the distance.

"Never was so much so in my life. Come, Miss Jerusha, say I may have
her."

"Why, my stars and garters! 'tain't _me_ you ought for to ask, it's
Georgey. Why didn't you ask _her_?"

"I have already done so. I asked her last evening."

"Oh-h-h!" said Miss Jerusha, drawing in her breath, and sending out the
ejaculation in a perfect whistle of astonishment at the new light that
dawned upon her. "I see now. That's what did it! Well, I never! And
what did she say?"

"She said what I want you to say--yes."

"But, look here," said Miss Jerusha, to whom the news seemed a great
deal too good to be true, "how about that there heiress, you know--hey?"

"What heiress?" said Richmond, with a smile.

"Why, you know--that one everybody said you were a-goin' to be married
to--that one from the city."

"Don't know the lady at all--never had the pleasure of seeing her in my
life, Miss Jerusha."

"Well, now, it seems to me there's suthin' wrong somewhere," said Miss
Jerusha, doubtfully; "why, you told me yourself, Mr. Wildair, you were
going to marry a heiress--'mensely rich, you said. I recommember your
very words."

"And so I am; but Georgia was the heiress I meant--immensely rich in
beauty, and a noble, generous heart."

"Humph! poor sort o' riches to get along in the world with," said Miss
Jerusha, rather cynically. "If you meant Georgey all along, what made
you let folks think it was to somebody else--that there young woman from
the city?"

Richmond laughed, and shook back his dark clustering hair.

"From a rather unworthy motive, I must own, Miss Jerusha. I wanted to
make Georgia jealous, and so be sure she liked me."

"Wal, I never! that tells the whole story. She _was_ jealous, and that
is what made her as cross as two sticks. Well, to be sure! if it ain't
funny! he! he! he!"

And Miss Jerusha indulged in a regular cachinnation for the first time
that Richmond ever remembered to hear her.

"I am glad it seems to please you. Then we have your consent?"

"Why, my gracious, _yes_! I hain't the least objection. I guess not.
What do _your_ folks say about it?"

"My 'folks' will not object. I am my own master, Miss Jerusha. I have
written to tell my mother, and I know she will not disapprove of any
step I see fit to take," said Richmond, composedly.

"Well, railly! And when is it a-goin' to come off?"

"What?"

"Why, the weddin', to be sure."

"Oh, there is no use for unnecessary delay. I spoke to Georgia on the
subject, and proposed Tuesday fortnight; but she seems to think that too
soon--in fact, was preposterous enough to propose waiting until next
year. Of course, I wouldn't listen a moment to any such proposition."

"Of course not," said Miss Jerusha, decidedly, thinking of her brown
silk, which she had no notion of waiting for so long.

"Do _you_ think Tuesday fortnight too soon?"

"Gracious, no! I can get the two dressmakers, and have everything ready
before that, quite easy."

"Thank you, Miss Jerusha," said Richmond, gratefully; "and as suitable
things cannot be obtained here, one of the dressmakers you mention will
go with Mrs. Hamm to the city and procure a bridal outfit for my
peerless Georgia. Neither shall you, my dear, kind friend, be forgotten;
and, believe me, I shall endeavor to reward you for all your kindness to
my future bride. And now for my plans. Immediately after we are married
we depart for New York, and remain for some time with my mother there.
We will return here and remain until the fall, when we will depart for
Washington, and there spend the winter. Next year we will probably
travel on the Continent, and after that--sufficient unto the day is the
evil thereof," he said, breaking off into a smile. "And now, if you
like, you may call Georgia; we must reason her out of this absurd notion
of postponing our marriage. I count upon your help, Miss Jerusha."

So Georgia was called, and came down, looking a great deal more lovely,
if less brilliant, in her girlish blushes, and smiles, and shy timidity
than she had ever been when arrayed in her haughty pride. And Miss
Jerusha attacked and overwhelmed her with a perfect storm of
contemptuous speeches at the notion of putting off her marriage, quite
sneering at the idea of such a thing, and Richmond looked so pleading
that Georgia, half laughing, and half crying, and wholly against her
will, was forced, in self-defense, to strike her colors, and surrender.
She was so happy now, so deeply, intensely happy, that she shrank from
the idea of disturbing it by the bustle and fuss that must come, and she
looked forward shrinkingly, almost in terror, to the time when she would
be a wife, even though it were _his_. But the promise was given, and
Georgia's promises were never retracted, and so the matter was settled.

That afternoon the stately little housekeeper at Richmond House was told
she was to have a mistress. Mrs. Hamm was altogether too well-bred, and
too much of a lady, to be surprised at anything in this world; yet, when
she heard her young master was going to marry a village girl, a slight,
a very slight, smile of contempt was concealed behind her delicate
lace-bordered handkerchief, but she quietly bowed, and professed her
willingness to start for New York at any moment. And the very next
morning, accompanied by the dressmaker Miss Jerusha had spoken of, she
took her departure, with orders to spare no expense in procuring the
bridal outfit.

Never was there a more restless, eccentric, tormenting bride-elect than
Georgia. From being positively wild, she became superlatively wildest,
and drove Miss Jerusha and Mr. Wildair daily to the verge of desperation
for the next two weeks. She laughed at him, fled from him, refused to
take a walk with him or sing to him, and made herself generally so
provoking, that Richmond vowed she was wearing him to a skeleton, and
threatened awful vengeance at some period fast forthcoming. And Georgia
would laugh the shrill elfish laugh of her childhood, and fly up to her
room, and lock herself in, and be invisible until he had gone.

Georgia wanted Emily to be her bride-maid, but when Emily heard that the
Rev. Mr. Barebones was to officiate on the occasion, she refused.
Georgia, who was not particular who performed the ceremony of "enslaving
her," as she called it, asked Richmond to allow Father Murray to unite
them; but, to her surprise, Richmond's brow darkened, and he positively
refused. Georgia was inclined to resent this at first; but then she
considered it might arise from conscientious scruples, and though she
had none of her own, yet she respected them in others, and so she
yielded, and Miss Becky Barebones, a gaunt damsel, whose looks were
faintly shadowed forth in her name, gladly consented to "stand up" with
her; while a young gentleman from the city, a brother lawyer of
Richmond's, was to perform the same office for him.

And so old Father Time, who jogs on unrestingly and never harries for
weddings or funerals, kept on his old road, and brought the bridal
morning at last. A lovely morning it was--a gorgeous, golden September
day, with hills, and river, and valleys all bathed in a golden haze;
just the sort of a day our tropical, wild-eyed bride liked.

At early morning all Burnfield was astir, and crowding toward the little
sea-side cot, to catch a glimpse of the elegant bridal carriage and
gayly decked horses, and, perhaps, be fortunate enough to obtain a peep
at the happy pair.

Inside the cottage all was bustle and excitement. Out in the kitchen (to
begin at the beginning, like the writer of the "House that Jack Built,")
Fly had been ignominiously deposed, to make way for the accomplished
cook from Richmond House, who for the past week had been concentrating
his stupendous intellect on the bridal breakfast, and had brought that
_dejeuner_ to a state of perfection such as the eye, nor heart, nor
palate of man had ever conceived before. There were also the two
fascinating young footmen, making themselves generally useful with a
sort of lofty condescension and dignified contempt for everything about
them, except when they met the withering eye of Miss Jerusha, and then
they wilted down, and felt themselves dwindling down to about five
inches high. There was Mrs. Hamm, in black velvet, nothing less, and so
stately, and so politely dignified, that the English language is utterly
unable to do justice to her grandeur. There was Miss Jerusha, in
rustling brown satin, her wildest dreams realized, perfectly awful in
its glittering folds, enough to strike terror into the heart of a
Zouave, with a flashing ruby brooch, and a miraculous combination of
lace and ribbons on her head, all broke out in a fiery eruption of
flaring red flowers, which were in violent contrast to her
complexion--that being, as the reader is already aware, decidedly, and
without compromise, yellow. And, lastly, there were our two friends, the
Betsey Periwinkles, looking very much astonished, as well they might, at
the sudden change that had taken place around them; and, evidently
considering themselves just as good as anybody there, they kept poking
themselves in the way, and tripping up the company generally, and the
two fascinating footmen in particular, invoking from those nice
individuals "curses, not loud but deep." There was the Rev. Mr.
Barebones, gaunt and grim in his piety; and the Rev. Mrs. Barebones, a
severe female, with a hard jaw and stony eye; and there was Mrs.
Tolduso, whom Miss Jerusha admitted just to dazzle with her brown satin;
and there were ever so many other people, until it became a matter of
doubt whether the bridal party would have room to squeeze through.

In the hall stood Richmond Wildair, looking very handsome and very happy
indeed, while he waited for Georgia to descend. Mr. Curtis, his friend,
resplendent in white vest and kids, lounged against the staircase,
caressing his mustache, and inwardly raging that that flagstaff of a
Becky Barebones was to be his _vis-a-vis_, instead of sweet, blooming
little Emily Murray.

Up stairs in her "maiden bower" was our Georgia, under the hands of
Emily, and Becky, and one of the spruce dressmakers, being "arrayed for
the sacrifice," as she persisted in calling it. And if Georgia Darrell,
in her plain cottage dress, was beautiful, the same Georgia in her white
silk, frosted with seed pearls, enveloped in a mist-like lace vail, and
bearing an orange wreath of flashing jewels on her regal head, was
bewildering, dazzling! There was a wild, glittering light in her
splendid oriental eyes, and a crimson pulse kept beating in and out like
an inward flame on her dark cheek, that bespoke anything but the calm,
perfect peace and joy of a "blessed bride."

Was it a vague, shadowy terror of the new life before her? Was it
distrust of him, distrust of herself, or a nameless fear of the changes
time must bring? She did not know, she could not tell; but there was a
dread, a horror of she knew not what overshadowing her like a cloud. She
tried to shake it off, but in vain; she strove to strangle it at its
birth, but it evaded her grasp, and loomed up a huge misshapen thing
between her mirror and the shining beautiful image in its snowy robes
there revealed.

Little Emily Murray, quite enchanting in a cloud of white muslin, and no
end of blue ribbons, kept fleeting about, hardly knowing whether to
laugh or cry, and alternately doing both. She was so glad Georgia was
going to be a great lady, and so sorry for losing the friend she loved
that it was hard to say whether the laughing or crying had the best of
it. And there, on the other side, stood Miss Barebones, as stiff and
upright as a stove-pipe, in a crisp rattling white dress and
frozen-looking white lilies and petrified rosebuds in her wiry yellow
hair, with all the piety and grimness of many generations of Barebones
concentrated in her.

And now all is ready, and, "with a smile on her lip and a tear in her
eye," Emily puts her arm around Georgia's waist and turns to lead her
down stairs, where her lover so impatiently awaits the rising of his
day-star, and Miss Barebones and the trim little dressmaker follow. And
Georgia involuntarily holds her breath, and lays her hand on her breast
to still her high heart-beating that can almost be heard, and goes down
and finds herself face to face with the future lord of her destiny. And
then Emily kisses and relinquishes her, and she looks up with the old
defiant look he knows so well in his handsome young face, and he smiles
and whispers something, and draws her arm within his and turns to go in.
And then Mr. Curtis swallows a grimace, and offers his arm to Miss
Barebones, and that wise maiden gingerly lays the tips of her white kid
glove on his broadcloth sleeve, and with a face of awful solemnity is
led in, and the ceremony commences. And all through it Georgia stands
with her eyes burning into the floor, and the red spot coming and going
with every breath on her cheek, and hardly realizes that it has
commenced until it is all over, and she hears, "What God hath joined
together let no man put asunder." And then there is crowding around and
a great deal of unnecessary kissing done, and Emily and Miss Jerusha are
crying, and Mr. Curtis and Mr. Barebones, and the rest are shaking hands
and calling her "Mrs. Wildair," and then, with a shock and a thrill,
Georgia realizes she is married.

Georgia Darrell is no more; the free, wild, unfettered Georgia Darrell
has passed away forever, and Georgia Wildair is unfettered no longer;
she has a master, for she has just vowed to obey Richmond Wildair until
"death doth them part." And her heart gives a great bound, and then is
still, as she lifts her eyes in a strange fear to his face, and sees him
standing beside her smiling and happy, and looking down on her so
proudly and fondly. And Georgia draws a long breath, and wonders if
other brides feel as she does, and then she tries to smile, and reply
to their congratulations, and the strange feeling gradually passes
away, and she becomes her own bright, sparkling self once more.

And now they are all sitting down to breakfast, and there is a hum of
voices, and rattling of knives and forks, and a clatter of plates, and
peals of laughter, and everybody looks happy and animated, and Miss
Jerusha and Emily dry their tears and laugh too, and the fascinating
footmen perform the impossibility of being in two or three places at
once, and speeches are made, and toasts are drank, and Mr. Wildair gets
up and replies to them, and thanks them for himself and his wife. His
wife! How strange that sounds to Georgia. Then she sees through it all,
and laughs and wonders at herself for laughing; and Mr. Curtis, sitting
between Miss Barebones and Emily Murray, totally neglects the former and
tries to be very irresistible, indeed, with the latter, and Emily laughs
at all his pretty speeches, and doesn't seem the least embarrassed in
the world, and Miss Barebones grows sourer and sourer until her look
would have turned milk to vinegar; but nobody seems to mind her much.
She notices, too, that Mr. Barebones perceptibly thaws out under the
influence of sundry glasses of champagne, to that extent that before
breakfast is over he refers to the time when he first met the "partner
of his buzzum," as he styles Mrs. B., and shed tears over it. And Mrs.
Hamm, in her black velvet and black lace mits, hides a sneer in her
coffee cup at him, or at them all, and Miss Jerusha is looking at her
with so much real tenderness in her eye that Georgia feels a pang of
remorse as she thinks how ungrateful she has been, and how much Miss
Jerusha has done for her. And then she thinks of her mother, and her
brother Warren--her dear brother Warren--of whose fate she knows
nothing, and of Charley Wildair and his unknown crime, and heaves a sigh
to their memory. And then Betsey Periwinkle the second comes purring
round her, and Georgia lifts her up and kisses the beauty spot on her
forehead, and a bright tear is shining there when she lifts her head
again, and Betsey purrs and blinks her round staring eyes
affectionately, and then everybody is standing up, and Mr. Barebones,
hiccoughing very much, is saying grace, and then she is going up to her
room and finds herself alone with Miss Jerusha and Emily, who are taking
off her bridal robes and putting on her traveling-dress.

And there she is all dressed for her journey, and Miss Jerusha holds her
in her arms, and is kissing her, and sobbing as if her heart would
break; and little Emily is sobbing, too, and Georgia feels a dreary,
aching pain at her heart, at the thought of leaving her forever--for
though she is coming back, they can never be the same to one another
again in this world that they are now--but her eyes are dry. And then
Miss Jerusha kisses her for the last time, and blesses her, and lets her
go, and she follows her down stairs, where Richmond awaits her, to lead
her to the carriage. And then there is more shaking of hands, until
Georgia's arm aches, and a great deal of good-bying and some more female
kissing, and then she takes her husband's arm and walks down the
graveled walk to the carriage. And on the way she wonders what kind of a
person Mrs. Wildair, Richmond's mother, may be, and whether she will
like her new daughter, and whether that daughter will like her. And now
she is sitting in the carriage, waving a last adieu, and the carriage
starts off, and she springs forward and looks after the cottage until it
is out of sight. And then she falls back in her seat and covers her
face with her hands, with a vague sense of some great loss. But that
picture she never forgets, of the little vine-wreathed cottage, with its
crowd of faces gazing after her, and Miss Jerusha and little Emily
crying at the gate. How she remembers it in after days--in those dark,
dreadful days, the shadow of whose coming darkness even then was upon
her!

They are whirling away, and away. She takes her hands from her face and
looks up. They are flying through Burnfield now, and she catches a
glimpse of the stately arches and carved gables of Richmond House, her
future home, and then that, too, disappears. They are at the station, in
the cars, with a crowd of others, but she neither sees nor cares for
their curious scrutiny now. The locomotive shrieks, the bell rings, and
away and away they fly. She falls back in her seat, and Georgia has left
the home of her childhood forever.



CHAPTER XIII.

AWAKENING.

    "Her cheek too quickly flushes; o'er her eye
    The lights and shadows come and go too fast,
    And tears gush forth too soon, and in her voice
    Are sounds of tenderness too passionate
    For peace on earth."


I believe the established and time-honored precedent in writing stories
is to bring the chief characters safely through sundry "hair-breadth
escapes by flood and field," annihilate the vicious, make virtue
triumphant, marry the heroine, and then, with a grand final flourish of
trumpets, the tale ends.

Now, I hope none of my readers will be disappointed if in this "o'er
true tale" I depart from this established rule. My heroine is married,
but the history of her life cannot end here. Perhaps it would be as well
if it could, but truth compels me to go on and depict the dark as well
as the bright side of a fiery yet generous nature--a nature common
enough in this world, subject to error and weakness as we all are, and
not in the least like one of those impossible angels oftener read of
than seen.

Jane Eyre says a new chapter is like a new scene in a play. When the
curtain rises this time, it discloses an elegantly furnished parlor,
with pictures and lounges, and easy-chairs, and mirrors, and damask
hangings, and all the other paraphernalia of a well-furnished
room--time, ten o'clock in the morning. A cheerful fire burns in the
polished grate, for it is a clear, cold December day, and diffuses a
genial warmth through the cozy apartment.

In the middle of the floor stands a little round table, with a delicate
breakfast-service of Sevres china and silver, whereon steams most
fragrant Mocha, appetizing, nice waffles, and sundry other tempting
edibles. Presiding here is a lady, young and "beautiful exceedingly,"
robed in a rich white cashmere morning wrapper, confined at the slender
waist by a scarlet cord and tassels, and at the ivory throat by a
flashing diamond breastpin. Her shining jet-black hair is brushed in
smooth bands off her broad, queenly brow, and the damp braid just
touches the rounded, flushed cheek. Very handsome and stately indeed she
looks, yet with a sort of listless languor pervading her every movement,
whether she lounges back in her chair, or slowly stirs her coffee with
her small, dark hand, fairly blazing with jewels.

Opposite her sits a young gentleman of commanding presence and graceful
bearing, who alternately talks to the lady, sips his coffee, and reads
the morning paper.

"Do put away that tiresome paper, Richmond," said the lady, at last,
half impatiently. "I don't see what you can possibly find to interest
you in those farming details, and receipts for curing spasms in horses,
and making hens lay. Of all stupid things those country papers are the
stupidest."

"Except those who read them," said the gentleman, laughing. "Well, I bow
to your superior wisdom, and obey, like a well-trained husband. And now,
what are your ladyship's commands?"

"Talk," said the lady, yawning behind the tips of her fingers.

"Willingly, my dear. On what subject? I am ready to talk to order at a
moment's notice."

"Well, I want to know if you have given up that Washington project? Are
we to spend the winter in Burnfield?"

"I think so--yes," said Richmond, slowly. "It will be better, all things
considered, that we should do so, and early in the spring we will start
on our continental tour. Are you disappointed at this arrangement,
Georgia?"

"Disappointed? Oh, no, no," said Georgia, with sparkling eyes. "I am so
glad, Richmond. It seems so pleasant, and so much like home to be here,
with no strange faces around us, and all those dreadful restraints and
formalities at an end. I was _so_ tired of them all in New York."

"And yet you used to long so ardently for life in those large cities
some time ago, Georgia. New York was a Paradise in your eyes--do you
remember?"

"Oh, yes," said Georgia, laughing; "but that was because I knew nothing
about it. I was dreadfully tired of Burnfield, and longed so for a
change. 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,' you know, and the
anticipation was somewhat different from the reality."

"You did not like the reality?"

"No," said Georgia, with her usual truthful promptness.

"And yet I did everything to make you happy--you never expressed a wish
that I did not gratify."

Tears sprang to Georgia's eyes at the implied reproach.

"Dear Richmond, I know it. It seems very ungrateful in me to talk so;
but you know what I mean. I do not like strangers, and I met so many
there; there were so many restraints, and formalities, and wearying
ceremonies to be gone through, that I used to grow almost wild
sometimes, and feel as if I wanted to rush out and fly, fly back to dear
old Burnfield again, and never leave it. And then, those ladies were all
so elegant and grand, and could keep on saying graceful nothings for
hours, while I sat mute, tongue-tied, unable to utter a word of 'small
talk,' and feeling awkward lest I should disgrace you by some dreadful
_gaucherie_. Oh, Richmond, I was so proud, and fearless, and independent
before I was married."

"_Too_ much so, Georgia," he interrupted, gravely.

"And now," she went on, unheeding his words, save by the deeper flush of
her cheek. "I am almost timid, for your sake. When I was among all those
people in New York I did not care for myself, but I was so afraid of
mortifying _you_. I knew they used to watch Richmond Wildair's country
bride to catch her in some outlandish act; and, oh, Richmond, when I
would think of it, and find so many curious eyes watching me, as if I
were some strange wild animal, I used to grow positively nervous--I,
that never knew what nerves were before, and I used to wish--don't be
angry, Richmond--that I had never married you at all. You used to call
me an eaglet, Richmond, and I felt then like one chained and fettered,
and I think I should have _died_ if you had made me stay there all
winter."

There was a passionate earnestness in her voice that did not escape him,
but he answered lightly:

"Died! Pooh! don't be silly, Georgia. I _did_ see that you were
painfully anxious at times, so much so that you even made _me_ nervous
as well as yourself. You must overcome this; you must learn to be at
ease. Remember, those are the people with whom you are to mingle for the
rest of your life--not the common folks of Burnfield."

"They are a stiff, artificial set. I don't like them!" said Georgia,
impetuously.

Richmond's brow darkened.

"Georgia!" he said, coldly.

"Perhaps it is because I have not become accustomed to my new position.
Any one suddenly raised from one sphere of life to another diametrically
opposite, must feel strange and out of place. Why, Richmond," she said,
smiling, "I am not even accustomed to that grand little housekeeper of
yours yet. Her cold, stately magnificence overwhelms me. When she comes
to me for orders, I fairly blush, and have to look at my diamonds and
silks, and recollect I am Mrs. Wildair, of Richmond House, to keep my
dignity. It is rather uncomfortable, all this; but time, that works
wonders, will, I have no doubt, make me as stiff, and solemn, and
sublimely grand, as even--Mrs. Hamm."

His face wore no answering smile; he was very grave.

"You are not angry, Richmond?" she said, deprecatingly.

"Not angry, Georgia, but annoyed. I do not like this state of things. My
wife must be self-possessed and lady-like as well as handsome. You
_must_ lose this country girl awkwardness, and learn to move easily and
gracefully in your new sphere. You _must_ learn to sit at the head of my
table, and do the honors of my house as becomes one whom I have seen fit
to raise to the position of my wife."

"Raise!" exclaimed Georgia, with one of her old flashes, and a haughty
lift of her head.

"In a worldly point of view, I mean. Physically, mentally, and morally,
you are my equal; but in the eyes of the world, I have made a
_mesalliance_; and that world whose authority I have spurned is
malicious enough to witness with delight your rustic shyness, to call it
by no more mortifying name. Georgia, I knew from the moment I first
presented you to my mother that this explanation must come; but, knowing
your high spirit, I had too much affection for you to speak of it
sooner, and if I wound your feelings now, believe me, it is to make you
happier afterward. You are too impulsive, and have not dissimulation
enough, Georgia; your open and unconcealed dislike for some of those you
met in town made you many enemies--did you know it?"

"Yes, I knew it; and this enmity was more acceptable to me than their
friendship!" flashed Georgia.

"But not to me. It is better to have a dog fawn on you than bark at you,
Georgia. I do not say to you to like them, but you might have concealed
your _dis_like. A smile and courteous word costs little, and it might
have saved you many a bitter sneer."

"I _cannot_ dissimulate; I _never_ dissimulated; I never did anything so
mean!" said Georgia, passionately.

"There is no meanness about it, Mrs. Wildair, and you might have spared
the insinuation that I could urge you to do anything mean. Common
politeness requires that you should be courteous to all, and I hope you
will not mortify me again by any public display of your likes and
dislikes."

Georgia arose impetuously from the table, and, with a burning cheek and
flashing eye, walked to the window. What words can tell of the storm
raging within her wild, proud heart, as she listened to his
authoritative tone and words?

"It is necessary, too, that you should by degrees grow accustomed to
what you call your strange position," he calmly went on, "before you
enter the fashionable world at Washington, where you will make what you
may call your _debut_. For that reason, while in New York, I invited a
party of friends here to spend Christmas and New Year's, and you may
expect them here now in less than a week."

She faced round as if her feet were furnished with steel springs, every
feeling of rebellion roused into life at last.

"You did? And without consulting me?"

"Certainly, my dear. Have I not a right to ask my friends to my house?"

She laid her hand on her breast, as if to keep the storm within from
breaking forth; but he saw it in the workings of her face.

"Come, Georgia, be reasonable," he said quietly. "I am sorry this annoys
you, but it is absolutely necessary. Why, one would think, by your looks
and actions, I was some monstrous tyrant, instead of a husband who loves
you so well that he is willing to sacrifice his own fondness for
solitude and quiet, that you may acquire the habits of good society."

She did not speak. His words had wounded her pride too deeply to be
healed by his gentle tone.

"Well, Georgia?" he said, after a pause.

She turned her face to the window, and asked, huskily:

"Who are coming?"

"My mother and cousin, the Arlingfords, Mrs. Harper and her two
daughters, Colonel and Mrs. Gleason, and their two sons, Miss Reid, and
Mr. Lester."

"All I dislike most."

"All you dislike most, Mrs. Wildair?" he said, coolly. "What am I to
understand by that?"

"What I say. I have not yet learned to dissimulate," she said, bitterly.

"Really, Mrs. Wildair, this is pleasant. I presume you forget my
mother."

Georgia was silent.

"Am I to understand, Mrs. Wildair, that my mother is included in the
catalogue of those you dislike?"

Georgia did not speak.

"Mrs. Wildair," he said, calmly, "will it please you to reply? I am
accustomed to be answered when I speak."

"Oh, Richmond, don't ask me. How can I help it? I tried to like your
mother, but--"

Her voice choked, and she stopped.

He went over, and lifted the face she had covered with her hands, and
looked into it with a smile.

"But you failed. You did not understand each other. Well, never mind,
Georgia; you will like each other better by and by. You will have to do
so, as she is going to live with us altogether."

"_What!_"

"My dear, be calm. How intensely excitable you are! Certainly, she will
live here: she is all alone now, you know--she and my cousin; and is it
not natural that this should be their home?"

"_Your cousin, too?_"

"Of course. Why, Georgia, you might have known it. They are my only
relatives, for he who was once my brother is dead to us all. Georgia, is
it possible you hate my mother and cousin?"

He spoke in a tone so surprised and grieved that Georgia was touched.
Forcing a smile, she looked up in his grave face, and said:

"Oh, Richmond, I did not mean to hurt your feelings; forgive me if I
have done so. I will try to like all your friends, because they are
yours. I will try to tutor this undisciplined heart, and be all you
could wish. It startled me at first, that is all. It was so pleasant
here, with no one but ourselves, and I was so happy since our return,
that I forgot it could not always last. Yes, indeed, Richmond, I _will_
like your mother and cousin, and try to be as urbane and courteous to
all our guests as even you are. Am I forgiven _now_, Richmond?"

Half an hour later, Georgia was alone in her own room, lying prostrate
on a couch, with her face buried in the cushions, perfectly still, but
for the sort of shiver that ran at intervals through her slight frame.
It was their first quarrel, or anything approaching a quarrel, and
Georgia had been crushed, wounded, and humiliated, as she had never been
before in her life. It may seem a slight thing; but in her pride she was
so acutely sensitive, that now she lay in a sort of anguish, with her
hands clasped over her heart, as if to still its tumultuous throbbings,
looking forward with a dread that was almost horror to the coming of all
those strangers, but more than all, to the coming of her husband's
mother and cousin.

All that day she was changed, and was as haughty and self-possessed as
any of those fine ladies, her husband's friends. The calm, dignified
politeness of Mrs. Hamm looked like impudence to her in her present
mood, and when that frigid little lady came to ask about dinner, there
were two burning spots on Georgia's cheeks, and a high, ringing tone of
command in her voice that made Mrs. Hamm open her languid eyes in faint
amaze, which was as far as she could ever go in the way of astonishment.

Late that evening, as she sat in the drawing-room, practicing her music
lesson,--for she was learning music now,--Emily Murray was announced,
and the next moment, bright, breezy, smiling, and sunshiny, she came
dancing in, like an embodied sunbeam.

"Mother's been over spending the afternoon with Miss Jerusha," said
Emily, "and I felt so lonesome at home that I overcame my awe of
Richmond House and its grand inmates, and thought I would run up and see
you. Hope, like Paul Pry, I do not intrude?"

Georgia's reply was a kiss. She had been feeling so sad all day that her
heart gave a glad bound at sight of Emily.

"Why, what's the matter, Georgie? You look pale and troubled. What has
happened?" said Emily, her affectionate eyes discovering the change in
her friend's tell-tale face.

"Nothing; at least, not much. I am a little out of spirits to-day;
everyone is at times," said Georgia, with a faint smile. "My moods were
always changeable, you know."

"Well, I hope you will not acquire that anxious, worried look most
housekeepers wear," said Emily, gayly. "You have it exactly now, and it
quite spoils your beauty. Come, smile and look pleasant, and tell me all
about your journey to New York. Did you have a good time?"

"Yes," said Georgia, coloring slightly; "I enjoyed myself pretty well.
We went to the theater and opera almost every night, and I went to a
great many parties of one kind and another. But Burnfield's _home_ after
all, and there was no Emily in New York city."

"Flatterer!" said Emily, laughing; "and did you see Mr. Wildair's
relatives there, too?"

"Yes," said Georgia, in a changed tone. "He has no relatives but his
mother and a certain Miss Richmond, a cousin of his, and an orphan."

"You forget his brother--our old friend Charley?"

"He is not at home now--I have not even heard his name mentioned for
many a day."

"Indeed?" said Emily, surprised. "How is that? I feel an interest in
him, you know," she added, laughing; "he was so handsome, and droll, and
winning--twice as nice, with reverence be it said, as your grave,
stately liege lord."

"Well, it appears he did something. I never heard what, but Richmond
says he disgraced the family, and they have disowned him. What his
fault is I do not know, but one of the effects of it is, that he has
lost the inheritance Squire Richmond left him. You see the way it was,
my husband inherited all the landed property and half the bank stock,
and Charley the remaining half. Not a very fair division, you will say;
but as Richmond bore the family name, and was more after his uncle's
heart than his wilder brother, the old gentleman saw fit to leave him
most. As the bank stock was large, however, Charley's fortune was no
trifle; but to it certain conditions were annexed, namely: that he
should marry this young lady cousin, Miss Richmond, and take the family
name before he went abroad. Charley only laughed at it, and declared his
perfect willingness to marry 'Freddy'--her name is Fredrica--who would
be handy to have about the house, he said, to pull off his boots, sew on
buttons, and sing him to sleep of an afternoon. Miss Richmond, on her
part, made no objection, and that matter seemed settled; but whatever he
has done, it has completely broken up the whole affair, and his share
comes to Richmond along with his own. So, my dear little snow-flake,
that is all I know of your handsome Charley," concluded Georgia, with
her own bright smile.

"It is all very strange," said Emily, musingly; "and I cannot realize
that the gay, careless, but ever kind youth that we knew, and whom
everybody loved, has become fallen and degraded, as all this would seem
to imply. What sort of a person is this Miss Richmond he was to marry?"

Georgia's beautiful lip curled with a scorn too intense for words.

"She is a--But, as I cannot tell my impressions of her without speaking
ill of the absent, I will be silent. In a few days you will have a
chance to see her for yourself, as she is coming here to live."

"Indeed!" said Emily, slowly, fixing her eyes anxiously on Georgia's
face--"indeed! Would you not be happier without her?"

"That is not the question," said Georgia, in a tone of reserve, for she
was too proud to let even Emily know how much she disliked this visit;
"it will not do for Richmond and me to make hermits of ourselves
altogether, you know, so a large party from the city are coming here to
spend Christmas. And, Emily, I want _you_ to come too; they are all more
or less strangers to me, and it will be such a comfort to look on your
dear, familiar face when I grow tired of playing the hostess to all
those grand folks. Say, little darling, will you come?"

The dark eyes were raised with such a look of earnest entreaty to her
face that Emily stooped down and kissed the pleading lips before she
answered.

"Dear Georgia, I cannot; I would not be happy among so many strangers--I
should feel like a fish out of water, you know. We can meet often when
no strange eyes are looking on; they would not understand us, nor we
them, Georgia. And now, good-by; Uncle Edward is coming to tea, so I
must hurry home."

She was gone. The airy little form and bright face flashed out of the
door, and Georgia felt as if all the sunshine in that grand, cold room
had gone with her. Impatiently she rose from the piano, and with a
rebellious rising in her heart, walked to the window and looked out with
a darkening brow.

"She shrinks from meeting this crowd--so do I. She need not meet them,
but I have to--I must. Oh! hateful word. If there was a single bond of
sympathy between me and one of them--but there is not. They come here to
criticise and sneer at Richmond Wildair's country bride--to have a good
subject to laugh over when they go back to the city. Richmond says I am
morbid on this subject, but I am not. And that cousin, too--that smooth
silvery-voiced, oily little cheat. Oh! why, why did he invite her here?
I hate her--I loathe her. I shrank from her the moment I first saw her,
with her snake-like movements and fawning smile. And she is to live
here; to spy upon me night and day; to drive me wild with her cringing
servility, hiding her mockery and covert sneers. I think I could get
along with his mother, with all her open scorn and supercilious
contempt; galling as it is, it is at least open, and not mean, prying
and treacherous; but this horrid, despicable cousin that I loathe even
more than I hate--oh! I dread her coming; I shrink from it; it makes my
flesh creep to think of it. Oh, Richmond! if you knew how I detest this
earthworm of a cousin, would you ever have invited her here? Yes, I know
he would. I feel he would. He would be shocked, horrified, indignant, if
he knew how I feel on the subject; so he shall never know. He would
think it my duty to overcome this sinful feeling, and insist upon my
being doubly kind to her to atone for it. He likes her--so does his
mother--so does every one else; they believe in her silky smile, her
soft, treacherous voice, and cat-like step, and mean, underhand fawning;
but I--I see through her, and she knows it. She dislikes me. I saw that
through all her cringing, officious attentions and professions of
affection, and only loathed her the more.

"Oh!" cried Georgia, pacing up and down the room, "this is, indeed,
awakening from my delusive dream. Perhaps I am too sensitive--Richmond
says I am; but I cannot help feeling so. I was so perfectly happy since
our return, but now it is at an end. Our delicious solitude is to be
invaded by those cold, unsympathizing worldlings, who come here to
gratify their curiosity and see how the awkward country girl will do the
honors of stately Richmond country-house. Oh! why am _I_ not sufficient?
Why need he invite all these people here? But I forget they are his
friends; they are to him what Emily Murray is to me. Dear, loving, happy
little Emily! with her calm, seraphic eyes, and pure, serene brow.
_What_ is the secret of her inward happiness? How different she is from
me; even in childhood none of those storms of passion agitated her, that
distracted my tempestuous youth. Can it be that Christianity, in which
she so implicity believes, has anything to do with this perfect peace?
_Is_ there a heaven?" she said, going back to the window and looking
gloomily out. "Sometimes I have doubted it; and yet there _ought_ to be.
Our best happiness in this world is so short, so feverish, so fleeting,
and the earthly strife is so long, and wearisome, and sorrowful, that we
need perfect rest and peace somewhere. Two short months ago I was so
happy--oh, _so_ happy!--and now, at this first slight trial, my heart
lies like lead in my bosom. How false the dazzling glitter of this world
is!"

And, as if involuntarily, she murmured the beautiful words of Moore:

    "This world is all a fleeting show,
      For man's illusion given;
    The smiles of joy, the tears of woe
    Deceitful shine, deceitful flow,
      There's nothing true but Heaven."

There was an unusual shadow on little Emily Murray's face too, that day,
as she went home. She was thinking of Georgia. The eyes of affection are
not easily blinded, and she saw that under all her proud, reserved
exterior, her friend was unhappy.

"I know she dreads the coming of all those people from the city, Uncle
Edward," she said that evening to Father Murray, as she sat busily
sewing at the table.

"Poor child!" said the kind old clergyman. "I feared from the first this
marriage would not contribute much to her happiness. Not that it is Mr.
Wildair's fault; he means well, and really does all for the best; but
your friend, Emily, is peculiar. She is morbidly proud and intensely
sensitive, and has a dread amounting to horror of being ridiculed.
People of her nature are rarely, if ever, perfectly happy in this world;
they are self-torturers, and their happiness comes in flashes, to be
succeeded by deeper gloom than before. Georgia always was in extremes;
she was either wildly, madly, unreasonably joyful, or else wrapped in a
dark, sullen gloom that nothing could alleviate."

The next three days Emily was not up at the Hall, but on the fourth
afternoon she started to see Georgia. The train from the city had just
reached Burnfield station, and two large sleighs, filled with ladies and
gentlemen, were dashing up amid the jingling of bells and peals of
silvery laughter toward Richmond House.

Emily paused and watched them until they disappeared up the avenue, and
then, as she was about to turn away, she saw Mrs. Hamm, cloaked and
hooded, advance toward her.

"Good-afternoon, Miss Murray," said the stately little dame, in a tone
of lofty courtesy that would have become a duchess.

"Good-afternoon, Mrs. Hamm," said Emily, pleasantly; "I see you have
visitors up at the house."

"Yes, friends of Mr. Wildair's, from New York--his mother, and cousins,
and others--quite a large party. Excuse me, this is my way. Good-day,
Miss Emily."

What inward feeling was it that made Emily turn and send such a look of
pity up at the window of Georgia's room?

"Poor Georgia!" she said, as she turned away, feeling, she hardly knew
why, a most uncomfortable sinking of her heart at the thought of her
sensitive young friend amid all those unsympathizing strangers. "Poor
Georgia! Poor Georgia!"



CHAPTER XIV.

A DREAM COMING TRUE.

    "I had a dream which was not _all_ a dream."

                                         BYRON.

    "And we saw Medea burning
    At her passion-planted stake."

                        BROWNING.


Richmond House at last was full of guests; every room was filled; peals
of laughter, and silvery voices of ladies, and the deeper tones of
gentlemen, made music through the long silent house, and scared the
swallows from their homes in the eaves. The idle servants had enough to
do now, and were tearing distractedly up stairs and down stairs, and
here, and there, and everywhere with a terrible noise and clatter, and
all was gay bustle and lively animation.

Georgia, superb as a young empress, in purple satin, with a brilliant
flush on her cheek, and a streaming light in her eyes, had never looked
so handsome as that day when she received and welcomed her husband's
guests. And when this ceremony was over, they were shown to their rooms
to dress for dinner, and Richmond, with a gratified smile, congratulated
her on the elegant manner in which she had performed her part. Georgia
listened, and her cheek flushed deeper, and her eye grew brighter as she
replied to his smile with one that made her face fairly radiant, and
inwardly resolved that to merit his approbation, she _would_ try to
dissimulate, and try to be amiable and courteous to all, even to the
detestable Miss Richmond.

The great dining-room of Richmond House was all ablaze that evening, and
the long table fairly glittered and flashed with its wealth of massive
silver and cut-glass; and around it gathered all the gay guests from the
city, and not a lady among them all was half so handsome or brilliant as
the dark, bright girl, in her rich sheeny dress, who sat at the head of
the table and did the honors.

A very select party they were whom Richmond Wildair had invited. There
was Colonel Gleason, a tall, pompous-looking gentleman; and Mrs.
Gleason, a stiff, frigid lady, not unlike Mrs. Hamm; then there was a
Mrs. Harper, a buxom, jolly-looking matron; and her two daughters,
dashing, stylish-looking girls, who had never been guilty of a blush in
their lives. There, too, was Miss Reid, a silent, languid,
delicate-looking young lady, reminding one of a fragile wax japonica;
and a Mr. Lester, one of those irresistible bipeds known as "Broadway
swells," who never pronounced the letter R. and had the nicest little
bits of feet and hands in the world. There was Lieutenant Gleason, the
Colonel's eldest son, remarkable for nothing but a ferocious mustache
and a pair of long and slender legs; and there was Mr. Henry Gleason, a
youth of eighteen, who stared at the company generally through an
eye-glass, and gave it as his opinion that there never was such a rum
old house, or such a jolly stupid old place as Burnfield in the world
before. There was Miss Arlingford, a pale, dark-eyed, pleasant-looking
girl, and her brother, Captain Arlingford, a handsome, dashing young
sailor--frank, off-hand, and brave, as all sailors are. And last, but by
no means least, there was Mr. Dick Curtis, who on a certain interesting
occasion had "stood up" with Richmond, and now, resplendent in a white
vest and excruciating neck-tie, was making most anxious inquiries about
our friend Emily Murray, about whom he said his private opinion,
publicly expressed, was, that she was a "real nice girl--a regular
stunner, sir, and no mistake!"

"Aw--should like to see her--weally," lisped Mr. Lester; "this heaw
Burnfield seems so good at that sort of thing, you know--waising
handsome gals, eh?" And the exquisite glanced with what he fancied to be
an unmistakable look at his hostess, whose haughty lip, in spite of
every effort, curled while meeting Captain Arlingford's laughing eye;
she had to smile, too.

"I say, Lester," called Mr. Henry Gleason from across the table, "that
must have been the little beauty we saw standing in the road as we drove
up. By Jove! she was a _screamer_, a regular out-and-outer, a tip-top,
slap-up girl," said the youth, enthusiastically.

"Henry, my dear," said his mother, looking shocked, "how _can_ you use
such dreadful language? 'Slap-up!' I'm really astonished at you!"

"Well, so she _was_ slap-up!" reiterated Master Henry, determinedly,
"nothing shorter. Ask our Tom, or Lester, or any of the fellows, if you
don't believe me."

"A true bill, Harry," replied his brother Tom, the hero of the ferocious
moustache. "I say, Wildair, you'll have to present us."

"Couldn't, my dear fellow," said Mr. Wildair, laughing; "little Emily
would fly in terror at sight of your gold lace and sword-knot. No chance
of getting up a flirtation with _her_."

"Aw--couldn't expect anything bettah from a wustic; they ah not wuth the
time spent in flirting, you know," drawled Mr. Lester, sipping his wine.

Georgia gave a sudden start, and, had looks the power to kill, poor
obtuse Mr. Lester would never have murdered the king's English again.
Glances were exchanged, and one or two malicious smiles curled sundry
female lips. The gentleman looked down at their plates, and Richmond's
mouth grew stern. Not one present but felt the words, save the noodle
who had spoken, and that fast youth, Master Henry Gleason.

"Curtis is a goner, anyhow," said Master Henry, breaking the awkward
silence; "he turned as red as a boiled lobster the moment he clapped his
eyes on her. Eh, Curtis, you're a gone case, ain't you?"

"It's no use though, my dear fellow," said Richmond, recovering his
bland look; "my little friend, Emily, wouldn't have you if you were
President of the United States. Isn't that so, Georgia?" he said, gayly,
appealing to his wife, who was conversing with Miss Arlingford and her
brother, the only two whom she did not positively dislike.

"I really do not know," she said, gravely, for she did not exactly
relish this free use of Emily's name.

"And why, Wildair?" said Curtis, so earnestly that all laughed.

"Simply, my dear fellow, because you and she have antagonistic views on
many subjects."

A change of theme was soon after effected by the ladies rising and
seeking the drawing-room. There they dispersed themselves in various
directions. The eldest Miss Harper sat down at the piano, in the hope of
attracting the attention of Miss Arlingford, whom she professed a strong
attachment for, on the principle of "let me kiss her for her brother,"
to change the song a little. But Miss Arlingford, who had taken a deep
interest in the proud young lady of the house, sat down beside her and
began to converse. The rest gathered in groups to chat or listen to the
music, or turn over prints, until the entrance of the gentlemen--for
which they had not to wait long, as that fast young scion of the house
of Gleason had moved a speedy adjournment to the drawing-room,
pronouncing the talk over the "walnuts and the wine" awfully slow
without the girls. And immediately upon their entrance Master Henry
crossed over to where Georgia and Miss Arlingford sat, and drawing up an
ottoman, deposited himself at their feet, and began opening a
conversation with his young hostess, whom, he had informed Captain
Arlingford, he considered the greatest "stunner" he had ever seen in his
life, and that, in spite of all people said about it, his opinion was
that Rich Wildair had showed his good taste and good sense by marrying
her.

"Where's the other Mrs. Wildair--the dowager duchess, you know?" he
said, by way of commencing.

"In her room," replied Georgia, with a smile. "She was rather fatigued
after her journey, and would not come down to dinner. She will grace the
drawing-room by her presence by and by."

"Horridly easily fatigued she must be," said Henry, who was one of those
favored individuals who can say and do anything they like without giving
offense. "Freddy Richmond's with her, I suppose?"

"Yes; she would not leave her aunt. Both will be here very shortly,"
replied Georgia.

Even as she spoke the drawing-room door opened, and a tall,
hard-featured, haughty-looking, elderly lady entered, leaning on the arm
of a small, wiry girl with little keen gray eyes, and hair which her
friends _called_ auburn, but which _was_ red, and very white teeth,
displayed by a constant, unvarying smile. A smiling face ought to be a
pleasant one, but this freckled one was not. There was a cringing,
fawning, servility about her which made most people, except those fond
of flattery and adulation, distrust her, and which fairly _sickened_
Georgia.

"Speak of the--," began Henry, sinking his voice _pianissimo_, and
concluding the sentence to himself.

Georgia arose, and almost timidly approached them, and inquired of the
elder lady if she felt better. Mrs. Wildair opened her eyes and favored
her with a stare that was downright insolent; and then, before her slow
reply was formed, Miss Freddy Richmond took it upon herself to answer,
with a fawning smile:

"Thank you, yes--quite recovered. A night's rest will perfectly restore
her."

Georgia turned her flashing eyes down on the smiling owner of the ferret
optics and red hair, and a hot "I did not address myself to you--speak
when you are spoken to," leaped to her tongue; but Georgia was learning
to restrain herself since her marriage, and so she only bit her lip till
the blood started, at the open slight.

"Can we not get on, Fredrica?" said Mrs. Wildair, impatiently.

Georgia was standing before them, and now Miss Freddy, with her silkiest
smile, put out her hand--a limp, moist, sallow little member--and gave
her a slight push saying:

"Will you be kind enough, Georgia" (she had called her by her Christian
name from the first, as if she had been a maid-of-all-work), "and let us
pass. I see Mrs. Colonel Gleason over there, and Mrs. Wildair wants to
join her."

Richmond, standing over Miss Harper, who was deafening the company with
one of those dreadful overtures from "Il Trovatore," had not witnessed
this little scene. Indeed, had he, it is probable he would have observed
nothing wrong about it; but the gesture, the tone, and the insolent
look--half supercilious, half contemptuous--that accompanied it, sent a
shock through Miss Arlingford, brought a flush to her brother's cheek,
and even made Master Henry mutter that it was a "regular jolly shame."

They brushed past Georgia as if she had been the housemaid, and she was
left standing there before those who had witnessed the direct insult.
Her head was throbbing, her face crimson, and her breath came so quick
and stifled that she laid her hand on her chest, feeling as though she
should suffocate. She forgot the curious eyes bent upon her--some in
compassion, some in gratified malice--she forgot everything but the
insult offered her by the worm she despised. With one hand resting on
the table to steady herself, for her brain was whirling, and with the
other pressed hard on her bosom, she stood where they had left her,
until Miss Arlingford arose, and taking her arm, said, kindly:

"The heat has made you ill, Mrs. Wildair; allow me to lead you to a
seat."

She did not resist, and Miss Arlingford conducted her to a remote seat
somewhat in the shadow, if such a thing as shade it could be called in
that brilliantly lighted room. And then the young lady began talking
carelessly about the music, without looking at her, until Georgia's
emotion had time to subside and, outwardly at least, she grew calm.
Outwardly--but, oh! the bitterness that swelled and throbbed in that
proud heart until it seemed ready to burst, that left her white even to
the very lips, that sent such a dreadful fire into her dusky eyes as if
all the life in her heart had fled and concentrated there.

She did not hear a word Miss Arlingford was saying, she scarcely knew
she was beside her; she did not know what was going on around her for a
moment, until, with one grand crash that might have smashed a more firm
instrument, Miss Harper arose from the piano and sailed over to where
the young captain and Henry Gleason were talking, and made herself quite
at home with them at once. And then Georgia, whose eyes were fixed in a
sort of terrible fascination on Miss Richmond, saw her led to the piano
by her husband, and heard her singing, or rather _screeching_ some
terrific Italian song, and all the time she was combating a fierce, mad
impulse to spring upon her and do--she did not know what--strangle her,
perhaps. And then her song was ended--the final unearthly shriek was
given, like to nothing earthly but the squeal of a steamboat, and she
saw her approach, and, with her small, glittering, snaky eyes fixed upon
her, in a voice audible to all, ask her--their hostess--to favor them
next. Now she, as well as most there, knew Georgia could not play; but,
wishing to have a little pleasure quizzing the "country girl," they came
crowding around, and it was:

"Oh, _pray_ do, Mrs. Wildair."

"_Don't_ refuse us now."

"_Do_ favor us, Mrs. Wildair; I am sure you sing beautifully."

"Of course Georgia will play; she knows it's not polite to refuse her
guests," said Miss Richmond, winding up the chant and smiling insolently
up in her face as she laid her hand on her arm.

Georgia started as if a viper had stung her, and, striking off the hand,
arose white with concentrated passion.

Richmond, coming up at the moment, had just heard his cousin's
silvery-toned request, and the startling way in which it had been
received.

Miss Richmond and Miss Harper started back with two simultaneous little
shrieks, and looked at Georgia as they would at a Shawnee savage, had
one suddenly appeared before them, and a profound silence fell on all
around.

Richmond's brow for one moment grew dark as night, and he caught and
transfixed Georgia with a look that made her start as if she had
received a galvanic shock. The next, with his strong self-command, his
brow cleared, and, making his way through the startled group, he said,
smiling:

"My wife does not play, Freddy. You forgot music teachers are not so
easily obtained in Burnfield as in New York city. Why, Georgia, you are
looking quite pale. Are you ill?"

She did not speak; she only lifted her eyes to his face with a look of
such utter anguish that his anger gave way to a mingled feeling of
compassion and annoyance.

"I am afraid Mrs. Wildair _is_ indisposed," said Miss Arlingford. "We
will leave her to your care, Mr. Wildair, while, if my poor efforts will
be accepted, I will endeavor to take her place at the instrument."

As Miss Arlingford was known to be a beautiful singer, the offer was
instantly accepted, and the kind-hearted young lady was followed to the
piano by all present, who seated themselves near, while Richmond,
Freddy, and Mrs. Wildair, who, with a frown on her brow, had just come
up, gathered round Georgia.

"Really, Richmond, your wife has made a most extraordinary exhibition of
herself this evening," said his mother, in a tone of withering contempt.
"Are you quite sure she is perfectly sane? I do not ask from curiosity,
but because Mrs. Gleason has been quite terrified."

Georgia started as if she would have sprung from the sofa, but Richmond
held her down, while he said, coldly:

"You can tell Mrs. Gleason she need not alarm herself on the subject;
the unusual excitement has been too much for her, that is all."

"The _unusual excitement_! Oh, I perceive," said Mrs. Wildair, with a
smile more cutting than any words could have been. "Perhaps she had
better retire to her room altogether, and I will endeavor to play the
hostess to your guests."

"My dear Georgia," said Freddy, laying her hateful hand on Georgia's,
and looking up in her face with a hateful smile, "I am afraid my request
offended you. I am sure I quite forgot you could not play, and never
thought you would have resented being asked; it is so common for people
to play nowadays that one cannot realize another is ignorant of what
every child understands. I really cannot leave you until you say you
forgive me."

Georgia shuddered at the hateful touch, and her hands clinched as she
listened, but Richmond's eye was upon her, and she only shook off the
hand, and was silent.

"Do say you forgive me, Georgia, _do_, please, I am _so_ sorry," fawned
Freddy, with one arm around her neck.

"Oh, Richmond, take her away! Oh, Richmond, _do_!" she cried out,
shrinking in loathing from her.

Freddy, with the sigh of deeply injured but forgiving spirit, got up and
stood meekly before her.

"Really," began Mrs. Wildair, with haughty anger; but her son, with a
darkened brow, said, hastily:

"Mother, leave her to me. Freddy, go; she does not know what she is
saying; she will regret this by and by, and be the first to apologize.
She is excited now; to-morrow you will see her in a very different frame
of mind."

"I hope so, I am sure; it is very much needed, I must say," observed
Mrs. Wildair, coldly, as, with a frown on her face, she drew Freddy's
arm within hers and led her away.

"Oh, Richmond!" began Georgia, passionately lifting her eyes to his
face.

And there she stopped, the words frozen on her lips. He did not speak,
but catching her wrists in a steady grasp, he looked sternly and
steadily in her eyes, until she sat shivering and trembling before him.
And then he dropped her hands, and without a word drew her arm within
his and led her down to where the rest were, and seated her on a sofa
between Colonel Gleason and himself.

The song was finished, and amid a murmur of applause Miss Arlingford
rose from the piano and came over to where Georgia sat, to inquire if
she felt better. And then Captain Arlingford and Henry Gleason came,
too, and Georgia was soon the center of a gay, laughing group, who
strove to dissipate her gloom and restore the disturbed harmony of the
evening. And Georgia, now that her evil genius was gone, remembering her
husband's look, tried to smile and talk cheerfully with the rest, but,
as she said herself, she had not yet learned to dissimulate. And the
wild glitter of her eye and her marble-like face told a far different
story, and her efforts to be at ease were so evident and so painful,
that all felt it a relief when the hour came for retiring and they could
seek their own rooms.

Mr. and Mrs. Wildair bade their last guest good-night, and then they
were alone in the drawing-room.

Georgia sank down on a sofa, dreading even to look at him; and Richmond,
his courteous smile totally gone and his face grave and stern, stood
with his elbow leaning on the marble mantel, looking down on her with a
stern, steady gaze.

"Mrs. Wildair!" he said, coldly.

"Oh, Richmond!" she cried, passionately.

"Well, this a delightful beginning, I must say," he observed, calmly.
"Are you aware, madam, that you made both yourself and me ridiculous
to-night?"

"Oh, Richmond, I could not help it! Oh, Richmond, I felt as if I should
go mad!"

"It would not take much to convince our friends that you are that
already, my dear. May I ask if it was Fredrica's simple and natural
request that you would play for the company, that came so near driving
you mad? I saw you drop her hand as if there were contamination in the
touch."

"Oh, so there is! so there is!" she cried, in frenzied tones.

"Really, madam," said Mr. Wildair, in a tone of marked displeasure,
"this is carrying your absurdity too far. Take care that _I_ do not
begin to believe you mad, as well as the rest. Are you aware that you
grossly insulted my cousin before my guests this evening?"

"She insulted me!--the low, fawning hypocrite! Oh, that I should be
obliged to live under the same roof with that _thing_!" exclaimed
Georgia, wildly, wringing her hands.

There was a dead pause. It had more effect on Georgia than any words he
could have uttered. She looked up, and saw him standing calm, stern, and
deeply displeased, with his large, strong eyes fixed upon her in sorrow,
surprise, and grave anger.

"Oh, Richmond! what shall I do? I am going crazy, I think. Oh, Richmond!
I tried to do well, and not displease you, but she---- Oh! everything
that is bad in my nature she rouses when she comes near me! Richmond!
Richmond! I cannot _bear_ to have you angry with me. Tell me--_do_ tell
me--what I shall do?"

"It is very plain what you must do, my love. You must apologize to Miss
Richmond."

As if she had received a spear-thrust, Georgia bounded to her feet, her
eyes blazing, her lips blanched.

"WHAT!"

"Nay, my dear; it is folly to excite yourself in this way. Be calm. Of
course, you must apologize--there is no other way in which you can atone
for your unparalleled madness."

"Never!"

"You _will not_? Georgia, do I understand you right? You mean you _will_
apologize?"

"Never!"

"Georgia, you _will_!"

"I will NOT!"

There was another dead pause. Still he stood calm and coldly stern,
while she stood with her full form drawn up to its full height, her eyes
flashing sparks of fire, her brow corrugated, her lips white with
passion and defiance.

"Georgia," he said, coldly, and his words fell like ice on the fire
raging in her stormy breast, "once your boast was that you never told a
lie; now you have _sworn_ one. You vowed before God's minister to obey
me, and yet the first _command_ I have given you since, you passionately
refuse to obey. I am no tyrant, Georgia, and I shall _never_ request you
to do anything for me again; but remember, madam, I shall not forget
this."

He was turning away, but with a great cry she sprang after him and
caught his arm.

"Oh, Richmond, unsay your words! Oh, I will do anything, anything,
_anything_ sooner than part with you in anger! Oh, Richmond, my heart
feels as if it were breaking. I shall die if you do not say you forgive
me!"

"Will you go to my cousin to-morrow, and beg her pardon for your insane
conduct to-night?"

She shivered as one in an ague fit, while from her white lips dropped
the hollow word:

"_Yes._"

"That is my own brave Georgia. The insult was publicly given, and should
be publicly atoned for; but I will spare you _that_ humiliation. And now
I feel that this lesson, severe as it is, will do you good. You will be
more careful for the future, Georgia."

She lifted her head, and looked up in his face with a smile that
startled him.

"It has come true, Richmond," she said.

"What has, my love?" he asked, uneasily.

"My dream. Do you not remember the dream I told you and Charley, long
ago, when I first knew you?"

"Yes, I remember it. You told it so impressively I could not forget it.
What of that dream, my dear?"

She laughed--such a mockery of laughter as it was!

"It was _you_ I saw in that dream, Richmond; it was _you_ who drove me,
all wounded and bleeding, through the fiery furnace. You are doing it
_now_, Richmond. But I did not tell you _all_ my dream then. I did not
tell you then that at last I turned, sprang upon my torturer, and
STRANGLED him in my own death throes!"

Again she laughed, and looked up in his face with her gleaming eyes.

"My dear, you are hysterical," he said in alarm. "Be calm; do not excite
yourself so. I always knew you were wild; but positively this is the
very superlative of wildest. To-morrow you will feel better, Georgia."

"Oh, yes--to-morrow, when I shall have begged _her_ pardon! Listen,
Richmond, do you know what I wished to-night?"

"No, dear Georgia; what was it?"

"It was, Richmond, _that I had never married you_!"



CHAPTER XV.

SOWING THE WIND.


Merry days those were in Richmond House, with the old halls resounding
with music and laughter, and the hum of gay voices, from morning till
night. Astonished and awed were the people of Burnfield by the
glittering throng of city fashionables, who promenaded their streets and
swept past them in the sweeping amplitude of flashing silks and rich
velvets and furs. As for our city friends themselves, the ladies
pronounced the place "horrid stupid;" but as the young gentlemen, with
one or two exceptions, found the country girls exceedingly willing to be
flirted with, they rather liked it than otherwise.

A proud man was the Reverend Mr. Barebones the first Sunday after their
arrival, when the bewildering throng flashed into the meeting-house,
and, with a great rustle of silks and satins, and an intoxicating odor
of _eau de Cologne_, filled the two large front pews that from time
immemorial had belonged to Richmond House. It was not religion
altogether that brought them--at least, not all. Languid Miss Reid, for
instance, went because the rest did, and it was less trouble to go than
to form excuses for staying; and that quintessence of exquisiteness,
Mr. Adolphus Lester, who was tender on that young lady, went because she
did. Miss Harper went because Captain Arlingford was going, and Miss
Freddy Richmond went because she was a very discreet young lady and it
was "proper" to attend divine worship, and Miss Richmond never shocked
the proprieties. Georgia went because she _had_ to, and Lieutenant
Gleason and his father went to kill time, which always hung heavy on
their hands, on Sunday. Of the whole party, only Master Henry Gleason
and Mr. Curtis were absent; Master Henry, having pronounced the whole
establishment of Christian churches on earth and their attendant
Christian ministers "horrid old bores," declared his intention of
staying at home and having a "jolly good snooze."

Every one seemed to have enjoyed themselves the last week at Richmond
House but its young mistress. There were rides, and drives, and
excursions during the day, and sailing parties on the river in Mr.
Wildair's yacht; and there were dancing, and music, and acting charades,
and all sorts of amusements for the evening, into which all the young
people entered with eager zest--all but Georgia.

Those days, few as they were, had wrought a marked change in her. The
flush of her health and happiness had faded from her cheeks, leaving
only two dark purple spots, that burned there like tongues of flame; her
eye had lost its sparkle, her brow was worn and haggard, and her step
was slow and weary. She lived in daily martyrdom, such as none but a
spirit so morbidly proud and keenly sensitive can comprehend. Slights,
insults, insolence, and little galling acts of malice, "making up in
number what they wanted in weight," were daily to be borne now from her
supercilious mother-in-law and her malicious, insolent shadow and echo,
Miss Richmond. And these were offered openly, in the presence of all;
not an opportunity was allowed to escape of mortifying her; until
sometimes, wild and nearly maddened, she would fly up to her room, and,
alone and frenzied, struggle with the storm raging in her heart.

Richmond, absorbed in attending to the comfort and amusement of his
guests, knew nothing of all this. It was not their policy to let him
suspect their dislike--yes, _hatred_ of his bride; and, as they well
knew, the rest, who saw it all, would not venture to speak on so
delicate a subject to their proud host. It is true, he saw the change in
Georgia's face, and the freezing coldness her manners were assuming to
all, even to him; but from some artfully dropped hints of immaculate
Miss Freddy's, he set it down to stubborn sullenness. And believing her
to be incorrigible in her disagreeableness and insubordination, he grew
markedly reserved and cold when alone in her society; and thus the
misunderstanding between them daily widened.

Georgia was too proud to complain of what she herself suffered and
endured--she was dumb; and indeed if she had been inclined, she would
have found it hard to make out a list of her grievances and relate them,
for Miss Freddy's insults were offered in such a way that, keenly as
they struck home, they dwindled into nothing when related to a third
party. Had he not been so absorbed in the duties of hospitality, and
striving to atone for his wife's neglect, he might have seen for
himself; but he was blind and deaf to all, and only saw her uncourteous
treatment of his friends and her wifely disobedience. And before
long--no one scarcely knew how--Georgia was pushed aside, and Mrs.
Wildair and Freddy began to take the place of hostess, and Richmond
looked on and tacitly consented. All were consulted in their plans and
amusements but Georgia; _she_ was overlooked with the coolest and most
insolent contempt; and if sometimes, as a matter of form, her opinion
was asked by either of the ladies, it was worded in such a way or
uttered in such a tone as made it even a more galling insult. And
Georgia, with a swelling heart and with lips compressed in proud, bitter
endurance, consented to bare her place usurped, without a word or
attempt to regain it. With a heart that underneath all her calmness
seemed ready to burst at such times, she would refuse to accompany them,
pleading indisposition, or sometimes giving no reason at all; and Mrs.
Wildair would turn away with an indifferent, "Oh, very well, just as you
please," and Richmond would say nothing at the time, until he would find
her alone, and then he would coldly begin:

"Mrs. Wildair, may I beg to know the reason you will not honor us with
your company to-morrow?"

"Because I do not wish to," she would flash, with all her old defiance
flaming up in her dusky eyes.

"_Because you do not wish to!_ Insolent! Madam, I _insist_ upon your
accompanying us to-morrow!"

"You find my society so brilliant and agreeable, no doubt, that my
absence will destroy your pleasure," she would say, with a bitter laugh
that jarred painfully on the ear.

"No, madam, I regret to say that your fixed determination to disobey me,
and be uncourteous and disagreeable, is carried out in the very letter
and spirit. Still, I cannot allow my guests to be treated with marked
discourtesy. _I_ have some regard for the laws of hospitality, if you
have not. Therefore, Mrs. Wildair, you will prepare to join our party
to-morrow."

"And if I refuse?"

His eye flashed, and his mouth grew stern.

"You will be sorry for it! Do not attempt such a thing! You may disobey,
but you shall not trifle with me."

She lifted her eyes, and he would see a face so haggard and utterly
wretched that his heart would melt, and he would go over and put his arm
around her, and say, gently:

"Come, Georgia, be reasonable. What evil spirit has got into you of
late? Why will you persist in treating our friends in this way?"

"_Our_ friends!--_your_ friends, you mean."

"It is all the same; for my sake you ought to treat my friends
differently."

Her heart swelled and her lip quivered. Yes, his friends might slight
and insult her, but she was to put her head under their heels, and smile
on those who crushed her.

"Well, Georgia, you do not speak," he would say, watching her closely.

"Mr. Wildair, I have nothing to say. Your mother and cousin are
mistresses here; my part is to stand aside and obey them. If you
_command_ me to go to-morrow, I have no alternative. I am still capable
of submitting to a great deal, sooner than willingly displease you."

"My mother and cousin undertook no authority here, Georgia, until you
neglected all your duties as hostess, and they were obliged to do so. It
is all your own fault, and you know it, Georgia."

She smiled bitterly.

"We will not discuss the subject, if you please, Richmond. I make no
complaint; they are welcome to do as they please, and all I ask for is
the same privilege. I cannot have it, it appears, and--I will go
to-morrow, since you insist; my absence or presence will make little
difference to your friends."

"Georgia, why _will_ you persist in this absurd nonsense?" he would
exclaim, almost angrily. "Really you are enough to try the patience of a
saint. I wish some of this foolish, morbid pride of yours had been kept
where it came from, and a little plain, practical common sense put in
its place. You have taken a most unaccountable prejudice to my mother
and cousin, which, if you had that regard for me you profess, you
certainly would not pain me by displaying; in fact, you resolved from
the first to dislike _all_ I invited, and you have kept that promise
wonderfully well I must say, except as regards the two Arlingfords,
toward whom you evince a partiality that makes your neglect of the rest
all the more glaring. It is certainly a pity you did not receive the
education of a lady, Georgia, and then common politeness would teach you
to act differently."

In silence, and with a curling lip and an unutterable depth of scorn in
her beautiful eyes, Georgia would listen to this conjugal tirade, but
her lips would be sealed; and Richmond, indignant and deeply offended,
would leave the room, and the next moment, all smiles and suavity,
rejoin his guests. And Georgia, left alone, would press her hand to her
breast with that feeling of suffocation rising again until the very air
of the perfumed room would seem to stifle her. And such scenes as this
were of frequent occurrence now, and one and all sank deep in her
heart, to rankle there in anguish and bitterness untold.

Perhaps it may seem strange that Mrs. Wildair and Miss Richmond should
hate Georgia; but so it was. Mrs. Wildair was the haughtiest, the most
overbearing, and the most ambitious of women. Her sons were her pride
and her boast, in public as well as in private, and she had often been
heard to declare that they should marry among the highest in the land,
and perpetuate the ancient glory of the Richmonds. When Charley had
disappointed all this expectation, and had become an alien from her
heart and home, the shock, given more to her ambition than to her
affections, was terrible, and when she recovered from it, all her hopes
centered in her first-born, Richmond.

There was an English lady of rank, the daughter of an earl, at that time
visiting an acquaintance of Mrs. Wildair in New York, and to this
high-born girl did she lift her eyes and determine upon as her future
daughter-in-law. But before she had time to write to Richmond, and
desire him to return home for that purpose, _his_ letter came, and there
she read the quiet announcement that, in a week or two, he was to be
married in Burnfield to a young, penniless girl, "rich alone in beauty,"
he wrote.

Mrs. Wildair sat nearly stunned by the shock. Down came her gilded
coroneted _chateau d' Espagne_ with a crash, to rise no more. Her son
was his own master; she knew his strong, determined, unconquerable will
of old, to combat which was like beating the air. Nothing remained for
her but to consent, which she did with a bitter hatred against the
unconscious object that had thwarted her burning in her heart, and a
determination to make her pay dearly for what she had done, which
resolution she proceeded to carry into effect the moment she arrived in
Richmond House.

"To think that she--a thing like that--sprang from the dregs of the
city, for she is not even an honest farmer's daughter--should have dared
to become my son's wife," she said, hissing the words through her
clenched teeth; "a low wretch, picked up out of the slime and slough of
the city filth, to come between me and my son. Oh! was Charley's act not
degradation enough, that this must fall upon us too?"

"Let us hope, my dear aunt, that the place she has had the effrontery to
usurp will not long be hers," murmured the dulcet voice of her niece, to
whom she had spoken. "We have built up already a wall of brass between
them, and I have a plan in my head that will transform it to one of
fire. Recollect, aunt, divorces are easily obtained, and then your son
will be free once more, and our queenly pauper will be ignominiously
cast back into the slime she rose from."

Miss Freddy's hatred came from pretty much the same cause as Mrs.
Wildair's. In any case, she would have considered it her duty to follow
that lady's lead: but now she had her own private reasons for hating her
with all the bitter intensity of a mean little mind.

Miss Freddy was to have married Charley, and was quite ready and willing
to do so at a moment's notice, but in her secret heart she would have
far preferred his elder brother. Differing from the rest of the world,
Richmond, even "from boyhood's hours," had been her favorite; but when
she saw his mother's hopes aspire to a coronet and a title, she was
overawed, and made up her mind to be cast into the shade. To be rivaled
by a lady like this could be borne, but that a peasant girl--a
nameless, unknown girl--should win the prize for which she had sought in
vain--oh! it was a humiliation not to be endured. So she entered heart
and soul into all her aunt's plans, and won that lady's approbation for
her dutiful conduct, while she carefully concealed her own motives. And
this, then, was the secret of Georgia's persecutions.

The "wall of fire" the amiable young lady had referred to was to make
Richmond jealous. Now, jealousy was never a fault of his, but artful
people can work wonders, and Miss Freddy went carefully, but surely, to
work, with Mrs. Wildair for her stanch backer. And Georgia, all
unconscious, walked headlong into the snare laid for her.

As her husband had said, the Arlingfords were the only ones in the house
whom Georgia could at all endure. The frank, genial, honest
straightforwardness of brother and sister pleased her; and, indignant at
the treatment so openly offered her, they devoted themselves in every
way to interest and amuse her. And Miss Freddy seeing this, her little
keen eyes fairly snapped with gratification, and by a thousand little
devices and pretenses she would manage to dispose of the sister, and
leave Georgia altogether to be entertained by the brother. And then the
attention of the company would be artfully directed to the twain who
were so much together, and Richmond would hear from one and another:

"What friends Mrs. Georgia" (so she was called to distinguish her from
the other) "and captain Arlingford are!"

"How _very_ intimate they are!"

"Yes, _indeed_; just see how she smiles upon him--don't you think her
handsome when she smiles?"

"Very much so. Captain Arlingford seems to think so, too. What a pity he
is the only one she will honor by one of them."

"Well, it is fortunate she has met some one who can please her--she
seems so dull, poor thing!"

"A handsome man like Captain Arlingford does not find it very hard to be
agreeable, I fancy; he is decidedly the best-looking young man here."

"Mrs. Georgia's opinion exactly," said Miss Harper, sending a spiteful
glance at the unconscious objects of these remarks, who sat conversing
on a sofa at some distance. "I asked her, yesterday, and she said, 'Yes,
she thought he most decidedly was.'"

"Poor, dear Georgia!" chimed in Miss Freddy, looking tenderly toward
her; "I am so glad she likes him; she seems to like so few, and indeed
nobody could help liking him, he is so charming. What a nice nose, and
lovely mustache, and sweet curling hair he has, to be sure!"

"And, by George! he shows his good taste, too, in flirting with the
prettiest woman among you," exclaimed Harry Gleason, bluntly.
"Arlingford knows what's what, I tell you; he'll go in and win, I'll
bet!"

Now these remarks, though at first he paid no attention to them beyond
what the words conveyed, jarred disagreeably on Richmond's mind. But as
days passed on and they grew more frequent and more meaning in tone, and
he saw the curious smiles with which they were regarded, and the
expression of his mother's face as she watched them, and saw his cousin
look first at them and then at him with a sort of anxiety and tender
pity, he felt a growing disagreeable sensation of uneasiness for which
he could hardly account. Even to himself, he was ashamed to own he was
jealous of Georgia--his leal, true-hearted, straightforward Georgia,
whom he had never known to be guilty of a dishonorable thought in her
life. Fiery, rash, high-spirited she was, but treacherous, deceitful,
_wicked_ she was not. He could have staked his soul upon her truth, and
yet--and yet by slow degrees the poison began to enter his mind, and he
commenced to watch his wife with an angry, suspicious eye.

Oh, Richmond! Richmond! that you should fall so low as this! You, whom
Georgia once regarded as a demi-god; you whom she still believes, in
spite of your sorrowful misunderstanding, everything that is upright and
true; you, whom, had heaven, and earth, and hades accused of infidelity,
she would not have believed. And now, you are growing jealous of your
rash but leal-hearted wife, whom you have completely neglected yourself,
to attend to others. Oh, Richmond!

"Really, my dear, you are a jewel without price--worth a million in
cash!" exclaimed Mrs. Wildair to Freddy, delighted at the success of her
diabolical scheme. "Your plan has succeeded beyond all my expectations.
I really did not think you could make Richmond jealous without alarming
him, and putting him on his guard against us; but, positively, he is
growing as jealous as a Turk, and never suspects either of us in the
least."

Miss Freddy smiled her sinister and most evil smile.

"Poor Richmond! What a hard time he is going to have of it with that
green-eyed monster! And how delightfully unconscious Mrs. Georgia walks
into the pit with her eyes open! Really, it is as good as a farce! Oh!
the stupidity of these earthworms!"

"Poor Rich! he _did_ look so deliciously miserable to-night when he saw
those two sitting together in a corner by themselves, turning over those
prints, just as innocent as a couple of angels."

And both ladies leaned back in their seats and laughed immoderately.

Poor Georgia! the sky was rapidly darkening around her, though this, the
blackest cloud, was still invisible to her eyes. Sometimes, in her
desolation, it seemed to her as if she had not a single friend in the
world, for Emily never ventured near Richmond House now, and she had
only seen Miss Jerusha once since her return. She _could not_
dissimulate. She had tried it in vain, and she would not bring her
haggard face and anguished eyes to tell the tale her tongue was too
proud to speak. So she did not visit the cottage, until at last Miss
Jerusha grew seriously uneasy, and resolved to brave all obstacles, the
impudent footman included, and go up to the house and see Georgia.

Until she was fairly gone, Miss Jerusha had never known how large a
share of her heart her _protegee_ had monopolized; and so, worthy
reader, behold her arrayed in that respected "kaliker geownd" you are
acquainted with, for brown silk could not be worn on a week-day, with
the faded shawl, and a pink calico sun-bonnet, a recent addition to her
wardrobe, knocking at the hall door of Richmond House.

It was some time in the afternoon, and the household were dressing for
dinner, and so the servant told her, respectfully enough, for her first
visit had taught them a lesson they did not soon forget.

"Dinner! you git out!" said Miss Jerusha, indignantly, "and it nigh onto
four o'clock. Don't tell me no such stuff! Jist be off and tell Georgey
I want to see her. Clear!"

The man hesitated; Miss Jerusha looked dangerous; he expected the
dinner-bell to ring every moment, and his mistress was in her room; so
while he stood hesitating, a rustling of silk was heard behind him, and
the next moment Mrs. Wildair stood gazing in haughty surprise on the
intruder.

Now, Mrs. Wildair knew well enough who Miss Jerusha was; her niece had
pointed her out one day; but as this was an excellent opportunity for
mortifying Georgia, she chose to be quite ignorant of the matter.

"What is this?" she said, stepping back haughtily. "What does she want?
Wilson, how dare you allow beggars to enter the hall-door?"

"She--she ain't no beggar, ma'am," said Wilson, casting an apprehensive
glance at Miss Jerusha, "she's----"

"I don't care what she is. Persons of her class should go round to the
kitchen door. Send her out, and let her go there if she wants anything,"
exclaimed Mrs. Wildair, sharply.

Up to this point Miss Jerusha had stood fairly stupefied. She mistaken
for a beggar! She--Miss Jerusha Glory Ann Skamp--whose ward was lady of
this great house! For an instant she was speechless, with the blood of
all the Skamps boiling within her, and then she burst out:

"Why, you yeller old lantern-jawed be-frizzled be-flowered, impident old
woman, to call me a beggar! Oh, my gracious! to think I should be called
that in my old ages o' life? _A beggar!_ My-y-y conscience! If you hev
the impidence to call me that agin, I'll--I'll----"

"Turn her out, she is crazy! turn her out, I tell you," said Mrs.
Wildair, white with passion. "Do you hear me, Wilson? Turn this old
wretch out."

The noise had now brought a crowd down into the hall, who stood gazing
in mingled curiosity and amusement on this scene between the lady and
the beggar, as they supposed her to be.

"Turn me out! Let them try it!" exclaimed Miss Jerusha, looking daggers
at the startled Wilson.

"Do you hear me, sir? Am I to be obeyed? Turn this woman out," said Mrs.
Wildair, stamping her foot.

"Touch her if you _dare_!" screamed a fierce voice; and Georgia, with
blazing eyes and passionate face, rushed through the crowd, flashed past
Mrs. Wildair, and stood, white, panting, and fierce, like a hunted stag
at bay, beside Miss Jerusha. "Lay one finger on her at your peril! How
_dare_ you, madam!" she almost screamed, facing round so suddenly on the
startled lady that she recoiled. "How dare you order her out--how _dare_
you do it?"

"Really, young lady," said Mrs. Wildair, recovering her calm hauteur,
"this is most extraordinary language addressed to me. I was not aware
that persons of her condition were ever received in my son's house."

"Then learn it now," said Georgia, fiercely; "while I am here, this
house shall be free to her in spite of you all. Perhaps you are not
aware, madam, who she is?"

"Some of _your_ relations, most probably," said Mrs. Wildair, with a
withering sneer. "She looks like it."

"Mother! Georgia! What in the name of wonder is all this?" exclaimed a
hurried, startled voice; and Richmond Wildair, pale and excited, made
his way toward them.

"It means, sir, that I have been grossly insulted by your wife," said
Mrs. Wildair, her very lips white with anger; "insulted, too, in the
presence of your guests; spoken to as I never was spoken to before in my
life."

"Mother, for mercy's sake, hush!" he said, in a fierce whisper, his face
crimson with shame. "And, Georgia, if you _ever_ loved me, retire to
your room now, and make no exhibition before these people. Miss Jerusha,
persuade her to go before I am eternally disgraced."

"Come, honey, come; I'll go with you," said Miss Jerusha, tremulously,
quite nervous at this unexpected scene.

With heaving bosom and flashing eyes Georgia stood, terrible in her
roused wrath, as a priestess of doom. Miss Jerusha put her arm around
her and coaxingly drew her along, and passed with her into the empty
breakfast parlor near. When she was gone, Richmond turned to his guests,
who stood gazing at each other in consternation, and forcing a smile,
said:

"My friends, you must be surprised at this extraordinary scene, but it
will not appear so extraordinary when explained. The singular-looking
person who was the cause of all this was a sort of guardian of my wife,
and upon her entrance here my mother, deceived by her singular dress,
mistook her for a beggar, and ordered her out. An altercation ensued,
which my wife overheard, and, indignant at what she supposed a direct
intentional insult to her old friend, rushed down, and in the excitement
of the moment, thoughtlessly uttered the hasty words you have all
overheard. Mother, I beg you will think no more about it; no one will
regret them more than Georgia herself when she cools down. And now,
there goes the dinner-bell; so, my friends, we will forget this
disagreeable little scene, and not let it spoil our appetites."

With a faint smile he offered his arm to Mrs. Gleason and led the way to
the dining-room, saying, as he did so:

"You will oblige me by presiding to-day, mother. Georgia, in her
excitement, will not care to return to table, I fancy."

With a stiff bow Mrs. Wildair complied, and Richmond, beckoning to a
servant, whispered:

"Go to the parlor and request Mrs. Wildair, with my compliments, to
retire to her own room, and say I wish her to remain there for the
evening."

"My dear cousin," said a low voice, and the small, sallow hand of Freddy
was laid on his arm, "allow me to go. It would mortify our proud Georgia
to death to have such a message brought by a servant. Remember, she only
spoke hastily, and we _must_ have consideration for her feelings."

"My dear, kind little cousin," said Richmond, with emotion, as he
pressed her hand, "she does not deserve this from _you_. But go, lest
she should make another scene before the servants."

With her silky smile Freddy glided out and opened the parlor door
without ceremony. Sitting on a sofa was Miss Jerusha, while Georgia
crouched before her, her face hidden in her lap, her whole attitude so
crushed, desolate, and full of anguish, that it is no wonder Miss
Jerusha was exclaiming between her sobs:

"There, honey, there! _don't_ feel it so. I wouldn't if I was you.
Where's the good of minding of 'em at all? Don't, honey, don't! It's
drefful to see you so."

The malicious smile deepened and brightened on Freddy's evil face at the
sight.

Miss Jerusha looked sharply up as she entered, and seeing her
triumphant look, her tears seemed turned to sparks of fire.

"Well, what do _you_ want?" she demanded.

Without noticing her by look or word, Freddy went over and laid her hand
on Georgia's shoulder.

"Georgia," she said, authoritatively.

With a bound Georgia leaped to her feet, and with eyes that shone like
coals of fire in a face perfectly white, she confronted her mortal
enemy.

Freddy, with all her meanness, was no coward, else she would have fled
at sight of that fearful look. As it was she recoiled a step, and her
smile faded away as she said:

"My cousin sent me here to tell you to go to your room and stay there
until he comes."

Slowly and impressively Georgia lifted her head, and keeping her
gleaming, burning eyes fixed on the sallow face before her, pointed to
the door.

"Go!" she said, in a hollow voice, "Go!"

Freddy started, and her face flushed.

"I have delivered my message, and intend to. If you don't do as my
cousin orders you--take care, that's all."

"Go!" repeated the hollow tones, that startled her by their very
calmness, so unnatural was it.

For the very first time in her life Freddy Richmond was terrified, and
Miss Jerusha appalled. Without a word, the former glided past, opened
the door, and vanished.

For a moment Georgia stood stock-still, like one turned to stone, and
then, throwing up her arms with a great cry, she would have fallen had
not Miss Jerusha caught her.

"Oh, my heart! my heart!" she cried, pressing her hands over it as
though it were breaking. "Oh, Miss Jerusha, they have killed me!"

"Oh, Georgia!" began Miss Jerusha, but her voice choked, and she
stopped.

"Oh, leave me! leave me! dear, best friend that ever was in this world,
leave me, and never come to this dreadful house again. Oh, Miss Jerusha,
why did you not leave me to die that night long ago!"

Miss Jerusha essayed to speak, but something rose in her throat and
stopped her. Nothing broke the silence of the room but her sobs and that
passionate, despairing voice.

"Go! leave me! I cannot bear you should stay here; and never, never come
back again, Miss Jerusha. Oh, me! oh, me! that I were dead!"

There was such painful anguish in her tones that Miss Jerusha could not
stay to listen. Throwing her arms around her neck in one passionate
embrace, she hurried from the house, sobbing hysterically, and startling
the servant who opened the door.

Then Georgia reeled rather than walked from the room, up stairs, and
into her own bedroom; and there, sinking down on the floor, she lay as
still and motionless as if she were indeed dead. For hours she lay thus,
as if frozen there, as if she would never rise again--crushed, humbled,
degraded to the dust. Sounds of laughter and music came wafted up the
stairs; she heard the voice she hated most singing a gay Italian
barcarole, and now another voice joins in--_her husband's_.

Oh, Georgia, your hour of anguish has come, and where is your help now?
Heaven and earth are dark alike; you did not look up when life's
sunshine shone on you, and now, in your utter misery, there is no helper
near.

Oh, Georgia, where, in your humiliation, is the pride, the independence
that has supported you hitherto? Gone--swept away, like a reed in the
blast, and you lie there prostrate on the earth, prone in the dust, a
living example of human helplessness, unsupported by divine grace.

Hour after hour passed, and still she lay there. The door opened at
last, but she did not move. The footsteps she knew so well crossed the
threshold, but she was motionless. A voice pronounced her name, and a
shiver ran through her whole frame, but the collapsed form was still. A
hand was laid on her arm, and she was lifted to her feet and borne to a
chair, and then she raised her sunken eyes and saw the stern face of her
husband bent upon her.



CHAPTER XVI.

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND.

    "Oh, woman wronged can cherish hate
    More deep and dark than manhood may."

                               WHITTIER.

    "And in that deep and utter agony--
    Though then than ever most unfit to die--
    She fell upon her knees and prayed for death."


It was not in human heart, much less in a heart that loved her still, to
gaze on that death-like face unmoved; and Richmond's stern gaze relaxed,
and his brow lost its cold severity, as he knelt beside her and said:

"Dearest Georgia, one would think you were dying. Deeply as you have
mortified me, I have not the heart to see you thus wretched. Look
up--smile--speak to me. What! not a word? Good mercy, how deeply you
seem to feel these things!"

"Let me go, Richmond; I am tired and sick, and want to be alone."

"Yes, you are sick; the fiery spirit within you is wearing out your
body. Oh, Georgia! when are these storms of passion to cease?"

She lifted her melancholy black eyes to his face with a strange,
prolonged gaze.

"_When I am dead._"

"Oh, Georgia, sooner than that! Oh, _why_ did you insult my mother,
disgrace me, and horrify all these people to-day! Are you going crazy,
Georgia?"

"No; I wish I were."

"Georgia!" he said, shocked as much by her slow, strange tone as by her
words.

"Perhaps I _will be_ soon; you are all taking a good way to make me so."

"Georgia!"

"It will be better for you, you know--you can marry a lady then."

"_Georgia!_"

"Oh, you can marry your cousin--she will never disgrace you, Richmond,"
she said, with a strange, short laugh.

"GEORGIA!"

"Oh, Richmond, why did you marry me? _Why_ did you ever marry me?" she
cried, suddenly changing her tone to one of piercing anguish, and
wringing her pale fingers.

"Because," he said, flushing deeply, "I mistook you for a noble-hearted,
generous girl, instead of the vindictive, rebellious one you have
turned out to be. Because I made a mistake, as many another has done
before me, and will do for all time. Are you satisfied now, my dear?"

She rose from her seat and paced up and down, wringing her hands.

"Oh, I thought I would have been so happy! You said you loved me, and I
believed you. I did not know you wanted a wife to bear the brunt of your
mother's sneers and your cousin's insults--some one to afford a subject
of laughter to your friends. Oh, Richmond, I wish--I _wish_ I had died
before I ever met you!"

Richmond stood watching her in silence a moment, and the look of marked
displeasure again settled on his face.

"Well, really, this is pleasant!" he said, slowly. "You can act the part
of the termagant to the life, Mistress Georgia. I expected, and I
believe so did all the rest, to see you knock my mother down a little
while ago; that, I presume, will be the next exhibition. You have made
out a long list of complaints against me during the past; take care that
I do not turn the tables and accuse you of something worse than being a
virago, my lady."

"Oh, I shall not be surprised. Say and do what you please; nothing will
astonish me now. Oh, that it were not a crime to die!" she cried,
passionately wringing her hands.

"Well, madam, you do not believe in hell, you know," he said, with a
sneer, "so what does it matter?"

"Two months ago I did not, Richmond; now I _know_ of it."

The frown deepened on his brow.

"What do you mean by that, Mrs. Wildair?" he said, hotly.

"Nothing," she replied, with a cold smile.

"Have a care, my lady; your taunts may be carried too far. It ill
becomes you to take the offensive after what has passed this afternoon."

"After what has passed! By that you mean, I suppose, my preventing your
mother from making the servants turn my best, my dearest friend, into
the street like a dog," she said, stopping in her walk and facing him.

"My mother mistook her for a beggar. How was she to know she was
anything to you?"

Georgia broke into a scornful laugh, and resumed her walk.

"Positively, Mrs. Wildair," said Richmond, flushing crimson with anger,
"this insulting conduct is too much. If I cannot command your obedience,
I at least insist on your respect. And as we are upon the subject, I beg
in your intercourse with _one_ of my guests you will remember you are a
wedded wife. You seem to have forgotten it pretty well up to the
present, both of you."

She had sunk on a sofa, her face hidden in the cushions, her hands
clasped over her heart, as if to still the intolerable pain there. She
made no reply to the words that had struck her ear, but conveyed no
meaning, and after waiting in vain for an answer, he resumed, with a
still deepening frown:

"You will not honor me with an answer, madam. Probably your smiles and
answers are all alike reserved for the fascinating Captain Arlingford.
How do you intend to meet my mother, Mrs. Wildair, after what has
happened to-day?"

"Oh, Richmond, I do not know! Oh, Richmond, do, _do_ leave me!"

"Madam!"

"I am so tired, and so sick. I _cannot_ talk to-night!" she cried out,
lifting her bowed head, and clasping her hands to her throbbing temples.

"Be it so, then, madam. I shall not intrude again," said Richmond, as,
with a face dark with anger, he turned and left the room.

Next morning at breakfast Georgia did not appear. There was an
embarrassment--a restraint upon all present, which deepened when the
unconscious Captain Arlingford, the only one who ventured to pronounce
her name, inquired for Mrs. Wildair.

A dusky fire, the baleful fire of jealousy, flamed up in Richmond
Wildair's eyes. Freddy and his mother saw it, and exchanged glances, and
the old evil smile broke over the former's face.

"She was indisposed last night," said Mr. Wildair, with freezing
coldness, "and I presume has not yet sufficiently recovered to be able
to join us at table. You will have the happiness of seeing her at
dinner, Captain Arlingford."

There was something in his tone that made Captain Arlingford look up,
and Mrs. Wildair, fearing a public disagreement, which did not suit her
purpose at all, said hastily in a tone of the most motherly solicitude:

"Poor, dear child. I am afraid that little affair of yesterday has
mortified her to death. Freddy, love, do go up to her room, and see how
she is."

Now Miss Freddy, who was a most prudent young lady, for sundry good
reasons of her own, would have preferred at first _not_ bearding the
lioness in her den, but after an instant's thought, the desire of
exulting over her proved too strong for her fears, and she rose with
alacrity from her seat, and with her unvarying smile on her face,
passed from the room, and up stairs.

Upon reaching Georgia's door she halted, and discreetly peeped through
the keyhole. Nothing was to be seen, however, and the silence of the
grave reigned within. She softly turned the handle of the door, but it
was locked, and after hesitating a moment, she rapped. Her summons was
at first unanswered, and was repeated loudly three or four times before
the door swung back, and Georgia, pale and haggard, with disordered hair
and garments, stood before her. So changed was she that Freddy started
back, and then, recovering herself, she drew a step nearer, folded her
arms, and looked up in her face with a steady, insolent smile. But that
smile seemed to have no effect upon Georgia, who, white, cold, and
statue-like, stood looking down upon her from the depths of her great
black eyes.

"Good-morning, my dear Georgia," she said, smiling. "_Captain
Arlingford_ sends his compliments, and begs to know how you are."

There was no reply to this insulting speech. The black eyes never moved
in their steady gaze.

"What shall I tell the handsome captain, Georgia?" continued the little
fiend. "He was inquiring most anxiously for you this morning. Shall I
say you will relieve that anxiety by gracing our dinner table? Allow me
to insinuate, in case you do, that it would be advisable to use a little
rouge, or they will think a corpse has risen from the church-yard to
take the head of Richmond Wildair's table. And, worse than all, the
flame with which your red cheeks inspired the gallant captain will go
out like a candle under an extinguisher at sight of that whitey-brown
complexion. Say, Georgia, tell me in confidence how did you get up that
high color? As you and I are such near friends you might let me know,
that I may improve my own sallow countenance likewise."

No reply--the tail form was rigid--the white face cold and set--the
black eyes fixed--the pale lips mute.

"Mrs. Wildair and Mrs. Colonel Gleason used to insist it was liquid
rouge, but Captain Arlingford and I knew better, and told them all
country girls had great flaming red cheeks just like that. We were
right, were we not, Georgia?"

Still dumb. Her silence was beginning to startle even Freddy's admirable
equanimity.

"And now, my dear Georgia, I must really tear myself away from you. When
shall I say we are to be honored by your charming presence again?"

The white lips parted, one hand was slightly raised.

"Are you done?" she said, in a voice so husky that it was almost
inaudible.

"Ye--yes," said Freddy, startled in spite of herself. "I only await your
answer, my dear."

For all answer, Georgia stepped back, closed the door in the very face
of the insolent girl, and locked it.

For one moment Freddy stood transfixed, while her sallow face grew
sallower, and her thin lips fairly trembled with impotent rage. Turning
a look of concentrated spite and hatred toward the door, she descended
the stairs.

"Well, Freddy," said Mrs. Wildair, when she re-entered the parlor, "how
is Georgia?"

"Not very well, I should say, by her looks--how she felt, she did not
condescend to tell me," unable for once to suppress the bitterness she
felt.

Richmond, who was chatting with Miss Reid and Miss Harper, started, and
a faint tinge of color shone on his cheek.

"When is she coming down?" asked Mrs. Wildair.

"My dear aunt, Mrs. Georgia, for some reason of her own, saw fit to
answer none of my questions. She closed the door in my face by way of
reply."

Richmond began talking rapidly, and with so much _empressement_, to his
two companions that languid Miss Reid lifted her large sleepy-looking
eyes in faint wonder, and a malicious smile curled the lips of Miss
Harper.

A sleighing party was to be the order of the day, and, after breakfast,
the ladies hurried to their rooms to don their furs and cloaks; and
Richmond, seizing the first opportunity, hurried to Georgia's room and
knocked loudly and authoritatively at the door.

It did not open; all was silent within.

"Georgia, open the door, I command you!" he said, in a voice of
suppressed passion. "Open the door this instant; I insist."

It opened slowly, and he saw the collapsed and haggard face of his wife,
but he was too deeply angry to heed or care for her looks at that
moment. Entering the room, he closed the door, and with a light in his
eyes and a look in his face that, with all his anger, he had never worn
hitherto, he confronted her.

"Madam, what did you mean by your conduct to my cousin this morning?" he
said, in a tone that he had never used to her before.

A spasm shot across her face, and she reeled as if she had received a
blow.

"Oh, Richmond! oh, my husband! do not say that _you_ knew of her coming
this morning!" she cried in tones of such anguish as he had never heard
before.

"I did know it, madam! And when she was generous and forgiving enough to
forget your insolent treatment, and come to ask how you were, she should
have been treated otherwise than having the door slammed in her face,"
he said in a voice quivering with passion.

She did not speak--she could not. Dizzily she sat down with her hands
over her heart, always her habit when the pain there was most acute.

_He_ knew, then, of this last deadly insult--_he_ sanctioned it--he
encouraged it. His cousin was all the world to him--_she_ was nothing.
It only needed this to fill the cup of her degradation to the brim. Her
hands tightened involuntarily over her heart, she could not help it; she
felt as though it were breaking.

"And now, madam, since you _will_ persist in your insolent course,
listen to _me_. You shall _not_ any longer slight the guests, who do you
too much honor--yes, madam, I repeat it, who do you too much honor, by
residing under the same roof with you. Since my requests are unheeded,
listen to my commands! We are all now going out to drive; in four hours
we will return, and see that you are dressed and in the drawing-room
ready to receive us when we come. I do not ask you to do this. I
_command_ you, and you refuse at your peril! Leave off this ghastly
look, and all the rest of your tantrums, my lady, and try to act the
courteous hostess for once. Remember, now, and try to recall your broken
vow of wifely obedience for the first time; for, as sure as Heaven hears
me, if you dare disobey you shall repent it! I did not wish to speak
thus, but you have compelled me, and now that I have been aroused you
shall learn what it is to brave me with impunity. Madam, look up; have
you heard me?"

She lifted her eyes, so full, in their dark depths of utter woe, of
undying despair.

"_Yes._"

"And you will obey?"

"Yes."

"See that you do! And remember, no more scenes of vulgar violence. Chain
your unbridled passions, and behave as one in your sane mind for once.
You shall have to take care what you are at for the future, mistress!"

And with this last menace, he departed to join his guests in their
excursion.

For upward of three hours after he left her, she lay as she had lain all
that livelong night, prostrate, rigid, and motionless. Others in her
situation might have shed tears, but Georgia had none to shed; her eyes
were dry and burning, her lips parched; natures like hers do not weep,
in their deadliest straits the heart sheds tears of blood.

She arose at last, and giddily crossed the room, and rang the bell. Her
maid answered the summons.

"Susan," she said, lifting her heavy eyes, "make haste and dress me. I
am going down to the drawing-room."

"What will you please to wear, madam?" said Susan, looking at her in
wonder.

"Anything, anything, it does not matter, only make haste," she said,
slowly.

Susan, thus left to herself, arrayed her mistress in a rich crimson
satin, with heavy frills of lace, bound her shining black hair around
her head in elaborate plaits and braids, fastened her ruby earrings in
her small ears, clasped a bracelet set with the same fiery jewels on her
beautiful rounded arm, and then, finally, seeing even the crimson satin
did not lend a glow to the deadly pale face, she applied rouge to the
cheeks and lips, until Georgia was apparently as blooming as ever before
her. And all this time she had sat like a statue, like a milliner's lay
figure, to be dressed, unheeding, unnoticing it all, until Susan had
finished.

"Will you please to see if you will do, ma'am," said Susan,
respectfully.

Georgia lifted her languid eyes to the beautiful face and form in its
dark, rich beauty and fiery costume, and said faintly:

"Yes; you have done very well. You can go now."

The girl departed, and Georgia sat with her arms dropped listlessly by
her side, her heavy lashes sweeping her cheek unconscious of the flight
of time. Suddenly the merry jingle of many sleigh-bells dashing up the
avenue, mingled with silvery peals of laughter, broke upon her ear, and
she started to her feet, pressed her hand to her forehead, as if to
still the pulse so loudly beating there, and then walked from the room,
and descended the stairs.

As she reached the hall, the whole party laughing and talking, with
flushed cheeks, and sparkling eyes, flashed in, and the next instant,
like one in a dream, she felt herself surrounded, listening to them all
talking at once, without comprehending a word.

"Of course she is better. See what a high color she has," said the voice
of Freddy Richmond, the first she clearly distinguished amid the din.

"I strongly disapprove of rouging," said Mrs. Wildair, in an audible
whisper, to Mrs. Gleason, as they both swept up stairs with a great
rustling of silks.

"What a bewildered look she has," said Miss Harper, with a slight laugh,
as she too, brushed past; "one would think she was walking in a dream."

"Here comes Captain Arlingford, Hattie, dear," as she tripped after her;
"she will awake now."

Poor Georgia! she did indeed feel like one in a dream; yet she heard
every jibe as plainly as even the speakers could wish, but she replied
not.

"My dear Mrs. Wildair, I am rejoiced to see you again, and looking so
well too," said the frank, manly voice of Captain Arlingford, as he
shook her hand warmly. "I trust you have quite recovered from your late
indisposition."

"Quite, I thank you," said Georgia, trying to smile. Every voice and
every look she had lately heard had been so cold and harsh that her
languid pulses gave a grateful bound at the honest, hearty warmth of the
frank young sailor's tone.

Richmond Wildair had just entered in time to witness this little scene,
and something as near a scowl as his serene brow could ever wear,
darkened it at that very moment. Well has it been said that "jealousy is
as cruel as the grave," it is also willfully blind. The very openness,
the very candor of this greeting, might have disarmed all suspicion, but
Richmond Wildair would not see anything but his earnest eagerness, and
the smile that rewarded him.

Going up to Georgia, he brushed almost rudely past Arlingford, and,
offering her his arm, he said coldly:

"You will take cold standing in this draught, my dear; allow me to lead
you to the drawing-room."

At his look and tone the smile died away. He saw it, and the scowl
deepened.

Placing her on a sofa, he stooped over and said in a hissing whisper in
her ear:

"Do not _too_ openly show your preference for the gallant captain this
evening, Mrs. Wildair. If you cannot dissimulate for my sake, try it for
your own. People _will_ talk, you know, if your partiality is too
public."

A flash like sheet-lightning leaped from Georgia's eyes, as the
insulting meaning of his words flashed upon her; she caught her breath
and sprang to her feet, but with a bow and a smile he turned and was
gone.

"Oh, mercy! that I were dead!" was the passionate cry wrung from her
anguished heart at this last worst blow of all. "Oh, this is the very
climax of wrong and insult! Oh, what, _what_ have I done to be treated
thus?"

How this evening passed Georgia never knew. As Miss Harper had said, she
was like one in a dream, but it was over at last; and, totally worn out
and exhausted, she was sleeping a deep dreamless sleep of utter
prostration.

Next morning, at the breakfast table, Henry Gleason suddenly called
out--

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, what's to be the bill of fare for to-day?"

"Somebody was talking of teaching us to skate yesterday," said Miss
Harper. "I want to learn dreadfully. What do you say to going down to
that pond we were looking at and giving us our first lesson."

"I'm there!" said Master Henry, whose language was always more emphatic
than choice, "what do you say, all of you young shavers?"

"I second the motion for one," said Mr. Curtis

"And I for another," said Lieutenant Gleason, and a universal assent
came from the gentlemen.

"And what says our host?" said Miss Harper, with a smile.

"That he is always delighted to sanction anything Miss Harper proposes,"
he said, with a bow.

"And what says our _hostess_?" said Captain Arlingford, turning to
Georgia, who with her fictitious bloom gone, sat pale and languid at the
head of the table.

"That she is afraid you will have to hold her excused," replied Georgia.
"I scarcely feel well enough to accompany you."

"You are indeed looking ill," said Miss Arlingford, anxiously; "pray
allow me to stay with you, then, as you are unable to go out."

"And me too!" sung out Henry Gleason so eagerly that the mouthful he was
eating went the wrong way, nearly producing strangulation. "There is not
much fun in teaching girls to skate; all they do is stand on their feet
a minute, then squeal out, and flop down like a lot of bad balloons, and
then get up and screech and go head over heels again. It's twice as
jolly hearing Miss Arlingford sing."

Miss Arlingford laughed, and bowed her thanks for the compliment.

"And may I beg to stay too?" said Captain Arlingford; "I am really
getting quite played out with so much exertion, and mean to take life
easy for a day or two. Come now, Mrs. Wildair, be merciful to Harry and
me?"

"I think you had better try to join us, Georgia," said Richmond, with no
very pleased look; "the air will do you good."

"Indeed I cannot," said Georgia, who was half blinded with a throbbing
headache; "my head aches, and I beg you will excuse me. But I cannot
think of depriving any of you of the pleasure of going, though I thank
you for your kind consideration."

"Now, Mrs. Wildair, I positively shall not take a refusal," said Miss
Arlingford, who saw that it would do better not to leave Georgia alone
with her morbid fancies. "I shall take it quite unkindly if you send me
away. I shall try if I cannot exorcise your headache by some music, and
I really must intercede, too, for my young friend, Master Harry here,
who was delightful enough to compliment me a little while ago."

"And will no one intercede for me?" said the captain.

"_I_ will," said Harry. "We three will have a real nice good time all to
ourselves---- hanged if we don't! Oh, Miss Arlingford, you're a--a
_brick_! you are so!" he exclaimed enthusiastically; "and Mrs. Georgia,
I guess you'd better let Arlingford stay too. Three ain't company, and
four _is_."

And "Do, Mrs. Wildair!" "Do, Mrs. Georgia," chimed in Captain and Miss
Arlingford laughingly. And Georgia, unable to refuse without positive
rudeness, smiled a faint assent.

For one instant a scowl of midnight blackness lingered on the face of
Richmond, the next it was gone, and Georgia saw him, smiling and gay,
set off with the rest on their skating excursion.

The dinner hour was past before they arrived. Georgia had spent a
pleasanter morning than she had for many a day, and there was something
almost like cheerfulness in her tone as she addressed some questions to
her husband after his return. He did not reply, but turned on her a
terrible look, that sent her sick and faint back in her seat, and then,
without a word, he passed on and was gone.

That look was destined to overthrow all Georgia's new-found calmness for
that day. She scarcely understood what had caused it. Surely he must
have known she was ill, she thought, and not fitted to join in an
excursion like that, and surely he could not be angry at her for staying
at home while too sick to go out. Feeling that the gayety of the
drawing-room that evening was like "vinegar upon niter" to her feelings,
she quitted it and passed out into the long hall. The moon was shining
brightly through the glass sides of the door, and she leaned her burning
forehead against the cold panes and looked out at the bright stars
shining down on the placid earth.

There was a rustle of garments behind her, a soft cat-like step she knew
too well, and turning round she saw the hateful face with its baleful
smile fixed upon her.

A flush of indignation covered her pale face. Could she not move a step
without being dogged by this creature?

"Well, Mrs. Georgia," began Freddy, with a sneer, "I hope you had a
pleasant time to-day with the gay sailor."

Georgia clinched her hands and set her teeth hard together to keep down
her rising passion.

"Leave me!" she said, with an imperious stamp.

"Oh, just let me stay a little while," said Freddy, jeeringly. "What
confidence he must have in you to make an appointment in the very face
of your husband!"

"Will you leave me?"

"Not just yet, my dear cousin," Freddy said, smiling up in her face.
"What a romantic thing it would be if we were to have an elopement in
real life--how delightful it would be, wouldn't it?"

Georgia's face grew ghastly, even to her lips, and her whole frame shook
with the storm of passion raging within. Freddy saw it, and exulted in
her power.

"How delightfully jealous Richmond is, to be sure, of his pauper bride
and her sailor lover; how his friends will talk when they go back to the
city--and how Mrs. Wildair, of Richmond Hall, who is too much of a fool
ever to know how to carry out an intrigue properly, will be laughed at.
Ha! ha! ha! what delicious scenes have been witnessed here since we
came, to be sure."

What demon was it leaped into Georgia's eyes at that moment--what meant
her awful, calm, and terrible look?

"How will it read in the papers? 'We are pained to learn that the young
and beautiful wife of Richmond Wildair, Esq., of Burnfield, eloped last
night. The gay Adonis is Captain Arlingford, U. S. N., who was, we
believe, at the time, the honored guest of the wronged husband. Mr.
Wildair has pursued the guilty couple, and a duel will probably be the
consequence of this sad affair.' Ha! ha! What do you think of my
imagination, Georgia?"

No reply; but, oh! that dreadful look!

"Oh, the insolence of earthworms like you," continued Freddy, in her
bitter gibing tone, "you dare to lift your eyes to one who would have
honored you too much by letting you wipe the dust off his shoes. _You_,
the parish pauper, reared by the bounty of a wretched old hag--_you_,
the child of a strolling player, who died on the roadside like a
dog--you, the----"

But she never finished the sentence. With the awful shriek of a demon--a
shriek that those who heard could never forget, Georgia sprang upon
her, caught her by the throat, and hurled her with the strength of
madness against the wall.

With a faint cry, strangled in its birth, Freddy held up her hands to
save herself; but she was as a child in the fierce grasp of the woman
she had infuriated.

Ere the last cadence of that terrible shriek had ceased ringing through
the house, every one, servants, guests and all, were on the spot. And
there they saw Georgia standing like an incarnate fury, and Frederica
Richmond lying motionless on the ground, her face deluged in blood.



CHAPTER XVII.

GONE.

    "Oh, break, break heart! poor bankrupt, break at once."

                                            --SHAKESPEARE.

    "Break, break, break,
      At the foot of the crags, O sea!
    But the tender grace of day that is dead
      Will never come back to me."

                                 --TENNYSON.


There was an instant death-like pause, and all gazed, white with horror,
on the scene before them. Freddy lay perfectly motionless, and Georgia,
terrific in her roused wrath, stood over her like some dark priestess of
doom. Not a voice dared to break the dreadful silence until Richmond
Wildair, with a face from which every trace of color had faded, and
with a terrible light in his eyes, strode over and caught Georgia by the
arm.

"Woman! fiend! what have you done?" he said, hoarsely.

She looked up, wrenched her arm free from his grasp, sprang back and
dauntlessly confronted him.

"Given her the reward for which she so long has been laboring," she
said, in a voice awful from its very depth of calm.

His grasp tightened on her arm, tightened till a black circle discolored
the delicate skin; his eyes were fixed on hers with a fearful look; but,
with the tempest sweeping through her soul, she felt not his grasp, she
heeded not his look.

"Yes," she said, folding her arms and looking down steadily on the
senseless figure, "I have taught her what it is to drive me to
desperation. A worm will turn when it is crushed, and I--oh! what I have
endured in silence! And now let all beware!" she said, raising her voice
almost to a shriek, "for if I must go down, I shall drag down with me
all who have acted a part in my misery. Stand back, Richmond Wildair!
for I shall be your slave no longer!"

No one there but actually quailed before the dark passionate glance bent
upon them, save Richmond. Some Roman father about to sacrifice his
dearest child on the altar of duty, might have looked as terribly stern,
as ominously rigid and calm, as he did then.

Without a word, he strode over and grasped both her wrists in his
vise-like hold, and looked full and steadily in her wild, flashing eyes.

"Georgia," he said; "come with me."

She strove again to wrench herself free, but this time she could not; he
held her fast, and met her flashing defiant gaze with one of steady,
immovable calm.

"You had better come. I do not wish to use force. If you do not come
quietly you will be sorry for it."

His glance, far more than his words or voice, was conquering her. He
felt the rigid muscles relax, and the fierce glance dying out before his
own, and a convulsive shiver pass through her slight frame.

"Come, Georgia," drawing her toward the parlor; "dangerous maniacs
should not be allowed to go at large. You will remain here until I come
to you."

He opened the door, let her in, then came out, turned the key in the
lock, and put it in his pocket.

All this had passed nearly in a moment. The others, spell-bound, had
stood rooted to the ground, their eyes fixed on Georgia and Richmond,
almost forgetting the very presence of Freddy.

Now he went over and raised her from the floor. Her arms hung lifeless
by her side, her head fell over his arm, and a dark stream of blood
flowed from a frightful wound in her forehead and trickled over her
ghastly face.

A universal shriek from the ladies followed the sight, and some,
overcome by seeing blood, swooned on the spot. Unheeding them all,
Richmond made his way through the horrified group, entered the
drawing-room, laid his burden on one of the sofas, and seizing the bell
rope rang a peal that brought half a dozen servants rushing in at once.

"Here, one of you bring me some water and a sponge, instantly; and you,
Edwards, be off for Dr. Fairleigh. Run! fly! lose not a moment."

The man darted off. Richmond, wetting the sponge, began carefully to
wipe away the blood and bathe her temples, while the others gathered
around, not daring to break the deep silence by a single word. There was
something startling in Richmond Wildair's face--something no one had
ever seen there before, underlying all its outward ominous
calm--something in its still, dark sternness that overawed all.

In ten minutes the doctor arrived and proceeded to examine the wound,
while all present held their very breath in expectation. Richmond stood
with his arms folded over his chest during those moments of suspense,
motionless as a figure of granite; but the knotted veins standing out
dark and swollen on his brow, his labored breathing, and the convulsive
clenching of his hands, bespoke the agony of suspense he was undergoing.

"Well, doctor," he said, huskily, when the physician arose, "will--will
she _die_?"

"Die! pooh! No, of course she won't! What would she die for?" said the
doctor, a jolly little individual, rejoicing in a very bald head and a
pair of bandy legs; "it's nothing but a scratch, man alive! nothing
more. We'll clap a piece of sticking-plaster on and have her all alive
like a bag of grasshoppers in no time. Die, indeed! I think I see her at
it."

And so saying, the little man drew the edges of the wound together,
applied sundry pieces of court-plaster, and then pronounced the job
finished.

"And now to bring her to," said the little doctor, proceeding to give
the palms of her hands an energetic slapping; "and meantime, my dear
sir, how in the world did she manage to smash herself up in this
fashion?"

Richmond did not reply. The sudden reaction from torturing fears to
perfect safety was too much even for him, and he stood at the window,
his forehead bowed on his hand, his hard, stifled breathing distinctly
audible in the silent room.

"Hey!" said the little doctor, looking up in surprise at his emotion.
"Lord bless my soul! You didn't suppose she was going to die, really,
did you! Well! well, well, well! the ignorance of people is wonderful!
How _did_ it happen, good folks?" said the doctor, making no attempt to
hide his curiosity.

"An accident, sir," said Colonel Gleason, stiffly.

"Hum! ha! an accident!" said the doctor, musingly; "well, accidents will
happen in the best of families, they say. Don't be alarmed, Squire
Wildair; the young woman will be around as lively as a cricket in a day
or two. Here, she's coming to already."

While he spoke there was a convulsive twitching around Freddy's mouth, a
fluttering of the pulse, and the next moment she opened her eyes and
gazed vaguely around.

"Here you are, all alive and kicking, marm," said the little country
Galen; "no harm done, you know. Hand us a glass of water, somebody."

The water effectually restored Freddy, who was able to sit up and gaze
about her with a bewildered air.

"My dearest Freddy, how do you feel? My darling girl, are you better?"
said Mrs. Wildair, folding her in her arms.

"Of course she's better, marm," said the doctor, rubbing his hands
gleefully; "right as ever so many trivets. There's a picture for you,"
he added, appealing to the company generally; "family affection's a
splendid thing, and should be encouraged at any price. Let her keep on
a low diet, and she'll be as well, if not considerably better than
ever, in two or three days. Might have been killed dead as a herring,
though, if she had struck her temple, instead of up there."

"What's your fee, doctor?" said Mr. Wildair, in a cold, stern tone, and
a face to match, as he abruptly crossed over to where he stood.

"Dollar," said the doctor, rubbing his hands with a joyous little
chuckle--"court-plaster--visit--advice"--

"There it is--good-evening, sir. Edward, show Dr. Fairleigh to the
door," said Mr. Wildair, frigidly.

"Good-evening, _good_-evening," said the bustling little man, hurrying
out. "Always send for me whenever any of you think proper to knock your
heads against anything. GOOD-evening," repeated the doctor, as he
vanished, with an emphasis so great as to pronounce the word not only in
italics, but even in small capitals.

Richmond went over and took Freddy's hand.

"My dearest cousin, how do you feel?" he said.

"Oh, dreadfully ill," she said faintly; "my head does ache so."

"Perhaps you had better go to your room and lie down," said Richmond,
his lips quivering slightly. "Mother, you will go with her."

"Certainly, my dear boy. Come, Freddy, let me assist you up stairs."

Putting her arm round Miss Richmond's waist, Mrs. Wildair led her from
the room. And then every one present took a deep breath, and looked
first at one another and then at their host, with a glance that said,
"What comes next?"

But if they expected an apology from Mr. Wildair they were
disappointed: for, turning round, he said, as calmly as if nothing had
occurred:

"I believe we were to enact some pantomimes this evening--eh, Curtis! It
is near time we were beginning, is it not, ladies?"

So completely "taken aback" were they by this cool way of doing business
that a dead pause ensued, and amazed glances were again exchanged. Any
one else but Richmond Wildair would have been embarrassed; but he stood
calm and self-possessed, waiting for their answer.

"Really," said Mrs. Gleason, drawing herself up till her corset-laces
snapped, "after the unaccountable scene that--ahem--has just occurred,
you will have to excuse me if I decline joining in any amusements
whatever this evening. My nerves have been completely unstrung. I never
received such a shock in my life, and I must say----"

She paused in some confusion under the clear, piercing gaze of
Richmond's dark eagle eye.

"Well, madam?" he said, with unruffled courtesy.

"In a word, Mr. Wildair," said the lady, stiffly, "I must say that I do
not consider it safe to stay longer in the same house with a dangerous
lunatic, for such I consider your wife must be. You will therefore
excuse me if I take my departure for the city to-morrow."

In grave silence, Richmond bowed; and the offended lady, in magnificent
displeasure, swept from the room.

"And, Mr. Wildair," said Miss Reid, languidly, "I too feel it absolutely
necessary to return; violence is so unpleasant to witness. Good-night."
And the young lady floated away.

Once again Richmond bowed, apparently unmoved, but the slight twitching
of the muscles of his mouth showed how keenly he felt this.

"Aw, upon honnaw, Wildaih," lisped Mr. Lester, hastily, "though I regwet
it--aw--exceedingly, you know--I weally must go back to New York
to-morrow, too. Business, my deah fellow, comes--aw--befoah pleasure,
and letters I----"

"I understand; pray, do not feel it necessary to apologize," said Mr.
Wildair, with a slight sneer; "allow me to bid you good night, Mr.
Lester, and a pleasant journey to New York to-morrow."

Poor Mr. Lester! There was no use in trying to brave it out under the
light of those dark, scornful eyes, and he sneaked from the room with
much the same feeling as if he had been kicked out.

There was another profound pause when he was gone. Not an eye there was
ready to meet the falcon gaze of their host. Mr. Wildair stepped back a
pace, folded his arms over his chest, and looked steadily at them.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen," he said calmly, "who next?"

"Wildair, my dear old fellow," said Dick Curtis, with tears in his eyes,
"I--I feel--I feel--I'll be hanged if I know _how_ I feel. It's too
bad--it's too darned bad for them to treat you this way, after all
you've tried to do for them. It's abominable, it's _infernal_, it's a
shame! I beg your pardon, ladies, for swearing, but its enough to make a
saint swear--I'll be shot if it's not!" said Mr. Curtis, looking round
with a sort of howl of mingled rage and grief, and then seizing
Richmond's hand and shaking it as if it had been a pump-handle.

"And I, too, Curtis," said the honest voice of Captain Arlingford, "am
with you there. Mr. Wildair, you must not set us all down for Mr.
Lesters."

"The mean little ass!--ought to be kicked from here to sundown!" said
Lieutenant Gleason, in a tone of disgust.

"And so ought mother," said Henry, sticking his hands in his pockets and
striding up and down in indignation: "and the nasty Lydia Languish
Dieaway Reid, a be-scented, be-frizzled, be-flounced stuck-up piece of
dry-goods. I wish to gracious the whole of them were kicked to death by
hornbugs," said Henry, thrusting his hands to the very bottom of his
pockets and glaring defiance round the room.

A low murmur of earnest sympathy came from all present, Miss Harper
included; for as Captain Arlingford had joined the opposition party,
like certain politicians of the present day, she found it no way
difficult to change her tactics and go over to the enemy.

"My friends, I thank you," said Mr. Wildair, in a suppressed voice, as
he abruptly turned and walked to the window; "but--you must excuse me,
and allow me to leave you for the present. I feel--" he broke off
abruptly, wheeled round, and with a brief "good night," was gone.

He passed up stairs and sank into a chair. His brain seemed on fire, the
room for a moment seemed whirling round, and thought was impossible. The
shame, the disgrace, the mockery, the laughter, the scenes in Richmond
House must cause among his city friends, alone, stood vividly before
him. He fancied he could hear their jeering laughs and mocking sneers
whenever he appeared, and, half maddened, he rose and began to pace up
and down like a maniac. And then came the thought of her who had caused
all this--of her who had nearly slain his cousin, and the pallid hue of
rage his face wore gave place to a glow of indignation.

He had seen Georgia leave the room that evening, and Freddy with her
sweet smile rise to follow her, and his thought, had been, "Dear, kind
little Freddy! what a generous, forgiving heart she must have to be so
solicitous for Georgia's happiness, in spite of all she has done to
her." And when he saw her lying wounded and bleeding, with his
infuriated wife standing over her, he fancied she had merely spoken some
soothing words, and that the demon within Georgia's fiery heart had
prompted to return the kindness thus.

It is strange how blind the most wise of this world are when wisdom is
entirely of this earth. Richmond Wildair, with his clear head and
profound intellect, was completely deceived by his fawning, silk,
silvery-voiced little cousin. In his eyes Georgia alone was at fault.
Freddy was immaculate. She it was who had brought him to this--_she_,
whom he had raised from her inferior position to be his wife--she, who,
instead of being grateful, had commenced to play the termagant, as he
called it, ere the honeymoon was over. And worse than that, she had
proved herself that most despicable of human beings--a married flirt.
Had she and Captain Arlingford not been together the whole day?--a sure
proof that she had never cared much for him. Had she married him for his
wealth and social position? Was it possible Georgia had done this? His
brain for an instant reeled at the thought, and then he grew strangely
calm. She was proud, ambitious, aspiring, fond of wealth and power, and
_this_ was the only means she had of securing them. Yes, it must be so.
And as the conviction came across his mind, a deep, bitter, scornful
anger filled his heart and soul, and drove out every other feeling. With
an impulsive bound he sprang up, and with a ringing step he passed down
stairs and entered the parlor where he had left her.

And she--poor, stormy, passionate Georgia! what had been her feelings
all this time? At first, in the tumultuous tempest sweeping through her
soul, a deep, swelling rage against all who were goading her on to
desperation, alone filled her thoughts. She had paced up and down
wildly, madly, until this passed away, and then came another and more
terrible feeling--what if she had killed Freddy? As if she had been
stunned by a blow, she tottered to a seat, while a thousand voices
seemed shrieking in her ears, "Murderess! murderess!"

Oh! the horror, the agony, the remorse that were hers at that moment.
She put her hands to her ears to shut out the dreadful sound of those
phantom voices, and crouching down in a strange, distorted position, she
struggled alone with all her agonizing remorse. How willingly in that
moment would she have given her own life--a thousand lives, had she
possessed them--to have recalled her arch enemy back to life once more.
So she lay for hours, feeling as though her very reason was tottering on
its throne, and so Richmond found her when he opened the door. She
sprang to her feet with a wild bound, and flying over, she caught his
hand and almost shrieked:

"Oh Richmond! is she dead? Oh, Richmond! in the name of mercy, speak and
tell me, is she dead?"

She might have quailed before the look of unutterable scorn bent on her,
but she did not. He shook her hand off as if it had been a viper, and
folding his arms, looked steadily and silently down upon her.

"Richmond! Richmond! speak and tell me. Oh, I shall go mad!" she cried,
in frenzied tones.

She looked as though she were going mad indeed, with her streaming hair,
her pallid face, and wildly blazing eyes. Perhaps he feared her reason
_was_ tottering, for he sternly replied:

"Cease this raving, madam; you have been saved from becoming a murderess
in act, though you are one in the sight of heaven."

"And she will not die?"

"No."

"Oh, thank heaven!" and, totally overcome, she sank for the first time
in her life, almost fainting into her seat.

Richmond looked at her with deep, scornful eyes.

"_You_ to thank Heaven!--_you_ to take that name on your lips!--you, who
this night attempted a murder! Oh, woman do you not fear the vengeance
of that Heaven you invoke!"

"Oh, Richmond! spare me not. I deserve all you would say. Oh! in all
this world there is not another so lost, so fallen, so guilty as I."

"You are right, there is not; for one who would attempt the life of a
young and innocent girl must be steeped in guilt so black that Hades
itself must shudder. Had you caused the death of Frederica Richmond, as
you tried to, I myself would have gone to the nearest magistrate, had
you arrested, and forced you off this very night to the county jail. I
would have prosecuted you, though every one else in the world was for
you; and I would have gone to behold you perish on the scaffold, and
then--and then only--felt that justice was satisfied."

She almost shrieked, as she covered her face with her hands from his
terrible gaze, but, unheeding her anguish, he went on in a calm,
pitiless voice:

"You, one night not long since, told me you wished you had never married
me. That you really ever wished it I do not now believe; for one who
could commit a cold-blooded murder would not hesitate at a lie--a _lie_.
Do you hear, Georgia? But I tell you now, that I wish I had been dead
and in my grave ere I ever met Georgia Darrell!"

"Oh, Richmond! Spare me! spare me!" she cried, in a dying voice.

"No; I am like yourself--I spare not. You have merited this, and a
thousand times more from me, and you shall listen now. That you married
me for my wealth and for the power it would give you, I know only too
well. You were an unnatural child, and I might have known you would be
an unnatural woman; but I willfully blinded my eyes, and believed what
you told me that accursed night on the sea-shore, and I married
you--fool that I was! I braved the scorn of the world, the sneers of my
friends, the just anger of my mother, and stooped--are you listening,
Georgia?--and _stooped_ to wed you. And now I have my reward."

"Oh, Richmond! I shall go mad!" she wailed, writhing in her seat, and
feeling as if every fiber in her heart were tearing from its place, so
intense was her anguish.

But still the clear, clarion-like voice rang out on the air like a
death-bell, cold, calm, and pitiless as the grave:

"Once, in one of your storms of passion, madam, you asked me why I
married you. Now I answer you: because I was mad, demented, besotted,
crazed, or I most assuredly should never have dreamed of such a thing.
Perhaps you wish I had not, for then the gallant sailor you admire so
much might have taken it into his hair-brained head to do what I did in
a fit of insanity--for which a life of misery like this is to atone--and
married you. That I have deprived you of this happiness, I deeply
regret; for, madam, much as you may repent this marriage, you can never,
_never_ repent it half as much as I do now."

She had fallen at his feet, whether from physical weakness, or whether
she had writhed there in her intolerable agony, he did not know, and, at
that moment, did not care. He stepped back, looked down upon her as she
lay a moment, and went on:

"I fancied I loved you well enough then to brave the whole world for
your sake; but that, like all the rest of my short brain-fever, has
completely passed away. What feeling can one have for a murderess--for
such in heart you are--but one of horror and loathing?"

She sprang to her feet with a moaning cry, and stood before him with one
arm half raised; her lips opened as if to speak, but no voice came
forth.

"Hear me out, madam," he interposed, waving his hand, "for it is the
last time, perhaps, you will ever be troubled by a word from me. You
have driven my guests from my house, you have eternally disgraced me,
and, lest you should murder the very servants next, must not be allowed
to go free. While a friend of mine resides under this roof you shall
remain locked a close prisoner in your room, as a lunatic too dangerous
to be at large. And if that does not subdue the fiend within you, one
thing yet remains for me to do--that I may go free once more."

He paused, and the rage he had subdued by the strength of his mighty
will all along, showed now in the death-like whiteness of his face,
white even to his lips, like the white ashes over red-hot coals.

Again her arm was faintly raised, again her trembling lips parted, but
the power of speech seemed to have been suddenly taken from her. No
sound came forth.

"What I allude to will make me free as air--free as I was before I met
you--free to bring another mistress to Richmond House before your very
eyes. Money will procure it, and of that I have enough. I allude to a
_divorce_--do you know what that means?"

Yes, she knew. Her arms dropped by her side as if she had been suddenly
stricken with death, the light died out in her eyes, the words she would
have uttered were frozen on her lips, and, as if the last blow she could
ever receive had fallen, she laid her hand on her heart and lifted her
eyes, calm as his now, to his face.

Some author has said, "Great shocks kill weak minds, and stir strong
ones with a calm resembling death." So it was now with Georgia; she had
been stunned into calm--the calm of undying, life-long despair. She had
believed and trusted all along--she had thought he loved her until
now--and _now_!

What was there in her face that awed even him? It was not anger, nor
reproach, nor yet sorrow. A thrill of nameless terror shot through his
heart, and with the last cruel words all anger passed away. He advanced
a step toward her, as if to speak again, but she raised her hand, and
lifting her eyes to his face with a look he never forgot, she turned and
passed from the room.

And Richard Wildair was alone. He had not meant one-half of what he had
said in the white heat of his passion, and the idea of a divorce had no
more entered his head than that of slaying himself on the spot had. He
had said it in his rage, none the less deep for being suppressed, and
now he would have given uncounted worlds that those fatal words had
never been uttered.

He went out to the hall, but she had gone--he caught the last flutter of
her dress as she passed the head of the stairs toward her own room.

"I ought not to have said that," he said uneasily to himself as he paced
up and down. "I am sorry for it now. To-morrow I will see her again, and
then--well, 'sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' I cannot live
this life longer. I will not stay in Burnfield. I cannot stay. I shall
go abroad and take her with me. Yes, that is what I will do. Travel will
work wonders in Georgia, and who knows what happiness may be in store
for us yet."

He walked to the window and looked out. The white snow lay in great
drifts on every side, looking cold and white and death-like in the pale
luster of a wintry moon. With a shudder he turned away, and threw
himself moodily on a couch in the warm parlor, saying, as if to reassure
himself:

"Yes, to-morrow I will see her, and all shall be
well--to-morrow--to-morrow."

There was a paper lying on the table, and he took it up and looked
lightly over it. The first thing that struck his eyes was a poem,
headed:

"_To-morrow never comes_."

Richmond Wildair would have been ashamed to tell it, but he actually
started and turned pale with superstitious terror. It seemed so like an
answer to his thoughts that startled him more than anything of the kind
had ever done before.

To him that night passed in feverish dreams. How passed it with another
beneath that roof?

At early morning he was awake. An unaccountable presentment of an
impending calamity was upon him and would not be shaken off.

Scarcely knowing what he did, he went up to Georgia's room, and softly
turned the handle of the door. He had expected to find it locked, but it
was not so; it opened at his touch, and he went in.

Why does he start and clutch it as if about to fall? The room is empty,
and _the bed has not been slept in all night_.

A note, addressed to him, lies on the table. Dizzily he opens it, and
reads:

     "MY DEAREST HUSBAND: Let me call you so for this once, this last
     time--you are free! On this earth I will never disgrace you again.
     May heaven bless you and forgive.

                                                           "GEORGIA."

She was gone--gone forever! Clutching the note in his hand, he
staggered, rather than walked, down stairs, opened the door, and, in a
cold gray of coming dawn, passed out.

All around the stainless snow-drifts seemed mocking him with their white
blank faces, lying piled as they had been last night when he had driven
his young wife from his side. Cold and white they were here still, and
Georgia was--where?



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE DAWN OF ANOTHER DAY.

    "Then she took up her burden of life again,
    Saying only 'It might have been.'
    God pity them both, and pity us all,
    Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
    For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"

                                      WHITTIER.


In the dead of night--of that last, sorrowful night--a slight, dark
figure had flitted from one of the many doors of Richmond House,
fluttered away in the chill night round through the sleeping town. A
visitor came to Miss Jerusha's sea-side cottage that night, with a face
so white and cold that the snow-wreaths dimmed beside it; the white face
lay on the cold threshold, the dark figure was prostrate in the
snow-drift before the door, and there the last farewell was taken while
Miss Jerusha lay sleeping within. And then the dusky form was whirling
away and away again like a leaf on a blast, another stray waif on the
great stream of life.

Six pealed from the town clock of Burnfield. The locomotive shrieked,
the bell rang, and the fiery monster was rushing along with its living
freight to the great city of New York.

In the dusky gloom of that cold, cheerless winter morning the tall, dark
form, all dressed in black and closely vailed had glided in like a
spirit and taken her seat. Muffled in caps, and cloaks, and comforters,
every one had enough to do to mind themselves and keep from freezing,
and no one heeded the still form that leaned back among the cushions,
giving as little sign of life as though it were a statue in ebony.

The sun was high in the sky and Georgia was in New York. She knew where
to go; in her former visit she had chanced to relieve the wants of a
poor widow living in an obscure tenement-house somewhere near the East
River, and here, despairing of finding her way through the labyrinth of
streets alone, she gave the cabman directions to drive. Strangely calm
she was now, but oh, the settled night of anguish in those large, wild,
black eyes!

The poor are mostly grateful, and warm and heartfelt was Georgia's
welcome to that humble roof. Questions were asked, but none answered;
all Georgia said she wanted was a private room there for two or three
days.

Alone at last, she sat down to think. There was no time to brood over
the past--her life-work was to be accomplished now. What next? was the
question that arose before her, the question that must be promptly
answered. How was she to live in this wilderness of human beings?

She leaned her head on her hands, forcibly wrenched her thoughts from
the past and fixed them on the present. How was she to earn a
livelihood? The plain, practical, homely question roused all her
sleeping energies, and did her good.

The stage! She thought of that first with an electric bound of the
pulse; she knew, she was certain she could win a name and fame there;
but could she, who had become the wife of Richmond Wildair, become an
actress? She knew his fastidious pride on this point; she knew the fact
of her having been an actress in her childhood had never ceased to gall
him more than anything else.

Georgia Darrell would have stepped on the boards and won the highest
laurels the profession could bestow, but Georgia Wildair had another to
think of beside herself. Much as she longed for that exciting life--that
life for which nature had so well qualified her, physically and
mentally, for which she had so strong a desire--she put the thought
aside and gave it up.

Though she had wrenched asunder the chains that bound her to him, she
still carried a clanking fragment with her, and, no longer a free agent,
she must think of something else. Another reason there was why that
profession could not be hers--she did not wish to be known or discovered
by any she had ever known before; her desire was to be as dead to
Richmond Wildair as if she had never existed--to leave him free,
unfettered as he had been before this fatal marriage. And, to make the
more sure of this, she had resolved to drop his name and assume another.
She would take her mother's name of Randall; it was her own name,
too--Georgia Randall Darrell.

But what was she to do? Females before now had won fame as artists, and
Georgia had genius and an artist's soul. But she would have to wait and
live on this poor widow's bounty meantime, and that was too abhorrent to
her nature to be for a moment thought of. Nothing remained but to become
a teacher or governess, and even in this she was doubtful if she could
succeed. She knew little or nothing of music, and that seemed absolutely
essential in a governess, but still she would try. If that failed,
something else must be tried.

Drawing pen and ink toward her, she sat down and indited the following:

     WANTED--A situation as governess in a respectable private family,
     by one capable of teaching French, German, and Latin, and all the
     branches of English education. Address G. R., etc.

Next morning, among hundreds of other "wants," this appeared in the
_Herald_, and nothing now remained for Georgia but to wait. The
excitement of her flight, the necessity of immediate action, and now the
fever of suspense, kept her mind from dwelling too much on the past. Had
it been otherwise, with her impassioned nature, she might have sunk into
an agony of despair, or raved in the delirium of brain-fever. As it was,
she remained stunned into a sort of calm--white, cold, passionless; but,
oh! with such a settled night of utter sorrow in the great melancholy
dark eyes.

Fortunately for her, she was not doomed to remain long in suspense. On
the third day a note was brought to her in a gentleman's hand, and
tearing it eagerly open, she read:

                                          "ASTOR HOUSE, Jan. 12, 18--.


     "MADAM: Seeing your advertisement in the _Herald_, and being in
     want of a governess, if not already engaged, you would do well to
     favor me with a call at your earliest leisure. I will leave the
     city in two days. Yours,
                                                       "JOHN LEONARD."

As she finished reading this, Georgia started to her feet, hastily
donned her hat and cloak, with her thick vail closely over her face,
and taking one of the widow's little boys with her, as guide, set out
for the hotel.

Upon reaching it she inquired for Mr. Leonard. A servant went for him,
and in a few minutes returned with a benevolent-looking old gentleman,
with white hair and a kind, friendly face.

"You wished to see me, madam," he said, bowing, and looking inquiringly
at the Juno-like form dressed in black.

"Yes, sir; I am the governess," said Georgia, her heart throbbing so
violently that she turned giddy.

"Oh, indeed!" said the old gentleman, kindly; "perhaps we had better
step up to my room, then; this is no place to settle business."

Georgia followed him up two or three flights of stairs, to an elegantly
furnished apartment. Handing her a chair, he seated himself, and glanced
somewhat curiously at her.

"You received my answer to your advertisement?" he said.

"Yes, sir," said Georgia, in a stifled voice.

"May I ask your name madam?" said Mr. Leonard, whose curiosity seemed
piqued.

Georgia threw back her heavy vail, and the old gentleman gave a start of
surprise at sight of the white, cold, beautiful face, and dark,
sorrowful eyes.

"My name is Randall--Miss Randall," replied Georgia, while a faint red,
that faded as quickly as it came, tinged her cheek at the deception.

Mr. Leonard bowed.

"I suppose you have credentials--your certificates from those with whom
you have formerly lived?" said Mr. Leonard, hesitatingly, for he felt
embarrassed to address this queenly looking girl, on whose marble-like
face the awe-inspiring shadow of some mighty grief lay, as he would a
common governess.

Georgia's eyes dropped, and again that slight tinge of color flashed
across her face, and again faded away.

"No, sir; I have not. I never was a governess before; sudden
reverses--adversity--"

She broke down, put her trembling hand before her face, and averted her
head.

Mr. Leonard was an impulsive, kind-hearted old gentleman, and the sight
of settled anguish in that pale young face went right home to his heart,
and touched him exceedingly.

"Yes, yes, to be sure, poor child! I understand it all. There, don't
cry--don't, now. You know there is nothing but ups and downs in this
world, and reverses must be expected. I like you, I like your looks, and
I rather guess I'll engage you _without_ credentials. There, don't be
cast down, my dear; don't, now. You really make me feel bad to see you
in trouble."

Georgia lifted her head and tried to smile, but it was so faint and sad,
so like a cold gleam of moonlight on snow, that it touched that soft
heart of his more and more.

"Poor thing! poor thing! poor little thing!" he said, winking very
rapidly with both eyes behind his spectacles; "seen a great deal of
trouble, I expect, in her time, must have, to give her that look. I'll
engage her; upon my life I will!"

"There may be one objection, sir," said Georgia, sadly. "I can't teach
music."

"You can't--hum!" said Mr. Leonard, musingly. "Well, that doesn't make
much odds, I guess. My daughters have a music-master now, and he can
teach little Jennie, I reckon, too. Your pupils are two boys and a
girl, none over thirteen; and as you teach French, and Latin, and
grammar, and English, and all the other things necessary, music does not
make much difference. And as for salary--well, I'll attend to that at
the end of the quarter, and I think you will be satisfied. When can you
come?"

"Now, if necessary, sir--any time you like."

"Well, to-morrow morning I start. I live forty miles out of New York,
and if you will give me your address, I will call for you in the
carriage."

"I thank you, sir, but it is too far out of your way. I will come up
here," said Georgia, who did not wish to bring him to the mean
habitation where she stopped. "I suppose that is all," she said, rising.

"All, at present, Miss Randall," said Mr. Leonard, rising, and looking
at her in surprise as she started at the unusual name. "To-morrow at ten
o' clock, I leave. Good-morning."

He shook hands cordially with her at parting, and then Georgia hurried
out, feeling that one faint gleam of sunshine had arisen in her darkened
life. In the desolate years of the weary life before her she would at
least be a burden to no one, and for a few moments she felt as if an
intolerable load had been lifted off her heart. But when she was alone
again in her chamber and the reaction past, the awful sense of her
desolation came sweeping over her. In all the wide world she had not one
friend left. Sun, and moon, and stars all had faded from her sky, and
night--dark, woeful night--had closed, and a night for which there was
no morning. And, oh, worst of all, she felt it was her own fault, her
own stormy, unbridled passions had done it all; and with a great cry,
wrung from her tortured heart, she sank down quivering and white in the
dusky gloom of that wild winter evening. There was no light in Georgia's
despair; in happier days she had never prayed, and in the hour of her
earthly anguish she _could not_. In this world she could look forward to
nothing but a wretched, despairing life, and to her the next was a dull,
dead blank. One name was in her heart, one name on her lips, one whom
she had made her God, her earthly idol, and now he, too, was forever
lost.

When the widow came in to awaken her the next morning, she was startled
by the sight of the tall, dark form, wrapped in a shawl, sitting by the
window, her forehead pressed to the cold pane, her face whiter than the
snow-wreaths without. She had not laid her head on a pillow the livelong
night.

The cold, pale sunshine of the short January day was fading out of the
sky, when a sleigh, well supplied with buffalo robes and the merry music
of jingling bells, came flying up toward a large, handsome country
villa, through the crimson curtained windows of which the ruddy light of
many a glowing coal fire shone. As it stopped before the door, a group
from within came running out, and stood on the veranda, in eager
expectation and pleasing bustle.

An old gentleman with white hair and a benevolent smile, answering to
the cognomen of Mr. Leonard, got out and assisted a lady, tall and
elegant, dressed in black, and closely vailed, to alight. Then, giving a
few hasty directions to a servant who was leading off the horses, he
gave the lady his arm and led her up to the house.

And upon reaching the veranda he was instantly surrounded, and an
incredible amount of kissing, and questioning, and laughing, and talking
was done in an instant, and the old gentleman was whisked off and borne
into a large, handsomely furnished parlor, where the brightest of fires
was blazing in the brightest of grates, and pushed into a rocking-chair
and whirled up before the fire in a twinkling.

"Lord bless _my_ soul!" said the old gentleman, breathlessly, and laying
a strong emphasis on the pronoun; "what a lot of whirlwinds you are,
girls! Where's Miss Randall, eh? Where's Miss Randall?"

"Here, sir," answered Georgia, as she entered the room.

"And pretty near frozen, I'll be bound! I know _I_ am. Mrs. Leonard, my
dear, this young lady is the governess--Miss Randall."

Georgia bowed to a little fat woman with restless, hazel eyes.

"And these are my two eldest daughters, Felice and Maggie," continued
Mr. Leonard, pointing to two pretty, graceful-looking young girls, who
nodded carelessly to the governess; "and these are your pupils," he
added, pointing to two little boys, apparently between thirteen and ten,
and to a little girl, who, from her resemblance to the younger, was
evidently his twin sister. "Albert, Royal, Jennie, come up and shake
hands with Miss Randall."

"Miss Randall! why, Licie, that's the name of that nice gentleman who
brought you the roses last night, ain't it?" said little Jennie, looking
up cunningly at her elder sister.

Miss Felice glanced at Miss Maggie and smiled and blushed, and began
twisting one of her ringlets over her taper fingers, looking very
conscious indeed.

"May I ask if you are any relation to young Mr. Randall, the poet, of
New York?" said Mrs. Leonard, pushing up her spectacles and trying to
see Georgia through the thick vail which still covered her face.

"Why, mamma, what a question! Of course she's not," said Miss Felice,
rather pettishly; "he has no relatives, you know. There's plenty of the
name."

Georgia threw back her vail at this moment, and stooped to kiss little
Jennie, who came up and held her rosy mouth puckered for that purpose,
as if she was quite accustomed to be treated to that sort of small coin.

"Oh, Felice, what a beautiful face!" exclaimed Miss Maggie, in an
impulsive whisper.

"Ye-es, she's not bad-looking--for a governess," drawled Miss Felice.
"They are generally so frightfully ugly. She's a great deal too pale
though, and too solemn looking; it gives me the dismals to look at her;
and she's ever so much too tall" (Miss Felice, be it known, was rather
on the dumpy pattern than otherwise), "and too slight for her size, and
her forehead's too high, and her--"

"Oh, Felice, stop! You'll try to make out she's as ugly as sin directly.
Did you ever see such splendid eyes?"

"I don't like black eyes," said Miss Felice, in a dissatisfied tone;
"they are too sharp and fiery. They do well enough for men, but I don't
approve of them at all for women."

"Dear me, what a pity!" said Miss Maggie, sarcastically; "but you can't
call hers fiery--they're dreadfully melancholy, I'm sure. Now ain't
they, mamma?"

"What dear?" said Mrs. Leonard, not catching the whispered question.

"Hasn't Miss Randall got lovely melancholy black eyes?"

"Oh, bother her melancholy black eyes!" said Miss Felice, impatiently.
"What a time you do make about people, Mag. And she only a governess,
too. I should think you would be ashamed."

"Well, I ain't ashamed--not the least," said Maggie; "and no matter
whether she's a governess or not, she looks like a lady. I'm sure she's
very clever, too. I wonder who she's in black for."

"Ask her," said Miss Felice, shortly, as she picked up a French novel,
and, placing her feet on the fender, sat down to read.

Miss Felice was blessed with a temper much shorter than sweet, and Miss
Maggie, who was rather good-natured, took her curt replies as a matter
of course, and, going over to Georgia, said pleasantly:

"Miss Randall, if you wish to go up to your room, I will be your
_cicerone_ for the occasion. Perhaps you would like to brush your hair
before tea."

"Thank you," said Georgia, rising languidly, and following Miss Maggie
from the room.

"This is to be your _sanctum sanctorum_, Miss Randall," said Maggie,
opening the door of a small and plainly but neatly furnished bedroom,
rendered cheerful by red drapery and a redder fire. "It's not very
gorgeous, you perceive; but it's the one the governess always uses here.
Our last one--Miss Fitzgerald, an Irish young lady--went and
precipitated herself into the awful gulf of----"

"What?" said Georgia, with a slight start, caused by Miss Maggie's
awe-struck manner.

"Matrimony!" said Miss Maggie, in a thrilling whisper. "Ain't it
dreadful? Governesses, and ministers, and curates, and all sorts of poor
people generally _will_ persist in such atrocities, on the principle
that what won't keep one, I suppose, will keep two. Don't you ever get
married, Miss Randall. _I_ never mean to---- Why, my goodness, what's
the matter now?"

Georgia had given such a violent start, and a spasm of such intense
anguish had passed over her face, that Miss Maggie jumped back, and
stood regarding her with wide-open and startled eyes, the picture of
astonishment.

"Nothing--nothing," said Georgia, leaning her elbow on the table, and
dropping her forehead on it: "a sudden pain--gone now. Pray do not be
alarmed."

"Oh, I ain't alarmed," said Miss Maggie composedly. "Do you think you
will like to live out here? It's awful lonesome, I can tell you; a
quarter of a mile almost to the nearest house. Licie and I want papa to
stop in New York in the winter, but he won't--he doesn't mind a word we
say. Papas are always the dreadfulest, most obstinate sort of people in
the world--now, ain't they?--always thinking they know best, you know,
and always dreadfully provoking. Oh, dear me!" said Miss Maggie, with a
deep sigh, as she fell back in her chair, and held up and glanced
admiringly at one pretty little foot and distracting ankle, "I don't
know what we should ever do only papa comes from the city to see us, and
that nice Signor Popkins, who was a count or a legion of honor, or some
funny thing in France, and got exiled by that nasty Louis Napoleon,
comes and gives Licie and me two music lessons every week. Oh! Miss
Randall, he's got just the sweetest hair you ever saw; and
mustaches--oh, my goodness! such mustaches--that stick out like two
shaving-brushes; and splendid long whiskers, like a cow's tail. Felice
don't care much for him, because she thinks she's caught that nice,
clever Mr. Randall, your namesake, you know; but I guess she ain't so
sure of him as she thinks. Oh! he does write the most divine poetry ever
was--down right splendid, you know; and every lady is raving about him.
He's travelled all over Europe, and Asia, and Africa, and the North
Pole, and California, and lots of other nice places, and knows--oh, dear
me, he knows a dreadful sight of things, and is a splendid talker. He
only came from England two weeks ago, and everybody is making such a
time about him. Felice met him at a party, and he came here last night
with the divinest bouquet, and she thinks she has him, but _I_ know
better. Then some more gentlemen come here. Lem Turner, and Ike Brown,
and Dick Curtis, but he's gone away somewhere to the country, to where
some friend of his lives---- Hey? What now? Another pain, Miss Randall?"

"No--yes. Excuse me, Miss Leonard, I am very tired, and will lie down
now. You will please to tell them I do not feel well enough to go down
to tea."

"Well, there! I might have known you were tired, and not kept on talking
so, but I am such a dreadful chatterbox. I'll tell Susan to bring up
your tea. Good-by, Miss Randall; I hope you'll be quite well to-morrow,
I'm sure." And the loquacious damsel bowed a smiling adieu, and retired.

Georgia _was_ better the next morning, and able to join the family at
breakfast, which meal was enlivened by a steady flow of talk from Miss
Maggie, and a series of snappish contradictions and marginal notes from
Miss Felice, who never got her temper on till near noon. Mr. and Mrs.
Leonard took both daughters as matters of course, and seemed quite used
to this sort of thing. On Georgia's part it passed almost in silence,
as she sat like some cold, marble statue, with scarcely more signs of
life.

After breakfast Miss Felice sat down to practice some unearthly
exercises on the grand piano that adorned the drawing-room, and Miss
Maggie Leonard bore off Georgia and the three juvenile Leonards to a
large, high, severe-looking room, adorned with a dismal looking
blackboard, sundry maps, with red, green, yellow splashes, supposed to
represent this terrestrial globe. Four solemn-looking black desks were
in the four corners, and one in the middle for the teacher. Books, and
ink bottles, and slates, without end, were scattered about, and this,
Mrs. Leonard informed Georgia, was the school-room, and after
administering a small lecture to Messrs. Albert and Royal and Miss
Jennie, the purport of which was that the world in general expected them
to be good children and learn fast, and mind Miss Randall, she floated
out, bearing off the unwilling Miss Maggie, and Georgia began her new
life as teacher.

That day seemed endless to Georgia. Accustomed to uncontrolled freedom
and wild liberty, she was fitted less for a teacher than for anything
else in the world. That love of children which it is necessary every
teacher should possess, Georgia had not, and before the wearisome day
was done every feeling that had not been stunned into numbness rose in
rebellion against the intolerable servitude.

At four o'clock the day's labor was over, and the children, glad to be
released, scampered off.

Seating herself at the desk, Georgia dropped her throbbing head upon it,
giddy and blind with one of her deadly headaches, which until the last
month or two, she had never known.

Suddenly the door was flung open, and Miss Maggie's ringing voice was
heard.

"Well, Miss Randall, how did you get on? Mamma wouldn't let me come up,
and it was real mean of her. Why, what's the matter? Oh, my goodness!
you look dreadful!"

"I have got a headache," said Georgia, pressing her hands to her
throbbing temples dizzily.

"Oh, you have! Being in this hot room all day has caused it. Do let me
bring you your things, and come out for a walk. It is a beautiful
evening, though cold, and the air will do you good. Come. I'll go with
you, Miss Randall: Shall I go and get your things?"

"You are very good," said Georgia, faintly; "I think I will; I feel
almost suffocated."

Maggie bounded away, and the next moment came flying back, rolled up in
a huge shawl, and her pretty face eclipsed in an immense quilted hood.
She held another shawl and hood in her hands, and before Georgia knew
where she was, she found herself all muffled up and ready for the road.

"Now, then!" said Miss Maggie, briskly; "come along! See if the wind
won't blow roses into those white cheeks of yours!"

Passing her arm around Georgia's waist, Maggie drew her with her out of
the house.

The day was cold, and clear, and bright, and windless; a frosty,
sunshiny, cold afternoon. The sun, sinking in the west, shed a red glow
over the snow-covered fields, and gave a golden brightness to the
windows of the house.

Some of the old wild spirit, that nothing but death could ever entirely
crush out of Georgia's gipsy heart, rose as the cold, keen frosty air
cooled her fevered brow. The languid eyes lit up, and she started at a
rapid walk that kept Maggie breathless, and laughing, and running, and
quite unable to talk.

"Oh, my stars!" said Maggie, at last, as she stopped, panting, and
leaned against a fence. "If you haven't got the seven-league boots on,
Miss Randall, then I should like to know who has? You ought to go into
training for a female pedestrian, and you would make your fortune in
twenty-five-cent pieces. I declare I'm just about tired to death."

"Why, how thoughtless I am!" said Georgia, whose excited pace had
scarcely kept time with her excited thoughts; "I forgot you could not
walk as fast as I can. Suppose you sit down and rest, and I will wait."

"All right, then," said Maggie, as she clambered with great agility to
the top of the fence and sat down on the top rail; "but 'Hold, Macduff!
who comes here?'"

A sleigh came dashing along the road, drawn by a small, spirited horse
that seemed fairly to fly. It was occupied by a gentleman wearing a
large black cloak, and a fur cap drawn down over his brow.

As he reached them he turned round and glanced carelessly toward the two
girls. For one instant his face was turned fully toward them, the next
he was whirling away out of sight.

"Oh, how handsome! oh, isn't he beautiful?" exclaimed Maggie, clasping
her hands enthusiastically; "such splendid eyes, and such a pale,
handsome face, and such a glorious driver. My! how I would like to be in
that sleigh with him. I would--wouldn't you, Miss Randall?"

She turned to Georgia, and fairly leaped off the fence in amazement to
see her standing rigid and motionless, with wildly distended eyes and
white, startled face, gazing after the object of Maggie's admiration.

"Why, Miss Randall! Miss Randall!" said Maggie, catching her arms,
"what's the matter? Do you know him?"

"Let us go back, Miss Leonard," said Georgia, passing her hand over her
eyes as if to dispel some wild vision.

Know him! Yes, as if they had parted but yesterday. Could Georgia forget
Charley Wildair?



CHAPTER XIX.

DESOLATION.

    "And the stately ships go on
      To the haven under the hill,
    But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
      And the sound of a voice that is still."

                                    TENNYSON.

All that night Georgia's thoughts ran in a new direction--Charley
Wildair. Yes, she had been face to face with the living, breathing
friend of her childhood once more. The mystery that surrounded him rose
up in her mind, and again she found herself wondering what he had done,
what crime he had committed. Evening after evening she walked out in the
same place, in the hope of seeing him again, when she was determined to
speak to him at all hazards; but in vain; he came not, no one knew, or
could tell her anything of him who had passed that evening. As day after
day wore on, she began to regard his appearance almost in the light of
an apparition--something her disordered imagination had conjured up to
mock her, and at last even the hope of seeing him again, faded away.

And so a month passed on. Oh! that dreary, endless, monotonous month,
with nothing but the dull routine of the school-room day after day.

There were times when Georgia would start wildly up, feeling as though
she were going mad; and evening after evening, when the last lesson was
said, she would throw her shawl over her shoulders and hurry out into
the cold wintry weather, and walk and walk for miles with dizzy
rapidity, to cool the fever in her blood. Night after night, when,
unable to lie tossing on her bed, she would spring up, and, heedless of
the freezing air, pace her room till morning. The wild fire in her eye,
even in the presence of others, bespoke the consuming fever in her veins
that seemed drying up the very source of life in her heart. Had she been
leading some exciting, turbulent life, it would have been better for
her; but this stagnant monotony seemed in a fair way of making her a
maniac before long. There were times when her very soul would cry out
with passionate yearning for what she had lost--times when an
uncontrollable impulse to fly, fly, far away from this place, to search
over the world for him she had left, and, in spite of all that had
passed, to cling to him forever, would seize her, and she would struggle
and wrestle with the fierce desire until, from very bodily weakness, she
would sink down in a very stupor of despair.

It seemed to her as if a dark doom had been hanging over her from
childhood and had fallen at last--a widow in fate though not in fact, an
outcast from all the world, and almost with the brand of murder on her
brow. But oh, if she had sinned, was not the expiation heavier than it
deserved? A life of desolation, a death uncheered by a single friendly
face, to live forgotten and die forlorn, _that_ was her doom. Poor
Georgia! what wonder that, frenzied and despairing, the cry of her heart
should be, "My punishment is heavier than I can bear."

The Leonards hardly knew what to make of Georgia. Mr. Leonard looked
pityingly on the white face, so eloquent of wrong and misery, and
expressed his opinion that she had come through more than people
thought. Mrs. Leonard was rather puzzled about the young governess; when
in her wild paroxysms she would hear startling legends of her walking
through frost and snow for miles together, and would hear a quick, rapid
footstep pacing up and down, up and down her chamber the livelong night,
and would see the wild, lurid fire in her great black eyes, she would
give it as her opinion that Miss Randall was not quite right in her
mind; but when this mood would pass away, and reaction would follow, and
when she would note the slow, weary step and pallid cheeks, and
spiritless eyes, and lifeless movements, she would retract, and say she
really did not know what to make of her.

Miss Felice snappishly said it was all affectation; the governess wanted
to be odd, and mysterious, and interesting; and if she was her father
she would put an end to her long walks, or know why. But these little
remarks were prudently made when Georgia was not listening; for if the
truth must be told, Miss Leonard stood more than slightly in awe of the
dark, majestic, melancholy governess. Miss Maggie declared it was
"funny," but she rather liked Georgia, though after the first week or
two she voted her "awful tiresome, worse than Felice," and left her
pretty much to herself. Her pupils liked her, but were rather afraid of
her in her dark moods, and, like the rest of the household, stood
considerably in awe of her, wrapped as she was in her dark mantle of
unvarying gloom.

During this first month of her stay, Georgia had spoken to no one but
the household. Visitors there were almost every day, but Georgia always
fled at their approach, and both the Misses Leonard, conscious of her
superior beauty, had no desire to be eclipsed by their queenly
dependent, and were quite willing she should be invisible on these
occasions. Since she had heard Dick Curtis was a friend of the family,
she had dreaded the approach of every stranger, and always sent some
excuse for not appearing at table at such times. Therefore, sometimes
whole days would pass without her leaving her own room and the
school-room.

As the children's study only comprised five hours each day, Georgia had
a great deal of spare time to herself. This she had hitherto spent
either in her long, wild walks or in her dark reveries; but now, of
late, a new inspiration had seized her.

One day, to amuse little Jennie, she had seized her pencil and drawn her
portrait, and the drawing proved to be so life-like that the whole
family were in transports. The Misses Leonard immediately made a
simultaneous rush for the school-room, and overwhelmed Georgia with
praises of her talent, and pleadings to sketch theirs, too. And Georgia,
feeling a sort of happiness in pleasing them, readily promised. The
drawings were commenced and finished, and Georgia had unconsciously
idealized and rendered them so perfectly lovely, yet so true to the
originals, that they, in their ecstatic admiration, insisted that they
should be perpetuated in oil. Finding the occupation so absorbing and
so congenial, Georgia willingly consented, and sittings were appointed
every day until the portraits were finished. And finished they were at
last, and set in gorgeous frames, and with eyes sparkling with delight,
the Misses Leonard saw themselves, or rather their etherialized
counterfeits, hanging in splendor on the drawing-room walls, and calling
forth the most enthusiastic praises of the unknown artist's skill from
their guests, for Georgia had only painted them on condition that no one
was to be told.

Then she voluntarily offered to paint Mr. and Mrs. Leonard and the three
children, and at Jennie's earnest desire, her little tortoise-shell
kitten was seduced into sitting still long enough to be taken too. This
last was a labor of love, for, strangely enough, it brought back
softened thoughts of the happy days spent in romping through the cottage
by the sea with Betsey Periwinkle.

And a faint, sad, dreary smile broke over Georgia's face as she painted
the little blinking animal, and thought of all the old associations it
called forth. It brought back Miss Jerusha, and little Emily
Murray--dear little Emily Murray, whose memory always came to her like
the soft sweet music of an Eolian harp amid the repose of a storm. She
wondered vaguely if _they_ missed her much, and what they would think of
her flight, and whether they would shudder in horror when they heard
what she had done, or whether they would think lovingly of her still.

"Some day, when they hear I am dead, perhaps they will forgive me and
love me again," she thought, with something of the simplicity of the
_child_ Georgia, as a gentler feeling came to her heart than had visited
it for many a day. Somehow, Emily's memory always did soften her and
bring back a gentler mood. In her wildest storms of anguish and remorse,
in the darkest hour of her desolation, that sweet, calm, holy young
face, with its serene brow and seraphic blue eyes, would arise and
exorcise her gloom, and leave her calmer, softer feeling behind.

One day, on the occasion of Mrs. Leonard's birthday, the children had a
holiday, and Georgia was left to herself. Seating herself at the window,
she began to draw faces from memory. The first was a long, angular one,
with projecting bones and sharp features, sunken eyes, and thin,
compressed lips, the hair drawn tightly back and gathered in an
uncompromising hard knot behind. An intelligent, dignified-looking cat
sat composedly at her feet, deeply absorbed in thought. Any one could
recognize, in these portraits, Miss Jerusha and our old friend Betsey
Periwinkle.

"Dear Miss Jerusha! dear, good friend!" murmured Georgia, softly, as she
gazed at the picture. "I wonder will I ever see you again. I wonder if
you have grieved for my loss, and if you ever, these wild, stormy
nights, think of your lost Georgey. Dear Miss Jerusha, may Heaven reward
you for your kindness to the poor orphan girl."

The next was a fairer face, a small head set on an arching neck; a low,
smooth, childish brow; small, regular, dainty features; sweet,
wondering, wistful eyes; a little dimpled chin, and softly smiling lips,
just revealing the pearly teeth within. It might have been the face of
an angel had it not been Emily Murray's, spiritualized, as everything
Georgia's magic pencil touched was. Such a lovely, child-like, innocent
face as it was, smiling up from the paper with such a look of heavenly
calm and serenity, that no breath of worldly passion had ever
disturbed.

"Oh, dear little Emily! dear little Emily!" said Georgia, in a trembling
voice. "My good angel! if I had only been like you. Calm, peaceful,
happy little Emily! what will you think of me when you hear what I have
done."

She hesitated a moment before she commenced the next, and then, as if a
sudden inspiration had seized her, she rapidly began to sketch. Soon
there appeared a noble, intellectual-looking head--a high, broad,
princely brow--square eyebrows, meeting across the strongly marked
nose--large, strong, earnest eyes--a fine resolute mouth, and square,
resolute chin. Heavy waves of dark hair were shaken carelessly off the
noble forehead, and it needed nothing now but the thick dark mustache,
and the calm, handsome, kingly face of Richmond Wildair looked at her
from the paper. In the seemingly fathomless eyes there shone a look of
sorrowful reproach, and a sort of sad sternness pervaded the whole face.
The very lips seemed to part and say, "oh, Georgia, what have you done?"
and with a great cry of "oh, Richmond! Richmond! Richmond!" she flung
down her pencil, then threw herself on her face on the couch, and for
the first time in years, for the first time almost since she could
remember, she wept, wept long, passionately, and bitterly.

It was a strange thing to see this stone-like Georgia weep. In all her
misery she had shed no tears; in her stormy childhood she had wept not,
and the tears of childhood are an easily flowing spring; yet now she
lay, and wept, and sobbed, wildly, passionately, vehemently, wept for
hours, until the very source of her tears seemed dried up, and would
flow no longer.

And from that day Georgia grew calmer and more rational than she had
ever been before. It was strange the consolation she derived from these
"counterfeit presentments" of those she loved, and yet it was so. For
hours she would sit gazing at them, and sometimes she would fancy
Emily's smiling lips seemed saying, "Hope on, Georgia! before morning
dawns night is ever darkest."

The Leonards, grateful for being made such handsome people, were quite
solicitous in their efforts to make the governess comfortable. Georgia
had a heart easily won by kindness, and as time passed on, she seemed,
for the present at least, to grow reconciled to her lot. Perhaps the
secret of this was that she had begun an achievement that had long been
in her thoughts, and in which she was so completely absorbed as to be
for a time quite insensible to outward things. This was a large painting
of Hagar in the Wilderness, a wild, weird thing, on which she worked
night and day in a fever of enthusiasm.

Had any one seen her, in the still, mystic watches of the night, bending
over her easel, her dark hair flowing behind her, her wild eyes blazing,
her whole face inspired--they might have taken her for the very genius
of art descended on earth. She scarcely knew what was her design in
painting this; probably, at the time, she had none, but a love of the
work itself--a love that increased to a perfect fever, as it grew under
her brush. None of the family knew aught of it, and they puzzled
themselves in vain wondering what she could be doing to keep a light
burning so late every night.

It was drawing toward the close of February that the severest snow storm
that they had during the season fell. For nearly a week it raged with
unceasing violence, and several gentlemen and ladies from the city were
storm-bound at Mr. Leonard's. During their stay, Georgia, as usual,
absented herself from the table and drawing-room, and the young ladies
were so busy with their guests that even Miss Maggie found no time to
visit her. Georgia did not regret this circumstance, as it gave her more
time to devote to her painting, and secured her from interruption.

One wild, snowy evening, when it was too dark to paint and too soon to
light the lamp, Georgia passed from her room and walked swiftly in the
direction of the library in search of a book. She knew the library was
seldom visited, especially in the evening, when other amusements ruled
the hour, and so, not fearing detection, she went in, found the book she
was in search of, and, seating herself within a deep bay-window, drew
the crimson damask curtains close, and thus shut in on one side by red
drapery and on the other by the clear glass, through which she could
watch the drifting snow, she began to read.

It was a volume of poems by W. D. Randall, the young poet, whose fame
was already resounding through the land. Such a sweet, dreamy, delicious
volume as it was! Fascinated, absorbed, Georgia strained her eyes, and
read and read on as long as one ray of light remained, unable to tear
herself away from the enchanted pages, and feeling as if she were
transported to some Arcadia, some fairy-land, by the magic power of the
poet's pen.

At last it grew too dark to read another word, and then she closed the
book and fell into a reverie of--the author. She knew he was a visitor
at the house, and for once her curiosity was strongly excited. She
resolved to see him. She would make Maggie point him out the next time
he came, and see for herself what manner of man this young genius was.
There had been a steel portrait of him in the book, but Miss Felice had
carefully cut it out and preserved it for her own private use, as
something not to be profaned by vulgar eyes, to the violent indignation
of Miss Maggie.

While she still sat musing dreamily, she was startled by hearing the
door flung open, and then a gleam of light flashed through the curtain.
Hoping it might be some servant to light the gas, she glanced out
between the folds and saw Miss Felice herself, standing beside a tall,
handsome, distinguished-looking young man. Retreat was now out of the
question. Georgia would not have encountered the stranger for worlds,
lest he should happen to recognize her; and, trusting they only came for
a book and would soon go away again, she resolved to sit still.

"And so you will translate 'Undine' for me, Mr. Randall," said Miss
Felice, whose dress was perfection, and whose face was quite brilliant
with smiles. "Oh, that will be charming. The children's governess
teaches German, but I never could get her to read Undine."

This, then, was the poet. At any other time she would have become
completely absorbed in looking at him, but the mention of "Undine" sent
a pang to her heart, and she sank back in her seat and bowed her face in
her hands. The sweet, sorrowful story of the German poet seemed so like
her own--she was the Undine, Freddy Richmond was the base, designing
Bertalda, and Huldbrand--oh, no, no! Richmond was not like him.

"It is a lovely tale. You do well to learn German, Miss Leonard, if only
for the sake of reading 'Undine' in the original," said Mr. Randall.

"I have something else that is lovely here," said Miss Leonard, looking
arch.

"Yes--yourself," said Mr. Randall.

"No, no; of course not--W. D. Randall's poems."

"And you call that lovely! Well, I gave you credit for better taste,
Miss Felice."

"Oh, they are charming, sweet, _so nice_!" cried Miss Felice, clasping
her hands in a small transport.

A smile broke over the handsome face of the poet. How pleasant it must
be for a poet to hear his poems called _nice_.

"Well, never mind them; let us find 'Undine,'" said Mr. Randall.

"I'm sure I've sat up nights and nearly cried my eyes out over that
beautiful poem 'Regina,' Did you ever see any one like the 'Regina' you
described so delightfully?"

"Yes," said Mr. Randall, a sort of shadow coming over his face, "once,
in my childhood, I saw such a one--a 'queen of noble nature's crowning;'
one whose every motion seemed to say:

    "'_Incedo Regina_'--
    'I move a queen.'"

"Dear me," said Miss Felice, "how nice! I really should like to see her.
I suppose she will be Mrs. Randall some day," and Miss Felice, looking
up between her ringlets, did the artless to perfection.

Mr. Randall smiled again; it was evident he read Miss Felice like a
book.

"Hardly, I am afraid. I don't approve of the Regina style of woman for
wives myself. Something less imposing would suit me better--a nice
little thing like----"

Miss Felice had cast down her long lashes, and stood looking as innocent
and guileless as a stage angel; but here Mr. Randall most provokingly
paused and began caressing a hideously ugly little Scotch terrier that
had followed him into the room.

Georgia had to smile in spite of herself at the provoking nonchalance of
the poet, more particularly as Miss Felice turned half pettishly away,
and then, remembering that her _role_ was to be sweet and simple, she
gave him a smiling glance and returned to the charge.

"And those verses on Niagara are so pretty! Papa took Maggie and me to
the Falls last summer, and I did like them so much! Oh, dear me! they
are so sweet!"

Mr. Randall laughed outright. Miss Felice looked up in astonishment, but
just at that moment little Jennie came running in with something in her
hand.

"Oh Licie! look what I have got--such a lovely picture of the most
beautiful lady ever was! Just look."

"What an angelic face!" impulsively exclaimed Mr. Randall; "a perfect
Madonna! And only a pencil drawing, too! Why, Miss Leonard, this is
something exquisite--a perfect little gem! I never saw anything more
lovely."

"Where did you get it, Jennie?" said Miss Felice.

"In the hall; it's Miss Randall's--she dropped it coming out of the
school-room. I'm going to ask her to give it to me; she can make plenty
more."

"Is it possible the artist resides here? You don't mean to say that----"

"Oh, it's only the governess," said Miss Felice; "she draws and paints
very well indeed. By the way, she's a namesake of yours, too, Mr.
Randall. Yes, I see now it is one of her drawings; I could tell them
anywhere."

The poet was gazing in a sort of rapture at the picture. The soft eyes
and sweet, beautiful lips seemed smiling upon him--the face seemed
living and radiant before him.

"Why, one would think you were enchanted, Mr. Randall," said Miss
Felice, half pouting. "It's fortunate it's only a picture and not a
living face, or your doom would be sealed."

"Oh, it is perfect, it is exquisite!" said the poet, under his breath;
"a Madonna, a Saint Cecilia, a seraph! Why, Miss Leonard, do you know
you have a genius under the roof with you?"

"Yes, sir--Mr. Randall," said Miss Felice, courtesying.

"Pshaw! I mean the artist. Come, is she the mysterious painter of those
delicious portraits in the drawing-room that have attracted such crowds
of admirers already?"

"Well, since you have guessed it, yes. It was her own wish it should not
be known."

"Why, she must be the eighth wonder of the world--this governess. Who is
she? What is she? Where does she come from?" said Mr. Randall,
impetuously.

"She is Miss Randall--a governess, as I before told you, from New York
city, and that is her whole biography as far as I know it, except that
she is very strange, and wild, and solemn-looking, with oh, such immense
black, haunting eyes!"

"Oh, Felice, she's really pretty!" said Jennie; "a great deal prettier
than you or Mag. Now ain't she, Royal?"

"Who?" said Royal, entering at this moment.

"Our Miss Randall."

"Yes, I reckon she is. Miss Randall's a tip-top lady," said Royal,
emphatically.

"I really should like to see her. Won't you present me to this genius,
Miss Leonard? It is not fair to hide so brilliant a light under a
bushel," said Mr. Randall. "I shall probably claim kindred with her, as
we both have the same name."

"Well, I will ask," said Miss Felice, biting her lip. "I am not so
sure, though, that she will consent, she is so queer. Here's 'Undine,'
and now for the translation, Mr. Randall."

But Mr. Randall stood still, with his eyes riveted on the drawing.

"Dear me, Mr. Randall, hadn't you better keep that altogether?" said
Miss Felice, pettishly. "One would think you had fallen in love with
it."

"So I have," said Mr. Randall. "Come here, Miss Jennie; I have a favor
to ask of you."

"What is it?" said Jennie.

"That if Miss Randall gives you this drawing, you will give it to me,
and I will bring you the prettiest book I can find in New York in
exchange."

"Will you, though? Isn't that nice, Royal? Oh, I'll get it from Miss
Randall--she's real good--and I'll give it to you. May I tell her it's
for you?"

"Just as you like; tell her anything you please, so as to get it for me.
Won't you tell me how I can see this wonderful governess of yours, Miss
Jennie?"

"Let's see. Come up to the school-room with mamma."

"By Jove! I will. But perhaps she wouldn't like me to intrude."

"Mr. Randall, they are waiting for us down stairs," said Miss Felice,
stiffly. "Jennie--Royal--go out and go to bed."

Georgia caught a parting glimpse of the graceful, gallant form of the
young poet as he held open the door for Miss Felice to go out, and drew
a deep breath of relief when they were gone. Then, having assured
herself that the coast was clear, she hurried out and sought her own
room, and searched for Emily's portrait, but it was missing.

Next morning, as Georgia was about to enter the school-room, Miss Felice
fluttered up stairs, in a floating white cashmere morning-gown, and with
the drawing in her hand.

"Good-morning, Miss Randall," she said, briefly; "is this yours?"

"Yes," said Georgia, quietly.

"Will you be kind enough to give it to me?"

"It is the portrait of a very dear friend. I should be happy to oblige
you were it otherwise, Miss Leonard," said Georgia, coldly.

"A portrait! that heavenly face! is it possible?" exclaimed the
astounded young lady.

Georgia bowed gravely.

"But oh, do let me have it! do, please; you can draw another, you know,"
coaxed Miss Felice.

"Of what possible use can that portrait be to you, Miss Leonard?"

"Well, it's not for me, it's for a friend. Do oblige me, Miss Randall.
Mr. Randall wants it so dreadfully."

"Mr. Randall! who is he?"

"The author, the poet that everybody is talking about. He saw it last
night with Jennie, and took a desperate fancy to it, and, what's more,
wants to be introduced to you."

"I would rather be excused," said Georgia, with some of her old
_hauteur_. "I do not like to refuse you, Miss Leonard, and if any other
picture----"

"Oh, any other won't do; I must have this. There, I shall keep it, and
you can draw a dozen like it any time. And every one would not refuse to
be introduced to Mr. Randall, I can tell you," said Miss Felice, half
inclined to be angry; "he is immensely rich and ever so handsome, and
as clever as ever he can be, and most young ladies would consider it an
honor to be acquainted with him."

Georgia bowed slightly, and made an impatient motion to pass on.

"Well, I am going to keep it, Miss Randall," said Miss Felice, half
inquiringly.

"As you please, Miss Leonard. Good-morning," and Georgia swept on to the
school-room, and Miss Felice ran to give the poet the picture, and tell
him their haughty governess refused the introduction.



CHAPTER XX.

FOUND AND LOST.

    "There are words of deeper sorrow
    Than the wail above the dead."

    "An eagle with a broken wing,
    A harp with many a broken string."


It was a pleasant morning in early spring. The sunshine lay in broad
sheets of golden light over the fields, and tinted the tree-tops with a
yellow luster. The fresh morning air came laden with the fragrance of
sweet spring flowers, and the musical chirping of many birds from the
neighboring forest was borne to Georgia's ears, as she stood on the
veranda, her thoughts far away.

You would scarcely have recognized the flashing-eyed, blooming,
wild-hearted Georgia Darrell in this cold, stately, stone-like Miss
Randall, with cheek and brow cold and colorless as Parian marble, and
the dark, mournful eyes void of light and sparkle.

It could scarcely be expected but that she would sink under the dreary
monotony of her life here, so completely different in every way from
what she had been accustomed to; and of late, she had fallen into a
lifeless lethargy, from which nothing seemed able to arouse her. There
were times, it was true, when, for an instant, she would awake, and her
very soul would cry out under the galling chains of her intolerable
bondage; but these flashes of her old spirit were few and far between,
and were always followed by a lassitude, a languor, a dull, spiritless
gloom, under which life, and flesh, and health seemed alike deserting
her. Her "Hagar in the Wilderness" was finished, and she commenced
drawing another, but lacked the energy to finish it.

It was an unnatural life for Georgia--the once wild, fiery, spirited
Georgia, and it was probably a year or two, of such existence, would
have found her in a lunatic asylum or in her grave, had not an
unlooked-for discovery given a new spring to her dormant energies.

Nearly half a year had now elapsed since that sorrowful night when she
had fled from home--six of the darkest months in all Georgia's life. For
the first four she had heard no news of any of those she had left, not
even of him who, sleeping or waking, was ever uppermost in her thoughts.
But one morning, at breakfast, Mr. Leonard had read aloud that our
"gifted young follow-citizen, Mr. Richmond Wildair, had returned from
abroad, and having re-entered the political world, which he was so well
fitted to adorn, had been elected to the legislature, where he had
already distinguished himself as a statesman of extraordinary merit and
profound wisdom, notwithstanding his extreme youth." Then there was
another brief paragraph, in which a mysterious allusion was made to some
dark, domestic calamity that had befallen the young statesman; but
before Mr. Leonard could finish it he was startled to see the governess
make an effort to rise from her seat and fall heavily back in her chair.
Then there was a cry that Miss Randall was fainting, and a glass of
water was held to her lips, and when, in a moment, she was her own calm,
cold self again, she arose and hastily left the room.

But from that day Georgia made a point every morning, with feverish
interest, to read the political papers in search of that one loved name.
And in every one of them it continually met her eye, lauded to the skies
by his friends and followers, and loaded with the fiercest abuse by his
enemies. There were long, eloquent speeches of his, glowing, fiery,
living, impassioned bursts of eloquence, that sent a thrill to the heart
of all who heard him, and swept away all obstacles before the force of
its own matchless logic.

A great question was then in agitation, and the young orator, as the
champion of humanity and equal rights, flung himself into the thickest
of the political _melee_ and was soon the reigning demi-god of his
party. It was well known he was soon to be sent as a Representative to
Congress, and the knowing ones predicted for him the highest honors the
political strife could yield--perhaps at some future day the Presidency
of the United States. His name and fame were already resounding through
the land, and morning, noon, and night, Mr. Leonard, who was the
fiercest of politicians, was talking and raving of the matchless talents
of this rising star.

And Georgia, how did she listen to all this. All she had hitherto
endured seemed nothing in comparison to the anguish she felt in his
evident utter forgetfulness of her. All the pride, and triumph, and
exultation, she would have felt in his success was swallowed up in the
misery of knowing she was forgotten--as completely forgotten as if she
had never existed. And oh, the humiliation she felt, when in the papers
of the opposition party, she saw _herself_ dragged in as a slur, a
disgrace, in his private life. The sneering insinuations that the wife
of Richmond Wildair had deserted him--had eloped--had been driven from
home by his ill-treatment; _these_ were worse to her than death. She
could almost fancy his cursing her in the bitterness of his heart when
his eyes would fall on this, for having disgraced him as she had done.

On this morning, as she stood on the veranda, with a paper in her hand
containing an unusually brilliant speech of the gifted young statesman,
her thoughts wandering to the days long past when she had first known
him, Miss Maggie came dancing out with sparkling eyes, and eagerly
accosted her.

"Oh, Miss Randall! only think! papa is going to give a splendid
dinner-party, and going to have lots of these political big-wigs here.
You know, I suppose, that they, or rather that Mr. Wildair, has gained
that horrid question about something or other the papers have been
making such a time about?"

"Yes," murmured the white lips, faintly.

"Well, papa's been so dreadfully tickled about it, though why I can't
see, that he is going to give this dinner-party, and have lots of those
great guns at it, and at their head Mr. Wildair himself, the greatest
gun of the lot. Only think of that!"

Georgia had averted her head, and Miss Maggie did not see the deadly
paleness that overspread her face, blanching even her very lips, at the
words. There was no reply, and shaking back her curls coquettishly, that
young lady went on:

"I'm just dying to see Mr. Wildair, you know, everybody is making such a
fuss about him; and I do like famous men, of all things. They say he is
young and handsome, but whether he is married or not I never can rightly
discover; some of the papers say he was, and that he didn't treat his
wife well, and Mr. Brown from New York, who was here yesterday, says she
committed suicide--isn't that dreadful? But I don't care; I'm bound to
set my cap for him, and I guess _I_ can manage to get along with him. I
should like to see the man would make me commit suicide, that's all! But
it may not be true, you know; these horrid papers tell the most shocking
fibs about any one they don't like. I wish Dick Curtis were here; he
knows all about him, I've heard, but he hasn't called for ever so many
ages. Maybe I won't blow him up when I see him, and then I'll pardon him
on condition that he tells me all about Mr. Wildair. He is going to be a
senator one of these days, and a governor, and a president, and an
ambassador, and ever so many other nice things, and there is nothing I
would like better than being Madame L'Ambassadrice, and shining in
foreign courts, though I _am_ the daughter of a red-hot republican. Ha!
ha! don't I know how to build castles in Spain, Miss Randall? Poor dear
Signor Popkins! what _would_ he say if he heard me?"

All this time Georgia had been standing as still and rigid, and coldly
white as monumental marble, hearing as one hears not this tirade, which
Miss Maggie delivered while dancing up and down the veranda like a
living whirligig, too full of spirits to be still for an instant. All
Georgia heard or realized of it was that Richmond was coming here--here!
under the same roof with herself. Her brain was giddy; a wild impulse
came over her to fly, fly far away, to bury herself in the depths of the
forest, where he could never find her or hear her name again.

Miss Maggie, having waited in vain for some remark from the governess,
was turning away, with a muttered "How tiresome!" when Georgia laid her
hand on her arm, and with a face that startled her companion, asked:

"When--when do they come?"

"Who? Dear me, Miss Randall, don't look so ghastly! I declare you're
enough to scare a person into fits."

"Those--those--gentlemen."

"Oh, the dinner-party. Thursday week. Papa's waiting till Mr. Wildair
comes from Washington."

Georgia turned her face away and covered her eyes with her hand, with a
face so agitated, that Maggie's eyes opened with a look of intense
curiosity.

"Why, Miss Randall, you are so queer! What on earth makes you look so?
Did _you_ know Mr. Wildair, or any of them?"

With a gesture of desperation, Georgia raised her head, and then,
through all the storm of conflicting feelings within, came the thought
that her conduct might excite suspicion, and, without looking round, she
said huskily:

"I do not feel well, and I do not like strangers--that is all. Don't
mind me--it is nothing."

"Why, what harm can strangers do you? I never saw any one like you in
my life, Miss Randall. Wouldn't you like to see Mr. Wildair? I'm sure
you seem fond enough of reading about him. Papa told me to persuade you
to join us at dinner that day."

"No! no! no! Not for ten thousand worlds!" cried Georgia, wildly. Then,
seeing her companion recoil and look upon her with evident alarm, she
turned hastily away, and sought refuge in the school-room.

Miss Maggie looked after her in comical bewilderment for a moment, and
then setting it down to "oddity," she danced off to practice "Casta
Diva," preparatory to taking Mr. Wildair's heart by storm singing it.

"I do hope he isn't married," thought Maggie, dropping on the piano
stool, and commencing with a terrific preparatory bang; "he is _so_
clever and _such_ a catch! My! wouldn't Felice be mad!"

All the next week Miss Randall was more of a puzzle to the Leonards than
ever before. Her moods were so changeable, so variable, so eccentric,
that it was not strange that she startled them. Mrs. Leonard declared
she was hysterical, or in the first stages of a brain fever; Miss Felice
pooh-poohed the notion, and said it was only the eccentricity of genius,
for Mr. Randall had said she was a genius, and he was infallible; while
Miss Maggie differed from both, and set it down to "oddity."
Fortunately, however, for Georgia, the whole house was in such an uproar
of preparation, and new furnishing and cooking, and there was such
distracting running up and down stairs from day-dawn till midnight, and
the house was so overrun with milliners and dressmakers, and they were
all so absorbed in those mysteries of flounces, and silks, and flowers,
and laces wherein the female heart delighteth, that she was left pretty
much to her own devices, and seldom ever disturbed.

At last the eventful day arrived. All the invitations had been accepted,
and Mr. Wildair, and Mr. Curtis, and Mr. Randall, and all the rest were
to come.

Through that whole day Georgia had seemed like one delirious. There was
a blazing fire in her eye, and two dark crimson spots, all unusual
there, burning on either cheek, bespeaking the consuming fever within.
How she ever got through her school duties she could not tell, but
evening came at last, and with it Georgia's excitement rose to a pitch
not to be endured. She could not stay there and hear them, perhaps see
them enter. She felt sure, even amid thousands, she would distinguish
_his_ step, hear _his_ voice; and who knew what desperate act it might
drive her to commit--perhaps to burst into the room, and in the presence
of all to fall at his feet and sue for pardon.

Unable to sit still, with wild gusts of conflicting passions sweeping
through her soul, she seized her hat and mantle and sought that panacea
for her "mind deceased," a long, rapid, breathless walk.

It was a delightful May evening, soft, and warm, and genial as in June.
There was an air of repose and deep stillness around; one solitary star
hung trembling in the sky, and brought to her mind the nights long past,
when she had sat at her little chamber window, and watched them shining
in their tremulous beauty far above her. Everything seemed at peace but
herself, and in her stormy heart was the Angel of Peace ever to take up
his abode?

On, and on, and on she walked. It was strange the charm rapid walking
had to soothe her wildest moods. Star after star shone out in the blue,
cloudless sky, and the last ray of daylight had faded away before she
thought of turning. Taking off her hat, and flinging back her thick,
dark hair, that the cool breeze might fan her fevered brow, she set out
at a more moderate pace for home.

It was a lonesome, unfrequented road especially after night. There was
another, new road, which had of late been made the public thoroughfare,
and this one was almost entirely deserted; therefore, Georgia was
somewhat surprised to see a man approaching her at a rapid pace. He was
a gentleman, too, and young and graceful--she saw that at a glance, but
in the dim starlight she could not distinguish his features, shaded as
they were by a broad-leafed hat. He stopped as he approached her, and
hurriedly said:

"Can you tell me, madam, if this road leads to the Widow O'Neil's?"

That voice! it sent a thrill to Georgia's inmost heart, as, with her
eyes riveted on his face, she mechanically replied:

"Yes; a little farther up there is a gate. Go through, and the road will
bring you to it."

"Thank you; I shall take a shorter way," said the stranger, lifting his
hat courteously, and turning rapidly away, but not before she had
recognized the pale, handsome face and beautiful, dark eyes of Charley
Wildair.

For an instant she stood, unable to speak. She saw him place one hand on
the fence, leap lightly over, and disappear, then, with a sort of cry,
she started after him. But ere she had taken a dozen steps some inward
feeling arrested her, and she stopped. What would he think of her
following him thus? He was no longer the boy Charley, any more than she
was the child Georgia. Might he not think prying curiosity had sent her
after him? Would he be disposed to renew the acquaintance? Perhaps,
too, he had recognized her, as she had him, and gave no sign. The
strange revelation of Richmond gave her a sort of dread of him, and
after a moment's irresolution, she turned and walked back.

The whole house was one blaze of light when she reached it. On the
dining-room windows were cast many shadows. Which among them was _his_?
Did either brother dream he was so near the other? Did Richmond dream
_she_ was so near him, and yet so far off? She could not enter the
house; her heart was throbbing so loudly that she grew faint and sick,
and she staggered to a sort of summer-house, thick with clustering
hop-vines, and sank down on a rustic bench, and buried her face in her
hands.

How long she had sat there alone in her trouble, and yet so near him who
had vowed to "cherish" her through all her trials until death, she could
not tell. Foot-steps coming down the graveled walk startled her. The
odor of cigars came borne on the breeze, and then, with a start and a
shock she recognized the voice of Dick Curtis saying, with a laugh:

"I wonder if Ringlets has got through that appalling howl on that
instrument of torture, the piano, she was commencing when we beat a
retreat? It's a mercy I escaped or I should have gone stark staring mad
before the end."

"Come, now, Curtis, you're too severe," said a laughing voice, which
Georgia recognized as Mr. Randall's. "Ringlets, as you are pleased to
denominate Miss Felice, is only performing a duty every young lady
considers she owes to society nowadays, deafening her hearers by those
tremendous crashes and flourishes, and crossing her hands, and flying
from one end of the piano to the other with dizzying rapidity."

"And it's a duty they never neglect, I'll say that for them," said Mr.
Curtis. "And that's what they call fashionable music, my friend? Oh, for
the good old days, when girls weren't ashamed to sing 'Auld Robin Gray'
and the 'Bonnie Horse of Airlie.' The world's degenerating every day.
Thank the gods, we have escaped the infliction, anyhow. Here's a seat;
suppose we sit down, and, with our soul in slippers, take the world
easy. Poor Wildair! he's in for being martyrized this evening."

"So much for being a lion," said Mr. Randall. "If he will persist in
being a burning and shining light, he must expect to pay the penalty."

"Miss Maggie--little blue eyes, you know--has made a dead set at him.
Did you observe?" said Mr. Curtis.

"Yes; but I can't say she has met with much success, so far. If report
says true, she is not the only young lady who has tried that game of
late."

"Poor Rich!" said Curtis. "If they knew but all, they would find how
useless it was doing any thing of the sort. I suppose you heard of that
sad affair that happened last winter?"

Oh, what would not Georgia have given to be a thousand miles off at that
moment! She writhed where she lay; it was like tearing half-healed
wounds violently open to sit there and listen to this. But move she
could not without discovering herself to Curtis, so she was forced to
remain where she was, and hear all.

"No, I can't say as I have," said Mr. Randall, in a tone of interest.
"There are so many rumors afloat about his wife--suppose you allude to
that--but one cannot even tell for certain whether he was ever married
or not."

"Oh, he was; no mistake about it," said Curtis; "I was present--was
groomsman, in fact. Such a magnificent creature as she was. I never saw
a girl so splendid before or since! beautiful as the dream of an
opium-eater, with a pair of eyes that would have made the fortune of
half a dozen ordinary women. By George! that girl ought to have been an
empress."

"Indeed! I should think Wildair _would_ be fastidious in the choice of a
wife. How came they to separate in so short a time? Did she not love
him?"

"Yes, with her whole heart and soul; in fact, I believe, she loved
nothing in earth or heaven but him, but then that is nothing strange,
for Richmond is a glorious fellow, and no mistake! But you see, she was
as poor as Job, and proud as Lucifer, with a high spirit that would dare
and defy the Ancient Henry himself--one of that kind of people who will
die sooner than yield an inch. Well, it appears his mother did not like
the match, and persisted in snubbing her, and making little of her
before folks and behind backs, in fact, treated her shamefully, until
she drove the poor girl to the verge of madness."

"And Wildair allowed her to do this?" said Randall, indignantly.

"Well, I don't know how it was, but he was blind to all; but I think the
truth of the matter is they deceived him, and only did it when he was
absent. There was a cousin there, a little female fiend, whom I should
admire to be putting in the pillory, who tried every means in her power
to make him jealous, and succeeded; and you don't need to be told a
jealous man will stop at nothing."

"Poor girl! poor Wildair! What an infernal shame."

"Wasn't it! You see, he had invited a party to his
country-seat--Richmond Hall they called it--and I was there among the
rest. Poor Mrs. Wildair had a wretched life of it, with them all set
against her. If she had been one of your meek, spiritless little
creatures, she would have drooped, and sunk under it, and died perhaps
of a broken heart, and all that sort of thing; or if she had been a
dull, spiritless young woman, she would have snapped her fingers in
their faces, and kept on, never minding. Unfortunately, she was neither,
but a sensitive, high-spirited girl, whom every slight wounds to the
quick, and you would hardly believe me if I were to tell you the change
one short week made in her--you would hardly have known her for the same
person. What with her mother-in-law's insults, her cousin-in-law's
sneers, her husband's jealousy and angry reproaches, and the neglects
and slights of most of the company, a daily stretch on the rack would
have been a bed of roses to it."

"Shameful! atrocious!" exclaimed Randall, impetuously. "How could
Wildair have the heart to treat her so? He couldn't have cared much
about her."

"Didn't he, indeed! That's all you know about it. If ever there was a
man loved his own wife, that man was Rich Wildair; but when a man is
jealous, you know, he becomes partially insane, and allowances must be
made for him. One night, this little vixen of a cousin I mentioned
somewhere before, began taunting Mrs. Wildair about her mother, telling
her she was no better than she ought to be, and calling herself all
sorts of scandalous names--one of the servants accidentally heard
her--until she maddened the poor girl so that, in a fit of passion, she
caught her and hurled her from her, with a shriek I will never forget
to my dying day. Of course, there was the old--what's his name--to pay,
immediately; but Freddy's injuries did not prove half so severe as she
deserved, and a piece of court-plaster did her business beautifully for
her. But you never saw any one in such a rage as Wildair was about it,
knowing it would be all over town directly. Three or four of the mean
crowd he had invited went off, declaring his wife was a lunatic, and
that they were afraid to stay in the same house with her. Wasn't that
pretty treatment, after his hospitality?"

"It's the way of the world, _mon ami_."

"And a very mean way it is. Well, Wildair went to his wife and said all
sorts of cutting things to her, was as sharp as a bottle of cayenne
pepper, in fact, and wound up by telling her he was going to apply for a
divorce, which he had no more notion of doing than I have of proposing
to one of the Misses Leonard to-morrow. She believed him, though, and,
driven to despair by the whole of them, made a moonlight flitting of it,
and from that day to this Richmond Wildair has never seen or heard of
his wife."

"Poor thing! it was a hard fate. What do you suppose has become of her?"

"Heaven knows! She left a note saying she had gone and would never
disgrace him more--these were her words--and bidding him an eternal
farewell. Wildair nearly went crazy; he was mad, I firmly believe, for
awhile, and it was as much as any one's life was worth to go near him.
He searched everywhere, offered enormous rewards for the least trace of
her, did everything man could do, in a word, to find her again; but it
was of no use, no one had seen or knew anything of her."

"Could she have destroyed herself?"

"Just as likely as not; she was the sort of desperate person likely to
do it, and she had no fear of death, or eternity, or anything that way.
Well, he was frantic when he found she was lost forever, and would have
given even every cent he was worth in the world for the least tidings of
her, dead or alive, but it was all a waste of ammunition; and, maddened
and despairing, he fled from the scene of disaster, sprang on board a
steamship bound for Europe, and was off. But he couldn't stay away; he
couldn't rest anywhere, so he came back, and plunged headlong into the
giddy maelstrom of politics, and became the man of the people--the
Demosthenes; the magnificent orator whose lips, to quote the _Political
Thunderbolt_, 'have been touched with coals of living fire;' a pleasant
simile, I should think. Poor Rich! they don't know the crucible of
suffering from which this fiery, impassioned eloquence has sprung.
Ambition will be to him for the rest of his mortal life, wife, and
family, and home, for he is not the man to dream for a second of ever
marrying again."

"A sad story! And yet he can smile, and jest, and talk gayly, as I heard
him half an hour ago, when he was the very life and soul of the
company."

"He must--it is expected of him; a man of the people must please the
people; and besides, he does it to drown thought; he tries to forget for
a time the gnawing remorse that, if indulged, would drive him mad. He
lives two lives--the inward and outward--and both as essentially
different as day from night. He believes himself the murderer of his
wife; in fact, an old lady who brought her up--for the girl was an
orphan--told him so, and would not look at him or let him in her house.
His mother, touched with remorse, confessed what she had done, and thus
he learned all his wife had so silently suffered. It was enough to drive
a more sober man insane, and that's the truth. Ah! there was more than
one sad heart after her when she went. Poor little Emily Murray! the
nicest, and best, and prettiest girl from here to sundown, was nearly
broken-hearted. I offered her my own hand and fortune, though I didn't
happen to have such an article about me, and she gave me my dismissal on
the spot. Heigho! Burnfield's done for poor old Rich and me."

"What! Burnfield, did you say?" exclaimed Randall, with a start.

"Yes, Burnfield. You have no objections to it, I hope?"

"You--did you know--did you ever happen to hear of a widow and a little
girl by the name of Darrell there?" said Mr. Randall, in an agitated
voice.

"Well, I should think I did--rather!" said Curtis emphatically. "The
widow died one night, and the little girl was brought up by one Miss
Jerusha Skamp of severe memory, and it's of her I have been talking for
the last half-hour, if you mean Georgia Darrell."

"What!" exclaimed Randall, wildly, as he sprang to his feet. "Do you
mean to tell me that Georgia Darrell grew up in Burnfield, and was the
wretched wife of Richmond Wildair?"

"Indeed I do," replied Curtis, with increasing emphasis. "Why, what the
dickens is the matter with you? What does all this mean?"

"Mean! Oh, man! man! Georgia Darrell was my _sister_!"



CHAPTER XXI.

CHARLEY'S CRIME.

    "By the strong spirit's discipline,
      By the fierce wrong forgiven,
    By all that wrings the heart of sin,
      Is woman won to heaven."


With every nerve strained, every feeling wrought to the highest pitch of
excitement, Georgia had listened; but at this last moment the overstrung
tension gave way, and, for the first time in her life, she fainted.

On the wet grass where she had fallen she still lay when life and memory
came back. She raised herself on her elbow and looked wildly around,
passed her hand across her forehead, and tried to think. Gradually
recollection returned; one by one the broken chains of memory were
reunited, and all she had heard came back, flooding her soul with
ecstatic joy. Beloved still, no longer a cast-off wife, and her
long-lost brother Warren restored!

She remembered him now; she wondered she had not done so at first, for
every tone of his voice was familiar. It was the name that had deceived
her, and yet he had his mother's name, too--Warren Randall Darrell. She
rose up, to find herself stiff and cold, lying on the wet ground, and
her dress soaked with the heavy dew. The garden was deserted, the house
all dark, and with an overpowering sense of loneliness she found herself
locked out.

It would not do to disturb the family; she must wait till morning where
she was, so she resumed her seat and crouched down shivering with cold.
The new-born joy in her heart could not keep her from being chilled
through and through; and as the long hours dragged on, it seemed to her
that never was night so long as that. Benumbed with cold, sick, and
shivering, she sank into an uneasy slumber at last, with her head on the
hard, wooden bench.

It was morning when she awoke. With difficulty she arose to her feet,
and saw a servant with lazy step and lack luster eyes come out and
approach the stables. As she arose, she found herself hardly able to
walk from cold and exposure, but she managed to stagger to the door and
enter unobserved. It was well for her she met no one, as they might have
taken her for one newly risen from the dead--for never did eye rest on
such a deathly face as she wore that morning. How she reeled to her room
she did not know; how she managed to take off her saturated garments and
fling herself on her bed she could not tell; but there she was lying,
weak, prostrate, helpless, and chilled to the very heart.

As the morning passed and she did not appear, a servant was sent to see
what was the matter. Georgia tried to lift her head, but such a feeling
of deadly sickness came over her that, weak and blinded, she fell back
on her pillow. Every care was taken of her, but before night a raging
fever had set in, and with burning brow and parched lips Georgia lay
tossing and raving wildly in delirium. Alarmed now, the family physician
was sent for, who pronounced it a dangerous attack of brain fever, from
which he was extremely doubtful she could ever recover.

For days and days after that Georgia lay helpless as a child, with
liquid flame burning in every vein. Sometimes she raved and shrieked
madly of Freddy Richmond, calling herself a murderess, and trying to
spring from those who held her. Sometimes she would plead pitifully with
Richmond and implore him to forgive her, and she would never, never
offend him again; and now she would forget all the past, and fancy
herself talking to the children in the school-room, seemingly with no
memory of anything but the present.

It was a golden, sunshiny June morning when consciousness returned, and
she opened her eyes to find herself lying in her own room, with a
strange woman sitting beside her. Youth, and a naturally strong
constitution, had finally triumphed over the disease, but she lay there
weak and helpless as an infant. She had a vague, confused memory of the
past few weeks, and she turned with a helpless, bewildered look to the
nurse.

"What is it? What is the matter? Have I been ill?" she asked, feebly.

"Yes, very ill; but you are better now," said the nurse, coming over and
softly adjusting the pillow.

"How--how long have I been sick?" she said, passing her wasted hand
across her forehead as if to dispel a mist.

"Three weeks," was the reply.

"So long!" said Georgia, drearily, and still struggling to recall
something that had escaped her memory. "Who are you? I don't know you."

"I am your nurse," said the woman, smiling. "Mrs. Leonard hired me to
take care of you, and look after things generally until she came back."

"Came back! Has she gone away, then?"

"Oh, dear, yes! the whole family, children and all; they were afraid of
the fever, although the doctor said there was no danger."

"Where have they gone?" said Georgia, faintly.

"To New York. It's my opinion the young ladies were glad of any chance
of getting back to town, and it was they, particularly Miss Felice, who
insisted on leaving. Don't disturb yourself about them, my dear; you
will soon be as well as any of them."

"Tell me," said Georgia, catching the woman's wrists in her thin,
transparent hands, and looking earnestly in her face with the great
black eyes so sunken and melancholy now--"tell me if you know whether a
certain Mr. Randall who used to come here went with them? Perhaps you
have heard?"

The woman shook her head.

"No, my dear, I have not. I have heard of him, though, often; they say
he is very clever and going to be married to Miss Felice, but I don't
know myself. Don't talk so much, Miss Randall; it is not good for you."

"One thing more," said Georgia. "I--I raved when I was out of my mind;
will you tell me what it was I said?"

"That would be pretty hard to do," said the nurse, smiling; but then,
seeing the look of desperate earnestness on her patient's face, she
added: "Why, you know, my dear, you talked a great deal of
nonsense--fever patients always do--about some one you called Richmond,
and Freddy Richmond--some gentlemen, I expect," said the woman, with a
meaning glance; "and you called yourself a murderess, and then you kept
begging some one not to be angry with you, and you would never do so any
more; and sometimes you would talk to the children, and fancy yourself
in the school-room with them. In short, you know, you said all sorts of
queer things; but that was to be expected."

From that day Georgia rapidly recovered, and in less than a fortnight
was able to get up and sit for a few hours each day in an easy chair by
the window, inhaling the fragrant summer air. Her first request was to
call for the latest papers; but for some time the doctor said she was
not equal to the exertion of reading them, and, in spite of her
passionate eagerness, she had to wait.

To ask about Richmond she did not dare; but how eagerly she scanned the
first paper she got, in search of his name! And there she learned that
he had gone South on a summer ramble, wandering about from place to
place with the strange restlessness that characterized him.

It was a blow to her at first, but when she came to think it over, she
was almost glad of it. Somehow, she scarcely could tell why she did not
wish to meet him yet; if ever she returned to him, it must be in a way
different from what she had left. She wanted to find her brother first;
she had a vehement desire to win wealth and fame, and return to Richmond
Wildair as his equal in every way. During the long weary hours of her
convalescence she had made up her mind to go to the city.

The monotonous life of the last six months here grew unendurable to her
now; she would not have taken uncounted wealth and consented to spend
six more like them. Life at least was not stagnant in the uproar and
turmoil of the city, and solitude is not always a panacea for all sorts
of people in trouble.

She had money--her half-year's salary had been untouched, and it was no
inconsiderable sum, for Mr. Leonard had been as generous as he was rich.
She had a vague idea of winning fame as an artist. She felt an inward
conviction that her "Hagar in the Wilderness" would create a sensation
if seen. She took it out from its canvas screen, and gazed long and
earnestly upon it.

It was a wild, weird, unearthly thing, but strangely beautiful withal,
and possessing a sort of fascination that would have chained you before
it for hours. Never did eye look on a more gloriously beautiful face
than that of the pictured Egyptian in its dark splendor and unutterable
anguish. The posture, as she half-lay, half-writhed in her inward
torture, spoke of the darkest depth of anguish and despair; the long,
wild, purplish black tresses streamed unbound in the breeze, and the
face that startled you from the canvas was white with woman's utmost
woe. And the eyes that caught and transfixed yours, sending a thrill of
awe and terror to most stoical heart--those unfathomable eyes of
midnight blackness, where despairing love, fiercest anguish, and maddest
desperation seem struggling for mastery. Oh! never could any, but one in
the utmost depths of despair herself, have painted eyes like these.
Lucifer hurled from heaven might have cast back one last look like that,
so full of conflicting passion, but the superhuman agony shining and
surmounting them all--eyes that would have haunted you like a frightful
nightmare, long after you had first beheld them, eyes that would have
made you shudder, and yet held you spell-bound, breathless, riveted to
the spot.

All unknown to herself she had painted her own portrait; those flowing,
lustrous tresses, that dark, oriental face, those appalling eyes, that
posture of utter woe and unspeakable desolation, all were hers. The face
was almost the fac-simile of the one that had once so startled Richmond
Wildair that morning on the sea-shore, only the passionate, tortured
form was wanting.

At a little distance lay the boy Ishmael, with all his mother's dark
beauty in his face, but so serenely calm and childishly peaceful that
the contrast was all the more startling.

It was a wonderful picture, and no wonder that Georgia's eyes fired up,
and her color came and went and her countenance glowed with power, and
triumph and inspiration as she gazed.

"It must succeed--it will succeed--it _shall_ succeed," she vehemently
exclaimed. "There has been a prize offered by the Academy of Art for the
best painting from a native artist, and mine shall go with the rest. And
if it succeeds--"

She caught her breath, and her whole face for an instant grew radiant
with the picture she conjured up of the glory and fame that would be
hers.

"Mr. Leonard shall take it for me; he has always been my friend, and the
artist's name shall be unknown until the decision is announced. Yes, it
shall be so; the paper says that all pictures for the prize must be
delivered in three days from this, as the decision shall be given and
the prize awarded in a fortnight. Yes, I will go at once."

And with her characteristic impulsive rapidity, Georgia made her
preparations, and that very afternoon bade farewell to the house where
the last six wretched months had been spent, and took the cars for New
York.

Arrived there, her first destination was the widow's, where she had
stopped before, and early next morning she set out for the hotel where
the Leonards were stopping.

Mr. Leonard and his family were still there, and seemed quite overjoyed
to see her. It was fortunate, Mrs. Leonard said, she had come when she
did, for early in the next month she, and Mr. Leonard, and the girls
were off for Cape May for a little tossing about in the surf, and would
not return until quite late in the season, as, having been cooped up so
long, they were determined to make the most of their holiday now. The
children were to go back, and she, Miss Randall, was expected to go back
with them, and oversee the household generally in their absence.

Great was the worthy lady's surprise when Georgia quietly and firmly
declined. At first she was disposed to stand upon her dignity and be
offended, but when Mr. Leonard declared emphatically Miss Randall was
right, that she was by no means strong enough to resume the labor of
teaching, that she needed rest and relaxation and amusement, and that
the city, among her friends, was for the present decidedly the best
place for her, she cooled down, and consented to listen to reason.

"And now, how are all your friends, Miss Leonard?" said Georgia, with a
smile, yet with a sudden throbbing at her heart at the hope of hearing
something of her brother.

"All well enough when we saw them last," said Miss Felice, in a dreary
tone; "everybody's going away out of the city, but papa will insist on
staying after every one else."

"Whom do you call everybody else, my dear?" said Mr. Leonard, looking
over his paper good-humoredly. "If I don't mistake, you may see some
thousands of people in New York every day still."

"Oh, yes, the nobodies stay, of course. I don't mean them," said Miss
Felice, pettishly. "I hate people. Anybody that pretends to be anybody
is going away."

"You're a nice republican--you are!" said Master Royal, who in one
corner of the room was making frantic efforts to stand on his head, as
he had seen them do in the circus the night before.

"Has your friend Mr. Randall gone, too?" said Georgia, still trying to
smile, though there was a slight agitation in her voice in spite of all.

"Yes, of course he has. I wonder you didn't hear of it," said Miss
Felice, looking dissatisfied.

"Hear of it! how could she?" broke in Maggie. "You see, Miss Randall,
the queerest thing occurred while you were sick--just like a thing in a
play, where everybody turns out to be somebody else. Mr. Randall had a
sister once upon a time, and lost her somehow, and she grew up and
married Mr. Richmond Wildair, and he lost her somehow, the lady
evidently having a fancy for getting lost, and it was all found out
through Dick Curtis. So Mr. Randall and Mr. Wildair had a great time
about it, and now they have both gone to look for her again--one North
and the other South, so if they don't find her it will be a wonder. Is
it not romantic? I would give the world to see her--the wife and sister
of two such famous men. Oh, Miss Randall! Mr. Curtis says she was quite
splendid--so beautiful, you know, and,"--here Maggie lowered her voice
to a mysterious whisper--"he thinks she has gone and killed herself."

"Oh, ma, look how pale Miss Randall is; she's going to faint if you
don't look sharp," cried out Master Royal.

"No, it is nothing; pray do not mind," said Georgia faintly, motioning
them away. "I am not very strong yet; allow me to wish you good-morning.
Mr. Leonard, can I see you in private for a few minutes?"

"Certainly, certainly," responded Mr. Leonard, while the rest looked up,
rather surprised, as they left the room.

In as few words as possible Georgia made known her request, and obtained
from him a promise of secrecy. Mr. Leonard was not in the least
surprised; he was perfectly confident about her taking the prize, and,
having obtained her address, told her he would call for it on the
morrow.

But when the old gentleman saw it he fairly started back, and gazed on
it in a sort of terror and consternation that amused Georgia, breaking
out at intervals with ejaculations of extreme astonishment.

"Eh? what? Lord bless my soul! Why, it's quite frightful--upon my life
it is! Good gracious! what a pair of eyes that young woman has got!
'Hagar in the Wilderness.' Je-ru-sa-lem! I wouldn't be Abraham for a
trifle, with such a desperate-looking wild-cat as that about the house.
She's the born image of yourself, too; one would think you and Hagar
were twin sisters. Well, Lord bless me! if it isn't enough to give a man
fits to look at it! It's well I'm not nervous, or I'd never get over the
shock of looking at it. Upon my honor, Miss Randall, I don't know what
to make of you. You're the eighth wonder of the world--that's what you
are!"

The painting was accordingly sent in, and three days after, the whole
Leonard family departed--the children for home, and the elders of the
house for Cape May--and now Georgia was left to solitude and suspense
once more, until, as day after day was passed, and _the_ day approached,
she began her old fashion of working herself up into one of her fevers
of impatience and excitement. Her usual antidote of a long, rapid walk
was followed in the city as well as in the country, and often did people
pause and look in wonder after the tall, dark-robed figure that flitted
so rapidly by them, whose vailed face no one ever saw.

One night, as darkness was falling over the city, Georgia found herself
suddenly among a crowd of people who were passing rapidly into a church.
Borne along by the throng, she was carried in, too, and half-bewildered
by the crowd, and by the crash of a grand organ, and the glitter of many
lights, she found herself in a pew, among thousands of others, before
she quite realized where she was. She looked, and, with a half-startled
air, saw she was in one of the largest churches of the city, and that it
was already filled to suffocation.

She heard some persons in a seat before her whisper that an eloquent
young divine (she could not catch the name) was going to address them.
While they yet spoke, a tall, slight figure, robed in black, came out of
the vestry, passed up the stairs, and ascended the pulpit. A silence so
profound that you could have heard a pin drop in that vast multitude
reigned, broken at last by a clear, thrilling voice that rang out in
deep tones with the awful words from Holy Writ:

"You shall seek Me and you shall not find Me, and you shall die in your
sins."

A death-like pause ensued, and every heart seemed to stand still to
catch the next words. But why does Georgia start as if she had received
a spear thrust? Why do her lips spring white and quivering apart? Why
are her eyes fixed so wildly, so strangely on the preacher? In that
moment the mystery was solved, the secret revealed--the brother of her
husband stands before her. The gay, the careless, the elegant, the
thoughtless Charley Wildair is a clergyman. For awhile she sat stunned
by the shock, conscious that he was speaking, yet hearing not a word.
Then her clouded faculties cleared, and her ears were greeted by such
bursts of resistless eloquence as she had never dreamed of before. In
that moment rose before her, with terrific vividness, the despairing
death-bed of the sinner and the awful doom that must follow. Shuddering
and terrified, she sank back, shading her face with her hands, appalled
by the awful fate that might have been hers. What--what was all earthly
trouble compared with that dread eternity of misery she had
deserved--that awful doom that might yet be hers? Still it arose before
her in all its frightful horrors, exhibited by the clarion voice of the
speaker, until, wrought up to the pitch of frenzy, her trembling lips
strove to form the word "Mercy." And still, as if in answer, rang out
that thrilling voice with that terrific sentence of eternal doom:

"You shall seek Me and you shall not find Me, and you shall die in your
sins."

The sermon was over, the people were crowding out, and she found herself
half senseless kneeling in the pew, with her face hidden in her hands.
An uncontrollable desire to see, to speak to him she had just heard
seized her, and she sprang up, and grasping some one who stood near her,
said, incoherently:

"Where is he? I must see him! Where is he gone?"

"Who?" said the startled personage she addressed.

"He who has just preached."

"In there," said the man, pointing to the vestry. "Go in that way and
you will see him."

Forcing her way through the throng, Georgia hurried on, passed into the
sanctuary, and from thence to the vestry.

There she paused--restored to herself. Nearly a dozen clergymen were
there, standing in groups, conversing with several ladies and gentlemen,
who had come too late to get into the church, and had been forced to
remain there to listen. All eyes were turned on the new-comer, whose
pale, wild beauty made her an object of deep interest, as she stood
startled and hesitating in the door-way. A little boy, standing near,
looked up and said, curiously:

"Did you want anybody, ma'am?"

"Yes--Mr. Wildair. Is he here?" said Georgia, hurriedly.

"Yes'm, there he is," said the boy, pointing to where stood the man she
was in search of, standing by himself, his forehead leaning on his hand,
and a look of utter fatigue and weariness on his face.

All Georgia's eagerness returned at the sight. Passing rapidly through
the wondering spectators she approached him, and, with an irrepressible
cry of "Charley!" she stood before him.

Looking very much surprised, as well he might, the young clergyman
lifted up his head and fixed his eyes full on her face; but there was no
recognition in that look, nothing but the utmost wonder.

"Oh, Charley! don't you know me?--don't you know Georgia?" she cried
out, passionately.

Instantly he started up.

"What! Georgia Darrell--little Georgia, my brother's wife!" he cried,
eagerly.

Her eyes answered him.

"Is it possible? Why, Georgia, how little I expected to meet _you_
here!" he said, holding out his hand, with a smile of mingled remorse
and pleasure. "How came you here?"

"I do not know. Chance--Providence--something sent me here to-night."

"I would never have known you, it is so long since we met."

"Not so long as you think," she said, with one of her old rare smiles.

"No! How is that?"

"Do you remember the person you met on a country road, one night about a
month ago, and asked the way to Widow O'Neil's?"

"Yes."

"I was that person."

"Indeed! And did you know me?"

"Certainly I did."

"Well, I never for an instant dreamed it was you; but no wonder--I never
saw any one so changed," he said, looking in the pale wasted face, and
contrasting it with the blooming happy one he had last seen.

"Trouble seldom changes people for the better, I believe," she said,
with a sigh.

"Ah, I heard what you allude to; Curtis told me. I am very, very sorry
indeed, Georgia; but do you know they imagine you dead?"

"Yes, I know it," she said, averting her face.

"And that Richmond has searched for tidings of you everywhere?"

"Yes."

"Well, Georgia," he said, anxiously, "what do you intend to do? You
should return to your husband."

"I intend to," she said, looking up with a sudden bright smile, "but
not just yet. And you--how little I ever expected to see you a
clergyman--you, who, if your reverence will excuse my saying it, used to
be such a rattlepate."

He laughed, the happy, careless laugh that reminded her of the Charley
of other days, and shook back, with the old familiar motion, his thick,
clustering, chestnut hair.

"Time works wonders, Georgia. Thank God for what it has done for me," he
said, reverentially. "Did you know I was a clergyman?"

"Not until to-night. They never would tell me what became of you. They
said you disgraced the family, committed some awful crime, but what it
was I never could learn. Surely they did not mean that by becoming a
clergyman you had disgraced your family?"

"They meant that, and nothing else," he said, emphatically.

"Ah, how much you gave up for the dictates of conscience--friends and
family, wealth and worldly honors, and all that makes life dear; and yet
you look happy," said Georgia, in a sort of wonder.

He laid his hand on hers and pointed up, while he said, in a low voice:

"'Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left home, or parents,
or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who
shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to
come life everlasting.'"

She lifted her eyes in a sort of awe at the inspired tones. And his face
was as the face of an angel.

A silence fell on them both, broken first by him.

"You must come to see me again, Georgia. I have a good deal to say to
you that I have no time to say now. Here is my address while I remain in
the city, which will not be long. You have suffered wrong, Georgia, but
'forgive that you be likewise forgiven.' I must go now. Good-night, and
Heaven bless you!"

In her unworthiness she felt as if she could have sunk at his feet and
kissed the hem of his garment. She bowed her once haughty head to
receive his parting benediction, and hurried out.

Sitting in her room that night, she sank down to pray for the first time
in years--almost for the first time in her life. Fervently, earnestly
was that prayer offered; and a calmness, a peace hitherto unknown, stole
into her heart. In the sighing of the wind she seemed to hear an angel
voice softly saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest;" and dropping her forehead in her
clasped hands, she sank down in the calm light of high, bright, solemn
stars, and meekly murmured:

"Hear me, oh, Lord!"



CHAPTER XXII.

THE SUN RISES.

    "Radiant daughter of the sun,
    Now thy living wreath is won,
    Crowned with fame! Oh! art thou not
    Happy in that glorious lot?
    Happier, happier far than thou,
    With the laurel on thy brow,
    She that makes the humblest
    Lovely but to one on earth."

                   MRS. HEMANS.


The wise counsel and impressive instructions of her old acquaintance,
the now calm, dignified, and subdued Rev. Mr. Wildair, soon brought
forth good fruit. Georgia began to find the "peace which passeth all
understanding." Now she looked forward with calm, patient expectation to
her meeting with her husband, with the sweet promise ever in her mind,
"seek first the kingdom of God, and all else shall be added unto you."
With a sad heart Georgia noticed her old companion's thin, wasted face
and form, the striking brilliancy of his eyes, the hectic flush of his
pale cheek, and the short, hacking cough that impeded his speech, and
felt that the inspired young missionary's days were numbered.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day came at last when the decision regarding Georgia's picture was
to be announced.

She tried to be calm and patient, but notwithstanding all her efforts in
this direction, when Mr. Leonard started off to hear the decision that
was to condemn or accept her picture, she was in a perfect fever of
anxiety. She could not sit still, she could not taste breakfast; she
walked up and down her room in irrepressible impatience, with two hot
spots, all unusual there, burning on either cheek, and a wild, feverish
light streaming from her eyes.

Noon came--twelve o'clock--Georgia looked at her watch unceasingly. He
had promised to return between twelve and one, but one passed and he
came not; two, and he was absent still; three, and in her burning
impatience she was about to throw on her hat and shawl and hasten out in
search of news, when the door was flung open, and Mr. Leonard, flushed,
and panting, and perspiring, rushed in.

"Hurrah! you've done it! you've done it! you've got the prize, Miss
Randall! Hagar's electrifying the whole of 'em and got herself to the
top of the tree. If Abraham was around he'd feel pretty cheap just now,
to see the fuss they're making about her. I knew you would get it, Miss
Randall! Let me congratulate you! Hurrah!"

And Mr. Leonard, in his delight, waved his hat and gave a cheer that
sent the widow shrieking into the room to see what was the matter. And
there she found Mr. Leonard grasping Georgia by both hands, and shaking
them with a zeal and vehemence quite startling, while Georgia herself,
forgetting everything, even her success, in her sense of the ludicrous,
was laughing until her cheeks were crimson.

Georgia smiled, but her cheek was flushed and her eye flashing with
triumph. Never had she looked so beautiful before, and the old gentleman
gazed at her with profound admiration as she stood like a triumphant
young queen before him.

"You are right, Mr. Leonard, wonders never _will_ cease. Some day, very
shortly, I intend to give you a still greater surprise."

"Eh--how--what is it?" said the old man, puzzled by her radiant face.

"Never mind, sir. You shall know in good time. To-morrow I will go with
you to 'receive my reward of merit.' I have never got one since I left
school, but I don't know but that I rather like the idea after all."

As she spoke the door was opened, and the widow re-entered.

"Well?" said Georgia, inquiringly.

"There are two gentlemen in the next room who want to see you, if you
please," she said.

"To see me!" said Georgia, in surprise.

"Yes'm; they asked for Miss Randall."

Georgia's heart throbbed, and her color came and went. A sudden
faintness seized her, and she sank into a chair.

"Why, bless my heart! what's the matter?" said Mr. Leonard, in surprise;
"it can't be the artists, you know, because they don't know your name or
address. What _does_ ail you, Miss Randall?"

"Show them in here. I will see them," said Georgia, faintly, raising her
head and laying her hand on her heart to still its tumultuous
throbbings.

Georgia's hour had come.

The door opened, and Georgia rose to her feet, deadly pale, with many
emotions, as Dick Curtis and Mr. Randall entered.

"I was right--it _is_ she!" cried Mr. Curtis, joyfully, as he sprang
forward and caught both her hands in his. "Huzza! Oh, Mrs. Wildair, Mrs.
Wildair! to think I should ever see you again!" said Dick, fairly ready
to cry.

"_Mrs. Wildair!_ Why, what the----"

Mr. Leonard, in his astonishment, made use of an improper word, reader,
so you will excuse me for not repeating it.

"My dear Mr. Curtis, I am truly glad to see you again," said Georgia, in
a faltering voice--"more rejoiced than I have words to say."

"And this gentleman! I'll bet you a dollar, now, you'll say you don't
know him," said Mr. Curtis, rubbing his hands gleefully.

"Not so, sir," said Georgia, taking a step forward and looking up in the
pale agitated face of Mr. Randall, every feature of which was familiar
to her now. "My dear, my long-lost brother! My dearest Warren!" And with
a great cry she sprang forward and was locked in her brother's arms.

"Georgia! Georgia! my sister!" was all he could say, as he strained her
to his breast, and tears, which did honor to his manly heart, dropped on
her bowed head.

"Huzza! hip, hip, hurrah! it's all right now!" shouted Mr. Curtis, as he
flourished round the room in a frantic extempore waltz of most intense
delight, and then, in the exuberance of his joy, he seized hold of the
astounded Mr. Leonard and fairly hugged him, in his ecstacy:

"Help! help! murder! fire!" yelled Mr. Leonard, struggling frantically
in what he supposed to be the grasp of a maniac.

"There! take it easy, old gentleman!" said Mr. Curtis, releasing him,
and cutting a pigeon's wing. "Tol-de-rol-de-riddle-lol! Don't raise such
an awful row! Ain't there a picture to look at, my hearty? Hurrah! Oh,
how happy I feel! And to think that I should have been the means of
bringing them together--I, Dick Curtis, that never did anything right
before in my life! Good gracious! Tol-de-rol---- Hello? Where are you
going so fast, old gent?"

Mr. Leonard, the moment he found himself free, had seized his hat, and
was about to decamp, in the full feeling that a lunatic asylum had
broken loose somewhere, when Georgia, looking up, espied him, and said:

"Mr. Leonard, don't go. My best friend must stay and share in my joy
this happy day. Can you guess who this is?" she said, laying her hand
fondly on her brother's shoulder, and looking up in his face, with a
smile shining through her tears.

"Guess!" said Mr. Leonard, testily--"I don't need to _guess_, young
lady. I know well enough it's young Randall, and I must say, although he
_is_ a namesake of yours, it doesn't look well to see you flying into
his arms and hugging him in that manner the moment he comes into the
house. No more does it look well for Dick Curtis to take hold of me like
a bear, and dislocate every rib I have in the world, as he has done."

"No, I haven't, Mr. Leonard," interrupted Dick; "there's Mrs. Leonard,
your chief rib--I haven't dislocated her, have I?"

Mr. Leonard's look of deepest disgust was so irresistible that Dick
broke off and burst into a fit of immoderate laughter, snapping his
fingers, and throwing his body into all sorts of contortions of delight,
and his example proving contagious, both Mr. Randall and Georgia
followed it, and all three laughed without being able to stop for nearly
five minutes, during which Mr. Leonard stood, hat in hand, looking from
one to the other, with a look of solemn dismay unspeakably ridiculous.

"Do not be shocked, Mr. Leonard," said Georgia, as soon as she could
speak for laughter, "though really you are not so without cause. Did I
not tell you I would surprise you oftener than you thought? Mr. Randall
is my own, my only, long-lost brother."

"Her brother! Oh, ginger!" muttered Mr. Leonard, completely bewildered.
"I might have known two such geniuses must be related to one another."

"For all you have kindly done for my sister, Mr. Leonard, accept my
thanks," said Mr. Randall, as he came forward, with a smile, and shook
him heartily by the hand.

"Well, what a go this is, anyway!" said Mr. Curtis, meditatively. "Only
to think of it! And all through me--or, rather, through little Emily's
picture! Why, it's wonderful! downright wonderful!--ain't it, Mrs.
Wildair?"

"Mrs. Wildair!" exclaimed Mr. Leonard, looking from Dick to Georgia with
wide-open eyes. Then, as a sudden light broke in upon him. "Why, Heaven
bless my soul!" he ejaculated. "Sure enough, they told me Randall's
sister was Wildair's wife--the one that ran away. Great Jehosaphat! to
think she should turn up again in such a remarkably funny way, and
should prove to be our Miss Randall! I've a good mind to swear!--upon my
life, I have!"

"And all through me, too, Mr. Leonard," said Mr. Curtis, exultingly; "if
it hadn't been for me they might have gone poking round the world till
doomsday and not found one another. If I don't deserve a service of tin
plate, I shall feel obliged to you to let me know who does."

"Land of life and blessed promise!" exclaimed Mr. Leonard, who had
originally come from "away down East," and when excited always broke out
into the expletives of his boyhood, "how do you like it? Do tell,
Curtis."

"Well, you see," began Mr. Curtis, with the air of one entering into an
obtuse narrative, "Randall--_his_ name's Darrell, but that's neither
here nor there; 'what's in a name,' as that nice man, Mr. Shakespeare,
says, or, rather, as he makes Miss Juliet Capulet say when speaking of
young Mr. R. Montague, her beau. Randall, as I was saying, got hold of a
picture of little Emily--I mean Miss Murray, a friend of mine--drawn by
Mrs. Wildair there, while residing in your house and doing the governess
dodge under the name of Randall too, which turns out to be a family name
after all, and one day he accidentally showed it to me, and if I didn't
jump six feet when I saw it, then call me a flat, that's all. Of course,
I asked him no end of questions and found out where he got it, and then
it was all as clear to me as a hole in a ladder, and I knew in a
twinkling who 'Miss Randall' was. So we tore along here like a couple of
forty-horse-power comets, and, after a whole day of most awful bother,
we found out where she was. And here we came, and here we found her, and
so, no more at present from yours respectfully, Dick Curtis." And Mr.
Curtis made a feint of holding out an imaginary dress, like an old lady
in a minuet, and courtesied profoundly to the company around.

"My dear Miss Ran--I mean my dear Mrs. Wildair, allow me to congratulate
you," said Mr. Leonard, his face all in a glow of delight as he shook
her warmly by the hand, "upon my life, I never was so glad in all my
days. Good gracious! to think you should turn out to be such a great
lady after serving as governess in our---- Well, well, well! And that
you should find your brother the same day you took the prize for the
best picture in the Academy of Art. G-o-o-d gracious!" said Mr. Leonard,
with a perfect shake on the word.

"What! Georgia taken the prize? It can't be possible that _you_ are the
successful candidate whose wonderful picture everybody is talking
about?" exclaimed her brother, whose turn it was to be astonished.

"Mr. Leonard says so," said she, smiling.

"Oh, Jupiter!" ejaculated Mr. Curtis, thrusting his hands into his
pockets and uttering a long, low whistle, indicative of an unlimited
amount of amazement, "and you really and truly painted 'Hagar in the
Wilderness?'"

"Yes, I really and truly did," smiled Georgia.

"Well," said Mr. Curtis, in a tone of resignation, "all I have to say is
that nothing will surprise me after this. And that reminds me, I've
quite forgotten an engagement down town, and must be off. Randall, don't
you come. I know you have lots of things to say to your sister. Mr.
Leonard, you have an engagement, too--don't say no--I'm sure you
have--come along. By-by, Randall, old-fellow; good-day, Mrs. Wildair.
I'll drop in again in the course of the evening. Now, Mr. Leonard, off
we go!" and Mr. Curtis put his arm through Mr. Leonard's and fairly
dragged him away.

"And so, instead of a poor unknown governess, I have found in my sister
one with whose fame the whole city is already ringing," said Mr.
Randall, when they were alone, as he looked proudly and fondly in her
beautiful face. "Dear Georgia, how famous you are."



CHAPTER XXIII.

OVER THE WORLD.

                  "They stood apart.
    Like rocks which have been rent asunder,
      A dreary sea now flows between,
    But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder
      Shall wholly do away, I ween,
    The works of that which once hath been."

                                 COLERIDGE.


"Oh, Warren, what is fame compared to what I have found to-day?" she
said, sweetly. "What is fame, and wealth, and all worldly honors,
compared to a brother's love? But one thing more is needed now to make
me perfectly happy."

"I know what you mean, Georgia--your husband. Is it possible you care
for _him_ still, after all he has made you suffer?"

She looked up in his face, and he was answered.

"Then, for your sake, I am sorry he has gone," he said slowly.

"Gone?" she repeated, with a paling cheek. "Gone where?"

"To France, on some important mission from government that no one can
fulfill so well as himself, and--I have not the faintest idea of when he
will return."

"Now that I have told you all that has befallen me," said Georgia, some
half an hour later that same afternoon, as brother and sister sat side
by side at the window, "I want to hear your adventures and
'hair-breadth 'scapes by flood and field' since that sad night long ago,
when we parted last."

"I fear you are doomed to be disappointed, then, if you expect any such
things from me," said her brother, smiling. "My life has been one of
most inglorious safety so far, and I never had a hair-breadth escape of
any kind, since I was born."

"How strange it is that I could ever believe you dead," said Georgia,
musingly. "Miss Jerusha, too, to use her own words, constantly averred
that you had 'got taken in somewheres,' and never would hear for a
moment that you had perished in the storm."

"Well, Miss Jerusha was right," said Warren, "though really I need not
thank her for it, as I am quite certain, from your description, she is
the old lady that turned me out that same night. However, I forgive her
for that, and owe her a long debt of gratitude besides, for all she has
done for you. You remember, of course, Georgia, the company we used to
act with?"

"Yes, perfectly. Don't I remember my own performances on the tight-rope
and on horseback as the 'Flying Circassian?" she said, smiling.

"Well, when the old lady turned me off that night, I never felt more
like despairing in all my life. I was wretchedly clad--if you don't
remember it, _I_ do--and it was bitterly cold. Still, I would not go
back without help of some kind, so I staggered on and on through the
blinding storm, until at last, benumbed and helpless, I sank down on the
frozen ground, as I thought, never to rise again."

"Poor little fellow!" said Georgia, sadly, in whose mind the image of
the slight, delicate boy he was then rose uppermost.

Warren laughed at the epithet applied to one who stood six feet without
his boots, and went on:

"I suppose I had fallen into that sort of stupor which precedes freezing
to death, and was unconscious; but when next I awoke to the realities of
this exceedingly real world, I was in bed in a meanly furnished room,
and the first face I beheld was that of Betsey Stubbs, Georgia--the one
who used to figure on the bills as Eugenia De Lacy?"

"And always played the artless little girl, although she was thirty
years old," said Georgia, laughing. "Oh, I remember her."

"Well, there she was, and there I was with her, and with the company
again. It turned out that two of the men were passing along the road,
returning to the village--what do you call it?--Burnfield, and stumbled
over me, lying stiff and nearly frozen on the road. They knew me
immediately, and carried me off to where the rest of them were; and it
was resolved that they should decamp with me, for that old tyrant of a
manager thought it too much of a good thing to lose three at once. So,
in spite of my tears, and cries, and struggles and entreaties, I was
forcibly carried off a little after midnight, when the storm cleared
away, and brought back to the city.

"Well, Georgia, for nearly another year I remained at our old business,
and with the old set, too closely watched to think of escaping, and to
escape from them was now the sole aim of my life. The opportunity so
long sought for came at last. One night a chance presented itself, and I
was off; and fickle fortune, as if tired of making me a mark to poke fun
at, came to my aid, and I made good my escape from my jealous
guardians. For hours I wandered about through the city, until at last,
worn out and exhausted, I curled myself up on the marble door-steps of
an aristocratic mansion, and fell fast asleep.

"A hand grasping my shoulder and shaking me roughly awoke me after a
time, and as I started up, I heard a gruff voice saying:

"'Hallo! you little vagrant, what are you doing here?'

"I rubbed my eyes and looked up. An old gentleman, who had just alighted
from a carriage, stood over me, with no very amiable expression of
countenance, shaking me as if he would shake a reply out of me by main
force.

"I stammered out something--I don't know what--and terrified lest he
should give me into the hands of a policeman, I tried to break away from
him and fly; but the old gentleman held on like grim death, and seemed
not to have the slightest intention of parting with me so easily.

"'You're a pickpocket, ain't you?' said he, sharply.

"'No, sir,' said I, half-angrily, and looking him full in the face, 'I
am _not_.'

"'Then what brought you here,' persisted he, 'if you are not a juvenile
thief?'

"'I was tired, sir,' said I, 'and I sat down here to rest, and so fell
asleep.'

"The old gentleman kept his sharp eyes fixed on me as if he would read
me through, with a strange look of half-recognition on his face.

"'Please to let me go, sir,' said I, again struggling to get free.

"'What's your name, boy?' said the old man, without heeding me in the
slightest degree.

"'Warren Randall Darrell,' replied I.

"As if he had been struck, the old man loosened his hold and recoiled;
and I, seizing the opportunity, darted off, but only to find myself in
the grasp of a servant who stood holding the horses.

"'Not so fast, my little shaver,' said he, grinning; 'just you wait till
Mr. Randall's done with you.'

"'Mr. Randall!' repeated I, and instantly a sort of conviction flashed
across my mind that he might be my grandfather.

"At the same instant the old man approached me, and catching me by the
arm, gazed long and steadily into my face, plainly revealed by the light
of a street-lamp. I looked up in his agitated face quite as
unflinchingly, and so we stood for nearly five minutes, to the great
bewilderment of the coachman, who stared first at one and then the
other, as if he thought we had both lost our senses.

"'Tell me,' said the old man, after a pause, 'what was your mother's
maiden name?'

"'Alice Randall,' said I, my suspicion becoming certainty; 'and you are
my grandfather.'

"'What!' he exclaimed, with a start. 'Do you know me? Who told you I
was?'

"'No one,' said I; 'but I think so. My grandfather's name is Warren
Randall, and that is the name on your door-plate there. I was called
after him.'

"'You are right,' said he, in an agitated voice. 'I am your grandfather.
My poor Alice! You have her eyes, boy--the same eyes that once made the
light of my home. Where--tell me where is she now?'

"'I don't know,' said I, half-sobbing. 'She's dead, I'm afraid--she and
Georgia.'

"'Who is Georgia?'

"'My sister.'

"'And your father?' he said, with a darkening brow.

"'Is dead, too; has been dead this long, long time.'

"'And so you are an orphan, and poor and friendless,' he said, speaking
as much to himself as to me. 'Poor boy! poor little fellow! Warren, will
you come and live with me--with your grandfather?'

"I thought for a moment, and then shook my head.

"'No,' said I, 'I can't. I must find my mother and Georgia.'

"'Where are they?' he said, eagerly. 'I thought you told me they were
dead.'

"'I said I didn't know, and I don't. They may be dead, for it is over a
year since I saw them last. I was carried away from them by force, and
now I am going to seek for them.'

"'You!' said he. 'How can a little friendless boy like you find them?
No, no, Warren, stay with me, and let me search for your mother. I may
succeed, but you will starve ere you find them, or be put in prison.
Warren you _will_ stay?'"

"And you did?" said Georgia.

"And I did. I answered that what he said was true, and that he was far
more likely to succeed than I was. That night I slept in a princely
home, with servants to come at my call--with every luxury to charm every
sense around me. Was not that a sudden change, Georgia, from the
miserable quarters of the players?"

"Yes, indeed," said Georgia. "And what change did it make in you? Did
affluence spoil you?"

"It might have, if I had stayed long enough there," said Warren,
smiling, "for I, with all my perfections--and if you want a list of
them just ask Miss Felice Leonard--am not infallible. I gave him my
history, and he dispatched a trusty messenger to Burnfield, and upon his
return he told me that both my mother and sister were dead. I believed
him then, but I have since thought that, finding you provided for, he
wished to keep me all to himself, and make me his sole heir.

"I had so long thought, Georgia, that you and my mother were dead that
the revelations did not take me by surprise, and though I grieved for
awhile, the novelty of everything around me kept my mind from dwelling
much on my bereavement. My grandfather told me he intended to send me to
school, and, when he died, make me his sole heir, on condition that I
would drop the detested name of Darrell and take his. Not being very
particular about the matter, I readily consented, and two months
afterward I was sent to old Yale, where he himself had been educated,
there to be trained in the way I should go.

"Well, Georgia, I remained there four years, and won golden opinions
from the big wigs of the institution, and delighted the heart of my kind
old grandfather by my progress in the arts and sciences. A letter
announcing his sudden death recalled me at last. I hurried back to New
York in time to follow him to the grave, and, when the will was read, I
found myself sole heir to his almost princely wealth.

"Then I went to Europe and Asia, and saw all the sights, from the
pyramids of Egypt down, and wrote a book about my travels, as every one
does now who goes three yards from his own vine and fig-tree. Then I
came home, and lo! before I have been here three months, I find that my
sister, who was dead, comes to life again, and so--_finis_!"

"You should add, 'And they lived happy for ever after,'" said Georgia,
smiling, "only, perhaps, it would not be strictly correct. And now that
you have found your sister, what do you mean to do with her?"

"Make her mistress of the palatial mansion of the Randalls," said
Warren, promptly, "and settle one-half my fortune on her. _That_, Madam
Wildair, is my unchangeable intention."

"Oh, Warren, dearest. I will never hear of such a thing!" said Georgia,
vehemently.

"Well, if you will excuse me for saying so, I don't care in the least
whether you will or not--I shall do it. Not a word now, Mistress
Georgia; you will find that you will have to obey your brother, since
you have found him, and do for the future exactly as he tells you.
Besides, Georgia, Warren Randall's sister shall never go back penniless
to her husband," he said, proudly; "he shall find her his equal in
wealth, as in everything else."

"Oh, Warren!" she said, with filling eyes.

"Not a word about it now," he said, putting his fingers over her lips;
"to-morrow the world shall know you as you really are."

"Warren, listen to me," she said, taking his hand. "Until I meet
Richmond again, I intend to keep my _incognito_. Perhaps you may call it
an odd fancy, but I really wish it. No one yet knows my secret but Mr.
Curtis, Mr. Leonard, and Richmond's brother, and if I wish it they will
keep it a secret. Let me still be Miss Randall until he comes."

"But when will he come?" broke in Warren, half impatiently; "who knows?
It may be years or--Georgia," he added, suddenly, "suppose we go to
_him_, eh? When the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go
to the mountain--rather that style of thing, isn't it? What do you say
to a trip to France, _ma belle_?"

"Oh, Warren!" she cried, catching her breath, her whole face growing
radiant with delight.

"I am answered," he said, gayly; "this day week we start."

"For where, may I ask?" said Mr. Curtis, lounging in. "Your chateau in
Spain? or on a wild-goose chase?"

"Something very like it," said Warren, laughing. "We are off to France,
in search of one Richmond Wildair, plenipotentiary and ambassador
extraordinary to the court of that distant and facetious region."

"Whew!" whistled Mr. Curtis, "I see, says the blind man. What a thing
conjugal affection is, to be sure! When do you go?"

"This day week, in the Golden Arrow. And for some inscrutable feminine
reason Georgia wishes you to preserve her secret inviolable until she
returns. She is still Miss Randall; you understand? You and Mr. Leonard
are not to mention she is Richmond Wildair's runaway wife."

"I'm dumb," said Mr. Curtis, shutting his lips as firmly as though they
were never to be opened on earth again. "Neither tortures, nor anguish,
nor bad pale ale shall tear from this lacerated heart the fearful
secret. Are you going to see after that prize of yours to-morrow, Mrs.
Wild--gee Whittaker! I mean Miss Randall," said he, dropping his tone of
stage agony, and speaking in his natural voice.

"Most decidedly," said Georgia, smiling.

"And then you are going to throw yourself away on our painfully clever
friend Wildair again, and leave all your friends here in Gotham to pine
away, with tears in their eyes and their fingers in their mouths," said
Mr. Curtis, in a lugubrious tone; "it's something I never expected of
you, Mrs. Wil--pooh! I mean Miss Randall, and I must say I, for one,
never deserved it."

"Mr. Curtis, you--you were in Burnfield since I was," said Georgia,
hesitatingly, and coloring deeply; "how was Miss Jerusha and Emily
Murray?"

"Well they were both in a state of mind--rather," said Mr. Curtis. "Miss
Jerusha flamed up, and blew us all, sky high, in fact raised the ancient
Harry, in a way quite appalling to a person of tender nerves--myself,
for instance--and gave Richmond what may be called, without
exaggeration, particular fits! As for little Emily," said Mr. Curtis,
turning red suddenly, "she--she didn't scold anybody, but she cried and
took on so that I felt--I felt a sort of all-over as it were--a very
peculiar feeling, to use a mild phrase, if you observe."

"Dear little Emily," said Georgia, sighing.

"That's just what I said," said Mr. Curtis, eagerly "but she didn't pay
any attention to it. I suppose you know I--I went--I mean I asked--that
is I offered--pshaw! what d'ye call it--proposed," said Mr. Curtis,
blushing, and squirming uneasily in his chair.

"No, I did not know it," said Georgia, with difficulty repressing a
smile.

"But I did though, and she refused me--she did, by Jove!" said Mr.
Curtis, dolorously.

"What bad taste the girl must have," said Mr. Randall.

"You're another," said Mr. Curtis, fiercely; "she's no such thing! How
dare you insinuate such a thing, Mr. Randall? There never yet was born a
man good enough for her; and if you dare to doubt it, I'll be hanged if
I don't knock you into the middle of next week--now then!"

Mr. Curtis was as fierce as a Bengal tiger. Mr. Randall threw himself
into a chair, and laughed immoderately.

"My dear fellow, I cry you mercy, and most humbly beg Miss Emily
Murray's pardon. I look forward some day to being acquainted with her
myself, and if I find her all that you say, I shall consider the
advisability of making her Mrs. Warren Randall."

"You be--shot!" growled Mr. Curtis, striding savagely up and down.
"She's not to be had for the asking, I can tell you; and after refusing
_me_, it's not likely she'd have anything to do with you. Mrs.
Wildair--oh, darn it!--Miss Randall, I mean, when you see your husband,
tell him his mother is very ill, and if he does not hasten home soon he
will not see her alive. A precious small loss that would be though,"
said Mr. Curtis, in parenthesis--"a stiff, sneering, high-and-mighty old
virago! Don't see, for my part, what Rich meant by ever having such a
mother!"

       *       *       *       *       *

One week later, Warren Randall and his sister were on board the Golden
Arrow, _en route_ for Merrie England. Fair breezes soon wafted them to
the white cliffs of that "right little, tight little" island, and
Georgia for the first time set foot on a foreign shore.

But now, in her impatience to rejoin and be reconciled to her husband,
she would consent to make no stay; so they immediately crossed the
channel into France, and posted at once for Paris. And there the first
news they heard from the American consul was that Mr. Wildair had left
a fortnight before for St. Petersburg.

It was a disappointment to both, a bitter one to Georgia, and Warren
felt it for her sake. To follow him was the first impulse of both, and
they immediately started for the Russian capital.

But fortune still inclined to be capricious, and to doom Georgia's
new-found patience to another trial. Mr. Wildair's political mission
required dispatch, and a few days before their arrival he had gone. From
the minister they learned that his first destination was a return to
Paris, from thence to Baden Baden, and it was more than probable he
would visit London and then return home.

"Well, Georgia," said Warren, "you see fate is against you, and has
doomed you to disappointment. Nothing remains now but to make the best
of a bad bargain and start on a regular sight-seeing tour, and 'do'
Europe, as Curtis would call it. And, after all, perhaps it is for the
best you did not meet him. He is now rapidly rising to political
distinction, and his meeting with you might distract his thoughts, and
would certainly keep him from entering heart and soul into the political
arena as he does now. Besides, having lost you for so long, he will know
how to value you all the more when you do return. Come, Georgia, what
difference, after all, will a year or two make in a life? Don't think of
returning now, but let us continue our tour."

"I am at your disposal, my dear Warren," said Georgia, with a smile and
a sigh. "As you say, after all, a year more or less will not make a
great deal of difference, and I am particularly anxious to continue our
tour. Therefore, _mon frere_, do with me as you will."

With an account of that tour, dearest reader, I will not weary your
patience--already, I fear, too much taxed. All "grand tours" are
alike--the same sights are seen, the same incidents occur, the same
scenery and pictures are looked at and gone into raptures over, and the
same people are met everywhere. The summer was spent traveling slowly
through France and Germany, and the winter was passed in Italy. Early in
the spring they visited Switzerland; and, almost imperceptibly, two
years passed away.

And where, meanwhile, was he whose willful blindness and haughty pride
had brought on his own desolation? Where was he, widowed in fate though
not in fact?--where was Richmond Wildair?

Home again, drowning thought and his intolerable remorse in the giddy
whirl of political life. He had returned in time to close his mother's
eyes, and hear her last words--a wild appeal for Georgia, the wronged
Georgia, to forgive her. And then, with all the power of his mighty
intellect, he had given himself up to the life he had chosen, that life
for which Heaven and nature had so well qualified him--a great
legislator--and that life became to him wife, and home, and all. Already
he had taken his seat in the Senate, and, though perhaps the youngest
there, stood foremost among them all, crowned with his lofty genius as
with a diadem. The knowing ones whispered that at the next election he
was certain of becoming Governor of his native State, and certainly, as
far as popularity went, there could be little doubt of it. Never was
there a young statesman, perhaps, who in so short a time had risen so
rapidly to distinction, and won such "golden opinions" from all sorts of
people.

Of almost all concerning his wife he was profoundly ignorant. One thing
he knew, and that was that she, and no other, had painted the wonderful
picture about which the artistic world was still raving. Hagar, in her
mighty grief and dark despair, the wild, woeful, anguished form writhing
yet majestic in her great wrongs, was Georgia as he had seen her last.
And, as if to make conviction doubly sure, the picture bore her
initials. One consolation it brought to him, and that was that she still
lived. Every effort in human power he had made to discover her, but all
he could succeed in learning was that a tall, dark, majestic-looking
lady, bearing the name of Miss Randall, had received the prize; but
nothing more was known of her. Then he sought for her brother, and heard
he had gone to Europe, but whether alone or not he could not discover. A
score of times within the day would Dick Curtis be on the point of
telling him all, until the recollection of his promise would stop him,
and he would inwardly fume at not having made a mental reservation at
the time. Still, these tortures of doubt, and uncertainty, and hope, and
despair served Richmond just exactly right, he argued, and would teach
him, if he ever did find Georgia, to treat her better for the future.

And so, while Georgia was roaming over the world, Richmond was rising to
still higher fame and eminence in his native land; and neither dreamed
how each had searched, and sought, and sorrowed in vain for the other.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AT LAST!

    "And there was light around her brow,
      A holiness in those dark eyes,
    Which showed, though wandering earthward now,
      Her spirit's home was in the skies."


Two years had passed and gone.

It was drawing toward sunset of a clear, bright, breezy day, when a
crowd of people "might have been seen," and were seen, too, hurrying
down to one of the wharves of B----, to watch the arrival of the steamer
from Europe. Throngs of people who had friends on board came trooping
down, and watched with eager eyes the stately vessel as it smoked and
puffed its way, like an apoplectic alderman, to the shore.

Among these lounged a young man, good-looking and fashionably dressed,
and evidently got up regardless of expense. There was a certain air of
self-complacency about him, as he stroked a pair of most desirable
curling whiskers, that said, as plainly as words, he was "somebody," and
knew it. Another young republican, puffing a cigar, stood beside him,
and both were watching, with the careless nonchalance of sovereigns in
their own right, the throng of foreigners that stood on the steamer's
deck.

"A crowd there--rather!" remarked the hero of the cigar, as he
fastidiously held it between his finger and thumb and knocked the ashes
off the end. "Our European brethren have arrived in time to see the
elephant to good advantage. Young America will be out in great force
to-night."

"To cheer the new governor--ye-es," drawled the other, as he, too,
lighted a cigar, and began smoking like a living Vesuvius.

"What a thing it is to be the people's favorite--a man of the people,
that style of thing, you know--isn't it, Curtis?" said the first
speaker.

"I believe you!" said Mr. Curtis, emphatically, for our old friend it
was. "It is the sovereign people's pleasure to go mad about their
favorite just now, and, like spoiled children, they must be humored.
What a thing the mob is, to be sure! They would shout as heartily and
with as good a will if Wildair were to be hung to-night as inaugurated.
Since the days when they shouted 'Crucify Him! crucify Him! Release unto
us Barrabas!' they have remained unchanged."

"I hope you don't mean to insinuate that there is any resemblance
between the Jewish malefactor and the American governor--eh, Curtis?"
said his friend, laughing.

"By no means, Captain Arlingford. Wildair deserves his popularity; he is
a great statesman, a real friend of his admirers, the people, and with
genius enough to steer the whole republic himself. He has fought his way
up; he has fought for equal rights, liberty, fraternity, equality--the
French dodge, you know--and deserves to be what he is, the people's
idol. Never in this good Yankee town was a new governor greeted so
enthusiastically; never did the mob shout themselves hoarse with such a
right good will. By Jove! I envied him to-day, as he stood on the
balcony of the hotel, with his hat off, while the sea of human beings
below shouted and shouted, until they could shout no longer. It was a
reception fit for a king; and never did a king look more kingly and
noble than at that moment of triumph did he."

Captain Arlingford laughed.

"Whew! there's enthusiasm for you! My sober, steady-headed friend, Dick
Curtis, starting off in this manner, and longing for public popularity!
I confess I should like to have witnessed his triumphal entry to-day
though. I have heard that the ladies absolutely buried him alive in the
showers of bouquets from the windows."

"Didn't they!" said Mr. Curtis laughing at the recollection. "As his
secretary, I sat in the carriage with him, and, 'pon my honor, I was
half smothered under the load of fragrant favors. Such a waving of
cambric handkerchiefs, too, and how the crowd doffed their hats and
hurrahed! It excites me even yet to think of it; but there sat Wildair
touching his chapeau, and bowing right and left, 'with that easy grace
that wins all hearts,' to quote our friend and your admirer, Miss
Harper, a little."

"That last bill about the people's rights did the business for him,"
said Captain Arlingford, meditatively; "what a strong case he made out
in their favor, and what an excitement it created! Well, it's a famous
thing to be clever, after all; I knew it was in him, but it might never
have come out so forcibly, had it not been for that loss of his two
years ago. And it appears _she_ is a genius too. To think she should
have painted that blood-chilling picture of Hagar, and found a brother
in that poet, Randall. Don't things turn up strangely, Curtis? I wonder
where she has gone, and if she will ever come back."

"Don't know! Like as not," said Mr. Curtis, sententiously.

"Splendid-looking girl she was, wasn't she, Curtis?" continued
Arlingford, pursuing his own train of thought.

"Magnificent eyes, a step like an empress, and the smile of an angel."

"Come, don't draw it quite so steep, my gallient saileur boy," said
Curtis; "recollect you're speaking of another man's wife, and that man
not a common mortal either, but the Governor of B---- and future
President of these Benighted States. Besides, what would Miss Harper
say?"

"Miss Harper be--hanged!" exclaimed Arlingford, with such impatient
vehemence that Curtis laughed; "that's enough about her. Are you going
to the inauguration ball to-night?"

"Of course--what a question! Do you think they could have a ball fit to
be seen without the presence of the irresistible, the fascinating
Richard Curtis, Esq., to keep it moving? Do you think any lady as is a
lady would enjoy herself if I was absent? Echo answers, 'Of course, they
wouldn't;' so don't harrow my feelings again by such another question."

"Well, I see humanity and vanity are not among your failings. I suppose
all the _elite_ of the city will be there?"

"You had better believe it. The _creme de la creme_ of B----. All the
beauty, and wit, and gallantry of the city, as the newspapers have it. I
have engaged with the editor of the _Sky Rocket_ to write him an account
of the sayings and doings, for a 'consideration,' as the delicate phrase
goes, which, being translated from the original Hebrew, means that he
will puff our party on every occasion and no occasion, and if you don't
see 'among the guests was the gallant young Captain A----, U. S. N., who
paid during the evening the most marked attention to the lovely and
accomplished Miss H----, whom it is whispered he is about to lead to the
hymeneal altar----' Hello! stop that! I say, Arlingford, don't choke a
fellow!"

"Confound you!" said Captain Arlingford, catching him by the collar, and
fairly shaking the cigar out of his mouth; "will you forever continue
harping on that string? I say, let's get out of this; I hate to make one
in a crowd."

"No; wait," said Curtis, laughing and adjusting his ruffled plumage. "I
want to see if there is any one I know on board the steamer; I expect
some friends. Here come the passengers. What a wretched, sea-sick,
sea-green-looking set. The amount of contempt I have for the ocean is
something appalling."

"You had better mind how you express it before me," said Captain
Arlingford, decidedly. "I--but look there, Curtis, at that lady! Oh, ye
gods and little fishes! what a Juno! Eh? how? what? By the Lord Harry,
Curtis!" he exclaimed, springing up excitedly, as the lady in question
turned her face fully toward them; "if ever I saw Mrs. Georgia Wildair
in my life, there she stands!"

"Where? where? where?" fairly shouted Curtis, catching him by the arm,
and staring round in an excitement far surpassing his own. "Where?
which? when?"

"Whither? why? wherefore?" said Arlingford, laughing in spite of his
surprise and excitement. "_There_, man alive! don't you see? That tall
lady in black on the deck beside that intensely foreign-looking young
gentleman. Why, where are your eyes? don't you see?"

"I see! I see! It's she! Hip, hip, hurrah!" shouted Mr. Curtis, waving
his hat, and electrifying the crowd around him, and then, before Captain
Arlingford knew what he was about, he darted off, played in and out
through the crowd, dug his elbows into the ribs of all around him, and
so forced his way aboard the steamer, amid the stifled shrieks and
groans, and curses of his victims.

"That's what you call a summary proceeding," said Captain Arlingford,
laughing; "what a living galvanic battery that fellow is--a
broad-clothed barrel of gunpowder; touch him and off he goes! Well,
here's to follow his example."

So saying, but in a less impetuous manner, he made his way through the
throng to where stood a lady, "beautiful exceedingly," and dressed
entirely in black, after the fashion of the Spanish Creoles, for one of
whom, in her dark, rich beauty, she might easily have been mistaken.

"Mrs. Wildair! Good gracious, Mrs. Wildair, how _do_ you do?" exclaimed
a breathless voice. "To think that you should come this day of all days!
Oh, scissors! Well, I _am_ glad to see you! Upon my word and honor, I
am."

"Mr. Curtis!" exclaimed the lady, with a little cry of surprise and
delight. "Why, what an unexpected pleasure to meet _you_ here! Dear Mr.
Curtis, how glad I am to see you!"

"So am I, just as glad!" said Mr. Curtis, seizing the little hand she
extended, and wringing it until she winced. "Good gracious! to think of
it. How _do_ you do? Well, if it isn't the most unexpected--to think
that you should come home to-day of all days! Good gra---- Hey? what
now?"

A vigorous slap on the shoulder that staggered him, as well it might,
had jerked the last words out of him, and turning fiercely round, he saw
the laughing face of the lady's companion turned toward him.

"Why, Curtis, old fellow, have you a greeting for no one but Georgia?
Come, you have shook her hand long enough; try mine now."

"Randall, my boy, how goes it? Well, I _am_ glad, and no mistake. Good
gracious! what the mischief kept you so long in those barbarous foreign
parts, anyhow?"

"Don't know, really," said Mr. Randall, laughing at his vehemence; "the
time passed almost imperceptibly. But you--what brings you here? I
thought you were in New York."

"Well, I am not, though you mayn't believe it. Hello! Guess who this is,
Mrs. Wildair?"

"Captain Arlingford!" exclaimed Georgia, delightedly, holding out her
hand; then, as the recollections of the past arose, the color mounted
for an instant to her very temples.

"Yes, marm; nothing shorter," said Curtis, rubbing his hands gleefully.
"Je-rusalem! only to think of it! Well, the astonishing way things
_will_ persist in turning up! Just to think of it. Why, it's like a
thing in a play or a novel. Now, isn't it, Arlingford?"

"What! our coming home?" said Randall. "What do you see so extraordinary
about that, Curtis?"

"No, it is not that," said Mr. Curtis, chuckling; "it's the remarkable
coincidence of your coming to-day of all days--not you, but your sister.
There, don't ask me now, everybody's looking--a set of ill-mannered
snipes. Arlingford, run and call a coach, there's a good boy, and I'll
tell Mrs. Wildair all about it. Good gracious! if it isn't the funniest
thing!"

Mr. Curtis' excitement and delight, as he danced up and down, rubbing
his hands and chuckling, were so irresistible that all three, after
watching him an instant, burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, and,
beholding his look of dismayed surprise, laughed until the tears stood
in their eyes.

"Eh! why, what the----what are you laughing at? Don't act so, don't;
everybody's looking, and they'll think you're crazy," said Mr. Curtis,
imploringly. "Wait a minute, I'll call a coach myself--you just hold
on."

Off darted Mr. Curtis, leaving them still laughing and unable to stop,
and ere five minutes he was back, and whipped them off like a living
whirlwind--pushed them into a coach, jumped in after, and banged the
door.

"Dixon's Hotel!" he bawled to the driver, and away they rattled over the
pavement.

"Now we're comfortable," said Mr. Curtis, surveying them complacently,
"and, only for me, you might have stood there all night, for coaches are
in demand, and hardly to be got for love or money. Oh, Jehosaphat! just
to think of it! why it's _droll_!" said Mr. Curtis, thrusting his hands
into his pockets, and, as the absurdity of it struck him for the first
time he leaned back in the carriage, and burst into a peal of laughter
that was perfectly terrific, and from the effect of which he did not
recover until they reached the hotel.

"It's lucky for you, in more ways than one, that you met me," said Mr.
Curtis, as he got out and offered Georgia his arm, "for the city's full,
and you wouldn't have got a room in a hotel from one end of it to the
other--no, not if you went on your two blessed, bended knees and prayed
for it. Here, these rooms were engaged for the governor and his suite,
and this is mine, and is quite at your disposal, Mrs. Wildair."

"But, oh! Mr. Curtis, I cannot think of depriving you----"

"There--not a word! not a word!" said Mr. Curtis, briskly, as he ushered
them into a sumptuously furnished apartment. "I'll camp with somebody
else. And now the very first thing I want you to do is to dress and come
to the ball to-night."

"The ball! What ball?" said Georgia, in surprise.

"Why the inauguration ball, to be sure! Oh, I forgot you did not know.
Well, then, the astonishing news is, that Mr. Richmond Wildair has this
day entered B---- as its governor! Now don't faint, Mrs. Wildair,
because I won't understand your case. And, as usual, there is to be a
ball, and I want you to come and be presented to his excellency the
governor."

Georgia had no intention of fainting. A flush of pride, and triumph, and
delight, lit up her face, and, with the step of a queen, she arose and
paced up and down the room.

"And so he has been elected," said Mr. Randall, thoughtfully. "I knew he
would rise rapidly."

"What says Georgia--will you go?"

"Yes," she said, with a radiant smile.

"Hooray!" exclaimed Mr. Curtis; "Mrs. Wildair, you're a brick! Maybe Mr.
Wildair won't be astonished some, if not more, and a _leetle_ delighted!
It's getting dark fast, and I ought to be off to the executive mansion;
but I'll let etiquette go be hanged for once, and wait for you. You had
better have tea in your own room, Mrs. W.; sha'n't I ring? It will take
you two or three hours to dress, you know--it always does take a lady
that long, I believe. Here, my man, supper for four up here; be spry
now."

It was impossible to be serious and watch Curtis, as he flew round
impetuously, asking a thousand questions in a breath about what they
had seen abroad, and then interrupting them in the middle of the answer
to tell them something about Richmond, that had not the slightest
bearing on the matter.

In his excitement he found it impossible to sit still, but kept flying
round the room, rubbing his hands in an ecstacy of delight, and laughing
uproariously as he thought of the surprise in store for the young
governor. During supper he monopolized the whole conversation himself,
and kept the others in fits of laughter, while his look of innocent
astonishment at their mirth would, as Captain Arlingford said, "make a
horn-bug laugh."

After tea the gentlemen took themselves off to dress, and Georgia's
maid, who had arrived, remained to superintend her mistress' toilet.
Those two years of absence had restored the bright bloom to Georgia's
dark face, but the old flashing light had left her dark eyes, and in its
place was a sweetness, subdued, gentle, and far more lovely. The
haughtily curling lips were tender and placid, the queenly brow calm and
serene, the dark, beautiful face almost seraphic with its look of inward
peace. Oh, far more sweet, and tender, and lovable was the Georgia of
to-day than the haughty, fiery, passionate Georgia of other years! As
she stood before the mirror, in her rich, showy robe of gold-colored
satin, under rare old point lace, with diamonds flashing in rivers of
light around her curving throat, flashing in her small ears, gleaming in
her midnight hair, and glittering and scintillating like sparks of fire
on her rounded arms and small dark fingers, she looked every inch a
princess, a "queen of noble Nature's crowning."

And so thought the gentlemen as they entered, in full dress--in
"glorious array," as Mr. Curtis pompously said--if one might judge by
her brother's look of pride and pleasure, Captain Arlingford's glance of
intense admiration, and Mr. Curtis' burst of rapture.

"Why, you're looking splendid, absolutely splendid, you know; something
quite stunning, Mrs. Wildair! Ah! I should like to be as good-looking as
you. I never saw you looking so well before. Now, did you, Randall?"

"Georgia is looking her best," said Mr. Randall, smiling.

"Looking her best! I guess so! It's astonishing how handsome women can
make themselves when they choose. Now, I might try till I was black in
the face, and still I would be the old two-and-sixpence at the end. I
wish I knew the secret. Suppose we go now; we're behind time three
quarters of an hour as it is. The carriage is waiting, Mrs. Wildair."

"I am quite at your service, Mr. Curtis," said Georgia, flinging a shawl
over her shoulders, and trying to smile, but her heart was throbbing so
rapidly that she leaned against the table for a moment, sick and faint.

Who, when about to meet a dear friend from whom she had been long
separated, does not feel a sort of dread mingling with her pleasure,
lest she should find him changed, altered, cold, different from what she
had known him in other years?

So felt Georgia as she took her seat in the carriage and was whirled as
rapidly as the crowded state of the streets would admit toward the
executive mansion. Her color came and went, now that the crisis was at
hand, and the loud beating of her heart could almost be heard, as she
lay back among the cushions, trembling with excitement and conflicting
emotions.

A gay scene the streets presented that night. Never had a governor
received such an ovation as had this young demi-god of the dear public.
Every house was illuminated from attic to basement; flags were flying;
arches had been erected for him to pass under, as if it were the
reception of a prince. Thousands of gayly dressed people thronged the
pavements, bands were out playing triumphant marches, and an immense
crowd congregated around the governor's house, watching the different
carriages as they passed, bearing their freight of magnificently dressed
ladies on their way to the ball. But not to behold them was the dense
crowd waiting, but to catch a glimpse of the young governor when he
should arrive.

As the carriage conveying our party approached the arched gate-way of
the executive mansion it was stopped, blocked up by a crowd of other
carriages. The people had pressed before, and it was in vain they tried
to get on. Drivers swore, and shouted, and vociferated, the mob laughed
and bandied jokes, gentlemen in commanding tones gave orders that were
either unheard or impossible to be obeyed, and a perfect Babel of
confusion reigned.

"Come, this won't do, you know," said Mr. Curtis, "we must get on
somehow. Here, you fellows," he said, thrusting his head out of the
window, "get out of the way, I want to pass. I'm the governor's
secretary, and must get on."

A derisive laugh from a group near followed, and a voice in the crowd
inquired anxiously whether his mother had many more like him, and also
whether that venerable lady was aware that he was out.

Mr. Curtis showed symptoms of getting into a passion at this, but his
voice was drowned in a cry from a band of loafers near, who shouted:

"We want to see the governor! You won't pass till we see the governor!"

There was a plain dark carriage right in front of them, and now the
glass was let down, and a clear, commanding voice, that rang out above
all the din, calmly said:

"I am the governor! Stand aside, my friends, and let me pass!"

That voice! Georgia half-sprang from her seat, and then fell back.

Such a cry as arose--such a mighty shout, at the voice of their
favorite! The crowd swayed to and fro in their struggles to get near.
The driver whipped up his horses, a passage was cleared, and carriage
after carriage passed on and entered the crowded court-yard.

"Hurrah for Wildair! Hurrah for Wildair! Hurrah! Hurrah! HURRAH for
Wildair!" shouted the crowd, till the welkin rang.

"Hurrah for Richmond Wildair--the MAN OF THE PEOPLE!" exclaimed a loud
voice, and instantly the cry was taken up, and "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"
rang out like the roar of the sea.

And now on the balcony, clearly revealed in the light of myriads of
lamps, stood the kingly form of Richmond Wildair himself, his princely
brow uncovered, his calm, commanding face looking down on them, as a
king might on his subjects.

And then once again arose the mighty shout, "Hurrah for Wildair! Hurrah
for Wildair! Hurrah for the Friend of the People!" until, hoarse with
shouting, the swaying multitude relapsed into silence.

And then, clear, calm, and earnest, arose the commanding voice of their
favorite, as he addressed them.

A dead silence fell on that great crowd the moment his first word was
heard. Short, and well chosen, and to the point, was his speech; and
hats flew off, and again and again the hoarse cheers of his listeners
interrupted him. Having thanked them for the enthusiastic reception they
had given him, he begged them to disperse for the present, and then,
having bowed once more, he retired.

With three times three for the speaker they obeyed, and, save a few who
remained to watch the brilliantly illuminated mansion and listen to the
music of the band, the crowd soon dispersed through the thronged
streets.

"There's popularity for you!" said Mr. Curtis, as with Georgia leaning
on his arm he entered the brilliant ball-room, blazing with lights and
crowded with splendidly attired ladies. "I should admire to see them
cheering me that way. How would it sound, I wonder? Hurrah for Curtis!
That's not bad, is it, Mrs. Wildair?"

She did not reply--she did not hear him. Her eyes were wandering through
the glittering throng in search of one, the "bright, particular star" of
the evening. Yes, there he was, at the upper end of the room, surrounded
by a throng of the most distinguished there, bowing, and shaking hands,
and smiling, and chatting with the ladies. She strove to calm herself
and listen to what her companion was saying, but in vain, until the
mention of Richmond's name attracted her attention.

"I won't bring you over among that crowd," he was saying; "I'll wait
till he's a little disengaged. They'll begin dancing presently, and then
the coast will be clear. Just see how everybody is looking at you and
whispering to one another. I guess they would like to know who you are
just now. Ah! what would you give to know?" said Mr. Curtis, making a
grimace at the crowd.

And now an audible whisper might have been heard among the throng:

"Who is she? oh, who is she?--that beautiful girl with Mr. Curtis. I
never saw her before."

"Nor I. Nor I. Who can she be?" ran around the room. "How _distingue_
she is! how surpassingly beautiful! and how magnificently dressed! Oh, I
must get an introduction. See, he is bringing her up now to present her
to the governor. I'll ask him to introduce me. She is certainly destined
to be the belle of the evening."

Meantime two or three quadrilles had formed, and the group surrounding
the governor had thinned, and he was left as much alone as he was likely
to be during the evening. Leaning against a marble pillar, he stood
talking to a starred and ribboned foreigner, and when Curtis approached
with Georgia, he was so engrossed with the topic they were discussing
that he did not observe him until his voice fell on her ear.

"Mrs. Wildair, your excellency!" said Mr. Curtis, in the most emphatic
of voices, standing right before him.

He started up, staggered back, grew deadly pale, and grasped the marble
pillar for support.

Yes, there before him, radiant in her beauty, with serene brow and calm
smile, stood his long-lost wife--face to face at last!



CHAPTER XXV.

"AFTER TEARS AND WEEPING, HE POURETH IN JOYFULNESS."

    "Do not spurn me in my prayer,
      For this wand'ring ever longer, evermore,
    Hath overworn me,
      And I know not on what shore
    I may rest from my despair."

                      BROWNING.

From his pale lips dropped one word:

"Georgia!"

"Dearest Richmond," she said, looking up in his face with her radiant
eyes.

"Oh, Georgia, my wronged wife, can you ever forgive me?" he cried,
passionately.

"I have nothing to forgive, my husband," she said, sweetly. "It is I who
should be forgiven."

"Oh, Georgia, where have you been? Do I really see you, or do I dream?
So often have I dreamed you were restored, and woke to find it a dream.
Is this a delusion like the rest?"

"Shake hands, and see."

She held out hers with a smile, and he took it, and gazed into her face
with a doubtful, troubled look.

"Yes, it is Georgia; it must be she; the same, yet so different. You
never looked like this in the days gone past, Georgia."

"I have been new-born since," she said, with a serene smile. "You shall
learn all soon, Richmond. Do you know I have come to stay now?"

"See here, Mr. Wildair," said Curtis, giving him a poke "don't you keep
looking so; everybody's staring and whispering, and our friend here,
Whiskerando," pointing to the starred foreigner, "looks as if he thought
he had got into a lunatic asylum by mistake. You take Georgia--I mean
Mrs. Wildair--off into that conservatory, for instance, where you can
stare at her to your heart's content, and learn all the particulars
since she cut her lucky--I mean since she ran off and left you in the
lurch. Go; I know it will take you an hour, at least, to settle matters,
and beg each other's pardon, and smoke the pipe of peace, and so on;
and, meantime, as it is necessary the company should know who it is,
I'll whisper it as a great secret into the ear of the first lady I meet,
and get her to promise not to tell. There! vanish!"

Passing his hand across his eyes, as if to dispel a mist, Richmond
offered her his arm and led her toward the conservatory, followed by the
wondering eyes of the guests.

But Mr. Curtis had no need to tell. Miss Harper was there, and
recognized her with a suppressed shriek; and in an instant after, like
wild-fire, it ran through the room that this dark, beautiful stranger
was the mysterious wife of Mr. Wildair.

Dancing was no longer thought of. Everybody flocked around Mr. Curtis,
and such an avalanche of questions as was showered upon him human ears
never listened to before. Had he possessed a thousand tongues he could
hardly have answered one-half. But he did not try to answer them. Mr.
Dick Curtis was a sensible young man, and never attempted
impossibilities; so he only folded his arms and looked around him
complacently, listening with the profoundest attention to all, but
answering never a word; until, at last, when quite tired and
breathless, there was a pause, he lifted up his voice and spoke:

"Ladies and gentlemen: On the present interesting and facetious occasion
allow me to say--(ahem!)--to say----"

[Here a voice in the crowd, that of Mr. Henry Gleason, if you remember
that young gentleman, reader, interrupted with, "You _have_ said it!
Push along, old boy!"]

"To say," pursued Mr. Curtis, casting a withering glance at the speaker,
"as that very polite youth, whoever he may be, has falsely informed you
I have already said, that Mr. Wildair, his excellency," said Mr. Curtis,
with a dignified wave of his hand, "has commissioned me to say--I beg
your pardon, sir; you're standing on that lady's dress--to say that the
lady you beheld this evening is his wife, who has been indulging in a
little trip to Europe with his--(ahem!)--full approbation, while he was
seeing after the great, glorious, and immortal Union in Washington, and
scattering political oats--to use a figure of speech--before that
tremendous bird, the American eagle; and the lady arriving quite
promiscuously, if I may be allowed so strong an expression, he was
slightly surprised to see her--(ahem!)--as you all perceived, and has
just gone to have a little friendly chat with her over family matters
and kitchen cabinet affairs generally. And so, ladies and gentlemen,"
concluded Mr. Curtis, laying his kid glove on his heart and bowing
gracefully, "I hope his temporary absence will not plunge you into _too_
deep affliction, or cause you to feel too dreadfully cut up, but that
you will set seriously to work and enjoy yourselves, while I represent
his excellency, and during his absence receive your homage. And to
conclude, in the words of Demosthenes, the great Latin poet, who
beautifully observes, '_E Pluribus Unum_,' a remark which I hope none of
you will consider personal, for I solemnly assure you it was not meant
to be, as I haven't the remotest idea of what it means. If any further
particulars are needed," said Mr. Curtis, drawing himself up, and
casting another glance of withering scorn upon Mr. Henry Gleason, "I
must refer you to the young gentleman who was good enough to interrupt
me, and who stands there now, a mark for the finger of scorn to poke fun
at. Ladies and gentleman, I have spoken! Long may it wave."

And with this last "neat and appropriate" quotation, Mr. Curtis bowed
and blushingly retired, leaving his audience in convulsions of laughter,
for his unspeakably droll look and solemn tone no pen can describe. It
had the good effect, however, of diverting their attention from Mr.
Wildair and his wife for the present; and Mr. Curtis the center of a
laughing group, while his own face maintained its expression of most
doleful gravity, became for the time being the lion of the hour. With
edifying meekness did Mr. Curtis stand, "his blushing honors thick upon
him," until getting rather tired of it, he made a signal to the band to
strike up, and selecting Miss Arlingford for his partner, a quadrille
was formed and dancing commenced with real earnestness, and the business
of the evening might be said to have begun.

But when an hour passed and the lady whose _entree_ had created such a
sensation did not appear, impatient glances began to be cast toward the
conservatory, and petulant whispers to circulate, and pouting lips
wondered why they did not come. In vain Mr. Curtis was "funny;" his
popularity was waning as fast as it had risen, and it was all a waste of
ammunition. His jokes were unattended to, his puns were unlaughed at,
his most dolorous looks had no effect on the risibles of any, except
those who had a _very_ keen sense of the ludicrous. At last, in disgust
at the fickleness of public favor, he got dignified and imposing, and
_that_ had the effect of making sundry compressed lips smile right out
loud, but it is uncertain whether even this would have lasted any time
had not, suddenly, Richmond Wildair appeared with his wife leaning on
his arm.

In an instant a profound hush of expectation reigned throughout the
room; the music instantaneously stopped; the dancers one and all paused,
and every eye was bent upon them. A low, respectful murmur of admiration
ran round the room at her queen-like beauty, but it lasted only an
instant, and all was again still.

"My friends," said the clear, powerful voice that a short time before
had dispersed the surging crowd, "this lady, as you are all probably
aware, is my wife. There is not one here who has not heard a thousand
vague, floating rumors why we were separated, and now I feel it
necessary to say a few words of explanation, and silence the tongue of
scandal forever. A misunderstanding, slight and unimportant at first,
such as will arise at times in all families, was the cause. No blame,
not the faintest shadow of blame, attaches to this lady; if blame there
be, it solely belongs to me. A mutual explanation and a perfect
reconciliation have ensued, and if any one for the future shall canvass
the motives which caused us for a brief time to part, I will consider
that person my willful enemy. Ladies and gentlemen, let this pleasant
but unexpected incident not interfere with the amusements of the
evening, and as example is better than precept, I shall join you. Come,
Georgia."

He motioned to the musicians, and the dancers again formed, with Mr. and
Mrs. Wildair at their head. And then, when the quadrille was ended, all
came flocking round to be presented to his beautiful wife, whose
Juno-like beauty and grace was the theme of every tongue. And for the
remainder of the evening "all went merry as a marriage bell." If
anything were wanting to add _eclat_ to the inauguration of the new
governor this supplied it, and every one grew perfectly enthusiastic
about the gifted young statesman and his beautiful wife. So romantic and
mysterious as it all was, "just like something in a play or a novel," as
Mr. Curtis said, that the excitement it created was perfectly unheard
of, and when the ball broke up and the company dispersed, in the "wee
sma' hours ayont the twal," they even forgot they were sleepy and tired,
and talked away of the unexpected _denouement_, and electrified their
friends when they got home with the wonderful news.

       *       *       *       *       *

"And now, Georgia," said Richmond, "tell me what has changed you so. I
can scarcely tell how it is, but it seems as if you were the Georgia I
once knew etherealized--the spiritual essence of Georgia Darrell; as if
you had cast off a slough and stepped forth radiant, serene, seraphic."

"Flatterer!" said Georgia, smiling, yet serious, too. "But oh, Richmond!
I fear you will be angry when I tell you."

"Angry at anything that has made you just what _I_ wanted, just what _I_
tried to make you and failed! Not I, Georgia. Tell me what elixir of
happiness and inward joy have you found."

"One without price, and yet one free to all--to the king and to the
beggar alike."

"And yet hitherto it has been beyond my reach. Tell me what it is, sweet
wife, that I may drink and live, too."

"Oh, Richmond, if you would--if you _only_ would!" she said, catching
her breath.

"Why should I not? Name it, Georgia."

"It is called _Faith_, Richmond."

He looked up reverentially, and his face was very grave.

"I think I know; and yet, hitherto it has been only a word to me. I have
seen it personified in two--in your little friend Emily, and in--"

He paused and his face worked.

"In whom, Richmond?"

"In Charley. Oh, Charley! oh, my brother!" he cried, in passionate tones
as he began pacing rapidly up and down.

The irrepressible cry reminded Georgia of that other day long ago when
he had received the letter in which he learned all. At the mention of
that name, Georgia too rose, pale and trembling, from her seat.

"And have you seen him? Oh, Richmond! have you seen him?"

"Yes," he said, hoarsely.

"And where is he? Richmond--oh, Richmond, do not look so! Charley, your
brother--where is he, Richmond?"

"In heaven, Georgia."

She fell back in her seat, and covered her face with her hands.

"Dead! Oh, Charley! and I not there!" she cried, while her tears fell
fast.

"Weep not, Georgia," said Richmond, gently removing her hands; "his
death was the death of the just. May my last end be like unto his."

But still she wept hot, gushing tears that would not be stayed--tears
that fell, not wildly, but that came from the heart, and were sanctified
to the memory of the early dead. At last--

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord," she softly murmured, lifting
her pale face; "God be merciful to his soul! Dear Charley!"

"He died like a saint, Georgia; he expired like a child falling asleep
in his mother's arms, with a smile on his lips; death had no terror for
him."

"Were you with him, Richmond?"

"Yes--thank God! Oh, Georgia, I had hardened my heart against him, and
yet when I would pass him on the street--I did often pass him,
Georgia--every feeling in my heart would be stirred, and no words can
tell how I would yearn for him, my own, my only brother. I saw he was
dying day by day, and yet pride--that curse, that bane that has dogged
me like an evil spirit from childhood up--would not let me step over the
barrier I myself had raised, and sue for forgiveness. At last came the
news that he was sick unto death, and then I could hold out no longer. I
went, Georgia--went in time to hear him forgive me, and to see him die.
Oh, Georgia, I shall never forget it--never! Oh, Charley, my gay,
thoughtless, light-hearted brother! to think you should be lying in that
far-off church-yard, cold and dead."

"Grieve not, my husband," said Georgia, earnestly, as she laid her hand
on his, "but look forward to a happy meeting in heaven. And now of
others--your mother, Richmond?"

"Is dead, too. Oh, Georgia, she wronged you. Can you ever forgive her?"

"Yes, as freely and fully as I hope to be forgiven. May she rest in
peace! And your cousin, Richmond."

She smiled slightly, and Richmond met her bright glance with a sort of
honest shame.

"I feel like going down on my knees to you, Georgia, when _that_ name is
mentioned. She is well--or was when I saw her last--and safely married."

"Indeed! To whom, pray?"

Richmond laughed.

"Do you remember Mr. Lester, of foppish memory, who made one of that
party to Richmond House two years ago--'Aw, weally such a boah'"--and
Richmond mimicked him to perfection.

"What a shame!" said Georgia, laughing; "of course I remember him. Is it
possible she has married that little dandy?"

"That she has, and a precious life she leads him, if all Curtis says be
true, for I never go there myself. The gray mare in that stable is
decidedly the better horse."

"So I should imagine. But where is Miss Reid? Mr. Lester used to be
tender in that quarter, if I remember right."

"Oh, yes: but she married Gleason--Lieutenant Gleason, you know. That
gallant officer proposed, and Miss Reid found it too much trouble to
refuse, so she became Mrs. Gleason the second."

"Well, I wish them joy, all. How strangely things turn out in this
world, don't they, Richmond?"

"Why, yes," said Richmond, laughingly, "rather so--your finding that
unexpected brother, for instance. But you don't ask for your old friends
in Burnfield--have you forgotten them, Georgia?"



"Forgotten them! Oh, Richmond."

"Well, don't look so reproachfully; you know I didn't mean it. You want
to go and see them, I suppose?"

"Oh, indeed I do. Dear Miss Jerusha, and dear little Emily, and----"

"Dear little Betsey Periwinkle," interposed Richmond.

"Yes; just so," said Georgia, resolutely; "a really good friend of mine
was Betsey, and very intimate we were. Yes, I want to see them all; when
will you take me there, Richmond?"

"In one week from this, Georgia; I cannot get away before; and then,
with your brother, we will make a pilgrimage to Burnfield, and you can
look once more at the 'auld hoose at hame.' You will have to go down on
your knees and intercede for me with Miss Jerusha, or she will never
forgive me for the way I behaved to her darling."

"Oh, how I long to go back there again! Now that the time is near, I
feel twice as impatient as I did before. A whole week! I wonder if it
will ever pass."

But it did pass, and another, too, and busy weeks they were with the
governor and his lady. The nine days' wonder of her appearance had
scarcely yet passed away when Mr. and Mrs. Wildair and Mr. Randall left
B----, en route for the little "one-horse" town of Burnfield.

A fairer day never came out of the sky than the one that heralded
Georgia's return to Burnfield--dear old Burnfield! fairer in her eyes
than Florence, the beautiful, brighter than Rome, the imperial, for her
home was there. Nothing was changed. There stood Richmond House, the
pride and boast of the town still, there was the pleasant home of Emily
Murray, there was the old school-house where her stormy girlhood had
been spent.

As she gazed, she lay back amid the cushions of the carriage and put her
hand before her face, that they might not see how deeply she was moved.
Her brother looked out with mingled interest and curiosity, and with a
dim recollection of the few wretched days and nights he had passed here.
Richmond looked on the familiar objects with mingled gladness and
remorse, and recollected, with many strange emotions, that the last time
he had entered Burnfield it had been with his bride, as they returned
from their brief city tour. Only two years since then, and what changes
had taken place! Mr. Dick Curtis, who had insisted on making one of
their party, and positively refused to take no for an answer, was of
them all the only one perfectly unmoved, and sat looking at the familiar
landmarks as they drove past, with a face of grave approval.

"Fine place, sir--fine place," said Mr. Curtis, with a wave of his hand;
"considerable of a town is Burnfield, eh, Randall? Not equal to Paris,
you know, or Lapland, or the great St. Bernard, or any of the other
tremendous cities, but a pretty tall place considering, and a real,
genuine Yankee town. And then the produce--I defy the world to raise
such girls, and boys, and pumpkins as they do in Burnfield. I defy 'em
to do it, sir! Look at that young lady there, in the pink sun-bonnet and
red cheeks, round as a cask of lager beer, and sweet as a cart-load of
summer cherries--there's a specimen of American ingenuity for you! Could
they surpass that in Constantinople or the city of Dublin, or any other
distant or impossible region? No, sir; they couldn't. I defy 'em to do
it, sir! Yes, I repeat it," said Mr. Curtis, striking his knee with his
hand, and glaring round ferociously at the company generally, "I defy
'em to do it, sir."

Mr. Curtis was as fierce as an African lion, so everybody immediately
settled down and looked serious.

"The notion," said Mr. Curtis, folding his arms and surveying his three
companions in haughty disgust, "that they can raise as good-looking
people in any other quarter of the world as they can in these here
blessed United States. Look at me now," said Mr. Curtis, drawing himself
up till his suspenders snapped, "_I'm_ a specimen! Mr. Randall, my young
friend, you have traveled, you have crossed that small pond, the
Atlantic, and have become personally acquainted with all the great guns
of Europe, from the Hottentots of Portugal to the people of 'that
beautiful city called Cork,' and now I ask you as an enlightened citizen
and fellow sinner, did you ever, in all your wanderings, clap your two
eyes on a better-looking young man than the individual now addressing
you? Don't answer hastily--take time for reflection. You know you
didn't--you know you didn't; the thing's impossible."

"Mr. Curtis must be the best judge of his own surpassing beauty," said
Mr. Randall, politely; "if he will hold me excused, I would rather not
give an opinion on the subject."

"Welcome to Richmond House," said Mr. Wildair, as the carriage rolled up
the avenue. "And now, gentlemen, I will leave you here for the present,
while Mrs. Wildair goes to see her former guardian, Miss Jerusha Skamp."

"Perhaps I had better go alone, Richmond," said Georgia, hesitatingly.
"Our first meeting----"

"Had better be unwitnessed; that is true enough," said Richmond. "Well,
John will drive you down. Shall I call for you in person?"

"If Miss Jerusha consents to forgive you, I shall send for you, if Fly
is still in the land of the living," said Georgia, smiling. "Good-by,
gentlemen;" and kissing her hand, and laughing at Mr. Curtis, who nearly
turned a somerset in his profound genuflexion, she was whirled away
toward the cottage.

Yes, there it stood still, the same old brown, low-roofed little
homestead. How different was this visit to it to what had been her last.
There was her own little room under the roof, and there, in the broad
window-sill, basking in the broader sunshine, lay Betsey Periwinkle and
one of her numerous family, lazily blinking their sleepy eyes.

Georgia's heart beat fast as she leaped out of the carriage and walked
slowly toward the house. Gathering the sweeping folds of her purple
satin dress in one hand, she rapped timidly, faltering at the door.

It was opened by Fly--yes, it was Fly, no doubt about it--who opened her
eyes and jumped back with a screech when she saw who it was.

"Hush, Fly! How do you do?" said Georgia, tapping her black cheek. "Is
Miss Jerusha in?"

But Fly, in her astonishment and consternation, was incapable of speech;
and smiling at her stunned look, Georgia swept past and entered the
"best room."

There it was, still unchanged, and there, in her rocking-chair in the
chimney-corner, knitting away, sat Miss Jerusha, unchanged, too. Old
Father Time seemed to have no power over her iron frame. She did not
hear Georgia's noiseless entrance, and it was only when a bright vision
in glittering robes of silk and velvet, with dark tearful eyes and sadly
smiling lips, knelt at her feet, and two white youthful arms, with gold
bracelets flashing thereon, encircled her waist, and a sweet, vibrating
voice softly murmured, "Dear, dear, Miss Jerusha," that she looked up.

Looked up, with a wild cry, and half arose, then fell back in her seat,
and flinging her arms round her neck, fell on her shoulder with one loud
passionate cry of "Georgia! Georgia!"



CHAPTER XXVI.

"LAST SCENE OF ALL."

    "I have seen one whose eloquence commanding,
      Roused the rich echoes of the human breast;
    The blandishments of wealth and ease withstanding,
      That hope might reach the suffering and oppressed.

    "And by his side there moved a form of beauty,
      Strewing sweet flowers along his path of life,
    And looking up with meek and love-bent duty--
      I called her angel, but he called her wife."

                                            ANON.

Long and cool lay the shadows on the grass, one by one the bright,
beautiful stars arose in the sky, up and up sailed the "lady moon,"
smiling down with her serene face on the trio sitting in the moonlight
in the humble parlor of that little cot by the sea.

No light but that of the cloudless moon, no light but the beaming
glances from eyes bright with joy--no other light was needed. By Miss
Jerusha's side sat Georgia--not Georgia, the radiant vision of the
ball-room, Juno-like in her queenly beauty, but the humble, gentle
loving girl, meek in her great happiness. One wrinkled yellow hand of
the venerable spinster lay in the small dark hands blazing with gems,
and held them fast as if she would have held them there forever, while
her eyes never for an instant wandered from the sweet smiling face.

And at Georgia's feet knelt another--a vision in robes snowy white, with
the sweetest, fairest face ever sun shone or moon beamed on--one who
looked like a stray seraph in her white garments, and floating golden
curls, and sweet, beautiful violet eyes. Dear little Emily Murray,
sweeter and fairer than ever she looked nestling there, crying and
laughing together, and clinging to Georgia as though she would never let
her go again.

"And to think you should have seen so much, and come through such
strange scenes!" sobbed Emily, laughing at the same time; "to think you
should have found a brother, and traveled all over Europe, and then come
back and found yourself the wife of the greatest man of the age! Oh,
dear me!" said little Emily, laughing and swallowing a sob, "it is _so_
funny and _so_ strange to find our Georgia back here in the old cottage
again."

"But it's very nice--now ain't it, Emily?" said Miss Jerusha,
complacently.

"Nice! I guess it is," said Emily, clasping Georgia tighter. "Oh,
Georgia! I've lain awake night after night, crying and thinking about
you, and wondering what had become of you, and oh! so frightened lest
you should be dead--drowned, or frozen, or something; and in the stormy
nights all that long winter I never could sleep for fear you might be
out in the frost and cold, without a home or friends. Oh, Georgia! I did
feel so restless and miserable all that winter, for fear, while I was
warm and sheltered, you might be lying in the bleak streets cold and
dead." And little Emily sobbed.

"Dear little Emily!" said Georgia, kissing her.

"And, oh, it is so nice to think you have become a devout Christian,"
said Emily, changing from sobbing to laughing again, "and I am _so_
glad. Oh, dear me! how funny everything happens, to be sure. And Charley
Wildair, too," pursued Emily; "I am sure I never thought _he_ would be a
clergyman; but I am very, very glad. Oh, I am so happy," said Emily,
laughing, and squeezing Georgia's waist, "that I don't know what to do
with myself."

"Nor me neither, I don't now, railly," said Miss Jerusha, who was the
very picture of composure.

"Dear Miss Jerusha," said Georgia caressingly, "and won't you forgive
Richmond--he really does not merit your anger, and wants to be forgiven
and be friends with you again so much. Please do."

"Oh, you must, Miss Jerusha, you know," said Emily, seizing her other
hand, and putting her happy little face close up to hers, "it won't do
to refuse a governor your pardon. You must forgive him, please--won't
you, Miss Jerusha?"

"Well, now, I don't know," said Miss Jerusha, relentingly, "he did treat
you dreffully, Georgey, but----"

"No, he didn't Miss Jerusha--just served her right," said Emily,
"Georgia was naughty, I know, and didn't behave well. There, she
forgives him--look, she's going to laugh. Oh, say yes, Miss Jerusha."

"Well, '_yes_' then; does that please you?" said Miss Jerusha, breaking
into a grim smile.

"Dear Miss Jerusha, accept my best thanks for that," said Georgia, with
radiant face, "and now, may I send Fly up for him to Richmond House,
that he may hear your forgiveness from your own lips?"

"Well, yes, I s'pose so," said Miss Jerusha, rubbing her nose; "and see
here, Georgey, while you're about it, I reckon you might as well send
for that there brother o' your'n too; I turned him out o' doors once,
and while I'm forgiving that there graceless husband o' your'n, I guess
I'll get him to forgive _me_."

Georgia laughed, and went out to the kitchen to despatch Fly off on the
errand.

"Perhaps I had better go," said Emily, timidly, "I--I think I'd rather.
It's so long since I met Mr. Wildair that I don't like to now."

"Pooh, nonsense," said Georgia laughing, "don't like to meet Mr.
Wildair, indeed! Not a step shall you go until they come, and besides, I
want to make you acquainted with my poet brother, who is a handsome
fellow!" and Georgia's eyes sparkled.

"Does he look like you, Georgia?" said Emily, meditatively.

"Not a bit; better looking," smiled Georgia. "And oh, Em, there's a
particular friend of yours up at the hall, a certain Mr. Curtis, if you
remember him."

"He's not a particular friend of mine," said Emily, pouting and
blushing. "I don't know anything about him. I wish he hadn't come."

"How flattered he would feel if he heard that. You refused him, didn't
you, Emily?"

"Oh, Georgia, don't tease," said Emily, springing up and turning half
pettishly away.

Georgia laughed, and silence for awhile fell on all three, broken at
last by the sound of carriage wheels, and the next moment two tall
gentleman stood in the little moonlit parlor with their hats off, and
one of them stepping up to Miss Jerusha, extended his hand, and said,
with a smile:

"Well, Miss Jerusha, am I forgiven at last?"

There was no resisting that frank tone and pleasant smile. Miss Jerusha
looked meditatively at his proffered hand a moment, and then grasped it
with an energy that made the governor of B---- wince, as she exclaimed:

"Well now, I railly don't think I ought, but Georgey says I shall hev
to, and I s'pose I've got to mind her. Mr. Wildair, how d'ye du? I'm
rail glad to hear they've made a governor of you, and I hope you'll
behave better for the future, and be good to Georgey."

"I shall certainly try to; but, Miss Jerusha, I was almost as much
sinned against as sinning. That malicious little cousin of mine, you
know----"

"Oh, I know; Georgey told me. Well, she won't interfere again, I
reckon--a impident little whipper-snapper, speaking as sassy to Georgey
as if she was mistress herself, and allers grinnin' like a chessy cat."

"And has Miss Jerusha no greeting for me? Has she forgotten the little
boy who paid her a visit one stormy Christmas eve long ago?" said
Warren, as he advanced smilingly, shaking back his dark, clustering
hair.

"My conscience! you ain't he, are you? Tall as a flagstaff, I declare!
Forget you--no I guess I don't. I did behave most dreadfully that night
to turn you out; but gracious! I knew you wouldn't freeze or nothin',
and neither you did, you see."

"No I am frost-proof," said Warren, laughing; "but I owe you a long debt
of gratitude for the care you took of this wild sister of mine all those
years, Miss Jerusha. Come," he said, extending his hand, "we shall be
good friends now, shall we not?"

"That we shall," said Miss Jerusha, cordially shaking the hand he
extended. "My, to think the little feller I turned out that night should
come back sich a six-footer, and rail good-looking, too, now ain't he,
Emily? Why, you weren't the size of a well-grown doughnut then, you
know. Good gracious! jist to think how funny things _will_ turn out.
'Clare to man, if it ain't the queerest world I ever heerd tell of!"

Miss Jerusha wiped her spectacles meditatively, and gave a small,
mottled kitten who came purring round her a thoughtful kick.

"Hallo!" said Richmond, picking it up. "One of Betsey Periwinkle's. How
is that intelligent domestic quadruped, Miss Jerusha? She and I used to
be tremendous friends long ago, you know."

"Yes, I know; she was no ways proud, and made friends with most people,"
said Miss Jerusha, complacently; "that's Betsey's youngest. She's raised
several small families since, and is beginning to fall into the old ages
o' life now. Ah, well! sich things must be expected; everybody gets old,
you know--even Betsey Periwinkle."

Very swiftly passed that evening. It seemed as if the old happy days had
come back--those unclouded days, when no shadow of the darkness to come
had yet risen on horizon. Only one face was needed there to complete the
circle, one voice to complete the charm; but that bright young head lay
low now, the tall grass waved over that familiar face, and that clear,
spirited voice was silenced forever. Tears sprang to Miss Jerusha's hard
gray eyes, as she listened to the tale of the noble life and early
death of her light-hearted favorite, and little Emily sobbed.

"You must give up this little cottage, Miss Jerusha," said Richmond,
before they left that evening, "and come and live with Georgia and me.
Once upon a time you admired Richmond House, and now you must make it
your home."

"Do, Miss Jerusha! Oh, dear Miss Jerusha, do!" cried Georgia, eagerly;
"it will make me so happy to have you always near me. And you shall
bring Fly and Betsey Periwinkle and all the little Betseys, and we will
be ever so happy together."

But Miss Jerusha shook her head.

"Mr. Richmond, I'm obliged to you, and you, too, Georgey, but I sha'n't
leave the old homestead while I live. My father and mother, and all our
folks, since the time of the revolution long ago, hev lived and died
here, and I don't want to be the first to leave it. I can see you every
day as long as you're in Burnfield; and whether I went to live with you
or not I wouldn't go with you to the city--a noisy, nasty place! So, I
reckon I shall keep on living here; very much obliged to you both at the
same time, as I said afore."

And from this resolution nothing could move her--no amount of coaxing
could induce her to depart from it. The laws of the Medes and Persians
might be changed, but Miss Jerusha Skamp's determination never!

It was late when they returned to Richmond House, where they found Mr.
Curtis solacing himself with a cigar; his chair tipped back and his
heels reposing on the low marble mantel, and yawning disconsolately as
he glanced drearily over the _Burnfield Recorder_.

"Got back, have you?" he said, looking up as our party entered; "and
time, I should say. What precious soft seats your excellency and the
rest of you must have found in Miss Jerusha's. Quarter to twelve, as I
am a sinner! I wonder Miss Skamp didn't turn you out. How is that
ancient vestal?"

"In excellent health," replied Richmond, throwing himself on a lounge,
"and perfectly unchanged since you saw her last. By the way, there was a
young friend of yours there, Dick."

"Ah, was there?" said Mr. Curtis, twisting round suddenly in his chair,
and turning very red. "Aw--Bob Thompson, I daresay."

"Yes, if Bob Thompson is five feet three inches high, and has blue eyes,
pink cheeks, yellow curls, and white forehead, ditto a dress, and is in
the habit of wearing gold bracelets, and answering to the pretty name of
Emily."

"Ah--Miss Murray," said Mr. Curtis, thrusting his hands abruptly into
his pockets, and beginning, without the smallest provocation, to whistle
violently. "Nice little girl! How is _she_?"

"Ask Randall," said Richmond, with a slight laugh and a malicious glance
toward the gentleman in question. "He had Emily pretty much to himself
all the evening--took summary possession of the young lady, and the
moment he was introduced began to be as fascinating as he knew how.
Irresistible people are poets. Ask _him_."

Instead of asking him, however, Mr. Curtis favored the handsome poet
with a ferocious scowl, and then, flinging away his Havana, stalked out
of the room with tragic strides that would have made his fortune on the
stage.

Mr. Wildair laughed, and Mr. Randall looked after him with a slight
smile, but said nothing.

One week later Georgia learned his opinion. Emily had been spending the
evening at the hall, and had just gone home.

"What a dear little angel she is!" exclaimed Georgia; "so sweet, so
good, so gentle and loving. Her presence brightens the room the moment
she enters, like a ray of sunshine. Darling little Emily! how I love
her! I wish she were my sister."

Warren smiled, and placing a hand lightly on either shoulder, looked
down in her flushed, enthusiastic face.

"Belle Georgia," he said, meaningly, "_so do I_."

       *       *       *       *       *

And now let the curtain rise once more ere it falls again forever.

Five years have elapsed, but Burnfield and Richmond House are still the
same; a little larger, a little more noisy, a little more populous, but
nothing to speak of. The march of improvement does not get ahead very
fast there.

There is a little brown cottage standing by the sea-shore, and sitting
in the "best room" is an elderly lady knitting away as if the fate of
kingdoms depended on it. Such a spotless best room as it is; not a speck
of dust to be seen anywhere, the very covers of the "Pilgrim's Progress"
and "Robinson Crusoe" fairly glitter with cleanliness, and it's
absolutely dangerous for a person of weak eyes to look at the chairs and
painted floor, so perfectly dazzling are they. The old lady herself,
albeit a little stiff and prim in her dress, is as bright as a new
penny, and although the said dress would at the present day be called
somewhat skimpy, it is a calico, like Joseph's coat of many colors, and
she is fairly gorgeous in it.

A demure, well-mannered, polite animal of the feline species reposes on
a rug at her feet, and blinks a pair of intensely green eyes in the
sunshine with a look of calm, philosophical happiness beautiful to see.
Betsey Periwinkle, our early friend, has departed this life, deeply
regretted by a large and respectable circle of acquaintances, and was
buried in state at the bottom of the garden, and the one now introduced
is a descendant of that amiable animal, and as such no doubt will be
cordially welcomed.

Out in the kitchen is a "cullud pusson" of the female persuasion, whose
black face glistens with happiness and a recent application of yellow
soap, who sits chewing gum and sewing at a new turban with a look of
contentment.

But there is one other inmate of that best room--a stranger to you,
reader, whom I now hasten to introduce. It is a young lady of some three
years old, who goes skipping along, alternately tumbling down, and after
emitting one or two shrill yells, which she considers necessary to draw
attention to the clever way in which the fall was managed, crawls up
again and resumes her journey round the room, until she thinks proper to
undergo another upset.

This small individual, not to be mysterious, is Miss Georgia Wildair,
eldest daughter of his excellency, Richmond Wildair, of Richmond House.
A pocket edition of our early friend Georgia she is, with the same hot,
fiery temper, but never will it lead her into such trouble as her
mother's has done, for the restraining hand of religion will hold her
back, and little Miss Wildair, the heiress, will be taught what our
Georgia never was, to "Remember her Creator in the days of her youth;"
and this little lady is the pride and darling of Miss Jerusha's heart,
and spends, while papa and mamma rusticate in Burnfield, a great deal
more of her time in the cottage than in the hall, and enjoys herself
hugely with Fly and Betsey Periwinkle.

And now, reader, to that worthy cat, to the sable handmaiden, to the
little heiress, and to our old friend Miss Jerusha Glory Ann Skamp, you
and I must bid farewell.

A new scene rises before us. A large and elegantly furnished parlor,
where pictures, and statuary, and curtains, and lounges, and last, but
not least, a genial fire, make everything at once graceful and
home-like. A lady, young and beautiful, but with a calm, chastened sort
of beauty, and a soft, subdued smile, sits in a low nursing-chair and
holds a baby, evidently quite a recent prize, who lies making frantic
efforts to swallow its own little, fat fists, and hitting its invisible
little nose desperate blows in the vain endeavor. This young gentleman
is Master Richmond Wildair, while in "nurse's" lap, at a little
distance, his eldest brother Master Charley, a youth of some sixteen
months, is jumping and crowing, and evidently having a heap of fun all
to himself. These manifestations of delight at last grow so obstreperous
that a handsome, stately gentleman who lies on a sofa near, reading the
paper, looks up with a smile.

"What a noisy youth this boy of yours is, Georgia!" he says, looking at
Master Charley; "he is evidently bent on making himself heard in this
world. Come Charley, be quiet; papa can't read."

But Charley, who had no intention of being bound over to keep the peace,
no sooner hears papa's voice than, with a crow an octave higher than any
of its predecessors, he holds out his arms and lisps:

"Papa, tate Tarley! papa, tate Tarley!"

"Now do put down that stupid paper, Richmond, and take poor 'Tarley,'"
says Georgia, looking up with her bright smile. "Bring him over, nurse."

"Well, I suppose I must," Richmond says, resigning himself as a man
always must in such cases, and holding out his arms to "Tarley," who,
with an exultant crow, leaps in and immediately buries two chubby little
hands in papa's hair. "Where's Georgia?"

"Oh, down at the cottage, of course," says the lady, laughing; "when is
Georgia ever to be found anywhere else? Dear Miss Jerusha! it does make
her so happy to have her there; so while we live in Burnfield we may as
well let her stay there."

"Oh, certainly--certainly," replies Richmond, with tears in his eyes as
Master "Tarley" gives an unusually vigorous pull to his scalp-lock. "And
by the way, my dear, guess from whom I heard to-day?"

"Who--Warren?" inquires Georgia eagerly.

"No--Curtis," says his excellency, laughing. "Poor Dick's done for at
last. Miss Maggie What's-her-name Leonard, the one with the curls and
always laughing, has finished him. As the king in the play says, 'I
could have better spared a better man.'"

"Why, you don't mean to say he has married her?" says Georgia, in
extreme surprise. "Well, I _am_ surprised. Where is he now?"

"Off in the South for a bridal tour, and then he will return and resume
his duties as my secretary. There goes the tea-bell. Here, nurse, take
Master 'Tarley.' Come, Georgia."

Look with me on another scene, reader. The beautiful moon rides high
over the blue Adriatic; the bright cloudless sky of glorious Italy is
overhead, that sky of which poets have sung, and artists have dreamed,
and old, sweet romancers have pictured, and gazing up at its serene
beauty with uncovered brow, stands a poet from a foreign land, with his
blue-eyed bride. You know them both; you need no introduction; you
cannot mistake them, for the lofty mien and gallant bearing of Warren,
and the soft holy blue eyes and seraphic smile of Emily are unchanged.
Some day, when they are tired wandering under the storied skies of the
old world, they will come back to the land of their birth, but you and I
will see them no more.

On the last scene of all let the curtain rise ere it drops again
forever.

In a sunny corner of a sunny church-yard, where the sweet wild roses
swing in the soft west wind, where trees wave and birds sing, and a
little brook near murmurs dreamily as it flows along, is a grave, with a
marble cross above, bearing the name of "Charles Wildair," and
underneath the inscription, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
Tread lightly, reader; hold your breath as you gaze. Kneel and pray in
awe, for a saint lies there.

And now that the story is finished, I see the sagacious reader putting
on his spectacles to look for the moral. Good old soul! With the help of
a microscope he _may_ find it; may Heaven aid him in his search; but
lest he should fail, I must decamp. Reader, adieu!


                                THE END.



  1885. 1885. G. W. Carleton & Co.

  NEW BOOKS AND NEW EDITIONS, RECENTLY ISSUED BY G. W. CARLETON & CO.,
  Publishers, 33 West 23d Street, New York.

  The Publishers, on receipt of price, will send any book on this
  Catalogue by mail, _postage free_.

  All handsomely bound in cloth, with gilt backs suitable for libraries.


                 Mary J. Holmes' Novels.

  Tempest and Sunshine.                       $1 50
  English Orphans.                             1 50
  Homestead on the Hillside.                   1 50
  'Lena Rivers.                                1 50
  Meadow Brook.                                1 50
  Dora Deane.                                  1 50
  Cousin Maude.                                1 50
  Marian Grey.                                 1 50
  Edith Lyle.                                  1 50
  Daisy Thornton.                              1 50
  Chateau D'Or.                                1 50
  Queenie Hetherton. (New)                     1 50
  Darkness and Daylight.                       1 50
  Hugh Worthington.                            1 50
  Cameron Pride.                               1 50
  Rose Mather.                                 1 50
  Ethelyn's Mistake.                           1 50
  Millbank.                                    1 50
  Edna Browning.                               1 50
  West Lawn.                                   1 50
  Mildred.                                     1 50
  Forrest House.                               1 50
  Madeline. (New)                              1 50
  Christmas Stories--and portrait.             1 50

   Charles Dickens--15 Vols.--"Carleton's Edition."

  Pickwick and Catalogue.                     $1 50
  Dombey and Son.                              1 50
  Bleak House.                                 1 50
  Martin Chuzzlewit.                           1 50
  Barnaby Rudge--Edwin Drood.                  1 50
  Child's England--Miscellaneous.              1 50
  Christmas Books--Two Cities.                 1 50
  Oliver Twist--Uncommercial.                  1 50
  David Copperfield.                           1 50
  Nicholas Nickleby.                           1 50
  Little Dorrit.                               1 50
  Our Mutual Friend.                           1 50
  Curiosity Shop--Miscellaneous.               1 50
  Sketches by Boz--Hard Times.                 1 50
  Great Expectations--Italy.                   1 50
  _Full Sets_ in half calf bindings.          50 00


               Marion Harland's Novels.

  Alone.                                      $1 50
  Hidden Path.                                 1 50
  Moss Side.                                   1 50
  Nemesis.                                     1 50
  Miriam.                                      1 50
  At Last.                                     1 50
  Sunnybank.                                   1 50
  Ruby's Husband.                              1 50
  My Little Love.                              1 50
  True as Steel. (New)                         1 50


              Augusta J. Evans' Novels.

  Beulah.                                     $1 75
  Macaria.                                     1 75
  Inez.                                        1 75
  St. Elmo.                                    2 00
  Vashti.                                      2 00
  Infelice. (New)                              2 00


             Carleton's Popular Quotations.

  Carleton's New Hand Book--Familiar Quotations,
  with their authorship.                      $1 50
  Carleton's Classical Dictionary--A
  Condensed Mythology for popular use.           75


             May Agnes Fleming's Novels.

  Guy Earlscourt's Wife.                      $1 50
  A Wonderful Woman.                           1 50
  A Terrible Secret.                           1 50
  A Mad Marriage.                              1 50
  Norine's Revenge.                            1 50
  One Night's Mystery.                         1 50
  Kate Danton.                                 1 50
  Silent and True.                             1 50
  Maude Percy's Secret. (New)                  1 50
  Heir of Charlton.                            1 50
  Carried by Storm.                            1 50
  Lost for a Woman.                            1 50
  A Wife's Tragedy.                            1 50
  A Changed Heart.                             1 50
  Pride and Passion.                           1 50
  Sharing Her Crime.                           1 50
  A Wronged Wife. (New)                        1 50


              Allan Pinkerton's Works.

  Expressmen and Detectives.                  $1 50
  Mollie Maguires and Detectives.              1 50
  Somnambulists and Detectives.                1 50
  Claude Melnotte and Detectives.              1 50
  Criminal Reminiscences, etc.                 1 50
  Rail-Road Forger, etc.                       1 50
  Bank Robbers and Detectives.                 1 50
  Gypsies and Detectives.                      1 50
  Spiritualists and Detectives.                1 50
  Model Town and Detectives.                   1 50
  Strikers, Communists, etc.                   1 50
  Mississippi Outlaws, etc.                    1 50
  Bucholz and Detectives.                      1 50
  Burglar's Fate and Detectives.               1 50


                 Bertha Clay's Novels.

  Thrown on the World.                        $1 50
  A Bitter Atonement.                          1 50
  Love Works Wonders.                          1 50
  Evelyn's Folly.                              1 50
  Under a Shadow.                              1 50
  Beyond Pardon. (New)                         1 50
  A Woman's Temptation.                        1 50
  Repented at Leisure.                         1 50
  A Struggle for a Ring.                       1 50
  Lady Damer's Secret.                         1 50
  Between Two Loves. (New)                    1 50


              "New York Weekly" Series.

  Brownie's Triumph--Sheldon.                 $1 50
  The Forsaken Bride.    do.                   1 50
  Earl Wayne's Nobility. do.                   1 50
  Lost, a Pearle--       do.                   1 50
  Young Mrs. Charnleigh-Henshew.               1 50
  His Other Wife--Ashleigh.                    1 50
  A Woman's Web--Maitland.                     1 50
  Curse of Everleigh--Pierce.                  1 50
  Peerless Cathleen--Agnew.                    1 50
  Faithful Margaret--Ashmore.                  1 50
  Nick Whiffles--Robinson.                     1 50
  Grinder Papers--Dallas.                      1 50
  Lady Leonora--Conklin.                       1 50


           Miriam Coles Harris' Novels.

  Rutledge.                                   $1 50
  Frank Warrington.                            1 50
  Louie's Last Term, St. Mary's.               1 50
  Missy.                                       1 50
  A Perfect Adonis.                            1 50
  The Sutherlands.                             1 50
  St. Philips.                                 1 50
  Round Hearts for Children.                   1 50
  Richard Vandermarck.                         1 50
  Happy-Go-Lucky. (New)                        1 50


             A. S. Roe's Select Stories.

  True to the Last.                           $1 50
  The Star and the Cloud.                      1 50
  How Could He Help It?                        1 50
  A Long Look Ahead.                           1 50
  I've Been Thinking.                          1 50
  To Love and to be Loved.                     1 50


             Julie P. Smith's Novels.

  Widow Goldsmith's Daughter.                 $1 50
  Chris and Otho.                              1 50
  Ten Old Maids.                               1 50
  Lucy.                                        1 50
  His Young Wife.                              1 50
  The Widower.                                 1 50
  The Married Belle.                           1 50
  Courting and Farming.                        1 50
  Kiss and be Friends.                         1 50
  Blossom Bud. (New)                           1 50


                     Artemas Ward.

  Complete Comic Writings--With Biography,
  Portrait and 50 illustrations.              $1 50


                   The Game of Whist.

  Pole on Whist--The English standard work.
  With the "Portland Rules".                  $0 75


               Victor Hugo's Great Novel.

  Les Miserables--Translated from the French.
  The only complete edition.                  $1 50


                 Mrs. Hill's Cook Book.

  Mrs. A. P. Hill's New Southern Cookery Book,
  and domestic receipts.                      $2 00


               Celia E. Gardner's Novels.

  Stolen Waters. (In verse)                   $1 50
  Broken Dreams.     do.                       1 50
  Compensation.      do.                       1 50
  A Twisted Skein.   do.                       1 50
  Tested.                                      1 50
  Rich Medway.                                 1 50
  A Woman's Wiles.                             1 50
  Terrace Roses.                               1 50



  +---------------------------------------------------------------+
  |                  Transcriber's Note:--                        |
  |                                                               |
  | Punctuation errors have been corrected.                       |
  |                                                               |
  | The following suspected printer's errors have been addressed. |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 8. cought changed to caught.                             |
  | (caught hold of the drowsy little darkey)                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 34. staid changed to stayed.                             |
  | (stayed there to get warm)                                    |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 39. duplicate word 'her' deleted.                        |
  | (I've hed twisted her neck)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 42. their changed to there.                              |
  | (there she lay)                                               |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 55. peronally changed to personally.                     |
  | (regarding myself personally)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 58. disgreeable changed to disagreeable.                 |
  | (mamma never was disagreeable)                                |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 60. started changed to stared.                           |
  | (and stared at the little girl)                               |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 61. yon changed to you.                                  |
  | (to differ from you in that opinion)                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 68. wore changed to were.                                |
  | (if they were to make me)                                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 71. havn't changed to haven't.                           |
  | (I haven't been fighting)                                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 96. definant changed to defiant.                         |
  | (one of the bright defiant flashes)                           |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 122. attemps changed to attempts.                        |
  | (of all attempts to comb it)                                  |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 132. vissions changed to visions.                        |
  | (rainbow-tinted visions)                                      |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 136. Oh changed to On.                                   |
  | (On a high rock)                                              |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 139. yonng changed to young.                             |
  | (this scornful young empress)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 145. duplicate word 'old' deleted.                       |
  | (murmuring old trees)                                         |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 147. managerie changed to menagerie.                     |
  | (set up a menagerie)                                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 148. masket changed to market.                           |
  | (trudge with him to market)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 153. commited changed to committed.                      |
  | (cannot have committed a crime)                               |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 158. statutes changed to statues.                        |
  | (and statues of Hemes)                                        |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 168. month changed to mouth.                             |
  | (opened her mouth and eyes)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 174. ment changed to meant.                              |
  | (was the heiress I meant)                                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 184. breath changed to breadth.                          |
  | (sundry hair-breadth escapes)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 202. pronouced changed to pronounced.                    |
  | (never pronounced the letter R)                               |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 202. un changed to an.                                   |
  | (to be an unmistakeable look)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 203. akward changed to awkward.                          |
  | (breaking the awkward silence)                                |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 204. ahd changed to and.                                 |
  | (and that, in spite of)                                       |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 209. Arlington changed to Arlingford.                    |
  | (Miss Arlingford was known)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 209. percieve changed to perceive.                       |
  | (Oh, I perceive, said Mrs. Waldair)                           |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 213. you changed to your.                                |
  | (pardon for your insane conduct)                              |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 225. exclamed changed to exclaimed.                      |
  | (exclaimed Mrs. Waldair)                                      |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 228. passed changed to past.                             |
  | (flashed past Mrs. Wildair)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 230. she changed to he.                                  |
  | (saying, as he did so)                                        |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 238. whity changed to whitey.                            |
  | (that whitey-brown complexion)                                |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 256. occured changed to occurred.                        |
  | (if nothing had occurred)                                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 258. be flounced changed to be-flounced.                 |
  | (be-flounced stuck-up piece)                                  |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 259. greatful changed to grateful.                       |
  | (instead of being grateful)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 269. nome changed to name.                               |
  | (to drop his name)                                            |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 271. businees changed to business.                       |
  | (to settle business)                                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 271. our changed to your.                                |
  | (my answer to your advertisement)                             |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 274. foward changed to forward.                          |
  | (she could look forward to)                                   |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 288. featurers changed to features.                      |
  | (dainty features)                                             |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 290. or changed to on.                                   |
  | (as time passed on)                                           |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 296. cost changed to coast.                              |
  | (that the coast was clear)                                    |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 306. throughfare changed to thoroughfare.                |
  | (made the public thoroughfare)                                |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 307. ows changed to owes.                                |
  | (she owes to society)                                         |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 310. ths changed to the.                                 |
  | (one of the servants)                                         |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 320. Acadamy changed to Academy.                         |
  | (the Academy of Art)                                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 332. initals changed to initials.                        |
  | (the initials of the artists name)                            |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 333. Hager changed to Hagar.                             |
  | (the artist of Hagar)                                         |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 336. har changed to her.                                 |
  | (laying her hand fondly)                                      |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 343. feel changed to fell.                               |
  | (and so fell asleep)                                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 345. staid changed to stayed.                            |
  | (if I had stayed long enough)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 354. apopletic changed to apoplectic.                    |
  | (like an apoplectic alderman)                                 |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 363. supprise changed to surprise.                       |
  | (of the surprise in store)                                    |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 372. futher changed to further.                          |
  | (if any further particulars)                                  |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 373. soley changed to solely.                            |
  | (it solely belongs to me)                                     |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 387. exerybody changed to everybody.                     |
  | (everybody gets old)                                          |
  |                                                               |
  | Page 390. suushine changed to sunshine.                       |
  | (like a ray of sunshine)                                      |
  |                                                               |
  +---------------------------------------------------------------+





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Actress' Daughter - A Novel" ***

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