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´╗┐Title: Silent Struggles
Author: Stephens, Ann S. (Ann Sophia), 1810-1886
Language: English
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SILENT STRUGGLES.

by

MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS.

Author of "The Wife's Secret," "The Rejected Wife," "Mary Derwent,"
"Fashion and Famine," "The Heiress," "The Old Homestead," etc., etc.


    A woman's heart, though delicate, is strong,
      Like virgin-gold it takes the furnace heat.
    Giving to history and immortal song
      A glow of heroism pure and sweet.

    Great men have sought the battle in their pride,
      Hewing a path to glory as they fell;
    But women, braver still, have grandly died
      In silent struggles--fame may never tell.



Philadelphia:
T. B. Peterson & Brothers,
306 Chestnut Street.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by
Mrs. Ann S. Stephens,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
in and for the Southern District of New York.



     DEDICATION.


     TO MRS. GEORGE H. PENFIELD, OF HARTFORD, CONN.

     DEAR LADY:--

     One of the sweetest privileges connected with the authorship of
     a book is, that it can be made the landmark of such love and
     kindly feeling as have united us from the day that we first met
     till now. Believe me, it shall not prove my fault if this
     dedication fails to link the future with the past, in one
     perfect and life-long friendship.

     ANN S. STEPHENS.

     NEW YORK, APRIL 8, 1865.



CONTENTS.


   CHAPTER I.       THE SHIP IN A STORM

   CHAPTER II.      THE OLD STONE HOUSE

   CHAPTER III.     THE MINISTER

   CHAPTER IV.      EARLY IN THE MORNING

   CHAPTER V.       SIR WILLIAM AND HIS WIFE

   CHAPTER VI.      A GUIDE TO THE FARM-HOUSE

   CHAPTER VII.     THE UNEXPECTED VISITOR

   CHAPTER VIII.    THE MINISTER AND HIS PUPIL

   CHAPTER IX.      THE FORCED SACRAMENT

   CHAPTER X.       HUNTED DOWN

   CHAPTER XI.      DOOMED TO SLAVERY

   CHAPTER XII.     ELIZABETH AND HER COUSIN

   CHAPTER XIII.    THE BROTHER AND SISTER

   CHAPTER XIV.     ANNA HUTCHINSON'S CURSE

   CHAPTER XV.      GIVEN UP TO REVENGE

   CHAPTER XVI.     THE ACCEPTED INVITATION

   CHAPTER XVII.    THE LOVER'S QUARREL

   CHAPTER XVIII.   GATHERING ROSES AND THORNS

   CHAPTER XIX.     CONVERSATION ON THE PORCH

   CHAPTER XX.      WILD JEALOUSY

   CHAPTER XXI.     PASSIONATE DENUNCIATIONS

   CHAPTER XXII.    THE DEATH FIRE

   CHAPTER XXIII.   TITUBA'S STORY CONTINUED

   CHAPTER XXIV.    AMONG THE SHADOWS

   CHAPTER XXV.     THE MORNING RIDE

   CHAPTER XXVI.    BACK TO THE HOMESTEAD

   CHAPTER XXVII.   THE CHIEF AND THE LADY

   CHAPTER XXVIII.  WORKING OF THE EVIL SPELL

   CHAPTER XXIX.    ASKING FOR SHELTER

   CHAPTER XXX.     STRANGE SHADOWS

   CHAPTER XXXI.    NOON IN THE WOODS

   CHAPTER XXXII.   THE BEACON FIRE

   CHAPTER XXXIII.  ALL OR NOTHING

   CHAPTER XXXIV.   TOWARD THE SHORE

   CHAPTER XXXV.    UNACCOUNTABLE SYMPATHIES

   CHAPTER XXXVI.   SOUL TORTURES

   CHAPTER XXXVII.  DENUNCIATIONS AND REPROACHES

   CHAPTER XXXVIII. SHELTERED IN THE WOODS

   CHAPTER XXXIX.   TAKEN CAPTIVE

   CHAPTER XL.      THE ACCUSERS OF BARBARA

   CHAPTER XLI.     BARBARA IN HER DUNGEON

   CHAPTER XLII.    OLD FRIENDS IN COUNCIL

   CHAPTER XLIII.   THE MINISTER'S EVIDENCE

   CHAPTER XLIV.    PROGRESS OF THE TRIAL

   CHAPTER XLV.     CONCLUDING TESTIMONY

   CHAPTER XLVI.    THE STRANGE ADVOCATE

   CHAPTER XLVII.   THE WIFE'S APPEAL

   CHAPTER XLVIII.  THE FOREIGN PACKAGE

   CHAPTER XLIX.    STRANGE TIDINGS

   CHAPTER L.       BARBARA STAFFORD'S STORY

   CHAPTER LI.      A MOTHER

   CHAPTER LII.     THE LAST WISH

   CHAPTER LIII.    THE PRISON WEDDING

   CHAPTER LIV.     THE ICE COVE

   CHAPTER LV.      CLOSING SCENES

   CHAPTER LVI.     OVER THE WATER



SILENT STRUGGLES.



CHAPTER I.

THE SHIP IN A STORM.


A storm had been lowering all day over the harbor of Boston, heaping the
horizon with vast leaden embankments of heavy vapor, and shrouding the
hills with dense floating fog that clung around them in waves and masses
like draperies sweeping around some old monastic ruin. As the night
approached, a sharp wind came up from the east, accompanied by a
drifting rain that cut through the fog like a storm of silver shot. The
force of the tempest swept this away only to reveal the harbor in wild
turmoil, its waters heaving shoreward filled with muttering thunders
from the far off ocean, and each hill reverberating hoarsely to their
impetuous charge against its foundations.

It was a terrible hour for any unfortunate wayfarer who dared to be
abroad. The streets of the town were almost empty, and the wharves
utterly deserted save by a half dozen poor fishermen, who struggled to
keep their boats from being dashed to pieces against the timbers to
which they were chained. But the turbid waves leaped around and over
them, tearing the cables from their hold and beating the little crafts
to atoms or hurling them away like nutshells in the stormy riot.

As the day wore on, even these poor fishermen retreated in-doors,
leaving their little property to the tempest, and both earth and ocean
were given up to the storm. But on the heights which look seaward stood
two men thrown together even in that tempest into a strange and what
seemed an almost unnatural companionship; for in age, character, and
appearance each was a direct contrast to the other.

The storm beat heavily on them both, and though one from his age, and
the other from an education which had been almost effeminate, seemed
unlikely to brave a tempest like that without an important motive, it
would have been impossible for either of these men to have told what
brought them on the heights that boisterous day.

The old man had reached the hill first, and stood with his face to the
storm, looking out upon the turbulent waste of ocean with an anxious,
almost wild gaze, as if he were expecting some object long desired and
watched for to rise out of that leaden distance, and reward his steady
encounter of the elements.

The young man came up the ascent with a quick, struggling step, for the
storm was in his face, and he was compelled to fight it inch by inch. He
had shaded his eyes from the pelting rain, and cast an earnest gaze into
the distance, as if he, too, expected something, when the old man's
cloak was seized by the wind, and borne out with a rush and flutter like
the wing of a great bird, which made the youth conscious of another
presence. He looked around suddenly, and stepped forward, lifting the
hat from his head, with grave respect.

"Another man here, so far from town, and in all the tempest? I thought
that no one but a harum-scarum youngster like myself would venture forth
in a storm like this!"

"And I," answered the person thus addressed, sweeping back the iron gray
locks, that fell wet and scattered over his forehead, with a hand like
withered parchment, "I, too, believed that nothing but an old wanderer,
impelled by the spirit which he can never resist, would dare the wind on
these heights. Look, young man, for the rain blinds me: discern you
nothing in the distance yonder?"

The young man again sheltered his eyes with one hand, looking earnestly
forth towards the ocean.

"Nothing," he said at last. "I have searched that pile of clouds before,
and find only deeper blackness now."

"Searched it before! Did you expect something, then?" questioned the old
man, turning a pair of bright, gray eyes upon his companion. "Did you
expect something?"

As he spoke those eyes grew wild, and the penetrating glance, which he
bent upon the youth from under his heavy brows, struck to the young
heart, which was open to a new impression every moment.

"Nay, I do not know. It can be nothing but that unaccountable
restlessness which never leaves me in peace when a storm is howling over
the ocean. I could not stay in-doors--indeed, I never can on such
days--and, without knowing why, came up here to look this whirlwind in
the face, which, in return, is almost lifting me from my feet!"

The old man did not heed him, but stooped forward, looking towards the
ocean, while the rain beat against his face, dripping down in great
drops over his gray eye-brows, and deluging the hand with which he
strove to clear the blinding moisture away.

"It is coming! the clouds lift--the darkness is cleft--the bosom of the
deep heaves with life! Young man, look again! See you not the faint
outlines of a ship, spars, hull, and sails, reefed close--there--there,
riding in the bosom of the storm?"

He broke off with this exclamation, and drew his tall figure upright,
pointing towards the sea with a gesture of almost solemn exultation.

"Is that a ship, I say, or a bleak skeleton of the thing I have been
waiting for?"

"Upon my life--upon my soul, ten thousand pardons--but I think it really
is a ship, or some evil spirit has pencilled the skeleton of his devil's
craft in the clouds."

"Ha!" ejaculated the old man with a start, "see, see!"

The strange being might well cry out with astonishment. As he looked the
great embankment of clouds was torn asunder, and a burst of fire kindled
up its edges till it hung like streamers and tatters of flame around a
vessel of considerable size, which was, for the instant, lifted out of
the cloud into full view. The young man, whose sight was clear, could
even detect persons grouped upon the deck.

"It is a signal gun. She wants a pilot, or is in distress," he said,
eagerly. "Ha! she blazes out once more--they are casting her anchor.
Heavens, how she plunges! There--there, the cloud swallows her again!"

The old man had fallen upon his knees, allowing his long, gray cloak to
sweep away with the wind. He locked both hands over his face, and seemed
to be offering up either thanksgiving or entreaties to heaven; for his
voice, sharp and piercing, penetrated the storm too impetuously for the
words to be distinguished.

The young man stood a moment, reluctant to disturb him. That thin form
was completely exposed to the storm, and he could not refrain from an
attempt to rescue the old man's cloak from the wind, and gather it about
him. Besides, the grass was completely saturated on which he knelt, and
to remain upon it longer might bring a death chill.

"Sir, forgive me, but this is a dangerous place for prayer. The earth is
deluged where you kneel."

The old man struggled to his feet, and looked down upon the crushed
grass with humiliation and wonder.

"Kneel! did I in truth kneel?" he said, anxiously, like one who excuses
himself from a grave crime; "and here, in the open day? I beseech you,
remember, my young friend, that it was the surprise of yon ship and the
tempest which cast me into that unseemly position. When a servant of God
prays, it should be standing upright, face to face with the Being after
whose image he was made."

"You were, indeed greatly overcome," answered the youth, arranging the
folds of the old man's cloak. "The ship yonder must contain some dear
friend, that its appearance should move you so deeply."

"Some dear friend! Samuel Parris has no friends to expect from the
mother-land now. It is many years since he and all that is left of his
kin took root in the New World."

"And yet you were looking for the ship so anxiously?"

"Aye, young man. I was looking for something which was to come up from
the east through yon gate of clouds; but whether it was a weather-worn
vessel or an archangel sent on some special mission, was not told me."

"And you come hither expecting nothing?"

"Expecting every thing, for Jehovah is everywhere," answered the old
man, solemnly.

The youth was greatly impressed, his eye brightened.

"I only wish it were in my power to have expectations grounded on so
much faith," he said. "Now I come forth like a storm-bird, because a
strife of wind and water fills me with some grand expectation never
realized, but which seems always on the verge of fulfilment. You may
perchance smile, but it seems to me as if I had been months and years
watching for that very craft yonder, as if my own fate were anchored
with it in the storm. Nay, more, the guns, as they boomed over these
waves, seemed challenging me to meet some new destiny, and grapple with
it to the end, as I will--as I will!"

The young man stretched his arm towards the shadowy vessel, and his
slight, almost boyish form swelled with excitement, while the dark brown
eyes, usually bright and playful as a child's, darkened and grew larger
with the sudden excitement that had come upon him.

The minister grasped his outstretched arm, and fixed a steady gaze on
his face.

"And you also have been on the watch. Like me, you have come blindfold
through the storm, searching into the future for that ghostly ship,
where it spreads its shrouds of dull mist, and rocks upon the moaning
sea. Has the spirit of prophecy touched your young life also, that you
say these things with a shortened breath and white cheek, like one
terrified or inspired?"

"I know not," said the young man; "but, like you, I have expected that
visit long. In storm and darkness as it comes now have I seen it."

"How--where?" cried the old man, breathlessly.

"In my dreams or reveries, I know not which, it has floated often,
shrouded as it is now, impalpable, a phantom of spars and fog."

"And you have seen this?"

"No, not with my eyes; it comes across my life like a ghost whose
presence fills you with awe, but answers to no sense."

"Like a ghost which you would fain flee from and cannot. Is it thus the
spirit deals with you also?"

"Nay, I would not flee, it arouses my courage. Even now my heart leaps
toward yon vessel as if some precious thing lay in its hold which no one
but myself may dare to claim."

"This is strange--marvellously strange," said the minister, forgetting
himself in the enthusiasm of the young man.

"What is strange?"

"That we two should meet here for the first time in our lives, haunted
by the same dreams, waiting together for the same revelation. Heaven
forbid that this should prove a device of the evil one urging us on to
perdition. I trust that you have not come forth without fasting and
prayer, my young brother, for of a verity there is great need of both in
these latter days."

The youth smiled, for solemn thoughts made but brief impressions on him,
and the idea of quenching any one of his bright fancies by fasting or
prayer amused him exceedingly, notwithstanding the earnestness of the
old man's words.

The minister did not notice this gleam of levity, which would have
shocked him to the soul, for his eyes were fascinated by the strange
vessel, and he could not force them to look steadily on any other
object.

While the two men stood together the wind had shifted, carrying off the
rain. Through the gray mists left behind came a crimson glow from the
sun, which was that moment sinking behind the heights and shooting its
golden lances after the storm as it rolled slowly back upon the bosom of
the ocean.

"It is gone," said the old man, mournfully, as the heavy clouds settled
back upon the vessel; "the vapors have swallowed it up as usual. Let us
descend the hill, brother."

"Not yet--not yet!" cried the youth. "See! the storm is breaking away,
the sunset has drawn it seaward. Look, look how beautifully the vessel
pencils itself against that break of blue in the sky."

The old man turned again, and clasping his hands, murmured, "It is
neither phantom nor mist, but a ship of sturdy English oak, with masts
and spars standing. Hush!--young man, see you nothing upon the deck?"

"Yes, surely, a group of persons standing together."

"No, not that, nearer the bow!"

"It is the form of a woman alone, with her arms folded and her face
turned this way."

"Aye, the form of a woman with an outer garment of crimson, beneath
which her arms are crossed as she looks westward, is it not?"

"Truly you have described the woman, for, though I cannot see her
features, they are certainly turned this way."

"My sight is dim and will not serve me; tell me, stands the lady there
yet?"

"Yes, yes--clearer and clearer the sunset gathers over the vessel,
turning the angry waves to gold; the clouds are fringed with light, and
grow luminous around her. Sir, I entreat you tell me--who is this
woman?"

"Alas, I do not know."

"But the vessel, what is her name, from what port does she come?"

"How should I answer questions like these--I who never saw either the
vessel or the woman till now, save as shadows drifting through the
night. If yonder ship be, as it seems, of tough oak, and the woman a
living soul, then is the revelation complete and I may seek rest, sure
that the end will come."

The minister turned away as he spoke, and gathering the cloak around him
prepared to descend toward the town, but the young man lingered.

"Stay, stay!" he cried; "the people on board that craft are mad! No boat
could live in these waves, and yet they lower one to the water, and men
jump in, flinging themselves over the side of the vessel. Come back,
old man, she is preparing to descend. Her mantle gleams redly against
the black side of the ship; she gathers it around her like the wings
of a tropical bird, and settles down in the boat, which plunges and
rocks like a wild animal tugging at its chains. They loosen the
cable--a wave seizes upon the boat--it quivers upon the topmost
crest--plunges--and--oh! heavens! A man poises himself on the bulwarks
and leaps into the boiling ocean--the boat rocks heavily--turns to save
him--they grasp at his garments and attempt to pull him in--now the boat
is hurled onward and the poor man is lost--no! they fling a cable from
the vessel--he snatches it and they draw him up the sides again. But the
boat--another wave seizes it! Old man, old man, gather up your strength
and follow me. It is for this we have been brought together."

The youth ran forward as he spoke, taking the nearest path to the shore.
The minister followed after with a degree of energy that belied his
years. Now and then they caught a glimpse of the boat, struggling feebly
with the waves, and this gave them courage.

It was no slight distance that lay between the crest of that hill and
the broken shore at its foot; but space seemed nothing to the impetuous
young man. He rushed down the steep, calling out cheerfully for his
companion to be careful of the inequalities over which he bounded like a
deer, and at length stood panting on a curve of the beach, with his head
uncovered and his wild, bright eyes roving over the harbor in search of
the boat.

It was struggling up the harbor, beaten to and fro by the wind, which
seemed to come from every point at once, and tossed fearfully by the
waves that were wrangling together and leaping after it like ravenous
wolves.

It was evident that the sailors had lost all control of the little
craft, which fairly leaped in the water with a desperate strain, as if
mad to escape from its howling enemies. Suddenly the wind took it on the
crest of a wave, whirled it sheer about, and drove it on with fury
towards the point where Parris and his young companion stood.

A chain of sunken rocks girded the shore in that place, breaking up the
waves into innumerable whirlpools, and sending sheets of foam back upon
the storm. It scarcely seemed a minute when the boat made a plunge into
the midst of this terrible danger, and for an instant lay still, with
the angry foam boiling around it, and the white faces of its occupants
in full view. One man held the stump of a broken oar in his grasp, and
with its splintered end beat against the waves, as if this frantic
exertion would do them good. Another had lost his oar, and sat with his
arms folded, calmly surveying the land, with his wild eyes sternly
measuring the danger before him. Two other men toiled on with the
strength of giants, but the oars were no better than rushes in their
hands, and all their strength scarcely more than the flutter of dead
tree boughs against a wind like that.

All this the two men upon the shore took in at a glance. Then the
female, who had fallen forward upon her knees in the stern, absorbed
their whole attention. The face was turned that way, white and
contracted. Her hands were clasped and flung out with imploring anguish.
Her eyes gleamed, her frame quivered and rocked to and fro. The winds
had torn the bonnet from her head, and the waters dashing over the boat
saturated her crimson mantle till it hung heavily around her, and turned
purple under the scattered coils of her hair.

The boat gave a lurch: she started up, her white lips parted as if
uttering desperate cries; but if any escaped her they were swallowed by
the storm. Still their terrible eloquence broke forth in one wild
gesture, as she flung her locked hands upwards, and sunk down again,
shuddering and cowering into the bottom of the boat.

"She cannot live! she is lost!" cried the young man upon the beach,
frantic almost as the woman in her peril. "Is there no rope, no help,
nothing?"

"There is a God above," answered Parris, who stood with his gleaming
eyes fixed upon the boat.

The youth dashed out his arms against the wind, maddened by these heavy
words. Then, with a sudden cry, he darted forward and seized upon the
old man's cloak.

"Give it me--give it me!" he cried, rending it from the minister's
shoulders. "God expects his creatures to work when he sends danger--knot
these strips together if you would not see all those souls perish before
our eyes. Work, old man! Save that woman, and I, too, will kneel down
anywhere and give thanks to God honestly as you. Tie them firmly, and
tighten the knots with hand and foot--see--as I do."

While he spoke, the youth tore the old man's cloak into long strips,
using his delicate hands and white teeth simultaneously in the work; to
these he added his own short cloak, rent into fragments with equal
impetuosity.

The old man obeyed him, and began to knot the fragments together, while
the youth pressed his foot upon each knot, drew it firmly, and proceeded
to the next. A cable of some length was thus produced, which he tied
around his waist, while he flung the other end to the minister, who,
fired with sudden energy, followed the directions given him in stern
silence.

"Now come with me into the surf and hold firm, or you will have another
poor wretch to pray over," cried the young man. "Now, while that wave
goes out--ah! she strikes!--she falls apart!--there! there!--that red
heap in the foam!"

The youth plunged headlong into the waves. The old man stood waist deep,
with the end of the cable grasped firmly and wrapped around his right
arm. The winds dashed in his face and swept around his feet, striving to
uproot them, but he stood firm; the waters might as well have beat
against a pillar of iron. He felt the cable tighten with a jerk; for an
instant he saw the youth upon the crest of a wave, then all was roar and
darkness. A wave had rolled in and out again, straining at the cable
till it almost broke the old man's arm. Another rush of water. The cable
slackened, it was broken, or--wild hope--the waters which came roaring
in might bring the youth in their bosom.

The old man turned and fled up the shore, shouting a thanksgiving as he
felt the cable tighten in his hold. Like a monster that bears a child on
its bosom, the wave rushed up, and surged back again, leaving two human
beings struggling in its spent foam. A mass of dull crimson broke up
through the white froth, and tresses of long hair floated on the foam
wreaths.

The old man rushed back, seized upon these two lifeless creatures, and
dragged them to dry land. His iron energies were all aroused now; other
human beings were yet in the waves. He left the strange female and the
youth, helpless as they were, and went back in search of other lives.

It took time, for the poor boatmen were struggling hard for life, and
the storm fought them inch by inch, sweeping one man into eternity, and
washing over the others every moment.

While feelings of humanity transformed this dreamer into an activity
that would have astonished any one that knew him, the two persons he had
already saved lay senseless on the bank of ferns where he had cast them
down. It was not yet dark, and a black shadow from the hills rolled over
them, making their white faces ghastly as death. The woman was the first
to move; she struggled a little, clasping and unclasping her hands with
quick spasms of pain. Then the violet tinge grew to a faint flush on her
eyelids, and they quivered open, allowing two large gray eyes yet filled
with dull affright to look upward with vague wonder upon the sky.

Directly other senses awoke from their lethargy. The boom of the ocean
struck a shudder through all her frame; she began to tremble beneath the
cold sweep of the winds, and felt vaguely about with her hand for
something to fold about her.

Instead of the garment she sought, her hand fell across the pale face of
the young man, and struck a fresh chill to her heart. She began to
remember where she was, and what had happened. Her first thought was
that one of the dead seamen had been cast to her side, but, for a time,
she had no strength to rise up and look at the cold horror.



CHAPTER II.

THE OLD STONE HOUSE.


It must have been a death-chill, indeed, that could long restrain the
warm heart of Barbara Stafford. Her first real impulse was to arise, and
see if the poor man at her side was indeed dead.

The effort was a painful one, but, to her, will was strength. She lifted
her two hands, parted the wet locks from her face, struggled up to a
rest on one elbow, till her eyes fell on the pale, beautiful face of the
young man. Slowly her lips parted, and her large, wild eyes filled with
holy wonder. She was like a spirit just landed on the shores of
eternity, doubting if her companion were in truth an angel.

She held the dripping hair back from her cheek with one hand, for the
sight of that young face had arrested it there, and slowly over her
singular features dawned a pale, soft light, that illuminated her
countenance without leaving a tint of color there.

After a little, Barbara Stafford drew a deep, tremulous breath, that was
long in coming, for the holy depths of her heart could not be broken up
at once. She arose to a sitting posture, and lifted the head of the
young man to her lap.

That moment Samuel Parris came up followed by the three sailors his
courage had rescued.

"Ah, me!" said the old man, clasping his hands sorrowfully over the
body. "The youth has gone to his last account; there is no life here."

The woman looked quickly around; a spasm of pain contracted her features
when she saw the ocean, the dripping sailors, and that singular old man,
stricken with sorrow, and moaning over the cold form in her arms. She
was still of earth; this conviction left her gazing wistfully in the old
man's face; she was trying to comprehend the connection of his words. At
last, understanding them, she dropped her eyes sorrowfully downward
again.

"He is gone of a verity," said Parris, dropping the hand of the youth
from his fingers, which had been tremulously searching for the beat of a
pulse. "He has gone, and those that have seen him shall see him no
more."

Again Barbara Stafford lifted a gaze full of mournful intensity upon the
old man's face.

"Dead," she echoed, in a voice that thrilled even that rough atmosphere
with pathetic sweetness. "Dead! what, does he belong to that shore and I
to this? Oh, would to God I had died also!"

Her head bent slowly downward as she spoke. With her two hands she began
smoothing the wet hair back from that pale forehead. Then, as if
overcome with unaccountable tenderness, she bent down her mouth and
kissed it slowly, lingeringly, as the first sigh of returning life had
left her bosom.

Up to that moment the young man had lain frozen lifeless, without a beat
of the pulse or a flutter of the breath. As that woman's lips touched
his forehead, a shudder ran visibly through what seemed marble a moment
before, and a low cry broke from his lips. Life had come back to him
with a pang either of pain or pleasure; no one could tell which.

"Behold," said Samuel Parris with enthusiasm, "truly our Lord has worked
a miracle in behalf of this youth; for of a verity there was no life in
him when his hand rested in mine a moment since."

Barbara Stafford had withdrawn her lips from his forehead; but, as his
quivering eyelids opened, the look of strange tenderness with which she
bent over him penetrated to every fibre of his heart. The same holy
expression that had crept over her features a little time before, came
to his also, bringing warmth and color, almost a smile with it.

"At last!" he murmured, like one just aroused from a dream, "at last you
have come."

The words were uttered in a low murmur, but Barbara Stafford gathered
them into her heart unshared by the men about her; they heard a faint
moan, which spoke of returning life, nothing more.

By this time the whole group began to feel the cold insupportably. The
old man, without cloak or coat, shook in all his limbs, while the
sailors could hardly stand, so fierce had been their struggle with the
waves.

"Tell me," said Samuel Parris, addressing one of the sailors, "to whom
were you conveying this lady?--for such I take her to be."

"We do not know," answered the man; "she gave us a guinea a-piece to set
her upon one of the wharves yonder before sunset; that is all we can
tell you of the matter."

"Lady," said Parris, addressing Barbara directly, "we must find speedy
shelter or this new-born life will go out again."

The lady lifted her face; it was cramped and so cold that a violet tinge
shadowed the mouth and lay underneath the eyes.

"Yes, he is very cold," she said, gathering her wet mantle over the
youth; "have you nothing else?"

"Arouse yourself, lady," said the old man after a moment's perplexed
thought; "to remain here would be death to us all. It is impossible for
you or this youth to reach the town to-night. Around this curve of the
hill is a farm-house, where you can have rest. It is but a brief walk."

"Let us go before this ice touches his heart!" she said, earnestly. "I
can walk; carry him among you. Which way lies the house?"

Her teeth chattered as she spoke; but even this chill gave way to her
resolution.

Two of the sailors lifted the young man between them, and moved slowly
forward, following the lady, who leaned on the minister's arm. After the
first few steps the youth planted his feet more firmly on the earth,
and, though staggering from exhaustion, insisted on supporting the lady,
walking on one side while she kept the arm of the minister on the other.

At last a farm-house of stone, low-roofed and sheltered in a hollow of
the hills, presented itself. Samuel Parris knocked upon the door with
his knuckles two or three times, when a voice bade him "come in." He
pulled a thong which lifted a wooden latch inside, and entered a low
room in which a woman sat alone spinning on one of those small
flax-wheels with which our mothers in the olden time used to fill up the
leisure hours obtained from the general housework.

She was a spare, not to say gaunt woman, a little on the sunny side of
mid age; not exactly austere of countenance, but with a certain gravity
which was in that epoch considered an outward sign of experimental
religion.

The woman arose in evident surprise when her strange guests entered.
Pushing back the spinning-wheel with her foot, she stood bolt upright,
waiting to know what had brought them under her roof. Mr. Parris stepped
forward, and told his story in a few terse words, during which the good
wife was unbanding her wheel and removing the checked apron which had
protected her dress while at work.

"Walk in and make yourself to home, ma'am," said the housewife, opening
the door of an inner room and revealing a fire-place filled with pine
branches which looked drearily cold that heavy day. "The hired man is
out, but if one of these sailor men will bring in some wood from the
yard, I'll get some pitch pine knots and have a fire in no time."
Without more ceremony, the woman went to work, and in less than half an
hour Barbara Stafford was in a warm bed, with a bowl of herb tea smoking
on a little round table by her pillow, while her young preserver lay in
a smaller room equally well provided for.

For Samuel Parris and the sailors the good wife insisted on providing a
comfortable supper; and gave up her own bed to the minister, while she
found room for the unfortunate seamen in a loft of the house. In order
to accomplish this, she was sadly put about for blue and white yarn
coverlets with which to restore them to warmth, but stripped every bed
in the house, and, when that resource was exhausted, brought out all her
linsey-woolsey skirts and aprons as a substitute.

Early in the morning Norman Lovel was aroused from a deep slumber by the
hand of Samuel Parris laid gently on his shoulder. The youth started up,
shook back his hair which the dampness had left crisp and curling over
his forehead, and cast an astonished look around, which ended in a long,
half-angry gaze at his visitor.

"Oh!" he said, sweeping a hand once or twice across his eyes, then
turning his face toward the old man, with a smile.

"This is no dream, I suppose--though you are here with the roar of
waters too--a minute since I was fighting them like a tiger; but this is
a feather bed, and you stand upon a good oak floor. Is it not so?"

"Yes, thanks to the Holy of holies, we are safe!"

"But that ship--the boat--the lady--tell me what is real and what was
dreaming."

"We have had a strange meeting, my young friend, and have struggled
together in behalf of human life, peradventure with success."

The youth again swept a hand over his face. "Yes, yes. I remember a ship
in the distance--a boat full of people rocking in the foam--a madman
jumping overboard--I--you in the waves. Tell me, old man, was this
real?"

"Truly it was."

"And the lady--this house--the woman at her spinning-wheel, who brought
herb tea to my bed. That lady--me, good friend, for I remember all--how
fares the lady?"

"She is safe--thanks to a merciful Providence--and sleeping profoundly
in the next room, at least such was the report of Goody Brown, in the
kitchen yonder, ten minutes ago. She must not be disturbed. I had not
broken in upon your sleep, either, but the sun is up, and perchance
there is some one in town who may be grieved at your absence. You must
have friends, and I would cheerfully bear them tidings of your safety."

"Friends!" cried the youth, starting up. "Indeed, there is one who will
have wept her eyes out by this time. I pray you, sir, hand me such
garments as the storm has left. We must start together for the town."

"Willingly," answered the minister, bringing the desired garments in
from the kitchen fire. "But put on your garments in haste, for the
morning wears; meanwhile I will speak a word with our host."

Half an hour after, the minister and his young friend quitted the
farm-house, leaving the woman they had saved in the deep slumber of
exhaustion.



CHAPTER III.

THE MINISTER.


Norman Lovel and the old minister walked on toward the town in company.
The earth was still wet and heavy after the storm, and a sullen moan
came up from the depths of the far-off ocean, which filled the bright
morning as with a wail of sorrow.

But the old man was strong, and the youth full of that elasticity which
springs more from the soul than the body. If either of them felt any
evil effect from the storm, the vigorous speed at which they walked bore
no evidence of it.

For some time they moved on in silence. The minister seemed lost in a
reverie; the youth was thinking, with strange interest, on the lady he
had left behind.

They came down upon the shore where the accident of the previous night
had happened. A fragment of the boat lay where it had ploughed in upon
the sand, burying itself so firmly that the waves had failed to draw it
back again, and so had lost their plaything.

The two men paused a moment, looking at the broken timbers. The youth
shuddered.

"To think," he said, looking wistfully at his companion,--"to think that
these treacherous bits of wood alone kept her from the deep, and
I--you--it seems all like a dream."

"It seems like the great mercy it was," said the minister, lifting his
eyes to heaven; "for of a verity we were but as two rushes in the midst
of the waves, frail like the timbers at our feet, and as easily broken.
Believe me, young man, God has protected this poor lady with his
especial providence."

"Indeed I believe it," replied the youth, lifting his cap, for a
momentary feeling of devotion came over him; "I most devoutly believe
it; as a token, see how the beautiful morning smiles upon the waters.
The harbor seems scattered with rose leaves. The very sands at our feet
are turning to gold."

"Truly, God smiles upon us," said the minister, looking abroad with an
enthusiasm deep as that which flashed in the eyes of the youth, and far
more concentrated. "But we linger here unadvisedly; the glory of a
morning like this rests not in one place. Let us move on; the chimneys
over yonder are beginning to vomit forth smoke, soon the town will be
astir."

The youth did not hear him, but darted down to the edge of the water,
where a strip of ribbon tinted a spent foam wreath with its blue. He
seized upon the ribbon, shook it, scattering the foam like snow-flakes
with the motion, and came back to where the minister stood.

"It must be hers," he said, revealing a locket of chased gold, with a
broad lock of hair white as snow, knotted with pearls upon the back. "It
must be hers."

Parris reached forth his hand, as if to take the trinket, but the youth
gathered the ribbon hastily in his palm, and clasped his fingers over
it.

"We have no right to examine it, knowing, as we do, the owner," he said,
hastily. "The spring is closed. It is evidently some portrait."

"But the water may have penetrated to the painting and will destroy it."

"True, true!" The youth, still reluctant to give up the locket, touched
the spring, and with difficulty opened it.

The water had indeed penetrated the clasp, but a crystal underneath
protected the portrait, which was that of a middle-aged man, evidently
of the highest rank, for his dress was of the most costly material, and
enriched with several jewelled orders which were easily distinguished as
belonging to the English court.

"It is a strange face," said Parris, bending his head to examine the
portrait, "hard as iron and full of worldly pride. Young man, I have
seen this face before; but where--when?"

"How can I tell?" answered the youth, who was gazing wistfully at the
face.

"Yes," he said, after a moment; "it is hard as iron, but a grand
countenance, nevertheless. That man would have died for an idea."

"Died for an idea!" repeated the minister; "how many have done that, yet
the idea a false one? But where have I seen that face?"

The youth covered the portrait with its gold again, and the two walked
on more rapidly for the time they had lost. All at once young Lovel
stopped as if some important idea had flashed upon him.

"Sir," he said, eagerly, "did I not hear your name yesterday, or have I
dreamed it over night--Samuel Parris--was it in truth from your own lips
I heard the name?"

"Even so, young man."

"Samuel Parris, minister of the gospel in Salem?"

"Even to that honored post the Lord and his people have appointed me."

"One question more--only one--then forgive me if I am too bold. There is
a young lady at our house--that is, at the house of Governor Phipps--her
name is Parris also, and her father is minister of a congregation in
Salem--tell me if this fair maiden is your child."

"My child!" cried the old man, lifting up his face to heaven with a look
of exultant thanksgiving; "yes, Elizabeth is my child, the first-born of
that beautiful one who is a leader among God's angels. Ask me if the
heart which lies in my bosom--the brain that thinks--the blood that
beats in these veins are mine, and I will answer, Yea. But not so
closely do these things encompass me as does my love for Elizabeth, the
babe that my young wife left in my embrace as a blessing and a comfort,
before she was enrolled among the just made perfect."

The young man drew a quick breath; the enthusiasm and energy of the
minister's speech, so uncalled for by the simple question he had put,
startled him not a little. Besides this, other anxieties sprang up in
his mind, and knowing the man with whom he had been cast so strangely by
his true name, he was struck dumb with the rush of emotions which this
knowledge aroused.

"Her father," he said inly; "her father--and is this our first meeting?"

"My child, my child!" cried the old man, forgetting his companion, while
his eager eyes were turned towards the town. "Have I not fasted,
watched, prayed, nay, sent her forth from beneath my roof that this
great love may not be as a snare, and stand between me and my
God--between me and the angel that has gone before! Now, when I have
been two whole days within sight of the roof that covers her, holding
down my heart, and fasting with a soul-fast--the very mention of her
name, even by a stranger, sends the breath in quick gushes to my lips,
and I tremble like a little child."

The old man stood still upon the shore, and the youth paused with him,
gazing up into his face with a look of strange sympathy.

"I am grieved, I am very sorry!" he said, scarcely knowing that he had
spoken at all.

"God forgive you, young man, but you have unsealed this heart to its
depths. The weakness is still here; instead of singing, 'Hosannah to the
Lord,' it cries out, 'My child, my child!' Pray as I will--fast as I
will--her name always comes first, and thus I droop before the Lord full
of terror and self-reproach, an unfaithful servant, still keeping back a
portion of my master's treasures."

"Forgive me!" pleaded the youth, struck with sudden remorse for the
sorrows he had evidently excited.

"Forgive _you_," answered the old Christian, for such he undoubtedly
was. "What have you done that I should claim the power to forgive? It is
my own heart, which, strive as I may, will cling to its idol."

"But I have given you pain."

The old man bent his eyes on that ingenuous face, and before he lifted
them again they were full of tears; those cold watery tears that come up
like melted ice from the heart.

"Ah!" exclaimed the youth, "now I see a resemblance, vague, hardened,
but still I should know that Elizabeth Parris was your daughter."

The minister's face brightened like a lamp suddenly illuminated. He
reached forth his hand, grasped that of the young man, and his features
quivered all over with the gush of feeling that swelled within him.

"Is she--is the dear child indeed so like her father? And you know
her--you have seen her, perhaps; tell me is she well--does she grieve at
the thoughts of home--does she pine for a sight of her father?"

He waited for no answer, but heaped question upon question with
breathless eagerness.

The youth looked at him with amazement. The intense affection which
transfigured those stern features exhibited itself so unexpectedly, that
for the moment he was speechless.

The old man noticed this with a deprecating movement.

"She was the daughter of my old age!" he said, with ineffable humility,
while his shoulders drooped, and his face bent towards his breast, "she
looks so like her young mother."

"She is beautiful as an angel!" exclaimed Lovel with enthusiasm.

"She is like her mother!" murmured the minister, clasping his hands and
looking wistfully out into the distance. "Ah, so like her mother!"

"No wonder you loved her mother, then!" said the youth, drawing close to
the old man with prompt sympathy.

"Loved her--oh, God forgive me--how I did love her, young man! The very
daisies upon her grave are like the stars of heaven to me, and she has
been dead since Elizabeth was a babe."

"Oh, no wonder you look so old and care-worn; it must be like burying
one's own soul, to see the mother of one's child die."

The old man did not answer, but his hands interlocked more firmly. The
feelings swelling in his bosom were too painful for utterance. How far
the intense affection, which death could not diminish, had approached
insanity, it would be impossible to say; but all unconsciously, the
young man had made the minister quiver in every nerve by the genuine
sympathy he had given.

They walked on together, and entered the streets of Boston in company.
When they reached the heart of the town, the old man stopped
reluctantly, reaching forth his hand with a piteous smile.

"Farewell, young man," he said, "we may never meet again, but--"

"Nay, nay," cried the youth, blushing scarlet, "not meet again--God
forbid that you speak sooth in this. Indeed, indeed--"

But the minister wrung his hand, turned suddenly down a cross street,
and disappeared before the sentence was finished.

Young Lovel looked after him for a moment, made a step to follow the
course he had taken, then returning slowly, walked on.



CHAPTER IV.

EARLY IN THE MORNING.


The town of Boston had little of its present compactness in those days.
True, there existed streets and lanes, and wharves which served as
barriers to the harbor, but green turf lay richly where slabs of granite
form the sidewalk now, the streets wound in and out as they had been
trodden broader and broader from the forest paths, and around the houses
were yards and pleasant gardens, with carpets of green turf in which the
wild flowers still lingered. The dwellings were mostly of wood; low,
broad, and heavy, with cumbrous adornments; coats of arms surmounted the
doors, cut out with the broad-axe and chisel, and heavy wooden cornices
loomed over the front, betraying a surplus of timber and a lamentable
scarcity of architectural art. Among these more imposing buildings,
houses of hewn logs, and even ruder cabins were scattered, but the
trees, the grass, and many a clinging vine, gave to the infant city a
picturesque beauty which can never belong to the brick, granite, and
mortar which have taken so many imposing forms since. But even then
Boston had its fashionable street, and its aristocratic neighborhood.

To this portion of the town young Lovel bent his steps, and soon came
out upon the green lanes of North Boston, which was in fact a wide area,
where the palaces of the New World loomed proudly among the grand old
forest trees, which softened their stateliness with touches of natural
beauty.

The most imposing of these mansions, conspicuous for its three stories,
and a certain attempt at architectural beauty, was the residence of Sir
William Phipps, Captain-General and Governor-in-chief of New England.
Those who knew the sheep-tender of Kennebec, the younger brother of
twenty-six children, who even in his boyhood turned haughtily from the
occupation of his father when proposed to him, and predicted of himself
_that he was born to greater matters_, might have wondered as they stood
before that stately dwelling, and saw in its vastness and its ornaments
a fulfilment of the sheep-boy's prophecy. In all New England there was
not a dwelling like that, or a man so powerful as its owner. Yet Sir
William Phipps, titled, wealthy, and almost a sovereign, had not yet
passed his prime of life; while he was comparatively a young man, all
this great fortune had been wrought out by his own stern energies.

The youth stood for a moment in front of the mansion, gazing wistfully
at one of the second story windows. It was very early in the morning;
too early for any one in the gubernatorial mansion to be stirring, but
he was disappointed to find the curtains drawn and the shutters
partially closed. Evidently, the youth had expected some one to be
watching for him, rendered miserable by his strange absence over night.

But every thing was still, even to the great elm-tree that swept its
branches over one end of the house, and the rose bushes that clustered
along the terraces. The youth did not like to claim admittance till some
of the servants were astir, so walked up and down the green lane, always
advancing toward the house, till you would have fancied him studying its
architecture; but his eyes always wandered to one window, and that had
nothing but a stone coping and an arched top to command his admiration.
Still the gubernatorial mansion was well worth examining, if it were
only to see how rudely the arts crept first into the New World from the
mother land. Massive stone pilasters separated the windows to the second
story; two long rows of windows ran between that and the roof, all set
in stone, and slightly arched. The central window, with elaborate blinds
and lateral sashes, carried up the outline of that ponderous wooden
portico to the still more ponderous cornices on the roof. This elaborate
attempt at architecture made the governor's house the show place of all
New England. The very children of Boston held their breath with awe of
its grandeur, and were half afraid to pluck dandelions in the green lane
after it was built.

But young Lovel had seen the mansion too often for any feeling of this
kind. The window still remained shrouded in its muslin curtains, though
the birds in the elm branches had burst forth into gushes of music that
might have charmed an angel from the brightest nook in paradise, and the
rising sun came smiling over the terraces, turning each dew-drop,
trembling on its blade of grass, into a diamond, rendering every thing
so beautiful that slumber seemed an absolute sin.

"They take it coolly enough," muttered the youth impatiently, turning
his steps to the broad gravel walk which crossed the terraces and
reached the long, sloping steps that led to the portico. "I might crunch
this white gravel under my feet forever, and she'd sleep on. No matter,
I may as well take it easily as they do; I might be in the bottom of the
harbor for any thing they know, or care either."

As he muttered these words, Lovel crossed the terrace, and stood between
the fluted pillars of the porticoes which rose proudly over him, crowned
with Corinthian leaves, and garlanded with rudely carved flowers, that
ran up over the massy cornices, supplying the deficiency of family
armorial bearings. But in his waywardness he had lost sight of the
window, and so walked back upon the terrace again, pretending, even to
himself, that he wished to gather a handful of blush roses while the
leaves were wet with that diamond light. But his heart beat unsteadily,
and he looked upward every moment as he broke the blossoms impetuously
from their bushes. This impatience at the stillness broke at last upon
the gentle flowers. He dashed them to the turf, shaking all the dew from
their hearts. Then he rushed back to the portico, raised the ponderous
knocker, and prepared to swing it against the great brass head which
seemed to smile defiance beneath the blows ready to be rained upon it.
But his hand was arrested by a sound within the house, and, softly
relinquishing the knocker, he threw himself upon one of the long seats
that ran down each side of the portico, eagerly watching the door.

There was a sound of bolts cautiously drawn, as if a person within were
careful of making a noise. Then a leaf of the great oaken door opened,
and with its glittering knocker wheeled inward; while the head and
shoulders of a young girl appeared bending over the other half, with a
wistful, eager look that filled the young man with repentance at a
single glance.

"Elizabeth!"

She heard and saw him--struggled eagerly with the lower bolts, flung the
last leaf of the door open, and sprang toward him. Then recollecting
herself, she retreated a step, and covering her face with both hands,
burst into a passion of tears that shook her slender form from head to
foot.

Then the young man's heart smote him afresh, for he saw by the withered
roses in her hair, the fine yellow lace that shaded her arms, and her
dress of flowered silk, that the poor girl had not been in bed that
night. She had been waiting, watching, praying no doubt for him.

"Elizabeth, dear Elizabeth! will you not look on me? Are you not glad
that I am safe?"

She could not speak, but trembled all over like the leaves of a vine
when the wind shakes it.

"Elizabeth!"

She took down her hands and turned her eyes on his face--those large
deer-like eyes full of tenderness and shame.

"Elizabeth! is this for me--I am safe, and very, very happy, for this
terror, these blushes. You would not look this way if you cared nothing
about a poor fellow!"

She began to tremble again, and shrunk back with a red glow burning over
her neck, and up to her temples beneath the dusky shadows of her hair.

"Elizabeth, darling, speak to me," said the youth, trembling himself
beneath the sweet joy of the moment, and approaching her with his face
all a-glow.

"Don't, don't! I am sick with shame. I did not know--I did not
hope--they told us you had gone down to the water, out in a fishing-boat
in the midst of the storm last night, that--that--"

"And you believed it--you grieved a little?"

"I feared every thing!"

"No--not altogether, for you see I am alive. But you have suffered; your
eyes are heavy, your cheek white again. Oh, tell me, was it trouble, was
it anxiety on my account? Do not fear to say yes--I will not presume--I
will not half believe it--only let me have the happiness of thinking so,
for one little moment."

She lifted her face, and the dusky shame which blushes usually carry to
the eyes, died out, leaving them soft and clear as a mountain spring.

"Was it for you, Norman, for you that I have wept, and prayed, and
suffered? Ah me, what agonies of fear! Why ask? you know it," here the
little graceful coquetries of her sex would break in, for she began to
get ashamed again--"for are you not a fellow-creature out of the church,
unregenerated and worshipping----"

"You, and every thing you worship," cried the youth, seizing her hand,
which he devoured with his eyes, but dared not touch with his lips.
"Never mind whether I am fit to be drowned or not; give me something
worth living for; tell me that one day when I am wiser and you a little
older, not much, because a good deal can be done in that way after the
ceremony; but tell me that you will be my wife."

His face was all a flush of crimson now, but hers grew pale as death;
the last word--that holy, beautiful word--made her shiver from heart to
limb. He had been too impetuous; Elizabeth Parris had never dared to
think of the mystery he brought so broadly before her. Her pure maidenly
thoughts had hovered round it timidly, as a shadow haunts a white lily,
but she was content with the perfume, without daring to touch the
flower.

"Your wife, your wife!" she murmured, and the words fell from her lips
with silvery slowness, like drops from a fountain. "Your wife, and I not
yet fifteen!"

"But you will think of it. I am a sad fellow to frighten you so; a sad,
wicked fellow, but you will forgive it, Elizabeth; you know, out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

He saw her sweet lips quivering into a smile, and forgave himself at
once.

"There now, you see I can quote Scripture a little, so forgive me this
once. I love you till my heart aches with the joy of it. Think of
this--promise me that you will."

Promise to think of it! alas, poor child, when would she think of any
thing else!



CHAPTER V.

SIR WILLIAM AND HIS WIFE.


Probably Elizabeth Parris would not have sat down in the portico, but
the night's watching had made her faint. When Norman Lovel darted off to
gather up the roses he had plucked, and so rudely scattered, she sank
down, watching him dreamily as he cast them away a second time, and
gathered fresh ones, unmindful, poor child, that this might be a type of
his character, and those poor flowers of her own fate.

He came back, bringing a rich harvest of blush roses--he never gave any
other to Elizabeth--with both hands wet with the dew which rained out of
their hearts.

"Come," he said, heaping them on the seat by her side, "let us gather up
a bouquet for the breakfast-table. Lady Phipps loves flowers fresh from
the thicket."

Elizabeth Parris started up with a look of sudden dismay.

"Lady Phipps! and I have known that you are safe all this time without
telling her--how selfish, how cruel! It was almost morning before she
went to her room. I am sure she has not slept."

As she spoke, Elizabeth pushed open the door, and in an instant Norman
saw her gliding up the broad staircase which led to the second story. He
followed her into the vestibule, and began pacing up and down, turning
his eyes now on the floor, tessellated with lozenges of black oak and
red cedar, now upon the staircase, hoping to see the young girl descend
again.

But, instead of this, an imperious knock sounded from the door which he
had but partially closed; at the same instant it was pushed open, and a
gentleman strode through with a dull, weary step, and walked heavily
up-stairs.

Norman was in the lower end of the vestibule, and the surprise of this
sudden entrance kept him motionless. Recovering himself, he came
forward, but only in time to catch another glimpse of the governor as he
entered his wife's chamber.

Elizabeth had found Lady Phipps asleep, and, not daring to wake her,
stole off to her own room; but the heavy step of Sir William possessed
more power than her fairy tread, and the moment it sounded on the floor
Lady Phipps started up and inquired wildly if the young secretary was
found.

The governor shook his head. Saddened by his gesture Lady Phipps fell
back upon her pillow, and, turning her face to the wall, fell into a
leaden silence.

A knock, and a sweet, pleading voice asking entrance.

"It is Elizabeth Parris. Poor child, she has spent a terrible night,"
said Lady Phipps. "Have you no comfort to give her?"

"None!" said the stern man, with a quiver of the voice. "He was seen
going to the shore with another person, directly after a boat was
engulfed in the breakers--nothing could have lived."

"And who was that other one?" cried the lady, struck by the hesitation
in her husband's voice.

Sir William arose, and came close to the bed, afraid to speak aloud with
that young creature at the door.

"It was Samuel Parris."

The lady uttered a low cry, and buried her face in the pillow. Her noble
heart was shaken as if it had been her own father who was lost.

Again that knock at the door, and now a low, almost harsh voice, bade
the girl come in.

Sir William was hardening himself into composure, that he might tell the
young girl of her bereavement, with the firmness that became his
manhood.

Elizabeth entered timidly, as she always did, but her face beamed with
happiness.

Lady Phipps looked up shocked to the heart.

"Elizabeth!" The lady sat up in her bed and held forth her arms tenderly
as if the girl had been her own child.

"He is here--he is safe--he--"

The young girl fell down upon her knees by the bed, pressing soft kisses
on the lady's hand.

Sir William Phipps arose and went out. It was seldom that his face
betrayed any of the deep feelings of his nature, but as he went forth,
that firm mouth quivered, and he turned from one object to another,
searching eagerly for something.

"Sir William."

The governor gave an imperceptible start, controlled himself, and
reaching forth his hand--the large, firm hand, which had known much toil
in its day--buried that of the young man in its grasp.

"I hope that Lady Phipps was not alarmed by my absence," said Norman, a
little chilled by this composure.

"I cannot quite say that with truth, young man," replied the governor;
"but you will explain all at breakfast. From the state of your garments
I should judge that you had at least been in the water."

"Yes; but you see I came out safe--and that brave old minister, also,
Samuel Parris. I wish you could have seen him, Sir William: he was a
perfect Neptune."

"Nay," answered the governor, with a smile that transfigured his face
from its usual grave expression into something that made the heart leap
towards him, "that is a heathenish name for one of God's ministers; but
if your danger, whatever it prove, was shared by Samuel Parris, it must
have been in a good cause. I am glad, boy, that your night has been
spent with this devout man."

With these words Sir William passed on, and entered his closet,
apparently casting all thought of the youth from his mind. But no sooner
was he alone and the door closed, than he fell upon his knees by the
great oaken chair, which had belonged to his old father on the Kennebec.
There, with bent head, he poured forth the thanksgiving that filled his
soul, so earnestly that his frame shook, and his clasped hands unwove
themselves, covering his face, while the tears that sprang to his eyes
stole softly down the palms.

It was only when alone with his God that the strong man became like a
little child--alone, with the bolts drawn, and his face bowed over the
oaken seat where his father had prayed with the mother and her score of
children by his side.

Governor Phipps joined his family at breakfast, sedate, calm, and with
that dignity of manner which may well accompany a sense of high power.
Lady Phipps could not so well conceal the traces of an anxious and
sleepless night. Her eyes were heavy, her cheeks pale, and the usual
exquisite arrangement of her morning toilet was a good deal disturbed.
The robe of dark chintz was looped back, a little unevenly, from the
full dimity underskirt, and the crimson ribbon that bound the snowy
little cap to her head was knotted in a bow, slightly verging towards
the left temple, instead of lying flat upon the glossy black hair over
the forehead as it should have done.

Besides these little indications of unrest, the lady would draw a deep
breath, now and then, like one who had just recovered from a fright, and
she glanced towards the young secretary from time to time, with a look
of devout thankfulness.

Dear lady, her life had been so full of happiness, so rich in
prosperity, that the danger of one she loved as if he had been her own
son clung around her yet. She grew paler as he told over his strange
adventure on the shore, and seemed greatly interested in the old man who
had been his companion.

He did not mention the name of this person, and passed over the
conversation on the beach entirely, dwelling only on that which marked
their encounter on the heights, when the storm was raging. Some
intuition told him that the young girl, whose eyes dwelt so wistfully on
his, would be pained to know that her father had been for two days
within sight of the roof that covered her without attempting to enter
beneath it.

Governor Phipps seemed unusually interested in the events he described,
and though the youth talked on gayly, a superstitious feeling crept over
the party as he gave a vivid picture of the spectral appearance of the
ship. But when he came to speak of Barbara Stafford, his speech
faltered, a husky feeling clove to his tongue, and it was only by
questions that they gained a knowledge of the strange woman.

"I will ride over to the farm-house to-morrow," said Lady Phipps, with
prompt hospitality; "if she is a gentlewoman, as you say, Norman, we can
be of service. She must have letters of introduction that will warrant
us in asking her here."

Governor Phipps looked suddenly up as his wife spoke and his countenance
changed. It was so unusual to see him in the least disturbed that his
lady remarked it with some anxiety.

"Are you ill, Sir William?"

"I do not know. A strange feeling seized upon me for the moment; a
faintness--a sort of shock--it is nothing."

Lady Phipps looked around for some cause.

"It may be this plateau of flowers, they are unusually fragrant this
morning," she said, looking around for a servant to carry away the
roses, which Norman had gathered, from the table.

"Let me--let me!" cried Elizabeth Parris, seizing upon the flowers, and
carrying them off to her room. She would not have had a leaf touched by
one of the servants for the universe.

Norman followed her with his eyes, smiled with quiet satisfaction, when
he saw her stoop fondly and inhale the breath of the roses as she went
up-stairs, then, leaning towards Lady Phipps, he said, in a low voice,

"The old man was her father!"

"What! Samuel Parris? and pass by this house?" exclaimed the lady in
astonishment. "This is a strange thing, Sir William."

"It is strange--very strange," answered the governor, rising. "I will
seek our old friend and reason with him."

"And I," said his wife, "will seek out the stranger. Goody Brown is a
kind woman, but the poor lady may not obtain all she needs in the
farm-house. Did you hear her name, Lovel?"

"No," answered the youth, with unaccountable hesitation; "but you will
find it embroidered on this handkerchief, which I picked up on the beach
in coming along. The cambric is wet and drenched with sand, but you can
perhaps make it out."

Lady Phipps took the handkerchief and examined the embroidery.
"A coronet," she muttered: "this looks well. But the
name--B--Barbara--Barbara Stafford. Stafford--that is a good old English
name. Sir William, I will surely go and see her."



CHAPTER VI.

A GUIDE TO THE FARM-HOUSE.


The next day after her spectral shrouds were first seen in the harbor,
the good ship came up to her wharf. Among the first passengers that
landed was a dark, foreign-looking man, apparently somewhat under thirty
years of age. He stood upon the wharf with a small leathern bag in his
hand, as if uncertain where to go; but his eyes, black as midnight and
splendid as diamonds, turned excitedly from object to object, as if he
took a vivid interest in every thing that surrounded him. At last they
fell on one of the sailors who had helped Barbara Stafford down the side
of the ship that stormy afternoon. With an eager step he approached the
man.

"Have you heard? did the boatmen bring her safe through the storm?" he
questioned. "The lady--the lady I am speaking of. Did she suffer?--is
she safe and well?"

The man laughed. "She is safe enough in Goody Brown's farm-house," he
said, "and well, too, if the souse she got in the water didn't give her
a cold. But it was an awful tough piece of work, I tell you. If it
hadn't been for that old man, who didn't seem to have so much in him,
for he was thin as a shad, they would all have gone to Davie's locker,
sure as a gun. You never in your born days saw such a tussel as they had
with the breakers the boatmen say."

"Then she is safe and well; for that God be thanked," said the stranger,
turning away. "What more have I to ask or do?"

He spoke sadly, and his fine eyes filled with mist. Then he turned, and
giving the man a piece of money, asked him to show the way to Goody
Brown's farm-house.

After dropping the crown piece into his pocket, the man turned up the
wharf, and walked on side by side with the stranger.

"Seems to me you're a stranger in these parts; never was to Boston
afore, I reckon?" he said, dropping into an old habit of asking questions
with unconscious impertinence.

"You are mistaken. I have been here before," answered the stranger, and
a wild fire lighted up his face. "Years ago I left that wharf a--a--but
I have come back. The world shall know that I have come back."

The sailor looked at him with open astonishment.

"Why what on earth are you so mad about I should like to know?" he said.
"I hain't done nothing to set you off in a tantrum, have I now?"

The stranger smiled.

"You have done nothing," he said, in a voice so gentle that the man
stared again, bewildered by the sudden change. "I was talking to myself
rather than you."

"That's a queer idea, but I've hearn people do sich things afore; it was
in foreign parts, though. We talk like folks in Boston now I tell you,
straight out and up to the mark. But forriners will be forriners,
there's no helping it. Now what is it you want up to Goody Brown's, if I
may be so bold? Is the lady up there any relation of yourn?"

Again the stranger smiled.

"My friend, you are rather bold."

"Ain't I," answered the man with great self-complacency. "That's the way
we Bosting folks come to know more than other people. Ain't afeared to
ask questions. Every man comes right up to his duty on that pint without
flinching. But you hain't told me yet if the lady is a relation or not?"

"No, she is not related to me."

"Only come over in the same ship? I reckoned so, seeing as she was a
cabin passenger and you al'es kept so snug in the steerage. Never saw
you on deck in my life till long after dark. Don't think she ever sot
eyes on you the hull vi'age?"

"No, she never did."

"Now that's something like; can answer a fair question when you want to,
can't you? But what do you go and see her now for? Couldn't you a got
acquainted on ship board if you had wanted ter?"

"Who told you that I did wish to see her?" answered the stranger, a
little impatiently. "Not I, that is certain."

"Then it ain't her you're going to see?" answered the man, in an injured
tone, as if his time had been cruelly trifled with. "Well, maybe it's
Goody Brown you're related to, arter all. Don't look like it, though,
but stranger things than that has happened. She has a sight of cousins
in the old country."

The stranger grew impatient. He turned upon the man almost fiercely, his
eyes flashing fire, his teeth gleaming through the lips lifted from them
in a haughty curve.

"Be quiet, man, you offend me."

"Wheu!" ejaculated the sailor, picking up a bit of shingle from the
ground, and searching for a jackknife which jingled against the silver
crown in his pocket, "getting riley, now, ain't you?"

The fellow's imperturbability was so comical that no resentment could
withstand it. The stranger's face cleared up, and he watched his
companion with disdainful curiosity, who began whittling his shingle as
he walked along.

"Goody Brown isn't your nigh relation, then," he persisted, whittling on
with infinite composure; "cousin to your par or mar, mebby?"

"Goody Brown is nothing to me, understand that!" cried the stranger, at
last harrassed into submission; "but I am weary of salt food, and want a
draught of fresh milk. This is the nearest farm-house, you tell me; so I
ask you to lead me there."

"And you don't want to see the lady?"

"No!"

"And she ain't nothing particular to you?"

"Nothing in any way."

"Well, now, I never did! Why couldn't you say so, to once?" cried the
man, in a tone of plaintive reproach. "What is the use of taking so many
bites of a cherry I want ter know?"

"Is that the farm-house?" inquired the stranger, pointing to the low
stone dwelling sheltered in noble trees that overlooked the harbor.

"Yes, that's Goody Brown's, I reckon."

The stranger stopped short.

"You may return now. I can make my way alone."

The sailor seemed a little disappointed, but he kept on whittling, and
only answered:

"Wal, jest as you're a mind ter; but I kinder reckon you'll miss it in
the long run."

"Miss it, how?"

"Oh, I don't mean nothing particular, only the streets of Boston are
rather sarpentine for strangers, and I kinder feel as if I hadn't more
'en half arned my money yet."

The stranger fell into thought a moment and then answered cheerfully:

"You are right, my good fellow, I shall want a guide. Stay here and take
charge of my bag till I come back; then we will return to the town
together."

The sailor sat down on a rock, and placing the leathern bag at his feet
kept on whittling with an energy that would have seemed spiteful but for
his unmoved features. The traveller left him and walked forward toward
the farm-house. Goody Brown was in her hand-loom weaving a piece of
linen from the yarn she had spun a year before. Her rather trim feet,
cased in calf-skin shoes and yarn stockings, even as her daily toil
could make them, were rising and falling on the treadles with monotonous
jerks. She leaned over from her seat in front of the huge loom, throwing
her shuttle through the web with such earnest industry that every ten
minutes the sharp click of the turning cloth-beam proclaimed her
progress. Directly the headles--or harness, as she called it--would
groan and struggle from the renewed tread of her feet, while the flight
of the shuttle, the bang of the laith, and the thud of the treadles made
such household music as the women of New England gloried in. She was
busy fitting a quill into her shuttle when a strange form darkened the
open door. But her heart was in her work, and she drew the thread
through the eye of her shuttle with a quick breath and a motion of the
tongue before she looked directly that way. Then she saw a remarkably
handsome young man standing upon the threshold, holding his cap in one
hand as if she had been an empress on her throne.

"Madam."

"Did you mean me?" said Dame Brown, laying down her shuttles, and
tightening the strings of her linsey-woolsey apron. "Did you mean me,
sir?"

"Yes, if you are the mistress of this house."

"For want of a better," answered the dame, drawing herself up primly.

"I--I am a stranger. Have just come over in the ship which landed
to-day."

"What, another!" said Goody Brown, coming slowly out of her loom. "I had
the hull house full last night."

"I do not wish to incommode you, my good lady, only to inquire about
those who set out so rashly in the boat before we came up to the wharf.
They were all brought here, I am told."

"Well, yes, I had a houseful of 'em overnight, but this morning they
were well enough to go away."

"What, all?"

"All but the lady; she's completely tuckered out, and won't get out of
her bed to-day, I reckon."

"But she is not seriously hurt?" cried the man, almost gasping for
breath.

"No, I guess not; only kinder worn out. The yarb tea has done her a
sight of good."

The stranger looked at her eagerly as she spoke. A dozen questions
seemed trembling on his lips; but he restrained them, only saying, in a
voice that would tremble in spite of his efforts,

"Then you are certain that she is out of danger?"

"Sartin, of course. She'll be chirk as a bird to-morrow."

The stranger sat down in the chair which the dame offered while she was
speaking. A bowl of warm bread and milk stood on the kitchen hearth,
close by the fire. Goody Brown took it up.

"I've got to take this in, for she's getting hungry, but I won't be gone
more'n a minute."

With this half apology, the good woman opened a side door and went into
Barbara Stafford's room. The man looked after her with eyes full of
impatient yearning. He rose from his chair and stole softly toward the
door, listening; but no sound answered his expectations, and he had
scarcely returned to his seat when Goody Brown came back with the bowl
of bread and milk in her hand. She sat it down in the hearth, and
turning to her visitor, said, in a half whisper,

"She's sound asleep."

"Madam," said the traveller, "will you give me a cup of milk? I have
been so long at sea--"

"Well, now, I shouldn't wonder!" cried the dame, interrupting him. "I'll
go right down to the spring-house and get it."

She took a pitcher from the table and went out. The moment her shadow
left the threshold stone the young man started up and softly opened the
door of Barbara Stafford's room. He paused a moment, with the latch in
his hand, hesitating and breathless, for the lady lay before him in a
profound sleep. The face was turned toward him; one hand rested under
her cheek, the other fell upon the blue and white counterpane. Her thick
golden hair rolled in coils and waves over the pillow.

The young man's eyes grew misty, the breath broke almost in a sob on his
lips. He crept softly toward the bed, fell upon his knees, and gazed
upon the lady with passionate sorrow that might have disturbed an angel
in its first heavenly rest. But she did not move. The deep slumber of
exhaustion held her faculties locked. A coil of hair, loosened by its
own weight, rolled downward and swept across her arm. Still she did not
move. He gathered the tresses gently between his hands, laid them
against his cheek, and pressed wild kisses upon them. Then he heard a
sound. It was Goody Brown's footsteps coming up from the spring-house.
With rash desperation he took that white hand in his, covered it with
kisses soft as the fall of thistledown, dropped it and glided from the
room.

Goody Brown found her guest sitting in his old place near the fire,
looking grieved and sad, but with a warm flush on his cheeks. He took
the milk that she offered; drank a little, it seemed with difficulty,
and, laying a piece of money on the table, turned to go.

"If you'd jest as lieves wait a minit," said the housewife, blushing
like a girl. "I hain't had a chance to ask a single question. They all
went off so sudden; but my old man was aboard the vessel."

"What, your husband?"

"Jes so, Jason Brown; mebby you know something about him?"

The stranger gave a glance at the person he had left whittling in the
far distance and smiled uneasily.

"Yes, I know him," he said. "He came safely ashore with the ship."

"Then she's got to the wharf?" questioned the woman.

"Yes."

"Then he'll be along by-and-by," said the wife, ashamed of taking so
much interest in the subject. "Much obleeged to you for telling me."

Thus dismissed the stranger left the house and went back to the place
where he had left Jason Brown.

"Wal," said that composed personage, "I hope you got a drink of milk
worth having."

"Yes; but why did you not tell me that the woman was your wife?"
answered the stranger.

"Cause you didn't ask me. But how is the old woman?"

"She seems well and was very kind."

"Wimmen are kind by natur," said the sailor, shutting his jackknife with
a jerk, the only sign of impatience yet visible. "But I reckon I'll jest
step in and see how she gets along, if you don't want me tu go about
Boston streets with you right away."

"No, no. I shall not remain in Boston, and can find plenty of guides
where I am going."

"Don't want me to carry this ere bag for you, nor nothin'?" asked the
man a little anxiously, as he gave up the traveller's bag.

"No, no; I prefer to carry it myself. But you are master of that house?"

"Yes, generally; when my wife ain't to home."

"In that case I have some boxes on board the ship, and should like to
place them under your care for a few weeks, could they be moved to your
house."

"Jes so," answered Brown.

"Then take charge of them. I will leave an order on board the ship."

"Jes so."

"And pay you well for the trouble now in advance."

"Jes so," answered Brown, holding out his hand for the money. "Now, if
you've no objections, I'll go up to the house, for I'm afeared the old
woman will be kinder expecting me."

The stranger took his leathern bag from the ground and walked one way,
while Jason Brown went to the farm-house; not rapidly, for he, too, was
ashamed of being in a hurry to see his wife; but with a step that would
grow quick and impatient spite of his philosophy.

"Jason, is that you?" cried Goody Brown, getting out of her loom and
meeting her husband half way to the door. "How have you been?"

"Tough and hearty; but where's the children? I don't see no cradle nor
trundle bed."

The wife did not speak, but began twisting the strings of her apron over
her finger. Jason looked at her earnestly. He saw a single tear drop to
her bosom and sink into the cotton kerchief folded over it.

"Jason, they're both gone. The trundle bed is took down and the cradle
is up in the garret."

"Gone, Prudence, gone! Where?"

"Dead, Jason. They both died of fever in one week."

Another tear came rolling down that still face and fell upon a great
horny hand which was held out to take that of the woman. Those two
hard-working hands shook in each other's clasp a moment, then Jason
Brown drew his gently away and left the house. He wandered down to the
shore, seated himself upon the turf of a broken bank, and took from his
pocket the jackknife and piece of wood that he had stowed away there. He
opened his knife with dismal slowness and gave a whistle which at once
resolved itself into a low wail inexpressibly sad. Then the knife and
the wood dropped from his hands, and he sat still, looking at them
helplessly, while great tears rolled down his cheeks.



CHAPTER VII.

THE UNEXPECTED VISITOR.


For two whole days Barbara Stafford did not leave her bed. She was
exhausted by a long sea-voyage, and saddened by many an anxious day and
night, which had made her passage a wretched one. So she lay still and
tried to rest, that she might gather strength to meet the destiny that
lay before her, whatever that destiny might be.

Meantime the ship was being unloaded. Trunks and packages, marked by the
stranger's name, somewhat ostentatiously it would seem, were conveyed
from its cabin to the farm-house. With this luggage came half a dozen
great boxes, clamped with iron and securely fastened, which astonished
Jason Brown by their heaviness.

These boxes, according to his promise given the dark-browed stranger,
whom he had guided to his own house, Jason Brown stowed away in his
barn, covering them carefully with hay; for there was a mystery in their
weight which made him anxious, and he concealed them conscientiously,
marvelling what they contained and who their owner could be.

At last the strange lady grew restive in the close confinement of that
little room. She arose on the third morning and prepared to dress
herself. She was seized with a desire to go out into the new world, to
learn what it had of good or evil in store for her. Still she dreaded to
look forth and see that great monster ocean which had hurled her to and
fro upon the fearful heave of its waves that terrible night. She had
been here received on that shore with a tempest that had almost
swallowed her up in its angry whirlpools. No wonder that she was filled
with vague dread, and hesitated to look out of the window, which,
curtained with morning-glory vines, framed in a splendid view of the
ocean.

For a time she stood trembling on the floor, half from weakness, half
from an uncontrollable dread of leaving the quiet pillow on which
supreme fatigue had made her slumber sweet. She glanced at the open
sash, through which the sunshine of a lovely summer morning trembled.
She saw the purple bells of the morning-glory vines swaying to and fro
in the soft wind that came sighing up from the water, while drops of dew
fell in glittering rain from the heart-shaped leaves. Alone and beyond
all this came the gushing song of birds, as it were hailing her with
sweet welcomes.

Every thing out of doors seemed so bright that Barbara Stafford grew
strong and almost cheerful. She was now eager to go forth and breathe
the fresh air.

Out of the baggage brought from the vessel she drew forth a dark
brocaded silk, adorned at the neck and sleeves with delicate lace. In
this she proceeded to dress herself, quite unconscious that its richness
was out of keeping with either the scene or her present habitation. It
was the costume of a highly bred gentlewoman of her own country, and
from mere habit she put it on.

The exertion brought a beautiful color to her cheeks. She leaned from
the window and looked out fearlessly on the great ocean which had so
lately threatened her life. It lay before her now like a vast field of
azure, turning the sunshine into opals. Spite of herself she turned from
its treacherous loveliness with a shudder.

Blessed or cursed--I know not which to call it--with that exquisite
delicacy of sense which makes the most brilliant mind at times almost a
slave of the material, she detected among all the perfumes of
neighboring woods the faint fragrance of a sweetbriar that had tangled
itself with the morning-glories, and blossomed with them. She recognized
the perfume. Her quick mind seized upon this as an omen.

Strangely arrayed, it must be confessed, for that simple old homestead,
Barbara Stafford went through the kitchen, which was, for the moment,
empty, and wandered around an angle of the house where the morning
sunshine lay warmly upon an old stone bench half buried in the grass.

Here she sat down, for the exertion of dressing had wearied her. The air
was sweet and balmy, just brightened with a breeze from the distant sea,
and a pretty little opening of cultivated fields, separated from her by
a rail fence, lay dreamily at her left.

Barbara longed to go forth into the shade of those mammoth trees, which
filled the distance with their green leafiness, and under their shelter
look out upon the New World; but a gentle lassitude lay upon her, and,
while she desired exertion, her limbs remained passive--they had not yet
shaken off the numbing effects of the storm.

She sat dreamily looking forth with the sunshine playing among the waves
of her golden hair, and revealing every line and shadow, on a singularly
delicate face, which had carried the complexion of infancy almost into
middle age. The rich scarf, which she had flung over her in coming
forth, fell softly downward, and swept the grass with its gorgeous
folds. She was conscious of nothing but a sensation of pleasure at
seeing the beautiful earth again after a dreary, dreary voyage across
the ocean.

As she sat there, the noise of hoofs on the broken road, leading from
town, had no power to arrest more than a passing thought. This was
followed by a slight rustle of silks, and directly a lady, dressed
somewhat after her own fashion, came through an opening in the fence,
and walked gracefully forward to where Barbara Stafford was sitting.

"I beg ten thousand pardons, madam, but Goody Brown is nowhere to be
seen, and I am compelled to introduce myself," she said, with a charming
little laugh. "I know at a glance that you are the lady I am in search
of; and I--really it is awkward--but I am Lady Phipps."

Barbara Stafford gave a sudden start. Her large, gray eyes grew wild and
black; slowly and steadily her features shrunk together; and making a
faint movement with one hand, as if to catch at something, she struggled
to arise, but fell senseless at her visitor's feet.

When Barbara Stafford arose from the stone bench against which she had
fallen, there was pallor on her cheek, and bewilderment in her eyes,
deeper and more painful to behold than is usual after a mere
fainting-fit. Lady Phipps observed the pallor increase, and that she
shrunk back with a shudder from the arm which was striving to support
her.

"My dear madam, you are not well; you suffer," said the kind matron,
coloring slightly as she felt the thrill of repulsion. "Let me help you
into the house."

"No," answered Barbara, sweeping one hand across her forehead three or
four times, while her eyes were fastened on Lady Phipps with a troubled,
wistful look, as if she had not really seen her features before. "I
think--"

She paused, turned her eyes away from the face she had been searching,
and a spasm of pain swept over her forehead, drawing the brows together
with an unmistakable sign of acute sensibility. She looked up again,
striving to smile.

"Ah, now I remember. Yes, I am sometimes subject to these turns--it is
very girlish and weak, no doubt, but the long sea-voyage, the storm--do
not mind me, lady, I am well now; quite well and strong. Forgive me,
but"--again she broke off, pressed one hand hard against her side, and
said, with a quick catch of the breath, "Lady Phipps--did you say that
Lady Phipps had done me this honor?"

"Yes; I was about to give my name, when you were seized with this
terrible fainting-fit. The governor is so much occupied just now that he
could not come himself, though he was deeply interested in your
condition. I assure you I really could hardly keep from embracing that
dear young Lovel for his bravery in rescuing you from the foundered
boat."

"Young Lovel!" repeated Barbara, quickly; "young Lovel! Is that his
name?"

"Of course you could not be expected to know any thing about names; but
you will remember the young man who nearly lost his own life in dragging
you from the water?"

"Remember him! oh, yes."

"And the dear old minister, brother Parris, with his mild, quiet
ways--to think that he should have been in Boston for the first time in
years, just to help save you; it seems quite like a miracle, or a bit of
the witchcraft that is so fashionable just now."

"Parris--Parris!" repeated Barbara, with a laboring breath.

"That," said Lady Phipps, "was the name of the tall gentleman; an old
friend of Sir William's; indeed, the very man whose benediction made me
his wife."

The hand which Barbara had again lifted to her forehead dropped slowly
down; her lips looked cold and blue, but she stood up firmly, and
excepting one wild glance over her shoulder, as if impelled to flee,
kept her ground, though for an instant she seemed turning into a statue.
After a little, she looked up with one of those gentle smiles, with
which the most refined anguish seeks to clothe itself before the world,
and said:

"You are very kind, my lady, and I am not ungrateful. But since I came
to this land every thing seems like a dream. Indeed, my voyage itself is
more like a vision than reality; in a little time I can better express
myself. Will you be seated here, in the morning sunshine?--it is very
pleasant, or seemed pleasant a little while ago--or would you prefer to
sit in-doors? My good friends here have given me a tolerably pretty
room, and will make Lady--Lady Phipps very welcome."

She spoke the lady's title with the same quick gasp that had marked her
utterance before, and again the shudder ran through her form.

"Yes, yes; let us go in-doors; then you can lie down quietly, or sit in
an easy-chair, while I do my little errand more ceremoniously, for to
speak the truth you look very pale yet. Take my arm; indeed you can
hardly walk."

Barbara only bowed; she could not force herself to touch the lady's arm,
but, with a will that was like strength, walked into the house. Lady
Phipps followed her, lifting the skirt of her dress daintily from the
grass, and smiling with a sort of puzzled air, as if she did not quite
understand the scene she was acting in.

Barbara entered her own room, which was the best apartment in the house,
and according to the usages of the time, furnished with a high bed,
covered with a blue and white yarn coverlet, and pillows like little
snow-drifts. A bureau of cherry-tree wood, with two or three stiff
wooden chairs, an oaken arm-chair with a broad, splint bottom, stood by
the window, with its curtain of sweetbrier and morning-glory vines.
This, Barbara offered to her visitor. But Lady Phipps, with that genial
grace which made every action of hers like a sunbeam, wheeled the chair
around, and motioned that Barbara should occupy it. Then she seated
herself on the bed, burying one elbow in the snow of the pillow, and
drooping her round cheek into the palm of her hand.

"Now," she said, with a charming smile, "that we are both comfortable,
let me give my invitation in proper form. First, young Lovel, who is my
husband's secretary, you know, or are now informed, has set the whole
gubernatorial mansion wild about you. He will have it--but no matter
about his young fancies--he of course is very anxious that you should
not suffer inconvenience, or remain a stranger in the New World, where
Englishmen and Englishwomen should meet as brothers and sisters. He
could not come himself."

"I trust--I hope--that the young gentleman has suffered no injury?" said
Barbara, half starting from the chair; while for the first time Lady
Phipps saw the color rush to her face. "I should be grieved."

"No harm in the world," said Lady Phipps, laughingly interrupting her;
"but to tell you the truth, he was so pleasantly employed, that I had no
heart to bring him away."

Barbara looked up with a questioning glance; a grave smile stole over
her lips, and she said very quietly--

"Indeed! You must all have been very anxious about him."

"Anxious! You never saw such a night! None of us thought of rest. The
governor, whose self-control is the admiration of everybody, wandered
about the town all night long, while I and poor little Elizabeth
Parris--the pretty young creature I hinted at, you know--really fretted
ourselves almost into hysterics. Let me assure you, upon my honor, I
almost knew how people feel when they are unhappy."

"Almost!" murmured Barbara Stafford, lifting her eyes with a gleam of
mournful astonishment. But Lady Phipps was full of her subject, and went
on.

"So, after we had welcomed Norman back again, and petted him into
believing himself of the greatest possible consequence, I came off here
to beg that you will leave this lonesome old place, and honor Sir
William's roof, while it shall suit your convenience."

"But I am a stranger--even a nameless one."

"I beg your pardon--not altogether. Sir William has, as you know, lived
a good deal in England, and the Staffords, of Lincolnshire, are among
his most powerful friends."

"The Staffords, of Lincolnshire?"

"Oh, I forget, you have no idea how we found out the name. It was on the
handkerchief you lost in the sand. 'Barbara Stafford,' a fine old name
that my husband loves well."

A faint smile stole over the strange lady's face, but she only bent her
head in acknowledgment of Lady Phipps's kindness.

"Your name alone is sufficient introduction, but Sir William is curious
to know to what branch of the family it belongs--the earl?"

"I am in no way connected with the Earl of Stafford," said Barbara,
quickly; "in fact, have no claim upon the hospitality of your--of Sir
William Phipps. My object in coming to America is perhaps already
accomplished. With many thanks for this kindness, I must, for the
present at least, decline your invitation."

Lady Phipps looked a little disappointed. She was so accustomed to
having her own way, and seeing her very caprices regarded as a law, that
this refusal of the stranger to become her guest brought the color to
her brow.

"The governor will be greatly disappointed," she said, displacing her
elbow from the pillow with a movement of graceful impatience. "I really
shan't know what to say. Norman, too, will be quite beside himself. They
will think me a miserable ambassadress--in fact, if any thing makes me
ill-natured and awkward, it is a refusal."

Barbara almost smiled. Notwithstanding her summertime of life, there was
something very attracting in Lady Phipps's sparkling manner, which,
beneath the frank playfulness of a child, betrayed all the dignity of a
proud woman.

"It is not a refusal," said Barbara, gently; "perhaps only a delay; but
just now I am too--too weary for society, and need time for rest."

"Then we shall yet have the pleasure?" exclaimed Lady Phipps,
brightening, and holding out her hand; but she became grave in an
instant, for the palm that met hers was cold as snow.

"You are, indeed, quite unfit for exertion," she said.

Barbara drew the cold hand from Lady Phipps's clasp, and, standing up,
looked at her with a strained gaze as she left the room. The moment she
was quite alone, wrapped up in the stillness of an empty house, the pale
woman walked forward to the bed, fell upon it without a breath or a sob,
and lay motionless with her face to the pillow.

That night, after all the family were asleep, except Goody Brown, she
was surprised by the rustle of a silk dress at her elbow, just as she
was raking up the kitchen fire for the night. She turned quickly, and
saw her guest, who stood shivering on the hearth as if it had been the
depth of winter.

"Goodness me!" exclaimed the housewife, planting her iron shovel with a
plunge into the ashes; "I thought you'd gone to bed long ago. Any thing
the matter?"

"Nothing--nothing!" answered the lady, sinking into one of the
straight-backed chairs that stood near the hearth; "I heard you
stirring, and so came out. Sit down a little while; I would like to ask
a few questions about this new country--about Boston and its people."

Goody Brown seated herself on the dye-tub, which occupied a corner of
the chimney, and smoothing down her checked apron prepared to listen.
She was no great talker at any time, and though the questions asked by
her guest were low-toned, and uttered at long intervals, she heard them
patiently and answered each in its place, without betraying any of that
curiosity said to be characteristic of the New England matron of later
days.

During the whole conversation, Barbara sat back in her chair, quite
still, gazing upon the half-smothered embers with a dull, heavy look.
The tallow candle, with its long tow wick, that occupied a little round
stand in a corner, left her face in the shadow, and the good woman
remained quite unconscious how pale it was till her guest arose to say
good-night; then she remembered how husky her voice had been, and how
she seemed to shiver with cold.

"Do let me rake open the embers and give you a bowl of yarb tea, and put
another coverlet on the bed," she urged, in her stiff, motherly way;
"the teeth e'en a'most chatter in your head; you'll sartinly be took
down agin."

"No, no! I shall be quieter now that I know--that I know all about the
country, thank you."

And with a soft, gliding step, noiseless as when she entered, Barbara
went into her room again.

"That's strange," muttered Goody Brown, as she sat before the buried
fire with a foot planted on each andiron, meditating on the conversation
she had just held. "Now can she be any relative to the governor or his
wife, or the Salem minister, I wonder? She's mighty curious about them.
Well, thank goodness, I'd as lief tell her all I know about 'em as not.
There ain't no witchcraft in the truth."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE MINISTER AND HIS PUPIL.


Governor Phipps and Samuel Parris had been neighbors for many years.
They had known each other when Parris was first settled over the church
in Salem--a man in his prime--and the governor was the apprentice of a
ship-builder near by. More than this; when Phipps was an apprentice and
a dreamer, as all men of great capacities are at some period of their
lives, thirsting for knowledge and restive as a wild animal, because all
its sources were closed to him, Samuel Parris received the lad every
night beneath his roof, and spent hours and hours in teaching him those
rudiments of learning which are the key to all knowledge.

Parris had been an enthusiast, and a visionary man from his youth up. He
was simple, pious, with a vein of rich poetry in his nature which could
never be worked out fully in the pulpit, but was concentrated in his
affections, and sometimes threatened the very foundations of his
understanding.

The predominance of a vivid imagination over faculties of no ordinary
stamp kept the minister's mind out of balance, and made his life an
unfinished poem. Had all the other faculties of his mind been equal,
Samuel Parris must have been a great poet or powerful statesman. Lacking
so much and possessing so much, he was always good, affectionate, and
most kind. A love of the pure and beautiful possessed him so entirely
that it broke forth in veins of exquisite poetry in his sermons, and at
times gave to his conversation an eloquence which seemed like absolute
inspiration.

Like the minister, Phipps had much rough poetic ore in his composition;
but underneath it all was a foundation of hard, practical good sense: he
reasoned, while the minister dreamed. The poetry in his nature was
enough to give fire and energy to his actions: it broke out through all
his great after-schemes like veins of gold in a rock.

But in this man all the faculties came up and mated themselves with this
high mental element, forming a most vigorous mind, and a will which
nothing could conquer when set upon a right object.

Let no one smile when I speak of imagination as essential to real
greatness. It were better to question fairly if absolute greatness ever
existed without it. This high element of the mind is as necessary to a
superior character as observation. It gives force and coloring to the
other faculties. But with Phipps all the soul traits that make up a
great character rose to a commanding level, urging the imagination to
useful purposes, as machinery turns the beautiful waterfall into a
mighty power.

Parris was a hoarder of books, rare manuscripts, and even old
newspapers, which, coming from over sea, were not very plentiful in the
colonies in those days, and thus were rendered worthy of preservation.
It was in this store of ancient literature that the lad Phipps took his
first course of reading. In these researches--for the acute lad, in his
thirst for information, devoured every scrap of print that came in his
way--it chanced that the two fell upon an old paper, which gave an
account of some Spanish galley, wrecked years before on the coast of La
Plata. Laden with fabulous wealth, in silver, and jewels, and gold, this
galley still lay in the depths of the ocean. They had talked the matter
over, Parris as he would have dwelt upon a fairy tale, had such things
been permitted to his creed; Phipps with reflection and purposes, for
the first burning thoughts of great enterprise rose in his mind that
night.

After studying the old newspaper diligently in every word and syllable,
Phipps left Salem and took up his abode in Boston, then went a voyage to
sea, studying navigation with a zeal that equalled his first efforts at
reading.

He returned to the colonies in the first strength of his youth, taller
in person, and with a dignity of carriage that distinguished him all his
days. But his best friends knew little of his purposes now. The
knowledge which he had acquired with the habit of concentrated thought
had lifted him out of his old life. The very acquirements obtained at so
much cost, while they exalted him in the estimation of his old friends,
only isolated him from their sympathies. Other feelings besides ambition
may have stirred in the young man's heart at this time; if so, but one
human being ever became his confidant.

Shortly after his return from sea, William Phipps came one night fifteen
miles through the wilderness, which separated Boston from Salem, and
asked an interview with his old friend.

They went into a little room, the scene of their first studies, and
conversed long and earnestly together. The subject of this conversation
no one knew. The Indian woman in the kitchen heard her master's voice
more than once, rising from entreaty to expostulation, but she took
little heed of the matter, as arguments between the youth and his
teacher often arose over some old book or worn-out manuscript, which
they chanced to be studying together.

But one thing is certain; the great metaphysical law of life prevailed
here. The strong intellect conquered the weaker; and when William Phipps
rode away in the darkness, it was with a certainty that his iron will
had prevailed over the gentle reasoning, aye, and the conscience, too,
of his kind old friend.

No human being but the Indian woman knew a word of this mystery, if
mystery there was; but on the very next night she heard the sound of
hoofs coming rapidly through the woods, and knew by the sudden pause
that more than one person had dismounted before her master's house. But
as she left her work to open the door, Mr. Parris, pale and excited, met
her in the passage, and ordered her back to the kitchen in a voice that
she dared not disobey.

After this she heard the continuous movement of feet in the adjoining
room, the low muttering of voices; then her master came hurriedly out,
asking for the camphor bottle which she found in a corner cupboard,
wondering greatly what he could want of it; but he took the flask from
her hand without a word and went into the room again.

In less than half an hour she heard the door close, and the softened
tread of horses returning towards the woods along the forest turf. She
looked out of the kitchen window. Two persons on horseback, a man and a
woman, were riding by. The moonlight lay full upon their faces. That of
the man she did not regard, for the loveliness of the young girl, around
whom the moonbeams fell in luminous clearness, absorbed all her
faculties. That was a face to be remembered forever, as we think of
angel forms seen in dreams--a haunting face, never recognized clearly if
seen again perhaps, but always disturbing the memory. Old Tituba was a
woman to ponder over that face when she thought of the great Hunting
Grounds of her people.

After this she heard her master walking all night long in the little
room, back and forth, back and forth, till daybreak.

But for the beautiful face Tituba might never have remembered these
things again, though any event became important in that quiet dwelling;
but on the very next night, just at the hour when she had first heard
the sound of hoofs upon the highway, there came from the walnut tree
that overshadowed the minister's dwelling, a low wailing shout that rang
through the house like the scoff of a demon. Tituba went out, for she
had not thought much of the matter and had no reason to be afraid, and
searched among the walnut tree boughs for some owl, or other wild bird
with a hoarse cry, like that she had heard.

The moon was up, a round harvest moon, with a multitude of bright stars
that looked down into the bosom of the walnut tree; scattering the dense
shadows everywhere behind the branches. But the Indian woman could
discover no living thing--nothing but the soft quiver of leaves and the
starlight kissing away their dew.

She went in, satisfied that the noise had come from a passing bird, but
the minute the wooden latch fell from her hand closing the door, the
cry, hoarser and louder, ran through the house again. Then Tituba began
to be afraid. She had heard of witchcraft, and believed in it, like her
master, and all the wise men of the colony. From that hour she never
heard a hoof upon the turf, though it were only that of a young fawn, or
the hoot of an owl in the woods, that she did not remember what she
solemnly believed to be the witch-gathering in her master's study, and
tremble in her chimney corner till it had passed away.

After this time, William Phipps went forth to work out his ambitious
purposes, and Samuel Parris fell back into the quiet of his home, a
little troubled at times, and feeling the need of extra fasting and
prayer, but the same thoughtful, studious Christian that he had always
been.

But all at once, when he was on the very verge of old age, when the most
intense affections of common men soften into pleasant habits, this man,
of mature years, awoke from the lethargy of a life-time, and took to his
bosom a fair young girl of his church, an orphan, who had been cast upon
its charity, and, as it were, led by heaven into his household. It was a
sudden act, prompted by the buried romance which had so long slept
within him, sure to find utterance at some period of his life, either
through the intellect or the affections.

For a time he was very happy and forgot every thing, even heaven itself,
in the company of his beautiful young wife, who loved him with that
deep, unselfish love, which partook somewhat of veneration, but more of
child-like gratitude.

But soon the old man grew afraid of himself, afraid of the love which
centred entirely around that young creature, bringing her like an
unbidden angel between his very prayers and the throne of grace. Thus
his life was spent between fits of wild devotion and paroxysms of
remorse, lest he had become an idolater.

Time passed; it was more than twice twelve months before the man of
dreams and the man of action met again.

The one was absorbed by his ambition, the other had become selfish in
his love: save on that one subject he had no sympathy to give.

But as time glided away, leaving the hair on his temples whiter and
whiter, the old man was seized with an unaccountable dread. When his
young wife in all the bloom of her goodness and beauty had made him the
father of a daughter, her living shadow, vague, dark apprehension seized
upon him, and weeks before that young mother sickened and died, the
blackness of a great sorrow overshadowed his soul. He stood by her grave
and saw the fresh earth heaped upon it, and, shaking his venerable white
head, when his friends would have consoled him, went away into the
desolation of his old age, a broken-hearted man, weary of life, and yet
afraid to die.

He believed that the Divine Father had cast him off for bestowing the
love which should have been his on the beautiful creature who was gone,
and that for this sin he must wander on through life a mark of divine
displeasure. So he withdrew himself even from his best friends, for they
only reminded him of his meek, beautiful wife and his own idolatrous
sin.

The very song of the birds, and the sight of the green woods added to
his grief, for she was buried in springtime, when all the trees were in
blossom, and the wild birds had sung sweetly over her grave while they
were filling in the earth upon her coffin.

Samuel Parris retreated into the dreary solitude of his home, and gave
up his life to his daughter, the child of his old age. But for this
child his grief would have been utter despair, for every breath was
drawn in the desolation of a widowed heart. If he went to the fireside,
or the table, or awoke in the dead of night, it was to find the solitude
of the grave about him. His chamber, dark and heavy with the atmosphere
of death, his home, his very heart, which had been occupied with so
blessed and holy a love but a few days before, desolated forever.

About this time William Phipps sailed for England, became captain of a
royal ship, then, following the great idea of his life, sailed for La
Plata, and returned home years after, rich from the gold and silver
fished up from the wreck which he had discovered almost by a
miracle--with a title of honor, no inconsiderable thing at any time even
in America--and more important still, accredited by King William as
Governor of New England.

A few months after his old pupil became governor of the province, Samuel
Parris was summoned from his hearth, now the most desolate spot on earth
to him. His presence was required in Boston.

He set forth with many misgivings, for the letter came from his friend
and pupil, William Phipps.

The house, to which the letter directed him, had been the residence of a
rich merchant, and was now occupied by his young widow; one of the
wealthiest and most beautiful gentlewomen of the province.

Sir William Phipps met his friend at the door of this mansion. The
minister observed, with surprise, that the house was thronged with
company, and that his young friend was dressed richly; like a bridegroom
about to appear at the altar. They sat down together, both pale, and the
minister betraying great anxiety both in his look and manner. Their
conversation was brief and earnest, but they spoke in undertones; and
the lady who sat below, in her bridal garments, wondered, in her
happiness, what the two could find to talk about so long; for that short
interview seemed an age to her.

They came down at last: the bridegroom pale, but composed; the minister
tremulous, like a man about to undertake some painful duty.

The marriage ceremony was performed which made the lady we have seen
William Phipps's wife.

Samuel Parris returned home more thoughtful than ever. Indeed, time had
no balm for this old man, and but for his lovely child he must have
withered away in unceasing sorrow for his wife; in remorse for the sin,
as he deemed it, of loving her too well.

When Sir William Phipps heard of this, his heart was touched with
compassion for the old man, who had unlocked the golden gates of
knowledge to him, and, at the suggestion of his gentle wife, he sent an
urgent request that Elizabeth, the daughter whose education had been the
business and solace of the old man's life, should spend a portion of her
seventeenth year with Lady Phipps, who, childless herself, would become
a second mother to her.

It was like a new death for the old man to part with his child, but he
saw by the wistful pleading of her eyes, that she longed to see
something of the bright world, and surrendered her to the servant whom
Sir William Phipps had sent to escort her to Boston, with a pang almost
as great as that with which he had consigned her mother to the grave.

Through all the blossom season of the year, and into midsummer,
Elizabeth remained with her new friends. She was very happy; and while
his heart yearned for her presence, the old minister forbore to press
her return, or to inform her how dreary her absence had rendered his
home. But at last, urged on by some impulse which left him without the
power of resistance, though he prayed and struggled against it for many
days, the old man took his staff and went all the way on foot from Salem
to Boston, perhaps to see his child, certainly to look upon the roof
that covered her, and to breathe the same air that brought bloom and
beauty to her young face.

But the very joy that filled his being as he came nearer and nearer to
the town, admonished him how completely his love had gone forth, once
more, to a being perishable as the wife he mourned. What if the
displeasure of God for this creature-worship should fall upon the child
also? The old man's soul trembled within him at these thoughts. He dared
not even approach the house where his child lived; yet he wandered with
irresistible fascination on the outskirts of the neighborhood, longing
to ask the passers-by if they had seen her, but never venturing to
unclose his lips.

Thus the old man, striving against the best feelings of his nature as a
sin had roamed forth into the storm of that terrible day, and he now
wandered about in the sunshine afraid of himself, afraid of the very
sight of his own child, yet hovering around the house where she dwelt,
like a wounded bird that cannot forsake the tree where its young are
nested.

As he was thus upon the outskirts of the grounds, Elizabeth looked forth
from the window of her room, and, uttering a cry of thrilling joy, that
had so often made the old man tremble, as he thought, with forbidden
happiness--"My father! Oh, my father!"



CHAPTER IX.

THE FORCED SACRAMENT.


It was the Sabbath--that solemn day in the colonies when the voices of
men were hushed, or only uplifted in prayer--when the very children held
their breath with awe, and the good wife scarcely ventured to smooth the
bed she had slept in, or dress the food for her household, lest the holy
time given to the Lord should be encroached upon.

The very smoke, as it curled up from the chimneys of Boston, seemed to
float off more dreamily than on other days. There was no sound of life
abroad, for men who went forth left the beaten track and walked softly
along the turf on each side of the highway, as if the noise of their own
footsteps was a sacrilege.

But on this particular Sabbath there was, at least within doors, signs
of unusual commotion. The mother in each household brought forth her
best apparel, as if to grace some great occasion; while the good father,
in his Sabbath-day raiment, read an extra chapter in the Bible before
going forth, and drilled his offspring into deeper seriousness. On that
day the most mischievous urchin would have looked upon a single smile as
among the unforgivable sins of which he had heard so much, but could
never understand.

But of all the houses in the town, the gubernatorial mansion was the
most silent; and yet important preparations were going on in its stately
rooms. The servants spoke in whispers as they moved up and down the
broad staircase; and even Norman Lovel, whose gay spirits were not
easily tamed, looked grave as he seated himself by the window to wait.

At last, an open carriage, drawn by four gray horses, swept slowly
around the gravelled path, and drew up on one side of the steps.

Then the front door swung open, both heavy leaves at once, and Governor
Phipps appeared, followed by four attendants, bearing halberts.

It is hardly possible to imagine a more imposing presence than this
extraordinary man presented. His self-made greatness seemed like an
inheritance, so completely did his air and sumptuous habiliments
harmonize with each other. The broad, firm forehead, the deep-set eyes,
proud and steady in their glances, the firm mouth, grave without
severity, the thick hair, so slightly powdered that a few gray threads
were still to be detected in the wavy masses, the upright figure, tall
and robust, all possessed the power of command, had no other signs of
state been lidded to them. But no outward effect was wanting.

The slight gold embroidery on his undervest of snowy satin, gleamed in
faint ripples through the delicate Flanders lace that edged his linen,
and shed its misty richness over the white facings of a purple velvet
coat, which fell back from his chest, and, with broad gold buttons
gleaming down the front, descended within an inch or two of his knees.
The garters, which united his small clothes and white silk stockings,
were buckled up with diamonds, and the crimson straps of his Spanish
leather shoes were fastened in like manner. From the plush hat, turned
up at the sides, which crowned that lofty head, to the yellow lace that
fell over his doeskin gloves, every thing bespoke the man of strength
and refinement.

Sir William Phipps descended the steps of his mansion with a grave,
almost sad, countenance, and, followed by his attendants, walked away,
bending his steps towards North Boston.

As he turned into the open street, a faint hum, like the slow swarming
of innumerable bees, came up from the town; and directly the streets
were alive with neatly dressed people, all tending in the same
direction, with their governor.

Sir William had hardly gone out of sight when the carriage took its
station before the entrance of his dwelling, and Lady Phipps,
accompanied by Elizabeth Parris and Norman Lovel, descended the steps
and entered it.

Lady Phipps had evidently been weeping, for there was a flush around her
eyes; and Elizabeth Parris seemed even more solemnly impressed than her
friend. Young Norman, too, looked serious; and, as if each had been
possessed with an inward prayer, they remained silent, like persons
about to join a funeral train.

They were seated. Two attendants, bearing halberts, mounted behind; and
the equipage swept slowly away, following the governor at a given
distance, till it drew up before the North Boston meeting-house.

A crowd was before the entrance--a silent, reverential crowd--composed
of devout men, who spoke in whispers if they addressed each other; and
scarcely allowed the excitement natural to the occasion to appear even
in their eyes. This crowd parted to the right and left, first that the
minister, with Samuel Parris at his side, might pass through; and again
to make a passage for the governor and his train.

Sir William passed on, without recognizing a friend among many that
gazed upon him from the throng, for such worldly courtesies were not for
the holy Sabbath day in those times.

Before the crowd closed in, Lady Phipps drove slowly up. The party
descended at a respectful distance from the door, to which the ladies
moved with downcast eyes, and disappeared in the meeting-house.

Right and left, through the broad aisles that crossed each other in the
centre of the building, the congregation poured in, till that heavy,
wooden edifice was full.

The two ministers mounted one of the curving staircases leading to the
broad box pulpit, which lifted them to a level with the heavy galleries.
The deacons ranged themselves in a long pew, which ran across the front,
far below. On a narrow platform stood a table of cherry-wood, on which
was a silver trencher of unleaven bread, cut in small fragments; a
tankard and a goblet, over which a snowy napkin had been reverently
cast: and, a little apart from these, stood a large china bowl filled
with pure water.

These preparations, simple as they were, seemed to strike that primitive
congregation with unusual awe. Each member cast a solemn glance at the
table before he seated himself, and the funereal silence that reigned
through the house before the service commenced became almost painful.

That was a long, labored sermon, full of quaint wisdom and ponderous
theology. But the congregation listened to its innumerable divisions
with intense interest, while the governor sat wrapped in thought, much
paler than usual, and with a holy sadness creeping over his face.

The gentle lady by his side raised her eyes now and then to his, with a
look of wistful sympathy.

The sermon was over; the long prayer said; then Samuel Parris arose from
a back seat in the pulpit, and came down the steps; his gray hair
streaming over his temples, his eyes full of strange light, and his hand
pressed hard on the banisters to help his descent.

The old man stood up on the platform in front of the deacons, and turned
his gaze upon the governor's seat.

Sir William Phipps arose, followed by a faint sob from that
crimson-lined pew, and with a firm, slow tread, advanced in front of the
communion-table. Perhaps in his whole life that strong man had never
been more intensely agitated. Danger he had endured without
flinching--sorrow, deep, deep sorrow, he had suffered in profound
silence, seeking neither counsel nor sympathy; but to the very depths of
his soul Sir William was a proud man, and it was with a great struggle
that he stepped down from his high estate, and consented to become as a
little child in the presence of so many people, mentally inferior to
himself, and who could never comprehend the sublime strength which
possessed his soul.

He stood up before the people, and in a firm but very gentle voice
addressed them. He touched briefly on the salient points of a most
eventful life; spoke with great humility of his own shortcomings, and
with solemn and touching dignity laid his heart in genuine faith on the
altar of God.

It was an eloquent address, full of sincerity and earnestness. In his
whole life, perhaps, Sir William Phipps had never appeared so great
before his people, or had so completely taken possession of their
respect.

As he commenced speaking, there glided through the door, which had been
left open for a free circulation of air, a strange lady, dressed more
richly than was common in those days, except in the very highest
classes. She stood for a moment looking around, bewildered to find
herself among so many people; and then, as if arrested and held in
thrall by the deep-toned voice which filled the edifice, she stood
perfectly motionless, pale and still as marble.

The general attention was so completely absorbed by the speaker, that no
one observed this singular entrance, and the lady stood alone among all
that human life unconscious of its presence as if she had been in the
depths of a forest.

Sir William Phipps ceased speaking, and, turning to his old friend, who
stood by the table with tears in his eyes, bent his stately head for the
baptismal rites.

Then the lady came slowly forward, moving like a ghost up the broad
aisle, not as it were by her own volition, but impelled by some
all-absorbing power of which she was herself unconscious. The
congregation, occupied by the ceremony, saw nothing of this till she
came up almost to the pulpit, and turning aside, stood mute and still as
before, with her woeful eyes turning first upon the governor, then on
Samuel Parris.

It did not seem that either of these men saw the intruder, for they
looked each upon the other with glances of solemn affection, such as men
of kindred sympathies alone can understand. But as if that singular
presence would make itself felt in spite of any preoccupation, a shadow
fell upon the face of the governor, and those who looked closely saw the
thin hand of Samuel Parris tremble as he laved up the crystal drops that
were to purify his brother's soul. His voice, too, faltered as he spoke
the few words necessary to the baptismal ceremony, and yet he had not
turned his face or raised his eyes from the bowed head before him.

Then, with the holy water drops still trembling on his forehead, Sir
William lifted his face, and encountered the gaze of that strange woman.
What were those intensely mournful eyes to him, that he should feel
their glance trembling through his soul? Why did that wild sight come
into the calm depths of his eyes? With a great effort he turned away,
and bethought himself of the still more sacred rites which were to
complete his acceptance among the people of God. But the fervor of
devotion had passed; he could no longer concentrate every thought upon
the God whom he had promised to serve. The sacred bread touched his
lips, and the sacramental wine laved them, but, even as he returned the
goblet to the trembling hold of his friend, the fascination of those
eyes drew his soul away. He turned from the communion-table, and went to
the pew where his wife and her young friends were sitting; there, bowing
his face between his hands, he strove to pray, but could only shrink and
shudder as if some terrible calamity were upon him.

There was a brief benediction, and the congregation, held motionless
till the governor and his family passed out, broke up and departed
through the various doors, leaving the meeting-house empty. No, not
quite; for Samuel Parris still lingered behind, and busied himself in
covering the consecrated wine and bread; for he could not endure that
other hands should touch the symbols our Lord has made holy. He was
reverently placing the napkin over them when Barbara Stafford came from
her station in the shadow of the pulpit, and, kneeling at his feet,
besought him that she too might partake of the holy bread and wine.

Parris was an old man, and his eyes were dim with tears, for to his
gentle heart there had been something peculiarly touching in the rites
he had just administered to his friend. Besides, the lady was so changed
by her toilet, that he had no suspicion that she was the person whose
life he had saved a few days before. Thus he stood for a moment lost in
astonishment at the strangeness of the request.

"Sister," he said very kindly--for with thoughts of the Saviour's
suffering so close to his heart, how could he do otherwise?--"this is a
singular request. Know you not that the sacrament of to-day was special
to one purpose? The congregation was not expected to join in it."

"I know that it may seem out of place to ask so much, even of a servant
of God, and in a house given up to his worship. But if there is a holy
virtue in this bread and wine, give it to me that I may be strong; for I
declare to you, old man, there is not a soul on the broad earth that
needs it as mine does now."

How mournfully those eyes implored him, how deep and pathetic were the
pleadings of that sweet voice!

Imperceptibly the old minister began to tremble as he had done a few
minutes before, with his hand in the baptismal water.

She laid one hand on her heart: "Old man, if you are a true servant of
God, listen; I am afraid of myself, for humanity is very frail--here
with that voice still ringing through my brain, with--but no matter, I
am a woman, and weak--alone, and oh how desolate! While the power is
strong upon me, I would breathe a vow which no one but the Holy of
holies shall hear; I would seal that vow with the bread and wine he has
tasted."

"But sister!"

"Do not refuse me: it is a little thing for you, all the future to me.
Give me to taste of the cup while I have strength; for I say unto you,
old man, the spirit that impels me will not suffice to struggle against
a great temptation, without help from heaven."

The face of that woman was eloquent with noble resolves, the pathos of
her voice would have touched a heart of ice.

The old man slowly removed the napkin, and laid his hand upon the wine
cup. Barbara's eyes turned wistfully upon it.

"Remember," said the minister, taking a morsel of the bread between his
fingers--"remember, he that eateth of this bread or drinketh of this cup
unworthily--"

"I know, I know--I do remember," she urged, interrupting him; then
bowing herself and placing the bread between her lips, she continued
solemnly, "before the most Holy, I do not eat or drink unworthily."
Then, with a spirit of self-abnegation in her soul which amounted almost
to martyrdom, Barbara Stafford put her lips to the goblet which another
mouth had just touched, and drank of the sacred wine.

After that covenant with her God, a calm, sweet peace composed her
features, and settled on her whole being. For a moment she seemed to
have no sorrow, but rising from her knees took the minister's hand,
pressed her lips upon it, and went away.

It was not till she had gone, and he found himself in the empty
building, that Samuel Parris fully realized what he had done. By the
rules of his church no person, not an admitted member, had the privilege
of sacrament. How did he know if this woman was spiritually qualified?
By what right had he, standing at the foot of another man's pulpit, to
break bread and wine, perhaps to an unbeliever? Who was this woman who
had exercised an influence so potent upon him, and, as it were, wrested
the holy bread and wine from his hand? Surely the evil one could not
have tempted him in a form like that.

These thoughts troubled the minister greatly, and he left the
meeting-house saddened by the waywardness of his own heart, which would
be constantly following its kind impulses, in spite of the strict rules
laid down by his creed.



CHAPTER X.

HUNTED DOWN.


Samuel Parris had gone up from Salem to Boston impelled only by an
unconquerable wish to breathe the same air with his only child; but when
Governor Phipps found that he was in the same place with himself,
wandering about the streets, and crucifying his heart, because of his
great love for the daughter of his old age, he went in search of him;
and, after much persuasion and reasoning, induced a more wholesome frame
of mind, and, for a little time, the minister was able to receive the
glad welcome of his child without self-reproach.

The healthy good sense of his friend had a wonderful effect on the old
man, who had become morbid from constant loneliness and much sorrow. The
tone of his fine mind grew stronger under a roof where the affections
had full scope, and where a fresh, breezy atmosphere always prevailed.
At times, the good old man was seen almost to smile, this little sojourn
from home gave such zest to his life.

He had provided for his pulpit in Salem before leaving home, and
therefore, without undue persuasion, consented to remain and take a
share in the baptism of his friend, a thing which the governor, and his
whole family, had much at heart.

But all this time his own home was left in loneliness, or what was
almost the same thing, under the charge of a young girl, the niece of
his wife, who had been adopted in her infancy, and brought up side by
side with his own child.

This girl was a little older than Elizabeth Parris, and had shared the
same love, the same bed, and the same table with her from childhood up.
She was an orphan and the child of an orphan.

It was said in whispers, by the old gossips of the place, that her
mother came from some remote Indian settlement, where she and her little
sister--afterwards the wife of Samuel Parris--had been left like wild
animals, to live or die, probably by some unfortunate or unnatural
parent. But these two helpless creatures had escaped the wilderness and
sought shelter among the inhabitants of Salem. The elder girl gave no
account of herself save that she had escaped great danger, and fled from
the woods where her mother had perished. The little one only clung to
her sister with fond love in her deep blue eyes, and a timid struggle if
any one attempted to draw her from that singular protection. She was
quite too young for any knowledge of her own history.

For a time this brave girl and her sister were received and kindly
treated by the inhabitants, but after a year or two it came out that,
even in the wilderness, she had imbibed, no one could tell how, those
Quaker heresies so obnoxious to the prevailing religionists. Becoming
more and more bold in declaring them, she had been driven forth into the
wilderness again, cruelly scourged by the law, and hunted down by her
fellow-men like a she-wolf caught at her prey.

The younger child, to whom all religious creeds remained a blessed
mystery, was forcibly torn from the arms of her sister, whose very touch
was considered contagious by the regenerated, and adopted into the
church. She was too young at the time of her sister's martyrdom, for
such in spirit it was, to resist either this cruelty or kindness, and
the very people who had hunted her sister out of civilized life were the
most eager for her welfare, and strove most diligently to render her
happy and comfortable. Indeed, she was in reality the ewe lamb of the
church, and, being of a peaceful, gentle nature, soon learned to look
upon the troubles of her first childhood as a dream, and think of the
brave sister, who had been ready to perish for her, as one of the
characters that she loved to read about in the Bible.

Thus she surrounded the past with a sort of religious mystery, which
threw a shade of sadness over her whole life, but never, till the very
last, embittered it as a knowledge of the whole truth would have done.

This young girl became to the church a lamb of atonement for her
sister's heresy. She grew up beautiful as an angel, both in soul and
body; became the wife of Samuel Parris, the mother of his child, and
then, in truth, an angel.

But a thing happened on the very day before her death, which no human
being ever understood save the young wife, whose death-blow came with
the knowledge it brought.

She was sitting alone, this young wife, in the spare room of her log
house, singing a quiet, sweet psalm-tune to herself, as she sewed on a
little garment which was to clothe her first-born child. The minister
had gone forth to hold a prayer-meeting, and she was thus pleasantly
whiling the time of his absence away, thinking of him with a gentle
satisfaction that more passionate love might not have known, between the
pauses of her work and the breaks in her sweet music.

It was in the spring; the little window of her room was curtained with
wild honeysuckles and sweetbriar brought down from the woods, and rooted
by the house. The sash was up, and the wind, as it sighed through the
leaves, gave a melodious accompaniment to her voice. But all at once,
there was a quick rustling of the branches, as if they were torn apart
by force, and, looking up suddenly, the young wife saw a thin brown hand
clutching the thorny foliage, and a ghastly face, fired by two burning
eyes, looking in upon her.

Mrs. Parris started up in great terror, for in her whole nature she was
timid, and would have fled to the kitchen; but while she stood trembling
and doubtful, the face disappeared, the outer door flew open, and a
woman leading a child by the hand came hastily into the room.

Mrs. Parris gazed at the intruder with renewed affright. Though clad as
a savage, with moccasins on her feet, leggins of crimson cloth, and a
dress of deer skin, gorgeous with embroidery in beads, porcupine quills,
and stained grasses, she had nothing of the Indian in her countenance or
complexion. The hair that fell down from a broken coronet of feathers,
which had once been gorgeous, was of a rich golden tint, and curled in
heavy masses, though the woman had reached mid-age in fact, and was much
older in appearance.

The eyes which she fixed on the young wife, though wild with the fires
of death, had once been blue as a summer sky.

She could not speak--this strange wild woman--but gazed at the innocent
wife standing there in her sweet motherly hopes, till great tears fell
down her cheeks, and sobs rose and swelled in her throat, almost choking
her.

"Who are you--what can I do for you?" said Mrs. Parris, gathering up all
her courage to speak. "The minister is away; I am all alone; if more of
your tribe are here, and wish me harm, I am helpless enough."

The woman put her hand up, and strove to force back the sobs that held
her speechless, then she drew close to the young wife, and her voice
broke forth in a gush of tender anguish, that thrilled her listener
through and through.

"Rachael!"

That had been the orphan's name, forgotten long ago, for when they
baptized her in the church she was called Elizabeth. But the anguish,
the pathos with which it was uttered, made her pulses swell and her
heart beat.

"_Rachael!_" The sound grew familiar, the voice came to her from the
depths of the past, as a ghost glides out from the darkness that
surrounds it. The knowledge that she had once known a sister came back.

"Rachael, my sister Rachael!"

Her soul gave up its past at the cry. She stretched forth her arms as
she had done a thousand times in her helpless infancy, and fell into the
embrace that gathered her up to the very heart of that dying woman.

"Rachael!"

"Sister!"

Language was mute then, and silence became eloquent; the blood in those
two hearts throbbed with kindred fire, those arms clung together like
vines rooted in the same soil.

At last the woman began to stagger.

"Let me sit down, Rachael." She fell into the easy-chair, gasping for
breath.

"Lay thy head here close--close, sister--sister!"

"You are ill--dying!"

"Not yet--there--there--it is well; thee will try and remember how dear
the little Rachael was to her sister, thee will know how true this heart
is by its beating--its last beat, for I am about to die."

"Yes, I remember, as in a dream; but still I know who you are, spite of
this dress, spite of time."

"And now, sister, dear sister, I have come to ask, for my little one,
the care which thee received at my hands; for as our mother took thee
from her bosom when she came to her death in the wilderness, I charge
thee, sister Rachael, with my only daughter, Abigail Williams, for thus
thee must call my child. She has another name, but that would bring
fierce enemies upon her."

"God so deal with me as I deal with this little one!" was the reply, and
reaching forth her arm, Mrs. Parris drew the child from the feet of her
mother, kissing her softly amid her tears.

"Rachael!"

"Sister!"

"When thee was a little child like her, I suffered them to drive me away
like a sinner and a slave; I suffered them to tear thee from my bosom,
and went into the wilderness alone, never attempting to come back lest
thee too might suffer, and perchance perish of want. It was like tearing
my life away when thee was given up."

"Alas, alas! that I should have known so little of this!"

"It was a merciful forgetfulness; thy pure life has been all the happier
for it, but I was not unmindful; many a week's journey have I taken
through the woods to hear of thy welfare."

"But yourself?"

"I have been even as God wills it. Look up, Rachael: do not weep or
droop thine eyes to the earth: thee has no cause. Even as thee, I have
been the wife of one husband."

"I did not think otherwise; it is for myself that I am troubled. Surely
this heart should have told me that you lived."

"Once more, my sister, it was a merciful forgetfulness; not till I knew
by sure signs that my last moment was at hand, would I claim even this
hour of thy life. Now I have come a long way alone and on foot, to give
up my child, that she may dwell with the people of her mother."

"But her father?"

"He was a brave man--my benefactor and lord. His son, the first-born,
was torn from me as I fled from the white fiends that murdered his
father. They will make him a slave--he a king's son! The chief of his
tribe a slave! a slave!"

The woman reeled on her feet as she stood, and fell into the chair
again, panting for breath. With an effort she spoke on.

"Thee shall be mother to this little one, sister Rachael."

"Even as my husband shall be its father," said Mrs. Parris, laying her
hand upon the child's head.

"That husband--presently--when I have more breath, thee shall tell me
about him, for I know nothing. It is long, very long, since I have been
able to gain tidings from the settlements. Even now I came upon this
house at the last moment, and feeling about to fall to the earth, looked
in, seeking for help, and saw thee."

"Thank God that it was my house. Alas, how haggard and worn you look, my
sister! I read years of suffering in your face, and I so happy, so
unconscious all the time. But no one ever talked of my childhood."

"They would not thus accuse themselves; they who lashed thy sister with
stripes, and drove her into the woods like a dog. How could such men
look into thy pure face, and tell this unholy truth?"

"But my husband; surely he must have heard of this cruelty, for he was
minister here before I was born. Yet when I question him of my
childhood, he always puts the subject aside."

A wild light came into the woman's eye. She sat upright in the chair,
and looked down into the face of her sister.

"A minister, Rachael! what is thy husband's name?"

The name faltered on the young wife's lips, not as usual from reverence,
but fear.

"Parris--his name is Parris."

The woman gathered herself slowly up.

"Samuel Parris?"

"Yes," replied the wife, in a timid whisper.

"An old man now?"

"Yes."

The woman stood upright, struggling to walk, but without the power to
move. Her chest heaved, her throat swelled, she groped about blindly
with her hand, searching for her child.

"Sister, sister, what troubles you?" cried Mrs. Parris, trembling
violently.

"_Rachael, that man was one of my judges!_"

The words came out hoarsely, rattling in her throat. She fell back,
struggled with awful force for a moment, and then a cold, gray corpse
settled down in the chair, terribly in contrast with the savage dress.
The child, who had been growing paler and paler, went softly up to the
chair, and burying its face in the gorgeous vestments that clung about
the corpse, remained motionless and mute as the dead. She neither wept
nor moaned like an ordinary child, but a dull pallor stole over her neck
and her little hands, which proved how terrible that still grief was.
Ah, who shall tell how much of the iron that rusted through her
after-life, entered that human soul during those moments of silent
agony!

Mrs. Parris stood looking at them both, then, struck with a pang of
terrible anguish, she crept out of the room, moaning as she went.



CHAPTER XI.

DOOMED TO SLAVERY.


While Mrs. Parris was in her chamber, faint with pain and driven wild by
the fearful developments just made to her, the dead woman lay in the
great easy-chair, wrapped in her gorgeous forest-dress and with the
bright hair falling in masses down her cheek, concealing the death
shadows that lay upon it.

All was still as midnight in the house. Save for a faint sob that came
once or twice from the chamber above, the pretty cabin might have been
taken for a tomb. Old Tituba had been very busy at the great stone oven,
back of the house, baking bread, and that fearful scene had passed in
the parlor without her knowledge. Though a soul had gone into eternity,
and a heart had been broken, in those few minutes, the poor old savage
was ignorant of it all. With her long iron shovel she was launching
great loaves of rye bread into the depths of an enormous oven, and at
last blocked up its yawning mouth with an earthen milk-pan full of
beans, crested with a crisp mass of pork cut in square blocks across the
rind. She had put the great wooden door up, and was stuffing tufts of
grass about the edges to keep the air out, when a lad rushed wildly by
her, leaping over the ground like a deer, and, turning a corner of the
house, disappeared. The lad was dressed in a deer-skin tunic, trimmed so
richly with wampum that it rattled like a hail storm as he fled. She
caught one glimpse of a mass of glossy hair floating on the wind, and
scarlet leggins hanging in shreds around those flying feet.

"It is an Indian child. It is one of our people," cried Tituba, casting
her heavy iron fire-shovel to the ground. "The white men are on his
track; they swarm like snakes in the forest."

But, quickly as the old woman moved, that wild Indian boy entered the
house before she came up. He halted one moment on the threshold,
hesitating and wild. A glance at the great easy-chair, a cry that rang
through and through the house, a leap that seemed rather that of some
wild animal than a human being, and the boy lay prostrate at the dead
woman's feet, with both hands pulling at her dress, while he cried out,
in a voice that made the very air tremble with its pathos,

"Mother! mother! I am here! I am here! They could not hold me! I tore
their bonds asunder like tow. I shot one through the heart, outran the
others. All night long have I been on your trail. Look at me, mother.
Wake up or the enemy will be upon us again."

A stir in the woman's garments that shook all its wampum fringes,
deceived the boy, or he would have known that she was dead.

"Mother! mother! there is no time for rest. They were crowding in the
outskirts of the woods when I came through. Come with me. I know of a
cave in the rocks where you can be safe with my little sister. Did you
know they will sell us for slaves--these white men that talk of a God
higher than Mineto? Mother! mother! I hear a step. They are on us!
They--" he paused suddenly, his hands, clasped and uplifted, seemed
freezing together. He did not breathe. His wild eyes had caught the
deadly pallor of that face, scattered as it were with ashes beneath the
shadowy hair. He shuddered fearfully as the dead woman's garments
rustled around her. A little form, half concealed by the chair, half
buried in the garments, crept to his feet. A tiny hand, cold as snow,
grasped at his dress.

"Brother!"

The little girl spoke in the Indian tongue, and looked into his face
with those dark, piteous eyes.

"Brother!"

The boy snatched her up, and folding her close in his arms, looked in
terrible woe on the dead face resting against the high back of the
chair.

"Oh, mother! mother! have they killed you as well as my father?" he
cried, drooping toward her. "Will you never speak again? Oh, Mineto!
Mineto! what has your people done, that they are chased to death like
wolves and foxes? What had she done that they could not spare her?"

Tituba stood motionless in the doorway. The wail of grief in that young
voice held her there dumb and sorrowful. She understood the Indian
tongue, and knew that this boy was the dead woman's son. A death-chant
rose to her lips; she began to rock to and fro on the threshold. But a
sound on the edge of the wood frightened the impulse away. She turned
and saw a body of armed men coming around the meeting-house. The danger
was close upon them. Tituba darted into the room, snatched the little
girl from her brother's arms, and cried out in the Indian tongue: "Go!
go! leap through the back window. There is a hollow floor under the
oven: creep in. They will not look for you there." She ran into the
kitchen as she spoke, mounted a ladder, and hid the child in a corner of
the garret, heaping strings of dried apples and bunches of herbs upon
her. The little girl lay in her concealment, passive and mute, holding
her breath. Poor thing, she had become used to scenes of peril like
that.

But the lad, that brave Indian boy, scorned to flee for his own safety
alone. There he stood, close to his dead mother, pale as death, but with
a terrible fire in his eyes. He had not distinctly understood old
Tituba, and only knew that danger was near.

The heavy tramp of feet on the gravel path drew his eyes from that cold
form to the window. It was blocked up with iron faces crowned with tall
sugar-loaf hats, which shut out the very sight of heaven.

The savage instincts of a warlike race impelled the boy to resistance.
Tituba had spoken of a back window. He glanced that way, knowing well
that the forest stretched darkly beyond. But there a terrible sight met
him. A dozen or more young warriors, the bravest of those who had
followed King Philip on his last war-path, lay upon the sod, bound hand
and foot with strong withes, shorn of their forest splendor, and with
the eagle feathers, which had been to them a crown of glory, broken in
the tangled hair from which they could not be altogether wrested. There
they lay, those brave, grand savages, like a flock of sheep bound and
ready for the butcher. They had fought valiantly for the land that was
undoubtedly their own, and for that crime were deemed unworthy of
Christian mercy.

The brave boy saw that all avenues of escape were closed to him.
Instinctively, he felt for his bow. It was gone. When first taken a
prisoner, those iron-faced men now glaring at him through the window had
broken it under their feet. But bristling up from behind his mother's
shoulder was a bow and quiver, in which were a half dozen arrows, the
last love-gift of King Philip. Quick as lightning he snatched the bow,
and an arrow flashed through the window.

A howl of pain followed, and a rush at the door, but the lad wheeled
half round, and arrow after arrow leaped from his bow, till the quiver
on that marble woman's back was empty. Then a band of soldiers pressed
in upon him with levelled halberts. Hands that seemed cased in iron
gauntlets seized him by the shoulders, and he was dragged farther over
the threshold stone, struggling against them to the last. There he was
hurled to the earth and bound limb to limb with tough withes. Then two
of the soldiers carried him around a corner of the house and cast him
down as if he had been a dog, among the young warriors, destined to be
sold into slavery.

The lad struggled to a sitting posture, and looked out on the ocean. A
ship, old and weather beaten, lay within the harbor, with her anchor up,
ready for sea. That ship was bound for Bermuda with a cargo of slaves,
all gathered from the glorious forests of New England.

The men destined to fill her hold were chiefs and warriors of as brave a
nation as ever baptized a free soil with blood--men taken in valiant
fight, while contesting for their native woods, and the wigwams which
were to them sacred homes. These unfortunate men were prisoners of war,
helpless, and at the mercy of a victorious foe. The Puritan fathers
being Christians and God-fearing men, would not put their captives to
death: that would have been to sink themselves to a level with savages;
so, after grave deliberation, some fasting, and much prayer, they
resolved to stow away these brave men into the hold of a sea-going
vessel, and let the winds of a benign heaven waft them into perpetual
slavery. The returning ship would bring back heaps of glittering gold in
exchange for this cargo of war prisoners; for the men who fought under
King Philip were powerful and capable of severe toil. They had not
yielded readily to the rifle, but peradventure the lash might prove a
more effective instrument of civilization.

On this ship the son of King Philip looked with burning eyes, while the
bonds with which they had lashed his limbs together cut purple hollows
into his flesh. He knew that the sails which were now unfurling would
bear him far away from the forest where his father had perished, and
where hundreds of his tribe were now sheltering themselves from the
white man's wrath.

There the lad sat, or rather knelt; every nerve in his body
strained--every drop of his savage blood burning--every thought a
denunciation. But no one of those iron-faced men heeded him.

The two soldiers who had cast the boy down amid his father's warriors,
turned toward the sea.

"Lo," said one, extending his hand, "the wind is fresh from the east.
Yonder, half-way to the shore, comes a boat. Take these sinful creatures
to the beach, brethren, while I go in and bring forth the woman and her
pappoose."

The boy uttered a sharp cry, and turned his glance on the man, who
strode toward the house. He went rudely up to the great chair, and laid
his hand on the woman's shoulder, giving it a slight shake. The fringes
on her dress rattled like hail upon crusted snow. The man took his hand
suddenly away, hesitated an instant, and then swept back the hair from
that still face. The certain presence of death touched even his granite
heart. He bent down, and was folding the deer-skin robe more composedly
about the form, when a little creature came gliding through the door,
and stole close up to the chair before he saw that it was the child he
sought. She was a fearless little thing at all times; now, some vague
idea that the man was about to harm her mother made her eyes wildly
luminous, as she lifted them to his face.

"Go away," she said, in broken English, pushing him with all her tiny
strength. "Go!" The fire in those beautiful eyes enkindled the stern
cruelty of the man. He snatched her up in his arms and bore her forth
with a grim smile on his bearded lip.

Then old Tituba saw what had happened and followed him, uttering wild
cries of distress. The man took no heed, but carried his captive around
the house in sight of her brother.

A yell of mingled rage and despair broke from that young heart. The lad
tore and strained at his bonds like a trapped panther--fiery tears
leaped to his eyes, specks of foam flew from his mouth.

"Not her, not her!" he shrieked, in English. "She is only a little baby.
Let them whip me, sell me, kill me. I will work and suffer for both."

The anguish in that young voice reached Mrs. Parris, where she lay with
her face buried in the pillows of her bed. Like a beautiful white nun
she came out of her chamber, down the stairs, and into the midst of
those Puritan soldiers. Terrible suffering had cast its ashes over her;
but there was resolution in her eyes, pain on her forehead.

She went up to the man, who still held the little savage and took her
gently from his arms.

"She is mine. The minister will care for her. Little children are not
our enemies. Christians do not make slaves of them."

There was something in the very gentleness of her words that almost
conquered the man, who muttered a gloomy protest. The little creature
clung to her with thrilling tenacity.

"Leave the child with me. I will answer for its safety to your leader.
I, the wife of Samuel Parris, whom you all know."

There was something in the face of this gentle young matron that
enforced respect even from the men who had so rudely invaded her
dwelling--a depth and intensity of suffering that prevailed more surely
than command.

"Nay, if you will take charge of the little heathen we have nothing to
say. In the minister's house she may find a gate of salvation open."

A spasm of pain swept the fair face of the matron; but her soul was
strong enough for the moment to put this physical anguish aside. She
took the infant in her arms, folded it close to her aching bosom, and
went with it into the house. Old Tituba stood in the door.

"Take her, take her! and God have mercy on us all!" cried Elizabeth,
tottering forward and giving up the child. Then she went feebly up the
stairs and entered her chamber again.

The princely Indian boy, true to the reticent instincts of his father's
race, became silent as marble when he saw that his little sister would
not be harmed. Even the cry of joy that rose to his lips when the child
was given up he bravely suppressed. He would not, by one action, let his
persecutors know how dear the little wanderer was to him. Had he spoken
a word, or challenged attention by a gesture, the minister's wife would
have learned that her sister's son was in peril, and might perhaps have
saved him also. But he was too brave for complaint, and she went on,
ignorant of his danger to the hour of her death.

The tide rose, the winds blew favorably, that old ship unfurled its
canvas and sent out signals that its human crew was waited for. Down to
the beach those brave young savages were forced, into the boats and away
forever more.

Before night-fall that craft was far off on her horrible errand,
plunging along that vast desert of waters, with oh! what terrible agony
shut down under her closed hatches.

There in her hold, dark as the bottomless pit, with every breath of the
stifled air foul with the scent of bilge water, lay those children of
the great forest; which, broad, and green, and noble as it was, had
hardly afforded scope for their heroic energies a month before. Down in
impenetrable blackness, beneath the roaring waters that beat against
that creaking hull, like wild animals, riotous with hunger, they had
been cast in heaps, with less mercy than would have been yielded to mad
dogs or trapped tigers. Not one glimpse of the glorious old woods from
which they had been torn--not even a fragment of the blue sky was given
to those bloodshot eyes; but, lashed onward by the waves, stifled,
hungry, and broken-hearted, they were swept into slavery.

When Samuel Parris reached home that night, he found in place of the
gentle wife whom he had left singing at her work, the dead woman of the
forest, lying in her gorgeous habiliments, and the little child, whose
stillness was more appalling than that of the corpse, crouching at her
feet.

Shocked at the sight, but thinking first of his wife, the minister,
after a vain attempt to question the child, followed the sound of broken
voices that came faintly to his ear, and entered his own chamber. A
moment after he went hurriedly from the house, returned with another
person, and stood all night long holding his breath by the chamber door.
At last he came away, moving like a ghost through the dim morning, and
entered the little sitting-room where his angel had been seated so
tranquilly when he went out, not yet twenty-four hours agone. The little
girl, who had stayed by her mother all night, arose, and stood looking
him in the eyes with a steady gaze that might have made any man shrink,
for it was unearthly in its earnestness.

While that weird glance was upon him, a low cry rang through the house,
a cry that made every drop in the old man's veins leap, and every nerve
tremble.

"Thank God! Oh, my God, my God, how _can_ I thank thee enough!" and the
old man wept tenderly.

As if mocking the ecstasy of his tears, the little girl smiled in his
face--but oh, such a wintry smile--and went back to her mother. The old
man shuddered.

After a time, he went up to the chamber of his wife. She lay upon the
bed with the babe he was to look upon for the first time, not folded to
her bosom, but lying apart, while she gazed wistfully at its little
features, with a weary look full of dull anguish, that never would
change to the lovelight which should brighten a mother's face.

The minister, with tears in his eyes, leaned over her, and would have
pressed his lips upon her forehead, but she shrunk down in the bed with
a low moan, as a wounded fawn shudders at the touch of its captor, and
when he sought to comfort her, and speak out the exquisite joy that
filled his whole being, she looked up with those piteous eyes, and
muttered:

"She was my sister--my sister!"

These were all the words she ever uttered. The shock of his sudden
presence had exhausted the last remnants of her strength. She only
breathed fainter and fainter, till her child, like the little one below,
was motherless.

The two sisters were buried side by side, the same tree overshadowed
them, and in the course of time the flowers that blossomed on one grave
crept over the other. Many tears were shed over the minister's wife as
they lowered her into the earth, but not one--not one--over the
grand-hearted forest-woman. For her Samuel Parris could not weep. He
looked upon her very coffin with terror. The Nemesis of his life was
there, and would haunt him forever and ever. He stood by the open grave,
bowed down with something more awful than grief. In the happiness of his
married life he had grown vigorous and upright; but now his shoulders
stooped, and his limbs shook like the branches of a dead tree. Poor old
man! who can wonder that Samuel Parris never held up his head again!

As for the child, Abigail Williams, she came of a race to whom revenge
stands in the place of religion--a race even to whose women and children
tears are a reproach. At her mother's grave she did not forget the proud
lessons of the kingly savage who taught even his women to suffer
bravely.

They had taken off her Indian dress, it is true, but what power could
quench the fire in that young heart! She did not comprehend the meaning
of those black garments, only that she was alone, utterly alone, among
all those people, who had been cruel enough to let her mother die.

From that double grave the young savage went back to old Tituba, the
Indian woman, never in her whole life to know one hour of careless
childhood.

Thus it was that Abigail Williams became the adopted child of Samuel
Parris, and this was the girl who, far advanced towards womanhood now,
was left in charge of the minister's house when he made his eventful
visit to Boston.



CHAPTER XII.

ELIZABETH AND HER COUSIN.


From the cradle up, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams had been as
sisters--nay, more, for while the same blood flowed in their veins and
the same household words had been breathed into their ears, there
existed that strong bond of contrast which is sure to give some degree
of excitement to the quietest life. Abigail was the elder by about three
years. She had come to a rapid growth, and her beauty possessed all the
roundness and depth of tint which belongs to a full-statured woman. Her
mind was like her person, and both were remarkable. Apt, bright, full of
intelligence, yet gentle, and troubled with a shy bashfulness at times,
which sprang from pride rather than timidity, she was a wonder to
everybody that saw her. She was so unlike other children, her manner of
doing things was so firm and gentle, that few even of the gravest
church-members ever thought of rebuking her as they did other offenders,
or of petting her in the same way.

She was greatly given to study, but sometimes would sit with her book in
one hand, or her slate in her lap, gazing wistfully into the distance
through the window of the log school-house, as if her life like her
thoughts lay afar off, and having escaped her lesson, could not be
brought back again.

The school-house commanded a broad, beautiful approach to the sea, and
behind it was a dense forest of hemlocks, oaks, and beech, which kept
the earth forever in shadow, and covered the old sodden logs and decayed
stumps with thick fleeces of moss that gleamed out like velvet and gold
when a sunbeam chanced to strike downward and touch the earth. Vast as
the ocean itself stretched the shadows of that forest, and Abigail's
face took a deeper and more earnest expression when she looked that way,
deeper and more earnest even than when she gazed upon the far-off waters
and saw the distant sky bend down and cover their retreat with silvery
mists. You would have thought the child was searching for something that
was very, very long in coming, as she fell into these long musing fits.
Sometimes she would remain motionless, leaning both elbows on her little
pine-desk, and dropping her chin between her hands, for half an hour
together without turning her eyes from the shadows that darkened the
forest, and seeming to hold her breath lest it should frighten some one
back that she had been waiting and hoping for. She seemed to be
conscious herself that there was someone weird and strange about these
fits of concentrated thought, for at every sound of your voice, at every
step that drew near, she would catch her breath, start and look up, as
if she expected something dreadful to happen.

Speak softly to Abigail Williams at such times, or look at her with a
glance of love, and her quiet eyes would fill and her childish heart
would heave, it was impossible to say why. But if you spoke sharply to
her when her head was at the little window and her thoughts far away, no
one knew where, the poor thing would grow pale, and turn upon you with
such a sorrowful look, then go away and do as she was bidden with a
gravity that touched you to the heart. Sometimes it would require a
whole day after a rebuke like this to restore the dye of her sweet lips
or to persuade her that you were not half so angry as you might have
appeared. But with all this, the quickness of her intellect, and the
alacrity with which she took to study, was remarkable as her
thoughtfulness.

But Elizabeth Parris was in every respect a very different child. If you
chided her even to the lifting of a finger, ten to one, she laughed in
your face, and made you laugh with her, in spite of yourself. Scold her,
and you got an answer back that made you love the creature for her very
sauciness. She would mimic your step with her little naked feet, or the
motion of your head, or the curve of your mouth, while you were
expecting to terrify her. Everybody was tired of her in half an hour,
and yet everybody was glad to see her again, for, with all her mischief,
she crossed your threshold like a sunbeam.

She was a careless little romp, too. Loved above all things to run
barefoot, and was forever losing her shoes in the long grass.

She had a hundred different ways of combing her bright hair; and, in the
winter time, if there was an ice-pond or a snow-drift within a mile of
the village, she was sure to be sliding on the one or wading knee-deep
in the other. Still Elizabeth grew very fond of her book, and had fits
of hard study that kept her ahead of her class in spite of her wild
ways.

Out of school, the two girls were always together; they required no
other playmates. Mornings, evenings, and Saturdays, especially, they
were always creeping about under the great beech trees, with their story
books, which Abby would pore over, and Elizabeth would listen to, with
fun on her lips or water in her eyes as the case might be--though she
was always ready for a tumble in the wet grass, a plunge in the surf, or
a slide from the very top of the hay mow, at a moment's warning.

Sometimes they would spend a whole day hunting for early apples in the
thick grass, picking hazel-nuts, or feeding the fish in the clear sea.
Then they would ramble about in the great solemn woods together, holding
their breath, and ready to say their prayers with very awe, not of the
wild beasts whose track they were on, but from the vast shadows that
fell over them from the trees that were spread out, over the sky, and
the expanse of shrubbery, that seemed to cover the whole earth.

The sublimity of all these things hushed them into silence, and if they
heard a noise in the forest, a howl or a war-whoop, they would creep in
among the flowers of some solitary thicket, and were safe.

Directly the danger had passed they might be found where the scarlet
barberries glittered among the sharp green leaves, like threaded bunches
of coral; where the glowing purple plums, or clustered bunch berries
rustled among the foliage and rolled about their feet in over ripeness.

Into these wild places they delighted to go, even while they were afraid
to speak above a whisper, and kept close hold of each other's hands
every step of the way, till a sort of fascination crept over them, and
they grew strangely in love with the vast solitude of the woods.

Such was the love, and such the companionship of these two girls. In
school or out, all day and all night, sleeping, waking, talking or
dreaming, they were always together--never apart for a single day, up to
the time of our story.

The two sisters who had been carried together out of the minister's
dwelling, and laid side by side behind that old meeting-house, whose
slender wooden spire could be seen from the school-house window, with
the figure of Death on the top for a weathercock, were scarcely more
inseparable than these children had been, since their hands were linked
in sisterhood by those new-made graves.

And now Abigail Williams was approaching her nineteenth birthday; but
she looked at least five years older than the sweet, blue-eyed
Elizabeth.

She was stately beyond her age, and altogether her beauty was so
remarkable that the people of the town could not choose but turn and
look upon it as she passed by on her way to school or meeting.

But she had left off school now and took to reading every thing she
could lay her hands on, even to the pamphlets and old newspapers hoarded
away in the minister's garret; indeed her attainments were something
wonderful--she was almost as learned as the minister himself.

Such was Abby Williams, at the period when our story commenced. For the
first time in her life, she was separated from Elizabeth Parris; then,
while the loneliness was upon her, she was left in solitude, with no
human creature in the house but the old Indian servant Tituba.

The day after the minister left his home, Abby was sitting in the room
where her aunt Parris had sung at her work that night when the forest
woman found her sewing so quietly. The young girl sat by the open
window, in the very chair where her mother died. She was busy knitting
on one of those long seamed stockings, which were an important portion
of the male dress in those times. Two balls of yarn lay in her lap, gray
and white, with which she striped the stocking, seaming it every three
stitches. She was expert with her needles, and did not look at them, but
sat gazing out into the calm summer day, peacefully as her aunt had
done, but with a touch of sadness in her face; for, as her aunt had
thought of her unborn babe years before, she was thinking of Elizabeth
now.

In those tender thoughts, and in the monotony of her work alone, Abby
Williams resembled her aunt. The tropical bird and the wood pigeon had
as much likeness in every thing else. The young girl was singular and
picturesque. In her person was blended all the beauty of two distinct
races, but in every thing the grace of civilization predominated. The
delicacy and lustre of her mother's beauty were all present, moulding
the features into exquisite grace, lending a soft, purplish blue to
those bright eyes, and scattering gloss and bloom among the folds of
those heavy tresses. The contrast of her eyes with the black brows and
lashes gave a beauty to the face even more attractive than the rich tint
of her complexion or the peachy richness of her cheek. The refinement of
civilization and the lithe grace of the panther were blended in her
person. Her very repose was eloquent of deep tenderness, and of fierce,
slumbering passion. When these antagonisms came in contact, that young
girl's character would break forth in all its powers of good and evil;
at present, she was only an humble maiden at her work, lonely and a
little sad, but at peace with all mankind.

As she worked, Tituba, the Indian woman, came in and out from the
kitchen, making vague pretences, as it seemed, only to look on the young
girl at her work. She did not speak once, for Abby was gazing afar off
into the shadows of the forest as if her fate lay there, and she was
striving to unravel it with her glances.

At last the sun went down, and old Tituba came into the room again,
chanting an Indian death-song inexpressibly mournful and sweet, which
mingled so sorrowfully with the girl's thoughts that she dropped her
knitting and leaned back in the great-chair, sighing heavily.

Tituba kept on with her chant; it was the lament of a child over the
grave of its mother, given in the Indian tongue, every word of which
went to the young girl's heart, like a reproach. The meeting-house,
which stood upon the edge of the forest, lent force to the old woman's
voice, as it died away on her slow retreat to the kitchen. The full moon
threw its pale, ghastly light on the figure of Death which surmounted
its spire, and she knew that its shadow was that moment creeping over
her mother's grave.

Unconscious of the influence that sent her forth, Abby arose, and,
throwing a shawl over her head, went quietly out into the moonlight,
taking a straight line for the meeting-house.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE BROTHER AND SISTER.


In the night-time Abigail had never before visited her mother's grave.
Indeed, she had seldom been there alone, in her whole life. Now the
grave-yard was very dim and shadowy, for it lay on the verge of the
forest, and a few stray moonbeams only pierced through the pine boughs
that drooped over it. She was almost afraid to advance close, for the
periwinkles that crept over the two graves had grown luxuriantly thick,
spreading over them like a torn pall. Even their flowers, so exquisitely
blue in the day-time, seemed black among the darkness of their leaves.
Beyond the two graves--now linked into one by those dusky creepers--the
forest was black as midnight. Here and there a fire-fly shone out in the
depths of the wood; here and there a branch caught the moonlight, that
fringed the edges of its dewy leaves with silver; but this only made the
darkness beyond more complete. She crept towards the graves, holding her
breath, afraid of the solitude and darkness, afraid and yet fascinated.
All at once she stretched forth her hand, and seized hold of a pine
branch which shivered in all its slender leaves, and gave forth those
low, melancholy sighs, which sound so like human grief.

The young girl held on to the branch and, stooping forward with gleaming
eyes and parted lips, peered into the gloom of the forest, looking
straight over her mother's grave.

All at once she drew a sharp breath and let go of the pine bough, that
fell back to its place with a rustle that shook all the neighboring
branches, and covered the grave below with a storm of dew. Then, with
her head turned back and her eyes bright with new terror, she attempted
to flee. A crash--a rush amid the forest boughs, and a voice coming out
of the darkness!

Her lifted foot fell like lead upon the grass, a cry broke from her
lips, and, still maintaining the first attitude of flight, she seemed
frozen into stone.

"Mahaska!"

Out from the dim forest stole that name. When she had heard it the young
girl could not think, nor why it fell with such sweet mournfulness on
her ear. But she knew that the name had been hers; in some previous
existence perhaps, for she never remembered hearing it before with
mortal ears. It thrilled through and through her.

"Mahaska!"

"Who speaks?"

"Mahaska!"

As the name was uttered a third time, a figure came out from the
blackness, rustling through the foliage as it passed, and stood in the
moonlight.

Abigail was no longer afraid, but, dropping into her old position, stood
with one hand leaning on the gray stone at the head of her mother's
grave.

It was a savage, and yet a white man, who stood before her--a savage, in
all the pomp of his war garments, with hostile weapons at his girdle,
and a rifle in his right hand. The crest of feathers, with which his
hair was knotted, fluttered in the night wind proudly as if it had
surmounted a helmet. The warm crimson, that lined his robe of dressed
deer-skin, and the many colored wampum that bordered and fringed it,
glowed richly in the moonlight. It was a noble figure, and the young
girl's face kindled as she measured him with her eyes.

"Whom do you seek, with a tomahawk at your girdle, and a scalping-knife
within reach of your hand? I am alone, and there is only an old woman at
the house--no help within reach of my voice--but you see I stand
still--I am not afraid."

"No--not afraid," answered the savage, with a proud motion of the hand.
"Even the women of your race should be brave. Mahaska, step forth, that
the moon may look upon your face."

Fearlessly, as if she had obeyed that voice all her life, Abigail
stepped out of the pine shadow, and stood face to face with the savage.

"Your hand does not shake--you look into my face--your lip keeps its
red--the blood starts to your cheek like sunset upon the snow
mountains--you are not afraid of the Indian?"

"No, not afraid."

"The grasp of my hand does not make you tremble?"

"No, it sends the fire back to my heart."

"What brought you to the forest--to this grave?"

"I do not know--stay, the old woman Tituba was muttering a death-chant.
It must have been that."

"A death-chant in the Indian tongue--a chant of the Wampanoags?"

"A chant in the Indian tongue--but I cannot tell of what tribe."

"And you understand it?"

"Yes!"

"How--who taught you the meaning of our death-chants?"

Abigail was astonished. She had never thought of this before. How,
indeed, had she learned the meaning of these words? Not from the
minister, nor at school; nor, so far as she could remember, from the old
Indian woman. How then had that strange language become so familiar to
her ear and her tongue? This thought, so suddenly aroused, bewildered
her. She had no answer to give.

The young savage grasped her hand in his, and she felt that his limbs
quivered; slowly, very slowly, he drew her to the grave, and, pointing
downward, said--

"It was of her you learned the tongue of the Wampanoags!"

"My mother," said Abigail, mournfully, "my poor mother, who lies here so
still--how could she teach me a savage language? She, the sister of my
uncle's wife?"

"How did she know--how could she teach you the language of our tribe?
Ask how deep the wrongs must be which made her forswear her own tongue
as if it had been a curse?"

"Hold, hold!" cried Abigail, shaking off his clasp and gazing wildly
into his face. "Your speech is like my own--English is native to you,
rather than the savage tongue--your cheek is without paint--your
forehead too white--your air proud like an Indian, but gentle withal.
Who are you? Why is it that you lay wait for me in this holy place,
talking of my mother as if you knew her?"

"Knew her, Mahaska? The Great Spirit knows how well! Knew her?"

"My mother--you--"

The young man fell on his knees, and, leaning his head upon the grave
stone, remained silent a while, subduing the emotion that seemed to
sweep away his strength. At last he looked up; the fire had left his
eyes; deep, solemn resolution filled its place.

Abigail could not speak. Bewilderment and awe kept her dumb. For a
moment the young Indian gazed upon her, then his voice broke forth in a
gush of tenderness.

"Mahaska!"

"Why do you call me by that name?" cried the young girl.

"Because your mother--your beautiful, unhappy mother--whispered it
faintly as a dying wind in the pine branches, when her lord and your
father bent thankfully over her couch of fern leaves, in the deep
forest, to look upon his last-born child. Because his brave kiss pressed
your forehead in baptism, as that name left her pale lips. Because the
word has a terrible significance."

"What significance?" asked Abigail, beginning to tremble beneath those
burning glances.

"Mahaska, the Avenger."

"The avenger! Alas! alas! it is a fearful name; but what signifies that?
The consecrated waters of baptism have washed it away."

The young Indian sprang to his feet.

"Washed it away? Washed the name of our fathers from your forehead? I
tell you, girl, it is burning there in the red blood of a kingly
sire--in the flames which devoured the old men and little children of
our tribe--rusted in by the iron that held a king's son in bondage under
the hot sky of the tropics. Look, maiden, look where the ocean heaves
and rolls beneath the moon: there is not enough water in all that to
wash the name from your brow. Look upward, where the Great Spirit hath
kindled his camp-fires in the sky: you will not find flame enough to
burn it out. Look yonder, where the thick forest covers the earth--roll
all its shadows together, and through their blackness all the world
would read that name!"

Abigail covered her affrighted face with both hands. Her brain was
confused--the heart quaked in her bosom--all the traditions of her life
were uprooted in a moment. Who was she? Who was the man, garbed like a
savage, but who spoke the English tongue as if it were his own? Was the
grave at her feet really that of her mother? What did the young savage
mean by that haughty air--those proud words?

The Indian came closer to her, withdrew the hands from her face very
gently, and held them with a tender clasp.

"Mahaska!"

Abigail looked at him steadily, till the tears rose to her wild eyes;
then, as his hand grasped hers faster and tighter, she made an effort to
wrench herself away.

His hands dropped, his face bent downward.

"Mahaska!"

"I listen."

"Surely as the Great Spirit looks down upon us through his stars, the
woman who sleeps beneath these dark leaves commands you to listen when I
speak, and believe what I shall say!"

"But you are an enemy--a savage from the woods; what could you know of
my mother?"

"Every thing; it is she who charges you to believe this."

"But if she had a knowledge of you or your people, why did my uncle
never mention it?"

"Why did he never mention it?" rejoined the Indian--and now the
tenderness left his eyes, and the words came hissing through his shut
teeth--"because he was the enemy of your race. Father and mother alike,
suffered at his hands."

"What, my uncle, my good, pious uncle, the father of Elizabeth! I do not
believe it!" cried Abigail indignantly, "he was never the enemy of any
human being."

"Silence!" whispered the savage, "your words trouble the ashes in that
grave!"

That instant a gust of wind came sobbing through the pine leaves, and
the dusky creepers on the two graves shivered audibly.

Abigail drew close to the savage, and laid her hand on his arm. They
bent their heads, and listened till the wind swept by.

"Is it my mother's voice?" whispered the young girl.

"Have you never heard it before, sobbing and wailing among the trees, or
whispering softly when the leaves talk to the night?"

"Yes! oh, yes!"

"Have you never felt it in the night, or here at mid-day in the
forest--felt it all around you, till the heart quaked in your bosom, and
your limbs refused to move?"

"Ah, me! this also--this also!"

"And yet you ask, is it the voice of my mother?"

"Alas, how should I know? I who never, till this moment, dreamed that
she who rests there had wrongs to complain of."

"_Rests_ there--_rests_! why, girl, it is because she cannot rest that
the wind brings her sobs to your ear--cannot rest while her
youngest-born finds shelter with the most cruel of her enemies."

"The most cruel of her enemies!"

"He who sat in judgment upon a weak, helpless woman, when she came out
from the wilderness with her baby sister strapped to her back,
beseeching shelter among the people of her mother's race--the very
people who had driven that mother forth to die among her enemies,
because she was of a different faith, and believed in a God more
merciful than the one they worshipped--this man was Samuel Parris."

"And the woman, who was she?" cried Abigail, wringing her hands; for so
many painful thoughts rushing together almost drove her mad.

"That woman was Anna Hutchinson, the martyr, who was driven from
settlement to settlement, with her children--like a mad dog fleeing with
her young. Here chained to a cart, and lashed till her white shoulders
ran blood, while the strange man's God was piously called on to sanctify
the deed--there driven onward with taunts and jeers, starved, beaten,
trampled upon everywhere. At last she fled with her husband and her
young children into the wilderness, trusting rather to enemies
embittered against her race by wrongs deeper than hers, than to the men
who hunted her down like a beast of prey."

"But they killed her--they killed her--the Indians whom she would have
trusted--her and her little ones," cried Abigail, interrupting him. "I
have heard the story again and again. Her children were all
murdered--she left nothing but a dread curse, a curse that makes the old
men whom it was levelled against tremble even yet."

"A curse, yes, the terrible curse of a human being tortured to death--a
curse that wails through the woods and stalks around your houses forever
unappeased, unfulfilled, but which grows deeper and louder every year."

Abigail shuddered.

"But the judges, who sentenced this unhappy woman, were wise and
God-fearing men. Among them was old Mr. Parris, the father of Samuel
Parris, my uncle; the old man died blessing God, and at peace with all
his creatures."

"He persecuted Anna Hutchinson unto death. She was a beautiful, brave
woman, whose courage and truth won the hearts of liberal men to her
cause. This was her fault; her smiles, her prayers, her powerful
reasoning, overwhelmed their sermons, and shook the foundation of their
strength. She had disciples--followers--believers--was a woman of great
mind; her thoughts were like maple blossoms in spring, bright and
pleasant, giving out sunshine; but those of her persecutors always crept
along in shadows. This woman was driven upon the knife that stabbed her,
by her own brethren. The curse which she uttered in her desperation
calls louder and louder upon her children."

"But her children were all slain; she left no human soul to mourn or
avenge her--I have heard the story too often; it is written on my memory
as with fire; why bring it up here--what has that to do with me, or
her?"

Abigail pointed to the grave with her trembling finger--for now she was
shivering from head to foot. The story of Anna Hutchinson always
affected her thus; from her infancy she had never heard the name without
a cold chill.



CHAPTER XIV.

ANNA HUTCHINSON'S CURSE.


The savage lifted Abigail from the earth where she had fallen, and went
on with kindling excitement.

"No, her children were not all slain. Two escaped--one, a young girl
pale as the first cherry blossoms, with hair like the sunshine in
August. The other was a babe, four weeks old, which this brave woman
took from her bosom just before the tomahawk cleft her brain. These
children were carried into the forest, passed from tribe to tribe, till
the eldest grew to womanhood. But she remembered her mother, and the
horrible scene of her murder, while she knew nothing of the persecutions
that drove that mother among the Indians, when the chiefs were on the
war-path. So she never took kindly to the tribe, but always pined for a
sight of her own people. At last she fled, carrying the child with her,
and came here to the village of Salem."

"Here, here--great heavens, can this be!"

"But they would not let the child of Anna Hutchinson rest; she also
dared to think for herself. She was also arraigned before the magnates
of the church. Like Anna Hutchinson, her fair shoulders were reddened
with stripes. The little child, whom she loved better than her own life,
was torn from her arms. Like a wounded deer, they sent her into the
wilderness, alone, alone--bleeding at every step, uttering moans with
every breath."

"Oh, this is terrible!" cried Abigail, pressing both hands to her heart.

The Indian took no heed of her anguish, but went on:

"All day and all night long she wandered through the tangled
undergrowth, feeding upon the honeysuckle, apples, and wild plums, that
grew in her path, calling in despair on the name of her little sister,
and praying to her God that she might be so happy as to die. For days
and nights she toiled on with only one object--to get farther and
farther from the people of her race. As a wounded deer pants for
spring-water, she longed for the wigwams and the savage love from which
she had fled less than a year before.

"But she was in the deep wilderness now, with no track to guide her
way--no hope, nothing but her despair. She could not even cry aloud to
the Great Spirit, for his face was hidden. Pale and hungry, with the
shoes dropping from her feet, her poor hands torn with the thorns that
sought her out as human hate had done, this poor girl wandered on and
on, growing fainter and paler each moment. At last she sank down,
breathless and exhausted, with great tears rolling slowly from beneath
her closed lashes, and the blue of hunger settling around her mouth."

Here Abigail's sobs broke in upon the narrative. The Indian waved his
hand with a gesture that silenced this outbreak, and went on:

"The place where she fell was a deep ravine; mountains towered on either
side, and rocks, covered with thick mosses, choked it up.

"Upon a shelf of these rocks, where the buck-horn moss crackled and
broke beneath her, she lay panting for life. Hemlock and pine branches
stooped together and shut out the sun--not a glimpse of the blue sky,
not a gleam of the golden light that deluged the tree-tops, came to that
dark ravine.

"There the young girl laid herself down to die--hopeless, speechless,
alone! A wolf, half-way up the ravine, gave out a howl. She did not move
or open her eyes. It might have torn at her garments and found no
resistance. A glittering snake lay coiled on the flat of a rock close
by, with its tail erect and its crest in the air, but, more merciful
than the men who had driven her forth, it shook the rattles of ten years
in gentle warning, uncoiled itself lazily, and, gliding over the moss
within half a yard of her feet, crept into its hole. She saw the serpent
through her half-shut eyes, without a wish to stir. Why not death in
that shape as well as another?

"Then the thoughts died in her brain, and the breath sank to a quiver on
her blue lips. A stillness like the grave crept over her. She did not
hear it, but a footstep sounded on the side of the ravine. A leap from
rock to rock--and an Indian in his war garments stood twenty feet above
the young girl, looking down upon her. He turned aside, seized a sapling
which bent to his weight like a bow, and swung himself downward upon the
rock.

"She did not stir. The lashes lay motionless on her cold cheeks. There
was no breath on those lips. The young Indian gathered the pale creature
in his arms, and strove to warm her against his own brave heart. But it
was of no avail. Then he thought of the flask of fire-water in his
bosom, and forced a few drops through those pale lips--a shiver and a
deep sigh--the lashes unclose, and the deathly eyes look into his.

"The chief laid her softly down, took a corn-cake from the pouch at his
side, and fed her with the crumbs, as if she had been a bird. After the
first morsel she grew eager and craving, but the chief was no common
savage. He knew that enough would be death, and kept the food in his own
grasp, pacifying her with gentle words.

"The daughter of Anna Hutchinson understood his language; her great
mournful eyes had opened upon him like those of a wounded doe; now they
brightened with gratitude, and tears came stealing up, one by one, till
they overflowed.

"That day the maiden rested in the ravine, for the spot seemed like
heaven to her then. The chief gathered green moss fleeces from the other
rocks and heaped a couch, softer than velvet, upon which she slept
sweetly, beneath the shelter of his blanket. All night long the chief
sat guarding her slumbers. To him she was a gift from the Great Spirit,
who had wrought the sunlight in her golden hair.

"When the morning broke, he took his rifle and shot a bird for her
breakfast; for the danger was over, and she might fare sumptuously now.
Striking sparks from his flint, he built a fire in the ravine, and
roasted the game, serving it up daintily on the last corn-cake left in
his pouch. Then he found a spring gushing from under a rock, and brought
her a draught of sparkling water, in a cup formed of leaves which he
made with a single twist of the hand. The maiden smiled upon him in her
sweet thankfulness, and, though a brave chief, he forgot the war-path
which his tribe was pursuing without a leader. It was a pleasant
exchange for the maiden, from the cart wheel and the white man's lash."

"Oh, it was paradise!" murmured Abigail, with tears in her eyes.

"Yes, it was paradise. But a true brave turns resolutely from the wigwam
to the council. The young chief could not remain forever in the ravine,
for he was the head of a great nation, and the warriors waited for him
on the war-path. The next moon, Philip, the young king of the
Pomperoags, had given the maiden a name that he loved well--which
signified wounded bird, and, with this name, he led her to the royal
lodge, with her embroidered robes sweeping the earth, and crowned like a
princess."

"And he loved her always, this savage king?" said Abigail, smiling
through her tears.

"Yes, he loved her, and her only, all the days of his life. It was a
regal marriage, royally fulfilled. For a time Anna Hutchinson's curse
slept."

"Oh, me! I grow cold again--that curse!" cried Abigail.



CHAPTER XV.

GIVEN UP TO REVENGE.


"Anna Hutchinson had charged her daughter, that golden-haired young
girl, with the consummation of her curse. But where love is, vengeance
sleeps. Her husband's tribe was at peace with the whites, and the
'wounded bird' had a child in her lodge; so she put the wrongs of her
mother on one side, and lived contentedly in her forest kingdom. Why
should she urge her husband's warriors to the red path while they could
plant corn and hunt venison unmolested? She did not yet fully understand
the persecutions which had driven her mother to death. The tribe that
massacred her family had been long ago chastised and driven from their
hunting-grounds by the valor of her husband--was not this enough?

"No, no; the wail of that curse still troubled the air around her lodge,
and its spirit worked slowly but surely in the white settlements. Years
wore on; another little child laughed and clapped its hands in the
doorway of King Philip; and now, when the kingly husband and wife were
in their prime, the whites, who had grown powerful, began to cast
rapacious eyes on the hunting-grounds of the Pomperoags. It was the old
story of the wolf and the lamb--causes of offence were soon found. The
colonies arose and armed themselves. King Philip of Mount Hope was a
formidable enemy. It took brave men to cope with him. He was a statesman
as well as a warrior, wise as a serpent and brave as steel. The most
powerful tribes flocked to his alliance, some won to his aid by the
eloquence of his wife, others by sympathy and common danger. You have
read in your school books how the war against King Philip was conducted.
You have heard old men and women call him a fiend, and speak of him as
the companion of fiends."

"Yes, yes, the old women tell us stories of his cruelty."

"And of his wrongs, of his courage, his wonderful magnanimity, his noble
statesmanship--do they tell you nothing of this?"

"No; only of his cruelties."

"And your heart, how does that receive the lie? calmly, or bursting with
indignation?"

"My heart aches within me when I hear these legends--aches and burns as
if a wound at its core were rudely touched."

"Ah! and there is a wound, a cruel wound, deep in your life. It shall
spread and burn through your whole being. Listen: These Englishmen voted
themselves munitions of war, raised regiments, linked colony to colony,
and made each settlement the rivet of a chain which swept the coast.
Their bravest men took the field--the whole country was astir. These
very preparations were a tribute to the heroism they were intended to
crush--all this force was brought against the kingly savage. He met it
bravely where courage was most likely to prevail; cautiously where
prudence promised to husband human life. He seized upon their own
tactics, and turned them in his favor; marched, countermarched, and
manoeuvred as no general of Europe has ever done. This queen went side
by side with him upon the war-path. She was his council, the companion
of his danger. There was not a warrior in the tribe who would have
refused to lay down his life for her. But why tell you this history? You
know how the strong man was betrayed by a traitor, murdered in cold
blood, hacked limb from limb. Oh, Great Spirit, hear me, and kindle in
her breast the rage that consumes mine! Listen, girl: His wife and son
were taken prisoners; the wife of King Philip was dragged out of the
forest with her son at her side and the last-born in her arms!

"Again the magnates of the church sat in judgment upon her. A ship lay
on the coast, a battered old vessel bound for Bermuda. This brave woman
could not be trusted in the country--the ship would bear her and her
children into slavery. The wife and children of a king were taken from
the broad forest, with its fresh winds and sumptuous leafiness, and
condemned to herd with negroes and slaves under a tropic sun. That
night, no one could ever tell how, the wife of Philip escaped from her
captors, and fled with her youngest child, a little girl scarcely yet
three years old. That child inherited its mother's beauty, its father's
lofty pride, and the solemn obligations of Anna Hutchinson's curse."

Again Abigail felt the cold chills creeping over her.

"Ah me!" she muttered, "that terrible inheritance--better that the child
had died."

"Better that the child had died than avenge such wrongs--a grandmother's
butchery, a father's murder, stripes and slavery for the mother, chains,
hard labor, brutal blows for the young boy--better that she had died!
Wretched girl, unsay these words!"

The anger in his face was terrible, his hand sprung upwards as if to
smite her. She shrunk away into the shadow of the pine, thinking thus to
escape his fiery glances.

"Step into the light again, that your face may unsay the cowardly words
of your tongue!"

"I dare not--you terrify me. Why tell this horrible story here? I am
young, helpless, afraid sometimes, and talk like this takes away my
strength. I cannot think of this dying woman's curse without dread. The
judgment of God must follow it, and the helpless child, with whom its
power was left--but perhaps she died."

"And if she had, was not the son left, the Bermuda slave, with King
Philip's blood burning beneath the lash, to remind him of the legacy of
hate left against her people by his martyred ancestress?"

"It was an evil inheritance from a woman who wrought much trouble in the
church, though the atonement was enough to wring one's heart. This Anna
Hutchinson, who died under the tomahawk, was a heretic--a free thinker,
who would not forgive her enemies as Christ did, but died hurling curses
back upon the people who perhaps only sought to win her once more to the
true faith."

"Hold!" shouted the chief, seizing her by the arm and dragging her into
the moonlight; "hold, before the word withers your tongue--Anna
Hutchinson was your _grandmother_."

Abigail Williams cried out like a doe when the arrow pierces it.

"The woman who sleeps there is her eldest daughter, the wife of King
Philip!"

"And I--I," whispered the poor creature--writhing as if in pain.

"You are the child."

"The child to whom the power of her curse descends! oh, my God, have
mercy--have mercy!"

"Mahaska."

"I hear, oh heavens, I feel that the name was mine!"

"Mahaska, listen: The blood of that brave woman--of that most kingly of
kings--both betrayed, both murdered--beats in our veins."

Abigail was cowering upon the ground at his feet; she had no strength to
stand, but as he spoke she lifted her face with a dull, hopeless look,
which contracted her features into ice.

"Who is it that speaks? who is it that hurls this terrible birthright at
me?"

"It is the son of King Philip, the runaway slave, the man whose boyhood
has been crucified beneath the driver's lash, while his people were
scattered abroad--sold, shot, plundered like mad dogs and wolves.
Mahaska, it is your brother!"

Up to this time the girl had been palsied; now a flash of fire kindled
through and through her, an intolerable weight seemed flung from her
brain, she stood up and held forth her arms.

The young savage took her hands with a grasp of iron, but he did not
embrace her.

"Is it the hand of a king's daughter that I hold?" he questioned, with a
sort of stern tenderness, but keeping her at arm's length.

"It is King Philip's daughter--try me, brother: lead the way into the
wilderness: I will follow: see if I cannot trample down all love for my
mother's enemies!"

The chief opened his arms, and drew the young girl to his bosom, as he
had done years before, when his mother, striving to introduce some of
the amenities of life into the Indian lodge, had given the infant sister
up to his caresses.

Then the blood spoke out, her air was proud and firm as his own, she
began to realize that she was indeed the daughter of martyrs and kings,
that their wrongs were her wrongs--their people her people.

"Take me with you to our people, before my heart softens, or memory
comes back. Here I fling away the love of a life-time--uncle, cousin,
home."

She spoke wildly, her eye burned, her cheek was like flame; she left her
brother's arms, and fell upon her knees between the two graves.

"Mother," she whispered--"mother, hear me; check those sobs on the wind,
they break my heart. I am giving myself up to you body and soul; mother,
teach me the vow that will content you; I will take it here, while the
last of our race looks on!"

The wind swept over her, sighing like a soul relieved from pain--swept
over her in sweet, warm gushes, as if it had been asleep in the
blossoming trees. Abigail covered her face and wept; when she looked up
again the young chief had gone.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE ACCEPTED INVITATION.


Barbara Stafford became the guest of Governor Phipps. It was a singular
arrangement on both sides, for the strange lady had from the first
retreated from the idea with evident repulsion, and Sir William was the
last man in the world to receive a person under his roof about whose
history the slightest doubt existed.

Barbara offered no credentials of respectability--she submitted no
letters--made no explanation; yet on the bare recommendation of
unmistakable refinement, and a charm of manner that had all the power of
fascination, she became more than a welcome inmate of the proud man's
mansion.

The governor was absent when Barbara first arrived at his house. Perhaps
it was for this reason she came so readily.

Norman Lovel took the second invitation. He had seen Barbara in the
church on the day of the baptism, and strove in vain to get near enough
to address her. The rigid etiquette of the place forbade that, and all
night long he was haunted with regrets for this seeming neglect of a
person who had all the claims upon his courtesy which great hearts
always concede to the receiver of an important favor.

It was a beautiful, bright day, when Norman reached the farm-house;
pleasant sounds filled the air--pleasant light fell on the old stone
house, the clustering trees, and the far-off waters--light broken up
with those transparent shadows which float along with the soft clouds,
that sleep so quietly in the summer sky.

Goody Brown was busy with her spinning-wheel, treading it vigorously
with one foot, and drawing out the finest and evenest thread from a hank
of flax that formed her distaff, into a tall, gray cone. A pleasant
bee-like hum came from the active flyers, and there was something kindly
and good in the prim woman, which was better than a welcome to one who
understood her.

Barbara Stafford sat near the door, watching the old woman draw out her
thread, with a calm, steady look, inexpressibly mournful. Her thoughts
were far away; she was following back the thread of her own life, which
seemed interminable as that which glided through the old woman's
fingers. So Barbara thought, and the old woman's wheel droned on. They
were both very quiet, and one was--oh, how sad!

Norman Lovel appeared in the door like a sunbeam; his cheek was red with
walking; the wind, which came moist and cool from the ocean, had left
its freshness on his face. His fine eyes were bright as diamonds. When
he caught Barbara's look, and saw that a gleam of pleasure stole through
its sadness, he smiled, and two dimples fluttered about the corners of
his mouth. Barbara received him kindly; her heart warmed to the youth,
he was so like a child in the cheerfulness of his presence.

A throb of strange satisfaction beat in her bosom at the sight of that
young face. He, too, was conscious of a swell of contentment as he stood
before the woman he had saved. It seemed as if he had known her from
childhood up. The atmosphere of her presence was natural to him as the
breath of roses. He sat down on the threshold of the door, with his feet
upon the stepping stone, and, while the calm, beautiful day glowed all
around him, began to talk.

Barbara spoke of the danger from which she had been rescued, very simply
and without effort, but her face beamed with gratitude, and her lips
quivered as she smiled upon him. Norman had scarcely counted his efforts
that day as an act of heroism, but now he began to value the deed.
Surely it was something to have saved a woman like that. He watched the
changes of her countenance as she spoke with singular interest, and
began to wish in the depths of his heart that she might be in danger
again--not such terrible peril of course as he had witnessed in the
boat, but enough to justify some grand action in her behalf.

He did not say these things; indeed there was little real conversation
between them, yet there was no absolute constraint such as might
naturally fall upon the first meeting of persons so far removed from
each other in years, and in the scenes of their lives. On the contrary,
the broken sentences and pauses of silence were filled up with a world
of pleasant sensations; the youth wondered at his own happiness, and the
lady forgot her sorrow. Within the last half-hour she seemed no longer
alone in the world. All this time the wheel went droning on, and the
thread lengthened; a human hand was spinning at one end of the room, and
destiny at the other.

At last, Norman remembered his errand, and repeated Lady Phipps's
invitation; coupled with a message from the governor, who, on leaving
home for a few days, had delegated to the young secretary the pleasant
task of urging his hospitality upon the lady who had interested them all
so much.

Norman thought that the lady grew more reserved and pale as he delivered
the first portion of this message; but when he mentioned the absence of
the governor, she brightened up and accepted the invitation with
something like excitement.

Lady Phipps had sent a carriage for her guest, but Barbara refused the
accommodation. She would walk along the beach: the day was so bright,
the sea breeze so invigorating, and the distance by no means too great
for a well-educated Englishwoman. The carriage might take such portions
of her wardrobe as were necessary, but she preferred to walk. So the two
went away together, depressed a little, no one could tell why; but
Barbara's first excitement had something restive in it, and the sadness
that followed made her thoughtful, and kept the youth silent.

They came upon the shore, opposite the breakers in which she had been so
nearly wrecked. Some fragments of the broken boat were visible, ploughed
deeply in the sand. By these alone she recognized the spot again. The
harbor was serene as a mountain lake, one sheet of glittering silver
swelling gently to the rising tide. She looked wistfully seaward a
while, and turned away, sighing heavily, and murmured, with downcast
eyes, "Oh, if they had not been so kind!"

"Indeed," said Norman, "I shall never forget your looks that day, as the
boat made the fatal plunge; were I to live a thousand years, those eyes
would haunt me: they seemed black as night; yet are so blue now."

"Yes, I was afraid," said Barbara. "To die was to lose a great hope. It
would not be so now."

She said this very quietly, but with a depth of sorrow in her voice that
touched the young man.

"The shock has made you nervous, dear lady. I have often heard it said
that terror does its most cruel work on the system after the occasion
that called it forth is passed. You are a stranger in the country, too,
and that counts for something."

"Yes, I am indeed a stranger."

"Not when you have known Lady Phipps."

Barbara stooped down and gathered a pebble from the strand; her voice
was husky when she spoke again:

"Then you admire, you like Lady Phipps?"

"Admire her--oh, lady, that is a faint word. Lady Phipps is almost
worshipped; so beautiful, so generous and kind hearted."

"Yes--yes. I saw that she was beautiful; I believe the rest," answered
Barbara, speaking quickly and out of breath, though she was walking at a
slow pace.

"And she thinks so highly of the governor--she loves him so devotedly!"

"And he?"

Barbara scarcely spoke above a whisper; and her eyes grew bright, almost
fierce, as she waited for his answer.

"And he," repeated Norman, hesitating a little, as if to reflect upon a
subject which had presented itself clearly before him for the first
time. "Indeed I never thought of that. Of course, he loves the lady very
much--who could help it! But the governor is not a demonstrative man;
most people think him cold--a man of iron."

"Cold, undemonstrative, a man of iron!"

The words fell from Barbara Stafford's lips like drops of lead. She
seemed to examine every syllable that she might ascertain its exact
meaning. A strange expression, half doubt, half satisfaction, stole over
her features at last, and she walked on in silence.

The youth spoke again.

"You must not let my words give you a false opinion of Sir William. He
is one of the bravest, wisest and most generous men on earth."

Barbara looked up and a glorious smile broke upon the youth.

"You speak warmly, sir."

"Indeed I feel warmly. Sir William has been a benefactor, almost a
father, to me. His own son could not--"

"His own son? has--has Sir William Phipps a--I thought he had no son."

"Nor has he, lady," answered Norman, surprised by the sudden energy of
her manner. "I was about to say that his own son, had he possessed one,
could not have been treated more kindly than I have been."

Barbara Stafford drew a quick breath, and walked on rapidly, making this
an excuse for the long silence that followed.

"You have lived with--with the governor some time I believe," she said,
at last.

"Yes."

"But you are not a native of this new land?"

"No; I was born in England."

"And your parents?"

Norman blushed crimson. "I never knew my parents," he said.

Barbara Stafford blushed also: she had given pain, yet that very fact
deepened her interest in the youth.

"Forgive me, but you have not been reared without care; some one must
have taken great interest in you."

"It may be so, but I never have been able to find that person out; my
education went on as a matter of course; a lawyer of London paid the
bills, gave me lots of advice, but refused me the least information
regarding myself. When I had gone through the different grades of study
thought requisite for a gentleman, the old barrister deposited a couple
of thousand pounds in the hands of Sir William Phipps, which he told me
was my entire patrimony, and sent me out here as secretary to the
governor. In Sir William Phipps's house, I have known for the first time
in my life what the word home meant."

Barbara looked earnestly at the youth as he gave this brief account of
himself, but she made no further observation, for they had reached the
streets of Boston, and from the novelty of the scene, or some deeper
cause, she grew silent and walked forward with a reluctant, heavy step,
apparently forgetful of the questions she had been asking.



CHAPTER XVII.

A LOVERS' QUARREL.


Lady Phipps met her guest in the hall bright, cheerful, and full of
hospitable gladness. Elizabeth Parris followed her, but hung back a
little, shy of the strange lady, who moved like a princess, and smiled
so strangely as she uttered the common-places expected of a courteous
guest. Lady Phipps went chatting and smiling up the staircase a little
in advance of her visitor, for she would not allow a servant to attend
her to the spacious guest chamber. Lovel and Elizabeth stayed below,
watching the two ladies as they mounted the stairs together. When
Elizabeth turned her eyes on Lovel, there was something in his face that
troubled her.

"Isn't she a noble-looking woman?" he asked, in an eager undertone.

"Perhaps--no, indeed I don't think her in the least beautiful," answered
the spoiled child, with a pout of the red lips and a pretty toss of the
head; "besides--"

"Why, Elizabeth, you are in a pet about something--I don't like that way
of speaking about my friends."

"You never saw her but once in your life!" said Elizabeth, with a flush
of the whole face, "still you look, you--I declare one would think there
was not another person in the wide world, from the way you look after
her."

"Ah, do I--you see it, I really cannot keep my eyes from her face."

"At any rate it is not a handsome face!" cried Elizabeth, flushing more
and more redly.

"You have never seen her when she was talking, when she was really
pleased--then her face changes so brightly--so--so--"

"I don't want to hear her talk--I don't care whether she is pleased or
not--I only know this--she is not in the least beautiful, and is old
enough to be your mother--there!"

"Old enough to be my mother, my mother!" A sudden thrill shot through
the youth at the word mother. It sounded so strangely sweet. Had
Elizabeth searched the language through, she could not have found two
syllables so likely to form a golden link between him and the woman they
were talking of.

"Yes, I say it again, she is not pretty, and she's old enough to be your
mother--yet you must let the carriage come home with nothing but a trunk
in it, while you and the lady take a long, long walk together on the
shore, after you had promised to ride with me, too."

"Did I promise? forgive me, Bessie; I quite forgot it."

"Forgot it--while I was waiting and watching with my habit on, and the
horses stamping down the gravel in front of the house," cried the
aggrieved maiden, and a few spirited tears flashed up to her eyes, and
trembled there like dew in a periwinkle. "You may believe it, I was
quite ashamed to let the groom see how often I ran out into the porch to
look up and down the road. I declare I've almost worn my riding-skirt
threadbare with my whip, trying to make the fellows think I only came
out to dust my habit."

"Indeed, I'm very sorry!"

"And you all the time promenading along the beach with a strange lady,
talking, smiling--oh, I wish I were at home again. It was very cruel of
you teasing the governor to consent to our marriage one of these days,
if you intended to neglect me in this way."

The youth, whose endowment of patience was by no means marvellous, began
to be a little restive under all these reproaches; they disturbed the
pleasurable emotions which had predominated with him all the morning.
Worse, they impaired the angelic perfection with which his imagination
had invested the young girl; the contrast between her childish petulance
and the sweet dignity of the woman forced itself upon him. To be
lectured and reproached by a mere child so directly after the
companionship and sympathy of that lady, struck him with a sense of
humiliation. He looked at the young girl gravely till the tears swelled
in her eyes, then turned away, angry and hurt.

Lovers' quarrels are mere April showers, giving life to a thousand wild
blossoms of the affection when both are in fault, and both angry; but
when they end in silence and constraint, the November rain has not a
more chilling influence.

While these impulsive young creatures were so busy planting their first
thorns, Barbara Stafford had entered her chamber--a large, airy room,
with four windows, all draped with filmy muslin, and a large
tent-bedstead, shrouded in white till it looked like a snow-drift.

When the carriage first started to bring Barbara Stafford, Elizabeth had
been, like the whole household, eager to honor a guest whom the governor
had invited. She had gathered up all the unoccupied vases, and filled
them with flowers; they blushed upon the toilet and the chest of
drawers, and took the wind as it swept over the broad window-seats,
filling the room with brightness and fragrance.

In order to indulge her own wild caprices, she had gathered all the
blush-roses in bloom, and looped them among the snow of the curtains. It
was strange; but while she stood, angry and flushed, at the foot of the
stairs, longing to run up and destroy her own beautiful work, Barbara
grew faint as death upon the threshold of the chamber. She turned an
imploring look on Lady Phipps, and said--"Oh, take me away--I entreat
you, take me to some other room."

"What, the flowers--the roses?" said Lady Phipps, surprised; "I will
have them removed. How pale you are! how your hands quiver! I would not
have believed that the scent of a few flowers could make one so ill."

Barbara was not a woman to give way to caprices of the nerves; she sat
down in the great easy-chair, draped with white dimity, to which Lady
Phipps led her, swept a hand across her forehead once or twice, and
lifting her pale face, looked upward at a portrait of Governor Phipps,
which hung in a massive frame upon the wall. This was the first object
that had met her eyes on entering the room. The portrait had been taken
years before, and was that of a young man, spirited and full of power.
There was a smile upon the mouth, a consciousness of strength in the
glance, that bespoke innate greatness.

When Barbara lifted her face to the picture, it was hard and pale; the
rigidity of a stern resolution locked it like a vice; but as she gazed,
the snow melted from her features. The lips began to tremble, the white
lids drooped quivering over the eyes, and she shivered all over.

"No, no! do not remove the flowers," she said gently to Lady Phipps, who
had taken a vase from the toilet. "I am better now. The walk was too
much for me. Indeed, I have been subject to these turns ever since that
terrible day. Do not blame the roses for my weakness; you see how much
better I am."

She sat up in the easy-chair and looked around, evidently with great
effort, but striving to smile and to subdue her weakness in every way.

"I am glad you are better," said Lady Phipps, kindly bending over the
chair, at which Barbara shrunk back like one who fears some hurt, "and
glad also that the poor flowers can remain as Elizabeth left them; she
took such pains to gather and arrange them, dear child."

Barbara lifted her head suddenly, and grasped the arm of her chair.

"Dear child--your daughter, madam?"

"No. I am childless--we have always been childless."

Barbara sunk back into the chair again.

"I spoke," continued Lady Phipps, smiling, "of Elizabeth Parris, the
daughter of a very dear friend. She was in the hall as you entered. A
charming bit of mischief, who has turned the head of our young
secretary. We shall have some ado to persuade Samuel Parris into a
consent to the engagement. But he must give way at last--dear old soul:
he is sure to yield when Sir William takes a thing earnestly in hand. I
remember, he made all sorts of objections to officiating when we were
married."

"Then this old man--this Samuel Parris performed that ceremony?"

"Yes. Sir William would have no other minister. They were old friends.
Indeed, Mr. Parris was a sort of benefactor to my husband when he was a
poor boy."

"And they have no secrets from each other--these two men?"

Lady Phipps exhibited a little astonishment at this abrupt question, but
after a moment she answered, with a smile:

"Nay, that I cannot tell. My husband loves the old man. Indeed, with the
exception perhaps of Norman Lovel, I know hardly any one to whom he is
so much attached; but as for secrets, I fancy Sir William shares them
with no one."

"Then he is greatly attached to this youth?"

"Indeed he is, or nothing would have induced him to interfere about this
engagement. Elizabeth is like our own daughter, and as for Lovel--but
you have seen him."

"Yes: I can readily understand your affection for him," answered
Barbara, with a little weariness in her manner.

Lady Phipps, who seldom dwelt on any subject long, arranged the toilet
ornaments over again, and left the room, advising her visitor to lie
down and rest a little after her long walk.

Did Barbara Stafford rest? Could she rest? Why had she come to that
house? Not by her own wish; a sort of fatality had dragged her there.
The evident desire of young Lovel might have influenced her somewhat,
little as the thing seemed possible. She went there as a bird flutters
into the open jaws of a serpent, and remained, restless, unhappy, and
watchful, without the wish or power to change.

The kindness of Lady Phipps oppressed her terribly; she rather preferred
the reserve, and almost evident dislike of Elizabeth Parris. Like most
persons who cannot be entirely frank, she shrunk as much from affection
as curiosity.

Lady Phipps, with all her warm-heartedness, was a proud woman, and felt
the hidden repulsion with which her hospitality was met, without really
understanding it. Yet, strange to say, this only increased her desire to
win the confidence of her guest.

From the very moment she first saw the foreign lady sitting in the
sunshine by the old stone farm-house, this desire had risen in her
heart, and grew upon her like a fascination.

She would have given any thing for one down-right, cordial beam of
affection from those downcast eyes, which seemed forever to look beyond,
or glance aside from her face in the most friendly moments.

Yet a third party would have seen nothing strange in this visit. The
etiquette of life went on quietly and with high-bred elegance. Nothing
but soft words and gentle courtesies passed from morning till night, yet
there was not a happy, or even contented, heart in the house.

But the most remarkable change fell upon young Lovel. He became dreamy,
almost sad, the brilliancy of his youth seemed to have withered up
suddenly. Instead of the dashing gayety, for which he was so remarkable,
a pleasant sadness crept over him; he smiled now where he had laughed
before. He forgot to perpetuate or renew the little quarrel which had
sprung up between himself and Elizabeth on the first day of Barbara
Stafford's visit, and though the poor girl went about the house with
heavy eyes and flushed cheeks all that day, he did not seem conscious of
it. Alas for the woman who is doomed to bring such discord into a
household where love has been almost perfect before!

Elizabeth was a bright, single-hearted young creature, proud, impulsive,
and full of generous qualities. Before night-fall that evening she had
repented of her petulance, and pined for a reconciliation with her young
lover; still he did not seek her, did not even seem to know that she was
suffering, but went away into the garden by himself, and walked moodily
up and down the gravel walks.

Elizabeth had grown very humble by this time. Quarrels may be pleasant
in flirtations, but where real love is, they trouble a good heart as sin
would torment an angel. After a little struggle, in which pride leaped
in fire to her cheeks, while regret filled her eyes with tears, and set
her sweet lips trembling like rosebuds in a fall of summer rain, she
went down the walk, holding out her pretty hand, like a naughty child,
seized with sudden awkwardness, anxious to confess herself in the wrong,
but not knowing how to begin.

"Norman," she said, and the little hand fell softly upon his arm,
"Norman, I am so sorry!"

The young man started and looked up, as if he had been half asleep till
then.

"Sorry, Elizabeth; and for what?"

He spoke naturally, and looked surprised. Anger, even rage, would have
been far less cruel than this forgetfulness of words that had wrung her
heart to the core. She could not speak, but drew her hand back, looking
at him with those large blue eyes slowly filling with anguish.

That look must have aroused him had it really fixed his glance; but on
the instant, Barbara Stafford came into the garden alone. A white scarf
was wound over her head, in double folds, and there was a look in her
face, as she turned it with a bend towards the sunset, which reminded
the youth of the features of Beatrice Cenci, which he had once seen and
almost wept before, in Rome. He forgot the young girl who hovered like a
wounded bird in his path, and went towards the woman.

Elizabeth followed him with her eyes; she saw the smile--that luminous,
eloquent smile, with which Barbara greeted the youth: a smile that no
human being ever saw to question the woman's beauty afterwards. The
tears trembling in her eyes, fired up like diamonds. She dashed them
upon the air with a sweep of her hand, and turned away humbled, haughty,
and almost heart-broken.

It will be a long time, Norman Lovel, before that girl asks pardon of
you again; she is almost ready to scoff at herself for loving you; her
foot presses the tessellated floor of that hall with the tread of a
queen.

She looked forth from the window of her chamber, and saw them walking
together; Norman, her lover, and the strange lady. He was evidently
listening to her as she conversed, for his face was turned upon her with
a look of absorbing attention, and it brightened eloquently, though he
did not smile--the talk seemed too earnest and serious for that. She
could not remember the time when he had looked at _her_ with such
devotion. Poor child! her heart was sick with jealousy--and of whom?

They walked together till the new moon rose, and hung like a golden
sickle over the trees; then they moved quietly towards the house, and
Elizabeth heard the lady retreat to her own room, while Lovel wandered
off into the grounds, without once glancing up at the window where she
stood. How bitterly she began to hate the woman who, without youth or a
tithe of her own rare beauty, had taken possession of a heart which had
been so completely hers.



CHAPTER XVIII.

GATHERING ROSES AND THORNS.


Thus it went on day after day. Barbara lost something of her gloom; a
new feeling, strange and inexpressibly sweet, brought back freshness to
the life that had become almost a burden. Strong concentration was a
vital portion of her nature; her thoughts fixed on one object, clung to
it like ivy to a ruin; force itself could not tear them away. She asked
herself again and again, what it was that centred the best portion of
her nature around that youth--love! the blush of a haughty shame heated
her cheek as the word presented itself, disturbing the august repose of
her womanhood; besides, was not that heart closed and locked over one
image? In all those years had she kept it sacred to turn the golden key
at last, that a mere youth might jostle her idol in its sanctuary?
Barbara laughed at the thought, she dashed it aside with a strong will,
and contented herself with the remembrance that Norman had saved her
life, and that gratitude with her was stronger than the love of most
women. As for Norman, he never thought deeply in those years; he did not
even attempt to understand his own feelings; he had saved the life of a
woman whose presence and character filled him with the most profound
admiration; her society had opened a new phase of existence to him; he
did not quite know whether he had ceased to love Elizabeth or not; there
was no room in his thoughts for the question. In his passionate nature
the last sensation was sure to overwhelm all others, at least for the
time.

Elizabeth was young, and had not learned that most important lesson of
life, _how to wait_. To her this interest in another seemed an
infatuation that must last forever. The bitterness and grief of this
thought developed her character as a storm beats the flowers open. She
was no longer the childish creature who unlocked the door that eventful
morning for Norman Lovel; pride, resentment, a haughty power of
self-torture, had rendered her womanly like the rest.

At first Barbara made some effort to win the confidence of this young
girl, but the reserve with which her advances were met, soon chilled the
wish into indifference. Thus the two fell wider and wider apart,
stretching the thread of destiny which was sure to connect them at last,
till it grew small as the film of a spider's web, but never broke.

One day Elizabeth went into the chamber where Lady Phipps sat alone,
busy with some fine needle-work. She drew a stool, and seating herself
upon it, laid her head in the lady's lap, and looked up in her face with
a long, mournful gaze, that made that kind heart swell beneath its
lace-kerchief.

"Why, Bessy child, what is it troubles you? these heavy, heavy eyes
frighten me; is any thing the matter?"

"Oh, mother!" A warm color rushed into Lady Phipps's cheek at the word
mother; it was the first time that most sacred term had ever been
addressed to her.

"Well, my child--my child!" the kind woman repeated the word twice, with
a sort of bashful pleasure, for they sprung to her lips like honey-dew.

"Oh, I wish so much that you were indeed my mother, for then I could
tell you how--how very unhappy I am."

Lady Phipps bent down, removed the bright hair from the young girl's
forehead, and kissed it tenderly.

"I _am_ your mother, darling; she who is dead could scarcely have loved
you more; now tell me what this trouble is."

Elizabeth turned her face, and buried it in the lady's robe.

"This lady--this strange woman--this Barbara Stafford--oh, send her
away!"

"Why, what of her, my child?--remember she is our invited guest, a
stranger, and--"

"I know--I know all that, but she is killing me--she drinks up my life
like a vampire."

"Like a vampire--that pleasant, noble woman! Why Bessy child, you must
be ill!"

"There, there! she has fascinated you like the rest; I have nobody left
to care about or pity me; she has dried up every little spring of love
that I used to drink at, and nobody sees it."

Elizabeth rose to her feet, flinging back the curls from her face with
both hands, and casting glances of reproach upon the lady.

"_You_ against me--_you_ her friend--I hope you will never live to
repent of it!"

"My dear child!"

"Don't call me that; I won't be the child of _her_ friend! You have seen
it all: how she came with her smiles and her bright words to steal the
heart that belonged to me--you have seen them together half the time in
the garden--in the portico--wherever the place was shady, and no one
likely to intrude. Then you ask me with that kind voice, just as ever,
'Elizabeth, what is it troubles you?'"

Lady Phipps could not help smiling a little, for, occupied with her own
pleasant duties, she had scarcely noticed the things of which Elizabeth
complained, and this outbreak of jealousy amused, while it distressed
her.

"Bessie, this is childish--it is absurd--of course Norman would do every
thing in his power to amuse our guest--it is his duty; besides, you know
he saved her life, and that counts for a great deal. We always like
those we have served; nothing is more natural!"

"But we do not forget our old friends--we do not abandon all the world
for them!"

"Nor has Lovel. Be patient till the novelty of this visit is worn away."

Lady Phipps held out her hand with a pleading tenderness that brought
the wayward girl to her feet again.

"Foolish child!" she said, taking the fair young face between both hands
and kissing it. "Foolish, foolish child!"

"You would not think it foolish if she had snared Sir William, and shut
his heart against you!"

Lady Phipps dropped her hands slowly, and a strange look came to her
eyes.

"You talk wildly, Elizabeth," she said, in a faltering voice.

"She came between him and heaven when he stood by the altar to be
baptized. You did not see her; no one saw her, I think, except myself;
but the cup of wine trembled in his hand, he grew pale as death. It was
her shadow touching him as she passed up the aisle."

"I remember this. He did grow pale; I never saw my husband tremble
before. But it was a solemn occasion, and Sir William felt it deeply. If
this lady was present, I am sure he did not know it."

Lady Phipps spoke half to her own thoughts, half to the young girl, who
lay sobbing in her lap; seized with regret for the words she had spoken
the moment their effect became visible in the features and voice of her
benefactress.

"I think no one saw her but myself and Norman," sobbed the girl. "She
stood back from the altar, and did not come out with the rest. It seemed
to me as if the house grew darker when she entered it. Oh, Lady
Phipps--Lady Phipps, she is a terrible woman!"

The lady was too just and generous for these wild denunciations to
influence her; but she grew watchful of her guest, and the distrust
floating in her mind after this conversation deepened almost to dislike
before her husband returned.

Keenly, almost as Elizabeth herself, she watched the intimacy which had
sprung up between Barbara and the young secretary--an intimacy that
seemed to have shut her out from the young man's regard almost as
completely as it had separated him from Elizabeth.

Barbara Stafford was unconscious of the bitter feelings which her
presence in that house had brought to life. Preoccupied by many painful
thoughts, she gave herself no opportunities for observation. She did not
remark that every hour threw her more and more into the society of the
youth; and that her intercourse with the ladies contracted itself almost
to the commonest courtesies of life.

One evening Barbara and Norman came up from the garden as usual, when
the dusk had closed in upon them, and seated themselves in the front
portico. Elizabeth was alone on one of the side seats when they came up.
She had become used to this kind of solitude now, and rather sought it
than otherwise. The young are always ready to convert sorrow into
martyrdom.

She arose as they mounted the steps, and prepared to retreat into the
house; but Barbara, whose old nature came out of its sadness whenever
she had been long with Norman, spoke to her with that gentle
empressement which few persons could resist.

"Do not leave us, Miss Parris," she said; "the evening is so lovely."

It was not the words; they were nothing; but there was a spell in
Barbara Stafford's voice that even hatred could not resist. Elizabeth
sat down, holding her breath.

Barbara carried a quantity of red roses in her hand, which Norman had
gathered from a plant in the garden. Some memory was aroused by the
flowers, which caused her to receive them with reluctance. She had held
the roses for a moment, as if doubtful whether to place them on her
bosom or dash them to the earth; but seeing that her hesitation annoyed
the youth, carried them in her hand.

"You are young," she said, laying the roses in Elizabeth's lap; "flowers
should whisper only cheerful things. To you they will speak of the
present, and that should be gladsome. When they bring back the past to
any one, it is always a pain. Young gentleman, hereafter you shall
gather roses only for ladies who have hopes, like yourself!"

Elizabeth's first impulse was to take up the flowers from her lap, and
throw them over the railing behind the seat; but the very sound of
Barbara's voice drove this bitter pride from her heart. She allowed them
to remain in her lap--thought of the blush roses he had given to her so
little time before in that very place, and bent her head lower and lower
that Norman might not see the tears which gathered in her eyes.

Barbara did not observe these tears, for Elizabeth sat so much in the
shadow that the drooping outline of her figure alone was visible; but
this was enough to enlist the quick sympathy of a woman who never looked
unmoved on human sorrow. She sat down at once, and with a movement of
tender interest took the little hand which had fallen among the flowers.
Elizabeth started as if a serpent had crept out from among the roses and
stung her palm. But scarcely had Barbara's fingers closed on hers, when
she was seized with an irresistible impulse to return their clasp; and,
in her sorrow, she leaned towards the woman, whom she had hated so
bitterly a few moments before, as a sun-flower bends towards the sun.

Barbara felt the change, without understanding it. This gift of winning
affection with a look, and of turning hate into love, was the great
power of her character. She did not herself comprehend it, but the very
magnetism of her presence was a prerogative richer than that of royalty,
and as dangerous. Something kindred to this power existed in the youth;
it was perhaps this subtle feeling that drew these persons into their
present companionship.

When her heart was full of either joy or sadness, Barbara Stafford
conversed beautifully. Her voice, as I have said, was full of tenderness
and pathos; it came from the heart like a gush of spring water. She was
depressed that evening; a little thing suffices to draw out the low
tones of a nature like hers. Some angel had come out from the past, and
troubled the waters of her soul; no matter upon what her conversation
turned, the melody of these waters was certain to ripple through.

She dropped into conversation as they all sat together, pursuing no
particular subject, but wandering from thought to thought, as a
forest-bird touches this branch and then another, in its flight upward.
Elizabeth leaned towards her, and listened; she saw the eyes of her
young lover kindle under the influence of those words, till their
brightness was visible in the gathering mist. She felt no resentment
then. With her hand clasped in those caressing fingers, to love that
woman seemed the most natural thing in life. She began even to join in
the conversation, to call Lovel by his given name, and, for the time,
turn back pleasantly to her old friendly ways. After a little, Norman
came over from his place opposite the two ladies, and sat down on the
other side of Elizabeth. His hand stole in among the roses, and Barbara
left that of Elizabeth in its clasp. The heart of the young girl began
to swell: she leaned her head upon Norman's shoulder, and wept silently.

A little time more, and those two young souls would have been reconciled
again. A human heart-throb must sometimes unweave that chain of passing
events which men call destiny; but here it was not to be.

The sound of horses' feet came along the road, slowly and heavily, as if
the tired animals were returning from a long journey. The little group
in front of Governor Phipps's house ceased speaking, and listened.

"It is--it is my father," cried Elizabeth, starting up; "see, they turn
this way! It is the governor, and my father!"

Barbara Stafford gathered the shawl around her, shivering, till the
teeth chattered in her head; but she sat still, with her features lost
in the shadow of the porch; she seemed chilled through by the night air.

Norman Lovel descended the steps, and stood waiting for the horses to
come up. A week before, Elizabeth would have sprung to his side; now,
she stood alone a moment, then ran into the house to inform Lady Phipps
of her husband's coming.

Barbara Stafford arose, looked through the gathering darkness, and saw
three horsemen moving towards the house; they dismounted; one paused on
the terrace, struggling against his own eager wishes. The other came
hurriedly up the steps. The third, who was a servant, wheeled around,
and rode towards the stables, leading the two weary horses by their
bridles.

Barbara Stafford turned from the terrace as the man came up; the
twilight clung around her like a veil; there she stood motionless--she
had been searching in vain for the door latch. He came up the steps, saw
a female figure in the gloom, and held out his arms.

"My wife!"

Barbara Stafford had no power to move; she felt his arms around her, she
felt herself strained to his bosom, and his lips pressed upon hers. That
instant the door opened, and Lady Phipps stood upon the threshold in a
river of light, which flowed out from the hall.



CHAPTER XIX.

CONVERSATION ON THE PORCH.


As the opening door revealed that unexpected scene, Lady Phipps started
forward with a smothered exclamation, half surprise, half horror. Then
she as suddenly drew back, leaned against the wall for support, and
looked full in her husband's face, outwardly still and calm from the
very agitation of her feelings.

Sir William raised his eyes and met the fixed gaze of his wife. His
perplexed glance wandered to the bending form clasped to his bosom, the
white hands folded upon his shoulder, and the head, with its weight of
dimly revealed hair, lying against his heart. With a quick motion of his
hand he pushed Barbara Stafford away, and stood upright, though a
tremor, for which he could not account, ran through his whole frame. He
was, in truth, strangely agitated, and the sudden pallor which changed
his face, so little accustomed to any exhibition of emotion, would have
sent a thrill of doubt to the most faithful and trusting heart.

Norman Lovel was standing by Elizabeth, and both gazed from one to the
other with a sort of chilled astonishment, which left them no power to
break the painful spell of the moment as observers of mature years and
worldly experience would have been able to do.

Barbara Stafford sank slowly back as Sir William repulsed her in his
astonishment; shrinking into herself like a flower drooping upon its
stalk, her arms falling idly to her side, and her eyes fastened upon his
face with a magnetic power which forced him to return her glance, in
spite of his strong will.

That instant of bewilderment had seemed like an eternity to the little
group. Lady Phipps was first to break the spell. Mastering the tremor
which took away her strength, she stepped towards her husband, and said,
in a courteous, but somewhat constrained manner--

"I believe we have all been making confusion in this darkness; Sir
William has claimed a privilege scarcely his own, and my eyes were so
blinded by the gloom that I supposed him a stranger."

Those jesting words in a measure dispelled the painful embarrassment of
the moment.

Sir William moved towards his wife with the grave dignity which
characterized him, and pressed his lips to her forehead.

"At least I must not lose my greeting now," he said, "and our fair
guest, I trust, will pardon my unintentional rudeness."

Barbara Stafford did not reply, and, without looking again at that pale
face, the governor passed into the house, holding his wife's hand in his
own. When they had disappeared from view, and before either of the young
persons, who were looking at her in wonder, could move, the wretched
lady sank back without a sound, or even a motion of her arms to break
her fall, and lay prostrate upon the porch, her loosened hair sweeping
the garments of Elizabeth Parris as she fell. The girl shrunk away, as
if those shining tresses had been viper coils, and made no movement to
assist her.

"She is dead!" exclaimed Norman, springing forward to raise the
motionless form; "call help, Elizabeth."

"Don't touch her!" expostulated the girl, seizing his arm; "I would
rather see you pick up a snake--I will call the domestics."

"For shame, Bess!" returned Norman, with indignation; "how can you be so
cruel?"

"You shall not touch her, I say you shall not!" she repeated, with
unwonted vehemence; "I cannot bear it, indeed I cannot."

"Get me some water, and be silent!" he said, sternly, shaking off her
hand and raising the prostrate form.

Elizabeth Parris looked on for a moment in silence, while he swept back
the hair from that white face, and threw off the scarf which covered her
head; then, before he could repeat his request, she rushed into the
house, and closed the door violently behind her.

Norman uttered an exclamation of passionate reproach, and raised Barbara
in his arms. He placed her on a bench at the end of the porch, where the
roses and honeysuckles hung down in luxuriant profusion. He tore off the
blossoms with reckless haste, and scattered the dew over her forehead,
raising her head upon his shoulder again with the fondness of a brother,
while the touch of those rich masses of hair sent a thrill to his heart
almost painful from its intensity.

Many moments elapsed ere Barbara Stafford revived. She opened her eyes
at length, and looked around in the starlit gloom.

"Am I dreaming?" she whispered; "what has happened?--where am I now?"

"You fainted, Madam," said Norman, soothingly; "you have not been well
since your shipwreck, I think."

"Fainted--did I--and wherefore? Who was here? I feel as if I had been in
a dream--that man--surely I was in his arms--he kissed my forehead--my
lips--"

"Sir William mistook you in the darkness for Lady Phipps," said Norman,
in explanation.

"I remember, and they looked so strangely at me--all of them--that young
girl--"

"You must excuse Elizabeth, Madam; she is a mere child--capricious and
spoiled."

"Where are they all? Why did they leave me here alone with you? Could
they not deign me even a moment's pity and assistance?"

"Sir William and Lady Phipps knew nothing of your illness--they had gone
into the house--are you well enough now to follow them?"

"Not yet--not yet. I will not intrude upon them--I am better here."

"I will bring you some water--"

"Nothing--only let me be quiet for a few moments, and I shall be well.
These flowers are oppressive--help me away."

He supported her to a seat at a little distance, and resumed his
position by her side. Barbara sat leaning her forehead upon her hand,
lost in thought, and shivering slightly, as if with cold.

"The night air is chill," said Norman; "I will get your cloak."

He took up the rich mantle and folded it about her; she offered no
resistance, looking down at him as he bent forward, and smiling with her
patient, resigned smile, in sign of thankfulness for his care.

"Are you better now?" he asked, inexpressibly moved by the beautiful
resignation of her look.

"Much better. You are very kind to me--very, I have always something new
to thank you for."

"I wish it were indeed in my power to render you any service."

"Ah, you are young, and it is great happiness for the young to feel that
they can be of service to those around them! But I have no claim upon
your kindness. I am a stranger to you and all about you."

"A stranger--oh, lady, how can you say this? I could never feel that you
were indeed a stranger--there are persons with whom one, at the first
sight, seems to have been acquainted for years--for a whole life-time."

"Have you felt that, too?" said Barbara, mournfully. "Poor boy! that
feeling comes with a rare and peculiar organization, which causes the
possessor much suffering."

"And am I to know much suffering, do you think?" the youth questioned
eagerly, with a half-defiant look, as if ready to dare the worst that
fate could heap upon him. "Shall I suffer, do you think?"

"Is it not the fate of humanity? Endurance is the great lesson of life!
But it is very hard to learn how to suffer with patience--the pain is
not so much as the struggle for resignation. Oh, that is hard to bear!"

Barbara's head drooped forward again, and a mist stole over her eyes,
till they shone like the reflection of star-beams through dark waters.

"Endurance--I don't like the word! I should never learn to be patient,
never!" exclaimed Lovel, with his quick impetuosity. "I could bear any
suffering that came to me, but I would not be resigned. I would battle
with adversity as if it were an enemy who had assailed me unawares."

"Poor boy--poor fleeting spring of life!" murmured Barbara. "No, no--you
think this now, while the elasticity of your spirits is unimpaired, but
that will not outlast a great sorrow, one which crushes out all hope!
You must learn to accept life as it is--press the crown of thorns
courageously down upon your heart, and pray to God for comfort and
strength--in His good time and method they would come to you."

"I could not pray if I were wretched," returned Lovel; "I should not
believe that God heard while it pleased Him to chastise me."

"That is not the language of this Puritan land," said Barbara, with
sorrowful severity; "the teachings of your boyhood should have prevented
the birth of such thoughts. Whence come they?"

"I do not know--they torment me much. Often in church they haunt me,
drowning the voice of prayer and thanksgiving."

"Pray to God!" said Barbara; "He alone can aid you."

"But he seems so far off--I cannot feel that I am heard! The religion
that our ministers teach is so hard and stern--so unforgiving and
unpitying. Surely, if God be a just and perfect being, He cannot so
harshly regard our errors!"

"Ah, child, He judges not as man does--He sees the motive, and
oftentimes pardons that which poor, weak mortals, in their
short-sightedness, condemn with relentless severity."

"But what right have they to judge others thus, those cold, iron
preachers? Piety does not consist in smothering all the natural and
beautiful impulses of the heart--"

"These impulses are the soul's best religion," interrupted Barbara,
gently.

"These men have frozen every feeling in their natures, and if they do no
wrong it is only because their hearts are so icy that they have few
weaknesses left. There is little merit in passive goodness when no
temptation to error exists."

"Are you not falling into the same fault for which you blame them?" said
Barbara, smiling more cheerfully.

"It may be," replied Lovel; "but I lose all patience with their
superstitious observances. My heart has turned almost with loathing from
their creed since this nightmare of witchcraft has desolated so many
happy hearths, and murdered so many innocent creatures."

"It is horrible, indeed," said Barbara, with a shudder; "I have read
strange accounts, but they seemed too terrible for reality."

"Lady, they were true--terribly true! The barbarity of these
persecutions is beyond the power of words to describe."

"Can human beings thus be led astray by superstitious fears?" said
Barbara, shuddering anew beneath the horror of the thought.

"I saw an execution once," continued Lovel, growing pale at the
recollection, "and it has haunted me ever since, sleeping and waking.
Two women were the victims--one a withered old crone, and the other a
girl, as young and fair as Elizabeth Parris. They brought them out of
the jail, where they had lain for weeks--out before that hooting mob,
which hailed them with shouts and curses. The old woman, bent and
wrinkled, cowered and shrieked, but she might as well have pleaded for
mercy from a herd of wild beasts. She struggled and writhed when they
bound her hands, but what was her feeble strength in the clutch of those
infuriated men? The girl walked out alone--very pale, but calm as a
bride on her way to the altar. A Bible was in her hand. Her eyes were
raised, and her smiling lips parted in fervent prayer, as if the angels,
whom she was so soon to join, were giving her strength in that terrible
hour. They cursed her, they reviled her--but she did not heed. They
caught hold of her arm to drag her on, but she waved them aside and
walked forward to the gallows. It was her own sister who had accused her
from jealousy. The fiend stood by and watched the consummation of her
work! They tied her hands--the noose was adjusted--the word given; with
a shriek the old woman rushed into eternity. Then the pure spirit of
that girl followed, her lips moving in prayer to the last."

Lovel broke off, and passed his hands before his eyes to drive away the
fearful images which his description had aroused. Barbara had fallen
back upon her seat, hiding her face in her hands, shivering with horror
and pain.

"Terrible! terrible! God pardon them!" she gasped, "for they know not
what they do!"

"I tell you he will curse them for it--oh yes, I do believe there is an
eternity of suffering, and it is men like those who must endure it.
There stood the ministers and the judges in solemn array looking on--the
selectmen of the church and town--and enormities like these they call
religion--"

"No more, say no more!" pleaded Barbara. "I feel it all--I cannot
breathe--I seem to have the hangman's cord on my throat--his rough grasp
on my arm--do not speak of it again."

She was writhing with strange anguish--it seemed to her as if his words
had been a premonition of doom!

"I must go and walk in the garden," she said, arising; "this has driven
me wild."

She passed down the steps, and the young man turned to follow; but at
that moment, through the oaken door, came an imperious summons, twice
repeated--

"Norman Lovel! Norman Lovel!"

It was the governor's voice, in a tone of command that he never used
unless greatly excited. Norman uttered an apology, which Barbara did not
heed, and rushed into the hall.



CHAPTER XX.

WILD JEALOUSY.


When she entered the house so abruptly, Elizabeth Parris went to her
chamber, and sitting down upon her bed, remained there in the gloom,
brooding over the passion and sorrow to which the scene below had given
rise. She wept bitterly with mingled anger and grief, striking her hands
down upon the counterpane, and sobbing aloud in unwonted excitement.

She believed that Barbara Stafford had lured her young lover from his
allegiance, and that she was left to stand quietly by and see this
stranger woman usurp and claim the affection which, almost up to that
hour, she had deemed wholly her own.

There she sat while the moments crept on, seeming to her like hours. At
intervals, through the open casements, came the murmur of voices from
the porch, mingling at times with the deeper tones of Sir William
Phipps, from where he sat in earnest conversation with his wife in the
apartment below.

At length Elizabeth rose and approached the window, flung back the
muslin draperies with an impatient movement, and looked out into the
night. Those two forms were dimly perceptible, seated side by side on
the carved seat, and a pang of jealousy, more acute than she had yet
felt, wrung her girlish heart. She leaned over the sill, striving to
catch those low tones, then, startled by the meanness of which she had
not believed herself capable, drew back, and began to walk up and down
the room, weeping with quick, convulsive sobs, which seemed suffocating
her.

Still the murmur of those voices was borne up to her tortured ear,
rising and falling unequally as if the subject of conversation were of
deep interest. This was only an added pain to the poor girl, who kept
that gloomy vigil with such unquiet thoughts for her companions.

At last the suspense and wretchedness became too great for her young
heart to bear. With it all, there started up in her mind the wilful
pride and determination of a petted child accustomed to being treated as
the idol of all about her.

"She has stolen him from me--bad, designing woman!" she exclaimed. "But
this shall not last--she shall not stay here--I will not be braved by
her and set aside that she may be worshipped! She shall see, and Norman
Lovel, too; they are laughing at me, I dare say, at this very
moment--but they shall not laugh long."

She approached the window once more and looked out. Barbara and Norman
Lovel stood side by side, as before; her hand rested on his arm, he was
looking into her face. Elizabeth could not clearly distinguish his
features, but her jealous fancy required no aid to help her paint that
glance. Her own eyes had drooped so often beneath its passionate fervor,
her girlish heart, ever tremulous, had responded so fully to the tones
of that thrilling voice--yes, she could imagine it all!

She flung down the draperies again, and, forcing back the tears which
had fairly pained her cheeks as they poured over them, she left the
chamber and hurried down-stairs to put in force a resolve formed during
her unquiet vigil.

When Sir William Phipps conducted his wife into the house, at the
conclusion of that embarrassing scene, they passed through the long
passage and entered an apartment which the governor occupied as his
study.

"I was hardly expecting your arrival to-night," Lady Phipps said, as he
placed a chair and sat down near her.

"I made all haste, for I was anxious to return--"

"Be careful how you arrive again in the dark," she said, interrupting
him in a playful tone, through which some faint annoyance that her
husband's mistake had occasioned might have been detected.

"I regret that," replied Sir William, gravely; "but supposing the lady
could be no other than my own fair wife, I did not hesitate to greet
her."

"Let us say no more about it--we will leave the lady to herself for a
little, when she will have recovered from her agitation."

"Is she your friend from the farm house?"

"Yes--it is Mistress Barbara Stafford; you remember the name, and the
shipwreck."

"I remember; and you have persuaded her to become our guest at last?"

"I have. You do not disapprove? I thought you desired it."

"Whatever you do, fair lady, must be well done--any arrangement that
affords you pleasure always meets with my approval."

Lady Phipps made some laughing remark concerning his habitual courtesy,
but Sir William scarcely heard her words. He had fallen into deep
thought, so vague and singular that he was himself at a loss to trace
its source. He remembered how the presence of that woman had affected
him during the holy services of the church, causing his hand to tremble
when he raised the sacramental wine to his lips, and rousing emotions
which carried his mind far from the solemn interest of the occasion.
Then again that very night--the touch of that head seemed yet upon his
heart--the trace of the kiss he had pressed upon her mouth lingered
still upon his lips, even the pure embrace of his wife had failed to
obliterate it--the entrancing magic of those eyes followed him and
burned into his very soul, starting up like some Circean enchantment
even between himself and the faithful woman by his side.

With a strong effort he banished those wild reflections, and roused
himself to return an answer to the idle question his wife had asked,
appearing calm and unconcerned.

"And you are pleased with the lady?" he said, quietly.

"She is charming," returned Lady Phipps; "her manner is perfect, she is
a woman of great natural gifts, heightened by cultivation. There is an
irresistible grace in her slightest word and movement, an inexplicable
charm in every smile and glance, yet--"

"Well," said Sir William, as she paused, "go on, and yet?"

"I cannot tell! I feel drawn toward her by some unaccountable spell; it
is as if she attracted me at will, biased my thoughts by her judgment,
and held me, during our conversations, completely under her sway."

"She might easily be a very dangerous companion, were this not a mere
fancy."

"It is no fancy, Sir William--you will yourself remark it. There is
little Bessie, who dislikes her extremely, and yet, at Mistress
Stafford's bidding, she will sit down at her feet and listen for hours
to her conversation, like one entranced."

"Is not this hypocrisy in our little Bess?"

"No--oh, no. The child is truth and sincerity itself! I have seen her
strive to resist the spell, hovering restlessly about like a
half-charmed bird; but Mistress Stafford would follow her continually
with those wonderful eyes, and in the end, by her power, whatever it may
be, she is certain to conquer."

"But why does Elizabeth Parris dislike her?"

"The girl is jealous; Norman Lovel, she tells me, has neglected her of
late; she complains that this stranger lures him away, and fears that
she will in the end wholly alienate his affection."

"And is this true, or but the suspicion of a foolish girl?"

"I cannot tell; certain it is that since Mistress Stafford's arrival
here Norman has been thrown much in her society, but I cannot believe
that she would exercise any undue influence over him, or seek to create
a coldness between those two young hearts whose mutual affection has
been so beautiful to look upon."

Sir William was silent again for a moment; his wife's description of the
influence which the stranger exerted over them all accorded so entirely
with the impression she had created upon his own feelings, that he was
startled and perplexed.

"And what account does she give of herself--who is she, and what has
brought her here to this new world, alone and unprotected?"

"She speaks vaguely of her past or of her future plans. She told me that
she might perhaps soon return to England; then, as we were talking, she
fainted suddenly away, and fell senseless in my arms, just as she had
done during my visit to her at Goody Brown's."

"It is very strange," said Sir William. "These are wayward times in
which we live, and it behoves us all to be well upon our guard; we know
not in what way the great adversary of souls may weave his snares for
us."

"It grieves me to think ill of her, my husband, and yet, when out of her
sight, evil forebodings rise in my mind, which the first glance of her
eyes is sure to dispel. To-night her manner was so wayward--another
would have explained--would have called out--no word, no sign. She
neither moved nor seemed to note the presence of any human being."

"I must converse with this stranger; after receiving her as our friend
and guest, it is meet that we should know somewhat more concerning her."

"She will set every doubt at rest in your mind, of that I am certain. I
know not what to advise, but I am glad that you are returned, for I was
sorely puzzled how to act."

"Where are our friends? I fear we left them somewhat unceremoniously."

"Let us go back to them," returned Lady Phipps. "I believe, in truth, we
should offer some apology for our abrupt departure."



CHAPTER XXI.

PASSIONATE DENUNCIATIONS.


When Governor Phipps and his wife entered the library they found Samuel
Parris standing in the midst of the room, waiting, with suppressed
impatience, for the appearance of his daughter. He strode forward a pace
or two, with eager fire in his eyes, when Lady Phipps crossed the
threshold; but seeing that the form he so longed for did not follow,
drew back with nervous shyness, shrinking within himself as if the
impulsive affection warming his heart were a sin to hide away and be
ashamed of.

"Mr. Parris, welcome back again," said Lady Phipps, holding out her
plump little hand. "We have been rude to keep you in solitude so long."

"Nay, my lady, it matters not. But the child--my Elizabeth--surely
nothing is amiss that she delays coming to greet her father?"

Lady Phipps became thoughtful in an instant, and looked around,
wondering where Elizabeth had bestowed herself.

The old man grew white and began to shiver.

"Is the child ill? What malady has found her out? You may tell me, lady,
without fear; with God's help I--I can bear it."

The poor, self-tortured old man sat down on the edge of a chair and
lifted his large, wild eyes to the lady's face, waiting for the expected
blow with piteous trepidation.

Lady Phipps drew close to him, with both hands extended, and a world of
gentle sympathy beaming in her face.

"My friend, my dear, good friend, there is nothing wrong; Elizabeth is
well."

"Thank God," broke from the old man, while his clasped hands unlocked
themselves and fell gently downward.

"I was only wondering where she had hid herself," continued the lady.
"Surely, when her father was waiting, she should have been here."

"Nay, I can tarry for the child without weariness, so that she is but
well," answered the old man, heaving a deep sigh of relief.
"Nevertheless, if she is near at hand--"

"I will inquire, I will inquire," said the lady, turning to leave the
apartment, but at that moment the door was thrown hurriedly open, and
Elizabeth Parris advanced toward them, her face pale, her eyes red and
swollen with weeping.

"Why Bessie, child, what is this?" exclaimed Lady Phipps, "are you ill?"

Samuel Parris arose to his feet, holding out both arms with more
passionate affection than had ever broken the iron bands of his reason
before.

"Elizabeth! Elizabeth!"

The young girl flung herself into those outstretched arms, and clung to
her father's neck, sobbing violently.

"Oh, father! father! take me home! take me home! I am wretched here--oh,
so wretched!"

The old man smoothed her hair with his hand, and kissed her hot forehead
with more than feminine tenderness.

"Hush thee--hush thee, my child," he murmured. Then, turning his face to
Lady Phipps, he added:

"Forgive her, lady, she is but a child."

"She is ill, I fear," answered the governor, looking at his wife. The
lady shook her head and smiled. Elizabeth lifted her face from the
minister's bosom, and tossed the golden hair away from it in childish
defiance.

"No, no, I am not ill," she sobbed, "but I can bear this no longer: send
me away--let me go back to my father's house--I will not remain under
the same roof with her."

"With whom?" asked Sir William; "what means this agitation, little one?"

"With this Mistress Stafford; I will not live another day in the same
house with her--I believe that she is a witch."

Samuel Parris suddenly unclasped the wild girl from his embrace, and
held her at arm's length, with horror in his face. The other listeners
started at her passionate utterance of a word which had already grown so
terrible throughout New England. Sir William spoke first; but even his
usually firm voice was husky.

"What has she done, my daughter, that you should speak thus?"

"She has made me wretched; nobody loves me, nobody cares for me now, and
it is all her work!"

"Shame, child, shame!" expostulated Lady Phipps.

"Where is Mistress Stafford now?"

"Where?" exclaimed Elizabeth, with increased violence; "go into the
garden, and you will find her seated by Master Norman, looking into his
face with her wicked eyes, and charming him with her serpent tongue."

"Is this true?" cried Sir William; "girl, is this true? Why did you
leave them?"

"She fainted after you came in, and he blamed me harshly; then I left
them--it is a full half hour since, and they are together still."

The girl threw herself out of her father's arms and clung to Lady
Phipps, with a new burst of weeping that her friend strove in vain to
check. Sir William strode into the passage, and called in a voice which
penetrated like a trumpet through the whole mansion--

"Norman Lovel! Norman Lovel!"

The youth heard the summons as he was following Barbara Stafford down
the steps, and startled by its sternness hastened into the house. The
governor met him in the hall, and seizing his hand drew him into the
apartment where the weeping Elizabeth still clung to Lady Phipps.

"What is the meaning of this?" he said, sternly; "what have you done to
this poor child, Norman Lovel?"

"Nothing, sir; I have not seen her for some time. Mistress Stafford
fainted, Elizabeth came in for some water, and did not return."

"How long ago was that?"

"Fifteen minutes, mayhap."

"You see," whispered Lady Phipps; "he has lost all note of time.
William, it frightens me--what can be done?"

"Are you angered with this maiden, Norman?" pursued Sir William.

"Angered--with Bessie?" repeated the young man; "how can you think it?
She knows that I am not."

He took her hand and pressed it to his lips with earnest affection; Lady
Phipps gently unlocked the young girl's arm from her neck, placed both
hands in Norman's, and left the startled pair standing side by side, in
front of the old man, who stood in the midst of the scene lost in
astonishment.

A gleam of joy came back to Elizabeth's face, and she stood half
terrified, half abashed, like a fawn ready to flee at the slightest
sound. She cast one shy glance at her father from under the silken
lashes that instantly drooped to her hot cheeks, and then drew away from
her lover, ashamed of her own exquisite happiness.

"Let no new trouble come between your hearts," said Sir William,
solemnly. Then turning to Samuel Parris, he added with deep feeling--

"My dear old friend, these two persons love each other deeply, truly, I
think; as you and I have loved before this. Need I ask you to bless an
attachment which has every promise of happiness?"

"But she is a child. My Elizabeth is a babe as yet. It was but yesterday
that she sat on my knee learning her alphabet. Why talk of love between
any one and a young creature like that? It is sacrilege; cruel, cruel. I
have not deserved this at your hands, William Phipps!"

"Nay," answered the governor, deeply moved, but firm in his own idea;
"her mother was but one little year older than Elizabeth when she became
your wife."

"What! what!" cried the old man, looking upon his child with a sort of
terror. "Has the babe advanced so close upon her womanhood? She loves
another, and the old man will be left alone. God help us all, for this
is a heavy blow."

"Nay, my friend," urged the governor. "The young man is well worthy of
any maiden's love. Be content that I regard him almost as my own son. It
is but gaining another child, Samuel Parris; a son who will support the
declining years of your life with his strong arm."

Parris cast a long, half-reluctant look at the young man, who met his
scrutiny with a frank, honest return, that half drove the look of dismay
from that anxious old face.

"Oh, father, are you angry with us?" pleaded Elizabeth, creeping to the
minister's side.

"Angry! and with thee, Elizabeth?"

"Nor with him? Oh, father, if you are angry with him it will break my
heart!"

"Break _thy_ heart, child! What! another? No, no; I have seen hearts
break before now, and it was I that did it--I, a minister of God's
merciful religion. Love the young man, girl; love him heart and soul. I
will make no protest--give no sign."

Elizabeth, smiling through the vague terror produced by the old man's
emotion, drew back to Lovel's side. Parris looked at them with a
strange, bewildered air.

"They are waiting for something," he said, looking wistfully at Sir
William. "Is it the old man's blessing? I must not withhold it, you say.
They are young and fair, and love each other dearly. Ah, me! what
anguish may lie buried in that word love! Yes, I will bless them. God
helping me, I will bless them. Kneel down, young man--kneel, Elizabeth.
When human hearts are consecrated to each other, it is a sacrament of
which marriage is but the seal. Norman Lovel, take her hand--and God so
deal with you as you deal with my child--Elizabeth--" Here the old man's
voice filled with tears. He struggled a moment, fell upon his knees
before the young couple, bowed his head earthward, and covering his face
with both hands cried like a child.

Sir William Phipps went up to the minister, and bent over him,
whispering words in his ear which no one else heard. After a little,
Parris arose from his knees, laid two trembling hands on those young
heads, and spoke to them with such gentle and loving pathos that even
Lady Phipps wept. There was silence in the room for some moments after
the young people arose to their feet. That solemn benediction had
impressed all present too profoundly for the prompt reaction which is
possible to lighter feelings. But, after a little, Lady Phipps spoke,
smiling through the tears that still lingered pleasantly in her eyes.
"Now, Elizabeth, I fancy you will be able to meet our guest with some
placidity," she said, kissing the now pale cheek of the almost bride.
"Oh, that little, jealous heart, it beats to another tune now. Sweet
one, God's blessing be with you, and make you happy as I am." With the
quick impulse of a warm-hearted woman the lady began to sob again. It
was but the dying out of an excitement which best exhausted itself in
such April weeping as a heart unknown to sorrow loves to indulge in. But
Sir William always linked tears with grief. As he heard the tender sobs
rising in her bosom, he reached out his arm and drew her close to him,
soothing her with caresses.

While they stood thus, a white face appeared at the window which opened
into the garden, and, unregarded, a pair of wild eyes followed each
movement of the features so touchingly grouped together.

Wandering like an unquiet-spirit through the garden, Barbara Stafford
had fallen suddenly upon the scene. She saw it all: the young people
upon their knees; the old man drooping before them; and Sir William
Phipps stooping down to caress his wife.

She drew the scarf, which was trailing to the ground, closely around
her, and fleeing through the garden walks like one in fear of pursuit,
disappeared in the darkness of the street beyond.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE DEATH FIRE.


The house of Samuel Parris, the minister of the church of Salem, stood
in a solitary place, a little out of the village, which lay between it
and the sea, whose interminable beat could be heard throbbing like a
pulse along the beach.

When every thing was still, and the hum of insects asleep in the forest,
which, boundless as the blue ocean, stretched in an opposite direction,
dark and teeming with mysterious shadows, the repose was almost
appalling. Then, especially, the sweep of these waves, coming with
distinctness to the minister's house, and blending with the shiver of
the forest leaves, and the cry of such birds as sing to the darkness,
rendered the night-time one of peculiar mournfulness in that
out-of-the-way dwelling.

But the young girl who sat in the little family-room, late one quiet
evening, had learned to love the dark hours, and so listened to the
mighty and interminable throb of those waves with strange sympathy. The
dull tick of an old oak clock, whose coffin-like frame was heavy with
carvings, seemed answering the eternal anthem with its small noise, like
a human voice striving to answer the hymns of universal nature; and the
petty sound irritated her nerves, while the everlasting sweep, afar off,
made her heart swell and her eye kindle.

As Abigail Williams sat thus restlessly listening, Tituba, the old
Indian woman, came into the room, and sat down on the floor at her feet.
The woman did not speak, but lifted her face, wrinkled like a dried
plum, to that of the young girl, and waited to be addressed. The large,
earnest eyes of Abby Williams looked down upon the Indian.

"It is late, Tituba," she said, "the clock has struck eleven, and no
sign of his coming!"

"He will be here--Wahpee would have been home long ago, if any thing had
kept the young chief away. Are you sleepy, Abigail?"

"Sleepy! no. I shall never be sleepy again. The knowledge of who I am,
and what they are in whose bosom I have slept all my life, keeps rest
away from me--I know well how Judas felt when he sold his Lord."

Tituba shook her head. She had no Bible, and could not be made to
comprehend what one meant, though she had lived with the minister at
Salem since Abigail was an infant. Hers was a wilder and more romantic
religion--the Manitou of the Indians was her God, and she read his word
in the leaves of the forest and the rush of the mountain stream. With
her, treachery to the whites was faith to the Indian. Had Judas betrayed
his enemy, she would have considered him a hero: but to betray his
Master--old Tituba could not have understood that!

"You look like her now," whispered the woman, folding her hands over her
knees, and rocking back and forth on the floor, as she always did when
about to talk of the past.

"My mother--do I look like her?" said Abigail.

"About the eyes, when there is trouble in them; but hers were blue, like
a periwinkle in the morning, while yours are darker, and change so."

"And her--that other woman--that grand, sweet-spoken woman, whose spirit
will not rest--Anna Hutchinson--my grandmother? Have you seen her,
Tituba?"

"Yes, when the warriors brought her into the forest for sacrifice. I was
there. I watched the women, while they gathered pitch pine-knots, and
scattered turpentine over the wood which the braves heaped on her death
fire!"

"Did they torture her?"

"No. The wood was piled high; the Pequod women had brought heaps of
pitch pine; the warriors, who held her and her little ones, came
forward, ready to throw them on the flames together; they only waited
for the chief!"

"And she stood ready for this terrible death?" broke in Abigail. "Was
she brave, or was it only in speech that she proved valiant?"

"Brave! The warriors grew proud of their victim, she looked death so
grandly in the face. The chief came, and his eye flamed brightly when he
saw her. She was worthy of the death fire kindled in his honor."

"And he, a king, stood by and saw this brave woman tortured?"

"Why, would you have them offer a meaner victim before the sachem?"

"It was a fearful cruelty," said Abigail, shuddering.

"She was brave for herself, but not for her children," continued Tituba.
"When her little ones clung around her, holding to her garments, pale
and terror-struck, she flung up her arms, and called aloud for some one
to take them away and save them from torture. She asked the warriors to
think of all their powers, and heap the pain on her; she would bear
every thing; they might be days killing her; only take her children
away, and keep them out of sight and hearing, while she died!"

"And did no one take compassion on her--even those fiends incarnate?"

"The same blood that burned in their veins beats in yours," answered the
Indian woman, severely. "Who took compassion on her, when she was tied
to a cart and whipped by constables from village to village, like a
vicious hound? Ask yourself if the death fire was not mercy compared to
that! The warriors knew how to respect her courage; but her own people
mocked her shame while they tortured her."

"Both were horrible. But her little children? My mother was one of those
helpless creatures!"

"There was a law in our tribe, maiden, by which a bereaved mother might
adopt a captive, if she wished, in place of the child she had buried. By
the side of the sachem stood a woman, who had lost a child, bright as
the May blossom; and her heart was heavy with grief when she saw a
little girl, with hair like sunbeams, clinging to that wretched woman,
with its eyes, large like those of a young fawn, turned on the fire.
Maiden, Manitou sometimes sends the soul of a dead child home again in
another form, when its mother's heart is breaking. The woman knew that
her child had wandered back from the great hunting-ground, with its hair
turned golden, and its eyes blue like the sky in summer. So she went to
the chief with many words, and asked for her child. The same mother bore
the Pequod sachem and the woman who claimed the little girl, so he gave
her leave to take, not only the golden-haired child, but both Anna
Hutchinson's children; for the other was a brave girl, who stood between
her little sister and the flames, till her hands and clothes were
scorched by them."

"And the Indian woman took them both?"

"They would not be torn apart. When Anna Hutchinson saw this, she
beckoned the Indian woman, and besought her to take the two sisters deep
into the forest, away from the sound of her death cries. The sight of
that little child made the woman's heart soft. She could have cried, but
that the females of her race are ashamed of tears. When your grandmother
saw this, she stooped and whispered, 'Take them away, and you shall fire
the pile; you shall kill me with your own hands, and feast on my agony
if it will please you.'

"So the Pequod woman took the two children, one a young girl, the other
a little thing so high, and led them away to her own lodge. When she
went back to the death fire it was flaming high. The warriors had drawn
close around it; the trees above were heavy with smoke, and crisping in
the hot wind. Anna Hutchinson was chained to the death pyre. Her arms
were tied with thongs of bark, and her hair, thick with silver threads,
shone gloomily in the death light; for the flames had already seized
upon her garments and were creeping up the folds, hissing as they went.
She stood firm, looking toward the path where her little ones had
disappeared. When the woman came back she called out, with a great sob,
'My children, my children!'

"'They are safe in my lodge,' answered the Pequod woman.

"Then the warriors saw a smile break over Anna Hutchinson's face, which
rested there till the flames surged up and veiled her form in a cloud of
fire.

"Then the smoke rose blackly, and hot flashes of fire writhed in and out
like serpents in torment. A great gust of wind rushed through the forest
boughs and, sweeping the smoke away, drove the slumbering flames into
fury. Then an awful cry broke from that poor woman. The thongs that
bound her wrists snapped asunder--her arms were flung wildly outward
through the hot flames and surging smoke, and her cry burst into words
of awful entreaty that some one would be merciful and kill her.

"The Pequod woman had a soft heart. That cry ran through her like an
arrow. She could not bear to see the woman who had brought back her
child from the great hunting-ground, more beautiful than ever, writhing
in the hot fire which hissed, and leaped, and clung around her like
fiery snakes. The Indian woman took an arrow from her quiver, and aimed
at the white bosom that the flames were licking with a thousand hot
tongues. The arrow lost itself in the death fire, missing its aim. Then
the Indian woman took the tomahawk from her belt and poised it. Blinded
with smoke and mad with pain, Anna Hutchinson saw the act, and struggled
fiercely to step forth and meet the blow. But the thongs that bound her
to the stake were green and defied the flames. So with one bound the
Indian woman sprang into the fire and cleft that broad, white forehead
open with her tomahawk."

"It was a brave, a kind act," cried Abby, while the tears that had stood
in her eyes, flashed downward like broken diamonds. "And was this the
woman who died uttering curses, and denouncing her persecutors--whose
terrible maledictions cling to my own life? Tituba, tell me! Did you
hear Anna Hutchinson's curse come out from those death flames?"

"No, maiden--that was wrung from her when her family were butchered at
Aquiday, to which place she had been driven by the people of Boston.
Then she grew mad, and words fell from her lips like hot coals; for the
sight of her mangled children made her a prophetess; but afterward, at
the stake, when the two youngest of her children were safe, she broke
into smiles amid the flames."

The old woman spoke in the Indian language, and her narrative took a
depth and force which no modern tongue can reach. Abby Williams sat
trembling under the influence of the fearful picture she had drawn, for
the blood of Anna Hutchinson beat loud in her heart.

"And the Pequod woman--where did she go with the children?"

"She took them to her lodge, and loved them both as her own children.
But when her tribe was broken up, and Uncas dead, she wandered with them
among such fragments of the Pequods as still dwelt in the old
hunting-grounds. But the elder maiden never took kindly to the woods;
her heart turned to her mother's people; and she pined for a sight of
them. The Indian woman had a soft heart; so she came with the maiden and
her little sister to the sea-shore, to find a home for them among the
whites."

"Ah me! I know it all," cried Abby. "They came here into this very town.
She, my mother, was forced into the wilderness, as her mother had been,
driven with the constable's scourge. She was found almost dying in the
woods by King Philip, who made her his wife. I know how he fought and
died, leaving that woman a widow with two children. One, a noble boy,
was sold into slavery, under the hot sun of Bermuda, from which he was
rescued to be a fugitive and an outcast in the woods where his father
once reigned. The other was brought by the dying widow to this dwelling,
and left with the golden-haired daughter of Anna Hutchinson, who had
become the wife of her sister's judge, Samuel Parris. The fair
minister's wife, and King Philip's widow, met in this very room. The
widow was dying from exposure, grief, and starvation; and fled to find
shelter for her child before she joined her husband. From her cold lips
the minister's wife heard, for the first time, that she was Anna
Hutchinson's child; that her only sister had been scourged by the orders
of her husband. The truth killed her. That night her child, Elizabeth
Parris, was born. Two days after, King Philip's widow and the minister's
wife were laid in the burying-ground back of that meeting-house. The two
children were left together, and grew up lovingly, as sisters should,
till all the mournful details of this story were told to King Philip's
daughter by her fugitive brother, the Bermuda slave.

"You see I have forgotten nothing of this terrible story; how could I?
it is graven on my heart, and every mark has left a wound. But let me
tell you more, old woman; more of the poor forest-girl your love has
tended so long. When this story first reached her ear, she stood by the
double grave of these two sisters, and learned how they had been
wronged. Then all the sweet love of her nature was turned to gall; she
dreaded the sight of that fair being who had slept with her in the same
trundle-bed, who had been her second life. She trembled with constant
fear that her heart would fall back to its old love again. The sight of
these rude walls reminded her no longer of domestic peace, but of her
mother's wrongs. She was embittered by her grandmother's curse. Oh,
Tituba, Tituba, this fearful thing have I become, I, Abigail Williams!"

"No, not Abigail Williams. That name was given in the meeting-house, out
there, and does not belong to King Philip's daughter. He called her
Mahaska."

"Yes," said Abby; and her head fell forward upon her bosom in deep
despondency; "that is my name; it is burned upon my heart! All the
waters of the ocean would not wash it out."



CHAPTER XXIII.

TITUBA'S STORY CONTINUED.


Abigail looked up again, after a little, with something of animation.

"But the Pequod Indian--what became of her? If the saviour of my mother
is alive, I must see her!"

Tituba cowered down to the floor again, and clasped both hands over her
knees, as she answered:

"She could not help it. They tore the two children apart. One was driven
into the forest; the other was carried into the meeting-house, and
baptized with a new name, by the very hands that had driven her sister
to the woods. In this golden-haired child, the soul of her own offspring
had entered. How could she leave it to follow the other? Were not the
wolves and panthers more merciful than the men who kept her little one?

"The Indian woman went into the edge of the woods, and built herself a
bark wigwam; she gathered shells from the beach and strung them into
wampum, which was money, as gold is now. She gathered willows from the
brook, and made baskets which she carried on her back to the village,
thus gaining a sight of the little one. Sometimes she would go into the
meeting-house, that she might catch a glimpse of the beautiful girl who
was possessed of her own child's soul, from the dark corner where these
godly people allowed the Indians and negroes to creep and watch them as
they worshipped God. They saw the Indian woman come Sunday after Sunday
with her sorrowful face; so in time they began to regard her as a
praying Indian, and one who might attain the salvation of her heathen
soul, by looking at them from afar off. She was a harmless, humble
creature, who asked but to follow the steps of the child she loved so
much, without making it known that the little girl was any thing to her;
like a dog they let her pass from dwelling to dwelling on week days, and
in the meeting-house on Sundays, without hindrance. Sometimes she got a
chance to speak to her child, to give her a bit of wampum, or a tiny
basket to pick whortleberries in; and this was all the happiness she
asked.

"One Sunday the Indian woman went into the meeting-house as usual. From
her dark corner she peered out, looking for her child in the old place.
The girl was not there, but down, close by the pulpit, she found her
clothed in white, like a spirit from the far hunting-grounds. By her
side was the minister, Samuel Parris, the man who had sat in judgment on
her sister. Another minister preached in the pulpit; the people looked
around restlessly, during the long sermon, and when it closed there was
a rustling of dresses all over the house, like the stir of leaves in the
forest.

"The Indian woman turned cold in her seat. For a little time she could
not see; but when her eyes grew clear, her child, her beautiful child,
whom she had worshipped afar off like a slave, that child stood in her
white garments before the communion-table, with her hand in that of the
old minister; and before them stood the man who had come down from the
pulpit, muttering words that could not reach the dark corner where the
poor Indian stood. But she knew that they were giving the young
girl--her child--to that stern old man for his wife. Filled with horror,
she strove to cry out and protest against it; but the tongue clove to
the roof of her mouth, and she was dumb. When she struggled to get down
from her high place in the gallery, and make her way to the pulpit, the
beadle stopped her rudely. 'Indians were not permitted,' he said, 'to
enter there.'

"While this poor Indian was struggling to pass him, the meeting broke
up. The crowd came down the aisles, almost sweeping her away; but she
stood firm, till that old man came forward, leading her child by the
hand. His bride saw the Indian mother, of whom she had but a knowledge
of vague kindnesses, and smiled softly as she drew near. Then the poor
creature knew that it was too late; that her white enemies had bound the
young one to them forever. So she forgot her own people, and followed
the old man and his bride sorrowfully home to his house. There was no
servant in the kitchen. She crept in through the back door and went to
work. Her heart was full of bitterness and love: hate for him, love for
her, the gentle one, who came in her meek beauty and settled down like a
dove in his home.

"At first the Indian watched for an opportunity to tell the young wife
that she had married the son of her mother's persecutor; that the father
of Parris had been one of Anna Hutchinson's judges; and that he, her
bridegroom, had been among the worst enemies of her own noble sister;
but when she saw the young wife settling down in her new home, so serene
and contented, the Indian's heart failed her, and she drudged on from
day to day, putting the cruel duty off, till at last one night--"

Abby, who had been greatly excited during this recital, suddenly threw
out her hand, laying it heavily on the old woman's shoulder.

"Do not speak of that. I cannot bear to hear in words what is in my own
remembrance like a vague, wild dream. Enough! My mother died in that
chair; her sister, Elizabeth Parris, expired the next day, with a
new-born infant slumbering in her arms. That infant is my cousin
Elizabeth. The meek, old man, whose heart began to break that night, was
my mother's cruel, cruel judge. But the Indian woman--what became of
her?"

The old woman folded her arms more tightly about her knees, and looked
up with the glance of a faithful dog.

"Her children were dead, but their little ones had no mother, so she
stayed in the kitchen."

"And died there?"

"Is Tituba dead that you ask this question of her?"

Abby stooped down, trembling all over, and drew the old woman up to her
bosom. She kissed her withered face and her swarthy hands, with a burst
of passionate feeling.

"And is it so? God forgive me that I did not guess this before! And you
have been our slave, our drudge! The meanest work of the house has
always been put upon Tituba--poor old Tituba, who saved our mothers from
the flames, who followed us from wilderness to settlement, who left her
own people for our sakes. And you are so old too! How many years,
Tituba, has it taken to make this hair so gray?"

"Tituba is almost a hundred years old; but she can see like a
night-hawk, and hear like a fox. When her children want help, they will
find her thought keen and her feet swift!"

"But you shall work no more. I will save you from drudgery at least."

"No, no. Let Tituba alone. She is used to it. Work--work--work. What
would Tituba be without work? Let her plod on in the old way, Mahaska.
The tree thrives best in its own soil. Dig honeysuckles and wild
strawberries from the wood--plant them in your garden, and they grow.
But when an old hemlock begins to die like this, let it stand--stir not
the earth about its roots."

The old woman touched her gray hair as she spoke, and drooped into her
old position. Abby sat looking at her in tender astonishment. She could
understand the great love which had brought that noble savage from the
wilderness to be a drudge in her uncle's kitchen; it exalted the old,
withered creature at her feet into a heroine.

"And for our sakes you gave up your people, your free life, all that
makes the happiness of a forest child; and came here to be a slave!"

"Tituba only followed her child!" was the simple answer.

"But Elizabeth Parris knew nothing of all this! To her you are only--"

Abby broke off, for she felt that the truths she was about to speak were
cruel.

"I am only old Tituba to her, but she is all the world to me."

"And yet you hate her father--her stern, kind-hearted father, for that
the minister is."

"He was your mother's judge before he became her father!"

"And she is the grandchild of Anna Hutchinson, equally with myself!"
said Abigail, musing.

"But not the child of King Philip. Not the sister of the last chief of
the Wampanoags, who now wanders like a wild beast through the lands his
people once owned. She, my golden-haired child, is not the one who must
avenge her grandmother's wrongs. From the beginning, she and her mother
were like singing birds to be fed and cared for. You and your mother
were eagles, with strength to swoop on their enemies and your own.
Elizabeth must never know the events that are making your face so dark."

"But why, why is the sunshine all for her, the darkness for me?"
answered Abigail, with sorrowful bitterness.

The old woman began to weave her hands together, and rock to and fro
with a troubled look.

"The eagle soars; the mocking-bird sings. One seeks her nest in the
leaves, the other sits on the crags."

"The bleak, bare crags for me--flowery hollows for her," said Abigail,
despondingly. "It was so with our mothers; it must be so with us."

As she spoke, the outer door of the house opened, and Wahpee, an old
Indian, who, like Tituba, had been for years a hanger-on of the
minister's kitchen, entered the sitting-room. He had been absent some
days, and it was in expectation of his return that the young girl and
Tituba were sitting up so late.

The Indian seemed tired with travel. His dress of homespun linen was
torn in places, and the rents pinned up with thorns just plucked from
their trees. The lank hair was moist, and a rain of perspiration
glistened on his tawny forehead. Abby rose from her seat, and went
eagerly toward him.

"Wahpee--Wahpee, have you seen him?--where is he now? Have any number of
his people joined him yet?"

Wahpee shook his head.

"Ask Wahpee nothing; he has no words. Give him bread and dried-beef. The
Wampanoags planted no corn, and they have no muskets to shoot down the
deer that look in their eyes without moving as they file one by one
through the woods. Even the young fawns grow bold, now that the warriors
have given up their guns."

"And is he near and hungry?" cried Abby, hastening to the kitchen, where
old Tituba was dragging forth bread from a huge oven, in which it had
been left after the week's baking; and crowding loaf after loaf into a
flour sack, she helped to lift it on Wahpee's back.

Both Abigail Williams and Tituba would have followed the old Indian into
the forest; but he curtly ordered them back, and went on himself,
carrying the bag of bread. They stole after him at a distance,
notwithstanding his interdict, till they came to the meeting-house. Here
they paused. The shadows upon the brink of the woods were black as
death; and as the old man entered them he was lost in an instant.

"Let us wait," said Tituba, "they will come out together. Metacomet will
come to his mother's grave; and then we shall know what he is doing."

Abigail went silently after the old woman, and sat down on a flat stone,
half buried in moss and ferns, at the foot of a huge pine tree, which
sheltered two graves. There she seemed covered by a vast pall, the
shadows fell so heavily upon her.

Tituba dropped down at Abby's feet, and gathering her limbs together,
began a low chant, that mingled in the shiver of the pine leaves with
inexpressible mournfulness.

Abby leaned her head against the trunk of the pine and listened. Strange
to say, that chant, instead of depressing, kindled her spirit. She never
came to that spot, and heard the mysterious whispering of the leaves,
without a wish for action, an unaccountable desire to plunge into the
wilderness and remain there forever. Only one week before, she had
wandered to the same spot, and there, for the first time, learned from
his own lips that she had a brother; that the blood of King Philip
mingled with that of Anna Hutchinson, the martyr, in her veins; and that
on both sides the most terrible wrongs had been done to her ancestors by
the very people with whom she had unconsciously worshipped; nay! by the
man whose roof had given her a loving shelter, from the cradle up.

On that spot she had seen her kingly brother, in all the grandeur of a
noble presence inherited from his father, blended with the softened
grace of a mother, whose pure white blood softened the eagle glances of
his eyes and gave a glow to his face, kindling that which would
otherwise have been saturnine into the poetry of an ever changing
expression.

The slave chief had been rescued from his chains in Bermuda; and after
wandering over many countries, studying things that were far beyond the
grasp of a mere savage, had come back to his native forests, to gather
up the fragments of his people, and win back their rights, or avenge
their wrongs. Night after night he had waited by those graves, under the
pine tree, hoping that his sister would come and meet him.

She came at last, a thoughtful, innocent girl. The gentle romance of
affection, for there could be little more in a child who remembered her
mother only as she thought of her in dreams, led her to the edge of the
wilderness. She went away again, wounded by a terrible knowledge--a
sybil in her imagination, the pledged avenger of her mother's wrongs,
and of her father's and her grandmother's murder.

Thus the son and daughter of King Philip had met, for the first time
since their childhood. The boy knew that he still possessed a sister,
and this thought inspired him to greater struggles. Then Abby Williams
learned, from her brother's own lips, how it chanced that her brow was
darker than the sunny forehead of her cousin Elizabeth; that wrong and
death had scattered her family abroad, leaving her a dependent, where
she should have been an avenger.

All that week the hopeless girl brooded on the terrors of her birth, and
the wrongs her family had suffered; her days were one long, vague
dream--her nights restless with tossing thought. Never again would she
know what tranquil peace was under that roof! A journey of fifteen miles
only separated her from her uncle Parris and Elizabeth, so far as space
was concerned; but there was no means of measuring the interminable
distance that had grown up between their souls and hers in one single
week.

That night she had again spoken of her parents, and expected to see her
brother. During the hours that she waited, old Tituba had crept to her
feet, with new revelations and more startling surprises. The young girl
listened, seated in the very chair that had been her mother's
death-couch. She was a creature of sensitive feeling and keen
imagination, a thoughtful, ardent girl, to whom such knowledge came like
fire to steel, melting and hardening at the same time.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AMONG THE SHADOWS.


Now Abigail Williams sat waiting for her brother, in vague expectation,
for Wahpee had given no account of his chief's movements, and Abby could
only listen for the sound of his footsteps on the forest turf.

All at once, as her eyes wandered toward the woods, she heard a
movement, but not in that direction. The meeting-house stood close on
the verge of the forest, and the arched window, back of its pulpit, was
almost touched by the swinging tree-branches. Between them and the
building Abby saw a human figure moving swiftly through the gloom.

"Tituba, Tituba--look up," she whispered, hushing her very breath, for
the figure came out into the starlight, and glided toward them like a
ghost.

Tituba lifted her face, and held the chant trembling on her lips; they
were both in the deep darkness of the pines; but the woman who came
forward had the starlight on her face.

"Is it--is it my mother?" whispered Abby, prompt to believe any thing
strange in the excitement of the moment. "See how sad, how beautiful she
is."

Tituba pressed back against her young mistress, striving to bury herself
more deeply in the darkness.

"Is it my mother--or the one you loved so much?"

Tituba drew a long breath, but did not answer; for the figure came close
up to the two graves, and stooping down, tried to make out the
moss-grown letters on the stone, tracing the outline with her
fore-finger when the light proved insufficient.

"Mother!"

The word died on Abby's lips, and was carried off in the whisper of the
pine leaves.

Tituba lifted her hand, grasping that in Abby's lap with a warning
force.

"Elizabeth--yes! it is Elizabeth--Elizabeth Pa-r-ris! The moss chokes up
the name, but it is here. Poor girl--poor young wife!" murmured a low,
sweet voice from out of the shadows. "And this grave, so close, with the
vines creeping over both. Who can this be? Elizabeth Parris was an
orphan, a beautiful charity child of the church--who can be lying so
close?"

The woman knelt down, as she uttered these disjointed words, and touched
the foliage on the two graves lightly with her hands.

"Here it was they buried the old man's heart. I almost feel the blossoms
springing out of it!" murmured the voice. "Oh, if there were only a
place for another here--surely this spot would be quiet and roomy enough
for us all!"

The strange woman took a ribbon slowly from her waist, as she spoke, and
held it in the starlight.

"I have but to tighten this about my throat, and lie down--a pang or
two--a struggle, and when the light drives these shadows back into the
woods, some one would find me here--in charity they would dig through
the turf a little, and lay me down by sweet Elizabeth Parris. Who would
know of it? Who, on the broad earth, would care? It would only be a
poor, lone woman, dropping into death before her time--a wanderer, worn
out with travel through a weary, weary world, who asked only to lie down
and be still."

The tender sadness of these words--the despondency in that face, touched
Abby Williams to the heart. She was about to rise, but Tituba held her
back.

The woman's hand dropped, trailing the ribbon on the grass. She seemed
to fall into thought. Her eyes were uplifted towards the stars, and with
solemn mournfulness she spoke again:

"A little while, and this soul would be yonder, standing before those
bright gates, and asking for that love in heaven which earth has denied;
asking this of God, who has not summoned me, but who will look first on
the crimson mark around my neck. No, no; even death is not mine to
take--I must wander on and on, till God is merciful and calls me!"

With a slow, weary movement of the hands, she tied the ribbon around her
waist again, and, sitting down on the grave of Elizabeth Parris, folded
her arms, with a gesture of unutterable despondency, as if she were
waiting for the death she dared not take.

That moment there was a movement in the forest. Abby and the Indian
woman looked that way, but it was only a young fawn, which came leaping
through the brushwood, and basked a moment in the starlight before she
returned to the thicket, from which some stronger animal had frightened
her.

When Abby looked toward the grave again, nothing was there. The cool,
green leaves twinkled in the starlight, as if no human thing had touched
them. She arose and searched the grass. Not a footprint could be found,
and the open space, which lay between them and the meeting-house, was
vacant. She looked at the Indian woman in vague alarm.

"Who was this woman? and where has she gone?"

Tituba shook her head. She was a firm believer in ghosts and witchcraft.
The apparition had filled her with terrible awe. Once before, in her
life, she had seen the same face gleaming before her in the starlight of
a summer's evening; and after that came sore trouble on the household.

"Was it my mother searching for rest? Will she wander forever and ever,
unless I avenge her?"

"Come into the house, child, it is near morning: the chief will not be
here to-night."

"Tell me," cried Abigail, solemnly, "for I must know: was it my mother?"

"I did not see her face. Something came across my eyes and blinded them;
but she was tall and stately like your mother."

"She need not come again, I will not falter," said Abigail, with
sorrowful earnestness.

They went together into the house, full of vague dread. Tituba followed
the young girl up-stairs, and forcing her to lie down, coiled herself up
at the foot of the bed, and lay with her bright, black eyes wide open,
till the morning broke. Then she arose softly, and going down to the
kitchen, began to prepare breakfast. Wahpee had not yet returned from
the woods, and there was no one to provide for but the young girl
up-stairs; but the old woman mixed her corn bread, stamped the pats of
golden butter, and set her rye coffee down to boil in its conical tin
pot, with as much bustle of preparation as if the whole family were to
partake of the meal she was preparing.

When all was ready, when the round, cherry-wood table was turned down
from its place in a corner of the sitting-room, and drawn up to the
window, through which the sweet summer air came rippling among the wild
roses and bitter-sweet vines, Tituba went up to the room where Abby was
sleeping. It was a singular face upon which the old woman gazed. The
masses of raven hair, the long, inky lashes, and the mouth, so
beautifully red, possessed a rare loveliness, which the agitation of
other features could not altogether destroy. But the forehead was
contracted with a frown, the lips writhed with a troubled expression,
and her billowy hair rippled to and fro on the pillow from the constant
change of position, sought for in her restless sleep.

"Abby--Abby!" whispered the old woman, "come, wake up; it is most seven
o'clock, and the breakfast all ready."

Abby turned on the pillow, and her forehead gathered into a heavy frown.

"Do not call me, mother. Why will you wander on--on--on forever and
ever, so restlessly, as if your child would not keep her oath? Wait a
little, while I look on your face. The wave of your white garments
troubles me. The starlight is dim. I cannot hold you in my look, or
grasp you with my hand--oh--"

She opened her eyes with a groan, and sat up in bed. The gentle shake
which Tituba had given her seemed to wrench the garments, she had seized
upon in her dreams, rudely from her grasp.

"Breakfast is ready, child."

"Breakfast!"

"Yes, child, breakfast; warm Johnny cake, and a nice little bit of ham.
Don't think any more about it. If the Great Spirit sends witches, he
knows how to keep 'em under."

"I will come down," said Abby, wearily, holding one hand to her
forehead.

"That's a good child--and do try and look a little like old times. What
if the minister and our Lizzy should come back to-day?--who knows?"

"Heaven forbid!" cried the young girl, in pale affright. "I am not ready
yet. How can I tell what the woman wants till she speaks to me? If Anna
Hutchinson must be avenged, explain how the evil thing is to be done.
Dear Tituba, tell me truly. You don't expect the minister home to-day?"

"Why, how can I tell for certain? He ought to have been home weeks ago."

"Am I changed, Tituba? Hold up the looking-glass, and let me see for
myself."

Tituba raised the little looking-glass, in its carved cherry-wood frame,
and held it before the girl's face.

Abby shook her head mournfully.

"How old I look! What a strange glitter comes and goes in these eyes. It
is the Indian blood, I suppose. That, and the things I have been told,
Tituba. Don't it seem a great deal more than three weeks since the
minister went away?"

"I don't know--yes! I shouldn't wonder if it seems so; but Tituba counts
time from the week when Miss Elizabeth went off to visit Lady Phipps in
her grand, new house at Boston. Oh, it will be like a bird getting back
to its nest when she comes home."

"A bird getting back to its nest--old Tituba? Well, why not? She will
sleep quietly, and dream sweetly as ever. It is only I--I. Come, old
Tituba, let's go down to breakfast; at least we have twelve hours of day
before us: who knows what another night will bring?"

"Yes, yes--come to breakfast; it's unhealthy talking on an empty
stomach."

As they went through the little entry way below stairs, a soft knock
came to the outer door. Abby went forward and sat down at the
breakfast-table, while Tituba lifted the wooden latch and opened the
door.

A lady stood on the step, wrapped in a scarlet mantle, with the hood
drawn over her face. She was pale, and seemed to have walked a great
distance, for her light boots of foreign make were torn at the sides,
and soiled with moist earth, while the edge of a light gray silk dress,
which fell below her mantle, was frayed and spotted, as if it had been
dragged over wet grass.

The woman lifted her eyes to Tituba an instant before she spoke; then,
in a voice singularly low and gentle, she inquired if Mr. Parris had
reached home yet.

Old Tituba replied, with a little unaccountable hesitation, that the
minister had gone to Boston; that he intended to bring Miss Elizabeth
home with him; but that there was no saying, for a certainty, when they
would come.

"You may expect them within an hour or two," said the stranger, gently,
"so I will step in and wait."

She glided softly into the hall while speaking, opened the sitting-room
door like one used to the house, and went in.

Abby had seated herself at the table, but she arose as the stranger
entered, naturally looking that way. The thrill that passed through her
frame amounted almost to a shock. Two contending wishes seized upon her.
She longed to dash through the window and flee; yet was impelled toward
the stranger by a power she could neither understand nor resist.

With this conflict of the nerves visible on her face, she came forward
and laid her hand in that of the stranger. Again the thrill passed over
her, but as those soft fingers closed upon her hand, this singular
agitation went off in a pleasant shiver, and the two females smiled
sadly on each other, like persons who had met for the first time after
some severe bereavement.

"Your old servant tells me that the minister is not at home yet," said
the lady, "so I have ventured to come in and wait. Do not let me disturb
you at breakfast though; I will walk toward the meeting-house yonder; it
seems a quaint, old building."

She turned as if to go, but Abby could not give up the hand in hers
without a feeling of emotion amounting almost to pain.

"No, lady, stay and take breakfast with me. I am alone, you see; old
Tituba never sits at a table, but eats her meals as she goes about her
work. You look tired, and as if a warm cup of coffee would refresh you.
Take off your mantle and sit down in this chair."

Abby drew the great oak chair up to the table, and stood with one hand
on the back, waiting for her guest to throw off her mantle. But the lady
only pushed the hood back to her shoulders, revealing a quantity of
splendid hair, that was swept from her white temples in heavy waves. The
face thus exhibited was not young, nor would a common-place observer
have called it beautiful; but it was a grand face, nevertheless, and one
which no great-hearted man or woman could have looked upon without a
glow of enthusiasm.

She sat down in the oak chair, took the earthen coffee-cup which Abby
had filled for her, and began slowly and wearily to drink the contents.
She broke off a morsel of the corn bread now and then, with the
indifferent air of one whose appetite is forced, but did not fail to say
a few gentle words to her hostess, with that delicate self-abnegation
which makes a well-bred woman forget her own weariness or suffering, at
all times, where the feelings of others are concerned.

The reaction of a strong excitement was on Abigail. But the fascination
which surrounded this woman was so irresistible that she forgot every
thing but the charm of her presence.

Old Tituba came in and out of the room, clearing away the breakfast
things as the two females drew back from their meal. At last, eying the
stranger with keen interest, the old woman drew close up to the oak
chair, and, peering over the lady's shoulder, said, in her curt way,

"You forgot to tell me what your name was when you asked for the
minister."

"My name," said the lady, with a faint smile. "Yes! I did forget it. My
name is Barbara Stafford."



CHAPTER XXV.

THE MORNING RIDE.


An old man and a young girl, followed at a little distance by a staid
looking man-servant, in the gubernatorial livery, all mounted on fine
horses, moved briskly through the forest road that ran between Boston
and Salem, on the morning when Barbara Stafford presented herself at the
minister's house. They had been abroad since the dawn, had watched the
sunrise shed its first gold on the pine tops and budding hemlock
branches, with the exhilaration which springs from a bright day. It was
with difficulty that the young girl could keep from giving her horse the
bit and dashing forward, she was so buoyant with animal life, so gay
with the sweet joy that filled her heart.

Elizabeth Parris could never do wrong in her father's eyes. When she now
and then gave her horse the rein and dashed under the forest boughs,
scattering the turf with a storm of diamonds as she passed, the old man
could only follow her with an anxious smile, till she wheeled again and
made her steed come dancing toward him on the sward. Then she would join
him, laughing so gayly in her saddle that the very robins sang louder as
they heard her, as if some mocking-bird had challenged them to a musical
rivalry.

"Look, father, look how beautiful the morning is," she cried, wheeling
her horse around the trunk of a great elm tree, that stood out on the
highway, and caracoling up to his side again; "every footpath which
leads to the forest seems paved with gold, all the branches overhead
quiver again as the dew that wets them begins to burn in the sun. You
are right, father--I feel it in the depths of my heart--you are right in
the pulpit and out, when you tell us to bless God forever and ever, that
he has made us this grand, beautiful world. Oh, I could sing like a
bird, but with a new tune, father; nothing that I have ever learned is
joyous enough for this heavenly morning."

"Heavenly! my child," said the minister, with a gentle effort at rebuke.
"Remember that the holy place, where our Lord rests, is sacred, and must
not be compared to things of earth."

"Why not, father? The same God created the heavens and the earth, and
all that in them is. So when every thing here seems like heaven, why not
say so in sweet thankfulness?"

The minister shook his head.

"Indeed, I can't help it!" continued the girl, dashing up to a thicket
where a red-winged black-bird had settled, and frightening the pretty
creature deep into the woods with her impetuous admiration. "It's a
beautiful morning. I'm going home. Every minute brings me nearer--I
shall see cousin Abby. Oh, how her heart will leap for joy when we come
up! and old Tituba, bless the precious old soul, and Wahpee; upon my
word, father, I think, I am sure that is Wahpee yonder, with that young
man in the hunting-frock. Indeed, I'm quite certain it is: he's coming
to meet us perhaps. Wahpee, Wahpee, you blessed old Indian, how are you?
how are they all at home?"

She rode forward at a gallop, dashing through the shadow, over patches
of sunshine, and calling out for her father not to be afraid, she only
wanted to speak first to dear old Wahpee; but just as she came up to the
spot where he had seemed to be standing, she saw only a young man in a
hunter's frock of dressed deer-skin, with leggins of crimson cloth, and
a cap striped with blue and red velvet, which fell in a point to the
left shoulder, where it terminated in a tassel of silk and glittering
beads. He held a slender gun in his hand, which he planted on the turf
as Elizabeth rode up, leaning upon it with the grace of an Apollo.

The young girl drew in her horse, and looked around, amazed to find the
young man alone, and expecting to see Wahpee spring out from behind some
bush to frighten her with a whoop, as he had done a hundred times
before.

But the morning wind, whispering through the woods, was all the sound
she heard. Where was Wahpee? What could have become of him? Surely it
was his form she had seen a moment before standing by that singular man!

All this passed through her mind while the strange young man was
preparing to move on; but when she saw that he was absolutely alone, the
color mounted hotly to her face, and with a light laugh at herself she
drew her horse on one side, saying, with that exquisite grace which
renders the very boldness of youth sometimes very attractive,

"I beg pardon, sir, for cantering up in this wild way; but in fact I
thought some one was with you whom I love dearly and haven't seen for a
long time; pray tell me, where he is hiding."

The young man had been regarding her with a half smile. His fine black
eyes sparkled with a sort of mocking merriment, mingled with an
expression of such admiration as kept the blushes warm on the young
girl's face.

"You have seen the shadow, which a bright morning sun keeps close to my
side, and mistake it for a warrior, I dare say, young lady; for
certainly no one could be more alone than I am."

He said this in accents so foreign that Elizabeth looked on him with new
interest, wondering greatly from what part of the earth he had come.

His face was dark, certainly, but more from exposure to the sun than any
thing else, and the cluster of raven hair that fell from under his cap,
waving almost into full curl around his temples, had that purplish bloom
which is so beautiful, but seldom found even when black hair is most
glossy. Who could this man be, with those exquisitely cut features, that
form at once so proud and so wildly graceful, above all with a voice
whose broken sweetness went to the soul at once, even when its words
were imperfectly understood?

"Was I, indeed, so miserably cheated?" said Elizabeth, at last, striving
to laugh away her confusion. "Well, well, I ain't the first girl, by
many, that has been caught by shadows. Pray forgive me, sir. I have no
excuse but that Wahpee is a dear, old fellow, who carried me pick-a-back
before I could walk; and I haven't seen him for months; besides, I am
half crazy at getting home again. Perhaps you don't know what it is to
return home, after a long absence, and, and--I beg pardon, sir--what
have I said to offend you?" she cried, suddenly, startled by the look
that shot athwart that handsome face.

"Offend me? Nothing," he answered, with a strange smile.

"Nay, but I am sure you looked either angry or pained," cried the young
girl, anxiously.

"Shadows again. It was but the waving of that tree bough across my face.
Why should any one feel either anger or pain, because a young lady is
rejoiced to get back to her friends, after a long absence?"

"Truly--why should they?" replied Elizabeth, drawing her horse slowly
back, beginning to be conscious that this conversation with a total
stranger was a little out of the ordinary course of her strict, social
life. "So, now that there are no more shadows to distract me, I will
ride back and keep near my father."

"One moment," said the young man, drawing close to her horse, "tell
me--who is your father, and, and--"

"Oh, here he is to speak for himself," cried Elizabeth, drawing a deep
breath, for the young man's approach and earnest manner had startled
her.

The stranger dropped his hand from the neck of her horse, where it had
slightly rested, took up his gun, and with a sharp glance at the
minister, took a footpath which led into the woods.

"What is this, Elizabeth? My dear child, what does it mean?" cried the
minister, riding up with an anxious face; "a stranger with his hand on
your bridle."

"No, no, father: only on my horse's neck. He was asking about
you--nothing else--but did you see his face?"

"Yes, child, it was a dark, beautiful face. Like those we find in that
book of poems by John Milton, where Lucifer shames all the angels with
the majesty of his presence. Be careful, daughter, how you look on such
faces, save with averted eyes, for they are dangerous to the soul."

"Oh, but, father, his smile--I wish you could have seen that--it was
like--yes, father, as I live, it was like cousin Abby's. I declare this
was why it brought the heart into my mouth--oh, father! if you had only
seen him smile, you would never talk of Lucifer and the angels again.
Who can he be?"

"Some loitering Indian, no doubt."

"No, father, no. His hair curls; his eyes are full of fire, not grave
and sullen; he smiles often, and his forehead is white as--yes, as my
cousin's--he is only dressed a little Indian fashion; but I like that
best of all."

"And you heard him speak--that might have guided you a little. Was his
language prompt and clear?"

"Not quite: it had a strange accent."

"Indian?"

"No, no; but something that made his broken speech sweet as music."

"Strange, very strange!" muttered the minister, with a heaviness at the
heart which he could not account for. "It is but a man passing like a
shadow across my path, and yet I am saddened by it."

"Strange," thought Elizabeth, from whom all the surplus life had
departed, leaving her subdued and thoughtful by the minister's
side--"strange! it was but a hunter resting upon his gun; yet I am
terrified by the very beauty of his face. What would Norman Lovel say, I
wonder? What will cousin Abby say? Shall I tell this among the other
wonderful things that have happened during my visit to Lady Phipps's?
Ah, me! if I had never left home, how much happier I might have been!
But then should I have rode so lightly, looked so pretty, or learned to
dance minuets, and dress like a lady? Then would Norman ever have
fancied me but for these things? I hope I shan't be sick of home, and
pining to go back again, the minute I've seen the dear old room and
kissed them all round; that would break poor father's heart. Well, after
all, I should like to know who this stranger is--an Indian indeed--he
looks more like a king."

But all these thoughts were soon driven out of the young girl's head by
the sight of objects that grew more and more familiar, as they neared
home. Now an orchard, heavy with green fruit, crowded up to the wayside,
where she had gathered harvest apples: then a gnarled old peach tree,
with the moss of age creeping over its trunk, hung over the crook of a
fence, and drooped a healthy limb or two over the turf that lined the
highway on either side. Here was a thicket of blackberry bushes, where
she had torn her dress a hundred times; then came a huge old stump,
whose decay had given birth to clusters of red raspberry vines, which
she had plundered time out of mind. Then came a young elm, bending over
the wayside, from which frost grape-vines fell in garlands, that
fluttered out into the sunshine and challenged the wind at every breath,
its leaves singing, and its clusters of unripe fruit quivering over the
wild flowers that slept dreamily below.

At last the house came in sight, with its great sheltering trees, its
little square windows, and its rough logs, overrun with honeysuckles and
morning-glory vines, the most picturesque little bird's-nest of a place
you ever set eyes upon. She began to hear the far-off sweep of the sea,
and feel an invigorating saltness in the air, which brought life back to
her with a glow of pleasure in it.

"Father, father, ride on, ride on--do strike into a canter. Let's have a
run for it. I want wings to get over this little bit of road with. Oh,
father, do strike out of that irritating trot for once!"

No. Samuel Parris loved his child to dotage, but even she could not
induce him to bring scandal on the church by an undignified movement.
Who ever saw a minister of the Presbyterian church cantering toward home
in front of his own meeting-house door, and in sight of the
burying-ground where he had laid half his parishioners down to sleep?
Notwithstanding all her impatience, the minister kept on at his old
measured pace. With all that he most loved at his side, he felt no haste
to get home which might compare with the breathless eagerness that gave
wings to the heart of his daughter.



CHAPTER XXVI.

BACK TO THE HOMESTEAD.


Elizabeth broke loose at last, and darted off, leaving the man-servant
far behind. Across the greenwood in front of the meeting-house, over
hillocks and between frowning stumps, littered around with new-made
chips, which flew beneath the spurning hoofs of her horse, she rode, her
eyes kindling, and her heart on fire with the joy of a first return
home.

Up she came to the door-yard fence, cast one eager glance around,
expecting some one to rush forth and welcome her; then, seeing that all
was still, she sprang from her saddle and ran into the house, calling
out,

"Cousin Abby! Abby Williams, I say, where are you? Don't you know that
I've got home? Abby! Abby!--Tituba! Tituba! Dear me! where has everybody
gone?"

She stood in the little sitting-room, looking around in breathless
expectation. She ran into the kitchen: old Tituba was there, kindling
the fire.

"Tituba, mammy dear, dear old mammy!" cried the young girl, springing
forward, dropping upon her knees, and hugging the old woman with all her
might.

"Oh! did I surprise you, mammy? Caught you napping, ha? How glad I am to
see you, dear, blessed old soul! Why don't you speak? Why don't you kiss
me to death? There, that seems something like. Now, where is cousin
Abby? And how have you all got along without me? And where is the fawn?
I've got a new bell for him--and--and--"

Here the warm-hearted young creature burst into an April storm of smiles
and tears, while old Tituba untied her stylish bonnet, and took off her
riding-cape with a sort of shy humility, for the entire love of nurse
and child had been broken up, on the old woman's part, by the confidence
which she had reposed in Abby Williams, during the absence of her young
mistress. Somehow the old creature felt as if she had been wronging the
young girl who came back so frankly and kindly to her arms, by her
conversation that night with her cousin.

"What ails you, mammy Tituba? What on earth makes you look everywhere
except in my face? Indeed you don't seem half glad enough to see me!"

"Oh, yes, how can the child talk so!" cried the old woman, with a great
effort at self-control. "But with all these fine clothes on, and that
bonnet; dear me, one hardly knows one's own child. Then, my dear, you've
grown so proud and so handsome, it's enough to make an old Indian think
twice before she dares to kiss you, rough and hearty, in the old way."

"Poh--poh. I'm always the same old penny, brightened up a little, that's
all," said Elizabeth, blushing crimson. "So you think I am
changed--improved a little," she added, glancing down at herself with
graceful vanity. "What will cousin Abby think, I wonder? Oh! there she
is."

Elizabeth darted forward, and threw her arms around the neck of Abigail
Williams, so blinded by the joy of meeting her old playmate again that
she did not observe the restraint with which all her enthusiasm was met.

At the time of their first parting, three months before, these two girls
had never possessed an unshared thought; but now the hearts that beat
against each other, in that close embrace, were swelling with secrets
which could never be thoroughly understood. In that little time
childhood had been left behind, and each had learned to tread alone the
path, which, at this point, began, with them, to diverge into the
wilderness of life.

But the old love would come swelling back, spite of the thoughts that
lay in its channel, like rocks cast into the bed of a stream, which
sparkles all the more from the obstruction.

"Abby--Elizabeth."

How different were the voices that uttered these words! Elizabeth's was
loving and brimful of affection; that of Abby Williams answered it
almost with pathos; both wept, one bitterly, the other with quick gushes
of joy.

"Oh, Abby, Abby, I have so much to tell you," cried Elizabeth, blushing
crimson under the tears that trembled on her cheek. "Don't ask me what
it is yet, only wait a little, till we get into the woods together. Come
along, here is father just getting off his horse at the door, with Gov.
Phipps's servant doing the pompous in his new livery. Step into the
entry way, or he will feel disappointed, as I did, at not seeing your
face peeping out through the morning-glory vines."

Elizabeth felt the heart, which had been beating strongly against her
own, recoil with a sudden shock, as she mentioned her father; and it was
almost by force that she drew her cousin into the doorway in time to
meet the minister, who came through the gate with his usual hesitating
slowness, and held out his hand, gravely smiling as he approached his
niece.

Her hand shook like an aspen, as she held it out, and the touch was cold
as ice. But the minister simply said,

"Is any thing ailing you, Abigail?" and passing on, he hung his hat on a
peg in the wall, and placed his riding-whip behind the door.

With a sudden impulse, Abby drew her cousin out on the stepping-stone,
leaving the passage open.

"Come, come into the woods," whispered Elizabeth, clasping her cousin
round the waist, and drawing her gently along. "I want to get into the
shadows, where we can talk together."

Abby drew a deep breath, and hurried on, more eager to leave the house
than her companion; for she was faint from the recoil of her whole
nature against the old man, who had been more than a father to her.
Ready to flee anywhere to avoid the touch of that hand again, she
hurried with her cousin to the woods.

So the two sped on, across the meeting-house green, by the tomb-stones
rising from the tall grass behind it, and past those twin graves over
which the old trees bent their whispering boughs. Elizabeth would have
turned that way, for the vines were quivering with dew-drops, and the
periwinkles trembled like cerulean stars among them, so deeply did the
shadows lie there almost till noonday. But Abby hurried on, turning her
eyes resolutely from the spot, and almost forcing her cousin into the
gloom of the woods.

There was a ledge of rocks piled along the side of a ravine, choked up
by dogwood trees, sassafras, and wild honeysuckles, on which the girls
had loved to play from childhood up. A lofty tulip tree sheltered it,
and above that towered a hill-side, clothed with great hemlocks, through
which the sun never penetrated, save in golden gleams that lost
themselves in the topmost boughs. The different ledges of this little
precipice were not only lined, but absolutely piled, with moss, which
lay beautifully thick all around. On one shelf it lay in cushions, green
as emerald, and soft as Genoa velvet; then another species, bright and
feathery as the plumage of a bird, crept over a huge old log that lay in
a parallel line with the edge, embroidering it with green lace-work,
till there was a wild wood sofa erected by this simple freak of nature,
more luxurious than the couch of an empress.

"See, see, how far the moss has crept since we were here before," cried
Elizabeth, throwing herself on the sofa. "When I went away, that end of
the log was bare; now every inch is green. See, all along the ledge at
our feet, the buckthorn moss has spread into a crisp carpet; and the
wild columbines have grown in a border all around it. Why, Lady Phipps's
drawing-room is not prettier."

"Yes," said Abby, looking vaguely around. "Every thing has grown and
thrives since you went away, Elizabeth; but the place does not look so
beautiful to me, as it did once; the loneliness seems dreary."

"Yes, yes, of course; then I was away. But now the woods will be
cheerful as spring time again. Sit down, cousin. Why will you stand
there, tall and still, like a ghost, when the moss fleeces are so soft
and the shadows so cool? It is pleasant as sunset here. One almost gets
sleepy, with the hum of the bees and blue flies. Come, sit close by me:
I feel lonesome without your arm around my neck, cousin Abby."

Those tones, and that dear old name, brought quick tears into Abigail's
eyes. She drew gently to the side of her cousin, and sat down. As
Elizabeth clasped her waist, the bosom beneath her arm began to heave;
and all at once Abby burst into a great fit of crying: the first
absolute storm of passion that Elizabeth had ever seen her yield to.

"What is the matter, Abby dear? What are you crying for? How you
tremble! What have they been doing to you, while I was away? Don't,
pray, don't cry so!"

Abigail checked her tears as suddenly as they had commenced; and
clasping her hands hard for a single instant, seemed to control her
nerves by stern, mental force.

"Don't mind me," she said, hoarsely. "I have been alone so much--but you
had something to tell me--about Lady Phipps, perhaps, or the governor;
of course they were delighted to have you with them; come, tell me all
about it; one gets so little real information from letters."

"Oh! I could not write, at least what I wished to tell you, any more
than I could talk it all over in broad daylight. Besides, one must see a
rainbow to judge how its colors rise out of each other; there is no
describing it; and some things, that one knows and feels, are the same.
The best friend you have must guess at them."

"What is it you speak of?" questioned Abby, gradually withdrawing
herself from the clasp of her cousin's arm. "I do not understand. In
this visit to Lady Phipps, have you been crushed down with secrets that
must not be talked of? Has the memory of your mother stalked forth like
a curse to haunt you?"

"The memory of my mother, the young creature who died when I was first
laid in her bosom like a poor little flower broken by a sudden weight of
dew, as I have often heard my father say!--What should there be in the
memory of my mother which you and I cannot talk about?"

"Nothing," said Abigail, vaguely. "Were we talking of--our mothers? It
is a dreary subject; let us think of something else. God help
us!--something else, Elizabeth--the woods are too lonesome for talk
about the dead. You were about to tell me something."

"Yes! but I cannot tell it; your voice is so strange! You look afar off,
as if talking to some one in the distance. I can neither catch your
eyes, nor feel the old touch of your hand. Abigail Williams, I am afraid
of you!"

The low laugh, which broke from Abigail's lips, was mournful as a wail.

"There it is. I knew it, I expected it: not an hour together, and she
fears me already."

She turned abruptly, drew close to her cousin's side, and stealing both
arms around her, murmured in a voice of ineffable sadness,

"Don't, Bessy--dear, dear Bessy, don't be afraid of me. Is it not enough
that I am afraid of myself? Now, tell me what this thing is! So that it
is not about the dead, I can listen and be pleased."

"About the dead? Why, Abby, how strangely you talk! What have you and I
in common with the dead? The sunshine is not pleasanter than life is to
me since, since--"

"Since when, Bessie?"

"Since he loved me."

A strange sort of wonder crept over Abigail Williams. She looked upon
her cousin with vague apprehension. The word love was a new thing to
her; it had scarcely yet entered into her dreamy life. Elizabeth smiled
at first amid her blushes, but as Abby kept gazing upon her with parted
lips and that wonder in her eyes, her lips began to tremble, and the
warm color ebbed away from her face.

"I forget," she said, deprecatingly, "you have not heard any thing about
him. I could not write, and even my father knew nothing till he came to
Boston after me. But oh! if you could see him, Abby! If you could hear
him speak; or read his beautiful poetry that he writes; it would not
seem strange that I love him so much."

"Then you have been treacherous also? You love some one more than me?"

"Forgive me, forgive me," pleaded Elizabeth, "I could not help it. We
were in the same house--he was like a son to Lady Phipps."

"Better than your father, perhaps," continued Abby, pondering over this
new subject in her mind, heedless of the tears and blushes with which
she was regarded. "I have heard of such things, but never expected them
to come so close. So you love some one better than us all, Elizabeth
Parris?"

"Forgive me, dear cousin! Why are you so angry?"

"Angry? Oh! nothing of the kind. I only wonder how any one can look
forward, when the dead will not rest--how it is the privilege of one
human being to love, and the duty of another to hate!"

"The duty of another to hate!--why, cousin, there is--there can be no
such duty. God is love, the Bible tells us so; and oh! when the heart is
full of this blessed, blessed feeling, one sees him everywhere. Don't
talk of hate, it is a new word between us two."

Abigail Williams attempted to smile, but only a quiver of the pale lips
followed the effort. Still she grew more composed, and gently won her
warm-hearted cousin back to bright thoughts again, by a few questions.

"His name? Oh, yes--his name is Norman--Norman Lovel--he is the private
secretary of Gov. Phipps, who treats him like a son. He lives in the
house, and but for his name you would never believe that he was in no
way related to the governor. Still he is only a stranger, recommended by
some friend in London, and singular enough don't know his own parents.
Never saw them, or anybody that he knew was related to him in his whole
life. But what difference does that make, when everybody else almost
worships him?"

"And you among the rest?"

"I most of all," answered Elizabeth, bathed in a glow of crimson, from
the white forehead to the heaving bosom.

"And this is happiness, I suppose?"

"Happiness? That is what seems strange to me, when life is full of glow,
and I can hardly breathe from the rich swell of a heart that seems ready
to break with joy, an exquisite pain creeps in, and I know by it that
happiness can mount no farther!"

"But there must be a cause for this pain!"

"A cause? Yes! every thing must have a cause, I dare say, if one could
but find it out. I only know that the joy was perfect till that storm
arose, and the ship came in with a woman on board, who seemed to disturb
every thing she looked upon. Even Lady Phipps never seemed to draw a
deep breath while she was in the house. As for me! Abby, Abby, you don't
know what torment is, till you have given your whole heart to one
person, and see another stealing him away from you!"

"This," said Abby, who had listened with thoughtful interest, "this is
the feeling they call jealousy, I suppose. Is it so painful?"

"For a time," answered Elizabeth, turning pale with the very
recollection of her suffering, "it seemed as if I must die. Shame,
anger, a keen fear of losing him, kept me silent. But when I was alone,
with the door shut, and the curtains of my bed drawn close, all this
pride and strength gave way; my brain grew hot; the very breath choked
me as it rose; I could neither sleep nor rest, but walked the room all
night, wondering if she thought of him too, if he were watching the
light in her window, or if both were asleep and dreaming of each other.
Sometimes I saw them in the garden, conversing together with the deepest
interest; sometimes they sat in the great portico till the dark crept
around them like a veil; and all this time I was overlooked and
forgotten. Once in a while Norman would seem to remember me with a
start, and force himself to say a few kind words; but there was neither
depth nor earnestness in what he said: the woman had bewitched him, I am
sure of it."

"Bewitched? That is a fearful word," said Abby, looking around with a
wild stare, as if the very foundations of her life had been disturbed by
the word her cousin used.

"Yes, Abby, I solemnly believe she was a witch; for the moment she was
gone all the beauty of my life came back; Norman was himself again; he
seemed to wake up from a dream and wonder what he had been about; at
first, he would not believe how much I suffered, and wondered that I had
grown thin, and that blue shadows were creeping under my eyes, as if his
own neglect had not been the cause; but when Lady Phipps told him how it
was--I would have died fifty times rather than let him know--nothing
could be more generous than his sorrow. He begged my pardon almost on
his knees. There was no kind look or sweet word that he did not coin
into a more loving expression, to win me back to our old happiness."

"And you were happy then?--you are happy now?" said Abby, looking
wistfully into the bright face, over which smiles and blushes came and
went like gleams of sunset on a summer cloud.

"Happy? yes, he parted with me so kindly--he was so earnest to make me
forget that dangerous woman, who had disappeared from among us like a
ghost--he seemed to love me again so much more than ever, that I could
not help being happy. Besides, he is coming down to see us. I have told
him all about you, darling cousin. Father has consented that in a year
or two, if we do not change our minds, that is--"

"He will take you away altogether; and this has happened while I was
ignorant of it all. Oh, Elizabeth! how many things can grow up to divide
two souls, while one of the little wild-flowers yonder buds, blossoms,
and fades away!"

"But no souls are divided here, Abby!" cried the young girl, earnestly.
"The love that I feel for you and father only grows broader and deeper
since I have known him. We are not parted, cousin."

"Not by love. I know that!"

"Not at all. Look at me, cousin Abby! how strangely you are peering into
the distance, as if something in the gloom drew your eyes from my face!
What is it you see, cousin?"

Elizabeth bent forward, and looked keenly in the direction her cousin's
eyes had taken. Far down the hollow she saw the young hunter whose
presence had surprised her on the road a few hours before.

"Hush, Abby! Don't speak yet; but look and tell me who he is?"

As she spoke, Elizabeth leaned forward till her golden curls took the
wind and fluttered out like sunbeams on the air. The man saw her, turned
and disappeared among the undergrowth of the hollow.

"Did you ever see him before?" questioned Elizabeth of her cousin, as
she shrunk back with a sort of superstitious dread, for the man had
vanished like a phantom; "or have the woods become haunted since I went
away?"

Abby Williams started up with nervous haste. "Come, come, you must be
hungry by this time: it is almost noon; old Tituba will be waiting, and
you know nothing makes her so angry as leaving her Johnny-cake to be
eaten cold. She will never forgive us."

Elizabeth sighed. A pang of disappointment came across her sunny nature.
Why was Abby so changed? How had it happened that a confession, which
she had shrunk from and dreamed over, should have been told in that
hard, common-place fashion? Why were the sweet tidings which had cost
her so much agitation received so coldly by the only creature who had
never till then felt a thought or feeling unshared with her?

"Well," she said, and her bright eyes filled as she spoke, while a laugh
that had bitter tones in it rose to her lip, "I did not think you would
have taken all this so coldly. But never mind; as you say, Tituba's
Johnny-cake must not get cold."

With a slight bound she reached the shelf of rock below her, and hurried
away, followed by Abigail Williams, who stopped every other moment to
look anxiously around, but still kept near her cousin.

"There he is--I say, Abby--there he is again, moving through that
dogwood thicket," said Elizabeth, holding her breath, and speaking in a
whisper.

"Be quiet; it is only a hunter searching for deer or wild turkeys."

As she spoke, Abigail made a quick signal with her hand, which sent the
young woodranger into covert again.

"Who is he? What is the reason we never saw him before?" thought
Elizabeth, as she moved homeward; but the silence of her cousin
encouraged no questions, and the two girls reached the house without
speaking of the stranger again.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE CHIEF AND THE LADY.


Scarcely had the two cousins left the woods, when, upon the very path
they had trod, appeared Barbara Stafford, the woman who had inquired for
the minister at his house that morning. Immediately after breakfast she
had wandered into the open air, and, after lingering around the
meeting-house a while, went into the forest. The hum of insects, and the
rustle of leaves, fell soothingly upon her, and with a dreamy
listlessness she moved on, sitting down at times when she came to some
flower or shrub which seemed strange or curious; but frequently leaving
it half examined, and moving on again restlessly searching for something
else.

At last she came out on the ledge, which the cousins had just left, and
sighing softly as she crossed the carpet of gray moss, sat down upon the
rock sofa and fell into thought. The place seemed to have some peculiar
fascination for her, for she grew paler and paler in that dim religious
light, giving way to feelings that could only rise unchecked in the
profoundest solitude. At last, her agitation became so great, that she
fell forward upon the cushions and began to moan faintly, as those who
have lost the power to weep express pain, when it becomes insupportable.

As she remained thus, the young hunter, who had twice appeared before
the cousins, came out upon the lower shelf of the rock, and, without
seeing her, threw himself on the edge, and lay still, as if waiting for
some one.

The sound of Barbara Stafford's voice arrested his attention. He arose,
clambered softly to the higher shelf of rock, and stood a moment,
leaning on his gun, regarding her with vague thrills of agitation.
Though he could not see her face, the mysterious atmosphere that
surrounds a familiar person made its impression upon him, and he
recognized her at once.

At last, oppressed by a human presence, which, even unseen and unheard,
will make itself felt to a delicately organized person, Barbara lifted
her head. She did not speak, but her lips parted, her eyes grew large,
and a flash of wild astonishment rushed over her face.

"In the name of Heaven what is this?" she cried at last, reaching forth
her hand, as if she doubted that the presence was real.

A convulsion of feeling swept over the young man's face; the gun dropped
from his hold, and, forced to his knees, as it were against his will, he
seized her hand, and pressed it to his lips wildly, madly, then cast it
away, with a gesture of rage at himself, for a weakness of which his
manhood was ashamed.

Barbara Stafford had no power to repulse this frantic homage. She had
but just begun to realize that he was alive and before her--that it was
his hot lips that touched her, and his flashing eyes that poured their
fire into hers. The hand he had dropped fell listlessly by her side. She
sat up, regarding him haughtily.

"Philip!"

The voice was stern with rebuke. The whiteness of anger settled on her
features.

"Yes," said the young man. "It is Philip, the slave to whom you opened
the avenues of knowledge, and whose soul you tempted from its strength
by the dainty refinements of civilization. It is the Bermuda serf, whom
you made free and enslaved again. But still the son of a king, and the
chief of a brave people. Woman, you dashed the shackles from these limbs
only to gird them around my soul; and then left me to writhe myself to
death, a double serf, and a double slave!"

"Philip, you are mad--nay, worse--you are ungrateful. Am I to suffer
forever for those impulses of compassion that took you from under the
lash of a slave-driver, and helped you to the key of all
greatness--knowledge? Am I blamable if that too fiery nature would not
be content with gratitude, but, having gained liberty, and all the
privileges of free manhood, asked that which his benefactress could not
give--which it was presumption to seek?"

"I was the son of a king," said the hunter, proudly, "the only son of a
brave man, and a woman beautiful as yourself, a woman who had blood in
her veins as white and pure as that which my presence has just
frightened from your own cheek. Look around: from the ocean to the
mountains every thing was my father's till the people of your race came,
like a pestilence, across the sea, and, more by cunning and hypocrisy
than power, wrested his dominion away, and drove his people to death or
slavery. Lady, there was no presumption in the thought, when the wronged
heir of Philip of Mount Hope offered the love of a free, brave man, who
had learned both how to think, and how to act, to the daughter of--"

"Hush! I charge you, hush!" cried Barbara, starting to her feet, "not
even here must you pronounce that name--I thought myself utterly
unknown. If I have ever been good to you--if it was a kindness when I
won you from slavery, by tears and entreaties, that would not be
refused--if the friendship of years, sacrifices, efforts, and that pure
affection which a childless mother may bestow on the young man whom she
would gladly have regarded as a son, gives me any claim on your
forbearance, let my secrecy be respected! I am weary, wretched,
broken-hearted enough already: do not add to the misery of my condition
by a reckless word, or an unguarded look!"

Barbara clasped her hands, and was about to sink to her knees in pure
agitation as she made this appeal.

The young hunter prevented the action by a prompt movement, and fell at
her feet with an impulse of generous humility.

"Lady, command me! Do not entreat! What have I done that you should
rebuke me by a request?"

Barbara smiled, and touched his forehead lightly with her hand.
Instantly, a soft mist dulled the fire of those splendid eyes, and the
young man bowed his head, thrilled to the heart by the proud magnetism
of her look.

"Tell me, Philip," she said, very gently, "tell me how it is that I find
you here, in a place so full of danger. Why come again to the lands that
have passed from the possession of your people forever--lands that are
swept away, and held securely in the grasp of civilization? What can you
hope--what can you expect, by this mad return?"

"What can I hope, lady? That the soil upon which I stand will still be
mine. What do I expect? That my father's people may be gathered together
from the swamps of the lowlands, and the caves of the mountains, and,
united in the midst of their old hunting-grounds, meet their enemies
face to face, and fight them as my father did--conquer them, as he would
have done, but for the traitors in his bosom; or failing, perish like
him!"

"My poor, brave Philip!" said Barbara, regarding the youth with
unutterable compassion, "what men could do your father and his chiefs
essayed, and in vain. It is not fighting man to man here. There is no
fair combat of human strength or manly intellect; but you combat with
destiny--that grand, cruel thing, which comes in the form of
civilization. Ah, Philip, there is no contending against that."

"Then let me die with the people who call me king; but die avenging the
wrongs that have driven our chiefs into slavery, and left our tribes
nothing but basket-makers and hunters of musk rats!" cried the youth,
desperately.

"Lady, do not counsel or thwart me here; the blood of two races, fiery
and hot with a sense of wrong, urges me on. My brain aches with thought,
my heart beats loudly in its hope for vengeance on the men who slew my
father, and sought to starve my soul down to contented servitude.
Neither heart nor brain will be argued or persuaded into submission.
Beyond this, and inspiring it all, I wait for the sad scornfulness of
that smile to disappear. When his people are once more a nation, you
cannot say that the son of Philip of Mount Hope was presumptuous in
loving you."

"And is this wild feeling at the bottom of it all?" said Barbara, in a
voice full of regret.

"It has brought me across the ocean, lurking like a hound in the hold of
the same vessel with yourself--it has filled me with ambition to rebuild
the fortunes of a down-trodden people. When these brave men they call
savages are linked in one common band and common cause--like the
chieftains of Scotland, each a sovereign lord in himself--we shall meet
these wily white men, and conquer back the forests they have wrested
from us. Hitherto their brain-craft has more than overmatched our strong
arms; but I have learned something of their coward wisdom in the lands
to which you have sent me. If I studied law and military science in
England, it was that I might learn the art by which men rule their
fellow-men. I have used the means you gave me to learn that power of
mind which sways multitudes more surely than the stout arm or certain
eye. Lady, I have, in my search for the great secret by which your
people stole away the Indian birthright, learned to despise our
conquerors. But not you! not you! My gratitude lifted you out from among
them all. It was because my soul thanked you so tenderly that it lost
itself in love."

"Ah, Philip," said the lady, "but for this madness how great you might
become!"

"Say not so. All the thirst for greatness that I have springs out of the
mighty love that you will not listen to," answered the young man.

"Because it is madness--insanity. I say nothing of the barriers which
rank and civilization build up like a wall between us two; but nature
herself should chill such feelings in their birth. Why, young man, I had
learned to hope and suffer, as woman can alone hope and suffer, before
you were born."

"Be it so--I care not. Souls made for eternity are neither brightened
nor dulled by a few years of time. I see only what is grand and
beautiful in the only woman of her race that this heart ever deemed
worthy of a warrior's love."

The young man towered proudly upward as he spoke. The gorgeous robe
which he had assumed with his savage state, shook and rattled as he
gathered it over his chest. The lady gazed upon him with irresistible
admiration. She might rebuke his love, and shrink with womanly delicacy
from any fulfilment of his hopes, which, in truth, seemed to outrage the
august dignity of her years. But there was a grandeur in the young man
that forced her to respect him--a truthfulness which enlisted all her
sympathies.

"Philip," she said, extending her hand, which he kissed reverently, as
if she had been an empress, and that moss couch her throne, "I will not
bid you God-speed in the grand, but I think hopeless, task you have
undertaken, much as I deem you wronged; because my judgment, calmer than
yours, tells me how surely civilization must sweep the darkness of
barbarism before it. The virgin soil of this new world is required for
the growth of food for the surplus population which is now sweeping
across the Atlantic in a slow but steady tide from the old world. That
which civilization demands it will attain. Hope not to match the bravery
of your warriors against the keen energy of the Anglo-Saxon. Where he
treads, opposition, nay, justice itself, sways backward. Cool, resolute,
sometimes unscrupulous, he never recedes, but swiftly as time advances
so does he. Look along the coast already has he hewn down the mighty
forest, and let the sunshine in to ripen the grain planted within sight
of your very wigwams. Already are cities and towns sending up their
spires to heaven. Every courthouse, and every place of worship thus
marked in the landscape, is a barrier stronger than any military
fortress, against the idea of Indian sovereignty that now heaves that
chest, and kindles those eyes."

The young man's lip curved, and his eyes shone as he answered:

"Lady, forgive me; but you speak like a woman, whose destiny is to
think, not to act. But in my heart the barbarism out of which true
heroes spring, and the Anglo-Saxon blood of which you boast, meet and
swell together into one mighty resolve. We will first conquer our foes;
then wrest from them the secrets that make the soil teem with food and
beauty for their use. While the earth rolls, and the sun shines, brave
men of all nations will seek the war-path; the church spires and halls
of justice will never prevent that. But, like the white man, we will
plant corn where the earth has been made richest with human blood, and
let wild flowers start into bloom above the graves we have filled to
loathing with dead foes."

"But if you are ready to follow the lead of our people so far," said
Barbara, "why not join them in amity now?"

"Because the Indian would be master of the soil he plants, and the game
he shoots. King Philip of Mount Hope acknowledged no peer. They slew
him, but he filled a monarch's grave. Has the blood of a white woman,
martyred for her faith, made his son so weak that he needs Anglo-Saxon
adventurers and dissatisfied clergymen to share authority with him?"

Barbara arose, and reached forth her hand.

"Farewell!" she said, with sweet mournfulness. "That I meet you here and
thus, is a new pang and a new sorrow. I had hoped to find you content
and happy, on my return to Europe; but alas, these awful forests seem to
swallow up every thing upon which my poor heart leaned. God help me, for
now I feel more alone than ever. Ah, Philip, if you would only be
persuaded to recross the Atlantic--there alone you are safe."

"Lady, when I am indeed a chief, and my brave warriors have turned the
churches you boast of into wigwams, I will cross the sea, and ask again
if great deeds and undying love may claim at least a patient hearing."

Barbara shook her head.

"Not with that hope--not with such intent," she answered, gravely; "for
it can never be. Now, farewell."

"Adieu, but not forever," answered the young man, bending low over the
hand she offered. "These are unsafe times, and with all your pride there
will come a season when you will have need of me. The spirit which
hunted Anna Hutchinson into the forest, and drove my mother out to
starve, is not yet appeased. New victims will be wanted. The great
Anglo-Saxon mind that you speak of is, after all, but slavish and half
developed--the outgrowth of that very tyranny of opinion it fled to
avoid. Those who brave martyrdom ever are foremost in persecution. Lady,
beware of these new people. Nay, I had better say, take no heed; for I
who, hating slavery, glory in being your slave, will guard you well."

With these words the youth snatched up his rifle, pointed out a
footpath, which Barbara turned into, and both disappeared in opposite
directions.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

WORKING OF THE EVIL SPELL.


Elizabeth Parris was in her own little chamber, in the gable end of her
father's log house; the window looked out toward the sea, and a
beautiful glow of sunshine lay upon the pasture land which stretched
between it and the shore, turning the water to sparkling sapphires, and
the green of the land to a richer emerald tint, as the day drew toward
its noon.

There was something very pretty and picturesque about Elizabeth's room.
Though a tiny little place compared to that she had just left in the
gubernatorial mansion, it possessed a score of dainty trifles, that, at
first sight, awoke in her heart a sweet home-feeling, which went
rippling like a trill of music through her whole being. So she went from
object to object, arranging one, displacing another, and fluttering to
and fro like a bird that returns to its cage, after a long, pleasant
flight in the open air.

"Ah, how white and nice everything is!" she said, addressing old Tituba,
who stood by the door, watching her with a glow of satisfaction in her
sharp, black eyes. "This curtain is soft and pure as the clouds that
hang over the sea out yonder. As for the bed, I shouldn't think it had
been slept in since I went away, the pillow-cases shine like snow
crust."

"The bed hasn't been slept in since we knew you were coming right away
home, child," said old Tituba, casting a well-pleased look on the
pillow-cases, polished by her own deftly urged smoothing-irons. "I put
every thing on fresh, yesterday: all for yourself."

"Not used, Tituba, not used! Then where has cousin Abby slept? Where did
she sleep last night?"

"She's gone into the back room, at t'other end of the house; the night
we heard you were coming she went in there."

"What? The store-room, where you kept herbs and dried apples, and all
sorts of things--where the old chest of drawers stands? What does this
mean, Tituba?"

"I s'pose Abby was lonesome."

"Lonesome here, in this bright room, with a glow from the water breaking
in whenever there is sunshine, and the first roses always peeping
through that window, with dew on the leaves?--Tituba, you must be
dreaming! How could Abby tire of our own room, even if I was away? But
then, just as I was sure to come back--I can't understand it, Tituba!

"Come and see," said Tituba, crossing a little span of open garret, and
unclosing a door which led to the opposite gable. "Sure as the world,
this is Abby Williams's room now."

Elizabeth stepped into the little chamber. It was similar in size to the
one she had just left; but not enclosed, like that, with wooden panels
of a light, cheerful color, or floored with fine boards scoured white by
the constant exercise of old Tituba's scrubbing-cloth. But in this
still, neglected chamber, the rafters were dismally exposed, crevices of
light broke through the shingles here and there, while the rough floor
was full of knot-holes, and shook loosely under the tread as it was
passed over.

A low trundle bed, covered with a blue-and-white yarn quilt, stood in a
corner, close under the slope of the roof. A single chair was near it,
and close by the door a tall chest of drawers towered into the roof.
This was all the furniture visible. That the room had been used for rude
household purposes formerly, was very evident; for opposite the bed,
clusters of pennyroyal, sage, and coriander, were still hanging to the
rafters; and on each side of the windows festoons of dried apples and
rings of pumpkins fell, like a drapery, from roof to floor, but half
concealing the rough logs underneath. The windows looked toward the
grave-yard, and beyond that into the deep, dark forest.

Elizabeth gazed around with mingled surprise and distress. After her
beautiful city life, this homely apartment seemed full of insupportable
gloom.

"And does Abby mean to sleep here? She who loved our own pretty room so
much? What does it all mean? Do tell me, old Tituba, what does it mean?"

Tituba shook her head.

"What does it mean?" persisted the young lady, with a burst of her
natural impatience. "I want to understand all about it!"

That moment the door opened, and Abby Williams came in, looking pale and
harassed.

"What is all this about?" cried Elizabeth, turning upon her cousin, with
a burst of indignant affection. "I come back, Abby Williams, to find our
dear old room white and cold as a snow drift--not a flower in the
glasses--not even a branch of pine or hemlock in the fire-place--and
worst of all, the bed so smooth that it looks as if no one ever slept in
it, or ought to sleep in it, without being chilled to death. Why have
you left our pretty room, Abby Williams? the chamber you and I have
slept in since they took us from the same cradle; left it, too, for this
dreary corner, just as I was coming home so happy, so very, very happy,
at the thoughts of--of--oh! Abby, dear, dear Abby, what has come over
you since I have been away?"

Abby Williams stood leaning against the chest of drawers. She looked sad
and weary, rather than touched, or excited, by her cousin's almost
passionate appeal.

"I came here," she said, gently, "because, since you went away,
Elizabeth, I have learned to be alone. It seems unnatural to go back
into the old life now: your heart is full of its own joys. But mine--you
see I am fond of loneliness, and that is why we cannot sleep together
any more."

Elizabeth's blue eyes filled with angry tears; her fair face flushed,
and turned pale, and then broke into one of those heavenly smiles that
seemed bright enough to win an angel from his place in paradise. She
went up to her cousin, and flung one arm over her shoulder.

"Oh, I see how it is," she cried, turning the sad face toward her with a
gentle pat of the hand: "she is jealous that I shall think of somebody
else now, and not all the day and night long of her, as we used to think
of each other. I know what the feeling is, Abby darling, and would
rather die than give it to you. But then you are so wrong! This
love--don't stare, old Tituba--indeed I love some one, very, very
much--you cross-looking old thing--and that very love gives warmth and
breadth to all the dear old household feelings, that nothing ever could
crowd from my heart, just as a good mother loves all her children,
better and better for every new baby. There now, don't be jealous,
cousin!"

"I am not jealous, Elizabeth Parris," answered Abby, oppressed by the
caressing tenderness of the young girl, "only sad, and in love with my
own company. When two girls like us are once separated, it is not so
easy to fall back into the old ways."

"Indeed, indeed, this is jealousy, nothing else. But I do love you so
much, Abby Williams, cross as you are; you don't know how my heart
leaped, as I came in sight of the house; I wanted to fly, to kiss you,
like this, a thousand, thousand times. There--there."

Elizabeth interrupted herself, pressing kiss after kiss on the lips,
forehead and hair of her cousin, who shrunk and grew pallid in her
embrace, as if those warm caresses had poison in them.

"Why, Abby, you do not kiss me back--you are trying to get away--is it
because you do not love me any longer--is it really that?"

Elizabeth drew back, searching her cousin's face with reproachful eyes,
while Abby turned away sullenly.

"This is hard, very hard!" murmured Elizabeth, choking back the sobs
that struggled in her throat. "I am home again, my--my heart brimful of
joy, and no one seems to care for it; even old Tituba stands looking at
me, as if she expected to be hanged, and I had the rope somewhere about
me. What have I done, or left undone, that my cousin should hate me so?"

Abigail muttered something beneath her breath. It was that fragment of
Scripture, which speaks of children inheriting the sins of their
parents. The poor girl did not remember that endurance and atonement
make up the duty of this fell inheritance, not vengeance. But her whole
being was in commotion. She began to look upon herself as an avenger,
and this iron repulse of her cousin was her first step in the gloomy
path which seemed the only one she could ever tread.

"What were you saying, Abigail?" inquired Elizabeth, softened with what
she thought a relenting murmur.

"Nothing. I did not speak," said Abby, moving toward the window, and
looking out.

Elizabeth also looked out: her glance fell on the outskirts of the
grave-yard, along which a female figure was moving rapidly toward the
house.

Elizabeth caught her breath. Abigail turned her eyes, that instant, and
saw the change that came, like a storm, over that bright face.

"She here!" said Elizabeth, casting suspicious glances at Abby and old
Tituba. "She here! Then I understand it all. She is the malignant witch
that prowls forever along my path, turning every one against me. Abby
Williams, you saw Barbara Stafford before I came home?"

"Yes," said Abby, vaguely, "I saw her; she is a strange, sweet woman,
full of soothing, rich in all that gives tranquillity."

"It is her doings!" exclaimed Elizabeth, passionately. "This woman
intrigues forever against me. I say again, Abigail Williams, and you,
old Tituba, this woman, Barbara Stafford, is my enemy!"

Elizabeth was white and stern, as she uttered this denunciation. Every
feature bore conviction that she solemnly believed what she was saying.

Old Tituba cowered down in a corner of the room, knitting her hands
together in a paroxysm of nervous dread, for the sight of her child's
distress made a coward of her. Even Abby, whose soul was full of a
trouble more harrassing than superstition, felt a shudder creep through
her frame, and a strange, intangible dread possessed her. She almost
thought her cousin mad.

"See! see!" cried Elizabeth, pointing through the window, "that is my
father; she is speaking with him--she dares to touch him--she turns--he
walks by her side--he stoops his head to listen. Oh! my God, save him
from her subtle power; I cannot move, I cannot run, to warn him: the
very sight of the evil woman takes the strength from my limbs!"

A sudden faintness seized upon the young girl, as she spoke. She began
to tremble violently, and crept away to her own chamber, moaning as she
went. The change in her cousin, the shock of Barbara Stafford's sudden
presence, the excitement in which she had been living, recoiled upon her
all at once, and she was seriously ill.

For a little time she lay writhing upon the snowy bed, which had seemed
so cold to her a few moments before. Sorrow, or any kind of anxiety, was
so entirely new to her, that she wrestled all her strength away with the
first encounter.

Old Tituba came into the room with a bowl of herb-tea, which the young
girl strove to drink; but the first drop was met with a hysterical swell
of the throat, and she pushed the bowl away, exclaiming, "I cannot
swallow! I cannot swallow!"

Old Tituba stood by the bed, grasping the bowl in her little, brown
hands, terrified by a burst of feeling which convulsed the slight form
before her with strange throes.

She possessed no skill which could reach or even understand a paroxysm
like this, for in those days the hysterical affections that spring from
over-excitement and ill-regulated tempers, had not reached the dignity
of a fashionable disease.

Abby Williams did not enter the chamber. She heard these moans and sobs
with forced indifference. With the thoughts of the constable's lash
across the white shoulders of her mother, and the Indian tomahawk
mercifully buried in the broad forehead of her grandame, Anna
Hutchinson, she had no sympathy to cast away on the causeless moans of a
young girl. To her they seemed trivial and mocking. With mighty wrongs
like those in the past, what right had any one to moan over the
capricious rise and flow of mere household affection?

Under the knowledge of a great wrong, Abby Williams stifled the tender
impulses of a heart naturally full of human goodness. She had learned to
think revenge a solemn obligation. Was not this young creature writhing
under the first recoil of her affections, the child of her mother's
judge? Was not she, Abigail Williams, the creature of her enemies'
bounty? From the cradle up, had she not received her daily bread from
the hand which placed her mother beneath the lash?

These thoughts froze all compassion in her heart; but she could not
listen to the sobs that broke from that room without a sensation of
terrible regret for the love that had grown so icy in her bosom. In the
grasp of that iron destiny, her poor heart, with a thousand kind
impulses fluttering at the core, trembled to free itself, but had no
power. A wall of granite seemed built up between her and the young
creature who had once been her second life. So, stupefied and locked up
in the iron destiny before her, she sat down in the open garret, and
waited within hearing of her cousin's sobs.



CHAPTER XXIX.

ASKING FOR SHELTER.


As Abigail Williams sat upon a wooden box, with both hands locked over
her knees, holding herself, body and soul, as it were, in a vice, the
chamber door opened, and Elizabeth came out. Her hair was disordered,
and her face flushed with weeping; but she walked with a gesture of
resolve, and descended to the lower part of the house in quick haste.

The sitting-room was empty, but through the window she saw her father,
standing with Barbara Stafford. The woman was talking earnestly,
enforcing what she said, now and then, with a gentle motion of the hand.

Samuel Parris was looking in her face with a long-fixed gaze. His heart
had not been so moved by a human voice since the day when the young
wife, who lay close in sight, had turned from his embrace to bless her
babe and die.

There was something in Barbara's look, or voice, that troubled all the
deep waters of his memory, and yet she was in no one thing like the fair
young creature lost to him so long ago.

Parris was speaking as his daughter came up. Almost for the first time
in his life, he did not take a step to meet the idol of his home, as she
approached; but kept on with the invitation he was giving.

"Surely, we will find you food and shelter, so long as you may require
either," he was saying; "we are a simple family, and live as becometh a
servant of the Most High, taking God's gifts in frugal thankfulness. You
have, doubtless, been used to more sumptuous fare, lady, and a statelier
roof; but in my poor house you will find peace and household love, which
is better than cups of gold and trenchers of silver. Sojourn with us,
then, so long as it pleases you. See, here comes my daughter, who shall
speak our welcome better than I can--who, to own the truth, am somewhat
unused to hospitable courtesies. Elizabeth, my child, this lady will be
our guest a while, welcome her as beseemeth a lady of condition, for
such make sure she is."

When Elizabeth came up, her cheek was on fire, and her eyes sparkled
with some passionate resolve; but as she turned from her father to
Barbara Stafford, with a proud refusal on her lip, the calm, blue eyes
of the woman fell upon her, like sunshine on a thunder-cloud. The
repulse that had burned on her lip quivered into a murmur of welcome;
her eyes drooped to the earth, and she grew ashamed of her passion. The
fire upon her cheek melted into a modest blush, and her voice was sweet
with new-born humility.

And all this change arose from a single, calm glance, prolonged and
vital with that mesmeric power which endows some human beings with
wonderful influence--an influence that might well arouse the
superstition of an age like that, and prove a dangerous gift to its
possessor.

As Elizabeth stood before her, mute and blushing, Barbara reached forth
her hand, clasping that of the young girl with a gentle pressure.

"You will not find me troublesome," she said, with a sad smile, quietly
ignoring the fact that they had ever met before; "I want a little time
for rest and thought. You will not grudge me a corner in your home, or a
crust and cold water twice a day. My wants will be scarcely more than
that."

"You shall be welcome, lady," murmured Elizabeth, almost in a whisper.
"But deal kindly with us, for you have great power."

This was not at all the reply Elizabeth had intended to make; but she
had no courage either to expostulate or protest; her heart swelled, and
her limbs shook, but she had lost all ability or wish to send the
stranger from her father's door.

"Shall we go in-doors now?" said Samuel Parris, who saw nothing unusual
in the reception his daughter had given to their guest. "I have scarcely
spoken to my niece yet; but methought, Elizabeth, that she looked sad,
as if the loneliness of our absence had stricken deep. Pray, call
Abigail Williams, my child. I would greet her once more, and present her
to our guest."

"I have already seen the young lady," said Barbara, smiling upon the old
man; "she gave me some breakfast, this morning, before you came!"

"And in all that time we were together never mentioned it," murmured
Elizabeth, with a swell of jealous indignation at the heart; "this is
why Abby shuns me so cruelly!"

"She has a fair--nay, that is not the right word--she has a strangely
interesting face," continued Barbara, softly, "a sibilline face, full of
sweet gravity. I have never seen features so beautiful."

"Nay, nay," said the simple-hearted old man, looking with jealous
fondness on his own child, "Abby is a comely girl enough; but great
painters, I am told, give blue eyes and sunny hair to the angels."

Barbara smiled. His words bore a double compliment, for her own hair,
though concealed under the folds of a lace coif, was lightly golden, and
her eyes were of that deep bluish gray, which might at one time have
been as rich in sparkling life as those of Elizabeth; but were now sad
and hazy, with crushed tears.

Samuel Parris had not noticed this. His heart was turning back to
another fair creature, who had indeed been the angel at his hearthstone
years before; and her memory was the very type of human loveliness to
him.

Barbara Stafford seemed to understand his thoughts.

"Yes," she said, "you are right; there is something almost divine in a
pure, young face like--like--" she broke off suddenly, with a little
confusion which satisfied the strong love of the old man for his child.
Of course, the strange lady could not praise the beauty of Elizabeth,
and she present. He looked at his daughter, wondering at the cloud on
her forehead.

Barbara stepped forward, and laid her hand on that of the young girl;
Elizabeth shrunk back, but as Barbara's fingers closed over hers, a
thrill of almost imperceptible pleasure stole the pain from her heart,
and she blushed like a naughty child beneath the grave, kind look,
fastened on her face.

Abby Williams looked out from the gable window of her little chamber,
and saw the action. A vague sense of loneliness drove her back into the
room. She locked the door, creating for herself a moral desert, in which
she sat down, a second Ishmael, ready to lift her hand against every
creature of the white race.

A week went by, and all the bitter feelings, starting up in the hearts
of those two girls, grew and throve like nightshade which overruns all
the sweet flowers of a garden. Elizabeth was grieved and wounded into
coldness. Abby grew silent, and shrunk away from her warm-hearted
cousin. Her whole habits of life changed. She gave up all her dainty
needle-work and passive knitting; from choice she toiled all day long in
the kitchen with old Tituba, doing the hardest and coarsest work with a
zeal that threatened to undermine her strength. The sweet, dreamy
portion of her life gave place to hard reality. She toiled like a slave,
and thought like a martyr.

Samuel Parris sometimes expostulated with his niece, in a solemn, kindly
way; but she answered him vaguely, and went on her own course, denying
his authority to chide only by a persistent refusal to change her new
mode of life.

"I will earn my own bread," she would say to herself, "the hand that
smote my mother shall not feed her child."

Then would come bitter, bitter hatred for the shelter she had received,
and the food she had eaten from her cradle up. She loathed the very
roundness of her limbs, and the richness of her beauty, because both had
thriven on the kindness of her mother's arch enemy. Yet it seemed
strange, very strange, that any one could feel a moment's bitterness
toward that good old man, who had but acted up to the light of an iron
age, believing himself even as Paul believed, when he persecuted the
saints most cruelly.

Thus the household of Samuel Parris was divided against itself; and in
the midst of this growing discord, Barbara Stafford rested, after many a
heavy trouble, unconscious of the good or evil her presence created. She
was a stranger in the land, the very reasons for her coming rested a
secret in her bosom. Distressed, disappointed, and filled with heavy
regrets, she had lost the keen perception which might have enlightened a
less occupied person regarding the effect of her visit at the minister's
house. Besides all this, Barbara knew nothing of the previous habits of
the family, and had no way of learning that the two girls, now so far
apart, had, up to the last two months, been like twin blossoms which a
storm had never touched. But the days wore on, as if no discontent were
known under that humble roof. When Abby Williams was not drudging in the
kitchen, she spent her time in the woods; and in this lay the greatest
danger of all, for during their lives, the two girls had haunted those
forest nooks in company. Now Abigail went alone, in the day and in the
night, without a word of explanation when she went in, or when she came
out.

I do not know how Barbara Stafford spent her time, or what led her so
much into the open air. She sat hours together on the sea-shore, looking
wistfully over the swelling blue of the waters, waiting and musing like
one who had no world out of her own thoughts. She seldom went to the
forest, but sometimes walked slowly out to the outskirting trees, and
came back again breathing fast as if something had frightened her away.

Sometimes Elizabeth, weary of the solitude forced upon her, would join
Barbara in the sitting-room down-stairs, for the young girl seemed
constantly torn by opposing influences. In the absence of her father's
guest, jealousy, suspicion, and bursts of dislike, embittered every
thought; but some strange force seemed constantly bringing the two in
company. Then Elizabeth was like a little child, so gentle, and
regretting so much the bitter feelings of her solitude, that her whole
character was disturbed with contradictions.



CHAPTER XXX.

STRANGE SHADOWS.


One evening, after Barbara Stafford had found shelter beneath the roof
of Samuel Parris, Jason Brown and his wife sat upon the lonely hearth,
just after the tow-wicked candle was lighted, and the evening
knitting-work brought out. Jason was sitting near the round stand,
scooping out a rude butter-ladle with his jackknife, from a thick piece
of pine, which he had brought in from the wood-house. The hired man
occupied a closer place by the dim light; for he was employed in the
more difficult operation of mending a broken harness.

"Look a-here, Jase," said the hired man, looking up from his task, while
he jerked two waxed ends through the leather, and tightened them at
arm's length. "What du yer mean ter decide on about them tarnal heavy
boxes in the barn? The hay is eenamost gone, and by-an-by there won't be
enough left to kiver 'em with. Besides--what is in 'em? I should kinder
like to know that, my bisness or not."

"What du you know or care about that?" answered Jason, lifting his
butter-ladle to the light, and eying its growing symmetry with great
satisfaction.

"Don't know nothin' and don't care a darn," was the reply, given in
perfect self-complacency; "only the all-fired things will be tarnally in
the way when we come to thrash."

"But they can be moved then."

"Moved! why you might as well try to lift a tombstun. I reckon I've
tried it."

Goody Brown kept on with her work, without joining in this conversation,
and for some minutes the click and rattle of her needles kept time with
the splinters cast off by her husband's jackknife.

Then the hired man spoke again.

"How long afore you'll be going to sea agin, Jase?"

"That's rayther unsartin. There'll be a good deal of jiner work to do on
the vessel afore she puts out agin. That storm tore her eenamost tu
pieces."

Goody Brown looked up from her knitting with the ghost of a smile
hovering over her lips.

"Then you'll have so much longer to stay tu hum," she said.

"Wal, yes; I shouldn't much wonder if Thanksgiving found me in this
identical spot."

The good wife breathed deeply, and went on with her work, sending out
absolute music from her needles. Then the hired man spoke again.

"Any passengers this trip?"

"One bespoken for the cabin."

"Who, of all the Bosting folks, are going over now?" asked the
housewife.

"It ain't a Bosting woman that I ever hearn on," answered Jason, "but
the same lady that stayed with you so long arter the storm. She's going
straight hum agin, I reckon. Her passage was took the very day arter
Governor Phipps jined the church. She was uneasy enough about getting
off ter once, and wanted the ship to put out jist as she was, jiner or
no jiner. But the captain said he couldn't and wouldn't hist a sail till
his craft was sound and taut from stem to stern, not if the lady offered
him her hull weight in guinea gold. So she had ter put up with it."

"Poor lady, how homesick she must be!" said the housewife, setling a
fresh needle in the quill of a knitting sheath of red cloth fastened on
the right side of her waist, and twisting the yarn around her
fore-finger. "She was a proper purty woman, wasn't she, Jase? See here
what she gave me the morning afore she went away."

Goody Brown laid down her work, and, thrusting one hand deep into her
pocket, drew forth a steel side thimble, a lump of yellow wax, crossed
and recrossed with marks of the thread she had drawn over it, a trunk
key, two great copper pennies, and a tiny parcel done up in an old
book-leaf. This she carefully unfolded and laid four golden guineas on
the stand.

"You can have 'em, Jase," she said in a low, husky voice. "They ain't of
no use to me now."

Jason understood her and made a reckless cut at the butter ladle, for
his hand became all at once unsteady.

"When I was a scrimpin' and saving to send our own--"

"Wal! wal! it ain't no use to talk about that now," cried out the
father, stung into a passion of angry grief. "What God has done is done.
What's the use of pining over it?"

"Why, Jase," answered the wife, rebuking him with her grave, deep eyes,
"I didn't mean that--only the gold ain't of no use ter me anyhow since I
haven't any children to edicate. It isn't for me to fly into the face of
Providence, and I never thought of doing it."

"Buy a yoke of oxen with the money," interposed the hired man. "I've
hearn of people loving their oxen a'most like children. It's enough to
make a fellur's heart yearn to see how patiently them critturs will bend
under one yoke and kinder help one another along. Talk about friendship
and brotherly feelin'--wal, if that thing ain't found in a yoke of oxen
brought up together from steers, it's of no use to sarch for it. If yer
feelings is touched and kinder hankers arter something ter love, buy a
yoke of oxen--that's my advice."

Jason Brown was thoughtfully whittling down the edge of his ladle. His
wife took up her knitting, which dragged on with slow monotony, for she
looped each stitch through a blinding mist of tears; but the hired man
snapped his waxed ends as if they had been bow-strings, punched his awl
furiously through the unyielding leather, and looked out from his
bending eye-brows now and then, in vague astonishment that his advice
was so blankly received. All at once he paused with both threads half
drawn, and listened.

"What on 'arth is that?"

A sound, as if from the falling of some ponderous object a little
distance off, had occasioned this exclamation. Jason Brown and his wife
suspended their work in astonishment, and sat gazing at each other.

"I will go see," said Brown, closing his knife with a defiant snap. "It
don't seem like the stomp of horses."

"Hush up!" whispered the hired man. "Set down this minute and look
behind you!"

Jason had a powerful will of his own and was not to be ordered about by
any one, but he turned toward the window which the man was pointing out
with his awl and saw it crowded with dusky faces, rendered terrible by
great, fiery eyes and stiff, upright plumes, that shot up through the
darkness like shafted arrows from a quiver.

"Great God, help us, for it is the Indians!" exclaimed Brown, in a
hoarse whisper.

The woman held her work suspended, as if it had frozen in her hand. The
hired servant went on with his stitching, but his sunburned face grew
whiter and whiter with each pull of the thread, and the sidelong glances
he cast at the window betrayed the keen terror his stolid obstinacy
suppressed.

"Shall we pitch in, or keep still?" whispered Brown.

"Keep still," answered the woman.

"Or else God have mercy upon us," muttered the hired man, "for I dare
say there is a hundred to one."

"Wife, where is my father's gun?" demanded Brown, ashamed of standing
helplessly on his own hearth.

"Behind the bedroom door, Jason."

"Is it loaded?"

"With buck shot," answered the hired man. "I loaded it for wild game,
but blaze away at them varmints, if you want to, and I'll back you up
with the fire shovel. The old woman can pitch in with a flat-iron or
rolling-pin. They shan't say that we didn't show grit afore they scalped
us, anyhow. Darn 'em!"

"Hark! they are gone."

True enough, the crowd of faces vanished from the window like shadows,
and a confused tread of feet followed, so mellow and soft that it seemed
as if the earth throbbed with a faint pulsation. This sound lasted some
minutes, and then died away in the whisperings of the forest that crept
along the shore close up to the stone homestead.

When all was still again a footstep stole over the turf and paused
before the threshold. This was followed by a low knock and a gentle stir
of the latch string. Brown went to the door. The ruddy color had left
his cheek, but his hand was firm as it lifted the wooden bar and threw
the door wide open. A young man stood in the opening, and the light fell
upon his face.

"Wal, now, if this don't beat all. Is it raly you? Come in, come in, and
shet the door, for just as true as you live there's live Injuns around
to-night."

The young man came in, lifting the cap from his head as he entered. He
was a workman employed on the vessel. Then Brown attempted to appear
unconcerned, but his face was disturbed and his voice shook.

"Why, you seem to be frightened," said the young man. "What at?"

"Did you meet nothing on the way?" asked Brown.

"Yes, a flock of sea-gulls wheeling out to sea."

"And nothing more--no red Injuns?"

"Red Indians! Indeed, I saw nothing worse than myself," was the cheerful
reply.

"And did you pass close to the window?" asked the hired man.

"Yes, I passed the window."

"And did you twist one face into ten, and crown them all with eagles'
quills?"

"No, not exactly that, but I did look in."

"And no one else?" asked Brown.

"Truly, friends, you question me close, but I was alone."

"Husband," said Goody Brown, in a solemn whisper, "it might have been a
witch gathering. Who knows?"

Jason Brown turned deadly white, and the hired man thrust the awl
through his thumb.

"In that case you had better not speak of it," said the young man, with
a shade of gravity. "It is almost as dangerous to be visited by witches
as to join in their wicked rioting. I remember, at the last trial, it
was set forth in evidence that the woods around here were given up to
witchcraft: I for one do not believe it, but yet if you saw the faces?"

"We did! we did!"

"Crowned with eagles' plumes?"

"Yes, like savage Indians."

"But no Indian would dare flount his war plumes in this neighborhood. It
is too near Boston for that."

"True, how is that possible? The tribes are quiet now," answered Brown,
thoughtfully.

"It is witchcraft beyond a doubt," whispered the good wife. "I remember,
now, the needles turned to stones in my hands. I lost all power to move
them."

"And my feet were nailed to the hearth," answered Jason. "I, who never
knew what it was to be scared in my life, could not move."

"See how the pestilent things have wounded me," added the hired man,
exhibiting his thumb from which the blood was falling in heavy drops.

"Hark! I hear footsteps again," whispered the good wife.

Sure enough, slow and steady footsteps came across the turf, and a knock
sounded at the door.

"I will open it," said the young man, cheerfully. "No witchcraft can
harm me, save that of a bright eye and cherry lip."

He opened the door with a brave swing while uttering these words, but
started back in dismay, for there, upon the gravel of the path, stood a
woman with a crimson mantle over her shoulders and its hood drawn close
around her face.

"Is the dame or her husband at home?" inquired the woman in a clear,
rich voice that made the housewife start. "I wish to see either Jason
Brown or his wife."

"If you are an honest woman and no witch, come in," answered the young
man, half closing the door against her, notwithstanding his invitation.

The woman advanced to the door and pushed it gently open. Goody Brown
arose with a flush on her cheek and called out, in a voice of infinite
relief, "It is the lady! it is the lady!"

Barbara Stafford entered the room, and went up to the excited housewife.

"I come at an untimely hour," she said, pushing the red hood back from
her face, "but it could not be helped."

"Sit down, sit down, and take off your things," said the housewife,
greatly relieved, for she had learned to love the gentle lady, and
believed in her.

"Sit down. We have had tea long ago, but Jase shall rake open the fire,
and hang on the kettle in no time."

"No, no, it is impossible! I cannot wait," answered the lady, resisting
Mrs. Brown's effort to unclasp her cloak. "A few words only and I must
go back again."

"What! to-night?"

"Yes, at once."

"To Boston--to the governor's house?" questioned Goody Brown.

"No, no, farther than that. I have a long ride through the woods."

"Through the woods!" exclaimed four voices at once. "Why, they swarm
with wild beasts and savage Indians!"

"Ah, me," answered the lady, "it is not of them I am afraid: my best
friends are in the forest."

"But how will you ride, lady?" asked the young carpenter, looking at her
with growing distrust.

"I have a swift and sure horse, and know how to ride even in the night.
Beside I came with an escort."

"Of white men or devils?" questioned the hired man, nursing his thumb,
and eying the lady with sinister glances.

"Nay, it is wrong to speak of these unhappy children of the woods in
this fashion. They have been a grand people, and possess power even yet.
I marvel that they are pursued with such hatred."

The benevolent smile that broke over her noble face as she spoke charmed
half the superstition out of that rough heart. As for the others, they
forgot all distrust, and oppressed her with offers of hospitality.

"Not to-night. I will come and sleep in your pretty room again," she
said, laying her small hand on Goody Brown's shoulder. "But now I must
be in haste. Tell me, Brown, for it is urgent that I should know, when
the ship will be ready to sail."

"It is hard to tell," answered Brown, "but here is the master workman:
he knows best."

Barbara turned a questioning look on the young man, who answered it as
if she had spoken.

"Some time this fall the craft will be ready."

"This autumn and not before!" cried Barbara, with surprise and even
anguish in her voice. "Oh, my God! how am I to get over this weary
time?"

"It is slow work, and hands are scarce," said the carpenter.

"But gold can do much, every thing, they tell me, and I have plenty,"
cried Barbara, with nervous eagerness. "Young man, spare nothing that
can speed this work. Get more men--toil night and day. I will find means
for all. Only let the ship be ready before the leaves turn from green to
red."

"Lady, I will do my best," answered the carpenter.

"I tell you again spare nothing that money can pay for. No matter what
labor costs, I will find gold to meet every demand. Jason Brown, urge
this matter forward. Those who serve me I can enrich."

"Yes, lady, I will do my best."

"It was for this I came to-night. I waited for news that the ship was
ready to sail, till delay made me heartsick, and I could tarry at rest
no longer. Now, ah, me, you say wait till fall, as if it were an easy
thing."

"Be content, dear lady," said Goody Brown, touched by this pathetic cry
of disappointment. "My old man shall go in search of workmen. He can do
any thing when he's a mind to."

"Thank you! thank you! See, I have brought money with me," said Barbara.
"When that is gone I can find more."

Barbara laid a purse, heavy with gold, on the candle stand, as she
spoke. All three of the men looked at it with a thrill of superstitious
dread. At last Brown spoke.

"Is it English gold, honest guineas, with His Majesty's face on it?"

Barbara smiled.

"Certainly," she answered. "I have no other. The coin of England is
current here. Why this hesitation?"

Brown took up the purse and emptied a quantity of its gold into his hard
palm.

"Truly it is the king's head, and full weight," he muttered. Then
turning more confidently to the lady, he said:

"And I am to use this about the ship?"

"Yes! yes!"

"And crowd on all the work we can," joined in the carpenter.

"Yes! yes!"

"That is easy understood," observed the hired man. "I only wish that I
could swing a broad axe."

"Now I must go," said the lady, taking the hard hand of Goody Brown in
her friendly clasp. "You have been kind to me and I can never forget it.
Only help me to these shores, and see if I prove ungrateful."

These words had hardly left the lady's lips when she was outside the
door and moving toward the woods in a rapid walk.

These three men and Goody Brown flocked to the window and looked after
her as she moved through the light of a moon buried half the time under
the fleecy whiteness of drifting clouds. She approached the woods and
they saw her engulfed in shadows that seemed to move and sway with the
wind. Directly she came forth, riding on a milk-white horse, that stood
out from the leaden shadows distinct as marble; for that instant the
moon threw off its fleecy burden of clouds, and rode clear and bright
across a plain of blue sky. Directly another horse and rider, that
looked black as ebony in the distance, came out of the shadows, and then
a third; but whether the riders of these black steeds were men or women
no one could tell. For a little time the horses kept along the edge of
the woods, but at last they plunged into some forest path and were gone.

Still the inmates of the farm-house watched by the window, for there was
something weird in the woman's departure which stimulated curiosity. As
they looked, the edges of the wood grew alive. Dusky forms moved to and
fro, now in the darkness, now in fitful gleams of light; and the forests
began to sway and moan as if oppressed by some evil presence, which made
all its boughs heave and its foliage quiver. Then a muffled yell broke
out from the heart of the woods, and a line of what seemed to be human
forms came into an open field that lay close to the forest, and, curving
onward like an enormous serpent, crept away through the darkness.

There was little said in the farm-house that night about these
mysterious appearances, but a vague superstition took possession of
those three men, and they all felt as if the gold they had received
might vanish into thin air before morning.

When the day broke, Brown and his hired man went into the barn in order
to clear the thrashing-floor of all incumbrances. They found the door
shut and every thing in place. But when the man went to the corner where
those ponderous boxes had been stored, they were gone. Then the thick
hair on Jason Brown's head stood up with terror, and turning from the
astonished look of his companion he went into the house.

"Wife, take that purse of gold from your bosom and give it to me."

The woman obeyed him, and drew forth the purse. He snatched it from her
hold, left the house, and ran down to the shore. When he reached the
verge of the water, great drops stood on his forehead, and he panted for
breath. A little way off was a line of breakers dashing up spray from a
cluster of hidden rocks. Brown waded knee-deep into the water, swung his
arm backward, and hurled the purse into the seething foam.



CHAPTER XXXI.

NOON IN THE WOODS.


Old Wahpee had procured a forest-bred horse for Barbara Stafford and
another for his own use. Restless from a strong desire to leave the
country, she had besought him to act as her guide to the stone
farm-house. Their object was unknown to the family, for the Indian was
sadly afraid that Samuel Parris would know of his share in the business,
and for this reason Barbara promised to keep her journey a secret.
Tituba alone of all the household was taken into their confidence, and
she undertook to divert attention from Barbara's movements.

This was no very difficult matter, for the cousins were occupied with
each other, and Samuel Parris in his self-absorption would hardly have
missed his guest had she remained absent a week. So one day Barbara went
as usual into the margin of the forest, mounted the white horse that
Wahpee held by the bridle, and following a trail which the Indian
informed her led by a short cut to Boston, entered fearlessly on her
adventure. The vast solitude of the wilderness harmonized with the
solemn depression of her own thoughts. Its profound silence filled her
with a sentiment of sublime resignation. Sometimes, as she rode along, a
whispered prayer brightened her face, and you would have thought that
she was travelling through those deep forest shades directly into that
happier world where the weary are at rest. So far as conversation went,
she was completely alone. Wahpee never talked, and if she asked him a
question it was answered in some brief monosyllable. So deep was the
forest and so remote the way, that wild deer leaped across her path, and
stopped to gaze on her more than once with almost human curiosity.

No matter how deep or persistent unhappiness may be, there is something
in nature that will charm it half away, if the heart it troubles is
capable of real poetic sentiment. The unselfish and pure-minded cannot
look upon all the munificence of God lavished everywhere in objects of
beauty and usefulness--for the glorious Artist of the universe has
created no one thing that has not a peculiar gift of beauty to recommend
it--without an outburst of thankfulness. If the supreme object for which
the heart yearns so hungrily is withheld, nature holds forth a thousand
lures of beauty which are sure to draw the soul out of itself and thus
nearer to its God.

Barbara Stafford was very unhappy. Since landing in America, her life
had been one struggle. She was a woman of gentle nature, not the less
pliant and sweet because her will was firm and her powers of endurance
wonderful. She was now absolutely without earthly hope. If she turned to
the past, it was full of pain. The future lay before her a desert. She
could not endure, even in thought, to travel over the waste which lay
between her coming sea-voyage and the grave. But though unhappy,
disappointed, and dejected, she was neither bitter nor cynical. The
grandeur and breadth of character which had led her silently into making
almost impossible sacrifices would be sufficient to carry her to the end
without faltering. Her history and her object, whatever they were,
remained a secret in her own bosom. That she suffered, no one who looked
upon the lines about her mouth and the shadows in those eyes could
doubt. Yet a casual observer would have guessed nothing of this, and
even a friend might have sometimes mistaken her kindness and urbanity
for the expression of a serene life.

Let her history be what it might, the woman was sufficient unto herself.
She knew how "to suffer and grow strong," without hope and without
counsel. That day, as she rode through the woods, so rich in leafiness,
so lavish in beauty, her soul expanded itself thankfully to the sweet
influences that opened upon her. She was no longer young, but, perhaps,
more capable of enjoyment when alone with God's works for that very
reason. So for the hour she put aside the one great sorrow that haunted
her life, and rode cheerfully through the woods, enjoying each ferny
knoll or grassy hollow, with a brook whispering along the bottom, as if
she had nothing but sunshine in her heart.

It must have been somewhat after noon when Wahpee came upon a little
opening in the trees, where some Indian hunter had cleared away the
undergrowth and cut down a few trees in order to build a lodge, which
was now a heap of mossy logs. It was a lovely spot, lifted a little from
the level of the woods and crested with half a dozen stately old trees,
through which the sunshine came shimmering down upon the forest turf,
luring ten thousand lovely blossoms up through its greenness. Half in
the sunshine, half in the shadow of overhanging pines and hemlocks, a
lovely brook went singing on its way through bending ferns and the wild
vines whose roots drank life from its crystal waves; while around this
bright spot the dark barriers of the forest crowded up on three sides,
rendering its green slopes more sunny from their sombre contrast.

Barbara drew up her horse as she felt the sunshine bursting so warmly
over her path, and uttered an exclamation, half astonishment, half
delight: "Why, Wahpee! You have led the way to a paradise," she said,
gazing around. "One almost forgets to be mortal in a place like this,
but my horse reminds us that he at least is hungry."

In her admiration, Barbara had loosened her bridle, and the beautiful
animal which she rode was cropping the sward with great zest, eagerly
sweeping up grass and blossoms in one fragrant mouthful, as if he feared
that her hand might the next instant curb him up from his sweet repast.

Wahpee got down from his own horse, and cast him loose. Then he lifted
Barbara from her saddle, and saying only, "Come here," led her along the
margin of the brook, where she observed, with some surprise, that the
grasses and ferns had been recently trodden into something like a path.
The brook swept its crystal curves around one side of the clearing,
which took the sun so warmly, then widened into a beautiful pool,
margined with golden willows, growing wildly, under a sumptuous drapery
of vines. Beyond this basin of water Barbara saw a column of blue smoke
curling up from the foot of a great hemlock, and flashes of fire shot in
and out through the quivering green of the undergrowth.

Pleased and expectant, for Barbara began to surmise that she had not
been brought to that lovely place by accident, she followed her guide in
silence, and at last came out on a mound of grand circumference, covered
so thickly with grass that her feet trod a hundred tiny flowers to death
without her seeing them. The willows that margined the miniature lake at
its base, and the hemlocks that crowded up from the forest, hedged in
this pretty eminence, flickering its edges with tangled shadows and
sunshine, but leaving a broad flat rock on the summit bathed in golden
light. Around this rock, clusters of wild trumpet vines, trailing
arbutus, and golden bitter-sweet, wove their beauties together in
luxuriant wildness, creeping in rich traceries over the rock, or falling
in garlands down the grassy sides of the mound. The centre of this rocky
table was bright with sparkling crystals and clean as granite could be
made. Something more than the hand of nature had been at work there. Not
a dead leaf or broken twig could be found littering on the rock or in
the grass.

"Ah, how lovely!" exclaimed the lady, flinging back the hood of her
mantle, and looking around in pleasant astonishment. "Surely, Wahpee,
this is not your work?"

"Would you be offended, lady, if it were mine?" said a voice close by,
and from beneath the bending hemlocks came forth Philip, or Metacomet,
the young man whose fate had been so strangely enwoven with her own.

"Nay, Philip, I am neither offended nor surprised. It was kind to
provide me this lovely spot to rest in, and I am glad to look once more
on the face of a friend."

Barbara sat down on the rock as she spoke, and unfastening the clasp of
her scarlet cloak, allowed it to fall loosely around her. Philip flung
himself on the grass at her feet, kindling up its green with the
gorgeousness of his savage raiment. Seated thus, they could catch gleams
of blue water under the willow branches, and watch the broad lily pods
heaving softly up and down as if stirred with human pulses.

Barbara's face brightened, and her lips parted with smiles. She was
naturally of a cheerful disposition, and such beauty as this gladdened
her whole being.

"It seems like enchantment," she said; "some beautiful witchcraft has
been at work here."

"It has brought a smile to that face, and I am happy," answered the
young man.

"Have you known this spot long?" asked Barbara. "It looks like a corner
in some English park. The clearing must have been made years ago, for,
save that once massive stump, which is now more than half moss, no trace
of the axe is visible."

"It was cleared years ago, lady, for I was born here."

"Here!"

"Yes, my father was out hunting with the chiefs of his tribe. He never
went even to the war-path that his wife did not follow and rest
somewhere near him. That year he built her lodge in this spot. A few of
the old logs lie in the clearing yonder even yet, held together by the
moss that has been years and years creeping over them. When Wahpee told
me that you would ride through the forest, I directed him to bring you
along this trail. But you look tired and must be hungry."

"Yes, a little tired, and not a little hungry," answered Barbara. "In my
anxiety I quite forgot that food might be needed on the way."

"Would to heaven that I could always think for you!" was the humble
reply. "Oh, lady, how lovely these forests would be if you never left
them!"

Barbara looked around, and her eyes filled with tears. "If you were my
son."

The young man made an impatient gesture.

"Or my brother," she added. "Then, Philip, I might find that rest here
which all other places in the world deny me. But my destiny leads me
into the world, where I shall be far more alone than you can be here."

The young man looked searchingly into Barbara's face, and saw how
honestly she spoke.

"I know! I knew from the first how hopeless this fatal love was," he
said, passionately. "Yet spite of every thing it will break forth to
offend you."

"No, I am not offended," answered the lady. "God forbid that honest
affection should anger me! I am only sorrowful that my destiny is always
to give pain. I do not even reason with you, Philip, knowing well that
human love is not the growth of human will. But you must learn patience,
my friend, and strive, as I must, to be useful, and with God's help
happy, without love."

Philip shook his head, and arose suddenly that she might not see how
near he was to weeping. He advanced a few paces into the forest and came
to another small opening in the trees. There a fire was blazing up
redly, surrounded by a group of Indian women, who were busy turning a
half-dozen birds, fastened by delicate withes of bark to the branches
overhead, and roasting before the fire.

"Come," said the chief, in the Indian tongue, "is all ready?"

A woman was busy peeling strips of birch bark from the trunk of a
sapling close by. She cut the bark into fragments and gave them to the
women about the fire, who laid the roasted birds daintily upon them,
nesting each one in leaves from a golden spice bush which grew near.
Then they took hot corn-cakes from the ashes, and brought from under a
cool thicket two little painted baskets full of blue berries, with the
bloom on them.

This rustic meal the women brought forth to the mound and placed upon
the rock, without a sign of curiosity about the stranger, or a spoken
word. Barbara looked on in wonder. The whole scene really did appear
like enchantment to her. Philip took a case from the pouch by his side,
and extracted from it a knife and fork, mounted with silver. Barbara's
eye brightened: they had been her gift to the young man when he first
went forth on his travels after those dreary years of bondage.

"Eat," he said, carving one of the birds with his hunting-knife, "and
see if wholesome food may not be found in the woods."

"Yes, if you eat also," she answered. "In our hard journey through life
we may at least take this one quiet meal together."

Philip took a piece of the bird, but could not eat; his heart was too
full.

"This is our last meal together on earth, perhaps," he said, in a broken
voice. "If you return to England I may perish here, and never look upon
your face again."

"My friend, there is another world," Barbara answered, "and at the
longest only a few short years divides us from it."

"But what if the Indian's hunting-grounds and the white man's heaven
should be eternally sundered?" answered the young chief mournfully.

"That cannot be," was the gentle reply. "If friendship and love are
immortal, God will not make a torture of his holiest gifts. In the next
world as in this I shall surely be your friend."

"And the friendship of angels must be sweeter than earthly love,"
answered the youth. "That shall content me, lady; something tells me
that it will not be long before I can claim this beautiful promise, up
yonder. The path that I have chosen is full of danger, and its end may
be speedy death."

Barbara looked down upon him with all the light of a noble soul in her
eyes.

"Oh, Philip! may you never learn how sweet the hopes of death can be to
a human soul."

The young man smiled mournfully.

"Perhaps I have already learned that," he said. "But I am wrong,
inhospitable, selfish; my complaints trouble you, and you cannot eat.
Come, come; let me carve another bird, this is cold."

An hour after this Barbara mounted her horse, and accompanied by her old
guide took the forest path again. As the night came on, and the shadows
around her grew blacker and blacker, though the tree tops were aflame
with scarlet and gold, she became conscious of some strange
companionship in the woods. Sometimes it seemed as if the mellow tread
of hoofs stole up from the recesses of the forest. Then she could hear
the bend and sway of branches; and, closer still, whispering sounds
among the leaves, as if every thing around her were full of active life.
What these signs could be was a wonder to her; neither restless birds
nor deer, bounding through the undergrowth in flocks, could produce a
noise at once so subdued and persistent. But no harm came, or appeared
to threaten her. On the contrary, legions of spirits seemed to guard her
path unseen. It was dark before Barbara came out of the thick of the
forest, and made her way to the farm-house. Up to the very margin of the
trees these whispered sounds and almost inaudible footsteps accompanied
her. The moment Barbara's feet crossed that threshold hundreds on
hundreds of human beings swarmed out of the woods, and moved noiselessly
toward Jason Brown's barn.

A crash, as of broken boards, followed by a low, rattling sound, came
from the building. Then, as each man filed by the door, a musket was
placed in his hand, which he carried straight to the woods, following
the warrior who had gone before, as savages tread a war-path. It was the
end of this procession that Jason Brown had seen, coiling like a serpent
along the edge of the forest, after Barbara Stafford came forth into the
moonlight on her white horse and rode away. Of all the arms secreted in
the barn, not a gun was left; even the boxes were carried off in
fragments.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE BEACON FIRE.


Barbara rode on her way, altogether unconscious that the woods around
her swarmed with armed men, who had been for hours following her at a
distance. But all at once another hoof-tread sounded in her path, and
looking around she saw young Philip, mounted on a horse that seemed
black in the darkness, riding close by her side, while Wahpee lagged
behind.

"Do not be afraid; I have been near you all the time," said the young
horseman.

The woods were so dark, except where the light of a clear moon could
penetrate to the path she rode over, that Barbara was glad of this
addition to her escort. So they rode on together at a quick pace,
penetrating more and more deeply into the heart of the wilderness. The
hum and rush of what seemed a current of wind in the distance still
haunted her way. Sometimes she heard the crackling of underbrush, afar
off; but these sounds were so continuous that she soon ceased to regard
them. Then, for a mile or two, all was profound stillness. It seemed as
if every living thing had suddenly dropped to sleep upon the earth, and
in the leaves. The very moonlight ceased to tremble along the forest
turf, for the branches which had sent it quivering like frost-work
around her path, hung motionless over Barbara's head.

Over the soft turf the three horses sped till the moon went down, and
midnight came on. Then, all at once, the woods just ahead of this party
burst into sudden flame; a vivid column of fire shot up to the sky,
leaping, hissing, and rioting along the sapless boughs of a dead
pine-tree, that crowned an eminence around which their path lead. Thus
the blackness of night was swept away, and all the forest trees turned
of a rich, golden green, inexpressibly beautiful.

"We are near the encampment," said Philip, and a proud smile lighted his
face, upon which the sudden radiance shone. "Ride on, dear lady; your
halting-place of yesterday is but just ahead: that flaming pine-tree
will light us to it. This time you will find it filled with warriors."

The horse which Philip bestrode leaped forward while he was speaking,
and with a spirited bound Barbara's white steed sprang after him.

Directly they came in sight of the clearing, illuminated by the burning
pine, which, uplifted by a ledge of rocks from a level with the forest,
towered behind it like a steeple of quivering fire. Bathed in this
golden light Barbara saw the turfy mound on which she had taken that
noonday repast, and under it the miniature lake with all its crystal
waves flame-tinted by the fire. The sparks, which fell in a perpetual
storm from that burning tree, seemed eddying and shimmering in the depth
of its waters, and the willows which drooped over them were of a rich
luminous green that quivered with every stir of the wind.

The larger clearing was less broadly in the light, but that presented
one of the grandest scenes that human eye ever dwelt upon. There,
swarming, jostling, heaving together in gorgeous masses, a multitude of
savages crowded the open space. Within the glow of that mighty council
fire the scattered tribe of the Pomperoags had gathered to meet the son
of their slain king. Burning with war paint, and resplendent with
barbarous ornaments, they turned the sweet rural scene of the morning
into a war camp so wild and picturesque that the lady uttered a cry of
astonishment when she came thus suddenly upon it.

"Do not be afraid," said Philip, reining in his horse and bending a
triumphant look upon his forced guest. "You are safe here. Keep close to
my side, and I will show you how hard it is to subjugate a brave
people."

Barbara drew her rein tight: this scene, so grandly beautiful, the
passionate eloquence in her companion's look and voice, aroused all the
enthusiasm of her nature.

"Ride on; I will follow;" she said.

With grave dignity, and curbing the heroic fire that burned in his eyes,
the young man advanced into the clearing. Barbara followed, threading
her way through crowds of armed warriors, some standing in groups,
others sitting on the half-illuminated sward, while the edges of the
forest swarmed with savage forms; for the multitude gathering into that
spot had already overrun the open space, and was crowded back into the
woods.

Barbara drew up her horse on the margin of the lake, where she sat, like
an equestrian statue, under the willows. Philip rode directly up the
mound, and as the hoofs of his war-horse struck the rock at its summit,
called out in a loud, ringing voice that penetrated every nook and
corner of the encampment--

"Chiefs and warriors, Metacomet, the son of King Philip, has asked the
people of his tribe to come hither that he may hold a talk with them. He
is here."

The young man's face and figure were thrown into splendid relief by the
fire light. His dress, savage only where it could be made picturesque,
gave kingly dignity to his presence. The eagle's plume, that proclaimed
him chief, rose from a cap of crimson cloth, from under which his bright
hair swept in curling waves. The horse stood motionless, his neck arched
proudly, his wild eyes a-glow with animal fire.

While Philip's voice was yet vibrating through those savage hearts, a
line of warriors, laden down with arms, defiled out of some unseen path
of the forest, and belted the mound in with a triple wall of braves,
which bristled so thickly with pikes and bayonets that the men who bore
them were almost invisible.

As the fiery pine flamed skyward and flashed on this bristling steel,
rank after rank of savages, concealed in the woods, pressed into the
light, till the whole clearing was alive with Indians, some armed for
the war-path, others bearing calumets, doubtful if they had been
summoned from their hiding places in the forest to hold council or sound
a war-whoop. But the whole multitude was ready for either, and a sea of
dusky faces was uplifted to the young chief in stern attention.

"If there lives a warrior who knew Philip when he was king and chief of
the Pomperoags, let him step forth, look on this face and say if it is
not his son who talks with you?"

Thus the young Metacomet addressed the throng of savages as they swarmed
in from the forest.

Two old medicine-men came out of the ranks and passed through a lane of
bayonets crowded back to give them free passage. They went close up to
Philip, and, shading their eyes from the hot light, searched his face
with keen glances. They fell back satisfied, and, so far as their feeble
voices could reach, the savages heard this curt decision:

"His face does not lie."

Here a low shout, or rather groan, of approval, ran through those savage
ranks and died away in the forest. Again Metacomet turned to the crowd.

"Warriors, I have come back from across the great waters with the heart
of King Philip beating loud in my bosom. He died fighting for his
people. So will I, or set them free, with broader hunting-grounds than
they ever trod, and richer cornfields than their enemies have learned to
plant. When King Philip died, his enemies laughed, like cowards, for
they knew that a great warrior had fallen, such as will never tread
their cornfields, though they plant them over our fathers' graves ten
thousand years. When he fell, the Pomperoags were a conquered people,
not from lack of bravery, but because the white man's cunning was more
powerful than the strong arms of all our warriors, with the bravest man
that ever lived at their head.

"Warriors, your king, betrayed by a traitor, hunted down like a wild
beast, was murdered. His son seized the rifle as it fell from his hand
and sent its last bullet through the brain of a white soldier, who
attempted to drag him away from his dying father. When he was disarmed,
bleeding, desperate, they seized upon him. Warriors, I see by the fire
in those eyes and the grip of those hands that no one of you has
forgotten that story. The captors of this wretched boy sold him into
slavery. They chained his limbs and gave him over to the lash--sent him
under the hot sun to work like a beast of burden. He did work and he
suffered, but slavery never reached the soul of Metacomet--that forever
turned back to his people. Still he must have died like a brute beast,
worn out with toil, but for the woman who sits yonder with her face
turned this way in wonder at what she sees. She came to the island where
he toiled under the lash, and saw how wretched he was. With her gold she
broke his chains. With her smiles she cured his wounded heart. She
taught him how to think, and out of that came a power which turned
thought into a great purpose, which has never left his brain a moment
from that day to this.

"He went across the great waters, and learned all the cunning secrets
with which our enemies conquered the red man. He searched out the
wonderful power which conquers without fighting. He learned that
knowledge is more powerful than the tomahawk, and swifter than a rifle
bullet. He learned that white men cut eagle plumes into pens, and with
their sharp points send out thoughts like arrows, striking whole tribes
at once.

"Warriors, with this knowledge the son of King Philip will give force to
your strong arms. This night swift runners shall be on their way to
friendly nations along the coast, and the great hunting-grounds on the
big lakes. The thought that speaks here will run as fire leaps along
yonder dead tree, burning up the hate that we have felt for each other,
and linking us, tribe to tribe, nation to nation, till the coast is
lighted by one belt of council fires, our forests threaded with
war-paths, and the fields, cleared by our enemies, grow corn for the
Indian alone. Warriors, has the son of your chief spoken well?"

A groan of general assent once more ran hoarsely through that savage
multitude, dying away in the depths of the forest. Again Metacomet
spoke:

"Warriors, like the son of King Philip you have been slaves. The whites
have taken away your rifles, and driven you into holes and corners to
hide like foxes when the dogs are out. But I have brought muskets from
over the great waters, and sharp spears that kill without leaving the
hand. Powder and lead we have in plenty, hidden away in dry caves which
our foe can never find."

Philip turned to the Indians that surrounded him closest standing under
a forest of bayonets. Some of these men carried two muskets and a spear,
some more.

"Stack your guns," he commanded.

Instantly, and with great precision, the savages stepped forward and
stacked their weapons. These men had been for weeks drilled by their
young leader, and were quick to learn. Philip guided his horse through
the bristling weapons, and rode up to Barbara, where she sat pale with
excitement and thrilled with vague terror.

"Lady," he said, "can you forgive the use to which I have applied your
bounty? During all these years, I have been hoarding up the gold of
which you were so lavish, for this purpose alone--'To free his father's
people, Philip consented to be a beggar after he ceased to work as a
slave.'"

"Great heavens! and have I done this?" cried Barbara, violently
agitated. "God forgive me if my kind intent leads to bloodshed."

"It shall lead a brave people to freedom! Oh, lady, regret nothing that
you have done. Never on the earth did gold perform a more holy work."

Barbara made no answer: she was appalled into silence by what she saw
and heard.

Philip took hold of her bridle-rein gently, and turned her horse from
the lake.

"Let the warriors see your face, lady," he said: "dangerous times are
coming on and it is well that they should know to whom their protection
is promised."

Barbara made no resistance, but she trembled on her saddle. As her horse
stood side by side with that of Philip on the mound, a crowd of dusky
faces was uplifted to hers, and she grew pale under the wild light of a
thousand burning eyes that seemed piercing her like arrows.

"Braves," said Philip, and his voice sounded full and clear as a
trumpet, "look upon this lady, and remember that so long as a man of our
tribe lives she is his charge. The white man may yet become her foe as
he is ours. She may be driven into the woods, as other women have been,
but I charge you, wherever she is found, in forest or settlement, obey
her and guard her as if she were a prophet of our people."

The groan of approval that followed this speech swelled almost into a
shout, and went rolling off into the forest like the smothered howl of
wild beasts.

Terrified and distressed, Barbara pleaded with the young chief to send
her away. Her face was white, her lips trembled as she spoke. She was
completely overcome by the shock of this unexpected scene.

"Braves," cried Philip, standing up in his stirrups, "on this spot,
where he was born, Metacomet has kindled his first great council-fire:
light your pipes and smoke while he rides with this lady on her way
through the woods, and let no man forget that from this hour she is a
daughter of our tribe."

Again that hoarse, growl-like shout answered as he wished, and while it
swelled along her path Barbara rode from the encampment, followed by
Wahpee and accompanied by Philip. During all the waning night he kept by
her side, and she made no protest. The wild grandeur of the scene she
had left still impressed her with awe to which she could give no words,
and a ride of so many hours had almost exhausted her strength when she
came to the encampment. An hour before dawn Philip left her and rode
back to the beacon fire at her own urgent request.

The first flush of morning was scattering rose leaves in the east and
turning the far-off waves to liquid opals when Barbara came in sight of
Samuel Parris's dwelling. She would have dismounted within the shelter
of the trees, but was so overcome with fatigue that it seemed impossible
for her to walk across the open space that lay in front of the
meeting-house. But old Wahpee drew up his horse, and motioned
obstinately that he intended to go no farther.

"But what shall I do with the horse?" questioned the lady, wearily.

"Turn him loose: he will know Wahpee's call," answered the Indian.

Barbara rode on, so worn and weary that she could hardly keep her
saddle.

Elizabeth Parris was looking out of her bedroom window and marvelled at
the strange apparition of her father's guest on a horse which she had
never seen before; but Tituba passed the threshold of her room that
moment, and she turned to answer some question that the old woman asked.
While she was so occupied Barbara descended from her horse. Scarcely had
her foot touched the ground when the creature heard a shrill whistle
from Wahpee and bounded off to the woods. When Elizabeth looked out of
the window a few moments after, Barbara Stafford was walking slowly
toward the house, but there was no sign of the white horse; at which the
young girl drew her breath painfully, and sunk to a chair shocked with
an awful dread.

"Tituba! Tituba!"

The old woman, who was half-way down-stairs, came back again, alarmed by
that sharp cry.

"Tituba, you told me that Mistress Barbara Stafford was ill and wished
to be left alone."

"So she is," answered the old woman, entering the room and closing the
door after her.

"But I saw her just now."

"Saw her, Miss Lizzybeth!" answered the Indian, listening keenly to a
rustling sound that came from the stairs. "Saw her! why everybody is
asleep in the house. What did you get up for, child?"

"Oh, Tituba, I am so restless! There is something strange, terrible,
going on in this house. What is the matter with Abby? What keeps this
woman here when nobody wants her? Is she truly ill? When did you see her
last?"

"This very morning," asserted Tituba, who had in truth seen Barbara near
the door, and now heard her moving in the back room.

Elizabeth leaned her head on one hand as if some distressing thought
pained her.

"Strange! strange!" she muttered.

"Do you want me any longer?" asked the Indian still listening keenly.

"No. Yes, Tituba, don't go down yet. Where is Abby?"

"In bed and sound asleep."

"How can she sleep away from me? Oh, Tituba! Tituba! I am so lonesome."

Tituba went close to her young mistress, and kneeling down received that
drooping head on her shoulder.

"Come close, Tituba. Oh, how I want my mother now!"

This cry of nature touched old Tituba's heart, but she had no words.

Elizabeth lifted her face and searched those withered features with her
beautiful eyes.

"Tituba, just as sure as I live, Barbara Stafford sat out yonder on a
white horse only a little while ago. The horse vanished. Then I saw her
on foot near the door," she said wildly. "What does it mean? What can it
mean?"

The old woman made vague efforts to caress the girl, but said nothing.
At last Elizabeth sprang to her feet.

"Are you speaking truth, Tituba?" she exclaimed, "or am I bewitched?"

The last words of this sentence were uttered in a whisper: even the word
witchcraft was full of awe to that young heart. Then, struck with a
sudden resolution, she flung the door open. "I will see for myself! I
will see for myself!"

She went out into the passage, opened the door of Barbara Stafford's
room and stole in on tip-toe, holding her breath. Barbara Stafford was
in bed--sound asleep. The moment her head touched that pillow she had
fallen into the death-like slumber which follows extreme fatigue. Her
garments lay in a heap on the floor, save the scarlet cloak, which hung
in its usual place against the wall.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

ALL OR NOTHING.


The third week after Samuel Parris's return from Boston, Norman Lovel
arrived at his house. When we first met this young man he had the face
of an angel and the impulsive manners of a child; even then he possessed
a depth and earnestness of feeling which only broke out when the
occasion was important enough to draw forth high and brave qualities.

But a few weeks of thoughtful experience had changed him greatly. He had
all at once taken a leap into manhood. The bloom and grace of extreme
youth had risen into the calm dignity of quiet self-reliance. This was a
result most likely to follow the young man's intimate companionship with
a woman like Barbara Stafford, who always gave to others the
self-respect which never forsook herself.

When Elizabeth saw the young man coming, she forgot all coldness, and
uttering a joyful cry, ran into the little garret room, where Abby
Williams sat brooding over her thoughts.

"Oh, Abby! dear, dear Abby! he has come! Norman is here! Run and look at
him as he dismounts. Then say if he is not the brightest, the
handsomest--oh, do come!"

In her eagerness, she almost lifted Abby from her seat on the bed, and
kissed her averted face again and again. Abby was taken by surprise: her
heart gave a wild leap, and her cheeks grew red and warm. The good, true
heart for a moment flung off its bitter load.

They crossed the garret, each with an arm girding the other's waist, and
stood by the window, while the young man dismounted. Abby could not feel
that young heart beating and fluttering against her own without a thrill
of warm sympathy, and for a little time the old love triumphed.

"Stand back a little, just a step, cousin Abby, or he will see us
watching him," cried Elizabeth, blushing crimson as the fear crossed her
mind.

"There now--ah!"

Elizabeth gave a start, and, forgetting her late precaution, drew close
to the window. The young man had sprung from his saddle, and was moving
eagerly toward the door-step, on which Barbara Stafford seemed to be
waiting for him. The sound of his voice, clear and full of glad
surprise, rang up to the two girls where they stood.

"You here, lady--oh, if you only knew how anxious we have been, how
lonely the house was after you left so strangely. The governor has
scarcely spoken since, except on state affairs--and as for Lady Phipps,
she moves about like a shadow. Somehow all the sunshine went out when
you disappeared."

Barbara Stafford answered, in a constrained voice, but with gentleness,

"I have a few weeks to wait, before the ship goes out. My business in
this land is accomplished. I only wanted some place to rest in, till the
time came, and was reluctant to burden the governor's hospitality for so
long a time. Avoiding a formal farewell I found my way here, knowing
that the good minister would give me shelter."

"Oh, but we have been so troubled at your sudden disappearance: it was
very cruel."

"Was there any one who felt my loss?" asked Barbara, with a thrill of
tenderness in her voice. "Who cared to inquire if I was dead or alive?"

"You ask that question in earnest? I will not believe it. How little you
knew of the friendship, the love you abandoned!"

These words rose to the window less distinctly than the others had done;
but Abby felt the form, still encircled by her arm, waver as if about to
fall.

"Listen--listen," she said, "it is not of himself he speaks."

Elizabeth did not answer. Her breath was hushed. With all her soul she
listened for the next words. They came like a gush of bright waters.

"But now that I find you safe, and have good tidings to carry back to
Sir William and Lady Phipps, I will pass in, lady, for I must see
another before my hard gallop is quite rewarded. Surely, Miss Parris is
not away from home, or ill?"

"He thinks of you--he inquires for you!" whispered Abby. "It was
surprise, only surprise, that kept him at the door so long."

"I will go down. Shall I go down at once? Dear cousin, tell me--don't
let me go if it is unmaidenly, or if you think he has been too cold.
Shall I go, cousin Abby?"

"Yes, go," answered Abby Williams, withdrawing her arm. "He is waiting
for you!"

Elizabeth smoothed her hair with both hands, looked shyly at her cousin
as she turned from the little mirror, and glided away. She entered the
lower hall; there between her and her lover stood Barbara Stafford, with
the sunshine on her head, but casting a dark shadow across the
door-sill. So the young people met with constraint, and each thought the
other cold.

Barbara Stafford glided away when she saw Elizabeth, and bent her course
to the sea-shore. Young Lovel watched her, with a long, earnest look,
and when she disappeared behind a grove of orchard trees he sighed
deeply, and fell into thought. Elizabeth stood on the threshold, leaning
against the mouldings of the door. Her cheek grew red, and she began to
tremble beneath the rush of a terrible idea, that took distinct form on
that fatal moment.

"Strange, strange woman!" muttered the youth. "By what power does she
drain the heart of all thoughts that do not belong to herself?"

Elizabeth drew back keenly disappointed. The young man seemed
unconscious of her presence; yet they had not seen each other for weeks.
She turned proudly, and went into the house. The movement aroused Lovel.
He withdrew his eyes from the retreating form of Barbara Stafford, to
which they seemed drawn by some fascination, and followed the young
girl, unconscious that he had done any thing to wound or offend her.

Elizabeth sat down in the oaken chair, that had belonged to her mother.
She could not understand the iron feelings that crept over her.

"Has that woman's shadow chilled all the love from my heart as well as
his?" she said to herself. "Am I too bewitched?"



CHAPTER XXXIV.

TOWARD THE SHORE.


This word made the idea, that had haunted her so long, painfully
tangible. The young girl began to shudder at the thoughts that crowded
upon her. All the feelings, connected with her love of this young man,
had been strange from the first. So much of pain was mingled with its
sweetness, so much of passion, temper, and the bitter tears which spring
from both, that she could not comprehend them. The very development of
her own nature, under the workings of a passion utterly unknown to her
before, had something mysterious in it, which aroused ideas of some
supernatural power, checking and thwarting it into a wild pain.

Barbara Stafford had undoubtedly connected herself with the evil power,
which sometimes held her heart girded like a vice, and again forced the
young creature to throw herself upon the woman's bosom in a paroxysm of
regretful tenderness.

Why was she to love or hate Barbara Stafford, a woman she had never seen
till within the last few weeks--a stranger wrecked upon the shore, and
cast up, as it were, from the foam of the ocean, without a history, and
it might prove without a true name. If it must be that their destinies
jostled each other, why could it not be all love or entire hate?

Elizabeth Parris sat still, thinking these things over, while Norman
Lovel was talking to her of the friends she had so lately left. He
brought a score of sweet messages from Lady Phipps, and kindly
remembrances from the governor himself. He spoke of the loneliness that
fell upon the family when its guests had departed; but after his words
to Barbara Stafford, any thing he could say to her seemed cold and
common-place. Without knowing it, Elizabeth was possessed of that proud
hunger, which every true woman feels, when she really loves--that
craving desire to be all or nothing, which makes so many noble hearts
miserable.

Yes, Elizabeth would be all to Norman Lovel, or she would be nothing.
She did not say these words, or think these thoughts; but the resolution
rose and burned in her heart like a fire. Filled with the tumult of
these sensations, she did not heed what her lover was saying. His voice
seemed to come from afar off; and as for the meaning of his speech, her
ears refused to drink it in.

Norman saw her distraction, and was amazed by it. Had he ridden fifteen
miles through the woods, almost on an unbroken gallop, to be met with
half looks, and greeted only by monosyllables? The young man took fire
at once. He would give Elizabeth plenty of time to collect her thoughts.
His kindest words should no longer be wasted on a sullen statue.

In this heat of temper, Norman took up his hat and went out. Elizabeth
started, looked wildly over her shoulder, and tried to call him back;
but her voice was husky, and refused utterance; she could neither speak
nor move, till he had crossed the threshold, and was gone. For some
moments she sat motionless. It seemed as if her limbs were girded to the
chair. She thought with bitterness that the power of Barbara Stafford's
evil will held her tight, when it was but the reaction of her own
overwrought feelings. The fiend Jealousy was torturing her.

Elizabeth broke free from this painful thrall, started up, and went to
the door, shading her eyes with one hand as she looked forth toward the
ocean. It lay in the distance, blue and sparkling, like ridges and waves
of sapphire, breaking through streams of diamond dust. The glory of the
sunshine was nothing to her. She turned away, searching the shore; there
she saw young Lovel walking rapidly in the path from which Barbara
Stafford had just disappeared.

"He is going to her! he is going to her!" cried the young girl, pressing
one hand upon her forehead, to still a thought that seemed gnawing at
her brain like a viper. "She has charmed him away, she and the
sweet-toned familiar, that whispers in her voice, and looks through
those velvet eyes--"

"Elizabeth, child! Elizabeth!"

She did not hear the voice of Tituba, who stood in the entry, behind
her, waiting to be noticed.

"Child!" she repeated, touching the uplifted arm with her finger,
"child!"

Elizabeth dropped her hand, and shrunk away, looking at Tituba
suspiciously, over her shoulder.

"You hurt me, old Tituba. Look--my arm is black and purple where the
marks of your nails have been. She has taught you this, old woman. I
have seen her in the kitchen, with fresh herbs, which you made into tea;
and roots, which she dug up with a dagger from among drifts of sea-weed
on the shore. Keep away from me, old woman; my flesh creeps as you come
near."

Old Tituba was confounded. She had only come to consult her young
mistress on the propriety of killing a chicken, and making up a batch of
blackberry pies, if the young gentleman was likely to stay over night;
and this charge of hurting the creature whom she loved better, almost,
than any thing on earth, struck her dumb. At length she spoke.

"You are sick, Miss Lizzybeth; something dreadful is the matter, or
you'd never say this to old Tituba. Go up-stairs, and lie down while I
make some tea."

"No; you gave me herb drink last night, and once before this week. I
will not take that drink from any one."

"Why, child?"

"Hush, Tituba, hush, if you love me! I don't mean to be cross; but my
head is full of awful thoughts; they make me say cruel things even to
poor old Tituba."

"The poor child--and she will take nothing," said the old woman, while
her face, dark and wrinkled like a dried peach, began to work, the
nearest approach to weeping her Indian blood ever permitted. "What can I
do? Where is the young brave?"

"Yonder," said Elizabeth, bitterly, "going toward the sea!"

"Shall I bring him back? Shall I tell him he has left your heart full of
tears?"

Tituba clenched her little withered hands with energy, as if she were
about to give a leap, and start off at full speed, while her sharp eyes
followed the retreating figure of the young man. But Elizabeth held her
back.

"No, no. See, Abigail is coming down. I will tell her. Abigail! cousin
Abigail!"

But Abigail Williams, who had been so caressing and kind half an hour
before, came into the passage with the dull, heavy frown on her forehead
which had become habitual now; answering her cousin's appeal with a
repulsive motion of the hand, she passed by her, and went into the open
air.

The sun was very bright, and for an instant she stood upon the
stepping-stone, shading her eyes with one hand, looking first toward the
forest, and again, with more lingering earnestness, sweeping the horizon
with her gaze, where the sky melted into the ocean. A boat lay like a
speck amid the brightness of the water. If Abigail had not been
searching for it, an object so diminished by distance would have escaped
observation. But she saw the floating speck, and, without a look or word
for those she left behind, started off for the shore.



CHAPTER XXXV.

UNACCOUNTABLE SYMPATHIES.


Barbara Stafford sat upon the roots of an old oak, that held the edges
of forest turf together, just where they verged into the white sands of
the beach. The woods had been thinned on that portion of the coast, and
the oak stood out almost alone, amid a sea of whortleberry bushes,
ferns, and low-vined blackberries, that covered the sparse soil with
their many-tinted herbage. Behind her loomed the forest; before her
rolled the ocean. The sunshine lay upon both, turning one to sapphires,
the other to shifting emeralds. The sunshine lay everywhere, save in her
own heart--there was unutterably darkened.

I do not say that all this brightness in nature fell around her like a
mockery; for her soul was too heavy even for a thought of external
objects. It is only sudden or light sorrows that shrink and thrill to
outward things. When depression becomes the habit of a life, it weighs
upon the existence, as stagnant waters sleep in a landscape. When they
are disturbed, miasma starts forth, and makes the earth feel that a
weight is forever upon its bosom, whose breath is poison, which no power
can fathom, and brightness can warm.

This great burden lay upon Barbara Stafford. Had the ocean been lashed
with storms, she might have looked upon it in awe, for she was a woman
full of feminine timidity, and only a few weeks before had been snatched
from the waves by the very youth from whom she had just parted. She was
thinking of the youth, but not of the waves from which he had rescued
her--thinking of him with vague yearnings and fond regrets, which seemed
all of human tenderness that gleamed across the desolation of her hopes.
She felt something like joy singing through the dreariness of her life,
whenever the image of this young man presented itself. Why was it? she
asked herself again and again. Were the blossoms of a new love springing
up from her soul, after it had been laid waste for so many years? Had
the ashes of dead hopes fertilized her life afresh, that she should feel
this glow of affection, when the lad spoke or looked into her eyes?

Barbara was no girl to wave these questions with blushes. She knew their
meaning well, and searched her own heart to its depths, as the surgeon
probes a wound. The unnaturalness of this attachment did not startle her
pride as at first; for she was one of those who measure souls by their
capacity, not the years that might have fallen upon them. Still every
sensitive feeling was wounded by the very idea of love, in its broadest
and most beautiful meaning, as connected with this youth. Affection deep
and steadfast, a love that thrilled her with holy impulses, she found;
but nothing that could bring the pure matronly blood warmer to her
cheeks, or cause her frank eyes to turn aside from his glances. The
feelings that she was forced to acknowledge to herself were
inexplicable, for gratitude was never half so tender, love never in a
degree so unselfish. Barbara had never experienced the sweet worship
which a mother feels for a living child, therefore could not judge how
far these sensations approached that most holy feeling; but she knew
that the presence of this strange emotion had filled her with ineffable
content. The hard realities of her condition faded away at the approach
of this young man, and all the gentle sensations of her youth came
softly back across the desert of her life, keeping her soul from the
despair that for a time had threatened it.

She was thinking of the youth, nothing else, though her eyes gazed
wistfully across the sea, and her face was thoughtful, as if she
expected some pleasant approach from the far-off blue of the deep. So,
when footsteps came across the bench, she started, and the wings of a
brooding dove seemed to unfold in her bosom as Norman Lovel approached
and seated himself on a fragment of stone at her feet.

Barbara could not resist the impulse, but laid her hand caressingly on
his head, burying her fingers in the rich waves of his hair.

He looked up, and smiled. This gentle caress was pleasant, after the
coldness with which Elizabeth had driven him from her side.

"How profoundly you were thinking!" he said. "I was almost afraid to
disturb you."

"Yes," answered Barbara, "I was trying to find out what has swept so
much of the darkness from my life within the last hour."

"And did you find a happy conclusion? I hope so, for then I shall think
that some pleasure at my coming was mingled with your thoughts. Oh, dear
lady, you never will know how keenly we felt your loss."

"And yet I am a stranger to you all."

"Some people are never strangers. I feel as if I had known you from the
cradle up--as if my happiness would never be complete if you were away.
The touch of your hand soothes me, and your voice stirs my heart, like
music heard before thought or memory comes. When I am near you, a solemn
gladness quiets me into a very child. Oh, lady, I love you dearly."

Barbara did not start, or change color. This language seemed natural to
her, as the rush of the waves on the beach. She simply bent down and
laid her hand on his forehead. He drew a deep breath and was silent. The
smile upon his lips was like that of an infant Samuel when he prays.

"I have found you at last; you will never, never leave us again!"

"When the ship sails I must go yonder," she answered, pointing seaward.

"To England! Why should you go? Have you friends there more dear than
those you will leave behind?" questioned the youth, anxiously.

"I have no friends there, but many duties," said Barbara, and her voice
trembled painfully. "When I leave these shores, every living being that
I love will be left behind."

"Why go, then? Why abandon those who regard you tenderly, for a land
that contains no friends?"

Barbara turned pale as she looked down into those beautiful, eager eyes.

"Because," she said, extending her hand toward the ocean, "because that
must roll between us and--and this continent, before I can fall into the
heavy rest, which is all I hope or ask for now."

"But why go away? This is a new country; a mind and energy like yours
may find ample scope for exertion here. Become the missionary of
intelligence. We have school-houses, but few teachers. What grand men
and noble women would be given to the world, from a teacher at once so
strong and so gentle."

Barbara smiled a little proudly. The idea of becoming a school-teacher
in one of the colonies had evidently never entered her mind.

Norman saw the smile and blushed.

"You think it a humble means of good," he said, "and are, perhaps,
offended with me for naming it. But Governor Phipps thinks it a calling
of the utmost importance in these settlements. He says that the man, or
woman, who gives wisdom and Christianity to our little ones, holds an
office higher than that of any judge or statesman in the land."

Barbara gazed wistfully in Norman's face, while he was speaking. An
earnest gleam came into her eyes, and her lips began to quiver. Why was
her voice so like a hoarse whisper when she spoke?

"Did--did Governor Phipps speak of me in this connection?"

"No, but when I had been speaking of you, he said it, as if the idea
came with your name."

Barbara shook her head, slowly and mournfully.

"It can never happen. This land holds no corner of rest for me now. Here
is struggle, temptation, bitter soul-strife; there, is rest, that leaden
rest, which comes when there is nothing to hope or fear. Oh, my young
friend, it is a terrible thing, when one reaches the hill-tops of life,
and finds a broad, ashen desert beyond, with a grave on the other side,
which you long to reach, but must not."

"But surely this is not your case, lady?"

"Alas! what else?" she whispered, casting that wistful look seaward
again. "What of joy, or hope, can ever come to me again?"

"And are you so unhappy?" questioned the youth, almost with tears in his
eyes.

"Unhappy! I do not know--but let us talk of other things: this fair girl
Elizabeth."

"Do not speak of her--she wounds me with her coldness, she insults me
with suspicions--let us talk of any thing rather than her."

"But she loves you, for all that."

"I do not believe it!" cried the youth, impetuously: "love does not turn
a maiden into stone, when a true heart appeals to hers. You would not
repulse me one hour, and adore me the next. I am tired of girls!"

Barbara smiled, as if the prattle of an infant had amused her.

"Fiery young heart," she said, laying her hand on his shoulder, "how
little you comprehend the feelings that trouble you!"

"I can only understand how much sweeter your voice is than hers, how
grand your words are, how like heaven the earth seems when you permit me
to rest as I do now at your feet, and look forth on the ocean. With you,
all is rest--with her, excitement, discontent. She does not love me, and
I begin to think that I do not love her."

"Boy, forbear. This is madness. Your heart does not speak out here. Such
impetuosity will end in evil. Check it. Your wild temper belies a noble
nature. Remember Elizabeth Parris is your betrothed wife!"

"I can remember nothing, except that I have offended you," answered the
youth, passionately, "and I would rather die here at your feet."

"Hush," said Barbara, "here comes Samuel Parris. He turns this way. I
will stroll toward the beach, while you converse with him."

"Nay! I will follow you."

Barbara had arisen. The young man started to his feet, and prepared to
walk forward with her. His color rose, and a glow of haughty resentment
came to his forehead as he caught a glimpse of Samuel Parris, who was
walking quickly toward them, while his face lowered with sombre anxiety.

"Stop," cried the old man, lifting his staff. "Move not to the right or
the left, till I have spoken with you both, face to face."

Barbara Stafford drew her proud figure to its height. There was
something too imperative in his command for her humble endurance. At
times, blood, that seemed born of emperors, mantled over that broad
forehead. It rose red and warm now.

Norman Lovel stood by her side, his lips curved, his eyes flashing fire.
The two looked strangely akin in their haughty astonishment, as that
voice of command sought to arrest their footsteps.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

SOUL TORTURES.


When Elizabeth Parris was left standing on the door-step, and saw every
one drift toward the shore, a sensation fell upon her, so strange and
even terrible, that she thought herself dying. The blood seemed to stop
in her veins, blocking up all the avenues of life. The breath choked up
her throat, and from heart to limb she seemed turning to stone. During
some heavy minutes, she stood in this position, like a thing of marble,
save that her hair had sunshine in it, and her eyes deepened in color
till they seemed black. At last she turned, as a statue might have
wheeled from its base, and entered the house.

A little wing had been added to the building, in which Samuel Parris
kept his books, and wrote his discourses. It was dimly lighted, and a
sombre gloom hung about it in solemn accordance with the old man's habit
of mind. Samuel Parris had spent much time in this apartment after the
excitement of returning home; and with a feeling of gentle complacency
was looking over some of the familiar books that lay on the table.
Engaged with these old friends, he did not observe when the door opened,
and his child glided through. Her small hand, pale as wax, dropped
heavily upon the open page he was reading, first warned him of the dear
presence.

The old man gently pushed the hand aside.

"It is the Holy Bible," he said, in explanation of the act.

"The Bible," muttered Elizabeth, bending down and attempting to read.
But the words all ran together and melted into an intangible network of
characters under her gaze. She started back with a moan of horror, and
clasped both hands over her eyes.

The minister looked up in dumb astonishment.

"What--what is this?" he said, greatly troubled. "What have I done to
make you moan so piteously, Elizabeth?"

The young girl dropped her hands from her face, and wrung them in bitter
anguish.

"Father, I am smitten in my sight. The blood is frozen in my veins. The
breath settles in my throat, strangling me when I speak. I scarcely feel
your touch. I cannot draw a deep breath. When I bend my looks on the
Bible, the pages are striped with ragged, black lines, as if a devil,
not God, had written it."

"My child, what is this? A little while ago you were quiet and cheerful.
What disease can have fallen upon you? What evil thing has touched you?"

She fell upon her knees, grovelling on the floor. Her eyes glittered
painfully, her lips bluish white.

"Father, do not touch me. I am smitten. Lo! I am _bewitched_."

The old man began to tremble in all his limbs. He shrunk away from his
child, gazing wildly at her, as some holy man might watch an angel
changing into a fiend before his eyes.

"Elizabeth, daughter Elizabeth," he cried, "oh, my God--my God!"

She bent her face downward, shrouding it with her garments, sobbing out,

"Do not touch me, father. I am unholy--body and soul I am unholy. God
blinds my sight to his word. Fiery fiends have tracked their footprints
over His promises. Oh, me--oh, me--the curse is here!"

More pale, more terribly stricken than his child, the old man stood up,
and, clasping his thin hands, lifted them slowly to heaven. At last he
spoke, in a voice of solemn command, which vibrated to the poor girl's
heart:

"Elizabeth Parris, rise up, and say unto me, who has done this
thing--whence comes thy affliction?"

Elizabeth arose very slowly, and looked her father in the face.

"Come and see!"

Uttering only this one sentence, she led the way out of the house and
into the open air. On she sped, through the sunshine and along by-paths,
toward the sea-shore, looking over her shoulder now and then to be sure
that her father followed close, but never turning aside or speaking a
word.

At last she came out upon a curve of the beach, within sight of the oak
tree under which Barbara Stafford was sitting with Norman Lovel.

"Behold!" she said, throwing out her hand, with the look and gesture of
a priestess. "Behold the strange woman, Barbara Stafford--the evil one
cast forth from the depths of the sea to torment us. Behold the WITCH!"

After the young girl had uttered these awful words, for awful they were
in those days, a dead silence fell upon the father and child. At last
they both turned away, slowly retraced their steps, and entered the
house together. When they were alone in the library, the minister fell
into his chair and began to weep--weep and pray with a troubled
abruptness that proved the terrible hold with which his daughter's
charge had seized upon him. He saw now the complete change that had come
over her, the wildness in her eyes, the deadly white of her face. The
inroads, which a week of anxiety had made upon her person, struck him
with consternation and irresistible belief. What, save some fiendish
influence, could have changed the rosy bloom of her youth into that
dull, hopeless look?

"Kneel down," he said, at last, "Elizabeth, my child; for if all the
evil spirits of the black realm have entered that form, thou art yet my
child. Kneel down, and with thy hand upon the Bible, tell me how this
strange woman has poisoned thy young life; tell me all, that I may ask
the Most High God to help us in this strait."

Elizabeth answered more consistently than her state of terror would seem
to warrant. She had evidently thought deeply on the matter, and reasoned
with an intellect rendered keen by the alarm of a loving heart. She was
very pale, and sharp, nervous quivers shook her now and then, but the
pretty wilfulness of her character had entirely disappeared. She was
like a priestess preparing for some solemn oracle.

"First, let me ask you, father, who is this woman whom you and Norman
Lovel dragged up from the depths of the sea?"

"In truth I do not know," answered the minister, greatly troubled. "Did
I not tell you, Elizabeth, that it happened on the second day of my
arrival in Boston?"

"The second day; and I had not seen you then."

"Truly, these words are sooth, my child. I was beset by this weak heart
to visit thee at once, but some feeling, which seemed from above, held
me back, whispering ever, 'Do not make to thyself an idol of this fair
child, for thy God is a jealous God, visiting the sins of the fathers
upon the children.' Then, feeling that the great love in my bosom might
fall upon thee in wrath for mine offence, I dared not come within sight
of thee, mine only child; but was driven by the storm, as it were, on to
the heights overlooking the ocean."

"And what did you see there, my father?"

"A ship, breaking through the clouds, afar off, that waved and surged
around and above it like fiery banners."

"And this woman came down the sides, entered a boat, and was whelmed in
the waves, from which you and Norman Lovel, my betrothed, rescued her.
All the rest I know. But who is she? Where is her country, and from what
good or evil influence did she get that wonderful power, which wins
every heart to her glance?"

"Elizabeth, I do not know!"

"Father, let us be just. From the depth of my soul I believe this woman
an emissary of the Evil One, sent hither to break up the harmony of our
lives. But speak to her, father; question her, as a judge might do, when
afraid to sentence unholily. If the conviction fastened in this poor
heart springs from the selfishness of too keen affections, let me have
the proof, and I will kneel at Barbara Stafford's feet till she pardons
me. But if there is truth in these things--if she possesses no power to
sweep suspicion of diabolical influence away from her--then will I, of
my own strength, surrender her to the magistrates, that the evil spirit
may be driven from our house."

Samuel Parris was sorely perplexed. In his simplicity, the introduction
of this strange lady into his household had been preceded with none of
the usual explanations. There was something about the woman, a dignity
of reserve, that, notwithstanding her sweet graciousness, forbade all
close questioning. When Samuel Parris remembered all the incidents
connected with their first meeting--the reserve maintained ever
since--the confusion left behind when she fled so strangely from the
governor's house, and the animosities that had sprung up under his own
roof since it had sheltered her--the justice of his daughter's
accusation fastened strongly upon him. He shivered with dread. Events
hitherto of simple solution, took a lurid form in his eyes. He looked
wistfully at the pale face uplifted to his--at the trouble in those
beautiful eyes--and was ready to cry out with anguish when he thought
that it was through him the evil influence had reached that young soul.

"Stay here," he said, rising from his chair, and searching for his
staff, for the tremor in his old limbs was painfully visible. "Sit here,
and pray for help. Before the Lord I will question this woman."

He kissed his daughter on the forehead, trembling all over, as if his
lips pressed the brow of a corpse, and taking up his staff went out,
followed by her heavy gaze, and a succession of low moans; for with
great mental anguish came bodily pain, and for a time Elizabeth Parris
seemed as if shrouded in ice.

The old man bent his steps toward the beach once more.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

DENUNCIATION AND REPROACHES.


Barbara Stafford was both disturbed and offended by the abrupt challenge
of the minister. There was something wild, even rude in his manner, that
aroused all the force of her really proud nature.

"Leave me, Norman!" she said, gently. "It was wrong to abandon the young
lady on the first hour of your arrival; one does not readily forgive
such slights. Go back to the house, and make atonement."

Norman obeyed, lifting his hat with haughty reverence as he passed the
minister. The old man turned, and followed him half way to the house.
Then he paused--stood a moment lost in thought, and slowly retraced his
steps.

Barbara would not appear to wait his coming. She had wandered forth, as
was her frequent habit, in search of rare flowers that excited her
botanical fancy, from their beauty; or roots that possessed some
medicinal property, useful in the minister's household. Without
appearing to heed the old man, she left the foot of the oak, and was
walking along the curving lines formed where the forest turf crumbled
away into a surface of white sand. Now and then she paused to gather a
leaf, or some wood blossom, which she put in a little Indian basket,
which hung upon her arm.

As the minister came up with her, she was kneeling on the turf and
eagerly unearthing a bulbous root, from which two or three rich leaves
sprang, shading a cone of red berries that shot up from their midst like
a flame.

She looked over her shoulder, as the minister approached, and half rose,
with the little stiletto, with which she had been digging, in her hand.

"Wait a moment," she said, falling to her work again. "This is a rare
specimen. I have almost uprooted the bulb. Old Tituba will find it
wonderfully useful in making up her drinks."

The minister grew pale, as he stood leaning on his staff gazing at the
root. Barbara spoke again, rather cheerfully, for exercise and a bright
sea-breeze had excited her a little.

"It has a common name, I think, among the people here. Wake
robbin--isn't that correct?"

"Wake robbin--wild turnip, a deadly poison," answered the old man,
hoarsely.

"Ah, that is as you take it. Well dried, and ground to powder, it is
sometimes a wholesome medicine. I will teach Tituba how to use it."

"Tituba--my woman servant, Tituba--and is she of this diabolical
confederacy?" muttered the old man, while a sensation of horror crept
over him. "Am I beset with fiends?"

Barbara arose from the earth, held up the cone of scarlet berries in the
sun, while the bulb was clasped in her hand, with the green leaves
falling over it.

"How can poisonous things be so beautiful?" she said, with a sigh. "Who
would believe that one of these glowing drops could take a human life?"

"You know it to be deadly, then?" questioned the old man.

His voice was so hoarse that Barbara looked him earnestly in the face.

"Yes," she answered, thoughtfully, "I know all its good and all its evil
qualities. Like many other things in life it can both cure and kill."

As she spoke, Barbara cut away the leaves and the red cone with her
poignard, dropping the root into her basket. Then she put away the
stiletto somewhere in the folds of her dress, and dashed off the soil
that clung to her white hands.

"You would speak with me, I think?" she said, a little anxiously.

"She knows that already," thought the old man, feeding his suspicions
with every word Barbara Stafford uttered: but he only said:

"Lady, what have you in common with the young man who sat with you a few
minutes ago, under the oak yonder?"

Barbara smiled. These words were a relief to her. She had expected
something more important by his strange manner.

"Oh, Mr. Lovel--he joined me on the shore where I went in search of a
shrub I wanted for old Tituba who has a bad cough. I hope his wish to
join me has not encroached on pleasanter duties."

"And he too?" muttered the old man--"he too?"

Barbara listened keenly, but the words escaped her. Her silence,
however, was impressive.

"Let us go forward to the oak yonder," he said, pointing the way with
his staff.

Barbara turned, without a word, and walked slowly toward the oak.

They sat down together, the old man and the strange woman--she with a
calm look of preparation; he stern and pale, but hesitating how to
begin. Her dignity and the grave attention with which she waited took
away all his self-possession.

"You would speak with me," Barbara said, at length: "you look agitated.
Surely nothing has gone amiss since I left the house!"

The old man's face changed, and his voice trembled as he spoke.

"Lady, I helped to save you from the deep. I surrendered to you the
sacred wine after it had touched the lips of the man who stands highest
in our land. I have given you shelter in my dwelling, and placed you at
the same table with my daughter and my niece; yet so far as your worldly
life is concerned, I know you not, neither your outgoing nor your
incoming. What could I answer to the Lord, were he to say to me, 'Samuel
Parris, who is the woman with whom you have broken bread, and shared the
same roof?' I could but reply, 'Lord, I know not--for good or for evil
she was cast upon my care, like a drift of sea-weed from the great
deep--without a history--without a friend!'"

"And in so much your answer would prove correct. Be satisfied, kind old
man, that you have done a Christian duty, for which the poor woman you
saved will not prove ungrateful."

The minister shook his head, muttering to himself,

"The arch enemy is most potent when he speaks in a sweet voice, and
takes on himself the meekness of an angel."

Barbara only heard a word or two of this low speech, but she saw that
the old man was troubled, and a mournful smile came to her lips.

"You are weary of me, I have become a burden in your house; do not fear
to say this."

"Not a burden, lady, but a mystery--not an unwelcome guest, but one
around whom tears and discord centre, like storm clouds over the sky.
Lady, in the name of God, I ask, who are you, and for what purpose do
you sojourn among us?"

Barbara Stafford arose, pressed both hands to her eyes for a moment, and
answered--ah, so sadly--

"I am nothing but a lone, lone woman, Samuel Parris, a sorrowful woman
whose way of life lies through the ashes of dead hopes. I am a woman to
whom love is a forbidden blessing. This is your first answer. As for my
object in coming among you, it is not accomplished, but dead. A few
weeks and I shall pass away. The sea, which would not mercifully
overwhelm me, spreads its waters between us and the land where my grave
will be dug. Let me rest in peace, old man, till a ship sails for some
British port: then I will trouble no one longer."

"Then she will trouble no one longer," muttered Parris, writing with his
stick upon the ground. "God teach me how to deal with this beautiful
demon, if such she is: her words disturb my soul with compassion against
its will."

He was tempted to go away and leave the gentle lady in peace, with her
basket of roots, and the fragrant flowers with which she had
interspersed them. The task of questioning her was too much for his kind
nature; while, influenced by the sweetness of her voice, and under the
magnetism of her presence, he felt humbled and gentle as a child. His
daughter was quite forgotten; but, as he stood irresolute, a cry came
out from the distance, and looking toward his house, he saw Elizabeth
coming swiftly toward them, her golden hair all afloat in the sunshine,
her blue eyes bright as diamonds, her lips apart and tremulous with the
cries that came sobbing through them.

"My child! my child!" cried the old man, stretching forth his arms as
the young girl drew near. "Woman, behold your evil work!"

Barbara was bewildered. Her eyes turned from the old man to the girl,
who came up swiftly, her face all flushed with fever, her eyes burning,
and her lips filling the air with broken words.

"Father! father! Come away! There is witchcraft in her eyes: they have
beguiled him and now turn upon you. Come away, or she will lure you upon
the sands, and sing you into the coral caves, which are built by her
sisters, the sea witches."

"Alas! the poor child is ill. This is the delirium of fever!" cried
Barbara, going toward the frantic young creature, who flung herself
back, and with her hand motioned the woman away.

"Avaunt! get you behind me!" she cried, with the voice and air of a
priestess in full inspiration. "Sister of her of Endor, I denounce you.
Demon, whom the waves have hurled forth to our destruction, I denounce
you. Let the old man alone. He shall not taste your roots, or be
poisoned with a touch of your hand. Lo, it is in my veins, it burns in
my eyes, and aches on my forehead--body and soul, your evil power
possesses me; but remember, he is a servant of the Most High. His heart
is full of prayers, his brain armed with holy thoughts. The fiends you
serve shall not prevail against this holy man!"

Barbara was struck with astonishment. She turned deathly white as these
words were hurled against her, but she had great knowledge of diseases
and instantly saw the truth.

"Poor child!" she said, approaching Elizabeth, "this is the delirium of
brain fever. She is very ill!"

Elizabeth flung out her arms, staggered back, and fell to the earth,
moaning with pain.

"Stand back," said the old man, planting himself before the prostrate
form of his child, "your sorcery has done its work; a demon possesses
her. Woman, before the most holy God, I denounce you as a Witch!"

Barbara staggered back, stunned and white, under the minister's solemn
denunciation. The horrible magnitude of his charge paralyzed her.

"What can this mean? Who denounces me?" she cried out at last, rising to
her full majestic height, and casting a look of sorrowful indignation at
her accuser. "I am a stranger, and helpless!"

The old man was bending over his child. Her flushed face was turned
upward to the sun, her eyes wandered to and fro, dazzled and bright with
pain. She had ceased to mutter now, and lay motionless.

Barbara would have helped the old man, but he put her aside, and in a
stern voice bade her depart.

The unhappy woman looked wildly abroad, upon the ocean--the land--it all
seemed a dreary wilderness to her. Why should she remain where men hated
her so? Why did she wish to escape the awful danger threatened by that
old man's words? Fleeing, as much from the minister's evident abhorrence
as from fear of the consequences, the woman turned and walked slowly
toward the woods.

When Samuel Parris arose, lifting his child from the earth, Barbara
Stafford had disappeared. Unheard and unseen she had vanished from his
presence; and this was remembered as another proof against her.

While the scene had been in progress, a boat grated on the sands of the
beach, and two persons stepped out, going different ways: the young man
bent his course toward the forest; the maiden came softly up to the
place where Samuel Parris stood staggering under the weight of his
child.

"What is this, uncle? Has Elizabeth hurt herself that she cannot keep
her feet?" said Abigail Williams, in the cold, still way that had marked
her of late.

"She is possessed--God have mercy upon us! the child is possessed!"

Abigail looked on her cousin's face, and a spasm of pain crept over her
own features.

"She is indeed very ill--something terrible is upon her. Let us go to
the house: the hot sun makes her worse."

The old man gathered Elizabeth closer to his bosom and turned to obey
this suggestion. In moving, his foot struck the little basket which
Barbara had carried, scattering some of the roots and flowers on the
ground.

"Bring that, also!" he said, glancing earthward; "bring that also!"

Abigail took up the basket, replaced the scattered roots, and followed
the minister home.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

SHELTERED IN THE WOODS.


Barbara Stafford found herself in the deep shadows of the wilderness,
walking slowly and steadily on till their gloom lay around her--heavy
and dark, like the terror that settled on her soul.

Barbara was a woman strong to suffer, to endure, and to act; but a woman
still, timid like her sex, shrinking from pain, and afraid of violence,
as true womanhood is. Though full of that gentle courage which is so
beautiful when blended with softer qualities, she was sensitive to blame
and easily wounded in her personal dignity. This abrupt charge of
witchcraft shocked her to the soul. Was she to give up every thing, to
suffer a martyrdom of affection, and go down to her grave branded as a
demon? Barbara knew well the importance of a charge like that denounced
against her by the lips of Samuel Parris. There did not exist a person
in the colonies whose power of character would give more crushing force
to an accusation of this kind, both in the courts and in the
congregation. She felt that the good old man was convinced of her evil
power against his own wishes--that, added to his natural fanaticism, a
solemn belief in witchcraft, which had spread from the old country into
the colonies, had seized upon his quick imagination, and he would pursue
her to death from an honest sense of duty.

She felt the danger to be imminent. But where could she fly? to whom
appeal? A stranger, without history, with a name utterly unknown in the
colonies, with no ostensible motive for leaving her own land, or
remaining an hour in this, who would step forward in her defence? Norman
Lovel? Alas! he was young and entirely dependent on Gov. Phipps, the
tried and bosom friend of Samuel Parris. What hope could lie in that
direction?

There was no shelter--no help. A feeling of strange desolation crept
over her. She had thought herself lonely, and her life dreary before,
but her heart was full of gentle sympathies that would put forth their
fibres and search for something to cling to, even in her worst hours.
Now she was literally driven forth to the wilderness, branded by a
horrible accusation, which must turn all compassion into hate wherever
she approached. She had gold about her person, but even that all potent
metal was valueless here. Who would touch coin that came from a
denounced witch? Who would believe in its validity, or dare to receive
money which might turn to some poisonous drug in the handling?

In her distress, Barbara bethought herself of the broken tribe of
Indians that she had seen only a few nights before mustering with such
solemn purpose around the man whom she had so signally befriended. She
remembered that promise to protect her, which had stirred the very heart
of the wilderness as with a single voice. She was ready to trust these
savages, and without a pang accept protection from their chief. But how
could she find their hiding-places in a forest so deep, and without a
guide?

The night was drawing on, dark and heavy. Storm clouds gathered in
masses over the sun as it set, turning all its gold to lead, and filling
the woods with pall-like shadows. Then came sounds of low thunder,
mingled with a sough of the winds as they swept in from the distant
ocean. The loneliness grew terrible. She fell upon her knees and prayed
to God, the only being to whom she could appeal, in heaven or on earth.

As she prayed the rain began to fall. It came pattering among the
leaves, breaking up the gloom with opposing dreariness. When the foliage
was all saturated and dripping, the drops began to fall heavily around
her, but she had no shelter--no friend. The elements seemed driving her
from all approach to heaven. She arose heart sick, and seating herself
on a fragment of rock, buried her face in her folded arms and wept.

A hand laid upon her shoulder broke the deadness of her grief. She
looked up and saw the young Indian chief.

"Lady, why are you here alone, so far from home, and a storm brewing?"
he said.

She lifted her face with a look of touching gratitude. It was something
to feel that human life was near--that she need not shiver in the rain,
and be left to starve in the deep woods.

"They pursue me--the white men of my race--they charge me with grave
crimes--they have driven me into the woods," she answered, with touching
mournfulness.

The young man drew himself up, and clutched the gun which he held with a
passionate grip.

"Again," he said, bitterly, "are they at their old work? Must another
bright head stoop beneath their blows? Come with me. I have nothing but
savage fare and savage protection to give, but with us you will be safe.
When the Indian strikes a woman, it is upon the forehead, not the heart.
We torture with fire, not with words."

Barbara arose, thankful for his kindness, but her limbs trembled. She
had walked many miles, and now that protection came her strength fled.

"Where would you take me?" she inquired. "Is it very far?"

He saw how helpless she was, and his brow fell. The encampment was far
distant over the broken hills.

"Wait a little," he said; "gather strength and courage. Not far from
this are a few of my people, who follow me always when I approach the
settlements. We can soon reach them."

Barbara made a brave effort, and followed him through the gathering
darkness. He did not pause more than was necessary to help her through
the undergrowth where the ground was broken and difficult of ascent. It
seemed as if her lonely condition and utter helplessness silenced all
the fiery devotion which had marked their previous interviews. He
touched her hand with reverence when she extended it for help once or
twice, but never looked upon her face, or uttered a word of the
passionate homage that burned in his heart.

At last they reached a basin in the hills, locked in by a chain of
ledges, crowned with trees and covered with creeping ferns and mosses. A
fire was burning in this little hollow; the rain beat upon it through
the branches, but still it flamed up, giving glow and warmth to the
night. Around this fire a group of Indians sat in patient watching for
their chief. He approached them softly and spoke a few gentle words. The
Indians stood up and gazed at Barbara in respectful wonder. She in her
turn looked upon their stately forms and worn habiliments with a strange
feeling of safety.

These men wore no paint; their robes of dressed deer-skin were faded and
without ornament. Nothing about them seemed worthy of care, except the
guns that they leaned upon, and the pouches in which they kept powder
and lead.

The young chief spoke with his followers in their own language. He told
them more of Barbara Stafford's history than any person in America knew
except himself. How she was the daughter of a proud old chief in the
mother country, who owned lands broad almost as the wilderness they
stood in, with a vast dwelling which rose from the earth like a mountain
peak. The savages needed no more than this, for they had heard his
speech near the beacon fire, but he seemed to find proud joy in telling
them that the lady, so gentle and so good, now their guest, so far as
God's wilderness could afford hospitality, had bought him of his
task-masters, and taken him to foreign countries, where she and her
father travelled together in sad companionship, for both were unhappy,
and found his affection a solace. She had in her beautiful kindness
redeemed his soul from ignorance, as she had purchased his body from the
slave-driver's lash. After this she and her proud father had taken him
to their home in England--that grand home in which they were held as
chiefs and princes--where the old chief died, leaving his daughter alone
in her proud domain.

Here the young man paused, his eyes fell, and his haughty lip began to
tremble. He spoke in the Indian tongue, which Barbara could not
understand, but the swarthy blood burned on his forehead as her eye
turned upon him, and for a moment he shrunk from telling the whole
truth; but his brave nature gained the mastery, and he went on, yet with
humility in his voice, and shame burning in his downcast eyes.

"My children, I loved the lady from the hour her hand unlocked my
chains, but the secret lay buried deep in my heart, and no one guessed
how it burned there. When her father was dead, and I saw her alone, with
no one but me to counsel or comfort her, this love broke from its covert
and frightened her almost into hating me. She did not mock me with
scorn, but--"

Here the Indians broke their grim silence, and signs of proud anger
passed between them. At last one spoke.

"Why should the woman treat you with scorn? If she was the child of a
great chief, Philip, your father, was the king of a mighty tribe--your
mother was white as the boxwood in flower, and proud as the hemlock on a
cliff. What woman dare receive the love of a king's son, save with her
forehead in the dust?"

"Not with scorn, my braves. I said she was frightened, not angry: my
wild passion was its own enemy. She commanded me from her presence, told
me of the years she had lived before I was born, and with cruel
gentleness sent me away.

"But I would not go. Like a disgraced hound I hung upon her track,
unseen, unthought of, it may be, till she left her home and came down to
the sea shore, where a ship lay ready to sail. I followed her, and
buried myself deep in the hold of the vessel, not caring--may the Great
Spirit forgive me!--where the ship went, nor how long she might plough
the ocean. We were sheltered by the same timbers once more, and that was
enough. Before starting I knew that the ship was bound for Boston, and
felt that the Great Spirit had been leading me back to my father's
people--back among my father's enemies, that I might accomplish the
great object of my life, and avenge the wrongs which no Indian can
forget. So, urged on by two great passions, I obtained such means of war
as lay within my power and came among you.

"The lady left our vessel when we neared the land. She descended into a
frail boat, and was launched forth into the harbor, which was lashed and
angry with storms I dared not offer to go with her, but looked on sick
at heart till the tempest swept her away. She was hurled among the
breakers, buried in the sea; but an old man, the persecutor of our
people, the minister of Salem, dragged her forth, and with him a youth."

The chief paused abruptly, and his reproachful eyes turned upon the
lady.

"He was younger than I am, and a stranger, yet she did not drive him
from her presence."

He spoke these words in English, but Barbara did not comprehend their
meaning or connection. She only knew that his eyes were full of sad
reproach, and, smiling softly, drew close to his side, murmuring,

"I am driven into captivity now, and it is from you I seek shelter."

"I have told my braves whom it is they will defend. While they live you
are safe in the wilderness which was my father's hunting-ground. As for
me, have compassion and let me go hence."

A flush reddened Barbara Stafford's forehead as she bent it with a
gentle sign of acquiescence. The chief gave some orders in their own
tongue, and the Indians instantly fell to work cutting away wet branches
from the hemlocks and pines, tearing green bark from the giant elms, and
felling young saplings, which they planted in the earth, and curved
downward in the form of a tent. Over these they laid the bark, and
covered the whole with green boughs, till a bower was formed worthy of a
wood nymph. Two of the Indians brought great fleeces of moss down from
the ledges and heaped a couch with them, and over all a noble white pine
spread its massy branches, through which the full moon sent a thousand
gleams of silver, as if laughing at the bank of storm clouds from which
it had just escaped.

Upon the couch of moss which his people had heaped in this bower, the
young chief spread a robe of skins, and laid his blanket, which he
unwound from his shoulders. Then, with the air of a prince offering the
hospitality of a royal palace, he approached Barbara Stafford where she
sat by the fire, and led her to the shelter provided for her.

Barbara was greatly moved. With an impulse of thankfulness, she bent
down and kissed the young chief's hand as he was about to withdraw it
from hers; but it trembled like a wounded bird beneath her touch, and
his magnificent eyes filled with tears--the shame of an Indian's soul.

Angry with his weakness, the young man turned from her and dashed away
into the woods.

When Barbara awoke in the morning, for fatigue made her sleep heavy, she
inquired for the young man. The Indians answered that he had gone deeper
into the wilderness, where the main body of his tribe lay, and when a
cabin was prepared for her reception, he would come back again; till
then the five warriors whom he had left behind would protect her with
their lives.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

TAKEN CAPTIVE.


Samuel Parris bore his daughter home and laid her on her own white bed,
where she writhed like a wounded fawn in the snow. Her face was rosy
with flushes, that came and went like gleams of light on marble; her
lips were in constant motion; she muttered continually about Barbara
Stafford and Norman Lovel. Sometimes she called aloud for her mother,
and declared with child-like earnestness that she saw her gliding
through the room with her golden hair smoothed under a close cap, and a
white dress sweeping around her like the wings of an angel.

The old minister listened to all this in stern sorrow. His ewe lamb was
smitten down before his eyes: God had suffered his idolatrous love to
find a terrible punishment. What could he do? how act to save that
beautiful one from perdition?

Norman Lovel was sad. Barbara Stafford had disappeared like a myth. His
approach seemed to have driven her away, and he found Elizabeth, from
whom he had parted in anger, writhing on a bed of pain, muttering her
wild fancies and crying aloud for help.

Abigail Williams moved about coldly and in breathless silence. The curse
of witchcraft was upon the house, hatred and death clung around it like
cerecloths to a coffin. What if she, too, were possessed--the story of
old Tituba, a device of the Evil One, and the young chief so wildly
beautiful, who claimed relationship with her, the arch fiend himself?
The very foundations of her reason seemed shaken by these doubts, and as
the moans and cries of Elizabeth reached her ear from time to time, she
would pause in her work and stand motionless like a block of marble,
till some new sound startled her into life again.

All night Samuel Parris sat by the bedside of his child, pallid and
thoughtful. Over and again he questioned her in the midst of her wild
speeches, as a judge sifts the words of a doubtful witness. Sometimes he
fell into audible prayer, and again sat in dull silence pondering
gloomily.

When the morning came he went forth, and, mounting his horse, rode to
the nearest magistrate, who was a deacon in his own church, and a man of
iron domination. Samuel Parris knew well that after his appeal to this
man, there could be little free will left to him.

No wonder then that he walked heavily, and paused long upon the
door-step before entering. He shrunk from hunting down the life of a
helpless woman, and shuddered at the thought of making a charge from
which there was no chance of retreat.

The minister went in at last, and the door closed heavily after him. The
sound of a muffled drum could not have followed his footsteps more
solemnly.

After an hour the old man came forth again, and moved with a slow tread
down the village street toward his own dwelling. As he passed the doors
of his parishioners, men and women came out and questioned him in low
tones, and with looks of awe, regarding the condition of his child. He
answered them all patiently, but with a sad weariness of manner that
turned curiosity into compassion.

On the threshold of his home Samuel Parris met three men, members of his
own congregation, who greeted him in silence, as neighbors salute the
chief mourners at a funeral. Then the four passed in, and mounted to the
chamber where Elizabeth lay, with her wild eyes lifted to the ceiling,
and her hands waving about in the air.

These four good men--for after the manner of the times they were
good--sat down in silence, and each gathered from the lips of the
delirious girl the evidence which was to imperil a human life. When they
had listened an hour keenly and conscientiously, each according to his
light, they arose and went forth, shaking Samuel Parris by the hand with
touching solemnity.

The old minister saw his friends file away from the house, and bend
their course toward that of the magistrate, and then he felt with a pang
of unutterable sorrow that the fate of Barbara Stafford had passed out
of his hands.

That day a posse of men, headed by a constable, armed with a warrant to
arrest Barbara Stafford for witchcraft, passed through the village and
into the forest, taking the track which the unhappy woman had pursued.
The moss and forest sward was moist yet, and with the keen eyes of men
accustomed to pursue an Indian trail they found traces of her
progress--now a faint footprint--then a broken twig or a fragment of her
garments. Thus step by step they pursued her, till at last the whole
group stood upon a swell of land that overlooked the hollow in which the
Indians had built that sylvan lodge. At the entrance a red shawl had
been stretched, which was now folded back to let the daylight through,
and in the warm shadow beyond they saw the object of their search
sitting in dreary thought.

A single Indian lay upon the turf a little way off, guarding the lodge
with a vigilance the more watchful because his companions had gone forth
in search of food.

The posse of men held a whispered consultation. They understood the
condition of things, and resolved to act promptly before help came.

In the savage warfare which had ended in the subjugation of the kingly
tribes, Indian life was held scarcely more sacred than that of the wild
deer and panthers that infested the hills. When the constable saw that
athletic savage lying upon the turf, with his broad chest exposed like
that of a bronze statue, he drew the gun which he carried to his
shoulder with a grim smile, called on God to bless the murder, and
touched the ponderous lock with his finger. A sharp click, a loud
report, a fierce cry: the savage leaped into the air, fell upon his
face, all his limbs quivering, and with a single spasm lay dead across
the entrance of Barbara Stafford's hiding-place.

Barbara came forth white and trembling, saw the dead savage at her feet,
and looked fearfully around for his murderers. A group of men and a
wreath of pale smoke curling out upon the air revealed all her danger.
She did not retreat, but fell upon her knees and lifted the head of the
Indian up from the ground. Drops of crimson stole down the bronze chest
and fell slowly to the turf.

Barbara did not attempt to escape, though she saw at a glance all her
danger. The savage who had been her protector was shot through the
heart. The sight of so much life and strength smitten down in one
instant paralyzed her. She had never witnessed a violent death before,
and the shock bereft her alike of hope and fear.

The constable understood, and whispering his men to follow, crept toward
her. She saw him without caring to escape, but, stooping over the body
of her friend, shook her head mournfully as he came up.

"Unhappy man, you have killed him," she said, lifting her eyes to his
face with a glance of pathetic reproach.

The constable stooped down, dragged the body from her feet, and cast it
headlong down the slope of earth on which she stood. Then, without a
word, he seized Barbara by both her wrists, and grasped them together
with a firm grip of one hand, while he searched in his pocket for a
thong of deer-skin prepared for the occasion. Putting one end of the
thong between his teeth, he wound the other tightly over her wrists--so
tightly that the delicate hands grew purple to the finger ends. Then he
finished his barbarous work with a double knot tightened with both hands
and teeth.

The outraged woman lifted her eyes to his face with a frightened look as
he performed this brutal act, but she neither protested nor struggled;
once she observed gently that he hurt her hands, but, when no heed was
taken, allowed him to proceed without further remonstrance.

When her hands were bound, the constable tore down her shawl from the
entrance of the lodge and placed it on her shoulders, crossing it over
her bosom and knotting it behind, thus forming a double thraldom for her
arms.

She bore it all patiently and in silence; once she cast an earnest look
into the depths of the forest, perhaps with a hope that her savage
friends might come to the rescue, but she only met the gleaming eyes of
a wild-cat, swinging lazily on a bough to which human approach had
driven him. Even there her glance was answered by a low growl and a
gleam of savage teeth. The wild beasts were defying her in one
direction, and human cruelty dragging her to death in another.

Thus, helpless and unresisting, she was forced into the settlement
again, bound like a criminal. She made neither protest nor resistance,
but remained quietly in the hands of her captors, accepting her fate
with touching resignation.



CHAPTER XL.

THE ACCUSERS OF BARBARA.


When the constable and his followers came into the town of Salem, with
Barbara Stafford in their midst, a wild commotion seized upon the
inhabitants. Every door and window was crowded with human heads. The
public streets were swarming like a bee-hive, and a look of solemn
consternation greeted her at every point. Pale and still Barbara passed
before them. The subdued feeling, the majesty and grandeur of her
carriage, impressed many with awe, and a few with gleams of compassion;
but the ban of witchcraft was upon her, and no one ventured to step
forth for her defence or comfort. She was not insulted: among the whole
crowd there was no man or child cruel enough to assail her. Little boys
who had gathered up stones and handfuls of turf to hurl at the witch,
felt the missiles dropping from their grasp when those great, mournful
eyes turned upon them. Some little girls, in the tenderness of their
youth, began to cry when they saw how her hands were bound; but one or
two old women called out, and with jeers bade her prove her descent from
the devil by breaking her own bonds, exactly as like revilers mocked our
Saviour more than sixteen hundred years before. But some supernatural
power seemed to bind the voices of these women, and the words they would
have uttered died out in low groans: the gentle power of that woman's
presence silenced even the spite of unredeemed old age.

The constable and his men bent their way to the house of Samuel Parris,
where the accused was to be confronted with her victim. The inhabitants
of the town followed the cortege, and gathered in groups upon the
stretch of sward that lay between the minister's dwelling and the
meeting-house; while the functionaries of the church and officials of
the government entered the house.

Elizabeth Parris still kept her room, but in her delirium she had
insisted on wearing her usual apparel, and when her father came up, with
distress in his face, to prepare her for the approach of her strange
visitors, the young girl was resolute to descend to the rooms below
where she would entertain her father's guests with due state.

Possessed of the idea that there was some great entertainment at which
she was to preside, the beautiful lunatic--for such fever and intense
excitement had made her for the time--began to rummage in her chest of
drawers for the pretty ornaments with which she had adorned herself
while the guest of Lady Phipps. The old minister dared not resist her;
with him these vagaries were solemn evidences of witchcraft with which
it was sacrilege to interfere.

Thus, in a little time after Barbara Stafford was led into the house,
Elizabeth Parris appeared on the staircase, crowned with artificial
roses that glowed crimson in her golden hair, and gathering the white
muslin robe to her bosom with one pale hand, as if the inspiration of
some old master, when he searched his soul for the type of a heathen
priestess, had fallen upon her. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes shone
like stars, and the gliding motion with which she descended the stairs
made her presence spiritual as that of an angel.

Abigail Williams came after, very serious, and with a look of terrible
pain upon her forehead; her eyes, dusky with trouble, watched the
movements of her cousin. She seemed a dark shadow following the spirit.

Then came Samuel Parris; how white his hair had become! how old and
locked were those thin features! He moved like one who felt the curse of
God heavy upon him and his whole house. Desolation was in every
movement.

Old Tituba crept after, quick and vigilant as a fox. She traced back all
this trouble to her own story of the martyred Hutchinsons. From the day
of her confidence with Abby Williams the curse had entered her master's
house. She was the evil spirit that the people sought. She had concocted
the roots into the drinks with which Elizabeth had quenched her fever
thirst when the disease crept insidiously over her. True, Barbara
Stafford had told her they were cooling and wholesome; but what right
had she to take the word of a strange woman like that? Was not her
darling witch-stricken, soul and body, by the very decoctions with which
she had hoped to cure her? Had not the words of her own tongue changed
Abigail Williams from a calm, gentle maiden, full of thoughtful
affections, to a stern prophetess, such as her people evoked when they
thirsted for vengeance?

Tituba had pondered these things over and over in her thoughts till she
almost believed herself a witch and a demon, and this was the frame of
mind in which the poor old creature followed the stricken family into
the presence of the magistrates.

When Elizabeth Parris entered the room that had once been the favorite
retreat of her mother, she bent her slight figure with gentle
recognition of her father's friends, and moving toward the old oaken
chair, which had been, time out of mind, in the family, sat down, or
rather dropped into it, for her strength was giving way. But, feeling
that something was expected of her, she looked around, making mournful
efforts at a smile. Her glance fell on Barbara Stafford, who sat near
the window, watching her movements with a look of gentle compassion.

All at once her eyes dilated and shot fire, her brow began to throb
heavily under the roses that bound it, and uplifting herself from the
chair, she pointed at Barbara with her finger, reeling to and fro, as we
remember Rachel when she sung the Marseillaise almost upon the brink of
her own grave.

"Take her away! take her away! I cannot breathe while she sits yonder,
with her soft, calm eyes! That look has poison in it!"

She began to shudder, and fell back into the chair, crying piteously.

The old man approached Barbara Stafford, and clasping his withered
hands, began to plead with her.

"Behold," he said, stooping meekly toward her, "behold your evil work!
When you came here, only a few days ago, she was bright and fair as the
rose when it opens. Every thing made her happy. If she went out, joy
followed her; when she came back, the sound of her footsteps was like an
answered prayer. Till you came, the Lord dwelt in our household, and
blessed it. We loved each other, and helped each other, as Christians
should. Woman, what had we done that you should drive out our household
angels, and fill their places with fiends of darkness? I saved your
life, and lo, my child, my only child, is accursed before God and man!"

The minister lifted his hands as he ceased speaking, and covering his
face, wept aloud.

"Alas!" said Barbara Stafford, and her voice was full of unshed tears,
"I have done you no wrong, kind old man. The life you saved was of
little worth, but such as it is, I would gladly lay it down to bring
peace under this roof once more. Do believe me, not for my sake, but
your own: Elizabeth Parris is ill from natural causes, not from any
power, evil or good, that rests in me. Sudden excitement--a cold perhaps
taken in the night air--anxiety to which her girlish nature is
unused--all these may have conspired to disturb her brain."

Barbara would have said more, but at the sound of her voice Elizabeth
began to writhe and moan in her chair, till the sound of her anguish
drove the old man wild.

"Oh, my God! my God! why hast thou forsaken this household!" he cried,
while his quivering hands dropped apart and fell downward, and his
deploring eyes turned upon his child.

"Oh, woman, are you not potent to redeem as well as to inflict? Is your
power all evil?"

"I have no power save that which belongs to a weak woman," replied
Barbara; "but if you can unbind my hands, I will strive to soothe the
poor child."

"Unbind her hands," said the magistrate, who had not spoken till then.
"Let the spirit within have full sway. Heaven forbid that we judge
without sure evidence. Constable, set her limbs free!"

The constable unknotted the red shawl from Barbara's shoulders, and
loosened the thongs that tied her wrists together. A broad purple mark
was left on the delicate skin, and her fair hands were swollen with
pain. She drew a deep breath, for the sense of relief was pleasant; and
moving gently across the floor, she laid her two hands on Elizabeth's
forehead.

Up to this moment the girl had moaned and writhed as with overwhelming
pain, but as the hands of Barbara Stafford fell upon her forehead and
rested there, the tension left her nerves, and with a sigh she sank back
in the chair. Barbara smiled, passing her hands softly down the now pale
cheek, till they rested for a moment on the muslin that covered
Elizabeth's bosom. She again lifted them to the drooping forehead, and
let them glide to the bosom again, leaving quiet with each gentle touch.

At last Elizabeth Parris turned her head drowsily, and the lids fell
over her eyes like white rose-leaves folding themselves to sleep, and
with what seemed a blissful shudder, she resigned herself to perfect
rest. Then Barbara looked at her accusers with a sad smile, and took her
seat by the window, little dreaming that the holy impulses of pity that
had just soothed the pain of a fellow-creature would be the most fatal
evidence offered at her trial.

"Take her away--take the woman hence!" cried the magistrate, rising up,
hardened in all his iron nature. "The devil, her master, has for once
betrayed her into what might seem an angel's work, but it proves more
than an angel's power--away with her!"

In his supreme ignorance, this magistrate of the seventeenth century
followed the example of the rabble that hunted our Saviour to death.
Surely the world had progressed but slowly in its soul knowledge since
that awful day of the crucifixion.

While Elizabeth Parris lay sleeping sweetly in her chair--it was the
first slumber she had known in three days--Barbara Stafford was bound
again with those ignominious thongs and taken from the room. Samuel
Parris watched the movements with a thrill of compassion: grateful for
the rest that had been given to his child, he could not see those white
hands bound so rudely without a thrill of pity.

But the people without obtained intelligence of what had been passing,
and the words sacrilegious and blasphemy ran from lip to lip. "What,"
said one, "does the witch mock the holy miracles of our Saviour, and
attempt to heal with the laying on of hands? Dares she to brave God in
the very presence of our most worshipful magistrate, and that
gray-haired Christian, Samuel Parris? Why should we wait for a trial? is
not this evidence enough? Let us take her down to the sea and cast her
into the deep."

"Let us hang her at the town post," cried another. "The sea has vomited
her up once; it is no use trying that."

Then other voices set in, and the tumult became general. The throng
gathered closer and closer around the minister's house; the women most
eager, and crying out loudest that the witch should be given up to them.

The magistrate was, so far as he allowed his own nature freedom, a just
man, and fully believed himself right in giving Barbara up to the law,
still he would have guarded her with his life from the howling rage of
the mob. But it is doubtful if even his steady courage could have saved
her, so intense was the excitement; but just as he appeared on the
door-step standing in front of the prisoner, a company of soldiers,
wearing the colonial uniform, came galloping up the forest road with
Norman Lovel, Governor Phipps's private secretary, at their head.

The crowd fell back tumultuously as the young man came forward, for he
dashed on with little regard to life or limb, and drew up in front of
the house.

"Worshipful sir," he said, addressing the magistrate, "I have come to
relieve you of a painful duty. Here is Governor Phipps's requisition.
This lady being a stranger, will be tried where his excellency can
himself have cognizance of the proceedings. I am authorized to convey
your prisoner to Boston."



CHAPTER XLI.

BARBARA IN HER DUNGEON.


The trees were leafless, and snow lay thick on the ground, when Barbara
Stafford was brought from the prison where she had been kept in close
captivity, and presented for trial in the North Church of Boston. A
trial for witchcraft was considered somewhat in the light of an
ecclesiastical tribunal, and thus the sacred edifices of Boston and
Salem were frequently used in such cases. But this was the first legal
assemblage that had ever entered the North Church, for the governor's
attendance and membership there gave it a prestige over all other places
of worship. Besides it had of late been doubly consecrated by the
baptism of the chief magistrate in the very plentitude of his power; and
for common witches, such as had been tried, hung and drowned, by dozens
during the year, the place would have been considered far too holy.

But Barbara Stafford was no common offender. She had been a guest in
Governor Phipps's mansion. The people of Boston had seen her seated,
side by side, with Lady Phipps in the state carriage, with servitors and
halberts, right and left. It was known far and wide that she had come to
the country in a strange ship, heaved up, as it were, from the depths of
a raging storm; that the elements had battled against her and
overwhelmed her in the deep, wrecking the boat in which she strove to
reach the shore, and swallowing her up in whirlpools, lashed into fury
doubtless by her evil presence.

From all this peril it was known that Samuel Parris, the minister of
Salem, had rescued her. The studious, holy man of books and prayer, who
had saved her life, was now ready to stand forward as her chief accuser.

Many remembered that her garments had been of a texture more rich than
those of the governor's lady, while many who had been present at the
baptism of Sir William Phipps were impressed by the grandeur of her
countenance, and the almost unearthly stateliness with which she had
glided through the throng of worshippers on that memorable day.

All these things made a great impression on the people, the more because
of the profound silence which had reigned regarding her, since she was
placed in the prison at Boston. It was said that, during the first three
days of her incarceration, she had been visited by Governor Phipps, who,
urged by the solicitations of his young secretary, had consented to see
her. But the interview had been brief and unsatisfactory. When apprised
of his coming, the lady had protested, and by every means in her power
sought to avoid the visit; but young Lovel hoped to gain her a potent
friend by persistence, and overcome by his persuasion she submitted.

Her dungeon was badly lighted, and Barbara sat in the darkest corner,
with her face bowed and her form muffled in a large shawl. She lifted
her eyes as the governor approached, and he felt their glance coming out
from the darkness without really meeting it with his eyes. The thrill,
that ran through his form, warned him of the diabolical power which the
woman was said to possess, and it was with a solemn reserve that he drew
near her.

She neither spoke nor moved, but her form shrunk together, and her
garments began to tremble, as if she were suffering from cold. He spoke
to her, but she did not answer. He stooped down to address her, and the
shivering fit came on again. His stern heart was filled with compassion,
and yet she had not spoken a word. A gush of strange, tender pity
swelled his breast, and he turned away, with dew in his eyes--such dew
as had not sparkled there in twenty years.

He went back and bent over her; the velvet of his cloak swept her lap,
his breath almost stirred her hair.

She gave him one wild look, and dropped her head again, while, with her
two hands, she grasped a fold of his cloak, and pressed it to her lips.
The hands fell to her knees, the cloak swayed back to its natural folds,
and he was all unconscious of the movement. In his earnestness, and
compelled by a power that endowed him with momentary eloquence, he was
pleading with her to give her true name and history, in order that he
and those who wished her well might find some means of defence when she
should be brought to trial.

She heard him, like one in a dream--a sweet, wild dream--for her lips
parted with a heavenly smile, and she held her breath, as if it had been
a delicious perfume, which she would not permit to escape from the bosom
it thrilled. A shiver still ran through her frame. It was no longer as
an expression of pain, but like the exquisite tremor which the south
wind gives to a thicket of roses.

She could not have spoken, had the whole world depended on her voice; so
his pleading was all in vain. Had she uttered a sound, it would have
been a cry of wild thanksgiving. Had she moved, it would have been to
throw herself at his feet. She did move, and half rose from the wooden
bench on which she was seated, but, seeing young Lovel at the door, fell
back again, shrouding her face in the shawl, and murmuring prayers of
entreaty and gratitude that she had escaped a great peril. The shawl
muffled her voice, but the governor saw that she was praying, and
retreated toward the door.

"Tell her to think of what I have said--to send me any information--I
will not ask it to be a confession--on which she may found a defence
before the judges," he said, addressing young Lovel; "she is frightened
by my presence and has no power to speak; persuade her to confide in
you, Norman. Surely, as the Lord liveth, this woman has some great
power, for good or for evil. Those who visited Peter in his prison must
have felt as I do now."

"Hear how she sobs!" said the young man, deeply moved. "Oh! your
excellency, go back; her heart is softened; she may speak to you now; I
never heard her weep so passionately before."

"No," said the governor, gently, "I will not force myself upon her
grief. Give her time for thought, and opportunities for prayer. The
devil had power over the Holy One forty days and forty nights. It may be
that this poor lady is going through a like probation. She may come
forth with the radiance of an angel at last."

"She is an angel," answered Lovel, with tender enthusiasm. "Oh! if she
could but be brought to confide in you."

"We can at least delay the trial, and give her time," said the governor.
"Perhaps this scourge of the evil one may pass away without crushing
her, if she is protected till the power has reached its climax."

The governor went away, after saying this, a thoughtful and saddened
man. His intellect was clear, and his strength of character too powerful
for that profound faith in witchcraft which influenced many of the
clergy and judges of the land. He was not a person to join men, who
should have stood between the superstition of ignorance and its victims,
but rather gave this superstitious frenzy the force of their superior
intelligence, and such dignity as sprang from position. The commotion
which this subject had created in his government--the solemn trials held
upon helpless old men and women, followed by bloodshed and terror--had
already filled his mind with misgiving. Though, for a season, he was
borne forward by the public clamor, and had in his own experience no
strong proof against the phenomena produced in confirmation of
witchcraft, he had never entered heartily into the persecutions of the
courts. Nor had he risen up against them, because in his own soul there
was doubt and misgiving.

Barbara Stafford had not spoken a word in his presence, yet her silence
and the very atmosphere of truth that surrounded her had affected him
deeply. After this interview he began to doubt more than ever if the
great excitement of the day might not merge into persecution; if the
pure and the good might not possibly suffer with those given over to the
prince of darkness.



CHAPTER XLII.

OLD FRIENDS IN COUNCIL.


When Sir William returned home, he found Samuel Parris, his old patron
and early preceptor, waiting for him. The good man had taken his staff
and walked all the way from Salem, to seek counsel and consolation of
his powerful friend.

Between these two men was a tie which no one could fathom--a tie
stronger than that which might have bound master and pupil, or
benefactor and protege. Phipps had sprung from a poor apprentice boy, to
be the richest and most powerful man in New England. He had won title
and wealth from the mother government, by his indomitable energies,
while Samuel Parris had dreamed his life away, under the roof where the
embryo great man had taken his first charity lesson. But though one was
a man of thought, and the other of progress, no distance of time nor
station could separate them.

Governor Phipps was in the prime of life, a man of noble presence,
strong in intellect and in power. Parris was old and bowed to the earth
with trouble; the white locks floated thinly over his temples, his black
eyes were sharp and wild with protracted anguish. But the two met
kindly, as they had done years before. The strong man forgot his
successful ambition, and the state to which it had led. With the feeble
old minister he was an apprentice boy again.

Sir William found the minister sitting in his library, exhausted with
fatigue and completely broken down by the awful affliction that had
fallen upon him. Dust from the road lay thick upon his heavy shoes and
along the seams of his black garments, while it turned his snow white
hair to a dull gray. His stout cane was planted hard on the carpet, and
his weary head fell on the withered hands clenched tremulously over it.

Thus tired, desolate, and broken-hearted, the old man waited for his
former pupil.

"My dear, old master--my best friend!" cried Phipps, smitten with a
thousand memories, both of pain and pleasure at the sight of his
preceptor. "I can guess what has brought you hither. The same subject is
weighing on my own heart. I have just returned from a conference with
that unhappy lady."

Samuel Parris looked up eagerly.

"You saw her? She spoke with you? Tell me, tell me, did the woman
confess?"

"Nay, she did not speak."

"What, obstinately silent? does the evil spirit take that course?" said
Parris.

"Not obstinately silent: I did not say that; on the contrary, she seemed
deeply moved, and her sobs filled the room as I left it."

"But she confessed nothing?"

"Nothing!"

"Nor has she told any one a word of her own history?"

"Not a word."

The old man lifted his wild eyes to those of his friend, and searched
the expression there as if his life depended on it.

"William Phipps, you think this woman innocent?"

"I feel that she is innocent, but magistrates do not judge by feeling.
Justice appeals only to the brain, while mercy is a child of the heart.
Samuel Parris, as I came from Barbara Stafford's prison, it was with a
thankful spirit that God had not made me one of her judges."

"But I--I am her accuser!" cried out the old man, in passionate sorrow.

"But you had good grounds. This charge came not from you or yours,
lightly or with malice: of that I am certain," said the governor,
soothingly.

"But it came from me in terror and sore perplexity. The sight of my
child possessed with the evil one urged me on. William, William, I
thought of her, rather than of God's service! It is this that troubles
me."

"But how of the maiden? Is she better or does this fiend rend her yet?"

"She is better. Since the sound sleep into which the woman cast her,
Elizabeth has been quiet; but thoughtful as I never saw her before. The
flush has left her face and half the time her eyes are full of tears,
but she says little."

"These are favorable symptoms," answered Sir William. "Does the maiden
still persist in thinking this woman the cause of her malady?"

"Both its cause and its cure. To her she has been an angel of wrath and
of mercy both. But another cause of sorrow has sprung up in my
household--Abigail Williams!"

"What, the dark-eyed girl that Lady Phipps thought so beautiful? Has
this wicked contagion seized on her also?"

"Worse than my child. She seems smitten to the soul with sullen sorrow
and deadly hate. Above all she dreaded old Tituba, who followed her from
room to room like a dog at first, but when the girl drove her away, she
sat down on the kitchen hearth with her feet in the ashes, refusing to
eat or sleep, but kept up a weird chant that filled the house night and
day with deathly music."

"Does this old woman accuse any one?"

"Nay, she simply accused herself. Once or twice she has gone out to the
forest and stayed all day. At last she persuaded Abigail to go into the
woods with her. After that, the strange animosity which had seized upon
the maiden died out, and she was much with old Tituba who went quietly
about her household work again."

Sir William listened to all this with grave attention. He was striving
to judge how far the disturbed state of the minister's household had
arisen from natural causes, but in his profound ignorance of all those
sources of irritation which had preceded Barbara Stafford's arrest, he
was unable to give them any solution save that of witchcraft, strongly
as his sound judgment rebelled against it.

"Tell me, and speak I adjure you in the fear of God--tell me, William
Phipps, if after hearing the evidence on which I have accused this
woman, you can find one reason for thinking the charge of witchcraft
without just foundation."

The governor, who sat with his elbow resting on the library table, bent
his forehead thoughtfully on one hand.

"Friend, you ask a solemn question, and I will solemnly answer it.
Before the Most High I cannot yet give a full and free belief to this
enormity, which men call witchcraft. Yet when such judges as Hale, and
many of like sort, give it credence, and hold solemn tribunals over it,
I dare not oppose my judgment against theirs."

Samuel Parris arose to his feet and leaned heavily on his cane for
support.

"What if these doubts be true?" he said, moving his head and looking
away into vacancy. "Then what am I but a bearer of false witness, a
persecutor, and if this lady is driven to her death, a murderer!"

"We can but walk according to the light which God has given us,"
answered Sir William.

"Tell me," continued Parris, "did this woman impress you with a sense of
her diabolical power? Did your heart beat evenly as she spoke? Could you
breath without an effort?"

"Nay, I cannot tell if the sensation I felt was evil or good," Phipps
answered. "Compassion never yet swelled my heart so near to bursting. I
tell you of a truth, Samuel Parris, when I was talking to that unhappy
woman, I felt my knees shake, my breath stand still, and my very being
go out to her in a flood of sorrowful tenderness, such as I never felt
for mortal woman--but one."

"Then--then--you did think of _her_!" cried Parris, suddenly standing
upright. "That was the question I dared not ask. Has her memory haunted
you as it besets me, night and day, not only now but ever since that
ship came drifting toward me through the storm?"

"Hush!" said the governor, and his voice scarcely rose above a whisper,
while his face turned coldly white. "If this thing is witchcraft may it
not drag the memories we love out of the very grave to haunt us?"

"Even so I have reasoned," answered Parris.

"God help us!" exclaimed Phipps, rising and beginning to pace the room
with long, powerful strides, "for we have fallen on evil times."

Samuel Parris followed his friend's tall figure as it strode to and fro
in the room with wistful interest.

"I came hither for counsel of thy younger and more vigorous mind," he
said, with touching melancholy, "but everywhere that my footsteps turn,
doubt and terror spring up. It grieves me sorely, son William, that my
words have driven the color from that face, and the calm from thy bosom.
Forgive me before I go!"

Phipps broke off abruptly in his walk. His grand face had regained its
composure: it was pale still, but resolutely calm.

"Father," he said, gently, using an old term of endearment, "I am unfit
to give counsel in this matter. See you not how weak I am?"

Parris took the hand held out to him and pressed it with solemn fervor.

"William, I too will see this woman in prison: peradventure some light
may be vouchsafed to me."

"After that, come to me again," said the governor.

Thus the two friends parted.

The minister did indeed go to the prison, where his victim was confined,
but she resolutely refused to see him. "No good could come of the
interview," she said. "She was resigned to her fate, and only asked to
be left in quiet till her day of humiliation came on." The only person
that she would permit to enter her presence was Norman Lovel, whose
faith in her goodness had never been shaken for an instant. Twice a
dark-browed and singularly handsome young man made urgent solicitation
to be admitted to her prison, but she never heard of it. Being a
stranger of singular appearance, the guard had refused him without
communicating his wish to her, but the fact was stated to Samuel Parris
with such interpretation as an ignorant and superstitious man might be
expected to give. To him the singular beauty of the visitor's face, the
magnificent eyes and raven hair, could alone belong to the evil one
himself. Certain it was, no human being like that had ever been
recognized by any one in or out of the city till he began to haunt the
witch-prison.

Here was new cause for suspicion, and once more the minister's heart
hardened itself. Disappointed in his hopes of counsel from the governor,
the restless man betook himself to his brother divines, and told them
his doubts and sorrows with the simple truth so natural to his
character. When he described the condition of his child and told how
Barbara Stafford, who seemed at first an angel of light, had wrought a
fiend's work in his household, the ministers rebuked his unbelief and
reasoned with him diligently, till he began to look upon his gentler
feelings as a snare of Satan, ever on the alert to save his own. To this
belief, at last, Sir William Phipps brought himself, but slowly and with
reluctance. His heart smote him as he gave the lady up, but how would he
oppose such evidence? After admitting so much it was impossible for a
just man to feel any thing but holy indignation against the person who
had, by satanic power, disturbed the beautiful character of his favorite
Elizabeth Parris.

From that time he began to look upon the interest which young Lovel
manifested in the prisoner as a proof of her pernicious influence, and
rebuked the young man sternly when he sought to arouse kindly feelings
in her behalf once more.

Thus weeks and months went by, leaving Barbara Stafford in miserable
solitude, till the frost crept over the forest, and the white snow fell
upon the earth like a winding sheet; then they brought her forth for
trial.



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE MINISTER'S EVIDENCE.


The trial was one which filled the community with a certain sense of
awe. It was no old woman, brought up in their midst, whose very
ignorance could be urged in judgment against her; but a brave, beautiful
lady, full of life, and bright with intellect, whose very presence as
she walked up those aisles, with a forest of halberts bristling around
her, made the proudest of her judges hold his breath. The prisoner sat
down upon a bench placed near the pulpit, within sight of the
communion-table which was surrounded by her judges, for whom a platform
had been built, lifting them in sight of the people. She was very pale,
and her eyes had a mournful look inexpressibly touching, but there was
neither timidity nor unconcern in her appearance; she seemed quiet as a
lamb, but weary unto death, like one who had been driven a long way, and
through rough places, to be slaughtered at last.

The meeting-house was crowded. The square pews, the galleries and
staircases, groaned under a weight of human life. Men crowded upon each
other, like hounds on the scent, only to obtain a glimpse of the
beautiful witch, or to catch a tone of her voice. Like sportsmen who had
brought down a splendid bird in their search after common game, the
rabble gloried in the queenliness and grace of its victim. The public
had become tired of hanging withered old crones on the witch-gallows,
and wanted exactly a creature like that, to give piquancy and zest to
their terrible hunt after human life.

Inside and out, the meeting-house was beset with a breathless throng.
The windows were open, though the air was sharp and full of frost, that
the curious crowd, which trampled down the snow without, might get a
glimpse of that pale face. The forest, out of whose bosom the city of
Boston had been cut, swept down close to the building, and the crowd
extended into its margin. It was observed that a few Indians mingled
with the people in this direction, and that others were occasionally
seen moving among the naked trees farther up the woods, where a hemlock
hollow broke off the view.

When the trial commenced, and the prosecuting attorney was about to open
his case, drawing all eyes to the meeting-house and the proceedings
within, a train of savages came gliding out of these hemlock shadows,
and mingling imperceptibly with the crowd, through which they moved like
a brook stirring the long grass of a meadow.

It was a common thing for friendly Indians to mix in such crowds, and no
one observed that a sort of military precision marked the movement of
these seemingly friendly savages, even while penetrating the multitude,
and that they dropped into line, after entering the meeting-house,
forming a cordon from the platform, on which the judges sat, to the
front entrance doors.

Had these savages been in full costume, their number might have seemed
formidable enough to excite some anxiety; but they wore no war-paint,
and came after the fashion of a friendly nation, with blankets to keep
them from the cold, and a movement so quiet that their very presence
gave little apprehension.

At their head, and walking so far in advance that no one but a keen
observer would have guessed him of the party, came a young man,
handsomely garbed after the fashion of the times, as a person of
condition might be, and with a certain air of self-centred ease that
would have distinguished him in any place where the general attention
was not fixed on one point.

He was a young man of wonderful presence, dark like a Spaniard, with
quick, brilliant eyes, and features finely chiselled, bold in the
outline, and yet delicate. His mouth had a beautiful power of
expression, and his forehead was like dusky marble, cut when the artist
was thinking of war and tempest. This man had made his way close up to
the platform, where the judges were seated, and listened with keen
attention to the proceedings.

The prosecuting counsel opened his case with great vigor and eloquence.
Then witnesses for the crown were called, and Samuel Parris stood forth.
The old man was agitated, but firm in his sense of right. It was seldom
that a witness of so much dignity appeared upon a trial like that, for
usually the accusers, like their victims, were persons of low position
and small attainments. Here the wisdom and piety of the crowd rose up in
array against one helpless woman.

Samuel Parris required no questioning. He told his story with brief
earnestness, unconsciously drawing conclusions from the facts he
related, fatal to the prisoner, but with a solemn conviction of their
truth.

"Did he recognize the prisoner at the bar?" he was asked. "Yes, he had
known her some months; it had seemed to him from the first that she must
have been familiar to him years ago. That was doubtless one of her
delusions; but the feeling had led him to think of her with friendly
interest, and extend hospitalities which had conducted him and his
family into a deadly snare."

"Where had he seen her first?"

"In the midst of a terrible storm, which the inhabitants of Boston might
well remember; when the shores were lashed and trampled down by the
tempest, where the waves rioted and tore against each other like mad
animals, and out to sea all was one turmoil of wind, waters, and black,
angry clouds.

"That woman's influence must have been infernal in its power, for in the
midst of this storm he had been impelled forth to the heights--he, a
feeble old man, urged forward by a premonition, that, in the black
turmoil of the tempest, he would find something waited for all his life.
He went, with his garments in the wind, and the cold rain beating
against his temples--went, and saw, in the midst of the storm, a great
ship heaving shoreward, with vast clouds falling around her, lurid and
luminous with a red sunset, in the midst of which stood that woman--the
prisoner. As he watched, a young man had come up to him on the heights,
even Norman Lovel, the youth who was but now whispering to the woman.
This young man confessed there, in the whirl of the wind, that he, too,
had been impelled to seek the shore, and look for some great good, which
was to come to him up from the stormy sea.

"They saw the ship in company. That woman was upon its deck, around her
surged angry billows and looming clouds, fringed for a moment by the
sunset.

"They saw the woman come down the side of the vessel, where it rocked
and plunged like a desert horse in the lasso; saw her put off in a small
boat, amid the boiling waves; saw the boat leap and reel toward the
land. He and young Lovel rushed down together to the base of the hills,
far into the waves. They saw the boat strike, saw it crushed into atoms
among the rocks, and saw the woman weltering in a whirlpool of waters.
The two, he and the young man, rushed into the waves, breasted them,
battled with them like lions. A wild strength came to his arms, a
supernatural power, that neither belonged to his feeble organization nor
his age. From that time, no doubt, the evil one possessed him. How he
tore the woman from the waves that had engulfed her he never knew; for
the youth was hurled upon the shore, cold and dead, grasping her
garments with both hands.

"The youth was dead, he could solemnly testify to that, for he felt his
pulse, and kept one hand long over his heart feeling for the hushed
life, but there was neither breath nor pulse--Lazarus, in his tomb, was
not more lifeless when the Saviour looked upon him. Yes, the youth was
surely dead. But when the woman arose from the sand, with her hair
dropping salt rain, and her lips purple with cold, she saw him lying
there, prone and white at her side. Then her pale face lighted up with
supernatural gleams. She lifted his head and breathed upon it. She
gathered him to her bosom, and pressed her cold lips down upon his
forehead and his marble mouth--those kisses, the unearthly warmth of her
eyes, brought him to life. She had purchased immortality of the evil
one, and gave part of it to him.

"This was the one great act of sorcery that he had witnessed, and to
which he now bore testimony before the most high God. After that, the
woman obtained an unbounded power over the youth, who manifested an
uncontrollable desire for her company; he had neglected his old friends
and the most binding attachments; body and soul he had become the serf
of her diabolical power."

Here Samuel Parris paused. The perspiration rose in great drops to his
forehead, his hands shook as he wiped the moisture away.

"And is this all?" demanded the judge, while the audience broke the
silence by hoarse murmurs, that stole through the windows, and grew
louder as the people outside took them up. "Is this all?"

"No," said the old man, and the white hair rose slowly from his temples,
while shadows gathered about his mouth, "I, too, was in the hands of
this woman of Endor--I, the servant of the Lord, who have broken the
holy bread to God's people for more than fifty years. Here, in this
consecrated building, while I stood with the sacred wine in my hands,
after that just man, William Phipps, had drank of it in baptism, this
woman appeared to me. Standing in the very spot where he had partaken of
the sacrament, she appeared to me as an angel of light, for her eyes
shone like stars, and a smile of tender humility beamed on her
face--with those eyes, with that smile, and with a voice that might have
dropped from the golden harps to which cherubs sing. She won me into a
great sacrilege."

Again the minister wiped his brow; the judge grew pale, and leaned
forward breathlessly. The audience was still as death; you could hear
the shivering of the naked tree boughs afar off in the forest, but
nothing nearer.

Amid this appalling hush, Barbara Stafford lifted her face to the
witness, and a faint, pitying smile lay like a shadow on her lips. She
seemed about to speak, but the judge lifted his hand.

"A great sacrilege, brother Parris?"

The minister cast a pleading look upon the judges at the bar and his
brethren of the ministry, as if beseeching forbearance.

"Yes! a great sacrilege. As I stood, with the unleavened bread before me
and the sacred wine in my hand--stood alone in this holy building, for
all else had departed--the prisoner, Barbara Stafford, by the sweet
wiles which I speak of, won me to give the wine to her, that she might
taste it; and so beguiled of the devil, I broke with her of the bread
which is a symbol of the body of Christ. This, brethren, was my sin--I
was beset of the evil one and fell!"

A groan broke from the ministers that heard the confession. The judge
bent his forehead to the palm of his hand, shading the pallor of his
features. The foreman of the jury muttered a low prayer, and the jury
whispered a solemn amen.

Even the face of young Lovel took an expression of affright. The
stillness that reigned in the body of the house was appalling.



CHAPTER XLIV.

PROGRESS OF THE TRIAL.


The old minister sat down, shading his face with both hands; then, in
his place stood Elizabeth, pale, thin, wild. The shadow of her former
beauty seemed hanging around her like a shroud.

When she saw her lover standing close to Barbara Stafford, a faint glow
stole over her cheek, as if a peach blossom had blown across it, leaving
its reflection behind.

The judge lifted his head and looked kindly upon her. The jury whispered
together, and cast pitying glances that way; and through all that vast
crowd a thrill of sympathy ran.

Poor girl! she was sincere as a child, earnest as a woman. She told of
the power of love and hate which Barbara Stafford had attained over her;
how, in her absence, the most bitter dislike filled her bosom, but when
Barbara's eyes were upon her, or her voice in her ear, a sweet revulsion
followed, and she was like a babe, or a slave, in the woman's presence.
She spoke of the time when Barbara came to the parsonage at Salem, of
the strange effect it had upon Abby Williams, and the more terrible
results to herself. Then she said the presence of this woman became a
torture. When she spoke, a knife pierced her heart; when she smiled,
lurid fire seemed creeping over her brain. At last, her entire being was
given up to the sorceress, whose power filled her room with strange
shapes, that tormented the sleep from her eyes, and all peace from her
heart. She was better now. The prayers of her Christian father had
emancipated her; but the judges might see by her pale face, and thin
hands, how fatally the curse had fastened on her life.

"Had she seen no further proof of the infernal powers of the prisoner?"

"Yes. One morning, just at daylight, while standing at her bedroom
window, she saw what seemed to be the figure of Barbara Stafford, riding
out of the forest on a white horse. She turned her eyes away for a
moment, and, lo! the horse was gone, and the woman stood on the green
sward alone. Determined to satisfy herself if it was in reality a witch
spirit, or the woman in person, she went into Barbara Stafford's chamber
and found her in bed and asleep. Old Tituba could bear testimony to
this, for she also went into the prisoner's room, and saw her lying on
the bed so buried in slumber that all the noise they made on entering
did not arouse her. As for the white horse, she saw it as plainly, with
that woman on its back, as she ever saw the sun at mid-day."

This was the evidence of Elizabeth Parris. She laid all the pains of her
jealous heart open to the judges, and in the natural agony of disturbed
love they read only the power of witchcraft. Reticent from the exquisite
delicacy which made her susceptible to so much pain, she did not mention
Norman Lovel in her evidence; thus, all clue to the origin of her
suffering was concealed.

When her evidence was complete, Elizabeth fainted, and was borne from
the court in the arms of Norman Lovel, who, touched by her gentleness
and her innocent confession, sprang forward to save her from falling.

Governor Phipps appeared as the third witness, and it was remarked that,
for the first time that day, Barbara Stafford became greatly agitated;
her lips, hitherto serenely closed, began to quiver; her eyes dilated,
and the blue tints deepened under them. When he spoke, her hands clasped
and unclasped themselves, nervously, under her shawl. Once she arose and
looked around, as if tempted to fly into the open air.

But the constable laid his heavy hand on her, reminding her that she was
a prisoner. She looked in his face with a bewildered stare, remembered
what she was, and sat down with a dreary smile about her lips.

Sir William Phipps was also greatly agitated. He had been summoned by
the court, and with proud humility obeyed its behests.

"To the best of his remembrance," he said, "he had never met the
prisoner but three times in his life: once at his own door, when, by
mistake, he for a moment thought her to be Lady Phipps."

Here a low moan broke from the neighborhood of the prisoner; but, if it
came from her, the anguish to which it gave voice was instantly
suppressed.

Barbara was looking at the witness. The light fell on his face, but hers
was in shadow, still and white like that of a marble statue.

"Yes, for a moment," he resumed, "he had mistaken the prisoner for his
wife, and in the darkness held her to his bosom for a single moment;
during that brief time, a strange swell heaved at his heart, and took
away his breath; it subsided into a heavy pain, which hung about him for
days, though the woman had departed before he could look upon her face,
and he had not heard the sound of her voice. This pain had seized him
once before while he stood in that sacred building, with the sacramental
wine at his lips; and he was informed afterwards that the prisoner had
entered the house just as he took the goblet in his hand. Again her
supernatural influence--for he could account for these sensations no
other way--had been exerted on him as he entered her place of
confinement, for such was the compassion she inspired, had it rested
with him, his own hands would have been impelled to open her prison
doors and set her free."

As the governor uttered these words, Barbara Stafford's eyes filled with
tears, and a glow of exquisite tenderness softened her face. She drew a
deep breath, and then the tears began to drop, large and fast, from her
eyes, as if her very heart were breaking.

Unimportant as the governor's evidence might seem in these days, it had
a powerful effect upon the court. He was known among the people as a
stern, proud man, cold as steel, but just beyond question, even to the
sacrificing of his own life, had it been forfeited to the law. That he
should be influenced to such tenderness of compassion, against his
reason, and in spite of himself, was, to the people who listened, deeper
proofs of witchcraft than the facts to which Samuel Parris had sworn. He
was known as a tender-hearted, visionary old man, half poet, half
philosopher, by all the country round. But the governor--whoever
supposed that sentiment or imagination could cloud his clear judgment?

Thus, though the governor was guarded in his evidence, which to men less
influenced by superstition would have been nothing, it bore heavily
against the unhappy woman looking at him so wistfully through her
blinding tears.

After this, Norman Lovel was brought to the stand, sorely against his
will, for though, in the depths of his soul, he was satisfied that the
influence which the noble woman possessed was only such as God always
lends to true greatness, he could not, after those who had gone before,
urge his convictions on the court, and alas! the facts he had no power
to contradict: they were even as Samuel Parris had sworn them to be.

When Barbara Stafford saw his troubled look, she beckoned him toward
her, and before the constable could interfere, bade him be of good
courage and speak the truth, trusting her with the Lord.

It could not have been otherwise. He did speak the truth, and his very
efforts to explain and soften the facts which Samuel Parris had stated,
only served to prejudice the jury more deeply. These astute men
brightened up, and crowding their heads close together, whispered that
it was easy to see the influence of the beautiful witch strong upon him,
and, therefore, his words must be weighed with grave caution, as coming
directly from the father of lies.

Then Abigail Williams came forward, but her evidence was clearly in
favor of the prisoner. She disclaimed all impressions of evil obtained
from the accused lady, so far as she was concerned. She admitted that a
sudden and great cause of grief had fallen upon her--that she had been
influenced against her friends, and suffered greatly by day and by
night, but Barbara Stafford was not the cause; of her she only knew what
was feminine and good. When questioned regarding the sources of her
knowledge, and of her estrangement, she refused to speak. So the judges,
after consulting together, drew a proof of Barbara's power from her
perverse silence. How was it to be expected that the witness could bear
unprejudicial evidence while the glance of the prisoner was upon her?



CHAPTER XLV.

CONCLUDING TESTIMONY.


The prosecuting attorney had been vigilant in the management of his
case. No one event of Barbara Stafford's life, since she landed in
Boston, had escaped him. Jason Brown and his wife took the witness stand
next. The honest sailor was prejudiced against the prisoner. He solemnly
believed that she had turned his own peaceful home into a den of
iniquity, and made it the centre of a fearful witch-gathering. His
frank, honest face, and profound self-conviction, aided his words
powerfully.

Yes, he knew the woman. She came over from England in the same vessel
with him. During the voyage he had seen her cheerful, and easily
pleased. She always had a sweet look and kind word for every one on the
ship, till all hands on board, even to the cabin boy, almost worshipped
her. Still no one ever knew from whence she came, or what business she
had in the new country. She had plenty of gold, and gave it liberally to
all who served her.

Brown had never seen any thing very remarkable in her conduct while on
ship board; sometimes he heard her singing in the cabin, and often, as
the sun went down, he had seen her gazing westward with a bright,
hopeful countenance, as if she expected some great happiness in that
direction.

When the storm rose and drove them furiously toward the land, Barbara
Stafford came on deck with her cloak on, and seemed to glory in braving
the tempest, which swept her so furiously coastward. She was fearless of
danger, and exulted in every fierce plunge of the vessel, which made
even tried sailors turn pale.

At last they came in sight of the harbor, but were compelled to cast
anchor, the heave and swell of the ocean were so tumultuous. As the
vessel lay there, tugging like a chained beast at its hausers, with a
heavy fog drifting over it, and red clouds heaped up in the west, this
woman had pleaded with him to let down a boat and put her on
shore--anywhere, so that her feet touched the soil of America. She
offered a handful of golden guineas to several of the men, but they all
refused, holding the attempt to be certain death. How he was persuaded
to let down the boat, unless impelled by the witchery in her look and
voice, it was impossible for him to say. Certainly he did it, and not
for the gold, for he only took one piece. The boat was dashed to pieces,
and but for that God-fearing man, Samuel Parris, and young Lovel, every
living soul in it would have been lost.

In answer to the question if he knew any thing more of the prisoner's
practices in witchcraft, Jason Brown replied:

Some weeks after the woman left his house she returned to it one evening
alone, just after dark. Before she entered, himself, his wife, and the
hired man had been terrified by a crowd of dark faces piled, as it
seemed, against the window and all peering in with eyes wild and bright
as fiery stars. They had seen feathers wave, and red garments gleam
through the glass, but tumultuously and half lost in shadows. Before any
one could move to search this strange appearance more thoroughly, the
faces disappeared, and did not come back.

Directly after this, one of the carpenters at work on the ship came in,
and being questioned declared that he had seen nothing unusual about the
house, though his path led him almost around it. While he was saying
this Barbara Stafford came in, with her hood thrown back, her garments
disturbed and covered with dust. She besought them almost with tears to
hasten the repairs going on in the nearly wrecked vessel, and left a
purse of gold in his hands to be used to speed the work. Then the woman
went away in haste, as she had entered the house.

"Did they follow her to see where she went?"

"Not exactly; but they gathered around the window and watched her as she
walked towards the woods. As they stood there, she rode forth out of the
shadows on a white horse, and with her came two dark figures; no doubt
the fiends who attended her. Scarcely were they swallowed up by the
darkness, when all the woods swarmed visibly with dusky figures. He saw
them moving under the trees and sweep in a slender column through a
small opening into the thick of the forest again, where the weird
pageant disappeared, following the prisoner."

In the morning after these strange doings, Brown had gone to his barn,
where some boxes had been stored for a passenger who came over in the
ship, and which he was to call for. These boxes were remarkably heavy.
Of course he did not know any thing of their contents; but he was a
powerful man and could not lift one of them an inch from the floor. But
he found the corner where they stood empty. Every box was gone, and
nothing but some trusses of loose hay remained. Astonished at this, he
had searched the ground for wagon tracks, or some other sign of the way
in which the boxes had been carried off; but nothing was there; not a
wheel track or hoof print. Still the earth was trampled down, but not
with human beings, barefooted or with honestly made shoes on their feet.

This was all Jason Brown had to say, except that he had felt the strange
influence, described by so many, when the woman addressed him. In spite
of himself he was always constrained to lift his hat when she went by.
Indeed, so far had this feeling prevailed, that he had more than once
put the quid of tobacco back into his pocket when it was almost to his
mouth, because she happened to be looking that way; and would hide his
cup of grog behind him if she chanced to be present when the rations of
gin or rum were dealt out to the men. Jason Brown could not account for
these things. He had never felt afraid or awkward in the presence of
womankind before. If it was witchcraft--well, he couldn't say that the
sin was altogether an unpleasant one. He knew nothing more; but his old
woman had been with the prisoner a good deal, and might have something
to tell.

As Jason Brown stepped heavily down into the crowd, his wife appeared on
the stand, prim, cold, and self-possessed, like a statue of wood. She
looked toward the prisoner with a cold, quiet glance, and then gave
herself up to be questioned. Her story did not vary from that of the
other witnesses, save that she threw no feeling into it, but spoke the
simple truth without even an implied comment. Yes, she had loved the
lady, loved her so well from the very first, that it seemed almost like
a sin. But it appeared to her that this affection sprang out of the
dreariness left at her hearth after the two children died. It was very
pleasant to sit at her spinning-wheel and see the sweet, mournful look
on that face. Goody Brown could not help but think that the poor lady
had lost something that she loved, and felt lonesome over it, for
sometimes she would sit minutes together looking out on the sea till
tears filled her eyes and blinded them. It was these tears that went to
her heart. Others might have been bewitched by her smiles and her sweet
voice, but she always thought of her children when the lady fell to
crying, and longed to kneel down at her feet, sorrowful like herself,
and pray God to help them both.

Had the witness seen nothing else that was strange in the prisoner?

Yes; one thing did happen which she had never mentioned to any human
being except her husband. One day when Barbara Stafford was taking some
things out of a trunk, Goody Brown went into her room suddenly, when the
sunshine was streaming in at the window, and saw what seemed to her a
wreath of living fire on the bed; a pair of handcuffs blazed in the same
light, and a chain, half gold, half flame, rippled across the pillow.
The prisoner started when she opened the door, and made an attempt to
fling a purple silk mantle, that she had just taken from the trunk, over
these things, but seeing that it was too late she dropped the garment
and, pale with fright, asked what brought the housewife there, in a
voice that was almost cross.

The witness looked in wonder at these strange objects, and asked if they
would not set the bed on fire; at which the lady smiled, answering: "No,
they were only bright stones playing with the sunshine, but cold and
hard as rocks."

Then the witness touched the chain and saw that the prisoner spoke
truth. It seemed like handling drops of frozen water. She asked what
they were good for, and what use they could be put to. At which the lady
sat the wreath upon her head, hung the chain around her neck, and
fastened the handcuffs to her wrist with a snap that sounded like the
click of a lock. She stood close by the window, and it appeared as if a
rainbow had been broken over her.

Then the witness asked what the stones were called. The prisoner did not
answer, but took them from her head and arms with a deep sigh, saying
that they were of little use to her, and only made her heart ache. Then
she put them up in a leather box lined with red velvet, and pressed them
down into her trunk.

The witness had heard that witches sometimes crowned themselves with
fire; and this thing troubled her even then, for the lady had not acted
like herself, but turned red and white in the same breath, and spoke
sharply, as she had never done before. The witness had not wished to
stay in the room after that. When Barbara Stafford came out she looked
very anxious, and asked Goody Brown not to mention any thing about the
stones she had seen, or the rich garments packed in her trunk, as the
farm-house stood in a lonely place, and the knowledge that such things
could be found there might tempt robbers, she said.

This request, and the evident anxiety of the prisoner, had given the
witness some troubled thoughts, but she had not really considered the
fiery stones as witch ornaments till after Barbara Stafford's visit that
night, when the shadows swarmed so thickly along her path.

Here the judge asked if the prisoner's trunk had been searched, and was
answered that a thorough examination had been made, but no jewels found.

Then Goody Brown remembered another event. One day she had gone down to
the wharf to carry her husband's dinner to him on shipboard, and was
returning home, when a young man, who looked like a foreigner, came from
the direction of her dwelling, carrying a small travelling-bag in his
hand. He passed her, walking fast, and lifting his hat as if she had
been a lady.

But what was there in this to implicate the prisoner?

Nothing, only that same man had come to the house to ask for a drink of
milk on the very day that Barbara was rescued from the waves, and the
housewife had caught a glimpse of him coming out of her room as she lay
sleeping there. Besides, the boxes which had disappeared so strangely
were his property. More than this. When Goody went back to her house she
found the door open, and the trunk in which Barbara Stafford had packed
the witch crown had been moved from its place. The lock was secure. But
she knew that it had been opened, by a girdle of blue ribbon which hung
over the edge, and was half shut in.

Was this all the witness had to say?

Yes; she knew nothing more, except that in every thing the lady had been
kind and gentle in her house--more like an angel of light than a witch.
She had again and again heard her praying in the night. Besides, she had
given her money to buy a marble grave-stone for the two children who had
left her house so lonesome.

At last old Tituba took the stand. Her withered face seemed small, and
more shrivelled up than ever; but her eyes, usually sharp and piercing
as those of a rattlesnake, were now hard as steel. Instead of glancing
round the court with her usual vigilance, she kept her gaze fixed on the
judge, as if all her duty lay with him. The prosecutor expected much
from this witness. She had been with Abigail Williams and Elizabeth
Parris from their infancy, and must know better than any other person
the effect which Barbara Stafford had produced upon them. She had helped
to decoct the herbs and roots which Barbara loved to gather, and had
herself drank of this devil's broth, as those pleasant, wholesome drinks
were now denominated. It was these drinks, no doubt, that had shrunk up
her own features, and made her eyes so bloodshot.

Tituba's first words flung the court into consternation. When called
upon to look at the prisoner, she turned her head resolutely another
way, calling out,

"No, no! What has old Tituba to do with the stranger? It was I, old
Tituba, who made the drinks, and it was I who went out in the night for
herbs. Poor old Tituba meant right; but if witches walked by her side,
unseen, and put strange plants into her apron, how was she to know? She
had heard the mandrakes cry out when she tore up their roots; and once
had plucked a plant from the earth out of which the blood dropped red
when her knife cut it, and whispers ran through the forest as she
carried it away. These roots she had been tempted to put into the
household beer just before Elizabeth was taken ill."

"Had Barbara Stafford tempted her?" This was a question put by the
judge. "Had she been near when the mandrake shrieked?"

"No; old Tituba was alone, it was her work altogether. She was the
witch--she had yielded herself to the evil one in her old age--it was
her lips which had given forth the poison that ran through the whole
household. Beguiled by unseen devils, she had talked strange and wicked
things to Abigail Williams, and turned her to stone. The witch poison
had spread from cousin to cousin--from father to child--from parlor to
kitchen, till the minister's household was utterly accursed, and she,
old Tituba, the Indian woman--she, the witch of witches, had done it
all."

When Tituba was dismissed from the stand, she cast one imploring glance
toward the dusky young stranger, who still kept his place near the
judges. When she saw by his look that he seemed satisfied with what she
had done, the fire came back to her eyes, and passing quickly down the
aisle where he stood, she whispered:

"Has Tituba done well?"

The young man did not answer her, but turned another way, apparently
unconscious of her whisper.

While the judges were consulting together, Tituba glided through the
crowd; an Indian who stood near the door, withdrew the blanket from his
shoulders and cast it over her head. Thus disguised after the fashion of
her tribe, she found her way into the forest, thinking, poor old soul,
that in confessing herself a witch, and taking the household curse on
her own head, she had saved the beautiful, strange lady from death.

Alas, it was all in vain! The judges looked upon old Tituba as an
accomplice, not as a principal. Thus, in their minds, Barbara's guilt
was confirmed.



CHAPTER XLVI.

THE STRANGE ADVOCATE.


The evidence for the prosecution was here exhausted, and Barbara had
nothing to offer in her defence. A judge, more compassionate than his
brethren, asked the prisoner if she had no counsel.

Barbara looked up at this question, smiled faintly, and shook her head.

"Wherefore should I seek counsel?" she said. "I have no friends, and
those who bear witness of my innocence injure me most. What could
eloquence or wisdom do in behalf of a creature so forsaken?"

"No, not forsaken--do not say that. One friend is ready to stand by
you," whispered a voice in her ear, and looking suddenly around she saw
Norman Lovel, with all the fire of a generous nature in his face, ready
to die at her feet, or in her defence, despite his patron--despite all
the judges on earth.

A beautiful joy broke over Barbara Stafford's face; the loneliness of
desolation was no longer around her. But other eyes were bent on Norman
Lovel, and when Barbara smiled, the frown upon that dark forehead
gloomed like midnight.

"The prisoner refuses counsel," said the judge. "Let the trial proceed."

"Not so," cried a clear voice, that rang over the crowd with singular
distinctness. "The lady has counsel. I, an admitted advocate in the
English courts, as these credentials testify, stand here in her
defence."

Barbara Stafford started at the sound of that voice. It was the son of
King Philip, who had flung himself in the midst of his most deadly
enemies to rescue her from death. Norman Lovel started forward and took
his place by the young man, whom he saw for the first time, and toward
whom his heart leaped in quick sympathy.

The judges consulted together. The case was a singular one, and they
were not altogether certain about admitting a stranger into the
provincial courts without due question. But the credentials which the
young man submitted were genuine, and after a little he was escorted
with considerable show of dignity to a place before the judges. Though
armed with the impulses of a giant, and a kind of eloquence that might
have kindled enthusiasm in any heart not locked close by superstition,
which is the romance of bigotry, he might as well have argued with the
rocks on the hills, as attempted that woman's defence before a bigoted
jury, and those iron-hearted judges. What argument could he use which
would not wound the self-love of those solemn men? how could he arouse
sympathies which they repudiated as a sin, or appeal to the judgment
which was bound down by prejudices, reverenced as solemn allegations?

At first his voice was husky and faint; the very might of his sympathy
for the woman who sat gazing on him so piteously paralyzed his powers;
but indignation at last broke the trammels from his speech, and with a
loud, clear utterance, he entered upon her defence.

Had not both judges and jury been blind with bigotry and solemn
self-conceit, his first argument must have enforced the prisoner's
acquittal. With the might of a powerful intellect he unravelled the
tissue of evidence, and exhibited the case as it would appear this day.
"The evil," he said, "lay not in the gentle lady arraigned before them,
but in the disturbed minds of the witnesses: Samuel Parris was a man of
books, of meditation, and thought--a poet, diseased by the unwritten
music in his soul, which had no power to express itself in long sermons,
and to which all other avenues to sympathy were closed up. It was this
that had drawn him into the storm, and had sent him to battling the
waves face to face with death on the coast. It was this that made love
for his child idolatry, from which he was compelled by a sensitive
conscience to fast and pray, as from a grievous sin.

"Samuel Parris, the principal witness, was neither insincere nor insane,
but a man born in advance of the age, to whom endowments, that would
have been greatness if understood even by himself, were turned into a
torment and a curse. This quick imagination, this sensitive love, had
seized upon the old man's reason, and thus rendered him a most dread
witness--a thousand times more dangerous than falsehood or malice could
have been, because of his honesty." The other witnesses he touched on
lightly and with gentleness, but when he left them and threw his fiery
soul into a protest and appeal for the prisoner, the passion of his
eloquence was enough to stir even that crowd of prejudging accusers.

Why had Barbara Stafford done these strange things? How, except from the
Prince of Darkness, had she attained the power of winning every soul
that came in contact with hers into subjection? Why was she possessed of
a beauty which died with the first youth of most women--a fresh, proud
beauty, to which years only gave grandeur, except that she had made a
compact with the evil one, and given her soul in exchange for the
marvellous beauty in which her diabolical power principally lay? How
could he, or any man, answer charges like these--charges based on
imagination only, yet for which a fellow-creature was in jeopardy of her
life?

How should he answer? Let the judge and the jury look upon the woman
where she sat, with halberts bristling around her, and a tribunal of
death that moment waiting to hurl her into eternity; for, guard the
dignity of that court as they might, such was its object. See how gently
she watches these proceedings--see how brave she is. Though a woman upon
the brink of eternity, rich in beauty, and strong with life, she is not
afraid to die. Was that the attitude of a fiend? Was that troubled
smile, so full of forgiveness and pity, the smile of a devil or an
angel? Let the jury look upon that face, and answer to the most high God
if they refused to profit by the evidence beaming therein!

Here the men of the jury looked at Barbara Stafford with a single
accord, as if they had no power to resist the direction of the young
advocate's eye, and it seemed impossible to turn from her gaze, so
mournful was the gloom of those large eyes, so calm was the attitude
with which she met their scrutiny.

But here one of the judges arose, and warned the jury, that a glance
like that was the most dangerous fascination that Satan gave to his
witch children, and besought them to look straight toward the bench,
thus saving their souls from jeopardy.

Then the wonderful eloquence of the young man was aroused, his
magnificent eyes shot fire, his lip curved, and his thin nostrils
dilated; all the strength and fervor of his being was flung into the
scathing denunciation which he hurled against the court, and against the
people whom this tribunal represented. It was the wild eloquence of
despair, for he knew when the jury turned to look upon Winthrop, the
chief judge, whose rebuke had crushed the rising pity which might have
saved Barbara Stafford, that her doom was sealed. Thus, with the
terrible conviction that he was avenging the fate of a doomed woman
rather than pleading with a hope, he poured out a wild outburst of
passionate eloquence--now appeal--now denunciation--now a wailing
lament, that made the jury tremble, and the judges turn white in the
face, as if an avenging angel had descended to protect the woman they
were about to adjudge to death.

This eloquence, native to the Indian, overbore the restraint of
education, and as the wild torrent of feeling rushed over the multitude,
it fired the superstition, brooding there, into a terrible conviction. A
word only was wanting, like a lighted match, to ignite these lurid
apprehensions. It came from a far-off corner of the meeting-house, where
one of the witnesses stood aghast with wonder, and trembling in all his
massive limbs.

"It is the man who came with us in the hold of the vessel. He followed
her after the storm. He it was who left the heavy boxes in my keeping."

A shrewd bystander caught these words as they fell from the white lips
of Jason Brown, and he cried out in a voice that rang through the court
like a trumpet,

"Behold the confederate of her sorcery! The beautiful witch has brought
Lucifer himself to plead her cause: mark the fire in his eyes, the
breath from his nostrils; see the bronze on his forehead, the proud
curve on his mouth!"

At these words there rose a tumult in the house. Women shrieked, and
pressed forward to the doors; men broke into wild murmurs, or whispered
together in low voices; while the judges stood up, pale as a group of
statues; and the jury huddled together, looking into each other's faces
aghast.

In the midst of this turmoil, Barbara Stafford felt a breath on her
cheek, and looking suddenly up, met the glance of those eyes, which, a
moment before, had frightened the people with their burning passion, now
full of determined purpose.

He whispered something, but in the tumultuous noise Barbara lost its
meaning. The next instant the rush of the crowd carried the noble youth
from her sight, and when the court, recovering from its panic, looked
around for this emissary of the dark one, who had denounced its
proceedings face to face with the august judges, the strange advocate
was gone.

Then, while the crowd was hushed with unconquerable awe, and the very
heavens bent over it black with a mustering storm, the verdict of the
jury ran in a low whisper from lip to lip, till it reached the savages
brooding in the forest, and was mingled with the deep, deep curses of
the white man--

"Guilty! guilty!"

Then the storm burst over them, shaking the window-panes, like angry
fiends, uphurling great trees in the woods, and plowing up the virgin
soil; and in the midst of its fury sentence was pronounced.

On the second day from that Barbara Stafford was doomed to suffer death
by drowning for the crime of witchcraft.



CHAPTER XLVII.

THE WIFE'S APPEAL.


Governor Phipps was a changed man during the progress of Barbara
Stafford's trial. His character, usually so sternly calm, seemed all
broken up. He was restless--almost irritable--and would start as if
wounded if any one mentioned her name, or discussed her cause in his
presence.

After giving his evidence he had not once entered the court, but shut
himself up on a plea of pressing papers to write, and remained almost
entirely alone. He neither wrote nor read, but sat with both elbows on
the library table, wondering moodily if he were indeed bewitched and
given up to the evil one.

One great cause of his depression arose from the awful responsibility
which must fall upon him if this strange lady should be found guilty.
With him, as chief magistrate of the colony, rested the pardoning power.
If she was condemned her life would lie in his hands--her death perhaps
rest upon his soul should he refuse the mercy that might be demanded of
him. He felt that she would be condemned, and the coming responsibility
lay heavy on him.

In this frame of mind the afternoon of the closing trial found him. The
storm which had been slowly gathering all day broke fiercely over his
dwelling; sleet and hail rattled like a storm of shot against the
window-panes; the wind howled and raved among the old trees that
sheltered the gables, beating their branches heavily against the roof,
and forcing weird sounds, almost of human anguish, from every tree and
bough.

Sir William shuddered as these dismal sounds swelled around him. It
seemed indeed as if some demon were turning the elements into great
bursts of wrath. Had the trial ended? Was the beautiful witch condemned;
and were kindred demons tearing through the elements, exhausting their
fiendish powers there which had been insufficient to save her?

This thought certainly passed through his disturbed mind, but took no
lasting hold there. But for the strange influence this woman had
exercised over his own feelings, his reason, always clear and logical,
would have rejected such wild fantasies. But something weird, and yet
enthralling in his own soul, rendered the strong man for once clearly
superstitious.

The library door was hastily flung open, and Norman Lovel came in, pale
as death, though he had been buffeting the winds, and with terrible
excitement in his eyes. He was shivering, and cold sleet and ridges of
fine snow hung on his garments and powdered his hair.

Sir William started to his feet, cast one glance on that white young
face, and sat down suddenly, stifling a groan.

The young man flung himself into a chair, threw his arms out on the
table, and buried his face upon them.

"Speak to me," said Sir William, hoarsely. "Is the trial ended?"

The young man lifted his head; every feature of his face was quivering.
His eyes, heavy with anguish, turned upon the governor.

"Day after to-morrow they will murder her."

"Day after to-morrow! Great Heavens! so soon?"

"You will not permit it. Thank God her life rests with you!" cried
Norman, passionately. "You have the power. Use it, and save the highest
and best creature that the sun ever shone upon."

The governor slowly regained his manhood under this appeal. Remembering
that he was chief magistrate of the province, he put aside the sensitive
tenderness that had almost swayed him for a time, and asked himself
whence that strange feeling had come? Could this woman's influence reach
him even from her dungeon? Had the evil spirit within her seized upon
Norman Lovel, the being held closest to his heart, that she might thus
possess him, and force mercy from his hands?

"Norman," he said, gravely, "by what power are you so wrought upon? What
is this woman to you?"

"What is she to me? My soul! my life I--every thing that an angel of
light can be to a human being. If she dies, Sir William, I will perish
with her."

This wild outburst hardened the governor, who absolutely believed the
young man possessed.

"Leave me, boy!" he said, not unkindly; "in this matter I must take
council with my God alone. Would that this hard duty had been spared me!
I am admonished by the weakness here, that the scales of justice tremble
in my hands. This must not be. Men who govern must be firm, or mercy is
but cowardice."

"Oh, if you could but see her as I have! feel for her as I feel!" cried
the young man.

"Were I Norman Lovel, and you governor of this province, it might be
so," answered Sir William. "But plead with me no more; this heart is
heavy enough without that. If it must withhold the mercy you ask, the
pain here will far outweigh any thing that you can feel."

Sir William pressed a hand hard upon his heart as he spoke, and there
was an expression of such pain in his voice and on his features that
Norman forbore to press him further, but arose, and stood up ready to
go.

"Yes, leave me," said Sir William, reaching forth his hand with a sad
smile. "I have need to be alone."

Norman kissed the hand which Sir William held out to him, and his eyes
filled with tears.

"Oh, think mercifully of her, if you would not break my heart!" he said.

Sir William drew back his hand, turning his face away.

"Leave me, boy! leave me!"

Was the strong man weeping, or were all his tears forced back into that
thrilling voice? Never in his life had Norman seen the governor so
moved.

From the library Norman went to the little breakfast-parlor, where Lady
Phipps sat in dull silence with Elizabeth Parris and Abby Williams.

The lady had evidently been weeping, for there was a flush under her
eyes, and her cheerfulness was all gone.

"I have heard the sad news," she said, moving upon the sofa, that he
might sit by her. "Poor lady! I cannot choose but pity her."

"I knew that her fate would touch you with compassion. God help the
sweet lady, for men and women both seem hardened against her."

Elizabeth Parris, who sat in a great easy-chair, with her tear-stained
cheek gleaming white against the crimson cushions, began to cry
piteously, and sobbed out,

"Ah, me! If she could but go over seas and live her years out there! If
they drown her I shall never know rest again."

Norman went up to the young girl, and kissed her forehead.

"Help me to save her, darling. Plead with Lady Phipps, and with Sir
William. He has the power to pardon her. As I came from the court an
English ship hove in sight, struggling against the storm. Let us save
this unhappy woman from death, Elizabeth, and that ship shall carry her
away from these shores forever."

"Would she go--would she?" questioned the girl, looking up eagerly.

"It was her earnest wish to leave the country before this awful charge
was made."

"Lady Phipps--Lady Phipps! May I go to Sir William? May I kneel to him
and beg for her life?"

"I will go with you, child," answered the lady. "Alas, it was an evil
day for this poor woman when she came among us!"

"Let us go--let us go at once!" cried Elizabeth, rising, and pushing
back the hair from her forehead. "I shall not sleep till it is done. He
cannot resist you. May Abigail Williams come with us?"

Abigail sat by herself, looking wistfully out into the storm. She turned
her head as Elizabeth called to her, but did not attempt to rise.

"No," she said. "I have done nothing toward hunting this unhappy lady to
her death."

"Always cruel, always cold," said Elizabeth, reproachfully. "Well, as I
have borne witness against her, so will I go alone and beg for her life
on my knees."

"It is better so," whispered Lovel, as Lady Phipps hesitated. "When it
comes to the worst, dear friend, we must claim your help. That will be
our last hope."

Elizabeth left the room as they were conversing, and went into the
library. Few words were spoken after she left. Abby Williams gazed out
into the storm as if she had no part in the general trouble. Lady Phipps
sat with downcast eyes, looking thoughtfully on the floor. Norman paced
up and down the room, turning anxiously at every sound, expecting to see
Elizabeth.

She came at last, pale and heavy-eyed, moving wearily across the hall.

"She has failed!" cried Norman. "Oh, misery, she has failed!"

A smile, that seemed malicious, quivered across Abigail's lips, but she
did not turn her head.

Elizabeth tottered across the room, and fell into an easy chair,
exhausted.

Norman Lovel bent over her, hoping against hope.

"It is of no use," she murmured; "he would not let me plead. Oh, Norman!
must she die?"

"Shall I go now?" whispered Lady Phipps. "He never refused me any thing
in his life."

"Not yet, dear lady," answered Lovel. "At present leave him alone."

"To-night, when he comes to my room," answered the lady; "that perhaps
is best."

Lady Phipps seemed glad of a reprieve. She went back to her sofa,
sighing heavily.

"Feel how I tremble!" she said, giving her hands to Norman. "It is
strange, but nothing ever shook my nerves so till this lady came across
the seas. Oh, Norman! that was a weary day for us."

"But most of all for her."

"True, true. Poor soul, I shall not sleep till she is pardoned. If she
is proven guilty of witchcraft, it was not of a harmful sort, though we
have been made very unhappy by it. Elizabeth, child, you are worn out;
take my arm and we will go to our chambers, for I, too, am weary. Be
hopeful, Norman; I will surely speak to the governor before he goes to
rest."

But the lady was doomed to disappointment. All that night Sir William
remained in his library, with the door locked. In the morning the gentle
wife claimed admittance, and he let her in, smiling sadly upon her as
she entered.

"My husband, this has been a weary night. How mournful and pale you
look! Surely, it is not because you have doomed that poor woman?"

"She was doomed before her case came before me. God knows, dear wife, I
would gladly save her if my conscience permitted."

Lady Phipps sat down on a cushioned stool at her husband's feet, resting
her hand lightly on his knee. Her sweet, gracious face, formed a
striking contrast with the haggard whiteness of his.

"Nay, sweetheart; you will be more merciful than the judges," she
pleaded. "They are naturally stern and hard--but you--"

"Must be stern also, or betray my trust," he answered. "If I pardon this
woman, who enlists your sympathy so much more than others, because of
her beauty and gentle breeding, what will be said of me--that I withhold
mercy from the ignorant crones and common-place witches who have
perished, and give it to a gentlewoman because of her fair face? If they
were held worthy of punishment for setting a few cows wild, and
scattering mischief among their neighbors mostly pertaining to the body
alone, how much more severely should this woman be dealt with who
fastens her witchcraft on the soul! Have you marked the progress of her
sorcery on the young man under our roof, who still clings to her as if
she were part of his own being--on the maiden you love so, Elizabeth
Parris, whose very life seems to have been half shrunk up under the evil
influence which she struggles against in vain?"

"Nay," answered the lady, with an arch smile, "so far as Elizabeth is
concerned, I think the witch that most troubles her is Jealousy. Indeed,
indeed I do! It is the dark-browed beauty, who says so little, that
seems most deeply affected. Yet she exonerates this woman entirely. As
for Lovel, he is generous and good to every one: impetuous in his
likings, he is always indignant if he suspects oppression or injustice.
Had this Barbara Stafford come among us without mystery, and been left
unnoticed, he would have cared little about her."

Sir William looked at his wife thoughtfully while she was speaking, and
a deeper shade came over his face. She was so frank, so sweetly
generous, that he felt conscience-stricken at having given these trivial
reasons for withholding mercy from Barbara Stafford while those, so much
deeper and more potent, lay buried in his own bosom.

He took her two hands between his, and pressed them with nervous energy.
"My wife, bear with me--neither give way to anger nor fear--and I will
tell you why it is impossible that this woman can receive a pardon at my
hands. Even as it has enthralled the souls of these young persons, her
wonderful power has bewitched your husband. Since that hour when she
stood near me at the altar, and the night when she lay for one moment
against my heart, I have had no rest. Nay, sweet wife, do not turn pale,
or draw these hands from mine. What power there is in mortal man to
resist the evil one I have striven for, but in vain. Absent or present
this woman is forever in my mind, standing, as it were, like the ghost
of some buried love between us two."

Lady Phipps gave a sharp cry, and wresting her hands from his grasp
buried her face in them.

"Between us two? Alas! alas! I felt this but would not believe it."

"Nay, sweetheart, be calm. Is your husband a man to yield up his love,
or his integrity, to the evil one, come in what form he may? Of my own
free will I have never looked upon this woman, or spoken to her but once
in my life."

"I know it, I know it," moaned the unhappy lady.

"But she is always here," continued Sir William, laying a hand on his
heart. "She haunts me. I cannot drive her image away. Sleeping and
waking I am shadow-haunted."

Lady Phipps gazed on her husband in pale dismay. At last she cried
out--"Oh, my God! my God! help him--help me, for he loves this woman."

"Be calm, and let me tell every thing. In this matter I would not have a
single reservation. What I say will give you pain, but my conscience
must clear itself. Since I first saw this woman, something that I cannot
describe--a feeling so intangible that it is in vain I strive to grasp
it--divides me from--it is hard to speak, and I would rather perish than
wound you, my wife--but it seems to point out my union with you as
a--a--I cannot utter it. God help us both! This witch in her prison
poisons my heart with feelings that I can neither repel nor describe.
Either she or I must perish before my soul is free again."

Lady Phipps sat gazing on him in affright; her eyes widened, her face
contracted. "Oh, my husband! has it come to this?" she cried out in
bitter anguish; "and I was pleading for her life. Poor, poor Elizabeth!
it was thus her young heart suffered. What can I do? How ought I to
act?"

"Let us be still, and crave help of God," said the governor, solemnly.
"I have been asking such questions of the Lord all night, and my resolve
was firm."

Awed by the thrilling earnestness of his voice Lady Phipps bowed her
head and fell into a painful reverie, half thought, half prayer. When
she looked up a sweet calmness shone in her eyes.

"Still, my husband, I say pardon this woman, and let her go beyond the
seas."

"That she may render other men wretched as I am?" exclaimed Sir William.
"Nay, do not plead for her. The evidence of her sorcery is here, in my
bosom. This clamorous pity, which will not let me rest, is a part of it.
Knowing what I know, feeling the entire justice of her condemnation, I
have but one course before me."

"And the woman must die?" exclaimed Lady Phipps, piteously, forgetting
her own wrongs in the flood of compassion that filled her heart.

A shudder ran through Sir William's strong frame as he repeated her
words: "The woman must die!"

"Take time--only take a few more hours for consideration," pleaded the
self-sacrificing wife. "It is like sending her into eternity when you
banish her across the ocean. Do that, and so let her pass out of our
lives."

"Nay, I will do nothing. Think you, child, that this heart does not
tempt me enough? Must your sweet magnanimity urge on its weakness? Hark!
that is Samuel Parris claiming admittance. I will not see him. Of all
others, I will not see him!"

"Oh, but he is a good man--a just and merciful man," pleaded the wife.

"I will not see him, nevertheless, nor any one till to-morrow is over.
Bring my overcoat and hat. I will go through the back entrance to the
stables and so escape him."

"Here is the coat and hat as you cast them off yesterday. I am glad of
this. The fresh air may put merciful thoughts in your heart. Which way
will you ride? We will not give up the hope that some good angel will
urge you back with a merciful resolve." The lady spoke rapidly and with
tears swelling into her eyes.

"I shall ride to Providence, nor return under some days. Farewell! God
be with you, and forgive her."

Sir William went away in haste, without other farewell.

It was a full hour before Lady Phipps left the library.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

THE FOREIGN PACKAGE.


After Sir William's departure a package was brought to his house bearing
a foreign postmark, and sealed with unusual formality. It was for
Barbara Stafford, directed to the care of Sir William Phipps, and had
doubtless come over in the ship which Norman had seen the day before
buffeting its course shoreward through the storm.

When this package was brought to Lady Phipps she held it irresolute for
some minutes. An idea flashed across her mind that it contained some
hint of that unhappy woman's life, and a wild impulse rose in her heart
to read it. But such thoughts could find no resting-place in her pure
nature. She called to Norman Lovel, gave him the package, and bade him
take it at once to the prison.

Norman placed the package in his bosom, drew his cloak over it, and went
forth one of the heaviest-hearted men ever called upon to undertake a
cruel labor of love. He had stayed away from the prison purposely,
hoping that the governor might yet return; but when the night stole on
with such ruthless certainty, he was preparing to visit the prisoner
with the heart-rending assurance that Sir William Phipps had uttered his
irrevocable decree. There was no hope for her. On the morrow she must
die. Filled with such trouble as youth seldom knows, he took the package
in silence, and went his way.

Norman found Barbara Stafford in her dungeon reading in a prayer-book
which the authorities had permitted her to receive with other articles
of her own property from her trunks in the farm-house. She looked up as
Norman entered, and met his despairing glance with a faint smile.

"I have been expecting you," she said.

"And now I come to say--"

He could not utter the word, but stood before her dumb with anguish.

"That I must suffer to-morrow. Do not grieve; I expected it," she said,
with sweet sadness.

"It is true. The governor is inexorable."

Never to his dying day did he forget the expression of that face when he
told Barbara how hopeless his suit had been. It was like that of a
grieved angel, calm and mournful, but holy with resignation. It seemed
as if her soul were repeating the words of our Saviour, "Father, forgive
them, for they know not what they do!"

Norman sat down by her, but could not speak. He had come himself with
the terrible tidings, hoping to soften her fate by words of soothing and
consolation, but the occasion was too overpowering; he could only sit at
her feet and gaze wistfully into her eyes for the comfort he had lost
all power to give.

After a time the doomed woman made a gentle attempt to soothe him, and
calm the anguish, which was the more terrible because of its stillness.
But the very sound of her voice thrilled him with pain. She saw that he
could not speak. Her hand fell gently on his head, and bending over him
she whispered:

"My son, remember how few years lie between this home and that meeting
which will be all joy. Nay, do not weep so, or you will make me wish to
live."

"Oh, would to God that I could die for you!" cried the young man in a
burst of passionate grief.

"Hush! hush! In this world one meets with many things harder to endure
than death. When that comes we may hope for such sweet pity as you give
me now; but there exist sorrows which must be borne in silence, to which
even a violent exit from life is happiness. Do not mourn for me, now,
dear friend, for I have learned to suffer and be patient. Come, cheer
up. I must find that smile on your face before we part to-night. See how
your grief has disturbed me. I had almost forgotten to inquire after
that sweet child, Elizabeth Parris, for in the greatest peril I did not
forget that the young girl, my innocent enemy, was borne from the court
insensible. Nay, do not shake that head, but tell me how much you love
this pretty creature. My time is short, but I may yet have power to
brighten your lives."

"There will be nothing bright for me after you are gone!" was the
mournful answer.

"Nay, but I will make my very memory a blessing to you both. You must
wed this girl, for she loves you dearly."

"I know it," answered the young man, lifting his head and gazing on his
doomed friend through a blinding rush of tears. "And I loved her
before--"

"Hush, hush! You love her now--ever will love her. There is one thing,
Norman, which I think would make me die happier."

"Any thing that I can do?" he questioned eagerly.

"Yes; before I--before to-morrow it would comfort me to feel certain of
your marriage with Elizabeth Parris."

"What! now, in this gloomy place, can you think of that?"

"But it is not so very gloomy. I am prepared. Now, I remember, where is
the leather case which I entrusted to your keeping that day when you
claimed me from the soldiers in Salem? I trust it is in safety, for when
I am gone its contents shall be yours; and they are of value."

"I brought the case with me, under my cloak, thinking that it might
contain gold which you could use."

"Yes; you will find gold there after I am gone. Keep it with the rest."

"Dear friend, you will break my heart with this cruel kindness."

"What! I? No! no! I wish to make you very happy."

"Lady, in my grief I forgot every thing. Here is a package which came
over from England in a ship which has just arrived."

Barbara started, and a sudden color came to her face. The excitement was
but momentary. She received the package from Norman's hand without
looking at it.

"Like all things else it comes too late," she said, quietly; "still I
thank you."

That moment a turnkey opened her dungeon door, and peered in with a
wistful, inquiring look; over his shoulders appeared a thin face, sharp,
and grayish pale, whose black eyes wandered through the dungeon with a
sort of timid eagerness, as if he searched, and yet shrunk from some
object.

Barbara Stafford saw the face, and stood up with a mournful smile on her
lip; thus she remained, waiting, till Samuel Parris came in, and paused
before her, like the ghost of some pale friar that had wandered from its
substance.

"Samuel Parris, my kind host, my stern accuser," said Barbara Stafford.
"Alas! old man, you seem more dreary than I; no wonder: my troubles will
be over to-morrow; but yours--oh! God forgive you, Samuel Parris! May
the God of heaven help you to forgive yourself!"

Samuel Parris sat down upon a stool. He had come to persuade Barbara
Stafford into saving herself by confession, for her coming death
troubled him sorely; but when he saw her standing there, so calm and
pale, like a queen--no, like that grander thing, a brave, delicate
woman, who knows how to die like a woman--he had no voice wherewith to
tempt her weakness, or win on her conscience; but sat down, with trouble
in his eyes, gazing on her in silence.

"Old man," said Barbara, smiling, oh! how mournfully, "if you came to
encourage me to support my weakness through the dark scene of to-morrow,
I thank you."

"Nay," said the old man, "I came to exhort thee to confession."

Barbara made a faint movement with her hand.

"Without that," continued the minister, "there is no hope. Governor
Phipps has left his home, that his heart may be no longer wrung with our
importunities, for I, even I, and Elizabeth my daughter--nay, the very
wife of his bosom--have been on our knees before him to no avail. Now,
that death treads so closely on our words, we, who have been thy honest
accusers, would fain see thee sent safely beyond seas, rather than this
fearful sentence should be fulfilled."

Barbara Stafford bent her face, shrouding it with both hands, while a
flood of soft, sweet tears rained from her eyes. It was comforting to
know that even these, her bitter enemies, had relented a little.

"Old man," she said, with gentle dignity, "I have nothing to confess
connected with the crime of which you charge me."

"But without confession there can be no forgiveness; of that rest
assured," pleaded the minister.

"Nor can I ask forgiveness for a crime which has never been committed.
Old man, I thank you for this kind intent, but it can be of no avail. I
am a weak woman, it is true, and shrink from suffering, but that which
God permits I will strive to endure with befitting courage."

"Unhappy woman," said the minister, regarding her with a look of intense
compassion, "can nothing be done to persuade thee? Wouldst thou die and
leave doubt on the soul of an old man who never meant evil by thee?"

The minister's voice was low and entreating. He seemed about to weep.
Barbara went close to him.

"If it will avail to make you happier," she said, gently, "I can say of
a truth that I believe you have dealt honestly with me, and when death
comes, I, the victim and the sufferer, hold you free from all blame. If
I have in any thing brought trouble under your roof, forgive me now
before we part forever."

As she stood thus, bowed forward, with both hands up to her temples,
there was something in the attitude, and in the very depth of her sobs,
that struck the old man with compassion. He stood up, and with his
withered hands attempted to put back the hair from her face, as if she
had been a little girl whose grief he pitied.

"Would to God thou hadst never crossed my path," he said; "or that I had
now the power to save as it has been given me to destroy."

"Do not mourn for me, or blame yourself," answered the lady. "If it
seems hard to die, it was harder still to live. Give me your blessing,
Samuel Parris, for, despite the fate that threatens me, I do think you a
Christian. So let us part in peace."

The old man lifted his hands, and blessed the woman he had destroyed.

Barbara turned to Norman Lovel. "Go with this good old man," she said.
"He is heavy-hearted to-night. Speak kindly to him, and come early in
the morning. You will stay with me to the last."

"To the last!" answered the young man. Then he and the minister went
out, leaving Barbara Stafford alone.



CHAPTER XLIX.

STRANGE TIDINGS.


When the footsteps of her visitors died away in the ante-room, she
became conscious of the package which Norman Lovel had given her, and
going up to a window sunk deep in the wall, and dim with dust, she broke
the seal and began to read its contents. All at once her face lighted
up. She read one passage over and over again, clasped her hand in a
delirium of sudden gladness, and cried out in her prison:

"Thank God! oh, thank my God that I have lived to know this! But to
learn it now, with only a few hours of life. Father of heaven, grant me
a little time--just a little time, in which I may taste all the fulness
of this great blessing!"

She walked the room up and down, seized with a wild desire to go free.
Her bonds for the first time seemed insupportable. The sound of a
turnkey near her door drew her that way. She beat against the massive
oak with her hand, calling aloud. A heavy key grated in its lock, and
the man came in.

"Go," she said, handing him a piece of money; "send a messenger after
the minister, Samuel Parris, who has left me but now. Say that I would
speak with him at once. Lose no time, I beseech you."

The man closed the door, turned the key in its lock, and Barbara was
alone again--alone, with what different thoughts to those that had
occupied her when Lovel came in! Thrilling excitement, eager hope, a
wild commotion of feelings forbade all connected thoughts. She walked
the floor--she clasped and unclasped her hands--words of tender
endearment dropped from her lips. Mine mine! mine! The baby that they
told me was dead--so beautiful! so generous! Ah, after this wonderful
blessing I should be ready to die. But now the fear of death is
terrible. All the life within me rises up to reject it. I would live to
a good old age. He, my son--my own dear son--should watch the gray hair
stealing over my head, and love me all the better for them. It must be
pleasant to grow old in the sight of one's child. This is why he loved
me so. I could not understand it--nor could he. How I longed to kiss him
as he knelt before me not an hour since! To-morrow I shall see him
again. To-morrow--oh, my God! what is to happen then!

She paused in her walk, and stood in the middle of the floor, struck
dumb and white by a terrible thought. How fate mocked her! This
revelation, which had thrilled her whole being with new-born joy, was
after all only a temptation to entice her from the sacrifice she had
resolved to make. On all sides events seemed forcing her on to death.
Now, when life might have been so sweet, she must turn resolutely away
from it, and meet her awful fate. Pale still, dumb with mighty anguish,
Barbara fell upon her knees and prayed. All things conspired against
her. Death, that she had considered with such resignation an hour
before, was now surrounded with the bitterness of revolt. Her heart
yearned for the life which it still rejected.

She knelt and prayed, wringing her hands and crying on God for help--not
to escape her doom, but to bear it now that existence had been made so
precious. She arose firm and resolute, but not calm--that she could
never be again. The struggle in her soul was terrible; but the spirit of
self-abnegation grew strong within her, and would prevail.

When Samuel Parris entered the dungeon again, he scarcely recognized the
prisoner; her cheeks were scarlet, her eyes like stars. A hundred lives
seemed to have been crowded into that one hour.

Barbara went up to the minister, and took his hand with an eager grasp.

"A little while ago," she said, "you asked me to confess, and I refused.
I have now recalled you for that very purpose. I had intended to die and
make no sign, but that resolve is broken up. Sit down, Samuel Parris,
and listen to me."

"I listen," said the old man.

"It is not of this idle charge of witchcraft that I wish to speak," she
said, hurriedly; "but of myself, my life, my history. Can you listen
with patience?"

"With patience, and in all charity," was the solemn reply.

"But first I must have a promise--your solemn promise before God--that
what I say to you shall not be revealed to any living soul till after my
death. Samuel Parris, will you give me this promise? Remember it is a
dying woman who asks it."

"Even if it prove a confession of guilt that you wish to make before me
as a minister of the Most High, there would be no wrong in the promise;
therefore I will give it."

"But there is no confession of sin to wound your ear or trouble your
conscience; that which I have to say need not draw a blush to my own
face, or a frown from yours. Have I your promise?"

"I have promised already," said the minister.

"Solemnly and before the God of heaven?"

"Every promise that a just man makes is registered in heaven. Lady, thou
canst trust me. Never yet have I broken faith with man or woman."

"I can trust you--and I will. Samuel Parris, look at me."

Barbara unwound the lace scarf that was usually twisted about her head
like a turban, and the waves of magnificent hair thus fully exposed fell
loose upon her shoulders. Throwing all these golden tresses back from
her forehead with a sweep of her two hands, she turned her face full
upon the minister.

"Samuel Parris, do you know me?" The old man looked at her in dumb
bewilderment. The scarlet burning in her cheeks, the splendor of her
eyes, made his heart leap toward a full recognition. He could not
answer, but stood gazing upon her with a strange, doubtful look. She
dropped her hands; the hair fell in curling masses down her back. Her
face drooped forward. She was disappointed that he did not recognize her
at once.

The thin features of Samuel Parris kindled up, first with doubt, then
with fear, and again with positive conviction.

Her attitude and the disposal of her hair revealed her to him.

Samuel Parris stood dumb and pale, gazing at her resolutely.

Neither of the two spoke. They looked in each other's eyes afraid: at
last the minister found voice.

"Alive!" he said, "alive! and here? Oh! my God, my God, what has thy
servant done that he should see this day?"

"You know me then, Samuel Parris? You know me then?"

"Alas! alas!" The old man wrung his hands in wild excitement.

"And now you understand my presence here, my anguish and my silence?"

"Oh! God forgive us!--God forgive us!" moaned the old man.

"You thought me dead, Samuel Parris: would that it had been so, but the
unhappy cannot die when they wish."

"And thou art condemned to death! we, the wrongers and the sinful, have
done this. But it is not too late, it shall not be too late."

The old man started toward the door, but Barbara laid her hand on his
arm. "I have your promise, Samuel Parris."

The old man fell back against the wall as if he had been shot.

"Henceforth my fate rests in my own hands," said the lady, with gentle
firmness. "If I revealed myself to you it was not to save this poor
life, but because in no other way can justice be done to the living."

"But it must not be," cried the minister, wringing his hands. "Woman,
woman, why did you not confide in me from the first?"

"And thus ruin him?"

"Oh, mercy! mercy! how hard it is to act rightly!" cried the old man.

"Sit down by me here on this bench," said Barbara, kindly. "I have no
better seat to offer you. Sit down, old friend, and be calm as I am."

The old man obeyed her, and, lifting his haggard eyes to her face, gazed
upon her with the helplessness of a child.

She had become almost calm: a gracious dew overspread her forehead and
the light of a holy resolve shone in her eyes.

"I must tell you every thing," she said, "for after I am gone you will
take my duties up and bear them forward for my sake."

"Speak on: I listen," answered the old man in a broken-hearted voice.



CHAPTER L.

BARBARA STAFFORD'S STORY.


Barbara Stafford covered her face with both hands, for a moment pressing
her temples hard, as if she hoped thus to still the crowd of thoughts
under which her brain struggled.

"Let me begin years back when you performed the marriage rite which has
been the glory and bitterness of my life," she commenced at last, in a
low, forced voice that betrayed the painful effort she was making. "My
father was a proud man, as you know, but how much reason he had for this
lofty ancestral pride no one on this side of the Atlantic ever guessed.
He was, in fact, when we came to this country, the next heir to one of
the richest earldoms in England--one of those few titles that fall alike
to male and female heirs. My paternal grandmother was then living, and
his near connection with her honors was but little known. After my
mother's death--her maiden name was Barbara Stafford, that which I now
bear as a disguise--we came to America, urged by curiosity to see a
country so grand and wild, so full of wonderful promise.

"I was young then, scarcely more than sixteen. We were thrown
together--you know who I mean--even here I would not mention his name
and wound the honor for which I am ready to die. We loved each other
with the first bright passion of youth, with the enduring love which
fills a whole life with bliss or a perpetual weight of pain. We were
young, rash, mad. I knew how hopeless it was to attempt winning my
father's consent. The noble youth your solemn voice made my husband was
his equal or the equal of any man who ever drew breath; but he was
poor--a man of the people, a working man, though educated with the best,
in intellect and energy equal to those who build up dynasties. My father
was struck dumb with his audacity, when he asked my hand in marriage. So
embittered was he with this outrage to his pride that he hastened to
leave the country. But for a few days, contrary winds held him
weather-bound. Then driven to despair, we fled to you, my husband's old
friend.

"Do not shrink and moan so. It was a holy union you sanctified that
night. I have suffered, oh, how terribly, since, but never regretted it,
never shall regret it even in my death-throes.

"During three weeks after that ride through the forest when I returned
to Boston a happy bride--for, spite of all, I was happy--we met in
secret and arranged that he should follow me to England, and there,
before the whole world, demand me of my father. We sailed. Hidden away
in an inferior part of the vessel, he went with us, never appearing on
deck till after night-fall and keeping his presence in the ship a secret
from my father.

"We reached England at last and went up to London, where my father threw
me into a whirl of fashionable life, hoping thus to win my thoughts from
the man who was my husband. I resisted: the pleasures of society were
worse than nothing to me, and I thus once more incurred my father's
anger. Samuel Parris, you know the man who was my husband, his pride of
character, his indomitable integrity. Holding my father's objections
trivial and insulting to his manhood, he had swept them aside in scorn:
it was only for my sake that he consented to concealment for a single
hour. When he saw that the result of this secrecy was my
humiliation--that I was forced to act a falsehood before the world--he
put every other thought aside and resolved to declare our marriage and
endure its consequences as he best might.

"I remember the morning well. My father was at home in our town
residence, surrounded by all the pomp of state and subserviency of
well-trained menials. The knowledge that my young husband had a painful
duty to perform excited all that was courageous or noble in my nature,
and I felt a certain sublime animation in the thought of standing by his
side while he proclaimed me his lawful wife. I was young, and loved my
husband so dearly that the disobedience of which we had both been guilty
seemed trivial compared with the complete happiness of our union. Since
then I have learned how fatally domestic rebellion may root itself into
a human life. The day came. My father was in his library. Every thing
had gone well with him since our return. He stood high at court, was a
favorite in society, and all his projects of aggrandizement, some of
them bearing upon my fate in life, seemed to promise a happy fulfilment.
He did not dream of the impediment my marriage would cast in the way of
his ambition. Up to that time he had no idea that William was in
England, or that my liking for him had amounted to more than a passing
folly.

"Half an hour before the time appointed for our mutual declaration, my
father sent for me. I found him in brilliant spirits and almost
caressingly kind. He met me with unusual affection, kissed me with
smiling lips, and proclaimed triumphantly that a noble suitor had just
left him, and that it was my own fault if I did not become a duchess
within the month.

"I might have met this announcement with some courage had my husband
been there with his strong will and calm self-reliance; as it was I
could only tremble in my father's arms and shrink guiltily from his
caresses. He looked for blushes and found me pale as snow, for I knew
that this offer, so gratifying to his pride, would give tenfold
bitterness to his disappointment.

"While I stood mute and cold, dreading to speak, William was announced.
I dared not look at my father, but knew, from his suppressed breathing,
that he was silent only from intense rage. You saw William in his youth,
and know how grand was his presence, how distinguished his bearing. If
nobility was ever written upon a human form, it shone out in native
splendor there. Approaching me as if he had been an emperor and I his
mate, this man of humble birth took my hand in his, and, with simple but
most touching earnestness, confessed his fault in making me his wife.

"Dumb and white with wrath, my father attempted to annihilate him with a
look, at which my heart rose in proud rebellion, and I felt the hot
blood in my cheek. But William was self-poised, and bore himself with a
sort of brave humility that should have disarmed even rage itself.

"'If I have done wrong in stealing this dear one from you,' he said, 'we
have both suffered more than you will believe. If there is any penalty
that you can impose--any probation that will atone for an act, which
though wrong we cannot repent of--name it, and if human effort can win a
blessing from your lips it shall yet be deserved.'

"My father stood before us, towering haughtily upward in his outraged
pride; his face was ashen with the white heat of smothered wrath. He was
always a man of few words, but those which fell from his lips then
burned into my memory like living coals.

"'Go, earn a station high as that of my daughter; back it with wealth
such as makes her one of the richest women in England. Then, and not
till then, ask her at my hands.'

"'If I do earn a title, and honorably gain such wealth, will you give
her to me with a free will and generous blessing?' asked the young man
in a voice that vibrated with intense feeling. 'In the brave acts or
persistent efforts of some strong man, once unknown, the nobility of
every illustrious house in England is rooted. To win her, and know that
she is mine without dishonor, I will undertake impossibilities; if I
succeed, or fail, you shall yet acknowledge, proud sir, that I deserved
your daughter.'

"'When that time comes, claim her at my hands,' answered my father, with
cutting unbelief in his look and voice. 'But till then she remains under
my authority, and bearing the name she has secretly dishonored. Barbara,
if this young man is your husband, take leave of him now, for never,
till his boasted promise is fulfilled, shall you meet again.'

"I fell at that haughty man's feet, shivering with dread, cold with
terror.

"'Not that--oh, father! father! not that!' I cried out in the depths of
my anguish. 'Have mercy upon us. If we part I shall perish. Give me any
punishment you will, but let us suffer together.'

"But for a haughty sense of high breeding my father would have spurned
me from his feet. Still I clung around his knees, and without violence
he could not fling me off. My arms were softly unclasped from those iron
limbs. For one blissful moment I was strained to my husband's bosom. His
tears fell upon my face.

"'Barbara, take hope. I will claim you, even as this proud noble
mockingly suggests. Be patient! Have faith in me! One kiss; one more,
and now farewell!'

"My heart gave a frightened leap in my bosom. A cry froze on my lips,
and all was dark.

"This was in broad daylight; the sun streamed in upon us through the
gold and crimson tints of stained glass. When I became conscious, stars
were shining dimly through the curtains of my chamber window. I was
alone; faint, weary, and almost dead. Samuel Parris, I never saw my
husband again till he stood before the altar of that church taking the
sacrament from your hands."

The minister groaned heavily, but did not speak.

"He had left me insensible--left England, and gone no one would tell me
where. My father was dumb regarding him. If he wrote letters, they never
reached me."

"But he wrote them. As God liveth, William Phipps wrote to his young
wife again and again, but received no answer. He told me so with his own
lips," cried the minister. "It was for her he toiled and thought ever on
the broad ocean, and while wresting treasures from the deep where they
had been engulfed for centuries. He went back to England, possessed of
enormous wealth, and received a title at the king's hand for the
wonderful energy with which he had dragged silver and gold from the
bosom of the ocean, discovering their hiding-place almost by a miracle.
But all that he had done turned to dust in his hands, for when he went
to that proud old man and demanded his wife, the stern father answered
that she was dead."

"Did he mourn her, Samuel Parris? tell me, truly, did William Phipps
mourn the death of his wife, or had he learned to live without her?"

Parris looked up, with rebuking fire in his eyes.

"Woman, thou knowest that he loved thee, even to human sinfulness. When
William Phipps came back to this country, broken-hearted and alone, he
was but the shadow of the brave youth whose hand I joined with thine
that fatal night."

"Forgive me," pleaded Barbara, with plaintive humility. "I loved him,
and am but a weak woman. Think how hard it was to yearn so for one word
of comfort, and never dare ask it."

"Unhappy woman! thine has been a hard lot," cried the minister, clasping
both her hands in his, and weeping over them like a child.

"Tell me again, kind old man--for I am so near death that it cannot harm
me to know--did he in truth mourn my loss?"

"Poor martyr! he has never ceased to grieve over the ruin of his love."

"Then he did love me, dearly?"

"So dearly, that I thought he would have died deploring thy loss."

Barbara drew a deep breath, and tears swelled heavily under her drooping
eyelids.

"But he married another!" she said, with an effort.

"Yes; but he was still faithful to the love of his youth. It was but the
ruin of a heart which William Phipps gave in his second marriage. He
said this to me on the night when I was summoned to perform the
ceremony."

"Did he say this?"

"Of a verity he did. It was like whispering it to his own heart, for I
alone held his secret. In the future he hoped that tender friendship
might warm into love; but I had buried the wife of my bosom, and knew
how vain was the hope."

Barbara's eyes were fastened on the old man's face. She drank up his
words eagerly. A smile parted her lips; a flush of roses warmed her
cheeks. Then a shadow swept over her, and bending her head in gentle
humility she murmured:

"Poor, poor lady!"

For a moment both Parris and the lady sat together in silence. Then
Barbara looked up with a sad smile, and went on with her story.



CHAPTER LI.

A MOTHER.


"Time wore on, and I became a mother. With the first gleam of maternal
hopes, such as thrilled my whole being with new-born happiness, I was
hastened into the country; and, in a remote estate seldom visited by the
family, gave birth to a son. My life was in great peril; a fever set in,
and for a week I wandered unconsciously on the very brink of the grave,
delirious, and sometimes wild. When reason came back, my father was
there: he told me that my child was dead.

"Alas, old man! mine was a dreary life after that. Honors and wealth
were showered on my father. By the death of his mother he became Earl of
Sefton, and one of the wealthiest peers in England; but all this was
embittered by the fact that I, who must inherit all these privileges,
was wedded to a man, as he persisted in believing, so utterly beneath
me. This thought seemed to pursue him like a demon. At times my very
presence appeared hateful to him; there was never affectionate
companionship between us. He was content that I should remain in the
solitude of the estate to which I had been consigned almost as a
prisoner, and I, still hoping against hope, was willing to live in
seclusion till my husband should claim me. For, strange as it may
appear, I had faith in the accomplishment of his promise, wild as it
seemed.

"One day--it was in the second year of my solitary life--Lord Sefton
came down to the country, after the rising of parliament; and for the
first time since the death of my child was announced to me spoke of
William Phipps.

"'Read this,' he said, placing a newspaper before me, 'and thank God
that the disgrace of your connection with that man is unknown.'

"I unfolded the paper. It contained a paragraph copied from an American
letter, dated two months back.

"How I read this paragraph through--the agony of fear that possessed
me--I cannot tell; but every word of the cruel statement reached my
heart. My husband was dead--lost at sea! I was a widow.

"This mournful knowledge broke up my life. Even my father was terrified
by the state of dejection into which I fell. Thinking that it was only
the promptings of compassion that induced him to take me away from
England, I was grateful. We travelled for years through Europe, into
Egypt and the Holy Land. Sometimes we rested in one place for months and
months together; then again we would make long sea-voyages, and visit
places far remote from the usual course of English travel. Among other
countries we went to Bermuda and the West India islands, taking with us,
on our return, a young person, whose history I have no time to give, but
with whom my after-life has been strangely associated.

"We returned to England only a year ago. My father was an old man then.
I had left youth forever behind, and with it, all hopes of such
happiness as a woman's heart craves most. We had long since ceased to
talk of the past. It was a sealed subject between us, but as my father
drew near the grave, he became more tender and gentle in our
companionship.

"A few weeks after we returned to London, Lord Sefton was taken ill. The
disease ran its course rapidly, and in three days he was on his
death-bed. God forgive the old man! With his last breath he told me of
the terrible fraud that had been practised upon me. My husband was
living. He had achieved all that seemed audacious in his promise, and
had been in England years before to claim his wife. Then another fraud
was perpetrated, and they told him that I was dead.

"My father made this confession in broken gasps. I had no details, and
could scarcely gather the facts out of his imperfect speech. Something
more he would have told me, but death was inexorable, and the secret
died on his white lips.

"Thus, striving to retrieve the evil his pride had occasioned, my father
died and I became a peeress in my own right, the inheritor of more
wealth than I knew how to use. But, far above all, was the certainty
that my husband was alive, and had kept the noble promise of his youth.

"At last, my father, whose pride had widowed me while yet scarcely more
than a child, was laid with the cold and proud of his ancestors, dust
with their dust, and I, the inheritor of his estates, the lady of a
proud line, thought nothing of these things, but, urged by one wild
wish, turned from his very grave and set forth for America, searching
for the husband of my youth--the father of that child which had blessed
me for an hour and disappeared, but whose tomb I had never seen.

"Thus, full of hope, I pursued my voyage, counting every hour as a loss
till I once more saw the man who had been dearer to me when I thought
him beneath the waves than all the earth beside. Never had a voyage
seemed so long, and yet the wind was fair. How I wished the good ship
that bore us had wings! When a storm blew up hurling us westward, I
rejoiced, for through danger we should reach him the sooner. When a calm
overtook us my heart was restless with impatience. So much of life had
been spent away from him that I grudged each moment as a treasure
forfeited.

"Oh, how I loved him, myself, and all the world! I had worshipped him as
a girl--you know a little how much. But what was that to the holy
affection of mature womanhood, to the yearning tenderness that filled my
soul and kindled up every bright idea in my brain that it might do him
homage? I thought of the change years must have made in him--not to
regret that he was no longer young, but feeling how much grander he
would be with age on his brow and a consciousness of power in his
bearing.

"On the passage I had thought of myself differently. Sometimes I would
look at my hands and wonder if they had lost any thing of the symmetry
and whiteness he once so much admired. When I found a few silver hairs
dimming the tresses he had praised for their golden hue, it would make
me sad; for love grows timid sometimes as it deepens, and though I cared
not for his departed youth, every grace that had fled with mine was
remembered with regret. But I recalled his last words and had faith in
him. For his sake I would have gifted myself with perpetual youth and
immortal beauty. There was no good thing on earth or in heaven that I
would not gladly have brought him.

"Had it been possible, I would have gathered up sunlit colors from the
sky and those rare tints that sparkle in the ocean for his sake. I had
never given much thought to the titles and possessions which had fallen
to me, but now they grew precious in my estimation, for all that I had
was his.

"We came in sight of the coast in the midst of an awful storm, and
buffeted by the elements that seemed striving to force me back from my
fate. I thought nothing of that. The tedious voyage was over. The land
which he governed hove in sight. In a day--in an hour--it was possible
to see him. The thought filled me with wild impatience. For the universe
I could not have remained on board that ship one half-hour after she
cast her anchor.

"The captain and crew expostulated with me, but it was impossible to
heed their reasonings with the shore in sight. Careless of danger and
with my heart fairly singing with secret hopes, I descended into that
boat, with the waves leaping and roaring around it. I had no fear, after
suffering so much; it seemed impossible to die within reach of him. You
know the rest: it was your hand that dragged me from the breakers, yours
and Norman's.

"God sent you to the shore that day, Samuel Parris. I felt it then, I
feel it now. Had the waves swallowed me I should have died with a sweet
hope in my heart, and the struggle would have been hard. But now that
all is lost--nay, nay, I shudder yet!"



CHAPTER LII.

THE LAST WISH.


"I awoke in sight of the spot where we had first met, in hearing of the
waves that had borne us, twenty-two years before, a happy pair, across
the ocean. All the dear, old memories came back to me then--the night
when we rode through the forest to your dwelling, and were sacredly
wedded under its roof--the secrecy, the doubt, the happiness, and the
love unutterable which bound me, the daughter of a proud earldom, to the
fate of a being rendered greater still by the energies and strength
which make the nobility of manhood.

"Full of these thoughts, rich in the holy love that runs like a golden
thread from time into eternity, I waited in that old farm-house, to
which exhaustion confined me, for the hour when I could tell my husband
all that I had suffered--all that I had hoped, since the pride of my
father forced us asunder. But while I was resting in the sweet hush of a
new hope, with the sound of the far-off waters reaching me like a
perpetual promise, content with the dear certainty that he was close at
hand, a cruel blow was preparing for me. I was resting in peace, with a
new life before me, and sweet hopes singing at my heart, when a lady
came to my presence, a fair woman, whose smiles made my heart ache under
their sweet welcome. She came with offers of hospitality and cordial
good-will--came in the plenitude of her rich happiness to invite the
storm-tossed stranger to share the luxuries of her home--to share the
society and protection of her husband, Sir William Phipps, Governor of
Massachusetts!

"I fainted at the lady's feet, but kept my secret safe. She left me
smitten to the soul with a great blow, for which I was utterly
unprepared. Old man, you would pity me could you guess at the anguish,
the terrible, terrible desolation that followed this interview with my
husband's second wife!"

"Oh, me!" said Samuel Parris, dropping the hands that had covered his
face--"oh, me! I do pity you. And it was I that married you both--he, so
noble, so grand of character--you, so bright and good. God have mercy
upon us!"

"At last," continued Barbara, "my decision was made. I could not force
myself to wrest happiness from others, or build my home on the ruins of
an honorable household. I would return to my native land, and tread the
ashen desert of life which must yet be mine, for I was strong, and could
not die. Utterly, utterly wretched, for his sake and hers I would take
up this penance of life, and endure its loneliness silently to the end.
But I could not bring myself to this all at once. There came moments
when my soul rose up in arms for its rights, and the love of my youth
grew mighty in its own behalf: but it is easier to suffer than inflict
suffering, better to endure than avenge. I resolved to see my husband,
and after that decide.

"I went to the North Church, where he stood by its altar in the pride of
his state and the humility of his faith, and was baptized for another
life. Then it was, Samuel Parris, that a resolve of perfect
self-abnegation possessed me--then it was that I almost wrested the
consecrated wine from your hands, and made a vow which I have kept even
unto death--a vow to remain dead to the man who had been my husband, to
leave him forever, and go away into utter loneliness.

"But I could not remain dumb within reach of his presence--I could not
see him in domestic converse with another without such anguish as makes
the breath we draw a torture. For one instant he--mistaking me for
her--held me to his heart. Oh, my God, I had need of thy help then! My
resolve grew faint; but that insensibility came, I should have betrayed
myself. Stung with agony, wounded to the soul, I fled from him--fled
through the wilderness to your dwelling; and there--oh! my God! help to
do away the evil--there the mystery spread from my own heart through
your household. You had seen without recognizing me, and I supposed
myself safe till a ship should come. But the instincts of memory filled
you with unrest, and you mistook them for supernatural influences; your
child grew wild with wounded love. So my suffering bore poisonous
fruits, and were tortured into proofs of witchcraft, and for that I am
to die!

"My friend, is it a subject of wonder now that my presence thrilled both
him and you with a mysterious influence? Is it strange that shadowy
memories haunted my footsteps wherever they turned? Can you guess how I
suffered, how terribly I was tempted? And for all this I must die!"

Samuel Parris started to his feet; his eyes were wild, his face haggard.

"Die! die! And is self-sacrifice like this rewarded by murder? Unhappy
lady, sweet martyr, no. I will follow the governor; he must learn the
truth; you shall not die! In this case magnanimity is suicide."

Barbara Stafford laid her hand on his arm. "I should have kept all this
a secret, and died unknown and unregretted, but for the strange
intelligence that reached me from England in the package Norman Lovel
just brought to my prison. Samuel Parris, I am a mother! My son did not
perish, as they made me believe. They took him from me, in my delirium,
and put him out to nurse near London under a false name. Afterwards he
was placed at school, and in his youth sent to America. For three years
he has been under the roof of his own father. Not two hours ago he knelt
here at my feet and bemoaned my fate. After the cruel work of to-morrow
he will be Earl of Sefton--before that, if you will yield to the wish of
a woman standing close to her grave, he shall become the husband of your
child. It was for this I summoned you--for this I laid bare a heart that
meant to carry its secret to the grave. Look up, my good friend, and
smile. What matters it that a few years are taken from either of our
lives so long as our children are made the happier by it? Our
children--our children! Oh, my friend, my friend! it is of no use
deceiving you. I should so like to live, that he might know that I am
his mother. Pity me! pity me! You have been a parent for years, and I so
little time. Husband and son both left behind, and I must die to-morrow!
Oh, it is hard to bear!"

Samuel Parris covered his face with both hands, and tears streamed over
his withered fingers. "Oh, God! teach me how to act," he prayed; "help
me to save this wronged woman, or permit thy servant to depart with
her!"

Barbara drew the withered hands from his face, and held them firmly.
"Nay, do not weep, old friend; pray earnestly, however, that I may be
prepared for death--life is impossible! I was weak a moment since.
Forget it. I but ask strength to endure."

"But thou shalt not die. He can save thee--and shall."

"But how?"

"I will tell him the truth!"

"Against that solemn promise?"

"It was ignorantly given."

"Nay," she said, "I forbid you to interfere in this. I am content to
suffer the penalty awarded by the court. Others, innocent as I, have
suffered death, and to me sleep will be sweet, even in the grave."

But Samuel Parris would not be persuaded: he put her hands away. Now
Barbara Stafford stood up with a gesture of command.

"Old man, you are a minister of the Most High: tell me if a vow, taken
with the sacred wine and strengthened by the breaking of holy bread, can
be put aside because death stands in the way? This vow I have
taken--never to reveal myself to William Phipps, never to claim him or
recognize him, and to its sanctity you, with your own hands,
administered. In the name of the Most High God, who heard us both, I
charge silence upon you now and forever!"

The old man groaned aloud.

"Be comforted! be comforted, my friend! to-morrow terminates the poor
tragedy of a life which has had but little of happiness in it. When I am
gone my husband will feel the shadow, which he could not comprehend,
lifted from his path. It must no longer darken the noble aims of his
existence. What is the life of one person compared with the happiness of
so many? Until you are assured that I am no more, William Phipps must
never guess that his wife lived to perish for his well-being."

Parris lifted his head, and gazed upon her in silent wonder. To his
imaginative nature there was a grandeur in this resolve which bordered
on the marvellous.

"Woman," he said, at last, "art thou tempting me to falsehood? If thou
diest on the morrow, while there is a possibility of salvation, I--even
Samuel Parris--am thy murderer."

"Not so, old man. The law has convicted me of a heinous crime--sentenced
me to a death from which there is no escape, save by the betrayal of a
secret which will heap dishonor and misery on an innocent woman, and a
man whose happiness is a thousand times more precious than the life I am
willing to give. Were it otherwise, what would existence be to one who
has lost all hope, save that which seems to have dawned on my last
moments, only to mock them? But that justice might be secured to my son,
I had gone to the doom which awaits me with sealed lips. Remember that I
voluntarily bound myself to secrecy by an oath taken before Almighty
God, who can alone absolve me from it. Do not, therefore, attempt to
decide between me and my Maker. I will not be pardoned at the cost you
would have me pay for life. Think you I could hurl _him_ from the
profound respect with which men hold him--or her, that gentle, happy
woman, from her place in his home, to shame and undeserved reproach? No,
no, old man. Death is a thousand times sweeter to me than life at the
price of misery like that. Once more I charge you keep sacred the
promise you have given."

"I will, I will," cried the old man, subdued and saddened by the solemn
eloquence of her look and words. "Deal with me as thou wilt, woman, or
angel--I know not which to call thee--that which thou hast entrusted to
me I will surely keep to the last."

"Nay, it must be kept always; and revealed only to William Phipps and
my--own son. In this package is full evidence of Norman's birth and
parentage. All other heirs are dead, and none are left to dispute his
rights: simple proofs of my death will be sufficient. No one will ever
know how his mother perished, or connect the Countess of Sefton with
Barbara Stafford."

Samuel Parris took the package which Barbara held out, and thrust it
into his bosom, bowing his head low for answer to her solemn
injunctions.

"Now," continued Barbara, "I will task your kindness once more, and have
done. My friend, while there is yet time, bring your daughter hither,
with my son--the young man they call Norman Lovel. Before I go they must
be wedded, else some new trouble may arise to separate them."

"Even as thou wishest it shall be done," answered the old man, taking
his hat and staff. "I who have wrought so much evil would fain make
atonement--so far as a weak mortal can."

Parris went to the door, but came back again, struck with a sudden
objection.

"But Sir William Phipps--the young man being his son--might hereafter
blame me as ambitious for my child," he said.

"Have no fear," answered the lady. "When I am dead, he will thank you
for giving me this one gleam of happiness. Norman, when he knows that it
was his mother who blessed him--and he must learn this hereafter--will
look on his young wife with double tenderness."

"And must it now be kept secret from him?"

"Even so, or to-morrow would break his heart."

The old man went out. He had not far to go, for Elizabeth had
accompanied him to the jail, afraid to be separated from him for a
moment, and hoping, poor child, to obtain forgiveness for the honest
evidence she had borne against the unhappy prisoner before the death
hour. She that moment sat shivering in the jailor's room, waiting to be
summoned into Barbara's dungeon. Norman Lovel was by her side, but she
refused to be comforted even by the voice of her lover, who would not
leave her till the minister came. Thus, hand in hand, they were found
together when the old man entered the room, where they sat; and
solemnly, as if he had been summoning them to a funeral, bade them
follow him.



CHAPTER LIII.

THE PRISON WEDDING.


That was a gloomy, almost terrible wedding. There those young people
stood waiting for the ceremony, pale as death, their trembling hands
linked together, shivering with nervous chills, as if it were a doom of
judgment about to be pronounced upon them, rather than those sacred
words which should make love immortal.

When she entered the dungeon, Elizabeth had cast herself at Barbara's
feet, and meekly begged the pardon that young heart would never grant
itself. All the doubt and bitterness which had blinded her so long were
swept away. The true-hearted young creature would have found courage to
die in the place of her victim, and think that too little atonement for
the evil she had done. But, alas! alas! the power of restitution is not
always vouchsafed to our crimes or our mistakes in this world. The
inexorable law had seized upon its victim, and Elizabeth Parris might
moan her life away in unavailing regret without aiding her, or
arresting, for one moment, the doom that was darkly closing around her.

"Nay," said Barbara, lifting the wretched girl from her feet and resting
that beautiful head on her bosom; "it is not your fault that I am here,
simple child; destiny wove its own cruel links around me. Do not mourn
for the harmless part assigned to you in the tragedy which will close
to-morrow. The evidence you gave was true in all its parts. If
superstition blinded my judges, the fault rests with them only, my
daughter."

A strange thrill connected the two women as Barbara uttered the word
daughter. Elizabeth lifted her blue eyes with a sudden glow of pleasure,
and the prisoner kissed her twice upon the white forehead, as if she
were sealing that young heart for its baptism of love.

"Norman, come hither, and take your wife from my arms," said the
prisoner, turning her face, all glowing with generous exaltation, on the
young secretary. "I give her to you. Love her--trust her; and remember
on this earth God has no more precious gift for any man than the love of
a good woman."

Norman Lovel came forward and took Elizabeth gently from the arms that
supported her.

"What is it you ask of us?" he said, addressing Barbara in a trembling
voice. "I, for one, am ready for any thing."

"Nay," said Barbara, "I ask but that your happiness shall be assured
before I leave you."

The young man shook his head.

"There will be little happiness for us after that," was his sorrowful
answer; "but it will be some consolation if we can mourn together."

"Norman, you love this girl?"

"Better than my life--better than any being on earth, save one, who,
living or dead, will ever share my heart with her."

Tears swelled into Barbara Stafford's voice before she could answer.

"You will not grudge me a place in his memory?" she said, turning to
Elizabeth.

"Oh! If it were to save your life, I would give him up! I would--I
would!" sobbed Elizabeth.

"It will make the few hours left to me almost happy, if you become his
wife now," said Barbara, placing her hand on the little book which lay
near her.

"Elizabeth, your father has consented that it shall be even as I wish.
Do you love this man well enough to wed him in the gloom of a prison?"

"Do I love him! But that I loved him so madly you would never have been
in this strait," cried the girl.

"Then let it be as I wish, dear child. Love makes its own sunshine even
in a dungeon. Norman, take her hand. Samuel Parris, they are ready."

The old minister, who stood leaning against the wall, came forward
silently, took the two hands reached out to him in his firm clasp, and
in a few, deep, solemn words, made Elizabeth Parris Norman Lovel's wife.
Just as the ceremony was completed a cloud passed over the sun, and its
light, filtering dimly through the iron bars which grated the window,
shed a weird gloom over the group of persons so strangely brought
together. While the newly-wedded pair stood hand in hand, pale as death,
and scarcely daring to feel happy. Barbara went to her pallet-bed, and
took a leathern case from beneath the pillow. This she unlocked with a
key suspended to her neck, and opening it revealed the contents. A
quantity of bank notes, bills of exchange, and gold, lay in one
compartment; from the other she took the coronet of diamonds, which had
been mentioned as the witch-crown at her trial, and placed it on the
head of the bride.

"It is my gift to your wife, Norman," she said, addressing the young man
with subdued tenderness. "Before long you will both prize it for
something more than its value. Here are other jewels for the bosom and
arms. My sweet child, may the heart which beats under them prove happier
far than their poor owner has been. Some day you will know why she gives
them to you."

Elizabeth shrunk, and almost cried out with terror, as the coronet
settled down upon the waves of her hair, for, spite of herself, thrills
of superstition shook her disturbed nerves, and it seemed as if the
prisoner were crowning her with coals of fire. But the sweet voice of
Barbara Stafford soothed all fear away, and the bride received this
princely gift with her head drooping in meek thankfulness under its
starry crown.

Lovel was astonished and bewildered. As he turned to gaze upon his bride
the sun broke out, and streaming through the window set the coronet on
fire with rainbow hues. "Lady, lady, I know the value of these things.
We must not accept them," he exclaimed.

"What will they be worth to me after to-morrow?" answered Barbara.

"But would you have us profit by the awful crime which your enemies will
perpetrate?" he persisted.

"Hush!" she said; "it must be so. The gold for yourself--the jewels for
your wife. I will not be disputed in this."

"Oh, lady! I shall never have the heart to wear them," said Elizabeth;
"they burn my temples even now."

"Yes, child, you will learn to wear them for my sake; and because I
loved you--for my sake, remember."

"Oh! this kindness is breaking my heart!" sobbed the bride. "Only
reproach me, and I can bear it better."

"Reproach you! Come, come, we will lock the gems in their case again,"
said Barbara, smoothing Elizabeth's golden tresses with her hands, as
she took off the coronet. "They do seem like a mockery in a dungeon.
When this dark passage of our lives is over, they will not seem so out
of place."

As she spoke, Barbara locked the leathern casket again and, taking its
key from her neck, gave both to Samuel Parris.

"When you go forth take them with you," she said; "but they must not be
otherwise disposed of."

Parris took the case in silence. He knew, far better than the others,
how sacredly these young people would hold her wishes hereafter.

"Now, my child, farewell! We must not see each other again on this
earth," said the prisoner, kissing Elizabeth on the forehead. "When we
do meet, be able to look in my face and say, 'I have been a faithful and
good wife to the man who blessed me with his love.'"

Bathed in tears, and trembling under the solemn effect of these words,
Elizabeth left the dungeon with her father. Lovel remained behind.

When they were alone, Barbara stood before her son. Slowly her eyes
filled with the intense love which up to that moment she had suppressed
in her heart. She reached forth her arms and, without understanding the
power of natural affection that urged him on, Norman wound his arms
around her neck, and resting her head on his shoulder, broke into a
passion of grief that shook his whole frame. She trembled in his arms,
not with sorrow, but thrilled with a joy so intense that it lifted her
into a state of wonderful exaltation.

"He loves me completely, with more than filial devotion, and yet knows
nothing of our kinship--never dreams that I--even I--am his mother," she
thought. "After this one moment I should of a truth be ready to die, for
the bliss of a life-time falls upon me now."

But that craving affection which never was, and never will be, fully
satisfied in a loving woman's heart, demanded an assurance of this
feeling in words. She drew her head back, and looked into Norman's face.

"And you love me?" she said, passing her hand over his hair in an
unconscious caress. "My noble boy, you love me!"

"If I could but explain how much, and with what pure, pure affection!
Surely the Catholics must worship their saints as I worship you. My love
for you is made up of tenderness and prayer. I shall never kneel to my
God hereafter without feeling that you are near him."

"And near you, also, my--my friend. If spirits are ever permitted to
retrace their steps in the eternal progress, no grief shall ever reach
you that I will not be near to soothe."

"My heart will feel your presence, and take comfort from it, sweet
mother."

"Mother! boy--boy! Why did you call me mother?"

"If I did so, the word escaped my lips unconsciously. Forgive it."

"Forgive it--yes, yes, my son, I can forgive it, for the word has a
sweet sound."

"You called me son," said Norman, gazing on her with a sad smile.

"Did I? That sprung from the word mother. I would gladly hear it from
those lips again. Norman, I once had a child--a sweet babe, which was
taken from me long before it could pronounce the word mother, and no
one, even by accident, ever called me by that dear name till now."

"Mother! mother!" repeated the young man, pausing on each word, as if to
drink in its hidden music. "It is very strange, but ever since I first
saw you that word has been constantly whispered in my heart. I never
thought of it before, save as a sound full of regrets. To me, an orphan
from the first, it had no other meaning."

"But now--now you love it?"

"Yes; now it has depth and significance. A tender significance, which
makes my heart swell, and fills my eyes with tears. Lady, I am glad the
word escaped me, since it does not wound or offend you, for it has
unlocked my heart. I could rest your head on my bosom thus, and weep my
life away with yours."

"Oh!" exclaimed Barbara, "if God would be merciful, and let us die so."

"Or permit you to live. How beautiful existence would be for us all!"

Instantly, the holy tenderness that had trembled on Barbara's features
went out from her face. Her head rested like marble on the young man's
shoulders. The thought of what must happen to-morrow broke through her
exaltation, and froze her into ice.

"Go," she said, in a husky whisper. "Go! your wife is waiting. Take her
out of this place--from the town itself. You must not be near me when
the time comes. I shall be better alone."

"Not near you!" exclaimed the young man. "Though my heart break--and I
feel that it must--you shall not drive me from your side."

"But it will take away my strength. I shall falter at the last moment.
Boy, can you not see how weak I am?"

Her voice broke out of its husky whispers; she shivered from head to
foot, and held out her shaking hands that he might clasp them.

Norman folded her close in his arms till the trembling subsided. Then
she was firm again, but cold as stone.

"Go, now," she said. "Here we part forever. To-morrow, if I am to perish
as a Christian woman, with the example of our blessed Saviour before me,
I must meet the agonies of death alone. With you standing near me, my
friend, it would be to die twice. Nay, take your arms from around me. I
am stronger standing alone. But--but your hand still; let me hold that
to the last."

"Oh, that it had the power to lead you from this horrible place!"

"Hush! hush! we must not think of that. Farewell! farewell!"

The last words were spoken on whispers, that came like a breath of
frosted air from her lips.

"Farewell!" cried the young man, wringing her cold hand. "My God! my
God! this is indeed like parting with a mother."

Norman moved toward the door, and struck its oaken planks blindly with
his hand, thus summoning the turnkey. Barbara followed him a single
step, her blue eyes strained with anguish, her lips moving like snow
stirred by the wind.

A key turned in its lock; a heavy bolt was drawn. The door slowly
opened. Then her voice broke out in a sharp cry.

"Norman!"

The young man turned and received her in his arms. She laid her hand
faintly on his shoulder again.

"My--my friend, kiss me before I die."

Norman pressed his lips upon her forehead. She drew a deep breath, the
pallor of her face broke away, leaving it calm and still. She sunk from
his arms to the floor, and he left her kneeling there, so close to her
God that she did not know when he left the dungeon.

Norman Lovel found his bride and her father waiting for him in an
ante-room of the prison.

Samuel Parris had resumed all his vigor of mind. When a duty was to be
performed he was prompt and energetic enough.

"Young man," he said to Norman, when the poor fellow came in, white and
haggard with suffering, "we have not a moment to spare. Leave this child
to me; but that I am old and feeble, the duty of saving the grand woman
in yonder should be mine. But on an errand like this, strength and
endurance are wanted. Go to the governor's stable, mount his fleetest
horse, and hie thee with full speed on the road to Providence. Sir
William is heavy-hearted, and perchance may stop on the way, but pause
not to eat or draw breath till he is found. Then say to him--'Thy old
friend, Samuel Parris, having the fear of God before his eyes, desires
thee to come back at once to Boston, that a great crime and a terrible
murder may be prevented.' Say to him that the woman condemned to die on
the morrow has privately confessed every thing; setting forth her own
innocence, and the wrong that has been done her. Tell him to trust in
the faith of an old man who, like Paul, has had his eyes unsealed in the
very midst of his blind persecutions, and come back to save the
innocent. If he hesitates, or falters, tell him that it is to save his
own soul from eternal remorse that I command him to retrace his steps."

Norman listened eagerly. "Is there hope in this?" he asked.

"Hope for us all. Life for her!" was the answer.

Norman snatched Elizabeth to his bosom, and sprang to the door.

"I will reach him. Be sure I will reach him," he cried, almost with a
shout of triumph; and he dashed away on what was in truth an errand of
life and death.



CHAPTER LIV.

THE ICE COVE.


In the progress of generations, much that was wild and beautiful about
the city of Boston has been entirely obliterated. Lovely eminences and
picturesque ravines have been levelled into common-place wharves and
streets. Streams, that crept through the hills, to lose their crystal
brightness in the turbulent waters of the harbor, have been turned
aside, or literally choked up. Bunker Hill was crowned with primeval
forest-trees at the time of our story. Dorchester Heights was here and
there dotted with a clearing, and all the curving line of the shore,
which now bristles, like a dense forest, with shipping, was wild, and
beautiful in its wildness.

There was one lovely spot on the beach, of which a perfect view could
only be obtained from the harbor. Here, a forest stream of some depth
stole softly out of the woods, concentrating its crystal waves in a
little bay, sheltered by overhanging trees, then sweeping into the
harbor, where it mingled with the waves of the ocean, and became, like
them, opal-tinted under the broad sunshine.

This cove had been selected for the place of Barbara Stafford's
execution. Even in the depth of winter it was not wholly devoid of
beauty. Its surface, clear to the edge of the cove, was sheeted with
ice, as yet untouched by a human foot, and pure as the spring from which
that stream took its source. The cove was crescent shaped, and locked in
by two curving promontories dense with evergreens, drooping under ten
thousand garlands of snow. As the beach curved inward, these hemlocks
and pines grew thinner, and in their place beech trees, maples, and
sturdy oaks, pencilled their naked branches against the sky, and sent
forth a low, chiming music, inexpressibly mournful, for every twig and
fibre was encrusted with frozen rain, and struck together with a sort of
rythm. Here and there, along the margin of the shore, logs, covered with
fleeces of rich green moss, thrust themselves out from the snow, and
clusters of laurel broke its white surface with the brilliant greenness
of their leaves.

Little preparation had been deemed necessary for the cruel work which
was to render that lovely spot a place of horror. A cart path had been
widened through the woods, that the troop of soldiers which were to
guard the unhappy woman from her prison might pass easily forward with
their victim; and where the ice grew thin, as it approached the restless
waves of the ocean, some planks had been laid down, that the guard might
be in no danger of sharing the fate assigned to that helpless woman.
Samuel Parris had pleaded with the sheriff, who possessed some
discretion in the matter, and obtained the latest hour possible for the
execution. But those winter days were short, and people came from a
great distance to see a fellow-creature murdered in the face of high
heaven, so four o'clock was the latest moment that the sheriff could be
prevailed upon to name.

At twelve the whole shore far back into the woods was lined with human
beings, though the day was unusually cold, and the wind moaned through
the forest, and shook the icy tree-boughs with a sound which seemed like
the whispers of weird spirits. As the time wore on, this crowd deepened,
and grew blacker. The snow crust, even into the woods, was trampled
down. Some, more eager than the rest, moved forward on to the ice, while
little boys and men, more reckless than their fellows, climbed the
trees, sending showers of shivered crystals upon the throng below. As
usual in such crowds, many Indians were seen huddled close in their
blankets, waiting with stolid patience for the death-scene to commence.
On one of the crescent-like promontories which formed the cove, a large
number of these savages had gathered, and stood under the sheltering
hemlocks, looking on. Near them, and yet apart, was a young girl of
remarkable beauty, with an eagle's plume in her small felt hat, which
but half concealed the abundance of her hair, which was of that bluish
black seldom found disconnected with the highest type of a peculiar kind
of beauty. If the Indians near her seemed indifferent, she was keen and
vigilant enough. Wrapped in a foreign shawl glowing with rich colors,
she stood leaning against a young tree, attentive to every thing that
passed. Once a young man came softly up behind her, and spoke in a
whisper--

"Mahaska!"

The girl started, but did not turn or seem to notice that any one was
behind her. She only answered:

"I hear, Metacomet. Speak on."

"I have been three times to her prison, in as many disguises, but they
will not let me in."

"Then she is unprepared? All attempts to warn her have failed?"

"All! She has no hope that a friend is near."

"Then we have but to act with more courage and caution," answered the
girl.

"Mahaska!"

"Well, Metacomet."

"If Moneto has need of me, and I fall, go to the woods with my people;
be their prophetess and queen. Do not let our white foes drive them from
the face of the earth."

"I will live with them or die for them!" was the firm answer.

Her promise received no rejoinder, and when Abigail Williams looked
around to learn the cause of this silence, Metacomet was gone.

It was now close upon four o'clock, and the tramp of men marching in
solid masses came with painful distinctness from the woods. Still it was
some time before the awful cortege appeared, and Abigail Williams, who
was searching both the forest and the ocean with keen glances, saw that
a ship had drifted down the harbor, and lay at no great distance from
the cove, as if its crew were anxious to witness the execution. This
seemed a hazardous undertaking, for there had been a storm the day
before, and the waves swelled heavily shoreward.

But that awful sound from the forest came louder and nearer. Along the
cart path, plainly visible now, appeared file after file of armed men,
and in their midst that woman, clad in a voluminous robe of black silk,
with a lace scarf, wrapped turban-wise, on her head. Her pale hands were
folded upon her bosom, and tied there as men bind felons.

Those who have seen Guido's picture of Beatrice Cenci can have some idea
of the face that snowy lace and black robe but served to render more
deathly pale--a face so eloquent of hopeless sorrow, that those who came
to gloat upon the woman's agony grew heavy-hearted as they looked upon
her.

Thus Barbara Stafford was brought through the dense multitude of men,
women, and even little children, who surged up from the forest, and out
upon the ice, jostling each other, wrangling for every foot of space,
eager as hounds for the hunted deer, and only kept from laying hands on
the prisoner by the soldiers, who forced them back with charged
bayonets.

At last they brought the unhappy woman out upon the ice, beyond the line
of soldiers; outside of which no one was allowed to pass. Then a picture
was formed, full of solemn grandeur, and inexpressibly mournful. Behind,
was the forest, stretching drearily into the distance, while its margin
swarmed blackly with human life, jostling, heaving, crowding the shore
and the ice, till forced back by that line of glittering bayonets.

Before them was a lake of crystal, stretching into turbulent waters of
the harbor. In the near distance, riding the swell of incoming waves,
lay the ship with its anchor up, and its sails unfurling one by one, as
it would seem, without human aid. Beyond all this bent the horizon with
the wintry sun slanting toward it in gleams of amber-tinted flame, while
great ocean waves, heaving in from the chase of a spent storm, rushed
shoreward, and hurled themselves against the ice, which trembled and
bent under each shock.

This was the picture revealed on that winter's day. Snow upon the
earth--cold sunshine in the skies--brightness and death; funereal
stillness in the crowd, and the cold winds wailing over all. In the
midst--midway between the ocean and the forest--that woman stood alone,
waiting for death. The soldiers had unbound her hands--for that little
chance of life was to be granted her. Still she kept them folded on her
bosom, and stood motionless; her eyes strained wide with terror, fixed
on the great waves that came heaving toward her, and her white lips
apart, as if some cry of agony had torn them asunder never to be closed
again.

Two men, wearing tall, conical hats, and with pistols in their leathern
belts, came softly up behind her, seized both her arms, and attempted to
drag her forward. She gave a sharp cry, and held back, resisting them.
The waves were even then heaving up the ice beneath her feet. Before her
was a yawning hollow of greenish water, scooped out like a monstrous
grave, into which those men were attempting to hurl her headlong. She
broke from them and turned to flee--turned upon a double line of
soldiers with bayonets levelled against her. These iron-hearted men
grasped her again, and dragged her to the verge of the ice. Then, above
all this horror, her gentle nature and womanly pride rose against their
rude handling.

"Let me go alone," she implored; "I will not falter."

The guard knew that there was no chance of escape; and perhaps even
their cruel natures shrank from hurling that noble creature so rudely to
death. After a moment's pause they released her arms, and fell back.

Slowly and firmly she walked forward. The ice cracked under her feet,
sending out bright, silvery lines, with each tread. Then it swelled
upward with a sudden heave, broke, and with one plunge hurled her into
the vortex of a wave that leaped upon her like a wild beast, and carried
her off.

All this had been so sudden that the multitude could hardly believe that
she was gone. Some, who had been near enough to look upon her face,
wept, and crowded back, shrinking at the very last from a sight they had
courted an hour before. Others grumbled that the agony of the scene had
been so brief; and some cursed the witch aloud, hoping that the waves
would toss her well before she died. These hard-hearted ones seemed for
a time to have their wish, for when the disturbed waters swelled back,
the fragment of ice on which the wretched woman had fallen was hurled
out to sea. Her face was turned upward to the sunshine, and it seemed as
if unseen spirits were guiding her frail support.

"Look! look how the witch floats!" shouted the crowd. "Devils are
holding her up; you can see them buffet the water."

Sure enough, two dark objects rose on each side of the woman, and seemed
to be guiding her frail support through the turbulent waves.

"Shoot! shoot! Has any one a silver ball? else the witch will escape!"
cried a voice from the crowd. But the soldiers, appalled by what they
believed to be the close presence of the evil one, stood dumb and
motionless.

While the general attention was fixed upon this one object, a boat shot
out from the right hand promontory, rowed by six men, and, struggling
fiercely against the waves, moved toward the fragment of ice to which
the woman was clinging.

"Look! look! A boat rowed by Indians! The red devils will save her! Fire
upon them--fire on her!"

A dozen guns were uplifted. The click of their ponderous locks sounded
fearfully distinct, for a deadly stillness had fallen on the multitude.
But on the moment a tumult arose in the crowd, from which the Indians
had cautiously separated themselves. With the leap of panthers they
sprung upon the soldiers, and failing to wrench the muskets from their
hands, flung them headlong to the ice. Then making a sudden dash through
the crowd the savages plunged into the forest, leaving wild commotion
behind. While the tumult raged fiercest, half a dozen guns went off at
random, and others were fired blindly as the soldiers scrambled up from
the ice. But they failed to reach the boat, which moved steadily toward
the mass of black drapery, now visible, now submerged in the water. An
almost superhuman sweep of the oars brought that toiling craft close to
the wretched woman, who clung, cold and senseless, to that crumbling
fragment of ice. While the boat rocked like an egg-shell on the waves,
the tall figure of a man rose upright among the oarsmen, made a
desperate leap into the water, and tore that deathly form from its hold
on the ice. Aided by the two Indians who had swam from their covert
under the sheeted ice, and bravely kept the fragment which bore Barbara
Stafford from submerging, he lifted her to the strong arms stretched
down to help him, and clambered into the boat. There, upon a pile of
blankets, she lay, white as snow, and cold as the ice that clung to her
wet garments. The young man stooped to make sure that she was not quite
dead, when a bullet hurtled out from the shore and struck him in the
side. A wild leap in the air--a cry, sharp and clear as the yell of a
wounded eagle, and Metacomet fell, bathed in blood, by the woman he had
served so faithfully.

Now the tumult on the shore raged with fearful vehemence. Shouts and
shrieks of cruel triumph swept over the waters. A boat was pushed across
the ice, and shot out into the harbor, giving chase to the fugitives.
The dying chief lifted himself up and saw this new danger. He struggled
for speech, but fell back gasping for breath.

Wahpee dropped his oar and attempted to staunch the blood which flowed
in a crimson stream down his side.

"Let me die--but save her!" shouted the young man, in his last agony.
"Pull for the ship--or never dare to look for your chief up yonder!"

The savage sprang to his oar--and now the strength of fifty men seemed
urging the boat forward. It fairly leaped through the water. Panting for
breath, straining those sinewy arms till the muscles stood out like
whip-cords, the savages bent to their desperate work, and by main
strength distanced their pursuers. The ship's crew gathered on the deck
watched this pursuit, and stood ready to aid the fugitives. A rope
ladder was flung over the side of the vessel. Up its knotted cordage the
savages toiled, carrying the rescued woman with them. They laid her on
the deck, leaped like wild deer into the boat again, and pulled for the
promontory they had left. The good ship, hired to do this merciful work
by the last gold Metacomet possessed, was ready, with her anchor up, and
with her sails all set. As the savages leaped down her side, she bore on
her way, almost sinking the boatful of armed men that had daringly
crossed her bows. In a desperate effort to save themselves these men
allowed the craft, in which the dying chief lay, to gain a safe
distance, and approach the promontory. But now a storm of bullets swept
over it from the shore. Two of the oarsmen fell headlong to the water;
another lay upon his face in the bottom of the boat. Still the little
craft cut its way through all danger.

Abigail Williams stood on a strip of white sand at the extreme point of
the promontory. Curving around the inner crescent of the bay, the
soldiers were crowding back from the ice which was breaking up under
their feet, but with their guns still levelled, and their bayonets
flashing like tongues of flame in the sunbeams that slanted across them.

When the fugitives drew near the promontory, Abigail stood directly
within range of the guns. Metacomet had lifted himself to a sitting
posture, and saw her, through the blinding agonies of death. Then, with
his last strength, he pointed her out, and, speaking to a chief who
still kept to his oar unharmed, cried with his last breath--

"She is my sister--the daughter of your king; take her to the forest.
Obey her--pro--"

He broke off. A shot struck the chief to whom he appealed. Concentrating
all the life that was in him in one hoarse shout of defiance, which
filled his mouth with blood, the son of King Philip fulfilled the
destiny of his race, and fell dead upon the bodies of his slain friends.

Cold as stone, and white as a corpse, Abigail Williams stood upon the
beach while this awful scene was enacted, and saw her brother fall.
Again the soldiers levelled their guns for another volley, heedless of
her danger--heedless of every thing. Right in the pathway of the bullets
levelled at the boat, she stood. They flew over her head--they fell like
rain in the water; and at last, one more merciful than the rest, pierced
her through the heart. She fell without a moan, just as the savages,
landing under a shower of hurtling lead, carried the body of their chief
from the boat in open defiance, and bore him into the forest.

While the shot that killed that unhappy girl was still ringing in the
air, two horsemen rode fiercely into the crowd, scattering it right and
left, till their horses dashed out in bold relief on the ice in front of
the soldiers. One was a gray-headed old man, who reeled in his saddle,
and looked wildly from the soldiers to the water without the power to
utter a word. The other, young and strong of purpose but wild with
apprehension, called out in a voice so full of horror that it could
scarcely be heard:

"Magistrates and soldiers! where is the woman you came here to murder? I
bring her full pardon, signed by our governor, Sir William Phipps."

The sheriff came close to Norman Lovel's horse. "It is too late; she has
gone."

With a groan that left his white lips in a single heave of agony, Samuel
Parris dropped from his horse. He had fainted quite away.

"Not dead, peradventure, but yonder!" cried the sheriff, pointing to the
vessel which was still clearly visible. "A party of Indians, led by the
young man who defended her at the trial, rescued the sorceress--stark or
living; I cannot affirm which."

"And she is gone safe--she is in that ship?" cried the young man,
starting up exultingly in his stirrups, and gazing after the vessel with
a great outburst of thankfulness. "God forever bless the man that saved
her!"

"The pestilent heathen is dead, and half his boat's crew with him,"
answered the sheriff, with a grim smile. "We gave them three volleys.
See--their boat is drifting this way, bottom upwards, riddled through
and through. They got off to the forest with the body of their leader;
but I have sent a company after them."

"Recall that company, I command you, on the authority of Sir William
Phipps! I would myself stand by the body of this young man, were it
permitted, and do him the reverence his bravery has earned. March your
soldiers back to the city, good master sheriff; they are no longer
wanted here."

The sheriff received this order with a stiff bow, and turned away to
muster his men.

Then for the first time Lovel discovered that Samuel Parris was lying
prone upon the ice insensible, with scattered locks of gray hair blown
across his face. The young man got down from his saddle at once, and
dropping on one knee lifted the old man in his arms.

"Has no one a drop of brandy?" he inquired in great alarm. "See how cold
and pale he is!"

A flask of spirits was handed over his shoulder by one of the
by-standers. Lovel poured some of its contents by force into those cold
lips, and after a little the minister revived.

"Oh, my son, God is against us! She is dead! dead!" murmured the old
man. Great tears rose and swelled in his eyes, choking his voice; but
the anguish he could not speak swept over his face.

"She is safe, father; she has escaped! Lift your eyes, and they can yet
discern the ship which carries her out of danger."

"Art thou sure--quite sure, Norman?" cried the old man, clasping his
hands in an ecstasy of gratitude.

"Here are those who saw her borne up the sides of the vessel."

"Let us go home, my son. Elizabeth will be sorely anxious," said the old
man, struggling to his feet. "But you avouch for this? a mistake would
be terrible."

"Yes, yes. Dear lady! She is out of their reach at last, and I much fear
neither you nor I will ever see her face again."

"Nay, nay; but I have great need of rest and thought. Let us go home."

Norman helped the old man to his saddle, and the two rode slowly away,
following the soldiers. When the sun went down that night, not a human
form could be seen along all that trampled shore save one, so cold and
beautiful, that but for the garments and those masses of rich, black
hair, it might have been chiselled from parian marble. Thus, partly on
the sand, partly on the crusted snow, all that was left of that unhappy
girl, called Abigail Williams, lay, till the sun set behind those naked
trees and the moon arose. Then out of the black depths of the
wilderness, came the figure of an old woman, toiling through the snow,
and almost bent double. She sat down by the lifeless girl, and attempted
to lift her head; but it resisted her hands, and fell back on the snow
like marble. Then poor old Tituba stretched out her withered limbs by
the side of her dead charge, and winding her arms around that cold form
broke into a funereal chant, so sad, so thrillingly mournful, that it
wailed through the whispers of those naked tree-boughs with the anguish
of a soul in pain. Then along the track she had made in the snow came a
file of Indians, whose death-chant swelled with hers into a wild, fierce
music. They lifted the young girl from the ground, and bore her away,
filling the winter's night with that weird chant as they went. Behind
them, following meekly along the beaten path, the lone Indian woman
crept, her slow footsteps faltering with age. Still her feeble voice
sent forth its death-wail, and thus like a shadow she disappeared.

In a hollow lined with crusted snow and overhung with naked
forest-trees, they had laid the young chief Metacomet upon a rude bier
formed of evergreen branches, with the foliage fresh upon them. By his
side they placed the sister whose life had been broken up so fatally by
his kingly ambition. Then these savages, chiefless and wanderers forever
more, lifted the bier, and turned their footsteps toward Mount Hope,
where the brother and sister were laid in one grave, the last of a
kingly and most persecuted race.



CHAPTER LV.

CLOSING SCENES.


Samuel Parris kept his word faithfully; for added to his own promise was
the sacramental oath taken by Barbara Stafford, which he dared not force
her to break. But the secret confided to him lay heavily on his
conscience, and the struggle there wore away his strength. For a whole
year he avoided his old friend the governor, and refused to visit his
house, even when Elizabeth became its permanent inmate as Norman Lovel's
wife. But at last there came a period when the old man went mournfully
to the house he had shunned. This time, he was summoned there to attend,
not a wedding, but a funeral--Lady Phipps had laid down a life all
sunshine, and gone suddenly into the valley and shadow of death. When
Samuel Parris rode up to that stately mansion, he found its pillars
draped with black, and a hatchment over the front entrance. These
emblems of grief struck him with singular feelings of blended grief and
thankfulness. His eyes filled with tears of regret for the gentle woman
who had gone; but his heart beat free once more, and a grievous load
fell from it, when his foot passed that threshold. In an hour after his
arrival at the mansion, a funeral cortege went forth from its portals
which surpassed any thing known to the colony in its exceeding solemnity
and worldly grandeur. In the procession, Samuel Parris rode with his
friend; and, for the first time since Barbara Stafford's escape, the two
men sat hand in hand, yielding to the old sympathy, and united by the
old love. Both mourned the dead with sincere grief; but it was observed
of Samuel Parris, that a gentle hopefulness had settled on his face, and
there was something in his voice, when he prayed, that thrilled the
hearer with strange accents of thanksgiving.

When the coffin, palled with black velvet, and rich with silver, was
placed before the altar where William Phipps had partaken of his first
sacrament, Parris knelt beside it, in violation of all usage, and
prayed, for some moments, silently; but as if he were in absolute
communion with the dead. Then he arose, like one reassured, and with
benign calmness went through the funeral ceremonies.

That night the gubernatorial mansion was indeed a house of mourning.
Elizabeth, clad in black from head to foot, glided from room to room,
like a troubled spirit. Every other instant tears would fill her
beautiful eyes, and she would creep close to Lovel's side, under the
pretence of comforting him. The governor spent those first sad hours in
his own room, and Samuel Parris sat musing in the library. He thought of
the poor lady who was gone--of her bright cheerfulness, her beauty, and
gracious manners. All her life she had been the favorite of fortune and
of circumstances. But Samuel Parris well knew that she had never wholly
and entirely possessed the heart of that strong, great man, whose entire
nature was, in fact, beyond her comprehension. Affection, care,
indulgences, he had given her, and with these things she was content.
But the great happiness of married life--that of being mated, heart and
intellect, in one noble union--she could not have comprehended. She was
quite ready to worship her husband's greatness, without understanding
it; but blind worship satisfies no man entirely. In order to be
thoroughly loved he must be understood.

Samuel Parris did not reason in this way. It would have seemed cruel,
thus coldly, and under that roof, to analyze the life that had just
passed away; but he had a solemn duty to perform, and welcomed such
thoughts as promised to make the result a happy one. For three days the
minister remained the guest of his bereaved friend. All the kind
relations of pupil and tutor came back to them. In his sincere grief,
the governor loved to fall back upon that highly cultivated and generous
nature for sympathy and Christian comfort, and both were given him
entirely.

A few hours before that appointed for his return home, the old man
quietly followed Sir William into his library, and closed the door.

"William," he said, laying his hand on the governor's arm, "William, my
son, sit down by the window here; I have something to say to you."

Sir William smiled kindly and sat down, a little surprised by the old
man's nervous manner.

"William, thou rememberest that night when thou camest to my house with
that young girl?"

"Remember!" answered Sir William, shrinking visibly, as if some
heart-wound had been touched. "Think you, my friend, that I ever forget
it for a single hour? After the terrible grief of losing her I am
prepared for any thing."

"But she is not lost, William Phipps."

Sir William started up. It was wonderful to see that noble form so
agitated.

"Not lost, old man? I am no longer a boy, and you see how thickly gray
hairs are creeping over my head; but I cannot bear to hear her
mentioned. I know that in heaven nothing perishes; but this earth lost
all its bloom for me when she died. Talk of something else. I would not
have the old grief overwhelm my regret for the sweet wife we buried
three days ago. It shakes my very soul even to think of that crowning
sorrow of my youth. Oh! Parris; she was one of the grandest, most
generous, and loving creatures that ever lived. I could weep like a
child with the bare memory of what I lost and suffered. I can say this
to you now, my faithful friend, without injury to any one. What a life
mine would have been, had she lived to share it with me. Now that I am
alone, these thoughts crowd upon me. I cannot help it, force them back
as I will."

"But I say unto thee, William Phipps, the woman to whom I married thee
that night is alive. Thou hast seen her--held her in thy arms. When thy
hand signed the pardon for Barbara Stafford, it saved the wife of thy
youth!"

"Barbara Stafford? Old friend, do not mock me; I cannot bear it. You are
an imaginative man, I know, and harbor strange fancies; but do not let
them fire a hope in me which after-truth will quench. You look serious,
and wonderfully calm; notwithstanding, I think you are insane, Samuel
Parris."

"Nevertheless, the woman who was tried, condemned, and would have
suffered for sorcery, but for the interposition of friends more generous
than we were, was and is thy wife."

"Was and is my wife? Are you mad, or am I?"

"William! William! look up! how white thou art! Let me wipe the drops
from thy forehead. Nay, nay; these strong hands should not quiver thus.
Let them clasp mine. That is well; now look into these eyes, William,
and read my story there. As the Lord liveth, and as I am his servant,
the wife of thy youth is still living--still loves thee as woman never
before loved man. Dost thou believe me?"

A wonderful expression swept the strong man's face, an ecstasy of hope
broke into his eyes, and parted his lips with such smiles as no human
being had seen there before.

"I do! I do! My wife--my fair young bride. Why, Parris, that stern man
parted us in less than a year. Living! loving! and I--are these tears,
Samuel Parris? Am I a boy again?"

"There, there, my son; drive all these doubts away; for this life has
joy for thee yet, and for her. I tell thee, my son, thy wife, who called
herself Barbara Stafford, is a mate for thee, heart and soul, or for any
man living."

"My love! my wife! Now I understand how it came about that this heart
was so disturbed. But why did she keep away from me?"

"The father, who told thee that thy wife was dead, when thou soughtest
her, practised a double deception, and, till his death, she believed
herself a widow."

"But she was undeceived, and loved me still?" cried Sir William.

"She came to this country in search of her husband, and found him
married to another."

"My poor wife! That was terrible! I understand: she would not claim me;
but was ready to suffer doubt, contumely, death, rather than harm her
husband. I was not faithless to her. God is my judge, in this soul I was
not faithless. She knew how I had been deceived? She did not hate me?"

"Hate! nay, nay; does hate ever produce actions like hers?"

Sir William Phipps arose; his eyes bright, his face radiant. Even Samuel
Parris gazed on him in wonder. Was that the grave, stern man, who had
seemed so long incapable of a strong emotion?

"My friend, we will go to her. Where shall we search?"

"She is in England, Sir William; one of the first ladies in that proud
land--a countess in her own right--the possessor of great wealth."

"She is my wife! that is all I ask or care," exclaimed Sir William. "Old
friend, a ship lies in the harbor; when will she sail?"

"To-morrow. I went forth to inquire this morning."

"I will send at once and bespeak the cabin. You must go with me."

"Aye, truly; but there is something else which thou must hear before we
start. Her son and thine is under this roof!"

"Her son and mine? Is it my wife you speak of? That fair girl who loved
me so?"

"Even her."

"A child, and I never knew it! Oh! Father of mercies! this makes life
too precious! A son? Did you say it was a son, and under this roof? Not
the young man I have loved so--not Norman Lovel?"

"Truly, thy heart divines aright. The youth is her son and yours."

"My son! my son! Where is he? Bring Norman hither. Why, it was her soul
I saw and loved in his young face. And she knew this? Knew it, and gave
him up rather than harm her husband! Old friend, who shall dare to say,
after this, that women are on a level with us? or affirm that they never
perform the work of angels? And she is now my wife! I have but to stand
before her, and she will forgive the unintentional wrong which put
another in her place. Samuel Parris, in the joy of this moment, I had
forgotten the new-made grave up yonder, where that good and gentle woman
lies. Yet I think she, who was all goodness, might forgive me if she
knew how I have suffered. Is my son coming, and his wife? So you and I
are made nearer by the love which unites our children. I am glad of it.
Is that Norman's step? Norman! Norman!"

The young man heard Sir William's voice, so clear and animated that it
thrilled him with pleasure. He entered the library, and saw the governor
standing near the table, so changed and brightened by the happiness that
filled his whole being that the young man gazed on him in silent
astonishment. Sir William came toward him, and, pressing a hand on each
of his son's shoulders, looked in his face.

"Norman! Norman!"

His voice failed. For the first time in his life, the young man saw
tears in his father's eyes; still, a grand, joyous smile broke through
them.

"Norman! my--my--" Sir William's voice broke, and his chest heaved; he
threw his arms around the young man, and strained him to his heart.
"Boy, boy, I am your father!" he cried.

"My father! mine!" repeated the young man. "Oh! that it were so in name,
as it has been in kindness! Father! how sweet the name sounds!"

"Repeat it again, my son; for before God and man you are my son. I did
not know that human language could be so beautiful!"

Norman released himself gently from the clasp of his father's arms, and
stood before him, lost in amazement.

"Has your heart no voice? does your lips refuse to call me father?"
questioned Sir William, in tones that thrilled through and through the
son.

"Forgive me, forgive me; but I am bewildered," he said. "You call me son
for the first time, having acted more than a father's part by me for
many a year. Is it your will that I henceforth call you by the dear name
I have never known? If so, from my heart of hearts I thank you."

Sir William saw that he was not fully understood; but impatient
affection foiled all explanation. He could only affirm, with imploring
tenderness, what he had already said.

"Norman, it is a truth. Receive it into your heart at once. You are my
lawfully-born son--a part of my own young life--the child of a love
perfect as mortal beings ever knew. It is no adoption I offer. By law
and right you, from this day, take position before the world as my son
and heir."

"But--but my mother; who was my mother? Not the sweet lady whose death
we mourn?" questioned Norman, seized with a sudden pang, "or I should
have known this before."

"My son, it is not an hour since I learned it myself," answered Sir
William. "Ask this man, my old and faithful friend, who married me to
your mother."

The young man's face cleared; his heart flung off the painful dread that
had seized upon it.

"Father! father!" he cried, reaching forth his arms; "tell me who my
mother was. Have I seen her? Was she ever known as Barbara Stafford? It
is impossible, and yet my soul claims her."

"Boy," answered Sir William, and his voice took sweet solemnity as he
spoke, "this lady is my wife and your mother! Do not question me so
earnestly with those eyes; I have no dishonor to proclaim, no wilful
wrong to atone for. This good man will tell you more than I have yet
learned. Sit down here, close by my side, and we will listen together;
but first bring my daughter, your wife; we must have no secrets from
her."

Before Norman could reach the library door, it was opened, and Elizabeth
came in. Weary of her loneliness in the desolated rooms her friend and
almost mother had filled with so much cheerfulness, she ventured into
the library, and now stole softly to her father's side, and took a seat
by him, anxious to share every moment of his company during the short
time that he would remain in the house. She saw, by the agitated faces
around her, that some unusual subject was under discussion, and sat down
in silence. The minister took her hand, smiled faintly upon her, and
began his story.

The next morning, a ship cleared from the harbor of Boston. Its cabin
was taken entirely for Governor Phipps, his secretary, and the lovely
young wife, whose beauty had been the admiration of every one who found
access to the gubernatorial mansion. A fourth person in this party was
Samuel Parris, minister of the gospel from Salem.



CHAPTER LVI.

OVER THE WATER.


In the loveliest county of Old England stood one of those fine baronial
castles that have outlived the ravages of many a rebellion. It had not
only defied all ordinary causes of decay, but grown beautiful from time,
which loves to make up for its own depredations by the embellishments
which nature is sure to supply as it draws art slowly back to its own
bosom.

In this noble mansion, surrounded by a tenantry that worshipped her, and
retainers who had grown old in those majestic walls, the Countess of
Sefton performed the duties of a station that required no ordinary
ability; and, despite the sufferings which we know of, performed them
well. She was one of those who grow lofty and strong by suffering. Had
that woman thought only of herself, or most frequently of herself, she
would have died broken-hearted, or dwindled down into the sentimental
nothingness to which sorrow often levels a weak mind. But Barbara
Stafford--for we like that name best--strove to forget herself, her
troubles, and her wrongs, in a benevolent effort to serve her
fellow-creatures. She allowed herself no time for useless lamentation,
but gave all her energies and vast wealth for the good of suffering
humanity. Pleasant cottages arose, like enchantment, all over her vast
estates; school-houses reared their modern fronts among the moss-grown
buildings of past times. Wherever industry could be encouraged by
rewards, it was generously fostered. With so many human beings depending
upon her efforts for their advancement in life, she held the sorrows
that always lay heavy at her heart in abeyance, and stilled the
yearnings of a loving nature by constant self-abnegation.

Barbara lived a solitary life so far as intercourse with her peers went.
She neither sought nor greatly avoided the society which would have
crowded around her. Having spent so much of her life abroad, she had few
acquaintances in England, and made none after her return from America.
Twice she received letters from that country, directed in a stiff,
cramped hand, which always left her in a state of depression for days
after she read them. But a gracious calmness would gently sweep these
sad memories away, and she went on steadily with her life, twining hope
into prayer, and waiting God's time for her deliverance.

Barbara loved the stately edifice, which had been repaired and
beautified by her grandmother. Indeed, hers was a nature to love every
thing good and beautiful. Her rooms were full of pictures, statues, and
rare objects collected in her travels. The gardens and broad
pleasure-grounds around her mansion glowed with flowers, which clustered
thickest and brightest beneath the windows of her private apartments.
Sorrow had neither rendered her austere nor indifferent. She loved the
grand old forest-trees which waved in groups upon the lawn, and every
tiny blossom that gemmed the turf at their roots. The pretty birds that
flashed from thicket to tree-bough found a welcome in her heart, heavy
as it was at times. She strove, with Christian fortitude, to replace the
husband and son lost to her, by the gentle beauties of nature; and,
desolated as she was, life had its sunny side even for her.

One morning this noble woman--the more noble that she was so
womanly--sat alone in a little breakfast-room which overlooked a vista
of the park, and nearer yet a flower-garden radiant with June roses and
such sister flowers as link spring to summer. That morning she was weary
and heavy-hearted; her mind wandered far away in spite of herself, and a
strange yearning to look upon the two faces dearest to her in life
seized upon her. She sat gazing out upon the flowers, with unconscious
tears rolling down her cheeks, when a servant knocked at the door, and,
receiving no answer, came in.

"My lady, a note from a gentleman who waits below: two others, with a
lovely young lady, are with him; but he is the only one who asks to see
you."

Barbara reached forth her hand wearily, and took the note thus presented
from the salver. She did not look at the address, but tore the seal
apart, and read one word--William Phipps--all the rest ran together, and
she could distinguish nothing. With her lips apart, and the paper
shaking in her hands, she sat a full minute gazing upon the name without
seeing it. The voice of the servant aroused her.

"My lady, is there an answer?"

"Wait."

The voice in which this one word was uttered scarcely rose above a
whisper. Barbara swept one hand across her forehead again and again,
clearing her confused vision. At last she read--

     "I am here, my wife--here, with our son and our old friend
     Samuel Parris. Will you receive me? Can you forgive me?

     "WILLIAM PHIPPS."

When Barbara Stafford arose, and turned her face toward the servant, it
was so radiant that the man stared at her in amazement; but she gave no
other expression of the ecstasy of joy that swelled even to pain in her
heart.

"Show the gentleman up to this room," she said. "I will see him here."

The servant went out, closing the door after him; and there Barbara
stood, in the centre of the room, with one hand supported by the carved
woodwork of her chair, and the other pressed to her bosom, waiting for
the one blissful moment which would be enough to repay all her sorrows,
all her anguish of suspense. She heard the first sound of his footstep,
and her heart, that had stood still up to that moment, beat fast and
loud. The door opened, and the husband of her youth stood on the
threshold. She could not speak; she did not move--but that look was
enough. His strong arms saved her from falling. Her head was pressed to
his bosom; she felt his kisses on her forehead; but no words were
spoken--a few sobs, a name brokenly uttered, a rain of tears falling
delicious and still, like dew upon thirsty roses--then this man and
woman sat down, hand in hand, looking at each other.

They were no longer young; he found threads of gray in those golden
tresses, and traces of time around the loveliness of her mouth. But what
of that? Those who love each other go out from their youth soul-bound,
and time has no change which does not deepen and sanctify that true
affection which can perish only with the soul's immortality.

After a few moments of this delicious silence Barbara spoke:

"Our son, William; is he here?"

"Yes, my wife, and waiting impatiently. But not yet. Even he must not
break upon our heaven so soon."

Beyond the crowning happiness of these few minutes we will not go.


THE END.



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