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Title: Nobody
Author: Warner, Susan, 1819-1885
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nobody" ***

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[Transcriber's note: Susan Warner (1819-1885),
_Nobody_ (1883), Nisbet edition]



NOBODY



BY



SUSAN WARNER



AUTHOR OF "THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD" "QUEECHY" ETC. ETC.



"Let me see; What think you of falling in love?"

--_As You Like It_



LONDON

JAMES NISBET & C° LIMITED

31 BERNERS STREET



NOTICE TO READER.



The following is again a true story of real life. For character and
colouring, no doubt, I am responsible; but the facts are facts.



MARTLAER'S ROCK,

_Aug_. 9, 1882.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER



I. WHO IS SHE?

II. AT BREAKFAST

III. A LUNCHEON PARTY

IV. ANOTHER LUNCHEON PARTY

V. IN COUNCIL

VI. HAPPINESS

VII. THE WORTH OF THINGS

VIII. MRS. ARMADALE

IX. THE FAMILY

X. LOIS'S GARDEN

XI. SUMMER MOVEMENTS

XII. APPLEDORE

XIII. A SUMMER HOTEL

XIV. WATCHED

XV. TACTICS

XVI. MRS. MARX'S OPINION

XVII. TOM'S DECISION

XVIII. MR. DILLWYN'S PLAN

XIX. NEWS

XX. SHAMPUASHUH

XXI. GREVILLE'S MEMOIRS

XXII. LEARNING

XXIII. A BREAKFAST TABLE

XXIV. THE CARPENTER

XXV. ROAST PIG

XXVI. SCRUPLES

XXVII. PEAS AND RADISHES

XXVIII. THE LAGOON OF VENICE

XXIX. AN OX CART

XXX. POETRY

XXXI. LONG CLAMS

XXXII. A VISITOR

XXXIII. THE VALUE OF MONEY

XXXIV. UNDER AN UMBRELLA

XXXV. OPINIONS

XXXVI. TWO SUNDAY SCHOOLS

XXXVII. AN OYSTER SUPPER

XXXVIII. BREAKING UP

XXXIX. LUXURY

XL. ATTENTIONS

XLI. CHESS

XLII. RULES

XLIII. ABOUT WORK

XLIV. CHOOSING A WIFE

XLV. DUTY

XLVI. OFF AND ON

XLVII. PLANS

XLVIII. ANNOUNCEMENTS

XLIX. ON THE PASS



NOBODY.



CHAPTER I.



WHO IS SHE?



"Tom, who was that girl you were so taken with last night?"

"Wasn't particularly taken last night with anybody."

Which practical falsehood the gentleman escaped from by a mental
reservation, saying to himself that it was not _last night_ that he was
"taken."

"I mean the girl you had so much to do with. Come, Tom!"

"I hadn't much to do with her. I had to be civil to somebody. She was
the easiest."

"Who is she, Tom?"

"Her name is Lothrop."

"O you tedious boy! I know what her name is, for I was introduced to
her, and Mrs. Wishart spoke so I could not help but understand her; but
I mean something else, and you know I do. Who is she? And where does
she come from?"

"She is a cousin of Mrs. Wishart; and she comes from the country
somewhere."

"One can see _that_."

"How can you?" the brother asked rather fiercely.

"You see it as well as I do," the sister returned coolly. "Her dress
shows it."

"I didn't notice anything about her dress."

"You are a man."

"Well, you women dress for the men. If you only knew a thing or two,
you would dress differently."

"That will do! You would not take me anywhere, if I dressed like Miss
Lothrop."

"I'll tell you what," said the young man, stopping short in his walk up
and down the floor;--"she can afford to do without your advantages!"

"Mamma!" appealed the sister now to a third member of the party,--"do
you hear? Tom has lost his head."

The lady addressed sat busy with newspapers, at a table a little
withdrawn from the fire; a lady in fresh middle age, and comely to look
at. The daughter, not comely, but sensible-looking, sat in the glow of
the fireshine, doing nothing. Both were extremely well dressed, if
"well" means in the fashion and in rich stuffs, and with no sparing of
money or care. The elder woman looked up from her studies now for a
moment, with the remark, that she did not care about Tom's head, if he
would keep his heart.

"But that is just precisely what he will not do, mamma. Tom can't keep
anything, his heart least of all. And this girl mamma, I tell you he is
in danger. Tom, how many times have you been to see her?"

"I don't go to see _her;_ I go to see Mrs. Wishart."

"Oh!--and you see Miss Lothrop by accident! Well, how many times, Tom?
Three--four--five."

"Don't be ridiculous!" the brother struck in. "Of course a fellow goes
where he can amuse himself and have the best time; and Mrs. Wishart
keeps a pleasant house."

"Especially lately. Well, Tom, take care! it won't do. I warn you."

"What won't do?"--angrily.

"This girl; not for _our_ family. Not for you, Tom. She hasn't
anything,--and she isn't anybody; and it will not do for you to marry
in that way. If your fortune was ready made to your hand, or if you
were established in your profession and at the top of it,--why, perhaps
you might be justified in pleasing yourself; but as it is, _don't_,
Tom! Be a good boy, and _don't!_"

"My dear, he will not," said the elder lady here. "Tom is wiser than
you give him credit for."

"I don't give any man credit for being wise, mamma, when a pretty face
is in question. And this girl has a pretty face; she is very pretty.
But she has no style; she' is as poor as a mouse; she knows nothing of
the world; and to crown all, Tom, she's one of the religious
sort.--Think of that! One of the real religious sort, you know. Think
how that would fit."

"What sort are you?" asked her brother.

"Not that sort, Tom, and you aren't either."

"How do you know she is?"

"Very easy," said the girl coolly. "She told me herself."

"She told you!"

"Yes."

"How?"

"O, simply enough. I was confessing that Sunday is such a fearfully
long day to me, and I did not know what to do with it; and she looked
at me as if I were a poor heathen--which I suppose she thought me--and
said, 'But there is always the Bible!' Fancy!--'always the Bible.' So I
knew in a moment where to place her."

"I don't think religion hurts a woman," said the young man.

"But you do not want her to have too much of it--" the mother remarked,
without looking up from her paper.

"I don't know what you mean by too much, mother. I'd as lief she found
Sunday short as long. By her own showing, Julia has the worst of it."

"Mamma! speak to him," urged the girl.

"No need, my dear, I think. Tom isn't a fool."

"Any man is, when he is in love, mamma."

Tom came and stood by the mantelpiece, confronting them. He was a
remarkably handsome young man; tall, well formed, very well dressed,
hair and moustaches carefully trimmed, and features of regular though
manly beauty, with an expression of genial kindness and courtesy.

"I am not in love," he said, half laughing. "But I will tell you,--I
never saw a nicer girl than Lois Lothrop. And I think all that you say
about her being poor, and all that, is just--bosh."

The newspapers went down.

"My dear boy, Julia is right. I should be very sorry to see you hurt
your career and injure your chances by choosing a girl who would give
you no sort of help. And you would regret it yourself, when it was too
late. You would be certain to regret it. You could not help but regret
it."

"I am not going to do it. But why should I regret it?"

"You know why, as well as I do. Such a girl would not be a good wife
for you. She would be a millstone round your neck."

Perhaps Mr. Tom thought she would be a pleasant millstone in those
circumstances; but he only remarked that he believed the lady in
question would be a good wife for whoever could get her.

"Well, not for you. You can have anybody you want to, Tom; and you may
just as well have money and family as well as beauty. It is a very bad
thing for a girl not to have family. That deprives her husband of a
great advantage; and besides, saddles upon him often most undesirable
burdens in the shape of brothers and sisters, and nephews perhaps. What
is this girl's family, do you know?"

"Respectable," said Tom, "or she would not be a cousin of Mrs. Wishart.
And that makes her a cousin of Edward's wife."

"My dear, everybody has cousins; and people are not responsible for
them. She is a poor relation, whom Mrs. Wishart has here for the
purpose of befriending her; she'll marry her off if she can; and you
would do as well as another. Indeed you would do splendidly; but the
advantage would be all on their side; and that is what I do not wish
for you."

Tom was silent. His sister remarked that Mrs. Wishart really was not a
match-maker.

"No more than everybody is; it is no harm; of course she would like to
see this little girl well married. Is she educated? Accomplished?"

"Tom can tell," said the daughter. "I never saw her do anything. What
can she do, Tom?"

"_Do?_" said Tom, flaring up. "What do you mean?"

"Can she play?"

"No, and I am glad she can't. If ever there was a bore, it is the
performances of you young ladies on the piano. It's just to show what
you can do. Who cares, except the music master?"

"Does she sing?"

"I don't know!"

"Can she speak French?"

"French!" cried Tom. "Who wants her to speak French? We talk English in
this country."

"But, my dear boy, we often have to use French or some other language,
there are so many foreigners that one meets in society. And a lady
_must_ know French at least. Does she know anything?"

"I don't know," said Tom. "I have no doubt she does. I haven't tried
her. How much, do you suppose, do girls in general know? girls with
ever so much money and family? And who cares how much they know? One
does not seek a lady's society for the purpose of being instructed."

"One might, and get no harm," said the sister softly; but Tom flung out
of the room. "Mamma, it is serious."

"Do you think so?" asked the elder lady, now thrusting aside all her
papers.

"I am sure of it. And if we do not do something--we shall all be sorry
for it."

"What is this girl, Julia? Is she pretty?"

Julia hesitated. "Yes," she said. "I suppose the men would call her so."

"You don't?"

"Well, yes, mamma; she is pretty, handsome, in a way; though she has
not the least bit of style; not the least bit! She is rather peculiar;
and I suppose with the men that is one of her attractions."

"Peculiar how?" said the mother, looking anxious.

"I cannot tell; it is indefinable. And yet it is very marked. Just that
want of style makes her peculiar."

"Awkward?"

"No."

"Not awkward. How then? Shy?"

"No."

"How then, Julia? What is she like?"

"It is hard to tell in words what people are like. She is plainly
dressed, but not badly; Mrs. Wishart would see to that; so it isn't
exactly her dress that makes her want of style. She has a very good
figure; uncommonly good. Then she has most beautiful hair, mamma; a
full head of bright brown hair, that would be auburn if it were a shade
or two darker; and it is somewhat wavy and curly, and heaps itself
around her head in a way that is like a picture. She don't dress it in
the fashion; I don't believe there is a hairpin in it, and I am sure
there isn't a cushion, or anything; only this bright brown hair puffing
and waving and curling itself together in some inexplicable way, that
would be very pretty if it were not so altogether out of the way that
everybody else wears. Then there _is_ a sweet, pretty face under it;
but you can see at the first look that she was never born or brought up
in New York or any other city, and knows just nothing about the world."

"Dangerous!" said the mother, knitting her brows.

"Yes; for just that sort of thing is taking to the men; and they don't
look any further. And Tom above all. I tell you, he is smitten, mamma.
And he goes to Mrs. Wishart's with a regularity which is appalling."

"Tom takes things hard, too," said the mother.

"Foolish boy!" was the sister's comment.

"What can be done?"

"I'll tell you, mamma. I've been thinking. Your health will never stand
the March winds in New York. You must go somewhere."

"Where?"

"Florida, for instance?"

"I should like it very well."

"It would be better anyhow than to let Tom get hopelessly entangled."

"Anything would be better than that."

"And prevention is better than cure. You can't apply a cure, besides.
When a man like Tom, or any man, once gets a thing of this sort in his
head, it is hopeless. He'll go through thick and thin, and take time to
repent afterwards. Men are so stupid!"



"Women sometimes."

"Not I, mamma; if you mean me. I hope for the credit of your
discernment you don't."

"Lent will begin soon," observed the elder lady presently.

"Lent will not make any difference with Tom," returned the daughter.
"And little parties are more dangerous than big ones."

"What shall I do about the party we were going to give? I should be
obliged to ask Mrs. Wishart."

"I'll tell you, mamma," Julia said after a little thinking. "Let it be
a luncheon party; and get Tom to go down into the country that day. And
then go off to Florida, both of you."



CHAPTER II.



AT BREAKFAST.



"How do you like New York, Lois? You have been here long enough to
judge of us now?"

"Have I?"

Mrs. Wishart and her guest being at breakfast, this question and answer
go over the table. It is not exactly in New York, however. That is, it
is within the city bounds, but not yet among the city buildings. Some
little distance out of town, with green fields about it, and trees, and
lawn sloping down to the river bank, and a view of the Jersey shore on
the other side. The breakfast room windows look out over this view,
upon which the winter sun is shining; and green fields stand in
beautiful illumination, with patches of snow lying here and there. Snow
is not on the lawn, however. Mrs. Wishart's is a handsome old house,
not according to the latest fashion, either in itself or its fitting
up; both are of a simpler style than anybody of any pretension would
choose now-a-days; but Mrs. Wishart has no need to make any pretension;
her standing and her title to it are too well known. Moreover, there
are certain quain't witnesses to it all over, wherever you look. None
but one of such secured position would have such an old carpet on her
floor; and few but those of like antecedents could show such rare old
silver on the board. The shawl that wraps the lady is Indian, and not
worn for show; there are portraits on the walls that go back to a
respectable English ancestry; there is precious old furniture about,
that money could not buy; old and quain't and rich, and yet not
striking the eye; and the lady is served in the most observant style by
one of those ancient house servants whose dignity is inseparably
connected with the dignity of the house and springs from it. No new
comer to wealth and place can be served so. The whole air of everything
in the room is easy, refined, leisurely, assured, and comfortable. The
coffee is capital; and the meal, simple enough, is very delicate in its
arrangement.

Only the two ladies are at the table; one behind the coffee urn, and
the other near her. The mistress of the house has a sensible, agreeable
face, and well-bred manner; the other lady is the one who has been so
jealously discussed and described in another family. As Miss Julia
described her, there she sits, in a morning dress which lends her
figure no attraction whatever. And--her figure can do without it. As
the question is asked her about New York, her eye goes over to the
glittering western shore.

"I like this a great deal better than the city," she added to her
former words.

"O, of course, the brick and stone!" answered her hostess. "I did not
mean _that_. I mean, how do you like _us?_"

"Mrs. Wishart, I like _you_ very much," said the girl with a certain
sweet spirit.

"Thank you! but I did not mean that either. Do you like no one but me?"

"I do not know anybody else."

"You have seen plenty of people."

"I do not know them, though. Not a bit. One thing I do not like. People
talk so on the surface of things."

"Do you want them to go deep in an evening party?"

"It is not only in evening parties. If you want me to say what I think,
Mrs. Wishart. It is the same always, if people come for morning calls,
or if we go to them, or if we see them in the evening; people talk
about nothing; nothing they care about."

"Nothing _you_ care about."

"They do not seem to care about it either."

"Why do you suppose they talk it then?" Mrs. Wishart asked, amused.

"It seems to be a form they must go through," Lois said, laughing a
little. "Perhaps they enjoy it, but they do not seem as if they did.
And they laugh so incessantly,--some of them,--at what has no fun in
it. That seems to be a form too; but laughing for form's sake seems to
me hard work."

"My dear, do you want people to be always serious?"

"How do you mean, 'serious'?"

"Do you want them to be always going 'deep' into things?"

"N-o, perhaps not; but I would like them to be always in earnest."

"My dear! What a fearful state of society you would bring about!
Imagine for a moment that everybody was always in earnest!"

"Why not? I mean, not always _sober;_ did you think I meant that? I
mean, whether they laugh or talk, doing it heartily, and feeling and
thinking as they speak. Or rather, speaking and laughing only as they
feel."

"My dear, do you know what would become of society?"

"No. What?"

"I go to see Mrs. Brinkerhoff, for instance. I have something on my
mind, and I do not feel like discussing any light matter, so I sit
silent. Mrs. Brinkerhoff has a fearfully hard piece of work to keep the
conversation going; and when I have departed she votes me a great bore,
and hopes I will never come again. When she returns my visit, the
conditions are reversed; I vote _her_ a bore; and we conclude it is
easier to do without each other's company."

"But do you never find people a bore as it is?"

Mrs. Wishart laughed. "Do you?"

"Sometimes. At least I should if I lived among them. _Now_, all is new,
and I am curious."

"I can tell you one thing, Lois; nobody votes you a bore."

"But I never talk as they do."

"Never mind. There are exceptions to all rules. But, my dear, even you
must not be always so desperately in earnest. By the way! That handsome
young Mr. Caruthers--does he make himself a bore too? You have seen a
good deal of him."

"No," said Lois with some deliberation. "He is pleasant, what I have
seen of him."

"And, as I remarked, that is a good deal. Isn't he a handsome fellow? I
think Tom Caruthers is a good fellow, too. And he is likely to be a
successful fellow. He is starting well in life, and he has connections
that will help him on. It is a good family; and they have money enough."

"How do you mean, 'a good family'?"

"Why, you know what that phrase expresses, don't you?"

"I am not sure that I do, in your sense. You do not mean religious?"

"No," said Mrs. Wishart, smiling; "not necessarily. Religion has
nothing to do with it. I mean--we mean-- It is astonishing how hard it
is to put some things! I mean, a family that has had a good social
standing for generations. Of course such a family is connected with
other good families, and it is consequently strong, and has advantages
for all belonging to it."

"I mean," said Lois slowly, "a family that has served God for
generations. Such a family has connections too, and advantages."

"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Wishart, opening her eyes a little at the
girl, "the two things are not inconsistent, I hope."

"I hope not."

"Wealth and position are good things at any rate, are they not?"

"So far as they go, I suppose so," said Lois. "O yes, they are pleasant
things; and good things, if they are used right."

"They are whether or no. Come! I can't have you holding any extravagant
ideas, Lois. They don't do in the world. They make one peculiar, and it
is not good taste to be peculiar."

"You know, I am not in the world," Lois answered quietly.

"Not when you are at home, I grant you; but here, in my house, you are;
and when you have a house of your own, it is likely you will be. No
more coffee, my dear? Then let us go to the order of the day. What is
this, Williams?"

"For Miss Lot'rop," the obsequious servant replied with a bow,--"de
bo-quet." But he presented to his mistress a little note on his salver,
and then handed to Lois a magnificent bunch of hothouse flowers. Mrs.
Wishart's eyes followed the bouquet, and she even rose up to examine it.

"That is beautiful, my dear. What camellias! And what geraniums! That
is the Black Prince, one of those, I am certain; yes, I am sure it is;
and that is one of the new rare varieties. That has not come from any
florist's greenhouse. Never. And that rose-coloured geranium is Lady
Sutherland. Who sent the flowers, Williams?"

"Here is his card, Mrs. Wishart," said Lois. "Mr. Caruthers."

"Tom Caruthers!" echoed Mrs. Wishart. "He has cut them in his mother's
greenhouse, the sinner!"

"Why?" said Lois. "Would that be not right?"

"It would be right, _if_--. Here's a note from Tom's mother, Lois--but
not about the flowers. It is to ask us to a luncheon party. Shall we
go?"

"You know, dear Mrs. Wishart, I go just where you choose to take me,"
said the girl, on whose cheeks an exquisite rose tint rivalled the Lady
Sutherland geranium blossoms. Mrs. Wishart noticed it, and eyed the
girl as she was engrossed with her flowers, examining, smelling, and
smiling at them. It was pleasure that raised that delicious bloom in
her cheeks, she decided; was it anything more than pleasure? What a
fair creature! thought her hostess; and yet, fair as she is, what
possible chance for her in a good family? A young man may be taken with
beauty, but not his relations; and they would object to a girl who is
nobody and has nothing. Well, there is a chance for her, and she shall
have the chance.

"Lois, what will you wear to this luncheon party?"

"You know all my dresses, Mrs. Wishart. I suppose my black silk would
be right."

"No, it would not be right at all. You are too young to wear black silk
to a luncheon party. And your white dress is not the thing either."

"I have nothing else that would do. You must let me be old, in a black
silk."

"I will not let you be anything of the kind. I will get you a dress."

"No, Mrs. Wishart; I cannot pay for it."

"I will pay for it."

"I cannot let you do that. You have done enough for me already. Mrs.
Wishart, it is no matter. People will just think I cannot afford
anything better, and that is the very truth."

"No, Lois; they will think you do not know any better."

"That is the truth too," said Lois, laughing.

"No it isn't; and if it is, I do not choose they should think so. I
shall dress you for this once, my dear; and I shall not ruin myself
either."

Mrs. Wishart had her way; and so it came to pass that Lois went to the
luncheon party in a dress of bright green silk; and how lovely she
looked in it is impossible to describe. The colour, which would have
been ruinous to another person, simply set off her delicate complexion
and bright brown hair in the most charming manner; while at the same
time the green was not so brilliant as to make an obvious patch of
colour wherever its wearer might be. Mrs. Wishart was a great enemy of
startling effects, in any kind; and the hue was deep and rich and
decided, without being flashy.

"You never looked so well in anything," was Mrs. Wishart's comment. "I
have hit just the right thing. My dear, I would put one of those white
camellias in your hair--that will relieve the eye."

"From what?" Lois asked, laughing.

"Never mind; you do as I tell you."



CHAPTER III.



A LUNCHEON PARTY.



Luncheon parties were not then precisely what they are now;
nevertheless the entertainment was extremely handsome. Lois and her
friend had first a long drive from their home in the country to a house
in one of the older parts of the city. Old the house also was; but it
was after a roomy and luxurious fashion, if somewhat antiquated; and
the air of ancient respectability, even of ancient distinction, was
stamped upon it, as upon the family that inhabited it. Mrs. Wishart and
Lois were received with warm cordiality by Miss Caruthers; but the
former did not fail to observe a shadow that crossed Mrs. Caruthers'
face when Lois was presented to her. Lois did not see it, and would not
have known how to interpret it if she had seen it. She is safe, thought
Mrs. Wishart, as she noticed the calm unembarrassed air with which Lois
sat down to talk with the younger of her hostesses.

"You are making a long stay with Mrs. Wishart," was the unpromising
opening remark.

"Mrs. Wishart keeps me."

"Do you often come to visit her?"

"I was never here before."

"Then this is your first acquain'tance with New York?"

"Yes."

"How does it strike you? One loves to get at new impressions of what
one has known all one's life. Nothing strikes us here, I suppose. Do
tell me what strikes you."

"I might say, everything."

"How delightful! Nothing strikes me. I have seen it all five hundred
times. Nothing is new."

"But people are new," said Lois. "I mean they are different from one
another. There is continual variety there."

"To me there seems continual sameness!" said the other, with a half
shutting up of her eyes, as of one dazed with monotony. "They are all
alike. I know beforehand exactly what every one will say to me, and how
every one will behave."

"That is not how it is at home," returned Lois. "It is different there."

"People are _not_ all alike?"

"No indeed. Perfectly unlike, and individual."

"How agreeable! So that is one of the things that strike you here? the
contrast?"

"No," said Lois, laughing; "_I_ find here the same variety that I find
at home. People are not alike to me."

"But different, I suppose, from the varieties you are accustomed to at
home?"

Lois admitted that.

"Well, now tell me how. I have never travelled in New England; I have
travelled everywhere else. Tell me, won't you, how those whom you see
here differ from the people you see at home."

"In the same sort of way that a sea-gull differs from a land sparrow,"
Lois answered demurely.

"I don't understand. Are we like the sparrows, or like the gulls?"

"I do not know that. I mean merely that the different sorts are fitted
to different spheres and ways of life."

Miss Caruthers looked a little curiously at the girl. "I know _this_
sphere," she said. "I want you to tell me yours."

"It is free space instead of narrow streets, and clear air instead of
smoke. And the people all have something to do, and are doing it."

"And you think _we_ are doing nothing?" asked Miss Caruthers, laughing.

"Perhaps I am mistaken. It seems to me so."

"O, you are mistaken. We work hard. And yet, since I went to school, I
never had anything that I _must_ do, in my life."

"That can be only because you did not know what it was."

"I had nothing that I must do."

"But nobody is put in this world without some thing to do," said Lois.
"Do you think a good watchmaker would carefully make and finish a very
costly pin or wheel, and put it in the works of his watch to do
nothing?"

Miss Caruthers stared now at the girl. Had this soft, innocent-looking
maiden absolutely dared to read a lesson to her?--"You are religious!"
she remarked dryly.

Lois neither affirmed nor denied it. Her eye roved over the gathering
throng; the rustle of silks, the shimmer of lustrous satin, the falls
of lace, the drapery of one or two magnificent camels'-hair shawls, the
carefully dressed heads, the carefully gloved hands; for the ladies did
not keep on their bonnets then; and the soft murmur of voices, which,
however, did not remain soft. It waxed and grew, rising and falling,
until the room was filled with a breaking sea of sound. Miss Caruthers
had been called off to attend to other guests, and then came to conduct
Lois herself to the dining-room.

The party was large, the table was long; and it was a mass of glitter
and glisten with plate and glass. A superb old-fashioned épergne in the
middle, great dishes of flowers sending their perfumed breath through
the room, and bearing their delicate exotic witness to the luxury that
reigned in the house. And not they alone. Before each guest's plate a
semicircular wreath of flowers stood, seemingly upon the tablecloth;
but Lois made the discovery that the stems were safe in water in
crescent-shaped glass dishes, like little troughs, which the flowers
completely covered up and hid. Her own special wreath was of
heliotropes. Miss Caruthers had placed her next herself.

There were no gentlemen present, nor expected, Lois observed. It was
simply a company of ladies, met apparently for the purpose of eating;
for that business went on for some time with a degree of satisfaction,
and a supply of means to afford satisfaction, which Lois had never seen
equalled. From one delicate and delicious thing to another she was
required to go, until she came to a stop; but that was the case, she
observed, with no one else of the party.

"You do not drink wine?" asked Miss Caruthers civilly.

"No, thank you."

"Have you scruples?" said the young lady, with a half smile.

Lois assented.

"Why? what's the harm?"

"We all have scruples at Shampuashuh."

"About drinking wine?"

"Or cider, or beer, or anything of the sort."

"Do tell me why."

"It does so much mischief."

"Among low people," said Miss Caruthers, opening her eyes; "but not
among respectable people."

"We are willing to hinder mischief anywhere," said Lois with a smile of
some fun.

"But what good does _your_ not drinking it do? That will not hinder
them."

"It does hinder them, though," said Lois; "for we will not have liquor
shops. And so, we have no crime in the town. We could leave our doors
unlocked, with perfect safety, if it were not for the people that come
wandering through from the next towns, where liquor is sold. We have no
crime, and no poverty; or next to none."

"Bless me! what an agreeable state of things! But that need not hinder
your taking a glass of champagne _here?_ Everybody here has no scruple,
and there are liquor shops at every corner; there is no use in setting
an example."

But Lois declined the wine.

"A cup of coffee then?"

Lois accepted the coffee.

"I think you know my brother?" observed Miss Caruthers then, making her
observations as she spoke.

"Mr. Caruthers? yes; I believe he is your brother."

"I have heard him speak of you. He has seen you at Mrs. Wishart's, I
think."

"At Mrs. Wishart's--yes."

Lois spoke naturally, yet Miss Caruthers fancied she could discern a
certain check to the flow of her words.

"You could not be in a better place for seeing what New York is like,
for everybody goes to Mrs. Wishart's; that is, everybody who is
anybody."

This did not seem to Lois to require any answer. Her eye went over the
long tableful; went from face to face. Everybody was talking, nearly
everybody was smiling. Why not? If enjoyment would make them smile,
where could more means of enjoyment be heaped up, than at this feast?
Yet Lois could not help thinking that the tokens of real
pleasure-taking were not unequivocal. _She_ was having a very good
time; full of amusement; to the others it was an old story. Of what
use, then?

Miss Caruthers had been engaged in a lively battle of words with some
of her young companions; and now her attention came back to Lois, whose
meditative, amused expression struck her.

"I am sure," she said, "you are philosophizing! Let me have the results
of your observations, do! What do your eyes see, that mine perhaps do
not?"

"I cannot tell," said Lois. "Yours ought to know it all."

"But you know, we do not see what we have always seen."

"Then I have an advantage," said Lois pleasantly. "My eyes see
something very pretty."

"But you were criticizing something.--O you unlucky boy!"

This exclamation, and the change of tone with it, seemed to be called
forth by the entrance of a new comer, even Tom Caruthers himself. Tom
was not in company trim exactly, but with his gloves in his hand and
his overcoat evidently just pulled off. He was surveying the company
with a contented expression; then came forward and began a series of
greetings round the table; not hurrying them, but pausing here and
there for a little talk.

"Tom!" cried his mother, "is that you?"

"To command. Yes, Mrs. Badger, I am just off the cars. I did not know
what I should find here."

"How did you get back so soon, Tom?"

"Had nothing to keep me longer, ma'am. Miss Farrel, I have the honour
to remind you of a _phillipoena_."

There was a shout of laughter. It bewildered Lois, who could not
understand what they were laughing about, and could as little keep her
attention from following Tom's progress round the table. Miss Caruthers
observed this, and was annoyed.

"Careless boy!" she said. "I don't believe he has done the half of what
he had to do, Tom, what brought you home?"

Tom was by this time approaching them.

"Is the question to be understood in a physical or moral sense?" said
he.

"As you understand it!" said his sister.

Tom disregarded the question, and paid his respects to Miss Lothrop.
Julia's jealous eyes saw more than the ordinary gay civility in his
face and manner.

"Tom," she cried, "have you done everything? I don't believe you have."

"Have, though," said Tom. And he offered to Lois a basket of bon-bons.

"Did you see the carpenter?"

"Saw him and gave him his orders."

"Were the dogs well?"

"I wish you had seen them bid me good morning!"

"Did you look at the mare's foot?"

"Yes."

"What is the matter with it?"

"Nothing--a nail--Miss Lothrop, you have no wine."

"Nothing! and a nail!" cried Miss Julia as Lois covered her glass with
her hand and forbade the wine. "As if a nail were not enough to ruin a
horse! O you careless boy! Miss Lothrop is more of a philosopher than
you are. She drinks no wine."

Tom passed on, speaking to other ladies. Lois had scarcely spoken at
all; but Miss Caruthers thought she could discern a little stir in the
soft colour of the cheeks and a little additional life in the grave
soft eyes; and she wished Tom heartily at a distance.

At a distance, however, he was no more that day. He made himself
gracefully busy indeed with the rest of his mother's guests; but after
they quitted the table, he contrived to be at Lois's side, and asked if
she would not like to see the greenhouse? It was a welcome proposition,
and while nobody at the moment paid any attention to the two young
people, they passed out by a glass door at the other end of the
dining-room into the conservatory, while the stream of guests went the
other way. Then Lois was plunged in a wilderness of green leafage and
brilliant bloom, warm atmosphere and mixed perfume; her first breath
was an involuntary exclamation of delight and relief.

"Ah! you like this better than the other room, don't you?" said Tom.

Lois did not answer; however, she went with such an absorbed expression
from one plant to another, that Tom must needs conclude she liked this
better than the other company too.

"I never saw such a beautiful greenhouse," she said at last, "nor so
large a one."

"_This_ is not much," replied Tom. "Most of our plants are in the
country--where I have come from to-day; this is just a city affair.
Shampuashuh don't cultivate exotics, then?"

"O no! Nor anything much, except the needful."

"That sounds rather--tiresome," said Tom.

"O, it is not tiresome. One does not get tired of the needful, you
know."

"Don't you! _I_ do," said Tom. "Awfully. But what do you do for
pleasure then, up there in Shampuashuh?"

"Pleasure? O, we have it--I have it-- But we do not spend much time in
the search of it. O how beautiful! what is that?"

"It's got some long name--Metrosideros, I believe. What _do_ you do for
pleasure up there then, Miss Lothrop?"

"Dig clams."

"Clams!" cried Tom.

"Yes. Long clams. It's great fun. But I find pleasure all over."

"How come you to be such a philosopher?"

"That is not philosophy."

"What is it? I can tell you, there isn't a girl in New York that would
say what you have just said."

Lois thought the faces around the lunch table had quite harmonized with
this statement. She forgot them again in a most luxuriant trailing
Pelargonium covered with large white blossoms of great elegance.

"But it is philosophy that makes you not drink wine? Or don't you like
it?"

"O no," said Lois, "it is not philosophy; it is humanity."

"How? I think it is humanity to share in people's social pleasures."

"If they were harmless."

"This is harmless!"

Lois shook her head. "To you, maybe."

"And to you. Then why shouldn't we take it?"

"For the sake of others, to whom it is not harmless."

"They must look out for themselves."

"Yes, and we must help them."

"We _can't_ help them. If a man hasn't strength enough to stand, you
cannot hold him up."

"O yes," said Lois gently, "you can and you must. That is not much to
do! When on one side it is life, and on the other side it is only a
minute's taste of something sweet, it is very little, I think, to give
up one for the other."

"That is because you are so good," said Tom. "I am not so good."

At this instant a voice was heard within, and sounds of the servants
removing the lunch dishes.

"I never heard anybody in my life talk as you do," Tom went on.

Lois thought she had talked enough, and would say no more. Tom saw she
would not, and gave her glance after glance of admiration, which began
to grow into veneration. What a pure creature was this! what a gentle
simplicity, and yet what a quiet dignity! what absolutely natural
sweetness, with no airs whatever! and what a fresh beauty.

"I think it must be easier to be good where you live," Tom added
presently, and sincerely.

"Why?" said Lois.

"I assure you it ain't easy for a fellow here."

"What do you mean by 'good,' Mr. Caruthers? not drinking wine?" said
Lois, somewhat amused.

"I mean, to be like you," said he softly. "You are better than all the
rest of us here."

"I hope not. Mr. Caruthers, we must go back to Mrs. Wishart, or
certainly _she_ will not think me good."

So they went back, through the empty lunch room.

"I thought you would be here to-day," said Tom. "I was not going to
miss the pleasure; so I took a frightfully early train, and despatched
business faster than it had ever been despatched before, at our house.
I surprised the people, almost as much as I surprised my mother and
Julia. You ought always to wear a white camellia in your hair!"

Lois smiled to herself. If he knew what things she had to do at her own
home, and how such an adornment would be in place! Was it easier to be
good there? she queried. It was easier to be pleased here. The guests
were mostly gone.

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Wishart on the drive home, "how have you
enjoyed yourself?"

Lois looked grave. "I am afraid it turns my head," she answered.

"That shows your head is _not_ turned. It must carry a good deal of
ballast too, somewhere."

"It does," said Lois. "And I don't like to have my head turned."

"Tom," said Miss Julia, as Mrs. Wishart's carriage drove off and Tom
came back to the drawing-room, "you mustn't turn that little girl's
head."

"I can't," said Tom.

"You are trying."

"I am doing nothing of the sort."

"Then what _are_ you doing? You are paying her a great deal of
attention. She is not accustomed to our ways; she will not understand
it. I do not think it is fair to her."

"I don't mean anything that is not fair to her. She is worth attention
ten times as much as all the rest of the girls that were here to-day."

"But, Tom, she would not take it as coolly. She knows only country
ways. She might think attentions mean more than they do."

"I don't care," said Tom.

"My dear boy," said his mother now, "it will not do, not to care. It
would not be honourable to raise hopes you do not mean to fulfil; and
to take such a girl for your wife, would be simply ruinous."

"Where will you find such another girl?" cried Tom, flaring up.

"But she has nothing, and she is nobody."

"She is her own sweet self," said Tom.

"But not an advantageous wife for you, my dear. Society does not know
her, and she does not know society. Your career would be a much more
humble one with her by your side. And money you want, too. You need it,
to get on properly; as I wish to see you get on, and as you wish it
your self. My dear boy, do not throw your chances away!"

"It's my belief, that is just what you are trying to make me do!" said
the young man; and he went off in something of a huff.

"Mamma, we must do something. And soon," remarked Miss Julia. "Men are
such fools! He rushed through with everything and came home to-day just
to see that girl. A pretty face absolutely bewitches them." _N. B_.
Miss Julia herself did not possess that bewitching power.

"I will go to Florida," said Mrs. Caruthers, sighing.



CHAPTER IV.



ANOTHER LUNCHEON PARTY.



A journey can be decided upon in a minute, but not so soon entered
upon. Mrs. Caruthers needed a week to make ready; and during that week
her son and heir found opportunity to make several visits at Mrs.
Wishart's. A certain marriage connection between the families gave him
somewhat the familiar right of a cousin; he could go when he pleased;
and Mrs. Wishart liked him, and used no means to keep him away. Tom
Caruthers was a model of manly beauty; gentle and agreeable in his
manners; and of an evidently affectionate and kindly disposition. Why
should not the young people like each other? she thought; and things
were in fair train. Upon this came the departure for Florida. Tom spoke
his regrets unreservedly out; he could not help himself, his mother's
health required her to go to the South for the month of March, and she
must necessarily have his escort. Lois said little. Mrs. Wishart
feared, or hoped, she felt the more. A little absence is no harm, the
lady thought; _may_ be no harm. But now Lois began to speak of
returning to Shampuashuh; and that indeed might make the separation too
long for profit. She thought too that Lois was a little more thoughtful
and a trifle more quiet than she had been before this journey was
talked of.

One day, it was a cold, blustering day in March, Mrs. Wishart and her
guest had gone down into the lower part of the city to do some
particular shopping; Mrs. Wishart having promised Lois that they would
take lunch and rest at a particular fashionable restaurant. Such an
expedition had a great charm for the little country girl, to whom
everything was new, and to whose healthy mental senses the ways and
manners of the business world, with all the accessories thereof, were
as interesting as the gayer regions and the lighter life of fashion.
Mrs. Wishart had occasion to go to a banker's in Wall Street; she had
business at the Post Office; she had something to do which took her to
several furrier's shops; she visited a particular magazine of varieties
in Maiden Lane, where things, she told Lois, were about half the price
they bore up town. She spent near an hour at the Tract House in Nassau
Street. There was no question of taking the carriage into these
regions; an omnibus had brought them to Wall Street, and from there
they went about on their own feet, walking and standing alternately,
till both ladies were well tired. Mrs. Wishart breathed out a sigh of
relief as she took her seat in the omnibus which was to carry them up
town again.

"Tired out, Lois, are you? I am."

"I am not. I have been too much amused."

"It's delightful to take you anywhere! You reverse the old fairy-tale
catastrophe, and a little handful of ashes turns to fruit for you, or
to gold. Well, I will make some silver turn to fruit presently. I want
my lunch, and I know you do. I should like to have you with me always,
Lois. I get some of the good of your fairy fruit and gold when you are
along with me. Tell me, child, do you do that sort of thing at home?"

"What sort?" said Lois, laughing.

"Turning nothings into gold."

"I don't know," said Lois. "I believe I do pick up a good deal of that
sort of gold as I go along. But at home our life has a great deal of
sameness about it, you know. _Here_ everything is wonderful."

"Wonderful!" repeated Mrs. Wishart. "To you it is wonderful. And to me
it is the dullest old story, the whole of it. I feel as dusty now,
mentally, as I am outwardly. But we'll have some luncheon, Lois, and
that will be refreshing, I hope."

Hopes were to be much disappointed. Getting out of the omnibus near the
locality of the desired restaurant, the whole street was found in
confusion. There had been a fire, it seemed, that morning, in a house
adjoining or very near, and loungers and firemen and an engine and hose
took up all the way. No restaurant to be reached there that morning.
Greatly dismayed, Mrs. Wishart put herself and Lois in one of the
street cars to go on up town.

"I am famishing!" she declared. "And now I do not know where to go.
Everybody has had lunch at home by this time, or there are half-a-dozen
houses I could go to."

"Are there no other restaurants but that one?"

"Plenty; but I could not eat in comfort unless I know things are clean.
I know that place, and the others I don't know. Ha, Mr. Dillwyn!"--

This exclamation was called forth by the sight of a gentleman who just
at that moment was entering the car. Apparently he was an old
acquain'tance, for the recognition was eager on both sides. The new
comer took a seat on the other side of Mrs. Wishart.

"Where do you come from," said he, "that I find you here?"

"From the depths of business--Wall Street--and all over; and now the
depths of despair, that we cannot get lunch. I am going home starving."

"What does that mean?"

"Just a _contretemps_. I promised my young friend here I would give her
a good lunch at the best restaurant I knew; and to-day of all days, and
just as we come tired out to get some refreshment, there's a fire and
firemen and all the street in a hubbub. Nothing for it but to go home
fasting."

"No," said he, "there is a better thing. You will do me the honour and
give me the pleasure of lunching with me. I am living at the
'Imperial,'--and here we are!"

He signalled the car to stop, even as he spoke, and rose to help the
ladies out. Mrs. Wishart had no time to think about it, and on the
sudden impulse yielded. They left the car, and a few steps brought them
to the immense beautiful building called the Imperial Hotel. Mr.
Dillwyn took them in as one at home, conducted them to the great
dining-room; proposed to them to go first to a dressing-room, but this
Mrs. Wishart declined. So they took places at a small table, near
enough to one of the great clear windows for Lois to look down into the
Avenue and see all that was going on there. But first the place where
she was occupied her. With a kind of wondering delight her eye went
down the lines of the immense room, reviewed its loftiness, its
adornments, its light and airiness and beauty; its perfection of
luxurious furnishing and outfitting. Few people were in it just at this
hour, and the few were too far off to trouble at all the sense of
privacy. Lois was tired, she was hungry; this sudden escape from din
and motion and dust, to refreshment and stillness and a soft
atmosphere, was like the changes in an Arabian Nights' enchantment. And
the place was splendid enough and dainty enough to fit into one of
those stories too. Lois sat back in her chair, quietly but intensely
enjoying. It never occurred to her that she herself might be a worthy
object of contemplation.

Yet a fairer might have been sought for, all New York through. She was
not vulgarly gazing; she had not the aspect of one strange to the
place; quiet, grave, withdrawn into herself, she wore an air of most
sweet reserve and unconscious dignity. Features more beautiful might be
found, no doubt, and in numbers; it was not the mere lines, nor the
mere colours of her face, which made it so remarkable, but rather the
mental character. The beautiful poise of a spirit at rest within
itself; the simplicity of unconsciousness; the freshness of a mind to
which nothing has grown stale or old, and which sees nothing in its
conventional shell; along with the sweetness that comes of habitual
dwelling in sweetness. Both her companions occasionally looked at her;
Lois did not know it; she did not think herself of sufficient
importance to be looked at.

And then came the luncheon. Such a luncheon! and served with a delicacy
which became it. Chocolate which was a rich froth; rolls which were
puff balls of perfection; salad, and fruit. Anything yet more
substantial Mrs. Wishart declined. Also she declined wine.

"I should not dare, before Lois," she said.

Therewith came their entertainer's eyes round to Lois again.

"Is she allowed to keep your conscience, Mrs. Wishart?"

"Poor child! I don't charge her with that. But you know, Mr. Dillwyn,
in presence of angels one would walk a little carefully!"

"That almost sounds as if the angels would be uncomfortable
companions," said Lois.

"Not quite _sans gêne_"--the gentleman added, Then Lois's eyes met his
full.

"I do not know what that is," she said.

"Only a couple of French words."

"I do not know French," said Lois simply.

He had not seen before what beautiful eyes they were; soft and grave,
and true with the clearness of the blue ether. He thought he would like
another such look into their transparent depths. So he asked,

"But what is it about the wine?"

"O, we are water-drinkers up about my home," Lois answered, looking,
however, at her chocolate cup from which she was refreshing herself.

"That is what the English call us as a nation, I am sure most
inappropriately. Some of us know good wine when we see it; and most of
the rest have an intimate acquain'tance with wine or some thing else
that is _not_ good. Perhaps Miss Lothrop has formed her opinion, and
practice, upon knowledge of this latter kind?"

Lois did not say; she thought her opinions, or practice, could have
very little interest for this fine gentleman.

"Lois is unfashionable enough to form her own opinions," Mrs. Wishart
remarked.

"But not inconsistent enough to build them on nothing, I hope?"

"I could tell you what they are built on," said Lois, brought out by
this challenge; "but I do not know that you would see from that how
well founded they are."

"I should be very grateful for such an indulgence."

"In this particular case we are speaking of, they are built on two
foundation stones--both out of the same quarry," said Lois, her colour
rising a little, while she smiled too. "One is this--'Whatsoever ye
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.' And the
other--'I will neither eat meat, nor drink wine, nor _anything_, by
which my brother stumbleth, or is offended, or made weak.'"

Lois did not look up as she spoke, and Mrs. Wishart smiled with
amusement. Their host's face expressed an undoubted astonishment. He
regarded the gentle and yet bold speaker with steady attention for a
minute or two, noting the modesty, and the gentleness, and the
fearlessness with which she spoke. Noting her great beauty too.

"Precious stones!" said he lightly, when she had done speaking. "I do
not know whether they are broad enough for such a superstructure as you
would build on them." And then he turned to Mrs. Wishart again, and
they left the subject and plunged into a variety of other subjects
where Lois scarce could follow them.

What did they not talk of! Mr. Dillwyn, it appeared, had lately
returned from abroad, where Mrs. Wishart had also formerly lived for
some time; and now they went over a multitude of things and people
familiar to both of them, but of which Lois did not even know the
names. She listened, however, eagerly; and gleaned, as an eager
listener generally may, a good deal. Places, until now unheard of, took
a certain form and aspect in Lois's imagination; people were discerned,
also in imagination, as being of different types and wonderfully
different habits and manners of life from any Lois knew at home, or had
even seen in New York. She heard pictures talked of, and wondered what
sort of a world that art world might be, in which Mr. Dillwyn was so
much at home. Lois had never seen any pictures in her life which were
much to her. And the talk about countries sounded strange. She knew
where Germany was on the map, and could give its boundaries no doubt
accurately; but all this gossip about the Rhineland and its vineyards
and the vintages there and in France, sounded fascinatingly novel. And
she knew where Italy was on the map; but Italy's skies, and soft air,
and mementos of past times of history and art, were unknown; and she
listened with ever-quickening attention. The result of the whole at
last was a mortifying sense that she knew nothing. These people, her
friend and this other, lived in a world of mental impressions and
mentally stored-up knowledge, which seemed to make their life
unendingly broader and richer than her own. Especially the gentleman.
Lois observed that it was constantly he who had something new to tell
Mrs. Wishart, and that in all the ground they went over, he was more at
home than she. Indeed, Lois got the impression that Mr. Dillwyn knew
the world and everything in it better than anybody she had ever seen.
Mr. Caruthers was extremely _au fait_ in many things; Lois had the
thought, not the word; but Mr. Dillwyn was an older man and had seen
much more. He was terrifically wise in it all, she thought; and by
degrees she got a kind of awe of him. A little of Mrs. Wishart too. How
much her friend knew, how at home she was in this big world! what a
plain little piece of ignorance was she herself beside her. Well,
thought Lois--every one to his place! My place is Shampuashuh. I
suppose I am fitted for that.

"Miss Lothrop," said their entertainer here, "will you allow me to give
you some grapes?"

"Grapes in March!" said Lois, smiling, as a beautiful white bunch was
laid before her. "People who live in New York can have everything, it
seems, that they want."

"Provided they can pay for it," Mrs. Wishart put in.

"How is it in your part of the world?" said Mr. Dillwyn. "You cannot
have what you want?"

"Depends upon what order you keep your wishes in," said Lois. "You can
have strawberries in June--and grapes in September."

"What order do you keep your wishes in?" was the next question.

"I think it best to have as few as possible."

"But that would reduce life to a mere framework of life,--if one had no
wishes!"

"One can find something else to fill it up," said Lois.

"Pray what would you substitute? For with wishes I connect the
accomplishment of wishes."

"Are they always connected?"

"Not always; but generally, the one are the means to the other."

"I believe I do not find it so."

"Then, pardon me, what would you substitute, Miss Lothrop, to fill up
your life, and not have it a bare existence?"

"There is always work--" said Lois shyly; "and there are the pleasures
that come without being wished for. I mean, without being particularly
sought and expected."

"Does much come that way?" asked their entertainer, with an incredulous
smile of mockery.

"O, a great deal!" cried Lois; and then she checked herself.

"This is a very interesting investigation, Mrs. Wishart," said the
gentleman. "Do you think I may presume upon Miss Lothrop's good nature,
and carry it further?"

"Miss Lothrop's good nature is a commodity I never knew yet to fail."

"Then I will go on, for I am curious to know, with an honest desire to
enlarge my circle of knowledge. Will you tell me, Miss Lothrop, what
are the pleasures in your mind when you speak of their coming unsought?"

Lois tried to draw back. "I do not believe you would understand them,"
she said a little shyly.

"I trust you do my understanding less than justice!"

"No," said Lois, blushing, "for your enjoyments are in another line."

"Please indulge me, and tell me the line of yours."

He is laughing at me, thought Lois. And her next thought was, What
matter! So, after an instant's hesitation, she answered simply.

"To anybody who has travelled over the world, Shampuashuh is a small
place; and to anybody who knows all you have been talking about, what
we know at Shampuashuh would seem very little. But every morning it is
a pleasure to me to wake and see the sun rise; and the fields, and the
river, and the Sound, are a constant delight to me at all times of day,
and in all sorts of weather. A walk or a ride is always a great
pleasure, and different every time. Then I take constant pleasure in my
work."

"Mrs. Wishart," said the gentleman, "this is a revelation to me. Would
it be indiscreet, if I were to ask Miss Lothrop what she can possibly
mean under the use of the term '_work_'?"

I think Mrs. Wishart considered that it _would_ be rather indiscreet,
and wished Lois would be a little reticent about her home affairs.
Lois, however, had no such feeling.

"I mean work," she said. "I can have no objection that anybody should
know what our life is at home. We have a little farm, very small; it
just keeps a few cows and sheep. In the house we are three sisters; and
we have an old grandmother to take care of, and to keep the house, and
manage the farm."

"But surely you cannot do that last?" said the gentleman.

"We do not manage the cows and sheep," said Lois, smiling; "men's hands
do that; but we make the butter, and we spin the wool, and we cultivate
our garden. _That_ we do ourselves entirely; and we have a good garden
too. And that is one of the things," added Lois, smiling, "in which I
take unending pleasure."

"What can you do in a garden?"

"All there is to do, except ploughing. We get a neighbour to do that."

"And the digging?"

"I can dig," said Lois, laughing.

"But do not?"

"Certainly I do."

"And sow seeds, and dress beds?"

"Certainly. And enjoy every moment of it. I do it early, before the sun
gets hot. And then, there is all the rest; gathering the fruit, and
pulling the vegetables, and the care of them when we have got them; and
I take great pleasure in it all. The summer mornings and spring
mornings in the garden are delightful, and all the work of a garden is
delightful, I think."

"You will except the digging?"

"You are laughing at me," said Lois quietly. "No, I do not except the
digging. I like it particularly. Hoeing and raking I do not like half
so well."

"I am not laughing," said Mr. Dillwyn, "or certainly not at you. If at
anybody, it is myself. I am filled with admiration."

"There is no room for that either," said Lois. "We just have it to do,
and we do it; that is all."

"Miss Lothrop, I never have _had_ to do anything in my life, since I
left college."

Lois thought privately her own thoughts, but did not give them
expression; she had talked a great deal more than she meant to do.
Perhaps Mrs. Wishart too thought there had been enough of it, for she
began to make preparations for departure.

"Mrs. Wishart," said Mr. Dillwyn, "I have to thank you for the greatest
pleasure I have enjoyed since I landed."

"Unsought and unwished-for, too, according to Miss Lothrop's theory.
Certainly we have to thank you, Philip, for we were in a distressed
condition when you found us. Come and see me. And," she added _sotto
voce_ as he was leading her out, and Lois had stepped on before them,
"I consider that all the information that has been given you is
strictly in confidence."

"Quite delicious confidence!"

"Yes, but not for all ears," added Mrs. Wishart somewhat anxiously.

"I am glad you think me worthy. I will not abuse the trust."

"I did not say I thought you worthy," said the lady, laughing; "I was
not consulted. Young eyes see the world in the fresh colours of
morning, and think daisies grow everywhere."

They had reached the street. Mr. Dillwyn accompanied the ladies a part
of their way, and then took leave of them.



CHAPTER V.



IN COUNCIL.



Sauntering back to his hotel, Mr. Dillwyn's thoughts were a good deal
engaged with the impressions of the last hour. It was odd, too; he had
seen all varieties and descriptions of feminine fascination, or he
thought he had; some of them in very high places, and with all the
adventitious charms which wealth and place and breeding can add to
those of nature's giving. Yet here was something new. A novelty as
fresh as one of the daisies Mrs. Wishart had spoken of. He had seen
daisies too before, he thought; and was not particularly fond of that
style. No; this was something other than a daisy.

Sauntering along and not heeding his surroundings, he was suddenly
hailed by a joyful voice, and an arm was thrust within his own.

"Philip! where did you come from? and when did you come?"

"Only the other day--from Egypt--was coming to see you, but have been
bothered with custom-house business. How do you all do, Tom?"

"What are you bringing over? curiosities? or precious things?"

"Might be both. How do you do, old boy?"

"Very much put out, just at present, by a notion of my mother's; she
will go to Florida to escape March winds."

"Florida! Well, Florida is a good place, when March is stalking abroad
like this. What are you put out for? I don't comprehend."

"Yes, but you see, the month will be half over before she gets ready to
be off; and what's the use? April will be here directly; she might just
as well wait here for April."

"You cannot pick oranges off the trees here in April. You forget that."

"Don't want to pick 'em anywhere. But come along, and see them at home.
They'll be awfully glad to see you."

It was not far, and talking of nothings the two strolled that way.
There was much rejoicing over Philip's return, and much curiosity
expressed as to where he had been and what he had been doing for a long
time past. Finally, Mrs. Caruthers proposed that he should go on to
Florida with them.

"Yes, do!" cried Tom. "You go, and I'll stay."

"My dear Tom!" said his mother, "I could not possibly do without you."

"Take Julia. I'll look after the house, and Dillwyn will look after
your baggage."

"And who will look after you, you silly boy?" said his sister. "You're
the worst charge of all."

"What is the matter?" Philip asked now.

"Women's notions," said Tom. "Women are always full of notions! They
can spy game at hawk's distance; only they make a mistake sometimes,
which the hawk don't, I reckon; and think they see something when there
is nothing."

"We know what we see this time," said his sister. "Philip, he's
dreadfully caught."

"Not the first time?" said Dillwyn humorously. "No danger, is there?"

"There is real danger," said Miss Julia. "He is caught with an
impossible country girl."

"Caught _by_ her? Fie, Tom! aren't you wiser?"

"That's not fair!" cried Tom hotly. "She catches nobody, nor tries it,
in the way you mean. I am not caught, either; that's more; but you
shouldn't speak in that way."

"Who is the lady? It is very plain Tom isn't caught. But where is she?"

"She is a little country girl come to see the world for the first time.
Of course she makes great eyes; and the eyes are pretty; and Tom
couldn't stand it." Miss Julia spoke laughing, yet serious.

"I should not think a little country girl would be dangerous to Tom."

"No, would you? It's vexatious, to have one's confidence in one's
brother so shaken."

"What's the matter with her?" broke out Tom here. "I am not caught, as
you call it, neither by her nor with her; but if you want to discuss
her, I say, what's the matter with her?"

"Nothing, Tom!" said his mother soothingly; "there is nothing whatever
the matter with her; and I have no doubt she is a nice girl. But she
has no education."

"Hang education!" said Tom. "Anybody can pick that up. She can talk, I
can tell you, better than anybody of all those you had round your table
the other day. She's an uncommon good talker."

"You are, you mean," said his sister; "and she listens and makes big
eyes. Of course nothing can be more delightful. But, Tom, she knows
nothing at all; not so much as how to dress herself."

"Wasn't she well enough dressed the other day?"

"Somebody arranged that for her."

"Well, somebody could do it again. You girls think so much of
_dressing_. It isn't the first thing about a woman, after all."

"You men think enough about it, though. What would tempt you to go out
with me if I wasn't _assez bien mise?_ Or what would take any man down
Broadway with his wife if she hadn't a hoop on?"

"Doesn't the lady in question wear a hoop?" inquired Philip.

"No, she don't."

"Singular want of taste!"

"Well, you don't like them; but, after all, it's the fashion, and one
can't help oneself. And, as I said, you may not like them, but you
wouldn't walk with me if I hadn't one."

"Then, to sum up--the deficiencies of this lady, as I understand,
are,--education and a hoop? Is that all?"

"By no means!" cried Mrs. Caruthers. "She is nobody, Philip. She comes
from a family in the country--very respectable people, I have no doubt,
but,--well, she is nobody. No connections, no habit of the world. And
no money. They are quite poor people."



"That _is_ serious," said Dillwyn. "Tom is in such straitened
circumstances himself. I was thinking, he might be able to provide the
hoop; but if she has no money, it is critical."

"You may laugh!" said Miss Julia. "That is all the comfort one gets
from a man. But he does not laugh when it comes to be his own case, and
matters have gone too far to be mended, and he is feeling the
consequences of his rashness."

"You speak as if I were in danger! But I do not see how it should come
to be 'my own case,' as I never even saw the lady. Who is she? and
where is she? and how comes she--so dangerous--to be visiting you?"

All spoke now at once, and Philip heard a confused medley of "Mrs.
Wishart"--"Miss Lothrop"--"staying with her"--"poor cousin"--"kind to
her of course."

Mr. Dillwyn's countenance changed.

"Mrs. Wishart!" he echoed. "Mrs. Wishart is irreproachable."

"Certainly, but that does not put a penny in Miss Lothrop's pocket, nor
give her position, nor knowledge of the world."

"What do you mean by knowledge of the world?" Mr. Dillwyn inquired with
slow words.

"Why! you know. Just the sort of thing that makes the difference
between the raw and the manufactured article," Miss Julia answered,
laughing. She was comfortably conscious of being thoroughly
"manufactured" herself. No crude ignorances or deficiencies
there.--"The sort of thing that makes a person at home and _au fait_
everywhere, and in all companies, and shuts out awkwardnesses and
inelegancies.

"_Does_ it shut them out?"

"Why, of course! How can you ask? What else will shut them out? All
that makes the difference between a woman of the world and a milkmaid."

"This little girl, I understand, then, is awkward and inelegant?"

"She is nothing of the kind!" Tom burst out. "Ridiculous!" But Dillwyn
waited for Miss Julia's answer.

"I cannot call her just _awkward_," said Mrs. Caruthers.

"N-o," said Julia, "perhaps not. She has been living with Mrs. Wishart,
you know, and has got accustomed to a certain set of things. She does
not strike you unpleasantly in society, seated at a lunch table, for
instance; but of course all beyond the lunch table is like London to a
Laplander."

Tom flung himself out of the room.

"And that is what you are going to Florida for?" pursued Dillwyn.

"You have guessed it! Yes, indeed. Do you know, there seems to be
nothing else to do. Tom is in actual danger. I know he goes very often
to Mrs. Wishart's; and you know Tom is impressible; and before we know
it he might do something he would be sorry for. The only thing is to
get him away."

"I think I will go to Mrs. Wishart's too," said Philip. "Do you think
there would be danger?"

"I don't know!" said Miss Julia, arching her brows. "I never can
comprehend why the men take such furies of fancies for this girl or for
that. To me they do not seem so different. I believe this girl takes
just because she is not like the rest of what one sees every day."

"That might be a recommendation. Did it never strike you, Miss Julia,
that there is a certain degree of sameness in our world? Not in nature,
for there the variety is simply endless; but in our ways of living.
Here the effort seems to be to fall in with one general pattern. Houses
and dresses; and entertainments, and even the routine of conversation.
Generally speaking, it is all one thing."

"Well," said Miss Julia, with spirit, "when anything is once recognized
as the right thing, of course everybody wants to conform to it."

"I have not recognized it as the right thing."

"What?"

"This uniformity."

"What would you have?"

"I think I would like to see, for a change, freedom and individuality.
Why should a woman with sharp features dress her hair in a manner that
sets off their sharpness, because her neighbour with a classic head can
draw it severely about her in close bands and coils, and so only the
better show its nobility of contour? Why may not a beautiful head of
hair be dressed flowingly, because the fashion favours the people who
have no hair at all? Why may not a plain dress set off a fine figure,
because the mode is to leave no unbroken line or sweeping drapery
anywhere? And I might go on endlessly."

"I can't tell, I am sure," said Miss Julia; "but if one lives in the
world, it won't do to defy the world. And that you know as well as I."

"What would happen, I wonder?"

"The world would quietly drop you. Unless you are a person of
importance enough to set a new fashion."

"Is there not some unworthy bondage about that?"

"You can't help it, Philip Dillwyn, if there is. We have got to take it
as it is; and make the best of it."

"And this new Fate of Tom's--this new Fancy rather,--as I understand,
she is quite out of the world?"

"Quite. Lives in a village in New England somewhere, and grows onions."

"For market?" said Philip, with a somewhat startled face.

"No, no!" said Julia, laughing--"how could you think I meant that? No;
I don't know anything about the onions; but she has lived among farmers
and sailors all her life, and that is all she knows. And it is
perfectly ridiculous, but Tom is so smitten with her that all we can do
is to get him away. Fancy, Tom!"

"He has got to come back," said Philip, rising. "You had better get
somebody to take the girl away."

"Perhaps you will do that?" said Miss Julia, laughing.

"I'll think of it," said Dillwyn as he took leave.



CHAPTER VI.



HAPPINESS.



Philip kept his promise. Thinking, however, he soon found, did not
amount to much till he had seen more; and he went a few days after to
Mrs. Wishart's house.

It was afternoon. The sun was streaming in from the west, filling the
sitting-room with its splendour; and in the radiance of it Lois was
sitting with some work. She was as unadorned as when Philip had seen
her the other day in the street; her gown was of some plain stuff,
plainly made; she was a very unfashionable-looking person. But the good
figure that Mr. Dillwyn liked to see was there; the fair outlines,
simple and graceful, light and girlish; and the exquisite hair caught
the light, and showed its varying, warm, bright tints. It was massed up
somehow, without the least artificiality, in order, and yet lying loose
and wavy; a beautiful combination which only a few heads can attain to.

There was nobody else in the room; and as Lois rose to meet the
visitor, he was not flattered to see that she did not recognize him.
Then the next minute a flash of light came into her face.

"I have had the pleasure," said Dillwyn. "I was afraid you were going
to ignore the fact."

"You gave us lunch the other day," said Lois, smiling. "Yes, I
remember. I shall always remember."

"You got home comfortably?"

"O yes, after we were so fortified. Mrs. Wishart was quite exhausted,
before lunch, I mean."

"This is a pleasant situation," said Philip, going a step nearer the
window.

"Yes, very! I enjoy those rocks very much."

"You have no rocks at home?"

"No rocks," said Lois; "plenty of _rock_, or stone; but it comes up out
of the ground just enough to make trouble, not to give pleasure. The
country is all level."

"And you enjoy the variety?"

"O, not because it is variety. But I have been nowhere and have seen
nothing in my life."

"So the world is a great unopened book to you?" said Philip, with a
smile regarding her.

"It will always be that, I think," Lois replied, shaking her head.

"Why should it?"

"I live at Shampuashuh."

"What then? Here you are in New York."

"Yes, wonderfully. But I am going home again."

"Not soon?"

"Very soon. It will be time to begin to make garden in a few days."

"Can the garden not be made without you?"

"Not very well; for nobody knows, except me, just where things were
planted last year."

"And is that important?"

"Very important." Lois smiled at his simplicity. "Because many things
must be changed. They must not be planted where they were last year."

"Why not?"

"They would not do so well. They have all to shift about, like
Puss-in-the-corner; and it is puzzling. The peas must go where the corn
or the potatoes went; and the corn must find another place, and so on."

"And you are the only one who keeps a map of the garden in your head?"

"Not in my head," said Lois, smiling. "I keep it in my drawer."

"Ah! That is being more systematic than I gave you credit for."

"But you cannot do anything with a garden if you have not system."

"Nor with anything else! But where did _you_ learn that?"

"In the garden, I suppose," said Lois simply.

She talked frankly and quietly. Mr. Dillwyn could see by her manner, he
thought, that she would be glad if Mrs. Wishart would come in and take
him off her hands; but there was no awkwardness or ungracefulness or
unreadiness. In fact, it was the grace of the girl that struck him, not
her want of it. Then she was so very lovely. A quiet little figure, in
her very plain dress; but the features were exceedingly fair, the clear
skin was as pure as a pearl, the head with its crown of soft bright
hair might have belonged to one of the Graces. More than all, was the
very rare expression and air of the face. That Philip could not read;
he could not decide what gave the girl her special beauty. Something in
the mind or soul of her, he was sure; and he longed to get at it and
find out what it was.

She is not commonplace, he said to himself, while he was talking
something else to her;--but it is more than being not commonplace. She
is very pure; but I have seen other pure faces. It is not that she is a
Madonna; this is no creature



   ". . . . too bright and good
   For human nature's daily food."



But what "daily food" for human nature she would be! She is a lofty
creature; yet she is a half-timid country girl; and I suppose she does
not know much beyond her garden. Yes, probably Mrs. Caruthers was
right; she would not do for Tom. Tom is not a quarter good enough for
her! She is a little country girl, and she does not know much; and
yet--happy will be the man to whom she will give a free kiss of those
wise, sweet lips!

With these somewhat contradictory thoughts running through his mind,
Mr. Dillwyn set himself seriously to entertain Lois. As she had never
travelled, he told her of things he had seen--and things he had known
without seeing--in his own many journeyings about the world. Presently
Lois dropped her work out of her hands, forgot it, and turned upon Mr.
Dillwyn a pair of eager, intelligent eyes, which it was a pleasure to
talk to. He became absorbed in his turn, and equally; ministering to
the attention and curiosity and power of imagination he had aroused.
What listeners her eyes were! and how quick to receive and keen to pass
judgement was the intelligence behind them. It surprised him; however,
its responses were mainly given through the eyes. In vain he tried to
get a fair share of words from her too; sought to draw her out. Lois
was not afraid to speak; and yet, for sheer modesty and simpleness,
that supposed her words incapable of giving pleasure and would not
speak them as a matter of conventionality, she said very few. At last
Philip made a determined effort to draw her out.

"I have told you now about my home," he said. "What is yours like?" And
his manner said, I am going to stop, and you are going to begin.

"There is nothing striking about it, I think," said Lois.

"Perhaps you think so, just because it is familiar to you."

"No, it is because there is really not much to tell about it. There are
just level farm fields; and the river, and the Sound."

"The river?"

"The Connecticut."

"O, _that_ is where you are, is it? And are you near the river?"

"Not very near. About as near the river on one side as we are to the
Sound on the other; either of them is a mile and more away."

"You wish they were nearer?"

"No," said Lois; "I don't think I do; there is always the pleasure of
going to them."

"Then you should wish them further. A mile is a short drive."

"O, we do not drive much. We walk to the shore often, and sometimes to
the river."

"You like the large water so much the best?"

"I think I like it best," said Lois, laughing a little; "but we go for
clams."

"Can you get them yourself?"

"Certainly! It is great fun. While you go to drive in the Park, we go
to dig clams. And I think we have the best of it too, for a stand-by."

"Do tell me about the clams."

"Do you like them?"

"I suppose I do. I do not know them. What are they? the usual little
soup fish?"

"I don't know about soup fish. O no! not those; they are _not_ the sort
Mrs. Wishart has sometimes. These are long; ours in the Sound, I mean;
longish and blackish; and do not taste like the clams you have here."

"Better, I hope?"

"A great deal better. There is nothing much pleasanter than a dish of
long clams that you have dug yourself. At least we think so."

"Because you have got them yourself!"

"No; but I suppose that helps."

"So you get them by digging?"

"Yes. It is funny work. The clams are at the edge of the water, where
the rushes grow, in the mud. We go for them when the tide is out. Then,
in the blue mud you see quantities of small holes as big as a lead
pencil would make; those are the clam holes."

"And what then?"

"Then we dig for them; dig with a hoe; and you must dig very fast, or
the clam will get away from you. Then, if you get pretty near him he
spits at you."

"I suppose that is a harmless remonstrance."

"It may come in your face."

Mr. Dillwyn laughed a little, looking at this fair creature, who was
talking to him, and finding it hard to imagine her among the rushes
racing with a long clam.

"It is wet ground I suppose, where you find the clams?"

"O yes. One must take off shoes and stockings and go barefoot. But the
mud is warm, and it is pleasant enough."

"The clams must be good, to reward the trouble?"

"We think it is as pleasant to get them as to eat them."

"I believe you remarked, this sport is your substitute for our Central
Park?"

"Yes, it is a sort of a substitute."

"And, in the comparison, you think you are the gainers?"

"You cannot compare the two things," said Lois; "only that both are
ways of seeking pleasure."

"So you say; and I wanted your comparative estimate of the two ways."

"Central Park is new to me, you know," said Lois; "and I am very fond
of riding,--_driving_, Mrs. Wishart says I ought to call it; the scene
is like fairyland to me. But I do not think it is better fun, really,
than going after clams. And the people do not seem to enjoy it a
quarter as much."

"The people whom you see driving?"

"Yes. They do not look as if they were taking much pleasure. Most of
them."

"Pray why should they go, if they do not find pleasure in it?"

Lois looked at her questioner.

"You can tell, better than I, Mr. Dillwyn. For the same reasons, I
suppose, that they do other things."

"Pardon me,--what things do you mean?"

"I mean, _all_ the things they do for pleasure, or that are supposed to
be for pleasure. Parties--luncheon parties, and dinners, and--" Lois
hesitated.

"_Supposed_ to be for pleasure!" Philip echoed the words. "Excuse
me--but what makes you think they do not gain their end?"

"People do not look really happy," said Lois. "They do not seem to me
as if they really enjoyed what they were doing."

"You are a nice observer!"

"Am I?"

"Pray, at--I forget the name--your home in the country, are the people
more happily constituted?"

"Not that I know of. Not more happily constituted; but I think they
live more natural lives."

"Instance!" said Philip, looking curious.

"Well," said Lois, laughing and colouring, "I do not think they do
things unless they want to. They do not ask people unless they want to
see them; and when they _do_ make a party, everybody has a good time.
It is not brilliant, or splendid, or wonderful, like parties here; but
yet I think it is more really what it is meant to be."

"And here you think things are not what they are meant to be?"

"Perhaps I am mistaken," said Lois modestly. "I have seen so little."

"You are not mistaken in your general view. It would be a mistake to
think there are no exceptions."

"O, I do not think that."

"But it is matter of astonishment to me, how you have so soon acquired
such keen discernment. Is it that you do not enjoy these occasions
yourself?"

"O, I enjoy them intensely," said Lois, smiling. "Sometimes I think I
am the only one of the company that does; but _I_ enjoy them."

"By the power of what secret talisman?"

"I don't know;--being happy, I suppose," said Lois shyly.

"You are speaking seriously; and therefore you are touching the
greatest question of human life. Can you say of yourself that you are
truly _happy?_"

Lois met his eyes in a little wonderment at this questioning, and
answered a plain "yes."

"But, to be _happy_, with me, means, to be independent of
circumstances. I do not call him _happy_, whose happiness is gone if
the east wind blow, or a party miscarry, or a bank break; even though
it were the bank in which his property is involved."

"Nor do I," said Lois gravely.

"And--pray forgive me for asking!--but, are you happy in this exclusive
sense?"

"I have no property in a bank," said Lois, smiling again; "I have not
been tried that way; but I suppose it may do as well to have no
property anywhere. Yes, Mr. Dillwyn."

"But that is equal to having the philosopher's stone!" cried Dillwyn.

"What is the philosopher's stone?"

"The wise men of old time made themselves very busy in the search for
some substance, or composition, which would turn other substances to
gold. Looking upon gold as the source and sum of all felicity, they
spent endless pains and countless time upon the search for this
transmuting substance. They thought, if they could get gold enough,
they would be happy. Sometimes some one of them fancied he was just
upon the point of making the immortal discovery; but there he always
broke down."

"They were looking in the wrong place," said Lois thoughtfully.

"Is there a _right_ place to look then?"

Lois smiled. It was a smile that struck Philip very much, for its calm
and confident sweetness; yes, more than that; for its gladness. She was
not in haste to answer; apparently she felt some difficulty.

"I do not think gold ever made anybody happy," she said at length.

"That is what moralists tell us. But, after all, Miss Lothrop, money is
the means to everything else in this world."

"Not to happiness, is it?"

"Well, what is, then? They say--and perhaps you will say--that
friendships and affections can do more; but I assure you, where there
are not the means to stave off grinding toil or crushing poverty,
affections wither; or if they do not quite wither, they bear no golden
fruit of happiness. On the contrary, they offer vulnerable spots to the
stings of pain."

"Money can do a great deal," said Lois.

"What can do more?"

Lois lifted up her eyes and looked at her questioner inquiringly. Did
he know no better than that?

"With money, one can do everything," he went on, though struck by her
expression.

"Yes," said Lois; "and yet--all that never satisfied anybody."

"Satisfied!" cried Philip. "Satisfied is a very large word. Who is
satisfied?"

Lois glanced up again, mutely.

"If I dared venture to say so--you look, Miss Lothrop, you absolutely
look, as if _you_ were; and yet it is impossible."

"Why is it impossible?"

"Because it is what all the generations of men have been trying for,
ever since the world began; and none of them ever found it."

"Not if they looked for it in their money bags," said Lois. "It was
never found there."

"Was it ever found anywhere?"

"Why, yes!"

"Pray tell me where, that I may have it too!"

The girl's cheeks flushed; and what was very odd to Philip, her eyes,
he was sure, had grown moist; but the lids fell over them, and he could
not see as well as he wished. What a lovely face it was, he thought, in
this its mood of stirred gravity!

"Do you ever read the Bible, Mr. Dillwyn?"

The question occasioned him a kind of revulsion. The Bible! was _that_
to be brought upon his head? A confused notion of organ-song, the
solemnity of a still house, a white surplice, and words in measured
cadence, came over him. Nothing in that connection had ever given him
the idea of being satisfied. But Lois's question--

"The Bible?" he repeated. "May I ask, why you ask?"

"I thought you did not know something that is in it."

"Very possibly. It is the business of clergymen, isn't it, to tell us
what is in it? That is what they are paid for. Of what are you
thinking?"

"I was thinking of a person in it, mentioned in it, I mean,--who said
just what you said a minute ago."

"What was that? And who was that?"

"It was a poor woman who once held a long talk with the Lord Jesus as
he was resting beside a well. She had come to draw water, and Jesus
asked her for some; and then he told her that whoever drank of that
water would thirst again--as she knew; but whoever should drink of the
water that _he_ would give, should never thirst. I was telling you of
that water, Mr. Dillwyn. And the woman answered just what you
answered--'Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither
to draw.'"

"Did she get it?"

"I think she did."

"You mean, something that satisfied her, and would satisfy me?"

"It satisfies every one who drinks of it," said Lois.

"But you know, I do not in the least understand you."

The girl rose up and fetched a Bible which lay upon a distant table.
Philip looked at the book as she brought it near; no volume of Mrs.
Wishart's, he was sure. Lois had had her own Bible with her in the
drawing-room. She must be one of the devout kind. He was sorry. He
believed they were a narrow and prejudiced sort of people, given to
laying down the law and erecting barricades across other people's
paths. He was sorry this fair girl was one of them. But she was a
lovely specimen. Could she unlearn these ways, perhaps? But now, what
was she going to bring forth to him out of the Bible? He watched the
fingers that turned the leaves; pretty fingers enough, and delicate,
but not very white. Gardening probably was not conducive to the
blanching of a lady's hand. It was a pity. She found her place so soon
that he had little time to think his regrets.

"You allowed that nobody is satisfied, Mr. Dillwyn," said Lois then.
"See if you understand this."

"'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath
no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without
money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is
not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken
diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul
delight itself in fatness.'"

Lois closed her book.

"Who says that?" Philip inquired.

"God himself, by his messenger."

"And to whom?"

"I think, just now, the words come to you, Mr. Dillwyn." Lois said this
with a manner and look of such simplicity, that Philip was not even
reminded of the class of monitors he had in his mind assigned her with.
It was absolute simple matter of fact; she meant business.

"May I look at it?" he said.

She found the page again, and he considered it. Then as he gave it
back, remarked,

"This does not tell me yet _what_ this satisfying food is?"

"No, that you can know only by experience."

"How is the experience to be obtained?"

Again Lois found the words in her book and showed them to him.
"'Whosoever drinketh of the water _that I shall give him_'--and again,
above, 'If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to
thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and _he would
have given thee_ living water.' Christ gives it, and he must be asked
for it."

"And then--?" said Philip.

"Then you would be _satisfied_."

"You think it?"

"I know it."

"It takes a great deal to satisfy a man!"

"Not more than it does for a woman."

"And you are satisfied?" he asked searchingly.

But Lois smiled as she gave her answer; and it was an odd and very
inconsistent thing that Philip should be disposed to quarrel with her
for that smile. I think he wished she were _not_ satisfied. It was very
absurd, but he did not reason about it; he only felt annoyed.

"Well, Miss Lothrop," he said as he rose, "I shall never forget this
conversation. I am very glad no one came in to interrupt it."

Lois had no phrases of society ready, and replied nothing.



CHAPTER VII.



THE WORTH OF THINGS.



Mr. Dillwyn walked away from Mrs. Wishart's in a discontented mood,
which was not usual with him. He felt almost annoyed with something;
yet did not quite know what, and he did not stop to analyze the
feeling. He walked away, wondering at himself for being so discomposed,
and pondering with sufficient distinctness one or two questions which
stood out from the discomposure.

He was a man who had gone through all the usual routine of education
and experience common to those who belong to the upper class of
society, and can boast of a good name and family. He had lived his
college life; he had travelled; he knew the principal cities of his own
country, and many in other lands, with sufficient familiarity. Speaking
generally, he had seen everything, and knew everybody. He had ceased to
be surprised at anything, or to expect much from the world beyond what
his own efforts and talents could procure him. His connections and
associations had been always with good society and with the old and
established portions of it; but he had come into possession of his
property not so very long ago, and the pleasure of that was not yet
worn off. He was a man who thought himself happy, and certainly
possessed a very high place in the esteem of those who knew him; being
educated, travelled, clever, and of noble character, and withal rich.
It was the oddest thing for Philip to walk as he walked now, musingly,
with measured steps, and eyes bent on the ground. There was a most
strange sense of uneasiness upon him.

The image of Lois busied him constantly. It was such a lovely image.
But he had seen hundreds of handsomer women, he told himself. Had he?
Yes, he thought so. Yet not one, not one of them all, had made as much
impression upon him. It was inconvenient; and why was it inconvenient?
Something about her bewitched him. Yes, he had seen handsomer women;
but more or less they were all of a certain pattern; not alike in
feature, or name, or place, or style, yet nevertheless all belonging to
the general sisterhood of what is called the world. And this girl was
different. How different? She was uneducated, but _that_ could not give
a charm; though Philip thereby reflected that there was a certain charm
in variety, and this made variety. She was unaccustomed to the great
world and its ways; there could be no charm in that, for he liked the
utmost elegance of the best breeding. Here he fetched himself up again.
Lois was not in the least ill-bred. Nothing of the kind. She was
utterly and truly refined, in every look and word and movement showing
that she was so. Yet she had no "manner," as Mrs. Caruthers would have
expressed it. No, she had not. She had no trained and inevitable way of
speaking and looking; her way was her own, and sprang naturally from
the truth of her thought or feeling at the moment. Therefore it could
never be counted upon, and gave one the constant pleasure of surprises.
Yes, Philip concluded that this was one point of interest about her.
She had not learned how to hide herself, and the manner of her
revelations was a continual refreshing variety, inasmuch as what she
had to reveal was only fair and delicate and true. But what made the
girl so provokingly happy? so secure in her contentment? Mr. Dillwyn
thought himself a happy man; content with himself and with life; yet
life had reached something too like a dead level, and himself, he was
conscious, led a purposeless sort of existence. What purpose indeed was
there to live for? But this little girl--Philip recalled the bright,
soft, clear expression of eye with which she had looked at him; the
very sweet curves of happy consciousness about her lips; the confident
bearing with which she had spoken, as one who had found a treasure
which, as she said, satisfied her. But it cannot! said Philip to
himself. It is that she is pure and sweet, and takes happiness like a
baby, sucking in what seems to her the pure milk of existence. It is
true, the remembered expression of Lois's features did not quite agree
with this explanation; pure and sweet, no doubt, but also grave and
high, and sometimes evidencing a keen intellectual perception and
wisdom. Not just like a baby; and he found he could not dismiss the
matter so. What made her, then, so happy? Philip could not remember
ever seeing a grown person who seemed so happy; whose happiness seemed
to rest on such a steady foundation. Can she be in love? thought
Dillwyn; and the idea gave him a most unreasonable thrill of
displeasure. For a moment only; then his reason told him that the look
in Lois's face was not like that. It was not the brilliance of ecstasy;
it was the sunshine of deep and fixed content. Why in the world should
Mr. Dillwyn wish that Lois were not so content? so beyond what he or
anybody could give her? And having got to this point, Mr. Dillwyn
pulled himself up again. What business was it of his, the particular
spring of happiness she had found to drink of? and if it quenched her
thirst, as she said it did, why should he be anything but glad of it?
Why, even if Lois were happy in some new-found human treasure, should
it move him, Philip Dillwyn, with discomfort? Was it possible that he
too could be following in those steps of Tom Caruthers, from which
Tom's mother was at such pains to divert her son? Philip began to see
where he stood. Could it be?--and what if?

He studied the question now with a clear view of its bearings. He had
got out of a fog. Lois was all he had thought of her. Would she do for
a wife for him? Uneducated--inexperienced--not in accord with the
habits of the world--accustomed to very different habits and
society--with no family to give weight to her name and honour to his
choice,--all that Philip pondered; and, on the other side, the
loveliness, the freshness, the intellect, the character, and the
refinement, which were undoubted. He pondered and pondered. A girl who
was nobody, and whom society would look upon as an intruder; a girl who
had had no advantages of education--how she could express herself so
well and so intelligently Philip could not conceive, but the fact was
there; Lois had had no education beyond the most simple training of a
school in the country;--would it do? He turned it all over and over,
and shook his head. It would be too daring an experiment; it would not
be wise; it would not do; he must give it up, all thought of such a
thing; and well that he had come to handle the question so early, as
else he might--he--might have got so entangled that he could not save
himself. Poor Tom! But Philip had no mother to interpose to save _him;_
and his sister was not at hand. He went thinking about all this the
whole way back to his hotel; thinking, and shaking his head at it. No,
this kind of thing was for a boy to do, not for a man who knew the
world. And yet, the image of Lois worried him.

I believe, he said to himself, I had better not see the little witch
again.

Meanwhile he was not going to have much opportunity. Mrs. Wishart came
home a little while after Philip had gone. Lois was stitching by the
last fading light.

"Do stop, my dear! you will put your eyes out. Stop, and let us have
tea. Has anybody been here?"

"Mr. Dillwyn came. He went away hardly a quarter of an hour ago."

"Mr. Dillwyn! Sorry I missed him. But he will come again. I met Tom
Caruthers; he is mourning about this going with his mother to Florida."

"What are they going for?" asked Lois.

"To escape the March winds, he says."

"Who? Mr. Caruthers? He does not look delicate."

Mrs. Wishart laughed. "Not very! And his mother don't either, does she?
But, my dear, people are weak in different spots; it isn't always in
their lungs."

"Are there no March winds in Florida?"

"Not where they are going. It is all sunshine and oranges--and orange
blossoms. But Tom is not delighted with the prospect. What do you think
of that young man?"

"He is a very handsome man."

"Is he not? But I did not mean that. Of course you have eyes. I want to
know whether you have judgment."

"I have not seen much of Mr. Caruthers to judge by."

"No. Take what you have seen and make the most of it."

"I don't think I have judgment," said Lois. "About people, I mean, and
men especially. I am not accustomed to New York people, besides."

"Are they different from Shampuashuh people?"

"O, very."

"How?"

"Miss Caruthers asked me the same thing," said Lois, smiling. "I
suppose at bottom all people are alike; indeed, I know they are. But in
the country I think they show out more."

"Less disguise about them?"

"I think so."

"My dear, are we such a set of masqueraders in your eyes?"

"No," said Lois; "I did not mean that."

"What do you think of Philip Dillwyn? Comare him with young Caruthers."

"I cannot," said Lois. "Mr. Dillwyn strikes me as a man who knows
everything there is in all the world."

"And Tom, you think, does not?"

"Not so much," said, Lois hesitating; "at least he does not impress me
so."

"You are more impressed with Mr. Dillwyn?"

"In what way?" said Lois simply. "I am impressed with the sense of my
own ignorance. I should be oppressed by it, if it was my fault."

"Now you speak like a sensible girl, as you are. Lois, men do not care
about women knowing much."

"Sensible men must."

"They are precisely the ones who do not. It is odd enough, but it is a
fact. But go on; which of these two do you like best?"

"I have seen most of Mr. Caruthers, you know. But, Mrs. Wishart,
sensible men _must_ like sense in other people."

"Yes, my dear; they do; unless when they want to marry the people; and
then their choice very often lights upon a fool. I have seen it over
and over and over again; the clever one of a family is passed by, and a
silly sister is the one chosen."

"Why?"

"A pink and white skin, or a pair of black eyebrows, or perhaps some
soft blue eyes."

"But people cannot live upon a pair of black eyebrows," said Lois.

"They find that out afterwards."

"Mr. Dillwyn talks as if he liked sense," said Lois. "I mean, he talks
about sensible things."

"Do you mean that Tom don't, my dear?"

A slight colour rose on the cheek Mrs. Wishart was looking at; and Lois
said somewhat hastily that she was not comparing.

"I shall try to find out what Tom talks to you about, when he comes
back from Florida. I shall scold him if he indulges in nonsense."

"It will be neither sense nor nonsense. I shall be gone long before
then."

"Gone whither?"

"Home--to Shampuashuh. I have been wanting to speak to you about it,
Mrs. Wishart. I must go in a very few days."

"Nonsense! I shall not let you. I cannot get along without you. They
don't want you at home, Lois."

"The garden does. And the dairy work will be more now in a week or two;
there will be more milk to take care of, and Madge will want help."

"Dairy work! Lois, you must not do dairy work. You will spoil your
hands."

Lois laughed. "Somebody's hands must do it. But Madge takes care of the
dairy. My hands see to the garden."

"Is it necessary?"

"Why, yes, certainly, if we would have butter or vegetables; and you
would not counsel us to do without them. The two make half the living
of the family."

"And you really cannot afford a servant?"

"No, nor want one," said Lois. "There are three of us, and so we get
along nicely."

"Apropos;--My dear, I am sorry that it is so, but must is must. What I
wanted to say to you is, that it is not necessary to tell all this to
other people."

Lois looked up, surprised. "I have told no one but you, Mrs. Wishart. O
yes! I did speak to Mr. Dillwyn about it, I believe."

"Yes. Well, there is no occasion, my dear. It is just as well not."

"Is it _better_ not? What is the harm? Everybody at Shampuashuh knows
it."

"Nobody knows it here; and there is no reason why they should. I meant
to tell you this before."

"I think I have told nobody but Mr. Dillwyn."

"He is safe. I only speak for the future, my dear."

"I don't understand yet," said Lois, half laughing. "Mrs. Wishart, we
are not ashamed of it."

"Certainly not, my dear; you have no occasion."

"Then why _should_ we be ashamed of it?" Lois persisted.

"My dear, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Do not think I mean that.
Only, people here would not understand it."

"How could they _mis_understand it?"

"You do not know the world, Lois. People have peculiar ways of looking
at things; and they put their own interpretation on things; and of
course they often make great blunders. And so it is just as well to
keep your own private affairs to yourself, and not give them the
opportunity of blundering."

Lois was silent a little while.

"You mean," she said then,--"you think, that some of these people I
have been seeing here, would think less of me, if they knew how we do
at home?"

"They might, my dear. People are just stupid enough for that."

"Then it seems to me I ought to let them know," Lois said, half
laughing again. "I do not like to be taken for what I am not; and I do
not want to have anybody's good opinion on false grounds." Her colour
rose a bit at the same time.

"My dear, it is nobody's business. And anybody that once knew you would
judge you for yourself, and not upon any adventitious circumstances.
They cannot, in my opinion, think of you too highly."

"I think it is better they should know at once that I am a poor girl,"
said Lois. However, she reflected privately that it did not matter, as
she was going away so soon. And she remembered also that Mr. Dillwyn
had not seemed to think any the less of her for what she had told him.
Did Tom Caruthers know?

"But, Lois, my dear, about your going-- There is no garden work to be
done yet. It is March."

"It will soon be April. And the ground must be got ready, and potatoes
must go in, and peas."

"Surely somebody else can stick in potatoes and peas."

"They would not know where to put them."

"Does it matter where?"

"To be sure it does!" said Lois, amused. "They must not go where they
were last year."

"Why not?"

"I don't know! It seems that every plant wants a particular sort of
food, and gets it, if it can; and so, the place where it grows is more
or less impoverished, and would have less to give it another year. But
a different sort of plant requiring a different sort of food, would be
all right in that place."

"Food?" said Mrs. Wishart. "Do you mean manure? you can have that put
in."

"No, I do not mean that. I mean something the plant gets from the soil
itself."

"I do not understand! Well, my dear, write them word where the peas
must go."

Lois laughed again.

"I hardly know myself, till I have studied the map," she said. "I mean,
the map of the garden. It is a more difficult matter than you can
guess, to arrange all the new order every spring; all has to be
changed; and upon where the peas go depends, perhaps, where the
cabbages go, and the corn, and the tomatoes, and everything else. It is
a matter for study."

"Can't somebody else do it for you?" Mrs. Wishart asked compassionately.

"There is no one else. We have just our three selves; and all that is
done we do; and the garden is under my management."

"Well, my dear, you are wonderful women; that is all I have to say.
But, Lois, you must pay me a visit by and by in the summer time; I must
have that; I shall go to the Isles of Shoals for a while, and I am
going to have you there."

"If I can be spared from home, dear Mrs. Wishart, it would be
delightful!"



CHAPTER VIII.



MRS. ARMADALE.



It was a few days later, but March yet, and a keen wind blowing from
the sea. A raw day out of doors; so much the more comfortable seemed
the good fire, and swept-up hearth, and gentle warmth filling the
farmhouse kitchen. The farmhouse was not very large, neither by
consequence was the kitchen; however, it was more than ordinarily
pleasant to look at, because it was not a servants' room; and so was
furnished not only for the work, but also for the habitation of the
family, who made it in winter almost exclusively their abiding-place.
The floor was covered with a thick, gay rag carpet; a settee sofa
looked inviting with its bright chintz hangings; rocking chairs, well
cushioned, were in number and variety; and a basket of work here, and a
pretty lamp there, spoke of ease and quiet occupation. One person only
sat there, in the best easy-chair, at the hearth corner; beside her a
little table with a large book upon it and a roll of knitting. She was
not reading nor working just now; waiting, perhaps, or thinking, with
hands folded in her lap. By the look of the hands they had done many a
job of hard work in their day; by the look of the face and air of the
person, one could see that the hard work was over. The hands were bony,
thin, enlarged at the joints, so as age and long rough usage make them,
but quiet hands now; and the face was steady and calm, with no haste or
restlessness upon it any more, if ever there had been, but a very sweet
and gracious repose. It was a hard-featured countenance; it had never
been handsome; only the beauty of sense and character it had, and the
dignity of a well-lived life. Something more too; some thing of a more
noble calm than even the fairest retrospect can give; a more restful
repose than comes of mere cessation from labour; a deeper content than
has its ground in the actual present. She was a most reverent person,
to look at. Just now she was waiting for something, and listening; for
her ear caught the sound of a door, and then the tread of swift feet
coming down the stair, and then Lois entered upon the scene; evidently
fresh from her journey. She had been to her room to lay by her
wrappings and change her dress; she was in a dark stuff gown now, with
an enveloping white apron. She came up and kissed once more the face
which had watched her entrance.

"You've been gone a good while, Lois!"

"Yes, grandma. Too long, did you think?"

"I don' know, child. That depends on what you stayed for."

"Does it? Grandma, I don't know what I stayed for. I suppose because it
was pleasant."

"Pleasanter than here?"

"Grandma, I haven't been home long enough to know. It all looks and
feels so strange to me as you cannot think!"

"What looks strange?"

"Everything! The house, and the place, and the furniture--I have been
living in such a different world till my eyes have grown unaccustomed.
You can't think how odd it is."

"What sort of a world have you been living in, Lois? Your letters
didn't tell." The old lady spoke with a certain serious doubtfulness,
looking at the girl by her side.

"Didn't they?" Lois returned. "I suppose I did not give you the
impression because I had it not myself. I had got accustomed to that,
you see; and I did not realize how strange it was. I just took it as if
I had always lived in it."

"_What?_"

"O grandma, I can never tell you so that you can understand! It was
like living in the Arabian Nights."

"I don't believe in no Arabian Nights."

"And yet they were there, you see. Houses so beautiful, and filled with
such beautiful things; and you know, grandmother, I like things to be
pretty;--and then, the ease, I suppose. Mrs. Wishart's servants go
about almost like fairies; they are hardly seen or heard, but the work
is done. And you never have to think about it; you go out, and come
home to find dinner ready, and capital dinners too; and you sit reading
or talking, and do not know how time goes till it is tea-time, and then
there comes the tea; and so it is in-doors and out of doors. All that
is quite pleasant."

"And you are sorry to be home again?"

"No, indeed, I am glad. I enjoyed all I have been telling you about,
but I think I enjoyed it quite long enough. It is time for me to be
here. Is the frost well out of the ground yet?"

"Mr. Bince has been ploughin'."

"Has he? I'm glad. Then I'll put in some peas to-morrow. O yes! I am
glad to be home, grandma." Her hand nestled in one of those worn, bony
ones affectionately.

"Could you live just right there, Lois?"

"I tried, grandma."

"Did all that help you?"

"I don't know that it hindered. It might not be good for always; but I
was there only for a little while, and I just took the pleasure of it."

"Seems to me, you was there a pretty long spell to be called 'a little
while.' Ain't it a dangerous kind o' pleasure, Lois? Didn't you never
get tempted?"

"Tempted to what, grandma?"

"I don' know! To want to live easy."

"Would that be wrong?" said Lois, putting her soft cheek alongside the
withered one, so that her wavy hair brushed it caressingly. Perhaps it
was unconscious bribery. But Mrs. Armadale was never bribed.

"It wouldn't be right, Lois, if it made you want to get out o' your
duties."

"I think it didn't, grandma. I'm all ready for them. And your dinner is
the first thing. Madge and Charity--you say they are gone to New Haven?"

"Charity's tooth tormented her so, and Madge wanted to get a bonnet;
and they thought they'd make one job of it. They didn't know you was
comin' to-day, and they thought they'd just hit it to go before you
come. They won't be back early, nother."

"What have they left for your dinner?" said Lois, going to rummage.
"Grandma, here's nothing at all!"

"An egg'll do, dear. They didn't calkilate for you."

"An egg will do for me," said Lois, laughing; "but there's only a crust
of bread."

"Madge calkilated to make tea biscuits after she come home."

"Then I'll do that now."

Lois stripped up the sleeves from her shapely arms, and presently was
very busy at the great kitchen table, with the board before her covered
with white cakes, and the cutter and rolling pin still at work
producing more. Then the fire was made up, and the tin baker set in
front of the blaze, charged with a panful for baking. Lois stripped
down her sleeves and set the table, cut ham and fried it, fried eggs,
and soon sat opposite Mrs. Armadale pouring her out a cup of tea.

"This is cosy!" she exclaimed. "It is nice to have you all alone for
the first, grandma. What's the news?"

"Ain't no news, child. Mrs. Saddler's been to New London for a week."

"And I have come home. Is that all?"

"I don't make no count o' news, child. 'One generation passeth away,
and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever.'"

"But one likes to hear of the things that change, grandma."

"Do 'ee? I like to hear of the things that remain."

"But grandma! the earth itself changes; at least it is as different in
different places as anything can be."

"Some's cold, and some's hot," observed the old lady.

"It is much more than that. The trees are different, and the fruits are
different; and the animals; and the country is different, and the
buildings, and the people's dresses."

"The men and women is the same," said the old lady contentedly.

"But no, not even that, grandma. They are as different as they can be,
and still be men and women."

"'As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.' Be
the New York folks so queer, then, Lois?"

"O no, not the New York people; though they are different too; quite
different from Shampuashuh--"

"How?"

Lois did not want to say. Her grandmother, she thought, could not
understand her; and if she could understand, she thought she would be
perhaps hurt. She turned the conversation. Then came the clearing away
the remains of dinner; washing the dishes; baking the rest of the
tea-cakes; cleansing and putting away the baker; preparing flour for
next day's bread-making; making her own bed and putting her room in
order; doing work in the dairy which Madge was not at home to take care
of; brushing up the kitchen, putting on the kettle, setting the table
for tea. Altogether Lois had a busy two or three hours, before she
could put on her afternoon dress and come and sit down by her
grandmother.

"It is a change!" she said, smiling. "Such a different life from what I
have been living. You can't think, grandma, what a contrast between
this afternoon and last Friday."

"What was then?"

"I was sitting in Mrs. Wishart's drawing-room, doing nothing but play
work, and a gentleman talking to me."

"Why was he talking to _you?_ Warn't Mrs. Wishart there?"

"No; she was out."

"What did he talk to you for?"

"I was the only one there was," said Lois. But looking back, she could
not avoid the thought that Mr. Dillwyn's long stay and conversation had
not been solely a taking up with what he could get.

"He could have gone away," said Mrs. Armadale, echoing her thought.

"I do not think he wanted to go away. I think he liked to talk to me."
It was very odd too, she thought.

"And did you like to talk to him?"

"Yes. You know I hare not much to talk about; but somehow he seemed to
find out what there was."

"Had _he_ much to talk about?"

"I think there is no end to that," said Lois. "He has been all over the
world and seen everything; and he is a man of sense, to care for the
things that are worth while; and he is educated; and it is very
entertaining to hear him talk."

"Who is he? A young man?"

"Yes, he is young. O, he is an old friend of Mrs. Wishart."

"Did you like him best of all the people you saw?"

"O no, not by any means. I hardly know him, in fact; not so well as
others."

"Who are the others?"

"What others, grandmother?"

"The other people that you like better."

Lois named several ladies, among them Mrs. Wishart, her hostess.

"There's no men's names among them," remarked Mrs. Armadale. "Didn't
you see none, savin' that one?"

"Plenty!" said Lois, smiling.

"An' nary one that you liked?"

"Why, yes, grandmother; several; but of course--"

"What of course?"

"I was going to say, of course I did not have much to do with them; but
there was one I had a good deal to do with."

"Who was he?"

"He was a young Mr. Caruthers. O, I did not have much to do with _him;_
only he was there pretty often, and talked to me. He was pleasant."

"Was he a real godly man?"

"No, grandmother. He is not a Christian at all, I think."

"And yet he pleased you, Lois?"

"I did not say so, grandmother."

"I heerd it in the tone of your voice."

"Did you? Yes, he was pleasant. I liked him pretty well. People that
you would call godly people never came there at all. I suppose there
must be some in New York; but I did not see any."

There was silence a while.

"Eliza Wishart must keep poor company, if there ain't one godly one
among 'em," Mrs. Armadale began again. But Lois was silent.

"What do they talk about?"

"Everything in the world, except that. People and things, and what this
one says and what that one did, and this party and that party. I can't
tell you, grandma. There seemed no end of talk; and yet it did not
amount to much when all was done. I am not speaking of a few, gentlemen
like Mr. Dillwyn, and a few more."

"But he ain't a Christian?"

"No."

"Nor t'other one? the one you liked."

"No."

"I'm glad you've come away, Lois."

"Yes, grandma, and so am I; but why?"

"You know why. A Christian woman maunt have nothin' to do with men that
ain't Christian."

"Nothing to do! Why, we must, grandma. We cannot help seeing people and
talking to them."

"The snares is laid that way," said Mrs. Armadale.

"What are we to do, then, grandmother?"

"Lois Lothrop," said the old lady, suddenly sitting upright, "what's
the Lord's will?"

"About--what?"

"About drawin' in a yoke with one that don't go your way?"

"He says, don't do it."

"Then mind you don't."

"But, grandma, there is no talk of any such thing in this case," said
Lois, half laughing, yet a little annoyed. "Nobody was thinking of such
a thing."

"You don' know what they was thinkin' of."

"I know what they _could not_ have thought of. I am different from
them; I am not of their world; and I am not educated, and I am poor.
There is no danger, grandmother."

"Lois, child, you never know where danger is comin'. It's safe to have
your armour on, and keep out o' temptation. Tell me you'll never let
yourself like a man that ain't Christian!"

"But I might not be able to help liking him."

"Then promise me you'll never marry no sich a one."

"Grandma, I'm not thinking of marrying."

"Lois, what is the Lord's will about it?"

"I know, grandma," Lois answered rather soberly.

"And you know why. 'Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor
his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy
son from following me, that they may serve other gods.' I've seen it,
Lois, over and over agin. I've been a woman--or a man--witched away and
dragged down, till if they hadn't lost all the godliness they ever had,
it warn't because they didn't seem so. And the children grew up to be
scapegraces.'"

"Don't it sometimes work the other way?"

"Not often, if a Christian man or woman has married wrong with their
eyes open. Cos it proves, Lois, _that_ proves, that the ungodly one of
the two has the most power; and what he has he's like to keep. Lois, I
mayn't be here allays to look after you; promise me that you'll do the
Lord's will."

"I hope I will, grandma," Lois answered soberly.

"Read them words in Corinthians again."

Lois got the Bible and obeyed, "'Be ye not unequally yoked together
with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with
unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what
concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth
with an infidel?'"

"Lois, ain't them words plain?"

"Very plain, grandma."

"Will ye mind 'em?"

"Yes, grandma; by his grace."

"Ay, ye may want it," said the old lady; "but it's safe to trust the
Lord. An' I'd rather have you suffer heartbreak follerin' the Lord,
than goin' t'other way. Now you may read to me, Lois. We'll have it
before they come home."

"Who has read to you while I have been gone?"

"O, one and another. Madge mostly; but Madge don't care, and so she
don' know how to read."

Mrs. Armadale's sight was not good; and it was the custom for one of
the girls, Lois generally, to read her a verse or two morning and
evening. Generally it was a small portion, talked over if they had
time, and if not, then thought over by the old lady all the remainder
of the day or evening, as the case might be. For she was like the man
of whom it is written--"His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in
his law doth he meditate day and night."

"What shall I read, grandma?"

"You can't go wrong."

The epistle to the Corinthians lay open before Lois, and she read the
words following those which had just been called for.

"'And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the
temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the
Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will
be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the
Lord Almighty.'"

If anybody had been there to see, the two women made the loveliest
picture at this moment. The one of them old, weather-worn,
plain-featured, sitting with the quiet calm of the end of a work day
and listening; the other young, blooming, fresh, lovely, with a wealth
of youthful charms about her, bending a little over the big book on her
lap; on both faces a reverent sweet gravity which was most gracious.
Lois read and stopped, without looking up.

"I think small of all the world, alongside o' that promise, Lois."

"And so do I, grandmother."

"But, you see, the Lord's sons and daughters has got to be separate
from other folks."

"In some ways."

"Of course they've got to live among folks, but they've got to be
separate for all; and keep their garments."

"I do not believe it is easy in a place like New York," said Lois.
"Seems to me I was getting all mixed up."

"'Tain't easy nowheres, child. Only, where the way is very smooth,
folks slides quicker."

"How can one be 'separate' always, grandma, in the midst of other
people?"

"Take care that you keep nearest to God. Walk with him; and you'll be
pretty sure to be separate from the most o' folks."

There was no more said. Lois presently closed the book and laid it
away, and the two sat in silence awhile. I will not affirm that Lois
did not feel something of a stricture round her, since she had given
that promise so clearly. Truly the promise altered nothing, it only
made things somewhat more tangible; and there floated now and then past
Lois's mental vision an image of a handsome head, crowned with graceful
locks of luxuriant light brown hair, and a face of winning
pleasantness, and eyes that looked eagerly into her eyes. It came up
now before her, this vision, with a certain sense of something lost.
Not that she had ever reckoned that image as a thing won; as belonging,
or ever possibly to belong, to herself; for Lois never had such a
thought for a moment. All the same came now the vision before her with
the commentary,--'You never can have it. That acquain'tance, and that
friendship, and that intercourse, is a thing of the past; and whatever
for another it might have led to, it could lead to nothing for you.' It
was not a defined thought; rather a floating semi-consciousness; and
Lois presently rose up and went from thought to action.



CHAPTER IX.



THE FAMILY.



The spring day was fading into the dusk of evening, when feet and
voices heard outside announced that the travellers were returning. And
in they came, bringing a breeze of business and a number of tied-up
parcels with them into the quiet house.

"The table ready! how good! and the fire. O, it's Lois! Lois is
here!"--and then there were warm embraces, and then the old grandmother
was kissed. There were two girls, one tall, the other very tall.

"I'm tired to death!" said the former of these. "Charity would do no
end of work; you know she is a steam-engine, and she had the steam up
to-day, I can tell you. There's no saying how good supper will be; for
our lunch wasn't much, and not good at that; and there's something good
here, I can tell by my nose. Did you take care of the milk, Lois? you
couldn't know where to set it."

"There is no bread, Lois. I suppose you found out?" the other sister
said.

"O, she's made biscuits!" said Madge. "Aren't you a brick, though,
Lois! I was expecting we'd have everything to do; and it's all done.
Ain't that what you call comfortable? Is the tea made? I'll be ready in
a minute."

But that was easier said than done.

"Lois! what sort of hats are they wearing in New York?"

"Lois, are mantillas fashionable? The woman in New Haven, the milliner,
said everybody was going to wear them. She wanted to make me get one."

"We can make a mantilla as well as she can," Lois answered.

"If we had the pattern! But is everybody wearing them in New York?"

"I think it must be early for mantillas."

"O, lined and wadded, of course. But is every body wearing them?"

"I do not know. I do not recollect."

"Not recollect!" cried the tall sister. "What are your eyes good for?
What _do_ people wear?"

"I wore my coat and cape. I do not know very well about other people.
People wear different things."

"O, but that they do not, Lois!" the other sister exclaimed. "There is
always one thing that is the fashion; and that is the thing one wants
to know about. Last year it was visites. Now what is it this year? And
what are the hats like?"

"They are smaller."

"There! And that woman in New Haven said they were going to be large
still. Who is one to trust!"

"You may trust me," said Lois. "I am sure of so much. Moreover, there
is my new straw bonnet which Mrs. Wishart gave me; you can see by that."

This was very satisfactory; and talk ran on in the same line for some
time.

"And Lois, have you seen a great many people? At Mrs. Wishart's, I
mean."

"Yes, plenty; at her house and at other houses."

"Was it great fun?" Madge asked.

"Sometimes. But indeed, yes; it was great fun generally, to see the
different ways of people, and the beautiful houses, and furniture, and
pictures, and everything."

"_Everything!_ Was everything beautiful?"

"No, not beautiful; but everything in most of the houses where I went
was handsome; often it was magnificent."

"I suppose it seemed so to you," said Charity.

"Tell us, Lois!" urged the other sister.

"What do you think of solid silver dishes to hold the vegetables on the
table, and solid silver pudding dishes, and gold teaspoons, in the most
delicate little painted cups?"

"I should say it was ridiculous," said the elder sister. "What's the
use o' havin' your vegetables in silver dishes?"

"What's the use of having them in dishes at all?" laughed Lois. "They
might be served in big cabbage leaves; or in baskets."

"That's nonsense," said Charity. "Of course they must be in dishes of
some sort; but vegetables don't taste any better out o' silver."

"The dinner does not taste any better," said Lois, "but it _looks_ a
deal better, I can tell you. You have just no idea, girls, how
beautiful a dinner table can be. The glass is beautiful; delicate,
thin, clear glass, cut with elegant flowers and vines running over it.
And the table linen is a pleasure to see, just the damask; it is so
white, and so fine, and so smooth, and woven in such lovely designs.
Mrs. Wishart is very fond of her table linen, and has it in beautiful
patterns. Then silver is always handsome. Then sometimes there is a
most superb centre-piece to the table; a magnificent tall thing of
silver--I don't know what to call it; not a vase, and not a dish; but
high, and with different bowls or shells filled with flowers and fruit.
Why the mere ice-creams sometimes were in all sorts of pretty flower
and fruit forms."

"Ice-cream!" cried Madge.

"And I say, what's the use of all that?" said Charity, who had not been
baptized in character.

"The use is, its looking so very pretty," Lois answered.

"And so, I suppose you would like to have _your_ vegetables in silver
dishes? I should like to know why things are any better for looking
pretty, when all's done?"

"They are not better, I suppose," said Madge.

"I don't know _why,_ but I think they must be," said Lois, innocent of
the personal application which the other two were making. For Madge was
a very handsome girl, while Charity was hard-favoured, like her
grandmother. "It does one good to see pretty things."

"That's no better than pride," said Charity. "Things that ain't pretty
are just as useful, and more useful. That's all pride, silver dishes,
and flowers, and stuff. It just makes people stuck-up. Don't they think
themselves, all those grand folks, don't they think themselves a hitch
or two higher than Shampuashuh folks?"

"Perhaps," said Lois; "but I do not know, so I cannot say."

"O Lois," cried Madge, "are the people very nice?"

"Some of them."

"You haven't lost your heart, have you?"

"Only part of it."

"Part of it! O, to whom, Lois? Who is it?"

"Mrs. Wishart's black horses."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Charity. "Haven't Shampuashuh folks got horses?
Don't tell me!"

"But, Lois!" pursued Madge, "who was the nicest person you saw?"

"Madge, I don't know. A good many seemed to be nice."

"Well, who was the handsomest? and who was the cleverest? and who was
the kindest to you? I don't mean Mrs. Wishart. Now answer."

"The handsomest, and the cleverest, and the kindest to me?" Lois
repeated slowly. "Well, let me see. The handsomest was a Mr. Caruthers."

"Who's he?"

"Mr. Caruthers."

"_What_ is he, then?"

"He is a gentleman, very much thought of; rich, and knows everybody;
that's about all I can tell."

"Was he the cleverest, too, that you saw?"

"No, I think not."

"Who was that?"

"Another gentleman; a Mr. Dillwyn."

"Dillun!" Madge repeated.

"That is the pronunciation of the name. It is spelt D, i, l, l, w, y,
n,--Dilwin; but it is called Dillun."

"And who was kindest to you? Go on, Lois."

"O, everybody was kind to me," Lois said evasively. "Kind enough. I did
not need kindness."

"Whom did you like best, then?"

"Of those two? They are both men of the world, and nothing to me; but
of the two, I think I like the first best."

"Caruthers. I shall remember," said Madge.

"That is foolish talk, children," remarked Mrs. Armadale.

"Yes, but grandma, you know children are bound to be foolish
sometimes," returned Madge.

"And then the rod of correction must drive it far from them," said the
old lady. "That's the common way; but it ain't the easiest way. Lois
said true; these people are nothing and can be nothing to her. I
wouldn't make believe anything about it, if I was you."

The conversation changed to other things. And soon took a fresh spring
at the entrance of another of the family, an aunt of the girls; who
lived in the neighbourhood, and came in to hear the news from New Haven
as well as from New York. And then it knew no stop. While the table was
clearing, and while Charity and Madge were doing up the dishes, and
when they all sat down round the fire afterwards, there went on a
ceaseless, restless, unending flow of questions, answers, and comments;
going over, I am bound to say, all the ground already travelled during
supper. Mrs. Armadale sometimes sighed to herself; but this, if the
others heard it, could not check them.

Mrs. Marx was a lively, clever, kind, good-natured woman; with plenty
of administrative ability, like so many New England women, full of
resources; quick with her head and her hands, and not slow with her
tongue; an uneducated woman, and yet one who had made such good use of
life-schooling, that for all practical purposes she had twice the wit
of many who have gone through all the drill of the best institutions. A
keen eye, a prompt judgment, and a fearless speech, all belonged to
Mrs. Marx; universally esteemed and looked up to and welcomed by all
her associates. She was not handsome; she was even strikingly deficient
in the lines of beauty; and refinement was not one of her
characteristics, other than the refinement which comes of kindness and
unselfishness. Mrs. Marx would be delicately careful of another's
feelings, when there was real need; she could show an exceeding great
tenderness and tact then; while in ordinary life her voice was rather
loud, her movements were free and angular, and her expressions very
unconstrained. Nobody ever saw Mrs. Marx anything but neat, whatever
she possibly might be doing; in other respects her costume was often
extremely unconventional; but she could dress herself nicely and look
quite as becomes a lady. Independent was Mrs. Marx, above all and in
everything.

"I guess she's come back all safe!" was her comment, made to Mrs.
Armadale, at the conclusion of the long talk. Mrs. Armadale made no
answer.

"It's sort o' risky, to let a young thing like that go off by herself
among all those highflyers. It's like sendin' a pigeon to sail about
with the hawks."

"Why, aunt Anne," said Lois at this, "whom can you possibly mean by the
hawks?"

"The sort o' birds that eat up pigeons."

"I saw nobody that wanted to eat me up, I assure you."

"There's the difference between you and a real pigeon. The pigeon knows
the hawk when she sees it; you don't."

"Do you think the hawks all live in cities?"

"No, I don't," said Mrs. Marx. "They go swoopin' about in the country
now and then. I shouldn't a bit wonder to see one come sailin' over our
heads one of these fine days. But now, you see, grandma has got you
under her wing again." Mrs. Marx was Mrs. Armadale's half-daughter
only, and sometimes in company of others called her as her
grandchildren did. "How does home look to you, Lois, now you're back in
it?"

"Very much as it used to look," Lois answered, smiling.

"The taste ain't somehow taken out o' things? Ha' you got your old
appetite for common doin's?"

"I shall try to-morrow. I am going out into the garden to get some peas
in."

"Mine is in."

"Not long, aunt Anne? the frost hasn't been long out of the ground."

"Put 'em in to-day, Lois. And your garden has the sun on it; so I
shouldn't wonder if you beat me after all. Well, I must go along and
look arter my old man. He just let me run away now 'cause I told him I
was kind o' crazy about the fashions; and he said 'twas a feminine
weakness and he pitied me. So I come. Mrs. Dashiell has been a week to
New London; but la! New London bonnets is no account."

"You don't get much light from Lois," remarked Charity.

"No. Did ye learn anything, Lois, while you was away?"

"I think so, aunt Anne."

"What, then? Let's hear. Learnin' ain't good for much, without you give
it out."

Lois, however, seemed not inclined to be generous with her stores of
new knowledge.

"I guess she's learned Shampuashuh ain't much of a place," the elder
sister remarked further.

"She's been spellin' her lesson backwards, then. Shampuashuh's a
first-rate place."

"But we've no grand people here. We don't eat off silver dishes, nor
drink out o' gold spoons; and our horses can go without little
lookin'-glasses over their heads," Charity proceeded.

"Do you think there's any use in all that, Lois?" said her aunt.

"I don't know, aunt Anne," Lois answered with a little hesitation.

"Then I'm sorry for ye, girl, if you are left to think such nonsense.
Ain't our victuals as good here, as what comes out o' those silver
dishes?"

"Not always."

"Are New York folks better cooks than we be?"

"They have servants that know how to do things."

"Servants! Don't tell me o' no servants' doin's! What can they make
that I can't make better?"

"Can you make a soufflé, aunt Anne?"

"What's that?"

"Or biscuit glacé?"

"_Biskwee glassy?_" repeated the indignant Shampuashuh lady. "What do
you mean, Lois? Speak English, if I am to understand you."

"These things have no English names."

"Are they any the better for that?"

"No; and nothing could make them better. They are as good as it is
possible for anything to be; and there are a hundred other things
equally good, that we know nothing about here."

"I'd have watched and found out how they were done," said the elder
woman, eyeing Lois with a mingled expression of incredulity and
curiosity and desire, which it was comical to see. Only nobody there
perceived the comicality. They sympathized too deeply in the feeling.

"I would have watched," said Lois; "but I could not go down into the
kitchen for it."

"Why not?"

"Nobody goes into the kitchen, except to give orders."

"Nobody goes into the kitchen!" cried Mrs. Marx, sinking down again
into a chair. She had risen to go.

"I mean, except the servants."

"It's the shiftlessest thing I ever heard o' New York. And do you think
_that's_ a nice way o' livin', Lois?"

"I am afraid I do, aunt Anne. It is pleasant to have plenty of time for
other things."

"What other things?"

"Reading."

"Reading! La, child! I can read more books in a year than is good for
me, and do all my own work, too. I like play, as well as other folks;
but I like to know my work's done first. Then I can play."

"Well, there the servants do the work."

"And you like that? That ain't a nat'ral way o' livin', Lois; and I
believe it leaves folks too much time to get into mischief. When folks
hasn't business enough of their own to attend to, they're free to put
their fingers in other folks' business. And they get sot up, besides.
My word for it, it ain't healthy for mind nor body. And you needn't
think I'm doin' what I complain of, for your business is my business.
Good-bye, girls. I'll buy a cook-book the next time I go to New London,
and learn how to make suflles. Lois shan't hold that whip over me."



CHAPTER X.



LOIS'S GARDEN.



Lois went at her gardening the next morning, as good as her word. It
was the last of March, and an anticipation of April, according to the
fashion the months have of sending promissory notes in advance of them;
and this year the spring was early. The sun was up, but not much more,
when Lois, with her spade and rake and garden line, opened the little
door in the garden fence and shut it after her. Then she was alone with
the spring. The garden was quite a roomy place, and pretty, a little
later in the season; for some old and large apple and cherry trees
shadowed parts of it, and broke up the stiff, bare regularity of an
ordinary square bit of ground laid out in lesser squares. Such
regularity was impossible here. In one place, two or three great apple
trees in a group formed a canopy over a wide circuit of turf. The hoe
and the spade must stand back respectfully; there was nothing to be
done. One corner was quite given up to the occupancy of an old cherry
tree, and its spread of grassy ground beneath and about it was again
considerable. Still other trees stood here and there; and the stems of
none of them were approached by cultivation. In the spaces between,
Lois stretched her line and drew her furrows, and her rows of peas and
patches of corn had even so room enough.

Grass was hardly green yet, and tree branches were bare, and the
upturned earth was implanted. There was nothing here yet but the Spring
with Lois. It is wonderful what a way Spring has of revealing herself,
even while she is hid behind the brown and grey wrappings she has
borrowed from Winter. Her face is hardly seen; her form is not
discernible; but there is a breath and a smile and a kiss, that are
like nothing her brothers and sisters have to give. Of them all,
Spring's smile brings most of hope and expectation with it. And there
is a perfume Spring wears, which is the rarest, and most untraceable,
and most unmistakeable, of all. The breath and the perfume, and the
smile and the kiss, greeted Lois as she went into the old garden. She
knew them well of old time, and welcomed them now. She even stood still
a bit to take in the rare beauty and joy of them. And yet, the apple
trees were bare, and the cherry trees; the turf was dead and withered;
the brown ploughed-up soil had no relief of green growths. Only Spring
was there with Lois, and yet that seemed enough; Spring and
associations. How many hours of pleasant labour in that enclosed bit of
ground there had been; how many lapfuls and basketfuls of fruits the
rich reward of the labour; how Lois had enjoyed both! And now, here was
spring again, and the implanted garden. Lois wanted no more.

She took her stand under one of the bare old apple trees, and surveyed
her ground, like a young general. She had it all mapped out, and knew
just where things were last year. The patch of potatoes was in that
corner, and a fine yield they had been. Corn had been here; yes, and
here she would run her lines of early peas. Lois went to work. It was
not very easy work, as you would know if you had ever tried to reduce
ground that has been merely ploughed and harrowed, to the smooth
evenness necessary for making shallow drills. Lois plied spade and rake
with an earnest good-will, and thorough knowledge of her business. Do
not imagine an untidy long skirt sweeping the soft soil and
transferring large portions of it to the gardener's ankles; Lois was
dressed for her work in a short stuff frock and leggins; and looked as
nice when she came out as when she went in, albeit not in any costume
ever seen in Fifth Avenue or Central Park. But what do I say? If she
looked "nice" when she went out to her garden, she looked superb when
she came in, or when she had been an hour or so delving. Her hat fallen
back a little; her rich masses of hair just a little loosened, enough
to show their luxuriance; the colour flushed into her cheeks with the
exercise, and her eyes all alive with spirit and zeal--ah, the fair
ones in Fifth or any other avenue would give a great deal to look so;
but that sort of thing goes with the short frock and leggins, and will
not be conjured up by a mantua-maker. Lois had after a while a strip of
her garden ground nicely levelled and raked smooth; and then her line
was stretched over it, and her drills drawn, and the peas were planted
and were covered; and a little stick at each end marked how far the
planted rows extended.

Lois gathered up her tools then, to go in, but instead of going in she
sat down on one of the wooden seats that were fixed under the great
apple trees. She was tired and satisfied; and in that mood of mind and
body one is easily tempted to musing. Aimlessly, carelessly, thoughts
roved and carried her she knew not whither. She began to draw
contrasts. Her home life, the sweets of which she was just tasting, set
off her life at Mrs. Wishart's with its strange difference of flavour;
hardly the brown earth of her garden was more different from the
brilliant--coloured Smyrna carpets upon which her feet had moved in
some people's houses. Life there and life here,--how diverse from one
another! Could both be life? Suddenly it occurred to Lois that her
garden fence shut in a very small world, and a world in which there was
no room for many things that had seemed to her delightful and desirable
in these weeks that were just passed. Life must be narrow within these
borders. She had had several times in New York a sort of perception of
this, and here it grew defined. Knowledge, education, the intercourse
of polished society, the smooth ease and refinement of well-ordered
households, and the habits of affluence, and the gratification of
cultivated tastes; more yet, the _having_ cultivated tastes; the
gratification of them seemed to Lois a less matter. A large horizon, a
wide experience of men and things; was it not better, did it not make
life richer, did it not elevate the human creature to something of more
power and worth, than a very narrow and confined sphere, with its
consequent narrow and confined way of looking at things? Lois was just
tired enough to let all these thoughts pass over her, like gentle waves
of an incoming tide, and they were emphazised here and there by a
vision of a brown curly head, and a kindly, handsome, human face
looking into hers. It was a vision that came and went, floated in and
disappeared among the waves of thought that rose and fell. Was it not
better to sit and talk even with Mr. Dillwyn, than to dig and plant
peas? Was not the Lois who did _that_, a quite superior creature to the
Lois who did _this?_ Any common, coarse man could plant peas, and do it
as well as she; was this to be her work, this and the like, for the
rest of her life? Just the labour for material existence, instead of
the refining and forming and up-building of the nobler, inner nature,
the elevation of existence itself? My little garden ground! thought
Lois; is this indeed all? And what would Mr. Caruthers think, if he
could see me now? Think he had been cheated, and that I am not what he
thought I was. It is no matter what he thinks; I shall never see him
again; it will not be best that I should ever pay Mrs. Wishart a visit
again, even if she should ask me; not in New York. I suppose the Isles
of Shoals would be safe enough. There would be nobody there. Well--I
like gardening. And it is great fun to gather the peas when they are
large enough; and it is fun to pick strawberries; and it is fun to do
everything, generally. I like it all. But if I could, if I had a
chance, which I cannot have, I would like, and enjoy, the other sort of
thing too. I could be a good deal more than I am, _if_ I had the
opportunity.

Lois was getting rested by this time, and she gathered up her tools
again, with the thought that breakfast would taste good. I suppose a
whiff of the fumes of coffee preparing in the house was borne out to
her upon the air, and suggested the idea. And as she went in she
cheerfully reflected that their plain house was full of comfort, if not
of beauty; and that she and her sisters were doing what was given them
to do, and therefore what they were meant to do; and then came the
thought, so sweet to the servant who loves his Master, that it is all
_for_ the Master; and that if he is pleased, all is gained, the utmost,
that life can do or desire. And Lois went in, trilling low a sweet
Methodist hymn, to an air both plaintive and joyous, which somehow--as
many of the old Methodist tunes do--expressed the plaintiveness and the
joyousness together with a kind of triumphant effect.



   "O tell me no more of this world's vain store!
   The time for such trifles with me now is o'er."



Lois had a voice exceedingly sweet and rich; an uncommon contralto; and
when she sang one of these hymns, it came with its fall power. Mrs.
Armadale heard her, and murmured a "Praise the Lord!" And Charity,
getting the breakfast, heard her; and made a different comment.

"Were you meaning, now, what you were singing when you came in?" she
asked at breakfast.

"What I was singing?" Lois repeated in astonishment.

"Yes, what you were singing. You sang it loud enough and plain enough;
ha' you forgotten? Did you mean it?"

"One should always mean what one sings," said Lois gravely.

"So I think; and I want to know, did you mean that? 'The time for such
trifles'--is it over with you, sure enough?"

"What trifles?"

"You know best. What did you mean? It begins about 'this world's vain
store;' ha' you done with the world?"

"Not exactly."

"Then I wouldn't say so."

"But I didn't say so," Lois returned, laughing now. "The hymn means,
that 'this world's vain store' is not my treasure; and it isn't. 'The
time for such trifles with me now is o'er.' I have found something
better. As Paul says, 'When I became a man, I put away childish
things.' So, since I have learned to know something else, the world's
store has lost its great value for me."

"Thank the Lord!" said Mrs. Armadale.

"You needn't say that, neither, grandma," Charity retorted. "I don't
believe it one bit, all such talk. It ain't nature, nor reasonable.
Folks say that just when somethin's gone the wrong way, and they want
to comfort themselves with makin' believe they don't care about it.
Wait till the chance comes, and see if they don't care! That's what I
say."

"I wish you wouldn't say it, then, Charity," remarked the old
grandmother.

"Everybody has a right to his views," returned Miss Charity. "That's
what I always say."

"You must leave her her views, grandma," said Lois pleasantly. "She
will have to change them, some day."

"What will make me change them?"

"Coming to know the truth."

"You think nobody but you knows the truth. Now, Lois, I'll ask you.
Ain't you sorry to be back and out of 'this world's vain store'--out of
all the magnificence, and back in your garden work again?"

"No."

"You enjoy digging in the dirt and wearin' that outlandish rig you put
on for the garden?"

"I enjoy digging in the dirt very much. The dress I admire no more than
you do."

"And you've got everythin' you want in the world?"

"Charity, Charity, that ain't fair," Madge put in. "Nobody has that;
you haven't, and I haven't; why should Lois?"

"'Cos she says she's found 'a city where true joys abound;' now let's
hear if she has."

"Quite true," said Lois, smiling.

"And you've got all you want?"

"No, I would like a good many things I haven't got, if it's the Lord's
pleasure to give them."

"Suppose it ain't?"

"Then I do not want them," said Lois, looking up with so clear and
bright a face that her carping sister was for the moment silenced. And
I suppose Charity watched; but she never could find reason to think
that Lois had not spoken the truth. Lois was the life of the house.
Madge was a handsome and quiet girl; could follow but rarely led in the
conversation. Charity talked, but was hardly enlivening to the spirits
of the company. Mrs. Armadale was in ordinary a silent woman; could
talk indeed, and well, and much; however, these occasions were mostly
when she had one auditor, and was in thorough sympathy with that one.
Amidst these different elements of the household life Lois played the
part of the flux in a furnace; she was the happy accommodating medium
through which all the others came into best play and found their full
relations to one another. Lois's brightness and spirit were never
dulled; her sympathies were never wearied; her intelligence was never
at fault. And her work was never neglected. Nobody had ever to remind
Lois that it was time for her to attend to this or that thing which it
was her charge to do. Instead of which, she was very often ready to
help somebody else not quite so "forehanded." The garden took on fast
its dressed and ordered look; the strawberries were uncovered; and the
raspberries tied up, and the currant bushes trimmed; and pea-sticks and
bean-poles bristled here and there promisingly. And then the green
growths for which Lois had worked began to reward her labour. Radishes
were on the tea-table, and lettuce made the dinner "another thing;" and
rows of springing beets and carrots looked like plenty in the future.
Potatoes were up, and rare-ripes were planted, and cabbages; and corn
began to appear. One thing after another, till Lois got the garden all
planted; and then she was just as busy keeping it clean. For weeds, we
all know, do thrive as unaccountably in the natural as in the spiritual
world. It cost Lois hard work to keep them under; but she did it.
Nothing would have tempted her to bear the reproach of them among her
vegetables and fruits. And so the latter had a good chance, and throve.
There was not much time or much space for flowers; yet Lois had a few.
Red poppies found growing room between the currant bushes; here and
there at a corner a dahlia got leave to stand and rear its stately
head. Rose-bushes were set wherever a rose-bush could be; and there
were some balsams, and pinks, and balm, and larkspur, and marigolds.
Not many; however, they served to refresh Lois's soul when she went to
pick vegetables for dinner, and they furnished nosegays for the table
in the hall, or in the sitting-room, when the hot weather drove the
family out of the kitchen.

Before that came June and strawberries. Lois picked the fruit always.
She had been a good while one very warm afternoon bending down among
the strawberry beds, and had brought in a great bowl full of fruit. She
and Madge came together to their room to wash hands and get in order
for tea.

"I have worked over all that butter," said Madge, "and skimmed a lot of
milk. I must churn again to-morrow. There is no end to work!"

"No end to it," Lois assented. "Did you see my strawberries?"

"No."

"They are splendid. Those Black Princes are doing finely too. If we
have rain they will be superb."

"How many did you get to-day?"

"Two quarts, and more."

"And cherries to preserve to-morrow. Lois, I get tired once in a while!"

"O, so do I; but I always get rested again."

"I don't mean that. I mean it is _all_ work, work; day in and day out,
and from one year's end to another. There is no let up to it. I get
tired of that."

"What would you have?"

"I'd like a little play."

"Yes, but in a certain sense I think it is all play."

"In a nonsensical sense," said Madge. "How can work be play?"

"That's according to how you look at it," Lois returned cheerfully. "If
you take it as I think you can take it, it is much better than play."

"I wish you'd make me understand you," said Madge discontentedly. "If
there is any meaning to your words, that is."

Lois hesitated.

"I like work anyhow better than play," she said. "But then, if you look
at it in a certain way, it becomes much better than play. Don't you
know, Madge, I take it all, everything, as given me by the Lord to
do;--to do for him;--and I do it so; and that makes every bit of it all
pleasant."

"But you can't!" said Madge pettishly. She was not a pettish person,
only just now something in her sister's words had the effect of
irritation.

"Can't what?"

"Do everything for the Lord. Making butter, for instance; or cherry
sweetmeats. Ridiculous! And nonsense."

"I don't mean it for nonsense. It is the way I do my garden work and my
sewing."

"What _do_ you mean, Lois? The garden work is for our eating, and the
sewing is for your own back, or grandma's. I understand religion, but I
don't understand cant."

"Madge, it's not cant; it's the plain truth."

"Only that it is impossible."

"No. You do not understand religion, or you would know how it is. All
these things are things given us to do; we must make the clothes and
preserve the cherries, and I must weed strawberries, and then pick
strawberries, and all the rest. God has given me these things to do,
and I do them for him."

"You do them for yourself, or for grandma, and for the rest of us."

"Yes, but first for Him. Yes, Madge, I do. I do every bit of all these
things in the way that I think will please and honour him best--as far
as I know how."

"Making your dresses!"

"Certainly. Making my dresses so that I may look, as near as I can, as
a servant of Christ in my place ought to look. And taking things in
that way, Madge, you can't think how pleasant they are; nor how all
sorts of little worries fall off. I wish you knew, Madge! If I am hot
and tired in a strawberry bed, and the thought comes, whose servant I
am, and that he has made the sun shine and put me to work in it,--then
it's all right in a minute, and I don't mind any longer."

Madge looked at her, with eyes that were half scornful, half admiring.

"There is just one thing that does tempt me," Lois went on, her eye
going forth to the world outside the window, or to a world more distant
and in tangible, that she looked at without seeing,--"I _do_ sometimes
wish I had time to read and learn."

"Learn!" Madge echoed. "What?"

"Loads of things. I never thought about it much, till I went to New
York last winter; then, seeing people and talking to people that were
different, made me feel how ignorant I was, and what a pleasant thing
it would be to have knowledge--education--yes, and accomplishments. I
have the temptation to wish for that sometimes; but I know it is a
temptation; for if I was intended to have all those things, the way
would have been opened, and it is not, and never was. Just a breath of
longing comes over me now and then for that; not for play, but to make
more of myself; and then I remember that I am exactly where the Lord
wants me to be, and _as_ he chooses for me, and then I am quite content
again."

"You never said so before," the other sister answered, now
sympathizingly.

"No," said Lois, smiling; "why should I? Only just now I thought I
would confess."

"Lois, I have wished for that very thing!"

"Well, maybe it is good to have the wish. If ever a chance comes, we
shall know we are meant to use it; and we won't be slow!"



CHAPTER XI.



SUMMER MOVEMENTS.



All things in the world, so far as the dwellers in Shampuashuh knew,
went their usual course in peace for the next few months. Lois gathered
her strawberries, and Madge made her currant jelly. Peas ripened, and
green corn was on the board, and potatoes blossomed, and young beets
were pulled, and peaches began to come. It was a calm, gentle life the
little family lived; every day exceedingly like the day before, and yet
every day with something new in it. Small pieces of novelty, no doubt;
a dish of tomatoes, or the first yellow raspberries, or a new pattern
for a dress, or a new receipt for cake. Or they walked down to the
shore and dug clams, some fine afternoon; or Mrs. Dashiell lent them a
new book; or Mr. Dashiell preached an extraordinary sermon. It was a
very slight ebb and flow of the tide of time; however, it served to
keep everything from stagnation. Then suddenly, at the end of July,
came Mrs. Wishart's summons to Lois to join her on her way to the Isles
of Shoals. "I shall go in about a week," the letter ran; "and I want
you to meet me at the Shampuashuh station; for I shall go that way to
Boston. I cannot stop, but I will have your place taken and all ready
for you. You must come, Lois, for I cannot do without you; and when
other people need you, you know, you never hesitate. Do not hesitate
now."

There was a good deal of hesitation, however, on one part and another,
before the question was settled.

"Lois has just got home," said Charity. "I don't see what she should be
going again for. I should like to know if Mrs. Wishart thinks she ain't
wanted at home!"

"People don't think about it," said Madge; "only what they want
themselves. But it is a fine chance for Lois."

"Why don't she ask you?" said Charity.

"She thought Madge would enjoy a visit to her in New York more," said
Lois. "So she said to me."

"And so I would," cried Madge. "I don't care for a parcel of little
islands out at sea. But that would just suit Lois. What sort of a place
_is_ the Isles of Shoals anyhow?"

"Just that," said Lois; "so far as I know. A parcel of little islands,
out in the sea."

"Where at?" said Charity.

"I don't know exactly."

"Get the map and look."

"They are too small to be down on the map."

"What is Eliza Wishart wantin' to go there for?" asked Mrs. Armadale.

"O, she goes somewhere every year, grandma; to one place and another;
and I suppose she likes novelty."

"That's a poor way to live," said the old lady. "But I suppose, bein'
such a place, it'll be sort o' lonesome, and she wants you for company.
May be she goes for her health."

"I think quite a good many people go there, grandma."

"There can't, if they're little islands out at sea. Most folks wouldn't
like that. Do you want to go, Lois?"

"I would like it, very much. I just want to see what they are like,
grandmother. I never did see the sea yet."

"You saw it yesterday, when we went for clams," said Charity scornfully.

"That? O no. That's not the sea, Charity."

"Well, it's mighty near it."

It seemed to be agreed at last that Lois should accept her cousin's
invitation; and she made her preparations. She made them with great
delight. Pleasant as the home-life was, it was quite favourable to the
growth of an appetite for change and variety; and the appetite in Lois
was healthy and strong. The sea and the islands, and, on the other
hand, an intermission of gardening and fruit-picking; Shampuashuh
people lost sight of for a time, and new, new, strange forms of
humanity and ways of human life; the prospect was happy. And a happy
girl was Lois, when one evening in the early part of August she joined
Mrs. Wishart in the night train to Boston. That lady met her at the
door of the drawing-room car, and led her to the little compartment
where they were screened off from the rest of the world.

"I am so glad to have you!" was her salutation. "Dear me, how well you
look, child! What have you been doing to yourself?"

"Getting brown in the sun, picking berries."

"You are not brown a bit. You are as fair as--whatever shall I compare
you to? Roses are common."

"Nothing better than roses, though," said Lois.

"Well, a rose you must be; but of the freshest and sweetest. We don't
have such roses in New York. Fact, we do not. I never see anything so
fresh there. I wonder why?"

"People don't live out-of-doors picking berries," suggested Lois.

"What has berry-picking to do with it? My dear, it is a pity we shall
have none of your old admirers at the Isles of Shoals; but I cannot
promise you one. You see, it is off the track. The Caruthers are going
to Saratoga; they stayed in town after the mother and son got back from
Florida. The Bentons are gone to Europe. Mr. Dillwyn, by the way, was
he one of your admirers, Lois?"

"Certainly not," said Lois, laughing. "But I have a pleasant
remembrance of him, he gave us such a good lunch one day. I am very
glad I am not going to see anybody I ever saw before. Where _are_ the
Isles of Shoals? and what are they, that you should go to see them?"

"I'm not going to see them--there's nothing to see, unless you like sea
and rocks. I am going for the air, and because I must go somewhere, and
I am tired of everywhere else. O, they're out in the Atlantic--sea all
round them--queer, barren places. I am so glad I've got you, Lois! I
don't know a soul that's to be there--can't guess what we shall find;
but I've got you, and I can get along."

"Do people go there just for health?"

"O, a few, perhaps; but the thing is what I am after--novelty; they are
hardly the fashion yet."

"That is the very oddest reason for doing or not doing things!" said
Lois. "Because it's the fashion! As if that made it pleasant, or
useful."

"It does!" said Mrs. Wishart. "Of course it does. Pleasant, yes, and
useful too. My dear, you don't want to be out of the fashion?"

"Why not, if the fashion does not agree with me?"

"O my dear, you will learn. Not to agree with the fashion, is to be out
with the world."

"With one part of it," said Lois merrily.

"Just the part that is of importance. Never mind, you will learn. Lois,
I am so sleepy, I can not keep up any longer. I must curl down and take
a nap. I just kept myself awake till we reached Shampuashuh. You had
better do as I do. My dear, I am very sorry, but I can't help it."

So Mrs. Wishart settled herself upon a heap of bags and wraps, took off
her bonnet, and went to sleep. Lois did not feel in the least like
following her example. She was wide-awake with excitement and
expectation, and needed no help of entertainment from anybody. With her
thoroughly sound mind and body and healthy appetites, every detail and
every foot of the journey was a pleasure to her; even the corner of a
drawing-room car on a night train. It was such change and variety! and
Lois had spent all her life nearly in one narrow sphere and the
self-same daily course of life and experience. New York had been one
great break in this uniformity, and now came another. Islands in the
sea! Lois tried to fancy what they would be like. So much resorted to
already, they must be very charming; and green meadows, shadowing
trees, soft shores and cosy nooks rose up before her imagination. Mr.
Caruthers and his family were at Saratoga, that was well; but there
would be other people, different from the Shampuashuh type; and Lois
delighted in seeing new varieties of humankind as well as new portions
of the earth where they live. She sat wide-awake opposite to her
sleeping hostess, and made an entertainment for herself out of the
place and the night journey. It was a starlit, sultry night; the world
outside the hurrying train covered with a wonderful misty veil, under
which it lay half revealed by the heavenly illumination; soft,
mysterious, vast; a breath now and then whispering of nature's
luxuriant abundance and sweetness that lay all around, out there under
the stars, for miles and hundreds of miles. Lois looked and peered out
sometimes, so happy that it was not Shampuashuh, and that she was away,
and that she would see the sun shine on new landscapes when the morning
came round; and sometimes she looked within the car, and marvelled at
the different signs and tokens of human life and character that met her
there. And every yard of the way was a delight to her.

Meanwhile, how weirdly and strangely do the threads of human life cross
and twine and untwine in this world!

That same evening, in New York, in the Caruthers mansion in
Twenty-Third Street, the drawing-room windows were open to let in the
refreshing breeze from the sea. The light lace curtains swayed to and
fro as the wind came and went, but were not drawn; for Mrs. Caruthers
liked, she said, to have so much of a screen between her and the
passers-by. For that matter, the windows were high enough above the
street to prevent all danger of any one's looking in. The lights were
burning low in the rooms, on account of the heat; and within, in
attitudes of exhaustion and helplessness sat mother and daughter in
their several easy-chairs. Tom was on his back on the floor, which,
being nicely matted, was not the worst place. A welcome break to the
monotony of the evening was the entrance of Philip Dillwyn. Tom got up
from the floor to welcome him, and went back then to his former
position.

"How come you to be here at this time of year?" Dillwyn asked. "It was
mere accident my finding you. Should never have thought of looking for
you. But by chance passing, I saw that windows were open and lights
visible, so I concluded that something else might be visible if I came
in."

"We are only just passing through," Julia explained. "Going to Saratoga
to-morrow. We have only just come from Newport."

"What drove you away from Newport? This is the time to be by the sea."

"O, who cares for the sea! or anything else? it's the people; and the
people at Newport didn't suit mother. The Benthams were there, and that
set; and mother don't like the Benthams; and Miss Zagumski, the
daughter of the Russian minister, was there, and all the world was
crazy about her. Nothing was to be seen or heard but Miss Zagumski, and
her dancing, and her playing, and her singing. Mother got tired of it."

"And yet Newport is a large place," remarked Philip.

"Too large," Mrs. Caruthers answered.

"What do you expect to find at Saratoga?"

"Heat," said Mrs. Caruthers; "and another crowd."

"I think you will not be disappointed, if this weather holds."

"It is a great deal more comfortable here!" sighed the elder lady.
"Saratoga's a dreadfully hot place! Home is a great deal more
comfortable."

"Then why not stay at home? Comfort is what you are after."

"O, but one can't! Everybody goes somewhere; and one must do as
everybody does."

"Why?"

"Philip, what makes you ask such a question?"

"I assure you, a very honest ignorance of the answer to it."

"Why, one must do as everybody does?"

"Yes."

The lady's tone and accent had implied that the answer was
self-evident; yet it was not given.

"Really,"--Philip went on. "What should hinder you from staying in this
pleasant house part of the summer, or all of the summer, if you find
yourselves more comfortable here?"

"Being comfortable isn't the only thing," said Julia.

"No. What other consideration governs the decision? that is what I am
asking."

"Why, Philip, there is nobody in town."

"That is better than company you do not like."

"I wish it was the fashion to stay in town," said Mrs. Caruthers.
"There is everything here, in one's own house, to make the heat
endurable, and just what we miss when we go to a hotel. Large rooms,
and cool nights, and clean servants, and gas, and baths--hotel rooms
are so stuffy."

"After all, one does not live in one's rooms," said Julia.

"But," said Philip, returning to the charge, "why should not you, Mrs.
Caruthers, do what you like? Why should you be displeased in Saratoga,
or anywhere, merely because other people are pleased there? Why not do
as you like?"

"You know one can't do as one likes in this world," Julia returned.

"Why not, if one can,--as you can?" said Philip, laughing.

"But that's ridiculous," said Julia, raising herself up with a little
show of energy. "You know perfectly well, Mr. Dillwyn, that people
belonging to the world must do as the rest of the world do. Nobody is
in town. If we stayed here, people would get up some unspeakable story
to account for our doing it; that would be the next thing."

"Dillwyn, where are you going?" said Tom suddenly from the floor, where
he had been more uneasy than his situation accounted for.

"I don't know--perhaps I'll take your train and go to Saratoga too. Not
for fear, though."

"That's capital!" said Tom, half raising himself up and leaning on his
elbow. "I'll turn the care of my family over to you, and I'll seek the
wilderness."

"What wilderness?" asked his sister sharply.

"Some wilderness--some place where I shall not see crinoline, nor be
expected to do the polite thing. I'll go for the sea, I guess."

"What have you in your head, Tom?"

"Refreshment."

"You've just come from the sea."

"I've just come from the sea where it was fashionable. Now I'll find
some place where it is unfashionable. I don't favour Saratoga any more
than you do. It's a jolly stupid; that's what it is."

"But where do you want to go, Tom? you have some place in your head."

"I'd as lief go off for the Isles of Shoals as anywhere," said Tom,
lying down again. "They haven't got fashionable yet. I've a notion to
see 'em first."

"I doubt about that," remarked Philip gravely. "I am not sure but the
Isles of Shoals are about the most distinguished place you could go to."

"Isles of Shoals. Where are they? and what are they?" Julia asked.

"A few little piles of rock out in the Atlantic, on which it spends its
wrath all the year round; but of course the ocean is not always raging;
and when it is not raging, it smiles; and they say the smile is nowhere
more bewitching than at the Isles of Shoals," Philip answered.

"But will nobody be there?"

"Nobody you would care about," returned Tom.

"Then what'll you do?"

"Fish."

"Tom! you're not a fisher. You needn't pretend it."

"Sun myself on the rocks."

"You are brown enough already."

"They say, everything gets bleached there."

"Then I should like to go. But I couldn't stand the sea and solitude,
and I don't believe you can stand it. Tom, this is ridiculous. You're
not serious?"

"Not often," said Tom; "but this time I am. I am going to the Isles of
Shoals. If Philip will take you to Saratoga, I'll start to-morrow;
otherwise I will wait till I get you rooms and see you settled."

"Is there a hotel there?"

"Something that does duty for one, as I understand."

"Tom, this is too ridiculous, and vexatious," remonstrated his sister.
"We want you at Saratoga."

"Well, it is flattering; but you wanted me at St. Augustine a little
while ago, and you had me. You can't always have a fellow. I'm going to
see the Isles of Shoals before they're the rage. I want to get cooled
off, for once, after Florida and Newport, besides."

"Isn't that the place where Mrs. Wishart is gone," said Philip now.

"I don't know--yes, I believe so."

"Mrs. Wishart!" exclaimed Julia in a different tone. "_She_ gone to the
Isles of Shoals?"

"'Mrs. Wishart!" Mrs. Caruthers echoed. "Has she got that girl with
her?"

Silence. Then Philip remarked with a laugh, that Tom's plan of "cooling
off" seemed problematical.

"Tom," said his sister solemnly, "_is_ Miss Lothrop going to be there?"

"Don't know, upon my word," said Tom. "I haven't heard."

"She is, and that's what you're going for. O Tom, Tom!" cried his
sister despairingly. "Mr. Dillwyn, what shall we do with him?"

"Can't easily manage a fellow of his size, Miss Julia. Let him take his
chance."

"Take his chance! Such a chance!"

"Yes, Philip," said Tom's mother; "you ought to stand by us."

"With all my heart, dear Mrs. Caruthers; but I am afraid I should be a
weak support. Really, don't you think Tom might do worse?"

"Worse?" said the elder lady; "what could be worse than for him to
bring such a wife into the house?"

Tom gave an inarticulate kind of snort just here, which was not lacking
in expression. Philip went on calmly.

"Such a wife--" he repeated. "Mrs. Caruthers, here is room for
discussion. Suppose we settle, for example, what Tom, or anybody
situated like Tom, ought to look for and insist upon finding, in a
wife. I wish you and Miss Julia would make out the list of
qualifications."

"Stuff!" muttered Tom. "It would be hard lines, if a fellow must have a
wife of his family's choosing!"

"His family can talk about it," said Philip, "and certainly will. Hold
your tongue, Tom. I want to hear your mother."

"Why, Mr. Dillwyn," said the lady, "you know as well as I do; and you
think just as I do about it, and about this Miss Lothrop."

"Perhaps; but let us reason the matter out. Maybe it will do Tom good.
What ought he to have in a wife, Mrs. Caruthers? and we'll try to show
him he is looking in the wrong quarter."

"I'm not looking anywhere!" growled Tom; but no one believed him.

"Well, Philip," Mrs. Caruthers began, "he ought to marry a girl of good
family."

"Certainly. By 'good family' you mean--?"

"Everybody knows what I mean."

"Possibly Tom does not."

"I mean, a girl that one knows about, and that everybody knows about;
that has good blood in her veins."

"The blood of respectable and respected ancestors," Philip said.

"Yes! that is what I mean. I mean, that have been respectable and
respected for a long time back--for years and years."

"You believe in inheritance."

"I don't know about that," said Mrs. Caruthers. "I believe in family."

"Well, _I_ believe in inheritance. But what proof is there that the
young lady of whom we were speaking has no family?"

Julia raised herself up from her reclining position, and Mrs. Caruthers
sat suddenly forward in her chair.

"Why, she is nobody!" cried the first. "Nobody knows her, nor anything
about her."

"_Here_--" said Philip.

"Here! Of course. Where else?"

"Yes, just listen to that!" Tom broke in. "I xxow should anybody know
her here, where she has never lived! But that's the way--"

"I suppose a Sandwich Islander's family is known in the Sandwich
Islands," said Mrs. Caruthers. "But what good is that to us?"

"Then you mean, the family must be a New York family?"

"N--o," said Mrs. Caruthers hesitatingly; "I don't mean that exactly.
There are good Southern families--"

"And good Eastern families!" put in Tom.

"But nobody knows anything about this girl's family," said the ladies
both in a breath.

"Mrs. Wishart does," said Philip. "She has even told me. The family
dates back to the beginning of the colony, and boasts of extreme
respectability. I forget how many judges and ministers it can count up;
and at least one governor of the colony; and there is no spot or stain
upon it anywhere."

There was silence.

"Go on, Mrs. Caruthers. What else should Tom look for in a wife?"

"It is not merely what a family has been, but what its associations
have been," said Mrs. Caruthers.

"These have evidently been respectable."

"But it is not that only, Philip. We want the associations of good
society; and we want position. I want Tom to marry a woman of good
position."

"Hm!" said Philip. "This lady has not been accustomed to anything that
you would call 'society,' and 'position'--But your son has position
enough, Mrs. Caruthers. He can stand without much help."

"Now, Philip, don't you go to encourage Tom in this mad fancy. It's
just a fancy. The girl has nothing; and Tom's wife ought to be-- I
shall break my heart if Tom's wife is not of good family and position,
and good manners, and good education. That's the least I can ask for."

"She has as good manners as anybody you know!" said Tom flaring up. "As
good as Julia's, and better."

"I should say, she has no manner whatever," remarked Miss Julia quietly.

"What is 'manner'?" said Tom indignantly. "I hate it. Manner! They all
have 'manner'--except the girls who make believe they have none; and
their 'manner' is to want manner. Stuff!"

"But the girl knows nothing," persisted Mrs. Caruthers.

"She knows absolutely _nothing_,"--Julia confirmed this statement.

Silence.

"She speaks correct English," said Dillwyn. "That at least."

"English!--but not a word of French or of any other language. And she
has no particular use for the one language she does know; she cannot
talk about anything. How do you know she speaks good grammar, Mr.
Dillwyn? did you ever talk with her?"

"Yes--" said Philip, making slow admission. "And I think you are
mistaken in your other statement; she _can_ talk on some subjects.
Probably you did not hit the right ones."

"Well, she does not know anything," said Miss Julia.

"That is bad. Perhaps it might be mended."

"How? Nonsense! I beg your pardon, Mr. Dillwyn; but you cannot make an
accomplished woman out of a country girl, if you don't begin before she
is twenty. And imagine Tom with such a wife! and me with such a sister!"

"I cannot imagine it. Don't you see, Tom, you must give it up?" Dillwyn
said lightly.

"I'll go to the Isles of Shoals and think about that," said Tom.
Wherewith he got up and went off.

"Mamma," said Julia then, "he's going to that place to meet that girl.
Either she is to be there with Mrs. Wishart, or he is reckoning to see
her by the way; and the Isles of Shoals are just a blind. And the only
thing left for you and me is to go too, and be of the party!"

"Tom don't want us along," said Tom's mother.

"Of course he don't want us along; and I am sure we don't want it
either; but it is the only thing left for us to do. Don't you see?
She'll be there, or he can stop at her place by the way, going and
coming; maybe Mrs. Wishart is asking her on purpose--I shouldn't be at
all surprised--and they'll make up the match between them. It would be
a thing for the girl, to marry Tom Caruthers!"

Mrs. Caruthers groaned, I suppose at the double prospect before her and
before Tom. Philip was silent. Miss Julia went on discussing and
arranging; till her brother returned.

"Tom," said she cheerfully, "we've been talking over matters, and I'll
tell you what we'll do--if you won't go with us, we will go with you!"

"Where?"

"Why, to the Isles of Shoals, of course."

"You and mother!" said Tom.

"Yes. There is no fun in going about alone. We will go along with you."

"What on earth will _you_ do at a place like that?"

"Keep you from being lonely."

"Stuff, Julia! You will wish yourself back before you've been there an
hour; and I tell you, I want to go fishing. What would become of
mother, landed on a bare rock like that, with nobody to speak to, and
nothing but crabs to eat?"

"Crabs!" Julia echoed. Philip burst into a laugh.

"Crabs and mussels," said Tom. "I don't believe you'll get anything
else."

"But is Mrs. Wishart gone there?"

"Philip says so."

"Mrs. Wishart isn't a fool."

And Tom was unable to overthrow this argument.



CHAPTER XII.



APPLEDORE.



It was a very bright, warm August day when Mrs. Wishart and her young
companion steamed over from Portsmouth to the Isles of Shoals. It was
Lois's first sight of the sea, for the journey from New York had been
made by land; and the ocean, however still, was nothing but a most
wonderful novelty to her. She wanted nothing, she could well-nigh
attend to nothing, but the movements and developments of this vast and
mysterious Presence of nature. Mrs. Wishart was amused and yet half
provoked. There was no talk in Lois; nothing to be got out of her;
hardly any attention to be had from her. She sat by the vessel's side
and gazed, with a brow of grave awe and eyes of submissive admiration;
rapt, absorbed, silent, and evidently glad. Mrs. Wishart was provoked
at her, and envied her.

"What _do_ you find in the water, Lois?"

"O, the wonder of it!" said the girl, with a breath of rapture.

"Wonder! what wonder? I suppose everything is wonderful, if you look at
it. What do you see there that seems so very wonderful?"

"I don't know, Mrs. Wishart. It is so great! and it is so beautiful!
and it is so awful!"

"Beautiful?" said Mrs. Wishart. "I confess I do not see it. I suppose
it is your gain, Lois. Yes, it is awful enough in a storm, but not
to-day. The sea is quiet."

Quiet! with those low-rolling, majestic soft billows. The quiet of a
lion asleep with his head upon his paws. Lois did not say what she
thought.

"And you have never seen the sea-shore yet," Mrs. Wishart went on.
"Well, you will have enough of the sea at the Isles. And those are
they, I fancy, yonder. Are those the Isles of Shoals?" she asked a
passing man of the crew; and was answered with a rough voiced, "Yaw,
mum; they be th' oisles."

Lois gazed now at those distant brown spots, as the vessel drew nearer
and nearer. Brown spots they remained, and, to her surprise, _small_
brown spots. Nearer and nearer views only forced the conviction deeper.
The Isles seemed to be merely some rough rocky projections from old
Ocean's bed, too small to have beauty, too rough to have value. Were
those the desired Isles of Shoals? Lois felt deep disappointment.
Little bits of bare rock in the midst of the sea; nothing more. No
trees, she was sure; as the light fell she could even see no green. Why
would they not be better relegated to Ocean's domain, from which they
were only saved by a few feet of upheaval? why should anybody live
there? and still more, why should anybody make a pleasure visit there?

"I suppose the people are all fishermen?" she said to Mrs. Wishart.

"I suppose so. O, there is a house of entertainment--a sort of hotel."

"How many people live there?"

"My dear, I don't know. A handful, I should think, by the look of the
place. What tempts _them_, I don't see."

Nor did Lois. She was greatly disappointed. All her fairy visions were
fled. No meadows, no shady banks, no soft green dales; nothing she had
ever imagined in connection with country loveliness. Her expectations
sank down, collapsed, and vanished for ever.

She showed nothing of all this. She helped Mrs. Wishart gather her
small baggage together, and followed her on shore, with her usual quiet
thoughtfulness; saw her established in the hotel, and assisted her to
get things a little in order. But then, when the elder lady lay down to
"catch a nap," as she said, before tea, Lois seized her flat hat and
fled out of the house.

There was grass around it, and sheep and cows to be seen. Alas, no
trees. But there were bushes certainly growing here and there, and Lois
had not gone far before she found a flower. With that in her hand she
sped on, out of the little grassy vale, upon the rocks that surrounded
it, and over them, till she caught sight of the sea. Then she made her
way, as she could, over the roughnesses and hindrances of the rocks,
till she got near the edge of the island at that place; and sat down a
little above where the billows of the Atlantic were rolling in. The
wide sea line was before her, with its mysterious and infinite depth of
colour; at her feet the waves were coming in and breaking, slow and
gently to-day, yet every one seeming to make an invasion of the little
rocky domain which defied it, and to retire unwillingly, foiled,
beaten, and broken, to gather new forces and come on again for a new
attack. Lois watched them, fascinated by their persistence, their
sluggish power, and yet their ever-recurring discomfiture; admired the
changing colours and hues of the water, endlessly varying, cool and
lovely and delicate, contrasting with the wet washed rocks and the dark
line of sea-weed lying where high tide had cast it up. The breeze blew
in her face gently, but filled with freshness, life, and pungency of
the salt air; sea-birds flew past hither and thither, sometimes
uttering a cry; there was no sound in earth or heaven but that of the
water and the wild birds. And by and by the silence, and the broad
freedom of nature, and the sweet freshness of the life-giving breeze,
began to take effect upon the watcher. She drank in the air in deep
breaths; she watched with growing enjoyment the play of light and
colour which offered such an endless variety; she let slip, softly and
insensibly, every thought and consideration which had any sort of care
attached to it; her heart grew light, as her lungs took in the salt
breath, which had upon her somewhat the effect of champagne. Lois was
at no time a very heavy-hearted person; and I lack a similitude which
should fitly image the elastic bound her spirits made now. She never
stirred from her seat, till it suddenly came into her head to remember
that there might be dinner or supper in prospect somewhere. She rose
then and made her way back to the hotel, where she found Mrs. Wishart
just arousing from her sleep.

"Well, Lois" said the lady, with the sleep still in her voice, "where
have you been? and what have you got? and what sort of a place have we
come to?"

"Look at that, Mrs. Wishart!"

"What's that? A white violet! Violets here, on these rocks?"

"Did you ever see _such_ a white violet? Look at the size of it, and
the colour of it. And here's pimpernel. And O, Mrs. Wishart, I am so
glad we came here, that I don't know what to do! It is just delightful.
The air is the best air I ever saw."

"Can you _see_ it, my dear? Well, I am glad you are pleased. What's
that bell for, dinner or supper? I suppose all the meals here are
alike. Let us go down and see."

Lois had an excellent appetite.

"This fish is very good, Mrs. Wishart."

"O my dear, it is just fish! You are in a mood to glorify everything. I
am envious of you, Lois."

"But it is really capital; it is so fresh. I don't believe you can get
such blue fish in New York."

"My dear, it is your good appetite. I wish I was as hungry, for
anything, as you are."

"Is it Mrs. Wishart?" asked a lady who sat opposite them at the table.
She spoke politely, with an accent of hope and expectation. Mrs.
Wishart acknowledged the identity.

"I am very happy to meet you. I was afraid I might find absolutely no
one here that I knew. I was saying only the other day--three days ago;
this is Friday, isn't it? yes; it was last Tuesday. I was saying to my
sister after our early dinner--we always have early dinner at home, and
it comes quite natural here--we were sitting together after dinner, and
talking about my coming. I have been meaning to come ever since three
years ago; wanting to make this trip, and never could get away, until
this summer things opened out to let me. I was saying to Lottie I was
afraid I should find nobody here that I could speak to; and when I saw
you, I said to myself, Can that be Mrs. Wishart?--I am so very glad.
You have just come?"

"To-day,"--Mrs. Wishart assented.

"Came by water?"

"From Portsmouth."

"Yes--ha, ha!" said the affable lady. "Of course. You could not well
help it. But from New York?"

"By railway. I had occasion to come by land."

"I prefer it always. In a steamer you never know what will happen to
you. If it's good weather, you may have a pleasant time; but you never
can tell. I took the steamer once to go to Boston--I mean to
Stonington, you know; and the boat was so loaded with freight of some
sort or other that she was as low down in the water as she could be and
be safe; and I didn't think she was safe. And we went so slowly! and
then we had a storm, a regular thunderstorm and squall, and the rain
poured in torrents, and the Sound was rough, and people were sick, and
I was very glad and thankful when we got to Stonington. I thought it
would never be for pleasure that I would take a boat again."

"The Fall River boats are the best."

"I daresay they are, but I hope to be allowed to keep clear of them
all. You had a pleasant morning for the trip over from Portsmouth."

"Very pleasant."

"It is such a gain to have the sea quiet! It roars and beats here
enough in the best of times. I am sure I hope there will not a storm
come while we are here; for I should think it must be dreadfully
dreary. It's all sea here, you know."

"I should like to see what a storm here is like," Lois remarked.

"O, don't wish that!" cried the lady, "or your wish may bring it. Don't
think me a heathen," she added, laughing; "but I have known such queer
things. I must tell you--"

"You never knew a wish bring fair weather?" said Lois, smiling, as the
lady stopped for a mouthful of omelet.

"O no, not fair weather; I am sure, if it did, we should have fair
weather a great deal more than we do. But I was speaking of a storm,
and I must tell you what I have seen.--These fish are very deliciously
cooked!"

"They understand fish, I suppose, here," said Lois.

"We were going down the bay to escort some friends who were going to
Europe. There was my cousin Llewellyn and his wife, and her sister, and
one or two others in the party; and Lottie and I went to see them off.
I always think it's rather a foolish thing to do, for why shouldn't one
say good-bye at the water's edge, when they go on board, instead of
making a journey of miles out to sea to say it there?--but this time
Lottie wanted to go. She had never seen the ocean, except from the
land; and you know that is very different; so we went. Lottie always
likes to see all she can, and is never satisfied till she has got to
the bottom of everything--"

"She would be satisfied with something less than that in this case?"
said Lois.

"Hey? She was satisfied," said the lady, not apparently catching Lois's
meaning; "she was more delighted with the sea than I was; for though it
was quiet, they said, there was unquietness enough to make a good deal
of motion; the vessel went sailing up and down a succession of small
rolling hills, and I began to think there was nothing steady inside of
me, any more than _out_side. I never can bear to be rocked, in any
shape or form."

"You must have been a troublesome baby," said Lois.

"I don't know how that was; naturally I have forgotten; but since I
have been old enough to think for myself, I never could bear
rocking-chairs. I like an easy-chair--as easy as you please--but I want
it to stand firm upon its four legs. So I did not enjoy the water quite
as well as my sister did. But she grew enthusiastic; she wished she was
going all the way over, and I told her she would have to drop _me_ at
some wayside station--"

"Where?" said Lois, as the lady stopped to carry her coffee cup to her
lips. The question seemed not to have been heard.

"Lottie wished she could see the ocean in a mood not quite so quiet;
she wished for a storm; she said she wished a little storm would get up
before we got home, that she might see how the waves looked. I begged
and prayed her not to say so, for our wishes often fulfil themselves.
Isn't it extraordinary how they do? Haven't you often observed it, Mrs.
Wishart?"

"In cases where wishes could take effect," returned that lady. "In the
case of the elements, I do not see how they could do that."

"But I don't know how it is," said the other; "I have observed it so
often."

"You call me by name," Mrs. Wishart went on rather hastily; "and I have
been trying in vain to recall yours. If I had met you anywhere else, of
course I should be at no loss; but at the Isles of Shoals one expects
to see nobody, and one is surprised out of one's memory."

"I am never surprised out of my memory," said the other, chuckling. "I
am poor enough in all other ways, I am sure, but my memory is good. I
can tell you where I first saw you. You were at the Catskill House,
with a large party; my brother-in-law Dr. Salisbury was there, and he
had the pleasure of knowing you. It was two years ago."

"I recollect being at the Catskill House very well," said Mrs. Wishart,
"and of course it was there I became acquain'ted with you; but you must
excuse me, at the Isles of Shoals, for forgetting all my connections
with the rest of the world."

"O, I am sure you are very excusable," said Dr. Salisbury's
sister-in-law. "I am delighted to meet you again. I think one is
particularly glad of a friend's face where one had not expected to see
it; and I really expected nothing at the Isles of Shoals--but sea air."

"You came for sea air?"

"Yes, to get it pure. To be sure, Coney Island beach is not far
off--for we live in Brooklyn; but I wanted the sea air wholly sea
air--quite unmixed; and at Coney Island, somehow New York is so near, I
couldn't fancy it would be the same thing. I don't want to smell the
smoke of it. And I was curious about this place too; and I have so
little opportunity for travelling, I thought it was a pity now when I
_had_ the opportunity, not to take the utmost advantage of it. They
laughed at me at home, but I said no, I was going to the Isles of
Shoals or nowhere. And now I am very glad I came."--

"Lois," Mrs. Wishart said when they went back to their own room, "I
don't know that woman from Adam. I have not the least recollection of
ever seeing her. I know Dr. Salisbury--and he might be anybody's
brother-in-law. I wonder if she will keep that seat opposite us?
Because she is worse than a smoky chimney!"

"O no, not that," said Lois. "She amuses me."

"Everything amuses you, you happy creature! You look as if the fairies
that wait upon young girls had made you their special care. Did you
ever read the 'Rape of the Lock'?"

"I have never read anything," Lois answered, a little soberly.

"Never mind; you have so much the more pleasure before you. But the
'Rape of the Lock'--in that story there is a young lady, a famous
beauty, whose dressing-table is attended by sprites or fairies. One of
them colours her lips; another hides in the folds of her gown; another
tucks himself away in a curl of her hair.--You make me think of that
young lady."



CHAPTER XIII.



A SUMMER HOTEL.



Mrs. Wishart was reminded of Belinda again the next morning. Lois was
beaming. She managed to keep their talkative neighbour in order during
breakfast; and then proposed to Mrs. Wishart to take a walk. But Mrs.
Wishart excused herself, and Lois set off alone. After a couple of
hours she came back with her hands full.

"O, Mrs. Wishart!" she burst forth,--"this is the very loveliest place
you ever saw in your life! I can never thank you enough for bringing
me! What can I do to thank you?"

"What makes it so delightful?" said the elder lady, smiling at her.
"There is nothing here but the sea and the rocks. You have found the
philosopher's stone, you happy girl!"

"The philosopher's stone?" said Lois. "That was what Mr. Dillwyn told
me about."

"Philip? I wish he was here."

"It would be nice for you. _I_ don't want anybody. The place is enough."

"What have you found, child?"

"Flowers--and mosses--and shells. O, the flowers are beautiful! But it
isn't the flowers, nor any one thing; it is the place. The air is
wonderful; and the sea, O, the sea is a constant delight to me!"

"The philosopher's stone!" repeated the lady. "What is it, Lois? You
are the happiest creature I ever saw.--You find pleasure in everything."

"Perhaps it is that," said Lois simply. "Because I am happy."

"But what business have you to be so happy?--living in a corner like
Shampuashuh. I beg your pardon, Lois, but it is a corner of the earth.
What makes you happy?"

Lois answered lightly, that perhaps it was easier to be happy in a
corner than in a wide place; and went off again. She would not give
Mrs. Wishart an answer she could by no possibility understand.

Some time later in the day, Mrs. Wishart too, becoming tired of the
monotony of her own room, descended to the piazza; and was sitting
there when the little steamboat arrived with some new guests for the
hotel. She watched one particular party approaching. A young lady in
advance, attended by a gentleman; then another pair following, an older
lady, leaning on the arm of a cavalier whom Mrs. Wishart recognized
first of them all. She smiled to herself.

"Mrs. Wishart!" Julia Caruthers exclaimed, as she came upon the
verandah. "You _are_ here. That is delightful! Mamma, here is Mrs.
Wishart. But whatever did bring you here? I am reminded of Captain
Cook's voyages, that I used to read when I was a child, and I fancy I
have come to one of his savage islands; only I don't see the salvages.
They will appear, perhaps. But I don't see anything else; cocoanut
trees, or palms, or bananas, the tale of which used to make my mouth
water. There are no trees here at all, that I can see, nor anything
else. What brought you here, Mrs. Wishart? May I present Mr.
Lenox?--What brought you here, Mrs. Wishart?"

"What brought _you_ here?" was the smiling retort. The answer was
prompt.

"Tom."

Mrs. Wishart looked at Tom, who came up and paid his respects in marked
form; while his mother, as if exhausted, sank down on one of the chairs.

"Yes, it was Tom," she repeated. "Nothing would do for Tom but the
Isles of Shoals; and so, Julia and I had to follow in his train. In my
grandmother's days that would have been different. What is here, dear
Mrs. Wishart, besides you? You are not alone?"

"Not quite. I have brought my little friend, Lois Lothrop, with me; and
she thinks the Isles of Shoals the most charming place that was ever
discovered, by Captain Cook or anybody else."

"Ah, she is here!" said Mrs. Caruthers dryly; while Julia and Mr. Lenox
exchanged glances. "Much other company?"

"Not much; and what there is comes more from New Hampshire than New
York, I fancy."

"Ah!--And what else is here then, that anybody should come here for?"

"I don't know yet. You must ask Miss Lothrop. Yonder she comes. She has
been exploring ever since five o'clock, I believe."

"I suppose she is accustomed to get up at that hour," remarked the
other, as if the fact involved a good deal of disparagement. And then
they were all silent, and watched Lois, who was slowly and
unconsciously approaching her reviewers. Her hands were again full of
different gleanings from the wonderful wilderness in which she had been
exploring; and she came with a slow step, still busy with them as she
walked. Her hat had fallen back a little; the beautiful hair was a
trifle disordered, showing so only the better its rich abundance and
exquisite colour; the face it framed and crowned was fair and flushed,
intent upon her gains from rock and meadow--for there was a little bit
of meadow ground at Appledore;--and so happy in its sweet absorption,
that an involuntary tribute of homage to its beauty was wrung from the
most critical. Lois walked with a light, steady step; her careless
bearing was free and graceful; her dress was not very fashionable, but
entirely proper for the place; all eyes consented to this, and then all
eyes came back to the face. It was so happy, so pure, so unconscious
and unshadowed; the look was of the sort that one does not see in the
assemblies of the world's pleasure-seekers; nor ever but in the faces
of heaven's pleasure-finders. She was a very lovely vision, and somehow
all the little group on the piazza with one consent kept silence,
watching her as she came. She drew near with busy, pleased thoughts,
and leisurely happy steps, and never looked up till she reached the
foot of the steps leading to the piazza. Nor even then; she had picked
up her skirt and mounted several steps daintily before she heard her
name and raised her eyes. Then her face changed. The glance of
surprise, it is true, was immediately followed by a smile of civil
greeting; but the look of rapt happiness was gone; and somehow nobody
on the piazza felt the change to be flattering. She accepted quietly
Tom's hand, given partly in greeting, partly to assist her up the last
steps, and faced the group who were regarding her.

"How delightful to find you here, Miss Lothrop!" said Julia,--"and how
strange that people should meet on the Isles of Shoals."

"Why is it strange?"

"O, because there is really nothing to come here for, you know. I don't
know how we happen to be here ourselves.--Mr. Lenox, Miss
Lothrop.--What have you found in this desert?"

"You have been spoiling Appledore?" added Tom.

"I don't think I have done any harm," said Lois innocently. "There is
enough more, Mr. Caruthers."

"Enough of what?" Tom inquired, while Julia and her friend exchanged a
swift glance again, of triumph on the lady's part.

"There is a shell," said Lois, putting one into his hand. "I think that
is pretty, and it certainly is odd. And what do you say to those white
violets, Mr. Caruthers? And here is some very beautiful pimpernel--and
here is a flower that I do not know at all,--and the rest is what you
would call rubbish," she finished with a smile, so charming that Tom
could not see the violets for dazzled eyes.

"Show me the flowers, Tom," his mother demanded; and she kept him by
her, answering her questions and remarks about them; while Julia asked
where they could be found.

"I find them in quite a good many places," said Lois; "and every time
it is a sort of surprise. I gathered only a few; I do not like to take
them away from their places; they are best there."

She said a word or two to Mrs. Wishart, and passed on into the house.

"That's the girl," Julia said in a low voice to her lover, walking off
to the other end of the verandah with him.

"Tom might do worse," was the reply.

"George! How can you say so? A girl who doesn't know common English!"

"She might go to school," suggested Lenox.

"To school! At her age! And then, think of her associations, and her
ignorance of everything a lady should be and should know. O you men! I
have no patience with you. See a face you like, and you lose your wits
at once, the best of you. I wonder you ever fancied me!"

"Tastes are unaccountable," the young man returned, with a lover-like
smile.

"But do you call that girl pretty?"

Mr. Lenox looked portentously grave. "She has handsome hair," he
ventured.

"Hair! What's hair! Anybody can have handsome hair, that will pay for
it."

"She has not paid for hers."

"No, and I don't mean that Tom shall. Now George, you must help. I
brought you along to help. Tom is lost if we don't save him. He must
not be left alone with this girl; and if he gets talking to her, you
must mix in and break it up, make love to her yourself, if necessary.
And we must see to it that they do not go off walking together. You
must help me watch and help me hinder. Will you?"

"Really, I should not be grateful to anyone who did _me_ such kind
service."

"But it is to save Tom."

"Save him! From what?"

"From a low marriage. What could be worse?"

"Adjectives are declinable. There is low, lower, lowest."

"Well, what could be lower? A poor girl, uneducated, inexperienced,
knowing nobody, brought up in the country, and of no family in
particular, with nothing in the world but beautiful hair! Tom ought to
have something better than that."

"I'll study her further, and then tell you what I think."

"You are very stupid to-day, George!"

Nobody got a chance to study Lois much more that day. Seeing that Mrs.
Wishart was for the present well provided with company, she withdrew to
her own room; and there she stayed. At supper she appeared, but silent
and reserved; and after supper she went away again. Next morning Lois
was late at breakfast; she had to run a gauntlet of eyes, as she took
her seat at a little distance.

"Overslept, Lois?" queried Mrs. Wishart.

"Miss Lothrop looks as if she never had been asleep, nor ever meant to
be," quoth Tom.

"What a dreadful character!" said Miss Julia. "Pray, Miss Lothrop,
excuse him; the poor boy means, I have no doubt, to be complimentary."

"Not so bad, for a beginner," remarked Mr. Lenox. "Ladies always like
to be thought bright-eyed, I believe."

"But never to sleep!" said Julia. "Imagine the staring effect."

"_You_ are complimentary without effort," Tom remarked pointedly.

"Lois, my dear, have you been out already?" Mrs. Wishart asked. Lois
gave a quiet assent and betook herself to her breakfast.

"I knew it," said Tom. "Morning air has a wonderful effect, if ladies
would only believe it. They won't believe it, and they suffer
accordingly."

"Another compliment!" said Miss Julia, laughing. "But what do you find,
Miss Lothrop, that can attract you so much before breakfast? or after
breakfast either, for that matter?"

"Before breakfast is the best time in the twenty-four hours," said Lois.

"Pray, for what?"

"If _you_ were asked, you would say, for sleeping," put in Tom.

"For what, Miss Lothrop? Tom, you are troublesome."

"For doing what, do you mean?" said Lois. "I should say, for anything;
but I was thinking of enjoying."

"We are all just arrived," Mr. Lenox began; "and we are slow to believe
there is anything to enjoy at the Isles. Will Miss Lothrop enlighten
us?"

"I do not know that I can," said Lois. "You might not find what I find."

"What do you find?"

"If you will go out with me to-morrow morning at five o'clock, I will
show you," said Lois, with a little smile of amusement, or of archness,
which quite struck Mr. Lenox and quite captivated Tom.

"Five o'clock!" the former echoed.

"Perhaps he would not then see what you see," Julia suggested.

"Perhaps not," said Lois. "I am by no means sure."

She was let alone after that; and as soon as breakfast was over she
escaped again. She made her way to a particular hiding-place she had
discovered, in the rocks, down near the shore; from which she had a
most beautiful view of the sea and of several of the other islands. Her
nook of a seat was comfortable enough, but all around it the rocks were
piled in broken confusion, sheltering her, she thought, from any
possible chance comer. And this was what Lois wanted; for, in the first
place, she was minded to keep herself out of the way of the
newly-arrived party, each and all of them; and, in the second place,
she was intoxicated with the delights of the ocean. Perhaps I should
say rather, of the ocean and the rocks and the air and the sky, and of
everything at Appledore, Where she sat, she had a low brown reef in
sight, jutting out into the sea just below her; and upon this reef the
billows were rolling and breaking in a way utterly and wholly
entrancing. There was no wind, to speak of, yet there was much more
motion in the sea than yesterday; which often happens from the effect
of winds that have been at work far away; and the breakers which beat
and foamed upon that reef, and indeed upon all the shore, were beyond
all telling graceful, beautiful, wonderful, mighty, and changeful. Lois
had been there to see the sunrise; now that fairy hour was long past,
and the day was in its full bright strength; but still she sat
spellbound and watched the waves; watched the colours on the rocks, the
brown and the grey; the countless, nameless hues of ocean, and the
light on the neighbouring islands, so different now from what they had
been a few hours ago.

Now and then a thought or two went to the hotel and its new
inhabitants, and passed in review the breakfast that morning. Lois had
taken scarce any part in the conversation; her place at table put her
at a distance from Mr. Caruthers; and after those few first words she
had been able to keep very quiet, as her wish was. But she had
listened, and observed. Well, the talk had not been, as to quality, one
whit better than what Shampuashuh could furnish every day; nay, Lois
thought the advantage of sense and wit and shrewdness was decidedly on
the side of her country neighbours; while the staple of talk was nearly
the same. A small sort of gossip and remark, with commentary, on other
people and other people's doings, past, present, and to come. It had no
interest whatever to Lois's mind, neither subject nor treatment. But
the _manner_ to-day gave her something to think about. The manner was
different; and the manner not of talk only, but of all that was done.
Not so did Shampuashuh discuss its neighbours, and not so did
Shampuashuh eat bread and butter. Shampuashuh ways were more rough,
angular, hurried; less quietness, less grace, whether of movement or
speech; less calm security in every action; less delicacy of taste. It
must have been good blood in Lois which recognized all this, but
recognize it she did; and, as I said, every now and then an involuntary
thought of it came over the girl. She felt that she was unlike these
people; not of their class or society; she was sure they knew it too,
and would act accordingly; that is, not rudely or ungracefully making
the fact known, but nevertheless feeling, and showing that they felt,
that she belonged to a detached portion of humanity. Or they; what did
it matter? Lois did not misjudge or undervalue herself; she knew she
was the equal of these people, perhaps more than their equal, in true
refinement of feeling and delicacy of perception; she knew she was not
awkward in manner; yet she knew, too, that she had not their ease of
habit, nor the confidence given by knowledge of the world and all other
sorts of knowledge. Her up-bringing and her surroundings had not been
like theirs; they had been rougher, coarser, and if of as good
material, of far inferior form. She thought with herself that she would
keep as much out of their company as she properly could. For there was
beneath all this consciousness an unrecognized, or at least
unacknowledged, sense of other things in Lois's mind; of Mr. Caruthers'
possible feelings, his people's certain displeasure, and her own
promise to her grandmother. She would keep herself out of the way; easy
at Appledore--

"Have I found you, Miss Lothrop?" said a soft, gracious voice, with a
glad accent.



CHAPTER XIV.



WATCHED.



"Have I found you, Miss Lothrop?"

Looking over her shoulder, Lois saw the handsome features of Mr.
Caruthers, wearing a smile of most undoubted satisfaction. And, to the
scorn of all her previous considerations, she was conscious of a flush
of pleasure in her own mind. This was not suffered to appear.

"I thought I was where nobody could find me," she answered.

"Do you think there is such a place in the whole world?" said Tom
gallantly. Meanwhile he scrambled over some inconvenient rocks to a
place by her side. "I am very glad to find you, Miss Lothrop, both
ways,--first at Appledore, and then here."

To this compliment Lois made no reply.

"What has driven you to this little out-of-the-way nook?"

"You mean Appledore?"

"No, no! this very uncomfortable situation among the rocks here? What
drove you to it?"

"You think there is no attraction?"

"I don't see what attraction there is here for you."

"Then you should not have come to Appledore."

"Why not?"

"There is nothing here for you."

"Ah, but! What is there for you? Do you find anything here to like now,
really?"

"I have been down in this 'uncomfortable place' ever since near five
o'clock--except while we were at breakfast."

"What for?"

"What for?" said Lois, laughing. "If you ask, it is no use to tell you,
Mr. Caruthers."

"Ah, be generous!" said Tom. "I'm a stupid fellow, I know; but do try
and help me a little to a sense of the beautiful. _Is_ it the
beautiful, by the way, or is it something else?"

Lois's laugh rang softly out again. She was a country girl, it is true;
but her laugh was as sweet to hear as the ripple of the waters among
the stones. The laugh of anybody tells very much of what he is, making
revelations undreamt of often by the laugher. A harsh croak does not
come from a mind at peace, nor an empty clangour from a heart full of
sensitive happiness; nor a coarse laugh from a person of refined
sensibilities, nor a hard laugh from a tender spirit. Moreover, people
cannot dissemble successfully in laughing; the truth comes out in a
startling manner. Lois's laugh was sweet and musical; it was a pleasure
to hear. And Tom's eyes said so.

"I always knew I was a stupid fellow," he said; "but I never felt
myself so stupid as to-day! What is it, Miss Lothrop?"

"What is what, Mr. Caruthers?--I beg your pardon."

"What is it you find in this queer place?"

"I am afraid it is waste trouble to tell you."

"Good morning!" cried a cheery voice here from below them; and looking
towards the water they saw Mr. Lenox, making his way as best he could
over slippery seaweed and wet rocks.

"Hollo, George!" cried Tom in a different tone--"What are you doing
there?"

"Trying to keep out of the water, don't you see?"

"To an ordinary mind, that object would seem more likely to be attained
if you kept further away from it."

"May I come up where you are?"

"Certainly!" said Lois. "But take care how you do it."

A little scrambling and the help of Tom's hand accomplished the feat;
and the new comer looked about him with much content.

"You came the other way," he said. "I see. I shall know how next time.
What a delightful post, Miss Lothrop!"

"I have been trying to find what she came here for; and she won't tell
me," said Tom.

"You know what you came here for," said his friend. "Why cannot you
credit other people with as much curiosity as you have yourself?"

"I credit them with more," said Tom. "But curiosity on Appledore will
find itself baffled, I should say."

"Depends on what curiosity is after," said Lenox. "Tell him, Miss
Lothrop; he will not be any the wiser."

"Then why should I tell him?" said Lois.

"Perhaps I shall!"

Lois's laugh came again.

"Seriously. If any one were to ask me, not only what we but what
anybody should come to this place for, I should be unprepared with an
answer. I am forcibly reminded of an old gentleman who went up Mount
Washington on one occasion when I also went up. It came on to rain--a
sudden summer gust and downpour, hiding the very mountain it self from
our eyes; hiding the path, hiding the members of the party from each
other. We were descending the mountain by that time, and it was
ticklish work for a nervous person; every one was committed to his own
sweet guidance; and as I went blindly stumbling along, I came every now
and then upon the old gentleman, also stumbling along, on his donkey.
And whenever I was near enough to him, I could hear him dismally
soliloquizing, 'Why am I here!'--in a tone of mingled disgust and
self-reproach which was in the highest degree comical."

"So that is your state of mind now, is it?" said Tom.

"Not quite yet, but I feel it is going to be. Unless Miss Lothrop can
teach me something."

"There are some things that cannot be taught," said Lois.

"And people--hey? But I am not one of those, Miss Lothrop."

He looked at her with such a face of demure innocence, that Lois could
not keep her gravity.

"Now Tom _is_," Lenox went on. "You cannot teach him anything, Miss
Lothrop. It would be lost labour."

"I am not so stupid as you think," said Tom.

"He's not stupid--he's obstinate," Lenox went on, addressing himself to
Lois. "He takes a thing in his head. Now that sounds intelligent; but
it isn't, or _he_ isn't; for when you try, you can't get it out of his
head again. So he took it into his head to come to the Isles of Shoals,
and hither he has dragged his mother and his sister, and hither by
consequence he has dragged me. Now I ask you, as one who can tell--what
have we all come here for?"

Half-quizzically, half-inquisitively, the young man put the question,
lounging on the rocks and looking up into Lois's face. Tom grew
impatient. But Lois was too humble and simple-minded to fall into the
snare laid for her. I think she had a half-discernment of a hidden
intent under Mr. Lenox's words; nevertheless in the simple dignity of
truth she disregarded it, and did not even blush, either with
consciousness or awkwardness. She was a little amused.

"I suppose experience will have to be your teacher, as it is other
people's."

"I have heard so; I never saw anybody who had learned much that way."

"Come, George, that's ridiculous. Learning by experience is
proverbial," said Tom.

"I know!--but it's a delusion nevertheless. You sprain your ankle among
these stones, for instance. Well--you won't put your foot in that
particular hole again; but you will in another. That's the way you do,
Tom. But to return--Miss Lothrop, what has experience done for you in
the Isles of Shoals?"

"I have not had much yet."

"Does it pay to come here?"

"I think it does."

"How came anybody to think of coming here at first? that is what I
should like to know. I never saw a more uncompromising bit of
barrenness. Is there no desolation anywhere else, that men should come
to the Isles of Shoals?"

"There was quite a large settlement here once," said Lois.

"Indeed! When?"

"Before the war of the revolution. There were hundreds of people; six
hundred, somebody told me."

"What became of them?"

"Well," said Lois, smiling, "as that is more than a hundred years ago,
I suppose they all died."

"And their descendants?--"

"Living on the mainland, most of them. When the war came, they could
not protect themselves against the English."

"Fancy, Tom," said Lenox. "People liked it so well on these rocks, that
it took ships of war to drive them away!"

"The people that live here now are just as fond of them, I am told."

"What earthly or heavenly inducement?--"

"Yes, I might have said so too, the first hour of my being here, or the
first day. The second, I began to understand it."

"Do make me understand it!"

"If you will come here at five o'clock to-morrow, Mr. Leno--xin the
morning, I mean,--and will watch the wonderful sunrise, the waking up
of land and sea; if you will stay here then patiently till ten o'clock,
and see the changes and the colours on everything--let the sea and the
sky speak to you, as they will; then they will tell you--all you can
understand!"

"All I can understand. H'm! May I go home for breakfast?"

"Perhaps you must; but you will wish you need not."

"Will you be here?"

"No," said Lois. "I will be somewhere else."

"But I couldn't stand such a long talk with myself as that," said the
young man.

"It was a talk with Nature I recommended to you."

"All the same. Nature says queer things if you let her alone."

"Best listen to them, then."

"Why?"

"She tells you the truth."

"Do you like the truth?"

"Certainly. Of course. Do not you?"

"_Always?_"

"Yes, always. Do not you?"

"It's fearfully awkward!" said the young man.

"Yes, isn't it?" Tom echoed.

"Do you like falsehood, Mr. Lenox?"

"I dare not say what I like--in this presence. Miss Lothrop, I am very
much afraid you are a Puritan."

"What is a Puritan?" asked Lois simply.

"He doesn't know!" said Tom. "You needn't ask him."

"I will ask you then, for I do not know. What does he mean by it?"

"He doesn't know that," said Lenox, laughing. "I will tell you, Miss
Lothrop--if I can. A Puritan is a person so much better than the
ordinary run of mortals, that she is not afraid to let Nature and
Solitude speak to her--dares to look roses in the face, in fact;--has
no charity for the crooked ways of the world or for the people
entangled in them; a person who can bear truth and has no need of
falsehood, and who is thereby lifted above the multitudes of this
world's population, and stands as it were alone."

"I'll report that speech to Julia," said Tom, laughing.

"But that is not what a 'Puritan' generally means, is it?" said Lois.
They both laughed now at the quain't simplicity with which this was
spoken.

"That is what it _is_," Tom answered.

"I do not think the term is complimentary," Lois went on, shaking her
head, "however Mr. Lenox's explanation may be. Isn't it ten o'clock?"

"Near eleven."

"Then I must go in."

The two gentlemen accompanied her, making themselves very pleasant by
the way. Lenox asked her about flowers; and Tom, who was some thing of
a naturalist, told her about mosses and lichens, more than she knew;
and the walk was too short for Lois. But on reaching the hotel she went
straight to her own room and stayed there. So also after dinner, which
of course brought her to the company, she went back to her solitude and
her work. She must write home, she said. Yet writing was not Lois's
sole reason for shutting herself up.

She would keep herself out of the way, she reasoned. Probably this
company of city people with city tastes would not stay long at
Appledore; while they were there she had better be seen as little as
possible. For she felt that the sight of Tom Caruthers' handsome face
had been a pleasure; and she felt--and what woman does not?--that there
is a certain very sweet charm in being liked, independently of the
question how much you like in return. And Lois knew, though she hardly
in her modesty acknowledged it to herself, that Mr. Caruthers liked
her. Eyes and smiles and manner showed it; she could not mistake it;
nay, engaged man though he was, Mr. Lenox liked her too. She did not
quite understand him or his manner; with the keen intuition of a true
woman she felt vaguely what she did not clearly discern, and was not
sure of the colour of his liking, as she was sure of Tom's. Tom's--it
might not be deep, but it was true, and it was pleasant; and Lois
remembered her promise to her grandmother. She even, when her letter
was done, took out her Bible and opened it at that well-known place in
2nd Corinthians; "Be not unequally yoked together with
unbelievers"--and she looked hard at the familiar words. Then, said
Lois to herself, it is best to keep at a distance from temptation. For
these people were unbelievers. They could not understand one word of
Christian hope or joy, if she spoke them. What had she and they in
common?

Yet Lois drew rather a long breath once or twice in the course of her
meditations. These "unbelievers" were so pleasant. Yes, it was an
undoubted fact; they were pleasant people to be with and to talk to.
They might not think with her, or comprehend her even, in the great
questions of life and duty; in the lesser matters of everyday
experience they were well versed. They understood the world and the
things in the world, and the men; and they were skilled and deft and
graceful in the arts of society. Lois knew no young men,--nor old, for
that matter,--who were, as gentlemen, as social companions, to be
compared with these and others their associates in graces of person and
manner, and interest of conversation. She went over again and again in
memory the interview and the talk of that morning; and not without a
secret thrill of gratification, although also not without a vague half
perception of something in Mr. Lenox's manner that she could not quite
read and did not quite trust. What did he mean? He was Miss Caruthers'
property; how came he to busy himself at all with her own insignificant
self? Lois was too innocent to guess; at the same time too finely
gifted as a woman to be entirely hoodwinked. She rose at last with a
third little sigh, as she concluded that her best way was to keep as
well away as she could from this pleasant companionship.

But she could not stay in-doors. For once in her life she was at
Appledore; she must not miss her chance. The afternoon was half gone;
the house all still; probably everybody was in his room, and she could
slip out safely. She went down on soft feet; she found nobody on the
piazza, not a creature in sight; she was glad; and yet, she would not
have been sorry to see Tom Caruthers' genial face, which was always so
very genial towards her. Inconsistent!--but who is not inconsistent?
Lois thought herself free, and had half descended the steps from the
verandah, when she heard a voice and her own name. She paused and
looked round.

"Miss Lothrop!--are you going for a walk? may I come with you?"--and
therewith emerged the form of Miss Julia from the house. "Are you going
for a walk? will you let me go along?"

"Certainly," said Lois.

"I am regularly cast away here," said the young lady, joining her. "I
don't know what to do with myself. _Is_ there anything to do or to see
in this place?"

"I think so. Plenty."

"Then do show me what you have found. Where are you going?"

"I am going down to the shore somewhere. I have only begun to find
things yet; but I never in my life saw a place where there was so much
to find."

"What, pray? I cannot imagine. I see a little wild bit of ground, and
that is all I see; except the sea beating on the rocks. It is the
forlornest place of amusement I ever heard of in my life!"

"Are you fond of flowers, Miss Caruthers?"

"Flowers? No, not very. O, I like them to dress a dinner table, or to
make rooms look pretty, of course; but I am not what you call 'fond' of
them. That means, loving to dig in the dirt, don't it?"

Lois presently stooped and gathered a flower or two.

"Did yon ever see such lovely white violets?" she said; "and is not
that eyebright delicate, with its edging of colour? There are
quantities of flowers here. And have you noticed how deep and rich the
colours are? No, you have not been here long enough perhaps; but they
are finer than any I ever saw of their kinds."

"What do you find down at the shore?" said Miss Caruthers, looking very
disparagingly at the slight beauties in Lois's fingers. "There are no
flowers there, I suppose?"

"I can hardly get away from the shore, every time I go to it," said
Lois. "O, I have only begun to explore yet. Over on that end of
Appledore there are the old remains of a village, where the people used
to live, once upon a time. I want to go and see that, but I haven't got
there yet. Now take care of your footing, Miss Caruthers--"

They descended the rocks to one of the small coves of the island. Out
of sight now of all save rocks and sea and the tiny bottom of the cove
filled with mud and sand. Even the low bushes which grow so thick on
Appledore were out of sight, huckleberry and bayberry and others; the
wildness and solitude of the spot were perfect. Miss Caruthers found a
dry seat on a rock. Lois began to look carefully about in the mud and
sand.

"What are you looking for?" her companion asked, somewhat scornfully.

"Anything I can find!"

"What can you find in that mud?"

"_This_ is gravel, where I am looking now."

"Well, what is in the gravel?"

"I don't know," said Lois, in the dreamy tone of rapt enjoyment. "I
don't know yet. Plenty of broken shells."

"Broken shells!" ejaculated the other. "Are you collecting broken
shells?"

"Look," said Lois, coming to her and displaying her palm full of sea
treasures. "See the colours of those bits of shell--that's a bit of a
mussel; and that is a piece of a snail shell, I think; and aren't those
little stones lovely?"

"That is because they are wet!" said the other in disgust. "They will
be nothing when they are dry."

Lois laughed and went back to her search; and Miss Julia waited awhile
with impatience for some change in the programme.

"Do you enjoy this, Miss Lothrop?"

"Very much! More than I can in any way tell you!" cried Lois, stopping
and turning to look at her questioner. Her face answered for her; it
was all flushed and bright with delight and the spirit of discovery; a
pretty creature indeed she looked as she stood there on the wet gravel
of the cove; but her face lost brightness for a moment, as Lois
discerned Tom's head above the herbs and grasses that bordered the bank
above the cove. Julia saw the change, and then the cause of it.

"Tom!" said she, "what brought you here?"

"What brought you, I suppose," said Mr. Tom, springing down the bank.
"Miss Lothrop, what can you be doing?" Passing his sister he went to
the other girl's side. And now there were _two_ searching and peering
into the mud and gravel which the tide had left wet and bare; and Miss
Caruthers, sitting on a rock a little above them, looked on; much
marvelling at the follies men will be guilty of when a pretty face
draws them on.

"Tom--Tom!--what do you expect to find?" she cried after awhile. But
Tom was too busy to heed her. And then appeared Mr. Lenox upon the
scene.

"You too!" said Miss Caruthers. "Now you have only to go down into the
mud like the others and complete the situation. Look at Tom! Poking
about to see if he can find a whole snail shell in the wet stuff there.
Look at him! George, a brother is the most vexatious thing to take care
of in the world. Look at Tom!"

Mr. Lenox did, with an amused expression of feature.

"Bad job, Julia," he said.

"It is in one way, but it isn't in another, for I am not going to be
baffled. He shall not make a fool of himself with that girl."

"She isn't a fool."

"What then?" said Julia sharply.

"Nothing. I was only thinking of the materials upon which your judgment
is made up."

"Materials!" echoed Julia. "Yours is made up upon a nice complexion.
That bewilders all men's faculties. Do _you_ think she is very pretty,
George?"

Mr. Lenox had no time to answer, for Lois, and of course Tom, at this
moment left the cove bottom and came towards them. Lois was beaming,
like a child, with such bright, pure pleasure; and coming up, showed
upon her open palm a very delicate little white shell, not a snail
shell by any means. "I have found that!" she proclaimed.

"What is that?" said Julia disdainfully, though not with rudeness.

"You see. Isn't it beautiful? And isn't it wonderful that it should not
be broken? If you think of the power of the waves here, that have beat
to pieces almost everything--rolled and ground and crushed everything
that would break--and this delicate little thing has lived through it."

"There is a power of life in some delicate things," said Tom.

"Power of fiddlestick!" said his sister. "Miss Lothrop, I think this
place is a terrible desert!"

"Then we will not stay here any longer," said Lois. "I am very fond of
these little coves."

"No, no, I mean Appledore generally. It is the stupidest place I ever
was in in my life. There is nothing here."

Lois looked at the lady with an expression of wondering compassion.

"Your experience does not agree with that of Miss Caruthers?" said
Lenox.

"No," said Lois. "Let us take her to the place where you found me this
morning; maybe she would like that."

"We must go, I suppose," groaned Julia, as Mr. Lenox helped her up over
the rocks after the lighter-footed couple that preceded them. "George,
I believe you are in the way."

"Thanks!" said the young man, laughing. "But you will excuse me for
continuing to be in the way."

"I don't know--you see, it just sets Tom free to attend to her. Look at
him--picking those purple irises--as if iris did not grow anywhere
else! And now elderberry blossoms! And he will give her lessons in
botany, I shouldn't wonder. O, Tom's a goose!"

"That disease is helpless," said Lenox, laughing again.

"But George, it is madness!"

Mr. Lenox's laugh rang out heartily at this. His sovereign mistress was
not altogether pleased.

"I do certainly consider--and so do you,--I do certainly consider
unequal marriages to be a great misfortune to all concerned."

"Certainly--inequalities that cannot be made up. For instance, too tall
and too short do not match well together. Or for the lady to be rich
and the man to be poor; that is perilous."

"Nonsense, George! don't be ridiculous! Height is nothing, and money is
nothing; but family--and breeding--and habits--"

"What is her family?" asked Mr. Lenox, pursing up his lips as if for a
whistle.

"No family at all. Just country people, living at Shampuashuh."

"Don't you know, the English middle class is the finest in the world?"

"No! no better than ours."

"My dear, we have no middle class."

"But what about the English middle class? why do you bring it up?"

"It owes its great qualities to its having the mixed blood of the
higher and the lower."

"Ridiculous! What is that to us, if we have no middle class? But don't
you _see_, George, what an unhappy thing it would be for Tom to marry
this girl?"

Mr. Lenox whistled slightly, smiled, and pulled a purple iris blossom
from a tuft growing in a little spot of wet ground. He offered it to
his disturbed companion.

"There is a country flower for you," he observed.

But Miss Caruthers flung the flower impatiently away, and hastened her
steps to catch up with her brother and Lois, who made better speed than
she. Mr. Lenox picked up the iris and followed, smiling again to
himself.

They found Lois seated in her old place, where the gentlemen had seen
her in the morning. She rose at once to give the seat to Miss
Caruthers, and herself took a less convenient one. It was almost a new
scene to Lois, that lay before them now. The lights were from a
different quarter; the colours those of the sinking day; the sea, from
some inexplicable reason, was rolling higher than it had done six hours
ago, and dashed on the rocks and on the reef in beautiful breakers,
sending up now and then a tall jet of foam or a shower of spray. The
hazy mainland shore line was very indistinct under the bright sky and
lowering sun; while every bit of west-looking rock, and every sail, and
every combing billow was touched with warm hues or gilded with a sharp
reflection. The air was like the air nowhere but at the Isles of
Shoals; with the sea's salt strength and freshness, and at times a waft
of perfumes from the land side. Lois drank it with an inexpressible
sense of exhilaration; while her eye went joyously roving from the
lovely light on a sail, to the dancing foam of the breakers, to the
colours of driftwood or seaweed or moss left wet and bare on the rocks,
to the line of the distant ocean, or the soft vapoury racks of clouds
floating over from the west. She well-nigh forgot her companions
altogether; who, however, were less absorbed. Yet for a while they all
sat silent, looking partly at Lois, partly at each other, partly no
doubt at the leaping spray from the broken waves on the reef. There was
only the delicious sound of the splash and gurgle of waters--the scream
of a gull--the breath of the air--the chirrup of a few insects; all was
wild stillness and freshness and pureness, except only that little
group of four human beings. And then, the puzzled vexation and
perplexity in Tom's face, and the impatient disgust in the face of his
sister, were too much for Mr. Lenox's sense of the humorous; and the
silence was broken by a hearty burst of laughter, which naturally
brought all eyes to himself.

"Pardon!" said the young gentleman. "The delight in your face, Julia,
was irresistible."

"Delight!" she echoed. "Miss Lothrop, do you find something here in
which you take pleasure?"

Lois looked round. "Yes," she said simply. "I find something everywhere
to take pleasure in."

"Even at Shampuashuh?"

"At Shampuashuh, of course. That is my home."

"But I never take pleasure in anything at home. It is all such an old
story. Every day is just like any other day, and I know beforehand
exactly how everything will be; and one dress is like another, and one
party is like another. I must go away from home to get any real
pleasure."

Lois wondered if she succeeded.

"That's a nice look-out for you, George," Caruthers remarked.

"I shall know how to make home so agreeable that she will not want to
wander any more," said the other.

"That is what the women do for the men, down our way," said Lois,
smiling. She began to feel a little mischief stirring.

"What sort of pleasures do you find, or make, at home, Miss Lothrop?"
Julia went on. "You are very quiet, are you not?"

"There is always one's work," said Lois lightly. She knew it would be
in vain to tell her questioner the instances that came up in her
memory; the first dish of ripe strawberries brought in to surprise her
grandmother; the new potatoes uncommonly early; the fine yield of her
raspberry bushes; the wonderful beauty of the early mornings in her
garden; the rarer, sweeter beauty of the Bible reading and talk with
old Mrs. Armadale; the triumphant afternoons on the shore, from which
she and her sisters came back with great baskets of long clams; and
countless other visions of home comfort and home peace, things
accomplished and the fruit of them enjoyed. Miss Caruthers could not
understand all this; so Lois answered simply,

"There is always one's work."

"Work! I hate work," cried the other woman. "What do you call work?"

"Everything that is to be done," said Lois. "Everything, except what we
do for mere pleasure. We keep no servant; my sisters and I do all that
there is to do, in doors and out."

"_Out_--of--doors!" cried Miss Caruthers. "What do you mean? You cannot
do the farming?"

"No," said Lois, smiling merrily; "no; not the farming. That is done by
men. But the gardening I do."

"Not seriously?"

"Very seriously. If you will come and see us, I will give you some new
potatoes of my planting. I am rather proud of them. I was just thinking
of them."

"Planting potatoes!" repeated the other lady, not too politely. "Then
_that_ is the reason why you find it a pleasure to sit here and see
those waves beat."

The logical concatenation of this speech was not so apparent but that
it touched all the risible nerves of the party; and Miss Caruthers
could not understand why all three laughed so heartily.

"What did you expect when you came here?" asked Lois, still sparkling
with fun.

"Just what I found!" returned the other rather grumbly.



CHAPTER XV.



TACTICS.



Miss Caruthers carried on the tactics with which she had begun. Lois
had never in her life found her society so diligently cultivated. If
she walked out, Miss Caruthers begged to be permitted to go along; she
wished to learn about the Islands. Lois could not see that she advanced
much in learning; and sometimes wondered that she did not prefer her
brother or her lover as instructors. True, her brother and her lover
were frequently of the party; yet even then Miss Julia seemed to choose
to take her lessons from Lois; and managed as much as possible to
engross her. Lois could see that at such times Tom was often annoyed,
and Mr. Lenox amused, at something, she could not quite tell what; and
she was too inexperienced, and too modest withal, to guess. She only
knew that she was not as free as she would have liked to be. Sometimes
Tom found a chance for a little walk and talk with her alone; and those
quarters of an hour were exceedingly pleasant; Tom told her about
flowers, in a scientific way, that is; and made himself a really
charming companion. Those minutes flew swiftly. But they never were
many. If not Julia, at least Mr. Lenox was sure to appear upon the
scene; and then, though he was very pleasant too, and more than
courteous to Lois, somehow the charm was gone. It was just as well,
Lois told herself; but that did not make her like it. Except with Tom,
he did not enjoy herself thoroughly in the Caruthers society. She felt,
with a sure, secret, fine instinct, what they were not high-bred enough
to hide;--that they did not accept her as upon their own platform. I do
not think the consciousness was plain enough to be put into words;
nevertheless it was decided enough to make her quite willing to avoid
their company. She tried, but she could not avoid it. In the house as
out of the house. Tom would seek her out and sit down beside her; and
then Julia would come to learn a crochet stitch, or Mrs. Caruthers
would call her to remedy a fault in her knitting, or to hold her wool
to be wound; refusing to let Mr. Lenox hold it, under the plea that
Lois did it better; which was true, no doubt. Or Mr. Lenox himself
would join them, and turn everything Tom said into banter; till Lois
could not help laughing, though yet she was vexed.

So days went on. And then something happened to relieve both parties of
the efforts they were making; a very strange thing to happen at the
Isles of Shoals. Mrs. Wishart was taken seriously ill. She had not been
quite well when she came; and she always afterwards maintained that the
air did not agree with her. Lois thought it could not be the air, and
must be some imprudence; but however it was, the fact was undoubted.
Mrs. Wishart was ill; and the doctor who was fetched over from
Portsmouth to see her, said she could not be moved, and must be
carefully nursed. Was it the air? It couldn't be the air, he answered;
nobody ever got sick at the Isles of Shoals. Was it some imprudence?
Couldn't be, he said; there was no way in which she could be imprudent;
she could not help living a natural life at Appledore. No, it was
something the seeds of which she had brought with her; and the strong
sea air had developed it. Reasoning which Lois did not understand; but
she understood nursing, and gave herself to it, night and day. There
was a sudden relief to Miss Julia's watch and ward; nobody was in
danger of saying too many words to Lois now; nobody could get a chance;
she was only seen by glimpses.

"How long is this sort of thing going on?" inquired Mr. Lenox one
afternoon. He and Julia had been spending a very unrefreshing hour on
the piazza doing nothing.

"Impossible to say."

"I'm rather tired of it. How long has Mrs. Wishart been laid up now?"

"A week; and she has no idea of being moved."

"Well, are we fixtures too?"

"You know what I came for, George. If Tom will go, I will, and
thankful."

"Tom," said the gentleman, as Tom at this minute came out of the house,
"have you got enough of Appledore?"

"I don't care about Appledore. It's the fishing." Tom, I may remark,
had been a good deal out in a fishing-boat during this past week.
"That's glorious."

"But you don't care for fishing, old boy."

"O, don't I!"

"No, not a farthing. Seriously, don't you think we might mend our
quarters?"

"You can," said Tom. "Of course I can't go while Mrs. Wishart is sick.
I can't leave those two women alone here to take care of themselves.
You can take Julia and my mother away, where you like."

"And a good riddance," muttered Lenox, as the other ran down the steps
and went off.

"He won't stir," said Julia. "You see how right I was."

"Are you sure about it?"

"Why, of course I am! Quite sure. What are you thinking about?"

"Just wondering whether you might have made a mistake."

"A mistake! How? I don't make mistakes."

"That's pleasant doctrine! But I am not so certain. I have been
thinking whether Tom is likely ever to get anything better."

"Than this girl? George, don't you think he _deserves_ something
better? My brother? What are you thinking of?"

"Tom has got an enormous fancy for her; I can see that. It's not play
with him. And upon my honour, Julia, I do not think she would do any
thing to wear off the fancy."

"Not if she could help it!" returned Julia scornfully.

"She isn't a bit of a flirt."

"You think that is a recommendation? Men like flirts. This girl don't
know how, that is all."

"I do not believe she knows how to do anything wrong."

"Now do set up a discourse in praise of virtue! What if she don't?
That's nothing to the purpose. I want Tom to go into political life."

"A virtuous wife wouldn't hurt him there."

"And an ignorant, country-bred, untrained woman wouldn't help him,
would she?"

"Tom will never want help in political life, for he will never go into
it. Well, I have said my say, and resign myself to Appledore for two
weeks longer. Only, mind you, I question if Tom will ever get anything
as good again in the shape of a wife, as you are keeping him from now.
It is something of a responsibility to play Providence."

The situation therefore remained unchanged for several days more. Mrs.
Wishart needed constant attention, and had it; and nobody else saw Lois
for more than the merest snatches of time. I think Lois made these
moments as short as she could. Tom was in despair, but stuck to his
post and his determination; and with sighs and groans his mother and
sister held fast to theirs. The hotel at Appledore made a good thing of
it.

Then one day Tom was lounging on the piazza at the time of the
steamer's coming in from Portsmouth; and in a short time thereafter a
new guest was seen advancing towards the hotel. Tom gave her a glance
or two; he needed no more. She was middle-aged, plain, and evidently
not from that quarter of the world where Mr. Tom Caruthers was known.
Neatly dressed, however, and coming with an alert, business step over
the grass, and so she mounted to the piazza. There she made straight
for Tom, who was the only person visible.

"Is this the place where a lady is lying sick and another lady is
tendin' her?"

"That _is_ the case here," said Tom politely. "Miss Lothrop is
attending upon a sick friend in this house."

"That's it--Miss Lothrop. I'm her aunt. How's the sick lady? Dangerous?"

"Not at all, I should say," returned Tom; "but Miss Lothrop is very
much confined with her. She will be very glad to see you, I have no
doubt. Allow me to see about your room." And so saying, he would have
relieved the new comer of a heavy handbag.

"Never mind," she said, holding fast. "You're very obliging--but when
I'm away from home I always hold fast to whatever I've got; and I'll go
to Miss Lothrop's room. Are there more folks in the house?"

"Certainly. Several. This way--I will show you."

"Then I s'pose there's plenty to help nurse, and they have no call for
me?"

"I think Miss Lothrop has done the most of the nursing. Your coming
will set her a little more at liberty. She has been very much confined
with her sick friend."

"What have the other folks been about?"

"Not helping much, I am afraid. And of course a man is at a
disadvantage at such a time."

"Are they all men?" inquired Mrs. Marx suddenly.

"No--I was thinking of my own case. I would have been very glad to be
useful."

"O!" said the lady. "That's the sort o' world we live in; most of it
ain't good for much when it comes to the pinch. Thank you--much
obliged."

Tom had guided her up-stairs and along a gallery, and now indicated the
door of Lois's room. Lois was quite as glad to see her aunt as Tom had
supposed she would be.

"Aunty!--Whatever has brought you here, to the Isles of Shoals?"

"Not to see the Isles, you may bet. I've come to look after you."

"Why, I'm well enough. But it's very good of you."

"No, it ain't, for I wanted an excuse to see what the place is like.
You haven't grown thin yet. What's all the folks about, that they let
you do all the nursing?"

"O, it comes to me naturally, being with Mrs. Wishart. Who should do
it?"

"To be sure," said Mrs. Marx; "who should do it? Most folks are good at
keepin' out o' the way when they are wanted. There's one clever chap in
the house--he showed me the way up here; who's he?"

"Fair hair?"

"Yes, and curly. A handsome fellow. And he knows you."

"O, they all know me by this time."

"This one particularly?"

"Well--I knew him in New York."

"I see! What's the matter with this sick woman?"

"I don't know. She is nervous, and feverish, and does not seem to get
well as she ought to do."

"Well, if I was going to get sick, I'd choose some other place than a
rock out in the middle of the ocean. _Seems_ to me I would. One never
knows what one may be left to do."

"One cannot generally choose where one will be sick," said Lois,
smiling.

"Yes, you can," said the other, as sharp as a needle. "If one's in the
wrong place, one can keep up till one can get to the right one. You
needn't tell me. I know it, and I've done it. I've held up when I
hadn't feet to stand upon, nor a head to hold. If you're a mind to, you
can. Nervous, eh? That's the trouble o' folks that haven't enough to
do. Mercy! I don't wonder they get nervous. But you've had a little too
much, Lois, and you show it. Now, you go and lie down. I'll look after
the nerves."

"How are they all at home?"

"Splendid! Charity goes round like a bee in a bottle, as usual. Ma's
well; and Madge is as handsome as ever. Garden's growin' up to weeds,
and I don't see as there's anybody to help it; but that corner peach
tree's ripe, and as good as if you had fifteen gardeners."

"It's time I was home!" said Lois, sighing.

"No, it ain't,--not if you're havin' a good time here. _Are_ you havin'
a good time?"

"Why, I've been doing nothing but take care of Mrs. Wishart for this
week past."

"Well, now I'm here. You go off. Do you like this queer place, I want
to know?"

"Aunty, it is just perfectly delightful!"

"Is it? I don't see it. Maybe I will by and by. Now go off, Lois."

Mrs. Marx from this time took upon herself the post of head nurse. Lois
was free to go out as much as she pleased. Yet she made less use of
this freedom than might have been expected, and still confined herself
unnecessarily to the sick-room.

"Why don't you go?" her aunt remonstrated. "Seems to me you ain't so
dreadful fond of the Isles of Shoals after all."

"If one could be alone!" sighed Lois; "but there is always a pack at my
heels."

"Alone! Is that what you're after? I thought half the fun was to see
the folks."

"Well, some of them," said Lois. "But as sure as I go out to have a
good time with the rocks and the sea, as I like to have it, there comes
first one and then another and then another, and maybe a fourth; and
the game is up."

"Why? I don't see how they should spoil it."

"O, they do not care for the things I care for; the sea is nothing to
them, and the rocks less than nothing; and instead of being quiet, they
talk nonsense, or what seems nonsense to me; and I'd as lieve be at
home."

"What do they go for then?"

"I don't know. I think they do not know what to do with themselves."

"What do they stay here for, then, for pity's sake? If they are tired,
why don't they go away?"

"I can't tell. That is what I have asked myself a great many times.
They are all as well as fishes, every one of them."

Mrs. Marx held her peace and let things go their train for a few days
more. Mrs. Wishart still gave her and Lois a good deal to do, though
her ailments aroused no anxiety. After those few days, Mrs. Marx spoke
again.

"What keeps you so mum?" she said to Lois. "Why don't you talk, as
other folks do?"

"I hardly see them, you know, except at meals."

"Why don't you talk at meal times? that's what I am askin' about. You
can talk as well as anybody; and you sit as mum as a stick."

"Aunty, they all talk about things I do not understand."

"Then I'd talk of something _they_ don't understand. Two can play at
that game."

"It wouldn't be amusing," said Lois, laughing.

"Do you call _their_ talk amusing? It's the stupidest stuff I ever did
hear. I can't make head or tail of it; nor I don't believe they can.
Sounds to me as if they were tryin' amazin' hard to be witty, and
couldn't make it out."

"It sounds a good deal like that," Lois assented.

"They go on just as if you wasn't there!"

"And why shouldn't they?"

"Because you are there."

"I am nothing to them," said Lois quietly.

"Nothing to them! You are worth the whole lot."

"They do not think so."

"And politeness is politeness."

"I sometimes think," said Lois, "that politeness is rudeness."

"Well, I wouldn't let myself be put in a corner so, if I was you."

"But I am in a corner, to them. All the world is where _they_ live; and
I live in a little corner down by Shampuashuh."

"Nobody's big enough to live in more than a corner--if you come to
that; and one corner's as good as another. That's nonsense, Lois."

"Maybe, aunty. But there is a certain knowledge of the world, and habit
of the world, which makes some people very different from other people;
you can't help that."

"I don't want to help it?" said Mrs. Marx. "I wouldn't have you like
them, for all the black sheep in my flock."



CHAPTER XVI.



MRS. MARX'S OPINION.



A few more days went by; and then Mrs. Wishart began to mend; so much
that she insisted her friends must not shut themselves up with her. "Do
go down-stairs and see the people!" she said; "or take your kind aunt,
Lois, and show her the wonders of Appledore. Is all the world gone yet?"

"Nobody's gone," said Mrs. Marx; "except one thick man and one thin
one; and neither of 'em counts."

"Are the Caruthers here?"

"Every man of 'em."

"There is only one man of them; unless you count Mr. Lenox."

"I don't count him. I count that fair-haired chap. All the rest of 'em
are stay in' for him."

"Staying for him!" repeated Mrs. Wishart.

"That's what they say. They seem to take it sort o' hard, that Tom's so
fond of Appledore."

Mrs. Wishart was silent a minute, and then she smiled.

"He spends his time trollin' for blue fish," Mrs. Marx went on.

"Ah, I dare say. Do go down, Mrs. Marx, and take a walk, and see if he
has caught anything."

Lois would not go along; she told her aunt what to look for, and which
way to take, and said she would sit still with Mrs. Wishart and keep
her amused.

At the very edge of the narrow valley in which the house stood, Mrs.
Marx came face to face with Tom Caruthers. Tom pulled off his hat with
great civility, and asked if he could do anything for her.

"Well, you can set me straight, I guess," said the lady. "Lois told me
which way to go, but I don't seem to be any wiser. Where's the old dead
village? South, she said; but in such a little place south and north
seems all alike. _I_ don' know which is south."

"You are not far out of the way," said Tom. "Let me have the pleasure
of showing you. Why did you not bring Miss Lothrop out?"

"Best reason in the world; I couldn't. She would stay and see to Mrs.
Wishart."

"That's the sort of nurse I should like to have take care of me," said
Tom, "if ever I was in trouble."

"Ah, wouldn't you!" returned Mrs. Marx. "That's a kind o' nurses that
ain't in the market. Look here, young man--where are we going?"

"All right," said Tom. "Just round over these rocks. The village was at
the south end of the island, as Miss Lois said. I believe she has
studied up Appledore twice as much as any of the rest of us."

It was a fresh, sunny day in September; everything at Appledore was in
a kind of glory, difficult to describe in words, and which no painter
ever yet put on canvas. There was wind enough to toss the waves in
lively style; and when the two companions came out upon the scene of
the one-time settlement of Appledore, all brilliance of light and air
and colour seemed to be sparkling together. Under this glory lay the
ruins and remains of what had been once homes and dwelling-places of
men. Grass-grown cellar excavations, moss-grown stones and bits of
walls; little else; but a number of those lying soft and sunny in the
September light. Soft, and sunny, and lonely; no trace of human
habitation any longer, where once human activity had been in full play.
Silence, where the babble of voices had been; emptiness, where young
feet and old feet had gone in and out; barrenness, where the fruits of
human industry had been busily gathered and dispensed. Something in the
quiet, sunny scene stilled for a moment the not very sensitive spirits
of the two who had come to visit it; while the sea waves rose and broke
in their old fashion, as they had done on those same rocks in old time,
and would do for generation after generation yet to come. That was
always the same. It made the contrast greater with what had passed and
was passing away.

"There was a good many of 'em."--Mrs. Marx' voice broke the pause which
had come upon the talk.

"Quite a village," her companion assented.

"Why ain't they here now?"

"Dead and gone?" suggested Tom, half laughing.

"Of course! I mean, why ain't the village here, and the people? The
people are somewhere--the children and grandchildren of those that
lived here; what's become of 'em?"

"That's true," said Tom; "they are somewhere. I believe they are to be
found scattered along the coast of the mainland."

"Got tired o' livin' between sea and sky with no ground to speak of.
Well, I should think they would!"

"Miss Lothrop says, on the contrary, that they never get tired of it,
the people who live here; and that nothing but necessity forced the
former inhabitants to abandon Appledore."

"What sort of necessity?"

"Too exposed, in the time of the war."

"Ah! likely. Well, we'll go, Mr. Caruthers; this sort o' thing makes me
melancholy, and that' against my principles to be." Yet she stood
still, looking.

"Miss Lothrop likes this place," Tom remarked.

"Then it don't make her melancholy."

"Does anything?"

"I hope so. She's human."

"But she seems to me always to have the sweetest air of happiness about
her, that ever I saw in a human being."

"Have you got where you can see _air?_" inquired Mrs. Marx sharply. Tom
laughed.

"I mean, that she finds something everywhere to like and to take
pleasure in. Now I confess, this bit of ground, full of graves and old
excavations, has no particular charms for me; and my sister will not
stay here a minute."

"And what does Lois find here to delight her?

"Everything!" said Tom with enthusiasm. "I was with her the first time
she came to this corner of the island,--and it was a lesson, to see her
delight. The old cellars and the old stones, and the graves; and then
the short green turf that grows among them, and the flowers and
weeds--what _I_ call weeds, who know no better--but Miss Lois tried to
make me see the beauty of the sumach and all the rest of it."

"And she couldn't!" said Mrs. Marx. "Well, I can't. The noise of the
sea, and the sight of it, eternally breaking there upon the rocks,
would drive me out of my mind, I believe, after a while." And yet Mrs.
Marx sat down upon a turfy bank and looked contentedly about her.

"Mrs. Marx," said Tom suddenly, "you are a good friend of Miss Lothrop,
aren't you?"

"Try to be a friend to everybody. I've counted sixty-six o' these old
cellars!"

"I believe there are more than that. I think Miss Lothrop said seventy."

"She seems to have told you a good deal."

"I was so fortunate as to be here alone with her. Miss Lothrop is often
very silent in company."

"So I observe," said Mrs. Marx dryly.

"I wish you'd be my friend too!" said Tom, now taking a seat by her
side. "You said you are a friend of everybody."

"That is, of everybody who needs me," said Mrs. Marx, casting a side
look at Tom's handsome, winning countenance. "I judge, young man, that
ain't your case."

"But it is, indeed!"

"Maybe," said Mrs. Marx incredulously. "Go on, and let's hear."

"You will let me speak to you frankly?"

"Don't like any other sort."

"And you will answer me also frankly?"

"I don't know," said the lady, "but one thing I can say, if I've got
the answer, I'll give it to you."

"I don't know who should," said Tom flatteringly, "if not you. I
thought I could trust you, when I had seen you a few times."

"Maybe you won't think so after to-day. But go on. What's the business?"

"It is very important business," said Tom slowly; "and it
concerns--Miss Lothrop."

"You have got hold of me now," said Lois's aunt. "I'll go into the
business, you may depend upon it. What _is_ the business?"

"Mrs. Marx, I have a great admiration for Miss Lothrop."

"I dare say. So have some other folks."

"I have had it for a long while. I came here because I heard she was
coming. I have lost my heart to her, Mrs. Marx."

"Ah!--What are you going to do about it? or what can _I_ do about it?
Lost hearts can't be picked up under every bush."

"I want you to tell me what I shall do."

"What hinders your making up your own mind?"

"It is made up!--long ago."

"Then act upon it. What hinders you? I don't see what I have got to do
with that."

"Mrs. Marx, do you think she would have me if I asked her? As a friend,
won't you tell me?"

"I don't see why I should,--if I knew,--which I don't. I don't see how
it would be a friend's part. Why should I tell you, supposin' I could?
She's the only person that knows anything about it."

Tom pulled his moustache right and left in a worried manner.

"Have you asked her?"

"Haven't had a ghost of a chance, since I have been here!" cried the
young man; "and she isn't like other girls; she don't give a fellow a
bit of help."

Mrs. Marx laughed out.

"I mean," said Tom, "she is so quiet and steady, and she don't talk,
and she don't let one see what she thinks. I think she must know I like
her--but I have not the least idea whether she likes me."

"The shortest way would be to ask her."

"Yes, but you see I can't get a chance. Miss Lothrop is always
up-stairs in that sick-room; and if she comes down, my sister or my
mother or somebody is sure to be running after her."

"Besides you," said Mrs. Marx.

"Yes, besides me."

"Perhaps they don't want to let you have her all to yourself."

"That's the disagreeable truth!" said Tom in a burst of vexed candour.

"Perhaps they are afraid you will do something imprudent if they do not
take care."

"That's what they call it, with their ridiculous ways of looking at
things. Mrs. Marx, I wish people had sense."

"Perhaps they are right. Perhaps they _have_ sense, and it would be
imprudent."

"Why? Mrs. Marx, I am sure _you_ have sense. I have plenty to live
upon, and live as I like. There is no difficulty in my case about ways
and means."

"What is the difficulty, then?"

"You see, I don't want to go against my mother and sister, unless I had
some encouragement to think that Miss Lothrop would listen to me; and I
thought--I hoped--you would be able to help me."

"How can I help you?"

"Tell me what I shall do."

"Well, when it comes to marryin'," said Mrs. Marx, "I always say to
folks, If you can live and get along without gettin' married--don't!"

"Don't get married?"

"Just so," said Mrs. Marx. "Don't get married; not if you can live
without."

"You to speak so!" said Tom. "I never should have thought, Mrs. Marx,
you were one of that sort."

"What sort?"

"The sort that talk against marriage."

"I don't!--only against marryin' the wrong one; and unless it's
somebody that you can't live without, you may be sure it ain't the
right one."

"How many people in the world do you suppose are married on that
principle?"

"Everybody that has any business to be married at all," responded the
lady with great decision.

"Well, honestly, I don't feel as if I could live without Miss Lothrop.
I've been thinking about it for months."

"I wouldn't stay much longer in that state," said Mrs. Marx, "if I was
you. When people don' know whether they're goin' to live or die, their
existence ain't much good to 'em."

"Then you think I may ask her?"

"Tell me first, what would happen if you did--that is, supposin' she
said yes to you, about which I don't know anything, no more'n the
people that lived in these old cellars. What would happen if you did?
and if she did?"

"I would make her happy, Mrs. Marx!"

"Yes," said the lady slowly--"I guess you would; for Lois won't say yes
to anybody _she_ can live without; and I've a good opinion of your
disposition; but what would happen to other people?"

"My mother and sister, you mean?"

"Them, or anybody else that's concerned."

"There is nobody else concerned," said Tom, idly defacing the rocks in
his neighbourhood by tearing the lichen from them. And Mrs. Marx
watched him, and patiently waited.

"There is no sense in it!" he broke out at last. "It is all folly. Mrs.
Marx, what is life good for, but to be happy?"

"Just so," assented Mrs. Marx.

"And haven't I a right to be happy in my own way?"

"If you can."

"So I think! I will ask Miss Lothrop if she will have me, this very
day. I'm determined."

"But I said, _if you can_. Happiness is somethin' besides sugar and
water. What else'll go in?"

"What do you mean?" asked Tom, looking at her.

"Suppose you're satisfied, and suppose _she's_ satisfied. Will
everybody else be?"

Tom went at the rocks again.

"It's my affair--and hers," he said then.

"And what will your mother and sister say?"

"Julia has chosen for herself."

"I should say, she has chosen very well. Does she like your choice."

"Mrs. Marx," said the poor young man, leaving the lichens, "they bother
me to death!"

"Ah? How is that?"

"Always watching, and hanging around, and giving a fellow no chance for
his life, and putting in their word. They call themselves very wise,
but I think it is the other thing."

"They don't approve, then?"

"I don't want to marry money!" cried Tom; "and I don't care for
fashionable girls. I'm tired of 'em. Lois is worth the whole lot. Such
absurd stuff! And she is handsomer than any girl that was in town last
winter."

"They want a fashionable girl," said Mrs. Marx calmly.

"Well, you see," said Tom, "they live for that. If an angel was to come
down from heaven, they would say her dress wasn't cut right, and they
wouldn't ask her to dinner!"

"I don't suppose they'd know how to talk to her either, if they did,"
said Mrs. Marx. "It would be uncomfortable--for them; I don't suppose
an angel can be uncomfortable. But Lois ain't an angel. I guess you'd
better give it up, Mr. Caruthers."

Tom turned towards her a dismayed kind of look, but did not speak.

"You see," Mrs. Marx went on, "things haven't gone very far. Lois is
all right; and you'll come back to life again. A fish that swims in
fresh water couldn't go along very well with one that lives in the
salt. That's how I look at it. Lois is one sort, and you're another. I
don't know but both sorts are good; but they are different, and you
can't make 'em alike."

"I would never want her to be different!" burst out Tom.

"Well, you see, she ain't your sort exactly," Mrs. Marx added, but not
as if she were depressed by the consideration. "And then, Lois is
religious."

"You don't think that is a difficulty? Mrs. Marx, I am not a religious
man myself; at least I have never made any profession; but I assure you
I have a great respect for religion."

"That is what folks say of something a great way off, and that they
don't want to come nearer."

"My mother and sister are members of the church; and I should like my
wife to be, too."

"Why?"

"I told you, I have a great respect for religion; and I believe in it
especially for women."

"I don't see why what's good for them shouldn't be good for you."

"That need be no hindrance," Tom urged.

"Well, I don' know. I guess Lois would think it was. And maybe you
would think it was, too,--come to find out. I guess you'd better let
things be, Mr. Caruthers."

Tom looked very gloomy. "You think she would not have me?" he repeated.

"I think you will get over it," said Mrs. Marx, rising. "And I think
you had better find somebody that will suit your mother and sister."

And after that time, it may be said, Mrs. Marx was as careful of Lois
on the one side as Mrs. and Miss Caruthers were of Tom on the other.
Two or three more days passed away.

"How _is_ Mrs. Wishart?" Miss Julia asked one afternoon.

"First-rate," answered Mrs. Marx. "She's sittin' up. She'll be off and
away before you know it."

"Will you stay, Mrs. Marx, to help in the care of her, till she is able
to move?"

"Came for nothin' else."

"Then I do not see, mother, what good we can do by remaining longer.
Could we, Mrs. Marx?"

"Nothin', but lose your chance o' somethin' better, I should say."

"Tom, do you want to do any more fishing? Aren't you ready to go?"

"Whenever you like," said Tom gloomily.



CHAPTER XVII.



TOM'S DECISION.



The Caruthers family took their departure from Appledore.

"Well, we have had to fight for it, but we have saved Tom," Julia
remarked to Mr. Lenox, standing by the guards and looking back at the
Islands as the steamer bore them away.

"Saved!--"

"Yes!" she said decidedly,--"we have saved him."

"It's a responsibility," said the gentleman, shrugging his shoulders.
"I am not clear that you have not 'saved' Tom from a better thing than
he'll ever find again."

"Perhaps _you'd_ like her!" said Miss Julia sharply. "How ridiculous
all you men are about a pretty face!"

The remaining days of her stay in Appledore Lois roved about to her
heart's content. And yet I will not say that her enjoyment of rocks and
waves was just what it had been at her first arrival. The island seemed
empty, somehow. Appledore is lovely in September and October; and Lois
sat on the rocks and watched the play of the waves, and delighted
herself in the changing colours of sea, and sky, and clouds, and
gathered wild-flowers, and picked up shells; but there was somehow very
present to her the vision of a fair, kindly, handsome face, and eyes
that sought hers eagerly, and hands that were ready gladly with any
little service that there was room to render. She was no longer
troubled by a group of people dogging her footsteps; and she found now
that there had been, however inopportune, a little excitement in that.
It was very well they were gone, she acknowledged; for Mr. Caruthers
_might_ have come to like her too well, and that would have been
inconvenient; and yet it is so pleasant to be liked! Upon the sober
humdrum of Lois's every day home life, Tom Caruthers was like a bit of
brilliant embroidery; and we know how involuntarily the eyes seek out
such a spot of colour, and how they return to it. Yes, life at home was
exceedingly pleasant, but it was a picture in grey; this was a dash of
blue and gold. It had better be grey, Lois said to herself; life is not
glitter. And yet, a little bit of glitter on the greys and browns is so
delightful. Well, it was gone. There was small hope now that anything
so brilliant would ever illuminate her quiet course again. Lois sat on
the rocks and looked at the sea, and thought about it. If they, Tom and
his friends, had not come to Appledore at all, her visit would have
been most delightful; nay, it had been most delightful, whether or no;
but--this and her New York experience had given Lois a new standard by
which to measure life and men. From one point of view, it is true, the
new lost in comparison with the old. Tom and his people were not
"religious." They knew nothing of what made her own life so sweet; they
had not her prospects or joys in looking on towards the far future, nor
her strength and security in view of the trials and vicissitudes of
earth and time. She had the best of it; as she joyfully confessed to
herself, seeing the glorious breaking waves and watching the play of
light on them, and recalling Cowper's words--



   "My Father made them all!"



But there remained another aspect of the matter which raised other
feelings in the girl's mind. The difference in education. Those people
could speak French, and Mr. Caruthers could speak Spanish, and Mr.
Lenox spoke German. Whether well or ill, Lois did not know; but in any
case, how many doors, in literature and in life, stood open to them;
which were closed and locked doors to her! And we all know, that ever
since Bluebeard's time--I might go back further, and say, ever since
Eve's time--Eve's daughters have been unable to stand before a closed
door without the wish to open it. The impulse, partly for good, partly
for evil, is incontestable. Lois fairly longed to know what Tom and his
sister knew in the fields of learning. And there were other fields.
There was a certain light, graceful, inimitable habit of the world and
of society; familiarity with all the pretty and refined ways and uses
of the more refined portions of society; knowledge and practice of
proprieties, as the above-mentioned classes of the world recognize
them; which all seemed to Lois greatly desirable and becoming. Nay, the
said "proprieties" and so forth were not always of the most important
kind; Miss Caruthers could be what Lois considered coolly rude, upon
occasion; and her mother could be carelessly impolite; and Mr. Lenox
could be wanting in the delicate regard which a gentleman should show
to a lady; "I suppose," thought Lois, "he did not think I would know
any better." In these things, these essential things, some of the
farmers of Shampuashuh and their wives were the peers at least, if not
the superiors, of these fine ladies and gentlemen. But in lesser
things! These people knew how to walk gracefully, sit gracefully, eat
gracefully. Their manner and address in all the little details of life,
had the ease, and polish, and charm which comes of use, and habit, and
confidence. The way Mr. Lenox and Tom would give help to a lady in
getting over the rough rocks of Appledore; the deference with which
they would attend to her comfort and provide for her pleasure; the
grace of a bow, the good breeding of a smile; the ease of action which
comes from trained physical and practised mental nature; these and a
great deal more, even the details of dress and equipment which are only
possible to those who know how, and which are instantly seen to be
excellent and becoming, even by those who do not know how; all this had
appealed mightily to Lois's nature, and raised in her longings and
regrets more or less vague, but very real. All that, she would like to
have. She wanted the familiarity with books, and also the familiarity
with the world, which some people had; the secure _à plomb_ and the
easy facility of manner which are so imposing and so attractive to a
girl like Lois. She felt that to these people life was richer, larger,
wider than to her; its riches more at command; the standpoint higher
from which to take a view of the world; the facility greater which
could get from the world what it had to give. And it was a closed door
before which Lois stood. Truly on her side of the door there was very
much that she had and they had not; she knew that, and did not fail to
recognize it and appreciate it. What was the Lord's beautiful creation
to them? a place to kill time in, and get rid of it as fast as
possible. The ocean, to them, was little but a great bath-tub; or a
very inconvenient separating medium, which prevented them from going
constantly to Paris and Rome. To judge by all that appeared, the sky
had no colours for them, and the wind no voices, and the flowers no
speech. And as for the Bible, and the hopes and joys which take their
source there, they knew no more of it _so_ than if they had been
Mahometans. They took no additional pleasure in the things of the
natural world, because those things were made by a Hand that they
loved. Poor people! and Lois knew they were poor; and yet--she said to
herself, and also truly, that the possession of her knowledge would not
be lessened by the possession of _theirs_. And a little pensiveness
mingled for a few days with her enjoyment of Appledore. Meanwhile Mrs.
Wishart was getting well.

"So they have all gone!" she said, a day or two after the Caruthers
party had taken themselves away.

"Yes, and Appledore seems, you can't think how lonely," said Lois. She
had just come in from a ramble.

"You saw a great deal of them, dear?"

"Quite a good deal. Did you ever see such bright pimpernel? Isn't it
lovely?"

"I don't understand how Tom could get away."

"I believe he did not want to go."

"Why didn't you keep him?"

"I!" said Lois with an astonished start. "Why should I keep him, Mrs.
Wishart?"

"Because he likes you so much."

"Does he?" said Lois a little bitterly.

"Yes! Don't you like him? How do you like him, Lois?"

"He is nice, Mrs. Wishart. But if you ask me, I do not think he has
enough strength of character."

"If Tom has let them carry him off against his will, he _is_ rather
weak."

Lois made no answer. Had he? and had they done it? A vague notion of
what might be the truth of the whole transaction floated in and out of
her mind, and made her indignant. Whatever one's private views of the
danger may be, I think no one likes to be taken care of in this
fashion. Of course Tom Caruthers was and could be nothing to her, Lois
said to herself; and of course she could be nothing to him; but that
his friends should fear the contrary and take measures to prevent it,
stirred her most disagreeably. Yes; if things had gone _so_, then Tom
certainly was weak; and it vexed her that he should be weak. Very
inconsistent, when it would have occasioned her so much trouble if he
had been strong! But when is human nature consistent? Altogether this
visit to Appledore, the pleasure of which began so spicily, left rather
a flat taste upon her tongue; and she was vexed at that.

There was another person who probably thought Tom weak, and who was
curious to know how he had come out of this trial of strength with his
relations; but Mr. Dillwyn had wandered off to a distance, and it was
not till a month later that he saw any of the Caruthers. By that time
they were settled in their town quarters for the winter, and there one
evening he called upon them. He found only Julia and her mother.

"By the way," said he, when the talk had rambled on for a while, "how
did you get on at the Isles of Shoals?"

"We had an awful time," said Julia. "You cannot conceive of anything so
slow."

"How long did you stay?"

"O, ages! We were there four or five weeks. Imagine, if you can.
Nothing but sea and rocks, and no company!"

"No company! What kept you there?"

"O, Tom!"

"What kept Tom?"

"Mrs. Wishart got sick, you see, and couldn't get away, poor soul! and
that made her stay so long."

"And you had to stay too, to nurse her?"

"No, nothing of that. Miss Lothrop was there, and she did the nursing;
and then a ridiculous aunt of hers came to help her."

"You staid for sympathy?"

"Don't be absurd, Philip! You know we were kept by Tom. We could not
get him away."

"What made Tom want to stay?"

"O, that girl."

"How did you get him away at last?"

"Just because we stuck to him. No other way. He would undoubtedly have
made a fool of himself with that girl--he was just ready to do it--but
we never left him a chance. George and I, and mother, we surrounded
him," said Julia, laughing; "we kept close by him; we never left them
alone. Tom got enough of it at last, and agreed, very melancholy, to
come away. He is dreadfully in the blues yet."

"You have a good deal to answer for, Julia."

"Now, don't, Philip! That's what George says. It is _too_ absurd. Just
because she has a pretty face. All you men are bewitched by pretty
faces."

"She has a good manner, too."

"Manner? She has no manner at all; and she don't know anything, out of
her garden. We have saved Tom from a great danger. It would be a
terrible thing, perfectly _terrible_, to have him marry a girl who is
not a lady, nor even an educated woman."

"You think you could not have made a lady of her?"

"Mamma, do hear Philip! isn't he too bad? Just because that girl has a
little beauty. I wonder what there is in beauty, it turns all your
heads! Mamma, do you hear Mr. Dillwyn? he wishes we had let Tom have
his head and marry that little gardening girl."

"Indeed I do not," said Philip seriously. "I am very glad you succeeded
in preventing it But allow me to ask if you are sure you _have_
succeeded? Is it quite certain Tom will not have his head after all? He
may cheat you yet."

"O no! He's very melancholy, but he has given it up. If he don't, we'll
take him abroad in the spring. I think he has given it up. His being
melancholy looks like it."

"True. I'll sound him when I get a chance."

The chance offered itself very soon; for Tom came in, and when Dillwyn
left the house, Tom went to walk with him. They sauntered along Fifth
Avenue, which was pretty full of people still, enjoying the mild air
and beautiful starlight.

"Tom, what did you do at the Isles of Shoals?" Mr. Dillwyn asked
suddenly.

"Did a lot of fishing. Capital trolling."

"All your fishing done on the high seas, eh?"

"All my successful fishing."

"What was the matter? Not a faint heart?"

"No. It's disgusting, the whole thing!" Tom broke out with hearty
emphasis.

"You don't like to talk about it? I'll spare you, if you say so."

"I don't care what you do to me," said Tom; "and I have no objection to
talk about it--to you."

Nevertheless he stopped.

"Have you changed your mind?"

"I shouldn't change my mind, if I lived to be as old as Methuselah!"

"That's right. Well, then,--the thing is going on?"

"It _isn't_ going on! and I suppose it never will!"

"Had the lady any objection? I cannot believe that."

"I don't know," said Tom, with a big sigh. "I almost think she hadn't;
but I never could find that out."

"What hindered you, old fellow?"

"My blessed relations. Julia and mother made such a row. I wouldn't
have minded the row neither; for a man must marry to please himself and
not his mother; and I believe no man ever yet married to please his
sister; but, Philip, they didn't give me a minute. I could never join
her anywhere, but Julia would be round the next corner; or else George
would be there before me. George must put his oar in; and between them
they kept it up."

"And you think she liked you?"

Tom was silent a while.

"Well," said he at last, "I won't swear; for you never know where a
woman is till you've got her; but if she didn't, all I have to say is,
signs aren't good for anything."

It was Philip now who was silent, for several minutes.

"What's going to be the upshot of it?"

"O, I suppose I shall go abroad with Julia and George in the spring,
and end by taking an orthodox wife some day; somebody with blue blood,
and pretension, and nothing else. My people will be happy, and the
family name will be safe."

"And what will become of her?"

"O, she's all right. She won't break her heart about me. She isn't that
sort of girl," Tom Caruthers said gloomily. "Do you know, I admire her
immensely, Philip! I believe she's good enough for anything. Maybe
she's too good. That's what her aunt hinted."

"Her aunt! Who's she?"

"She's a sort of a snapping turtle. A good sort of woman, too. I took
counsel with her, do you know, when I found it was no use for me to try
to see Lois. I asked her if she would stand my friend. She was as sharp
as a fish-hook, and about as ugly a customer; and she as good as told
me to go about my business."

"Did she give reasons for such advice?"

"O yes! She saw through Julia and mother as well as I did; and she
spoke as any friend of Lois would, who had a little pride about her. I
can't blame her."

Silence fell again, and lasted while the two young men walked the
length of several blocks. Then Mr. Dillwyn began again.

"Tom, there ought to be no more shilly-shallying about this matter."

"No _more!_ Yes, you're right. I ought to have settled it long ago,
before Julia and mother got hold of it. That's where I made a mistake."

"And you think it too late?"

Tom hesitated. "It's too late. I've lost my time. _She_ has given me
up, and mother and Julia have set their hearts that I should give her
up. I am not a match for them. Is a man ever a match for a woman, do
you think, Dillwyn, if she takes something seriously in hand?"

"Will you go to Europe next spring?"

"Perhaps. I suppose so."

"If you do, perhaps I will join the party--that is, if you will all let
me."

So the conversation went over into another channel.



CHAPTER XVIII.



MR. DILLWYN'S PLAN.



Two or three evenings after this, Philip Dillwyn was taking his way
down the Avenue, not up it. He followed it down to nearly its lower
termination, and turned up into Clinton Place, where he presently run
up the steps of a respectable but rather dingy house, rang the bell,
and asked for Mrs. Barclay.

The room where he awaited her was one of those dismal places, a public
parlour in a boarding-house of second or third rank. Respectable, but
forlorn. Nothing was ragged or untidy, but nothing either had the least
look of home comfort or home privacy. As to home elegance, or luxury,
the look of such a room is enough to put it out of one's head that
there can be such things in the world. The ugly ingrain carpet, the
ungraceful frame of the small glass in the pier, the abominable
portraits on the walls, the disagreeable paper with which they were
hung, the hideous lamps on the mantelpiece;--wherever the eye looked,
it came back with uneasy discomfort. Philip's eye came back to the
fire; and _that_ was not pleasant to see; for the fireplace was not
properly cared for, the coals were lifeless, and evidently more
economical than useful. Philip looked very out of place in these
surroundings. No one could for a moment have supposed him to be living
among them. His thoroughly well-dressed figure, the look of easy
refinement in his face, the air of one who is his own master, so
inimitable by one whose circumstances master him; all said plainly that
Mr. Dillwyn was here only on account of some one else. It could be no
home of his.

As little did it seem fitted to be the home of the lady who presently
entered. A tall, elegant, dignified woman; in the simplest of dresses,
indeed, which probably bespoke scantiness of means, but which could not
at all disguise or injure the impression of high breeding and
refinement of manners which her appearance immediately produced. She
was a little older than her visitor, yet not much; a woman in the prime
of life she would have been, had not life gone hard with her; and she
had been very handsome, though the regular features were shadowed with
sadness, and the eyes had wept too many tears not to have suffered loss
of their original brightness. She had the slow, quiet manner of one
whose life is played out; whom the joys and sorrows of the world have
both swept over, like great waves, and receding, have left the world a
barren strand for her; where the tide is never to rise again. She was a
sad-eyed woman, who had accepted her sadness, and could be quietly
cheerful on the surface of it. Always, at least, as far as good
breeding demanded. She welcomed Mr. Dilhvyn with a smile and evident
genuine pleasure.

"How do I find you?" he said, sitting down.

"Quite well. Where have you been all summer? I need not ask how _you_
are."

"Useless things always thrive," he said. "I have been wandering about
among the mountains and lakes in the northern part of Maine."

"That is very wild, isn't it?"

"Therein lies its charm."

"There are not roads and hotels?"

"The roads the lumberers make. And I saw one hotel, and did not want to
see any more."

"How did you find your way?"

"I had a guide--an Indian, who could speak a little English."

"No other company?"

"Rifle and fishing-rod."

"Good work for them there, I suppose?"

"Capital. Moose, and wild-fowl, and fish, all of best quality. I wished
I could have sent you some."

"Thank you for thinking of me. I should have liked the game too."

"Are you comfortable here?" he asked, lowering his voice. Just then the
door opened; a man's head was put in, surveyed the two people in the
room, and after a second's deliberation disappeared again.

"You have not this room to yourself?" inquired Dilhvyn.

"O no. It is public property."

"Then we may be interrupted?"

"At any minute. Do you want to talk to me, '_unter vier Augen_'?"

"I want no more, certainly. Yes, I came to talk to you; and I cannot,
if people keep coming in." A woman's head had now shown itself for a
moment. "I suppose in half an hour there will be a couple of old
gentlemen here playing backgammon. I see a board. Have you not a corner
to yourself?"

"I have a corner," she said, hesitating; "but it is only big enough to
hold me. However, if you will promise to make no remarks, and to 'make
believe,' as the children say, that the place is six times as large as
it is, I will, for once take you to it. I would take no one else."

"The honour will not outweigh the pleasure," said Dillwyn as he rose.
"But why must I put such a force upon my imagination?"

"I do not want you to pity me. Do you mind going up two flights of
stairs?"

"I would not mind going to the top of St. Peter's!"

"The prospect will be hardly like that."

She led the way up two flights of stairs. At the top of them, in the
third story, she opened the door of a little end room, cut off the
hall. Dillwyn waited outside till she had found her box of matches and
lit a lamp; then she let him come in and shut the door. It was a little
bit of a place indeed, about six feet by twelve. A table, covered with
books and papers, hanging shelves with more books, a work-basket, a
trunk converted into a divan by a cushion and chintz cover, and a
rocking-chair, about filled the space. Dillwyn took the divan, and Mrs.
Barclay the chair. Dillwyn looked around him.

"I should never dream of pitying the person who can be contented here,"
he said.

"Why?"

"The mental composition must be so admirable! I suppose you have
another corner, where to sleep?"

"Yes," she said, smiling; "the other little room like this at the other
end of the hall. I preferred this arrangement to having one larger room
where I must sit and sleep both. Old habits are hard to get rid of. Now
tell me more about the forests of Maine. I have always had a curiosity
about that portion of the country."

He did gratify her for a while; told of his travels, and camping out;
and of his hunting and fishing; and of the lovely scenery of the lakes
and hills. He had been to the summit of Mount Kataydin, and he had
explored the waters in 'birches;' and he told of odd specimens of
humanity he had found on his way; but after a while of this talk Philip
came suddenly back to his starting point.

"Mrs. Barclay, you are not comfortable here?"

"As well as I can expect," she said, in her quiet, sad manner. The
sadness was not obtrusive, not on the surface; it was only the
background to everything.

"But it is not comfort. I am not insulting you with pity, mind; but I
am thinking. Would you not like better to be in the country? in some
pleasant place?"

"You do not call this a pleasant place?" she said, with her faint
smile. "Now I do. When I get up here, and shut the door, I am my own
mistress."

"Would you not like the country?"

"It is out of my reach, Philip. I must do something, you know, to keep
even this refuge."

"I think you said you would not be averse to doing something in the
line of giving instruction?"

"If I had the right pupils. But there is no chance of that. There are
too many competitors. The city is overstocked."

"We were talking of the country."

"Yes, but it is still less possible in the country. I could not find
_there_ the sort of teaching I could do. All requisitions of that sort,
people expect to have met in the city; and they come to the city for
it,"

"I do not speak with certain'ty," said Philip, "but I _think_ I know a
place that would suit you. Good air, pleasant country, comfortable
quarters, and moderate charges. And if you went _there_, there is work."

"Where is it?"

"On the Connecticut shore--far down the Sound. Not too far from New
York, though; perfectly accessible."

"Who lives there?"

"It is a New England village, and you know what those are. Broad grassy
streets, and shadowy old elms, and comfortable houses; and the sea not
far off. Quiet, and good air, and people with their intelligence alive.
There is even a library."

"And among these comfortable inhabitants, who would want to be troubled
with me?"

"I think I know. I think I know just the house, where your coming would
be a boon. They are _not_ very well-to-do. I have not asked, but I am
inclined to believe they would be glad to have you."

"Who are they?"

"A household of women. The father and mother are dead; the grandmother
is there yet, and there are three daughters. They are relations of an
old friend of mine, indeed a connection of mine, in the city. So I know
something about them."

"Not the people themselves?"

"Yes, I know the people,--so far as one specimen goes. I fancy they are
people you could get along with."

Mrs. Barclay looked a little scrutinizingly at the young man. His face
revealed nothing, more than a friendly solicitude. But he caught the
look, and broke out suddenly with a change of subject.

"How do you women get along without cigars? What is your substitute?"

"What does the cigar, to you, represent?"

"Soothing and comforting of the nerves--aids to thought--powerful helps
to good humour--something to do--"

"There! now you have it. Philip you are talking nonsense. Your nerves
are as steady and sound as a granite mountain; you can think without
help of any extraneous kind; your good-humour is quite as fair as most
people's; but--you do want something to do! I cannot bear to have you
waste your life in smoke, be it never so fragrant."

"What would you have me do?"

"Anything! so you were hard at work, and _doing_ work."

"There is nothing for me to do."

"That cannot be," said she, shaking her head.

"Propose something."

"You have no need to work for yourself," she said; "so it must be for
other people. Say politics."

"If ever there was anything carried on purely for selfish interests, it
is the business you name."

"The more need for some men to go into it _not_ for self, but for the
country."

"It's a Maelstrom; one would be sure to get drawn in. And it is a dirty
business. You know the proverb about touching pitch."

"It need not be so, Philip."

"It brings one into disgusting contact and associations. My cigar is
better."

"It does nobody any good except the tobacconist. And, Philip, it helps
this habit of careless letting everything go, which you have got into."

"I take care of myself, and of my money," he said.

"Men ought to live for more than to take care of themselves."

"I was just trying to take care of somebody else, and you head me off!
You should encourage a fellow better. One must make a beginning. And I
_would_ like to be of use to somebody, if I could."

"Go on," she said, with her faint smile again. "How do you propose that
I shall meet the increased expenditures of your Connecticut paradise?"

"You would like it?" he said eagerly.

"I cannot tell. But if the people are as pleasant as the place--it
would be a paradise. Still, I cannot afford to live in paradise, I am
afraid."

"You have only heard half my plan. It will cost you nothing. You have
heard only what you are to get--not what you are to give."

"Let me hear. What am I to give?"

"The benefits of your knowledge of the world, and knowledge of
literature, and knowledge of languages, to two persons who need and are
with out them all."

"'Two persons.' What sort of persons?"

"Two of the daughters I spoke of."

Mrs. Barclay was silent a minute, looking at him.

"Whose plan is this?"

"Your humble servant's. As I said, one must make a beginning; and this
is my beginning of an attempt to do good in the world."

"How old are these two persons?"

"One of them, about eighteen, I judge. The other, a year or two older."

"And they wish for such instruction?"

"I believe they would welcome it. But they know nothing about the
plan--and must not know," he added very distinctly, meeting Mrs.
Barclay's eyes with praiseworthy steadiness.

"What makes you think they would be willing to pay for my services,
then? Or, indeed, how could they do it?"

"They are not to do it. They are to know nothing whatever about it.
They are not able to pay for any such advantages. Here comes in the
benevolence of my plan. You are to do it for _me_, and I am to pay the
worth of the work; which I will do to the full. It will much more than
meet the cost of your stay in the house. You can lay up money," he
said, smiling.

"Phil," said Mrs. Barclay, "what is behind this very odd scheme?"

"I do not know that anything--beyond the good done to two young girls,
and the good done to you."

"It is not that," she said. "This plan never originated in your regard
for my welfare solely."

"No. I had an eye to theirs also."

"_Only_ to theirs and mine, Phil?" she asked, bending a keen look upon
him. He laughed, and changed his position, but did not answer.

"Philip, Philip, what is this?"

"You may call it a whim, a fancy, a notion. I do not know that anything
will ever come of it. I could wish there might--but that is a very
cloudy and misty château en Espagne, and I do not much look at it. The
present thing is practical. Will you take the place, and do what you
can for these girls?"

"What ever put this thing in your head?"

"What matter, if it is a good thing?"

"I must know more about it. Who are these people?"

"Connections of Mrs. Wishart. Perfectly respectable."

"_What_ are they, then?"

"Country people. They belong, I suppose, to the farming population of a
New England village. That is very good material."

"Certainly--for some things. How do they live--by keeping boarders?"

"Nothing of the kind! They live, I suppose,--I don't know how they
live; and I do not care. They live as farmers, I suppose. But they are
poor."

"And so, without education?"

"Which I am asking you to supply."

"Phil, you are interested in one of these girls?"

"Didn't I tell you I was interested in both of them?" he said,
laughing. And he rose now, and stood half leaning against the door of
the little room, looking down at Mrs. Barclay; and she reviewed him. He
looked exactly like what he was; a refined and cultivated man of the
world, with a lively intelligence in full play, and every instinct and
habit of a gentleman. Mrs. Barclay looked at him with a very grave face.

"Philip, this is a very crazy scheme!" she said, after a minute or two
of mutual consideration.

"I cannot prove it anything else," he said lightly. "Time must do that."

"I do not think Time will do anything of the kind. What Time does
ordinarily, is to draw the veil off the follies our passions and
fancies have covered up."

"True; and there is another work Time some times does. He sometimes
draws forth a treasure from under the encumbering rubbish that hid it,
and lets it appear for the gold it is."

"Philip, you have never lost your heart to one of these girls?" said
Mrs. Barclay, with an expression of real and grave anxiety.

"Not exactly."

"But your words mean that."

"They are not intended to convey any such meaning. Why should they?"

"Because if they do not mean that, your plan is utterly wild and
extravagant. And if they do--"

"What then?"

"_Then_ it would be far more wild and extravagant. And deplorable."

"See there the inconsistency of you good people!" said Mr. Dillwyn,
still speaking lightly. "A little while ago you were urging me to make
myself useful. I propose a way, in which I want your co-operation,
calculated to be highly beneficial in a variety of ways,--and I hit
upon hindrances directly."

"Philip, it isn't that. I cannot bear to think of your marrying a woman
unworthy of you."

"I still less!" he assured her, with mock gravity.

"And that is what you are thinking of. A woman without education,
without breeding, without knowledge of the world, without _anything_,
that could make her a fit companion for you. Philip, give this up!"

"Not my plan," said he cheerfully. "The rest is all in your
imagination. What you have to do, if you will grant my prayer, is to
make this little country girl the exact opposite of all that. You will
do it, won't you?"

"Where will you be?"

"Not near, to trouble you. Probably in Europe. I think of going with
the Caruthers in the spring."

"What makes you think this girl wants--I mean, desires--education?"

"If she does not, then the fat's in the fire, that's all."

"I did not know you were so romantic, before."

"Romantic! Could anything be more practical? And I think it will be so
good for you, in that sea air."

"I would rather never smell the sea air, if this is going to be for
your damage. Does the girl know you are an admirer of hers?"

"She hardly knows I am in the world! O yes, she has seen me, and I have
talked with her; by which means I come to know that labour spent on her
will not be spent in vain. But of me _she_ knows nothing."

"After talking with you!" said Mrs. Barclay. "What else is she?
Handsome?"

"Perhaps I had better let you judge of that. I could never marry a mere
pretty face, I think. But there is a wonderful charm about this
creature, which I do not yet understand. I have never been able to find
out what is the secret of it."

"A pretty face and a pink cheek!" said Mrs. Barclay, with half a groan.
"You are all alike, you men! Now we women--Philip, is the thing mutual
already? Does she think of you as you think of her?"

"She does not think of me at all," said he, sitting down again, and
facing Mrs. Barclay with an earnest face. "She hardly knows me. Her
attention has been taken up, I fancy, with another suitor."

"Another suitor! You are not going to be Quixote enough to educate a
wife for another man?"

"No," said he, half laughing. "The other man is out of the way, and
makes no more pretension."

"Rejected? And how do you know all this so accurately?"

"Because he told me. Now have you done with objections?"

"Philip, this is a very blind business! You may send me to this place,
and I may do my best, and you may spend your money,--and at the end of
all, she may marry somebody else; or, which is quite on the cards, you
may get another fancy."

"Well," said he, "suppose it. No harm will be done. As I never had any
fancy whatever before, perhaps your second alternative is hardly
likely. The other I must risk, and you must watch against."

Mrs. Barclay shook her head, but the end was, she yielded.



CHAPTER XIX.



NEWS.



November had come. It was early in the month still; yet, as often
happens, the season was thoroughly defined already. Later, perhaps,
some sweet relics or reminders of October would come in, or days of the
soberer charm which October's successor often brings; but just now, a
grey sky and a brown earth and a wind with no tenderness in it banished
all thought of such pleasant times. The day was dark and gloomy. So the
fire which burned bright in the kitchen of Mrs. Armadale's house showed
particularly bright, and its warm reflections were exceedingly welcome
both to the eye and to the mind. It was a wood fire, in an open
chimney, for Mrs. Armadale would sit by no other; and I call the place
the kitchen, for really a large portion of the work of the kitchen was
done there; however, there was a stove in an adjoining room, which
accommodated most of the boilers and kettles in use, while the room
itself was used for all the "mussy" work. Nevertheless, it was only
upon occasion that fire was kindled in that outer room, economy in fuel
forbidding that two fires should be all the while kept going.

In the sitting-room kitchen, then, this November afternoon, the whole
family were assembled. The place was as nice as a pin, and as neat as
if no work were ever done there. All the work of the day, indeed, was
over; and even Miss Charity had come to sit down with the rest,
knitting in hand. They had all changed their dresses and put off their
big aprons, and looked unexceptionably nice and proper; only, it is
needless to say, with no attempt at a fashionable appearance. Their
gowns were calico; collars and cuffs of plain linen; and the white
aprons they all wore were not fine nor ornamented. Only the old lady,
who did no housework any longer, was dressed in a stuff gown, and wore
an apron of black silk. Charity, as I said, was knitting; so was her
grandmother. Madge was making more linen collars. Lois sat by her
grandmother's chair, for the minute doing nothing.

"What do you expect to do for a bonnet, Lois?" Charity broke the
silence.

"Or I either?" put in Madge. "Or you yourself, Charity? We are all in
the same box."

"I wish our hats were!" said the elder sister.

"I have not thought much about it," Lois answered. "I suppose, if
necessary, I shall wear my straw."

"Then you'll have nothing to wear in the summer! It's robbing Peter to
pay Paul."

"Well," said Lois, smiling,--"if Paul's turn comes first. I cannot look
so long ahead as next summer."

"It'll be here before you can turn round," said Charity, whose knitting
needles flew without her having any occasion to watch them. "And then,
straw is cold in winter."

"I can tie a comforter over my ears."

"That would look poverty-stricken."

"I suppose," said Madge slowly, "that is what we are. It looks like it,
just now."

"'The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich,'" Mrs. Armadale said.

"Yes, mother," said Charity; "but our cow died because she was tethered
carelessly."

"And our hay failed because there was no rain," Madge added. "And our
apples gave out because they killed themselves with bearing last year."

"You forget, child, it is the Lord 'that giveth rain, both the former
and the latter, in his season.'"

"But he _didn't_ give it, mother; that's what I'm talking about;
neither the former _nor_ the latter; though what that means, I'm sure I
don't know; we have it all the year round, most years."

"Then be contented if a year comes when he does not send it."

"Grandmother, it'll do for you to talk; but what are we girls going to
do without bonnets?"

"Do without," said Lois archly, with the gleam of her eye and the arch
of her pretty brow which used now and then to bewitch poor Tom
Caruthers.

"We have hardly apples to make sauce of," Charity went on. "If it had
been a good year, we could have got our bonnets with our apples,
nicely. Now, I don't see where they are to come from."

"Don't wish for what the Lord don't send, child," said Mrs. Armadale.

"O mother! that's a good deal to ask," cried Charity. "It's very well
for you, sitting in your arm-chair all the year round; but we have to
put our heads out; and for one, I'd rather have something on them.
Lois, haven't you got anything to do, that you sit there with your
hands in your lap?"

"I am going to the post-office," said Lois, rising; "the train's in. I
heard the whistle."

The village street lay very empty, this brown November day; and so, to
Lois's fancy, lay the prospect of the winter. Even so; brown and
lightless, with a chill nip in the air that dampened rather than
encouraged energy. She was young and cheery-tempered; but perhaps there
was a shimmer yet in her memory of the colours on the Isles of Shoals;
at any rate the village street seemed dull to her and the day
forbidding. She walked fast, to stir her spirits. The country around
Shampuashuh is flat; never a hill or lofty object of any kind rose upon
her horizon to suggest wider look-outs and higher standing-points than
her present footing gave her. The best she could see was a glimpse of
the distant Connecticut, a little light blue thread afar off; and I
cannot tell why, what she thought of when she saw it was Tom Caruthers.
I suppose Tom was associated in her mind with any wider horizon than
Shampuashuh street afforded. Anyhow, Mr. Caruthers' handsome face came
be fore her; and a little, a very little, breath of regret escaped her,
because it was a face she would see no more. Yet why should she wish to
see it? she asked herself. Mr. Caruthers could be nothing to her; he
_never_ could be anything to her; for he knew not and cared not to know
either the joys or the obligations of religion, in which Lois's whole
life was bound up. However, though he could be nothing to her, Lois had
a woman's instinctive perception that she herself was, or had been,
something to him; and that is an experience a simple girl does not
easily forget. She had a kindness for him, and she was pretty sure he
had more than a kindness for her, or would have had, if his sister had
let him alone. Lois went back to her Appledore experiences, revolving
and studying them, and understanding them a little better now, she
thought, than at the time. At the time she had not understood them at
all. It was just as well! she said to herself. She could never have
married him. But why did his friends not want him to marry her? She was
in the depths of this problem when she arrived at the post-office.

The post-office was in the further end of a grocery store, or rather a
store of varieties, such as country villages find convenient. From
behind a little lattice the grocer's boy handed her a letter, with the
remark that she was in luck to-day. Lois recognized Mrs. Wishart's
hand, and half questioned the assertion. What was this? a new
invitation? That cannot be, thought Lois; I was with her so long last
winter, and now this summer again for weeks and weeks-- And, anyhow, I
could not go if she asked me. I could not even get a bonnet to go in;
and I could not afford the money for the journey.

She hoped it was not an invitation. It is hard to have the cup set to
your lips, if you are not to drink it; any cup; and a visit to Mrs.
Wishart was a very sweet cup to Lois. The letter filled her thoughts
all the way home; and she took it to her own room at once, to have the
pleasure, or the pain, mastered before she told of it to the rest of
the family. But in a very few minutes Lois came flying down-stairs,
with light in her eyes and a sudden colour in her cheeks.

"Girls, I've got some news for you!" she burst in.

Charity dropped her knitting in her lap. Madge, who was setting the
table for tea, stood still with a plate in her hand. All eyes were on
Lois.

"Don't say news never comes! We've got it to-day."

"What? Who is the letter from?" said Charity.

"The letter is from Mrs. Wishart, but that does not tell you anything."

"O, if it is from Mrs. Wishart, I suppose the news only concerns you,"
said Madge, setting down her plate.

"Mistaken!" cried Lois. "It concerns us all. Madge, don't go off. It is
such a big piece of news that I do not know how to begin to give it to
you; it seems as if every side of it was too big to take hold of for a
handle. Mother, listen, for it concerns you specially."

"I hear, child." And Mrs. Armadale looked interested and curious.

"It's delightful to have you all looking like that," said Lois, "and to
know it's not for nothing. You'll look more 'like that' when I've told
you--if ever I can begin."

"My dear, you are quite excited," said the old lady.

"Yes, grandmother, a little. It's so seldom that anything happens,
here."

"The days are very good, when nothing happens. I think," said the old
lady softly.

"And now something has really happened--for once. Prick up your ears,
Charity! Ah, I see they are pricked up already," Lois went on merrily.
"Now listen. This letter is from Mrs. Wishart."

"She wants you again!" cried Madge.

"Nothing of the sort. She asks--"

"Why don't you read the letter?"

"I will; but I want to tell you first. She says there is a certain
friend of a friend of hers--a very nice person, a widow lady, who would
like to live in the country if she could find a good place; and Mrs.
Wishart wants to know, if _we_ would like to have her in our house."

"To board?" cried Madge.

Lois nodded, and watched the faces around her.

"We never did that before," said Madge.

"No. The question is, whether we will do it now."

"Take her to board!" repeated Charity. "It would be a great bother.
What room would you give her?"

"Rooms. She wants two. One for a sitting-room."

"Two! We couldn't, unless we gave her our best parlour, and had none
for ourselves. _That_ wouldn't do."

"Unless she would pay for it," Lois suggested.

"How much would she pay? Does Mrs. Wishart say?"

"Guess, girls! She would pay--twelve dollars a week."

Charity almost jumped from her chair. Madge stood leaning with her
hands upon the table and stared at her sister. Only the old grandmother
went on now quietly with her knitting. The words were re-echoed by both
sisters.

"Twelve dollars a week! Fifty dollars a month!" cried Madge, and
clapped her hands. "We can have bonnets all round; and the hay and the
apples won't matter. Fifty dollars a month! Why, Lois!--"

"It would be an awful bother," said Charity.

"Mrs. Wishart says not. At least she says this lady--this Mrs.
Barclay--is a delightful person, and we shall like her so much we shall
not mind the trouble. Besides, I do not think it will be so much
trouble. And we do not use our parlour much. I'll read you the letter
now."

So she did; and then followed an eager talk.

"She is a city body, of course. Do you suppose she will be contented
with our ways of going on?" Charity queried.

"What ways do you mean?"

"Well--will our table suit her?"

"We can make it suit her," said Madge. "Just think--with fifty dollars
a month--"

"But we're not going to keep a cook," Charity went on. "I won't do
that. I can do _all_ the work of the house, but I can't do half of it.
And if I do the cooking, I shall do it just as I have always done it. I
can't go to fussing. It'll be country ways she'll be treated to; and
the question is, how she'll like 'em?"

"She can try," said Lois.

"And then, maybe she'll be somebody that'll take airs."

"Perhaps," said Lois, laughing; "but not likely. What if she did,
Charity? That would be her affair."

"It would be my affair to bear it," said Charity grimly.

"Daughters," said Mrs. Armadale gently, "suppose we have some tea."

This suggestion brought all to their bearings. Madge set the table
briskly, Charity made the tea, Lois cut bread and made toast; and
presently talking and eating went on in the harmonious combination
which is so agreeable.

"If she comes," said Lois, "there must be curtains to the parlour
windows. I can make some of chintz, that will look pretty and not cost
much. And there must be a cover for the table."

"Why must there? The table is nice mahogany," said Charity.

"It looks cold and bare so. All tables in use have covers, at Mrs.
Wishart's."

"I don't see any sense in that. What's the good of it?"

"Looks pretty and comfortable."

"That's nothing but a notion. I don't believe in notions. You'll tell
me next our steel forks won't do."

"Well, I do tell you that. Certainly they will not do, to a person
always accustomed to silver."

"That's nothing but uppishness, Lois. I can't stand that sort of thing.
Steel's _just_ as good as silver, only it don't cost so much; that's
all."

"It don't taste as well."

"You don't need to eat your fork."

"No, but you have to touch your lips to it."

"How does that hurt you, I want to know?"

"It hurts my taste," said Lois; "and so it is uncomfortable. If Mrs.
Barclay comes, I should certainly get some plated forks. Half a dozen
would not cost much."

"Mother," said Charity, "speak to Lois! She's getting right worldly, I
think. Set her right, mother!"

"It is something I don't understand," said the old lady gravely. "Steel
forks were good enough for anybody in the land, when I was young. I
don't see, for my part, why they ain't just as good now."

Lois wisely left this question unanswered.

"But you think we ought to let this lady come, mother, don't you?"

"My dear," said Mrs. Armadale, "I think it's a providence!"

"And it won't worry you, grandmother, will it?"

"I hope not. If she's agreeable, she may do us good; and if she's
disagreeable, we may do her good."

"That's grandma all over!" exclaimed Charity; "but if she's
disagreeable, I'll tell you what, girls, I'd rather scrub floors.
'Tain't my vocation to do ugly folks good."

"Charity," said Mrs. Armadale, "it _is_ your vocation. It is what
everybody is called to do."

"It's what you've been trying to do to me all my life, ain't it?" said
Charity, laughing. "But you've got to keep on, mother; it ain't done
yet. But I declare! there ought to be somebody in a house who can be
disagreeable by spells, or the rest of the world'd grow rampant."



CHAPTER XX.



SHAMPUASHUH.



It was in vain to try to talk of anything else; the conversation ran on
that one subject all the evening. Indeed, there was a great deal to be
thought of and to be done, and it must of necessity be talked of first.

"How soon does she want to come?" Mrs. Armadale asked, meaning of
course the new inmate proposed for the house.

"Just as soon as we are ready for her; didn't you hear what I read,
grandmother? She wants to get into the country air."

"A queer time to come into the country!" said Charity. "I thought city
folks kept to the city in winter. But it's good for us."

"We must get in some coal for the parlour," remarked Madge.

"Yes; and who's going to make coal fires and clean the grate and fetch
boxes of coal?" said Charity. "I don't mind makin' a wood fire, and
keepin' it up; wood's clean; but coals I do hate."

There was general silence.

"I'll do it," said Lois.

"I guess you will! You look like it."

"Somebody must; and I may as well as anybody."

"You could get Tim Bodson to carry coal for you," remarked Mrs.
Armadale.

"So we could; that's an excellent idea; and I don't mind the rest at
all," said Lois. "I like to kindle fires. But maybe she'll want soft
coal. I think it is likely. Mrs. Wishart never will burn hard coal
where she sits. And soft coal is easier to manage."

"It's dirtier, though," said Charity. "I hope she ain't going to be a
fanciful woman. I can't get along with fancy folks. Then she'll be in a
fidget about her eating; and I can't stand that. I'll cook for her, but
she must take things as she finds them. I can't have anything to do
with tomfooleries."

"That means custards?" said Lois, laughing. "I like custards myself.
I'll take the tomfoolery part of the business, Charity."

"Will you?" said Charity. "What else?"

"I'll tell you what else, girls. We must have some new tablecloths, and
some napkins."

"And we ought to have our bonnets before anybody comes," added Madge.

"And I must make some covers and mats for the dressing table and
washstand in the best room," said Lois.

"Covers and mats! What for? What ails the things as they are? They've
got covers."

"O, I mean white covers. They make the room look so much nicer."

"I'll tell you what, Lois; you can't do everything that rich folks do;
and it's no use to try. And you may as well begin as you're goin' on.
Where are you going to get money for coal and bonnets and tablecloths
and napkins and curtains, before we begin to have the board paid in?"

"I have thought of that. Aunt Marx will lend us some. It won't be much,
the whole of it."

"I hope we aren't buying a pig in a poke," said Charity.

"Mother, do you think it will worry you to have her?" Lois asked
tenderly.

"No, child," said the old lady; "why should it worry me?"

So the thing was settled, and eager preparations immediately set on
foot. Simple preparations, which did not take much time. On her part
Mrs. Barclay had some to make, but hers were still more quickly
despatched; so that before November had run all its thirty days, she
had all ready for the move. Mr. Dillwyn went with her to the station
and put her into the car. They were early, so he took a seat beside her
to bear her company during the minutes of waiting.

"I would gladly have gone with you, to see you safe there," he
remarked; "but I thought it not best, for several reasons."

"I should think so!" Mrs. Barclay returned dryly. "Philip, I consider
this the very craziest scheme I ever had to do with!"

"Precisely; your being in it redeems it from that character."

"I do not think so. I am afraid you are preparing trouble for yourself;
but your heart cannot be much in it yet!"

"Don't swear that," he said.

"Well, it cannot, surely. Love will grow on scant fare, I acknowledge;
but it must have a little."

"It has had a little. But you are hardly to give it that name yet. Say,
a fancy."

"Sensible men do not do such things for a fancy. Why, Philip, suppose I
am able to do my part, and that it succeeds to the full; though how I
am even to set about it I have at present no idea; I cannot assume that
these young women are ignorant, and say I have come to give them an
education! But suppose I find a way, and suppose I succeed; what then?
_You_ will be no nearer your aim--perhaps not so near."

"Perhaps not," he said carelessly.

"Phil, it's a very crazy business! I wouldn't go into it, only I am so
selfish, and the plan is so magnificent for me."

"That is enough to recommend it. Now I want you to let me know, from
time to time, what I can send you that will either tend to your
comfort, or help the work we have in view. Will you?"

"But where are you going to be? I thought you were going to Europe?"

"Not till spring. I shall be in New York this winter."

"But you will not come to--what is the name of the place--where I am
going?" she asked earnestly.

"No," said he, smiling. "Shall I send you a piano?"

"A piano! Is music intended to be in the programme? What should I do
with a piano?"

"That you would find out. But you are so fond of music--it would be a
comfort, and I have no doubt it would be a help."

Mrs. Barclay looked at him with a steady gravity, under which lurked a
little sparkle of amusement.

"Do you mean that I am to teach your Dulcinea to play? Or to sing?"

"The use of the possessive pronoun is entirely inappropriate."

"Which _is_ she, by the way? There are three, are there not? How am I
to know the person in whom I am to be interested?"

"By the interest."

"That will do!" said Mrs. Barclay, laughing. "But it is a very mad
scheme, Philip--a very mad scheme! Here you have got me--who ought to
be wiser--into a plan for making, not history, but romance. I do not
approve of romance, and not at all of making it."

"Thank you!" said he, as he rose in obedience to the warning stroke of
the bell. "Do not be romantic, but as practical as possible. I am.
Good-bye! Write me, won't you?"

The train moved out of the station, and Mrs. Barclay fell to
meditating. The prospect before her, she thought, was extremely misty
and doubtful. She liked neither the object of Mr. Dillwyn's plan, nor
the means he had chosen to attain it; and yet, here she was, going to
be his active agent, obedient to his will in the matter. Partly because
she liked Philip, who had been a dear and faithful friend of her
husband; partly because, as she said, the scheme offered such tempting
advantage to herself; but more than either, because she knew that if
Philip could not get her help he was more than likely to find some
other which would not serve him so well. If Mrs. Barclay had thought
that her refusal to help him would have put an end to the thing, she
would undoubtedly have refused. Now she pondered what she had
undertaken to do, and wondered what the end would be. Mr. DilIwyn had
been taken by a pretty face; that was the old story; he retained wit
enough to feel that something more than a pretty face was necessary,
therefore he had applied to her; but suppose her mission failed? Brains
cannot be bought. Or suppose even the brains were there, and her
mission succeeded? What then? How was the wooing to be done? However,
one thing was certain--Mr. Dillwyn must wait. Education is a thing that
demands time. While he was waiting, he might wear out his fancy, or get
up a fancy for some one else. Time was everything.

So at last she quieted herself, and fell to a restful enjoyment of her
journey, and amused watching of her fellow-travellers, and observing of
the country. The country offered nothing very remarkable. After the
Sound was lost sight of, the road ran on among farms and fields and
villages; now and then crossing a stream; with nothing specially
picturesque in land or water. Mrs. Barclay went back to thoughts that
led her far away, and forgot both the fact of her travelling and the
reason why. Till the civil conductor said at her elbow--"Here's your
place, ma'am--Shampuashuh."

Mrs. Barclay was almost sorry, but she rose, and the conductor took her
bag, and they went out. The afternoons were short now, and the sun was
already down; but Mrs. Barclay could see a neat station-house, with a
long platform extending along the track, and a wide, level, green
country. The train puffed off again. A few people were taking their way
homewards, on foot and in waggons; she saw no cab or omnibus in waiting
for the benefit of strangers. Then, while she was thinking to find some
railway official and ask instructions, a person came towards her; a
woman, bundled up in a shawl and carrying a horsewhip.

"Perhaps you are Mrs. Barclay?" she said unceremoniously. "I have come
after you."

"Thank you. And who is it that has come after me?"

"You are going to the Lothrops' house, ain't you? I thought so. It's
all right. I'm their aunt. You see, they haven't a team; and I told 'em
I'd come and fetch you, for as like as not Tompkins wouldn't be here.
Is that your trunk?--Mr. Lifton, won't you have the goodness to get
this into my buggy? it's round at the other side. Now, will you come?"

This last to Mrs. Barclay. And, following her new friend, she and her
baggage were presently disposed of in a neat little vehicle, and the
owner of it got into her place and drove off.

The soft light showed one of those peaceful-looking landscapes which
impress one immediately with this feature in their character. A wide
grassy street, or road, in which carriages might take their choice of
tracks; a level open country wherever the eye caught a sight of it;
great shadowy elms at intervals, giving an air of dignity and elegance
to the place; and neat and well-to-do houses scattered along on both
sides, not too near each other for privacy and independence. Cool fresh
air, with a savour in it of salt water; and stillness--stillness that
told of evening rest, and quiet, and leisure. One got a respect for the
place involuntarily.

"They're lookin' for you," the driving lady began.

"Yes. I wrote I would be here to-day."

"They'll do all they can to make you comfortable; and if there's
anything you'd like, you've only to tell 'em. That is, anything that
can be had at Shampuashuh; for you see, we ain't at New York; and the
girls never took in a lodger before. But they'll do what they can."

"I hope I shall not be very exacting."

"Most folks like Shampuashuh that come to know it. That is!--we don't
have much of the high-flyin' public; that sort goes over to Castletown,
and I'm quite willin' they should; but in summer we have quite a
sprinklin' of people that want country and the sea; and they most of
'em stay right along, from the beginning of the season to the end of
it. We don't often have 'em come in November, though."

"I suppose not."

"Though the winters here are pleasant," the other went on. "_I_ think
they're first-rate. You see, we're so near the sea, we never have it
very cold; and the snow don't get a chance to lie. The worst we have
here is in March; and if anybody is particular about his head and his
eyes, I'd advise him to take 'em somewheres else; but, dear me! there's
somethin' to be said about every place. I do hear folks say, down in
Florida is a regular garden of Eden; but I don' know! seems to me I
wouldn't want to live on oranges all the year round, and never see the
snow. I'd rather have a good pippin now than ne'er an orange. Here we
are. Mr. Starks!"--addressing a man who was going along the side
way--"hold on, will you? here's a box to lift down--won't you bear a
hand?"

This service was very willingly rendered, the man not only lifting the
heavy trunk out of the vehicle, but carrying it in and up the stairs to
its destination. The door of the house stood open. Mrs. Barclay
descended from the buggy, Mrs. Marx kept her seat.

"Good-bye," she said. "Go right in--you'll find somebody, and they'll
take care of you."

Mrs. Barclay went in at the little gate, and up the path of a few yards
to the house. It was a very seemly white house, quite large, with a
porch over the door and a balcony above it. Mrs. Barclay went in,
feeling herself on very doubtful ground; then appeared a figure in the
doorway which put her meditations to flight. Such a fair figure, with a
grave, sweet, innocent charm, and a manner which surprised the lady.
Mrs. Barclay looked, in a sort of fascination.

"We are very glad to see you," Lois said simply. "It is Mrs. Barclay, I
suppose? The train was in good time. Let me take your bag, and I will
show you right up to your room."

"Thank you. Yes, I am Mrs. Barclay; but who are you?"

"I am Lois. Mrs. Wishart wrote to me about you. Now, here is your room;
and here is your trunk. Thank you, Mr. Starks.--What can I do for you?
Tea will be ready presently."

"You seem to have obliging neighbours! Ought I not to pay him for his
trouble?" said Mrs. Barclay, looking after the retreating Starks.

"Pay? O no!" said Lois, smiling. "Mr Starks does not want pay. He is
very well off indeed; has a farm of his own, and makes it valuable."

"He deserves to be well off, for his obligingness. Is it a general
characteristic of Shampuashuh?"

"I rather think it is," said Lois. "When you come down, Mrs. Barclay, I
will show you your other room."

Mrs. Barclay took off her wrappings and looked about her in a maze. The
room was extremely neat and pleasant, with its white naperies and
old-fashioned furniture. All that she had seen of the place was
pleasant. But the girl!--O Philip, Philip! thought Mrs. Barclay, have
you lost your heart here! and what ever will come of it all? I can
understand it; but what will come of it!

Down-stairs Lois met her again, and took her into the room arranged for
her sitting-room. It was not a New York drawing-room; but many gorgeous
drawing-rooms would fail in a comparison with it. Warm-coloured chintz
curtains; the carpet neither fine nor handsome, indeed, but of a hue
which did not clash violently with the hue of the draperies; plain,
dark furniture; and a blaze of soft coal. Mrs. Barclay exclaimed,

"Delightful! O, delightful! Is this my room, did you say? It is quite
charming. I am afraid I am putting you to great inconvenience?"

"The convenience is much greater than the inconvenience," said Lois
simply. "I hope we may be able to make you comfortable; but my sisters
are afraid you will not like our country way of living."

"Are you the housekeeper?"

"No," said Lois, with her pleasant smile again; "I am the gardener and
the out-of-doors woman generally; the man of business of the house."

"That is a rather hard place for a woman to fill, sometimes."

"It is easy here, and where people have so little out-of-door business
as we have."

She arranged the fire and shut the shutters of the windows; Mrs.
Barclay watching and admiring her as she did so. It was a pretty
figure, though in a calico and white apron. The manner of quiet
self-possession and simplicity left nothing to be desired. And the
face,--but what was it in the face which so struck Mrs. Barclay? It was
not the fair features; they _were_ fair, but she had seen others as
fair, a thousand times before. This charm was something she had never
seen before in all her life. There was a gravity that had no connection
with shadows, nor even suggested them; a curious loftiness of mien,
which had nothing to do with external position or internal
consciousness; and a purity, which was like the grave purity of a
child, without the child's want of knowledge or immaturity of mental
power. Mrs. Barclay was attracted, and curious. At the same time, the
dress and the apron were of a style--well, of no style; the plainest
attire of a plain country girl.

"I will call you when tea is ready," said Lois. "Or would you like to
come out at once, and see the rest of the family?"

"By all means! let me go with you," Mrs. Barclay answered; and Lois
opened a door and ushered her at once into the common room of the
family. Here Mrs. Armadale was sitting in her rocking-chair.

"This is my grandmother," said Lois simply; and Mrs. Barclay came up.

"How do you do, ma'am?" said the old lady. "I am pleased to see you."

Mrs. Barclay took a chair by her side, made her greetings, and surveyed
the room. It was very cheerful and home-looking, with its firelight,
and the table comfortably spread in the middle of the floor, and
various little tokens of domestic occupation.



"How pleasant this fire is!" she remarked. "Wood is so sweet!"

"It's better than the fire in the parlour," said Mrs. Armadale; "but
that room has only a grate."

"I will never complain, as long as I have soft coal," returned the new
guest; "but there is an uncommon charm to me in a wood fire."

"You don't get it often in New York, Lois says."

"Miss Lois has been to the great city, then?"

"Yes, she's been there. Our cousin, Mrs. Wishart, likes to have her,
and Lois was there quite a spell last winter; but I expect that's the
end of it. I guess she'll stay at home the rest of her life."

"Why should she?"

"Here's where her work is," said the old lady; "and one is best where
one's work is."

"But her work might be elsewhere? She'll marry some day. If I were a
man, I think I should fall in love with her."

"She mightn't marry you, still," said Mrs. Armadale, with a fine smile.

"No, certainly," said Mrs. Barclay, returning the smile; "but--you
know, girls' hearts are not to be depended on. They do run away with
them, when the right person comes."

"My Lois will wait till he comes," said the old lady, with a sort of
tender confidence that was impressive and almost solemn. Mrs. Barclay's
thoughts made a few quick gyrations; and then the door opened, and
Lois, who had left the room, came in again, followed by one of her
sisters bearing a plate of butter.

"Another beauty!" thought Mrs. Barclay, as Madge was presented to her.
"Which is which, I wonder?" This was a beauty of quite another sort.
Regular features, black hair, eyes dark and soft under long lashes, a
white brow and a very handsome mouth. But Madge had a bow of ribband in
her black hair, while Lois's red-brown masses were soft, and fluffy,
and unadorned. Madge's face lacked the loftiness, if it had the
quietness, of the other; and it had not that innocent dignity which
seemed--to Mrs. Barclay's fancy--to set Lois apart from the rest of
young women. Yet most men would admire Madge most, she thought. O
Philip, Philip! she said to herself, what sort of a mess have you
brought me into! This is no common romance you have induced me to put
my fingers in. These girls!--

But then entered a third, of a different type, and Mrs. Barclay felt
some amusement at the variety surrounding her. Miss Charity was plain,
like her grandmother; and Mrs. Armadale was not, as I have said, a
handsome old woman. She had never been a handsome young one; bony,
angular, strong, _not_ gracious; although the expression of calm sense,
and character, and the handwriting of life-work, and the dignity of
mental calm, were unmistakeable now, and made her a person worth
looking at. Charity was much younger, of course; but she had the
plainness without the dignity; sense, I am bound to say, was not
wanting.

The supper was ready, and they all sat down. The meal was excellent;
but at first very silently enjoyed. Save the words of anxious
hospitality, there were none spoken. The quicker I get acquain'ted, the
better, thought Mrs. Barclay. So she began.

"Your village looks to me like a quiet place."

"That is its character," said Mrs. Armadale.

"Especially in winter, I suppose?"

"Well, it allays was quiet, since I've known it," the old lady went on.
"They've got a hotel now for strangers, down at the Point--but that
ain't the village."

"And the hotel is empty now," added Lois.

"What does the village do, to amuse itself, in these quiet winter days
and nights?"

"Nothing," said Charity.

"Really? Are there _no_ amusements? I never heard of such a place."

"I don't know what you mean by amusements," Mrs. Armadale took up the
subject. "I think, doin' one's work is the best amusement there is. I
never wanted no other."

"Does the old proverb not hold good then in Shampuashuh, of 'All work
and no play'--you know? The consequences are said to be disastrous."

"No," said Lois, laughing, "it does not hold good. People are not dull
here. I don't mean that they are very lively; but they are not dull."

"Is there a library here?"

"A sort of one; not large. Books that some of the people subscribe for,
and pass round to each other's houses."

"Then it is not much of a reading community?"

"Well, it is, considerable," said Mrs. Armadale. "There's a good many
books in the village, take 'em all together. I guess the folks have as
much as they can do to read what they've got, and don't stand in need
of no more."

"Well, are people any happier for living in such a quiet way? Are they
sheltered in any degree from the storms that come upon the rest of the
world? How is it? As I drove along from the station to-night, I thought
it looked like a haven of peace, where people could not have
heartbreaks."

"I hope the Lord will make it such to you, ma'am," the old lady said
solemnly.

The turn was so sudden and so earnest, that it in a sort took Mrs.
Barclay's breath away. She merely said, "Thank you!" and let the talk
drop.



CHAPTER XXI.



GREVILLE'S MEMOIRS.



Mrs. Barclay found her room pleasant, her bed excellent, and all the
arrangements and appointments simple, indeed, but quite sufficient. The
next morning brought brilliant sunlight, glittering in the elm trees,
and on the green sward which filled large spaces in the street, and on
chimneys and housetops, and on the bit of the Connecticut river which
was visible in the distance. Quiet it was certainly, and peaceful, and
at the same time the sight was inspiriting. Mrs. Barclay dressed and
went down; and there she found her parlour in order, the sunlight
streaming in, and a beautiful fire blazing to welcome her.

"This is luxury!" thought she, as she took her place in a comfortable
rocking-chair before the fire. "But how am I to get at my
work!"--Presently Lois came in, looking like a young rose.

"I beg pardon!" she said, greeting Mrs. Barclay, "but I left my
duster--"

Has _she_ been putting my room in order! thought the lady. This elegant
creature? But she showed nothing of her feeling; only asked Lois if she
were busy.

"No," said Lois, with a smile; "I have done. Do you want something of
me?"

"Yes, in that case. Sit down, and let us get acquain'ted."

Lois sat down, duster in hand, and looked pleasantly ready.

"I am afraid I am giving you a great deal of trouble! If you get tired
of me, you must just let me know. Will you?"

"There is no fear," Lois assured her. "We are very glad to have you. If
only you do not get tired of our quiet. It is very quiet, after what
you have been accustomed to."

"Just what I want! I have been longing for the country; and the air
here is delicious. I cannot get enough of it. I keep sniffing up the
salt smell. And you have made me so comfortable! How lovely those old
elms are over the way! I could hardly get dressed, for looking at them.
Do you draw?"

"I? O no!" cried Lois. "I have been to school, of course, but I have
learned only common things. I do not know anything about drawing."

"Perhaps you will let me teach you?"

The colour flashed into the girl's cheeks; she made no answer at first,
and then murmured, "You are very kind!"

"One must do something, you know," Mrs. Bar clay said. "I cannot let
all your goodness make me idle. I am very fond of drawing, myself; it
has whiled away many an hour for me. Besides, it enables one to keep a
record of pretty and pleasant things, wherever one goes."

"We live among our pleasant things," said Lois; "but I should think
that would be delightful for the people who travel."

"You will travel some day."

"No, there is no hope of that."

"You would like it, then?"

"O, who would not like it! I went with Mrs. Wishart to the Isles of
Shoals last summer; and it was the first time I began to have a notion
what a place the world is."

"And what a place do you think it is?"

"O, so wonderfully full of beautiful things--so full! so full!--and of
such _different_ beautiful things. I had only known Shampuashuh and the
Sound and New York; and Appledore was like a new world." Lois spoke
with a kind of inner fire, which sparkled in her eyes and gave accent
to her words.

"What was the charm? I do not know Appledore," said Mrs. Barclay
carelessly, but watching her.

"It is difficult to put some things in words. I seemed to be out of the
world of everyday life, and surrounded by what was pure and fresh and
powerful and beautiful--it all comes back to me now, when I think of
the surf breaking on the rocks, and the lights and colours, and the
feeling of the air."

"But how were the people? were _they_ uncommon too? Part of one's
impression is apt to come from the human side of the thing."

"Mine did not. The people of the Islands are queer, rough people,
almost as strange as all the rest; but I saw more of some city people
staying at the hotel; and they did not fit the place at all."

"Why not?"

"They did not enjoy it. They did not seem to see what I saw, unless
they were told of it; nor then either."

"Well, you must come in and let me teach you to draw," said Mrs.
Barclay. "I shall want to feel that I have some occupation, or I shall
not be happy. Perhaps your sister will come too."

"Madge? O, thank you! how kind of you! I do not know whether Madge ever
thought of such a thing."

"You are the man of business of the house. What is she?"

"Madge is the dairywoman, and the sempstress. But we all do that."

"You are fond of reading? I have brought a few books with me, which I
hope you will use freely. I shall unpack them by and by."

"That will be delightful," Lois said, with a bright expression of
pleasure. "We have not subscribed to the library, because we felt we
could hardly spare the money."

They were called to breakfast; and Mrs. Barclay studied again with
fresh interest all the family group. No want of capacity and receptive
readiness, she was sure; nor of active energy. Sense, and
self-reliance, and independence, and quick intelligence, were to be
read in the face and manner of each one; good ground to work upon.
Still Mrs. Barclay privately shook her head at her task.

"Miss Madge," she said suddenly, "I have been proposing to teach your
sister to draw. Would you like to join her?"

Madge seemed too much astonished to answer immediately. Charity spoke
up and asked, "To draw what?"

"Anything she likes. Pretty things, and places."

"I don't see what's the use. When you've got a pretty thing, what
should you draw it for?"

"Suppose you have _not_ got it."

"Then you can't draw it," said Charity.

"O Charity, you don't understand," cried Lois. "If I had known how to
draw, I could have brought you home pictures of the Isles of Shoals
last summer."

"They wouldn't have been like."

Lois laughed, and Mrs. Barclay remarked, that was rather begging the
question.

"What question?" said Charity.

"I mean, you are assuming a thing without evidence."

"It don't need evidence," said Charity. "I never saw a picture yet that
was worth a red cent. It's only a make-believe."

"Then you will not join our drawing class, Miss Charity?"

"No; and I should think Madge had better stick to her sewing. There's
plenty to do."

"Duty comes first," said the old lady; "and _I_ shouldn't think duty
would leave much time for making marks on paper."

The first thing Mrs. Barclay did after breakfast was to unpack some of
her books and get out her writing box; and then the impulse seized her
to write to Mr. Dillwyn.



"I had meant to wait," she wrote him, "and not say anything to you
until I had had more time for observation; but I have seen so much
already that my head is in an excited state, and I feel I must relieve
myself by talking to you. Which of these ladies is _the_ one? Is it the
black-haired beauty, with her white forehead and clean-cut features?
she is very handsome! But the other, I confess, is my favourite; she is
less handsome, but more lovely. Yes, she is lovely; and both of them
have capacity and cleverness. But, Philip, they belong to the strictly
religious sort; I see that; the old grandmother is a regular Puritan,
and the girls follow her lead; and I am in a confused state of mind
thinking what can ever be the end of it all. Whatever would you do with
such a wife, Philip Dillwyn? You are not a bad sort of man at all; at
least you know _I_ think well of you; but you are not a Puritan, and
this little girl _is_. I do not mean to say anything against her; only,
you want me to make a woman of the world out of the girl--and I doubt
much whether I shall be able. There is strength in the whole family; it
is a characteristic of them; a capital trait, of course, but in certain
cases interfering with any effort to mould or bend the material to
which it belongs. What would you do, Philip, with a wife who would
disapprove of worldly pleasures, and refuse to take part in worldly
plans, and insist on bringing all questions to the bar of the Bible? I
have indeed heard no distinctively religious conversation here yet; but
I cannot be mistaken; I see what they are; I know what they will say
when they open their lips. I feel as if I were a swindler, taking your
money on false pretences; setting about an enterprise which may
succeed, possibly, but would succeed little to your advantage. Think
better of it and give it up! I am unselfish in saying that; for the
people please me. Life in their house, I can fancy, might be very
agreeable to me; but I am not seeking to marry them, and so there is no
violent forcing of incongruities into union and fellowship. Phil, you
cannot marry a Puritan."



How Mrs. Barclay was to initiate a system of higher education in this
farmhouse, she did not clearly see. Drawing was a simple thing enough;
but how was she to propose teaching languages, or suggest algebra, or
insist upon history? She must wait, and feel her way; and in the
meantime she scattered books about her room, books chosen with some
care, to act as baits; hoping so by and by to catch her fish. Meanwhile
she made herself very agreeable in the family; and that without any
particular exertion, which she rightly judged would hinder and not help
her object.

"Isn't she pleasant?" said Lois one evening, when the family were alone.

"She's elegant!" said Madge.

"She has plenty to say for herself," added Charity.

"But she don't look like a happy woman, Lois," Madge went on. "Her face
is regularly sad, when she ain't talking."

"But it's sweet when she is."

"I'll tell you what, girls," said Charity,--"she's a real proud woman."

"O Charity! nothing of the sort," cried Lois. "She is as kind as she
can be."

"Who said she wasn't? I said she was proud, and she is. She's a right,
for all I know; she ain't like our Shampuashuh people."

"She is a lady," said Lois.

"What do you mean by that, Lois?" Madge fired up. "You don't mean, I
hope, that the rest of us are not ladies, do you?"

"Not like her."

"Well, why should we be like her?"

"Because her ways are so beautiful. I should be glad to be like her.
She is just what you called her--elegant."

"Everybody has their own ways," said Madge.

"I hope none of you will be like her," said Mrs. Armadale gravely; "for
she's a woman of the world, and knows the world's ways, and she knows
nothin' else, poor thing!"

"But, grandmother," Lois put in, "some of the world's ways are good."

"Be they?" said the old lady. "I don' know which of 'em."

"Well, grandmother, this way of beautiful manners. They don't all have
it--I don't mean that--but some of them do. They seem to know exactly
how to behave to everybody, and always what to do or to say; and you
can see Mrs. Barclay is one of those. And I like those people. There is
a charm about them."

"Don't you always know what's right to do or say, with the Bible before
you?"

"O grandmother, but I mean in little things; little words and ways, and
tones of voice even. It isn't like Shampuashuh people."

"Well, _we_'re Shampuashuh folks," said Charity. "I hope you won't set
up for nothin' else, Lois. I guess your head got turned a bit, with
goin' round the world. But I wish I knew what makes her look so sober!"

"She has lost her husband."

"Other folks have lost their husbands, and a good many of 'em have
found another. Don't be ridiculous, Lois!"

The first bait that took, in the shape of books, was Scott's "Lady of
the Lake." Lois opened it one day, was caught, begged to be allowed to
read it; and from that time had it in her hand whenever her hand was
free to hold it. She read it aloud, sometimes, to her grandmother, who
listened with a half shake of her head, but allowed it was pretty.
Charity was less easy to bribe with sweet sounds.

"What on earth is the use of that?" she demanded one day, when she had
stood still for ten minutes in her way through the room, to hear the
account of Fitz James's adventure in the wood with Roderick Dhu.

"Don't you like it?" said Lois.

"Don't make head or tail of it. And there sits Madge with her mouth
open, as if it was something to eat; and Lois's cheeks are as pink as
if she expected the people to step out and walk in. Mother, do you like
all that stuff?"

"It is _poetry_, Charity," cried Lois.

"What's the use o' poetry? can you tell me? It seems to me nonsense for
a man to write in that way. If he has got something to say, why don't
he _say_ it, and be done with it?"

"He does say it, in a most beautiful way."

"It'd be a queer way of doing business!"

"It is _not_ business," said Lois, laughing. "Charity, will you not
understand? It is _poetry_."

"What is poetry?"

But alas! Charity had asked what nobody could answer, and she had the
field in triumph.

"It is just a jingle-jangle, and what I call nonsense. Mother, ain't
that what you would say is a waste of time?"

"I don't know, my dear," said Mrs. Armadale doubtfully, applying her
knitting needle to the back of her ear.

"It isn't nonsense; it is delightful!" said Madge indignantly.

"You want me to go on, grandmother, don't you?" said Lois. "We want to
know about the fight, when the two get to Coilantogle ford."

And as she was not forbidden, she went on; while Charity got the
spice-box she had come for, and left the room superior.

The "Lady of the Lake" was read through. Mrs. Barclay had hoped to draw
on some historical inquiries by means of it; but before she could find
a chance, Lois took up Greville's Memoirs. This she read to herself;
and not many pages, before she came with the book and a puzzled face to
Mrs. Barclay's room. Mrs. Barclay was, we may say, a fisher lying in
wait for a bite; now she saw she had got one; the thing was to haul in
the line warily and skilfully. She broke up a piece of coal on the
fire, and gave her visitor an easy-chair.

"Sit there, my dear. I am very glad of your company. What have you in
your hand? Greville?"

"Yes. I want to ask you about some things. Am I not disturbing you?"

"Most agreeably. I can have nothing better to do than to talk with you.
What is the question?"

"There are several questions. It seems to me a very strange book!"

"Perhaps it is. But why do you say so?"

"Perhaps I should rather say that the people are strange. Is _this_
what the highest society in England is like?"

"In what particulars, do you mean?"

"Why, I think Shampuashuh is better. I am sure Shampuashuh would be
ashamed of such doings."

"What are you thinking of?" Mrs. Barclay asked, carefully repressing a
smile.

"Why, here are people with every advantage, with money and with
education, and with the power of place and rank,--living for nothing
but mere amusement, and very poor amusement too."

"The conversations alluded to were very often not poor amusement. Some
of the society were very brilliant and very experienced men."

"But they did nothing with their lives."

"How does that appear?"

"Here, at the Duke of York's," said Lois, turning over her
leaves;--"they sat up till four in the morning playing whist; and on
Sunday they amused themselves shooting pistols and eating fruit in the
garden, and playing with the monkeys! That is like children."

"My dear, half the world do nothing with their lives, as you phrase it."

"But they ought. And you expect it of people in high places, and having
all sorts of advantages."

"You expect, then, what you do not find."

"And is all of what is called the great world, no better than that?"

"Some of it is better." (O Philip, Philip, where are you? thought Mrs.
Barclay.) "They do not all play whist all night. But you know, Lois,
people come together to be amused; and it is not everybody that can
talk, or act, sensibly for a long stretch."



"How _can_ they play cards all night?"

"Whist is very ensnaring. And the little excitement of stakes draws
people on."

"Stakes?" said Lois inquiringly.

"Sums staked on the game."

"Oh! But that is worse than foolish."

"It is to keep the game from growing tiresome. Do you see any harm in
it?"

"Why, that's gambling."

"In a small way."

"Is it always in a small way?"

"People do not generally play very high at whist."

"It is all the same thing," said Lois. "People begin with a little, and
then a little will not satisfy them."

"True; but one must take the world as one finds it."

"Is the New York world like this?" said Lois, after a moment's pause.

"No! Not in the coarseness you find Mr. Greville tells of. In the
matter of pleasure-seeking, I am afraid times and places are much
alike. Those who live for pleasure, are driven to seek it in all manner
of ways. The ways sometimes vary; the principle does not."

"And do all the men gamble?"

"No. Many do not touch cards. My friend, Mr. Dillwyn, for example."

"Mr. Dillwyn? Do you know him?"

"Very well. He was a dear friend of my husband, and has been a faithful
friend to me. Do you know him?"

"A little. I have seen him."

"You must not expect too much from the world, my dear."

"According to what you say, one must not expect _anything_ from it."

"That is too severe."

"No," said Lois. "What is there to admire or respect in a person who
lives only for pleasure?"

"Sometimes there are fine qualities, and brilliant parts, and noble
powers."

"Ah, that makes it only worse!" cried Lois. "Fine qualities, and
brilliant parts, and noble powers, all used for nothing! That _is_
miserable; and when there is so much to do in the world, too!"

"Of what kind?" asked Mrs. Barclay, curious to know her companion's
course of thought.

"O, help."

"What sort of help?"

"Almost all sorts," said Lois. "You must know even better than I. Don't
you see a great many people in New York that are in want of some sort
of help?"

"Yes; but it is not always easy to give, even where the need is
greatest. People's troubles come largely from their follies."

"Or from other people's follies."

"That is true. But how would you help, Lois?"

"Where there's a will, there's a way, Mrs. Barclay."

"You are thinking of help to the poor? There is a great deal of that
done."

"I am thinking of poverty, and sickness, and weakness, and ignorance,
and injustice. And a grand man could do a great deal. But not if he
lived like the creatures in this book. I never saw such a book."

"But we must take men as we find them; and most men are busy seeking
their own happiness. You cannot blame them for that. It is human
nature."

"I blame them for seeking it so. And it is not happiness that people
play whist for, till four o'clock in the morning."

"What then?"

"Forgetfulness, I should think; distraction; because they do not know
anything about happiness."

"Who does?" said Mrs. Barclay sadly.

Lois was silent, not because she had not something to say, but because
she was not certain how best to say it. There was no doubt in her sweet
face, rather a grave assurance which stimulated Mrs. Barclay's
curiosity.

"We must take people as we find them," she repeated. "You cannot expect
men who live for pleasure to give up their search for the sake of other
people's pleasure."

"Yet that is the way,--which they miss," said Lois.

"The way to what?"

"To real enjoyment. To life that is worth living."

"What would you have them do?"

"Only what the Bible says."

"I do not believe I know the Bible as well as you do. Of what
directions are you thinking? 'The poor ye have always with you'?"

"Not that," said Lois. "Let me get my Bible, and I will tell
you.--This, Mrs. Barclay--'To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break
every yoke..... To deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring
the poor that are cast out to thy house; when thou seest the naked,
that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own
flesh'....."

"And do you think, to live right, one must live so?"

"It is the Bible!" said Lois, with so innocent a look of having
answered all questions, that Mrs. Barclay was near smiling.

"Do you think anybody ever did live so?"

"Job."

"Did he! I forget."

Lois turned over some leaves, and again read--"'When the ear heard me,
then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him
that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish
came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.... I was
eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the
poor: and the cause that I knew not I searched out. And I brake the
jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.'"

"To be a _father to the poor_, in these days, would give a man enough
to do, certainly; especially if he searched out all the causes which
were doubtful. It would take all a man's time, and all his money too,
if he were as rich as Job;--unless you put some limit, Lois."

"What limit, Mrs. Barclay?"

"Do you put none? I was not long ago speaking with a friend, such a man
of parts and powers as was mentioned just now; a man who thus far in
his life has done nothing but for his own cultivation and amusement. I
was urging upon him to do _something_ with himself; but I did not tell
him what. It did not occur to me to set him about righting ail the
wrongs of the world."

"Is he a Christian?"

"I am afraid you would not say so."

"Then he could not. One must love other people, to live for them."

"Love _all sorts?_" said Mrs. Barclay.

"You cannot work for them unless you do."

"Then it is hopeless!--unless one is born with an exceptional mind."

"O no," said Lois, smiling, "not hopeless. The love of Christ brings
the love of all that he loves."

There was a glow and a sparkle, and a tenderness too, in the girl's
face, which made Mrs. Barclay look at her in a somewhat puzzled
admiration. She did not understand Lois's words, and she saw that her
face was a commentary upon them; therefore also unintelligible; but it
was strangely pure and fair. "You would do for Philip, I do believe,"
she thought, "if he could get you; but he will never get you." Aloud
she said nothing. By and by Lois returned to the book she had brought
in with her.

"Here are some words which I cannot read; they are not English. What
are they?"

Mrs. Barclay read: "_Le bon goût, les ris, l'aimable liberté_. That is
French."

"What does it mean?"

"Good taste, laughter, and charming liberty. You do not know French?"

"O no," said Lois, with a sort of breath of longing. "French words come
in quite often here, and I am always so curious to know what they mean."

"Very well, why not learn? I will teach you."

"O, Mrs. Barclay!"--

"It will give me the greatest pleasure. And it is very easy."

"O, I do not care about _that_," said Lois; "but I would be so glad to
know a little more than I do."

"You seem to me to have _thought_ a good deal more than most girls of
your age; and thought is better than knowledge."

"Ah, but one needs knowledge in order to think justly."

"An excellent remark! which--if you will for give me--I was making to
myself a few minutes ago."

"A few minutes ago? About what I said? O, but there I _have_
knowledge," said Lois, smiling.

"You are sure of that?"

"Yes," said Lois, gravely now. "The Bible cannot be mistaken, Mrs.
Barclay."

"But your application of it?"

"How can that be mistaken? The words are plain."

"Pardon me. I was only venturing to think that you could have seen
little, here in Shampuashuh, of the miseries of the world, and so know
little of the difficulty of getting rid of them, or of ministering to
them effectually."

"Not much," Lois agreed. "Yet I have seen so much done by people
without means--I thought, those who _have_ means might do more."

"What have you seen? Do tell me. Here I am ignorant; except in so far
as I know what some large societies accomplish, and fail to accomplish."

"I have not seen much," Lois repeated. "But I know one person, a
farmer's wife, no better off than a great many people here, who has
brought up and educated a dozen girls who were friendless and poor."

"A dozen girls!" Mrs. Barclay echoed.

"I think there have been thirteen. She had no children of her own; she
was comfortably well off; and she took these girls, one after another,
sometimes two or three together; and taught them and trained them, and
fed and clothed them, and sent them to school; and kept them with her
until one by one they married off. They all turned out well."

"I am dumb!" said Mrs. Barclay. "Giving money is one thing; I can
understand that; but taking strangers' children into one's house and
home life--and a _dozen_ strangers' children!"

"I know another woman, not so well off, who does her own work, as most
do here; who goes to nurse any one she hears of that is sick and cannot
afford to get help. She will sit up all night taking care of somebody,
and then at break of the morning go home to make her own fire and get
her own family's breakfast."

"But that is superb!" cried Mrs. Barclay.

"And my father," Lois went on, with a lowered voice,--"he was not very
well off, but he used to keep a certain little sum for lending; to lend
to anybody that might be in great need; and generally, as soon as one
person paid it back another person was in want of it."

"Was it always paid back?"

"Always; except, I think, at two times. Once the man died before he
could repay it. The other time it was lent to a woman, a widow; and she
married again, and between the man and the woman my father never could
get his money. But it was made up to him another way. He lost nothing."

"You have been in a different school from mine, Lois," said Mrs.
Barclay. "I am filled with admiration."

"You see," Lois went on, "I thought, if with no money or opportunity to
speak of, one can do so much, what might be done if one had the power
and the will too?"

"But in my small experience it is by no means the rule, that money lent
is honestly paid back again."

"Ah," said Lois, with an irradiating smile, "but this money was lent to
the Lord; I suppose that makes the difference."

"And are you bound to think well of no man but one who lives after this
exalted fashion? How will you ever get married, Lois?"

"I should not like to be married to this Duke of York the book tells
of; nor to the writer of the book," Lois said, smiling.

"That Duke of York was brother to the King of England."

"The King was worse yet! He was not even respectable."

"I believe you are right. Come--let us begin our French lessons."

With shy delight, Lois came near and followed with most eager attention
the instructions of her friend. Mrs. Barclay fetched a volume of
Florian's "Easy Writing"; and to the end of her life Lois will never
forget the opening sentences in which she made her first essay at
French pronunciation, and received her first knowledge of what French
words mean. "Non loin de la ville de Cures, dans le pays des Sabins, au
milieu d'une antique forêt, s'élève un temple consacré à Cérès." So it
began; and the words had a truly witching interest for Lois.. But while
she delightedly forgot all she had been talking about, Mrs. Barclay,
not delightedly, recalled and went over it. Philip, Philip! your case
is dark! she was saying. And what am I about, trying to help you!



CHAPTER XXII.



LEARNING.



There came a charming new life into the house of the Lothrops. Madge
and Lois were learning to draw, and Lois was prosecuting her French
studies with a zeal which promised to carry all before it. Every minute
of her time was used; every opportunity was grasped; "Numa Pompilius"
and the dictionary were in her hands whenever her hands were free; or
Lois was bending over her drawing with an intent eye and eager fingers.
Madge kept her company in these new pursuits, perhaps with less
engrossing interest; nevertheless with steady purpose and steady
progress. Then Mrs. Barclay received from New York a consignment of
beautiful drawings and engravings from the best old masters, and some
of the best of the new; and she found her hands becoming very full. To
look at these engravings was almost a passion with the two girls; but
not in the common way of picture-seeing. Lois wanted to understand
everything; and it was necessary, therefore, to go into wide fields of
knowledge, where the paths branched many ways, and to follow these
various tracks out, one after another. This could not be done all in
talking; and Lois plunged into a very sea of reading. Mrs. Barclay was
not obliged to restrain her, for the girl was thorough and methodical
in her ways of study, as of doing other things; however, she would
carry on two or three lines of reading at once. Mrs. Barclay wrote to
her unknown correspondent, "Send me 'Sismondi';" "send me Hallam's
'Middle Ages';" "send me 'Walks about Kome';" "send me 'Plutarch's
Lives';" "send me D'Aubigné's 'Réformation';" at last she wrote, "Send
me Ruskin's 'Modern Painters'." "I have the most enormous intellectual
appetite to feed that ever I had to do with in my life. And yet no
danger of an indigestion. Positively, Philip, my task is growing from
day to day delightful; it is only when I think of the end and aim of it
all that I get feverish and uneasy. At present we are going with 'a
full sail and a flowing sea'; a regular sweeping into knowledge, with a
smooth, easy, swift occupying and taking possession, which gives the
looker-on a stir of wondering admiration. Those engravings were a great
success; they opened for me, and at once, doors before which I might
have waited some time; and now, eyes are exploring eagerly the vast
realms those doors unclose, and hesitating only in which first to set
foot. You may send the 'Stones of Venice' too; I foresee that it will
be useful; and the 'Seven Lamps of Architecture.' I am catching my
breath, with the swiftness of the way we go on. It is astonishing, what
all clustered round a view of Milan Cathedral yesterday. By the way,
Philip,--no hurry,--but by and by a stereoscope would be a good thing
here. Let it be a little hand-glass, not a great instrument of
unvarying routine and magnificent sameness."

Books came by packages and packages. Such books! The eyes of the two
girls gloated over them, as they helped Mrs. Barclay unpack; the room
grew full, with delightful disorder of riches; but none too much, for
they began to feel their minds so empty that no amount of provision
could be too generous.

"The room is getting to be running-over full. What will you do, Mrs.
Barclay?"

"It is terrible when you have to sweep the carpet, isn't it? I must
send for some book cases."

"You might let Mr. Midgin put up some--shelves I could stain them, and
make them look very nice."

"Who is Mr. Midgin?"

"The carpenter."

"Oh! Well.--I think we had better send for him, Lois."

The door stood open into the kitchen, or dining-room rather, on account
of the packing-cases which the girls were just moving out; then
appeared the figure of Mrs. Marx in the opening.

"Lois, Charity ain't at home--How much beef are you goin' to want?"

"Beef?" said Lois, smiling at the transition in her thoughts.--"For
salting, you mean?"

"For salting, and for smoking, and for mince-meat, and for pickling.
What is the girl thinking of?"

"She is thinking of books just now, Mrs. Marx," suggested Mrs. Barclay.

"Books!" The lady stepped nearer and looked in. "Well, I declare! I
should think you had _some_. What in all the world can you do with so
many?"

"Just what we were considering. I think we must have the carpenter
here, to put up some shelves."

"Well I should say that was plain. But when you have got 'em on the
shelves, what next? What will you do with 'em then?"

"Take 'em down and read them, aunt Anne."

"Your life ain't as busy as mine, then, if you have time for all that.
What's the good o' readin' so much?"

"There's so much to know, that we don't know!"

"I should like to know what,"--said Mrs. Marx, going round and picking
up one book after another. "You've been to school, haven't you?"

Lois changed her tone.

"I'll talk to Charity about the beef, and let you know, aunt Anne."

"Well, come out to the other room and let me talk to you! Good
afternoon, ma'am--I hope you don't let these girls make you too much
worry.--Now, Lois" (after the door was shut between them and Mrs.
Barclay), "I just want you to tell me what you and Madge are about?"

Lois told her, and Mrs. Marx listened with a judicial air; then
observed gravely,

"'Seems to me, there ain't much sense in all that, Lois."

"O, yes, aunt Anne! there is."

"What's the use? What do you want to know more tongues than your own
for, to begin with? you can't talk but in one at once. And spending
your time in making marks on paper! I believe in girls goin' to school,
and gettin' all they can there; but when school is done, then they have
something else to see to. I'd rather have you raakin' quilts and
gettin' ready to be married; dom' women's work."

"I do my work," said Lois gaily.

"Child, your head's gettin' turned. Mother, do you know the way Madge
and Lois are goin' on?"

"I don't understand it," said Mrs. Armadale.

"I understand it. And I'll tell you. I like learning,--nobody better;
but I want things kept in their places. And I tell you, if this is let
to go on, it'll be like Jack's bean vine, and not stop at the top of
the house; and they'll be like Jack, and go after to see, and never
come back to common ground any more."

Mrs. Armadale sat looking unenlightened. Madge, who had come in midway
of this speech, stood indignant.

"Aunt Anne, that's not like you! You read as much yourself as ever you
can; and never can get books enough."

"I stick to English."

"English or French, what's the odds?"

"What was good enough for your fathers and mothers ought to be good
enough for you."

"That won't do, aunt Anne," retorted Madge. "You were wanting a
Berkshire pig a while ago, and I heard you talking of 'shorthorns.'"

"That's it. I'd like to hear you talking of shorthorns."

"If it is necessary, I could," said Lois; "but there are pleasanter
things to talk about."

"There you are! But pictures won't help Madge make butter; and French
is no use in a garden. It's all very well for some people, I suppose;
but, mother, if these girls go on, they'll be all spoiled for their
place in life. This lodger of yours is trying to make 'em like herself."

"I wish she could!" said Madge.

"That's it, mother; that's what I say. But she's one thing, and they're
another; she lives in her world, which ain't Shampuashuh by a long
jump, and they live in Shampuashuh, and have got to live there. Ain't
it a pity to get their heads so filled with the other things that
they'll be for ever out o' conceit o' their own?"

"It don't work so, aunt Anne," said Lois.

"It will work so. What use can all these krinkum-krankums be to you?
Shampuashuh ain't the place for 'em. You'll be like the girl that got a
new bonnet, and had to sit with her head out o' window to wear it."

Madge's cheeks grew red. Lois laughed.

"Daughter," said Mrs. Armadale, "'seems to me you are making a storm in
a teapot."

Mrs. Marx laughed at that; then became quite serious again.

"I ain't doin' that," she said. "I never do. And I've no enmity against
all manner of fiddle-faddling, if folks have got nothin' better to do.
But 'tain't so with our girls. They work for their livin', and they've
got to work; and what I say is, they're in a way to get to hate work,
if they don't despise it, and in my judgment that's a poor business.
It's going the wrong way to be happy. Mother, they ought to marry
farmers; and they won't look at a farmer in all Shampuashuh, if you let
'em go on."

Lois remarked merrily that she did not want to look at a man anywhere.

"Then you ought. It's time. I'd like to see you married to a good,
solid man, who would learn you to talk of shorthorns and Berkshires.
Life's life, chickens; and it ain't the tinkle of a piano. All well
enough for your neighbour in the other room; but you're a different
sort."

Privately, Lois did not want to be of a different sort. The refinement,
the information, the accomplishments, the grace of manner, which in a
high degree belonged to Mrs. Barclay, seemed to her very desirable
possessions and endowments; and the mental life of a person so enriched
and gifted, appeared to her far to be preferred over a horizon bounded
by cheese and bed-quilts. Mrs. Marx was not herself a narrow-minded
woman, or one wanting in appreciation of knowledge and culture; but she
was also a shrewd business woman, and what she had seen at the Isles of
Shoals had possibly given her a key wherewith to find her way through
certain problems. She was not sure but Lois had been a little touched
by the attentions of that very handsome, fair-haired and elegant
gentleman who had done Mrs. Marx the honour to take her into his
confidence; she was jealous lest all this study of things unneeded in
Shampuashuh life might have a dim purpose of growing fitness for some
other. There she did Lois wrong, for no distant image of Mr. Caruthers
was connected in her niece's mind with the delight of the new
acquirements she was making; although Tom Caruthers had done his part,
I do not doubt, towards Lois's keen perception of the beauty and
advantage of such acquirements. She was not thinking of Tom, when she
made her copies and studied her verbs; though if she had never known
the society in which she met Tom and of which he was a member, she
might not have taken hold of them so eagerly.

"Mother," she said when Mrs. Marx was gone, "are you afraid these new
things will make me forget my duties, or make me unfit for them?"

Mrs. Armadale's mind was a shade more liberal than her daughter's, and
she had not been at the Isles of Shoals. She answered somewhat
hesitatingly,

"No, child--I don't know as I am. I don't see as they do. I don't see
what use they will be to you; but maybe they'll be some."

"They are pleasure," said Lois.

"We don't live for pleasing ourselves, child."

"No, mother; but don't you think, if duties are not neglected, that we
ought to educate ourselves all we can, and get all of every sort of
good that we can, when we have the opportunity?"

"To be sure," said Mrs. Armadale; "if it ain't a temptation, it's a
providence. Maybe you'll find a use for it you don't think. Only take
care it ain't a temptation, Lois."

From that time Lois's studies were carried on with more systematic
order. She would not neglect her duties, and the short winter days left
her little spare time of daylight; therefore she rose long before
daylight came. If anybody had been there to look, Lois might have been
seen at four o'clock in the family room, which this winter rather lost
its character of kitchen, seated at the table with her lamp and her
books; the room warm and quiet, no noise but the snapping of the fire
and breathing of the flames, and now and then the fall of a brand. And
Lois sitting absorbed and intent, motionless, except when the
above-mentioned falling brands obliged her to get up and put them in
their places. Her drawing she left for another time of day; she could
do that in company; in these hours she read and wrote French, and read
pages and pages of history. Sometimes Madge was there too; but Lois
always, from a very early hour until the dawn was advanced far enough
for her to see to put Mrs. Barclay's room in order. Then with a sigh of
pleasure Lois would turn down her lamp, and with another breath of hope
and expectation betake herself to the next room to put all things in
readiness for its owner's occupancy and use, which occupancy and use
involved most delightful hours of reading and talking and instruction
by and by. Making the fire, sweeping, brushing, dusting, regulating
chairs and tables and books and trifles, drawing back the curtains and
opening the shutters; which last, to be sure, she began with. And then
Lois went to do the same offices for the family room, and to set the
table for breakfast; unless Madge had already done it.

And then Lois brought her Bible and read to Mrs. Armadale, who by this
time was in her chair by the fireside, and busy with her knitting. The
knitting was laid down then, however; and Mrs. Armadale loved to take
the book in her hands, upon her lap, while her granddaughter, leaning
over it, read to her. They two had it alone; no other meddled with
them. Charity was always in the kitchen at this time, and Madge often
in her dairy, and neither of them inclined to share in the service
which Lois always loved dearly to render. They two, the old and the
young, would sit wholly engrossed with their reading and their talk,
unconscious of what was going on around them; even while Charity and
Madge were bustling in and out with the preparations for breakfast.
Nothing of the bustle reached Mrs. Armadale or Lois, whose faces at
such times had a high and sweet and withdrawn look, very lovely to
behold. The hard features and wrinkled lines of the one face made more
noticeable the soft bloom and delicate moulding of the other, while the
contrast enhanced the evident oneness of spirit and interest which
filled them both. When they were called to breakfast and moved to the
table, then there was a difference. Both, indeed, showed a subdued
sweet gravity; but Mrs. Armadale was wont also to be very silent and
withdrawn into herself, or busied with inner communings; while Lois was
ready with speech or action for everybody's occasions, and full of
gentle ministry. Mrs. Barclay used to study them both, and be
wonderingly busy with the contemplation.



CHAPTER XXIII.



A BREAKFAST TABLE.



It was Christmas eve. Lois had done her morning work by the lamplight,
and was putting the dining-room, or sitting-room rather, in order; when
Madge joined her and began to help.

"Is the other room ready?"

"All ready," said Lois.

"Are you doing that elm tree?"

"Yes."

"How do you get along?"

"I cannot manage it yet, to my satisfaction; but I will. O Madge, isn't
it too delicious?"

"What? the drawing? Isn't it!!"

"I don't mean the drawing only. Everything. I am getting hold of
French, and it's delightful. But the books! O Madge, the books! I feel
as if I had been a chicken in his shell until now, and as if I were
just getting my eyes open to see what the world is like."

"What _is_ it like?" asked Madge, laughing. "My eyes are shut yet, I
suppose, for _I_ haven't found out. You can tell me."

"Eyes that are open cannot help eyes that are shut. Besides, mine are
only getting open."

"What do they see? Come, Lois, tell."

Lois stood still, resting on her broom handle.

"The world seems to me an immense battle-place, where wrong and right
have been struggling; always struggling. And sometimes the wrong seems
to cover the whole earth, like a flood, and there is nothing but
confusion and horror; and then sometimes the floods part and one sees a
little bit of firm ground, where grass and flowers might grow, if they
had a chance. And in those spots there is generally some great, grand
man, who has fought back the flood of wrong and made a clearing."

"Well, I do not understand all that one bit!" said Madge.

"I do not wonder," said Lois, laughing, "I do not understand it very
clearly myself. I cannot blame you. But it is very curious, Madge, that
the ancient Persians had just that idea of the world being a
battle-place, and that wrong and right were fighting; or rather, that
the Spirit of good and the Spirit of evil were struggling. Ormuzd was
their name for the good Spirit, and Ahriman the other. It is very
strange, for that is just the truth."

"Then why is it strange?" said downright Madge.

"Because they were heathen; they did not know the Bible."

"Is that what the Bible says? I didn't know it."

"Why, Madge, yes, you did. You know who is called the 'Prince of this
world'; and you know Jesus 'was manifested that he might destroy the
works of the devil'; and you know 'he shall reign till he has put all
enemies under his feet.' But how should those old Persians know so
much, with out knowing more? I'll tell you, Madge! You know, Enoch
knew?"--

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do! Enoch knew. And of course they all knew when they came
out of the ark"--

"Who--the Persians?"

Lois broke out into a laugh, and began to move her broom again.

"What have you been reading, to put all this into your head?"

The broom stopped.

"Ancient history, and modern; parts here and there, in different books.
Mrs. Barclay showed me where; and then we have talked"--

Lois began now to sweep vigorously.

"Lois, is _she_ like the people you used to see in New York? I mean,
were they all like her?"

"Not all so nice."

"But like her?"

"Not in everything. No, they were not most of them so clever, and most
of them did not know so much, and were not so accomplished."

"But they were like her in other things?"

"No," said Lois, standing still; "she is a head and shoulders above
most of the women I saw; but they were of her sort, if that is what you
mean."

"That is what I mean. She is not a bit like people here. We must seem
very stupid to her, Lois."

"Shampuashuh people are not stupid."

"Well, aunt Anne isn't stupid; but she is not like Mrs. Barclay. And
she don't want us to be like Mrs. Barclay."

"No danger!"--said Lois, very busy now at her work.

"But wouldn't you _like_ to be like Mrs. Barclay?"

"Yes."

"So would I."

"Well, we can, in the things that are most valuable," said Lois,
standing still again for a moment to look at her sister.

"O, yes, books-- But I would like to be graceful like Mrs. Barclay. You
would call that not valuable; but I care more for it than for all the
rest. Her beautiful manners."

"She _has_ beautiful manners," said Lois. "I do not think manners can
be taught. They cannot be imitated."

"Why not?"

"O, they wouldn't be natural. And what suits one might not suit
another. A very handsome nose of somebody else might not be good on my
face. No, they would not be natural."

"You need not wish for anybody's nose but your own," said Madge.
"_That_ will do, and so will mine, I'm thankful! But what makes her
look so unhappy, Lois?"

"She does look unhappy."

"She looks as if she had lost all her friends."

"She has got _one_, here," said Lois, sweeping away.

"But what good can you do her?"

"Nothing. It isn't likely that she will ever even know the fact."

"She's doing a good deal for us."

A little later, Mrs. Barclay came down to her room. She found it, as
always, in bright order; the fire casting red reflections into every
corner, and making pleasant contrast with the grey without. For it was
cloudy and windy weather, and wintry neutral tints were all that could
be seen abroad; the clouds swept along grey overhead, and the earth lay
brown and bare below. But in Mrs. Barclay's room was the cheeriest play
of light and colour; here it touched the rich leather bindings of
books, there the black and white of an engraving; here it was caught in
tin folds of the chintz curtains which were ruddy and purple in hue,
and again it warmed up the old-fashioned furniture and lost itself in a
brown tablecover. Mrs. Barclay's eye loved harmonies, and it found them
even in this country-furnished room at Shampuashuh. Though, indeed, the
piles of books came from afar, and so did the large portfolio of
engravings, and Mrs. Barclay's desk was a foreigner. She sat in her
comfortable chair before the fire and read her letters, which Lois had
laid ready for her; and then she was called to breakfast.

Mrs. Barclay admired her surroundings here too, as she had often done
before. The old lady, ungainly as her figure and uncomely as her face
were, had yet a dignity in both; the dignity of a strong and true
character, which with abundant self-respect, had not, and never had,
any anxious concern about the opinion of any human being. Whoever feels
himself responsible to the one Great Ruler alone, and _does_ feel that
responsibility, will be both worthy of respect and sure to have it in
his relations with his fellows. Such tribute Mrs. Barclay paid Mrs.
Armadale. Her eye passed on and admired Madge, who was very handsome in
her neat, smart home dress; and rested on Lois finally with absolute
contentment. Lois was in a nut-brown stuff dress, with a white knitted
shawl bound round her shoulders in the way children sometimes have, the
ends crossed on the breast and tied at the back of the waist. Brown and
white was her whole figure, except the rosy flush on cheeks and lips;
the masses of fluffy hair were reddish-brown, a shade lighter than her
dress. At Charity Mrs. Barclay did not look much, unless for curiosity;
she was a study of a different sort.

"What delicious rolls!" said Mrs. Barclay. "Are these your work, Miss
Charity?"

"I can make as good, I guess," said that lady; "but these ain't mine.
Lois made 'em."

"Lois!" said Mrs. Barclay. "I did not know that this was one of your
accomplishments."

"Is _that_ what you call an accomplishment," said Charity.

"Certainly. What do you mean by it?"

"I thought an accomplishment was something that one could accomplish
that was no use."

"I am sorry you have such an opinion of accomplishments."

"Well, ain't it true? Lois, maybe Mrs. Barclay don't care for sausages.
There's cold meat."

"Your sausages are excellent. I like _such_ sausage very much."

"I always think sausages ain't sausages if they ain't stuffed. Aunt
Anne won't have the plague of it; but I say, if a thing's worth doing
at all, it's worth doing the best way; and there's no comparison in my
mind."

"So you judge everything by its utility."

"Don't everybody, that's got any sense?"

"And therefore you condemn accomplishments?"

"Well, I don't see the use. O, if folks have got nothing else to do,
and just want to make a flare-up--but for us in Shampuashuh, what's the
good of them? For Lois and Madge, now? I don't make it out."

"You forget, your sisters may marry, and go somewhere else to live; and
then"--

"I don't know what Madge'll do; but Lois ain't goin' to marry anybody
but a real godly man, and what use'll her accomplishments be to her
then?"

"Why, just as much use, I hope," said Mrs. Barclay, smiling. "Why not?
The more education a woman has, the more fit she is to content a man of
education, anywhere."

"Where's she to get a man of education?" said Charity. "What you mean
by that don't grow in these parts. We ain't savages exactly, but there
ain't many accomplishments scattered through the village. Unless, as
you say, bread-makin's one. We do know how to make bread, and cake,
with anybody; Lois said she didn't see a bit o' real good cake all the
while she was in Gotham; and we can cure hams, and we understand horses
and cows, and butter and cheese, and farming, of course, and that; but
you won't find your man of education here, or Lois won't."

"She may find him somewhere else," said Mrs. Barclay, looking at
Charity over her coffee-cup.

"Then he won't be the right kind," persisted Charity; while Lois
laughed, and begged they would not discuss the question of her possible
"finds"; but Mrs. Barclay asked, "How not the right kind?"

"Well, every place has its sort," said Charity. "Our sort is religious.
I don't know whether we're any _better_ than other folks, but we're
religious; and your men of accomplishments ain't, be they?"

"Depends on what you mean by religious."

"Well, I mean godly. Lois won't ever marry any but a godly man."

"I hope not!" said Mrs. Armadale.

"_She_ won't," said Charity; "but you had better talk to Madge, mother.
I am not so sure of her. Lois is safe."

"'The fashion of this world passeth away,'" said the old lady, with a
gravity which was yet sweet; "'but the word of the Lord endureth for
ever.'"

Mrs. Barclay was now silent. This morning, contrary to her usual wont,
she kept her place at the table, though the meal was finished. She was
curious to see the ways of the household, and felt herself familiar
enough with the family to venture to stay. Charity began to gather her
cups.

"Did you give aunt Anne's invitation? Hand along the plates, Madge, and
carry your butter away. We've been for ever eating breakfast."

"Talking," said Mrs. Barclay, with a smile.

"Talking's all very well, but I think one thing at a time is enough. It
is as much as most folks can attend to. Lois, do give me the plates;
and give your invitation."

"Aunt Anne wants us all to come and take tea with her to-night," said
Lois; "and she sent her compliments to Mrs. Barclay, and a message that
she would be very glad to see her with the rest of us."

"I am much obliged, and shall be very happy to go."

"'Tain't a party," said Charity, who was receiving plates and knives
and forks from Lois's hand, and making them elaborately ready for
washing; while Madge went back and forth clearing the table of the
remains of the meal. "It's nothin' but to go and take our tea there
instead of here. We save the trouble of gettin' it ready, and have the
trouble of going; that's our side; and what aunt Anne has for her side
she knows best herself. I guess she's proud of her sweetmeats."

Mrs. Barclay smiled again. "It seems parties are much the same thing,
wherever they are given," she said.

"This ain't a party," repeated Charity. Madge had now brought a tub of
hot water, and the washing up of the breakfast dishes was undertaken by
Lois and Charity with a despatch and neatness and celerity which the
looker-on had never seen equalled.

"Parties do not seem to be Shampuashuh fashion," she remarked. "I have
not heard of any since I have been here."

"No," said Charity. "We have more sense."

"I am not sure that it shows sense," remarked Lois, carrying off a pile
of clean hot plates to the cupboard.

"What's the use of 'em?" said the elder sister.

"Cultivation of friendly feeling," suggested Mrs. Barclay.

"If folks ain't friendly already, the less they see of one another the
better they'll agree," said Charity.

"Miss Charity, I am afraid you do not love your fellow-creatures," said
Mrs. Barclay, much amused.

"As well as they love me, I guess," said Charity.

"Mrs. Armadale," said Mrs. Barclay, appealing to the old lady who sat
in her corner knitting as usual,--"do not these opinions require some
correction?"

"Charity speaks what she thinks," said Mrs. Armadale, scratching behind
her ear with the point of her needle, as she was very apt to do when
called upon.

"But that is not the right way to think, is it?"

"It's the natural way," said the old lady. "It is only the fruit of the
Spirit that is 'love, joy, peace.' 'Tain't natural to love what you
don't like."

"What you don't like! no," said Mrs. Barclay; "that is a pitch of love
I never dreamed of."

"'If ye love them that love you, what thank have ye?'" said the old
lady quietly.

"Mother's off now," said Charity; "out of anybody's understanding. One
would think I was more unnatural than the rest of folks!"

"She _said_ you were more natural, thats all," said Lois, with a sly
smile.

The talk ceased. Mrs. Barclay looked on for a few minutes more,
marvelling to see the quick dexterity with which everything was done by
the two girls; until the dishes were put away, the tcib and towels were
gone, the table was covered with its brown cloth, a few crumbs were
brushed from the carpet; and Charity disappeared in one direction and
Lois in another. Mrs. Barclay herself withdrew to her room and her
thoughts.



CHAPTER XXIV.



THE CARPENTER.



The day was a more than commonly busy one, so that the usual hours of
lessons in Mrs. Barclay's room did not come off. It was not till late
in the afternoon that Lois went to her friend, to tell her that Mrs.
Marx would send her little carriage in about an hour to fetch her
mother, and that Mrs. Barclay also might ride if she would. Mrs.
Barclay was sitting in her easy-chair before the fire, doing nothing,
and on receipt of this in formation turned a very shadowed face towards
the bringer of it.

"What will you say to me, if after all your aunt's kindness in asking
me, I do not go?"

"Not go? You are not well?" inquired Lois anxiously.

"I am quite well--too well!"

"But something is the matter?"

"Nothing new."

"Dear Mrs. Barclay, can I help you?"

"I do not think you can. I am tired, Lois!"

"Tired! O, that is spending so much time giving lessons to Madge and
me! I am so sorry."

"It is nothing of the kind," said Mrs. Barclay, stretching out her hand
to take one of Lois's, which she retained in her own. "If anything
would take away this tired feeling, it is just that, Lois. Nothing
refreshes me so much, or does me so much good."

"Then what tires you, dear Mrs. Barclay?"

Lois's face showed unaffected anxiety. Mrs. Barclay gave the hand she
held a little squeeze.

"It is nothing new, my child," she said, with a faint smile. "I am
tired of life."

Looking at the girl, as she spoke, she saw how unable her listener's
mind was to comprehend her. Lois looked puzzled.

"You do not know what I mean?" she said.

"Hardly--"

"I hope you never will. It is a miserable feeling. It is like what I
can fancy a withered autumn leaf feeling, if it were a sentient and
intelligent thing;--of no use to the branch which holds it--freshness
and power gone--no reason for existence left--its work all done. Only I
never did any work, and was never of any particular use."

"O, you cannot mean that!" cried Lois, much troubled and perplexed.

"I keep going over to-day that little hymn you showed me, that was
found under the dead soldier's pillow. The words run in my head, and
wake echoes.



   'I lay me down to sleep,
   With little thought or care
   Whether the waking find
   Me here, or there.

   'A bowing, burdened head--'"



But here the speaker broke off abruptly, and for a few minutes Lois
saw, or guessed, that she could not go on.

"Never mind that verse," she said, beginning again; "it is the next. Do
you remember?--



   'My good right hand forgets
   Its cunning now.
   To march the weary march,
   I know not how.

   'I am not eager, bold,
   Nor brave; all that is past.
   I am ready not to do,
   At last, at last!--'



I am too young to feel so," Mrs. Barclay went on, after a pause which
Lois did not break; "but that is how I feel to-day."

"I do not think one need--or ought--at any age," Lois said gently; but
her words were hardly regarded.

"Do you hear that wind?" said Mrs. Barclay. "It has been singing and
sighing in the chimney in that way all the afternoon."

"It is Christmas," said Lois. "Yes, it often sings so, and I like it. I
like it especially at Christmas time."

"It carries me back--years. It takes me to my old home, when I was a
child. I think it must have sighed so round the house then. It takes me
to a time when I was in my fresh young life and vigour--the unfolding
leaf--when life was careless and cloudless; and I have a kind of
home-sickness to-night for my father and mother.--Of the days since
that time, I dare not think."

Lois saw that rare tears had gathered in her friend's eyes, slowly and
few, as they come to people with whom hope is a lost friend; and her
heart was filled with a great pang of sympathy. Yet she did not know
how to speak. She recalled the verse of the soldier's hymn which Mrs.
Barclay had passed over--



   "A bowing, burdened head,
   That only asks to rest,
   Unquestioning, upon
   A loving breast."



She thought she knew what the grief was; but how to touch it? She sat
still and silent, and perhaps even so spoke her sympathy better than
any words could have done it. And perhaps Mrs. Barclay felt it so, for
she presently went on after a manner which was not like her usual
reserve.

"O that wind! O that wind! It sweeps away all that has been between,
and puts home and my childhood before me. But it makes me home-sick,
Lois!"

"Cannot you go on with the hymn, dear Mrs. Barclay? You know how it
goes,--



   'My half day's work is done;
   And this is all my part--
   I give a patient God
   My patient heart.'"



"What does he want with it?" said the weary woman beside her.

"What? O, it is the very thing he wants of us, and of you; the one
thing he cares about! That we would love him."

"I have not done a half day's work," said the other; "and my heart is
not patient. It is only tired, and dead."

"It is not that," said Lois. "How very, very good you have been to
Madge and me!"

"You have been good to me. And, as your grandmother quoted this
morning, no thanks are due when we only love those who love us. My
heart does not seem to be alive, Lois. You had better go to your aunt's
without me, dear. I should not be good company."



"But I cannot leave you so!" exclaimed Lois; and she left her seat and
sank upon her knees at her friend's side, still clasping the hand that
had taken hers. "Dear Mrs. Barclay, there is help."

"If you could give it, there would be, you pretty creature!" said Mrs.
Barclay, with her other hand pushing the beautiful masses of red-brown
hair right and left from Lois's brow.

"But there is One who can give it, who is stronger than I, and loves
you better."

"What makes you think so?"

"Because he has promised. 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are
heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.'"

Mrs. Barclay said nothing, but she shook her head.

"It is a promise," Lois repeated. "It is a PROMISE. It is the King's
promise; and he never breaks his word."

"How do you know, my child? You have never been where I am."

"No," said Lois, "not there. I have never felt just _so_."

"I have had all that life could give. I have had it, and knew I had it.
And it is all gone. There is nothing left."

"There is this left," said Lois eagerly, "which you have not tried."

"What?"

"The promise of Christ."

"My dear, you do not know what you are talking of. Life is in its
spring with you."

"But I know the King's promise," said Lois.

"How do you know it?"

"I have tried it."

"But you have never had any occasion to try it, you heart-sound
creature!" said Mrs. Barclay, with again a caressing, admiring touch of
Lois's brow.

"O, but indeed I have. Not in need like yours--I have never touched
_that_--I never felt like that; but in other need, as great and as
terrible. And I know, and everybody else who has ever tried knows, that
the Lord keeps his word."

"How have you tried?" Mrs. Barclay asked abstractedly.

"I needed the forgiveness of sin," said Lois, letting her voice fall a
little, "and deliverance from it."

"_You!_" said Mrs. Barclay.

"I was as unhappy as anybody could be till I got it."

"When was that?"

"Four years ago."

"Are you much different now from what you were before?"

"Entirely."

"I cannot imagine you in need of forgiveness. What had you done?"

"I had done nothing whatever that I ought to have done. I loved only
myself,--I mean _first_,--and lived only to myself and my own pleasure,
and did my own will."

"Whose will do you now? your grandmother's?"

"Not grandmother's first. I do God's will, as far as I know it."

"And therefore you think you are forgiven?"

"I don't _think_, I know," said Lois, with a quick breath. "And it is
not 'therefore' at all; it is because I am covered, or my sin is, with
the blood of Christ. And I love him; and he makes me happy."

"It is easy to make you happy, dear. To me there is nothing left in the
world, nor the possibility of anything. That wind is singing a dirge in
my ears; and it sweeps over a desert. A desert where nothing green will
grow any more!"

The words were spoken very calmly; there was no emotion visible that
either threatened or promised tears; a dull, matter-of-fact, perfectly
clear and quiet utterance, that almost broke Lois's heart. The water
that was denied to the other eyes sprang to her own.

"It was in the wilderness that the people were fed with manna," she
said, with a great gush of feeling in both heart and voice. "It was
when they were starving and had no food, just then, that they got the
bread from heaven."

"Manna does not fall now-a-days," said Mrs. Barclay with a faint smile.

"O yes, it does! There is your mistake, because you do not know. It
_does_ come. Look here, Mrs. Barclay--"

She sprang up, went for a Bible which lay on one of the tables, and,
dropping on her knees again by Mrs. Barclay's side, showed her an open
page.

"Look here--'I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never
hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst... This is the
bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not
die.' Not die of weariness, nor of anything else."

Mrs. Barclay did look with a little curiosity at the words Lois held
before her, but then she put down the book and took the girl in her
arms, holding her close and laying her own head on Lois's shoulder.
Whether the words had moved her, Lois could not tell, or whether it was
the power of her own affection and sympathy; Mrs. Barclay did not
speak, and Lois did not dare add another word. They were still, wrapped
in each other's arms, and one or two of Lois's tears wet the other
woman's cheek; and there was no movement made by either of them; until
the door was suddenly opened and they sprang apart.

"Here's Mr. Midgin," announced the voice of Miss Charity. "Shall he
come in? or ain't there time? Of all things, why can't folks choose
convenient times for doin' what they have to do! It passes me. It's
because it's a sinful world, I suppose. But what shall I tell him? to
go about his business, and come New Year's, or next Fourth of July?"

"You do not want to see him now?" said Lois hastily. But Mrs. Barclay
roused herself, and begged that he might come in. "It is the carpenter,
I suppose," said she.

Mr. Midgin was a tall, loose-jointed, large-featured man, with an
undecided cast of countenance, and slow movements; which fitted oddly
to his big frame and powerful muscles. He wore his working suit, which
hung about him in a flabby way, and entered Mrs. Barclay's room with
his hat on. Hat and all, his head made a little jerk of salutation to
the lady.

"Good arternoon!" said he. "Sun'thin' I kin do here?"

"Yes, Mr. Midgin--I left word for you three days ago," said Lois.

"Jest so. I heerd. And here I be. Wall, I never see a room with so many
books in it! Lois, you must be like a cow in clover, if you're half as
fond of 'em as I be."

"You are fond of reading, Mr. Midgin?" said Mrs. Barclay.

"Wall, I think so. But what's in 'em all?" He came a step further into
the room and picked up a volume from the table. Mrs. Barclay watched
him. He opened the book, and stood still, eagerly scanning the page,
for a minute or two.

"'Lamps of Architectur'," said he, looking then at the
title-page;--"that's beyond me. The only lamps of architectur that _I_
ever see, in Shampuashuh anyway, is them that stands up at the depot,
by the railroad; but here's 'truth,' and 'sacrifice,' and I don' know
what all; 'hope' and 'love,' I expect. Wall, them's good lamps to light
up anythin' by; only I don't make out whatever they kin have to do with
buildin's." He picked up an other volume.

"What's this?" said he. "'Tain't _my_ native tongue. What do ye call
it, Lois?"

"That is French, Mr. Midgin."

"That's French, eh?" said he, turning over the leaves. "I want to know!
Don't look as though there was any sense in it. What is it about, now?"

"It is a story of a man who was king of Rome a great while ago."

"King o' Rome! What was his name? Not Romulus and Remus, I s'pose?"

"No; but he came just after Romulus."

"Did, hey? Then you s'pose there ever _was_ sich a man as Romulus?"

"Probably," Mrs. Barclay now said. "When a story gets form and lives,
there is generally some thing of fact to serve as foundation for it."

"You think that?" said the carpenter. "Wall, I kin tell you stories
that had form enough and life enough in 'em, to do a good deal o' work;
and that yet grew up out o' nothin' but smoke. There was Governor
Denver; he was governor o' this state for quite a spell; and he was a
Shampuashuh man, so we all knew him and thought lots o' him. He was sot
against drinking. Mebbe you don't think there's no harm in wine and the
like?"

"I have not been accustomed to think there was any harm in it
certainly, unless taken immoderately."

"Ay, but how're you goin' to fix what's moderately? there's the pinch.
What's a gallon for me's only a pint for you. Wall, Governor Denver
didn't believe in havin' nothin' to do with the blamed stuff; and he
had taken the pledge agin it, and he was known for an out and out
temperance man; teetotal was the word with him. Wall, his daughter was
married, over here at New Haven; and they had a grand weddin', and a
good many o' the folks was like you, they thought there was no harm in
it, if one kept inside the pint, you know; and there was enough for
everybody to hev had his gallon. And then they said the Governor had
taken his glass to his daughter's health, or something like that. Wall,
all Shampuashuh was talkin' about it, and Governor Denver's friends was
hangin' their heads, and didn't know what to say; for whatever a man
thinks,--and thoughts is free,--he's bound to stand to what he _says_,
and particularly if he has taken his oath upon it. So Governor Denver's
friends was as worried as a steam-vessel in a fog, when she can't hear
the 'larm bells; and one said this and t'other said that. And at last I
couldn't stand it no longer; and I writ him a letter--to the Governor;
and says I, 'Governor,' says I, '_did_ you drink wine at your daughter
Lottie's weddin' at New Haven last month?' And if you'll believe me, he
writ me back, 'Jonathan Midgin, Esq. Dear sir, I was in New York the
day you mention, shakin' with chills and fever, and never got to
Lottie's weddin' at all.'--What do you think o' that? Overturns your
theory a leetle, don't it? Warn't no sort o' foundation for that story;
and yet it did go round, and folks said it was so."

"It is a strong story for your side, Mr. Midgin, undoubtedly."

"Ain't it! La! bless you, there's nothin' you kin be sartain of in this
world. I don't believe in no Romulus and his wolf. Half o' all these
books, now, I have no doubt, tells lies; and the other half, you don'
know which 'tis."

"I cannot throw them away however, just yet; and so, Mr. Midgin, I want
some shelves to keep them off the floor."

"I should say you jest did! Where'll you put 'em?"

"The shelves? All along that side of the room, I think. And about six
feet high."

"That'll hold 'em," said Mr. Midgin, as he applied his measuring rule.
"Jest shelves? or do you want a bookcase fixed up all reg'lar?"

"Just shelves. That is the prettiest bookcase, to my thinking."

"That's as folks looks at it," said Mr. Midgin, who apparently was of a
different opinion. "What'll they be? Mahogany, or walnut, or cherry, or
maple, or pine? You kin stain 'em any colour. One thing's handsome, and
another thing's cheap; and I don' know yet whether you want 'em cheap
or handsome."

"Want 'em both, Mr. Midgin," said Lois.

"H'm!-- Well--maybe there's folks that knows how to combine both
advantages--but I'm afeard I ain't one of 'em. Nothin' that's cheap's
handsome, to my way o' thinkin'. You don't make much count o' cheap
things _here_ anyhow," said he, surveying the room. And then he began
his measurements, going round the sides of the apartment to apply his
rule to all the plain spaces; and Mrs. Barclay noticed how tenderly he
handled the books which he had to move out of his way. Now and then he
stopped to open one, and stood a minute or two peering into it. All
this while his hat was on.

"Should like to read that," he remarked, with a volume of Macaulay's
Essays in his hands. "That's well written. But a man can't read all the
world," he went on, as he laid it out of his hands again. "'Much study
is a weariness to the flesh.' Arter all, I don't suppose a man'd be no
wiser if he'd read all you've got here. The biggest fool I ever knowed,
was the man that had read the most."

"How did he show his folly?" Mrs. Barclay asked.

"Wall, it's a story. Lois knows. He was dreadfully sot on a little
grandchild he had; his chil'n was all dead, and he had jest this one
left; she was a little girl. And he never left her out o' his sight,
nor she him; until one day he had to go to Boston for some business;
and he couldn't take her; and he said he knowed some harm'd come. Do
you believe in presentiments."

"Sometimes," said Mrs. Barclay.

"How should a man have presentiments o' what's comin'?"

"I cannot answer that."

"No, nor nobody else. It ain't reason. I believe the presentiments
makes the things come."

"Was that the case in this instance?"

"Wall, I don't see how it could. When he come back from Boston, the
little girl was dead; but she was as well as ever when he went away.
Ain't that curious?"

"Certainly; if it is true."

"I'm tellin' you nothin' but the truth. The hull town knows it. 'Tain't
no secret. 'Twas old Mr. Roderick, you know, Lois; lived up yonder on
the road to the ferry. And after he come back from the funeral he shut
himself up in the room where his grandchild had been--and nobody ever
see him no more from that day, 'thout 'twas the folks in the house; and
there warn't many o' them; but he never went out. An' he never went out
for seven years; and at the end o' seven years he _had_ to--there was
money in it--and folks that won't mind nothin' else, they minds Mammon,
you know; so he went out. An' as soon as he was out o' the house, his
women-folks, they made a rush for his room, fur to clean it; for, if
you'll believe me, it hadn't been cleaned all those years; and I expect
'twas in a condition; but the women likes nothin' better; and as they
opened some door or other, of a closet or that, out runs a little white
mouse, and it run clear off; they couldn't catch it any way, and they
tried every way. It was gone, and they were scared, for they knowed the
old gentleman's ways. It wasn't a closet either it was in, but some
piece o' furniture; I'm blessed ef I can remember what they called it.
The mouse was gone, and the women-folks was scared; and to be sure,
when Mr. Roderick come home he went as straight as a line to that there
door where the mouse was; and they say he made a terrible rumpus when
he couldn't find it; but arter that the spell was broke, like; and he
lived pretty much as other folks. Did you say six feet?"

"That will be high enough. And you may leave a space of eight or ten
feet on that side, from window to window."

"Thout any?"

"Yes."

"That'll be kind o' lop-sided, won't it? I allays likes to see things
samely. What'll you do with all that space of emptiness? It'll look
awful bare."

"I will put something else there. What do you suppose the white mouse
had to do with your old gentleman's seclusion?"

"Seclusion? Livin' shut up, you mean? Why, don't ye see, he believed
the mouse was the sperrit o' the child--leastways the sperrit o' the
child was in it. You see, when he got back from the funeral the first
thing his eyes lit upon was that ere white mouse; and it was white, you
see, and that ain't a common colour for a mouse; and it got into his
head, and couldn't get out, that that was Ella's sperrit. It mought ha'
ben, for all I can say; but arter that day, it was gone."

"You think the child's spirit might have been in the mouse?"

"Who knows? I never say nothin' I don't know, nor deny nothin' I _du_
know; ain't that a good principle?"

"But you know better than that, Mr. Midgin," said Lois.

"Wall, I don't! Maybe you do, Lois; but accordin' to my lights I
_don't_ know. You'll hev 'em walnut, won't you? that'll look more like
furniture."

"Are you coming? The waggon's here, Lois," said Madge, opening the
door. "Is Mrs. Barclay ready?"

"Will be in two minutes," replied that lady. "Yes, Mr. Midgin, let them
be walnut; and good evening! Yes, Lois, I am quite roused up now, and I
will go with you. I will walk, dear; I prefer it."



CHAPTER XXV.



ROAST PIG.



Mrs. Barclay seemed to have entirely regained her usual composure and
even her usual spirits, which indeed were never high. She said she
enjoyed the walk, which she and Lois took in company, Madge having gone
with her grandmother and Charity in Mrs. Marx's waggon. The winter
evening was falling grey, and the grey was growing dark; and there was
something in the dusky stillness, and soft, half-defined lines of the
landscape, with the sharp, crisp air, which suited the mood of both
ladies. The stars were not visible yet; the western horizon had still a
glow left from the sunset; and houses and trees stood like dark solemn
ghosts along the way before the end of the walk was reached. They
talked hardly at all, but Mrs. Barclay said when she got to Mrs.
Marx's, that the walk had been delightful.

At Mrs. Marx's all was in holiday perfection of order; though that was
the normal condition of things, indeed, where that lady ruled. The
paint of the floors was yellow and shining; the carpets were thick and
bright; the table was set with great care; the great chimney in the
upper kitchen where the supper was prepared, was magnificent with its
blazing logs. So was a lesser fireplace in the best parlour, where the
guests were first received; but supper was ready, and they adjourned to
the next room. There the table invited them most hospitably, loaded
with dainties such as people in the country can get at Christmas time.
One item of the entertainment not usual at Christmas time was a roast
pig; its brown and glossy back making a very conspicuous object at one
side of the board.

"I thought I'd surprise you all," remarked the satisfied hostess; for
she knew the pig was done to a turn; "and anything you don't expect
tastes twice as good. I knew ma' liked pig better'n anything; and I
think myself it's about the top sheaf. I suppose nothin' can be a
surprise to Mrs. Barclay."

"Why do you suppose so?" asked that lady.

"I thought you'd seen everything there was in the world, and a little
more."

"Never saw a roast pig before in my life. But I have read of them."

"Read of them!" exclaimed their hostess. "In a cook-book, likely?"

"Alas! I never read a cook-book."

"No more didn't I; but you'll excuse me, I didn't believe you carried
it all in your head, like we folks."

"I have not a bit of it in my head, if you mean the art of cookery. I
have a profound respect for it; but I know nothing about it whatever."

"Well, you're right to have a respect for it. Uncle Tim, do you just
give Mrs. Barclay some of the best of that pig, and let us see how she
likes it. And the stuffing, uncle Tim, and the gravy; and plenty of the
crackle. Mother, it's done just as you used to do it."

Mrs. Barclay meanwhile surveyed the company. Mrs. Armadale sat at the
end of the table; placid and pleasant as always, though to Mrs. Barclay
her aspect had somewhat of the severe. She did not smile much, yet she
looked kindly over her assembled children. Uncle Tim was her brother;
Uncle Tim Hotchkiss. He had the so frequent New England mingling of the
shrewd and the benevolent in his face; and he was a much more jolly
personage than his sister; younger than she, too, and still vigorous.
Unlike her, also, he was a handsome man; had been very handsome in his
young days; and, as Mrs. Barclay's eye roved over the table, she
thought few could show a better assemblage of comeliness than was
gathered round this one. Madge was strikingly handsome in her
well-fitting black dress; Lois made a very plain brown stuff seem
resplendent; she had a little fleecy white woollen shawl wound about
her shoulders, and Mrs. Barclay could hardly keep her eyes away from
the girl. And if the other members of the party were less beautiful in
feature, they had every one of them in a high degree the stamp of
intellect and of character. Mrs. Barclay speculated upon the strange
society in which she found herself; upon the odd significance of her
being there; and on the possible outcome, weighty and incalculable, of
the connection of the two things. So intently that she almost forgot
what she was eating, and she started at Mrs. Marx's sudden
question--"Well, how do you like it? Charity, give Mrs. Barclay some
pickles--what she likes; there's sweet pickle, that's peaches; and
sharp pickle, that's red cabbage; and I don' know which of 'em she
likes best; and give her some apple--have you got any apple sauce, Mrs.
Barclay?"

"Thank you, everything; and everything is delicious."

"That's how things are gen'ally, in Mrs. Marx's hands," remarked uncle
Tim. "There ain't her beat for sweets and sours in all the country."

"Mrs. Barclay's accustomed to another sort o' doings," said their
hostess. "I didn't know but she mightn't like our ways."

"I like them very much, I assure you."

"There ain't no better ways than Shampuashuh ways," said uncle Tim. "If
there be, I'd like to see 'em once. Lois, you never see a handsomer
dinner'n this in New York, did you? Come now, and tell. _Did_ you?"

"I never saw a dinner where things were better of their kind, uncle
Tim."

Mrs. Barclay smiled to herself. That will do, she thought.

"Is that an answer?" said uncle Tim. "I'll be shot if I know."

"It is as good an answer as I can give," returned Lois, smiling.

"Of course she has seen handsomer!" said Mrs. Marx. "If you talk of
elegance, we don't pretend to it in Shampuashuh. Be thankful if what
you have got is good, uncle Tim; and leave the rest."

"Well, I don't understand," responded uncle Tim. "Why shouldn't
Shampuashuh be elegant, I don't see? Ain't this elegant enough for
anybody?"

"'Tain't elegant at all," said Mrs. Marx. "If this was in one o' the
elegant places, there'd be a bunch o' flowers in the pig's mouth, and a
ring on his tail."

At the face which uncle Tim made at this, Lois's gravity gave way; and
a perfect echo of laughter went round the table.

"Well, I don' know what you're all laughin' at nor what you mean," said
the object of their merriment; "but I should uncommonly like to know."

"Tell him, Lois," cried Madge, "what a dinner in New York is like. You
never did tell him."

"Well, I'm ready to hear," said the old gentleman. "I thought a dinner
was a dinner; but I'm willin' to learn."

"Tell him, Lois!" Madge repeated.

"It would be very stupid for Mrs. Barclay," Lois objected.

"On the contrary!" said that lady. "I should very much like to hear
your description. It is interesting to hear what is familiar to us
described by one to whom it is novel. Go on, Lois."

"I'll tell you of one dinner, uncle Tim," said Lois, after a moment of
consideration. "_All_ dinners in New York, you must understand, are not
like this; this was a grand dinner."

"Christmas eve?" suggested uncle Tim.

"No. I was not there at Christmas; this was just a party. There were
twelve at table.

"In the first place, there was an oval plate of looking-glass, as long
as this table--not quite so broad--that took up the whole centre of the
table." Here Lois was interrupted.

"Looking-glass!" cried uncle Tim.

"Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous?" said Charity.

"Looking-glass to set the hot dishes on?" said Mrs. Marx, to whom this
story seemed new.

"No; not to set anything on. It took up the whole centre of the table.
Round the edge of this looking-glass, all round, was a border or little
fence of solid silver, about six or eight inches high; of beautiful
wrought open-work; and just within this silver fence, at intervals,
stood most exquisite little white marble statues, about a foot and a
half high. There must have been a dozen of them; and anything more
beautiful than the whole thing was, you cannot imagine."

"I should think they'd have been awfully in the way," remarked Charity.

"Not at all; there was room enough all round outside for the plates and
glasses."

"The looking-glass, I suppose, was for the pretty ladies to see
themselves in!"

"Quite mistaken, uncle Tim; one could not see the reflection of
oneself; only bits of one's opposite neighbours; little flashes of
colour here and there; and the reflection of the statuettes on the
further side; it was prettier than ever you can think."

"I reckon it must ha' been; but I don't see the use of it," said uncle
Tim.

"That wasn't all," Lois went on. "Everybody had his own salt-cellar."

"Table must ha' been full, I should say."

"No, it was not full at all; there was plenty of room for everything,
and that allowed every pretty thing to be seen. And those salt-cellars
were a study. They were delicious little silver figures--every one
different from the others--and each little figure presented the salt in
something. Mine was a little girl, with her apron all gathered up, as
if to hold nuts or apples, and the salt was in her apron. The one next
to her was a market-woman with a flat basket on her head, and the salt
was in the basket. Another was a man bowing, with his hat in his hand;
the salt was in the hat. I could not see them all, but each one seemed
prettier than the other. One was a man standing by a well, with a
bucket drawn up, but full of salt, not water. A very pretty one was a
milkman with a pail."

Uncle Tim was now reduced to silence, but Charity remarked that she
could not understand where the dishes were--the dinner.

"It was somewhere else. It was not on the table at all. The waiters
brought the things round. There were six waiters, handsomely dressed in
black, and with white silk gloves."

"White silk gloves!" echoed Charity. "Well, I _do_ think the way some
people live is just a sin and a shame!"

"How did you know what there was for dinner?" inquired Mrs. Marx now.
"I shouldn't like to make my dinner of boiled beef, if there was
partridges comin'. And when there's plum-puddin' I always like to know
it beforehand."

"We knew everything beforehand, aunt Anne. There were beautifully
painted little pieces of white silk on everybody's plate, with all the
dishes named; only many, most of them, were French names, and I was
none the wiser for them."

"Can't they call good victuals by English names?" asked uncle Tim.
"What's the sense o' that? How was anybody to know what he was eatin'?"

"O they all knew," said Lois. "Except me."

"I'll bet you were the only sensible one o' the lot," said the old
gentleman.

"Then at every plate there was a beautiful cut glass bottle, something
like a decanter, with ice water, and over the mouth of it a tumbler to
match. Besides that, there were at each plate five or six other goblets
or glasses, of different colours."

"What colours?" demanded Charity.

"Yellow, and dark red, and green, and white."

"What were _they_ all for?" asked uncle Tim.

"Wine; different sorts of wine."

"Different sorts o' wine! How many sorts did they have, at one dinner?"

"I cannot tell you. I do not know. A great many."

"Did you drink any, Lois?"

"No, aunt Anne."

"I suppose they thought you were a real country girl, because you
didn't?"

"Nobody thought anything about it. The servants brought the wine;
everybody did just as he pleased about taking it."

"What did you have to eat, Lois, with so much to drink?" asked her
elder sister.

"More than I can tell, Charity. There must have been a dozen large
dishes, at each end of the table, besides the soup and the fish; and no
end of smaller dishes."

"For a dozen people!" cried Charity.

"I suppose it's because I don't know anythin'," said Mr.
Hotchkiss,--"but I always _du_ hate to see a whole lot o' things before
me more'n I can eat!"

"It's downright wicked waste, that's what I call it," said Mrs. Marx;
"but I s'pose that's because I don't know anythin'."

"And you like that sort o' way better 'n this 'n?" inquired uncle Tim
of Lois.

"I said no more than that it was prettier, uncle Tim."

"But _du_ ye?"

Lois's eye met involuntarily Mrs. Barclay's for an instant, and she
smiled.

"Uncle Tim, I think there is something to be said on both sides."

"There ain't no sense on that side."

"There is some prettiness; and I like prettiness."

"Prettiness won't butter nobody's bread. Mother, you've let Lois go
once too often among those city folks. She's nigh about sp'iled for a
Shampuashuh man now."

"Perhaps a Shampuashuh man will not get her," said Mrs. Barclay
mischievously.

"Who else is to get her?" cried Mrs. Marx. "We're all o' one sort here;
and there's hardly a man but what's respectable, and very few that
ain't more or less well-to-do; but we all work and mean to work, and we
mostly all know our own mind. I do despise a man who don't do nothin',
and who asks other folks what he's to think!"

"That sort of person is not held in very high esteem in any society, I
believe," said Mrs. Barclay courteously; though she was much amused,
and was willing for her own reasons that the talk should go a little
further. Therefore she spoke.

"Well, idleness breeds 'em," said the other lady.

"But who respects them?"

"The world'll respect anybody, even a man that goes with his hands in
his pockets, if he only can fetch 'em out full o' money. There was such
a feller hangin' round Appledore last summer. My! didn't he try my
patience!"

"Appledore?" said Lois, pricking up her ears.

"Yes; there was a lot of 'em."

"People who did not know their own minds?" Mrs. Barclay asked,
purposely and curiously.

"Well, no, I won't say that of all of 'em. There was some of 'em knew
their own minds a'most _too_ well; but he warn't one. He come to me
once to help him out; and I filled his pipe for him, and sent him to
smoke it."

"Aunt Anne!" said Lois, drawing up her pretty figure with a most
unwonted assumption of astonished dignity. Both the dignity and the
astonishment drew all eyes upon her. She was looking at Mrs. Marx with
eyes full of startled displeasure. Mrs. Marx was entrenched behind a
whole army of coffee and tea pots and pitchers, and answered coolly.

"Yes, I did. What is it to you? Did he come to _you_ for help too?"

"I do not know whom you are talking of."

"Oh!" said Mrs. Marx. "I thought you _did_. Before I'd have you marry
such a soft feller as that, I'd--I'd shoot him!"

There was some laughter, but Lois did not join in it, and with
heightened colour was attending very busily to her supper.

"Was the poor man looking that way?" asked Mrs. Barclay.

"He was lookin' two ways," said Mrs. Marx; "and when a man's doin'
that, he don't fetch up nowhere, you bet. I'd like to know what becomes
of him! They were all of the sort Lois has been tellin' of; thought a
deal o' 'prettiness.' I do think, the way some people live, is a way to
shame the flies; and I don't know nothin' in creation more useless than
they be!"

Mrs. Marx could speak better English, but the truth was, when she got
much excited she forgot her grammar.

"But at a watering-place," remarked Mrs. Barclay, "you do not expect
people to show their useful side. They are out for play and amusement."

"I can play too," said the hostess; "but my play always has some
meaning to it. Did I tell you, mother, what that lady was doing?"

"I thought you were speaking of a gentleman," said quiet Mrs. Armadale.

"Well, there was a lady too; and she was doin' a piece o' work. It was
a beautiful piece of grey satin; thick and handsome as you ever see;
and she was sewin' gold thread upon it with fine gold-coloured silk;
fine gold thread; and it went one way straight and another way round,
curling and crinkling, like nothin' on earth but a spider's web; all
over the grey satin. I watched her a while, and then, says I, 'What are
you doin', if you please? I've been lookin' at you, and I can't make
out.' 'No,' says she, 'I s'pose not. It's a cover for a bellows.' 'For
a _what?_' says I. 'For a bellows,' says she; 'a _bellows_, to blow the
fire with. Don't you know what they are?' 'Yes,' says I; 'I've seen a
fire bellows before now; but in our part o' the country we don't cover
'em with satin.' 'No,' says she, 'I suppose not.' 'I would just like to
ask one more question,' says I. 'Well, you may,' says she; 'what is
it?' 'I would just like to know,' says I, 'what the fire is made of
that you blow with a satin and gold bellows?' And she laughed a little.
' 'Cause,' says I, 'it ought to be somethin' that won't soil a kid
glove and that won't give out no sparks nor smoke.' 'O,' says she,
'nobody really blows the fire; only the bellows have come into fashion,
along with the _fire-dogs_, wherever people have an open fireplace and
a wood fire.' Well, what she meant by fire dogs I couldn't guess; but I
thought I wouldn't expose any more o' my ignorance. Now, mother, how
would you like to have Lois in a house like that?--where people don't
know any better what to do with their immortal lives than to make satin
covers for bellows they don't want to blow the fire with! and dish up
dinner enough for twelve people, to feed a hundred?"

"Lois will never be in a house like that," responded the old lady
contentedly.

"Then it's just as well if you keep her away from the places where they
make so much of _prettiness_, I can tell you. Lois is human."

"Lois is Christian," said Mrs. Armadale; "and she knows her duty."

"Well, it's heart-breakin' work, to know one's duty, sometimes," said
Mrs. Marx.

"But you do not think, I hope, that one is a pattern for all?" said
Mrs. Barclay. "There are exceptions; it is not everybody in the great
world that lives to no purpose."

"If that's what you call the great world, _I_ call it mighty small,
then. If I didn't know anything better to do with myself than to work
sprangles o' gold on a satin cover that warn't to cover nothin', I'd go
down to Fairhaven and hire myself out to open oysters! and think I made
by the bargain. Anyhow, I'd respect myself better."

"I don't know what you mean by the great world," said uncle Tim. "Be
there two on 'em--a big and a little?"

"Don't you see, all Shampuashuh would go in one o' those houses Lois
was tellin' about! and if it got there, I expect they wouldn't give it
house-room."

"The worlds are not so different as you think," Mrs. Barclay went on
courteously. "Human nature is the same everywhere."

"Well, I guess likely," responded Mrs. Marx. "Mother, if you've done,
we'll go into the other."



CHAPTER XXVI.



SCRUPLES.



The next day was Christmas; but in the country of Shampuashuh,
Christmas, though a holiday, was not held in so high regard as it
receives in many other quarters of the earth. There was no service in
the church; and after dinner Lois came as usual to draw in Mrs.
Barclay's room.

"I did not understand some of your aunt's talk last evening," Mrs.
Barclay remarked after a while.

"I am not surprised at that," said Lois.

"Did you?"

"O yes. I understand aunt Anne."

"Does she really think that _all_ the people who like pretty things,
lead useless lives?"

"She does not care so much about pretty things as I do," said Lois
slightly.

"But does she think all who belong to the 'great world' are evil? given
up to wickedness?"

"Not so bad as that," Lois answered, smiling; "but naturally aunt Anne
does not understand any world but this of Shampuashuh."

"I understood her to assume that under no circumstances could you marry
one of the great world she was talking of?"

"Well," said Lois, "I suppose she thinks that one of them would not be
a Christian."

"You mean, an enthusiast."

"No," said Lois; "but I mean, and she means, one who is in heart a true
servant of Christ. He might, or he might not, be enthusiastic."

"And would you marry no one who was not a Christian, as you understand
the word?"

"The Bible forbids it," said Lois, her colour rising a little.

"The Bible forbids it? I have not studied the Bible like you; but I
have heard it read from the pulpit all my life; and I never heard,
either from the pulpit or out of it, such an idea, as that one who is a
Christian may not marry one who is not."

"I can show you the command--in more places than one," said Lois.

"I wish you would."

Lois left her drawing and fetched a Bible.

"It is forbidden in the Old Testament and in the New," she said; "but I
will show you a place in the New. Here it is--in the second Epistle to
the Corinthians--'Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers;'
and it goes on to give the reason."

"Unbelievers! But those, in that day, were heathen."

"Yes," said Lois simply, going on with her drawing.

"There are no heathen now,--not here."

"I suppose that makes no difference. It is the party which will not
obey and serve Christ; and which is working against him. In that day
they worshipped idols of wood and stone; now they worship a different
sort. They do not worship _him;_ and there are but two parties."

"No neutrals?"

"No. The Bible says not."

"But what is being 'yoked together'? what do you understand is
forbidden by that? Marriage?"

"Any connection, I suppose," said Lois, looking up, "in which two
people are forced to pull together. You know what a 'yoke' is?"

"And you can smile at that, you wicked girl?"

Lois laughed now. "Why not?" she said. "I have not much fancy for
putting my head in a yoke at all; but a yoke where the two pull
different ways must be very miserable!"

"You forget; you might draw somebody else to go the right way."

"That would depend upon who was the strongest."

"True," said Mrs. Barclay. "But, my dear Lois! you do not suppose that
a man cannot belong to the world and yet be what you call a Christian?
That would be very uncharitable."

"I do not want to be uncharitable," said Lois. "Mrs. Barclay, it is
_extremely_ difficult to mark the foliage of different sorts of trees!"

"Yes, but you are making a very good beginning. Lois, do you know, you
are fitting to be the wife of just one of that world you are
condemning-cultivated, polished, full of accomplishments and graces,
and fine and refined tastes."

"Then he would be very dangerous," said Lois, "if he were not a
Christian. He might have all that, and yet be a Christian too."

"Suppose he were not; would you refuse him?"

"I hope I should," said Lois. But her questioner noticed that this
answer was soberly given.

That evening she wrote a letter to Mr. Dillwyn.



"I am enjoying the most delightful rest," the letter said, "that I have
known for a very long time; yet I have a doubt whether I ought to
confess it; whether I ought not to declare myself tired of Shampuashuh,
and throw up my cards. I feel a little like an honest swindler, using
your money, not on false pretences, but on a foregone case. I should
_never_ get tired of the place or the people. Everyone of them, indeed
almost every one that I see, is a character; and here, where there is
less varnish, the grain of the wood shows more plainly. I have had a
most original carpenter here to measure for my book-shelves, only
yesterday; for my room is running over with books. Not only everybody
is a character, but nearly everybody has a good mixture of what is
admirable in his composition; and as for these two girls--well, I am
even more in love than you are, Philip. The elder is the handsomer,
perhaps; she is very handsome; but your favourite is my favourite. Lois
is lovely. There is a strange, fresh, simple, undefinable charm about
the girl that makes one her captive. Even me, a woman. She wins upon me
daily with her sweet unconscious ways. But nevertheless I am uneasy
when I remember what I am here for, and what you are expecting. I fear
I am acting the part of an innocent swindler, as I said; little better.

"In one way there is no disappointment to be looked for. These girls
are both gifted with a great capacity and aptitude for mental growth.
Lois especially, for she cares more to go into the depths of things;
but both of them grow fast, and I can see the change almost from day to
day. Tastes are waking up, and eager for gratification; there is no
limit to the intellectual hunger or the power of assimilation; the
winter is one of very great enjoyment to them (as to me!), and there
is, and that has been from the first, a refinement of manner which
surprised me, but that too is growing. And yet, with all this, which
promises so much, there is another element which threatens discomfiture
to our hopes. I must not conceal it from you. These people are regular
Puritans. They think now, in this age of the world, to regulate their
behaviour entirely by the Bible. You are of a different type; and I am
persuaded that the whole family would regard an alliance with a man
like you as an unlawful thing; ay, though he were a prince or a
Rothschild, it would make no difference in their view of the thing. For
here is independence, pure and absolute. The family is very poor; they
are glad of the money I pay them; but they would not bend their heads
before the prestige of wealth, or do what they think wrong to gain any
human favour or any earthly advantage. And Lois is like the rest; quite
as firm; in fact, some of these gentlewomen have a power of saying 'no'
which is only a little less than fearful. I cannot tell what love would
do; but I do not believe it would break down her principle. We had a
talk lately on this very subject; she was very firm.

"I think I ought not to conceal from you that I have doubts on another
question. We were at a family supper party last night at an aunt's
house. She is a character too; a kind of a grenadier of a woman, in
nature, not looks. The house and the entertainment were very
interesting to me; the mingling of things was very striking, that one
does not expect to find in connection. For instance, the appointments
of the table were, as of course they would be, of no pretension to
style or elegance; clumsily comfortable, was all you could say. And the
cooking was delicately fine. Then, manners and language were somewhat
lacking in polish, to put it mildly; and the tone of thought and the
qualities of mind and character exhibited were very far above what I
have heard often in circles of great pretension. Once the conversation
got upon the contrasting ways of life in this society and in what is
called the world; the latter, I confess to you, met with some hard
treatment; and the idea was rejected with scorn that one of the girls
should ever be tempted out of her own sphere into the other. All this
is of no consequence; but what struck me was a hint or two that Lois
_had been_ tempted; and a pretty plain assertion that this aunt, who it
seems was at Appledore last summer nursing Mrs. Wishart, had received
some sort of overture or advance on Lois's behalf, and had rejected it.
This was evidently news to Lois; and she showed so much startled
displeasure--in her face, for she said almost nothing--that the
suspicion was forced upon me, there might have been more in the matter
than the aunt knew. Who was at Appledore? a friend of yours, was it
not? and are you _sure_ he did not gain some sort of lien upon this
heart which you are so keen to win? I owe it to you to set you upon
this inquiry; for if I know anything of the girl, she is as true and as
unbending as steel. What she holds she will hold; what she loves she
will love, I believe, to the end. So, before we go any further, let us
find whether we have ground to go on. No, I would not have you come
here at present. Not in any case; and certainly not in this
uncertain'ty. You are too wise to wish it."



Whether Philip were too wise to wish it, he was too wise to give the
rein to his wishes. He stayed in New York all winter, contenting
himself with sending to Shampuashuh every imaginable thing that could
make Mrs. Barclay's life there pleasant, or help her to make it useful
to her two young friends. A fine Chickering piano arrived between
Christmas and New Year's day, and was set up in the space left for it
between the bookshelves. Books continued to flow in; books of all
sorts--science and art, history and biography, poetry and general
literature. And Lois would have developed into a bookworm, had not the
piano exercised an almost equal charm upon her. Listening to Mrs.
Barclay's music at first was an absorbing pleasure; then Mrs. Barclay
asked casually one day "Shall I teach you?"

"O, you could not!" was Lois's answer, given with a breath and a flush
of excitement.

"Let us try," said Mrs. Barclay, smiling. "You might learn at least
enough to accompany yourself. I have never heard your voice. Have you a
voice?"

"I do not know what you would call a voice," said Lois, smiling.

"But you sing?"

"Hymns. Nothing else."

"Have you a hymn-book? with music, I mean?"

Lois brought one. Mrs. Barclay played the accompaniment of a familiar
hymn, and Lois sang.

"My dear," exclaimed the former when she had done, "that is delicious!"

"Is it?"

"Your voice is very fine; it has a peculiar and uncommon richness. You
must let me train that voice."

"I should like to sing hymns as well as I _can_," Lois answered,
flushing somewhat.

"You would like to sing other things, too."

"Songs?"

"Yes. Some songs are beautiful."

"I never liked much those I have heard."

"Why not?"

"They seemed rather foolish."

"Did they! The choice must have been unfortunate. Where did you hear
them?"

"In New York. In company there. The voices were sometimes delightful;
but the words--"

"Well, the words?"

"I wondered how they could like to sing them. There was nothing in them
but nonsense."

"You are a very severe critic!"

"No," said Lois deprecatingly; "but I think hymns are so much better."

"Well, we will see. Songs are not the first thing; your voice must be
trained."

So a new element came into the busy life of that winter; and music now
made demands on time and attention which Lois found it a little
difficult to meet, without abridging the long reading hours and
diligent studies to which she had hitherto been giving all her spare
time. But the piano was so alluring! And every morsel of real music
that Mrs. Barclay touched was so entrancing to Lois. To Lois; Madge did
not care about it, except for the wonder of seeing Mrs. Barclay's
fingers fly over the keys; and Charity took quite a different view
again.

"Mother," she said one evening to the old lady, whom they often called
so, "don't it seem to you that Lois is gettin' turned round?"

"How, my dear?"

"Well, it ain't like the Lois we used to have. She's rushin' at books
from morning to night, or scritch-scratching on a slate; and the rest
o' the time she's like nothin' but the girl in the song, that had
'bells on her fingers and rings on her toes.' I hear that piano-forty
going at all hours; it's tinkle, tinkle, every other thing. What's the
good of all that?"

"What's the _harm?_" said Lois.

"What's she doin' it for, that woman? One 'ud think she had come here
just on purpose to teach Madge and you; for she don't do anything else.
What's it all for? that's what I'd like to be told."

"I'm sure she's very kind," said Madge.

"Mother, do you like it?"

"What is the harm in what we are doing, Charity?" asked her younger
sister.

"If a thing ain't good it's always harm!"

"But these things are good."

"Maybe good for some folks; they ain't good for you."

"I wish you would say 'are not,'" said Lois.

"There!" said Charity. "There it is! You're pilin' one thing on top of
another, till your head won't stand it; and the house won't be high
enough for you by and by. All these ridiculous ways, of people that
think themselves too nice for common things! and you've lived all your
life among common things, and are going to live all your life among
them. And, mother, all this French and music will just make Lois
discontented. You see if it don't."

"Do I act discontented?" Lois asked, with a pleasant smile.

"Does she leave any of her work for you to do, Charity?" said Madge.

"Wait till the spring opens and garden must be made," said Charity.

"I should never think of leaving _that_ to you to do, Charity," said
Lois, laughing. "We should have a poor chance of a garden."

"Mother, I wish you'd stop it."

Mrs. Armadale said, however, nothing at the time. But the next chance
she had when she and her youngest granddaughter were alone, she said,

"Lois, are you in danger of lettin' your pleasure make you forget your
duty?"

"I hope not, grandmother. I do not think it. I take these things to be
duty. I think one ought always to learn anything one has an opportunity
of learning."

"One thing is needful," said the old lady doubtfully.

"Yes, grandmother. I do not forget that."

"You don't want to learn the ways of the world, Lois?"

"No, grandmother."



CHAPTER XXVII.



PEAS AND RADISHES.



Mr. Dillwyn, as I said, did not come near Shampuashuh. He took his
indemnification in sending all sorts of pleasant things. Papers and
magazines overflowed, flowed over into Mrs. Marx's hands, and made her
life rich; flowed over again into Mr. Hotchkiss's hands, and
embroidered his life for him. Mr. Dillwyn sent fruit; foreign fruit,
strange and delicious, which it was a sort of education even to eat,
bringing one nearer to the countries so far and unknown, where it grew.
He sent music; and if some of it passed under Lois's ban as "nonsense,"
that was not the case with the greater part. "She has a marvellous true
appreciation of what is fine," Mrs. Barclay wrote; "and she rejects
with an accuracy which surprises me, all that is merely pretty and
flashy. There are some bits of Handel that have great power over the
girl; she listens to them, I might almost say, devoutly, and is never
weary. Madge is delighted with Rossini; but Lois gives her adherence to
the German classics, and when I play Haydn or Mozart or Mendelssohn,
stands rapt in her delighted listening, and looking like--well, I will
not tantalize you by trying to describe to you what I see every day. I
marvel only where the girl got these tastes and susceptibilities; it
must be blood; I believe in inheritance. She has had until now no
training or experience; but your bird is growing her wings fast now,
Philip. If you can manage to cage her! Natures hereabout are not tame,
by any means."

Mr. Dillwyn, I believe I mentioned, sent engravings and exquisite
photographs; and these almost rivalled Haydn and Mozart in Lois's mind.
For various reasons, Mrs. Barclay sought to make at least this source
of pleasure common to the whole family; and would often invite them all
into her room, or carry her portfolio out into their general
sitting-room, and display to the eyes of them all the views of foreign
lands; cities, castles and ruins, palaces and temples, Swiss mountains
and Scotch lochs, Paris Boulevards and Venetian canals, together with
remains of ancient art and works of modern artists; of all which Philip
sent an unbounded number and variety. These evenings were unendingly
curious to Mrs. Barclay. Comment was free, and undoubtedly original,
whatever else might be said of it; and character, and the habit of life
of her audience, were unconsciously revealed to her. Intense curiosity
and eagerness for information were observable in them all; but tastes,
and the power of apprehension and receptiveness towards new and strange
ideas, and the judgment passed upon things, were very different in the
different members of the group. These exhibitions had further one good
effect, not unintended by the exhibitor; they brought the whole family
somewhat in tone with the new life to which two of its members were
rising. It was not desirable that Lois should be too far in advance of
her people, or rather that they should be too far behind her. The
questions propounded to Mrs. Barclay on these occasions, and the
elucidations she found it desirable to give without questions,
transformed her part into that of a lecturer; and the end of such an
evening would find her tired with her exertions, yet well repaid for
them. The old grandmother manifested great curiosity, great admiration,
with frequently an expression of doubt or disapproval; and very often a
strange, slight, inexpressible air of one who felt herself to belong to
a different world, to which all these things were more or less foreign.
Charity showed also intense eagerness and curiosity, and
inquisitiveness; and mingled with those, a very perceptible flavour of
incredulity or of disdain, the latter possibly born of envy. But Lois
and Madge were growing with every journey to distant lands, and every
new introduction to the great works of men's hands, of every kind and
of every age.

After receiving that letter of Mrs. Barclay's mentioned in the last
chapter, Philip Dillwyn would immediately have attacked Tom Caruthers
again on the question of his liking for Miss Lothrop, to find out
whether possibly there were any the least foundation for Mrs. Barclay's
scruples and fears. But it was no longer in his power. The Caruthers
family had altered their plans; and instead of going abroad in the
spring, had taken their departure with the first of December, after an
impromptu wedding of Julia to her betrothed. Mr. Dillwyn did not
seriously believe that there was anything his plan had to fear from
this side; nevertheless he preferred not to move in the dark; and he
waited. Besides, he must allow time for the work he had sent Mrs.
Barclay to do; to hurry matters would be to spoil everything; and it
was much better on every ground that he should keep away from
Shampuashuh. As I said, he busied himself with Shampuashuh affairs all
he could, and wore out the winter as he best might; which was not very
satisfactorily. And when spring came he resolutely carried out his
purpose, and sailed for Europe. Till at least a year had gone by he
would not try to see Lois; Mrs. Barclay should have a year at least to
push her beneficent influence and bring her educational efforts to some
visible result; he would keep away; but it would be much easier to keep
away if the ocean lay between them, and he went to Florence and
northern Italy and the Adriatic.

Meanwhile the winter had "flown on soft wings" at Shampuashuh. Every
day seemed to be growing fuller and richer than its predecessors; every
day Lois and Madge were more eager in the search after knowledge, and
more ready for the reception of it. A change was going on in them, so
swift that Mrs. Barclay could almost see it from day to day. Whether
others saw it I cannot tell; but Mrs. Marx shook her head in the fear
of it, and Charity opined that the family "might whistle for a garden,
and for butter and cheese next summer." Precious opportunity of winter
days, when no gardening nor dairy work was possible! and blessed long
nights and mornings, after sunset and before sunrise, when no housework
of any sort put in claims upon the leisure of the two girls. There were
no interruptions from without. In Shampuashuh, society could not be
said to flourish. Beyond an occasional "sewing society" meeting, and a
much more rare gathering for purely social purposes, nothing more than
a stray caller now and then broke the rich quiet of those winter days;
the time for a tillage, and a sowing, and a growth far beyond in
preciousness all "the precious things put forth by the sun" in the more
genial time of the year. But days began to become longer, nevertheless,
as the weeks went on; and daylight was pushing those happy mornings and
evenings into lesser and lesser compass; and snow quite disappeared
from the fields, and buds began to swell on the trees and take colour,
and airs grew more gentle in temperature; though I am bound to say
there is a sharpness sometimes in the nature of a Shampuashuh spring,
that quite outdoes all the greater rigours of the winter that has gone.

"The frost is out of the ground!" said Lois one day to her friend.

"Well," said Mrs. Barclay innocently; "I suppose that is a good thing."

Lois went on with her drawing, and made no answer.

But soon Mrs. Barclay began to perceive that less reading and studying
were done; or else some drawing lingered on its way towards completion;
and the deficits became more and more striking. At last she demanded
the reason.

"O," said Madge, "the cows have come in, and I have a good deal to do
in the dairy now; it takes up all my mornings. I'm so sorry, I don't
know what to do! but the milk must be seen to, and the butter churned,
and then worked over; and it takes time, Mrs. Barclay."

"And Lois?"

"O, Lois is making garden."

"Making garden!"

"Yes; O, she always does it. It's her particular part of the business.
We all do a little of everything; but the garden is Lois's special
province, and the dairy mine, and Charity takes the cooking and the
sewing. O, we all do our own sewing, and we all do grandmother's
sewing; only Charity takes head in that department."

"What does Lois do in the garden?"

"O, everything. We get somebody to plough it up in the fall; and in the
spring we have it dug over; but all the rest she does. We have a good
garden too," said Madge, smiling.

"And these things take your morning and her morning?"

"Yes, indeed; I should think they did. Rather!"

Mrs. Barclay held her peace then, and for some time afterwards. The
spring came on, the days became soft and lovely, after March had blown
itself out; the trees began to put forth leaves, the blue-birds were
darting about, like skyey messengers; robins were whistling, and
daffodils were bursting, and grass was green. One lovely warm morning,
when everything without seemed beckoning to her, Mrs. Barclay threw on
a shawl and hat, and made her way out to the old garden, which up to
this day she had never entered.

She found the great wide enclosure looking empty and bare enough. The
two or three old apple trees hung protectingly over the wooden bench in
the middle, their branches making pretty tracery against the tender,
clear blue of the sky; but no shade was there. The branches only showed
a little token of swelling and bursting buds, which indeed softened in
a lovely manner the lines of their interlacing network, and promised a
plenty of green shadow by and by. No shadow was needed at present, for
the sun was too gentle; its warmth was welcome, and beneficent, and
kindly. The old cherry tree in the corner was beginning to open its
wealth of white blossoms; everywhere else the bareness and brownness of
winter was still reigning, only excepting the patches of green turf
around the boles and under the spreading boughs of the trees here and
there. The garden was no garden, only a spread of soft, up-turned brown
loam. It looked a desolate place to Mrs. Barclay.

In the midst of it, the one point of life and movement was Lois. She
was in a coarse, stout stuff dress, short, and tucked up besides, to
keep it out of the dirt. Her hands were covered with coarse, thick
gloves, her head with a little old straw hat. At the moment Mrs.
Barclay came up, she was raking a patch of ground which she had
carefully marked out, and bounded with a trampled footway; she was
bringing it with her rake into a condition of beautiful level
smoothness, handling her tool with light dexterity. As Mrs. Barclay
came near, she looked up with a flash of surprise and a smile.

"I have found you," said the lady. "So this is what you are about!"

"It is what I am always about at this time of year."

"What are you doing?"

"Just here I am going to put in radishes and lettuce."

"Radishes and lettuce! And that is instead of French and philosophy!"

"This is philosophy," said Lois, while with a neat movement of her rake
she threw off some stones which she had collected from the surface of
the bed. "Very good philosophy. Surely the philosophy of life is
first--to live."

Mrs. Barclay was silent a moment upon this.

"Are radishes and lettuce the first thing you plant in the spring,
then?"

"O dear, no!" said Lois. "Do you see all that corner? that's in
potatoes. Do you see those slightly marked lines--here, running across
from the walk to the wall?--peas are there. They'll be up soon. I think
I shall put in some corn to-morrow. Yonder is a bed of radishes and
lettuce just out of the ground. We'll have some radishes for tea,
before you know it."

"And do you mean to say that _you_ have been planting potatoes? _you?_"

"Yes," said Lois, looking at her and laughing. "I like to plant
potatoes. In fact, I like to plant anything. What I do not always like
so well, is the taking care of them after they are up and growing."

Mrs. Barclay sat down and watched her. Lois was now tracing delicate
little drills across the breadth of her nicely-prepared bed; little
drills all alike, just so deep and just so far apart. Then she went to
a basket hard by for a little paper of seeds; two papers; and began
deftly to scatter the seed along the drills, with delicate and careful
but quick fingers. Mrs. Barclay watched her till she had filled all the
rows, and began to cover the seeds in; that, too, she did quick and
skilfully.

"That is not fit work for you to do, Lois."

"Why not?"

"You have something better to do."

"I do not see how I can. This is the work that is given me."

"But any common person could do that?"

"We have not got the common person to do it," said Lois, laughing; "so
it comes upon an uncommon one."

"But there is a fitness in things."

"So you will think, when you get some of my young lettuce." The drills
were fast covered in, but there were a good many of them, and Lois went
on talking and working with equal spirit.

"I do not think I shall--" Mrs. Barclay answered the last statement.

"I like to do this, Mrs. Barclay. I like to do it very much. I _am_
pulled a little two ways this spring--but that only shows this is good
for me."

"How so?"

"When anybody is living to his own pleasure, I guess he is not in the
best way of improvement."

"Is there no one but you to do all the weeding, by and by, when the
garden will be full of plants?"

"Nobody else," said Lois.

"That must take a great deal of your time!"

"Yes," said Lois, "it does; that and the fruit-picking."

"Fruit-picking! Mercy! Why, child, _must_ you do all that?"

"It is my part," said Lois pleasantly. "Charity and Madge have each
their part. This is mine, and I like it better than theirs. But it is
only so, Mrs. Barclay, that we are able to get along. A gardener would
eat up our garden. I take only my share. And there is a great deal of
pleasure in it. It is pleasant to provide for the family's wants, and
to see the others enjoy what I bring in;--yes, and to enjoy it myself.
And then, do you see how pleasant the work is! Don't you like it out
here this morning?"

Mrs. Barclay cast a glance around her again. There was a slight spring
haze in the air, which seemed to catch and hold the sun's rays and
diffuse them in gentle beneficence. Through it the opening cherry
blossoms gave their tender promise; the brown, bare apple trees were
softened; an indescribable breath of hope and life was in the air, to
which the birds were doing all they could to give expression; there was
a delicate joy in Nature's face, as if at being released from the bands
of Winter and having her hands free again. The smell of the upturned
earth came fresh to Mrs. Barclay's nostrils, along with a salt savour
from the not distant sea. Yes, it was pleasant, with a rare and
wonderful pleasantness; and yet Mrs. Barclay's eyes came discontentedly
back to Lois.

"It would be possible to enjoy all this, Lois, if you were not doing
such evil work."

"Evil work! O no, Mrs. Barclay. The work that the Lord gives anybody to
do cannot be evil. It must be the very best thing he can do. And I do
not believe I should enjoy the spring--and the summer--and the
autumn--near so well, if I were not doing it."



"Must one be a gardener, to have such enjoyment?"

"_I_ must," said Lois, laughing. "If I do not follow my work, my work
follows me; and then it comes like a taskmaster, and carries a whip."

"But, Lois! that sort of work will make your hands rough."

Lois lifted one of her hands in its thick glove, and looked at it.
"Well," she said, "what then? What are hands made for?"

"You know very well what I mean. You know a time may come when you
would like to have your hands white and delicate."

"The time is come now," said Lois, laughing. "I have not to wait for
it. I like white hands, and delicate hands, as well as anybody. Mine
must do their work, all the same. Something might be said for my feet,
too, I suppose," she added, with another laugh.

At the moment she had finished outlining an other bed, and was now
trampling a little hard border pathway round it, making the length of
her foot the breadth of the pathway, and setting foot to foot close
together, so bit by bit stamping it round. Mrs. Barclay looked on, and
wished some body else could have looked on, at the bright, fresh face
under the little old hat, and the free action and spirit and accuracy
with which everything that either feet or hands did was done. Somehow
she forgot the coarse dress, and only saw the delicate creature in it.

"Lois, I do not like it!" she began again. "Do you know, some people
are very particular about these little things--fastidious about them.
You may one day yet want to please one of those very men."

"Not unless he wants to please me first!" said Lois, with a glance from
her path-treading.

"Of course. I am supposing that."

"I don't know him!" said Lois. "And I don't see him in the distance!"

"That proves nothing."

"And it wouldn't make any difference if I did."

"You are mistaken in thinking that. You do not know yet what it is to
be in love, Lois."

"I don't know," said Lois. "Can't one be in love with one's
grandmother?"

"But, Lois, this is going to take a great deal of your time."

"Yes, ma'am."

"And you want all your time, to give to more important things. I can't
bear to have you drop them all to plant potatoes. Could not somebody
else be found to do it?"

"We could not afford the somebody, Mrs. Barclay."

It was not doubtfully or regretfully that the girl spoke; the brisk
content of her answers drove Mrs. Barclay almost to despair.

"Lois, you owe something to yourself."

"What, Mrs. Barclay?"

"You owe it to yourself to be prepared for what I am sure is coming to
you. You are not made to live in Shampuashuh all your life. Somebody
will want you to quit it and go out into the wide world with him."

Lois was silent a few minutes, with her colour a little heightened,
fresh as it had been already; then, having tramped all round her new
bed, she came up to where Mrs. Barclay and her basket of seeds were.

"I don't believe it at all," she said. "I think I shall live and die
here."

"Do you feel satisfied with that prospect?"

Lois turned over the bags of seeds in her basket, a little hurriedly;
then she stopped and looked up at her questioner.

"I have nothing to do with all that," she said. "I do not want to think
of it. I have enough in hand to think of. And I am satisfied, Mrs.
Barclay, with whatever God gives me." She turned to her basket of seeds
again, searching for a particular paper.



"I never heard any one say that before," remarked the other lady.

"As long as I can say it, don't you see that is enough?" said Lois
lightly. "I enjoy all this work, besides; and so will you by and by
when you get the lettuce and radishes, and some of my Tom Thumb peas.
And I am not going to stop my studies either."



She went back to the new bed now, where she presently was very busy
putting more seeds in. Mrs. Barclay watched her a while. Then, seeing a
small smile break on the lips of the gardener, she asked Lois what she
was thinking of? Lois looked up.

"I was thinking of that geode you showed us last night."

"That geode!"

"Yes, it is so lovely. I have thought of it a great many times. I am
wanting very much to learn about stones now. I thought always _till_
now that stones were only stones. The whole world is changed to me
since you have come, Mrs. Barclay."

Yes, thought that lady to herself, and what will be the end of it?

"To tell the truth," Lois went on, "the garden work comes harder to me
this spring than ever it did before; but that shows it is good for me.
I have been having too much pleasure all winter."

"Can one have too much pleasure?" said Mrs. Barclay discontentedly.

"If it makes one unready for duty," said Lois.



CHAPTER XXVIII.



THE LAGOON OF VENICE.



Towards evening, one day late in the summer, the sun was shining, as
its manner is, on that marvellous combination of domes, arches, mosaics
and carvings which goes by the name of St. Mark's at Venice. The soft
Italian sky, glowing and rich, gave a very benediction of colour; all
around was the still peace of the lagoon city; only in the great square
there was a gentle stir and flutter and rustle and movement; for
thousands of doves were flying about, and coming down to be fed, and a
crowd of varied human nature, but chiefly not belonging to the place,
were watching and distributing food to the feathered multitude. People
were engaged with the doves, or with each other; few had a look to
spare for the great church; nobody even glanced at the columns bearing
St. Theodore and the Lion.

That is, speaking generally. For under one of the arcades, leaning
against one of the great pillars of the same, a man stood whose look by
turns went to everything. He had been standing there motionless for
half an hour; and it passed to him like a minute. Sometimes he studied
that combination aforesaid, where feeling and fancy and faith have made
such glorious work together; and to which, as I hinted, the Venetian
evening was lending such indescribable magnificence. His eye dwelt on
details of loveliness, of which it was constantly discovering new
revelations; or rested on the whole colour-glorified pile with
meditative remembrance of what it had seen and done, and whence it had
come. Then with sudden transition he would give his attention to the
motley crowd before him, and the soft-winged doves fluttering up and
down and filling the air. And, tiring of these, his look would go off
again to the bronze lion on his place of honour in the Piazzetta, his
thought probably wandering back to the time when he was set there. The
man himself was noticed by nobody. He stood in the shade of the pillar
and did not stir. He was a gentleman evidently; one sees that by slight
characteristics, which are nevertheless quite unmistakeable and not to
be counterfeited. His dress of course was the quiet, unobtrusive, and
yet perfectly correct thing, which dress ought to be. His attitude was
that of a man who knew both how to move and how to be still, and did
both easily; and further, the look of him betrayed the habit of travel.
This man had seen so much that he was not moved by any young curiosity;
knew so much, that he could weigh and compare what he knew. His figure
was very good; his face agreeable and intelligent, with good observant
grey eyes; the whole appearance striking. But nobody noted him.

And he had noted nobody; the crowd before him was to him simply a
crowd, which excited no interest except as a whole. Until, suddenly, he
caught sight of a head and shoulders in the moving throng, which
started him out of his carelessness. They were but a few yards from
him, seen and lost again in the swaying mass of human beings; but
though half seen he was sure he could not mistake. He spoke out a
little loud the word "Tom!"

He was not heard, and the person spoken to moved out of sight again.
The speaker, however, now left his place and plunged among the people.
Presently he had another glimpse of the head and shoulders, and was yet
more sure of his man; lost sight of him anew, but, following in the
direction taken by the chase, gradually won his way nearer, and at
length overtook the man, who was then standing between the pillars of
the Lion and St. Theodore, and looking out towards the water.

"Tom!" said his pursuer, clapping him on the shoulder.

"Philip Dillwyn!" said the other, turning. "Philip! Where did you come
from? What a lucky turn-up! That I should find you here!"

"I found you, man. Where have _you_ come from?"

"O, from everywhere."

"Are you alone? Where are your people?"

"O, Julia and Lenox are gone home. Mamma and I are here yet. I left
mamma in a _pension_ in Switzerland, where I could not hold it out any
longer; and I have been wandering about--Florence, and Pisa, and I
don't know all--till now I have brought up in Venice. It is so jolly to
get you!"

"What are you doing here?"

"Nothing."

"What are you going to do?"

"Nothing. O, I have done everything, you know. There is nothing left to
a fellow."

"That sounds hopeless," said Dillwyn, laughing.

"It is hopeless. Really I don't see, sometimes, what a fellow's life is
good for. I believe the people who have to work for it, have after all
the best time!"

"They work to live," said the other.

"I suppose they do."

"Therefore you are going round in a circle. If life is worth nothing,
why should one work to keep it up?"

"Well, what is it worth, Dillwyn? Upon my word, I have never made it
out satisfactorily."

"Look here--we cannot talk in this place. Have you ever been to
Torcello?"

"No."

"Suppose we take a gondola and go?"

"Now? What is there?"

"An old church."

"There are old churches all over. The thing is to find a new one."

"You prefer the new ones?"

"Just for the rarity," said Tom, smiling.

"I do not believe you have studied the old ones yet. Do you know the
mosaics in St. Mark's?"

"I never study mosaics."

"And I'll wager you have not seen the Tintorets in the Palace of the
Doges?"

"There are Tintorets all over!" said Tom, shrugging his shoulders
wearily.

"Then have you seen Murano?"

"The glass-works, yes."

"I do not mean the glass-works. Come along--anywhere in a gondola will
do, such an evening as this; and we can talk comfortably. You need not
look at anything."

They entered a gondola, and were presently gliding smoothly over the
coloured waters of the lagoon; shining with richer sky reflections than
any mortal painter could put on canvas. Not long in silence.

"Where have you been, Tom, all this while?"

"I told you, everywhere!" said Tom, with another shrug of his
shoulders. "The one thing one comes abroad for, you know, is to run
away from the winter; so we have been doing that, as long as there was
any winter to run from, and since then we have been running away from
the summer. Let me see--we came over in November, didn't we? or
December; we went to Rome as fast as we could. There was very good
society in Rome last winter. Then, as spring came on, we coasted down
to Naples and Palermo. We staid at Palermo a while. From there we went
back to England; and from England we came to Switzerland. And there we
have been till I couldn't stand Switzerland any longer; and I bolted."

"Palermo isn't a bad place to spend a while in."

"No;--but Sicily is stupid generally. It's all ridiculous, Philip.
Except for the name of the thing, one can get just as good nearer home.
I could get _better_ sport at Appledore last summer, than in any place
I've been at in Europe."

"Ah! Appledore," said Philip slowly, and dipping his hand in the water.
"I surmise the society also was good there?"

"Would have been," Tom returned discontentedly, "if there had not been
a little too much of it."

"Too much of it!"

"Yes. I couldn't stir without two or three at my heels. It's very kind,
you know; but it rather hampers a fellow."

"Miss Lothrop was there, wasn't she?"

"Of course she was! That made all the trouble."

"And all the sport too; hey, Tom? Things usually are two-sided in this
world."

"She made no trouble. It was my mother and sister. They were so awfully
afraid of her. And they drilled George in; so among them they were too
many for me. But I think Appledore is the nicest place I know."

"You might buy one of the islands--a little money would do it--build a
lodge, and have your Europe always at hand; when the winter is gone, as
you say. Even the winter you might manage to live through, if you could
secure the right sort of society. Hey, Tom? Isn't that an idea? I
wonder it never occurred to you. I think one might bid defiance to the
world, if one were settled at the Isles of Shoals."

"Yes," said Tom, with something very like a groan. "If one hadn't a
mother and sister."

"You are heathenish!"

"I'm not, at all!" returned Tom passionately. "See here, Philip. There
is one thing goes before mother and sister; and that you know. It's a
man's wife. And I've seen my wife, and I can't get her."

"Why?" said Dillwyri dryly. He was hanging over the side of the
gondola, and looking attentively at the play of colour in the water;
which reflecting the sky in still splendour where it lay quiet, broke
up in ripples under the gondolier's oar, and seemed to scatter diamonds
and amethysts and topazes in fairy-like prodigality all around.

"I've told you!" said Tom fretfully.

"Yes, but I do not comprehend. Does not the lady in question like
Appledore as well as you do?"

"She likes Appledore well enough. I do not know how well she likes me.
I never had a chance to find out. I don't think she _dis_likes me,
though," said Tom meditatively.

"It is not too late to find out yet," Philip said, with even more
dryness in his tone.

"O, isn't it, though!" said Tom. "I'm tied up from ever asking her now.
I'm engaged to another woman."

"Tom!" said the other, suddenly straightening himself up.

"Don't shout at a fellow! What could I do? They wouldn't let me have
what I wanted; and now they're quite pleased, and Julia has gone home.
She has done her work. O, I am making an excellent match. 'An old
family, and three hundred thousand dollars,' as my mother says. That's
all one wants, you know."

"Who is the lady?"

"It don't matter, you know, when you have heard her qualifications.
It's Miss Dulcimer--one of the Philadelphia Dulcimers. Of course one
couldn't make a better bargain for oneself. And I'm as fond of her as I
can be; in fact, I was afraid I was getting _too_ fond. So I ran away,
as I told you, to think over my happiness at leisure, and moderate my
feelings."

"Tom, Tom, I never heard you bitter before," said his friend, regarding
him with real concern.

"Because I never _was_ bitter before. O, I shall be all right now. I
haven't had a soul on whom I could pour out my mind, till this hour. I
know you're as safe as a mine. It does me good to talk to you. I tell
you, I shall be all right. I'm a very happy bridegroom expectant. You
know, if the Caruthers have plenty of money, the Dulcimers have twice
as much. Money's really everything."

"Have you any idea how this news will touch Miss--the other lady you
were talking about?"

"I suppose it won't touch her at all. She's different; that's one
reason why I liked her. She would not care a farthing for me because
I'm a Caruthers, or because I have money; not a brass farthing! She is
the _real_est person I ever saw. She would go about Appledore from
morning to night in the greatest state of delight you ever saw anybody;
where my sister, for instance, would see nothing but rocks and weeds,
Lois would have her hands full of what Julia would call trash, and what
to her was better than if the fairies had done it. Things pulled out of
the shingle and mud,--I can just see her,--and flowers, and stones, and
shells. What she would make of _this_ now!--But you couldn't set that
girl down anywhere, I believe, that she wouldn't find something to make
her feel rich. She's a richer woman this minute, than my Dulcimer with
her thousands. And she's got good blood in her too, Philip. I learned
that from Mrs. Wishart. She has the blood of ever so many of the old
Pilgrims in her veins; and that is good descent, Philip?"

"They think so in New England."

"Well, they are right, I am ready to believe. Anyhow, I don't care--"

He broke off, and there was a silence of some minutes' length. The
gondola swam along over the quiet water, under the magnificent sky; the
reflected colours glanced upon two faces, grave and self-absorbed.

"Old boy," said Philip at length, "I hardly think you are right."

"Right in what? I am right in all I have told you."

"I meant, right in your proposed plan of action. You may say it is none
of my business."

"I shall not say it, though. What's the wrong you mean?"

"It seems to me Miss Dulcimer would not feel obliged to you, if she
knew all."

"She doesn't feel obliged to me at all," said Tom. "She gives a good as
she gets."

"No better?"

"What do you mean?"

"Pardon me, Tom; but you have been frank with me. By your own account,
she will get very little."

"All she wants. I'll give her a local habitation and a name."

"I am sure you are unjust."

"Not at all. That is all half the girls want; all they try for. She's
very content. O, I'm very good to her when we are together; and I mean
to be. You needn't look at me," said Tom, trying to laugh.
"Three-quarters of all the marriages that are made are on the same
pattern. Why, Phil, what do the men and women of this world live for?
What's the purpose in all I've been doing since I left college? What's
the good of floating round in the world as I have been doing all summer
and winter here this year? and at home it is different only in the
manner of it. People live for nothing, and don't enjoy life. I don't
know at this minute a single man or woman, of our sort, you know, that
enjoys life; except that one. And _she_ isn't our sort. She has no
money, and no society, and no Europe to wander round in! O, they would
_say_ they enjoy life; but their way shows they don't."

"Enjoyment is not the first thing," Philip said thoughtfully.

"O, isn't it! It's what we're all after, anyhow; you'll allow that."

"Perhaps that is the way we miss it."

"So Dulcimer and I are all right, you see," pursued Tom, without
heeding this remark. "We shall be a very happy couple. All the world
will have us at their houses, and we shall have all the world at ours.
There won't be room left for any thing but happiness; and that'll
squeeze in anywhere, you know. It's like chips floating round on the
surface of a whirlpool--they fly round and round splendidly--till they
get sucked in."

"Tom!" cried his companion. "What has come to you? Your life is not so
different now from what it has always been;--and I have always known
you for a light-hearted fellow. I can't have you take this tone."

Tom was silent, biting the ends of his moustache in a nervous way,
which bespoke a good deal of mental excitement; Philip feared, of
mental trouble.

"If a friend may ask, how came you to do what is so unsatisfactory to
you?" he said at length.

"My mother and sister! They were so preciously afraid I should ruin
myself. Philip, I _could not_ make head against them. They were too
much for me, and too many for me; they were all round me; they were
ahead of me; I had no chance at all. So I gave up in despair. Women are
the overpowering when they take a thing in their head! A man's nowhere.
I gave in, and gave up, and came away, and now--they're satisfied."

"Then the affair is definitely concluded?"

"As definitely as if my head was off."

Philip did not laugh, and there was a pause again. The colours were
fading from sky and water, and a yellow, soft moonlight began to assert
her turn. It was a change of beauty for beauty; but neither of the two
young men seemed to take notice of it.

"Tom," began the other after a time, "what you say about the way most
of us live, is more or less true; and it ought not to be true."

"Of course it is true!" said Tom.

"But it ought not to be true."

"What are you going to do about it? One must do as everybody else does;
I suppose."

"_Must_ one? That is the very question."

"What can you do else, as long as you haven't your bread to get?"

"I believe the people who _have_ their bread to get have the best of
it. But there must be some use in the world, I suppose, for those who
are under no such necessity. Did you ever hear that Miss--Lothrop's
family were strictly religious?"

"No--yes, I have," said Tom. "I know _she_ is."

"That would not have suited you."

"Yes, it would. Anything she did would have suited me. I have a great
respect for religion, Philip."

"What do you mean by religion?"

"I don't know--what everybody means by it. It is the care of the
spiritual part of our nature, I suppose."

"And how does that care work?"

"I don't know," said Tom. "It works altar-cloths; and it seems to mean
church-going, and choral music, and teaching ragged schools; and that
sort of thing. I don't understand it; but I should never interfere with
it. It seems to suit the women particularly."

Again there fell a pause.

"Where have _you_ been, Dillwyn? and what brought you here again?" Tom
began now.

"I came to pass the time," the other said musingly.

"Ah! And where have you passed it?"

"Along the shores of the Adriatic, part of the time. At Abazzia, and
Sebenico, and the islands."

"What's in all that? I never heard of Abazzia."

"The world is a large place," said Philip absently.

"But what is Abazzia?"

"A little paradise of a place, so sheltered that it is like a nest of
all lovely things. Really; it has its own climate, through certain
favouring circumstances; and it is a hidden little nook of delight."

"Ah!--What took you to the shores of the Adriatic, anyhow?"

"Full of interest," said Philip.

"Pray, of what kind?"

"Every kind. Historical, industrial, mechanical, natural, and artistic.
But I grant you, Tom, that was not why I went there. I went there to
get out of the ruts of travel and break new ground. Like you, being a
little tired of going round in a circle for ever. And it occurs to me
that man must have been made for somewhat else than such a purposeless
circle. No other creature is a burden to himself."

"Because no other creature thinks," said Tom.

"The power of thought can surely be no final disadvantage."

"I don't see what it amounts to," Tom returned. "A man is happy enough,
I suppose, as long as he is busy thinking out some new
thing--inventing, creating, discovering, or working out his
discoveries; but as soon as he has brought his invention to perfection
and set it going, he is tired of it, and drives after something else."

"You are coming to Solomon's judgment," said the other, leaning back
upon the cushions and clasping his hands above his head,--"what the
preacher says--'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'"

"Well, so are you," said Tom.

"It makes me ashamed."

"Of what?"

"Myself."

"Why?"

"That I should have lived to be thirty-two years old, and never have
done anything, or found any way to be of any good in the world! There
isn't a butterfly of less use than I!"

"You weren't made to be of use," said Tom.

"Upon my word, my dear fellow, you have said the most disparaging
thing, I hope, that ever was said of me! You cannot better that
statement, if you think an hour! You mean it of me as a human being, I
trust? not as an individual? In the one case it would be indeed
melancholy, but in the other it would be humiliating. You take the
race, not the personal view. The practical view is, that what is of no
use had better not be in existence. Look here--here we are at Murano; I
had not noticed it. Shall we land, and see things by moonlight? or go
back to Venice?"

"Back, and have dinner," said Tom.

"By way of prolonging this existence, which to you is burdensome and to
me is unsatisfactory. Where is the logic of that?"

But they went back, and had a very good dinner too.



CHAPTER XXIX.



AN OX CART.



It happened not far from this same time in the end of August, when Mr.
Dillwyn and Tom Caruthers came together on the Piazzetta of St. Mark,
that another meeting took place in the far-away regions of Shampuashuh.
A train going to Boston was stopped by a broken bridge ahead, and its
passengers discharged in one of the small towns along the coast, to
wait until the means of getting over the little river could be
arranged. People on a railway journey commonly do not like to wait; it
was different no doubt in the days of stage-coaches, when patience had
some exercise frequently; now, we are spoiled, and you may notice that
ten minutes' delay is often more than can be endured with complacency.
Our fathers and mothers had hours to wait, and took it as a matter of
course.

Among the impatient passengers thrown out at Independence were two
specially impatient.

"What on earth shall we do with ourselves?" said the lady.

"Pity the break-down had not occurred a little further on," said the
gentleman. "You might have visited your friend--or Tom's friend--Miss
Lothrop. We are just a few miles from Shampuashuh."

"Shampuashuh!--Miss Lothrop!--Was that where she lived? How far,
George?"

"A few miles--half a dozen, perhaps."

"O George, let us get horses and drive there!"

"But then you may not catch the train this evening again."

"I don't care. I cannot wait _here_. It would be a great deal better to
have the drive and see the other place. Yes, we will go and visit her.
Get horses, George, please! Quick. _This_ is terrible."

"Will you ask for their hospitality?"

"Yes, of course. They would be delighted. That is just what the better
sort of country people like, to have somebody come and see them. Make
haste, George."

With a queer little smile on his face, Mr. Lenox however did as he was
desired. A waggon was procured without very much delay, in which they
could be driven to Shampuashuh.

It was a very warm day, and the travellers had just the height of it.
Hot sunbeams poured down upon them; the level, shadeless country
through which lay their way, showed as little as it could of the
attractive features which really belonged to it. The lady declared
herself exceeded by the heat and dust; the gentleman opined they might
as well have stayed in Independence, where they were. Between two and
three o'clock they entered the long green street of Shampuashuh. The
sunbeams seemed tempered there, but it was only a mental effect
produced by the quiet beauty and airy space of the village avenue, and
the shade of great elms which fell so frequently upon the wayside grass.

"What a sweet place!" cried the lady.

"Comfortable-looking houses," suggested the gentleman.

"It seems cooler here," the lady went on.

"It is getting to a cooler time of day."

"Why, no, George! Three o'clock is just the crown of the heat. Don't it
look as if nobody ever did anything here? There's no stir at all."

"My eyes see different tokens; they are more versed in business than
yours are--naturally."

"What do your eyes see?"--a little impatiently.

"You may notice that nothing is out of order. There is no bit of fence
out of repair; and never a gate hanging upon its hinges. There is no
carelessness. Do you observe the neatness of this broad street?"

"What should make it unneat? with so few travellers?"

"Ground is the last thing to keep itself in order. I notice, too, the
neat stacks of wood in the wood-sheds. And in the fields we have
passed, the work is all done, up to the minute; nothing hanging by the
eyelids. The houses are full of windows, and all of them shining
bright."

"You might be a newspaper reporter, George! Is this the house we are
coming to? It is quite a large house; quite respectable."

"Did you think that little girl had come out of any but a respectable
house?"

"Pshaw, George! you know what I mean. They are very poor and very plain
people. I suppose we might go straight in?"

They dismissed their vehicle, so burning their ships, and knocked at
the front door. A moment after it was opened by Charity. Her tall
figure was arrayed in a homely print gown, of no particular fashion; a
little shawl was over her shoulders, notwithstanding the heat, and on
her head a sun-bonnet.

"Does Miss Lothrop live here?"

"Three of us," said Charity, confronting the pair with a doubtful face.

"Is Miss Lois at home?"

"She's as near as possible not," said the door-keeper; "but I guess she
is. You may come in, and I'll see."

She opened a door in the hall which led to a room on the north side of
it, corresponding to Mrs. Barclay's on the south; and there she left
them. It was large and pleasant and cool, if it was also very plain;
and Mrs. Lenox sank into a rocking-chair, repeating to herself that it
was 'very respectable.' On a table at one side lay a few books, which
drew Mr. Lenox's curiosity.

"Ruskin's 'Modern Painters'!" he exclaimed, looking at his wife.

"Selections, I suppose."

"No, this is Vol. 5. And the next is Thiers' 'Consulate and Empire'!"

"Translation."

"No. Original. And 'the Old Red Sandstone.'"

"What's that?"

"Hugh Miller."

"Who's Hugh Miller?"

"He is, or was, a gentleman whom you would not admit to your society.
He began life as a Scotch mason."

Meanwhile, Charity, going back to the living-room of the family, found
there Lois busied in arraying old Mrs. Armadale for some sort of
excursion; putting a light shawl about her, and drawing a white
sun-bonnet over her cap. Lois herself was in an old nankeen dress with
a cape, and had her hat on.

"There's some folks that want you, Lois," her sister announced.

"Want me!" said Lois. "Who is it? why didn't you tell them we were just
going out?"

"I don't usually say things without I know that it's so," responded
Charity. "Maybe we're going to be hindered."

"We must not be hindered," returned Lois. "Grandmother is ready, and
Mrs. Barclay is ready, and the cart is here. We must go, whoever comes.
You get mother into the cart, and the baskets and everything, and I'll
be as quick as I can."

So Lois went into the parlour. A great surprise came over her when she
saw who was there, and with the surprise a slight feeling of amusement;
along with some other feeling, she could not have told what, which put
her gently upon her mettle. She received her visitors frankly and
pleasantly, and also with a calm ease which at the moment was superior
to their own. So she heard their explanation of what had befallen them,
and of their resolution to visit her; and a slight account of their
drive from Independence; all which Mrs. Lenox gave with more prolixity
than she had intended or previously thought necessary.

"And now," said Lois, "I will invite you to another drive. We are just
going down to the Sound, to smell the salt air and get cooled off. We
shall have supper down there before we come home. I do not think I
could give you anything pleasanter, if I had the choice; but it happens
that all is arranged for this. Do come with us; it will be a variety
for you, at least."

The lady and gentleman looked at each other.

"It's so hot!" objected the former.

"It will be cooler every minute now," said Lois.

"We ought to take the train--when it comes along--"

"You cannot tell when that will be," said Mr. Lenox. "You would find it
very tedious waiting at the station. We might take the night train.
That will pass about ten o'clock, or should."

"But we should be in your way, I am afraid," Mrs. Lenox went on,
turning to Lois. "You are not prepared for two more in your party."

"Always!" said Lois, smiling. "We should never think ourselves prepared
at all, in Shampuashuh, if we were not ready for two more than the
party. And the cart will hold us all."

"The cart!" cried the other.

"Yes. O yes! I did not tell you that," said Lois, smiling more broadly.
"We are going in an ox cart. That will be a novel experience for you
too."

If Mrs. Lenox had not half accepted the invitation already, I am not
sure but this intimation would have been too much for her courage.
However, she was an outwardly well-bred woman; that is, like so many
others, well-bred when there was nothing to gain by being otherwise;
and so she excused her hesitation and doubt by the plea of being "so
dusty." There was help for that; Lois took her upstairs to a neat
chamber, and furnished her with water and towels.

It was new experience to the city lady. She took note, half
disdainfully, of the plainness of the room; the painted floor, yellow
and shining, which boasted only one or two little strips of carpet; the
common earthenware toilet-set; the rush-bottomed chairs. On the other
hand, there was an old mahogany dressing bureau; a neat bed; and water
and towels (the latter coarse) were exceedingly fresh and sweet. She
made up her mind to go through with the adventure, and rejoined her
husband with a composed mind.

Lois took them first to the sitting-room, where they were introduced to
Mrs. Barclay, and then they all went out at the back door of the house,
and across a little grassy space, to a gate leading into a lane. Here
stood the cart, in which the rest of the family was already bestowed;
Mrs. Armadale being in an arm-chair with short legs, while Madge and
Charity sat in the straw with which the whole bottom of the cart was
spread. A tall, oldish man, with an ox whip, stood leaning against the
fence and surveying things.

"Are we to go in _there?_" said Mrs. Lenox, with perceptible doubt.

"It's the only carriage we have to offer you," said Lois merrily. "For
your sake, I wish we had a better; for my own, I like nothing so well
as an ox cart. Mrs. Barclay, will you get in? and stimulate this lady's
courage?"

A kitchen chair had been brought out to facilitate the operation; and
Mrs. Barclay stepped lightly in, curled herself down in the soft bed of
straw, and declared that it was very comfortable. With an expression of
face which made Lois and Madge laugh for weeks after when they recalled
it, Mrs. Lenox stepped gingerly in, following, and took her place.

"Grandmother," said Lois, "this is Mrs. Lenox, whom you have heard me
speak about. And these are my sisters, Madge and Charity, Mrs. Lenox.
And grandmother, this is Mr. Lenox. Now, you see the cart has room
enough," she added, as herself and the gentleman also took their seats.

"Is that the hull of ye?" inquired now the man with the ox whip, coming
forward. "And be all your stores got in for the v'yage? I don't want to
be comin' back from somewheres about half-way."

"All right, Mr. Sears," said Lois. "You may drive on. Mother, are you
comfortable?"

And then there was a "whoa"-ing and a "gee"-ing and a mysterious
flourishing of the long leathern whip, with which the driver seemed to
be playing; for if its tip touched the shoulders of the oxen it did no
more, though it waved over them vigorously. But the oxen understood,
and pulled the cart forward; lifting and setting down their heavy feet
with great deliberation seemingly, but with equal certain'ty, and
swaying their great heads gently from side to side as they went. Lois
was so much amused at her guests' situation, that she had some
difficulty to keep her features in their due calmness and sobriety.
Mrs. Lenox eyed the oxen, then the contents of the cart, then the
fields.

"Slow travelling!" said Lois, with a smile.

"Can they go no faster?"

"They could go a little faster if they were urged; but that would spoil
the comfort of the whole thing. The entire genius of a ride in an ox
cart is, that everybody should take his ease."

"Oxen included?" said Mr. Lenox.

"Why not?"

"Why not, indeed!" said the gentleman, smiling. "Only, ordinary people
cannot get rid easily of the notion that the object of going is to get
somewhere."

"That's not the object in this case," Lois answered merrily. "The one
sole object is fun."

Mrs. Lenox said nothing more, but her face spoke as plainly as
possible, And you call _this_ fun!

"I am enjoying myself very much," said Mrs. Barclay. "I think it is
delightful."

Something in her manner of speech made Mr. Lenox look at her. She was
sitting next him on the cart bottom.

"Perhaps this is a new experience also to you?" he said.

"Delightfully new. Never rode in an ox cart before in my life; hardly
ever saw one, in fact. We are quite out of the race and struggle and
uneasiness of the world, don't you see? There comes down a feeling of
repose upon one, softly, as Longfellow says--



   'As a feather is wafted downward
   From an eagle in his flight.'



Only I should say in this case it was from the wing of an angel."

"Mrs. Barclay, you are too poetical for an ox cart," said Lois,
laughing. "If we began to be poetical, I am afraid the repose would be
troubled."

"'Twont du Poetry no harm to go in an ox cart," remarked here the ox
driver.

"I agree with you, sir," said Mrs. Barclay. "Poetry would not be Poetry
if she could not ride anywhere. But why should she trouble repose.
Lois?"

"Yes," added Mr. Lenox; "I was about to ask that question. I thought
poetry was always soothing. Or that the ladies at least think so."

"I like it well enough," said Lois, "but I think it is apt to be
melancholy. Except in hymns."

"_Except_ hymns!" said Mrs. Lenox. "I thought hymns were always sad.
They deal so much with death and the grave."

"And the resurrection!" said Lois.

"They always make _me_ gloomy," the lady went on. "The resurrection! do
you call that a lively subject?"

"Depends on how you look at it, I suppose," said her husband. "But,
Miss Lothrop, I cannot recover from my surprise at your assertion
respecting non-religious poetry."

Lois left that statement alone. She did not care whether he recovered
or not. Mr. Lenox, however, was curious.

"I wish you would show me on what your opinion is founded," he went on
pleasantly.

"Yes, Lois, justify yourself," said Mrs. Barclay.

"I could not do that without making quotations, Mrs. Barclay, and I am
afraid I cannot remember enough. Besides, it would hardly be
interesting."

"To me it would," said Mrs. Barclay. "Where could one have a better
time? The oxen go so comfortably, and leisure is so graciously
abundant."

"Pray go on, Miss Lothrop!" Mr. Lenox urged.

"And then I hope you'll go on and prove hymns lively," added his wife.

The conversation which followed was long enough to have a chapter to
itself; and so may be comfortably skipped by any who are so inclined.



CHAPTER XXX.



POETRY.



"Perhaps you will none of you agree with me," Lois said; "and I do not
know much poetry; but there seems to me to run an undertone of lament
and weariness through most of what I know. Now take the 'Death of the
Flowers,'--that you were reading yesterday, Mrs. Barclay--



   'The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,
   And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.'



That is the tone I mean; a sigh and a regret."

"But the 'Death of the Flowers' is _exquisite_," pleaded Mrs. Lenox.

"Certainly it is," said Lois; "but is it gay?



   'The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
   And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
   But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
   And the yellow sun-flower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
   Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,
   And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland, glade, and glen.'"



"How you remember it, Lois!" said Mrs. Barclay.

"But is not that all true?" asked Mr. Lenox.

"True in fact," said Lois. "The flowers do die. But the frost does not
fall like a plague; and nobody that was right happy would say so, or
think so. Take Pringle's 'Afar in the Desert,' Mrs. Barclay--



   'When the sorrows of life the soul o'ercast,
   And sick of the present I turn to the past;
   When the eye is suffused with regretful tears
   From the fond recollections of former years,
   And shadows of things that are long since fled,
   Flit over the brain like the ghosts of the dead;
   Bright visions--'



I forget how it goes on."

"But that is as old as the hills!" exclaimed Mrs. Lenox.

"It shows what I mean."

"I am afraid you will not better your case by coming down into modern
time, Mrs. Lenox," remarked Mrs. Barclay. "Take Tennyson--



   'With weary steps I loiter on,
   Though always under altered skies;
   The purple from the distance dies,
   My prospect and horizon gone.'"



"Take Byron," said Lois--



   'My days are in the yellow leaf,
   The flower and fruit of life are gone;
   The worm, the canker, and the grief,
   Are mine alone.'"



"O, Byron was morbid," said Mrs. Lenox.

"Take Moore," Mrs. Barclay went on, humouring the discussion on
purpose. "Do you remember?--



   'My birthday! what a different sound
   That word had in my younger years!
   And now, each time the day comes round,
   Less and less white its mark appears.'"



"Well, I am sure that is true," said the other lady.

"Do you remember Robert Herrick's lines to daffodils?--



   'Fair daffodils, we weep to see
   You haste away so soon.'



And then--



   'We have short time to stay as you;
   We have as short a spring;
   As quick a growth to meet decay,
   As you or anything:

   We die
   As your showers do; and dry
   Away
   Like to the summer's rain,
   Or as the pearls of morning dew,
   Ne'er to be found again.'



And Waller to the rose--



   'Then die! that she
   The common fate of all things rare
   May read in thee.
   How small a part of time they share,
   That are so wondrous sweet and fair!'



"And Burns to the daisy," said Lois--



   'There in thy scanty mantle clad,
   Thy snowy bosom sunward spread,
   Thou lifts thy unassuming head
   In humble guise;
   But now the share uptears thy bed,
   And low thou lies!

   'Even thou who mournst the Daisy's fate,
   That fate is thine--no distant date;
   Stern Ruin's ploughshare drives, elate,
   Full on thy bloom,
   Till, crushed beneath the furrow's weight,
   Shall be thy doom!'"



"O, you are getting very gloomy!" exclaimed Mrs. Lenox.

"Not we," said Lois merrily laughing, "but your poets."

"Mend your cause, Julia," said her husband.

"I haven't got the poets in my head," said the lady. "They are not all
like that. I am very fond of Elizabeth Barrett Browning."

"The 'Cry of the Children'?" said Mrs. Barclay.

"O no, indeed! She's not all like that."

"She is not all like that. There is 'Hector in the Garden.'"

"O, that is pretty!" said Lois. "But do you remember how it runs?--



   'Nine years old! The first of any
   Seem the happiest years that come--'"



"Go on, Lois," said her friend. And the request being seconded, Lois
gave the whole, ending with--



   'Oh the birds, the tree, the ruddy
   And white blossoms, sleek with rain!
   Oh my garden, rich with pansies!
   Oh my childhood's bright romances!
   All revive, like Hector's body,
   And I see them stir again!

   'And despite life's changes--chances,
   And despite the deathbell's toll,
   They press on me in full seeming!
   Help, some angel! stay this dreaming!
   As the birds sang in the branches,
   Sing God's patience through my soul!

   'That no dreamer, no neglecter
   Of the present work unsped,
   I may wake up and be doing,
   Life's heroic ends pursuing,
   Though my past is dead as Hector,
   And though Hector is twice dead.'"



"Well," said Mrs. Lenox slowly, "of course that is all true."

"From her standpoint," said Lois. "That is according to my charge,
which you disallowed."

"From her standpoint?" repeated Mr. Lenox. "May I ask for an
explanation?"

"I mean, that as she saw things,--



   'The first of any
   Seem the happiest years that come.'"



"Well, of course!" said Mrs. Lenox. "Does not everybody say so?"

Nobody answered.

"Does not everybody agree in that judgment, Miss Lothrop?" urged the
gentleman.

"I dare say--everybody looking from that standpoint," said Lois. "And
the poets write accordingly. They are all of them seeing shadows."

"How can they help seeing shadows?" returned Mrs. Lenox impatiently.
"The shadows are there!"

"Yes," said Lois, "the shadows are there." But there was a reservation
in her voice.

"Do not _you_, then, reckon the years of childhood the happiest?" Mr.
Lenox inquired.

"No."

"But you cannot have had much experience of life," said Mrs. Lenox, "to
say so. I don't see how they can _help_ being the happiest, to any one."

"I believe," Lois answered, lowering her voice a little, "that if we
could see all, we should see that the oldest person in our company is
the happiest here."

The eyes of the strangers glanced towards the old lady in her low chair
at the front of the ox cart. In her wrinkled face there was not a line
of beauty, perhaps never had been; in spite of its sense and character
unmistakeable; it was grave, she was thinking her own thoughts; it was
weather-beaten, so to say, with the storms of life; and yet there was
an expression of unruffled repose upon it, as calm as the glint of
stars in a still lake. Mrs. Lenox's look was curiously incredulous,
scornful, and wistful, together; it touched Lois.

"One's young years ought not to be one's best," she said.

"How are you going to help it?" came almost querulously. Lois thought,
if _she_ were Mr. Lenox, she would not feel flattered.

"When one is young, one does not know disappointment," the other went
on.

"And when one is old, one may get the better of disappointment."

"When one is young, everything is fresh."

"I think things grow fresher to me with every year," said Lois,
laughing. "Mrs. Lenox, it is possible to keep one's youth."

"Then you have found the philosopher's stone?" said Mr. Lenox.

Lois's smile was brilliant, but she said nothing to that. She was
beginning to feel that she had talked more than her share, and was
inclined to draw back. Then there came a voice from the arm-chair, it
came upon a pause of stillness, with its quiet, firm tones:

'He satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed
like the eagle's.'"

The voice came like an oracle, and was listened to with somewhat of the
same silent reverence. But after that pause Mr. Lenox remarked that he
never understood that comparison. What was it about an eagle's youth?

"Why," said Lois, "an eagle never grows old!"

"Is that it! But I wish you would go on a little further, Miss Lothrop.
You spoke of hymn-writers having a different standpoint, and of their
words as more cheerful than the utterances of other poets. Do you know,
I had never thought other poets were not cheerful, until now; and I
certainly never got the notion that hymns were an enlivening sort of
literature. I thought they dealt with the shadowy side of life almost
exclusively."

"Well--yes, perhaps they do," said Lois; "but they go kindling beacons
everywhere to light it up; and it is the beacons you see, and not the
darkness. Now the secular poets turn that about. They deal with the
brightest things they can find; but, to change the figure, they cannot
keep the minor chord out of their music."

Mr. and Mrs. Lenox looked at each other.

"Do you mean to say," said the latter, "that the hymn-writers do not
use the minor key? They write in it, or they sing in it, more properly,
altogether!"

"Yes," said Lois, into whose cheeks a slight colour was mounting; "yes,
perhaps; but it is with the blast of the trumpet and the clash of the
cymbals of triumph. There may be the confession of pain, but the cry of
victory is there too!"

"Victory--over what?" said Mrs. Lenox rather scornfully,

"Over pain, for one thing," said Lois; "and over loss, and weariness,
and disappointment."

"You will have to confirm your words by examples again, Lois," said
Mrs. Barclay. "We do not all know hymn literature as well as you do."

"I never saw anything of all that in hymns," said Mrs. Lenox. "They
always sound a little, to me, like dirges."

Lois hesitated. The cart was plodding along through the smooth lanes at
the rate of less than a mile an hour, the oxen swaying from side to
side with their slow, patient steps. The level country around lay
sleepily still under the hot afternoon sun; it was rarely that any
human stir was to be seen, save only the ox driver walking beside the
cart. He walked beside the _cart_, not the oxen; evidently lending a
curious ear to what was spoken in the company; on which account also
the progress of the vehicle was a little less lively than it might have
been.

"My Cynthy's writ a lot o' hymns," he remarked just here. "I never
heerd no trumpets in 'em, though. I don' know what them other things
is."

"Cymbals?" said Lois. "They are round, thin plates of metal, Mr. Sears,
with handles on one side to hold them by; and the player clashes them
together, at certain parts of the music--as you would slap the palms of
your hands."

"Doos, hey? I want to know! And what doos they sound like?"

"I can't tell," said Lois. "They sound shrill, and sweet, and gay."

"But that's cur'ous sort o' church music!" said the farmer.

"Now, Miss Lothrop,--you must let us hear the figurative cymbals," Mr.
Lenox reminded her.

"Do!" said Mrs. Barclay.

"There cannot be much of it," opined Mrs. Lenox.

"On the contrary," said Lois; "there is so much of it that I am at a
loss where to begin.



   'I love yon pale blue sky; it is the floor
   Of that glad home where I shall shortly be;
   A home from which I shall go out no more,
   From toil and grief and vanity set free.

   'I gaze upon yon everlasting arch,
   Up which the bright stars wander as they shine;
   And, as I mark them in their nightly march,
   I think how soon that journey shall be mine!

   'Yon silver drift of silent cloud, far up
   In the still heaven--through you my pathway lies:
   Yon rugged mountain peak--how soon your top
   Shall I behold beneath me, as I rise!

   'Not many more of life's slow-pacing hours,
   Shaded with sorrow's melancholy hue;
   Oh what a glad ascending shall be ours,
   Oh what a pathway up yon starry blue!

   'A journey like Elijah's, swift and bright,
   Caught gently upward to an early crown,
   In heaven's own chariot of all-blazing light,
   With death untasted and the grave unknown.'"



"That's not like any hymn I ever heard," remarked Mrs. Lenox, after a
pause had followed the last words.

"That is a hymn of Dr. Bonar's," said Lois. "I took it merely because
it came first into my head. Long ago somebody else wrote something very
like it--



   'Ye stars are but the shining dust
   Of my divine abode;
   The pavement of those heavenly courts
   Where I shall see my God.

   'The Father of unnumbered lights
   Shall there his beams display;
   _And not one moment's darkness mix
   With that unvaried day_.'



Do you hear the cymbals, Mrs. Lenox?"

There came here a long breath, it sounded like a breath of satisfaction
or rest; it was breathed by Mrs. Armadale. In the stillness of their
progress, the slowly revolving wheels making no noise on the smooth
road, and the feet of the oxen falling almost soundlessly, they all
heard it; and they all felt it. It was nothing less than an echo of
what Lois had been repeating; a mute "Even so!"--probably unconscious,
and certainly undesigned. Mrs. Lenox glanced that way. There was a
far-off look on the old worn face, and lines of peace all about the
lips and the brow and the quiet folded hands. Mrs. Lenox did not know
that a sigh came from herself as her eyes turned away.

Her husband eyed the three women curiously. They were a study to him,
albeit he hardly knew the grammar of the language in which so many
things seemed to be written on their faces. Mrs. Armadale's features,
if strong, were of the homeliest kind; work-worn and weather-worn, to
boot; yet the young man was filled with reverence as he looked from the
hands in their cotton gloves, folded on her lap, to the hard features
shaded and framed by the white sun-bonnet. The absolute, profound calm
was imposing to him; the still peace of the spirit was attractive. He
looked at his wife; and the contrast struck even him. Her face was
murky. It was impatience, in part, he guessed, which made it so; _but_
why was she impatient? It was cloudy with unhappiness; and she ought to
be very happy, Mr. Lenox thought; had she not everything in the world
that she cared about? How could there be a cloud of unrest and
discontent on her brow, and those displeased lines about her lips? His
eye turned to Lois, and lingered as long as it dared. There was peace
too, very sunny, and a look of lofty thought, and a brightness that
seemed to know no shadow; though at the moment she was not smiling.

"Are you not going on, Miss Lothrop?" he said gently; for he felt Mrs.
Barclay's eye upon him. And, besides, he wanted to provoke the girl to
speak more.

"I could go on till I tired you," said Lois.

"I do not think you could," he returned pleasantly. "What can we do
better? We are in a most pastoral frame of mind, with pastoral
surroundings; poetry could not be better accompanied."

"When one gets excited in talking, perhaps one had better stop," Lois
said modestly.

"On the contrary! Then the truth will come out best."

Lois smiled and shook her head. "We shall soon be at the shore.
Look,--this way we turn down to go to it, and leave the high road."

"Then make haste!" said Mr. Lenox. "It will sound nowhere better than
here."

"Yes, go on," said his wife now, raising her heavy eyelids.

"Well," said Lois. "Do you remember Bryant's 'Thanatopsis'?"

"Of course. _That_ is bright enough at any rate," said the lady.

"Do you think so?"

"Yes! What is the matter with it?"

"Dark--and earthly."

"I don't think so at all!" cried Mrs. Lenox, now becoming excited in
her turn. "What would you have? I think it is beautiful! And elevated;
and hopeful."

"Can you repeat the last lines?"

"No; but I dare say you can. You seem to me to have a library of poets
in your head."

"I can," said Mrs. Barclay here, putting in her word at this not very
civil speech. And she went on--



   'The gay will laugh
   When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
   Plod on, and each one as before will chase
   His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
   Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
   And make their bed with thee.'"



"Well, of course," said Mrs. Lenox. "That is true."

"Is it cheerful?" said Mrs. Barclay. "But that is not the last.--



   'So live, that when thy summons comes to join
   The innumerable caravan, which moves
   To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
   His chamber in the silent halls of death,
   Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night,
   Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed
   By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
   Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
   About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.'"



"There!" Mrs. Lenox exclaimed. "What would you have, better than that?"

Lois looked at her, and said nothing. The look irritated husband and
wife, in different ways; her to impatience, him to curiosity.

"Have you got anything better, Miss Lothrop?" he asked.

"You can judge. Compare that with a dying Christian's address to his
soul--



   'Deathless principle, arise;
   Soar, thou native of the skies.
   Pearl of price, by Jesus bought,
   To his glorious likeness wrought,
   Go, to shine before the throne;
   Deck the mediatorial crown;
   Go, his triumphs to adorn;
   Made for God, to God return.'



I won't give you the whole of it--



   'Is thy earthly house distressed?
   Willing to retain her guest?
   'Tis not thou, but she, must die;
   Fly, celestial tenant, fly.'
   Burst thy shackles, drop thy clay,
   Sweetly breathe thyself away:
   Singing, to thy crown remove,
   Swift of wing, and fired with love.'

   'Shudder not to pass the stream;
   Venture all thy care on him;
   Him whose dying love and power
   Stilled its tossing, hushed its roar.
   Safe is the expanded wave,
   Gentle as a summer's eve;
   Not one object of his care
   Ever suffered shipwreck there.'"



"That ain't no hymn in the book, is it?" inquired the ox driver.
"Haw!--go 'long. That ain't in the book, is it, Lois?"

"Not in the one we use in church, Mr. Sears."

"I wisht it was!--like it fust-rate. Never heerd it afore in my life."

"There's as good as that _in_ the church book," remarked Mrs. Armadale.

"Yes," said Lois; "I like Wesley's hymn even better--



   'Come, let us join our friends above
   That have obtained the prize;
   And on the eagle wings of love
   To joys celestial rise.

.           .           .           .

   'One army of the living God,
   To his command we bow;
   Part of his host have crossed the flood
   And part are crossing now.

.           .           .           .           .           .

   'His militant embodied host,
   With wishful looks we stand,
   And long to see that happy coast,
   And reach the heavenly land.

   'E'en now, by faith, we join our hands
   With those that went before;
   And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
   On the eternal shore.'"



CHAPTER XXXI.



LONG CLAMS.



There was a soft ring in Lois's voice; it might be an echo of the
trumpets and cymbals of which she had been speaking. Yet not done for
effect; it was unconscious, and delicate as indescribable, for which
reason it had the greater power. The party remained silent for a few
minutes, all of them; during which a killdeer on the fence uttered his
little shout of gratulation; and the wild, salt smell coming from the
Sound and the not distant ocean, joined with the silence and Lois's
hymn, gave a peculiar impression of solitude and desolation to at least
one of the party. The cart entered an enclosure, and halted before a
small building at the edge of the shore, just above high-water mark.
There were several such buildings scattered along the shore at
intervals, some enclosed, some not. The whole breadth of the Sound lay
in view, blinking under the summer sun; yet the air was far fresher
here than it had been in the village. The tide was half out; a wide
stretch of wet sand, with little pools in the hollows, intervened
between the rocks and the water; the rocks being no magnificent
buttresses of the land, but large and small boulders strewn along the
shore edge, hung with seaweed draperies; and where there were not rocks
there was a growth of rushes on a mud bottom. The party were helped out
of the cart one by one, and the strangers surveyed the prospect.

"'Afar in the desert,' this is, I declare," said the gentleman.

"Might as well be," echoed his wife. "Whatever do you come here for?"
she said, turning to Lois; "and what do you do when you are here?"

"Get some clams and have supper."

"_Clams!_"--with an inimitable accent. "Where do you get clams?"

"Down yonder--at the edge of the rushes."

"Who gets them? and how do you get them?"

"I guess I shall get them to-day. O, we do it with a hoe."

Lois stayed for no more, but ran in. The interior room of the house,
which was very large for a bathing-house, was divided in two by a
partition. In the inner, smaller room, Lois began busily to change her
dress. On the walls hung a number of bathing suits of heavy flannel,
one of which she appropriated. Charity came in after her.

"You ain't a goin' for clams, Lois? Well, I wouldn't, if I was you."

"Why not?"

"I wouldn't make myself such a sight, for folks to see."

"I don't at all do it for folks to see, but that folks may eat. We have
brought 'em here, and now we must give them something for supper."

"Are you goin' with bare feet?"

"Why not?" said Lois, laughing. "Do you think I am going to spoil my
best pair of shoes for vanity's sake?" And she threw off shoes and
stockings as she spoke, and showed a pair of pretty little white feet,
which glanced coquettishly under the blue flannel.

"Lois, what's brought these folks here?"

"I am sure I don't know."

"I wish they'd stayed where they belong. That woman's just turning up
her nose at every blessed thing she sees."

"It won't hurt the Sound!" said Lois, laughing.

"What did they come for?"

"I can't tell; but, Charity, it will never do to let them go away
feeling they got nothing by coming. So you have the kettle boiled, will
you, and the table all ready--and I'll try for the clams."

"They won't like 'em."

"Can't help that."

"And what am I going to do with Mr. Sears?"

"Give him his supper of course."

"Along with all the others?"

"You must. You cannot set two tables."

"There's aunt Anne!" exclaimed Charity; and in the next minute aunt
Anne came round to them by the front steps; for each half of the
bathing-house had its own door of approach, as well as a door of
communication. Mrs. Marx came in, surveyed Lois, and heard Charity's
statement.

"These things will happen in the best regulated families," she
remarked, beginning also to loosen her dress.

"What are you going to do, aunt Anne?"

"Going after clams, with Lois. We shall want a bushel or less; and we
can't wait till the moon rises, to eat 'em."

"And how am I going to set the table with them all there?"

Mrs. Marx laughed. "I expect they're like cats in a strange garret. Set
your table just as usual, Charry; push 'em out o' the way if they get
in it. Now then, Lois!"

And, slipping down the steps and away off to the stretch of mud where
the rushes grew, two extraordinary, flannel-clad, barefooted figures,
topped with sun-bonnets and armed with hoes and baskets, were presently
seen to be very busy there about something. Charity opened the door of
communication between the two parts of the house, and surveyed the
party. Mrs. Barclay sat on the step outside, looking over the plain of
waters, with her head in her hand. Mrs. Armadale was in a
rocking-chair, just within the door, placidly knitting. Mr. and Mrs.
Lenox, somewhat further back, seemed not to know just what to do with
themselves; and Madge, holding a little aloof, met her sister's eye
with an expression of despair and doubt. Outside, at the foot of the
steps, where Mrs. Barclay sat, lounged the ox driver.

"Ben here afore?" he asked confidentially of the lady.

"Yes, once or twice. I never came in an ox cart before."

"I guess you hain't," he replied, chewing a blade of rank grass which
he had pulled for the purpose. "My judgment is we had a fust-rate
entertainment, comin' down."

"I quite agree with you."

"Now in anythin' _but_ an ox cart, you couldn't ha' had it."

"No, not so well, certainly."

"_I_ couldn't ha' had it, anyway, withouten we'd come so softly. I
declare, I believe them critters stepped soft o' purpose. It's better'n
a book, to hear that girl talk, now, ain't it?"

"Much better than many books."

"She's got a lot o' 'em inside her head. That beats me! She allays was
smart, Lois was; but I'd no idee she was so full o' book larnin'. Books
is a great thing!" And he heaved a sigh.

"Do you have time to read much yourself, sir?"

"Depends on the book," he said, with a bit of a laugh. "Accordin' to
that, I get much or little. No; in these here summer days a man can't
do much at books; the evenin's short, you see, and the days is long;
and the days is full o' work. The winter's the time for readin'. I got
hold o' a book last winter that was wuth a great deal o' time, and got
it. I never liked a book better. That was Rollin's 'Ancient History.'"

"Ah!" said Mrs. Barclay. "So you enjoyed that?"

"Ever read it?"

"Yes."

"Didn't you enjoy it?"

"I believe I like Modern history better."

"I've read some o' that too," said he meditatively. "It ain't so
different. 'Seems to me, folks is allays pretty much alike; only we
call things by different names. Alexander the Great, now,--he warn't
much different from Napoleon Buonaparte."

"Wasn't he a better man?" inquired Mr. Lenox, putting his head out at
the door.

"Wall, I don' know; it's difficult, you know, to judge of folk's
insides; but I don't make much count of a man that drinks himself to
death at thirty."

"Haven't you any drinking in Shampuashuh?"

"Wall, there ain't much; and what there is, is done in the dark, like.
You won't find no rum-shops open."

"Indeed! How long has the town been so distinguished?"

"I guess it's five year. I _know_ it is; for it was just afore we put
in our last President. Then we voted liquor shouldn't be president in
Shampuashuh."

"Do you get along any better for it?"

"Wall"--slowly--"I should say we did. There ain't no quarrellin', nor
fightin', nor anybody took up for the jail, nor no one livin' in the
poorhouse--'thout it's some tramp on his way to some place where there
_is_ liquor. An' _he_ don't want to stay."

"What are those two figures yonder among the grass?" Mrs. Lenox now
asked; she also having come out of the house in search of objects of
interest, the interior offering none.

"Them?" said Mr. Sears. "Them's Lois and her aunt. Their baskets is
gettin' heavy, too. I'll make the fire for ye, Miss Charity," he cried,
lifting his voice; and therewith disappeared.

"What are they doing?" Mrs. Lenox asked, in a lower tone.

"Digging clams," Mrs. Barclay informed her.

"Digging clams! How do they dig them?"

"With a hoe, I believe."

"I ought to go and offer my services," said the gentleman, rising.

"Do not think of it," said Mrs. Barclay. "You could not go without
plunging into wet, soft mud; the clams are found only there, I believe."

"How do _they_ go?"

"Barefoot-dressed for it."

"_Un_dressed for it," said Mrs. Lenox. "Barefoot in the mud! Could you
have conceived it!"

"They say the mud is warm," Mrs. Barclay returned, keeping back a smile.

"But how horrid!"

"I am told it is very good sport. The clams are shy, and endeavour to
take flight when they hear the strokes of the hoe; so that it comes to
a trial of speed between the pursuer and the pursued; which is quite
exciting."

"I should think, if I could see a clam, I could pick it up," Mrs. Lenox
said scornfully.

"Yes; you cannot see them."

"Do you mean, they run away _under ground?_"

"So I am told."

"How can they? they have no feet."

Mrs. Barclay could not help laughing now, and confessed her ignorance
of the natural powers of the clam family.

"Where is that old man gone to make his fire? didn't he say he was
going to make a fire?"

"Yes; in the cooking-house."

"Where is that?" And Mrs. Lenox came down the steps and went to
explore. A few yards from the bathing-house, just within the enclosure
fence, she found a small building, hardly two yards square, but
thoroughly built and possessing a chimney. The door stood open; within
was a cooking-stove, in which fire was roaring; a neat pile of billets
of wood for firing, a tea-kettle, a large iron pot, and several other
kitchen utensils.

"What is this for?" inquired Mrs. Lenox, looking curiously in.

"Wall, I guess we're goin' to hev supper by and by; ef the world don't
come to an end sooner than I expect, we will, sure. I'm a gettin'
ready."

"And is this place built and arranged just for the sake of having
supper, as you call it, down here once in a while?"

"Couldn't be no better arrangement," said Mr. Sears. "This stove draws
first-rate."

"But this is a great deal of trouble. I should think they would take
their clams home and have them there."

"Some folks doos," returned Mr. Sears. "These here folks knows what's
good. Wait till you see. I tell you! long clams, fresh digged, and
b'iled as soon as they're fetched in, is somethin' you never see beat."

"_Long_ clams," repeated the lady. "Are they not the usual sort?"

"Depends on what you're used to. These is usual here, and I'm glad
on't. Round clams ain't nowheres alongside o' 'em."

He went off to fill the kettle, and the lady returned slowly round the
house to the steps and the door, which were on the sea side. Mr. Lenox
had gone in and was talking to Mrs. Armadale; Mrs. Barclay was in her
old position on the steps, looking out to sea. There was a wonderful
light of westering rays on land and water; a rich gleam from brown rock
and green seaweed; a glitter and fresh sparkle on the waves of the
incoming tide; an indescribable freshness and life in the air and in
the light; a delicious invigoration in the salt breath of the ocean.
Mrs. Barclay sat drinking it all in, like one who had been long
athirst. Mrs. Lenox stood looking, half cognizant of what was before
her, more than half impatient and scornful of it; yet even on her the
witchery of the place and the scene was not without its effect.

"Do you come here often?" she asked Mrs. Barclay. .

"Never so often as I would like."

"I should think you would be tired to death!"

Then, as Mrs. Barclay made no answer, she looked at her watch.

"Our train is not till ten o'clock," she remarked.

"Plenty of time," said the other. And then there was silence; and the
sun's light grew more westering, and the sparkle on earth and water
more fresh, and the air only more and more sweet; till two figures were
discerned approaching the bathing-house, carrying hoes slung over their
shoulders, and baskets, evidently filled, in their hands. They went
round the house towards the cook-house; and Mrs. Barclay came down from
her seat and went to meet them there, Mrs. Lenox following.

Two such figures! Sun-bonnets shading merry faces, flushed with
business; blue flannel bathing-suits draping very unpicturesquely the
persons, bare feet stained with mud,--baskets full of the delicate fish
they had been catching.

"What a quantity!" exclaimed Mrs. Barclay.

"Yes, because I had aunt Anne to help. We cannot boil them all at once,
but that is all the better. They will come hot and hot."

"You don't mean that you are going to cook all those?" said Mrs. Lenox
incredulously.

"There will not be one too many," said Lois. "You do not know long
clams yet."

"They are ugly things!" said the other, with a look of great disgust
into the basket. "I don't think I could touch them."

"There's no obligation," responded here Mrs. Marx. She had thrown one
basketful into a huge pan, and was washing them free from the mud and
sand of their original sphere. "It's a free country. But looks don't
prove much--neither at the shore nor anywhere else. An ugly shell often
covers a good fish. So I find it; and t'other way."

"How do you get them?" inquired Mr. Lenox, who also came now to the
door of the cook-house. Lois made her escape. "I see you make use of
hoes."

"Yes," said Mrs. Marx, throwing her clams about in the water with great
energy; "we dig for 'em. See where the clam lives, and then drive at
him, and don't be slow about it; and then when the clam spits at you,
you know you're on his heels--or on his track, I should say; and you
take care of your eyes and go ahead, till you catch up with him; and
then you've got him. And every one you throw into your basket you feel
gladder and gladder; in fact, as the basket grows heavy, your heart
grows light. And that's diggin' for long clams."

"The best part of it is the hunt, isn't it?"

"I'll take your opinion on that after supper."

Mr. Lenox laughed, and he and his wife sauntered round to the front
again. The freshness, the sweetness, the bright rich colouring of sky
and water and land, the stillness, the strangeness, the novelty, all
moved Mr. Lenox to say,

"I would not have missed this for a hundred dollars!"

"Missed what?" asked his wife.

"This whole afternoon."

"It's one way that people live, I suppose."

"Yes, for they really do live; there is no stagnation; that is one
thing that strikes me."

"Don't you want to buy a farm here, and settle down?" asked Mrs. Lenox
scornfully. "Live on hymns and long clams?"

Meanwhile the interior of the bathing-house was changing its aspect.
Part of the partition of boards had been removed and a long table
improvised, running the length of the house, and made of planks laid on
trestles. White cloths hid the rudeness of this board, and dishes and
cups and viands were giving it a most hospitable look. A whiff of
coffee aroma came now and then through the door at the back of the
house, which opened near the place of cookery; piles of white bread and
brown gingerbread, and golden butter and rosy ham and new cheese, made
a most abundant and inviting display; and, after the guests were
seated, Mr. Sears came in bearing a great dish of the clams, smoking
hot.

Well, Mrs. Lenox was hungry, through the combined effects of salt air
and an early dinner; she found bread and butter and coffee and ham most
excellent, but looked askance at the dish of clams; which, however, she
saw emptied with astonishing rapidity. Noticing at last a striking heap
of shells beside her husband's plate, the lady's fastidiousness gave
way to curiosity; and after that,--it was well that another big dishful
was coming, or _somebody_ would have been obliged to go short.

At ten o'clock that evening Mr. and Mrs. Lenox took the night train to
Boston.

"I never passed a pleasanter afternoon in my life," was the gentleman's
comment as the train started.

"Pretty faces go a great way always with you men!" answered his wife.

"There is something more than a pretty face there. And she is
improved--changed, somehow--since a year ago. What do you think now of
your brother's choice, Julia?"

"It would have been his ruin!" said the lady violently.

"I declare I doubt it. I am afraid he'll never find a better. I am
afraid you have done him mistaken service."

"George, this girl is _nobody_."

"She is a lady. And she is intelligent, and she is cultivated, and she
has excellent manners. I see no fault at all to be found. Tom does not
need money."

"She is nobody, nevertheless, George! It would have been miserable for
Tom to lose all the advantage he is going to have with his wife, and to
marry this girl whom no one knows, and who knows nobody."

"I am sorry for poor Tom!"

"George, you are very provoking. Tom will live to thank mamma and me
all his life."

"Do you know, I don't believe it. I am glad to see _she's_ all right,
anyhow. I was afraid at the Isles she might have been bitten."

"You don't know anything about it," returned his wife sharply. "Women
don't show. _I_ think she was taken with Tom."

"I hope not!" said the gentleman; "that's all I have to say."



CHAPTER XXXII.



A VISITOR.



After that summer day, the time sped on smoothly at Shampuashuh; until
the autumn coolness had replaced the heat of the dog days, and hay
harvest and grain harvest were long over, and there began to be a
suspicion of frost in the air. Lois had gathered in her pears, and was
garnering her apples. There were two or three famous apple trees in the
Lothrop old garden, the fruit of which kept sound and sweet all through
the winter, and was very good to eat.

One fair day in October, Mrs. Barclay, wanting to speak with Lois, was
directed to the garden and sought her there. The day was as mild as
summer, without summer's passion, and without spring's impulses of hope
and action. A quiet day; the air was still; the light was mellow, not
brilliant; the sky was clear, but no longer of an intense blue; the
little racks of cloud were lying supine on its calm depths, apparently
having nowhere to go and nothing to do. The driving, sweeping, changing
forms of vapour, which in spring had come with rain and in summer had
come with thunder, had all disappeared; and these little delicate lines
of cloud lay purposeless and at rest on the blue. Nature had done her
work for the year; she had grown the grass and ripened the grain, and
manufactured the wonderful juices in the tissues of the fruit, and laid
a new growth of woody fibre round the heart of the trees. She was
resting now, as it were, content with her work. And so seemed Lois to
be doing, at the moment Mrs. Barclay entered the garden. It was unusual
to find her so. I suppose the witching beauty of the day beguiled her.
But it was of another beauty Mrs. Barclay thought, as she drew near the
girl.

A short ladder stood under one of the apple trees, upon which Lois had
been mounting to pluck her fruit. On the ground below stood two large
baskets, full now of the ruddy apples, shining and beautiful. Beside
them, on the dry turf, sat Lois with her hands in her lap; and Mrs.
Barclay wondered at her as she drew near.

Yet it is not too easy to tell why, at least so as to make the reader
get at the sense of the words. I have the girl's image before my eyes,
mentally, but words have neither form nor colour; how shall I paint
with them? It was not the beauty of mere form and colour, either, that
struck Mrs. Barclay in Lois's face. You may easily see more regular
features and more dazzling complexion. It was not any particular
brilliance of eye, or piquancy of expression. There was a soundness and
fulness of young life; that is not so uncommon either. There was a
steadfast strength and sweetness of nature. There was an unconscious,
innocent grace, that is exceedingly rare. And a high, noble expression
of countenance and air and movement, such as can belong only to one
whose thoughts and aims never descend to pettinesses; who assimilates
nobility by being always concerned with what is noble. And then, the
face was very fair; the ruddy brown hair very rich and abundant; the
figure graceful and good; all the spiritual beauty I have been
endeavouring to describe had a favouring groundwork of nature to
display itself upon. Mrs. Barclay's steps grew slower and slower as she
came near, that she might prolong the view, which to her was so lovely.
Then Lois looked at her and slightly smiled.

"Lois, my dear, what are you doing?"

"Not exactly nothing, Mrs. Barclay; though it looks like it. Such a day
one cannot bear to go in-doors!"

"You are gathering your apples?"

"I have got done for to-day."

"What are you studying, here beside your baskets? What beautiful
apples!"

"Aren't they? These are our Royal Reddings; they are good for eating
and cooking, and they keep perfectly. If only they are picked off by
hand."

"What were you studying, Lois? May I not know?" Mrs. Barclay took an
apple and a seat on the turf beside the girl.

"Hardly studying. Only musing--as such a day makes one muse. I was
thinking, Mrs. Barclay, what use I could make of my life."

"What _use?_ Can you make better use of it than you are doing, in
taking care of Mrs. Armadale?"

"Yes--as things are now. But in the common course of things I should
outlive grandmamma."

"Then you will marry somebody, and take care of him."

"Very unlikely, I think."

"May I ask, why?"

"I do not know anybody that is the sort of man I could marry."

"What do you require?" asked Mrs. Barclay.

"A great deal, I suppose," said Lois slowly. "I have never studied
that; I was not studying it just now. But I was thinking, what might be
the best way of making myself of some use in the world. Foolish, too."

"Why so?"

"It is no use for us to lay plans for our lives; not much use for us to
lay plans for anything. They are pretty sure to be broken up."

"Yes," said Mrs. Barclay, sighing. "I wonder why!"

"I suppose, because they do not fall in with God's plans for us."

"His plans for us," repeated Mrs. Barclay slowly. "Do you believe in
such things? That would mean, individual plans, Lois; for you
individually, and for me?"

"Yes, Mrs. Barclay--that is what I believe."

"It is incomprehensible to me."

"Why should it be?"

"To think that the Highest should concern him self with such small
details."

"It is just because he is the Highest, and so high, that he can.
Besides--do we know what _are_ small details?"

"But why should he care what becomes of us?" said Mrs. Barclay gloomily.

"O, do you ask that? When he is Love itself, and would have the very
best things for each one of us?"

"We don't have them, I am sure."

"Because we will not, then. To have them, we must fall in with his
plans."

"My dear Lois, do you know that you are talking the profoundest
mysteries?"

"No. They are not mysteries to me. The Bible says all I have been
saying."

"That is sufficient for you, and you do not stop to look into the
mystery. Lois, it is _all_ mystery. Look at all the wretched ruined
lives one sees; what becomes of those plans for good for them?"

"Failed, Mrs. Barclay; because of the people's unwillingness to come
into the plans."

"They do not know them!"

"No, but they do know the steps which lead into them, and those steps
they refuse to take."

"I do not understand you. What steps?"

"The Lord does not show us his plans. He shows us, one by one, the
steps he bids us take. If we take them, one by one, they will bring us
into all that God has purposed and meant for us--the very best that
could come to us."

"And you think his plans and purposes could be overthrown?"

"Why, certainly. Else what mean Christ's lamentations over Jerusalem?
'O Jerusalem,... how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not.' I
would--ye would not; and the choice lies with us."

"And suppose a person falls in with these plans, as you say, step by
step?"

"O, then it is all good," said Lois; "the way and the end; all good.
There is no mistake nor misadventure."

"Nor disaster?"

"Not what turns out to be such."

"Lois," said Mrs. Barclay, after a thoughtful pause, "you are a very
happy person!"

"Yes," said Lois, smiling; "and I have just told you the reason. Don't
you see? I have no care about anything."

"On your principles, I do not see what need you had to consider your
future way of life; to speculate about it, I mean."

"No," said Lois, rising, "I have not. Only sometimes one must look a
little carefully at the parting of the ways, to see which road one is
meant to take."

"Sit down again. I did not come out here to talk of all this. I wanted
to ask you something."

Lois sat down.

"I came to ask a favour."

"How could you, Mrs. Barclay? I mean, nothing we could do could be a
_favour_ to you!"

"Yes, it could. I have a friend that wants to come to see me."

"Well?"

"May he come?"

"Why, of course."

"But it is a gentleman."

"Well," said Lois again, smiling, "we have no objections to gentlemen."

"It is a friend whom I have not seen in a very long while; a dear
friend; a dear friend of my husband's in years gone by. He has just
returned from Europe; and he writes to ask if he may call on his way to
Boston and spend Sunday with me."

"He shall be very welcome, Mrs. Barclay; and we will try to make him
comfortable."

"O, comfortable! there is no question of that. But will it not be at
all inconvenient?"

"Not in the least."

"Then he may come?"

"Certainly. When does he wish to come?"

"This week--Saturday. His name is Dillwyn."

"Dillwyn!" Lois repeated. "Dillwyn? I saw a Mr. Dillwyn at Mrs.
Wishart's once or twice."

"It must be the same. I do not know of two. And he knows Mrs. Wishart.
So you remember him? What do you remember about him?"

"Not much. I have an impression that he knows a great deal, and has
very pleasant manners."

"Quite right. That is the man. So he may come? Thank you."

Lois took up one of her baskets of apples and carried it into the
house, where she deposited it at Mrs. Armadale's feet.

"They are beautiful this year, aren't they, mother? Girls, we are going
to have a visitor."

Charity was brushing up the floor; the broom paused. Madge was sewing;
the needle remained drawn out. Both looked at Lois.

"A visitor!" came from both pairs of lips.

"Yes, indeed. A visitor. A gentleman. And he is coming to stay over
Sunday. So, Charry, you must see and have things very special. And so
must I."

"A gentleman! Who is he? Uncle Tim?"

"Not a bit of it. A young, at least a much younger, gentleman; a
travelled gentleman; an elegant gentleman. A friend of Mrs. Barclay."

"What are we to do with him?"

"Nothing. Nothing whatever. We have nothing to do with him, and
couldn't do it if we had."

"You needn't laugh. We have got to lodge him and feed him."

"That's easy. I'll put the white spread on the bed in the spare room;
and you may get out your pickles."

"Pickles! Is he fond of pickles?"

"I don't know!" said Lois, laughing still. "I have an impression he is
a man who likes all sorts of nice things."

"I hate men who like nice things! But, Lois!--there will be Saturday
tea, and Sunday breakfast and dinner and supper, and Monday morning
breakfast."

"Perhaps Monday dinner."

"O, he can't stay to dinner."

"Why not?"

"It is washing day."

"My dear Charry! to such men Monday is just like all other days; and
washing is--well, of course, a necessity, but it is done by fairies, or
it might be, for all they know about it."

"There's five meals anyhow," Charity went on.--"Wouldn't it be a good
plan to get uncle Tim to be here?"

"What for?"

"Why, we haven't a man in the house."

"What then?"

"Who'll talk to him?"

"Mrs. Barclay will take care of that. You, Charity dear, see to your
pickles."

"I don't know what you mean," said Charity fretfully. "What are we
going to have for dinner, Sunday? I could fricassee a pair of chickens."

"No, Charity, you couldn't. Sunday is Sunday, just as much with Mr.
Dillwyn here."

"Dillwyn!" said Madge. "I've heard you speak of him."

"Very likely. I saw him once or twice in my New York days."

"And he gave you lunch."

"Mrs. Wishart and me. Yes. And a good lunch it was. That's why I spoke
of pickles, Charity. Do the very best you can."

"I cannot do my best, unless I can cook the chickens," said Charity,
who all this while stood leaning upon her broom. "I might do it for
once."

"Where is your leave to do wrong once?"

"But this is a particular occasion--you may call it a necessity; and
necessity makes an exception."

"What is the necessity, Charity?" said Mrs. Armadale, who until now had
not spoken.

"Why, grandma, you want to treat a stranger well?"

"With whatever I have got to give him. But Sunday time isn't mine to
give."

"But _necessary_ things, grandma?--we may do necessary things?"

"What have you got in the house?"

"Nothing on earth, except a ham to boil. Cold ham,--that's all. Do you
think that's enough?"

"It won't hurt him to dine on cold ham," the old lady said complacently.

"Why don't you cook your chickens and have them cold too?" Lois asked.

"Cold fricassee ain't worth a cent."

"Cook them some other way. Roast them,--or-- Give them to me, and I'll
do them for you! I'll do them, Charity. Then with your nice bread, and
apple sauce, and potatoes, and some of my pears and apples, and a
pumpkin pie, Charity, and coffee,--we shall do very well. Mr. Dillwyn
has made a worse dinner in the course of his wanderings, I'll undertake
to maintain."

"What shall I have for supper?" Charity asked doubtfully. "Supper comes
first."

"Shortcake. And some of your cold ham. And stew up some quinces and
apples together, Cherry. You don't want anything more,--or better."

"Do you think he will understand having a cold dinner, Sunday?" Charity
asked. "Men make so much of hot dinners."

"What does it signify, my dear, whether he understands it or not?" said
Mrs. Armadale. "What we have to do, is what the Lord tells us to do.
That is all you need mind."

"I mind what folks think, though," said Charity. "Mrs. Barclay's friend
especially."

"I do not think he will notice it," said simple Mrs. Armadale.



CHAPTER XXXIII.



THE VALUE OF MONEY.



There was a little more bustle in the house than usual during the next
two days; and the spare room was no doubt put in very particular order,
with the best of all the house could furnish on the bed and
toilet-table. Pantry and larder also were well stocked; and Lois was
just watching the preparation of her chickens, Saturday evening, and
therefore in the kitchen, when Mr. Dillwyn came to the door. Mrs.
Barclay herself let him in, and brought him into her own warm,
comfortable, luxurious-looking sitting-room. The evening was falling
dusk, so that the little wood lire in Mrs. Barclay's chimney had
opportunity to display itself, and I might say, the room too; which
never could have showed to better advantage. The flickering light
danced back again from gilded books, from the polished case of the
piano, from picture frames, and pictures, and piles of music, and
comfortable easy-chairs standing invitingly, and trinkets of art or
curiosity; an unrolled engraving in one place, a stereoscope in
another, a work-basket, and the bright brass stand of a microscope.

The greeting was warm between the two friends; and then Mrs. Barclay
sat down and surveyed her visitor, whom she had not seen for so long.
He was not a beauty of Tom Caruthers' sort, but he was what I think
better; manly and intelligent, and with an air and bearing of frank
nobleness which became him exceedingly. That he was a man with a
serious purpose in life, or any object of earnest pursuit, you would
not have supposed; and that character had never belonged to him. Mrs.
Barclay, looking at him, could not see any sign that it was his now.
Look and manner were easy and careless as of old.

"You are not changed," she remarked.

"What should change me?" said he, while his eye ran rapidly over the
apartment. "And you?--you do not look as if life was stagnating here."

"It does not stagnate. I never was further from stagnation in all my
life."

"And yet Shampuashuh is in a corner!"

"Is not most of the work of the world done in corners? It is not the
butterfly, but the coral insect, that lays foundations and lifts up
islands out of the sea."

"You are not a coral insect any more than I am a butterfly," said
Dillwyn, laughing.

"Rather more."

"I acknowledge it, thankfully. And I am rejoiced to know from your
letters that the seclusion has been without any evil consequences to
yourself. It has been pleasant?"

"Royally pleasant. I have delighted in my building; even although I
could not tell whether my island would not prove a dangerous one to
mariners."

"I have just been having a discourse on that subject with my sister. I
think one's sisters are--I beg your pardon!--the mischief. Tom's sister
has done for him; and mine is very eager to take care of me."

"Did you consult her?" asked Mrs. Barclay, with surprise.

"Nothing of the kind! I merely told her I was coming up here to see
you. A few questions followed, as to what you were doing here,--which I
did not tell her, by the way,--and she hit the bull's eye with the
instinctive accuracy of a woman; poured out upon me in consequence a
lecture upon imprudence. Of course I confessed to nothing, but that
mattered not. All that Tom's sister urged upon him, my good sister
pressed upon me."

"So did I once, did I not?"

"You are not going to repeat it?"

"No; that is over, for me. I know better. But, Philip, I do not see the
way very clear before you."

He left the matter there, and went off into a talk with her upon
widely-different subjects, touching or growing out of his travels and
experiences during the last year and a half. The twilight darkened, and
the fire brightened, and in the light of the fire the two sat and
talked; till a door opened, and in the same flickering shine a figure
presented itself which Mr. Dillwyn remembered. Though now it was
clothed in nothing finer than a dark calico, and round her shoulders a
little white worsted shawl was twisted. Mrs. Barclay began a sentence
of introduction, but Mr. Dillwyn cut her short.

"Do not do me such dishonour," he said. "Must I suppose that Miss
Lothrop has forgotten me?"

"Not at all, Mr. Dillwyn," said Lois frankly; "I remember you very
well. Tea will be ready in a minute--would you like to see your room
first?"

"You are too kind, to receive me!"

"It is a pleasure. You are Mrs. Barclay's friend, and she is at home
here; I will get a light."

Which she did, and Mr. Dillwyn, seeing he could not find his own way,
was obliged to accept her services and see her trip up the stairs
before him. At the door she handed him the light and ran down again.
There was a fire here too--a wood fire; blazing hospitably, and
throwing its cheery light upon a wide, pleasant, country room, not like
what Mr. Dillwyn was accustomed to, but it seemed the more hospitable.
Nothing handsome there; no articles of luxury (beside the fire); the
reflection of the blaze came back from dark old-fashioned chairs and
chests of drawers, dark chintz hangings to windows and bed, white
counterpane and napery, with a sonsy, sober, quiet air of comfort; and
the air was fresh and sweet as air should be, and as air can only be at
a distance from the smoke of many chimneys and the congregated
habitations of many human beings. I do not think Mr. Dillwyn spent much
attention upon these details; yet he felt himself in a sound, clear,
healthy atmosphere, socially as well as physically; also had a
perception that it was very far removed from that in which he had lived
and breathed hitherto. How simply that girl had lighted him up the
stairs, and given him his brass candlestick at the door of his room!
What _à plomb_ could have been more perfect! I do not mean to imply
that Mr. Dillwyn knew the candlestick was brass; I am afraid there was
a glamour over his eyes which made it seem golden.

He found Mrs. Barclay seated in a very thoughtful attitude before her
fire, when he came down again; but just then the door of the other room
was opened, and they were called in to tea.

The family were in rather gala trim. Lois, as I said, wore indeed only
a dark print dress, with her white fichu over it; but Charity had put
on her best silk, and Madge had stuck two golden chrysanthemums in her
dark hair (with excellent effect), and Mrs. Armadale was stately in her
best cap. Alas! Philip Dillwyn did not know what any of them had on. He
was placed next to Mrs. Armadale, and all supper time his special
attention, so far as appeared, was given to the old lady. He talked to
her, and he served her, with an easy, pleasant grace, and without at
all putting himself forward or taking the part of the distinguished
stranger. It was simply good will and good breeding; however, it
produced a great effect.

"The air up here is delicious!" he remarked, after he had attended to
all the old lady's immediate wants, and applied himself to his own
supper. "It gives one a tremendous appetite."

"I allays like to see folks eat," said Mrs. Armadale. "After one's done
the gettin' things ready, I hate to have it all for nothin'."

"It shall not be for nothing this time, as far as I am concerned."

"Ain't the air good in New York?" Mrs. Armadale next asked.

"I do not think it ever was so sweet as this. But when you crowd a
million or so of people into room that is only enough for a thousand,
you can guess what the consequences must be."

"What do they crowd up so for, then?"

"It must be the case in a great city."

"I don't see the sense o' that," said Mrs. Armadale. "Ain't the world
big enough?"

"Far too big," said Mr. Dillwyn. "You see, when people's time is very
valuable, they cannot afford to spend too much of it in running about
after each other."

"What makes their time worth any more'n our'n?"

"They are making money so fast with it."

"And is _that_ what makes folks' time valeyable?"

"In their opinion, madam."

"I never could see no use in havin' much money," said the old lady.

"But there comes a question," said Dillwyn. "What is 'much'?"

"More'n enough, I should say."

"Enough for what? That also must be settled."

"I'm an old-fashioned woman," said the old lady, "and I go by the
old-fashionedst book in the world. That says, 'we brought nothing into
this world, and we can carry nothing out; therefore, having food and
raiment, let us be therewith content.'"

"But, again, what sort of food, and what sort of raiment?" urged the
gentleman pleasantly. "For instance; would you be content to exchange
this delicious manufacture,--which seems to me rather like ambrosia
than common food,--for some of the black bread of Norway? with no
qualification of golden butter? or for Scotch oatmeal bannocks? or for
sour corn cake?"

"I would be quite content, if it was the Lord's will," said the old
lady. "There's no obligation upon anybody to have it _sour_."

Mr. Dillwyn laughed gently. "I can fancy," he said, "that you never
would allow such a dereliction in duty. But, beside having the bread
sweet, is it not allowed us to have the best we can get?"

"The best we can _make_," answered Mrs. Armadale; "I believe in
everybody doin' the best he kin with what he has got to work with; but
food ain't worth so much that we should pay a large price for it."

The gentleman's eye glanced with a scarcely perceptible movement over
the table at which he was sitting. Bread, indeed, in piles of white
flakiness; and butter; but besides, there was the cold ham in delicate
slices, and excellent-looking cheese, and apples in a sort of beautiful
golden confection, and cake of superb colour and texture; a pitcher of
milk that was rosy sweet, and coffee rich with cream. The glance that
took all this in was slight and swift, and yet the old lady was quick
enough to see and understand it.

"Yes," she said, "it's all our'n, all there is on the table. Our cow
eats our own grass, and Madge, my daughter, makes the butter and the
cheese. We've raised and cured our own pork; and the wheat that makes
the bread is grown on our ground too; we farm it out on shares; and it
is ground at a mill about four miles off. Our hens lay our eggs; it's
all from home."

"But suppose the case of people who have no ground, nor hens, nor pork,
nor cow? they must buy."

"Of course," said the old lady; "everybody ain't farmers."

"I am ready to wish I was one," said Dillwyn. "But even then, I
confess, I should want coffee and tea and sugar--as I see you. do."

"Well, those things don't grow in America," said Mrs. Armadale.

"And spice don't, neither, mother," observed Charity.

"So it appears that even you send abroad for luxuries," Mr. Dillwyn
went on. "And why not? And the question is, where shall we stop? If I
want coffee, I must have money to buy it, and the better the coffee the
more money; and the same with tea. In cities we must buy all we use or
consume, unless one is a butcher or a baker. May I not try to get more
money, in order that I may have better things? We have got round to our
starting-point."

"'They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare,'" Mrs.
Armadale said quietly.

"Then where is the line?--Miss Lois, you are smiling. Is it at my
stupidity?"

"No," said Lois. "I was thinking of a lunch--such as I have seen it--in
one of the great New York hotels."

"Well?" said he, without betraying on his own part any recollection;
"how does that come in? By way of illustrating Mrs. Armadale, or me?"

"I seem to remember a number of things that illustrate both," said
Lois; "but as I profited by them at the time, it would be ungrateful in
me to instance them now."

"You profited by them with pleasure, or otherwise?"

"Not otherwise. I was very hungry."

"You evade my question, however."

"I will not. I profited by them with much pleasure."

"Then you are on my side, as far as I can be said to have a side?"

"I think not. The pleasure is undoubted; but I do not know that that
touches the question of expediency."

"I think it does. I think it settles the question. Mrs. Armadale, your
granddaughter confesses the pleasure; and what else do we live for, but
to get the most good out of life?"

"What pleasure does she confess?" asked the old lady, with more
eagerness than her words hitherto had manifested.

"Pleasure in nice things, grandmother; in particularly nice things;
that had cost a great deal to fetch them from nobody knows where; and
pleasure in pretty things too. That hotel seemed almost like the halls
of Aladdin to my inexperienced eyes. There is certainly pleasure in a
wonderfully dainty meal, served in wonderful vessels of glass and china
and silver, and marble and gold and flowers to help the effect. I could
have dreamed myself into a fairy tale, often, if it had not been for
the people."

"Life is not a fairy tale," said Mrs. Armadale somewhat severely.

"No, grandmother; and so the humanity present generally reminded me.
But the illusion for a minute was delightful."

"Is there any harm in making it as much like a fairy tale as we can?"

Some of the little courtesies and hospitalities of the table came in
here, and Mr. Dillwyn's question received no answer. His eye went round
the table. No, clearly these people did not live in fairyland, and as
little in the search after it. Good, strong, sensible, practical faces;
women that evidently had their work to do, and did it; habitual energy
and purpose spoke in every one of them, and purpose _attained_. Here
was no aimless dreaming or fruitless wishing. The old lady's face was
sorely weather-beaten, but calm as a ship in harbour. Charity was
homely, but comfortable. Madge and Lois were blooming in strength and
activity, and as innocent apparently of any vague, unfulfilled longings
as a new-blown rose. Only when Mr. Dillwyn's eye met Mrs. Barclay's he
was sensible of a different record. He half sighed. The calm and the
rest were not there.

The talk rambled on. Mr. Dillwyn made him self exceedingly pleasant;
told of things he had seen in his travels, things and people, and ways
of life; interesting even Mrs. Armadale with a sort of fascinated
interest, and gaining, he knew, no little share of her good-will. So,
just as the meal was ending, he ventured to bring forward the old
subject again.

"You will pardon me, Mrs. Armadale," he began,--"but you are the first
person I ever met who did not value money."

"Perhaps I am the first person you ever met who had something better."

"You mean--?" said Philip, with a look of inquiry. "I do not
understand."

"I have treasure in heaven."

"But the coin of that realm is not current here?--and we are _here_."

"That coin makes me rich now; and I take it with me when I go," said
the old lady, as she rose from the table.



CHAPTER XXXIV.



UNDER AN UMBRELLA.



Mrs. Barclay returned to her own room, and Mr. Dillwyn was forced to
follow her. The door was shut between them and the rest of the
household. Mrs. Barclay trimmed her fire, and her guest looked on
absently. Then they sat down on opposite sides of the fireplace; Mrs.
Barclay smiling inwardly, for she knew that Philip was impatient;
however, nothing could be more sedate to all appearance than she was.

"Do you hear how the wind moans in the chimney?" she said. "That means
rain."

"Rather dismal, isn't it?"

"No. In this house nothing is dismal. There is a wholesome way of
looking at everything."

"Not at money?"

"It is no use, Philip, to talk to people about what they cannot
understand."

"I thought understanding on that point was universal."

"They have another standard in this family for weighing things, from
that which you and I have been accustomed to go by."

"What is it?"

"I can hardly tell you, in a word. I am not sure that I can tell you at
all. Ask Lois."

"When can I ask her? Do you spend your evenings alone?"

"By no means! Sometimes I go out and read 'Rob Roy' to them. Sometimes
the girls come to me for some deeper reading, or lessons."

"Will they come to-night?"

"Of course not! They would not interfere with your enjoyment of my
society."

"Cannot you ask Lois in, on some pretext?"

"Not without her sister. It is hard on you, Philip! I will do the best
for you I can; but you must watch your opportunity."

Mr. Dillwyn gave it up with a good grace, and devoted himself to Mrs.
Barclay for the rest of the evening. On the other side of the wall
separating the two rooms, meanwhile a different colloquy had taken
place.

"So that is one of your fine people?" said Miss Charity. "Well, I don't
think much of him."

"I have no doubt he would return the compliment," said Madge.

"No," said Lois; "I think he is too polite."

"He was polite to grandmother," returned Charity. "Not to anybody else,
that I saw. But, girls, didn't he like the bread!"

"I thought he liked everything pretty well," said Madge.

"When's he goin'?" Mrs. Armadale asked suddenly.

"Monday, some time," Madge answered. "Mrs. Barclay said 'until Monday.'
What time Monday I don't know."

"Well, we've got things enough to hold out till then," said Charity,
gathering up her dishes. "It's fun, too; I like to set a nice table."

"Why, grandmother?" said Lois. "Don't you like Mrs. Barclay's friend?"

"Well enough, child. I don't want him for none of our'n."

"Why, grandmother?" said Madge.

"His world ain't our world, children, and his hopes ain't our hopes--if
the poor soul has any. 'Seems to me he's all in the dark."

"That's only on one subject," said Lois. "About everything else he
knows a great deal; and he has seen everything."

"Yes," said Mrs. Armadale; "very like he has; and he likes to talk
about it; and he has a pleasant tongue; and he is a civil man. But
there's one thing he hain't seen, and that is the light; and one thing
he don't know, and that is happiness. And he may have plenty of
money--I dare say he has; but he's what I call a poor man. I don't want
you to have no such friends."

"But grandmother, you do not dislike to have him in the house these two
days, do you?"

"It can't be helped, my dear, and we'll do the best for him we can. But
I don't want _you_ to have no such friends."

"I believe we should go out of the world to suit grandmother," remarked
Charity. "She won't think us safe as long as we're in it."

The whole family went to church the next morning. Mr. Dillwyn's
particular object, however, was not much furthered. He saw Lois,
indeed, at the breakfast table; and the sight was everything his fancy
had painted it. He thought of Milton's



   "Pensive nun, devout and pure,
   Sober, stedfast, and demure"--



only the description did not quite fit; for there was a healthy, sweet
freshness about Lois which gave the idea of more life and activity,
mental and bodily, than could consort with a pensive character. The
rest fitted pretty well; and the lines ran again and again through Mr.
Dillwyn's head. Lois was gone to church long before the rest of the
family set out; and in church she did not sit with the others; and she
did not come home with them. However, she was at dinner. But
immediately after dinner Mrs. Barclay with drew again into her own
room, and Mr. Dillwyn had no choice but to accompany her.

"What now?" he asked. "What do you do the rest of the day?"

"I stay at home and read. Lois goes to Sunday school."

Mr. Dillwyn looked to the windows. The rain Mrs. Barclay threatened had
come; and had already begun in a sort of fury, in company with a wind,
which drove it and beat it, as it seemed, from all points of the
compass at once. The lines of rain-drops went slantwise past the
windows, and then beat violently upon them; the ground was wet in a few
minutes; the sky was dark with its thick watery veils. Wind and rain
were holding revelry.

"She will not go out in this weather," said the gentleman, with
conviction which seemed to be agreeable.

"The weather will not hinder her," returned Mrs. Barclay.

"_This_ weather?"

"No. Lois does not mind weather. I have learned to know her by this
time. Where she thinks she ought to go, or what she thinks she ought to
do, there no hindrance will stop her. It is good you should learn to
know her too, Philip."

"Pray tell me,--is the question of 'ought' never affected by what
should be legitimate hindrances?"

"They are never credited with being legitimate," Mrs. Barclay said,
with a slight laugh. "The principle is the same as that old soldier's
who said, you know, when ordered upon some difficult duty, 'Sir, if it
is possible, it shall be done; and if it is impossible, it _must_ be
done!'"

"That will do for a soldier,", said Dillwyn. "At what o'clock does she
go?"

"In about a quarter of an hour I shall expect to hear her feet
pattering softly through the hall, and then the door will open and shut
without noise, and a dark figure will shoot past the windows."

Mr. Dillwyn left the room, and probably made some preparations; for
when, a few minutes later, a figure all wrapped up in a waterproof
cloak did pass softly through the hall, he came out of Mrs. Barclay's
room and confronted it; and I think his overcoat was on.

"Miss Lois! you cannot be going out in this storm?"

"O yes. The storm is nothing--only something to fight against."

"But it blows quite furiously."

"I don't dislike a wind," said Lois, laying her hand on the lock of the
door.

"You have no umbrella?"

"Don't need it. I am all protected, don't you see? Mr. Dillwyn, _you_
are not going out?"

"Why not?"

"But you have nothing to call you out?"

"I beg your pardon. The same thing, I venture to presume, that calls
you out,--duty. Only in my case the duty is pleasure."

"You are not going to take care of me?"

"Certainly."

"But there's no need. Not the least in the world."

"From your point of view."

He was so alertly ready, had the door open and his umbrella spread, and
stood outside waiting for her, Lois did not know how to get rid of him.
She would surely have done it if she could. So she found herself going
up the street with him by her side, and the umbrella warding off the
wind and rain from her face. It was vexatious and amusing. From her
face! who had faced Sharnpuashuh storms ever since she could remember.
It is very odd to be taken care of on a sudden, when you are
accustomed, and perfectly able, to take care of your self. It is also
agreeable.

"You had better take my arm, Miss Lois," said her companion. "I could
shield you better."

"Well," said Lois, half laughing, "since you are here, I may as well
take the good of it."

And then Mr. Dillwyn had got things as he wanted them.

"I ventured to assume, a little while ago, Miss Lois, that duty was
taking you out into this storm; but I confess my curiosity to know what
duty could have the right to do it. If my curiosity is indiscreet, you
can rebuke it."

"It is not indiscreet," said Lois. "I have a sort of a Bible class, in
the upper part of the village, a quarter of a mile beyond the church."

"I understood it was something of that kind, or I should not have
asked. But in such weather as this, surely they would not expect you?"

"Yes, they would. At any rate, I am bound to show that I expect them."

"_Do_ you expect them, to come out to-day?"

"Not all of them," Lois allowed. "But if there would not be one, still
I must be there."

"Why?--if you will pardon me for asking."

"It is good they should know that I am regular and to be depended on.
And, besides, they will be sure to measure the depth of my interest in
the work by my desire to do it. And one can do so little in this world
at one's best, that one is bound to do all one can."

"All one can," Mr. Dillwyn repeated.

"You cannot put it at a lower figure. I was struck with a word in one
of Mrs. Barclay's books--'the Life and Correspondence of John
Foster,'--'Power, to its very last particle, is duty.'"

"But that would be to make life a terrible responsibility."

"Say noble--not terrible!" said Lois.

"I confess it seems to me terrible also. I do not see how you can get
rid of the element of terribleness."

"Yes,--if duty is neglected. Not if duty is done."

"Who does his duty, at that rate?"

"Some people _try_," said Lois.

"And that trying must make life a servitude."

"Service--not servitude!" exclaimed Lois again, with the same
wholesome, hearty ring in her voice that her companion had noticed
before.

"How do you draw the line between them?" he asked, with an inward
smile; and yet Mr. Dillwyn was earnest enough too.

"There is more than a line between them," said Lois. "There is all the
distance between freedom and slavery." And the words recurred to her,
"I will walk at liberty, _for I seek thy precepts;_" but she judged
they would not be familiar to her companion nor meet appreciation from
him, so she did not speak them. "_Service_," she went on, "I think is
one of the noblest words in the world; but it cannot be rendered
servilely. It must be free, from the heart."

"You make nice distinctions. Service, I suppose you mean, of one's
fellow creatures?"

"No," said Lois, "I do not mean that. Service must be given to God. It
will work out upon one's fellow-creatures, of course."

"Nice distinctions again," said Mr. Dillwyn.

"But very real! And very essential."

"Is there not service--true service--that is given wholly to one's
needy fellows of humanity? It seems to me I have heard of such."

"There is a good deal of such service," said Lois, "but it is not the
true. It is partial, and arbitrary; it ebbs and flows, and chooses; and
is found consorting with what is not service, but the contrary. True
service, given to God, and rising from the love of him, goes where it
is sent and does what it is bidden, and has too high a spring ever to
fail. Real service gives all, and is ready for everything."

"How much do you mean, I wonder, by 'giving all'? Do you use the words
soberly?"

"Quite soberly," said Lois, laughing.

"Giving all what?"

"All one's power,--according to Foster's judgment of it."

"Do you know what that would end in?"

"I think I do. How do you mean?"

"Do you know how much a man or a woman would give who gave _all_ he
had?"

"Yes, of course I do."

"What would be left for himself?"

Lois did not answer at once; but then she stopped short in her walk and
stood still, in the midst of rain and wind, confronting her companion.
And her words were with an energy that she did not at all mean to give
them.

"There would be left for him--all that the riches and love of God could
do for his child."

Mr. Dillwyn gazed into the face that was turned towards him, flushed,
fired, earnest, full of a grand consciousness, as of a most simple
unconsciousness,--and for the moment did not think of replying. Then
Lois recollected herself, smiled at herself, and went on.

"I am very foolish to talk so much," she said. "I do not know why I do.
Somehow I think it is your fault, Mr. Dillwyn. I am not in the habit, I
think, of holding forth so to people who ought to know better than
myself."

"I am sure you are aware that I was speaking honestly, and that I do
_not_ know better?" he said.

"I suppose I thought so," Lois answered. "But that does not quite
excuse me. Only--I was sorry for you, Mr. Dillwyn."

"Thank you. Now, may I go on? The conversation can hardly be so
interesting to you as it is to me."

"I think I have said enough," said Lois, a little shyly.

"No, not enough, for I want to know more. The sentence you quoted from
Foster, if it is true, is overwhelming. If it is true, it leaves all
the world with terrible arrears of obligation."

"Yes," Lois answered half reluctantly,--"duty unfulfilled _is_
terrible. But, not 'all the world,' Mr. Dillwyn."

"You are an exception."

"I did not mean myself. I do not suppose I do all I ought to do. I do
try to do all I know. But there are a great many beside me, who do
better."

"You agree then, that one is not bound by duties _unknown?_"

Lois hesitated. "You are making me talk again, as if I were wise," she
said. "What should hinder any one from knowing his duty, Mr. Dillwyn."

"Suppose a case of pure ignorance."

"Then let ignorance study."

"Study what?"

"Mr. Dillwyn, you ought to ask somebody who can answer you better."

"I do not know any such somebody."

"Haven't you a Christian among all your friends?"

"I have not a friend in the world, of whom I could ask such a question
with the least hope of having it answered."

"Where is your minister?"

"My minister? Clergyman, you mean? Miss Lois, I have been a wanderer
over the earth for years. I have not any 'minister.'"

Lois was silent again. They had been walking fast, as well as talking
fast, spite of wind and rain; the church was left behind some time ago,
and the more comely and elegant part of the village settlement.

"We shall have to stop talking now," Lois said, "for we are near my
place."

"Which is your place?"

"Do you see that old schoolhouse, a little further on? We have that for
our meetings. Some of the boys put it in order and make the fire for
me."

"You will let me come in?"

"You?" said Lois. "O no! Nobody is there but my class."

"You will let me be one of them to-day? Seriously,--I am going to wait
to see you home; you will not let me wait in the rain?"

"I shall bid you go home," said Lois, laughing.

"I am not going to do that."

"Seriously, Mr. Dillwyn, I do not need the least care."

"Perhaps. But I must look at the matter from my point of view."

What a troublesome man! thought Lois; but then they were at the
schoolhouse door, the wind and rain came with such a wild burst, that
it seemed the one thing to do to get under shelter; and so Mr. Dillwyn
went in with her, and how to turn him out Lois did not know.

It was a bare little place. The sanded floor gave little help or
seeming of comfort; the wooden chairs and benches were old and hard;
however, the small stove did give out warmth enough to make the place
habitable, even to its furthest corners. Six people were already there.
Lois gave a rapid glance at the situation. There was no time, and it
was no company for a prolonged battle with the intruder.

"Mr. Dillwyn," she said softly, "will you take a seat by the stove, as
far from us as you can; and make believe you have neither eyes nor
ears? You must not be seen to have either--by any use you make of them.
If you keep quite still, maybe they will forget you are here. You can
keep up the fire for us."

She turned from him to greet her young friends, and Mr. Dillwyn obeyed
orders. He hung up his wet hat and coat and sat down in the furthest
corner; placing himself so, however, that neither eyes nor ears should
be hindered in the exercise of their vocation, while his attitude might
have suggested a fit of sleepiness, or a most indifferent meditation on
things far distant, or possibly rest after severe exertion. Lois and
her six scholars took their places at the other end of the room, which
was too small to prevent every word they spoke from being distinctly
heard by the one idle spectator. A spectator in truth Mr. Dillwyn
desired to be, not merely an auditor; so, as he had been warned he must
not be seen to look, he arranged himself in a manner to serve both
purposes, of seeing and not seeing.

The hour was not long to this one spectator, although it extended
itself to full an hour and a half. He gave as close attention as ever
when a student in college he had given to lecture or lesson. And yet,
though he did this, Mr. Dillwyn was not, at least not at the time,
thinking much of the matter of the lesson. He was studying the
lecturer. And the study grew intense. It was not flattering to
perceive, as he soon did, that Lois had entirely forgotten his
presence. He saw it by the free unconcern with which she did her work,
as well as in the absorbed interest she gave to it. Not flattering, and
it cast a little shadow upon him, but it was convenient for his present
purpose of observation. So he watched,--and listened. He heard the
sweet utterance and clear enunciation, first of all; he heard them, it
is true, whenever she spoke; but now the utterance sounded sweeter than
usual, as if there were a vibration from some fuller than usual mental
harmony, and the voice was of a silvery melody. It contrasted with the
other voices, which were more or less rough or grating or nasal, too
high pitched or low, and rough-cadenced, as uncultured voices are apt
to be. From the voices, Mr. Dillwyn's attention was drawn to what the
voices said. And here he found, most unexpectedly, a great deal to
interest him. Those rough voices spoke words of genuine intelligence;
they expressed earnest interest; and they showed the speakers to be
acute, thoughtful, not uninformed, quick to catch what was presented to
them, often cunning to deal with it. Mr. Dillwyn was in danger of
smiling, more than once. And Lois met them, if not with the skill of a
practised logician, with the quick wit of a woman's intuition and a
woman's loving sympathy, armed with knowledge, and penetration, and
tact, and gentleness, and wisdom. It was something delightful to hear
her soft accents answer them, with such hidden strength under their
softness; it was charming to see her gentleness and patience, and
eagerness too; for Lois was talking with all her heart. Mr. Dillwyn
lost his wonder that her class came out in the rain; he only wished he
could be one of them, and have the privilege too!

It was impossible but that with all this mental observation Mr.
Dillwyn's eyes should also take notice of the fair exterior before
them. They would not have been worthy to see it else. Lois had laid off
her bonnet in the hot little room; it had left her hair a little
loosened and disordered; yet not with what deserved to be called
disorder; it was merely a softening and lifting of the rich, full
masses, adding to the grace of the contour, not taking from it. Nothing
could be plainer than the girl's dress; all the more the observer's eye
noted the excellent lines of the figure and the natural charm of every
movement and attitude. The charm that comes, and always must come, from
inward refinement and delicacy, when combined with absence of
consciousness; and which can only be helped, not produced, by any
perfection of the physical structure. Then the tints of absolute
health, and those low, musical, sensitive tones, flowing on in such
sweet modulations--

What a woman was this! Mr. Dillwyn could see, too, the effect of Mrs.
Barclay's work. He was sure he could. The whole giving of that Bible
lesson betrayed the refinement of mental training and culture; even the
management of the voice told of it. Here was not a fine machine, sound
and good, yet in need of regulating, and working, and lubricating to
get it in order; all that had been done, and the smooth running told
how well. By degrees Mr. Dillwyn forgot the lesson, and the class, and
the schoolhouse, and remembered but one thing any more; and that was
Lois. His head and heart grew full of her. He had been in the grasp of
a strong fancy before; a fancy strong enough to make him spend money,
and spend time, for the possible attainment of its object; now it was
fancy no longer. He had made up his mind, as a man makes it up once for
all; not to try to win Lois, but to have her. She, he saw, was as yet
ungrazed by any corresponding feeling towards him. That made no
difference. Philip Dillwyn had one object in life from this time. He
hardly saw or heard Lois's leave-takings with her class, but as she
came up to him he rose.

"I have kept you too long, Mr. Dillwyn; but I could not help it; and
really, you know, it was your own fault."

"Not a minute too long," he assured her; and he put on her cloak and
handed her her bonnet with grave courtesy, and a manner which Lois
would have said was absorbed, but for a certain element in it which
even then struck her. They set out upon their homeward way, but the
walk home was not as the walk out had been. The rain and the wind were
unchanged; the wind, indeed, had an added touch of waywardness as they
more nearly faced it, going this way; and the rain was driven against
them with greater fury. Lois was fain to cling to her companion's arm,
and the umbrella had to be handled with discretion. But the storm had
been violent enough before, and it was no feature of that which made
the difference. Neither was it the fact that both parties were now
almost silent, whereas on the way out they had talked incessantly;
though it was a fact. Perhaps Lois was tired with talking, seeing she
had been doing nothing else for two hours, but what ailed Philip? And
what gave the walk its new character? Lois did not know, though she
felt it in every fibre of her being. And Mr. Dillwyn did not know,
though the cause lay in him. He was taking care of Lois; he had been
taking care of her before; but now, unconsciously, he was doing it as a
man only does it for one woman in the world. Hardly more careful of
her, yet with that indefinable something in the manner of it, which
Lois felt even in the putting on of her cloak in the schoolhouse. It
was something she had never touched before in her life, and did not now
know what it meant; at least I should say her _reason_ did not know;
yet nature answered to nature infallibly, and by some hidden intuition
of recognition the girl was subdued and dumb. This was nothing like Tom
Caruthers, and anything she had received from him. Tom had been
flattering, demonstrative, obsequious; there was no flattery here, and
no demonstration, and nothing could be farther from obsequiousness. It
was the delicate reverence which a man gives to only one woman of all
the world; something that must be felt and cannot be feigned; the most
subtle incense of worship one human spirit can render to another; which
the one renders and the other receives, without either being able to
tell how it is done. The more is the incense sweet, penetrating,
powerful. Lois went home silently, through the rain and wind, and did
not know why a certain mist of happiness seemed to encompass her. She
was ignorant why the storm was so very beneficent in its action; did
not know why the wind was so musical and the rain so refreshing; could
not guess why she was sorry to get home. Yet the fact was before her as
she stepped in.

"It has done you no harm!" said Mr. Dillwyn, smiling, as he met Lois's
eyes, and saw her fresh, flushed cheeks. "Are you wet?"

"I think not at all."

"This must come off, however," he went on, proceeding to unfasten her
cloak; "it has caught more rain-drops than you know." And Lois
submitted, and meekly stood still and allowed the cloak, very wet on
one side, to be taken off her.

"Where is this to go? there seems to be no place to hang it here."

"O, I will hang it up to dry in the kitchen, thank you," said Lois,
offering to take it.

"_I_ will hang it up to dry in the kitchen,--if you will show me the
way. You cannot handle it."

Lois could have laughed, for did she not handle everything? and did wet
or dry make any difference to her? However, she did not on this
occasion feel like contesting the matter; but with unwonted docility
preceded Mr. Dillwyn through the sitting-room, where were Mrs. Armadale
and Madge, to the kitchen beyond, where Charity was just putting on the
tea-kettle.



CHAPTER XXXV.



OPINIONS.



Mr. Dillwyn rejoined Mrs. Barclay in her parlour, but he was a less
entertaining man this evening than he had been during the former part
of his visit. Mrs. Barclay saw it, and smiled, and sighed. Even at the
tea-table things were not like last evening. Philip entered into no
discussions, made no special attempts to amuse anybody, attended to his
duties in the unconscious way of one with whom they have become second
nature, and talked only so much as politeness required. Mrs. Barclay
looked at Lois, but could tell nothing from the grave face there.
Always on Sunday evenings it had a very fair, sweet gravity.

The rest of the time, after tea, was spent in making music. It had
become a usual Sunday evening entertainment. Mrs. Barclay played, and
she and the two girls sang. It was all sacred music, of course, varied
exceedingly, however, by the various tastes of the family. Old hymn and
psaulm tunes were what Mrs. Armadale liked; and those generally came
first; then the girls had more modern pieces, and with those Mrs.
Barclay interwove an anthem or a chant now and then. Madge and Lois
both had good voices and good natural taste and feeling; and Mrs.
Barclay's instructions had been eagerly received. This evening Philip
joined the choir; and Charity declared it was "better'n they could do
in the Episcopal church."

"Do they have the best singing in the Episcopal church?" asked Philip
absently.

"Well, they set up to; and you see they give more time to it. Our folks
won't practise."

"I don't care how folk's voices sound, if their hearts _are_ in it,"
said Mrs. Armadale.

"But you may notice, voices sound better if hearts are in it," said
Dillwyn. "That made a large part of the beauty of our concert this
evening."

"Was your'n in it?" asked Mrs. Armadale abruptly.

"My heart? In the words? I am afraid I must own it was not, in the way
you mean, madam. If I must answer truth."

"Don't you always speak truth?"

"I believe I may say, that _is_ my habit," Philip answered, smiling.

"Then, do you think you ought to sing sech words, if you don't mean
'em?"

The question looks abrupt, on paper. It did not sound equally so.
Something of earnest wistfulness there was in the old lady's look and
manner, a touch of solemnity in her voice, which made the gentleman
forgive her on the spot. He sat down beside her.

"Would you bid me not join in singing such words, then?"

"It's not my place to bid or forbid. But you can judge for yourself. Do
you set much valley on professions that mean nothing?"

"I made no professions."

"Ain't it professin', when you say what the hymns say?"

"If you will forgive me--I did not say it," responded Philip.

"Ain't singin' sayin'?"

"They are generally looked upon as essentially different. People are
never held responsible for the things they sing,--out of church," added
Philip, smiling. "Is it otherwise with church singing?"

"What's church singin' good for, then?"

"I thought it was to put the minds of the worshippers in a right
state;--to sober and harmonize them."

"I thought it was to tell the Lord how we felt," said the old lady.

"That is a new view of it, certainly."

"_I_ thought the words was to tell one how we had ought to feel!" said
Charity. "There wouldn't more'n one in a dozen sing, mother, if you had
_your_ way; and then we should have nice music!"

"I think it would be nice music," said the old lady, with a kind of
sober tremble in her voice, which somehow touched Philip. The ring of
truth was there, at any rate.

"Could the world be managed," he said, with very gentle deference;
"could the world be managed on such principles of truth and purity?
Must we not take people as we find them?"

"Those are the Lord's principles," said Mrs. Armadale.

"Yes, but you know how the world is. Must we not, a little, as I said,
take people as we find them?"

"The Lord won't do that," said the old lady. "He will either make them
better, or he will cast them away."

"But we? We must deal with things as they are."

"How are you goin' to deal with 'em?"

"In charity and kindness; having patience with what is wrong, and
believing that the good God will have more patience yet."

"You had better believe what he tells you," the old lady answered,
somewhat sternly.

"But grandmother," Lois put in here, "he _does_ have patience."

"With whom, child?"

Lois did not answer; she only quoted softly the words--

"'Plenteous in mercy, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth.'"

"Ay, child; but you know what happens to the houses built on the sand."

The party broke up here, Mrs. Barclay bidding good-night and leaving
the dining-room, whither they had all gone to eat apples. As Philip
parted from Lois he remarked,--

"I did not understand the allusion in Mrs. Armadale's last words."

Lois's look fascinated him. It was just a moment's look, pausing before
turning away; swift with eagerness and intent with some hidden feeling
which he hardly comprehended. She only said,--

"Look in the end of the seventh chapter of Matthew."

"Well," said Mrs. Barclay, when the door was closed, "what do you think
of our progress?"

"Progress?" repeated Philip vacantly. "I beg your pardon!"--

"In music, man!" said Mrs. Barclay, laughing.

"O!--Admirable. Have you a Bible here?"

"A Bible?" Mrs. Barclay echoed. "Yes--there is a Bible in every room, I
believe. Yonder, on that table. Why? what do you want of one now?"

"I have had a sermon preached to me, and I want to find the text."

Mrs. Barclay asked no further, but she watched him, as with the book in
his hand he sat down before the fire and studied the open page. Studied
with grave thoughtfulness, drawing his brows a little, and pondering
with eyes fixed on the words for some length of time. Then he bade her
good-night with a smile, and went away.

He went away in good earnest next day; but as a subject of conversation
in the village his visit lasted a good while. That same evening Mrs.
Marx came to make a call, just before supper.

"How much pork are you goin' to want this year, mother?" she began,
with the business of one who had been stirring her energies with a walk
in a cool wind.

"I suppose, about as usual," said Mrs. Armadale.

"I forget how much that is; I can't keep it in my head from one year to
another. Besides, I didn't know but you'd want an extra quantity, if
your family was goin' to be larger."

"It is not going to be larger, as I know."

"If my pork ain't, I shall come short home. It beats me! I've fed 'em
just the same as usual,--and the corn's every bit as good as usual,
never better; good big fat yellow ears, that had ought to make a
porker's heart dance for joy; and I should think they were sufferin'
from continual lowness o' spirits, to judge by the way they _don't_ get
fat. They're growing real long-legged and slab-sided--just the way I
hate to see pigs look. I don' know what's the matter with 'em."

"Where do you keep 'em?"

"Under the barn--just where they always be. Well, you've had a visitor?"

"Mrs. Barclay has."

"I understood 'twas her company; but you saw him?"

"We saw him as much as she did," put in Charity.

"What's he like?"

Nobody answered.

"Is he one of your high-flyers?"

"I don't know what you call high-flyers, aunt Anne," said Madge. "He
was a gentleman."

"What do you mean by _that?_ I saw some 'gentlemen' last summer at
Appledore--and I don't want to see no more. Was he that kind?"

"I wasn't there," said Madge,  "and can't tell. I should have no
objection to see a good many of them, if he is."

"I heard he went to Sunday School with Lois, through the rain."

"How did you know?" said Lois.

"Why shouldn't I know?"

"I thought nobody was out but me."

"Do you think folks will see an umbrella walkin' up street in the rain,
and not look to see if there's somebody under it?"

"_I_ shouldn't," said Lois. "When should an umbrella be out walking,
but in the rain?"

"Well, go along. What sort of a man is he? and what brings him to
Shampuashuh?"

"He came to see Mrs. Barclay," said Madge.

"He's a sort of man you are willin' to take trouble for," said Charity.
"Real nice, and considerate; and to hear him talk, it is as good as a
book; and he's awfully polite. You should have seen him marching in
here with Lois's wet cloak, out to the kitchen with it, and hangin' it
up. So to pay, I turned round and hung up his'n. One good turn deserves
another, I told him. But at first, I declare, I thought I couldn't keep
from laughin'."

Mrs. Marx laughed a little here. "I know the sort," she said. "Wears
kid gloves always and a little line of hair over his upper lip, and is
lazy like. I would lose all my patience to have one o' them round for
long, smokin' a cigar every other thing, and poisonin' all the air for
half a mile."

"I think he _is_ sort o' lazy," said Charity.

"He don't smoke," said Lois.

"Yes he does," said Madge. "I found an end of cigar just down by the
front steps, when I was sweeping."

"I don't think he's a lazy man, either," said Lois. "That slow, easy
way does not mean laziness."

"What does it mean?" inquired Mrs. Marx sharply.

"It is nothing to us what it means," said Mrs. Armadale, speaking for
the first time. "We have no concern with this man. He came to see Mrs.
Barclay, his friend, and I suppose he'll never come again."

"Why shouldn't he come again, mother?" said Charity. "If she's his
friend, he might want to see her more than once, seems to me. And
what's more, he _is_ coming again. I heard him askin' her if he might;
and then Mrs. Barclay asked me if it would be convenient, and I said it
would, of course. He said he would be comin' back from Boston in a few
weeks, and he would like to stop again as he went by. And do you know
_I_ think she coloured. It was only a little, but she ain't a woman to
blush much; and _I_ believe she knows why he wants to come, as well as
he does."

"Nonsense, Charity!" said Madge incredulously.

"Then half the world are busy with nonsense, that's all I have to say;
and I'm glad for my part I've somethin' better to do."

"Do you say he's comin' again?" inquired Mrs. Armadale.

"He says so, mother."

"What for?"

"Why, to visit his friend Mrs. Barclay, of course."

"She is our friend," said the old lady; "and her friends must be
entertained; but he is not _our_ friend, children. We ain't of his
kind, and he ain't of our'n."

"What's the matter? Ain't he good?" asked Mrs. Marx.

"He's _very_ good!" said Madge.

"Not in grandmother's way," said Lois softly.

"Mother," said Mrs. Marx, "you can't have everybody cut out on your
pattern."

Mrs. Armadale made no answer.

"And there ain't enough o' your pattern to keep one from bein'
lonesome, if we're to have nothin' to do with the rest."

"Better so," said the old lady. "I don't want no company for my chil'en
that won't help 'em on the road to heaven. They'll have company enough
when they get there."

"And how are you goin' to be the salt o' the earth, then, if you won't
touch nothin'?"

"How, if the salt loses its saltness, daughter?"

"Well, mother, it always puzzles me, that there's so much to be said on
both sides of things! I'll go home and think about it. Then he ain't
one o' your Appledore friends, Lois?"

"Not one of my friends at all, aunt Anne."

So the talk ended. There was a little private extension of it that
evening, when Lois and Madge went up to bed.

"It's a pity grandma is so sharp about things," the latter remarked to
her sister.

"Things?" said Lois. "What things?"

"Well--people. Don't you like that Mr. Dillwyn?"

"Yes."

"So do I. And she don't want us to have anything to do with him."

"But she is right," said Lois. "He is not a Christian."

"But one can't live only with Christians in this world. And, Lois, I'll
tell you what I think; he is a great deal pleasanter than a good many
Christians I know."

"He is good company," said Lois. "He has seen a great deal and read a
great deal, and he knows how to talk. That makes him pleasant."

"Well, he's a great deal more improving to be with than anybody I know
in Shampuashuh."

"In one way."

"Why shouldn't one have the pleasure, then, and the good, if he isn't a
Christian?"

"The pleasanter he is, I suppose the more danger, grandmother would
think."

"Danger of what?"

"You know, Madge, it is not my say-so, nor even grandmother's. You
know, Christians are not of the world."

"But they must _see_ the world."

"If we were to see much of that sort of person, we might get to wishing
to see them always."

"By 'that sort of person' I suppose you mean Mr. Dillwyn? Well, I have
got so far as that already. I wish I could see such people always."

"I am sorry."

"Why? You ought to be glad at my good taste."

"I am sorry, because you are wishing for what you cannot have."

"How do you know that? You cannot tell what may happen."

"Madge, a man like Mr. Dillwyn would never think of a girl like you or
me."

"I am not wanting him to think of me," said Madge rather hotly. "But,
Lois, if you come to that, I think I--and you--are fit for anybody."

"Yes," said Lois quietly. "I think so too. But _they_ do not take the
same view. And if they did, Madge, we could not think of them."

"Why not?--_if_ they did. I do not hold quite such extreme rules as you
and grandmother do."

"And the Bible."--

"Other people do not think the Bible is so strict."

"You know what the words are, Madge."

"I don't know what the words mean."

Lois was brushing out the thick masses of her beautiful hair, which
floated about over her in waves of golden brown; and Madge had been
thinking, privately, that if anybody could have just that view of Lois,
his scruples--if he had any--would certainly give way. Now, at her
sister's last words, however, Lois laid down her brush, and, coming up,
laid hold of Madge by the shoulders and gave her a gentle shaking. It
ended in something of a romp, but Lois declared Madge should never say
such a thing again.



CHAPTER XXXVI.



TWO SUNDAY SCHOOLS.



Lois was inclined now to think it might be quite as well if something
hindered Mr. Dillwyn's second visit. She did not wonder at Madge's
evident fascination; she had felt the same herself long ago, and in
connection with other people; the charm of good breeding and gracious
manners, and the habit of the world, even apart from knowledge and
cultivation and the art of conversation. Yes, Mr. Dillwyn was a good
specimen of this sort of attraction; and for a moment Lois's
imagination recalled that day's two walks in the rain; then she shook
off the impression. Two poor Shampuashuh girls were not likely to have
much to do with that sort of society, and--it was best they should not.
It would be just as well if Mr. Dillwyn was hindered from coming again.

But he came. A month had passed; it was the beginning of December when
he knocked next at the door, and cold and grey and cloudy and windy as
it is December's character in certain moods to be. The reception he got
was hearty in proportion; fires were larger, the table even more
hospitably spread; Mrs. Barclay even more cordial, and the family
atmosphere not less genial. Nevertheless the visit, for Mr. Dillwyn's
special ends, was hardly satisfactory. He could get no private speech
with Lois. She was always "busy;" and at meal-times it was obviously
impossible, and would have been impolitic, to pay any particular
attention to her. Philip did not attempt it. He talked rather to every
one else; made himself delightful company; but groaned in secret.

"Cannot you make some excuse for getting her in here?" he asked Mrs.
Barclay at evening.

"Not without her sister."

"With her sister, then."

"They are very busy just now preparing some thing they call 'apple
butter.' It's unlucky, Philip. I am very sorry. I always told you your
way looked to me intricate."

Fortune favoured him, however, in an unexpected way. After a day passed
in much inward impatience, for he had not got a word with Lois, and he
had no excuse for prolonging his stay beyond the next day, as they sat
at supper, the door opened, and in came two ladies. Mr. Dillwyn was
formally presented to one of them as to "my aunt, Mrs. Marx;" the other
was named as "Mrs. Seelye." The latter was a neat, brisk little body,
with a capable air and a mien of business; all whose words came out as
if they had been nicely picked and squared, and sorted and packed, and
served in order.

"Sorry to interrupt, Mrs. Armadale" she began, in a chirruping little
voice. Indeed, her whole air was that of a notable little hen looking
after her chickens. Charity assured her it was no interruption.

"Mrs. Seelye and I had our tea hours ago," said Mrs. Marx. "I had
muffins for her, and we ate all we could then. We don't want no more
now. We're on business."

"Yes," said Mrs. Seelye. "Mrs. Marx and I, we've got to see everybody,
pretty much; and there ain't much time to do it in; so you see we can't
choose, and we just come here to see what you'll do for us."

"What do you want us to do for you, Mrs. Seelye?" Lois asked.

"Well, I don't know; only all you can. We want your counsel, and then
your help. Mr. Seelye he said, Go to the Lothrop girls first. I didn't
come _first_, 'cause there was somebody else on my way here; but this
is our fourth call, ain't it, Mrs. Marx?"

"I thought I'd never get you away from No. 3," was the answer.

"They were very much interested,--and I wanted to make them all
understand--it was important that they should all understand--"

"And there are different ways of understanin'," added Mrs. Marx; "and
there are a good many of 'em--the Hicks's, I mean; and so, when we
thought we'd got it all right with one, we found somebody else was in a
fog; and then _he_ had to be fetched out."



"But we are all in a fog," said Madge, laughing. "What are you coming
to? and what are we to understand?"

"We have a little plan," said Mrs. Seelye.

"It'll be a big one, before we get through with it," added her
coadjutor. "Nobody'll be frightened here if you call it a big one to
start with, Mrs. Seelye. I like to look things in the face."

"So do we," said Mrs. Armadale, with a kind of grim humour,--"if you
will give us a chance."

"Well, it's about the children," said Mrs. Seelye.

"Christmas--" added Mrs. Marx.

"Be quiet, Anne," said her mother. "Go on, Mrs. Seelye. Whose children?"

"I might say, they are all Mr. Seelye's children," said the little
lady, laughing; "and so they are in a way, as they are all belonging to
his church. He feels he is responsible for the care of 'em, and he
_don't_ want to lose 'em. And that's what it's all about, and how the
plan came up."

"How's he goin' to lose 'em?" Mrs. Armadale asked, beginning now to
knit again.

"Well, you see the other church is makin' great efforts; and they're
goin' to have a tree."

"What sort of a tree? and what do they want a tree for?"

"Why, a fir tree!"--and, "Why, a Christmas tree!" cried the two ladies
who advocated the "plan," both in a breath.

"Mother don't know about that," Mrs. Marx went on. "It's a new fashion,
mother,--come up since your day. They have a green tree, planted in a
tub, and hung with all sorts of things to make it look pretty; little
candles especially; and at night they light it up; and the children are
tickled to death with it."

"In-doors?"

"Why, of course in-doors. Couldn't be out-of-doors, in the snow."

"I didn't know," said the old lady; "I don't understand the new
fashions. I should think they would burn up the house, if it's
in-doors."

"O no, no danger," explained Mrs. Seelye. "They make them wonderfully
pretty, with the branches all hung full with glass balls, and candles,
and ribbands, and gilt toys, and papers of sugar plums--cornucopia, you
know; and dolls, and tops, and jacks, and trumpets, and whips, and
everything you can think of,--till it is as full as it can be, and the
branches hang down with the weight; and it looks like a fairy tree; and
then the heavy presents lie at the foot round about and cover the tub."

"I should think the children would be delighted," said Madge.

"I don't believe it's as much fun as Santa Claus and the stocking,"
said Lois.

"No, nor I," said Mrs. Barclay.

"But we have nothing to do with the children's stockings," said Mrs.
Seelye. "They may hang up as many as they like. That's at home. This is
in the church."

"O, in the church! I thought you said it was in the house--in people's
houses," said Charity.

"So it is; but _this_ tree is to be in the church."

"What tree?"

"La! how stupid you are, Charity," exclaimed her aunt. "Didn't Mrs.
Seelye tell you?--the tree the other church are gettin' up."

"Oh--" said Charity. "Well, you can't hinder 'em, as I see."

"Don't want to hinder 'em! What should we hinder 'em for? But we don't
want 'em to get all our chil'en away; that's what we're lookin' at."

"Do you think they'd go?"

"Mr. Seelye's afraid it'll thin off the school dreadful," said Mr.
Seelye's helpmate.

"They're safe to go," added Mrs. Marx. "Ask children to step in and see
fairyland, and why shouldn't they go? I'd go if I was they. All the
rest of the year it ain't fairyland in Shampuashuh. I'd go fast enough."

"Then I don't see what you are goin' to do about it," said Charity,
"but to sit down and count your chickens that are left."

"That's what we came to tell you," said the minister's wife.

"Well, tell," said Charity. "You haven't told yet, only what the other
church is going to do."

"Well, we thought the only way was for us to do somethin' too."

"Only not another tree," said Lois. "Not that, for pity's sake."

"Why not?" asked the little minister's wife, with an air of being
somewhat taken aback. "Why haven't we as good a right to have a tree as
they have?"

"_Right_, if you like," said Lois; "but right isn't all."

"Go on, and let's hear your wisdom, Lois," said her aunt. "I s'pose
you'll say first, we can't do it."

"We can do it, perhaps," said Lois; "but, aunt Anne, it would make bad
feeling."

"That's not our look-out," rejoined Mrs. Marx. "We haven't any bad
feeling."

"No, not in the least," added Mrs. Seelye. "_We_ only want to give our
children as good a time as the others have. That's right."

"'Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory,'" Mrs. Armadale's
voice was here heard to say.

"Yes, I know, mother, you have old-fashioned ideas," said Mrs. Marx;
"but the world ain't as it used to be when you was a girl. Now
everybody's puttin' steam on; and churches and Sunday schools as well
as all the rest. We have organs, and choirs, and concerts, and
celebrations, and fairs, and festivals; and if we don't go with the
crowd, they'll leave us behind, you see."

"I don't believe in it all!" said Mrs. Armadale.

"Well, mother, we've got to take the world as we find it. Now the
children all through the village are all agog with the story of what
the yellow church is goin' to do; and if the white church don't do
somethin', they'll all run t'other way--that you may depend on.
Children are children."

"I sometimes think the grown folks are children," said the old lady.

"Well, we ought to be children," said Mrs. Seelye; "I am sure we all
know that. But Mr. Seelye thought this was the only thing we could do."

"There comes in the second difficulty, Mrs. Seelye," said Lois. "We
cannot do it."

"I don't see why we cannot. We've as good a place for it, quite."

"I mean, we cannot do it satisfactorily. It will not be the same thing.
We cannot raise the money. Don't it take a good deal?"

"Well, it takes considerable. But I think, if we all try, we can scare
it up somehow."

Lois shook her head. "The other church is richer than we are," she said.

"That's a fact," said Charity.

Mrs. Seelye hesitated. "I don't know," she said,--"they have one or two
rich men. Mr. Georges--"

"O, and Mr. Flare," cried Madge, "and Buck, and Setterdown; and the
Ropers and the Magnuses."

"Yes," said Mrs. Seelye; "but we have more people, and there's none of
'em to call poor. If we get 'em interested--and those we have spoken to
are very much taken with the plan--very much; I think it would be a
great disappointment now if we were to stop; and the children have got
talking about it. I think we can do it; and it would be a very good
thing for the whole church, to get 'em interested."

"You can always get people interested in play," said Mrs. Armadale.
"What you want, is to get 'em interested in work."

"There'll be a good deal of work about this, before it's over," said
Mrs. Seelye, with a pleased chuckle. "And I think, when they get their
pride up, the money will be coming."

Mrs. Marx made a grimace, but said nothing.

"'When pride cometh, than cometh shame,'" said Mrs. Armadale quietly.

"O yes, some sorts of pride," said the little minister's wife briskly;
"but I mean a proper sort. We don't want to let our church go down, and
we don't want to have our Sunday school thinned out; and I can tell
you, where the children go, there the fathers and mothers will be
going, next thing."

"What do you propose to do?" said Lois. "We have not fairly heard yet."

"Well, we thought we'd have some sort of celebration, and give the
school a jolly time somehow. We'd dress up the church handsomely with
evergreens; and have it well lighted; and then, we would have a
Christmas tree if we could. Or, if we couldn't, then we'd have a real
good hot supper, and give the children presents. But I'm afraid, if we
don't have a tree, they'll all run off to the other church; and I think
they're going already, so as to get asked. Mr. Seelye said the
attendance was real thin last Sabbath."

There followed an animated discussion of the whole subject, with every
point brought up again, and again and again. The talkers were, for the
most part, Charity and Madge, with the two ladies who had come in; Mrs.
Armadale rarely throwing in a word, which always seemed to have a
disturbing power; and things were taken up and gone over anew to get
rid of the disturbance. Lois sat silent and played with her spoon. Mrs.
Barclay and Philip listened with grave amusement.

"Well, I can't sit here all night," said Charity at last, rising from
behind her tea-board. "Madge and Lois,--just jump up and put away the
things, won't you; and hand me up the knives and plates. Don't trouble
yourself, Mrs. Barclay. If other folks in the village are as busy as I
am, you'll come short home for your Christmas work, Mrs. Seelye."

"It's the busy people always that help," said the little lady
propitiatingly.

"That's a fact; but I don't see no end o' this to take hold of. You
hain't got the money; and if you had it, you don't know what you want;
and if you did know, it ain't in Shampuashuh; and I don't see who is to
go to New York or New Haven, shopping for you. And if you had it, who
knows how to fix a Christmas tree? Not a soul in our church."

Mrs. Barclay and her guest withdrew at this point of the discussion.
But later, when the visitors were gone, she opened the door of her
room, and said,

"Madge and Lois, can you come in here for a few minutes? It is
business."

The two girls came in, Madge a little eagerly; Lois, Mrs. Barclay
fancied, with a manner of some reserve.

"Mr. Dillwyn has something to suggest," she began, "about this plan we
have heard talked over; that is, if you care about it's being carried
into execution."

"I care, of course," said Madge. "If it is to be done, I think it will
be great fun."

"If it is to be done," Lois repeated. "Grandmother does not approve of
it; and I always think, what she does not like, I must not like."

"Always?" asked Mr. Dillwyn.

"I try to have it always. Grandmother thinks that the way--the best
way--to keep a Sunday school together, is to make the lessons
interesting."

"I am sure she is right!" said Mr. Dillwyn.

"But to the point," said Mrs. Barclay. "Lois, they will do this thing,
I can see. The question now is, do you care whether it is done ill or
well?"

"Certainly! If it is done, I should wish it to be as well done as
possible. Failure is more than failure."

"How about ways and means?"

"Money? O, if the people all set their hearts on it, they could do it
well enough. But they are slow to take hold of anything out of the
common run they are accustomed to. The wheels go in ruts at
Shampuashuh."

"Shampuashuh is not the only place," said Philip. "Then will you let an
outsider help?"

"Help? We would be very glad of help," said Madge; but Lois remarked,
"I think the church ought to do it themselves, if they want to do it."

"Well, hear my plan," said Mr. Dillwyn. "I think you objected to two
rival trees?"

"I object to rival anythings," said Lois; "in church matters
especially."

"Then I propose that no tree be set up, but instead, that you let Santa
Claus come in with his sledge."

"Santa Claus!" cried Lois. "Who would be Santa Claus?"

"An old man in a white mantle, his head and beard covered with snow and
fringed with icicles; his dress of fur; his sledge a large one, and
well heaped up with things to delight the children. What do you think?"

Madge's colour rose, and Lois's eye took a sparkle; both were silent.
Then Madge spoke.

"I don't see how that plan could be carried out, any more than the
other. It is a great deal _better_, it is magnificent; but it is a
great deal too magnificent for Shampuashuh."

"Why so?"

"Nobody here knows how to do it."

"I know how."

"You! O but,--that would be too much--"

"All you have to do is to get the other things ready, and let it be
known that at the proper time Santa Claus will appear, with a
well-furnished sled. Sharp on time."

"Well-furnished!--but there again--I don't believe we can raise money
enough for that."

"How much money?" asked Dillwyn, with an amused smile.

"O, I can't tell--I suppose a hundred dollars at least."

"I have as much as that lying useless--it may just as well do some
good. It never was heard that anybody but Santa Claus furnished his own
sled. If you will allow me, I will take care of that."

"How splendid!" cried Madge. "But it is too much; it wouldn't be right
for us to let you do all that for a church that is nothing to you."

"On the contrary, you ought to encourage me in my first endeavours to
make myself of some use in the world. Miss Madge, I have never, so far,
done a bit of good in my life."

"O, Mr. Dillwyn! I cannot believe that. People do not grow useful so
all of a sudden, without practice," said Madge, hitting a great general
truth.

"It is a fact, however," said he, half lightly, and yet evidently
meaning what he said. "I have lived thirty-two years in the
world--nearly thirty-three--without making my life of the least use to
anybody so far as I know. Do you wonder that I seize a chance?"

Lois's eyes were suddenly lifted, and then as suddenly lowered; she did
not speak.

"I can read that," he said laughingly, for his eyes had caught the
glance. "You mean, if I am so eager for chances, I might make them!
Miss Lois, I do not know how."

"Come, Philip," said Mrs. Barclay, "you are making your character
unnecessarily bad. I know you better than that. Think what you have
done for me."

"I beg your pardon," said he. "Think what you have done for me. That
score cannot be reckoned to my favour. Have no scruples, Miss Madge,
about employing me. Though I believe Miss Lois thinks the good of this
undertaking a doubtful one. How many children does your school number?"

"All together,--and they would be sure for once to be all
together!--there are a hundred and fifty."

"Have you the names?"

"O, certainly."

"And ages--proximately?"

"Yes, that too."

"And you know something, I suppose, about many of them; something about
their families and conditions?"

"About _all_ of them?" said Madge. "Yes, indeed we do."

"Till Mrs. Barclay came, you must understand," put in Lois here, "we
had nothing, or not much, to study besides Shampuashuh; so we studied
that."

"And since Mrs. Barclay came?--" asked Philip.

"O, Mrs. Barclay has been opening one door after another of knowledge,
and we have been peeping in."

"And what special door offers most attraction to your view, of them
all?"

"I don't know. I think, perhaps, for me, geology and mineralogy; but
almost every one helps in the study of the Bible."

"O, do they!" said Dillwyn somewhat dryly.

"I like music best," said Madge.

"But that is not a door into knowledge," objected Lois.

"I meant, of all the doors Mrs. Barclay has opened to us."

"Mrs. Barclay is a favoured person."

"It is we that are favoured," said Madge. "Our life is a different
thing since she came. We hope she will never go away." Then Madge
coloured, with some sudden thought, and she went back to the former
subject. "Why do you ask about the children's ages and all that, Mr.
Dillwyn?"

"I was thinking-- When a thing is to be done, I like to do it well. It
occurred to me, that as Santa Claus must have something on his sledge
for each one, it might be good, if possible, to secure some adaptation
or fitness in the gift. Those who would like books should have books,
and the right books; and playthings had better not go astray, if we can
help it; and perhaps the poorer children would be better for articles
of clothing.--I am only throwing out hints."

"Capital hints!" said Lois. "You mean, if we can tell what would be
good for each one--I think we can, pretty nearly. But there are few
_poor_ people in Shampuashuh, Mr. Dillwyn."

"Shampuashuh is a happy place."

"This plan will give you an immensity of work, Mr. Dillwyn."

"What then?"

"I have scruples. It is not fair to let you do it. What is Shampuashuh
to you?"

"It might be difficult to make that computation," said Mr. Dillwyn
dryly. "Have no scruples, Miss Lois. As I told you, I have nothing
better to do with myself. If you can make me useful, it will be a rare
chance."

"But there are plenty of other things to do, Mr. Dillwyn," said Lois.

He gave her only a glance and smile by way of answer, and plunged
immediately into the business question with Madge. Lois sat by, silent
and wondering, till all was settled that could be settled that evening,
and she and Madge went back to the other room.



CHAPTER XXXVII.



AN OYSTER SUPPER.



"Hurrah!" cried Madge, but softly--"Now it will go! Mother! what do you
think? Guess, Charity! Mr. Dillwyn is going to take our Sunday school
celebration on himself; he's going to do it; and we're to have, not a
stupid Christmas tree, but Santa Claus and his sled; and he'll be Santa
Claus! Won't it be fun?"

"Who'll be Santa Claus?" said Charity, looking stupefied.

"Mr. Dillwyn. In fact, he'll be Santa Claus and his sled too; he'll do
the whole thing. All we have got to do is to dress the children and
ourselves, and light up the church."

"Will the committees like that?"

"Like it? Of course they will! Like it, indeed! Don't you see it will
save them all expense? They'll have nothing to do but dress up and
light up."

"And warm up too, I hope. What makes Mr. Dillwyn do all that? I don't
just make out."

"I'll tell you," said Madge, shaking her finger at the others
impressively. "He's after Mrs. Barclay. So this gives him a chance to
come here again, don't you see?"

"After Mrs. Barclay?" repeated Charity. "I want to know!"

"I don't believe it," said Lois. "She is too old for him."

"She's not old," said Madge. "And he is no chicken, my dear. You'll
see. It's she he's after. He's coming next time as Santa Claus, that's
all. And we have got to make out a list of things--things for
presents,--for every individual girl and boy in the Sunday school;
there's a job for you. Santa Claus will want a big sled."

"_Who_ is going to do _what?_" inquired Mrs. Armadale here. "I don't
understand, you speak so fast, children."

"Mother, instead of a Christmas tree, we are going to have Santa Claus
and his sled; and the sled is to be heaped full of presents for all the
children; and Mr. Dillwyn is going to do it, and get the presents, and
be Santa Claus himself."

"How, _be_ Santa Claus?"

"Why, he will dress up like Santa Claus, and come in with his sled."

"Where?"

"In the church, grandmother; there is no other place. The other church
have their Sunday-school room you know; but we have none."

"They are going to have their tree in the church, though," said
Charity; "they reckon the Sunday-school room won't be big enough to
hold all the folks."

"Are they going to turn the church into a playhouse?" Mrs. Armadale
asked.

"It's for the sake of the church and the school, you know, mother.
Santa Claus will come in with his sled and give his presents,--that is
all. At least, that is all the play there will be."

"What else will there be?"

"O, there'll be singing, grandma," said Madge; "hymns and carols and
such things, that the children will sing; and speeches and prayers, I
suppose."

"The church used to be God's house, in my day," said the old lady, with
a concerned face, looking up from her knitting, while her fingers went
on with their work as busily as ever.

"They don't mean it for anything else, grandmother," said Madge. "It's
all for the sake of the school."

"Maybe they think so," the old lady answered.

"What else, mother? what else should it be?"

But this she did not answer.

"What's Mr. Dillwyn got to do with it?" she asked presently.

"He's going to help," said Madge. "It's nothing but kindness. He
supposes it is something good to do, and he says he'd like to be
useful."

"He hain't no idea how," said Mrs. Armadale, "Poor creatur'! You can
tell him, it ain't the Lord's work he's doin'."

"But we cannot tell him that, mother," said Lois.

"If the people want to have this celebration,--and they will,--hadn't
we better make it a good one? Is it really a bad thing?"

"The devil's ways never help no one to heaven, child, not if they go
singin' hymns all the way."

"But, mother!" cried Madge. "Mr. Dillwyn ain't a Christian, maybe, but
he ain't as bad as that."

"I didn't mean Mr. Dillwyn, dear, nor no one else. I meant theatre
work."

"_Santa Claus_, mother?"

"It's actin', ain't it?"

The girls looked at each other.

"There's very little of anything like acting about it," Lois said.

"'Make straight paths for your feet'!" said Mrs. Armadale, rising to go
to bed. "'Make straight paths for your feet,' children. Straight ways
is the shortest too. If the chil'en that don't love their teachers
wants to go to the yellow church, let 'em go. I'd rather have the Lord
in a little school, than Santa Claus in a big one."

She was leaving the room, but the girls stayed her and begged to know
what they should do in the matter of the lists they were engaged to
prepare for Mr. Dillwyn.

"You must do what you think best," she said. "Only don't be mixed up
with it all any more than you can help, Lois."

Why did the name of one child come to her lips and not the other? Did
the old lady's affection, or natural acuteness, discern that Mr.
Dillwyn was _not_ drawn to Shampuashuh by any particular admiration of
his friend Mrs. Barclay? Had she some of that preternatural intuition,
plain old country woman though she was, which makes a woman see the
invisible and hear the inaudible? which serves as one of the natural
means of defence granted to the weaker creatures. I do not know; I do
not think she knew; however, the warning was given, and not on that
occasion alone. And as Lois heeded all her grandmother's admonitions,
although in this case without the most remote perception of this
possible ground to them, it followed that Mr. Dillwyn gained less by
his motion than he had hoped and anticipated.

The scheme went forward, hailed by the whole community belonging to the
white church, with the single exception of Mrs. Armadale. It went
forward and was brought to a successful termination. I might say, a
triumphant termination; only the triumph was not for Mr. Dillwyn, or
not in the line where he wanted it. He did his part admirably. A better
Santa Claus was never seen, nor a better filled sled. And genial
pleasantness, and wise management, and cool generalship, and fun and
kindness, were never better represented. So it was all through the
consultations and arrangements that preceded the festival, as well as
on the grand occasion itself; and Shampuashuh will long remember the
time with wonder and exultation; but it was Madge who was Mr. Dillwyn's
coadjutor and fellow-counsellor. It was Madge and Mrs. Barclay who
helped him in all the work of preparing and ticketing the parcels for
the sled; as well as in the prior deliberations as to what the parcels
should be. Madge seemed to be the one at hand always to answer a
question. Madge went with him to the church; and in general, Lois,
though sympathizing and curious, and interested and amused, was very
much out of the play. Not so entirely as to make the fact striking;
only enough to leave Mr. Dillwyn disappointed and tantalized.

I am not going into a description of the festival and the show. The
children sang; the minister made a speech to them, not ten consecutive
words of which were listened to by three-quarters of the people. The
church was filled with men, women, and children; the walls were hung
with festoons and wreaths, and emblazoned with mottoes; the anthems and
carols followed each other till the last thread of patience in the
waiting crowd gave way. And at last came what they were waiting
for--Santa Claus, all fur robes and snow and icicles, dragging after
him a sledge that looked like a small mountain with the heap of
articles piled and packed upon it. And then followed a very busy and
delightful hour and a half, during which the business was--the
distribution of pleasure. It was such warm work for Santa Claus, that
at the time he had no leisure for thinking. Naturally, the thinking
came afterwards.

He and Mrs. Barclay sat by her fire, resting, after coming home from
the church. Dillwyn was very silent and meditative.

"You must be glad it is done, Philip," said his friend, watching him,
and wishing to get at his thoughts.

"I have no particular reason to be glad."

"You have done a good thing."

"I am not sure if it is a good thing. Mrs. Armadale does not think so."

"Mrs. Armadale has rather narrow notions."

"I don't know. I should be glad to be sure she is not right. It's
discouraging," he added, with half a smile;--"for the first time in my
life I set myself to work; and now am not at all certain that I might
not just as well have been idle."

"Work is a good thing in itself," said Mrs. Barclay, smiling.

"Pardon me!--work for an end. Work without an end--or with the end not
attained--it is no better than a squirrel in a wheel."

"You have given a great deal of pleasure."

"To the children! For ought I know, they might have been just as well
without it. There will be a reaction to-morrow, very likely; and then
they will wish they had gone to see the Christmas tree at the other
church."

"But they were kept at their own church."

"How do I know that is any good? Perhaps the teaching at the other
school is the best."

"You are tired," said Mrs. Barclay sympathizingly.

"Not that. I have done nothing to tire me; but it strikes me it is very
difficult to see one's ends in doing good; much more difficult than to
see the way to the ends."

"You have partly missed your end, haven't you?" said Mrs. Barclay
softly.

He moved a little restlessly in his chair; then got up and began to
walk about the room; then came and sat down again.

"What are you going to do next?" she asked in the same way.

"Suppose you invite them--the two girls--or her alone--to make you a
visit in New York?"

"Where?"

"At any hotel you prefer; say, the Windsor."

"O Philip, Philip!"--

"What?--You could have pleasant rooms, and be quite private and
comfortable; as much as if you were in your own house."

"And what should we cost you?"

"You are not thinking of _that?_" said he. "I will get you a house, if
you like it better; but then you would have the trouble of a staff of
servants. I think the Windsor would be much the easiest plan."

"You _are_ in earnest!"

"In earnest!" he repeated in surprise. "Have you ever questioned it?
You judge because you never saw me in earnest in anything before in my
life."

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Barclay. "I always knew it was in you. What you
wanted was only an object."

"What do you say to my plan?"

"I am afraid they would not come. There is the care of the old
grandmother; they would not leave everything to their sister alone."

"Tempt them with pictures and music, and the opera."

"The opera! Philip, she would not go to a theatre, or anything
theatrical, for any consideration. They are very strict on that point,
and Sunday-keeping, and dancing. Do not speak to her of the opera."

"They are not so far wrong. I never saw a decent opera yet in my life."

"Philip!" exclaimed Mrs. Barclay in the greatest surprise. "I never
heard you say anything like that before."

"I suppose it makes a difference," he said thoughtfully, "with what
eyes a man looks at a thing. And dancing--I don't think I care to see
her dance."

"Philip! You are extravagant."

"I believe I should be fit to commit murder if I saw her waltzing with
anybody."

"Jealous already?" said Mrs. Barclay slyly.

"If you like.--Do you see her as I see her?" he asked abruptly.

There was a tone in the last words which gave Mrs. Barclay's heart a
kind of constriction. She answered with gentle sympathy, "I think I do."

"I have seen handsomer women," he went on;--"Madge is handsomer, in a
way; you may see many women more beautiful, according to the rules; but
I never saw any one so lovely!"

"I quite agree with you," said Mrs. Barclay.

"I never saw anything so lovely!" he repeated. "She is most like--"

"A white lily," said Mrs. Barclay.

"No, that is not her type. No. As long as the world stands, a rose just
open will remain the fairest similitude for a perfect woman. It's
commonness cannot hinder that. She is not an unearthly Dendrobium, she
is an earthly rose--



   'Not too good
   For human nature's daily food,'



--if one could find the right sort of human nature! Just so fresh,
unconscious, and fair; with just such a dignity of purity about her. I
cannot fancy her at the opera, or dancing."

"A sort of unapproachable tea-rose?" said Mrs. Barclay, smiling at him,
though her eyes were wistful.

"No," said he, "a tea-rose is too fragile. There is nothing of that
about her, thank heaven!"

"No," said Mrs. Barclay, "there is nothing but sound healthy life about
her; mental and bodily; and I agree with you, sweet as ever a human
life can be. In the garden or at her books,--hark! that is for supper."

For here there came a slight tap on the door.

"Supper!" cried Philip.

"Yes; it is rather late, and the girls promised me a cup of coffee,
after your exertions! But I dare say everybody wants some refreshment
by this time. Come!"

There was a cheery supper table spread in the dining-room; coffee,
indeed, and Stoney Creek oysters, and excellently cooked. Only Charity
and Madge were there; Mrs. Armadale had gone to bed, and Lois was
attending upon her. Mr. DilIwyn, however, was served assiduously.

"I hope you're hungry! You've done a load of good this evening, Mr.
Dillwyn," said Charity, as she gave him his coffee.

"Thank you. I don't see the connection," said Philip, with an air as
different as possible from that he had worn in talking to Mrs. Barclay
in the next room.

"People ought to be hungry when they have done a great deal of work,"
Madge explained, as she gave him a plate of oysters.

"I do not feel that I have done any work."

"O, well! I suppose it was play to you," said Charity, "but that don't
make any difference. You've done a load of good. Why, the children will
never be able to forget it, nor the grown folks either, as far as that
goes; they'll talk of it, and of you, for two years, and more."

"I am doubtful about the real worth of fame, Miss Charity, even when it
lasts two years."

"O, but you've done so much _good!_" said the lady. "Everybody sees now
that the white church can hold her own. Nobody'll think of making
disagreeable comparisons, if they have fifty Christmas trees."

"Suppose I had helped the yellow church?"

Charity looked as if she did not know what he would be at. Just then in
came Lois and took her place at the table; and Mr. Dillwyn forgot all
about rival churches.

"Here's Mr. Dillwyn don't think he's done any good, Lois!" cried her
elder sister. "Do cheer him up a little. I think it's a shame to talk
so. Why, we've done all we wanted to, and more. There won't a soul go
away from our church or school after this, now they see what we can do;
and I shouldn't wonder if we got some accessions from the other
instead. And here's Mr. Dillwyn says he don't know as he's done any
good!"

Lois lifted her eyes and met his, and they both smiled.

"Miss Lois sees the matter as I do," he said. "These are capital
oysters. Where do they come from?"

"But, Philip," said Mrs. Barclay, "you have given a great deal of
pleasure. Isn't that good?"

"Depends--" said he. "Probably it will be followed by a reaction."

"And you have kept the church together," added Charity, who was zealous.

"By a rope of sand, then, Miss Charity."

"At any rate, Mr. Dillwyn, you _meant_ to do good," Lois put in here.

"I do not know, Miss Lois. I am afraid I was thinking more of pleasure,
myself; and shall experience myself the reaction I spoke of. I think I
feel the shadow of it already, as a coming event."

"But if we aren't to have any pleasure, because afterwards we feel a
little flat,--and of course we do," said Charity; "everybody knows
that. But, for instance, if we're not to have green peas in summer,
because we can't have 'em any way but dry in winter,--things would be
very queer! Queerer than they are; and they're queer enough already."

This speech called forth some merriment.

"You think even the dry remains of pleasure are better than nothing!"
said Philip. "Perhaps you are right."

"And to have those, we _must_ have had the green reality," said Lois
merrily.

"I wonder if there is any way of keeping pleasure green," said Dillwyn.

"Vain, vain, Mr. Dillwyn!" said Mrs. Barclay. "_Tout lasse, tout casse,
tout passe!_ don't you know? Solomon said, I believe, that all was
vanity. And he ought to know."

"But he didn't know," said Lois quickly.

"Lois!" said Charity--"it's in the Bible."

"I know it is in the Bible that he said so," Lois rejoined merrily.

"Was he not right, then?" Mr. Dillwyn asked.

"Perhaps," Lois answered, now gravely, "if you take simply his view."

"What was his view? Won't you explain?"

"I suppose you ain't going to set up to be wiser than Solomon, at this
time of day," said Charity severely. But that stirred Lois's merriment
again.

"Explain, Miss Lois!" said Dillwyn.

"I am not Solomon, that I should preach," she said.

"You just said you knew better than he," said Charity. "How you should
know better than the Bible, I don't see. It's news."

"Why, Charity, Solomon was not a good man."

"How came he to write proverbs, then?"

"At least he was not always a good man."

"That don't hinder his knowing what was vanity, does it?"

"But, Lois!" said Mrs. Barclay.  "Go back, and tell us your secret, if
you have one. How was Solomon's view mistaken? or what is yours?"

"These things were all given for our pleasure, Mrs. Barclay."

"But they die--and they go--and they fade," said Mrs. Barclay.

"You will not understand me," said Lois; "and yet it is true. If you
are Christ's--then, 'all things are yours;... the world, or life, or
_death_, or things present, or things to come: all are yours.' There is
no loss, but there comes more gain."

"I wish you'd let Mr. Dillwyn have some more oysters," said Charity;
"and, Madge, do hand along Mrs. Barclay's cup. You mustn't talk, if you
can't eat at the same time. Lois ain't Solomon yet, if she does preach.
You shut up, Lois, and mind your supper. My rule is, to enjoy things as
I go along; and just now, it's oysters."

"I will say for Lois," here put in Mrs. Barclay, "that she does
exemplify her own principles. I never knew anybody with such a spring
of perpetual enjoyment."

"She ain't happier than the rest of us," said the elder sister.

"Not so happy as grandmother," added Madge. "At least, grandmother
would say so. I don't know."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.



BREAKING UP.



Mr. Dillwyn went away. Things returned to their normal condition at
Shampuashuh, saving that for a while there was a great deal of talk
about the Santa Clans doings and the principal actor in them, and no
end of speculations as to his inducements and purposes to be served in
taking so much trouble. For Shampuashuh people were shrewd, and did not
believe, any more than King Lear, that anything could come of nothing.
That he was _not_ moved by general benevolence, poured out upon the
school of the white church, was generally agreed. "What's we to him?"
asked pertinently one of the old ladies; and vain efforts were made to
ascertain Mr. Dillwyn's denomination. "For all I kin make out, he
hain't got none," was the declaration of another matron. "I don't
b'lieve he's no better than he should be." Which was ungrateful, and
hardly justified Miss Charity's prognostications of enduring fame; by
which, of course, she meant good fame. Few had seen Mr. Dillwyn
undisguised, so that they could give a report of him; but Mrs. Marx
assured them he was "a real personable man; nice and plain, and takin'
no airs. She liked him first-rate."

"Who's he after? Not one o' your gals?"

"Mercy, no! He, indeed! He's one of the high-flyers; he won't come to
Shampuashuh to look for a wife. 'Seems to me he's made o' money; and
he's been everywhere; he's fished for crocodiles in the Nile, and eaten
his luncheon at the top of the Pyramids of Egypt, and sailed to the
North Pole to be sure of cool lemonade in summer. _He_ won't marry in
Shampuashuh."

"What brings him here, then?"

"The spirit of restlessness, I should say. Those people that have been
everywhere, you may notice, can't stay nowhere. I always knew there was
fools in the world, but I _didn't_ know there was so many of 'em as
there be. He ain't no fool neither, some ways; and that makes him a
bigger fool in the end; only I don't know why the fools should have all
the money."

And so, after a little, the talk about this theme died out, and things
settled down, not without some of the reaction Mr. Dillwyn had
predicted; but they settled down, and all was as before in Shampuashuh.
Mr. Dillwyn did not come again to make a visit, or Mrs. Marx's aroused
vigilance would have found some ground for suspicion. There did come
numerous presents of game and fruit from him, but they were sent to
Mrs. Barclay, and could not be objected against, although they came in
such quantities that the whole household had to combine to dispose of
them. What would Philip do next?--Mrs. Barclay queried. As he had said,
he could not go on with repeated visits to the house. Madge and Lois
would not hear of being tempted to New York, paint the picture as
bright as she would. Things were not ripe for any decided step on Mr.
Dillwyn's part, and how should they become so? Mrs. Barclay could not
see the way. She did for Philip what she could by writing to him,
whether for his good or his harm she could not decide. She feared the
latter. She told him, however, of the sweet, quiet life she was
leading; of the reading she was doing with the two girls, and the whole
family; of the progress Lois and Madge were making in singing and
drawing and in various branches of study; of the walks in the fresh
sea-breezes, and the cosy evenings with wood fires and the lamp; and
she told him how they enjoyed his game, and what a comfort the oranges
were to Mrs. Armadale.

This lasted through January, and then there came a change. Mrs.
Armadale was ill. There was no more question of visits, or of studies;
and all sorts of enjoyments and occupations gave place to the one
absorbing interest of watching and waiting upon the sick one. And then,
that ceased too. Mrs. Armadale had caught cold, she had not strength to
throw off disease; it took violent form, and in a few days ran its
course. Very suddenly the little family found itself without its head.

There was nothing to grieve for, but their own loss. The long, weary
earth-journey was done, and the traveller had taken up her abode where
there is



   "The rest begun,
   That Christ hath for his people won."



She had gone triumphantly. "Through God we shall do valiantly"--being
her last--uttered words. Her children took them as a legacy, and felt
rich. But they looked at her empty chair, and counted themselves poorer
than ever before. Mrs. Barclay saw that the mourning was deep. Yet,
with the reserved strength of New England natures, it made no noise,
and scarce any show.

Mrs. Barclay lived much alone those first days. She would gladly have
talked to somebody; she wanted to know about the affairs of the little
family, but saw no one to talk to. Until, two or three days after the
funeral, coming home one afternoon from a walk in the cold, she found
her fire had died out; and she went into the next room to warm herself.
There she saw none of the usual inmates. Mrs. Armadale's chair stood on
one side the fire, unoccupied, and on the other side stood uncle Tim
Hotchkiss.

"How do you do, Mr. Hotchkiss? May I come and warm myself? I have been
out, and I am half-frozen."

"I guess you're welcome to most anything in this house, ma'am,--and
fire we wouldn't grudge to anybody. Sit down, ma'am;" and he set a
chair for her. "It's pretty tight weather."

"We had nothing like this last winter," said Mrs. Barclay, shivering.

"We expect to hev one or two snaps in the course of the winter," said
Mr. Hotchkiss. "Shampuashuh ain't what you call a cold place; but we
expect to see them two snaps. It comes seasonable this time. I'd
rayther hev it now than in March. My sister--that's gone,--she could
always tell you how the weather was goin' to be. I've never seen no one
like her for that."

"Nor for some other things," said Mrs. Barclay. "It is a sad change to
feel her place empty."

"Ay," said uncle Tim, with a glance at the unused chair,--"it's the
difference between full and empty. 'I went out full, and the Lord has
brought me back empty', Ruth's mother-in-law said."

"Who is Ruth?" Mrs. Barclay asked, a little bewildered, and willing to
change the subject; for she noticed a suppressed quiver in the hard
features. "Do I know her?"

"I mean Ruth the Moabitess. Of course you know her. She was a poor
heathen thing, but she got all right at last. It was her mother-in-law
that was bitter. Well--troubles hadn't ought to make us bitter. I guess
there's allays somethin' wrong when they do."

"Hard to help it, sometimes," said Mrs. Barclay.

"She wouldn't ha' let you say that," said the old man, indicating
sufficiently by his accent of whom he was speaking. "There warn't no
bitterness in her; and she had seen trouble enough! She's out o' it
now."

"What will the girls do? Stay on and keep the house here just as they
have done?"

"Well, I don' know," said Mr. Hotchkiss, evidently glad to welcome a
business question, and now taking a chair himself. "Mrs. Marx and me,
we've ben arguin' that question out, and it ain't decided. There's one
big house here, and there's another where Mrs. Marx lives; and there's
one little family, and here's another little family. It's expensive to
scatter over so much ground. They had ought to come to Mrs. Marx, or
she had ought to move in here, and then the other house could be
rented. That's how the thing looks to me. It's expensive for five
people to take two big houses to live in. I know, the girls have got
you now; but they might not keep you allays; and we must look at things
as they be."

"I must leave them in the spring," said Mrs. Barclay hastily.

"In the spring, must ye!"

"Must," she repeated. "I would like to stay here the rest of my life;
but circumstances are imperative. I must go in the spring."

"Then I think that settles it," said Mr. Hotchkiss. "I'm glad to know
it. That is! of course I'm sorry ye're goin'; the girls be very fond of
you."

"And I of them," said Mrs. Barclay; "but I must go."

After that, she waited for the chance of a talk with Lois. She waited
not long. The household had hardly settled down into regular ways again
after the disturbance of sickness and death, when Lois came one evening
at twilight into Mrs. Barclay's room. She sat down, at first was
silent, and then burst into tears. Mrs. Barclay let her alone, knowing
that for her just now the tears were good. And the woman who had seen
so much heavier life-storms, looked on almost with a feeling of envy at
the weeping which gave so simple and frank expression to grief. Until
this feeling was overcome by another, and she begged Lois to weep no
more.

"I do not mean it--I did not mean it," said Lois, drying her eyes. "It
is ungrateful of me; for we have so much to be thankful for. I am so
glad for grandmother!"--Yet somehow the tears went on falling.

"Glad?"--repeated Mrs. Barclay doubtfully. "You mean, because she is
out of her suffering."

"She did not suffer much. It is not that. I am so glad to think she has
got home!"

"I suppose," said Mrs. Barclay in a constrained voice, "to such a
person as your grandmother, death has no fear. Yet life seems to me
more desirable."

"She has entered into life!" said Lois. "She is where she wanted to be,
and with what she loved best. And I am very, very glad! even though I
do cry."

"How can you speak with such certain'ty, Lois? I know, in such a case
as that of your grandmother, there could be no fear; and yet I do not
see how you can speak as if you knew where she is, and with whom."

"Only because the Bible tells us," said Lois, smiling even through wet
eyes. "Not the _place;_ it does not tell us the place; but with Christ.
That they are; and that is all we want to know.



   'Beyond the sighing and the weeping.'



--It makes me gladder than ever I can tell you, to think of it."

"Then what are those tears for, my dear?"

"It's the turning over a leaf," said Lois sadly, "and that is always
sorrowful. And I have lost--uncle Tim says," she broke off suddenly,
"he says,--can it be?--he says you say you must go from us in the
spring?"

"That is turning over another leaf," said Mrs. Barclay.

"But is it true?"

"Absolutely true. Circumstances make it imperative. It is not my wish.
I would like to stay here with you all my life."

"I wish you could. I half hoped you would," said Lois wistfully.

"But I cannot, my dear. I cannot."

"Then that is another thing over," said Lois. "What a good time it has
been, this year and a half you have been with us! how much worth to
Madge and me! But won't you come back again?"

"I fear not. You will not miss me so much; you will all keep house
together, Mr. Hotchkiss tells me."

"_I_ shall not be here," said Lois.

"Where will you be?" Mrs. Barclay started.

"I don't know; but it will be best for me to do something to help
along. I think I shall take a school somewhere. I think I can get one."

"A _school_, my dear? Why should you do such a thing?"

"To help along," said Lois. "You know, we have not much to live on here
at home. I should make one less here, and I should be earning a little
besides."

"Very little, Lois!"

"Very little will do."

"But you do a great deal now towards the family support. What will
become of your garden?"

"Uncle Tim can take care of that. Besides, Mrs. Barclay, even if I
could stay at home, I think I ought not. I ought to be doing
something--be of some use in the world. I am not needed here, now dear
grandmother is gone; and there must be some other place where I am
needed."

"My dear, somebody will want you to keep house for him, some of these
days."

Lois shook her head. "I do not think of it," she said. "I do not think
it is very likely; that is, anybody _I_ should want. But if it were
true," she added, looking up and smiling, "that has nothing to do with
present duty."

"My dear, I cannot bear to think of your going into such drudgery!"

"Drudgery?" said Lois. "I do not know,--perhaps I should not find it
so. But I may as well do it as somebody else."

"You are fit for something better."

"There is nothing better, and there is nothing happier," said Lois,
rising, "than to do what God gives us to do. I should not be unhappy,
Mrs. Barclay. It wouldn't be just like these days we have passed
together, I suppose;--these days have been a garden of flowers."

And what have they all amounted to? thought Mrs. Barclay when she was
left alone. Have I done any good--or only harm--by acceding to that mad
proposition of Philip's? Some good, surely; these two girls have grown
and changed, mentally, at a great rate of progress; they are educated,
cultivated, informed, refined, to a degree that I would never have
thought a year and a half could do. Even so! _have_ I done them good?
They are lifted quite out of the level of their surroundings; and to be
lifted so, means sometimes a barren living alone. Yet I will not think
that; it is better to rise in the scale of being, if ever one can,
whatever comes of it; what one is in oneself is of more importance than
one's relations to the world around. But Philip?--I have helped him
nourish this fancy--and it is not a fancy now--it is the man's whole
life. Heigh ho! I begin to think he was right, and that it is very
difficult to know what is doing good and what isn't. I must write to
Philip--

So she did, at once. She told him of the contemplated changes in the
family arrangements; of Lois's plan for teaching a district school; and
declared that she herself must now leave Shampuashuh. She had done what
she came for, whether for good or for ill. It was done; and she could
no longer continue living there on Mr. Dillwyn's bounty. _Now_ it would
be mere bounty, if she stayed where she was; until now she might say
she had been doing his work. His work was done now, her part of it; the
rest he must finish for himself. Mrs. Barclay would leave Shampuashuh
in April.

This letter would bring matters to a point, she thought, if anything
could; she much expected to see Mr. Dillwyn himself appear again before
March was over. He did not come, however; he wrote a short answer to
Mrs. Barclay, saying that he was sorry for her resolve, and would
combat it if he could; but felt that he had not the power. She must
satisfy her fastidious notions of independence, and he could only thank
her to the last day of his life for what she had already done for him;
service which thanks could never repay. He sent this letter, but said
nothing of coming; and he did not come.

Later, Mrs. Barclay wrote again. The household changes were just about
to be made; she herself had but a week or two more in Shampuashuh; and
Lois, against all expectation, had found opportunity immediately to try
her vocation for teaching. The lady placed over a school in a remote
little village had suddenly died; and the trustees of the school had
considered favourably Lois's application. She was going in a day or two
to undertake the charge of a score or two of boys and girls, of all
ages, in a wild and rough part of the country; where even the
accommodations for her own personal comfort, Mrs. Barclay feared, would
be of the plainest.

To this letter also she received an answer, though after a little
interval. Mr. Dillwyn wrote, he regretted Lois's determination;
regretted that she thought it necessary; but appreciated the
straightforward, unflinching sense of duty which never consulted with
ease or selfishness. He himself was going, he added, on business, for a
time, to the north; that is, not Massachusetts, but Canada. He would
therefore not see Mrs. Barclay until after a considerable interval.

Mrs. Barclay did not know what to make of this letter. Had Philip given
up his fancy? It was not like him. Men are fickle, it is true; but
fickle in his friendships she had never known Mr. Dillwyn to be. Yet
this letter said nothing of love, or hope, or fear; it was cool,
friendly, business-like. Mrs. Barclay nevertheless did not know how to
believe in the business. _He_ have business! What business? She had
always known him as an easy, graceful, pleasure-taker; finding his
pleasure in no evil ways, indeed; kept from that by early associations,
or by his own refined tastes and sense of honour; but never living to
anything but pleasure. His property was ample and unencumbered; even
the care of that was not difficult, and did not require much of his
time. And now, just when he ought to put in his claim for Lois, if he
was ever going to make it; just when she was set loose from her old
ties and marking out a new and hard way of life for herself, he ought
to come; and he was going on business to Canada! Mrs. Barclay was
excessively disgusted and disappointed. She had not, indeed, all along
seen how Philip's wooing could issue successfully, if it ever came to
the point of wooing; the elements were too discordant, and principles
too obstinate; and yet she had worked on in hope, vague and doubtful,
but still hope, thinking highly herself of Mr. Dillwyn's pretensions
and powers of persuasion, and knowing that in human nature at large all
principle and all discordance are apt to come to a signal defeat when
Love takes the field. But now there seemed to be no question of wooing;
Love was not on hand, where his power was wanted; the friends were all
scattered one from another--Lois going to the drudgery of teaching
rough boys and girls, she herself to the seclusion of some quiet
seaside retreat, and Mr. Dillwyn--to hunt bears?--in Canada.



CHAPTER XXXIX.



LUXURY.



So they were all scattered. But the moving and communicating wires of
human society seem as often as any way to run underground; quite out of
sight, at least; then specially strong, when to an outsider they appear
to be broken and parted for ever.

Into the history of the summer it is impossible to go minutely. What
Mr. Dillwyn did in Canada, and how Lois fought with ignorance and
rudeness and prejudice in her new situation, Mrs. Barclay learned but
very imperfectly from the letters she received; so imperfectly, that
she felt she knew nothing. Mr. Dillwyn never mentioned Miss Lothrop.
Could it be that he had prematurely brought things to a decision, and
so got them decided wrong? But in that case Mrs. Barclay felt sure some
sign would have escaped Lois; and she gave none.

The summer passed, and two-thirds of the autumn.

One evening in the end of October, Mrs. Wishart was sitting alone in
her back drawing-room. She was suffering from a cold, and coddling
herself over the fire. Her major-domo brought her Mr. Dillwyn's name
and request for admission, which was joyfully granted. Mrs. Wishart was
denied to ordinary visitors; and Philip's arrival was like a
benediction.

"Where have you been all summer?" she asked him, when they had talked
awhile of some things nearer home.

"In the backwoods of Canada."

"The backwoods of Canada!"

"I assure you it is a very enjoyable region."

"What _could_ you find to do there?"

"More than enough. I spent my time between hunting--fishing--and
studying."

"Studying what, pray? Not backwoods farming, I suppose?"

"Well, no, not exactly. Backwoods farming is not precisely in my line."

"What is in your line that you could study there?"

"It is not a bad place to study anything;--if you except, perhaps, art
and antiquity."

"I did not know you studied anything _but_ art."

"It is hardly a sufficient object to fill a man's life worthily; do you
think so?"

"What would fill it worthily?" the lady asked, with a kind of dreary
abstractedness. And if Philip had surprised her a moment before, he was
surprised in his turn. As he did not answer immediately, Mrs. Wishart
went on.

"A man's life, or a woman's life? What would fill it worthily? Do you
know? Sometimes it seems to me that we are all living for nothing."

"I am ready to confess that has been the case with me,--to my shame be
it said."

"I mean, that there is nothing really worth living for."

"_That_ cannot be true, however."

"Well, I suppose I say so at the times when I am unable to enjoy
anything in my life. And yet, if you stop to think, what _does_
anybody's life amount to? Nobody's missed, after he is gone; or only
for a minute; and for himself--There is not a year of _my_ life that I
can remember, that I would be willing to live over again."

"Apparently, then, to enjoy is not the chief end of existence. I mean,
of this existence."

"What do we know of any other? And if we do not enjoy ourselves, pray
what in the world should we live for?"

"I have seen people that I thought enjoyed themselves," Philip said
slowly.

"Have you? Who were they? I do not know them."

"You know some of them. Do you recollect a friend of mine, for whom you
negotiated lodgings at a far-off country village?"

"Yes, I remember. They took her, didn't they?"

"They took her. And I had the pleasure once or twice of visiting her
there."

"Did she like it?"

"Very much. She could not help liking it. And I thought those people
seemed to enjoy life. Not relatively, but positively."

"The Lothrops!" cried Mrs. Wishart. "I can not conceive it. Why, they
are very poor."

"That made no hindrance, in their case."

"Poor people, I am afraid they have not been enjoying themselves this
year."

"I heard of Mrs. Armadale's death."

"Yes. O, she was old; she could not be expected to live long. But they
are all broken up."

"How am I to understand that?"

"Well, you know they have very little to live upon. I suppose it was
for that reason Lois went off to a distance from home to teach a
district school. You know,--or _do_ you know?--what country schools
are, in some places; this was one of the places. Pretty rough; and hard
living. And then a railroad was opened in the neighbourhood--the place
became sickly--a fever broke out among Lois's scholars and the families
they came from; and Lois spent her vacation in nursing. Then got sick
herself with the fever, and is only just now getting well."

"I heard something of this before from Mrs. Barclay."

"Then Madge went to take care of Lois, and they were both there. That
is weeks and weeks ago,--months, I should think."

"But the sick one is well again?"

"She is better. But one does not get up from those fevers so soon.
One's strength is gone. I have sent for them to come and make me a
visit and recruit."

"They are coming, I hope?"

"I expect them here to-morrow."

Mr. Dillwyn had nearly been betrayed into an exclamation. He remembered
himself in time, and replied with proper self-possession that he was
very glad to hear it.

"Yes, I told them to come here and rest. They must want it, poor girls,
both of them."

"Then they are coming to-morrow?"

"Yes."

"By what train?"

"I believe, it is the New Haven train that gets in about five o'clock.
Or six. I do not know exactly."

"I know. Now, Mrs. Wishart, you are not well yourself, and must not go
out. I will meet the train and bring them safe to you."

"You? O, that's delightful. I have been puzzling my brain to know how I
should manage; for I am not fit to go out yet, and servants are so
unsatisfactory. Will you really? That's good of you!"

"Not at all. It is the least I can do. The family received me most
kindly on more than one occasion; and I would gladly do them a greater
service than this."

At two o'clock next day the waiting-room of the New Haven station held,
among others, two very handsome young girls; who kept close together,
waiting for their summons to the train. One of them was very pale and
thin and feeble-looking, and indeed sat so that she leaned part of her
weight upon her sister. Madge was pale too, and looked somewhat
anxious. Both pairs of eyes watched languidly the moving, various
groups of travellers clustered about in the room.

"Madge, it's like a dream!" murmured the one girl to the other.

"What? If you mean this crowd, _my_ dreams have more order in them."

"I mean, being away from Esterbrooke, and off a sick-bed, and moving,
and especially going to--where we are going. It's a dream!"

"Why?"

"Too good to be true. I had thought, do you know, I never should make a
visit there again."

"Why not, Lois?"

"I thought it would be best not. But now the way seems clear, and I can
take the fun of it. It is clearly right to go."

"Of course! It is always right to go wherever you are asked."

"O no, Madge!"

"Well,--wherever the invitation is honest, I mean."

"O, that isn't enough."

"What else? supposing you have the means to go. I am not sure that we
have that condition in the present instance. But if you have, what else
is to be waited for?"

"Duty--" Lois whispered.

"O, bother duty! Here have you gone and almost killed yourself for
duty."

"Well,--supposing one does kill oneself?--one must do what is duty."

"That isn't duty."

"O, it may be."

"Not to kill yourself. You have almost killed yourself, Lois."

"I couldn't help it."

"Yes, you could. You make duty a kind of iron thing."

"Not iron," said Lois; she spoke slowly and faintly, but now she
smiled. "It is golden!"

"That don't help. Chains of gold may be as hard to break as chains of
iron."

"Who wants them broken?" said Lois, in the same slow, contented way.
"Duty? Why Madge, it's the King's orders!"

"Do you mean that you were ordered to go to that place, and then to
nurse those children through the fever?"

"Yes, I think so."

"I should be terribly afraid of duty, if I thought it came in such
shapes. There's the train!--Now if you can get downstairs--"

That was accomplished, though with tottering steps, and Lois was safely
seated in one of the cars, and her head pillowed upon the back of the
seat. There was no more talking then for some time. Only when Haarlem
bridge was past and New York close at hand, Lois spoke.

"Madge, suppose Mrs. Wishart should not be here to meet us? You must
think what you would do."

"Why, the train don't go any further, does it?"

"No!--but it goes back. I mean, it will not stand still for you. It
moves away out of the station-house as soon as it is empty."

"There will be carriages waiting, I suppose. But I am sure I hope she
will meet us. I wrote in plenty of time. Don't worry, dear! we'll
manage."

"I am not worrying," said Lois. "I am a great deal too happy to worry."

However, that was not Madge's case, and she felt very fidgety. With
Lois so feeble, and in a place so unknown to her, and with baggage
checks to dispose of, and so little time to do anything, and no doubt a
crowd of doubtful characters lounging about, as she had always heard
they did in New York; Madge did wish very anxiously for a pilot and a
protector. As the train slowly moved into the Grand Central, she
eagerly looked to see some friend appear. But none appeared.

"We must go out, Madge," said Lois. "Maybe we shall find Mrs.
Wishart--I dare say we shall--she could not come into the cars--"

The two made their way accordingly, slowly, at the end of the
procession filing out of the car, till Madge got out upon the platform.
There she uttered an exclamation of joy.

"O Lois!--there's Mr. Dillwyn?"

"But we are looking for Mrs. Wishart," said Lois.

The next thing she knew, however, somebody was carefully helping her
down to the landing; and then, her hand was on a stronger arm than that
of Mrs. Wishart, and she was slowly following the stream of people to
the front of the station-house. Lois was too exhausted by this time to
ask any questions; suffered herself to be put in a carriage passively,
where Madge took her place also, while Mr. Dillwyn went to give the
checks of their baggage in charge to an expressman. Lois then broke out
again with,

"O Madge, it's like a dream!"

"Isn't it?" said Madge. "I have been in a regular fidget for two hours
past, for fear Mrs. Wishart would not be here."

"I didn't _fidget_," said Lois, "but I did not know how I was going to
get from the cars to the carriage. I feel in a kind of exhausted
Elysium!"

"It's convenient to have a man belonging to one," said Madge.

"Hush, pray!" said Lois, closing her eyes. And she hardly opened them
again until the carriage arrived at Mrs. Wishart's, which was something
of a drive. Madge and Mr. Dillwyn kept up a lively conversation, about
the journey and Lois's condition, and her summer; and how he happened
to be at the Grand Central. He went to meet some friends, he said
coolly, whom he expected to see by that train.

"Then we must have been in your way," exclaimed Madge regretfully.

"Not at all," he said.

"But we hindered you from taking care of your friends?"

"No," he said indifferently; "by no means. They are taken care of."

And both Madge and Lois were too simple to know what he meant.

At Mrs. Wishart's, Lois was again helped carefully out and carefully
in, and half carried up-stairs to her own room, whither it was decided
she had better go at once. And there, after being furnished with a bowl
of soup, she was left, while the others went down to tea. So Madge
found her an hour afterwards, sunk in the depths of a great, soft
easy-chair, gazing at the fanciful flames of a kennel coal fire.

"O Madge, it's a dream!" Lois said again languidly, though with plenty
of expression. "I can't believe in the change from Esterbrooke here."

"It's a change from Shampuashuh," Madge returned. "Lois, I didn't know
things could be so pretty. And we have had the most delightful tea, and
something--cakes--Mrs. Wishart calls _wigs_, the best things you ever
saw in your life; but Mr. Dillwyn wouldn't let us send some up to you."

"Mr. Dillwyn!"--

"Yes, he said they were not good for you. He has been just as pleasant
as he could be. I never saw anybody so pleasant. I like Mr. Dillwyn
_very_ much."

"Don't!" said Lois languidly.

"Why?"

"You had better not."

"But why not? You are ungrateful, it seems to me, if you don't like
him."

"I like him," said Lois slowly; "but he belongs to a different world
from ours. The worlds can't come together; so it is best not to like
him too much."

"How do you mean, a different world?"

"O, he's different, Madge! All his thoughts and ways and associations
are unlike ours--a great way off from ours; and must be. It is best as
I said. I guess it is best not to like anybody too much."

With which oracular and superhumanly wise utterance Lois closed her
eyes softly again. Madge, provoked, was about to carry on the
discussion, when, noticing how pale the cheek was which lay against the
crimson chair cushion, and how very delicate the lines of the face, she
thought better of it and was silent. A while later, however, when she
had brought Lois a cup of gruel and biscuit, she broke out on a new
theme.

"What a thing it is, that some people should have so much silver, and
other people so little!"

"What silver are you thinking of?"

"Why, Mrs. Wishart's, to be sure. Who's else? I never saw anything like
it, out of Aladdin's cave. Great urns, and salvers, and cream-jugs, and
sugar-bowls, and cake-baskets, and pitchers, and salt-cellars. The
salt-cellars were lined with something yellow, or washed, to hinder the
staining, I suppose."

"Gold," said Lois.

"Gold?"

"Yes. Plated with gold."

"Well I never saw anything like the sideboard down-stairs; the
sideboard and the tea-table. It is funny, Lois, as I said, why some
should have so much, and others so little."

"We, you mean? What should we do with a load of silver?"

"I wish I had it, and then you'd see! You should have a silk dress, to
begin with, and so should I."

"Never mind," said Lois, letting her eyelids fall again with an
expression of supreme content, having finished her gruel. "There are
compensations, Madge."

"Compensations! What compensations? We are hardly respectably dressed,
you and I, for this place."

"Never mind!" said Lois again. "If you had been sick as I was, and in
that place, and among those people, you would know something."

"What should I know?"

"How delightful this chair is;--and how good that gruel, out of a china
cup;--and how delicious all this luxury! Mrs. Wishart isn't as rich as
I am to-night."

"The difference is, she can keep it, and you cannot, you poor child!"

"O yes, I can keep it," said Lois, in the slow, happy accent with which
she said everything to-night;--"I can keep the remembrance of it, and
the good of it. When I get back to my work, I shall not want it."

"Your work!" said Madge.

"Yes."

"Esterbrooke!"

"Yes, if they want me."

"You are never going back to that place!" exclaimed Madge
energetically. "Never! not with my good leave. Bury yourself in that
wild country, and kill yourself with hard work! Not if I know it."

"If that is the work given me," said Lois, in the same calm voice.
"They want somebody there, badly; and I have made a beginning."

"A nice beginning!--almost killed yourself. Now, Lois, don't think
about anything! Do you know, Mrs. Wishart says you are the handsomest
girl she ever saw!"

"That's a mistake. I know several much handsomer."

"She tried to make Mr. Dillwyn say so too; and he wouldn't."

"Naturally."

"It was funny to hear them; she tried to drive him up to the point, and
he wouldn't be driven; he said one clever thing after another, but
always managed to give her no answer; till at last she pinned him with
a point-blank question."

"What did he do then?"

"Said what you said; that he had seen women who would be called
handsomer."

The conversation dropped here, for Lois made no reply, and Madge
recollected she had talked enough.



CHAPTER XL.



ATTENTIONS.



It was days before Lois went down-stairs. She seemed indeed to be in no
hurry. Her room was luxuriously comfortable; Madge tended her there,
and Mrs. Wishart visited her; and Lois sat in her great easy-chair, and
rested, and devoured the delicate meals that were brought her; and the
colour began gently to come back to her face, in the imperceptible
fashion in which a white Van Thol tulip takes on its hues of crimson.
She began to read a little; but she did not care to go down-stairs.
Madge told her everything that went on; who came, and what was said by
one and another. Mr. Dillwyn's name was of very frequent occurrence.

"He's a real nice man!" said Madge enthusiastically.

"Madge, Madge, Madge!--you mustn't speak so," said Lois. "You must not
say 'real nice.'"

"I don't, down-stairs," said Madge, laughing. "It was only to you. It
is more expressive, Lois, sometimes, to speak wrong than to speak
right."

"Do not speak so expressively, then."

"But I must, when I am speaking of Mr. Dillwyn. I never saw anybody so
nice. He is teaching me to play chess, Lois, and it is such fun."

"It seems to me he comes here very often."

"He does; he is an old friend of Mrs. Wishart's, and she is as glad to
see him as I am."

"Don't be too glad, Madge. I do not like to hear you speak so."

"Why not?"

"It was one of the reasons why I did not want to accept Mrs. Barclay's
invitation last winter, that I knew he would be visiting her
constantly. I did not expect to see him _here_ much." Lois looked grave.

"What harm in seeing him, Lois? why shouldn't one have the pleasure?
For it is a pleasure; his talk is so bright, and his manner is so very
kind and graceful; and _he_ is so kind. He is going to take me to drive
again."

"You go to drive with Mrs. Wishart. Isn't that enough?"

"It isn't a quarter so pleasant," Madge said, laughing again. "Mr.
Dillwyn talks, something one likes to hear talked. Mrs. Wishart tells
me about old families, and where they used to live, and where they live
now; what do I care about old New York families! And Mr. Dillwyn lets
_me_ talk. I never have anything whatever to say to Mrs. Wishart; she
does it all."

"I would rather have you go driving with her, though."

"Why, Lois? That's ridiculous. I like to go with Mr. Dillwyn."

"Don't like it too well."

"How can I like it too well?"

"So much that you would miss it, when you do not have it any longer."

"Miss it!" said Madge, half angrily. "I might _miss_ it, as I might
miss any pleasant thing; but I could stand that. I'm not a chicken just
out of the egg. I have missed things before now, and it hasn't killed
me."

"Don't think I am foolish, Madge. It isn't a question of how much you
can stand. But the men like--like this one--are so pleasant with their
graceful, smooth ways, that country girls like you and me might easily
be drawn on, without knowing it, further than they want to go."

"He does not want to draw anybody on!" said Madge indignantly.

"That's the very thing. You might think--or I might think--that
pleasant manner means something; and it don't mean anything."

"I don't want it to 'mean anything,' as you say; but what has our being
country girls to do with it?"

"We are not accustomed to that sort of society, and so it makes, I
suppose, more impression. And what might mean something to others,
would not to us. From such men, I mean."

"What do you mean by 'such men'?" asked Madge, who was getting rather
excited.

"Rich--fashionable--belonging to the great world, and having the ways
of it. You know what Mr. Dillwyn is like. It is not what we have in
Shainpuashuh."

"But, Lois!--what are you talking about? I don't care a red cent for
all this, but I want to understand. You said such a manner would mean
nothing to _us_."

"Yes."

"Why not to us, as well as anybody else?"

"Because we are nobodies, Madge."

"What do you mean?" said the other hotly.

"Just that. It is quite true. You are nobody, and I am nobody. You see,
if we were somebody, it would be different."

"If you think--I'll tell you what, Lois! I think you are fit to be the
wife of the best man that lives and breathes."

"I think so myself," Lois returned quietly.

"And I am."

"I think you are, Madge. But that makes no difference. My dear, we are
nobody."

"How?"--impatiently. "Isn't our family as respectable as anybody's?
Haven't we had governors and governors, of Massachusetts and
Connecticut both; and judges and ministers, ever so many, among our
ancestors? And didn't a half-dozen of 'em, or more, come over in the
'Mayflower'?"

"Yes, Madge; all true; and I am as glad of it as you are."

"Then you talk nonsense!"

"No, I don't," said Lois, sighing a little. "I have seen a little more
of the world than you have, you know, dear Madge; not very much, but a
little more than you; and I know what I am talking about. We are
unknown, we are not rich, we have none of what they call 'connections.'
So you see I do not want you to like too much a person who, beyond
civility, and kindness perhaps, would never think of liking you."

"I don't want him to, that's one thing," said Madge. "But if all that
is true, he is meaner than I think him; that's what I've got to say.
And it is a mean state of society where all that can be true."

"I suppose it is human nature," said Lois.

"It's awfully mean human nature!"

"I guess there is not much true nobleness but where the religion of
Christ comes in. If you have got that, Madge, be content and thankful."

"But nobody likes to be unjustly depreciated."

"Isn't that pride?"

"One must have some pride. I can't make religion _everything_, Lois. I
was a woman before I was a Christian."

"If you want to be a happy woman, you will let religion be everything."

"But, Lois!--wouldn't _you_ like to be rich, and have pretty things
about you?"

"Don't ask me," said Lois, smiling. "I am a woman too, and dearly fond
of pretty things. But, Madge, there is something else I love better,"
she added, with a sudden sweet gravity; "and that is, the will of my
God. I would rather have what he chooses to give me. Really and truly;
I would _rather_ have that."

The conversation therewith was at an end. In the evening of that same
day Lois left her seclusion and came down-stairs for the first time.
She was languid enough yet to be obliged to move slowly, and her cheeks
had not got back their full colour, and were thinner than they used to
be; otherwise she looked well, and Mrs. Wishart contemplated her with
great satisfaction. Somewhat to Lois's vexation, or she thought so,
they found Mr. DilIwyn down-stairs also. Lois had the invalid's place
of honour, in a corner of the sofa, with a little table drawn up for
her separate tea; and Madge and Mr. Dillwyn made toast for her at the
fire. The fire gave its warm light, the lamps glittered with a more
brilliant illumination; ruddy hues of tapestry and white gleams from
silver and glass filled the room, with lights and shadows everywhere,
that contented the eye and the imagination too, with suggestions of
luxury and plenty and sheltered comfort. Lois felt the shelter and the
comfort and the pleasure, with that enhanced intensity which belongs to
one's sensations in a state of convalescence, and in her case was
heightened by previous experiences. Nestled among cushions in her
corner, she watched everything and took the effect of every detail;
tasted every flavour of the situation; but all with a thoughtful,
wordless gravity; she hardly spoke at all.

After tea, Mr. Dillwyn and Madge sat down to the chess-board. And then
Lois's attention fastened upon them. Madge had drawn the little table
that held the chessmen into very close proximity to the sofa, so that
she was just at Lois's hand; but then her whole mind was bent upon the
game, and Lois could study her as she pleased. She did study Madge. She
admired her sister's great beauty; the glossy black hair, the delicate
skin, the excellent features, the pretty figure. Madge was very
handsome, there was no doubt; Mr. Dillwyn would not have far to look,
Lois thought, to find one handsomer than herself was. There was a
frank, fine expression of face, too; and manners thoroughly good. They
lacked some of the quietness of long usage, Lois thought; a quick look
or movement now and then, or her eager eyes, or an abrupt tone of
voice, did in some measure betray the country girl, to whom everything
was novel and interesting; and distinguished her from the half _blasé_,
wholly indifferent air of other people. She will learn that quietness
soon enough, thought Lois; and then, nothing could be left to desire in
Madge. The quietness had always been a characteristic of Lois herself;
partly difference of temperament, partly the sweeter poise of Lois's
mind, had made this difference between the sisters; and now of course
Lois had had more experience of people and the world. But it was not in
her the result of experience, this fair, unshaken balance of mind and
manner which was always a charm in her. However, this by the way; the
girl herself was drawing no comparisons, except so far as to judge her
sister handsomer than herself.

From Madge her eye strayed to Mr. Dillwyn, and studied him. She was
lying back a little in shadow, and could do it safely. He was teaching
Madge the game; and Lois could not but acknowledge and admire in him
the finished manner she missed in her sister. Yes, she could not help
admiring it. The gentle, graceful, easy way, in which he directed her,
gave reproofs and suggestions about the game, and at the same time kept
up a running conversation with Mrs. Wishart; letting not one thing
interfere with another, nor failing for a moment to attend to both
ladies. There was a quiet perfection about the whole home picture; it
remained in Lois's memory for ever. Mrs. Wishart sat on an opposite
sofa knitting; not a long blue stocking, like her dear grandmother, but
a web of wonderful hues, thick and soft, and various as the feathers on
a peacock's neck. It harmonized with all the rest of the room, where
warmth and colour and a certain fulness of detail gave the impression
of long-established easy living. The contrast was very strong with
Lois's own life surroundings; she compared and contrasted, and was not
quite sure how much of this sort of thing might be good for her.
However, for the present here she was, and she enjoyed it. Then she
queried if Mr. Dillwyn were enjoying it. She noticed the hand which he
had run through the locks of his hair, resting his head on the hand. It
was well formed, well kept; in that nothing remarkable; but there was a
certain character of energy in the fingers which did not look like the
hand of a lazy man. How could he spend his life so in doing nothing?
She did not fancy that he cared much about the game, or much about the
talk; what was he there for, so often? Did he, possibly, care about
Madge? Lois's thoughts came back to the conversation.

"Mrs. Wishart, what is to be done with the poor of our city?" Mr.
Dillwyn was saying.

"I don't know! I wish something could be done with them, to keep them
from coming to the house. My cook turns away a dozen a day, some days."

"Those are not the poor I mean."

"They are poor enough."

"They are to a large extent pretenders. I mean the masses of solid
poverty which fill certain parts of the city--and not small parts
either. It is no pretence there."

"I thought there were societies enough to look after them. I know I pay
my share to keep up the societies. What are they doing?"

"Something, I suppose. As if a man should carry a watering-pot to
Vesuvius."

"What in the world has turned _your_ attention that way? I pay my
subscriptions, and then I discharge the matter from my mind. It is the
business of the societies. What has set you to thinking about it?"

"Something I have seen, and something I have heard."

"What have you heard? Are you studying political economy? I did not
know you studied anything but art criticism."

"What do you do with your poor at Shampuashuh, Miss Madge?"

"We do not have any poor. That is, hardly any. There is nobody in the
poorhouse. A few--perhaps half a dozen--people, cannot quite support
themselves. Check to your queen, Mr. Dillwyn."

"What do you do with them?"

"O, take care of them. It's very simple. They understand that whenever
they are in absolute need of it, they can go to the store and get what
they want."

"At whose expense?"

"O, there is a fund there for them. Some of the better-off people take
care of that."

"I should think that would be quite too simple," said Mrs. Wishart,
"and extremely liable to abuse."

"It is never abused, though. Some of the people, those poor ones, will
come as near as possible to starving before they will apply for
anything."

Mrs. Wishart remarked that Shampuashuh was altogether unlike all other
places she ever had heard of.

"Things at Shampuashuh are as they ought to be," Mr. Dillwyn said.

"Now, Mr. Dillwyn," cried Madge, "I will forgive you for taking my
queen, if you will answer a question for me. What is 'art criticism'?"

"Why, Madge, you know!" said Lois from her sofa corner.

"I do not admire ignorance so much as to pretend to it," Madge
rejoined. "What is art criticism, Mr. Dillwyn?"

"What is art?"

"That is what I do not know!" said Madge, laughing. "I understand
criticism. It is the art that bothers me. I only know that it is
something as far from nature as possible."

"O Madge, Madge!" said Lois again; and Mr. Dillwyn laughed a little.

"On the contrary, Miss Madge. Your learning must be unlearnt. Art is
really so near to nature--Check!--that it consists in giving again the
facts and effects of nature in human language."

"Human language? That is, letters and words?"

"Those are the symbols of one language."

"What other is there?"

"Music--painting--architecture---- I am afraid, Miss Madge, that is
check-mate?"

"You said you had seen and heard something, Mr. Dillwyn," Mrs. Wishart
now began. "Do tell us what. I have neither seen nor heard anything in
an age."

Mr. Dillwyn was setting the chessmen again.

"What I saw," he said, "was a silk necktie--or scarf--such as we wear.
What I heard, was the price paid for making it."

"Was there anything remarkable about the scarf?"

"Nothing whatever; except the aforesaid price."

"What _was_ the price paid for making it?"

"Two cents."

"Who told you?"

"A friend of mine, who took me in on purpose that I might see and hear,
what I have reported."

"_Two cents_, did you say? But that's no price!"

"So I thought."

"How many could a woman make in a day, Madge, of those silk scarfs?"

"I don't know--I suppose, a dozen."

"A dozen, I was told, is a fair day's work," Mr. Dillwyn said. "They do
more, but it is by working on into the night."

"Good patience! Twenty-five cents for a hard day's work!" said Mrs.
Wishart. "A dollar and a half a week! Where is bread to come from, to
keep them alive to do it?"

"Better die at once, I should say," echoed Madge.

"Many a one would be glad of that alternative, I doubt not," Mr.
Dillwyn went on. "But there is perhaps an old mother to be taken care
of, or a child or two to feed and bring up."

"Don't talk about it!" said Mrs. Wishart. "It makes me feel blue."

"I must risk that. I want you to think about it. Where is help to come
from? These are the people I was thinking of, when I asked you what was
to be done with our poor."

"I don't know why you ask me. _I_ can do nothing. It is not my
business."

"Will it do to assume that as quite certain?"

"Why yes. What can I do with a set of master tailors?"

"You can cry down the cheap shops; and say why."

"Are the dear shops any better?"

Mr. Dillwyn laughed. "Presumably! But talking--even your talking--will
not do all. I want you to think about it."

"I don't want to think about it," answered the lady. "It's beyond _me_.
Poverty is people's own fault. Industrious and honest people can always
get along."

"If sickness does not set in, or some father, or husband, or son does
not take to bad ways."

"How can I help all that?" asked the lady somewhat pettishly. "I never
knew you were in the benevolent and reformatory line before, Mr.
Dillwyn. What has put all this in your head?"

"Those scarfs, for one thing. Another thing was a visit I had lately
occasion to make. It was near midday. I found a room as bare as a room
could be, of all that we call comfort; in the floor a small pine table
set with three plates, bread, cold herrings, and cheese. That was the
dinner for a little boy, whom I found setting the table, and his father
and mother. The parents work in a factory hard by, from early to late;
they have had sickness in the family this autumn, and are too poor to
afford a fire to eat their dinner by, or to make it warm, so the other
child, a little girl, has been sent away for the winter. It was
frostily cold the day I was there. The boy goes to school in the
afternoon, and comes home in time to light up a fire for his father and
mother to warm themselves by at evening. And the mother has all her
housework to do after she comes home."

"That's better than the other case," said Mrs. Wishart.

"But what could be done, Mr. Dillwyn?" said Lois from her corner. "It
seems as if something was wrong. But how could it be mended?"

"I want Mrs. Wishart to consider of that."

"I can't consider it!" said the lady. "I suppose it is intended that
there should be poor people always, to give us something to do."

"Then let us do it."

"How?"

"I am not certain; but I make a suggestion. Suppose all the ladies of
this city devoted their diamonds to this purpose. Then any number of
dwelling-houses could be put up; separate, but so arranged as to be
warmed by steam from a general centre, at a merely nominal cost for
each one; well ventilated and comfortable; so putting an end to the
enormity of tenement houses. Then a commission might be established to
look after the rights of the poor; to see that they got proper wages,
were not cheated, and that all should have work who wanted it. So much
might be done."

"With no end of money."

"I proposed to take the diamonds of the city, you know."

"And why just the diamonds?" inquired Mrs. Wishart. "Why don't you
speak of some of the indulgences of the men? Take the horses--or the
wines--"

"I am speaking to a lady," said Dillwyn, smiling. "When I have a man to
apply to, I will make my application accordingly."

"Ask him for his tobacco?" said Mrs. Wishart.

"Certainly for his tobacco. There is as much money spent in this city
for tobacco as there is for bread."

Madge exclaimed in incredulous astonishment; and Lois asked if the
diamonds of the city would amount to very much.

"Yes, Miss Lois. American ladies are very fond of diamonds; and it is a
common thing for one of them to have from ten thousand to twenty
thousand or thirty thousand dollars' worth of them as part of the
adornment of her pretty person at one time."

"Twenty thousand dollars' worth of diamonds on at once!" cried Madge.
"I call that wicked!"

"Why?" asked Mr. Dillwyn, smiling.

"There's no wickedness in it," said Mrs. Wishart. "How should it be
wicked? You put on a flower; and another, who can afford it, puts on a
diamond. What's the difference?"

"My flower does not cost anybody anything," said Madge.

"What do my diamonds cost anybody?" returned Mrs. Wishart.

Madge was silent, though not because she had nothing to say; and at
this precise moment the door opened, and visitors were ushered in.



CHAPTER XLI.



CHESS.



There entered upon the scene, that is, a little lady of very gay and
airy manner; whose airiness, however, was thoroughly well bred. She was
accompanied by a tall, pleasant-looking man, of somewhat dreamy aspect;
and they were named to Lois and Madge as Mrs. and Mr. Burrage. To Mr.
Dillwyn they were not named; and the greet ing in that quarter was
familiar; the lady giving him a nod, and the gentleman an easy "Good
evening." The lady's attention came round to him again as soon as she
was seated.

"Why, Philip, I did not expect to find you. What are you doing here?"

"I was making toast a little while ago."

"I did not know that was one of your accomplishments."

"They said I did it well. I have picked up a good deal of cooking in
the course of my travels."

"In what part of the world did you learn to make toast?" asked the
lady, while a pair of lively eyes seemed to take note rapidly of all
that was in the room; rapidly but carefully, Lois thought. She was glad
she herself was hidden in the shadowy sofa corner.

"I believe that is always learned in a cold country, where people have
fire," Mr. Dillwyn answered the question.

"These people who travel all over get to be insufferable!" the little
lady went on, turning to Mrs. Wishart; "they think they know
everything; and they are not a bit wiser than the rest of us. You were
not at the De Large's luncheon,--what a pity! I know; your cold shut
you up. You must take care of that cold. Well, you lost something. This
is the seventh entertainment that has been given to that English party;
and every one of them has exceeded the others. There is nothing left
for the eighth. Nobody will dare give an eighth. One is fairly tired
with the struggle of magnificence. It's the battle of the giants over
again, with a difference."

"It is not a battle with attempt to destroy," said her husband.

"Yes, it is--to destroy competition. I have been at every one of the
seven but one--and I am absolutely tired with splendour. But there is
really nothing left for any one else to do. I don't see how one is to
go any further--without the lamp of Aladdin."

"A return to simplicity would be grateful," remarked Mrs. Wishart. "And
as new as anything else could be."

"Simplicity! O, my dear Mrs. Wishart!--don't talk of simplicity. We
don't want simplicity. We have got past that. Simplicity is the dream
of children and country folks; and it means, eating your meat with your
fingers."

"It's the sweetest way of all," said Dillwyn.

"Where did you discover that? It must have been among savages.
Children--country folks--_and_ savages, I ought to have said."

"Orientals are not savages. On the contrary, very far exceeding in
politeness any western nation I know of."

"You would set a table, then, with napkins and fingers! Or are the
napkins not essential?"

"C'est selon," said Dillwyn. "In a strawberry bed, or under a cherry
tree, I should vote them a nuisance. At an Asiatic grandee's table you
would have them embroidered and perfumed; and one for your lap and
another for your lips."

"Evidently they are long past the stage of simplicity. Talking of
napkins we had them embroidered--and exquisitely--Japanese work; at the
De Larges'. Mine had a peacock in one corner; or I don't know if it was
a peacock; it was a gay-feathered bird--"



"A peacock has a tail," suggested Mr. Dillwyn.

"Well, I don't know whether it had a tail, but it was most exquisite;
in blue and red and gold; I never saw anything prettier. And at every
plate were such exquisite gifts! really elegant, you know. Flowers are
all very well; but when it comes to jewellery, I think it is a little
beyond good taste. Everybody can't do it, you know; and it is rather
embarrassing to _nous autres_."

"Simplicity _has_ its advantages," observed Mr. Dillwyn.

"Nonsense, Philip! You are as artificial a man as any one I know."

"In what sense?" asked Mr. Dillwyn calmly. "You are bound to explain,
for the sake of my character, that I do not wear false heels to my
boots."

"Don't be ridiculous! You have no need to wear false heels. _Art_ need
not be _false_, need it?"

"True art never is," said Mr. Dillwyn, amid some laughter.

"Well, artifice, then?"

"Artifice, I am afraid, is of another family, and not allied to truth."

"Well, everybody that knows you knows you are true; but they know, too,
that if ever there was a fastidious man, it is you; and a man that
wants everything at its last pitch of refinement."

"Which desirable stage I should say the luncheon you were describing
had not reached."

"You don't know. I had not told you the half. Fancy!--the ice floated
in our glasses in the form of pond lilies; as pretty as possible, with
broad leaves and buds."

"How did they get it in such shapes?" asked Madge, with her eyes a
trifle wider open than was usual with them.

"O, froze it in moulds, of course. But you might have fancied the
fairies had carved it. Then, Mrs. Wishart, there was an arrangement of
glasses over the gas burners, which produced the most silver sounds of
music you ever heard; no chime, you know, of course; but a most
peculiar, sweet, mysterious succession of musical breathings. Add to
that, by means of some invisible vaporizers, the whole air was filled
with sweetness; now it was orange flowers, and now it was roses, and
then again it would be heliotrope or violets; I never saw anything so
refined and so exquisite in my life. Waves of sweetness, rising and
falling, coming and going, and changing; it was perfect."

The little lady delivered herself of this description with much
animation, accompanying the latter part of it with a soft waving of her
hand; which altogether overcame Philip's gravity, and he burst into a
laugh, in which Mr. Burrage presently joined him; and Lois and Madge
found it impossible not to follow.

"What's the matter, Philip?" the lady asked.

"I am reminded of an old gentleman I once saw at Gratz; he was copying
the Madonna della Seggia in a mosaic made with the different-coloured
wax heads of matches."

"He must have been out of his head."

"That was the conclusion I came to."

"Pray what brought him to your remembrance just then?"

"I was thinking of the different ways people take in the search after
happiness."

"And one worth as much as another, I suppose you mean? That is a matter
of taste. Mrs. Wishart, I see _your_ happiness is cared for, in having
such charming friends with you. O, by the way!--talking of
seeing,--_have_ you seen Dulles & Grant's new Persian rugs and carpets?"

"I have been hardly anywhere. I wanted to take Madge to see Brett's
Collection of Paintings; but I have been unequal to any exertion."

"Well, the first time you go anywhere, go to Dulles & Grant's. Take her
to see those. Pictures are common; but these Turkish rugs and things
are not. They are the most exquisite, the most odd, the most delicious
things you ever saw. I have been wanting to ruin myself with them ever
since I saw them. It's high art, really. Those Orientals are wonderful
people! There is one rug--it is as large as this floor, nearly,--well,
it is covered with medallions in old gold, set in a wild, irregular
design of all sorts of Cashmere shawl colours--thrown about anyhow; and
yet the effect is rich beyond description; simple, too. Another,--O,
that is very rare; it is a rare Keelum carpet; let me see if I can
describe it. The ground is a full bright red. Over this run palm leaves
and little bits of ruby and maroon and gold mosaic; and between the
palm leaves come great ovals of olive mixed with black, blue, and
yellow; shading off into them. I _never_ saw anything I wanted so much."

"What price?"

"O, they are all prices. The Keelum carpet is only fifteen hundred--but
my husband says it is too much. Then another Persian carpet has a
centre of red and white. Round this a border of palm leaves. Round
these another border of deliciously mixed up warm colours; warm and
rich. Then another border of palms; and then the rest of the carpet is
in blended shades of dark dull red and pink, with olive flowers thrown
over it. O, I can't tell you the half. You must go and see. They have
immensely wide borders, all of them; and great thick, soft piles."

"Have you been to Brett's Collection?"

"Yes."

"What is there?"

"The usual thing. O, but I haven't told you what I have come here for
to-night."

"I thought it was, to see me."

"Yes, but not for pleasure, this time," said the lively lady, laughing.
"I had business--I really do have business sometimes. I came this
evening, because I wanted to see you when I could have a chance to
explain myself. Mrs. Wishart, I want you to take my place. They have
made me first directress of the Forlorn Children's Home."

"Does the epithet apply to the place? or to the children?" Mr. Dillwyn
asked.

"Now I _cannot_ undertake the office," Mrs. Burrage went on without
heeding him. "My hands are as full as they can hold, and my head
fuller. You must take it, Mrs. Wishart. You are just the person."

"I?" said Mrs. Wishart, with no delighted expression. "What are the
duties?"

"O, just oversight, you know; keeping things straight. Everybody needs
to be kept up to the mark. I cannot, for our Reading Club meets just at
the time when I ought to be up at the Home."

The ladies went into a closer discussion of the subject in its various
bearings; and Mr. Dillwyn and Madge returned to their chess play. Lois
lay watching and thinking. Mr. Burrage looked on at the chess-board,
and made remarks on the game languidly. By and by the talk of the two
ladies ceased, and the head of Mrs. Burrage came round, and she also
studied the chess-players. Her face was observant and critical, Lois
thought; oddly observant and thoughtful.

"Where did you get such charming friends to stay with you, Mrs.
Wishart? You are to be envied."

Mrs. Wishart explained, how Lois had been ill, and had come to get well
under her care.

"You must bring them to see me. Will you? Are they fond of music? Bring
them to my next musical evening."

And then she rose; but before taking leave she tripped across to Lois's
couch and came and stood quite close to her, looking at her for a
moment in what seemed to the girl rather an odd silence.

"You aren't equal to playing chess yet?" was her equally odd abrupt
question. Lois's smile showed some amusement.

"My brother is such an idle fellow, he has got nothing better to do
than to amuse sick people. It's charity to employ him. And when you are
able to come out, if you'll come to me, you shall hear some good music.
Good-bye!"

Her brother! thought Lois as she went off. Mr. Dillwyn, _her_ brother!
I don't believe she likes Madge and me to know him.

Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey Burrage drove away in silence for a few
minutes; then the lady broke out.

"There's mischief there, Chauncey!"

"What mischief?" the gentleman asked innocently.

"Those girls."

"Very handsome girls. At least the one that was visible."

"The other's worse. _I_ saw her. The one you saw is handsome; but the
other is peculiar. She is rare. Maybe not just so handsome, but more
refined; and _peculiar_. I don't know just what it is in her; but she
fascinated me. Masses of auburn hair--not just auburn--more of a golden
tint than brown--with a gold _reflet_, you know, that is so lovely; and
a face--"

"Well, what sort of a face?" asked Mr. Burrage, as his spouse paused.

"Something between a baby and an angel, and yet with a sort of sybil
look of wisdom. I believe she put one of Domenichino's sybils into my
head; there's that kind of complexion--"

"My dear," said the gentleman, laughing, "you could not tell what
complexion she was of. She was in a shady corner."

"I was quite near her. Now that sort of thing might just catch Philip."

"Well," said the gentleman, "you cannot help that."

"I don't know if I can or no!"

"Why should you want to help it, after all?"

"Why? I don't want Philip to make a mis-match."

"Why should it be a mis-match?"

"Philip has got too much money to marry a girl with nothing."

Mr. Burrage laughed. His wife demanded to know what he was laughing at?
and he said "the logic of her arithmetic."

"You men have no more logic in action, than we women have in
speculation. I am logical the other way."

"That is too involved for me to follow. But it occurs to me to ask, Why
should there be any match in the case here?"

"That's so like a man! Why shouldn't there? Take a man like my brother,
who don't know what to do with himself; a man whose eye and ear are
refined till he judges everything according to a standard of
beauty;--and give him a girl like that to look at! I said she reminded
me of one of Domenichino's sybils--but it isn't that. I'll tell you
what it is. She is like one of Fra Angelico's angels. Fancy Philip set
down opposite to one of Fra Angelico's angels in flesh and blood!"

"Can a man do better than marry an angel?"

"Yes! so long as he is not an angel himself, and don't live in
Paradise."

"They do not marry in Paradise," said Mr. Burrage dryly. "But why a
fellow may not get as near a paradisaical condition as he can, with the
drawback of marriage, and in this mundane sphere,--I do not see."

"Men never see anything till afterwards. I don't know anything about
this girl, Chauncey, except her face. But it is just the way with men,
to fall in love with a face. I do not know what she is, only she is
nobody; and Philip ought to marry somebody. I know where they are from.
She has no money, and she has no family; she has of course no breeding;
she has probably no education, to fit her for being his wife. Philip
ought to have the very reverse of all that. Or else he ought not to
marry at all, and let his money come to little Phil Chauncey."

"What are you going to do about it?" asked the gentleman, seeming
amused.

But Mrs. Burrage made no answer, and the rest of the drive, long as it
was, was rather stupid.



CHAPTER XLII.



RULES.



The next day Mr. Dillwyn came to take Madge to see Brett's Collection
of Paintings. Mrs. Wishart declared herself not yet up to it. Madge
came home in a great state of delight.

"It was so nice!" she explained to her sister; "just as nice as it
could be. Mr. Dillwyn was so pleasant; and told me everything and about
everything; about the pictures, and the masters; I shouldn't have known
what anything meant, but he explained it all. And it was such fun to
see the people."

"The people!" said Lois.

"Yes. There were a great many people; almost a crowd; and it _did_
amuse me to watch them."

"I thought you went to see the paintings."

"Well, I saw the paintings; and I heard more about them than I can ever
remember."

"What was there?"

"O, I can't tell you. Landscapes and landscapes; and then Holy
Families; and saints in misery, of one sort or another; and
battle-pieces, but those were such confusion that all I could make out
was horses on their hind-legs; and portraits. I think it is nonsense
for people to try to paint battles; they can't do it; and, besides, as
far as the fighting goes, one fight is just like another. Mr. Dillwyn
told me of a travelling showman, in Germany, who travelled about with
the panorama of a battle; and every year he gave it a new name, the
name of the last battle that was in men's mouths; and all he had to do
was to change the uniforms, he said. He had a pot of green paint for
the Prussians, and red for the English, and blue, I believe, for the
French, and so on; and it did just as well."

"What did you see that you liked best?"

"I'll tell you. It was a little picture of kittens, in and out of a
basket. Mr. Dillwyn didn't care about it; but I thought it was the
prettiest thing there. Mrs. Burrage was there."

"Was she?"

"And Mr. Dillwyn does know more than ever anybody else in the world, I
think. O, he was so nice, Lois! so nice and kind. I wouldn't have given
a pin to be there, if it hadn't been for him. He wouldn't let me get
tired; and he made everything amusing; and O, I could have sat there
till now and watched the people."

"The people! If the pictures were good, I don't see how you could have
eyes for the people."

"'The proper study of mankind is _man_,' my dear; and I like them alive
better than painted. It was fun to see the dresses; and then the ways.
How some people tried to be interested--"

"Like you?"

"What do you mean? I _was_ interested; and some talked and flirted, and
some stared. I watched every new set that came in. Mr. DilIwyn says he
will come and take us to the Philarmonic, as soon as the performances
begin."

"Madge, it is _better_ for us to go with Mrs. Wishart."

"She may go too, if she likes."

"And it is _better_ for us not to go with Mr. DilIwyn, more than we can
help."

"I won't," said Madge. "I can't help going with him whenever he asks
me, and I am not going any other time."

"What did Mrs. Burrage say to you?"

"Hm!-- Not much. I caught her looking at me more than once. She said
she would have a musical party next week, and we must come; and she
asked if you would be well enough."

"I hope I shall not."

"That's nonsense. Mr. Dillwyn wants us to go, I know."

"That is not a reason for going."

"I think it _is_. He is just as good as he can be, and I like him more
than anybody else I ever saw in my life. I'd like to see the thing he'd
ask me, that I wouldn't do."

"Madge, Madge!"

"Hush, Lois; that's nonsense."

"Madge you trouble me very much."

"And that's nonsense too."

Madge was beginning to get over the first sense of novelty and
strangeness in all about her; and, as she overcame that, a feeling of
delight replaced it, and grew and grew. Madge was revelling in
enjoyment. She went out with Mrs. Wishart, for drives in the Park and
for shopping expeditions in the city, and once or twice to make visits.
She went out with Mr. Dillwyn, too, as we have seen, who took her to
drive, and conducted her to galleries of pictures and museums of
curiosities; and finally, and with Mrs. Wishart, to a Philharmonic
rehearsal. Madge came home in a great state of exultation; though Lois
was almost indignant to find that the place and the people had rivalled
the performance in producing it. Lois herself was almost well enough to
go, though delicate enough still to allow her the choice of staying at
home. She was looking like herself again; yet a little paler in colour
and more deliberate in action than her old wont; both the tokens of a
want of strength which continued to be very manifest. One day Madge
came home from going with Mrs. Wishart to Dulles & Grant's. I may
remark that the evening at Mrs. Burrage's had not yet come off, owing
to a great storm the night of the music party; but another was looming
up in the distance.

"Lois," Madge delivered herself as she was taking off her wrappings,
"it is a great thing to be rich!"

"One needs to be sick to know how true that is," responded Lois. "If
you could guess what I would have given last summer and fall for a few
crumbs of the comfort with which this house is stacked full--like hay
in a barn!"

"But I am not thinking of comfort."

"I am. How I wanted everything for the sick people at Esterbrooke.
Think of not being able to change their bed linen properly, nor
anything like properly!"

"Of course," said Madge, "poor people do not have plenty of things. But
I was not thinking of _comfort_, when I spoke."

"Comfort is the best thing."

"Don't you like pretty things?"

"Too well, I am afraid."

"You cannot like them too well. Pretty things were meant to be liked.
What else were they made for? And of all pretty things--O, those
carpets and rugs! Lois, I never saw or dreamed of anything so
magnificent. I _should_ like to be rich, for once!"

"To buy a Persian carpet?"

"Yes. That and other things. Why not?"

"Madge, don't you know this was what grandmother was afraid of, when we
were learning to know Mr. Dillwyn?"

"What?" said Madge defiantly.

"That we would be bewitched--or dazzled--and lose sight of better
things; I think 'bewitched' is the word; all these beautiful things and
this luxurious comfort--it is bewitching; and so are the fine manners
and the cultivation and the delightful talk. I confess it. I feel it as
much as you do; but this is just what dear grandmother wanted to
protect us from."

"_What_ did she want to protect us from?" repeated Madge vehemently.
"Not Persian carpets, nor luxury; we are not likely to be tempted by
either of them in Shampuashuh."

"We might _here_."

"Be tempted? To what? I shall hardly be likely to go and buy a
fifteen-hundred-dollar carpet. And it was _cheap_ at that, Lois! I can
live without it, besides. I haven't got so far that I can't stand on
the floor, without any carpet at all, if I must. You needn't think it."

"I do not think it. Only, do not be tempted to fancy, darling, that
there is any way open to you to get such things; that is all."

"Any way open to me? You mean, I might marry a rich man some day?"

"You might think you might."

"Why shouldn't I?"

"Because, dear Madge, you will not be asked. I told you why. And if you
were,--Madge, you would not, you _could_ not, marry a man that was not
a Christian? Grandmother made me promise I never would."

"She did not make me promise it. Lois, don't be ridiculous. I don't
want to marry anybody at present; but I like Persian carpets, and
nothing will make me say I don't. And I like silver and gold; and
servants, and silk dresses, and ice-cream, and pictures, and big
houses, and big mirrors, and all the rest of it."

"You can find it all in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation, in the
description of the city Babylon; which means the world."

"I thought Babylon was Rome."

"Read for yourself."

I think Madge did not read it for herself, however; and the days went
on after the accustomed fashion, till the one arrived which was fixed
for Mrs. Chauncey Burrage's second musical party. The three ladies were
all invited. Mrs. Wishart supposed they were all going; but when the
day came Lois begged off. She did not feel like going, she said; it
would be far pleasanter to her if she could stay at home quietly; it
would be better for her. Mrs. Wishart demurred; the invitation had been
very urgent; Mrs. Burrage would be disappointed; and, besides, she was
a little proud herself of her handsome young relations, and wanted the
glory of producing them together. However, Lois was earnest in her wish
to be left at home; quietly earnest, which is the more difficult to
deal with; and, knowing her passionate love for music, Mrs. Wishart
decided that it must be her lingering weakness and languor which
indisposed her for going. Lois was indeed looking well again; but both
her friends had noticed that she was not come back to her old lively
energy, whether of speaking or doing. Strength comes back so slowly,
they said, after one of those fevers. Yet Madge was not satisfied with
this reasoning, and pondered, as she and Mrs. Wishart drove away, what
else might be the cause of Lois's refusal to go with them.

Meanwhile Lois, having seen them off and heard the house door close
upon them, drew up her chair before the fire and sat down. She was in
the back drawing-room, the windows of which looked out to the river and
the opposite shore; but the shutters were closed and the curtains
drawn, and only the interior view to be had now. So, or any way, Lois
loved the place. It was large, roomy, old-fashioned, with none of the
stiffness of new things about it; elegant, with the many tokens of home
life, and of a long habit of culture and comfort. In a big chimney a
big wood fire was burning quietly; the room was softly warm; a
brilliant lamp behind Lois banished even imaginary gloom, and a faint
red shine came from the burning hickory logs. Only this last
illumination fell on Lois's face, and in it Lois's face showed grave
and troubled. She was more like a sybil at this moment, looking into
confused earthly things, than like one of Fra Angelico's angels
rejoicing in the clear light of heaven.

Lois pulled her chair nearer to the fire, and bent down, leaning
towards it; not for warmth, for she was not in the least cold; but for
company, or for counsel. Who has not taken counsel of a fire? And Lois
was in perplexity of some sort, and trying to think hard and to examine
into herself. She half wished she had gone to the party at Mrs.
Burrage's. And why had she not gone? She did not want, she did not
think it was best, to meet Mr. Dillwyn there. And why not, seeing that
she met him constantly where she was? Well, _that_ she could not help;
this would be voluntary; put ting herself in his way, and in his
sister's way. Better not, Lois said to herself. But why, better not? It
would surely be a pleasant gathering at Mrs. Burrage's, a pleasant
party; her parties always were pleasant, Mrs. Wishart said; there would
be none but the best sort of people there, good talking and good music;
Lois would have liked it. What if Mr. Dillwyn were there too? Must she
keep out of sight of him? Why should she keep out of sight of him? Lois
put the question sharply to her conscience. And she found that the
answer, if given truly, would be that she fancied Mr. Dillwyn liked her
sister's society better than her own. But what then? The blood began to
rush over Lois's cheeks and brow and to burn in her pulses. _Then_, it
must be that she herself liked _his_ society--liked him--yes, a little
too well; else what harm in his preferring Madge? O, could it be? Lois
hid her face in her hands for a while, greatly disturbed; she was very
much afraid the case was even so.

But suppose it so; still, what of it? What did it signify, whom Mr.
Dillwyn liked? to Lois he could never be anything. Only a pleasant
acquain'tance. He and she were in two different lines of life, lines
that never cross. Her promise was passed to her grandmother; she could
never marry a man who was not a Christian. Happily Mr. Dillwyn did not
want to marry her; no such question was coming up for decision. Then
what was it to her if he liked Madge? Something, because it was not
liking that would end in anything; it was impossible a man in his
position and circumstances should choose for a wife one in hers. If he
could make such a choice, it would be Madge's duty, as much as it would
be her own, to refuse him. Would Madge refuse? Lois believed not.
Indeed, she thought no one could refuse him, that had not unconquerable
reasons of conscience; and Madge, she knew, did not share those which
were so strong in her own mind. Ought Madge to share them? Was it
indeed an absolute command that justified and necessitated the promise
made to her grandmother? or was it a less stringent thing, that might
possibly be passed over by one not so bound? Lois's mind was in a
turmoil of thoughts most unusual, and most foreign to her nature and
habit; thoughts seemed to go round in a whirl. And in the midst of the
whirl there would come before her mind's eye, not now Tom Caruthers'
face, but the vision of a pair of pleasant grey eyes at once keen and
gentle; or of a close head of hair with a white hand roving amid the
thick locks of it; or the outlines of a figure manly and lithe; or some
little thing done with that ease of manner which was so winning.
Sometimes she saw them as in Mrs. Wishart's drawing-room, and sometimes
at the table in the dear old house in Shampuashuh, and sometimes under
the drip of an umbrella in a pouring rain, and sometimes in the old
schoolhouse. Manly and kind, and full of intelligence, filled with
knowledge, well-bred, and noble; so Lois thought of him. Yet he was not
a Christian, therefore no fit partner for Madge or for any one else who
was a Christian. Could that be the absolute fact? Must it be? Was such
the inevitable and universal conclusion? On what did the logic of it
rest? Some words in the Bible bore the brunt of it, she knew; Lois had
read them and talked them over with her grandmother; and now an
irresistible desire took possession of her to read them again, and more
critically. She jumped up and ran up-stairs for her Bible.

The fire was down in her own room; the gas was not lit; so she went
back to the bright drawing-room, which to-night she had all to herself.
She laid her book on the table and opened it, and then was suddenly
checked by the question--what did all this matter to her, that she
should be so fiercely eager about it? Dismay struck her anew. What was
any un-Christian man to her, that her heart should beat so at
considering possible relations between them? No such relations were
desired by any such person; what ailed Lois even to take up the
subject? If Mr. Dillwyn liked either of the sisters particularly, it
was Madge. Probably his liking, if it existed, was no more than Tom
Caruthers', of which Lois thought with great scorn. Still, she argued,
did it not concern her to know with certain'ty what Madge ought to do,
in the event of Mr. Dillwyn being not precisely like Tom Caruthers?



CHAPTER XLIII.



ABOUT WORK.



The sound of the opening door made her start up. She would not have
even a servant surprise her so; kneeling on the floor with her face
buried in her hands on the table. She started up hurriedly; and then
was confounded to see entering--Mr. Dillwyn himself. She had heard no
ring of the door-bell; that must have been when she was up-stairs
getting her Bible. Lois found her feet, in the midst of a terrible
confusion of thoughts; but the very inward confusion admonished her to
be outwardly calm. She was not a woman of the world, and she had not
had very much experience in the difficult art of hiding her feelings,
or _acting_ in any way; nevertheless she was a true woman, and woman's
blessed--or cursed?--instinct of self-command came to her aid. She met
Mr. Dillwyn with a face and manner perfectly composed; she knew she
did; and cried to herself privately some thing very like a sea
captain's order to his helmsman--"Steady! keep her so." Mr. Dillwyn saw
that her face was flushed; but he saw, too, that he had disturbed her
and startled her; that must be the reason. She looked so far from being
delighted, that he could draw no other conclusion. So they shook hands.
She thought he did not look delighted either. Of course, she thought,
Madge was not there. And Mr. Dillwyn, whatever his mood when he came,
recognized immediately the decided reserve and coolness of Lois's
manner, and, to use another nautical phrase, laid his course
accordingly.

"How do you do, this evening?"

"I think, quite well. There is nobody at home but me, Mr. Dillwyn."

"So I have been told. But it is a great deal pleasanter here, even with
only one-third of the family, than it is in my solitary rooms at the
hotel."

At that Lois sat down, and so did he. She could not seem to bid him go
away. However, she said--

"Mrs. Wishart has taken Madge to your sister's. It is the night of her
music party."

"Why did not Mrs. Wishart take you?"

"I thought--it was better for me to stay at home," Lois answered, with
a little hesitation.

"You are not afraid of an evening alone!"

"No, indeed; how could I be? Indeed, I think in New York it is rather a
luxury."

Then she wished she had not said that. Would he think she meant to
intimate that he was depriving her of a luxury? Lois was annoyed at
herself; and hurried on to say something else, which she did not intend
should be so much in the same line as it proved. Indeed, she was
shocked the moment she had spoken.

"Don't you go to your sister's music parties, Mr. Dillwyn?"

"Not universally."

"I thought you were so fond of music"--Lois said apologetically.

"Yes," he said, smiling. "That keeps me away."

"I thought,"--said Lois,--"I thought they said the music was so good?"

"I have no doubt they say it. And they mean it honestly."

"And it is not?"

"I find it quite too severe a tax on my powers of simulation and
dissimulation. Those are powers you never call in play?" he added, with
a most pleasant smile and glance at her.

"Simulation and dissimulation?" repeated Lois, who had by no means got
her usual balance of mind or manner yet. "Are those powers which ought
to be called into play?"

"What are you going to do?"

"When?"

"When, for instance, you are in the mood for a grand theme of Handel,
and somebody gives you a sentimental bit of Rossini. Or when
Mendelssohn is played as if 'songs without words' were songs without
meaning. Or when a singer simply displays to you a VOICE, and leaves
music out of the question altogether."

"That is hard!" said Lois.

"What is one to do then?"

"It is hard," Lois said again. "But I suppose one ought always to be
true."

"If I am true, I must say what I think."

"Yes. If you speak at all."

"What will _they_ think then?"

"Yes," said Lois. "But, after all, that is not the first question."

"What is the first question?"

"I think--to do right."

"But what _is_ right? What will people think of me, if I tell them
their playing is abominable?"

"You need not say it just with those words," said Lois. "And perhaps,
if anybody told them the truth, they would do better. At any rate, what
they think is not the question, Mr. Dillwyn."

"What is the question?" he asked, smiling.

"What the Lord will think."

"Miss Lois, do you never use dissimulation?"

Lois could not help colouring, a little distressed.

"I try not," she answered. "I dare say I do, sometimes. I dare not say
I do not. It is very difficult for a woman to help it."

"More difficult for a woman than for a man?"

"I do not know. I suppose it is."

"Why should that be?"

"I do not know--unless because she is the weaker, and it may be part of
the defensive armour of a weak animal."

Mr. Dillwyn laughed a little.

"But that is _dis_simulation," said Lois. "One is not bound always to
say all one thinks; only never to say what one does not think."

"You would always give a true answer to a question?"

"I would try."

"I believe it. And now, Miss Lois, in that trust, I am going to ask you
a question. Do you recollect a certain walk in the rain?"

"Certainly!" she said, looking at him with some anxiety.

"And the conversation we held under the umbrella, without simulation or
dissimulation?"

"Yes."

"You tacitly--perhaps more than tacitly--blamed me for having spent so
much of my life in idleness; that is uselessly, to all but myself."

"Did I?"

"You did. And I have thought about it since. And I quite agree with you
that to be idle is to be neither wise nor dignified. But here rises a
difficulty. I think I would like to be of some use in the world, if I
could. But I do not know what to set about."

Lois waited, with silent attention.

"My question is this: How is a man to find his work in the world?"

Lois's eyes, which had been on his face, went away to the fire. His,
which had been on the ground, rose to her face.

"I am in a fog," he said

"I believe every one has his work," Lois remarked.

"I think you said so."

"The Bible says so, at any rate."

"_Then_ how is a man to find his work?" Philip asked, half smiling; at
the same time he drew up his chair a little nearer the fire, and began
to put the same in order. Evidently he was not going away immediately,
and had a mind to talk out the subject. But why with her? And was he
not going to his sister's?--

"If each one has, not only his work but his peculiar work, it must be a
very important matter to make sure he has found it. A wheel in a
machine can do its own work, but it cannot take the part of another
wheel. And your words suppose an exact adjustment of parts and powers."

"The Bible words," said Lois.

"Yes. Well, to my question. I do not know what I ought to do, Miss
Lois. I do not see the work to my hand. How am I ever to be any wiser?"

"I am the last person you should ask. And besides,--I do not think
anybody knows enough to set another his appointed task."

"How is he to find it, then?"

"He must ask the One who does know."

"Ask?--_Pray_, you mean?"

"Yes, pray. He must ask to be shown what he ought to do, and how to do
it. God knows what place he is meant to fill in the world."

"And if he asks, will he be told?"

"Certainly. That is the promise. 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him
ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; _and
it shall be given him_.'"

Lois's eyes came over to her questioner at the last words, as it were,
setting a seal to them.

"How will he get the answer? Suppose, for instance, I want wisdom; and
I kneel down and pray that I may know my work. I rise from my
prayer,--there is no voice, nor writing, nor visible sign; how am I the
wiser?"

"You think it will _not_ be given him?" Lois said, with a faint smile.

"I do not say that. I dare not. But how?"

"You must not think that, or the asking will be vain. You must believe
the Lord's promise."

Lois was warming out of her reserve, and possibly Mr. Dillwyn had a
purpose that she should; though I think he was quite earnest with his
question. But certainly he was watching her, as well as listening to
her.

"Go on," he said. "How will the answer come to me?"

"There is another condition, too. You must be quite willing to hear the
answer."

"Why?"

"Else you will be likely to miss it. You know, Mr. Dillwyn,--you do
_not_ know much about housekeeping things,--but I suppose you
understand, that if you want to weigh anything truly, your balance must
hang even."

He smiled.

"Well, then,--Miss Lois?"

"The answer? It comes different ways. But it is sure to come. I think
one way is this,--You see distinctly one thing you ought to do; it is
not life-work, but it is one thing. That is enough for one step. You do
that; and then you find that that one step has brought you where you
can see a little further, and another step is clear. That will do,"
Lois concluded, smiling; "step by step, you will get where you want to
be."

Mr. Dillwyn smiled too, thoughtfully, as it were, to himself.

"Was it _so_ that you went to teach school at that unlucky place?--what
do you call it?"

"It was not unlucky. Esterbrooke. Yes, I think I went so."

"Was not that a mistake?"

"No, I think not."

"But your work there was broken up?"

"O, but I expect to go back again."

"Back! There? It is too unhealthy."

"It will not be unhealthy, when the railroad is finished."

"I am afraid it will, for some time. And it is too rough a place for
you."

"That is why they want me the more."

"Miss Lois, you are not strong enough."

"I am very strong!" she answered, with a delicious smile.

"But there is such a thing--don't you think so?--as fitness of means to
ends. You would not take a silver spade to break ground with?"

"I am not at all a silver spade," said Lois. "But if I were; suppose I
had no other?"

"Then surely the breaking ground must be left to a different
instrument."

"That won't do," said Lois, shaking her head. "The instrument cannot
choose, you know, where it will be employed. It does not know enough
for that."

"But it made you ill, that work."

"I am recovering fast."

"You came to a good place for recovering," said Dillwyn, glancing round
the room, and willing, perhaps, to leave the subject.

"Almost too good," said Lois. "It spoils one. You cannot imagine the
contrast between what I came from--and _this_. I have been like one in
dreamland. And there comes over me now and then a strange feeling of
the inequality of things; almost a sense of wrong; the way I am cared
for is so very different from the very best and utmost that could be
done for the poor people at Esterbrooke. Think of my soups and creams
and ices and oranges and grapes!--and there, very often I could not get
a bit of fresh beef to make beef-tea; and what could I do without
beef-tea? And what would I not have given for an orange sometimes! I do
not mean, for myself. I could get hardly anything the sick people
really wanted. And here--it is like rain from the clouds."

"Where does the 'sense of wrong' come in?"

"It seems as if things _need_ not be so unequal."

"And what does your silver spade expect to do there?"

"Don't say that! I have no silver spade. But just so far as I could
help to introduce better ways and a knowledge of better things, the
inequality would be made up--or on the way to be made up."

"What refining measures are you thinking of?--beside your own presence
and example."

"I was certainly not thinking of _that_. Why, Mr. Dillwyn, knowledge
itself is refining; and then, so is comfort; and I could help them to
more comfort, in their houses, and in their meals. I began to teach
them singing, which has a great effect; and I carried all the pictures
I had with me. Most of all, though, to bring them to a knowledge of
Bible truth is the principal thing and the surest way. The rest is
really in order to that."

"Wasn't it very hard work?"

"No," said Lois. "Some things were hard; but not the work."

"Because you like it."

"Yes. O, Mr. Dillwyn, there is nothing pleasanter than to do one's
work, if it is work one is sure God has given."

"That must be because you love him," said Philip gravely. "Yet I
understand, that in the universal adjustment of things, the instrument
and its proper work must agree." He was silent a minute, and Lois did
not break the pause. If he would think, let him think, was her meaning.
Then he began again.

"There are different ways. What would you think of a man who spent his
whole life in painting?"

"I should not think that could be anybody's proper life-work."

"I think it was truly his, and he served God in it."

"Who was he?"

"A Catholic monk, in the fifteenth century."

"What did he paint? What was his name?"

"His name was Fra Angelico--by reason of the angelic character which
belonged to him and to his paintings; otherwise Fra Giovanni; he was a
monk in a Dominican cloister. He entered the convent when he was twenty
years old; and from that time, till he was sixty-eight, he served God
and his generation by painting."

Lois looked somewhat incredulous. Mr. Dillwyn here took from one of his
pockets a small case, opened it and put it in her hands. It was an
excellent copy of a bit of Fra Angelico's work.

"That," he said as he gave it her, "is the head of one of Fra
Angelico's angels, from a group in a large picture. I had this copy
made for myself some years ago--at a time when I only dimly felt what
now I am beginning to understand."

Lois scarce heard what he said. From the time she received the picture
in her hands she lost all thought of everything else. The unearthly
beauty and purity, the heavenly devotion and joy, seized her heart as
with a spell. The delicate lines of the face, the sweet colouring, the
finished, perfect handling, were most admirable; but it was the
marvellous spiritual love and purity which so took possession of Lois.
Her eyes filled and her cheeks flushed. It was, so far as painting
could give it, the truth of heaven; and that goes to the heart of the
human creature who perceives it. Mr. Dillwyn was watching her,
meanwhile, and could look safely, secure that Lois was in no danger of
finding it out; and while she, very likely, was thinking of the
distance between that angel face and her own, Philip, on the other
hand, was following the line of his sister's thought, and tracing the
fancied likeness. Like one of Fra Angelico's angels! Yes, there was the
same sort of grave purity, of unworldly if not unearthly spiritual
beauty. Truly the rapt joy was not there, nor the unshadowed triumph;
but love,--and innocence,--and humility,--and truth; and not a stain of
the world upon it. Lois said not one word, but looked and looked, till
at last she tendered the picture back to its owner.

"Perhaps you would like to keep it," said he, "and show it to your
sister."

He brought it to have Madge see it! thought Lois. Aloud--

"No--she would enjoy it a great deal more if you showed it to
her;--then you could tell her about it."

"I think you could explain it better."

As he made no motion to take back the picture, Lois drew in her hand
again and took a further view. How beautiful was the fair, bright,
rapt, blissful face of the angel!--as if, indeed, he were looking at
heaven's glories.

"Did he--did the painter--always paint like this?"

"Always, I believe. He improved in his manner as he went on; he painted
better and better; but from youth to age he was incessantly doing the
one thing, serving God with his pencil. He never painted for money;
that is, not for himself; the money went into the church's treasury. He
did not work for fame; much of his best work is upon the walls of the
monks' cells, where few would see it. He would not receive office. He
lived upon the Old and New Testaments, and prayer; and the one business
of his life was to show forth to the world what he believed, in such
beautiful wise that they might be won to believe it too."

"That is exactly the work we have to do,--everybody," said Lois,
lifting her eyes with a bright light in them. "I mean, everybody that
is a Christian. That is it;--to show forth Christ, and in such wise
that men may see and believe in him too. That is the word in
Philippians--'shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of
life.' I did not know it was possible to do it in painting--but I see
it is. O, thank you for showing me this!--it has done me good."

Her eyes were glistening as she gave him the picture again. Philip put
it in security, in silence, and rose up.

"Well," said he, "now I will go and hear somebody play the 'Carnival of
Venice,' as if it were all rattle and no fun."

"Is that the way they play it?"

"It is the way some people play it. Good night."

The door closed after him, and Lois sat down alone before the fire
again.



CHAPTER XLIV.



CHOOSING A WIFE.



She did not open her Bible to go on with the investigation Mr. Dillwyn
had broken off. Now that he had just been with her in proper person, an
instinct of scared modesty fled from the question whether or no he were
a man whom a Christian woman might marry. What was it to her? Lois said
to herself; what did it concern her, whether such a marriage were
permissible or no? Such a question would never come to her for
decision. To Madge, perhaps? But now the other question did ask for
consideration;--Why she winced at the idea that it might come to Madge?
Madge did not share her sister's scruple; Madge had not made the
promise Lois had made; if Mr. Dillwyn asked her, she would accept him,
Lois had little doubt. Perhaps he would ask her; and why, why did Lois
wish he would not? For she perceived that the idea gave her pain. Why
should it give her pain? For herself, the thing was a fixed fact;
whatever the Bible said--and she knew pretty well what it said--for
_her_, such a marriage was an impossibility. And why should she think
about it at all? nobody else was thinking about it. Fra Angelico's
angel came back to her mind; the clear, unshadowed eyes, the pure, glad
face, the separateness from all earth's passions or pleasures, the
lofty exaltation above them. So ought she to be. And then, while this
thought was warmest, came, shutting it out, the image of Mr. Dillwyn at
the music party; what he was doing there, how he would look and speak,
how Madge would enjoy his attentions, and everything; and Lois suddenly
felt as if she herself were very much alone. Not merely alone now,
to-night; she had chosen this, and liked it; (did she like it?)--not
now, but all through her life. It suddenly seemed to Lois as if she
were henceforth to be always alone. Madge would no doubt
marry--somebody; and there was no home, and nobody to make home for
Lois. She had never thought of it before, but now she seemed to see it
all quite clearly. Mrs. Barclay's work had been, to separate her, in a
certain way, from her family and her surroundings. They fitted together
no longer. Lois knew what they did not know; she had tastes which they
did not share, but which now were become part of her being; the society
in which she had moved all her life till two years, or three years,
ago, could no longer content her. It was not inanimate nature, her
garden, her spade and her wheelbarrow, that seemed distasteful; Lois
could have gone into that work again with all her heart, and thought it
no hardship; it was the mental level at which the people lived; the
social level, in houses, tables, dress, and amusements, and manner; the
aesthetic level of beauty, and grace, and fitness, or at least the
perception of them. Lois pondered and revolved this all till she began
to grow rather dreary. Think of the Esterbrooke school, and of being
alone there! Rough, rude, coarse boys and girls; untaught, untamed,
ungovernable, except by an uncommon exertion of wisdom and will; long
days of hard labour, nights of common food and sleep, with no delicate
arrangements for either, and social refreshment utterly out of the
question. And Madge away; married, perhaps, and travelling in Europe,
and seeing Fra Angelico's paintings. Then the angel's face recurred to
Lois, and she pulled herself up. The angel's face and the painter's
history both confronted her. On one hand, the seraphic purity and joy
of a creature who knew no will but God's will; on the other hand, the
quiet, patient life, which had borne such fruits. Four hundred years
ago, Fra Angelico painted; and ever since his work had been bearing
witness to God's truth and salvation; was even at that minute teaching
and admonishing herself. What did it signify just _how_ her own work
should be done, if only it were like work? What matter whether rough or
smooth, alone or in company? Where the service is to be done, there the
Master puts his servant; what the service is, he knows; for the
servant, all that he has to take care of is, that step by step he
follow where he is led, and everywhere, and by all means in his power,
that he show forth Christ to men. Then something like that angel's
security would be with him all the way, and something like that angel's
joy be at the end of it. The little picture had helped and comforted
Lois amazingly, and she went to bed with a heart humbled and almost
contented.

She went, however, in good time, before Madge could return home; she
did not want to hear the outflow of description and expatiation which
might be expected. And Madge indeed found her so seemingly sleepy, that
she was forced to give up talking and come to bed too. But all Lois had
gained was a respite. The next morning, as soon as they were awake,
Madge began.

"Lois, we had a grand time last night! You were so stupidly asleep when
I came home, I couldn't tell you. We had a beautiful time! O Lois, Mrs.
Burrage's house is just magnificent!"

"I suppose so."

"The floors are all laid in patterns of different coloured woods--a
sort of mosaic--"

"Parquetry."

"What?--I call it mosaic, with centre-pieces and borders,--O, elegant!
And they are smooth and polished; and then carpets and rugs of all
sorts are laid about; and it's most beautiful. She has got one of those
Persian carpets she was telling about, Lois."

"I dare say."

"And the walls are all great mirrors, or else there is the richest sort
of drapery--curtains, or hangings; and the prettiest painted walls. And
O, Lois, the flowers!--"

"Where were they?"

"Everywhere! On tables, and little shelves on the wall--"

"Brackets."

"O, well!--shelves they _are_, call them what you like; and stands of
plants and pots of plants--the whole place was sweet with the smell,
and green with the leaves, and brilliant with the flowers--"

"Seems to have been brilliant generally."

"So it was, just _brilliant_, with all that, and with the lights, and
with the people."

"Were the people brilliant too?"

"And the playing."

"O,--the playing!"

"Everybody said so. It wasn't like Mrs. Barclay's playing."

"What was it like?"

"It looked like very hard work, to me. My dear, I saw the drops of
sweat standing on one man's forehead;--he had been playing a pretty
long piece," Madge added, by way of accounting for things. "I never saw
anything like it, in all my life!"

"Like what?--sweat on a man's forehead?"

"Like the playing. Don't be ridiculous."

"It is not I," said Lois, who meanwhile had risenn and was getting
dressed. Madge was doing the same, talking all the while. "So the
playing was something to be _seen_. What was the singing?"

Madge stood still, comb in hand. "I don't know!" she said gravely. Lois
could not help laughing.

"Well, I don't," Madge went on. "It was so queer, some of it, I did not
know which way to look. Some of it was regular yelling, Lois; and if
people are going to yell, I'd rather have it out-of-doors. But one
man--I think he thought he was doing it remarkably well--the goings up
and down of his voice--"

"Cadences--"

"Well, the cadences if you choose; they made me think of nothing but
the tones of the lions and other beasts in the menagerie. Don't you
know how they roar up and down? first softly and then loud? I had
everything in the world to do not to laugh out downright. He was
singing something meant to be very pathetic; and it was absolutely
killing."

"It was not all like that, I suppose?"

"No. There was some I liked. But nothing one-half so good as your
singing a hymn, Lois. I wish you could have been there to give them
one. Only you could not sing a hymn in such a place."

"Why not?"

"Why, because! It would be out of place."

"I would not go anywhere where a hymn would be out of place."

"That's nonsense. But O, how the people were dressed, Lois! Brilliant!
O you may well say so. It took away my breath at first"

"You got it again, I hope?"

"Yes. But O, Lois, it _is_ nice to have plenty of money."

"Well, yes. And it is nice _not_ to have it--if the Lord makes it so."

"Makes _what_ so? You are very unsympathetic this morning, Lois! But if
you had only been there. O Lois, there were one or two fur rugs--fur
skins for rugs,--the most beautiful things I ever saw. One was a
leopard's skin, with its beautiful spots; the other was white and thick
and fluffy--I couldn't find out what it was."

"Bear, maybe."

"Bear! O Lois--those two skins finished me! I kept my head for a while,
with all the mosaic floors and rich hangings and flowers and
dresses,--but those two skins took away the little sense I had left.
They looked so magnificent! so luxurious."

"They are luxurious, no doubt."

"Lois, I don't see why some people should have so much, and others so
little."

"The same sort of question that puzzled David once."

"Why should Mrs. Burrage have all that, and you and I have only yellow
painted floors and rag carpets?"

"I don't want 'all that.'"

"Don't you?"

"No."

"I do."

"Madge, those things do not make people happy."

"It's all very well to say so, Lois. I should like just to try once."

"How do you like Mrs. Burrage?"

Madge hesitated a trifle.

"She is pleasant,--pretty, and clever, and lively; she went flying
about among the people like a butterfly, stopping a minute here and a
minute there, but I guess it was not to get honey but to give it. She
was a little honeyfied to me, but not much. I don't--think"--(slowly)
"she liked to see her brother making much of me."

Lois was silent.

"He was there; I didn't tell you. He came a little late. He said he had
been here, and as he didn't find us he came on to his sister's."

"He was here a little while."

"So he said. But he was so good, Lois! He was _very_ good. He talked to
me, and told me about things, and took care of me, and gave me supper.
I tell you, I thought madam his sister looked a little askance at him
once or twice. I _know_ she tried to get him away."

Lois again made no answer.

"Why should she, Lois?"

"Maybe you were mistaken."

"I don't think I was mistaken. But why should she, Lois?"

"Madge, dear, you know what I told you."

"About what?"

"About that; people's feelings. You and I do not belong to this gay,
rich world; we are not rich, and we are not fashionable, and we do not
live as they live, in any way; and they do not want us; why should
they?"

"We should not hurt them!" said Madge indignantly.

"Nor be of any use or pleasure to them."

"There isn't a girl among them all to compare with you, as far as looks
go."

"I am afraid that will not help the matter," said Lois, smiling; but
then she added with earnest and almost anxious eagerness,

"Madge, dear, don't think about it! Happiness is not there; and what
God gives us is best. Best for you and best for me. Don't you wish for
riches!--or for anything we haven't got. What we have to do, is to live
so as to show forth Christ and his truth before men."

"Very few do that," said Madge shortly.

"Let us be some of the few."

"I'd like to do it in high places, then," said Madge. "O, you needn't
talk, Lois! It's a great deal nicer to have a leopard skin under your
feet than a rag-carpet."

Lois could not help smiling, though something like tears was gathering.

"And I'd rather have Mr. Dillwyn take care of me than uncle Tim
Hotchkiss."

The laughter and the tears came both more unmistakeably. Lois felt a
little hysterical. She finished dressing hurriedly, and heard as little
as possible of Madge's further communications.

It was a few hours later, that same morning, that Philip Dillwyn
strolled into his sister's breakfast-room. It was a room at the back of
the house, the end of a suite; and from it the eye roved through
half-drawn _portières_ and between rows of pillars, along a vista of
the parquetted floors Madge had described to her sister; catching here
the glitter of gold from a picture frame, and there a gleam of white
from a marble figure, through the half light which reigned there. In
the breakfast-room it was bright day; and Mrs. Burrage was finishing
her chocolate and playing with bits of dry toast, when her brother came
in. Philip had hardly exchanged greetings and taken his seat, when his
attention was claimed by Mrs. Burrage's young son and heir, who
forthwith thrust himself between his uncle's knees, a bat in one hand,
a worsted ball in the other.

"Uncle Phil, mamma says her name usen't to be Burrage--it was your
name?"

"That is correct."

"If it was your name once, why isn't it your name now?"

"Because she changed it and became Burrage."

"What made her be Burrage?"

"That is a deep question in mental philosophy, which I am unable to
answer, Chauncey."

"She says, it's because she married papa."

"Does not your mother generally speak truth?"

Young Philip Chauncey seemed to consider this question; and finally
waiving it, went on pulling at a button of his uncle's coat in the
energy of his inquiries.

"Uncle Phil, you haven't got a wife?"

"No."

"Why haven't you?"

"An old cookery book says, 'First catch your hare.'"

"Must you catch your wife?"

"I suppose so."

"How do you catch her?"

But the answer to this most serious inquiry was met by such a burst of
laughter on the part of both the older persons in the room, that Phil
had to wait; nothing daunted, however, returned to the charge.

"Uncle Phil, if you had a wife, what would her name be?"

"If ever I have one, Chauncey, her name will be--"

But here the speaker had very nearly, in his abstraction, brought out a
name that would, to say the least, have astonished his sister. He
caught himself up just in time, and laughed.

"If ever I have one, her name will be mine."

"I did not know, last night, but you had chosen the lady to whom you
intended to do so much honour," his sister observed coolly, looking at
him across her chocolate cup.

"Or who I hoped would do me so much honour. What did you think of my
supposed choice?" he asked with equal coolness.

"What could I think, except that you were like all other
men--distraught for a pretty face."

"One might do worse," observed Philip, in the same tone, while that of
his sister grew warmer.

"Some men,--but not you, Philip?"

"What distinguishes me from the mass?"

"You are too old to be made a fool of."

"Old enough to be wise, certainly."

"And you are too fastidious to be satisfied with anything short of
perfection; and then you fill too high a position in the world to marry
a girl who is nobody."

"So?"--said Philip, using, which it always vexed his sister to have him
do, the half questioning, half admiring, wholly unattackable German
expression. "Then the person alluded to seemed to you something short
of perfection?"

"She is handsome," returned his sister; "she has a very handsome face;
anybody can see that; but that does not make her your equal."

"Humph!--You suppose I can find that rare bird, my equal, do you?"

"Not there."

"What's the matter with her?"

"She is simply nobody."

"Seems to say a good deal," responded Philip. "I do not know just
_what_ it says."

"You know as well as I do! And she is unformed; unused to all the ways
of the world; a mere novice in society."

"Part of that is soon mended," said Philip easily. "I heard your uncle,
or Burrage's uncle, old Colonel Chauncey, last night declaring that
there is not a girl in the city that has such manners as one of the
Miss Lothrops; manners of 'mingled grace and dignity,' he said."

"That was the other one."

"That was the other one."

"_She_ has been in New York before?"

"Yes."

"That was the one that Tom Caruthers was bewitched with?"

"Have you heard _that_ story?" said Mr. Dillwyn dryly.

"Why shouldn't I hear it?"

"No reason, that I know. It is one of the 'ways of the world' you
referred to, to tell everything of everybody,--especially when it is
not true."

"Isn't that story true?"

"It has no inherent improbability. Tom is open to influences, and--" He
stopped.

"I know it is true; for Mrs. Caruthers told me herself."

"Poor Tom!"--

"It was very good for him, that the thing was put an end to. But
_you_--you should fly at higher game than Tom Caruthers can strike,
Philip."

"Thank you. There was no occasion for your special fear last night. I
am in no danger there. But I know a man, Jessie,--a man I think much
of, too,--who _is_ very much drawn to one of those ladies. He has
confessed as much to me. What advice shall I give him? He is a man that
can please himself; he has abundant means, and no ties to encumber him."

"Does he hold as high a position as you?"

"Quite."

"And may pretend to as much?"

"He is not a man of pretensions. But, taking your words as they mean, I
should say, yes."

"Is it any use to offer him advice?"

"I think he generally hears mine--if he is not too far gone in
something."

"Ah!--Well, Philip, tell him to think what he is doing."

"O, I _have_ put that before him."

"He would make himself a great goose."

"Perhaps I ought to have some arguments wherewith to substantiate that
prophecy."

"He can see the whole for himself. Let him think of the fitness of
things. Imagine such a girl set to preside over his house--a house like
this, for instance. Imagine her helping him receive his guests; sitting
at the head of his table. Fancy it; a girl who has been accustomed to
sanded floors, perhaps, and paper window-shades, and who has fed on
pumpkins and pork all her life."

Mr. Dillwyn smiled, as his eye roved over what of his sister's house
was visible from where he sat, and he remembered the meal-times in
Shampuashuh; he smiled, but his eye had more thought in it than Mrs.
Burrage liked. She was watching him.

"I cannot tell what sort of a house is in question in the present
case," he said at length. "Perhaps it would not be a house like this."

"It _ought_ to be a house like this."

"Isn't that an open question?"

"No! I am supposing that this man, your friend-- Do I know him?"

"Do you not know everybody? But I have no permission to disclose his
name."

"And I do not care for it, if he is going to make a _mésalliance;_ a
marriage beneath him. Such marriages turn out miserably. A woman not
fit for society drags her husband out of it; a woman who has not
refined tastes makes him gradually coarse; a woman with no connections
keeps him from rising in life; if she is without education, she lets
all the best part of him go to waste. In short, if he marries a nobody
he becomes nobody too; parts with all his antecedents, and buries all
his advantages. It's social ruin, Philip! it is just ruin."

"If this man only does not prefer the bliss of ruining himself!"--said
her brother, rising and lightly stretching himself. Mrs. Burrage looked
at him keenly and doubtfully.

"There is no greater mistake a man can make, than to marry beneath
him," she went on.

"Yes, I think that too."

"It sinks him below his level; it is a weight round his neck; people
afterwards, when he is mentioned say,--'_He married such a one, you
know;_' and, '_Didn't he marry unfortunately?_'--He is like depreciated
coin. It kills him, Philip, politically."

"And fashionably."

"O, fashionably! of course."

"What's left to a man when he ceases to be fashionable?"

"Well, of course he chooses a new set of associates."

"But if Tom Caruthers had married as you say he wanted to marry, his
wife would have come at once into his circle, and made one of it?"

"Provided she could hold the place."

"Of that I have no doubt."

"It was a great gain to Tom that he missed."

"The world has odd balances to weigh loss and gain!" said Philip.

"Why, Philip, in addition to everything else, these girls are
_religious;_--not after a reasonable fashion, you know, but
puritanical; prejudiced, and narrow, and stiff."

"How do you know all that?"

"From that one's talk last night. And from Mrs. Wishart."

"Did _she_ say they were puritanical?"

"Yes. O yes! they are stiff about dancing and cards; and I had nearly
laughed last night at the way Miss--what's her name?--opened her eyes
at me when I spoke of the theatre."

"She does not know what the theatre is," said Philip.

"She thinks she does."

"She does not know the half."

"Philip," said Mrs. Burrage severely and discontentedly, "you are not
agreeing with me."

"Not entirely, sister."

"You are as fond of the theatre, or of the opera, as anybody I know."

"I never saw a decent opera in my life."

"Philip!"

"Nor did you."

"How ridiculous! You have been going to the opera all your life, and
the theatre too, in half a dozen different countries."

"Therefore I claim to know of what I speak. And if I had a wife--" he
paused. His thoughts made two or three leaps; the vision of Lois's
sweet, pure dignity came before him, and words were wanting.

"What if you had a wife?" asked his sister impatiently.

"I would rather she would be anything but a 'fast' woman."

"She needn't be 'fast'; but she needn't be precise either."

There was something in Philip's air or his silence which provoked Mrs.
Burrage. She went on with some heat, and defiantly.

"I have no objection to religion, in a proper way. I always teach
Chauncey to make the responses."

"Make them yourself?"

"Of course."

"Do you mean them?"

"Mean them!"--

"Yes. Do you mean what you say? When you have said, 'Lord, have mercy
upon us, miserable sinners'--did you feel guilty? or miserable?"

"Miserable!"--

"Yes. Did you feel miserable?"

"Philip, I have no idea what you are driving at, unless you are
defending these two precise, puritanical young country-women."

"A little of that," he said, smiling, "and a little of something else."

He had risen, as if to go. His sister looked at him, vexed and
uncertain. She was proud of her brother, she admired him, as almost
people did who knew Mr. Dillwyn. Suddenly she changed her tactics; rose
up, and coming to him laid both her hands on his shoulders so that she
could raise herself up to kiss him.

"Don't _you_ go and be foolish!" she said. "I will forgive your friend,
Philip, but I will not forgive you!"



CHAPTER XLV.



DUTY.



The days of December went by. Lois was herself again, in health; and
nothing was in the way of Madge's full enjoyment of New York and its
pleasures, so she enjoyed them to the full. She went wherever Mrs.
Wishart would take her. That did not involve any very outrageous
dissipation, for Mrs. Wishart, though fond of society, liked it best in
moderation. Moderate companies and moderate hours suited her. However,
Madge had enough to content her new thirst for excitement and variety,
especially as Mr. Dillwyn continually came in to fill up gaps in her
engagements. He took her to drive, or to see various sights, which for
the country-bred girl were full of enchantment; and he came to the
house constantly on the empty evenings.

Lois queried again and again what brought him there? Madge it must be;
it could hardly be the society of his old friend Mrs. Wishart. It was
not her society that he sought. He was general in his attentions, to be
sure; but he played chess with Madge, he accompanied Madge's singing,
he helped Madge in her French reading and Italian pronunciation, and
took Madge out. He did none of these things with Lois. Truly Lois had
been asked, and would not go out either alone or with her sister in Mr.
Dillwyn's carriage or in Mr. Dillwyn's convoy. And she had been
challenged, and invariably declined, to sing with them; and she did not
want to learn the game of chess, and took no help from anybody in her
studies. Indeed, Lois kept herself persistently in the background, and
refused to accompany her friends to any sort of parties; and at home,
though she must sit down-stairs in the evening, she withdrew from the
conversation as much as she could.

"My dear," said Mrs. Wishart, much vexed at last, "you do not think it
is _wicked_ to go into society, I hope?"

"Not for you. I do not think it would be right for me."

"Why not, pray? Is this Puritanism?"

"Not at all," said Lois, smiling.

"She is a regular Puritan, though," said Madge.

"It isn't that," Lois repeated. "I like going out among people as well
as Madge does. I am afraid I might like it too well."

"What do you mean by 'too well'?" demanded her protectress, a little
angrily.

"More than would be good for me. Just think--in a little while I must
go back to Esterbrooke and teaching; don't you see, I had better not
get myself entangled with what would unfit me for my work?"

"Nonsense! That is not your work."

"You are _never_ going back to that horrid place!" exclaimed Madge.

But they both knew, from the manner of Lois's quiet silence, that their
positions would not be maintained.

"There's the more reason, if you are going back there by and by, why
you should take all the advantage you can of the present," Mrs. Wishart
added. Lois gave her a sweet, grateful look, acknowledging her
tenderness, but not granting her conclusions. She got away from the
subject as soon as she could. The question of the sisters' return home
had already been broached by Lois; received, however, by Mrs. Wishart
with such contempt, and by Madge with such utter disfavour, that Lois
found the point could not be carried; at least not at that time; and
then winter began to set in, and she could find no valid reason for
making the move before it should be gone again, Mrs. Wishart's
intention being unmistakeable to keep them until spring. But how was
she going to hold out until spring? Lois felt herself very
uncomfortable. She could not possibly avoid seeing Mr. Dillwyn
constantly; she could not always help talking to him, for sometimes he
would make her talk; and she was very much afraid that she liked to
talk to him. All the while she was obliged to see how much attention he
was paying to Madge, and it was no secret how well Madge liked it; and
Lois was afraid to look at her own reasons for disliking it. Was it
merely because Mr. Dillwyn was a man of the world, and she did not want
her sister to get entangled with him? her sister, who had made no
promise to her grandmother, and who was only bound, and perhaps would
not be bound, by Bible commands? Lois had never opened her Bible to
study the point, since that evening when Mr. Dillwyn had interrupted
her. She was ashamed to do it. The question ought to have no interest
for her.

So days went by, and weeks, and the year was near at an end, when the
first snow came. It had held off wonderfully, people said; and now when
it came it came in earnest. It snowed all night and all day; and slowly
then the clouds thinned and parted and cleared away, and the westering
sun broke out upon a brilliant world.

Lois sat at her window, looking out at it, and chiding herself that it
made her feel sober. Or else, by contrast, it let her know how sober
she was. The spectacle was wholly joy-inspiring, and so she had been
wont to find it. Snow lying unbroken on all the ground, in one white,
fair glitter; snow lying piled up on the branches and twigs of trees,
doubling them with white coral; snow in ridges and banks on the
opposite shore of the river; and between, the rolling waters. Madge
burst in.

"Isn't it glorious?" said Lois. "Come here and see how black the river
is rolling between its white banks."

"Black? I didn't know anything was black," said Madge. "Here is Mr.
Dillwyn, come to take me sleigh-riding. Just think, Lois!--a sleigh
ride in the Park!--O, I'm so glad I have got my hood done!"

Lois slowly turned her head round. "Sleigh-riding?" she said. "Are you
going sleigh-riding, and with Mr. Dillwyn?"

"Yes indeed, why not?" said Madge, bustling about with great activity.
"I'd rather go with him than with anybody else, I can tell you. He has
got his sister's horses--Mrs. Burrage don't like sleighing--and Mr.
Burrage begged he would take the horses out. They're gay, but he knows
how to drive. O, won't it be magnificent?"

Lois looked at her sister in silence, unwilling, yet not knowing what
to object; while Madge wrapped herself in a warm cloak, and donned a
silk hood lined with cherry colour, in which she was certainly
something to look at. No plainer attire nor brighter beauty would be
seen among the gay snow-revellers that afternoon. She flung a sparkling
glance at her sister as she turned to go.

"Don't be very long!" Lois said.

"Just as long as he likes to make it!" Madge returned. "Do you think
_I_ am going to ask him to turn about, before he is ready? Not I, I
promise you. Good-bye, hermit!"

Away she ran, and Lois turned again to her window, where all the white
seemed suddenly to have become black. She will marry him!--she was
saying to herself. And why should she not? she has made no promise. _I_
am bound--doubly; what is it to me, what they do? Yet if not right for
me it is not right for Madge. _Is_ the Bible absolute about it?

She thought it would perhaps serve to settle and stay her mind if she
went to the Bible with the question and studied it fairly out. She drew
up the table with the book, and prayed earnestly to be taught the
truth, and to be kept contented with the right. Then she opened at the
well-known words in 2 Corinthians, chap. vi.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers"--

"Yoked together." That is, bound in a bond which obliges two to go one
way and pull in one draught. Then of course they _must_ go one way; and
which way, will depend upon which is strongest. But cannot a good woman
use her influence to induce a man who is also good, only not Christian,
to go the right way?

Lois pondered this, wishing to believe it. Yet there stood the command.
And she remembered there are two sides to influence; could not a good
man, and a pleasant man, only not Christian, use his power to induce a
Christian woman to go the wrong way? How little she would like to
displease him! how willingly she would gratify him!--And then there
stands the command. And, turning from it to a parallel passage in 1
Cor. vii. 39, she read again the directions for the marriage of a
Christian widow; she is at liberty to be married to whom she will,
"_only in the Lord_." There could be no question of what is the will of
God in this matter. And in Deut. vii. 3, 4, she studied anew the
reasons there given. "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy
daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou
take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me,
that they may serve other gods."

Lois studied these passages with I cannot say how much aching of heart.
Why did her heart ache? It was nothing to her, surely; she neither
loved nor was going to love any man to whom the prohibition could
apply. Why should she concern herself with the matter? Madge?-- Well,
Madge must be the keeper of her own conscience; she would probably
marry Mr. Dillwyn; and poor Lois saw sufficiently into the workings of
her own heart to know that she thought her sister very happy in the
prospect. But then, if the question of conscience could be so got over,
_why_ was she troubled? She would not evade the inquiry; she forced
herself to make it; and she writhed under the pressure and the pain it
caused her. At last, thoroughly humbled and grieved and ashamed, she
fled to a woman's refuge in tears, and a Christian's refuge in prayer;
and from the bottom of her heart, though with some very hard struggles,
gave up every lingering thought and wish that ran counter to the Bible
command. Let Madge do what Madge thought right; she had warned her of
the truth. Now her business was with herself and her own action; and
Lois made clean work of it. I cannot say she was exactly a happy woman
as she went down-stairs; but she felt strong and at peace. Doing the
Lord's will, she could not be miserable; with the Lord's presence she
could not be utterly alone; anyhow, she would trust him and do her
duty, and leave all the rest.

She went down-stairs at last, for she had spent the afternoon in her
own room, and felt that she owed it to Mrs. Wishart to go down and keep
her company. O, if Spring were but come! she thought as she descended
the staircase,--and she could get away, and take hold of her work, and
bring things into the old train! Spring was many weeks off yet, and she
must do different and harder work first, she saw. She went down to the
back drawing-room and laid herself upon the sofa.

"Are you not well, Lois?" was the immediate question from Mrs. Wishart.

"Yes, ma'am; only not just vigorous. How long they are gone! It is
growing late."

"The sleighing is tempting. It is not often we have such a chance. I
suppose everybody is out. _You_ don't go into the air enough, Lois."

"I took a walk this morning."

"In the snow!--and came back tired. I saw it in your face. Such
dreadful walking was enough to tire you. I don't think you half know
how to take care of yourself."

Lois let the charge pass undisputed, and lay still. The afternoon had
waned and the sun gone down; the snow, however, made it still light
outside. But that light faded too; and it was really evening, when
sounds at the front door announced the return of the sleighing party.
Presently Madge burst in, rosy and gay as snow and sleigh-bells could
make anybody.

"It's glorious!" she said. "O, we have been to the Park and all over.
It's splendid! Everybody in the world is out, and we saw everybody, and
some people we saw two or three times; and it's like nothing in all the
world I ever saw before. The whole air is full of sleigh-bells; and the
roads are so thick with sleighs that it is positively dangerous."

"That must make it very pleasant!" said Lois languidly.

"O, it does! There's the excitement, you know, and the skill of
steering clear of people that you think are going to run over you. It's
the greatest fun I ever saw in my life. And Mr. Dillwyn drives
beautifully."

"I dare say."

"And the next piece of driving he does, is to drive you out."

"I hardly think he will manage that."

"Well, you'll see. Here he is. She says she hardly thinks you will, Mr.
Dillwyn. Now for a trial of power!"

Madge stood in the centre of the room, her hood off, her little plain
cloak still round her; eyes sparkling, cheeks rosy with pleasure and
frosty air, a very handsome and striking figure. Lois's eyes dwelt upon
her, glad and sorry at once; but Lois had herself in hand now, and was
as calm as the other was excited. Then presently came Mr. DilIwyn, and
sat down beside her couch.

"How do you do, this evening?"

His manner, she noticed, was not at all like Madge's; it was quiet,
sober, collected, gentle; sleighing seemed to have wrought no
particular exhilaration on him. Therefore it disarmed Lois. She gave
her answer in a similar tone.

"Have you been out to-day?"

"Yes--quite a long walk this morning."

"Now I want you to let me give you a short drive."

"O no, I think not."

"Come!" said he. "I may not have another opportunity to show you what
you will see to-day; and I want you to see it."

He did not seem to use much urgency, and yet there was a certain
insistance in his tone which Lois felt, and which had its effect upon
her, as such tones are apt to do, even when one does not willingly
submit to them. She objected that it was late.

"O, the moon is up," cried Madge; "it won't be any darker than it is
now."

"It will be brighter," said Philip.

"But your horses must have had enough."

"Just enough," said Philip, laughing, "to make them go quietly. Miss
Madge will bear witness they were beyond that at first. I want you to
go with me. Come, Miss Lois! We must be home before Mrs. Wishart's tea.
Miss Madge, give her your hood and cloak; that will save time."

Why should she not say no? She found it difficult, against that
something in his tone. He was more intent upon the affirmative than she
upon the negative. And after all, why _should_ she say no? She had
fought her fight and conquered; Mr. Dillwyn was nothing to her, more
than another man; unless, indeed, he were to be Madge's husband, and
then she would have to be on good terms with, him. And she had a secret
fancy to have, for once, the pleasure of this drive with him. Why not,
just to see how it tasted? I think it went with Lois at this moment as
in the German story, where a little boy vaunted himself to his sister
that he had resisted the temptation to buy some ripe cherries, and so
had saved his pennies. His sister praised his prudence and firmness.
"But now, dear Hercules," she went on, "now that you have done right
and saved your pennies, now, my dear brother, you may reward yourself
and buy your cherries!"

Perhaps it was with some such unconscious recoil from judgment that
Lois acted now. At any rate, she slowly rose from her sofa, and Madge,
rejoicing, threw off her cloak and put it round her, and fastened its
ties. Then Mr. Dillwyn himself took the hood and put it on her head,
and tied the strings under her chin. The start this gave her almost
made Lois repent of her decision; he was looking into her face, and his
fingers were touching her cheek, and the pain of it was more than Lois
had bargained for. No, she thought, she had better not gone; but it was
too late now to alter things. She stood still, feeling that thrill of
pain and pleasure where the one so makes the other keen, keeping quiet
and not meeting his eyes; and then he put her hand upon his arm and led
her down the wide, old-fashioned staircase. Something in the air of it
all brought to Lois's remembrance that Sunday afternoon at Shampuashuh
and the walk home in the rain; and it gave her a stricture of heart.
She put the manner now to Madge's account, and thought within herself
that if Madge's hood and cloak were beside him it probably did not
matter who was in them; his fancy could do the rest. Somehow she did
not want to go to drive as Madge's proxy. However, there was no helping
that now. She was put into the sleigh, enveloped in the fur robes; Mr.
Dillwyn took his place beside her, and they were off.



CHAPTER XLVI.



OFF AND ON.



Certinaly Madge had not said too much, and the scene was like witchery.
The sun was down, but the moon was up, near full, and giving a white
illumination to the white world. The snow had fallen thick, and neither
sun nor wind had as yet made any impression upon it; the covering of
the road was thick and well beaten, and on every exposed level surface
lay the white treasure piled up. Every twig and branch of the trees
still held its burden; every roof was blanketed; there had been no time
yet for smoke and soil to come upon the pure surfaces; and on all this
fell the pale moon rays, casting pale shadows and making the world
somehow look like something better than itself. The horses Mr. Dillwyn
drove were fresh enough yet, and stepped off gaily, their bells
clinking musically; and other bells passed them and sounded in the
nearer and further distance. Moreover, under this illumination all less
agreeable features of the landscape were covered up. It was a pure
region of enchanted beauty to Lois's sense, through which they drove;
and she felt as if a spell had come upon her too, and this bit of
experience were no more real than the rest of it. It was exquisitely
and intensely pleasant; a bit of life quite apart and by itself, and
never to be repeated, therefore to be enjoyed all she could while she
had it. Which thought was not enjoyment. Was she not foolish to have
come?

"Are you comfortable?" suddenly Mr. Dillwyn's voice came in upon these
musings.

"O, perfectly!" Lois answered, with an accentuation between delight and
desperation.

And then he was silent again; and she went on with her musings, just
that word having given them a spur. How exquisite the scene was! how
exquisite everything, in fact. All the uncomelinesses of a city suburb
were veiled under the moonlight; nothing but beauty could be seen; here
were points that caught the light, and there were shadows that simply
served to set off the silvery whiteness of the moon and the snow; what
it was that made those points of reflection, or what lay beneath those
soft shadows, did not appear. The road was beaten smooth, the going was
capital, the horses trotted swiftly and steadily, Lois was wrapped in
soft furs, and the air which she was breathing was merely cold enough
to exhilarate. It was perfection. In truth it was so perfect, and Lois
enjoyed it so keenly, that she began to be vexed at herself for her
enjoyment. Why should Mr. Dillwyn have got her out? all this luxury of
sense and feeling was not good for her; did not belong to her; and why
should she taste at all a delight which must be so fleeting? And what
had possessed him to tie her hood strings for her, and to do it in that
leisurely way, as if he liked it? And why did _she_ like it? Lois
scolded and chid herself. If he were going to marry Madge ever so much,
that gave him no right to take such a liberty; and she would not allow
him such liberties; she would keep him at a distance. But was she not
going to a distance herself? There would be no need.

The moonlight was troubled, though by no cloud on the ethereal
firmament; and Lois was not quite so conscious as she had been of the
beauty around her. The silence lasted a good while; she wondered if her
neighbour's thoughts were busy with the lady he had just set down, to
such a degree that he forgot to attend to his new companion? Nothing
could be more wide of the truth; but that is the way we judge and
misjudge one another. She was almost hurt at his silence, before he
spoke again. The fact is, that the general axiom that a man can always
put in words anything of which his head and heart are both full, seems
to have one exception. Mr. Dillwyn was a good talker, always, on
matters he cared about, and matters he did not care about; and yet now,
when he had secured, one would say, the most favourable circumstances
for a hearing, and opportunity to speak as he liked, he did not know
how to speak. By and by his hand came again round Lois to see that the
fur robes were well tucked in about her. Something in the action made
her impatient.

"I am very well," she said.

"You must be taken care of, you know," he said; to Lois's fancy he said
it as if there were some one to whom he must be responsible for her.

"I am not used to being taken care of," she said. "I have taken care of
myself, generally."

"Like it better?"

"I don't know. I suppose really no woman can say she likes it better.
But I am accustomed to it."

"Don't you think I could take care of you?"

"You _are_ taking capital care of me," said Lois, not knowing exactly
how to understand him. "Just now it is your business; and I should say
you were doing it well."

"What would you say if I told you that I wanted to take care of you all
your life?"

He had let the horses come to a walk; the sleigh-bells only tinkled
softly; no other bells were near. Which way they had gone Lois had not
considered; but evidently it had not been towards the busy and noisy
haunts of men. However, she did not think of this till a few minutes
afterwards; she thought now that Mr. Dillwyn's words regarded Madge's
sister, and her feeling of independence became rigid.

"A kind wish,--but impracticable," she answered.

"Why?"

"I shall be too far off. That is one thing."

"Where are you going to be?--Forgive me for asking!"

"O yes. I shall be keeping school in New England somewhere, I suppose;
first of all, at Esterbrooke."

"But if I had the care of you--you would not be there?"

"That is my place," said Lois shortly.

"Do you mean it is the place you prefer?"

"There is no question of preference. You know, one's work is what is
given one; and the thing given me to do, at present, seems to be there.
Of course I do prefer what my work is."

Still the horses were smoothly walking. Mr. Dillwyri was silent a
moment.

"You did not understand what I said to you just now. It was earnest."

"I did not think it was anything else," said Lois, beginning to wish
herself at home. "I am sure you meant it, and I know you are very good;
but--you cannot take care of me."

"Give me your reasons," he said, restraining the horses, which would
have set off upon a quicker pace again.

"Why, Mr. Dillwyn, it is self-evident. You would not respect me if I
allowed you to do it; and I should not respect myself. We New England
folks, if we are nothing else, we are independent."

"So?--" said Mr. Dillwyn, in a puzzled manner, but then a light broke
upon him, and he half laughed.--"I never heard that the most rampant
spirit of independence made a wife object to being dependent on her
husband."

"A wife?" said Lois, not knowing whether she heard aright.

"Yes," said he. "How else? How could it be else? Lois, may I have you,
to take care of the rest of my life, as my very own?"

The short, smothered breath with which this was spoken was intelligible
enough, and put Lois in the rarest confusion.

"Me?--" was all she could ejaculate.

"You, certainly. I never saw any other woman in my life to whom I
wished to put the question. You are the whole world to me, as far as
happiness is concerned."

"I?--" said Lois again. "I thought--"

"What?"

She hesitated, and he urged the question. Lois was not enough mistress
of herself to choose her words.

"I thought--it was somebody else."

"Did you?--Who did you think it was?"

"O, don't ask me!"

"But I think I must ask you. It concerns me to know how, and towards
whom, my manner can have misled you. Who was it?"

"It was not--your manner--exactly," said Lois, in terrible
embarrassment. "I was mistaken."

"How could you be mistaken?"

"I never dreamed--the thought never entered my head--that--it was I."

"I must have been in fault then," said he gently; "I did not want to
wear my heart on my sleeve, and so perhaps I guarded myself too well. I
did not wish to know anybody else's opinion of my suit till I had heard
yours. What is yours, Lois?--what have you to say to me?"

He checked the horses again, and sat with his face inclined towards
her, waiting eagerly, Lois knew. And then, what a sharp pain shot
through her! All that had gone before was nothing to this; and for a
moment the girl's whole nature writhed under the torture. She knew her
own mind now; she was fully conscious that the best gift of earth was
within her grasp; her hands were stretched longingly towards it, her
whole heart bounded towards it; to let it go was to fall into an abyss
from which light and hope seemed banished; there was everything in all
the world to bid her give the answer that was waited for; only duty
bade her not give it. Loyalty to God said no, and her promise bound her
tongue. For that minute that she was silent Lois wrestled with mortal
pain. There are martyrs and martyrdoms now-a-days, that the world takes
no account of; nevertheless they have bled to death for the cause, and
have been true to their King at the cost of all they had in the world.
Mr. Dillwyn was waiting, and the fight had to be short, though well she
knew the pain would not be. She must speak. She did it huskily, and
with a fierce effort. It seemed as if the words would not come out.

"I have nothing to say, Mr. Dillwyn,--that you would like to hear," she
added, remembering that her first utterance was rather indefinite.

"You do not mean that?" he said hurriedly.

"Indeed I do."

"I know," he said, "you never say anything you do not mean. But _how_
do you mean it, Lois? Not to deny me? You do not mean _that?_"

"Yes," she said. And it was like putting a knife through her own heart
when she said it. O, if she were at home! O, if she had never come on
this drive! O, if she had never left Esterbrooke and those
sick-beds!--But here she was, and must stand the question; and Mr.
Dillwyn had not done.

"What reason do you give me?"--and his voice grated now with pain.

"I gave none," said Lois faintly. "Don't let us talk about it! It is no
use. Don't ask me anything more!"

"One question I must. I must know it. Do you dislike me, Lois?"

"Dislike? O no! how should I dislike you?" she answered. There was a
little, very slight, vibration in her voice as she spoke, and her
companion discerned it. When an instrument is very high strung, a quite
soft touch will be felt and answered, and that touch swept all the
strings of Mr. Dillwyn's soul with music.

"If you do not dislike me, then," said he, "what is it? Do you,
possibly _like_ me, Lois?"

Lois could not prevent a little hesitation before she answered, and
that, too, Philip well noted.

"It makes no difference," she said desperately. "It isn't that. Don't
let us talk any more about it! Mr. Dillwyn, the horses have been
walking this great while, and we are a long way from home; won't you
drive on?"

He did drive on then, and for a while said not a word more. Lois was
panting with eagerness to get home, and could not go fast enough; she
would gladly have driven herself, only not quite such a fresh and gay
pair of horses. They swept along towards a region that she could see
from afar was thicker set with lights than the parts where they were.
Before they reached it, however, Mr. Dillwyn drew rein again, and made
the horses walk gently.

"There is one question still I must ask," he said; "and to ask it, I
must for a moment disobey your commands. Forgive me; but when the
happiness of a whole life is at stake, a moment's pain must be
borne--and even inflicted--to make sure one is not suffering needlessly
a far greater evil. Miss Lois, you never do anything without a reason;
tell me your reason for refusing me. You thought I liked some one else;
it is not that; I never have liked any one else. Now, what is it?"

"There is no use in talking," Lois murmured. "It is only pain."

"Necessary pain," said he firmly. "It is right I should know, and it
must be possible for you to tell me. Say that it is because you cannot
like me well enough--and I shall understand that."

But Lois could not say it; and the pause, which embarrassed her
terribly, had naturally a different effect upon her companion.

"It is _not_ that!" he cried. "Have you been led to believe something
false about me, Lois?--Lois?"

"No," she said, trembling; the pain, and the difficulty of speaking,
and the struggle it cost, set her absolutely to trembling. "No, it is
something _true_." She spoke faintly, but he listened well.

"_True!_ What is it? It is not true. What do you mean, dear?"

The several things which came with the intonations of this last
question overset the remnant of Lois's composure. She burst into tears;
and he was looking, and the moonlight was full in her face, and he
could not but see it.

"I cannot help it," she cried; "and you cannot help it. It is no use to
talk about it. You know--O, you know--you are not a Christian!"

It was almost a cry at last with which she said it; and the usually
self-contained Lois hid her face away from him. Whether the horses
walked or trotted for a little while she did not know; and I think it
was only mechanical, the effort by which their driver kept them at a
foot pace. He waited, however, till Lois dropped her hands again, and
he thought she would attend to him.

"May I ask," he then said, and his voice was curiously clear and
composed,--"if that is your _only_ objection to me?"

"It is enough!" said Lois smotheredly, and noticing at the same time
that ring in his voice.

"You think, one who is a Christian ought never to marry another who is
not a Christian?"

"No!" she said, in the same way, as if catching her breath.

"It is very often done."

She made no reply. This was a most cruel discussion, she thought. Would
they never reach home? And the horses walking! Walking, and shaking
their heads, with soft little peals of the bells, like creatures who
had at last got quiet enough to like walking.

"Is that all, Lois?" he asked again; and the tone of his voice
irritated her.

"There need not be anything more," she answered. "That is enough. It is
a barrier for ever between us; you cannot overcome it--and I cannot. O,
do make the horses go! we shall never get home! and don't talk any
more."

"I will let the horses go presently; but first I must talk a little
more, because there is something that must be said. That _was_ a
barrier, a while ago; but it is not now. There is no need for either of
us to overcome it or try to overcome it, for it does not exist. Lois,
do you hear me? It does not exist."

"I do not understand," she said, in a dazed kind of way, turning
towards him. "What does not exist?"

"That barrier--or any barrier--between you and me."

"Yes, it does. It _is_ a barrier. I promised my dear grandmother--and
if I had not promised her, it would be just the same, for I have
promised to obey God; and he forbids it."

"Forbids what?"

"Forbids me, a Christian, to have anything to do with you, who are not
a Christian. I mean, in that way."

"But, Lois--I am a Christian too."

"You?" she said, turning towards him.

"Yes."

"What sort of a one?"

Philip could not help laughing at the naïve question, which, however,
he perfectly understood.

"Not an old one," he said; "and not a good one; and yet, Lois, truly an
honest one. As you mean the word. One whose King Christ is, as he is
yours; and who trusts in him with the whole heart, as you do."

"You a Christian!" exclaimed Lois now, in the greatest astonishment.
"When did it happen?"

He laughed again. "A fair question. Well, it came about last summer.
You recollect our talk one Sunday in the rain?"

"O yes!"--

"That set me to thinking; and the more I saw of you,--yes, and of Mrs.
Armadale,--and the more I heard of you from Mrs. Barclay, the more the
conviction forced itself upon my mind, that I was living, and had
always lived, a fool's life. That was a conclusion easily reached; but
how to become wise was another matter. I resolved to give myself to the
study till I had found the answer; and that I might do it
uninterruptedly, I betook myself to the wilds of Canada, with not much
baggage beside my gun and my Bible. I hunted and fished; but I studied
more than I did either. I took time for it too. I was longing to see
you; but I resolved this subject should be disposed of first. And I
gave myself to it, until it was all clear to me. And then I made open
profession of my belief, and took service as one of Christ's declared
servants. That was in Montreal."

"In Montreal!"

"Yes."

"Why did you never say anything about it, then?"

"I am not accustomed to talking on the subject, you know. But, really,
I had a reason. I did not want to seem to propitiate your favour by any
such means; I wished to try my chances with you on my own merits; and
that was also a reason why I made my profession in Montreal. I wanted
to do it without delay, it is true; I also wanted to do it quietly. I
mean everybody shall know; but I wished you to be the first."

There followed a silence. Things rushed into and over Lois's mind with
such a sweep and confusion, that she hardly knew what she was thinking
or feeling. All her positions were knocked away; all her assumptions
were found baseless; her defences had been erected against nothing; her
fears and her hopes were alike come to nought. That is, _bien entendu_,
her old fears and her old hopes; and amid the ruins of the latter new
ones were starting, in equally bewildering confusion. Like little green
heads of daffodils pushing up above the frozen ground, and fair
blossoms of hepatica opening beneath a concealing mat of dead leaves.
Ah, they would blossom freely by and by; now Lois hardly knew where
they were or what they were.

Seeing her utterly silent and moveless, Mr. Dillwyn did probably the
wisest thing he could do, and drove on. For some time the horses
trotted and the bells jingled; and by too swift approaches that
wilderness of lights which marked the city suburb came nearer and
nearer. When it was very near and they had almost entered it, he drew
in his reins again and the horses tossed their heads and walked.

"Lois, I think it is fair I should have another answer to my question
now."

"What question?" she asked hurriedly.

"You know, I was so daring as to ask to have the care of you for the
rest of your natural life--or of mine. What do you say to it?"

Lois said nothing. She could not find words. Words seemed to tumble
over one another in her mind,--or thoughts did.

"What answer are you going to give me?" he asked again, more gravely.

"You know, Mr. Dillwyn," said Lois stammeringly, "I never thought,--I
never knew before,--I never had any notion, that--that--that you
thought so."--

"Thought _so?_--about what?"

"About me."

"I have thought so about you for a great while."

Silence again. The horses, being by this time pretty well exercised,
needed no restraining, and walked for their own pleasure. Everything
with Lois seemed to be in a whirl.

"And now it becomes necessary to know what you think about me," Mr.
Dillwyn went on, after that pause.

"I am very glad--" Lois said tremulously.

"Of what?"

"That you are a Christian."

"Yes, but," said he, half laughing, "that is not the immediate matter
in hand. What do you think of me in my proposed character as having the
ownership and the care of you?"

"I have never thought of you so," Lois managed to get out. The words
were rather faint, heard, however, as Mr. Dillwyn's hand came just then
adjusting and tucking in her fur robes, and his face was thereby near
hers.

"And now you _do_ think of me so?--What do you say to me?"

She could not say anything. Never in her life had Lois been at a loss
and wrecked in all self-management before.

"You know, it is necessary to say something, that I may know where I
stand. I must either stay or go. Will you send me away? or keep me 'for
good,' as the children say?"

The tone was not without a touch of grave anxiety now, and impatient
earnestness, which Lois heard well enough and would have answered; but
it seemed as if her tongue clave to the roof of her mouth. Mr. Dillwyn
waited now for her to speak, keeping the horses at a walk, and bending
down a little to hear what she would say. One sleigh passed them, then
another. It became intolerable to Lois.

"I do not want to send you away," she managed finally to say, trembling.

The words, however, were clear and slow-spoken, and Mr. Dillwyn asked
no more then. He drove on, and attended to his driving, even went fast;
and Lois hardly knew how houses and rocks and vehicles flew past them,
till the reins were drawn at Mrs. Wishart's door. Philip whistled; a
groom presently appeared from the house and took the horses, and he
lifted Lois out. As they were going up the steps he asked softly,

"Is that _all_ you are going to say to me?"

"Isn't it enough for to-night?" Lois returned.

"I see you think so," he said, half laughing. "I don't; but,
however--Are you going to be alone to-morrow morning, or will you take
another sleigh ride with me?"

"Mrs. Wishart and Madge are going to Mme. Cisco's _matinée_."

"At what o'clock?"

"They will leave here at half-past ten."

"Then I will be here before eleven."

The door opened, and with a grip of her hand he turned away.



CHAPTER XLVII.



PLANS.



Lois went along the hall in that condition of the nerves in which the
feet seem to walk without stepping on anything. She queried what time
it could be; was the evening half gone? or had they possibly not done
tea yet? Then the parlour door opened.

"Lois!--is that you? Come along; you are just in time; we are at tea.
Hurry, now!"

Lois went to her room, wishing that she could any way escape going to
the table; she felt as if her friend and her sister would read the news
in her face immediately, and hear it in her voice as soon as she spoke.
There was no help for it; she hastened down, and presently perceived to
her wonderment that her friends were absolutely without suspicion. She
kept as quiet as possible, and found, happily, that she was very
hungry. Mrs. Wishart and Madge were busy in talk.

"You remember Mr. Caruthers, Lois?" said the former;--"Tom Caruthers,
who used to be here so often?"

"Certainly."

"Did you hear he had made a great match?"

"I heard he was going to be married. I heard that a great while ago."

"Yes, he has made a very great match. It has been delayed by the death
of her mother; they had to wait. He was married a few months ago, in
Florence. They had a splendid wedding."

"What makes what you call a 'great match'?" Madge asked.

"Money,--and family."

"I understand money," Madge went on; "but what do you mean by 'family,'
Mrs. Wishart?"

"My dear, if you lived in the world, you would know. It means name, and
position, and standing. I suppose at Shampuashuh you are all alike--one
is as good as another."

"Indeed," said Madge, "you are much mistaken, Mrs. Wishart. We think
one is much better than another."

"Do you? Ah well,--then you know what I mean, my dear. I suppose the
world is really very much alike in all places; it is only the names of
things that vary."

"In Shampuashuh," Madge went on, "we mean by a good family, a houseful
of honest and religious people."

"Yes, Madge," said Lois, looking up, "we mean a little more than that.
We mean a family that has been honest and religious, and educated too,
for a long while--for generations. We mean as much as that, when we
speak of a good family."

"That's different," said Mrs. Wishart shortly.

"Different from what you mean?"

"Different from what is meant here, when we use the term."

"You _don't_ mean anything honest and religious?" said Madge.

"O, honest! My dear, everybody is honest, or supposed to be; but we do
not mean religious."

"Not religious, and only supposed to be honest!" echoed Madge.

"Yes," said Mrs. Wishart. "It isn't that. It has nothing to do with
that. When people have been in society, and held high positions for
generation after generation, it is a good family. The individuals need
not be all good."

"Oh--!" said Madge.

"No. I know families among the very best in the State, that have been
wicked enough; but though they have been wicked, that did not hinder
their being gentlemen."

"Oh--!" said Madge again. "I begin to comprehend."

"There is too much made of money now-a-days," Mrs. Wishart went on
serenely; "and there is no denying that money buys position. _I_ do not
call a good family one that was not a good family a hundred years ago;
but everybody is not so particular. Not here. They are more particular
in Philadelphia. In New York, any nobody who has money can push himself
forward."

"What sort of family is Mr. Dillwyn's?"

"O, good, of course. Not wealthy, till lately. They have been poor,
ever since I knew the family; until the sister married Chauncey
Burrage, and Philip came into his property."

"The Caruthers are rich, aren't they?"

"Yes."

"And now the young one has made a great match? Is she handsome?"

"I never heard so. But she is rolling in money."

"What else is she?" inquired Madge dryly.

"She is a Dulcimer."

"That tells me nothing," said Madge. "By the way you speak it, the word
seems to have a good deal of meaning for you."

"Certainly," said Mrs. Wishart. "She is one of the Philadelphia
Dulcimers. It is an old family, and they have always been wealthy."

"How happy the gentleman must be!"

"I hope so," said Mrs. Wishart gravely. "_You_ used to know Tom quite
well, Lois. What did you think of him?"

"I liked him," said Lois. "Very pleasant and amiable, and always
gentlemanly. But I did not think he had much character."

Mrs. Wishart was satisfied; for Lois's tone was as disengaged as
anything could possibly be.

Lois could not bring herself to say anything to Madge that night about
the turn in her fortunes. Her own thoughts were in too much agitation,
and only by slow degrees resolving themselves into settled conclusions.
Or rather, for the conclusions were not doubtful, settling into such
quiet that she could look at conclusions. And Lois began to be afraid
to do even that, and tried to turn her eyes away, and thought of the
hour of half-past ten next morning with trembling and heart-beating.

It came with tremendous swiftness, too. However, she excused herself
from going to the _matinée_, though with difficulty. Mrs. Wishart was
sure she ought to go; and Madge tried persuasion and raillery. Lois
watched her get ready, and at last contentedly saw the two drive off.
That was good. She wanted no discussion with them before she had seen
Mr. Dillwyn again; and now the coast was clear. But then Lois retreated
to her own room up-stairs to wait; she could not stay in the
drawing-room, to be found there. She would have so much time for
preparation as his ring at the door and his name being brought
up-stairs would give her. Preparation for what? When the summons came,
Lois went down feeling that she had not a bit of preparation.

Philip was standing in the middle of the floor, waiting for her; and
the apparition that greeted him was so unexpected that he stood still,
feasting his eyes with it. He had always seen Lois calm, collected,
moving and speaking with frank independence, although with perfect
modesty. Now?--how was it? Eyes cast down, colour coming and going; a
look and manner, not of shyness, for she came straight to him, but of
the most lovely maidenly consciousness; of all things, that which a
lover would most wish to see. Yet she came straight to him, and as he
met her and held out his hand, she put hers in it.

"What are you going to say to me this morning, Lois?" he said softly;
for the pure dignity of the girl was a thing to fill him with reverence
as well as with delight, and her hand seemed to him something sacred.

Her colour stirred again, but the lowered eyelids were lifted up, and
the eyes met his with a most blessed smile in them.

"I am very happy, Mr. Dillwyn," she said.

Everybody knows how words fail upon occasion; and on this occasion the
silence lasted some considerable time. And then Philip put Lois into
one of the big easy-chairs, and went down on one knee at her feet,
holding her hand. Lois tried to collect her spirits to make
remonstrance.

"O, Mr. Dillwyn, do not stay there!" she begged.

"Why not? It becomes me."

"I do not think it becomes you at all," said Lois, laughing a little
nervously,--"and I am sure it does not become me."

"Mistaken on both points! It becomes me well, and I think it does not
become you ill," said he, kissing the hand he held. And then, bending
forward to carry his kiss from the hand to the cheek,--"O my darling,
how long I have waited for this!"

"Long?" said Lois, in surprise. How pretty the incredulity was on her
innocent face.

"Very long!--while you thought I was liking somebody else. There has
never been any change in me, Lois. I have been patiently and
impatiently waiting for you this great while. You will not think it
unreasonable, if that fact makes me intolerant of any more waiting,
will you?"

"Don't keep that position!" said Lois earnestly.

"It is the position I mean to keep all the rest of my life!"

But that set Lois to laughing, a little nervously no doubt, yet so
merrily that Philip could not but join in.

"Do I not owe everything to you?" he went on presently, with tender
seriousness. "You first set me upon thinking. Do you recollect your
earliest talk to me here in this room once, a good while ago, about
being _satisfied?_"

"Yes," said Lois, suddenly opening her eyes.

"That was the beginning. You said it to me more with your looks than
with your words; for I saw that, somehow, you were in the secret, and
had yourself what you offered to me. _That_ I could not forget. I had
never seen anybody 'satisfied' before."

"You know what it means now?" she said softly.

"To-day?-- I do!"

"No, no; I do not mean to-day. You know what I mean!" she said, with
beautiful blushes.

"I know. Yes, and I have it, Lois. But you have a great deal to teach
me yet."

"O no!" she said most unaffectedly. "It is you who will have to teach
me."

"What?"

"Everything."

"How soon may I begin?"

"How soon?"

"Yes. You do not think Mrs. Wishart's house is the best place, or her
company the best assistance for that, do you?"

"Ah, please get up!" said Lois.

But he laughed at her.

"You make me so ashamed!"

"You do not look it in the least. Shall I tell you my plans?"

"Plans!" said Lois.

"Or will you tell me your plans?"

"Ah, you are laughing at me! What do you mean?"

"You were confiding to me your plans of a little while ago;
Esterbrooke, and school, and all the rest of it. My darling!--that's
all nowhere."

"But,"--said Lois timidly.

"Well?"

"_That_ is all gone, of course. But--"

"You will let me say what you shall do?"

"I suppose you will."

"Your hand is in all my plans, from henceforth, to turn them and twist
them what way you like. But now let me tell you my present plans. We
will be married, as soon as you can accustom your self to the idea.
Hush!--wait. You shall have time to think about it. Then, as early as
spring winds will let us, we will cross to England."

"England?" cried Lois.

"Wait, and hear me out. There we will look about us a while and get
such things as you may want for travelling, which one can get better in
England than anywhere else. Then we will go over the Channel and see
Paris, and perhaps supplement purchases there. So work our way--"

"Always making purchases?" said Lois, laughing, though she caught her
breath too, and her colour was growing high.

"Certainly, making purchases. So work our way along, and get to
Switzerland early in June--say by the end of the first week."

"Switzerland!"

"Don't you want to see Switzerland?"

"But it is not the question, what I might like to see."

"With me it is."

"As for that, I have an untirable appetite for seeing things.
But--but," and her voice lowered, "I can be quite happy enough on this
side."

"Not if I can make you happier on the other."

"But that depends. I should not be happy unless I was quite sure it was
right, and the best thing to do; and it looks to me like a piece of
self-indulgence. We have so much already."

The gentle manner of this scruple and frank admission touched Mr.
Dillwyn exceedingly.

"I think it is right," he said. "Do you remember my telling you once
about my old house at home?"

"Yes, a little."

"I think I never told you much; but now you will care to hear. It is a
good way from this place, in Foster county, and not very far from a
busy little manufacturing town; but it stands alone in the country, in
the midst of fields and woods that I used to love very much when I was
a boy. The place never came into my possession till about seven or
eight years ago; and for much longer than that it has been neglected
and left without any sort of care. But the house is large and
old-fashioned, and can be made very pretty; and the grounds, as I
think, leave nothing to be desired, in their natural capabilities.
However, all is in disorder, and needs a good deal of work done up on
it; which must be done before you take possession. This work will
require some months. Where can we be better, meanwhile, than in
Switzerland?"

"Can the work be done without you?"

"Yes."

He waited a bit. The new things at work in Lois's mind made the new
expression of manner and feature a most delicious study to him. She had
a little difficulty in speaking, and he was still and watched her.

"I am afraid to talk about it," she said at length,

"Why?"

"I should like it so much!"--

"Therefore you doubt?"

"Yes. I am afraid of listening just to my own pleasure."

"You shall not," said he, laughing. "Listen to mine. I want to see your
eyes open at the Jung Frau, and Mont Blanc."

"My eyes open easily at anything," said Lois, yielding to the
laugh;--"they are such ignorant eyes."

"Very wise eyes, on the contrary! for they know a thing when they see
it."

"But they have seen so little," said Lois, finding it impossible to get
back to a serious demeanour.

"That sole defect in your character, I propose to cure."

"Ah, do not praise me!"

"Why not? I used to rejoice in the remembrance that you were not an
angel but human. Do you know the old lines?--



   'A creature _not_ too bright and good
   For human nature's daily food;
   For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
   Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.'



Only 'wiles' you never descend to; 'blame' is not to be thought of; if
you forbid praise, what is left to me but the rest of it?"

And truly, what with laughter and some other emotions, tears were not
far from Lois's eyes; and how could the kisses be wanting?

"I never heard you talk so before!" she managed to say.

"I have only begun."

"Please come back to order, and sobriety."

"Sobriety is not in order, as your want of it shows."

"Then come back to Switzerland."

"Ah!--I want you to go up the AEggischhorn, and to stand on the Görner
Grät, and to cross a pass or two; and I want you to see the flowers."

"Are there so many?"

"More than on a western prairie in spring. Most people travel in
Switzerland later in the season, and so miss the flowers. You must not
miss them."

"What flowers are they?"

"A very great many kinds. I remember the gentians, and the
forget-me-nots; but the profusion is wonderful, and exceedingly rich.
They grow just at the edge of the snow, some of them. Then we will
linger a while at Zermatt and Chamounix, and a mountain _pension_ here
and there, and so slowly work our way over into Italy. It will be too
late for Rome; but we will go, if you like it, to Venice; and then, as
the heats grow greater, get back into the Tyrol."

"O, Mrs. Barclay had beautiful views from the Tyrol; a few, but very
beautiful."

"How do you like my programme?"

"You have not mentioned glaciers."

"Are you' interested in glaciers?"

"_Very_ much."

"You shall see as much of them as you can see safely from terra firma."

"Are they so dangerous?"

"Sometimes."

"But you have crossed them, have you not?"

"Times enough to make me scruple about your doing it."

"I am very sure-footed."

He kissed her hand, and inquired again what she thought of his
programme.

"There is no fault to be found with the programme. But--"

"If I add to it the crossing of a glacier?"

"No, no," said Lois, laughing; "do you think I am so insatiable? But--"

"Would you like it all, my darling?"

"Like it? Don't speak of liking," she said, with a quick breath of
excitement. "But--"

"Well? But--what?"

"We are not going to live to ourselves?" She said it a little anxiously
and eagerly, almost pleadingly.

"I do not mean it," he answered her, with a smile. "But as to this
journey my mind is entirely clear. It will take but a few months. And
while we are wandering over the mountains, you and I will take our
Bibles and study them and our work together. We can study where we stop
to rest and where we stop to eat; I know by experience what good times
and places those are for other reading; and they cannot be so good for
any as for this."

"Oh! how good!" said Lois, giving a little delighted and grateful
pressure to the hand in which her own still lay.

"You agree to my plans, then?"

"I agree to--part. What is that?"--for a slight noise was heard in the
hall.--"O Philip, get up!--get up!--there is somebody coming!"

Mr. Dillwyn rose now, being bidden on this wise, and stood confronting
the doorway, in which presently appeared his sister, Mrs. Burrage. He
stood quiet and calm to meet her; while Lois, hidden by the back of the
great easy-chair, had a moment to collect herself. He shielded her as
much as he could. A swift review of the situation made him resolve for
the present to "play dark." He could not trust his sister, that if the
truth of the case were suddenly made known to her, she would not by her
speech, or manner, or by her silence maybe, do something that would
hurt Lois. He would not risk it. Give her time, and she would fit
herself to her circumstances gracefully enough, he knew; and Lois need
never be told what had been her sister-in-law's first view of them. So
he stood, with an unconcerned face, watching Mrs. Burrage come down the
room. And she, it may be said, came slowly, watching him.



CHAPTER XLVIII.



ANNOUNCEMENTS.



I have never described Mr. Dillwyn; and if I try to do it now, I am
aware that words will give to nobody else the image of him. He was not
a beauty, like Tom Caruthers; some people declared him not handsome at
all, yet they were in a minority. Certainly his features were not
according to classical rule, and criticism might find something to say
to every one of them; if I except the shape and air of the face and
head, the set of the latter, and the rich hair; which, very dark in
colour, massed itself thick and high on the top of the head, and clung
in close thick locks at the sides. The head sat nobly upon the
shoulders, and correspondent therewith was the frank and manly
expression of the face. I think irregular features sometimes make a
better whole than regular ones. Philip's eyes were not remarkable,
unless for their honest and spirited outlook; his nose was neither
Roman nor Grecian, and his mouth was rather large; however, it was
somewhat concealed by the long soft moustache, which he wore after the
fashion of some Continentals (_N. B_., _not_ like the French emperor),
carefully dressed and with points turning up; and the mouth itself was
both manly and pleasant. Altogether, the people who denied Mr. Dillwyn
the praise of beauty, never questioned that he was very fine-looking.
His sister was excessively proud of him, and, naturally thought that
nothing less than the best of everything--more especially of
womankind--was good enough for him. She was thinking this now, as she
came down the room, and looking jealously to see signs of what she
dreaded, an entanglement that would preclude for ever his having the
best. Do not let us judge her hardly. What sister is not critical of
her brother's choice of a wife? If, indeed, she be willing that he
should have a wife at all. Mrs. Burrage watched for signs, but saw
nothing. Philip stood there, calmly smiling at her, not at all
flustered by her appearance. Lois saw his coolness too, and envied it;
feeling that as a man, and as a man of the world, he had greatly the
advantage of her. She was nervous, and felt flushed. However, there is
a power of will in some women which can do a great deal, and Lois was
determined that Mr. Dillwyn should not be ashamed of her. By the time
it was needful for her to rise she did rise, and faced her visitor with
a very quiet and perfectly composed manner. Only, if anything, it was a
trifle _too_ quiet; but her manner was other wise quite faultless.

"Philip!--" said Mrs. Burrage, advancing--"Good morning--Miss Lothrop.
Philip, what are you doing here?"

"I believe you asked me that question once on a former occasion. Then,
I think, I had been making toast. Now, I have been telling Miss Lothrop
my plans for the summer, since she was so good as to listen."

"Plans?" repeated Mrs. Burrage. "What plans?" She looked doubtfully
from one to the other of the faces before her. "Does he tell you his
plans, Miss Lothrop?"

"Won't you sit down, Mrs. Burrage?" said Lois. "I am always interested
when anybody speaks of Switzerland."

"Switzerland!" cried the lady, sinking into a chair, and her eyes going
to her brother again. "You are not talking of _Switzerland_ for next
summer?"

"Where can one be better in summer?"

"But you have been there ever so many times!"

"By which I know how good it will be to go again."

"I thought you would spend the summer with me!"

"Where?" he asked, with a smile.

"Philip, I wish you would dress your hair like other people."

"It defies dressing, sister," he said, passing his hand over the thick
mass.

"No, no, I mean your moustache. When you smile, it gives you a demoniac
expression, which drives me out of all patience. Miss Lothrop, would he
not look a great deal better if he would cut off those Hungarian
twists, and wear his upper lip like a Christian?"

This was a trial! Lois gave one glance at the moustache in question, a
glance compounded of mingled horror and amusement, and flushed all
over. Philip saw the glance and commanded his features only by a strong
exertion of will, remaining, however, to all seeming as impassive as a
judge.

"You don't think so?" said Mrs. Burrage. "Philip, why are you not at
that picture sale this minute, with me?"

"Why are you not there, let me ask, this minute without me?"

"Because I wanted you to tell me if I should buy in that Murillo."

"I can tell you as well here as there. What do you want to buy it for?"

"What a question! Why, they say it is a genuine Murillo, and no doubt
about it; and I have just one place on the wall in my second
drawing-room, where something is wanting; there is one place not filled
up, and it looks badly."

"And the Murillo is to fill up the vacant space?"

"Yes. If you say it is worth it."

"Worth what?"

"The money. Five hundred. But I dare say they would take four, and
perhaps three. It is a real Murillo, they say. Everybody says."

"Jessie, I think it would be extravagance."

"Extravagance! Five hundred dollars for a Murillo! Why, everybody says
it is no price at all."

"Not for the Murillo; but for a wall panel, I think it is. What do you
say, Miss Lothrop, to panelling a room at five hundred dollars the
panel?"

"Miss Lothrop's experience in panels would hardly qualify her to answer
you," Mrs. Burrage said, with a polite covert sneer.

"Miss Lothrop has experience in some other things," Philip returned
immoveably. But the appeal put Lois in great embarrassment.

"What is the picture?" she asked, as the best way out of it.

"It's a St. Sebastian," Mrs. Burrage answered shortly.

"Do you know the story?" asked Philip. "He was an officer in the
household of the Roman emperor, Diocletian; a Christian; and discovered
to be a Christian by his bold and faithful daring in the cause of
truth. Diocletian ordered him to be bound to a tree and shot to death
with arrows, and that the inscription over his head should state that
there was no fault found in him but only that he was a Christian. This
picture my sister wants to buy, shows him stripped and bound to the
tree, and the executioner's work going on. Arrows are piercing him in
various places; and the saint's face is raised to heaven with the look
upon it of struggling pain and triumphing faith together. You can see
that the struggle is sharp, and that only strength which is not his own
enables him to hold out; but you see that he will hold out, and the
martyr's palm of victory is even already waving before him."

Lois's eyes eagerly looked into those of the speaker while he went on;
then they fell silently. Mrs. Burrage grew impatient.

"You tell it with a certain _goût_," she said. "It's a horrid story!"

"O, it's a beautiful story!" said Lois, suddenly looking up.

"If you like horrors," said the lady, shrugging her shoulders. "But I
believe you are one of that kind yourself, are you not?"

"Liking horrors?" said Lois, in astonishment.

"No, no, of course! not that. But I mean, you are one of that saint's
spiritual relations. Are you not? You would rather be shot than live
easy?"

Philip bit his lip; but Lois answered with the most delicious
simplicity,--

"If living easy implied living unfaithful, I hope I would rather be
shot." Her eyes looked, as she spoke, straight and quietly into those
of her visitor.

"And I hope I would," added Philip.

"_You?_" said his sister, turning sharp upon him. "Everybody knows you
would!"

"But everybody does not know yet that I am a fellow-servant of that
Sebastian of long ago; and that to me now, faithful and unfaithful mean
the same that they meant to him. Not faithfulness to man, but
faithfulness to God--or unfaithfulness."

"Philip!--"

"And as faithfulness is a word of large comprehension, it takes in also
the use of money," Mr. Dillwyn went on smiling; "and so, Jessie, I
think, you see, with my new views of things, that five hundred dollars
is too much for a panel."

"Or for a picture, I suppose!" said Mrs. Burrage, with dry concentrated
expression.

"Depends. Decidedly too much for a picture not meant to be looked at?"

"Why shouldn't it be looked at?"

"People will not look much at what they cannot understand."

"Why shouldn't they understand it?"

"It is a representation of giving up all for Christ, and of
faithfulness unto death. What do the crowds who fill your second
drawing-room know about such experience?"

Mrs. Burrage had put the foregoing questions dryly and shortly,
examining her brother while he spoke, with intent, searching eyes. She
had risen once as if to go, and now sat down again. Lois thought she
even turned pale.

"Philip!--I never heard you talk so before. What do you mean?"

"Merely to let you know that I am a Christian. It is time."

"You were always a Christian!"

"In name. Now it is reality."

"You don't mean that you--_you!_--have become one of those fanatics?"

"What fanatics?"

"Those people who give up everything for religion, and are insane upon
the subject."

"You could not have described it better, than in the first half of your
speech. I have given up everything for religion. That is, I have given
myself and all I have to Christ and his service; and whatever I do
henceforth, I do only in that character and in that interest. But as to
sanity,"--he smiled again,--"I think I was never sane until now."

Mrs. Burrage had risen for the second time, and her brother was now
standing opposite to her; and if she had been proud of him a little
while before, it was Lois's turn now. The calm, clear frankness and
nobleness of his face and bearing made her heart fairly swell with its
gladness and admiration; but it filled the other woman's heart with a
different feeling.

"And this is you, Philip Dillwyn!" she said bitterly. "And I know you;
what you have said you will stand to. Such a man as you! lost to the
world!"

"Why lost to the world, Mrs. Burrage?" said Lois gently. She had risen
too. The other lady faced her.

"Without more knowledge of what the world is, I could hardly explain to
you," she said, with cool rudeness; the sort of insolence that a fine
lady can use upon occasion when it suits her. Philip's face flushed,
but he would not make the rudeness more palpable by seeming to notice
it.

"I hope it is the other way," he said. "I have been an idle man all my
life hitherto, and have done nothing except for myself. Nobody could be
of less use to the world."

"And what are you going to do now?"

"I cannot tell. I shall find out. I am going to study the question."

"And is Miss Lothrop your teacher?"

The civil sneer was too apparent again, but it did not call up a flush
this time. Philip was too angry. It was Lois that answered, and
pleasantly,--

"She does not even wish to be that."

"Haven't you taught him already?" asked the lady, with prompt
inquisition.

"Yes," said Philip.

Lois did colour now; she could not deny the fact, nor even declare that
it had been an unintentional fact; but her colour was very pretty, and
so was the sort of deprecating way in which she looked at her future
sister-in-law. Not disarmed, Mrs. Burrage went on.

"It is a dangerous office to take, my dear, for we women never can keep
it. We may think we stand on an eminence of wisdom one day; and the
next we find we have to come down to a very lowly place, and sit at
somebody else's feet, and receive our orders. I find it rather hard
sometimes. Well, Philip,--will you go on with the lesson I suppose I
have interrupted? or will you have the complaisance to go with me to
see about the Murillo?"

"I will certainly stay."

"Rather hard upon me, after promising me last night you would go."

"I made no such promise."

"Indeed you did, begging your pardon. Last night, when you came home
with the horses, I told you of the sale, and asked you if you would go
and see that I did not get cheated."

"I have no recollection of it."

"And you said you would with pleasure."

"_That_ is no longer possible, Jessie. And the sale would be over
before we could get to it," he added, looking at his watch.

"Shall I leave you here, then?" said the lady, with a mingling of
disagreeable feelings which found indescribable expression.

"If Miss Lothrop will let me be left. You forget, it depends upon her
permission."

"Miss Lothrop," said the lady, offering her hand to Lois with formal
politeness, "I do not ask you the question, for my brother all his life
has never been refused anything he chose to demand. Pardon me my want
of attention; he is responsible for it, having upset all my ideas with
his strange announcements. Good-bye!"

Lois curtseyed silently. In all this dialogue, the contrast had been
striking between the two ladies; for the advantage of manner had been
on the side, not of the experienced woman of the world, but of the
younger and simpler and country-bred little Shampuashuh woman. It comes
to this; that the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians gives one the
very soul and essence of what in the world is called good breeding; the
kernel and thing itself; while what is for the most part known in
society is the empty shell, simulating and counterfeiting it only.
Therefore he in whose heart that thirteenth chapter is a living truth,
will never be ill-bred; and if he possesses besides a sensitive and
refined nature, and is free of self-consciousness, and has some common
sense to boot, he has all the make-up of the veriest high-breeding.
Nothing could seem more unruffled, because nothing could be more
unruffled, than Lois during this whole interview; she was even a little
sorry for Mrs. Burrage, knowing that the lady would be very sorry
herself afterwards for what she had done; and Lois meant to bury it in
perfect oblivion. So her demeanour was free, simple, dignified, most
graceful; and Philip was penetrated with delight and shame at once. He
went with his sister to put her in her carriage, which was done with
scarce any words on either part; and then returned to the room where he
had left Lois. She was still standing beside her chair, having in truth
her thoughts too busy to remember to sit down. Philip's action was to
come straight to her and fold his arms round her. They were arms of
caressing and protection at once; Lois felt both the caressing and the
protecting clasp, as something her life had never known before; and a
thrill went through her of happiness that was almost mingled with awe.

"My darling!"--said Philip--"will you hold me responsible? Will you
charge it all upon me?--and let me make it good as best I can?"

"O Philip, there is nothing to charge!" said Lois, lifting her flushed
face, "fair as the moon," to meet his anxious eyes. "Do not think of it
again. It is perfectly natural, from her point of view. You know, you
are very much Somebody; and I--am Nobody."

The remainder of the interview may be left unreported.

It lasted till the two ladies returned from the _matinée_. Mrs. Wishart
immediately retained Mr. Dillwyn for luncheon, and the two girls went
up-stairs together.

"How long has that man been here?" was Madge's disrespectful inquiry.

"I don't know."

"What did he come for?"

"I suppose--to see me."

"To see _you!_ Did he come to take you sleigh-riding again?"

"He said nothing about sleigh-riding."

"The snow is all slush down in the city. What did he want to see you
for, then?" said Madge, turning round upon her sister, while at the
same time she was endeavouring to extricate her head from her bonnet,
which was caught upon a pin.

"He had something to say to me," Lois answered, trembling with an odd
sort of excitement.

"What?--Lois, not _that?_" cried Madge, stopping with her bonnet only
half off her head. But Lois nodded; and Madge dropped herself into the
nearest chair, making no further effort as regarded the bonnet.

"Lois!--What did you say to him?"

"What could I say to him?"

"Why, two or three things, _I_ should think. If it was I, I should
think so."

"There can be but one answer to such a question. It must be yes or no."

"I am sure that's two to choose from. Have you gone and said yes to
that man?"

"Don't you like him?" said Lois, with a furtive smile, glancing up at
her sister now from under lowered eyelids.

"Like him! I never saw the man yet, that I liked as well as my liberty."

"Liberty!"

"Yes. Have you forgotten already what that means? O Lois! have you said
yes to that man? Why, I am always afraid of him, every time I see him."

"_Afraid_ of him?"

"Yes. I get over it after he has been in the room a while; but the next
time I see him it comes back. O Lois! are you going to let him have
you?"

"Madge, you are talking most dreadful nonsense. You never were afraid
of anybody in your life; and of him least of all."

"Fact, though," said Madge, beginning at her bonnet again. "It's the
way his head is set on his shoulders, I suppose. If I had known what
was happening, while I was listening to Mme. Cisco's screeching!"--

"You couldn't have helped it."

"And now, now, actually you belong to somebody else! Lois, when are you
going to be married?"

"I don't know."

"Not for a great while? Not _soon_, at any rate?"

"I don't know. Mr. Dillwyn wishes--"

"And are you going to do everything he wishes?"

"As far as I can," said Lois, with again a rosy smile and glance.

"There's the call to luncheon!" said Madge. "People must eat, if
they're ever so happy or ever so unhappy. It is one of the disgusting
things about human nature. I just wish he wasn't going to be here.
Well--come along!"

Madge went ahead till she reached the drawing-room door; there she
suddenly paused, waved herself to one side, and let Lois go in before
her. Lois was promptly wrapped in Mrs. Wishart's arms, and had to
endure a most warm and heartfelt embracing and congratulating. The lady
was delighted. Meanwhile Madge found herself shaking hands with Philip.

"You know all about it?" he said, looking hard at her, and holding her
hand fast.

"If you mean what Lois has told me--"

"Are not you going to wish me joy?"

"There is no occasion--for anybody who has got Lois," said Madge. And
then she choked, pulled her hand away, and broke down. And when Lois
got free from Mrs. Wishart, she saw Madge sitting with her head in her
hands, and Mr. Dillwyn bending over her. Lois came swiftly behind and
put both arms softly around her sister.

"It's no use!" said Madge, sobbing and yet defiant. "He has got you,
and I haven't got you any longer. Let me alone--I am not going to be a
fool, but to be asked to wish him joy is too much." And she broke away
and ran off.

Lois could have followed her with all her heart; but she had herself
habitually under better control than Madge, and knew with fine instinct
what was due to others. Her eyes glistened; nevertheless her bearing
was quiet and undisturbed; and a second time to-day Mr. Dillwyn was
charmed with the grace of her manner. I must add that Madge presently
made her appearance again, and was soon as gay as usual; her
lucubrations even going so far before the end of luncheon as to wonder
_where_ Lois would hold her wedding. Will she fetch all the folks down
here? thought Madge. Or will everybody go to Shampuashuh?

With the decision, however, the reader need not be troubled.



CHAPTER XLIX.



ON THE PASS.



Only one incident more need be told. It is the last point in my story.

The intermediate days and months must be passed over, and we skip the
interval to the summer and June. It is now the middle of June. Mr.
Dillwyn's programme had been successfully carried out; and, after an
easy and most festive journey from England, through France, he and Lois
had come by gentle stages to Switzerland. A festive journey, yes; but
the expression regards the mental progress rather than the apparent.
Mr. Dillwyn, being an old traveller, took things with the calm habit of
use and wont; and Lois, new as all was to her, made no more fussy
demonstration than he did. All the more delicious to him, and
satisfactory, were the sparkles in her eyes and the flushes on her
cheeks, which constantly witnessed to her pure delight or interest in
something. All the more happily he felt the grasp of her hand sometimes
when she did not speak; or listened to the low accents of rapture when
she saw something that deserved them; or to her merry soft laugh at
something that touched her sense of fun. For he found Lois had a great
sense of fun. She was altogether of the most buoyant, happy, and
enjoying nature possible. No one could be a better traveller. She
ignored discomforts (truly there had not been much in that line), and
she laughed at disappointments; and travellers must meet
disappointments now and then. So Mr. Dillwyn had found the journey
giving him all he had promised himself; and to Lois it gave--well
Lois's dreams had never promised her the quarter.

So it had come to be the middle of June, and they were in Switzerland.
And this day, the sixteenth, found them in a little wayside inn near
the top of a pass, snowed up. So far they had come, the last mile or
two through a heavy storm; and then the snow clouds had descended so
low and so thick, and gave forth their treasures of snow-flakes so
confusedly and incessantly, that going on was not to be thought of.
They were sheltered in the little inn; and that is nearly all you could
say of it, for the accommodations were of the smallest and simplest.
Travellers were not apt to stop at that little hostelry for more than a
passing refreshment; and even so, it was too early in the season for
many travellers to be expected. So there were Philip and his wife now,
making the best of things. Mr. Dillwyn was coaxing the little fire to
burn, which had been hastily made on their arrival; but Lois sat at one
of the windows looking out, and every now and then proclaiming her
enjoyment by the tone in which some innocent remark came from her lips.

"It is raining now, Philip."

"What do you see in the rain?"

"Nothing whatever, at this minute; but a little while ago there was a
kind of drawing aside of the thick curtain of falling snow, and I had a
view of some terribly grand rocks, and one glimpse of a most wonderful
distance."

"Vague distance?" said Philip, laughing. "That sounds like looking off
into space."

"Well, it was. Like chaos, and order struggling out of its awful
beginnings."

"Don't unpractically catch cold, while you are studying natural
developement."

"I am perfectly warm. I think it is great fun to be kept here over
night. Such a nice little place as it is, and such a nice little
hostess. Do you notice how neat everything is? O Philip!--here is
somebody else coming!"

"Coming to the inn?"

"Yes. O, I'm afraid so. Here's one of these original little carriages
crawling along, and it has stopped, and the people are getting out.
Poor storm-stayed people, like ourselves."

"They will come to a fire, which we didn't," said Philip, leaving his
post now and placing himself at the back of Lois's chair, where he too
could see what was going on in front of the house. A queer little
vehicle had certainly stopped there, and somebody very much muffled had
got out, and was now helping a second person to alight, which second
person must be a woman; and she was followed by another woman, who
alighted with less difficulty and less attention, though she had two or
three things to carry.

"I pity women who travel in the Alps with their maids!" said Mr.
Dillwyn.

"Philip, that first one, the gentleman, had a little bit--just a little
bit--the air of your friend, Mr. Caruthers. He was so muffled up, one
could not tell what he was like; but somehow he reminded me of Mr.
Caruthers."

"I thought Tom was _your_ friend?"

"Friend? No. He was an acquain'tance; he was never my friend, I think."

"Then his name raises no tender associations in your mind?"

"Why, no!" said Lois, with a gay little laugh. "No, indeed. But I liked
him very well at one time; and I--_think_--he liked me."

"Poor Tom!"

"Why do you say that?" Lois asked merrily. "He is not poor; he has
married a Dulcimer. I never can hear her name without thinking of
Nebuchadnezzar's image! He has forgotten me long ago."

"I see you have forgotten him," said Dillwyn, bending down till his
face was very near Lois's.

"How should I not? But I did like him at one time, quite well. I
suppose I was flattered by his attentions, which I think were rather
marked. And you know, at that time I did not know you."

Lois's voice fell a little; the last sentence being given with a
delicate, sweet reserve, which spoke much more than effusion. Philip's
answer was mute.

"Besides," said Lois, "he is a sort of man that I never could have
liked beyond a certain point. He is a weak character; do you know it,
Philip?"

"I know it. I observe, that is the last fault women will forgive in a
man."

"Why should they?" said Lois. "What have you, where you have not
strength? It is impossible to love where you cannot respect. Or if you
love, it is a poor contemptible sort of love."

Philip laughed; and just then the door opened, and the hostess of the
inn appeared on the threshhold, with other figures looming dimly behind
her. She came in apologizing. More storm-bound travellers had
arrived--there was no other room with a fire ready--would monsieur and
madame be so gracious and allow the strangers to come in and get warm
and dry by their fire? Almost before she had finished her speech the
two men had sprung towards each other, and "Tom!"--"Philip
DilIwyn!"--had been cried in different tones of surprised greeting.

"Where did you come from?" said Tom, shaking his friend's hand. "What a
chance! Here is my wife. Arabella, this is Mr. Dillwyn, whose name you
have heard often enough. At the top of this pass!--"

The lady thus addressed came in behind Tom, throwing off her wrappings,
and throwing each, or dropping it as it was taken off, into the hands
of her attendant who followed her. She appeared now to be a slim
person, of medium height, dressed very handsomely, with an
insignificant face, and a quantity of light hair disposed in a
mysterious manner to look like a wig. That is, it looked like nothing
natural, and yet could not be resolved by the curious eye into bands or
braids or any defined form of fashionable art or artifice. The face
looked fretted, and returned Mr. Dillwyn's salutation discontentedly.
Tom's eye meanwhile had wandered, with an unmistakeable air of
apprehension, towards the fourth member of the party; and Lois came
forward now, giving him a frank greeting, and holding out her hand. Tom
bowed very low over it, without saying one word; and Philip noted that
his eye shunned Lois's face, and that his own face was all shadowed
when he raised it. Mr. Dillwyn put himself in between.

"May I present my wife, Mrs. Caruthers?"

Mrs. Caruthers gave Lois a look, swift and dissatisfied, and turned to
the fire, shivering.

"Have we got to stay here?" she asked querulously.

"We couldn't go on, you know," said Tom. "We may be glad of any sort of
a shelter. I am afraid we are interfering with your comfort, Philip;
but really, we couldn't help it. The storm's awful outside. Mrs.
Caruthers was sure we should be overtaken by an avalanche; and then she
was certain there must be a crevasse somewhere. I wonder if one can get
anything to eat in this place?"

"Make yourself easy; they have promised us dinner, and you shall share
with us. What the dinner will be, I cannot say; but we shall not
starve; and you see what a fire I have coaxed up for you. Take this
chair, Mrs. Caruthers."

The lady sat down and hovered over the fire; and Tom restlessly bustled
in and out. Mr. DilIwyn tended the fire, and Lois kept a little in the
background. Till, after an uncomfortable interval, the hostess came in,
bringing the very simple fare, which was all she had to set before
them. Brown bread, and cheese, and coffee, and a common sort of red
wine; with a bit of cold salted meat, the precise antecedents of which
it was not so easy to divine. The lady by the fire looked on
disdainfully, and Tom hastened to supplement things from their own
stores. Cold game, white bread, and better wine were produced from
somewhere, with hard-boiled eggs and even some fruit. Mrs. Caruthers
sat by the fire and looked on; while Tom brought these articles, one
after another, and Lois arranged the table. Philip watched her
covertly; admired her lithe figure in its neat mountain dress, which he
thought became her charmingly; admired the quiet, delicate tact of her
whole manner and bearing; the grace with which she acted and spoke, as
well as the pretty deftness of her ministrations about the table. She
was taking the part of hostess, and doing it with simple dignity; and
he was very sorry for Tom. Tom, he observed, would not see her when he
could help it. But they had to all gather round the table together and
face each other generally.

"This is improper luxury for the mountains," Dillwyn said.

"Mrs. Caruthers thinks it best to be always provided for occasions.
These small houses, you know, they can't give you any but small fare."

"Small fare is good for you!"

"Good for _you_," said Tom,--"all right; but my--Arabella cannot eat
things if they are _too_ small. That cheese, now!--"

"It is quite passable."

"Where are you going, Philip?"

"Bound for the AEggischhorn, in the first place."

"You are never going up?"

"Why not?" Lois asked, with her bright smile. Tom glanced at her from
under his brows, and grew as dark as a thundercloud. _She_ was
ministering to Tom's wife in the prettiest way; not assuming anything,
and yet acting in a certain sort as mistress of ceremonies. And Mrs.
Caruthers was coming out of her apathy every now and then, and looking
at her in a curious attentive way. I dare say it struck Tom hard. For
he could not but see that to all her natural sweetness Lois had added
now a full measure of the ease and grace which come from the habit of
society, and which Lois herself had once admired in the ladies of his
family. "Ay, even _they_ wouldn't say she was nobody now!" he said to
himself bitterly. And Philip, he saw, was so accustomed to this fact,
that he took it as a matter of course.

"Where are you going after the AEggischhorn?" he went on, to say
something.

"We mean to work our way, by degrees, to Zermatt."

"_We_ are going to Zermatt," Mrs. Caruthers put in blandly. "We might
travel in company."

"Can you walk?" asked Philip, smiling.

"Walk!"

"Yes. We do it on foot."

"What for? Pray, pardon me! But are you serious?"

"I am in earnest, if that is what you mean. We do not look upon it in a
serious light. It's rather a jollification."

"It is far the pleasantest way, Mrs. Caruthers," Lois added.

"But do you travel without any baggage?"

"Not quite," said Lois demurely. "We generally send that on ahead,
except what will go in small satchels slung over the shoulder."

"And take what you can find at the little inns?"

"O yes; and fare very well."

"I like to be comfortable!" sighed the other lady. "Try that wine, and
see how much better it is."

"Thank you, no; I prefer the coffee."

"No use to ask _her_ to take wine," growled Tom. "I know she won't. She
never would. She has principles. Offer it to Mr. Dillwyn."

"You do me the honour to suppose me without principles," said Philip
dryly.

"I don't suppose you hold _her_ principles," said Tom, indicating Lois
rather awkwardly by the pronoun rather than in any more definite way.
"You never used."

"Quite true; I never used. But I do it now."

"Do you mean that you have given up drinking wine?"

"I have given it up?" said Philip, smiling at Tom's air, which was
almost of consternation.

"Because she don't like it?"

"I hope I would give up a greater thing than that, if she did not like
it," said Philip gravely. "This seems to me not a great thing. But the
reason you suppose is not my reason."

"If the reason isn't a secret, I wish you'd mention it; Mrs. Caruthers
will be asking me in private, by and by; and I do not like her to ask
me questions I cannot answer."

"My reason is,--I think it does more harm than good."

"Wine?"

"Wine, and its congeners."

"Take a cup of coffee, Mr. Caruthers," said Lois; "and confess it will
do instead of the other thing."

Tom accepted the coffee; I don't think he could have rejected anything
she held out to him; but he remarked grumly to Philip, as he took it,--

"It is easy to see where you got your principles!"

"Less easy than you think," Philip answered. "I got them from no living
man or woman, though I grant you, Lois showed me the way to them. I got
them from the Bible, old friend."

Tom glared at the speaker.

"Have you given up your cigars too?"

Mr. Dillwyn laughed out, and Lois said somewhat exultantly,

"Yes, Mr. Caruthers."

"I am sure I wish you would too!" said Tom's wife deploringly to her
husband. "I think if anything's horrid, it's the after smell of
tobacco."

"But the _first_ taste of it is all the comfort a fellow gets in this
world," said Tom.

"No fellow ought to say that," his friend returned.

"The Bible!" Tom repeated, as if it were a hard pill to swallow.
"Philip Dillwyn quoting _that_ old authority!"

"Perhaps I ought to go a little further, and say, Tom, that my quoting
it is not a matter of form. I have taken service in the Christian army,
since I saw you the last time. Now tell me how you and Mrs. Caruthers
come to be at the top of this pass in a snow-storm on the sixteenth of
June?"

"Fate!" said Tom.

"We did not expect to have a snow-storm, Mr. Dillwyn," Mrs. Caruthers
added.

"But you might," said Philip. "There have been snow-storms everywhere
in Switzerland this year."

"Well," said Tom, "we did not come for pleasure, anyhow. Never should
dream of it, until a month later. But Mrs. Caruthers got word that a
special friend of hers would be at Zermatt by a certain day, and begged
to meet her; and stay was uncertain; and so we took what was said to be
the shortest way from where the letter found us. And here we are."

"How is the coffee, Mr. Caruthers?" Lois asked pleasantly. Tom looked
into the depths of his coffee cup, as if it were an abstraction, and
then answered, that it was the best coffee he had ever had in
Switzerland; and upon that he turned determinately to Mr. Dillwyn and
began to talk of other things, unconnected with Switzerland or the
present time. Lois was fain to entertain Tom's wife. The two women had
little in common; nevertheless Mrs. Caruthers gradually warmed under
the influence that shone upon her; thawed out, and began even to enjoy
herself. Tom saw it all, without once turning his face that way; and he
was fool enough to fancy that he was the only one. But Philip saw it
too, as it were without looking; and delighted himself all the while in
the gracious sweetness, and the tender tact, and the simple dignity of
unconsciousness, with which Lois attended to everybody, ministered to
everybody, and finally smoothed down even poor Mrs. Caruthers' ruffled
plumes under her sympathizing and kindly touch.

"How soon will you be at Zermatt?" the latter asked. "I wish we could
travel together! When do you expect to get there?"

"O, I do not know. We are going first, you know, to the AEggischhorn.
We go where we like, and stay as long as we like; and we never know
beforehand how it will be."

"But so early!--"

"Mr. Dillwyn wanted me to see the flowers. And the snow views are grand
too; I am very glad not to miss them. Just before you came, I had one.
The clouds swept apart for a moment, and gave me a wonderful sight of a
gorge, the wildest possible, and tremendous rocks, half revealed, and a
chaos of cloud and storm."

"Do you like that?"

"I like it all," said Lois, smiling. And the other woman looked, with a
fascinated, uncomprehending air, at the beauty of that smile.

"But why do you walk?"

"O, that's half the fun," cried Lois. "We gain so a whole world of
things that other people miss. And the walking itself is delightful."

"I wonder if I could walk?" said Mrs. Caruthers enviously. "How far can
you go in a day? You must make very slow progress?"

"Not very. Now I am getting in training, we can do twenty or thirty
miles a day with ease."

"Twenty or thirty miles!" Mrs. Caruthers as nearly screamed as
politeness would let her do.

"We do it easily, beginning the day early."

"How early? What do you call early?"

"About four or five o'clock."

Mrs. Caruthers looked now as if she were staring at a prodigy.

"Start at four o'clock! Where do you get breakfast? Don't you have
breakfast? Will the people give you breakfast so early? Why, they would
have to be up by two."

Tom was listening now. He could not help it.

"O, we have breakfast," Lois said. "We carry it with us, and we stop at
some nice place and take rest on the rocks, or on a soft carpet of
moss, when we have walked an hour or two. Mr. Dillwyn carries our
breakfast in a little knapsack."

"Is it _nice?_" enquired the lady, with such an expression of doubt and
scruple that the risible nerves of the others could not stand it, and
there was a general burst of laughter.

"Come and try once," said Lois, "and you will see."

"If you do not like such fare," Philip went on, "you can almost always
stop at a house and get breakfast."

"I could not eat dry food," said the lady; "and you do not drink wine.
What _do_ you drink? Water?"

"Sometimes. Generally we manage to get milk. It is fresh and excellent."

"And without cups and saucers?" said the astonished lady. Lois's
"ripple of laughter" sounded again softly.

"Not quite without cups; I am afraid we really do without saucers. We
have an unlimited tablecloth, you know, of lichen and moss."

"And you really enjoy it?"

But here Lois shook her head. "There are no words to tell how much."

Mrs. Caruthers sighed. If she had spoken out her thoughts, it was too
plain to Lois, she would have said, "I do not enjoy anything."

"How long are you thinking to stay on this side of the water?" Tom
asked his friend now.

"Several months yet, I hope. I want to push on into Tyrol. We are not
in a hurry. The old house at home is getting put into order, and till
it is ready for habitation we can be nowhere better than here."

"The old house? _your_ house, do you mean? the old house at Battersby?"

"Yes."

"You are not going _there?_ for the winter at least?"

"Yes, we propose that. Why?"

"It is I that should ask 'why.' What on earth should you go to live
_there_ for?"

"It is a nice country, a very good house, and a place I am fond of, and
I think Lois will like."

"But out of the world!"

"Only out of your world," his friend returned, with a smile.

"Why should you go out of our world? it is _the_ world."

"For what good properties?"

"And it has always been your world," Tom went on, disregarding this
question.

"I told you, I am changed."

"But does becoming a Christian _change_ a man, Mr. Dillwyn?" Mrs.
Caruthers asked.

"So the Bible says."

"I never saw much difference. I thought we were all Christians."

"If you were to live a while in the house with that lady," said Tom
darkly, "you'd find your mistake. What in all the world do you expect
to do up there at Battersby?" he went on, turning to his friend.

"Live," said Philip. "In your world you only drag along existence. And
we expect to work, which you never do. There is no real living without
working, man. Try it, Tom."

"Cannot you work, as you call it, in town?"

"We want more free play, and more time, than town life allows one."

"Besides, the country is so much pleasanter," Lois added.

"But such a neighbourhood! you don't know the neighbourhood--but you
_do_, Philip. You have no society, and Battersby is nothing but a
manufacturing place--"

"Battersby is three and a half miles off; too far for its noise or its
smoke to reach us; and we can get society, as much as we want, and
_what_ we want; and in such a place there is always a great deal that
might be done."

The talk went on for some time; Mrs. Caruthers seeming amazed and
mystified, Tom dissatisfied and critical. At last, being informed that
their own quarters were ready, the later comers withdrew, after
agreeing that they would all sup together.

"Tom," said Mrs. Caruthers presently, "whom did Mr. Dillwyn marry?"

"Whom did he marry?"

"Yes. Who was she before she married?"

"I always heard she was nobody," Tom answered, with something between a
grunt and a groan.

"Nobody! But that's nonsense. I haven't seen a woman with more style in
a great while."

"Style!" echoed Tom, and his word would have had a sharp addition if he
had not been speaking to his wife; but Tom was before all things a
gentleman. As it was, his tone would have done honour to a grisly bear
somewhat out of temper.

"Yes," repeated Mrs. Caruthers. "You may not know it, Tom, being a man;
but _I_ know what I am saying; and I tell you Mrs. Dillwyn has very
distinguished manners. I hope we may see a good deal of them."

Meanwhile Lois was standing still where they had left her, in front of
the fire; looking down meditatively into it. Her face was grave, and
her abstraction for some minutes deep. I suppose her New England
reserve was struggling with her individual frankness of nature, for she
said no word, and Mr. Dillwyn, who was watching her, also stood silent.
At last frankness, or affection, got the better of reserve; and, with a
slow, gentle motion she turned to him, laying one hand on his shoulder,
and sinking her face upon his breast.

"Lois! what is it?" he asked, folding his arms about her.

"Philip, it smites me!"

"What, my darling?" he said, almost startled. And then she lifted up
her face and looked at him.

"To know myself so happy, and to see them so unhappy. Philip, they are
not happy,--neither one of them!"

"I am afraid it is true. And we can do nothing to help them."

"No, I see that too."

Lois said it with a sigh, and was silent again. Philip did not choose
to push the subject further, uncertain how far her perceptions went,
and not wishing to give them any assistance. Lois stood silent and
pondering, still within his arms, and he waited and watched her. At
last she began again.

"We cannot do _them_ any good. But I feel as if I should like to spend
my life in making people happy."

"How many people?" said her husband fondly, with a kiss or two which
explained his meaning. Lois laughed out.

"Philip, _I_ do not make you happy."

"You come very near it."

"But I mean-- Your happiness has something better to rest on. I should
like to spend my life bringing happiness to the people who know nothing
about being happy."

"Do it, sweetheart!" said he, straining her a little closer. "And let
me help."

"Let you help!--when you would have to do almost the whole. But, to be
sure, money is not all; and money alone will not do it, in most cases.
Philip, I will tell you where I should like to begin."

"Where? I will begin there also."

"With Mrs. Barclay."

"Mrs. Barclay!" There came a sudden light into Philip's eyes.

"Do you know, she is not a happy woman?"

"I know it."

"And she seems very much alone in the world."

"She is alone in the world."

"And she has been so good to us! She has done a great deal for Madge
and me."

"She has done as much for me."

"I don't know about that. I do not see how she could. In a way, I owe
her almost everything. Philip, you would never have married the woman I
was three years ago."

"Don't take your oath upon that," he said lightly.

"But you would not, and you ought not."

"There is a counterpart to that. I am sure you would not have married
the man I was three years ago."

At that Lois laid down her face again for a moment on his breast.

"I had a pretty hard quarter of an hour in a sleigh with you once!" she
said.

Philip's answer was again wordless.

"But about Mrs. Barclay?" said Lois, recovering herself.

"Are you one of the few women who can keep to the point?" said he,
laughing.

"What can we do for her?"

"What would you like to do for her?"

"Oh-- Make her happy!"

"And to that end--?"

Lois lifted her face and looked into Mr. Dillwyn's as if she would
search out something there. The frank nobleness which belonged to it
was encouraging, and yet she did not speak.

"Shall we ask her to make her home with us?"

"O Philip!" said Lois, with her face all illuminated,--"would you like
it?"

"I owe her much more than you do. And, love, I like what you like."

"Would she come?"

"If she could resist you and me together, she would be harder than I
think her."

"I love her very much," said Lois thoughtfully, "and I think she loves
me. And if she will come--I am almost sure we _can_ make her happy."

"We will try, darling."

"And these other people--we need not meet them at Zermatt, need we?"

"We will find it not convenient."



Neither at Zermatt nor anywhere else in Switzerland did the friends
again join company. Afterwards, when both parties had returned to their
own country, it was impossible but that encounters should now and then
take place. But whenever and wherever they happened, Tom made them as
short as his wife would let him. And as long as he lives, he will never
see Mrs. Philip Dillwyn without a clouding of his face and a very
evident discomposure of his gay and not specially profound nature. It
has tenacity somewhere, and has received at least one thing which it
will never lose.



THE END



PRINTED BY MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH



Typographical errors silently corrected:

Chapter 5: =but you see the month= replaced by =but you see, the month=

Chapter 8: =a Father unto you= replaced by =a father unto you=

Chapter 10: =want to know did you= replaced by =want to know, did you=

Chapter 11: =you see it if off= replaced by =you see, it is off=

Chapter 18: =vier augen= replaced by =vier Augen=

Chapter 20: =will come of it!'= replaced by =will come of it!=

Chapter 21: =bon goût= replaced by =bon goût=

Chapter 21: =children!= replaced by =children!"=

Chapter 22: =Aubigne= replaced by =Aubigné=

Chapter 30: =heavy eyelids."= replaced by =heavy eyelids.=

Chapter 34: =compliment, said= replaced by =compliment," said=

Chapter 35: =chapter of Matthew.= replaced by =chapter of Matthew."=

Chapter 39: =come hear and rest= replaced by =comes here and rest=

Chapter 42: =mankind is man,'" my dear; "and= replaced by =mankind is
man,' my dear; and=

Chapter 44: =your hare'= replaced by =your hare.'=

Chapter 47: =not become me.= replaced by =not become me."=

Chapter 47: =might like to see.= replaced by =might like to see."=

Chapter 48: =certain gout= replaced by =certain goût=

Chapter 48: =use of money,= replaced by =use of money,"=

Chapter 48: =and so, Jessie= replaced by ="and so, Jessie=





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